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in the eye of the storm

“We made it through the night.”

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash

Photo by Matt Hardy on Unsplash

When the storm makes landfall in our lives, whether literally or figuratively, we sometimes wonder if we will survive the night. We wonder if our bodies, our homes, the infrastructure of the town and our communities, have what it takes to weather the winds and the rains and raging seas that threaten our very lives.

We hope for the little things.

And we find our peace, not in the report on the news or the doctor or the bank statement, but we find peace in the eye of the storm when we fix our hearts and our minds on the Creator of the winds, and the rains and the raging seas.

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in Him I will trust.”

“He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust; his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.”

“Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name. He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honor him.” Psalm 91

In the eye of the storm we find peace that passes understanding.

When we abide in the shelter of the Almighty, we find rest.

We don’t ignore the storm, but our hearts and minds are guarded by his truth that keeps us from buckling under the weight of the reality.

It can’t be explained. We can’t define it. It is beyond our comprehension.

God’s peace stands as a guard around our anxious hearts and worrisome minds.

God’s protective hand keeps us.

God’s powerful word sustains us.

We will make it through the night.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

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the joy walk

Picture Credit: Kolleen Gladden, Upsplash

Picture Credit: Kolleen Gladden, Upsplash

“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:2-3

We would be gravely mistaken if we believed that Jesus went twirling and dancing his way to the cross; that somehow, because he was God, he was able to muster up a supernatural “can-do” attitude and walk the path to his death with a great big smile on his face. It is an absurd thought, I know. And when we read the horrifying details of Christ’s crucifixion, we ought to be quickly convicted of just how much he suffered, how heavy the weight of our sins bore down upon him, and how willingly and intentionally he pressed on through this sorrow. The suffering was very real. And Jesus never once pretended that everything was “a-okay”or blurted out ,”I can do all things…”. No. The story of the cross is ugly, terrifying, humbling, overwhelming, and shameful.

So why, then, when we are going through dark seasons and walking down painful paths, do we oftentimes try so hard to flash that million dollar smile with a peppy ’skip-to-my-loo-my-darlin’? Why do we think the phrase, “the joy of the Lord is my strength”, means we aren’t allowed to show any sign of human emotion besides happiness? Are we afraid of looking weak? Are we afraid that to truly unveil our deep hurts, and our lack of pep going through them, will somehow make us less valuable to others? Less wanted? Less popular?

I have found myself hunkered down in the book of Hebrews for quite some time. I just can’t seem to pull myself away. Each time I read it I am challenged and convicted in a whole new way. Lately I have been contemplating the first few verses in chapter 12.

“…let us run with perseverance…”

Jackson, my eleven-year-old son, is doing cross-country this year. He has always been a good runner, when he puts his mind to it, and has the potential of doing very well in long-distance running. Currently, as he has been in training for less than a month, he is learning that increasing distance and speed takes a bucket load of endurance. And the only way to build endurance is through consistent training and perseverance. He has all the potential in the world, but in order to tap into that potential, he needs to get beyond the pain which demands perseverance.

Perseverance is hard.

The definition of perseverance is: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success. (Webster’s Dictionary).

The race that Hebrews is talking about, and the one in which perseverance is required, is our lifelong walk of faith in the midst of all the mess, dysfunction, suffering, challenges, loss, and difficulties that life brings our way. This sinful world will bring painful and sorrowful consequences, even to the most faithful and persevering.

Yet, we are encouraged to keep running.

And to run with perseverance.

The race will not be easy, and it will afford us more challenges and painful twists and turns than we think we can handle, but the finish line is coming. We must endure.

This part of the passage I understand. I don’t love the thought that life is going to be hard and will demand such patience and endurance, but I get it. I can accept it.

But, and perhaps you can relate to this, I often wonder, “how does a persevering believer ‘count it all joy’ as our faith is tested and we charge on to victory? How do we do this? How do we honor God and also be honest with our very human emotions?” The answer if found further on in the passage:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus…”

The finish line of victory is Jesus.

This race we run is not the end. It is not our forever. There is an eternity waiting for us just beyond the yellow tape at the end of the track.

It is often easy to get distracted during a race. I remember my dad hammering a few words of wisdom into me years ago when I had to run the mile race at our school’s Sports Day: 1. Don’t look back, it will slow you down, and 2. Keep a steady pace until the very end, and then run as fast as your feet will carry you.

The tests that come our way, whether in the form of an illness, job termination, rebellious child, unmet expectations, or the loss of a dream, are all forms of distraction that can make us want to do a quick turn of our neck to see what is coming up behind us. How far ahead are we? Are we going to make it? Will this sorrow overtake us?

Hebrews reminds us to keep our gaze locked on the One who will see us through every trial and painful step. Jesus is our goal. He is the beginning and the end of our faith. If we want to persevere and not buckle under the weight of our circumstances, then we must fix our eyes, our attentions, and our motivations on him. He is the finish line.

But not only that, Jesus is also our example.

How do I walk through this with authenticity and real joy?

Walk as Jesus did when he walked his final steps to the cross. In his book, The Incomparable Christ, J. Oswald Sanders wrote,

“The Son of God approaches the sorrows of Gethsemane, the shame of Gabbatha, and the sufferings of Golgotha with a song on his lips. Anyone can sing in the sunshine, but to sing in the shadows is a rare accomplishment.”

Praise was Christ’s Plan A for enduring the cross.

“…who for the joy set before him endured the cross…”

The joy that Christ anticipated was not the painful cross, but it was the resurrection afterward that awaited him, the victorious sitting at the right hand of his Father that encouraged him and comforted him as he faced the most devastating of circumstances.

It was customary at the Passover to sing the Hallel, a collection of Psalms that had once been one continuous song, but is now divided into separate psalms (113-118). “Hallel” actually means “to praise.”

During the final meal that Jesus shared with his disciples and before his suffering, Christ chose to sing praise.

A lifestyle of praise, I truly believe, is the solid foundation by which we can walk through the valley of the shadow of death and fear no evil. Praise keeps our hearts and our eyes focused on Jesus. It doesn’t take the pain away, but it gives us the joy to keep pressing on.

When we look at the story of Christ’s death, we see that he never put on a smily face of inauthentic joy. He never denied he was in pain. He felt the scorn of the whip and hate of the nails. He didn’t pretend it didn’t hurt. Yet, he walked steadfastly, and his joy was what awaited him on the other side. He suffered, but with praise in his heart.

“What can we learn from the Passover Song? That we can turn our trouble into treasure and our sorrow into song. Faith can sing her song in the darkest hour. Sorrow and singing are not incompatible.” The Incomparable Christ, J. Oswald Sanders

The joy walk is not the hokey pokey. My friends, when the race is getting long, and your legs are weary, and your arms are weak, it is okay to not be okay. You can still have joy and not be wearing a smile. You can still praise even though your heart is heavy. Brokenness in this life is a necessary part of keeping our eyes on Jesus. He gives us endurance. We don’t have to try and muster it up on our own. He composes the song we sing.

The joy walk is one of perseverance. We run steady when our gaze is fixed on Jesus.

If you feel like crying, then go ahead and cry.

If you need help, then go ahead and ask for it.

And when you feel like you are ready to give up…

“Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

As we run each lap and face each trial, remember the One who ran before us, and who is running with us now.

passing through the fire

Photo by Connor Jalbert on Unsplash

Photo by Connor Jalbert on Unsplash

“Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.” Isaiah 43:1

Fear not.

Thou art mine.

There is something incredibly comforting in those words. We don’t have to fear because we belong to Him.

The older I get, and the more life I experience, the more I appreciate the value of this constant truth. And never before have I leaned more deeply into God’s promise to be with me than when we stepped into this water-walking faith journey of the missionary call.

“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.”  Isaiah 43:2

In this life we will pass through rough waters and walk through the fire. Not one of us is guaranteed a trial-free life. We will pass through the fire. But…we will not be consumed.

Fear not.

When the water is heavy and our legs are weak from pushing our way upstream, remember that you belong to God, and the river will not overtake you.

When the intensity of the fire burns blue and white and the heat takes your breath away, remember, not one flame will flicker or dance its way onto your skin. We may smell the smoke, but it will not burn its way into our hearts.

We are not promised a fire-free life, and the waters will come raging in whether we like it or not, but we are guaranteed that we will not be abandoned in the heat or lost in the ocean. God will be there. God knows who we are and where we are. He sees each one of us.

And he says, “Fear not.”

Faith steps are never easy, but they are possible when we keep in mind the One who called us into the journey. Our hearts and minds, our bodies and souls, will weather the ups and downs of the uncertain and overwhelming when we consider the walk that Jesus took to bring us our redemption. He calls us by name.

The river, while it may rush towards us and threaten to swell over us, is held back by the same voice that comforts us to, “Fear not.”

The fire, raging and dancing and sparking in circles all around our dry and weary souls, is controlled by the same One who protected the bush from being consumed in the desert.

And sometimes we feel Him close and around us, and sometimes we simply must trust his voice, his word and his promise.

Fear not.

Thou art mine.

Let us not forget, we are only passing through the fire. We are not here to build our homes and hammer in the stake of an in-the-fire identity. No. The step of faith, and the walking by faith in the direction that God has laid out, are the actions that follow an identity rooted in Christ. The journey is not the destination. And waters that try to knock us off balance and tow us out to sea are not where this journey ends. The fire is not the destination either.

We are on a journey home. God takes us on the path he has marked out for us, and we – who long to dwell in intimacy with him – will follow where he leads. The journey will bring the water and the fire. There is no shortcut. This is the way home. But we do not need to be afraid. He walks before us, beside us and behind us.

We are just passing through the fire on our way home.

And we have no need to fear.

“God, who created and formed us, says to us, ‘Fear not,’ and a secret whisper is heard in the heart by which the heart is so comforted that fear is driven away.” – Charles H. Spurgeon

who are you becoming?

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“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Galatians 5:22,23

Who are you becoming?

The answer to this question can be found in revealing where you have been abiding.

Underneath the surface of every living thing are roots tied to something, connecting this living thing to its life-giving source. Where our hearts and minds abide, when no one else is looking, is the source of the fruit we bear both publicly and privately.

While we can’t always see the source, or where a person is abiding, we can judge the wellness and vitality of the source by the condition of the fruit.

What kind of fruit are you bearing?

I’ve had to ask myself this a lot lately. Am I bearing love and joy and peace and patience? Or am I bearing hate and defeat and anxiety and irritability? Is kindness, goodness and faithfulness, gentleness and self-control blossoming out of my life? Or am I, at best, producing counterfeit acts of kindness and harsh answers to my family members? It takes all the maturity I can muster to answer these convicting questions with integrity and honesty. Some days I am not loving. Or patient. Or self-controlled. Or kind.

My fruit is not always so juicy and sweet.

Sour fruit happens when I lose my connectedness to the source of all that is fruitfully pleasant. Bearing rotten fruit is a direct result of a life stretched beyond margin and dependent upon self-sufficiency and pride. Something’s growing, but it’s not sweet. A field can produce a crop, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the crop is healthy.

Diseased fruit is tied to roots drawing from diseased soil.

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” John 15:4

To produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, we must abide relentlessly with Jesus.

The most supernatural display of a Spirit-filled life is one ripe with the fruit of the Spirit. And this can only come through a deep connectedness with Christ.

To abide is to produce.

Who are you becoming?

To what source are you connected?

Anyone can put on a show of love for a short period of time, but a life that is defined by love, and one that bears all things, is truly hard to find. That kind of fruit is rare.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a flash-in-the pan type of Christian. I want to bear fruit consistently and for the long haul. In fact, I want the fields of my life to be rich and plentiful, producing a steady harvest of healthy and sustainable produce. But a longing like that may never see its fulfillment if the soil is not managed and maintained.

Maintenance requires discipline. We think spiritual disciplines are so legalistic and outdated. We don’t like to feel constrained to a specific pathway towards spiritual growth. Yet, it is discipline that causes a farmer to wake up early, manage his fields, and spend his daylight hours toiling away, in all manner of conditions, to produce a healthy crop. His discipline reaps a harvest.

How is your fruit?

To what are your roots tied?

Are you abiding by your wits and strong-will to make it all happen? You can’t bear love, true love, without abiding in true Love. And whatever plastic counterfeit-to- the-real thing you are carrying around will not last. Is your produce diseased? Have you tied yourself to a source that mimics good soil, but damages and destroys?

I say this as one who so often needs to check underneath the surface and cut ties to things that distract and contaminate the soil in which God desires to dwell. When the fruit in my life shows up as anxiety and irritability, I recognize that I’ve been falling a bit lazy in my farming disciplines. And yet, even then, God is gracious.

So when our fruit trees are bare, or what we’re producing is far from edible, let us uproot the deadly source, dig deep where the vine is strong and healthy, and hide ourselves in the presence of God’s rich soil.

Who are you becoming?

“For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

we can be bold

Photo credit: Jeff Rogers on Unsplash

Photo credit: Jeff Rogers on Unsplash

We can be bold.

“In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, and through wisdom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory, and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things through his powerful word.” Hebrews 1:1-3

We don’t have to piggyback on someone else’s faith. Our prayers to God don’t require a middle-man.

The One who created the universe, who sustains all things through his powerful word, has given us direct access to the throne of grace.

“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16

We have needs. Although we may not want to recognize or admit this, the fact is we all do. From provision for our basic needs, like food, shelter, and safety, to healing, both physical or emotional. Maybe we call on God in moments of desperation. Or maybe we pull back in fear or embarrassment because we don’t want to admit our failure to meet our own needs. Or maybe we just don’t recognize how great our God truly is. Rather than step up in confidence we shrink back in fear.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6:19,20

An anchor, as we know, is a heavy metal device used to connect a boat, or vessel, to the sea floor. A mooring is a specific type of anchor which will hold the vessel in place permanently. Made of either a large slab of rock or a barbed metal beam, it embeds itself into the bottom of the ocean where it grips and holds the boat in place through all kinds of weather, including the severest storm.

We shrink back in fear when we forget the One to whom our soul’s have been anchored.

We can be bold.

As the mooring grips the ocean floor through hurricanes and cyclones, rough waters and high winds, so our hope is connected, anchored, to the One who can calm the winds and waves, and who can hold us secure through the storm. Hebrews reminds us of who Jesus is. The author exhorts us to approach the throne of grace with confidence, and to remember to whom our anchor is set.

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need – one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.” Hebrews 7:25,26

Jesus, the anchor of our souls, lives to intercede for us. Jesus has taken his rightful place of honor and authority with his Father, and pleads the case of each believer, interceding on our behalf according to the will of God.

And he, our high priest, meets our need.

We sometimes struggle to articulate our needs, or out fear, shame, and pride, we withhold our needs.  But Jesus already knows…we don’t have to hide. Through grace and mercy we can approach the throne of God with confidence.

We can be bold.

We have been set free through the sacrifice of Christ, once and for all. We can be bold because we are anchored to the One who continuously intercedes for us. Our needs, spoken or unspoken, are known…and Christ meets each one.

Boldness may not come naturally to us, yet I find myself sitting a little bit taller, and a little bit more confidently, knowing that the One who can speak the universe in place through his powerful word is the same One who intercedes on my behalf. I will tie my anchor in Him.

I can be bold because of Christ.

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” Hebrews 10:19-23

breathe

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“Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

Sometimes God says, “Breathe.”

Pause.

Stop doing. Stop with the self-reliance. Give yourself a rest.

Take a Sabbath.

Take a walk.

Put your phone away and your calendar and your e-mail inbox. We deceive ourselves into thinking we’ve got a handle on it…that we are in control…that one more extra thing proves our worth and value.

We’re good at doing, but we are not so good at being.

Being almost seems like laziness.

How much we don’t understand about what being really means.

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“The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

Be still in the knowledge that God is in control. Take each worrisome thought and lay at his feet. Take your daily checklist and place it in his hands. The frantic need to order your life will only leave you empty and weary. This is not the way God intended us to live. Racing through life is not really living anyway.

Being requires trust. To be still demonstrates intimacy with Jesus. Surrendering allows God to work on our behalf.

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“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

Life to the full. Abundant life.

Christ came to give us abundant life – a life full of his presence.

Breathe and rest in God’s abundant presence in the quietness and the chaos. Be still when the day is calm and when the storm is raging. The enemy tries to steal, kill and destroy that abundance with a cheap counterfeit of fullness. The more we do the better we’ll be.

And so, God says, “Breathe.”

Rest in his Sovereignty.

Let him fight your battles.

Be in his presence.

Breathe.

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Photo by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash

Photo by SwapnIl Dwivedi on Unsplash

There is no person on this planet, no authority, no government, no circumstance bearing its weight upon you that can keep God from bringing your life calling to its destiny.

God’s plan for you will be accomplished.

The enemy might try to hijack it, but God wins. All.the.time.

One of my favorite statements made by Jesus in the Passion story is the one he made during a conversation with Pilate under the intense duress of interrogation:

“Do you refuse to speak to me?” Pilate said. “Don’t you realize I have the power to either free you or to crucify you?”

Jesus answered, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above.” John 19:10,11

The hand that shapes your destiny is under the authority of Jesus Christ. It is only shaping, not commanding.

People think they are in control. And it may feel like the world is tearing your dreams apart. Yet, when we can recognize that, even in the face of death, God’s will prevails then we don’t have to struggle and fight, defend and power up. We can rest in God’s faithfulness. Your day is coming.

The shaping is sometimes painful and lonely.

Think about Joseph. A dream that had to go deep into the pit before it could shine brightly in the sunshine, was so often being shaped by careless and hurtful hands. In the midst of all the pain a destiny was unfolding.

God controls the hands that seemingly have control over you.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20

Your destiny might be incomplete without the harsh shaping.

Joseph’s dreams were only a snapshot of the greater destiny God had for him. He saw greatness. But the greatness that God was going to reveal to Joseph was more than a high place of honor and leadership. It was greatness that began through suffering, betrayal, hopelessness and pain. The shaping of his destiny was at the hands of his jealous brothers, the Ishmaelites, Potiphar’s wife, a prison warden, a cup bearer and a baker, and the Egyptian Pharaoh. Joseph saw very little reprieve in the shaping process. And yet, in the end he recognized God’s hand in every heavy and hard moment. His greatness was to make God great. His destiny was one that would glorify God.

Your shaping may wound. Your dreams are only a partial view of the fullness of God’s destiny for you. If you can remember that God is the ultimate authority over the shaping of your life, then you can take the wounds with grace, peace, love and forgiveness.

In the meantime, pray for the hand that shapes your destiny.

Do not expect to feel like doing so, but do so anyway. And don’t pray for justice, as I so often am tempted to do. Pray that God would be revealed to that person in authority, that government leader, that circumstance beyond your control. And pray that as your story unfolds God’s glory will shine bright.

Remember, God is the one who commands your destiny.

Trust his authority over the shaping.

And rest in his faithfulness.

your joy is coming

“The nights of crying your eyes out give way to days of laughter.” Psalm 30:5, The Message

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Your joy is coming.

Most of us have journeyed through what might be called a wilderness season, or personal desert, a time of grieving, or a period of brokenness. There are a lot of various terms for personal/internal suffering.

While the world is full of lots of good (even if we have to look really intentionally in order to find it), it is also full of lots of pain. And if you have lived for half a second in this wonderful world, you have experienced the reality of its curse.

I don’t know about you, but when I’ve walked through the painful side of life I’ve more than frequently asked, begged and pleaded with God to PLEASE take me out of the situation. Can you relate? And even while I know that there is some kind of character development at work during these not-so-lovely seasons, I still try to bargain with God to find a lesser uncomfortable path for me to learn such valuable lessons. Through my little peep hole view of life I can’t imagine that suffering is truly the only way to grow. I imagine there could be a short cut, or a Disney version of my present pain. “C’mon God! Let’s add a little pixy dust to this situation, please?”

And God says, “No.”

When I was delivering Jackson I remember telling the nurse, “I can’t take another one,”  as I was entering (unbeknownst to me) the final contraction before I pushed his eight pound body out. The joy, relief, exhaustion and peace I felt, only seconds after the most intense period of labor, was indescribable.

At the peak of the delivery process, I wanted to find another way to get through it…a less painful path to receive the joy. I didn’t think I could handle one more contraction.

And then came the most powerful moment in the entire experience, reminding me of how worth every discomfort and every tear was as I cradled in my arms this fresh from the womb, heavenly smelling baby boy.

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We often, in the throes of the wilderness, underestimate the significance of those moments. We are desperate for a way out. The pain blinds us of the purpose for the present suffering. We search for a way to numb the pain…to soften the blow.

We forget that our joy is coming.

And yet, it is in these dark days that the most significant inner transformation begins to take place, if we allow it to. If we can hold off on turning to our coping mechanisms, or clinging to our self-help devices, and instead lean more deeply into Jesus, the sorrow we are presently suffering will transform our hearts into joy.

Running from the pain only gives temporary relief, and oftentimes keeps us locked into the difficult season far longer than God intended. So instead, press more vigorously into the arms of Jesus.

The inner transformative work that God is doing in your most painful moments is the work that is creating the very person he intended you to be.

The only way to become is to be broken.

Your joy is coming.

God is already crafting the next chapter of your story.

Let him transform you from the inside out. Allow this painful season to cultivate in you the character that will make you shine most like Jesus.

Your weary head won’t hang low forever. I do promise you, your joy is coming.

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“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30

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Grace is not something we can talk ourselves into.

We can not live out grace by our own sheer will.

Grace is the product of inner transformation.

There is no self help book, no “live your best life” seminar, no path to success in three easy steps way to cultivate a grace-filled life. A grace-filled life is evidence of a Spirit-filled life. To walk in its rhythm is to keep in step to the melody that God has composed through time in his presence.

Inner transformation can only occur, in my belief, through pain and struggle.

Keeping in step to the rhythm of grace is to keep in step to the heart of God.

We become weary when we try to manipulate our minds and our hearts to live God’s way without God doing the rhythm keeping. How often do we rely on our own self-sufficiency, our strong-willed abilities to change thought patterns, and completely miss the peaceful melody that God is trying to teach us in the middle of our struggle?

Eventually we burn out.

We hit a situation beyond our control.

Graceless and weary, we find ourselves empty. The music we have composed from a self-centered heart lacks meaning and melody, rhythm and grace.

Draw close to God.

Lean into him.

Learn his ways.

Discover his heart, and allow his heart to impact and transform your heart.

Allow God to use the struggles and pain and hurt and discouragement you face to produce in you real and sustainable grace.

The song that God is composing in your life will be far more beautiful, far more meaningful, far more heavenly as you learn to keep in step to the rhythm of his grace.

where can i go?

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, you right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10

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Encompassed in silence, and we perceive that there is no end to the night, we often assume that God has abandoned us. In these moments we are quick to believe that we have gone too far, or that where we are God won’t go.

But…there is no out-running, out-pacing, out-doing God. Wherever he leads us, we can be confident that he has already gone before, and is present. His presence is continuous. His presence is definite. His guidance and oversight are sure.

Even in those moments when it seems there is cloud coverage creating a barrier between heaven and earth, God is still very much with us.

“…you have laid your hand upon me.” Psalm 139:5

From conception God’s fingerprint was pressed into each one of us. He has laid his hand upon us. He has ordained and set apart each day and each experience of our lives. We are not accidental. We are not an afterthought. We were created in the very image of God. And he has laid his hand upon us.

Woven in and out with great detail before our eyes blinked open for the very first time.

With such care and such consideration were God’s plans formulated. Not one hair on our heads unaccounted for. And not one second of our lives misjudged or misled.

Where you are is no accident, just as your very life is no accident.

Where can we go?

In the depths, we hold onto the eternal, unchanging and holy God. He is true, he is constant and he is faithful.

In the heavens, we cling to the God who transcends time and space, and find refuge in his mercy and grace.

On the far side of the sea, he is our guide, our lead, the light illuminating our path. And when our feet step on a path they have never walked before, and when we wonder if this is too far, can I really go this distance, even there…yes, even there

“…Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast.”

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