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Monday, May 28, 2012

What Clarity Really is

I had a really important realization this past weekend.
I was looking over the Beth Moore study 'Believing God' and I'm thinking about all the things I need direction on in my life and all the things I'd like to know. Answers are what I seek. I crave clarity.

And then I had a startling thought, one that brought peace and redefined clarity in an unexpected, beautiful way.

Do I believe God is who He says He is?
The God of the Scriptures - is that the God I believe in?
Do I trust that God?
If so, well then Isn't THAT clarity?

This word, this idea clarity, that provides an easy escape in prayer - there's nothing wrong in wanting to know which way is up and wanting to know where you're headed. But I can't stop thinking that maybe I've been going about this the wrong way. That maybe my prayers for clarity have clouded the only true clarity I need - the promises of God. And when I fully trust in those, fully completely wholly, the peace it brings washes away fear like a river. Sitting in a Starbucks in a little town in Ohio, I think this is so clear. And I don't hold any new, real, earthly answers at all.

And then I got home from vacation and found this snippet of an email from a dear friend sitting in my inbox. I love how that works.

When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for 3 months at “the house of the dying” in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. "What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States. “Pray that I have clarity.” She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of." When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you will trust God."

In the midst of processing and transitioning this from mind to paper, I don't want it to lose its significance. Clarity is trust in Jesus. Every day, every moment faith. Faith. Believing God for who He says He is. When answers are more internal than external and I'm seeking them more than I seek the Father, a real, true clarity {a real true clarity} that eases the mind and brings great peace and joy is believing and trusting in Jesus Christ.

And the tyranny of the urgent is no longer God answer my prayers. The cry of my heart isn't what am I to do? It cries of heal my unbelief, make me a woman of great faith, help me to believe You are who You say You are. And when I say I trust and I believe, that melts the anxiety of not knowing.

Because I know.
Clarity is Jesus.

And He will answer and He will save and He will sustain and He will create and He will love.
That's the truth and that's oh so clear.

Sunday, May 20, 2012


You can live a life of revenge.. sometimes without even knowing it.

When I think about revenge, I think about fights. and knives. and duels. and dark alleys. and lots of other mental pictures cinema has conjured up of sinister plots and forlorn characters who conquer evil and right wrongs. Those plots are revenge and that's fiction.

I've never heard of passive revenge.

Passive revenge is withholding forgiveness.
Ah. That revenge I do.

The many forms unforgiveness takes - the revenge of anger. Disrespect. Ignoring. Gossip. Bitterness. It molds and it builds and it holds hostage and we are held captive. When we don't forgive, we choose chains of revenge.

That's astonishing to me.
I pick and choose how much forgiveness to give away, but I'm not doing what you did to me, so I'm showing you lots of mercy, right? I let time ultimately dictate how smooth the welcoming back process is. My pride says hold on tight. And what trips me up is that it's not active payback, so it's good. Right? But it's less about how I intentionally act and more about how I purposefully don't. I don't exact payback, but I also don't forgive. I don't inflict physical pain or destruct and destroy, but I deny someone the gift of freedom from a debt.

I'm processing this as I type, but this has to be of the utmost importance. When we withhold forgiveness, we are choosing revenge. Do I get that? Revenge. That deep, spiteful, ugly word. I push forgiveness away and I live that.

But forgiveness is hard and sometimes I say, 'but how can I possibly forgive this? or that?'
And for real. How do we?

When it hurts and we're in pain and we can't forgive ourselves. When someone has hurt us something fierce. When our mistakes say we're not worthy. When we have to live with the scars of what's been done.

And through all the thinking and the analyzing and the justifying - I think it really is simple.

We forgive because we've been forgiven.
We owe a debt we can't pay and Christ on the cross said 'Father, forgive them.'
We've been set free.

And sometimes I scream NO REALLY TELL ME HOW, but I honestly, deep down, bottom of my heart know this is the answer.
Jesus Christ.
We strive to imitate His holiness - His love and His forgiveness - and we live knowing His grace is limitless. FREE YOURSELF. Understand what you've been forgiven of through the power of the substitutionary atonement of Christ and set each other free.

way more processing in this little head of mine.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dying to Self :: A Mother's Day Edition

For 24 hours this past week, I was a stand in mommy for four amazing tinys. And every time I walk away from that experience, I learn so much more about who I am, what kind of mom I want to be, where my dependency lies, and the process of dying to self.

Oh the lessons learned.

I woke up every hour anxious to not miss school wake up time. The lock on the front door got stuck so we traipsed around the house to the back door on more than one occasion. I couldn't find the leash and didn't have the time to sit down and really look for it.. so the dog got out and ran away. A poor tiny coughed all night. A decoration was knocked over and there was clean up.

I think I am the kind of person who doesn't really roll with the punches well. I like a plan - don't steer away from the plan! And as I've grasped that spontaneous decision making is a weakness, I've been learning how to deal. How to not get flustered, MAKE A CHOICE, and realize it's really all just funny once you look at it. And that control is something I can give and must give away.

And these unpredictabilities of motherhood, these surprise turns to a day, you learn to deal with those in calm. The dog escaped? Hey, let's get her! We can't get in the front door? An adventure to the back! It.all.really.is.okay. Oh my word, there is so much gratitude and joy and laughter in all the moments and you've got to open your eyes to see them!

It really is a gift.

My good friend Arin (mother of these four precious tinys) says a mother's job is the hardest, but the most blessed! Amen! Even in a short time, I am stretched and and I am molded and I am challenged and I am growing. And dependency - it's got to be on Jesus. Or else exhaustion and frustration and worry will cloud out all that joy and blessing you were meant by God's grace to live.

By grace.
Parenting is a complete dying to self.
It's not about me.

What dying to self says is that you are surrendering the pursuit of self and you are thanking Jesus for His grace in allowing you freedom from a me centered life. Christ is center and you are putting others above yourself. And these kid loving opportunities I'm given always smack me across the face - who am I living for!? The time I spend thinking and doing for myself is counterproductive to a heart after Jesus. And I am not a mom yet, but I desire a humble mom kind of life - with my family, my friends, my life group, my team. And sometimes you think, but parents don't have a choice. They have to be put their kids first. Haha - but there is choice in everything! In action, attitude, words, thoughts, deeds. And God's grace covers all.

Seeking the care and needs of little ones is a constant and it is a reminder.
It's not about me. and what a gift that really is.

It's a free fall into humility - so much humility - and the cry of surrender. Help me, Jesus.

Love and seek God and He will change your heart to a Philippians 2:3-4 kind of life.
And happy mother's day to all moms. You really rock.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Be Free

I have a friend who says to me all the time - be free. It's funny and it's perfect but it's also a most brilliant reminder.

Be free.

And I find the more she says it, the more I say it and the more I say it, the more I am quick to remember it and believe it.

Sometimes I get anxious. About big things, big decisions, things I don't know the clear answer to. I worry and I think, think, think and overanalyze like crazy. I stress myself out. And then I find Scripture and prayer is cleansing.. and then I cycle back through.

I was driving home one day and those two words came to me - be free. And it hit me that I really was free. Free from this worry, this fear, this nervousness, and uncertainty. On the cross, Christ died to free us from all of these things that trip us up and lead us from Him and He rose again so we could surrender our lives wholly.

being free isn't just some movement of self-expression and claiming individuality.
being free doesn't mean doing whatever you want.
being free isn't a charge to rise above and stick it to the man!

being free is knowing you've been set free in Jesus and identity rests in Him alone.
being free is believing.

I'm currently in the middle of a fierce Beth Moore study on faith and believing God. Not just believing in Him, but believing Him. One of the biggest learnings for me so far has been in the action of faith. Beth Moore's been big in the verb tenses the Biblical writers are using and the words 'seek' and 'faith' - those are continuous. Over and over again. We seek God over and over again. We believe Him continuously. It is not a one time thing, but more a constant growth. A constant expression that we rest firmly in who God says He is, in what God says He can do, in who we are in God, in believing we can do all things through Christ, and in the living and active Word of God.

What has most fascinated me about reading the Old Testament prophets is the promise of restoration. There is terrible sinfulness and horrible destruction and the mourning and uncertainty of God's people - but in the midst of that, God says "you are my people. And I will restore you. I am your salvation." over and over again. He is a most faithful God. over and over again.

Be free in this truth!
God's plan is not one for us to worry and fret and get anxious and be confused. It is for good and for redemption and restoration and for us to give Him the whole of our lives. Breathe and seek freedom in Christ. Because He has come and lived and died and rose again to give you freedom from your own sin, your own unfaithfulness, your pursuit of self, and your worry. hallelujah!