Prepared In Advance: {A Story of Repetition}

I stood on the threshold of her kitchen and said again how I feel like the trial of this year is the same one we’ve gone through five times before. And it’s getting exhausting.

A few days later, I was standing, hands all sudsy in my own kitchen sink, glancing over a text from her, completely unrelated, but it pointed my mind back toward that night.

“How many times have we gone through this, really?” I wondered to myself.

And I began to count backward.

…right now, new business still too new to fully support our family which is growing by one…

…this past summer, starting a new business…

…two summers ago, quitting my husbands part time job two weeks before our son was born…

…the year before that, starting a different business one month before we found out I was pregnant…

…and the year before that, moving across the country with no jobs and no home and only the knowledge that this was where God wanted us…

…and again, the year before that, getting married one week out of college and trying to get a job and a home before graduation…

…finally, ten months prior to our wedding day…the frustration and fear…kneeling on the floor of my parents living room…the phone call…that overwhelming awe at God’s answer, His provision…

And as I counted back, I hesitated to count those earliest two memories. They seemed so simple, so small compared to where we are today. Even the move to Florida seemed almost too small for the list. But that thought, from a reasonable perspective is laughable. Of course they count! They just feel small now, compared to the depths God has brought us to.

….

That first memory, the memory of that day Travis called from college, down to just a few dollars in his bank account due to a shiny new ring on my finger, to tell me that none of his references were returning her call and she never hires without references, was burning into my mind. I remember so plainly the fear and frustration I felt. Even more plainly, I remember kneeling down in front of my parents brown leather couch to pray, pouring out my heart and frustration, begging God to work.

I hadn’t yet finished when my phone rang again. While I was still on my knees, she had called him back and hired him, against her own policy, without any references.

I was shocked. I was awed.

That God would answer so quickly and completely, amazed me. I was ecstatic.

….

And the memory of that day burned strong as my hand swirled a soapy dishcloth across sticky plates and silverware. But something else burned strong in my mind along with the memory: awe and gratitude.

Because there is a pattern to our lives that we would be foolish to overlook. There is a theme to the how and what and where God is taking us. And as that memory from six years ago played again and again in my mind, I realized how deeply kind God is.

The stakes were so small back then. The real risk we were facing was so little, but in that moment it felt like our whole world.

Now, over six years, one move, and one child and one-on-the-way later, the stakes seem so much higher. The risks of following God, the risks of obeying, feel so much greater.

But the truth is, God power is the same today as it was six years ago.

His grace and provision is just much at work on our behalf today as it was that day kneeling in front of the brown couch.

And the often repeated saying echos in my mind.

“God will not guide where He will not provide.”

He will not take us somewhere that He will not take us through.

He will not call us to a task that He will not provide the ability for us to accomplish.

He will not direct us to a place where He will not be with us.

He will not call us to a mission that He will not empower us for.

He is not going to leave us alone or stranded or hopeless. He is not going to forget us or abandon us or fail us.

Even when it feels like we are running in circles or spinning our wheels or hopelessly stuck, He knows. He is with us. He will provide.

He knows. He is with us. He will provide.

And yet, in all this I must remember…

He cares as much about the process as He does the destination.

To get me from A to C, He might not go through B. He might take me up and around and off to the side and what feels like backward for a long while, because what He desires to accomplish in and through me along the way is just as important to Him as the final destination.

Let me say that again. Because, oh! My own heart needs this reminder so often.

What He desires to accomplish in and through me along the way is just as important to Him as the final destination.

As I look back on the past six and some years, I realize how very tenderly gracious He has been.

He has taken me through the same set of fears, the same struggle to trust, the same hard spot in life, over and over again, not to prepare me for some ultimate test, but rather to draw me closer and closer to Him.

He keeps allowing the stakes to rise, the situations to feel more desperate, so that each time, my faith is stretched a little further and I learn to rest my hope on Him a little more fully.

Be blessed

Church Planting is…{Part 19}

Church Planting is…church itself is…a gathering of people that from the outside looks random and disconnected.

Church is a group of mismatched, misfit people bound together in unity, struggling together in Jesus toward unity and love.

Church is a group of incompatible people knit together in love through the gospel.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1480886546861-0KXO880W5LLMHMQJBVVI/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kCSH7g0YjtIW3_A7a29n3J5Zw-zPPgdn4jUwVcJE1ZvWQUxwkmyExglNqGp0IvTJZUJFbgE-7XRK3dMEBRBhUpxMH5Y_tjBvGD1mF1IbMRwxTZ2QVT-KQyBoFiXYbs_RgAZDCXmWdDAdcoqkDqR2EsQ/ChurchPlantingis19.jpg?format=original" alt=""/>

I stood in the tiny chapel sanctuary and looked around me, a bit baffled. This group of ragtag people althogether in one room of worship, seemed so oddly put together. I felt out of place and right at home at the same time. I watched people’s faces as they worship and hugged and talked and prayed. It was so odd and yet made so much sense at the same time. It was familiar.

It felt like I had stepped into a different version of my same church home…and I suppose that is exactly what had happened.

The culture, the demographic, the style of service, the location were all so different than our middle-school-turned-sanctuary, and yet it was all so similar.

A collection of misfits worshipping together.

The fragile new-in-the-faith along with the aged in Jesus.

Traditional worshippers mixed with those who never thought church would be a place they fit.

Diversity in ages and cultures and languages acting as though they were all the closest of family.

All with that same hint of desperate need for Jesus and for each other.

All with a love and familiarity overflowing and baffling.

And I look around our little church some Sundays to see so many faces I feircly love, and yet if I step back just half an inch from my own inside perspective it looks so strange, just like the scene inside that little chapel seemed to me that Sunday morning.

Why these people? Why was this love so easy and yet so painful at the same moment? How these bonds so strong? When did this love so loyal form? Who could ever script this combination of lives lived together and call it beautiful?

Jesus.

He builds His church through a million impossible combinations and binds us together through the bond of love. It’s His gift to His church if we allow Him to work it in us.

Church planting is misfits and mismatches and odd combinations that work because of Jesus’ love in us and through us.

Church planting is a family knit together out of the choice to love who God has given with the power God has enabled.

Church planting is bonds of love that are beyond our own ability to create if we will allow God to create them.

Church planting is living and seeing the ugly and the pain and the hurt in people, then pressing into Jesus because there is nowhere else to turn and in turn watching Him knit you back to Himself and also to each other.

Church is watching God build His church and bond it together with a love that is surprising and cannot be explained any other way than through Him.

Church planting is a surprise of joy and love and family.

And don’t forget that for every joy of love and bond of family, there will be equal or greater pain and hurt and sorrow, but it will be worth it. It will be worth it in the moments you get to raise your eyes and see your family, all broken and mismatched and messy, worshiping together and loving each other in a way that can only be explained by pointing to Jesus.

Church planting is watching God build His church and bond it together with a love that is surprising and cannot be explained any other way than through Him.

Church planting is family.

Be blessed

Church Planting is…{Part 19}

Church Planting is…church itself is…a gathering of people that from the outside looks random and disconnected.

Church is a group of mismatched, misfit people bound together in unity, struggling together in Jesus toward unity and love.

Church is a group of incompatible people knit together in love through the gospel.

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1480886546861-0KXO880W5LLMHMQJBVVI/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kCSH7g0YjtIW3_A7a29n3J5Zw-zPPgdn4jUwVcJE1ZvWQUxwkmyExglNqGp0IvTJZUJFbgE-7XRK3dMEBRBhUpxMH5Y_tjBvGD1mF1IbMRwxTZ2QVT-KQyBoFiXYbs_RgAZDCXmWdDAdcoqkDqR2EsQ/ChurchPlantingis19.jpg?format=original" alt=""/>

I stood in the tiny chapel sanctuary and looked around me, a bit baffled. This group of ragtag people althogether in one room of worship, seemed so oddly put together. I felt out of place and right at home at the same time. I watched people’s faces as they worship and hugged and talked and prayed. It was so odd and yet made so much sense at the same time. It was familiar.

It felt like I had stepped into a different version of my same church home…and I suppose that is exactly what had happened.

The culture, the demographic, the style of service, the location were all so different than our middle-school-turned-sanctuary, and yet it was all so similar.

A collection of misfits worshipping together.

The fragile new-in-the-faith along with the aged in Jesus.

Traditional worshippers mixed with those who never thought church would be a place they fit.

Diversity in ages and cultures and languages acting as though they were all the closest of family.

All with that same hint of desperate need for Jesus and for each other.

All with a love and familiarity overflowing and baffling.

And I look around our little church some Sundays to see so many faces I feircly love, and yet if I step back just half an inch from my own inside perspective it looks so strange, just like the scene inside that little chapel seemed to me that Sunday morning.

Why these people? Why was this love so easy and yet so painful at the same moment? How these bonds so strong? When did this love so loyal form? Who could ever script this combination of lives lived together and call it beautiful?

Jesus.

He builds His church through a million impossible combinations and binds us together through the bond of love. It’s His gift to His church if we allow Him to work it in us.

Church planting is misfits and mismatches and odd combinations that work because of Jesus’ love in us and through us.

Church planting is a family knit together out of the choice to love who God has given with the power God has enabled.

Church planting is bonds of love that are beyond our own ability to create if we will allow God to create them.

Church planting is living and seeing the ugly and the pain and the hurt in people, then pressing into Jesus because there is nowhere else to turn and in turn watching Him knit you back to Himself and also to each other.

Church is watching God build His church and bond it together with a love that is surprising and cannot be explained any other way than through Him.

Church planting is a surprise of joy and love and family.

And don’t forget that for every joy of love and bond of family, there will be equal or greater pain and hurt and sorrow, but it will be worth it. It will be worth it in the moments you get to raise your eyes and see your family, all broken and mismatched and messy, worshiping together and loving each other in a way that can only be explained by pointing to Jesus.

Church planting is watching God build His church and bond it together with a love that is surprising and cannot be explained any other way than through Him.

Church planting is family.

Be blessed

Worst Case Scenario: {The Lie of Preparation}

It was the middle of a worship night and my mind was running crazy down the path of some anxious scenario. I wanted to be at this worship night. I wanted to be all in worshipping Jesus. I wanted to be distraction and worry free, but here I was, chasing anxiety again.

For a moment, I let my mind follow the anxious path. I could feel body tensing and tears springing to my eyes. And the words I’ve told myself so many times floated through my head…

”It’s good to think through this, because now, if the worst does happen, I will be prepared to deal with it.”

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1471537667404-19H12QFW4K4CD8W0BGVX/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kCSH7g0YjtIW3_A7a29n3J5Zw-zPPgdn4jUwVcJE1ZvWQUxwkmyExglNqGp0IvTJZUJFbgE-7XRK3dMEBRBhUpxMH5Y_tjBvGD1mF1IbMRwxTZ2QVT-KQyBoFiXYbs_RgAZDCXmWdDAdcoqkDqR2EsQ/image-asset.jpeg?format=original" alt=""/>

But in that instant it struck me: these words I’d so often repeated to myself were not wisdom but lies.

My mind spun as this truth sank in. Finally, as the spinning calmed and my thoughts collected themselves, I breathed deep.

I knew in that moment I had a choice.

Closed eyes.
Deep breath.
Whispered prayers.
And then I lifted my head with this resolve.

I will not move on in life persistently imagining and preparing myself for the worst case scenario. Because there is no need.

In Jesus I already have everything I need for life and godliness. I am already equipped to deal with any trial God brings my way, because Jesus is in me.

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence”
2 Peter 1:3

I do not need to prepare for the worst case scenario, because I already am prepared in Jesus…because I have Jesus living and active in me.

All this running of scenarios and what-ifs in my mind wasn’t just “helpful planning” or even “harmless anxiety”. It was sin. It was indulging in the lie that I am somehow in control of my own life and emotions in such a way that were something bad to happen to me or someone I love, I wouldn’t need help.

I believed that I would be okay because I was prepared enough and that all this preparation would make me strong enough to handle whatever life could throw at me.

But preparation doesn’t make me strong. Jesus makes me strong because Jesus is strong in me.

If I truly believe that Jesus was already strong on my behalf when He went to the cross, then surely I can believe that He will be strong enough in me throughout every day of this life.

As the truth grew stronger inside me, I slowly refocused my heart on worship…bowing my heart and head before my Maker in joy and praise.

But our Enemy doesn’t give up easily. Anxious thoughts came storming into my mind many other times throughout the night. But this time, I had another weapon with which to battle. Another truth with which to take out the lies.

Be blessed

Knowing Jesus

“Knowing You, Jesus, there is no greater thing”

I’ve been looking through my life and noticing all the little things that I make more important than Jesus Himself.

Motherhood
Marriage
Knowledge
Morality
Talent
Money
Ministry

  <img src="https://images.squarespace-cdn.com/content/v1/55c38a57e4b00989028332c9/1462239220768-H7XG5JYR1MJD5MSV2GWM/ke17ZwdGBToddI8pDm48kKbYUC7ko4ep_M3O09c6DLZZw-zPPgdn4jUwVcJE1ZvWgCjmTad1QpYCGph9EV4QZUJFbgE-7XRK3dMEBRBhUpzJP1AJqo8tp2sB5enqiv7EGjaTag3AAfVYSQsSRSVIMKGKdNvzGRDq0FPB0STK3lM/image-asset.jpeg?format=original" alt=""/>

And the cruelest realization comes when I remember that all these things are good gifts from God meant to bless me…meant to be used to make much of Him.

Yet, I’ve taken these gifts and blessings and callings and ministries and made them the main point. I’ve taken the means and made it the goal.

All these things…

That list just above…

All these things are the means to knowing and loving Jesus more. They are a means to making Jesus known and glorified. They are a means to hearing His voice and seeing His face. They are the means to a goal, and that goal is to know and love and glorify Him.

So often I’ve taken the means and made it the goal.

And the means are meaningless if not done in pursuit of a goal. The means are meaningless if I try to make them the goal itself. All these lovely and beautiful and generous gifts from God will become tainted and pointless and unfulfilling if I try to make them more than they are…

The stuff of my life is a wonderful gift from a God who is seeking to meet me within the ordinary stuff of my life. He will meet me in my day to day, in my roles and responsibilities, revealing Himself to me and teaching me how to use those things to bring Him glory.

But I drift into the meaningless cycle of putting the means in place of the goal so quickly.

I forget that God didn’t save me to use me; I forget that He saved me because He knew me and loved me and wanted me to know and love Him.

And the only way I’ve found to keep the goal of knowing Jesus the main thing, is to remember this…

My calling and serving and living and doing are gifts; they aren’t the meaning or purpose of my life, they are the gifts of my life.

And a gift aways points back to a Giver. That is the point. He is the point. The Giver Himself is the point.

In all I do, in all the roles and gifts and callings and responsibilities He has given me, I want to see Him and seek to bring Him glory. Because this life of a Christian is about knowing God.


Not doing for God.


Not living out God’s mission.


Not accomplishing greatness in God’s name.


It’s about knowing Him…

And if I truly know God, the rest will follow.

How do you remind yourself that being a christian is more about knowing God than serving Him? Do you struggle to make the doing for God more important than knowing God Himself?

Be blessed

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