Walk On…

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“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

This scripture has been thrown into so many conversations when hard moments hit.  It’s so comforting to think that good will come out of bad.  We want things to be “good” for us, for our little worlds, for our lives and our every day living.  But reality is, this isn’t what this scripture is promising at all….  You see, good to us means all is well in our world.  Good to us means no pain and that everything is going smooth as planned.  Good to us means a friction free life full of happiness.  This scripture isn’t talking about our narrow definition of good it is talking about God’s definition and God’s ways are not like our ways.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9

God’s definition of working things for good have to do with the giant picture of eternity.  It’s bigger, greater and more important than anything we could measure in our lives.  And the good he is working will surely matter in the grand plan of God pursuing the hearts of men and women to himself.  Our wrestles, our struggles, our pain, our joy, our surrender, our obedience… all of it is being repurposed for God’s glory in the earth, the best kind of good possible.

This is so much easier to be excited about when it’s not your life getting rocked.  When things are within our definition of “good”.  So how do we lean into these promises and trust all will be well when things seem so bad?

Four days ago a friend died, unexpectedly.  He leaves here on this earth a wife whom I love, daughters whom my heart breaks for and friends who are like family.  Just a few short weeks ago he was in Nicaragua with my husband building a food machine that will bring sustainable living for an entire community.  A machine that will not only give life to those who need it, but will be a light of the Gospel to the hearts of every person that experiences its goodness.  He left more than a mark on this earth, he left “good”… God’s kind of good.  And I have to trust that with this friend leaving this earth that the good that remains will draw the people left behind into the grand picture of eternity that God is always at work on.

So in the mean time, while I try to let this truth settle into my soul, what do I do with the feelings?  The confusion?  The shock?  The pain?  The uncomfortable state that I am living in at this very moment?  Well, I have learned to just simply…

WALK THROUGH IT.  

There are no short cuts here, this road must be walked.  I have tried in my lifetime to avoid walking through these hard moments.  I have tried ignoring, coping, hurrying, avoiding, staying busy, hiding and shutting down.  Nothing works.  Nothing except walking through it.  And eventually, no matter how you start down the road, you have to finish the journey at some point or another.  The timing is up to you.  You can walk now, or you can walk later but you will walk… because it’s the way God created you.  So how do you walk through hard moments?  The kind that you just want everything to be “good” in?  The sucky, horrible, life-altering, painful moments that seem to leave you stranded in a dark and cold pit.

Here is what I have learned…

BE PRESENT.   Being present is hard enough in our daily lives without pain so adding that ingredient in makes being present all the harder.  We live in a culture that pushes us to stuff, hide, avoid and ignore what is really going on inside of us.  A culture that fills every moment with things that keep our brain focused on things that really don’t matter in the light of eternity…  Binge watching show after show, staring blankly at our phones while scrolling through others lives, constant immediate satisfaction for every need we have.  Our culture feeds our desire to be numb to the messiness known as real life.  But being present in real life is where we find actual fulfillment even if it means experiencing horrible pain. To be present is a challenge but it is so worth it.  Pausing, feeling, experiencing brokenness… being present in the pain.

BE HONEST.  Here’s the truth, God knows you… I mean really knows you.  So there is no reason to hide, pretend or feel ashamed of who you are and how you feel.  I find so often it is a challenge to be honest with God, not because of who he is but because of who I am.   Examining my own heart and being honest with where I am and how I feel is just hard.  But the only way for us to ever move from broken moments is to be honest with ourselves and honest with the one who can heal us.  You never have to fake it with God, he already knows.  His love is unconditional, so no matter how dark, how confused, how angry, how hurt you are, he still says come to me.  He is the safest place in the world to be completely yourself, a place where you don’t have to hold anything back.  A place to be honest.

TRUST.  When life is hard I tend to want to shut down and self preserve.  Trusting anyone into my brokenness is not my first choice.  And how do you trust a God that you don’t fully understand?  So many questions dance around in our heads while our hearts ache and our lives come to a screeching holt.  When it is hard to trust there is one thing that remains the same despite our feelings, God.  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Our history with him proves to us who he is even if in this moment we can’t see him clearly.  He is God and he is faithful.  He has shown that to us over and over again in our lives and this moment will be no exception.  He will once again reveal that he is working all things for “good”, for the eternal kinda good that our souls long for.  The kinda good that makes our lives FULL even when we are suffering with pain and struggle.

God’s ways are not like ours and we don’t always understand what in the world is happening.  But I would rather follow hard after God who works all things for good than live a life with the same pain and no God.  He is worth following, even in the struggle.  And on the other side of the struggle comes life, and life to its fullest.  The kind of life our souls crave.  So no matter how hard it becomes we must choose to just simply WALK ON. 

 

LET’S DREAM

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Life is weird. I sit in a giant empty church in Orlando, FL as teams around me are preparing for thousands of church planters from around the world to come eagerly through the doors tomorrow. The band is warming up and my heart is beating as hard as the drums ringing in my ears. I am here, among some of the most experienced and known church leaders of my time. I am overwhelmed with emotions and thoughts dancing through my soul. I feel little and big all at the same time.

Let me explain.

LITTLE. Who, how, what, why in the world has God decided to use my little life for His glory? I know me. I know where I come from. I know the broken places within me. And still, he chooses to use me to show others who he is. A picture that I am certain I screw up all the time. I feel ill equipped to lead the way he pushes me to. With 20 years of ministry experience I am so aware of how “little” I really am and how BIG he really is.

BIG. Unshakable. It’s how I feel. Not because of who I am but because of who he is. And because I know him I also know that God can use my life far greater than my little mind can fathom. Because of him I am a giant on this earth. One ready to give all I am for the cause of the cross. My impact and influence can be big because it all comes from him and is for him. He invites me in to be a part of what he is doing.

I sit here in this building where multitudes will respond to God’s call to lead. And I think of the faces of people I know. I think of you. I think… you are little and most of you know it so well! And this wouldn’t be horrible if you chose not to just camp out here. If you could just trust. Trust that God is who he says he is. Listen to his words for your life. And trust. Trust that you are BIG. That God wants to plop you into the middle of the most fulfilling dream come to life. You are part of his plan to bring the people on this planet to himself.

One of my favorite quotes of all time…

“What one man can do another can do.” -Movie, The Edge

A simple reminder that dreams are not just meant to be fulfilled by an elect few, but rather by every person who knows Jesus. By you. By me.

A challenge to us all. Dream, take risks, try, step out, imagine, and do what is stirring inside your soul. You have one little life on this planet…why in the world do it living a safe life and never pursuing your dreams. Work hard, learn everyday, and trust God that he has placed the passions inside of you for a purpose…his purpose.  LET’S DREAM.

LONGING

busy-women

Day after day I live my life going through daily routines. As a follower of Jesus, a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend and minister my list is endless, there is always something to be done. I am also a type A, driven, list loving person. Add these ingredients together and you get a woman who will drive herself into the ground before realizing I need rest.

Rest – freedom from labor

FREEDOM! Now that is a word that I adore. My favorite movie of all times is Braveheart and I think everyone knows the famous scene when William Wallace yells at the top of his lungs “FREEDOM”. Tears stream down my face every single time I watch that passionate speech, a speech reminding the common folk that they deserve freedom as much as anyone. I love that movie so much because the anthem still rings true for you and me, we, as common folk, deserve freedom. We not only deserve it we NEED freedom…. including freedom from laboring.

Labor – expenditure of physical or mental effort especially when difficult or compulsory

Ever feel like your laboring through life week after week? Even the easy weeks when there is no drama or major hiccups it can still feel like we are laboring to get through our daily routines. Drudging away at the things that require our attention and affection. Wondering when any kind of relief from the mundane will come.  I have come to realize that the freedom I seek in these moments is simply experiencing the presence of God. This is the one place that true rest is found.

Matthew 11:28 Jesus tells us “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

What does it say that we must do to receive the rest he offers? “Come to me”. That’s it! It’s that simple. We must go to him when we feel like we are laboring with no relief. He promises rest. So, how do we go to him and receive this rest? We STOP. We stop long enough to ask him for what we need. We stop and lean into him. We stop and wait on him. He will respond to our asking. He will bring the rest that we long for.

In the midst of my busy life my heart cries out….  “Lord. Turn my heart to you when the life around me isn’t what I prefer. Lord, you are the glory and lifter of my head. Turn my gaze back to you. Take me to that sweet place shared by you and I. That place where nothing else matters. That place where our eyes are fixed on one another, where you pull me close and your heart is all I care to hear. Turn me now Lord. In the midst of jagged rocks and rough seas. Turn me and pull me close again. I want to be with you in that place where we are face to face and I can feel your breath on my skin giving me renewed life again.”

Maybe today as you read this you recognize the same longing I have, the longing to be free from everything that feels like labor to your soul. Stop, be still, and go to him. Get somewhere alone, turn on some worship music, open your Bible and lean into him…. and wait. Linger in his presence and let him bring you the rest that you long for.  There is no better place to be and nothing on the face of the earth to desire more than his life giving presence.

CREEPING THROUGH THE DARKNESS

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“For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56:13

Darkness is real. It invades our space like a dust storm sweeping across a desert. It can creep in and slowly take over your sight or it can blind you at the blink of an eye. It is real. It clouds your perspective and can cause your feet to stumble as you walk. Some just give up and sit down, they stop moving because they can’t see clear. But me, I choose to continue feeling my way through it. In my soul I know that while darkness is very real, so is light. And light always penetrates the darkness. It doesn’t even take much, a small flicker and you suddenly can see again. So I stumble around trying to walk, waiting for the light to break through and show me the way, the truth. That light is stronger than any amount of thick daunting darkness. It brings more than visibility, it brings perspective, it brings hope, it brings direction, it keeps my feet moving when the temptation to sit is lingering in my heart. The beauty of the light is that your eyes begin to adjust to however much light you get to see. Whether a tiny flame or the blazing sun in your gaze, you adjust and everything changes.

So if you’re in the darkness, be patient, keeping going, don’t give up. Light will come…it always does. And when it does it will reveal more than where you are, it will reveal where your going. If the journey was easy you might not choose it. You were wired for adventure, challenge, something to overcome, and a fight worth winning. So the easy way is not for you, you would find yourself unfulfilled, sad, angry at life, and miserable. You’re created for more. Keep going. The journey is not over yet… in fact, it might just be beginning.

“ And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.” Isaiah 42:16