Our Nature in Christ: Healed

“But he [Jesus] was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his stripes we are healed,” (Isaiah 53:5, New International Version)

(For starters, let me begin by saying that this first paragraph is a little [very] graphic and made me squirm)

“These ‘stripes’ (or wounds) were administered by whipping the bare backs of prisoners whose hands and feet were bound, rendering them helpless. The phrase ‘by His stripes we are healed’ refers to the punishment Jesus Christ suffered—floggings and beatings with fists. Whips made of braided leather with pottery shards and sharp stones affixed to the ends tore the flesh open with each whip. When we picture this terrible, inhumane form of physical punishment we recoil in horror. Yet the physical pain and agony were not all Jesus suffered. He also had to undergo the mental anguish brought on by the wrath of His Father, who punished Him for the sinfulness of mankind—sin carried out in spite of God’s repeated warnings, sin that Jesus willingly took upon Himself.” (GotQuestions.com)

Can I be honest? I am a very visual person so picturing Jesus in these beatings definitely made me uneasy. However, it also made me think of His love for me. I love the author’s point that Jesus had to “undergo the mental anguish brought on by the wrath of His Father.” The first time that I read that, I literally had no idea what that meant.  I was praying and trying to figure out how God measured sin in physicality? Then, the Holy Spirit revealed that He took on the fullness of shame, guilt, and condemnation.

Let’s be real for a second here. The shame, guilt, and condemnation from disobeying God for myself can be bad, and has even proven to be crippling from time to time in my life. In the past, I’ve had panic attacks from being so overwhelmed. I cannot even BEGIN to imagine what it is like to take on the shame, guilt, and condemnation of EVERY, SINGLE person in the name of love.

Just take a moment to take that in.

______________

“Some have taken this [verse] to mean that every believer has the right – the promise – to perfect health right now, and if there is any lack of health, it is simply because this promise has not been claimed in faith. In this thinking, great stress is laid upon the past tense of this phrase – by His stripes we are healed. We can say that God’s promise is perfect, total, complete healing, but we must also say that is is not promised to every believer right now, just as the totality of salvation isn’t promised right now. The Bible says that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8), we are being saved (1 Corinthians 1:18), and we will be saved (1 Corinthians 3:15). We have been healed, we are being healed, and we will one day be healed. God’s ultimate healing is called ‘resurrection,’ and it is a glorious promise to every believer. Every ‘patch-up’ healing in this present age simply anticipates the ultimate healing that will come.

What Christians must not do is foolishly ‘claim’ to be healed, despite ‘mere symptoms’ that say otherwise, and believe they are standing on the promise of Isaiah 53:5. What Christians must do is pray boldly and trust God’s goodness and mercy in granting gifts of healing now, even before the ultimate healing of resurrection” (Guzik).

I LOVE this latter section!!! Haha! I have struggled with everything that the last two paragraphs refer to. Today, I even asked Holy Spirit, “Uhhh, are we sure that Christians can’t claim healing despite symptoms? I think it’s faith!” But I love the rest of this article and this quote from Charles Spurgeon, “‘With his stripes we are healed.’ Will you notice that fact? The healing of a sinner does not lie in himself, nor in what he is, nor in what he feels, nor in what he does, nor in what he vows, nor in what he promises. It is not in himself at all; but there, at Gabbatha, where the pavement is stained with the blood of the Son of God, and there, at Golgotha, where the place of a skull beholds the agonies of Christ. It is in his stripes that the healing lies. I beseech thee, do not scourge thyself: ‘With his stripes we are healed’ (Spurgeon).”

I love the humility of this.

Resources
https://www.gotquestions.org/by-His-stripes-healed.html & https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/archives/guzik_david/StudyGuide_Isa/Isa_53.cfm

Our Nature in Christ Series

So, until this year, battling for my identity in Christ was really hard for me. A few years ago, a leader from a small group gave me a list of 90 items that refer to our nature in Christ. I never looked at it too much, but honestly, I’ve needed it. I tend to get caught up in my feelings, and while I read my Bible a lot, I don’t think I always take time to really digest the Word in relations to my identity.

So, I decided that I think that I want to deep dive into that list. Instead of simply saying each of these things out loud, I’m going to unpack them, and I want them to come alive as the Word promises, “For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires,” (Hebrew 4:12, New Living Translation).

So, join me! I’m sure most of it will be notes that I find from online resources, but it’ll still be awesome, and hopefully it’ll help you too!

A Response to the Girl who Loves too Hard

Father, I pray that we see ourselves the way that You see us. I pray that Your voice is the loudest voice in our lives. I pray that the way that You see us has more influence than the way that the world sees us. Let our identities be completely engulfed in who you say that we are. Tear at the lies that we’ve believed about ourselves. Reveal your mending heart. Forgive us for not seeing ourselves as masterpieces. We are who You say we are. We can do what You say that we can do.

I remember reading an article awhile ago addressed to “The Girl Who Loves too Hard.” (Which there are actually dozens of those blog posts now) At the time of reading it, I remember completely relating to every word that the author had written. I mean, I was one of those girls! I was someone who poured their heart out completely and didn’t receive it in return. I felt like the way I loved people was abnormal, that sometimes I was “too much to handle,” that I was clingy, and that there was something wrong with me. I think as long as I can remember I’ve always been a person who has “loved hard,” but recently I’ve found that (as cute as is sounds, in theory) loving hard” slowly suffocates the room needed to fully love myself. Although there really is nothing wrong with loving other people, there is a very real problem: We tend to confuse love and validation. We don’t know what love is. The love that we pour out is self-seeking, looking to be reciprocated, and in loving other people, we neglect to love ourselves.

.    .    .    .    .    .    .    

In two weeks, I’m coming up on a year of living in a new city, and I remember for the first nine of these twelve months, the biggest struggle between me and God was, “God, I feel like you NEVER defend me! I moved to a new city because YOU told me to, and what is happening? My closest relationships are now at their furthest! People are looking at me like I’m crazy because nothing is making sense, and I’m wondering, did you move me here just to make a fool out of me!?”

(Yeah, I know. I was real reckless in the way I was speaking. -__-) 

I remember speaking to a mentor one day about everything that was going on, and she said exactly what Holy Spirit had been saying for weeks, “The problem isn’t everyone else. The problem is you. You don’t love yourself. You say you love you, but Alexis doesn’t really love Alexis. If you loved yourself, you wouldn’t accept some of the things you accept.” For the first time, it clicked that the problem wasn’t that the Lord hadn’t defended me. He was good and faithful! The problem was that I had never defended myself. I’d defended everyone else at the expense of me! 

I knew that God called me to a different city, but when opinions came up questioning my decision, I caved to the pressures of other people.

I knew that I’d accurately discerned what God had shown me in tough, challenging moments, but because I was the only person who saw it, I thought, “Surely, something must be wrong with me. Why would God only show me, and no one else?”

I knew the promises that God had laid on my heart, but when the promise was tested, I didn’t want to look stupid, so I just kept quiet, and wavered instead.

The problem is that we place our identity in the validation of others and call it “love.” And some of us have been in so deep, for so long that we actually think that it’s a noble thing to love people like that. It’s not, friend. I know, because I was there. & if we really had to ask ourselves to think about certain situations/relationships/jobs/etc, could we honestly say that we would encourage another friend to stick around if they were walking in our shoes? No.

You know what you deserve? You deserve to hear yourself say, “I deserve better, and I am worthy of love.”

So, how do we let go of the control & insecurity that disguises itself as “loving hard?” Where do we go from here?

We accept God’s love for us, and we accept the way that He sees us. We repent of the lies we’ve believed. We’re made in the image of God, and when we don’t have a right God-image, we don’t have a right self-image.  “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love,” (1 John 4:18). God is gentle. He knows each of us intimately, and intricately and He doesn’t NEED anything from us. We have to accept that there is a love that is tailored-made for each of us, and we don’t have to perform, or have the best clothes, shoes, makeup, etc. His love is free and freeing. 

We forgive ourselves.  When we forgive ourselves, it opens the pathway to forgive others, and to allow people be people. For me, I found that one reason I struggled with “loving hard” was that I felt like if they left, it had to be me. I had to do anything I could to keep them and show them that I loved them, but in the end, I realized that it was never them (well, for the most part). I had to learn to love myself. I had to learn to forgive myself for not being my own defender.  I had to learn to say to myself, “I deserve respect, and I am worthy of love. So, I may love them, but I’m choosing me.” 

We become our biggest cheerleader, and we speak life. “The Bible says, ‘Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph!’ That means He MAKES me win. So, that means I AM VICTORIOUS!”2 Corinthians 2: 14 [& Donnie McClurkin]. Like love and forgiveness, seeing yourself rightly is a choice. We are not victims, but victors! We are holy and blameless (Eph. 1:4). We are known (Psalm 139 1-18). We are protected (Psalm 91). We are representatives of Christ, Himself! (Matthew 5: 13-14) I’ve learned that it’s great to hear other people say nice things about me, but nothing is as lovely as speaking what my Daddy has already declared to be true about me. I have become so intentional about being my biggest cheerleader, and it’s a choice. I choose to be patient with myself. I choose to be kind. I choose to think good thoughts about myself. I choose to trust myself. I make a decision and I later trust that the decision I made was for my benefit. I hear from God. He trusts me, so I’ll trust me.

We have to learn to keep our cups overflowing to pour into others, and I’ve found that I can only be filled to overflow when I’m looking to the God that fills. If I’m searching to be filled by people, I will never be satisfied. I will always require others to reciprocate the same “hard love” that I pour out. But, when I go to the Father and I’m filled, the love I can pour out onto others is pure with no expectation of what we need in return.

So, friend, you don’t need anyone’s validation. As you learn to love yourself, your need for validation from people slowly fades away. Suddenly, the relationships you always needed to control have little room in your life. The voices of your “mentors” (not to be confused with Godly council) fall in line behind the voice of the Holy Spirit. Most importantly, you learn to love and trust yourself, and as you learn to love yourself, it makes it easier to love others because you will naturally set healthy boundaries, and learn to walk out Romans 13: 8, “Owe nothing to anyone—except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law,” (Romans 13:8 NLT)

Blogging Thus Far (Advice for the Weary Blogger)

It’s easy to start playing the comparison game without realizing it. While social media platforms can be positive, uplifting resources, they can also break down self-esteem and hinder growth. It usually starts the same: scrolling through different apps to catch up on the lives of friends, acquaintances, and role models. One thing leads to another, and all of a sudden you’re looking at so-and-so’s recent tropical vacation and feeling down and out about your own life. It’s a slippery slope that can bring out negativity and hatred. I think Joy Sussman puts it best: ‘The blogosphere is a big community — there’s plenty of room to support each other.”

-Danielle Williams

Assistant Senior Managing Editor

I picked up an issue of “Artful Blogging” this past weekend, and I have not put it down! (Seriously, you will not regret buying it!) I think the editor puts it perfectly: Whether we have a desire to blog, or sing, or produce, or whatever, there is always that pressure to outperform the “competition.” We have all fallen captive to the lies of “But, look at that blog! I don’t know if I could ever get to that level. It’s probably easiest to just keep dreaming about what I want to do.” My favorite thing about this magazine issue is that so many of the bloggers talk about having to deal with that pressure of overcoming the “Competition” mindset. They talk about getting to their “sacred places” of learning to execute their vision regardless of what it looked like to the world, a place where their blogs felt like home to them. A place where (as one of the featured bloggers expressed) “Your own corner of the internet is your own.”

Over this past week, this issue has inspired me to really do some self-evaluation in making sure that my blog is reflecting the real me, and not who I think will sell. Now, I am definitely not a pro at blogging, but there are some things that I’ve learned during this process of blogging that I think are cool to share whether you’re blogging for the first time or needing to go back to the drawing board:

1. Before you even pick the platform, decide what you want your blog to represent. Whether it be all about you, certain aspects of your life, your walk with God, your career, or your hobbies. Whatever it is, let it be consistent, and something that you’d be passionate about posting about for a period of time.

2. Stick to being you. What makes you you? What is your thing? Go with that! YOUR thing! Your blog doesn’t have to be super over the top because another blogger’s is. I find that some blogs are pretty, but I’m so distracted by the pretty that I never read any of the content (That is just me, though! If you like glitter and frill, GO FOR IT! BE YOU!) You don’t have to impress. You just have to be you. People can tell when you’re genuine, and they’re drawn to it. God has made each of us uniquely different. So, stick to what you know. You are enough.

3. Pick a platform. I’ve found that some platforms are not free, but the freedom to express yourself is awesome (i.e. Squarespace). Some are free but require some work if you do like the girly, frilly things. However, If you’re willing to put in the work and do your homework, you can use websites like WordPress or Blogger and have an amazing blog without it costing so much.

4. Be okay with NOT being perfect! If you wait until you get it together, you’ll never start. So many blogs that I’ve read say that bloggers got their start by just doing it. They made many mistakes. The beginning content was horrible but a year later, it’s so much better than they’d ever imagined. It was through the act of beginning that they got to where they are now.

5. Don’t be afraid to grab inspiration from other people. Obviously, don’t copy, but you can use small pieces from other blogs to test what you do and don’t like. There’s no end to what your piece of the internet could look like. I love that we’re not all the same, nor do we all have the same interests, but we can draw people into our interests without them having to change who they are.  Personally, I’m not a fan of sweets, but recently I found a food blogger that I LOVE. Yes, her food looks great and her blog is cool, but I’m drawn to grab inspiration because I can tell that she genuinely loves her corner and that it expresses her.

6. Pray! Lol! I have to ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom all of the time on what to post. “Is this a good idea? Is that fully developed as a lesson in me before I post about it? What are my motives in saying that? Does that look good? What about this?”

7. Don’t forget to express yourself! That’s the ultimate goal, right? How do you see your world? Use photography. Use paint. Use charcoal. Use your words. Use dance! Use them all! Just don’t forget the most important part of your corner is that it’s YOUR. CORNER. We know our worlds. Show us the world through your eyes.

*Bonus*

Maybe take some time away from social media for a few weeks. It’s hard to operate in your lane when you’re constantly comparing it to another’s. It’s okay to get away and to quiet your life for a little while to gain fresh vision and a new perspective. Some time away never hurt anyone!

How I Learned to Forgive

This morning I was prompted with the question, “How did you learn to forgive?” Without even thinking about it, my response was, “I had to learn how to love first.” (This is where I should let you know that in NO way am I saying that I am perfect at loving people. LOL! I am most definitely not! I am learning, and sometimes failing, every day.) However, I did choose to learn love, the Biblical way, and it’s one of the greatest things the Lord has done in my life. The world will teach you that Biblical love is stupid: you’ll look stupid, you’ll feel stupid, you’ll feel silly. To a certain degree, the world is right. You will feel silly and maybe even stupid, but over time, and from personal experience from being on both sides of needing and giving love, I’ve learned that it’s an honor to freely show people the love of God.

First, I had to learn that love is a choice, not an emotion. Same as forgiveness. You CHOOSE to love and forgive, regardless of how you feel. There were many mornings where I would have to say, “No! I’ve already forgiven them. My flesh doesn’t feel like it, but I love them. Father, help me to see them the way that you see them.”

Second, I made love practical. I used the dictionary and this amazing study to write out what stuck with me. So, copied straight from my Bibles, the dictionary, and my favorite study:

Love is patient: Able to accept delays, problems, or sufferings without becoming annoyed or anxious; long suffering. It doesn’t lose its temper saying, “I’ll give you one more chance.” As we are humbled by our own sin, we learn to be more patient with others.

and kind: Having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature; To withhold what harms and to give what heals; Love is not giving everyone what they desire or want. Love is kind but tough.

Love does not envy: feelings of discontentment or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck; True love desires the success of others. The cure for envy is to pray for the success of those you are envious of. To pray for them demonstrates love, and envy and love cannot exist in the same heart.

Or boast: Not big-headed, but big-hearted. When we brag, we display insecurity and spiritual immaturity. The more spiritual gifts we possess, the more loving we’ll be, the less we’ll brag. We have to humble ourselves before Christ and people.

It is not arrogant: Having an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance or abilities; Grasping for power; Always considers themselves exempt from the requirements of mere mortals; Arrogance disrespects others. We are to serve others and to be gracious to them.

Or rude: Offensively impolite or ill-mannered; Love does not “tell it like it is.”It does not verbalize all its thoughts, particularly if they don’t build up. There is a graciousness that is involved. Love never forgets courtesy, tact, and being polite are lovely things.

It does not insist on its own way: Love is the very antithesis of self-seeking. It is not dominating or stubborn. It listens well and does not talk too much. It is always willing to defer to others.

It is not irritable or resentful: Love does not come with a “Handle with Caution” sign. It is not touchy. It is not given to emotional outbursts, petty annoyances, and doesn’t get under my skin. We don’t HAVE to get irritated if we’re exercising love.

It does not rejoice at wrongdoing: Love is righteous. It takes no joy in evil of any kind. It is not drawn to evil. Psalm 37 tells us that “the Lord will bring our righteousness to light as the noonday… For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.” Being honest, I used to think that this scripture meant that the Lord would strike down whoever crossed a boundary concerning me! Lol! You cross me, you cross God! Lol however, it’s important to remember that we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against demonic forces. (Ephesians 6: 12) In every situation, we are all children of God, and He never wants to embarrass or “strike down” anyone. What He will do, is bring to light the times the enemy was at work in the situation. Love doesn’t hope that the person is exposed, but that in both your life and in theirs, the Lord lifts the veil to see truth in the situation.

Keeps no record of wrong: Love is not bookkeeping of offenses, waiting to be settled.

Love rejoices with truth: Love must conform to the truth of the Word of God. Truth and love go together.

Love bears all things: Carries, supports; “Bears all things” in the Greek means to “cover something”. It is compared to a roof; a covering of protection to keep out things that are hostile. “Love covers a multitude of sins,” (1 Peter 4:8); Love protects reputations. It doesn’t nitpick. It doesn’t criticize in public.

Believes all things: Accepts something as true; Always trusts; People will always become what you believe about them. Choose that they are innocent until proven guilty. Believe the best, not the worst.

Hopes all things: Never gives up on people, despite the circumstance; Never loses faith, despite their shortcomings; Has faith and expects the best.

Endures all things: Suffers something painful or difficult patiently; Hold positions, even to death. Holds fast to people; Perseveres, even in the face of rejection.

Love never ends: Love is an eternal gift. That is POWERFUL in itself!

The “New” Christian

“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive your inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ,”

(Colossians 3: 23-24, ESV).

“We live in a world now, that if you don’t post it on social media, it never happened.”

-Kendrick Epling.

– Adoption

– Blogging

– Mission Trips

– Hipster Stylings

– Human Trafficking

What do all of these things have in common? THEY HAVE TAKEN OVER MY SOCIAL MEDIA TIMELINES!! There seems to be a new “wave” of Christianity; a wave of salvation as easy as buying new hipster clothing, reposting videos and statuses of the latest prophetic word, and owning all of the latest worship albums.

We live in a society where it’s easier to base our salvation off of Christian cliches rather than the Bible. We live to tell 1,500 of our closest Facebook friends how much we appreciate our best friend, but it’s hard to live out that love in everyday life. Consecration and fasting are so foreign to Christians because it’s not plastered everywhere, and we’re surprised by revelations of the glory of God because honestly, our knowledge of it? Well, it comes from a reposted video from Bill Johnson or Lisa Bevere.

PLEASE do not get me wrong. Since being saved, I have learned these lessons the hard way, and I have gone through different phases in which I thought I was called to a million different things, but in the end, that’s all each ended up as: a phase. It’s easy to get entangled in the emotional porn of following Christians we don’t know through their stories of adoption, or Instagram missionaries, or even people we do know whose lives seem so much more interesting and exciting than our own, but the problem comes in when we envy their lives over our callings. Want to know a shocking revelation? Instagram/Facebook/Twitter shows the highlights that people WANT to share.

We long to be those people in the gripping videos of couples running through the airport to meet the new child whom they’ve just adopted, but we don’t think too much about the pain of being barren or all of the money, time, and resources that were lost on the children whose adoptions were never finalized.

We’re “Called to the nations!” “Send me, Jesus! I’ll do the World Race!” Yet, our mindset of missions expands to taking pictures with children in other countries, casting out demons, and posting pictures standing on mountaintops. We forget about very real illnesses that can happen within our bodies, or even that we’d have to sleep on the ground….in a tent… for three months. We can raise $20,000, and sign up to travel all of Asia for a year, sleeping outside, “suffering for the Gospel,” but we don’t even like camping in the states. How is it that we can be better Christians overseas than we can be in Atlanta or Alabama?

Want me to highlight one for myself? I feel like I’m called to help those in human trafficking, but recently Holy Spirit revealed to me that if I can sometimes barely deal with guests who get on my nerves at work, how will I show Biblical love to those girls I’d meet who are hurting, and their natural tendency is to backlash? I think because I would see the highlights of the A21 Campaign, I created this false mentality that every woman/girl I met would be waiting for me to swoop in with my Jesus cape, saving them from men and the life of human trafficking………nope! Not exactly!

It’s okay that we have a heart for so many different things. We’re meant to be compassionate and have a heart for the hurting, but because we walk out our salvation and base our callings more off of what we see on the internet than being led by Holy Spirit, our callings are based on what makes our Instagram pages look better.

“For they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God,” (John 12:43).

If I were called to everything I thought I was called to since I was saved at 17, I’d be the only part- time kindergarten teaching, part-time prosecuting, lip-syncing-worship-leader (sadly, that really was a desire LOL!), World Racing, evangelist interning, human trafficking advocating, skinny-jean/floppy-hat-wearing, adopting mama of 9, WORN OUT person that I know!

Yes, I do still believe I’m called to some of these things (maybe not all 9 kids), but I’ve learned that just because it looks great on other people doesn’t mean God has called me to it. It’s a learning and a prayerful process, and every day Holy Spirit continues to lead me, and reveal more and more of my purpose to me, and you know what I’ve realized? I’m not called to operate in every lane, and that is OKAY.

If we’re all going to ministry school, who’s reaching college campuses?

If we’re all called to be international full-time missionaries, who’s going to Washington DC?

Who is operating out of each of our lanes while we’re all operating out of the hipster mold of the “new” Christian?

What has God called YOU to do?

It’s time we KNOW the living God we post coffeehouse, Bible-journaling pictures with.

It’s time we put our phones down, pick our Bibles up, and truly walk out our salvation.

Morning Revelation.

Lately, I’ve been preparing for a lot of changes in my life. From getting ready to move to making sure that everything is taken care of for going back to school, I’ve been putting God on this timetable of when things have to be done, and when they’re not done in time, I struggle with trying to not rush the process along. Sometimes, I’m so bad about having one foot in faith and the other in self-reliance, but the truth is this: Apart from God, I can do nothing, and God is VERY good at being God.

This morning, I was reminded of a story in John 11, that my church speaks on a lot. It’s the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead. In John 11, Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was sick, and Jesus’ reply was, “The sickness is not fatal. It will become an occasion to show God’s glory by glorifying God’s Son,” (John 11: 4, MSG). In case you forgot from the couple of sentences before, Lazarus died. (I felt like I needed to go and google the definition of “fatal” again because I KNOW Jesus just said Lazarus wouldn’t die!) Mourners had shown up and were visiting Mary and Martha, and Lazarus was in the tomb for FOUR days before Jesus showed up. Just think about that: They had a FUNERAL for someone Jesus said wouldn’t die before Jesus ever even showed up! 

After Jesus finally got there, there’s this beautiful depiction of the heart of Martha as she speaks to Jesus, and she says, Even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give to you,” (John 11: 22, ESV). There is then an exchange of Jesus telling Martha that her brother will live, and she believed He was talking about after the resurrection, at the end of time, and Jesus explained that He is the Resurrection and the Life. Fast forward to them standing outside of the tomb, Martha’s a little apprehensive since her brother had been buried for four days, and Jesus, looking her in the eyes, says, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” (John 11: 40, MSG). He speaks to Lazarus, and Lazarus is raised from the dead. 

Isn’t that SO GOOD?!!

 Even if your situation looks grim.

 Even if it’s dead. 

Even if it’s BEEN dead! 

Even if the mourners have shown up, and you have had the funeral for whatever the Lord has promised you, Jesus is standing at the tomb reminding us, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” In Him is everything we need in its perfected form. His timing is perfected. He’s never been late to the party. He never will be. Trust Him. Right now, He’s standing at the tomb.

Yes.

I recently came to this point where I told God, “Yes.” 2015 was an awesome year, but by the end of the year, I realized that I had settled into my own understanding and really hadn’t allowed God to fully reign. I’d made amazing friends, I was apart of a great church, I liked my job, I loved where I was and where the Lord had me, yet NOTHING was going right! I was gaining new friends, while friendships closest to me were the most turbulent they’d ever been. I loved my ministry school, but finances were not working out. I loved being around people, then suddenly being a waitress exposed a hatred towards people I never knew I had in me! I could not explain what was going on with me!

After a couple of months of things not going my way, I was sitting in my living room on NYE, and I came to this point where I was spiritually, mentally, physically, everything-ly exhausted, and with a genuine heart, I told the Lord, “Yes.” Yes, He could have control over every area of my life. Yes, I would step back. Yes, I would be a daughter and rest. A couple of days later, the Holy Spirit revealed to me that obedience was supposed to follow my, “Yes.” He showed me that we can sometimes get so caught up in the emotions of an encounter with God, and with a very sincere heart, we give everything to Him, we tell Him that He can reign and rule in our lives, and that we will take our hands off of whatever situations we need Him to move in. But what happens when we get off of the floor? What happens when the emotions from the church service or from that conference wear off? We say He has full control, yet after the honeymoon phase of an encounter, we jump right back into the driver’s seat. Without any sacrifice, we expect this beautiful life of abundant rewards from our, “Yes.” We want the pinnacle of God and what He has for us, but we’re not always willing to give anything up.

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance,” (1 Peter 1: 14).

I digested this, and really prayed for grace to understand exactly what I was asking for and to be able to fully walk in it. Then, again, I told the Lord, “Yes.”

Yes, I would walk away from the high school notions of already being married by 24, and what the rest of my life was supposed to look like.

Yes, I would trust God to do the growth in the friends and family that I cared so deeply about.

Yes, in the process of Him doing the growth, I would get out of the way, even if that meant not being as present as I once was for them.

Yes, I would learn to love people from a distance.

Yes, I would fully step into His grace and walk .. run away from my own understanding.

Yes, I would stand on His promises when everything around me SCREAMED, “This isn’t going to work out!”

Let me be honest with you, saying YES was not easy at all. He may ask you to give up those friends that aren’t interested in going where He’s taking you. He may ask you to give up that boyfriend/girlfriend that you know deep down isn’t your spouse. He may ask you to move from something that is comfortable for you, or worse, He may tell you to stay exactly where you don’t want to be. You may feel like you’re going through a desert season. You may cry… a LOT!

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it,” (Hebrews 12:11)

The great news, though, is that when we can put ourselves, and what we want, aside God is able to use our lives to do exactly what He needs to do. Like Simon Peter in Luke 5, when we are exhausted with our own efforts and step out of the boat, it gives Jesus room to step into it and use it as a platform, AND just because He loves us, and being faithful is in His nature, just as He told Simon Peter to cast His nets out again, He is faithful to restore what we thought we’d lost during our times of reign.