Tuesday, September 12, 2017

look.

This is going to be long, but I wanted to write it out to think over it and I thought this would be a good place. 


I feel like my spiritual life has really grown to a whole new level over the past year. I have been in the Word more than I ever have in my life, and I am seeing the fruits of the spirit in my marriage, my family, and myself. But this week was really tough for me...really for no particular reason. I didn't go through anything traumatic or awful, but I have just been in one of those, you know, yucky, "down in the dumps" moods we all get in. I'm doing an in-depth study of Isaiah right now, and being the type-A perfectionist person that I am, I am diligent about my bible study homework and being in the scripture daily. This week, however, I felt like it has been difficult to focus...and when I do start concentrating, I feel challenged, frustrated, convicted, and confused by a lot of the verses. 

All of this sort of came to a head after the sermon on Sunday morning. I got that sick feeling in my stomach and felt uneasy with God. I knew deep down I was really frustrated with myself, but somehow managed to talk myself into the idea that I was annoyed with God, the preacher, and all "church people."


Now... let me step back a little bit (well, actually a lot!) to a story about when I was a teenager. I was saved and baptized at the age of 8, and have been in church and Sunday school my entire life. Sometime in my early high school days, I was told by my youth pastor that my faith wasn't "good enough yet" to go to Super Summer (a Christian camp at OBU for teens). And that was it. I shut down. I no longer wanted to be a part of the youth group. I didn't feel wanted or like I belonged. And quite frankly I felt like I wasn't "good enough" for God. I assumed that it was because I wasn't at every single youth activity, or because I didn't go to the church super bowl parties, or because (even though I was a Christian) I couldn't quote memorized scripture like the other girls on Wednesday nights. So I was done. I believed in Jesus and loved the Lord with my whole heart, but I put up a wall so he wouldn't get too close. I didn't want to know more about the God I thought I wasn't good enough for. I semi-rebelled (nothing too serious), but found my security in a "popular and athletic" boyfriend who was terrible to me, and then buried myself in making good grades, becoming Valedictorian and Senior class president, and coordinating perfect school events to prove to myself that I was "good enough."

God was calling me back at times during college, and when I became married and started having children, there was a yearning deep inside my soul that ached to know the depths of the love of my Creator and my Savior. Over the past several years, I've worked really hard to become that "church girl" that I felt like I never could be. I thought that would make me fit in. Since I was on fire for Jesus, I thought getting plugged in and learning as much about Jesus as I could was the right path to walk in to get "straight A's" on my report card from God. 


This Sunday, I came home from church and cried. I finally realized that I was going about it all the wrong way. Now, I was trying to prove that I was "good enough" by being a star bible study student, a church girl, and letting people know how much I loved Jesus. I was convicted, mad, hurt, frustrated, and disappointed. I wasn't good enough back then, and now I'm trying to be "too good." I cried out, "Why, God? I'm trying to walk the right path and it's leading me away from you. How could I be this confused when I'm trying SO hard?" 

I didn't want to finish my Bible study homework for the week, I wanted to just take a break from God. But you know what? When you want to take a break from God is when you need Him most. I decided to take a step back...to be a Mary instead of a Martha...and just sit at the feet of Jesus and breathe. I got out my notes from my Redeemed study and I prayed to remember my identity in Christ.

•I am loved.

•I belong.

•I am rescued.

•I am unique. 

•I have a purpose.

•I am precious. 

•I am forgiven. 


I wrote a small instagram post about this yesterday, and today...while reading Isaiah 45:22...He broke me. 

I put off finishing my last day of homework all day long. The spirit was encouraging me all day and I kept ignoring and making excuses. At midnight I opened my Bible to the last few verses in Isaiah 45 and I sobbed...and shed tears on the pages of my Bible. 

In my instagram post YESTERDAY, my last sentence read, "When I get discouraged and feel like I'm never going to find where I fit in (or with who), I •FOCUS• my eyes on Jesus and remember who I am in Christ."


My last few verses of my homework TONIGHT were this:

"•LOOK• (turn) to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other."

Isaiah 45:22


That's the simplicity of salvation. That is our focus. That is our hope. And we only need to do one easy thing...something that anyone can do. LOOK. 👀 

The weak can look, the poor can look, even a child can look. And if we just look, we have a PROMISE to be saved. 

It doesn't say we have to see. Sometimes we're in the dark and we can't see Jesus clearly. But if we just look, we will be rescued. He promises. 

"It (looking) is the simplest, basic thing any person can do, yet the most difficult to do in daily living." (Redpath) 


As I sat in awe, wonder, and relief at how God winked at me and carried me through this pouting, pity party, and frustration I was feeling this week, I looked up some commentary from Blue Letter Bible and pondered over the lesson God was teaching me this week. 


"We must look to God, and never to ourselves or to anything else of man. You must look off from all this to the throne and there, in your heart, see the risen, reigning Lord Jesus Christ." (Redpath)


And the last part of the verse tells us why we must look to Him...because he is GOD and there is none other. The church is not God. Fellow Christians are not God. Things of this world are not God. Idols are not God. We look to Him and Him alone. Yes, we can use these people and things to grow us, encourage us, strengthen us, and support us, but we must ALWAYS keep our focus on HIM. 


You know...I will never be good enough. EVER. But praise Jesus, I don't have to be. You know why? Because HE is!!!

You can be Mary. You can sit and REST at the feet of Jesus. Quit working so hard. Quit trying to prove yourself. As Jamy said last week, "You may feel like you're undone, but he will NOT leave you undone." 


"We might be willing to do a hundred things to earn our salvation, but God commands us to only trust in Him - to look to Him!" (BLB)


If you are tired, confused, broken, hurt, stressed, overwhelmed...look. Close your eyes and look. Open your Bible and look. Get on your knees and look. Call out to Him. 

Trust Him this week. And shift your gaze to the most beautiful thing you will ever see. Just look. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

totally worth it.

So tonight during dinner, we were doing our family devotion and learning about the Magi that came to see Jesus after his birth. We were discussing doing things enthusiastically for God, and striving to please God instead of man. After answering the question, "How can you give God your best this week?" the last question was "Is Jesus worth it?" 

Reid, who usually has to be coaxed a little to give any lengthy answers or discussion during Bible study, immediately stopped in his tracks while walking to the trash can and boldly replied, "Totally!! A million percent! Yes, absolutely Jesus is worth it!" 


So I went on, "Why is Jesus worth it?" 

"Because he DIED for us. Because he died on the cross so we could have eternal life with him in heaven. I mean, who else could love you like that. Who loves you that much?! Jesus is so worth it."


I could have cried. He never has answered anything with that type of excitement, boldness, and certainty. He's a mess...he pushes every single one of my buttons...and he tests my limits. But I love that child with every fiber of my being, and tonight, God reassured me that we are on the right track.