I found myself weeping before the Lord this morning as I passionately renounced my most beloved and oldest demon friends for the thousandth time, and then longingly looked back at them heartbroken as the walked away at God’s command.
I cried out, “God, I don’t know why I’m doing that! I hate them! I don’t want them! And a part of me loves them and wants them back already! Help me, God!!! Help me!”
“Worship me,” he whispered. I felt the soft touch of his gentle calloused hand gathering up the tears on my cheeks.
A touch from the Master had already begun to sand away another rough spot on my broken heart. His calloused hand. A perfectly divine, resurrected body with a calloused hand and a rough, scratchy cheek and coarse dark hair.
He smelled like sunshine and cedar.
I wept. Jesus wept. We wept together for the death of Lazarus in my own heart.
“Lift your head, weary sinner,” He whispered.
I tell Google to play Lift Your Head Weary Sinner and I worship. I weep and worship and weep and sing at the top of my lungs. Let the chains fall! Let the chains fall! My repentance becomes worship. I worship.
I kept my head lifted up and I fixed my eyes on the Lord’s gaze. I’d renounced and confessed and repented. I’d worshiped. Our eyes stayed locked. He sees and he loves. He sees me. And he loves me.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. 3 You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. 5 You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. Psalm 139:1-6 ESV
I felt so much relief. The Lord and I were locked in unity. I allowed Him to keep my gaze, despite my fear and my torment, and He saw me. He saw all of me.
He has always seen everything in me, every darkness, every fear, and He loves me.
All those long lost beloved friends of perdition who whisper on the winds of my memories, with their shame and death and suffering, all just disappear into the glorious light. I know my gaze will wander. And I know His gaze wont falter even when mine does.
I don’t have to always understand. I doubt. I fear. I worry. I am human. I was born on a train bound for death. And Jesus loves me. He offers Himself up to me so we can be one.
And I am reminded again that we are One. Oh, the audacity to consider my fears more terrible than God’s power! His light washes away everything that isn’t light.
In Him there is no darkness.
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5 ESV
I will worship Him.
I choose to be blinded by His love for me, bound on a train for Glory instead of death, no matter what familiar demons I hear screaming out the window.
It’s hard to imagine isn’t it? Divine collaboration. Sounds like something out of a cerebral mythology thesis. At least it does to me. Yet, those are the words that keep coming to mind.
“Daddy,” I asked. “What do you want from me? What do you want from Your Church?”
With a wink and a contagious grin the size of galaxies colliding, he replied, “I want Divine Collaboration.”
This is an honorific to Him, I can tell. It’s a title he likes to pin on all His kids. We are all his Divine Collaborators. And I could tell He was thrilled that he’d gotten my attention.
Perplexed and definitely curious, I said, “Please explain.”
I am a philosopher and processing with God is something I like to savor. I want to stew and chew and taste every scoop of insight the Lord ever gives me. I feel delightfully compelled to savor and digest the nuanced flavor profile of God’s interactions, not just with me, but with his Body and with his Creation. I’ve learned a lot eating at the Lord’s table with Him. We talk. A lot.
The other day I was talking to a friend about this tattoo idea I had and all of a sudden I heard myself say, “It’s kind of like this ‘divine collaboration’ between God and me.” It just made sense to me to say it that way.
I had to smile. There it was again.
My husband and I took a road trip last month to celebrate our anniversary. We drove along part of the iconic Route 66 through Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona all the way to the Grand Canyon. As we drove through high desert devoid of much life and saw rock formations that put modern architecture to shame, I heard it again: divine collaboration.
The land spoke to me as I marveled at the spectacles and grandeur created where infinite pale sky meets striated rocks in various stages of petrification and erosion. I felt the profundity of time’s endlessness: infinitely changing and staying the same all at once. I had never felt closer to my Father God, the Creator of All Things than I did in those moments of experiencing his Creation. His words were clear: this is divine collaboration.
As I experienced the beauty of God’s world in all its intricacy I began to pray for the people who lived there, and I felt the land speak to my heart about them: these people that God loved so dearly and who had been so horribly abused by the “progress” of European settlers. I wept and prayed and wept and prayed. I fell in love with those impoverished and yet resilient indigenous people who continued to hold on through the worst types of adversity. Serious divine collaboration.
It’s so much more than just a “good conversation” with Jesus.
1So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,a6who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,b7but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,c being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:1-11 ESV
Even Jesus didn’t consider equality with God something to be grasped, but he accepted it anyway and obediently emptied himself from fear and doubt and the entitlement of his status, and trusted that His Father in Heaven had his back and they were a team, even if it didn’t feel like it sometimes.
Jesus humbled himself to the point of death on a cross because He trusted God.
1Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 5:1
How can we possibly be like Jesus? Jesus divinely collaborated with the God of the Universe, while considering equality with God something beyond his grasp, and obediently and humbly received and obeyed, even in angst, even in hunger, even in torment, even in fear. He conquered because he humbled himself and obeyed in perfect unity with God.
Even though obedience made him look like a slave.
So maybe trusting God in obedience isn’t slavery, even if it might look like it is? Maybe obedience is actually divine collaboration. Maybe choosing to humble oneself, one can find exaltation in the Living God and be empowered in His Righteousness to be joint heirs with Christ.
14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sonsf of God. 15For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17 ESV
Divine collaboration: to trust that even obedience unto death will gain eternal reward and glory for God AND you.
It can be unimaginably painful, I’m not going to sugar coat it. Yet, I know that suffering pays beautiful dividends for those who are willing to learn and grow from it. Empathy, courage, salvation. It all come from suffering. Death and suffering are not the end for those who are in Christ Jesus. We know, because of Christ’s example of trust and faith, that God will be faithful to us as well.
God doesn’t want mindless robots. He’s not going to force you to do anything. He asks. He always asks, because he loves you. He offers this divine collaboration to anyone who would accept it. If you can get over yourself long enough to believe that it might actually be better with God than without, to accept for even just a moment that God is in fact good and trustworthy, you too can have this beautiful title of “Divine Collaborator”.
Divine collaboration means trusting God, submitting to God, and then freely talking to God without fear of condemnation.
Daddy didn’t get angry with Jesus when he questioned Him in Gethsemane. He listened. He comforted. He strengthened. And Jesus endured to the end. He trusted the Father, and on the third day was resurrected from the dead.
Jesus obeyed God and was raised up in Glory.
We have seen the truth of who God is in the flesh of Jesus Christ, and we believe in our hearts through faith, that God raised him from the dead and he will one day do the same for us. We are saved from death into life and from orphan to first born son. God wants us to be his friends. He wants unity in love. Unity in love means divine collaboration. It means trusting that the source of love and life is from God and endowed to his children with generosity.
Divine collaboration isn’t passive. It isn’t selfish. It isn’t arrogant. To walk in Divine collaboration with God is to actively believe in the reality of your shameless and righteous status as a child of God and fearlessly “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Heb 4:16) not just to receive forgiveness of sins, but to be lifted up into glory with God himself and receive wisdom and comfort from Him for eternity. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship.
Refuse to be silent receivers of God’s mercy and love. Choose instead to be Divine Collaborators. Let’s use the tools we have been given, infused with the Holy Spirit and the many gifts He has provided us, and share our thoughts and ideas with Jesus with confidence. Realize that He’s already decided to “use the foolish things to confound the wise” (1 Cor 1:27) so we can stop worrying about if God really wants to hear from us or not. Trust me, he does. No, we’re not worthy of it on our own, but we’re not our own if we’ve given ourselves to Jesus.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV
Divine Collaboration with one another is equally valuable. God’s obedient and loving children are a collective force.
We are stronger together as Christ’s body here on Earth. Know that we are all one with Our Father in Heaven by His Spirit. We should be unified as His image bearers and as walking tabernacles of His Presence.
Let us each humble ourselves and be divine collaborators together with our Lord.
People are freaking out. Roe v Wade has been on the books for a long time. It’s scary to see such a huge change in our government laws. And it’s easy to begin to question the safety and ramifications of that change. We conjure up images of doctors of questionable character wearing blood soaked aprons performing back alleys procedures with a rusty hanger. Or at least I do.
And yet, I hold out hope that there are still enough “strategies and freedoms” in place in our government to protect women and their reproductive health AND protect the lives of the unborn people. The unborn have all of their “rights” ripped from their tiny little grasp before they have even had a chance to take a breath.
There is too much nuance regarding this issue, and Roe v Wade’s decision has never been our source of truth. As followers of Christ, we can put our hope and trust in Our Savior Jesus to manage all of these issues, and protect and honor the sanctity of all life, whether or not we are aware of how He is doing those things.
Reproductive rights are equally as important as the lives of the unborn. We get upset because we get pulled into absolutes, and this is never going to be an “absolute” situation.
There are times when abortions are necessary, and their are times when abortions are just convenient birth control post coital contact. There are times when giving a baby over to abortion is best for all people. And there are beautiful times when God can use a tragedy, a mistake, or a lapse of judgment to provide life and beauty to a situation that had only darkness just by allowing an unborn child to live.
It’s complicated. Life is complicated. And God is still on His throne. We will survive this. We can trust God. We KNOW we can trust Him, so we can release our fear and insecurity over man’s choices. We don’t have any control over them.
We can use our voice to be heard and be seen, and hopefully reflect Our Lord Jesus in the process. We also cannot keep others from expressing that same right. And God’s hand of judgement and protection is outstretched still. He gives and He takes away. And we can trust Him with that.
I’ll leave you with this passage of scripture from the book of Romans, Chapter 8, English Standard Version of the Bible, with sub headings removed.
Romans Chapter 8
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.[a] 2 For the law of the Spirit of life has set you[b] free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin,[c] he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. 10 But if Christ is in you, although the body is dead because of sin, the Spirit is life because of righteousness. 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus[d] from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
12 So then, brothers,[e] we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons[f] of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience
.26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because[g] the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,[h] for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[i] against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.[j] 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 8 We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 11 For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 2 Cor 4:7-11 (ESV)
My earthen vessel isn’t cracked, it’s smashed. It’s smashed to dust. And I admit that for a long time I thought there was surely something wrong with me. I felt victimized. I felt wronged. It wasn’t fair. It wasn’t right. I’ve been abused. I’ve been ravished. I’ve talked to God about it a lot.
“But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 (ESV)
If He’s the potter and I’m the clay, then why do I feel like dust?
Did you know how dust becomes clay?
“Clays form from millions of years of mineral erosion. Mountains break down into boulders, boulders into rocks, rocks into pebbles, sand, silt and eventually, when the silt reaches a certain size of fineness, an amazing transformation occurs. Instead of just being a loose mix, the fine particles manifest an attraction for water and each other at a molecular level. Clay can be thought of less as a material and more of a behavior, the phenomenon of very finely eroded minerals to agglomerate.” (Webb, Patrick “From Dust We Come: A Look at Clay.” Traditional Building. Feb 14, 2017 https://www.traditionalbuilding.com/opinions/a-look-at-clay)
Today as I began to write and lament about my suffering, the Lord reminded me of a vision he’d given me a few years ago. I saw a beaten and battered up old vase sitting on a pedestal. Light showed through the cracks and broken places and cast an intricate pattern of spider web designs across the walls. The room was lit up by them.
The vision could have ended there for me to know that God was working and making beauty from my brokeness, but God had more to show me. A huge sledgehammer suddenly came down and smashed the vase, but instead of extinguishing the light, an explosion of vibrant colors filled the room. The walls around it could not contain it, and they crumbled into dust as the light and colors filled the world outside with unimaginable beauty as far as the eye could see.
As I recalled the vision this afternoon, I heard God say, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”
There’s my dust.
I thought back to the Garden of Eden. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust was a consequence of eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had warned Adam and Eve about it, but they didn’t listen.
Yet I know I’m not suffering the consequences of my sin because I’ve chosen to eat from the tree of life through Jesus instead of the tree of slavery to my own debauchery. My consequences got paid for on the cross.
What I’m carrying are the marks of an enemy who hates me. He hates me because I chose Jesus instead of death. I chose to eat from the tree of life. I called BS on the serpent’s lies.
I think of Jesus, and why He chose to go the cross, and why He called His disciples to do the same. “And he (Jesus) said to all, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.’” (Luke 9:23 ESV) We saw Jesus carry His cross. He couldn’t even do it by himself, he needed help! It was excruciating, horrifying, and brutal. But necessary.
Jesus came in the flesh to show us that the pain of this world and the death that it brings doesn’t have to be eternal. He came to show us that we don’t have to suffer the consequences of Adam and Eve and their bad decision. We can choose for ourselves to take the fruit of life offered by Him. We can choose life.
It’s a necessary step, suffering. It’s the consequence of an evil serpent throwing a tantrum because Jesus has offered us eternal life. Jesus knows that road well. He faced those consequences, too. He did it for us. He submitted to Satan’s tantrum and said, “Give me your worst!” and Satan obliged Him.
Jesus’s life wasn’t pretty, and it ended brutally, but resurrection followed! Jesus gets the last word. Jesus is the Word made flesh. And the Word cannot be overcome. It is life and it is beautiful, and he carries the scars on his own resurrected flesh just to remind us of that. What a gift. I’m so thankful for it.
If I’m to follow him in all things, then I must be willing to accept the crushing with the hope that it will bring resurrection life. Not because God hates me, but because the world does, and God is not content to let me suffer in vain. There’s got to be beauty that comes from it, or there’s no point in living at all.
Jesus showed me that because He experienced it. He laid down his life willingly so that I could see that all the suffering the enemy could throw at me in this world would not be the end of me. Because He conquered death, if I follow Him in life, I too shall stand upon the wreckage of death and proclaim eternal life through Him who saved me from it!
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. Dust to clay. Clay to life in the Potter’s capable hands.
I think we can all agree that 2020 has been one of the craziest years in our lifetime! Political polarization. Racial injustice. Riots. Murders. Masks. Earthquakes. Fires. Flooding. Volcanic eruptions. Zoom meetings.
In times like this, we are all looking to God for answers. But how do we hear Him? What do we even ask him? And what is His response?
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Psalm 63:1
Sounds about right.
We desperately seek Him. We want Him. We know we need Him. We cry out to him and yet the air is dry and thick around us. It doesn’t feel like it’s even possible to hear from God in this mess.
But here’s what David did in Psalm 63:
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. 3 Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. 4 So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:2-4
If I can’t feel God now, I will look for Him where I have seen Him. I will remind myself of who He is. I will remember that His Love supersedes all fear, all trials, all division. I will remember and I will give myself to Him again. Fresh with praise, I will seek the Lord and the promise of His unfailing love.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 8 My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:5-8
And my praise turns to meditation. It turns to the recollections of faithfulness that have been the hallmark of my relationship with Christ. At night my mind stops wondering about the world and rests instead in the peace of God’s unending faithfulness.
It’s so hard to feel God when we are in the midst of worldly trials. Pain and conflict or hard to surrender to God because our flesh isn’t going to stop hurting just because we trust God’s faithfulness.
Yet, in the agony, in the tumult of the storm, God is still with us.
As David began to reflect on who God was instead of what God could give him, he began to feel a praise-worthy peace in his soul. God had proven himself faithful to David. Always faithful. David could trust that even though his situation was dire and his weary, desperate heart was parched with raw emotion and fear, God would remain ever faithful.
We can trust that, too. Even with the world falling down around us.
The trials will not stop in this lifetime. Not until Jesus returns. So we cling to Him. We hold onto His promises. We remember His faithfulness in our own lives. We look back on our journey and see His provision and salvation. We see Him. And we know that in our current struggles he will remain faithful, just as he always has.
The riots. The politics. The fear. The desolations of this world. They don’t matter anymore to the one who finds his peace in the shelter of the Almighty. God’s wings are broad enough to cover all who would seek refuge there.
But those who seek to destroy my life shall go down into the depths of the earth; 10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword; they shall be a portion for jackals. 11 But the king shall rejoice in God; all who swear by him shall exult, for the mouths of liars will be stopped. Psalm 63:9-11
And so we can rejoice. God will have his way. He is speaking. He is acting. He is doing all that He has always done. He is faithful and His steadfast love is better than life. So reach out your hands to the ones who are drowning, to the ones who are desperately crying out for salvation, and bring them to the Savior.
Because at the end of the day, most of our questions to God can be paired down to this simple request: “Will you save me?”
And God’s answer is always, “Yes.”
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
The world has gone nuts over the Covid-19 virus. Our homes have become quarantine zones: a refuge from a suddenly terrifying hostile environment beyond our walls. Hand-sanitizer, bleach products and toilet paper have disappeared off grocery store shelves. Everyone can tell you that you need an N95 respirator mask, but good luck finding one.
Everyone has become some sort of apocalypse prepper.
Every conversation is about this virus. The news is all about how bad it is, or how bad it isn’t. We’ve heard every statistic about the R naught value, fatality rates, countries infected, citizens at risk, complication rates, and on and on. Have you seen some of those graphs!?
You have to be a mathematician to even understand it.
What about social distancing? It’s really just a fancy term for becoming a hermit. Are you a loner? No? Well you better lock yourself in a closet, because you are now! Or at least you better be if you’re listening to the preppers and the mathematicians. Stay away from people! If you smile at a stranger you might get infected!
Solitary confinement is the new social butterfly in town.
Public gatherings are a thing of the past. Jimmy Falon is doing monologues from his living room. My daughter’s high school graduation? Cancelled. Disney World? Cancelled. And you can forget about sports. Cancelled, cancelled, cancelled.
Social media and Netflix here we come.
Then there’s church. Pastors are running around trying to solve this problem of not being able to congregate their congregations! Live streaming sermons. Small groups? You guessed it! Mostly cancelled. We’ve got Zoom calls for prayer meetings. Praise and worship on Facebook live videos. Long distance everything. We must have no human contact. What have we become?
We’ve become isolated and frightened mathematicians, with a special emphasis in the pseudo-sciences, desperately mumbling conspiracy theories and hoarding toilet paper like doomsday preppers with no N95 masks and nothing but a box of Cheerios in our cabinet.
Can I get an amen?
We are in a war with the world over our identity right now. We need to stop allowing Covid-19 and the complications there entailed, to define who we are!
I’ll admit it, I’ve been an anxiety ridden mess. I’ve been talking to the Lord about it and He’s been gently reminding me of who I really am. I am a daughter of the King of Kings, yes, and I’ve never lost sight of that, but I’m also so much more. I’m a warrior woman. A preacher. A worshiper and a prayer. I’m a mother, a grandmother, a wife, a friend. I’m an encourager and a writer and a speaker of truth. I am alive in Christ and I don’t have to be afraid.
Has your identity been stolen from you?
The enemy is doing his best to throw you into fear. But fear doesn’t have to be who you are. Go ahead and let it be a feeling, that’s fine, that’s normal, but don’t let it rule you or define you.
9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9
God is with you, and He’s got this.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8
Do you ever feel like God is trying to tell you something and you think you’re hearing Him only to discover that He’s still talking and you don’t get it? I realized last night that I wrote two consecutive blog posts about basically the same thing. Using a lot of the same verses, I wrote about the joy that comes after the suffering. Even the titles were similar.
I didn’t notice until last night.
I wasn’t listening as clearly as I thought. Don’t get me wrong, I want to listen and I was listening. I desperately want to hear God’s voice. How am I supposed to function properly without the Lord’s direction and guidance along the way?
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Psalm 119:105
Without the light, how am I supposed to see? Without God’s voice to guide me, how can I get anywhere?
I’m missing something and it’s something important. Unfortunately this isn’t one of those blog posts that’s full of great information or insight. Instead it’s a blind girl trying to find hope and direction from a voice I don’t fully hear sometimes.
It’s like talking on the phone with someone when you don’t have a good signal. You hear a part of every other word and you might grab the jist of it, but never the whole thing.
A week and a half ago, after the main part of church was over, a guy I never met before came over to me and wanted to pray for me. I said ok and he began to pray and suddenly started prophesying. There’s a lot to it that I won’t go into, but I went home and wrote it all down. I wanted to remember it. I wanted to hear God’s voice in it.
Then, last Sunday I went to a church I love dearly but don’t get to regularly attend because of ministry obligations. My teenage daughter went with me and after the service she asked a lady (a friend of mine) to come and pray for me.
Guess what happened? She began to pray and then started prophesying almost everything that the Lord had given me the previous week from someone else at a different church service with a different congregation.
You think God was trying to tell me something? It’s like these two people had read my deepest thoughts, and were speaking into them in ways only the Lord could do. There was so much love. No judgement. No condemnation. Just love.
Then there’s this whole business of the two blogs in a row talking about the same thing. Same verses, same message, same feelings. I feel pretty dense right now. But you know what? I’m not going to beat myself up over it. That’s not the point.
God never uses shame to get His point across. He’s a good father. He’s so patient. His love is so fierce and true and righteous. My God is not a God of shame. So, I’m not going to even say I need to listen better. I’m not going to say I suck at hearing God’s voice. Nope. I’m not going to roll that way.
Instead, I’m going to listen.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. Psalm 32:8
He’s teaching me tenderly so that I may learn and then teach others. There’s something in that I don’t want to miss. In fact, I refuse to miss it. I will accept a little bit of gentle correction, a bit of embarrassment, and receive the truth. I’m going to admit I’m not hearing it all and ask for more wisdom, more humility, and more correction.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.
Lord, I want to hear Your voice. I want to trust all that You have given me and nothing else. Sift through the static for me, God, so I can hear only You. There’s something you want me to learn. There’s always something. And I don’t want to miss any of it. Teach me. Correct me. Discipline me.
12 Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law, 13 to give him rest from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked. 14 For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage; 15 for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it. Psalms 94:12-15
Jesus has become my righteousness. He has made me whole and pure in the eyes of God, my Father. I want to be taught. I want to learn. I want to overflow with the wisdom and knowledge the Lord asks me to steward, whether the knowledge is for me alone or for me to share. I want what He wants. His way is right. My way is broken.
16 Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers? 17 If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence. 18 When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. 19When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Psalm 94:16-19
Only in God is there victory. Only in God is there rescue. Only in God is there deliverance. Only in God. Only in God. Only in God.
Let me be in unity with You, Lord, as the Father and Son are in unity. Let us all be in unity with You, Jesus.
Precious Lord Jesus, You say it all. I believe You. I trust You. I want what You want and to be in You as You are in the Father. And I know that even this is the longing of Your Spirit within me. The Spirit that cries, “Abba, Father!” I’m crying out to You, Lord. I’m crying out to You alone.
Jesus prayed, 20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:20-26
When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him, “I am God Almighty;[a] walk before me, and be blameless, 2 that I may make my covenant between me and you, and may multiply you greatly.” 3 Then Abram fell on his face. And God said to him, 4 “Behold, my covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. Genesis 17:1-4
Have you ever thought of yourself as part of a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham? Not a topic of conversation at the water cooler lately? Maybe it should be. If you have faith in Jesus Christ as your Salvation, you are the living fulfillment of God’s promise.
7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify[c] the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. Galatians 3:7-9
It can get pretty easy sometimes to build a case for or against yourself to God. You put more money in the offering plate or you don’t; you remember to pray for a missionary or you scroll through social media; you share the Gospel with your neighbor, or you close the garage door as fast you can. You either begin to pat yourself on the back or condemn yourself to Hell. Like God is going to judge your eternity based on those things.
That was the problem people were having back when Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians. They were getting caught up in circumcision (among other things) because God had commanded circumcision of Abraham and his offspring as part of His promise.
9 And God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you. Genesis 17:9-11
Abraham made an agreement with God and it had been followed faithfully by the children of Abraham. They set themselves apart through this physical act. And so the law began, and man began to learn the heart of God for humanity.
But the act of circumcision was not God’s promise. The act of Salvation through God was God’s promise. All humanity had to do was trust God with that promise. It was Abraham’s faith that God called righteousness. His faith. Not his actions. Though his actions were an outward sign of his faith. But if he had relied on his own actions, he would never have had any faith, and never been counted as righteous by God.
10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”
The only physical act that could count to us as righteousness was something only God could fulfill: the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus’s perfect act of obedience was faithful to the Law and fulfilled the Law. In this act He offered all of humanity full reconciliation with God through faith and the “circumcision of the heart” that comes from that faith.
12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit[e] through faith.
Christ did what we could not. Christ gave what we could not earn. Only faith in Jesus as the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham gives us the eternal life and inheritance that we long for and were promised.
19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
The law was a type of placeholder for Jesus. The law came to give us a way to show obedience to God through faith in what God had given. But the law couldn’t give life. It could only give death (through disobedience).
Faith in Christ, however, brings life.
23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[g] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Galatians 3:23-29
There you go. If you have faith in Christ as your Savior, you are a living, breathing, heart-circumcised, testimony of God’s faithfulness to His promise. You are a child of promise.
Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. John 17:11b
How many times has a church split up due to a disagreement with leadership over some derisive issue? I grew up watching my parents get angry at whatever church we were attending, over and over again. We would leave a congregation after a few months because my parents would get offended or hurt by some decision of leadership. It didn’t take much for them.
As a young Christian, I didn’t dare to question my family’s lack of unity with local churches. I didn’t even know that was what was happening! Instead I questioned the sincerity of the Christian leadership at each of the many churches my parents chose for us to attend. My parents couldn’t be wrong, so I had to find someone else to blame.
See, I didn’t have any leadership from my parents in unity. I didn’t know how to find unity, or practice being unified, or even know enough of the Bible to understand what the Lord wanted for me and for His Church in regard to unity.
Jesus, our High Priest and Savior, prayed that we would have unity with one another and with Him. Everything Jesus has done and will do comes from his loving desire to see us all in agreement with each other and with Him. We can only be in agreement and be unified if we are first unified with Jesus.
I had to grow up and learn to make decisions for myself in order to really learn what the Lord wanted for His people. My parents hadn’t taught me to put Jesus first. I had to learn it on my own. As I began to focus on the Lord, He began to reveal Himself to me and I gained confidence in His leadership.
To have unity with each other and with God, we must know the Lord’s will for us as a Church body. If we don’t know that, we can’t possibly succeed. This is why my parents struggled. They didn’t know how to make Christ the head of their family, they didn’t know how to trust Him, so anytime their feathers got ruffled they ran away.
By knowing the Word of God, we know what the Lord wants for us. It’s right there in black and white.
Jesus prayed, “12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth. John 17:12-19
Jesus prayed that His disciples and all those that would follow after Him that through the Words of Truth He had taught, and through the actions of His own obedience to the Father, His followers would learn to be in unity with one another and with Him. It’s the Truth that Jesus gave us that would be a way for us to understand His purposes for us as a Body.
God’s Word and Truth sanctify us. That is, we are made more and more holy as we listen and learn and practice what Jesus has taught us. If the Body of Christ earnestly seeks Him and His Truth, then, being led by Jesus, we will find unity through obedience to Him.
20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.” John 17:20-23
The Lord’s desire for us to be unified comes from His love for all people, and His longing for all people to trust and believe in Him. When we are unified with one another with Christ as our head, we show the world the deep miracle of God’s love and care for us. Our unity is a testimony to the fallen world in which we live.
And sadly, our lack of unity (like my parents example to me), throws the world into question about Our Savior, because disunity is of the world. To me, that’s the saddest reality of all.
24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Christ’s love for us is His primary hope for our unity. He plants His Spirit into all who give Him their allegiance and accept His love and forgiveness, because through that communion we can best understand, and also supernaturally be equipped, in order to show God’s love and unity to the world.
Unity is a powerful testimony to a sinful world. God’s desire for us all is that we would see the glory of the Lord revealed by His Spirit, soak up and reflect that glory together, and show a fallen world how to be filled with that same glory and joy found only in Him.
The only thing worse than being wrong is getting advice from someone who is wrong. But if I’m being honest, I’m wrong all the time. I infer wrong things, I presume wrong things, I interpret wrong things, I say wrong things, and I hear wrong things. And the people with whom I interact, behave similarly. It’s a truth of life.
Being wrong is going to happen.
So what am I supposed to do when the people I interact offer me advice with sincerity and genuine concern and love, and they’re wrong? Awhile back I went on a rant about some people I care about who had completely misunderstood a situation I was involved in that they knew nothing about.
It hurt and I was angry. For a time I refused to receive any of it. Why should I? They were wrong. But that’s the thing, even though they had made a lot of wrong assumptions, even though they had presumed a lot of things by way of other people, even though they didn’t know the whole story, some of what they said was still true.
How would I ever be able to receive the valuable truths from God hidden within the confines of broken people with broken ideas who loved me and genuinely wanted to help me? I had to eat a big helping of humble pie, that’s how.
After a lot of whining and processing and crying and feeling like a victim, I finally had the sense to ask God to help me figure it all out. God’s answer: “humble yourself, see My truth”. Not an easy task, that’s for sure!
So, knowing that God is in fact the only stable and consistent truth I know, I asked Him to show me. I asked Him just to help me stop being angry, to stop feeling judgemental and victimized toward people I knew cared about me deeply, and just listen for God’s voice in it all.
Of course, the Lord answered my cries for help, and He began to walk me down the road of truth that could be found in all the words I’d been so offended by. Wow. He revealed way more than I thought He would.
I humbled myself before the Lord.
I humbled myself before the Lord. I acknowledged that God can and does use broken people to speak His truth. And I learned a lot. I learned people are wrong, but God is always right. He loves me and He wants what’s best for me. That means humbling myself to His truth and letting myself see His truth in broken human beings.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. 8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8