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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Waste (and the God who has Nothing to do with it)

if you've spent any time with me in the past few months, you've probably heard me say (along with my usual "be free") "the God who wastes nothing."

the God who wastes nothing.
the God who wastes nothing.

i first heard that life changing phrase quite a few years ago. i read it in a book. since then, it's pleasantly been in the back of my mind for a time such as this, when it has come roaring back to the forefront of my thinking. THE GOD WHO WASTES NOTHING. and the more i marinate Scripture and the more i learn character of God, the more i see that truth is all over the Word of God.

waste? that's just not God. 

a wise friend once told me, a wise friend who once helped me walk through one of my tougher seasons, he once told me that those tough times are assets. asset = value. not something to look back on and shudder at the thought. not something to just chalk up to an experience and move on. but VALUE. value. God is in the romans 8:28 business, working all things for good.

and i can't help but think now that asset is the opposite of waste. that waste is not redemption, restoration, not value or asset. satan sneaks up and he whispers waste, you are wasting, you wasted. you are stupid. you are a fool. (by the way, just an aside. do your lies mince words? mine sure don't). 

that's when we can dare to believe.
have you read what i wrote from my kitchen counter?
and the thundering words of GOD WASTES NOTHING come storming through. waste? no, no. God doesn't waste anything. all things He uses. 

do you hear waste?
really, do you hear it?

i had a lunch with a dear, dear friend the other day. she's one of my favorites, this Godly woman, and all of our lunches always consist of hours of just talking about the power of Scripture. the goodness of God. the freedom of Christ. and this woman, who recently walked through her own season of grief and leaning hard into believing God, looked me right in the eye and said NO. any time you love, it is not a waste.

love. any time. even if you lost. not waste.
i like that, i love that, don't you?

you're probably asking yourself this, because i know i did/i know i do. if God doesn't waste anything - if He doesn't waste the heartbreak and He doesn't waste the lost children and He doesn't waste the cancer and and He doesn't waste the anxiety and and He doesn't waste the mistakes and He doesn't waste the rejection and He doesn't waste the disappointment and the disease and the no job and no husband and the lost dreams - well, what's He doing with them then?

well, i don't know.

that's what makes God, God and us, us. that's what makes trust, trust and open hands, open hands.

BUT. i do know this, and i'm guessing a lot of you might know it too. because we've all lived. 

aren't those dark nights of the soul, the Great Sadness, aren't those the times when you wrestle deep and God says hey, I've got this? isn't the crying out to God, isn't that when you feel set free? isn't the deepest tear of grief, isn't that when you realize the truest form of your rescue with Christ?

how can that be waste?
because it's not. the God who wastes nothing. 

so, if that's true. if that is true and God is good and He is the keeper of our lives and He loves us and HE IS GOOD, let's keep beating back the fear. let's not be afraid anymore. because God's over it all and He wastes nothing. He doesn't say whoops. my bad. you alright? that must have really sucked. He says, I've got this, I don't lead my children into destruction, just trust Me, you don't know what I'm up to. we're armed with the armor of God (ephesians 6 - it's right there!) and satan is no match for the power of Christ in us.

that's good, isn't that so good?

what do you believe about God?  believe this. He doesn't waste anything. 
open ears to Him, let's be attentive to Him, to the Word of God, to His voice. you can't miss it, He wants good for you. He's leading you to good, even when the road looks scary. we might not be able to see, but don't dare think that means He can't. let's do this together.

trust me. He'll overwhelm you with His goodness. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kitchen Counter Confessions

i'm sitting on my kitchen counter, literally legs stretched across my kitchen sink. it's something i love to do (confessions of my apartment). maybe it's because it reminds me of elf on a shelf, which inevitably reminds me of my friend bailey, which obviously makes me smile and then that smile makes me happy. she's wonderful. and yes, elf on a shelf reminds me of her (there's a story there). 

or maybe it's because i do my best thinking up here.

well, whatever it is, i'm at my kitchen post tonight. 
and i have this overwhelming feeling that with Jesus, i cannot lose. 

it's a good thought, one that was born at an addisen lunch last week, but then i think maybe it was born a long time ago. 2012, a long time ago. maybe this 'no losing with Jesus' is the basis of what faith is. that we are free to live because we trust Jesus. and we know He is good, we know He wastes nothing, we know His love. 

can we lose? but really, can we lose?

small scale, little life, we can audition for a play with no fear because we have nothing to lose. we can sing in a choir and try out for a sports team and apply for a job and try new things. we know if we don't make it, we are not valued any less and we are loved just the same. we gain the experience and we tried and failing is okay and we can do the things that we love. yes, the idea of nothing to lose fits right in.

but loss. lindsay, life is full of loss. are you sure that with Jesus, there is still, still, nothing to lose?

but yes. yes. oh, yes.

cliche christianity aside. let's really get deep, let's really get in there. don't be afraid. 

life is so broken. toss a stone, just take a step, and you'll meet and interact and exchange pleasantries with someone that is hurting. it's loss. it's ugly. it's sad. it's grief. don't let anyone tell you differently. can you see it? people hide it, but everyone is fighting some sort of battle. this is a side note, but will you help people fight? we need each other. we're tired, help us fight. even if only to remind us we can just put our armor on. 

but then, ever constant, ever louder, is the presence and the power of God. because we lose, but can we really lose? with Scripture in front of us and the Word of God in our hearts, the ever breathing, living active, Word of the living God, who does it say God is?

what is true? what is real? what do we believe?

the Lord is the keeper of your life (psalm 121)
the Lord will keep you from all evil (psalm 121)
the Lord hems you in behind and before (psalm 139)
He hears your cries (psalm 40)
He draws you from miry pits (psalm 40)
He gives you a new song to sing (psalm 40)
God is a refuge for us (psalm 62)
we can pour out our hearts to Him (psalm 62)
He is continually with us (psalm 73)
He holds our right hand (psalm 73)
He guides us with His counsel (psalm 73)
afterward He will receive us to glory (psalm 73)
the Lord restores your soul (psalm 23)
He is a very present help in trouble (psalm 46)
He has loved you with an EVERLASTING love (jeremiah 31)
He will turn mourning to joy (jeremiah 31)
the Spirit helps us in our weakness (romans 8)
we are more than conquerors through Him (romans 8)
He has overcome the world (john 16)
with confidence, draw near to the throne of grace and receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (hebrews 4)
when you have stood the test of remaining steadfast under trial, you will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him (james 1)
draw near to God and He will draw near to you (james 4) 
When the goodness and loving kindness of God appeared, HE SAVED US not because of works done by us, but according to His own mercy, poured out richly through Jesus Christ (titus 3)

and that's barely just the beginning! there's a whole Bible full of that Truth. i gasp with joy at the remembering of each one because it's just that good. isn't it?

and so there. His Word is true. can it all apply, that there is nothing to lose, with God who has gone before us? in loss, pain, is there always asset? no really, search, come to know, don't just say it to be true. do you believe it? believe Him?

with that kind of Love, there is no fear. 

my feet are now completely in my kitchen sink and i'm really comfortable (is that weird? maybe don't answer that). and from this spot, i rest assured (only to rest assure myself again when i wake up tomorrow) that God is unequivocally, unabashedly, unashamedly GOOD. He's a restorer. a redeemer. that's His character, that's who He is. He loves without condition, His mercies are new every morning, His very character is grace. He's holy and good and compassionate and gracious and just and loving and fierce and mighty and powerful. 

And He created you, and He created me, and He knows about your hurts and He hears your cries at night and He knows about your broken heart. He knows about all your weird habits and He laughs and loves it because He created you to be uniquely wonderfully weird. He knows what you love and He loves your passions too because He's gifted you with them. He knows your thoughts and He doesn't think you're crazy or dramatic or immature or a mess. He says 'come as you are' and He welcomes and desires and wants to sit in your brokenness with you. 'I know you're weary,' He says,  'let Me take it.' He knows the pain and He hates the sin and He entered the mess and He sent His Son Jesus to die a painful death to carry it all, to face the wrath to save us, and He invites us in. He knows the plans you had for yourself and He knows what you desire because He made you that way and He says oh but give Me your plan, TRUST ME. 

He knows your story, every last detail, and He's working (He's ALWAYS working) and He's making things new. He's in the business of beauty to ashes and restored pain and forgiveness and repentance. He's good, He's good, He's not neutral about you, oh no no no He is not. He created you, He fiercely loves you. He is faithful, He will not let you down and He will not abandon you. He's present in your loneliness. He has not left you to falter or to 'just figure it out already' or 'get over it, why don't you' or 'i'll talk to you when you get your life together.' He's not HUMAN, He's God. we can stand or sit or lie at his feet in a crumbling mess and whisper, building to a scream or a shout, help. He wants to build our character and transform our faith. He uses what was meant for bad and He creates beauty. 

and your story, He knows it! there's not one piece or part or detail that catches Him off guard or sends Him reeling or surprises Him. He knows, oh He knows. because He's good and because He loves you. He's faithful, yes He's faithful. He loved and died for us while we were still sinners, can you imagine that goodness?

He doesn't look at you and feel annoyance. He doesn't look at you and shudder in disappointment. He doesn't wish you would shut up or stop asking Him the same thing over and over again. He looks at you and He thinks, "oh, but there's my son. there's my daughter. I love him! I love her!" that's what He thinks about when He thinks about you. 

He knows your weariness. "come to Me," He says. "wrestle, cry out to Me, I will answer you. don't fear! I have you, I've got this, will you let Me?" 

ah. that's who God is. i write it all to remind myself and to read it again tomorrow and the next day and the next and also the next. 

because He will set you free. 
(that truth is so good, maybe i should get it tattooed on my foot. haha already did. late night jokes)

let's believe together. come on, let's dare to believe Him. let's dare to be bold and believe what we can't see but believe what we read in His Word. let's write to remember and pray when we forget and tell the Gospel to ourselves in every breath that we take. let's be grateful, yeah? let's live open hands, let's hope because Jesus is our hope. 

it's hard, but let's do it. let's help each other and let's do it. let's tell each other every day He's a God who wastes nothing. let's surrender every day, let's believe every day. in the hard of life, let's do it. because in the darkest hour on the cross, wasn't that when we were set free? the purest, most beautiful form of life? let's remind each other. let's beat back the fear. let's choose Love, His Love. will you do it with me?

hopping down from the kitchen counter. so, see you soon?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Corner, Burden, and New Girl

One of my favorite episodes of New Girl was last year's Christmas episode. Jess is sad, she's upset, and as they're driving home from an office Christmas party, her friends decide to stop at her favorite spot - candy cane lane, a street completely lit with Christmas lights.

But they get there and the street is dark.
Jess is discouraged and says, 'come on, let's go.'

But her friends don't take that and they start yelling TURN ON THE LIGHTS and Jess sees and she joins in and in the middle of the night, one at a time, the houses hear and the lights turn on and the street becomes completely lit. 

Lately I've been learning about carrying burdens. Engaging in burdens. It's one of the biggest things corner does. You've heard me talk about corner, right? It's those people who stand with you, sit with you, ask about your mind and ask how your heart is, who make your battle their battle, and who pray and believe in a big, big God for you. Even when you can't.

I've got a great corner, one straight from our great Giver. One of my most treasured parts of corner lives in Boston. I can't thank God enough. and what I've watched unfold in the past months is the way our corners have intersected, to make one giant corner. We're all in this together, women joined together out of our common love for each other and a common love for our Savior. 

It's a unique beauty like I've never known. 

We can let people carry our burdens for us. Sometimes God works with us alone in our caves, but we can let people sit with us, carry it for and with us, cry with us. Letting someone just sit with you - not providing answers, or offering advice, but simply their presence. Saying, "oh remember. do you remember? Remember what the Lord has done. I'm praying for you, believe Him. I've been there. me too, me too. I know. me too. Do you know what God thinks about when He thinks about you?"

Sometimes there are things that it seems like we can't do. Whether it's fear that holds us back or maybe because we're broken human beings trying to handle a lot of brokenness. Thank God (literally) that He wastes nothing and He has gone before us. And the fear we face and the uncertainty and the rejection - well, maybe it's all God saying BELIEVE ME. There is more to your belief. Are you going to keep believing me?

It's all a big story, a bigger story, God's story. His timing, will, purpose.

But back to that New Girl reference.
back to what I've learned about burden and corner.
and back to what I've learned about God.

Corner teamed up lately and we helped carry burden for our friend. We were relief and did something she couldn't possibly imagine doing. It's one of the most powerful and beautiful things I've been a part of. It's turning the lights on, helping yell when we can't see gift, literally taking burden from the shoulders of someone and making the load lighter. hey, we'll do it for you. What an honor, a privilege, and a blessing.

And that leaves God at doing the exact same thing for us. He delights to sit with us, delights to carry our burdens, to fight for us. He came down and entered into our mess and died on a cross, don't you think He wants to sit with us? He hears all our cries and takes note of all our tears and fears. He doesn't see us as dramatic or immature or hopeful that we'll hurry up and get our lives back together soon. He says COME AS YOU ARE. you can come as you are and you can cry out to Me. I love you.

Pslam 55 says to cast your burdens on the Lord and He will sustain you.