This weekend away was such a blessing. It was much needed & the down time in nature really forced me to go deeper in my thought life.
I’ve always run from pain. I’ve always avoided it & did everything I could to ignore it. I have cried many tears over the course of my life. For a long time I use to hate it. Literally LOATHE that I would hurt as much as I did. That I care as much as I do. That I love as passionately as I do. Why? Because I always end up getting completely broken.
You see. It wasn’t until a few months ago that I came to this point of not running. Something came up in my life that hurt. Bad. And then shortly after it only got worse. There was a huge sense of pain in my gut. Feelings of worthlessness, feelings of inadequacy, regrets, anger, frustration & disappointment.
I found myself at a cross roads. Either running from this pain or face it knowing that it is temporary. The pain was immense, but the glory that to come is far greater. The hurt was deep but His love is deeper. The feelings of worthlessness sounded so convincing but His death on the cross proved my worth.
You see, I’ve spent my entire life trying to prove I am worthy of being loved. Running from the tears because I felt it was a waste. I felt that my tears weren’t worth anything. I felt like embracing the hurt did nothing for me because I didn’t know Him. Not a single tear that has fallen has gone unnoticed. Not a single hurt that left a scar is not given a purpose. Not a single regret should be regretted. Why? Because this is all temporary. One day, we will all leave this world & all the hurts that come with it.
Yes, life sucks sometimes. It can hurt. It can destroy us if we don’t cling to God & His promises. One day, it will all go away. It’s a promise. People will disappoint you, but God never will.
Stay strong fam, a brighter day is right around the corner.
Truth is, our calling to live in freedom also calls us into an internal war. Because of what Christ did on the cross we are free to walk in humble obedience to Him, without having to worry about living up to a certain standard.
The war begins in our hearts because there are many other things trying to get at our hearts. There is legalism & pure indulgence of our every desire. Both extremes are incredibly bad for this world & ourselves.
One end of Christianity lives just like the Pharisees did. Seminary degrees make you holier, how many pieces of scripture you’ve memorized become badges of honor & fancy prayers become a reflection of a good relationship with God.
On the other end, we have Christians who live in complete disobedience to God & the way He calls us to live in freedom. The freedom gets used to indulge in every possible desire because they are forgiven. So they do what they want, say a pray for forgiveness & move along.
Both of these are terribly wrong in their own ways. Both are forms of slavery without even knowing it! If anything they are worse forms of slavery because the one thing that can get you out of that slavery has become twisted…
You see, the freedom we have been called into is a freedom to obey Christ, love others & serve others. The freedom we have been given is the freedom to live this life to the fullest without having to worry about meeting standards.
The standards have been met. He met them because we can’t.
We live in a world where commitment is rarely there. Whether it’s with relationships, financial goals, fitness goals, whatever… truly committing to long term goals is rare. I’m sure we’ve all had our fair share of hurts because of people’s lack of commitment. Whether it be your parents, a spouse, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a co-worker, a workout buddy, someone from church, whatever… At some point there has been someone that made a commitment to you, that turned there backs on that commitment.
The problem is that we put too much emphasis on committing to others, goals, etc… as well as expecting a commitment from them. That’s a risk we all take. A risk that none of us have to take it committing to God.
If we choose to trust & commit to Him then He will be faithful to see it through. There are God size dreams in all of our hearts that may seem impossible. We all have goals & aspirations that God wants to work through. We all have talents & gifts that God designed us with that He wants to unlock and use for His glory. The missing key is commitment.
If we would commit our ways to God there would be major changes happening in this world. The disciples made that commitment when Jesus called them & then radically changed the world. Jesus took regular men & woman and made them into world changers. Jesus took the misfits of society & turned them into shining lights. Jesus chose the broken, dirty, unworthy “sinners” of the world and used them to change the way the world sees things.
He wants to do the same with all of us. He wants us to burn for Him so we can be the light in this world. He wants us to stand up in the darkest of hour to lead others to safety. He needs commitment. He needs earnest believers who will passionately pursue His heart. Through that commitment & devotion we will all have a life that cannot be compared or taken.
I love how the Psalmist doesn’t say “if I walk through the darkest valley” or anything close to that… No, he says WHEN he does because we all know that dark times come. That’s a guarantee that is very clear all throughout the Bible.
There seems to be this weird concept within Christianity that most believe protect us from dark times, but the reality is that more dark times come. When we proclaim Christ as our Lord we become Satan’s enemy. When we proclaim God as our standard of living, we become the world’s enemy.
Time & time again we find ourselves in a position of darkness. That life just isn’t going good, bills are adding up, stresses of relationships are getting more complex, the boss at work is a jerk, your friends are flakes, etc… there are an abundance of things that we all have to worry about on a daily basis & at times they can seem overwhelming.
BUT if we fix our eyes on the author and perfecter of our faith we can have renewed hope. Jesus dealt with so very much on earth. Yes, it’s easy to overlook Jesus because He is the son of God, BUT He still lived 30 years on this earth as a normal man. Working, living, surviving, etc… when he was 30 his ministry life officially kicked off, but for 30 long years he lived life just like we all do.
Troubles in life will come but even more so God is right there with you. He is right by your side, intimately involved in every aspect of our lives. In the moment we can’t always see the hand of God at work BUT when we take a moment to look back we can see His fingerprints all over our lives….
I love this verse & what it means to us all. James kicks it off with a rhetorical question… Getting right to the point & expressing that we need to walk it out. If any of us are truly wise & have a deep understanding of Christ then the way we live will show it. Plain & simple. A majority of us want to live effective lives that leave an impact on this world & want our words and thoughts to be significant to those around us…
Look at Joseph’s life! The dude went through some craaaazy stuff that would break most of us, BUT he is a shining example of wise living. There were many times Joseph could have given up and said, “Screw it.” But he refused. He remained faithful & kept his trust in God. He walked out the Godly wisdom each and everyday, regardless of his circumstances.
In the book of Matthew we can clearly see that our actions show where our hearts are invested. If we are to show it by living right, we just ensure our hearts are in the right place. Even if we do not claim to be wise, we can set our focus on trying to live in Godly wisdom that we get from God’s word!
Each & everyday we must continue to make it our goal to live in Godly wisdom. To read the word & let it transform the way we live. If we are reading the word of God just for head knowledge we are missing out on the most impactful part of it; heart change.
Doing what God asks of us will not always come natural… Truth is, a majority of the stuff God has asked me to do does not come naturally at all. Not in a bad way, but it’s our human nature to do the opposite. We were all born sinners in need of a Savior.
What changes is that day by day we act in obedience to what God asks of us & through that we are taught to do His will… But this is where it gets a little tricky! Because the training will always continue on & on & on.
The things that God asks of us will start small, but as time goes on & on the things He asks us to do get more challenging. He calls us deeper, asks more of us, gives us bigger opportunities, etc… It’s a beautiful thing right?! We are consistently challenged to grow with God & through that we become better people.
The process of learning to obey God is not something we should flee from, but instead we need to learn to embrace it. We are taught on a DAILY basis how to pursue God better. We are trained on HOW to do the will of God.
There is nothing wrong with you. I repeat, there is NOTHING wrong with you. There will be times you won’t do what God asks of you & that’s okay. Whether it be something small like encouraging a stranger, or something big like telling the person you are in a relationship with that you want to be pure. Whether it be simply putting $5 in when the offering comes around or a much bigger sum of money. Whatever it is, God will give you the opportunity to be obedient in the small things to prepare you for the bigger things.
Simply say, “Yes Lord” when something comes up & act on it. Let Him teach you.
Let’s be real. Sometimes life seems to suck. We feel stuck, like nothing is ever going to change, that “these are just the cards I was dealt”, etc… From there we settle with it just being this way & we move onto the next step of trying to put on a pretty smile. We try and act like life is great, like we are satisfied, like we are doing juuuust fine.
Deep down inside there is a longing for something real & authentic in life. We put pressure on ourselves to pursue some weird sense of perfection and like “we’ve made it.” We have turned into Christians focused on what we will do when we get to a “better”‘place with God. An army of men & women who sit by idle. Nothing gets done because so many of us are trying to wait until we perfect the work in us…
Wait what? Ya, I said it. Especially American Christianity. We do these religious deeds & try to “clean” ourselves up so that we would be worthy to do Kingdom Work. Trust me, I’ve got a past just like we all do BUT that’s what makes me rely on Jesus even more. The basic FACT that I am nothing without Him.
The FACT that I’m not the one who began the cleaning up process, I have no idea what that process is & I have no control over that process. I didn’t begin it, I can’t continue it & I dang sure can’t finish it. Neither can you.
Stop being so hard on yourself. Stop waiting for some point where you are “ready.” Stop wasting your days pursuing idols, religion, perfection, etc… & Pursue Him.
He is going to complete the work in our lives. Him & Him alone. You are declared righteous. You are purse, holy, made new, equipped, called, cherished, adored & known intimately… stop thriving. Let Him be your finisher…