Redemption’s Secret

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A broken heart can rend you.

It can take the carefully knit fabric of your entire being that was sewn together so beautifully and turn it into anger and grief… resentment and confusion… bitterness and hate.

We have all been there at some point. The story of our lives has so many plot twists and cliff hangers and it’s laced with brokenness and redemption. Failures and forgiveness. Mystery and adventure.

But the real meat, the heart of our story, is found in our brokenness.

We can’t grow unless we have been broken. Our character won’t stand up and proclaim the glory of God unless we have fallen and failed.

The reason there is so much beauty in our brokenness is because that is where our redemption lies.

Such an underrated thing for us, I think.

Instead of wanting Christ to redeem us and heal us in the midst of our brokenness and give it purpose, we wallow in confusion and entitlement and misery. We want to understand why this broken heart had to happen. How a God who loves us could allow such a deep, penetrating and persistent wound to invade a heart we’ve tried so desperately to protect and cherish.

I’m very much an “all or nothing” kinda girl. Being so has its pros and cons. When I love, it’s with ever fiber of my being. So when that is betrayed, I’m shattered. Honestly, I’d gotten so used to seeing myself as shattered, that I never even realized that I’d been healed, my heart completely redeemed.

Years ago, my heart was broken. More intensely and completely then any brokenness I’d ever known. My brokenness led me down a road that wrought destruction and death and even more brokenness.

And in the midst of my destruction, my heart began to change. I hungered after light. I hungered after healing. I hungered after righteousness. I hungered after God.

I had no idea how vehemently my Savior was pursuing my heart. How relentlessly He was alluring my heart.

 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Weeping a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. In that day,”        declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ I will remove the names of the Idols from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD. I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.'” Hosea 2:14-23

 

It was then that my healing could start. I stopped running from it. I stopped fighting it. I just felt it. I cried, I prayed, I grieved, I prayed, I overanalyzed every detail of it, and I prayed some more.

I did this for years. Not days, not months… years.

I stopped believing I would ever be healed, that my heart would ever be whole again, but still kept praying for it regardless.

And here is where the awesomeness and grace of God is so astounding to me; in the quietness of God’s mercy I was healed and didn’t even know.

Sounds crazy, right?

How could I pray for something so adamantly yet not realize I’d been healed?

Slowly, without my even realizing it was happening, the pain left my eyes and the sting of betrayal left my mind and all those wounds that were dripping blood began to scar and healing took place.

Joy replaced that ting of sadness that always seemed to hang mercilessly over my weary head and I was excited about what the adventure of my life had in store for me.

In every heartache God has a purpose. He will shape our character with it and make it a testament for His glory. We may not understand today or tomorrow why it happened, that answer may never be known while are feet still rest on this earth.

But He is faithful to redeem us. To do the impossible and restore every piece of our heart to be lovingly sculpted back into the masterpiece He has created us to be.

Let Him do His work.

Let Him allure you.

Let Him pursue you.

Let Him heal you in His time.

Let Him teach you through it.

Surrender to the knowledge that we don’t need to understand why it happened, but understand that it’s all for His glory.

If my heart break screams Christ’s grace, then please God let it be broken again and again for Your Kingdom’s sake.

 

 

 

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Occupy new space.

Amazing… Encouraging… Just what I needed to hear.

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“Andy Jacobs,” I muttered beneath my breath as my hands curled up into fists at my sides.

I was standing in the center of what was once my living room, surrounded by black trash bags and packed boxes. I was wearing a bright yellow dress that made my mama tell me, “You’ve never looked more beautiful than this moment.” 

It was the only thing I could think to say when my roommate poked her head out from the refrigerator and asked me if I wanted to keep the kettle. Otherwise, she would throw it out. Just a few days earlier, this had been our apartment. It’d been home to us. Memories were taped up on the doors. The ceremony was over. I had ten minutes to gather the rest of my stuff. My mother told me my relatives were waiting to celebrate my graduation nearly 45-minutes away. I told her I…

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Trailing Behind Glory

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I watched “Saving Mr. Banks” tonight and something hit me as I rode along on the emotional roller coaster this movie evoked –

You can’t always save people when their lives are spiraling out of control.

As much you plead and beg, you can’t always convince someone, no matter how much you love them, to not make that choice, to not believe that lie, to not settle for their own weakness, to fight against the temptation that is standing on display  in every corner of their ring.

You can’t always rescue someone from themselves.

It’s hard to see brokenness and destruction cascading down from from hands you once witness sow joy.

No matter how desperately every bit of you aches after the person you know they can be, you can’t MAKE them be.

Despite the intense gravity of how much you miss them, you cannot make them return.

Just like every love story that has you shaking the book or chucking the remote, their decisions are lost on you.

You can love someone so fiercely it feels like your heart will explode, you can tack up every fluorescent orange warning sign before each step pulling them closer to danger, and you can throw every piece of your furiously beating heart at them until you have nothing left to offer, but only they can turn around and run.

If you’re anything like me, when you see people you love hurting, or making choices that negatively affect their life you want to fix it.

It’s hard, when you’re at that place, to not believe that God created you to fix people.

I think we often forget that God did not call us to fix the brokenhearted and mend the wounds of those so frantically searching for someone, anyone, anything to etch some sense into life and all the heartache it births into our existence.

It’s hard to believe that we weren’t created to weave sense into peoples pain and bring grace into the areas filled with defeat and rejection.

I feel like it is my job to evoke memories and feelings of joy in the lives of those around me questioning the purpose residing in every nook and cranny of life.

Like it is my job to dance for those you can’t, to sing for those who forgot their voice, and to guide for those frantically heading towards places that will only ever strip them away from God and His perfect love.

It makes my heart ache just to think about people in my life that I can no longer find, that no longer exist, that no longer are fighting against every lie strewn their way.

It’s incredible, the wake and devastation that sin can leave in it’s path.

We want to fix those people, to mend every threadbare weakness of their hearts and give them reasons to hope and to dig down deep for the joy that you know they can have, we want to see them succeed and recall to mind the freedom that has been bought for them, and push them to strive towards fighting off every constant plague of temptation trying to wedge in and separate them from God.

God.

And here’s the thing about this furiously-loving, invisible King reigning over us with justice, peace, and love – He says that as much as we yearn to fix broken hearts, to mend contrite spirits, to pick up the burdens weighing down on others, and to give those so saddened by life, peace and joy, this is what He really wants us to know –

We are really, truly here to give all glory to Him.

To paint all pictures with the colors of His grace and mercy.

To play every song with the intricacies, dynamics, rhythms and melodies of His love.

To dance every step with the fluidity, delicacies and confidence of His promises.

To write every word with the beautiful simplicity of His hope.

And to speak every line with trepidation and reverence for His pure, holy, un-defiled name.

Only God can rescue those we love from their own harmful decisions.

Only God.

Believe me when I say, He will use every means possible to snatch them out of the fire, and He will never stop calling and beckoning His children to Him.

You just keep radiating His glory. Keep sparkling with the treasures of His promises hidden away in your ever so precious heart. Cling tightly to all the tiny and medium and huge chunks of grace and truth making up every bit of you and shout from every vantage point that this Mighty Warrior has saved you from every height and every depth and that His love has filled in every crack of emptiness and loneliness that once split straight through your now overflowing heart.

I know how badly you want to turn back and take hostage those you love that you can no longer even make out when you look back over your shoulder. I know how devastating it is to want nothing more than to see them conquer and overcome what is eroding away at their spirit and being completely helpless to do so.

Pray for God’s grace to come flooding in so rapidly and heavily that they drown in an awesome awareness of all that they do not deserve and the real, raw definition of mercy.

This isn’t a mercy for the faint of heart, this isn’t a mercy for the timid, this isn’t a mercy for the quiet – this mercy is exploding across all nations and it has taken the world by storm. There is a surplus of it for every soul lost on this fallen earth.

If you haven’t already, you’re gonna get lost in the maze that is the mercy of Christ, and you will never, ever find your way back to where you started, and trust me – you won’t want to.

You Need Only to Be Still…

InstagramCapture_bfab7508-2240-4bb3-9729-839e9711a0f7_jpgI think we often run from vulnerability.

Nah, I take that back.

We sprint full-force as far as we can in the opposite direction of anything that pertains to wearing our hearts on our sleeves unless it unleashes itself through choppy, vague punk rock lyrics or we stumble across it on a trail laced with the poetic words of another.

Every bruise, scar, and mark running down our arms is covered up by the sleeves we continually pull tightly down around our wrists whenever we feel the gradual exposure begin to take place as we use our hands to work.

We try so hard to lift up the burdens riding around on the backs of others, so hard to pick them up and carry them, to lessen the weight dragging the hearts around us down, yet every time a bit of our own pasts begin to be revealed through the bending and lifting we just as quickly drop and run.

Careful there.

You don’t want to risk exposing any realness that may be ugly, for the sake of looking someone in the eyes, being vulnerable, honest, and telling them that they have no clue how dirty and broken they might find you to be.

It’s scary.

There’s nothing fun associated with admitting that not only have you been battle-scarred by the sins of others, the heartbreak, and maybe, of broken trust, or people you’ll never see again.

Delving into your past can mean admitting to yourself that that broken pot was not only fragile and delicate, but it can mean admitting, as the water comes seeping out through all the cracks, as it slowly trickles down your wrists, as each drop one by one hits the floor, that no matter how much you felt that your heart was worth it, no matter how much steel you thought it was reinforced with, and no matter how many times you were told to guard it, you failed at protecting it.

You had one job with this porcelain heart of yours – Guard it. Protect it.  Place it up high above hands, high above movement, high and out of reach, out of sight, and out of mind of any curiosity to see what’s inside.

But there it was.

Right in the middle of that kitchen table.

Filled with water.

Displaying beautiful, vibrant flowers.

Exposed and offered to others.

And…

One by one, pieces of your life came strolling by that kitchen table.

Some sat down and stayed awhile while others merely glanced as they passed through.

Some had meals, others simply a drink.

Some cozy-ed up to that table for many hours of laughter and tears over a hot cup of coffee, while others sat stone cold and unable to make eye contact as they gave one worded answers to the questions you frantically searched for.

Some sat around that kitchen table and sang, making harmonies with the songs of summer evenings drifting in through the open windows, while others who had become so angry with life, so bitter at the world, could do nothing more than yell at the injustice of pain.

Some linked hands with you around this kitchen table, pulse-to-pulse as you whispered prayers of thanks.

Others poured out their heart ache and dismembered the myriad of every fear hidden inside of them, and every ounce of hurt they could not let go of.

Some people poured out the truth of their hearts to you, gushing forth with revelations and honesty.

Others told poker-faced lies.

Some sat kitty-corner to you, hands wrapped around a mug of warm, homemade hot chocolate, and made new memories, eyes twinkling with the flicker of candles set.

Others looked up at you across this kitchen table, over melted wax, and broke your heart.

Every person that sat at this table plucked a flower out of your heart as they left.

You didn’t sign up for this.

Being compelled to be vulnerable with people and expose your heart to others, to share in it’s beauty and let them take a piece of it with them, was because you thought that they valued it.

This desire God gave you to share your hurts and your weakest parts of you was because you believed that just as you cherished theirs they would hold tightly to yours.

So what do we do?

We place our hearts high up on a shelf, away from anything or one that can come waltzing by and devalue it any farther.

Too scared to be vulnerable for any longer, we close that part of ourselves off.

Life will be easier, life will be less painful, life will be less about wounds and hurt if we can just avoid it touching things that can stand up and walk away at any given moment.

I get it.

Really, I do.

Not only do I want to forget every pair of feet that stood up, turned around, and walked out of that warm kitchen room, with flowers in their hand, but I want to seal it off, and never take the chance of one more person entering and leaving, or one more painful thing from occurring.

If you can stop the breaking and entering, then you can rest assured that nothing will ever be stolen from you.

That’s all fine and dandy, and, honestly, that  makes perfect sense, but if we are not here to take the chance of becoming vulnerable with another, so that they can experience companionship and encouragement from someone else, so that they can look at another soul and realize they are not alone in this journey of heartache that God sometimes allows us to walk in, if we are not here to relate to each other an make prostrate our pasts so that someone else can find encouragement, even at the chance that they might reject it, than what good is it all?

I don’t know anyone who would say that sharing your heart isn’t a risk.

It’s kind of a gamble, really.

I can tell you one thing though – if you keep it locked away up high, you may avoid getting hurt by another, but it will remain dormant and the bitterness which results will be more destructive to you and with no results other than bitterness to accompany it, than sharing with another and investing in others.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.” – C.S. Lewis

God does not write heartache into our lives, but because of sin, and because of free will we are exposed to it.

Here is the greatest part about God, though – no matter what happens in this life, when we are waiting on and trusting in God, He promises to fight for us.

“The Lord shall fight for you, you need only to be still…” Exodus 14:14

When you stop and realize that every step of the way God is standing beside you, defending you against every swing that comes your way, it allows you the chance to revel in the fact that no matter what, you are going to be OK.

Your heart has immense value and God has equipped you, through Him, to be an incredible encouragement and blessing to the people that are in your life.

Sometimes it feels like this porcelain heart is bone dry.

It feels like every last drop of what God has put inside of you has been poured out and left behind and there is nothing left of you to give.

But here’s the thing.

Nothing about this life, really, has anything to do with us. It is all about giving God glory, and just when we think we have nothing left at all, He comes flooding in, overflowing us with His strength and mercy. He tells us that when we are weak THEN we are strong.

I know it’s scary.

There’s a chance someone will take your heart, examine it, thoroughly inspect it, and with indifference throw it back at you.

You might invest in someone, pour into someone, and go to bed every night with a fear that you cannot rid, wondering if they are going to wake up in the morning and no longer need or want you to be any longer in their life, and there’s a chance you could be right.

You might open up the most vulnerable parts of yourself to someone, daringly roll back that sleeve, and with almost a sense of shame, expose your deepest scars, only for them to observe it and not see God’s beauty mark of grace, but see it as ugly and undesirable.

They might not look at it and see God’s grace and faithfulness, but a jagged and hideous wound. It may repulse them, screaming of their conviction, reminding them of  their imperfections, and they may not want anything to do with ugly, with grace, or with pain.

They may see a person marred by their past.

But you know what?

Maybe they won’t.

They may take one glimpse and be overwhelmed with the revelation of God’s grace and magnificent, in-comprehensible, knightly defending, and see faithfulness and grace etched into every groove of that scar.

They may see how valiant your Prince is.

They may see how He swept in and freed your heart from anything that would devalue it’s worth.

How protective He is of His jewel, and how much He values the most delicate part of His beautiful daughter because He never allowed someone who did not value what He created and see the worth of it to stay sitting at that table forever.

Don’t  you see?

We question why so many people sat down, only to get up and walk away with a piece of us in hand, but the real truth is that by God’s grace He does not give them the freedom to STAY.  He protects us so thoroughly that when He sees false commitments there is no question of it staying to hang around until we are deeper entangled. To us it seems like it has been too late – we are already damaged – but to God He has used the trust we have in Him to be a ministry to others – and when it is broken, rejected, or manipulated His protection is unleashed and a new place is set.

You have a Prince who has promised you eternity in His castle, and He has ceaselessly been fighting and battling every day to win your heart.  We have been fought for with more tenacity that we could ever comprehend, there has never been nor will there ever be a greater example of what it is like to have your heart fought for and won. He has never, ever given up on His pursuit of the hearts He longs to cherish, nurture, and protect, and He will do whatever it takes to win them.

There is no greater, more vibrant example of a pure and unadulterated ceaseless pursuit than the one that has been high on your tail since the day you began this journey of life.

If you think you are unwanted, un-valuable, worthless, and used, take one look behind you and recognize that a Prince has been pleading for a chance with you since the dawn of creation, and nothing will ever even come close to dissuading Him from constantly calling at your door.

If only you could get one glimpse of how much His heart aches for you to stop and sit at His table., you would forget about the ones that walked away from yours.

“He will fight for you, you need only to be still…”

Be still, and revel in God’s constant guard over you, and delicate handling of someone made in His image..

“He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; but those who wait on the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:29-31

Guys, some days your heart is going to hurt so bad, it is going to be so hard to believe in the truth and remember God’s promises, but He will get you through it, He won’t waste it, and it will be something that you thank Him for down the road.

Though I am weak HE is strong.

God will give you more than you can handle, WAY more.

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There’s this mythical scripture than has been making its rounds in the Christian circle for some time now.

You know the one?

When you find yourself in the midst of a trial or battle you are more than likely going to have it quoted to you.

I’ve been guilty of using it myself when I’ve found a friend or loved one burdened down my pain and hurt in their life.

“God will never give you more than you can handle.”

It is a well-meaning phrase, and I’m not trying to come down on people who say it or make a big, dramatic deal out of something that isn’t, but  that aside, there is something I need to admit – I’ve got beef with this phrase.

My problem is that we use it as if it were scripture, and it takes the focus off of God, and puts it on ourselves. We give ourselves way too much credit when we use these 10 words – credit that says no matter what, we can handle  what we are going through, we are strong and we are capable of whatever comes our way. It says that we don’t need God in order to get through this situation, we just need to remember that He won’t ever make it THAT hard.

Here’s what I’ve found –

God DOES give us more than we can handle, because if we could handle any part of the drudges of this life on our own, then we would be crowned victorious, we would be praised champions, we would be labeled winners,  and we would be recognized as independent,  confident and proud of OUR accomplishments.

If we were capable, and if God gave us only what we could handle, then He would never receive any of the glory for getting us across the trek  we make through the mire that life attempts to sink us into.

God gives us more than we can handle so that HE can handle it for us and so that we can be carried by Him through the dirtiest, messiest, and most ugly places we will ever be.

He gives us more than we can handle so that others can see His glory shine through and so that others can see His sovereignty in our lives.

But more than that, I believe He gives us more than we can handle so that we can sit down, tip our heads back, exhale, and come to the complete and full revelation that there is no way we could ever survive this mess of life without His faithfulness.

We are messy, we are imperfect, we are tattered and worn down, but we are sewn so tightly to the cloth of God’s heart that we will never be able to look back and say that every beat wasn’t because of the oxygen and blood-pumping life support of  a Designer that takes every part of life laced with futility and turns it into a masterpiece of purpose.

I can’t handle any ounce of this seemingly purpose-less, soot-filled life on my own.

I can’t make sense of pain, death, or brokeness through my grey screen of tangible-only things.

In my mind, through my eyes, I have to touch in order to believe.

I have to see the end in order to make sense of the middle.

If life went my way it would be color-by-numbers, filled with order and straight forward logic, something that everyone could make sense of. But the thing is, coloring by numbers may make sense, it may turn out in a way that allows the picture to be obvious and understandable, but it will never turn into a masterpiece, it will leave you confined and limited. It will never incorporate the blending of colors, the freedom of technique, and the ability to paint without lines.   If you take the lines and the numbers away and observe it might scare you to death. For a long time you won’t be able to make sense of where these woven colors are going. It will look chaotic, nonsensical, out-of-order, foolish, even. In the end, though, it will be a beautiful work of art, and you will look back and be able to understand where all those colors came into play, why all those brushstrokes were necessary, why all those tools were needed, why the Artist, in all His creativity and in all His ability to use every ounce of canvas and every mistake made, allowed certain mediums to be used, and certain colors to be blended with others, and certain parts to be simply painted over.

If God only gave me what I could handle than I would have a bunch of lines and numbers spread out infront of me, waiting as I go one-by-one painting them in with a color that I did not even pick out on my own. It may have order, and it may make logical sense, but no one would ever call it beautiful, no one would ever think it was realistic or spectacular or out of the ordinary. I would be confined to a certain place, held back by logic and God would receive no glory at all.

Praise God that He holds the brush, that He blends the colors and that He uses every bit of life that does not make sense to us and swirls it into a beautiful masterpiece that radiates His glory.

Remember, you are given more than you can handle so that HE can handle it for you, so that HE can carry you through, and so that you can see how faithful He truly is to use ALL THINGS for good.

“5 That experience is worth boasting about, but I’m not going to do it. I will boast only about my weaknesses. 6 If I wanted to boast, I would be no fool in doing so, because I would be telling the truth. But I won’t do it, because I don’t want anyone to give me credit beyond what they can see in my life or hear in my message, 7 even though I have received such wonderful revelations from God. So to keep me from becoming proud, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.

8 Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. 9 Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

-2 Corinthians 12:5-10

Is There Power In Our Pain?

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~ I think one of the biggest diseases in the heart of people today is that we love to hurt. Pain becomes a platform for attention and a sense of entitlement sweeps in on her broomstick and invades our lives and relationships and jobs and our spiritual walk.

~ Have you ever had someone in your life that felt like what they have been through is so beyond anything you could ever understand that they back away from a cherished friendship? I have.

~ Have you ever had someone in your life that constantly compared your hurts and struggles to theirs, making you feel inferior and less, like you have no right to express or feel the pain you’re in? I have.

~ Have you ever had someone in your life that NEEDS to be better than you? Better grades, better family, more attention, more beautiful, more qualified, yet uses the “tragedy” that is their life as a means for attention, recognition and admiration? I have.

~ Have you ever had someone in your life that holds you to a double standard? That the same behavior they accuse you of is something they practice daily? I have.

~ I could go on and on with this list.

~ We are all failable people, all desperately in need of a Savior, some searching to find Him in all the wrong things, some have been found by His amazing grace and are searching to know Him more and make Him known.

~ Is there a line where we can say, as lovers of Christ, enough is enough?

~ When Proverbs 4:23 warns us to protect our hearts, the writer wasn’t just filling in space. And I believe with all my heart that those words are far more complex than we assume they are.

~ I hate the thought of hurting people. I will allow my heart to take an emotional beating before I will speak up or start building walls. I want to be a wellspring of kindness and encouragement that people can draw from. But there comes a point where kindness can cripple us, and we are doing someone more harm than good by our silence and desperate attempts to let it ‘role off our back’.

~ Entitlement is such an ugly thing, and we have all walked in it to some extent. Job had a sense of entitlement. He went back and forth between begging for death because of all he had been through, and proclaiming he was better than his friends and without sin, even blaming God in his self righteousness. Yet God still called him blameless, a man of integrity. That’s how awesome our God is, guys. He sees the ugliness that sometimes we don’t even see and He calls us worthy, cherished, set apart, blameless, holy, men and women of purpose, value and integrity. And He calls us on our crap. My favorite part of the tragedy that is the book of Job is when the Lord called him out, tells him he is going to stand up, take it like a man and God held him accountable. Please note that God never looks at Job and says “Well, I guess I was wrong about the whole ‘being blameless’ thing. You’re a train wreck.” His worth never changed in the Lords eyes. His value wasn’t diminished and he was still a righteous man of integrity.

~ Sometimes the kindest thing we can do is speak up for ourselves. Now, I know there are plenty of people that have no problem doing this, but is it being done in a way that leads to repentance or resentment?

~ Our hearts should be to let even the tough moments be an example of the grace of our Father, His insane mercy and unending, passionate, ever pursuing love.

~ I’m still not entirely sure how to do this myself. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the truth that kindness sometimes requires you to become uncomfortable, become confrontational, and to speak up for your heart and the heart of your friend/loved one/significant other. But I do believe that, in His grace, He will give us the words to say, the wisdom when to say them, and a heart of compassion and love that will point directly to the throne of our Savior.

~ The question now is, are we willing to lay down our pride and own sense of entitlement we wear like a shield when we have been wounded, and show a small aspect of the breathtaking character of Christ to those in our life that require a tough dose of kindness and love?

~ Know that every person you meet, every situation you face, every road you walk down, every door that has been opened or closed, every heartbreak, every situation that requires more of you than you have to give is another way for God to work in and through you, strengthen you in the knowledge of your weakness, mold you into His image, comfort you with His love, and make you a better version of yourself than you were before.

~ Why would we want to use these things to elevate ourselves in a shallow pursuit of human recognition and revel in what we’ve been through when we have the beautiful opportunity to elevate our Savior because of what He has brought us through?

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Now You See Me…

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There is something about the people in your life that are there one day, then gone the next.

Poof.

Like the act of a magician, they vanish in the blink of an eye, without explanation, without warning, without understanding.

It is a type of death, really.

Any other type of loss is not quite so painful, because it is a more gradual slope, but the ones that you never see coming-those will really leave their mark.

With these kinds of losses you find yourself wanting to recount every good memory, hold onto every ounce of laughter, every conversation shared, every moment spent. Even if they have left you, even if every bit of why they are no longer there all stems from their own decisions, you want to hang onto them. It is such an unbearable loss to over night have someone rid you from their life, and every part of you longs for God to pinch you awake and out of this nightmare that has become reality.

It feels so wrong.

Every ounce of you feels like you should be able to pick up the phone, to meet at your usual place, to maintain your routines.

I am starting to need a third hand to count the people in my life that are no longer there, but the ones like this, the ones that kill, the ones you thought would forever be in your life, praise God, are much fewer and farther in-between.

Let me tell  you something-

God is not the author of broken relationships.

God is not the author of rejection.

God is not the author of leaving.

God is not the author of Dear John letters, or “it’s not you, it’s me”, He is not the author of unfaithfulness, or lack of commitment, He is not the author of changed feelings, and He definitely does not pen promises and then un-pen them a few chapters later.

He is not the author of lukewarm anything, of half-committed anything, and He definitely does not write in roles of bestfriend, confident, companion one day, and perfect stranger the next.

He is the author of unity, of selflessness, of commitment, but He is also the author of sparing.

And He will take whatever steps, leaps, and bounds it requires to knock you out of the way of something that is going to harm you spiritually, and most likely it is going to hurt.

Just remember, when you are so lonely, when you are so broken, when the tears are heavy flowing, and when every ounce of you aches and misses someone you no longer see-you are beautiful, you are spared, you are washed in grace and mercy, you are built up on love and faithfulness, you are poured over in endless affection and nothing, ever will tear that away.

God’s love will NEVER burn you, will NEVER leave you, will NEVER change it’s mind, it will ALWAYS make promises, it will ALWAYS keep them, it will ALWAYS stay..it is the kind of love you never have to be afraid of accepting or linking arms with, because it is impenetrable from sin.

Every negative, bad, sad, hurtful, painful thing is a consequence of sin, and God’s love is one of the only things we can experience that is not damaged in any way, it is one of the only things that can offer you promises with the full confidence of delivery and the assurdness of being there the next day.

In those moments where your heart just aches so badly, remember that you are right then and there being cradled by perfect love, which casts out all fear.

Again and again and again.

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Shattered Glass

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Rescue- : to free from confinement, danger, or evil

We are a rescued people.
We are born into the confinement of sin, and amazingly swept off our feet into the intimate embrace of mercy.
From the day of our birth sin has leeched itself onto our hearts, encasing us in a box of shame and reminding us of an impossible perfection, yet we are not consumed, as a hammer has come smashing down, shattering the glass, and freeing  us from that which labels us unworthy.
We are renewed in a light of transparent grace and cascaded with a ceaseless flow of an audaciously intrepid LOVE that will never be molded into any forced shape by man.
It cannot be adequately defined, it cannot be adequately categorized, it cannot be held to any standard or forced into any starting or stopping point.
It is above, below, and beyond any form of love we can relate to.
We are RESCUED from the sickness that was rooted deep in our hearts.
We are FREED from the chains that were shackled to our limbs, forcing us to be held back to a certain point.
We are no longer restrained to be in only a certain place, but are called to reach out beyond our own strength and share of the One who desperately and lovingly pried the prongs that were latched around our souls away from us.
You cannot label this freedom, you cannot define it…but you can experience it.

We are washed over with a love and a joy, stemming from the portrait of God’s grace.

Meticulous and purposeful  brushstrokes, every line reverberating the authentic texture of God’s agape love, layered on the canvas of our broken, deceitful, loveless hearts.

We were made

Vulernable.

Transparent.

Prostrate.

Before God our hearts – the deep, infected sickness of our hearts was laid bare, revealing just how very little we actually knew about our inward capabilities.

The good we thought took up residence inside, was really just a masked intruder, leveling out and exposing all the wicked we had kept hidden and denied.

The tattered, black vessels being held together by just a thread of pumping life, were flushed out by a crimson that is not our own – making us white.

We are a people seen through the eyes of grace, clothed in nothing other than redemption.

We have been miraculously set free from the dues of what we deserve and eyes that once only saw grey are dancing with delight over the swirls of the colors of mercy, joy grace, love, peace, newness, and HOPE.

While most see us as fools, clinging to something which makes no sense we say “Yes!”, gladly we will be fools, we will be fools for the Savior of our hearts, and nothing can hold us in, nothing can keep us tamed – the glass has been shattered! We are rescued, we are free, we are made NEW.

And we will run, we will shout, we will dance, we will never tire, until beautifully restored canvas is seen by all.

God’s Way is Perfect, My Way Isn’t

Psalm 18:30

This God—his way is perfect;

   the word of the Lord proves true;

   he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

I know in my heart God’s way is perfect, but often times, its a war in my head that the way I think life should go is perfect. Sometimes I’m so blindsided by my own thoughts and plans that when God changes them, I get upset. I trust Him. I don’t trust him. It’s a war inside.  And then, after battling with God over a season of time of why did life have to happen this way, something changes, and suddenly things make sense! Hindsight is always the clearest. Looking back, I can see why God changed my plans, and how God used that to draw me more to himself with a deeper understanding of Him and how good He really is. You realize if you had gone the way you planned, you would have never had the blessings of going God’s way. Then, you find yourself thanking Him for His master plan and asking forgiveness for your doubt. As every year of my life goes on, I am never where I planned I would be. But I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, I am where God planned me to be. My heart’s cry becomes more and more to be, “Jesus, please help me to trust You are good no matter what happens!”

I am ashamed at how often I have gotten angry and doubtful at God when my life takes unexpected turns. But Jesus, with His loving father’s heart, has never turned me away when I come running back to Him. It doesn’t matter how many times we have run away, God is always willing to take us back.

Often times, what causes doubt of God is my past hurts and disappointments. Rather than dwelling on God’s faithfulness, I dwell on old wounds. I become so consumed with the hurt, I lose sight of Hope.  Some wounds seem to impossible for God to heal, or it’s been years and He doesn’t seem to be moving quick enough to restore that which was lost. But it is in those times that I have to take hold of and cling to for dear life, the promises of God.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

God is not out to get me. He is not out to ruin my life. People have hurt me, tried to destroy my family. Anger, bitterness, unforgiveness and jealousy have tried to control and dominate my life. But Jesus, is the only one who saves me and gives me Hope!

Psalm 37:3-7

Trust in the Lord, and do good;

   dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.[b]

4 Delight yourself in the Lord,

   and he will give you the desires of your heart.

5 Commit your way to the Lord;

   trust in him, and he will act.

6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,

   and your justice as the noonday.

7 Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;

   fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,

   over the man who carries out evil devices!

Is The Pleasure Worth The Pain?

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~   For the last few days there has been an uneasiness that has plagued me.

~   A feeling deep in my heart telling me something just isn’t right and things aren’t as they should be.

~   A feeling I know so well.

~   It’s a feeling I have had ever since I was a child.

~   One that warned me that I’ve done something wrong and punishment was headed my way.

~   One that has pleaded with me to turn in the opposite direction because I was headed straight for heartache.

~   One that I have felt every time I have watched someone I love and want the best for walk in a way that leads to destruction.

~   I have a front row seat to that right now. I am watching someone I love make choices that will lead to death, not life. I am watching this person I love pull others down this path of death alongside them.

~   It is utterly unbearable for me.

~   I feel as if the words I should say are fighting to break free from my tightly concealed lips.

~   What is the right thing to say when someone is making a conscious choice to walk in a way that totally contradicts God’s character and His heart? What do you say to someone who claims to want to walk in the fullness of God’s love but they know what they are doing is wrong and selfish and will only bring forth a separation from the Father?

~   I’ve been praying about this for days. Is this a time to be silent or a time to speak up? Does my silence condone the sin?

~   It hurts my heart to see people choose to indulge in the pleasures of this world instead of indulging in the pleasures of our awesome Warrior God. It frustrates me that there are no words that I can say to change the hearts and minds of people around me. I don’t speak from judgment or condemnation, but from a heart that has known the pain of separation from my God because I chose my flesh over my Fathers plan for me. During that time, I searched for happiness and found depravity. I searched for acceptance and found rejection. I searched for love and got a cheap imitation that left me empty, broken and thirsty for the real thing.

~   I wish I could adequately describe the joy I have found in contentment. I wish I could describe how it feels to be secure in my Saviors love and see my worth through His gracious eyes for the first time in my life. I wish I could explain what if feels like to know that my whole heart, all my hopes and dreams, my present and future battles, my insecurities and my imperfections, are all in the hands of the Lover of my soul.

~   We so quickly forget who the Author of our worth is. We search for it in relationships and friendships and careers and social status, but that will never make us worthy. In fact, all of those things will make us feel worthless eventually. We run after things that we think will fill that void that has been left by a past shattered by abuse, or a heart that has been used and beaten and broken by someone who claimed love for us, or by parents who neglected to see our worth, or by a church filled with people who turned a blind eye to see our pain. We fill it with one pointless sin after another. Maybe it’s a new relationship and you think to yourself, “Finally! Finally I have found someone who loves me and wants me for who I am”. Maybe it’s a new career with the promise of a luxurious lifestyle and the respect you believe you’re due. Maybe its drugs or sex or alcohol, where you can lose yourself for just a little while and forget all the heartache you have endured.

~   Emptiness, all of it.

~   Most of these things aren’t bad things. In fact, most are things God created to bless us and sharpen us and help us to grow in His love. But a good thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing. And even worse, we have taken a precious gift, cheapened it and made it a sinful thing that hurts the heart of our Beloved.

~   I don’t know what to say to my loved one. But I do know this; my beautiful Savior is the only one who will bring you joy. He is the only one who will love you unconditionally. He is the only one who sees every single scar, every single tear you have ever cried, every hurt, every betrayal, every happy moment, every blessing bestowed upon you by His unfailing grace. He calls us His beloved and pursues us with a relentless ferocity that overwhelms my heart and sweeps the romantic inside me off my feet. Please fight. Please know that whatever you are looking for will only bring about death if you do it outside of His perfect will. Please know that His will far exceeds what your eyes tell you are good or your fickle heart tells you will make you worthy. Please, don’t be ruled by your desires, but let the Ruler of heaven and earth be your desire and hope in the desires He has given you, desires He will bring about in His time and in a way that will bring honor and glory to Him. And please, PLEASE, know your enemy! Know that he wants nothing more than to separate you from the Father and he will use anything to do just that. Our enemy will present us with the desires of our hearts to lure us away from the shelter of our Fathers arms. Don’t ever forget Satan knows our weaknesses, and he will use them to cripple us. That’s why I will say again and again and again, lay your desires at Jesus’ feet and let Him bring them to pass WHEN IT’S RIGHT. Not when it feels right or the opportunity presents itself or when it makes you feel happy and loved and secure.

~   Please, choose life. Choose to be filled with His love, with His words, with His praise. Please, run hard after contentment and joy. Please, pray for wisdom and become so familiar with God’s word that you know the truth and can fight the manipulations of the enemy.

~   I beg you to apply this to your life. I beg you as a sister in the Lord, a sister who has been where death and depravity lie and wants so much more for you all. A sister who longs to see people strengthen themselves in God’s love and be a mighty force for His kingdom. A sister who faces this same battle, day in and day out. I know what I’m asking isn’t easy. It will require everything you have, and more. So ask yourself this, do I want to be used for good and be a light that shines so brightly for the King that people are drawn to His grace through me, or do I want momentary happiness that will only be a cheap imitation of love that will leave me feeling empty, worthless and devoid of value?

~   Whatever you decide, know that He loves you regardless. And He will pursue you to the ends of the earth because that is who He is. He will win your heart back if you choose to give it away in vein. And, if you let Him, He will love you so completely, so passionately, so fully, so relentlessly, no other earthy thing will ever compare to the magnitude of our romantic Warrior King.