- 2017Nov 14
Christian, are you growing cobwebs? Are you spending so much time praying for clarification, you’ve barricaded yourself permanently in your prayer closet?
In other words, has your caution turned to fear, and has that fear begun to overshadow your faith?
Be careful not to view divine opportunities through a human lens tinted by human limitations. The Christian life isn’t about our abilities or failings, our strengths or weaknesses. Instead, it’s about saying yes to a mighty God who longs to work, with power, through us.
Consider preacher and evangelist John Wesley. During the age of rationalism, he traveled over 200,000 miles on horseback to preach 42,000 sermons. He wrote 200 books and built a chapel.
Were these men super Christians? Did they have more of God?
God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He created the universe in all of its vastness and intricacies. Honestly, He doesn’t need us. If He chose, He could breathe life into stone and make it the world’s greatest orator. For some mysterious reason He has chosen to work through you and I. Not superhuman Christians, but instead ordinary men and women surrendered to the call and trusting in Him.
The question is not can we accomplish A or B but will we allow God to accomplish it through us?
Looking at ourselves—our circumstances and shortcomings, this can be hard to believe. But that’s not where our focus should be anyway.
Consider some of the biblical heroes of the faith. A murderer named Moses, standing on the edge of a raging sea, an entire nation looking to him for protection as armed Egyptians rapidly approached.
Did his knees tremble? Were his thoughts fixed on how ill-equipped and outnumbered he was? Or was he too busy praying, seeking God’s hand?
Then there was the young boy named David who fought a tyrannical giant with nothing but a slingshot and some stones. So in love with his God and countrymen, he gave no thought of his small, untrained stature.
Then there were the people of Israel called to take a fortified city, but not by fighting or outwitting their opponents. Simply marching and trusting, then marching some more, until, in God’s timing, the walls crumbled to the ground.
And consider this:
What would have happened, had Moses refused to lead God’s people? If David remained in the fields, and the Israelites remained in their camp when God told them to go?
Those stories—of defeat, cowardice, and rebellion—were never written. Tales of victory were instead. Victory wrought when ordinary men and women relied on an all-powerful, victorious God.
The same God who calls out to us today, “Go.”
Imagine what might happen, how many lives might be changed, how many families and communities restored, if we answered, “Here am I, Lord! Send me!”
Where are you at today? What is God calling you to? Do you trust Him enough to obey?
Share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage each other.
- 2017Nov 06
Less than five years off the street, I simultaneously craved love and fought against it. I hungered for Jesus but acted as if I didn’t know Him. And in part, I didn’t. I had bits of knowledge, enough to cross over from death to life, but not enought to propel me to freedom.
To the onlooker, I was rebelling against God and His truth. My husband and I went to bars almost every Friday and Saturday. It wasn’t uncommon for us to stay until last call. We were living together, at that point, unmarried, and quite honestly, it didn’t even cross my mind that this was wrong.
My entire worldview was contrary to God’s. This worldview, this way of thinking, had developed slowly, over almost two decades. Transformation—which always begins first with the heart and then one’s thoughts—would take time. And love. Gentleness.
Patience as bit by bit, God brought light to my darkness and truth to my falsehood.
He used three people in particular, one I initially found strange. This man worked with my husband, a railroader, and in time, a friend. He kept coming around, offering to help, giving and letting us borrow things. Wanting nothing in return. Every once in a while, he’d throw Jesus into the conversation, or subtly say he was praying for us. And then he’d leave.
No pressure. No Bible thumping. No condemnation.
God also sent two pastors our way, one right after the other. They stopped by, joined us for coffee. Took us to lunch and dinner. Answered our questions, but mainly acted as friends. As if they were oblivious to our drunkenness, foul language, and frequent fights.
As if they saw past the outward gunk to the hurting, hungry hearts beneath.
And here’s the deal—had they come at us with condemnation, perhaps even with expectation, I would’ve caved. Hid. Maybe never entered a church again. Though I might not have known a lot of Scripture, though I couldn’t recite the ten commandments or categorize my sins accordingly, I had years of condemnation, of self-loathing. Of shame. Of believing I was unworthy of God’s love.
And He saw me. (Genesis 16:13) He saw my hurt, my confusion and deception. My shame. And instead of calling me to rise to where He was, He came to me. As the God who bends down to listen (Psalm 116:2). Through three obedient and faithful men, God shattered my expectations, broke through my defenses, built steady and enduring bridges, and gently, lovingly, drew me closer and closer to Himself.
We moved four years later, and those men never saw the results of their patience. For all they knew, their efforts had been wasted. They have no idea the impact their determination to form a relationship with this sinful, foul-mouthed couple from the west coast, made.
Except for one of them—my husband’s coworker. Last year, this man, the one who’d so patiently reached out, joined us for dinner. It wasn’t long before our conversation turned to my writing and ministry, and all God has done through a street-girl turned speaker. That night, both my husband and I were able to share the impact he’d made, nearly a decade previously.
When he’d chosen to build bridges. To show love. To trust that, if he were faithful, prayerful, and patient, God would bring two broken, sinful people to Himself, in His timing.
And perhaps trusting as well that he wasn’t responsible for the end result. He was but a guide along the journey, a journey that occurred on the inside, hidden from others, long before the fruit emerged.
I’m reminded of this story—my story—as I encounter others so different from me. My initial reaction is to pull away. To self-protect and choose the comfortable. To jump to conclusions and stay focused on the outside instead of the broken heart within. And in this, I’m reminded of who I’ve been, yes, but also who I am now—a representative of the God who sees, loves, and transforms. (1 Corinthians 13:4-13)
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- 2017Nov 06
When we're at our weakest, when it feels as if our knees will buckle, God's strength is seen most clearly in us.
Or at least, that's what we say, but how does that work, exactly? We know Christ is living inside us (1 Cor. 3:16), that He empowers us by His Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8), but what does that look like in the day-to-day? How, when life completely levels us, can we draw strength from Christ?
About five years ago, my husband and I developed a short-term obsession with rock climbing. This was crazy for numerous reasons, the most obvious of which is my incredible fear of heights. And yet, somehow, secured in my harness and attached to my husband by a long, thick rope, I felt better. Stronger.
A littlle. But I'd still tremble. And I mean, enough that my shakes became visible to our guide. He called it the sewing machine leg, and he assumed it came from fatigue.
To an extent, he was correct. I certainly wasn't the strongest or most agile woman to ascend the Arkansas rock face I attempted to tackle that day. But I was determined to make it to the top.
And I did, with my husband's help. When I'd begin to falter, I'd feel a tug. A quick glance below showed my sweet husband, pulling on my rope inch by inch. This added strength–his strength–pushed me to the top.
Sometimes I envision God doing the same with us.
He's secured us in our harnesses of salvation, attached us to Himself, and determined to, inch-by-inch, get us up and over whatever mountain peak we're facing.
Perhaps the most powerful way in which He works is by changing our thinking–expelling those things, like negative thoughts, that wear us done, and replacing every falsehood with truth.
That's the power of prayer. So often, when I feel utterly wiped, it's not so much due to whatever activity I'm engaged in, but rather all the emotional gunk I attach to it. When I let my mind run rampant, my stress level grows, and stress is exhausting.
But when I pause and center my thoughts and heart on Christ, His clarity takes hold. Suddenly, my priorities shift back into alignment and I realize what I need to continue to pursue and what I need to let go.
He also reminds me Who's in control.
This means it's not up to me, whatever it is.
Can we take a collective breath here?
Doesn't that make you feel a bit stronger?
More than that, when I quiet my anxious thoughts listen to God's still, small voice speaking directly to my heart, He reminds me that I'm okay. That I'm enough. That I don't have to perform, strive, or live up to anyone else's obligations but His.
This freedom, the freedom to be exactly and only who He created me to be, fortifies my very depths.
And finally, when I'm really tired and feel as if I've hit wall after wall, He invites me to stop. To take a time out, even if but for a moment, and to rest in Him.
It's amazing how much stronger I feel after sitting in God's presence. In light of that, it's completely irrational how often I let so many insignificant things rob me of this precious time.
Do you have any thoughts or suggestions to share? What do you believe are some ways we can grab hold of God's strength? Can you share a time when you were utterly exhausted and felt God showing Himself strong on your behalf?