- 2014Dec 18
To the brokenhearted –
I know you're lonely. I know that your heart has shattered into what feels like a thousand pieces. And I too know that you're probably wondering if the pain you feel right now will ever go away. I know this because I've been there. I know what it's like to have someone ripped from your life, one terrible moment. I know how hard it is to believe they're gone. I remember wondering if I was ever going to feel normal again––wondering how long it would take to heal. But now that I'm on the other side and many years have passed between then and now, I'd like to whisper some truth to your broken heart this Christmas, if you'll let me.
I know you may not see Him right now, but God is with you.
I didn’t see Him at the time, but looking back, I now know that God was with me all those years that I struggled with my dad's death. He collected my thousand tears in a bottle. When I felt so alone. When I wrestled with loss and pain and grief. When I struggled to understand. He was there. He was there when this terrible tragedy choked all beauty from my life. And He was even there in my darkness, allowing the anxiety and depression to bring me to my knees years later, so I’d finally be able to receive His love.
Jesus is Immanuel––God with us (Matthew 1:23). He came to bind up the brokenhearted––to heal our hearts (Isaiah 61:1). To comfort all who mourn (Isaiah 61:2). To give us "a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair" (Isaiah 61:3).
Jesus doesn’t leave us in our pain. He sees every bit of it. He comes down and gets dirty and joins us in it. And then He heals it.
John 16:33 says, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world" (John 16:33). This was Jesus speaking––the only One who allows us to overcome the troubles we face in this world. You see, our hope is found in Jesus, alone. But I know you might be angry with God right now, and I think that's okay. It's okay to be angry, but I would encourage you to work through it. I'd encourage you to be honest with God about your anger in prayer––to bring it to Him along with all your other struggles––to ask Him to help you work through it.
Remember, God is with you.
When you wrestle with loss and pain and grief––
When you struggle to understand––
When all beauty is choked out of your life––
God is with you! He is collecting your thousand tears in a bottle, just as He did mine. He sees you. He sees your pain, and He will heal it.
I pray the fullness of God's blessings upon you today. I pray for His peace, which surpasses all understanding, to hem you in on all sides. I pray for you to know and feel the depth of His love toward you. And I pray for you to be so utterly amazed by what God does in and through this terrible season of your life that what you see knits your heart to His forever.
Love and hugs,
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
His mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
- Lamentations 3:22-23
Dedicated to a dear friend of mine
- 2014Dec 09
My girlfriend and I have been looking at marketing strategies lately. With my book coming out next June, we want to ensure we're doing all we can to disseminate the message I've been entrusted with to the greatest extent possible. I'll be talking more about that as time goes on, but I wanted to tell you about a comment my friend said to me the other day. It was a text, actually, and it said, "So I am thinking the marketing plan should be... SAYING YES TO GOD...it's amazing how even when you don't want to do some of what He calls us to do...if you keep saying yes, He takes care of you...He has constantly given you favor Laurie! Kudos to you for saying Yes..."
I had just been given another ridiculously amazing opportunity to share my story in a major publication, and let me tell you––this assignment was most assuredly God-sent (more on that later!). As was the case with the Billy Graham film, it was dropped into my lap by God Himself, without me seeking it––without me even knowing about the opportunity, in fact. And I once again was stunned by God's outpouring of grace. Quite honestly, I think I could write an entire book about the favor God pours out upon His people when we're committed to following His will over our own (and I just may write that book someday!).
My friend was serious about her text, in one sense, because this is just how my friend thinks––she is most certainly a woman who seeks after the Lord––but I think she was also teasing me a bit.
I texted my friend back and said, "I agree!!! I will always say yes, even if I'm resistant! ESPECIALLY when I'm resistant!!!! But I do think I need a plan for launching the book..."
"I know...I am teasing," was her response.
"No, but you're right on!" I wrote. "That IS my marketing plan!!! No joke! And if my marketing plan ever looks different than that, I'm in real trouble!!!"
I think what we were writing about was tension between the work we do and the work God does. Both my friend and I know that we need to actively pursue the call to shine floodlights upon the glory of God through faithfully pursuing His call on our lives, but ultimately, we know that it's God alone who makes any work possible. First Samuel 2:9 says, "for not by might shall a man prevail"––a truth echoed in Psalm 127:1 which says, "Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain." But someone still needs to build that house and watch over that city!
Yes, God does the work, but He's called us to work alongside Him. We have a part to play. We get to enter into the storyline He's been writing since creation. We get to join His work, bringing light and love and healing and peace to a lost and dying world. What an incredible honor!
The Christian life is not a life of passivity––it's intended to be active––and so we need to be people committed to saying yes to God. Now, I certainly haven't always done that perfectly. There are many times that I fail and falter, but I'm not sure it's our lack of perfection God looks at as much as the direction of our heart. If I remain committed to saying yes to whatever He calls me to, His grace will abound despite my resistance and inability to execute it perfectly. There are most certainly times that I feel resistant to the will of God, but I remain committed to saying yes even then because I know God's way will always lead me toward the best life I can live. Like I said, I don't do this perfectly, but by the power of the Spirit, I try. And I sure hope you'll join me in that.
- 2014Dec 05
Jesus came that we might have life. And life to the full. He came to bind up the brokenhearted. To bring good news to the poor. To proclaim liberty to the captives. To provide for our every need. To love us. To care for us. To provide a home for our wondering heart.
He calls to the people. "Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17).
"Come, follow Me," He says (Matthew 19:21).
"Learn from Me...and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29).
Promising to guide us into His will for our lives, He beckons us to follow.
We're called to be disciples. Followers of Christ––the living God––but discipleship comes at a cost.
All that stuff I wrote above is pleasant to the ear. We like hearing the truth of God's promise to love and care for us. To restore us to wholeness and healing. These truths tickle our ears, as Scripture says (2 Timothy 4:1-5). But there's more to the story than this. There's duality to following Jesus. When we follow Christ, we most certainly reap bountiful blessings––blessings we cannot even begin to imagine––but following Christ requires us to live for Christ. To die to ourselves so that we may experience true life in Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Discipleship demands all of us. It requires that we lay ourselves down––all our desires, all our hope and dreams––for the cause of Christ. It requires humility and a resolved determination to say yes to whatever God calls us to do, regardless of our own desires.
Jesus beckons, "Come, follow Me," but for some reason, the typical American Christian believes Christianity is a means to a life of ease. A life of convenience. As if coming to Jesus will assure them full health, wealth, and prosperity––fulfilling the American Dream. Many believe Jesus will grant their every desire, quoting Matthew 7:7, which says, "Ask, and it will be given to you..." But James 4:3 says, "You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions." The promise given in Matthew 7:7 is only fulfilled when we have the heart and mind of Christ. When we're walking surrendered to His will.
Jesus is not a genie in a bottle who will grant our every wish. He is God. When we follow Him, He requires us to do it His way.
But when we follow Christ––when we say yes to God's will over our own––when we chose to pay the cost of discipleship, we will most assuredly have LIFE. The best life. And so, yes, there is a cost to discipleship. But like, author, Bob Goff says, we're always trading up. We give up the things we want so desperately to hold on to, and in return we receive something infinately greater, without fail. And what appears to be sacrifice is actually no sacrifice at all––it's simply trading what I thought was best for what is truly best.
When we give up our desires in exchange for God's, we experience true joy.
Jesus came to turn this world on it's head.
The first is the last.
The greatest is the least.
The rich are the poor.
Strength is found in weakness.
Life is found in death.
God's ways are not our own. But His ways are greater than anything we can conceive. His ways lead to life.
Any thoughts? Share in the comments.