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)

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!

Fear No Longer Lives Here

“For God has not (not even once) given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of a sound mind,” -2 Timothy 1:7

Let’s see…

Can I be completely honest? Fear has always been a problem for me. Fear of the future, fear of the present, fear of the unknown, fear of the known, fear, fear, fear! Weirdly enough, though, the thing I’ve always feared the most is success, and actually believing that I am 100% who God says that I am. I’ve always loved seeing success stories of people who just did it! Fear, and all, these people just went after their dreams and succeeded! However, when it came to my own life, I’d always been too afraid to even sit and write out the vision! It was too big, too expensive, no one else around me has ever done that, etc! Every excuse there was, I’d mastered it!

A few mornings ago, I was looking for a song to listen to, and I found a Youtube video of Steffany Gretzinger’s, “Letting Go”. The video was of her telling the story behind how that song came out of a process of the Lord working fear out of her. She didn’t mind singing spontaneously in a live worship set, because it was spontaneous. However, when it came to writing songs, and having other people listen to them, she felt so uncomfortable. Like, what if the songs were really bad? What if she bared it all, and looked stupid? Outside of the fact that [in my mind] Steffany is my BFF, I really understood what she meant. For me, it has always been easy to know that God has given me gifts and talents, and those gifts are fine in corporate settings with other people, but when it came to something that He was instructing ONLY me to do, I didn’t know how to not be paralyzed by fear.

  • Fear of going all-in. What if I miss God? What if I don’t hear Him correctly?
  • I know the Lord keeps telling me to put words to paper, starting with a blog, but how am I supposed to do it? Everybody has a blog! Why is mine any different? Plus, I haven’t been very consistent. Am I sure?

This past weekend I was in a conference with one of my leaders praying over me. I felt her grip start to loosen on my hands towards the end of the prayer, and as we were nearing the “Amen” she said, “I keep hearing this, the Lord wants to break the spirit of fear off of you.” I knew in that moment that it all had to change. It wasn’t that I would never deal with fear again, but that I’d have an approach of victory when it came to fear. My stance would be different because this time I’d had the revelation of WHO I’d lean into when my flesh gave way, and WHO I was. I realized that paralyzing fear had attached itself to things that God had for me!

Priscilla Shirer says it best, “We know that God doesn’t give a spirit of fear. So, if we have a spirit of fear in any area of our life, we know it must have come from the enemy. If I’m afraid of something, (since I know that God doesn’t give a spirit of fear) it must mean that there is something embedded in that thing that the enemy does not want me to have. If he can distract us with the size and the depth of the thing, we won’t traverse it. He doesn’t want you getting past that Red Sea, friend! Because on the other side of that Red Sea is milk and honey. It’s the blessing of God, and the favor of God and the promises of God experienced in your life! On your current side of the Red Sea, you only get to hear about what God is doing. Satan doesn’t mind when you read a verse a day to keep the devil away, that’s not what he minds. What he minds are [believers] who actually go back home with a holy confidence, face the battle, not be afraid of it, and traverse it so that they move forward with God. He is going out of his way to stamp fear to anything that he knows on the other side of it is God’s best for you.”

Isn’t that SOOO good?!? When we realize that there is purpose and breakthrough on the other side of the thing that fear has attached itself to, it changes everything!

  • So, I won’t fear going all-in. With my heart is really set on God, even when I take a step that I’m not so sure about, He’s right there to make sure that I’m on the path. “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Isaiah 30:21).
  • I won’t fear writing, or whether or not my voice is significant! Steffany said it great, “I have a voice. I am a mouthpiece, and God has given me something to say.” We have no reason to fear. God has anointed us with gifts and talents to do the very things He’s calling us to. “May the favor of the Lord rest upon us; make our efforts successful. Yes! Make our efforts successful.” (Psalm 90: 17) Plus, it’s really not about us, and we never have to do it alone. In whatever capacity He’s called you, He’s using you to reach someone! That’s all that matter. In humility, let us put ourselves aside. In boldness, let us press forward into what God has called us. “That is why I remind you to fan into flame the gracious gift of God, [that inner fire—the special endowment] which is in you through the laying on of my hands [with those of the elders at your ordination]. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control].” (2 Timothy 1: 6-7)

So, my personal testimony is that I stopped running.

I leaned into the Holy Spirit.

I picked up my holy confidence from where I left it.

I turned around to face my fears.

He’s already promised us that we are more than conquerors, so I will traverse in whatever is thrown at me,

and I’ll continue to move forward with God.

Fear no longer lives here.

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.

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.

Divinely Hemmed

A couple of mornings ago, I was looking for something in my car, and I ran across a book I’d bought a year ago. While flipping through the pages of the book, I found a torn note card I wrote that said,

“I met God who slowly, painfully, and divinely pieced me back together again.”

 Immediately, I started to reminisce on the difficult times, headaches, and heartaches that led up to the person I am today, and I couldn’t help but to thank God. There was a time, when I first got saved, that I almost traded in my salvation card because living in the world seemed SO much easier than being saved. At least, I didn’t have this target on my back that the enemy was constantly aiming for. Now, I can look back and almost sit in awe at how beautiful the process has been. Every difficult season was a season spent at the feet of God, crying out to Him and praying in my personal intimate time.

Before I got saved, I spent my life tearing the very fabric of who God had created me to be. With every party, every drink, every guy, I was completely shredding who I was. “You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me,” (Psalm 139: 5, ESV). It wasn’t enough for me to just get saved. God had to completely change who I was. I needed to reflect Him. He had to go behind me and hem the fabric I’d ripped in the process of finding myself in this world. He’s gone before us, even before the beginning of time, to make sure that we’re hemmed into what He has for us. “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there were none of them,” (Psalm 139: 15-16 ESV). He lays His hand on our lives. The very God that SPOKE creation into existence cares to lay HIS hands on MY life?! On YOUR life?! Sigh, just beautiful.

So, I thank God for the ability to find beauty in the process.

I thank Him that He loved me past salvation, that He loved me enough to not leave me where I was first found.

 I’m grateful that He nudges me to reflect Him, daily.

When I’m having bad days, and I feel like I can’t go any further, He reminds me of how far I’ve come.

I’m grateful for His strength that is readily available to me.

 I’m thankful for Him. I love Him.

I empower you to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you the beauty in your everyday process. Yes, living for God is not easy at all, but it is worth it. I pray God will reveal how well He has hemmed you in that when people hear your testimonies, they can’t even see the rips and tears that were once the core of who you were. I challenge you to seek those intimate moments when they come. Satan, so badly, wants to steal your joy, your purpose, and your praise, but it’s hard to give him ground when you learn to find beauty in the difficult times.