“Catch the Wind”

 

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These are strange days. Do you feel it? Do you feel the uncertainty of this season, the cacophony of voices constantly clashing around us? Do you feel the opinions flying fast and furious, fear tightening its grip, discord having its day?

But deeper than all of that – beneath the surface of frenzy and friction – do you see the hearts longing to know that they are seen and safe, that the future is secure, that someone is for them? Do you see hearts looking for hope?

It can be hard to know the right thing to say or the right actions to take because, in a time when it seems like everyone is choosing sides over something, we are still called to be peacemakers. We are called to act justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly with our God. We are called to love as we have been loved.

I think this brings one conclusion — we need wisdom greater than our own. We need vision that sees further, deeper, and clearer than our own. We need a love that is wider, deeper, longer, and higher than our emotions or opinions. We need ears to hear the voice of the Good Shepherd.

Over these strange days, our God is still sovereign. His are still the words that are not returned void. His purposes still stand. His heart is still set on kindness that brings repentance. He is still looking for every lost sheep…His love is not wavering, His mercy has not run dry.

We know that His kingdom is unshakeable. We know that our Savior still meets every heart that longs for rescue and calls out to Him. We know that there is love that never fails.

So you and I, we are hope-bearers and we must not be distracted or deterred from this calling.

When we aren’t sure how to proceed, what to say, how to act — this is when we press in to His presence.  We open His Word and let our roots deepen in Truth that endures…we open our hearts in prayer and let Him change us until our lives flourish in love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We abide in Him and He abides in us — this Holy Spirit, comforter and teacher, lives within us. And this is what my heart is yearning for, what I know I desperately need – to  walk in step with Him, finding my source of help in His sustaining grace.

In and out of changing times, the victorious light and love of Jesus remain unshaken. Secure in His faithfulness, we are to take this life day by day, hour by hour, minute by minute. We lean in and we listen for His voice…we wait on the Lord when we are unsure of our next step. We live interruptible lives, open to changing course and trusting that He will lead us when we ask Him to order our steps, to show us His way.

Maybe it won’t always look logical. Maybe it won’t always make sense. But this is faith — walking in the Spirit instead of our own reasoning.

May our part in these strange days be one of remarkable, bold grace. Let it be our part to share peace that surpasses understanding, compassion that reflects our Jesus who gave Himself to bear the pain and sorrow of all people. Let it be our part to hear the cries of the hurting, not turning away, but drawing close in the power of God that works in us to heal the sick, to feed the hungry, to proclaim liberty for the captives. Let it be our part to act in fearless and unintimidated obedience when God leads us into action. Let it be our part to share unwavering truth in love. Let it be our part to speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, to care for those who are forgotten and lonely. Let it be our part to intercede in prayer, knowing that God honors and responds to the prayer of His people. Let it be our part, above all, to never stop sharing the good news of a Savior who gave His life so that we can find forgiveness of sin and eternal life.

Let us be brave. Let us be strong in the power of His might.

We have been given the freedom that comes with redemption, the abundant joy of God’s presence, His strength in our weakness — so let it be that our lives are living epistles of His hope. In these strange days, may it be said of us that we have loved like we were first loved…whole-heartedly, holding nothing back, freely giving what has been given to us.

“…that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”-John 3:6-8

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.-Galatians 5:25

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.-2 Cor. 3:17

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.-2 Timothy 1:7

We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in Him, and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. And we have known and believed the love that God has for us.

God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God in him.
Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness in the day of judgment; because as He is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love. We love Him because He first loved us.-1 John 4:6-19

 

Against All Hope

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Everything we see, everything we hear, everything we feel – it can all tell us that it’s time to quit trying, to give up our dream and our calling, to give into despair.

And, sometimes, it would be easier to slide right into believing all of these things that are right in front of us. It would be easier to stop expecting better things. It would be less disappointing and less heart-breaking to just accept what is and to throw away that vision of what could be.

If this is where you are right now,  pleasehold on. Don’t give up.

If your heart is breaking, if your faith is fragile, if you are afraid – don’t give up.

It may be an outright battle to keep hope in your hands, but it is a fight you can win through the power of the Holy Spirit.

We have an enemy and he is going to fight you to the finish – John 10:10 tells us plainly that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. He wants to devour your God-given purpose and your calling to speak out the name of Jesus into this world. He wants to take your faith and your hope in the promises of our Father.

When everything seems to be going wrong, when things don’t work out – there’s his voice, bearer of hopelessness. It might sound a little like Job’s wife – why don’t you just curse God and die? It might sound like the voice of the Israelites – did God bring us here to hunger, to thirst, to fall by the sword? We would have been better off as slaves in Egypt! It might sound like the voice of a giant – Are you fighting me with little sticks? Come here and I’ll give your flesh to the birds and the wild animals! It might sound like the voice of a king ready to attack – on what are you basing your confidence, that you remain under siege? Who of all the gods of these nations that my predecessors destroyed has been able to save his people from me? How then can your God deliver you from my hand?

It might sound like the voices of the elders, scornful at the foot of the cross – He saved others, but He can’t save Himself!

It sounds like a stone is rolling into place – like it is pushing your purpose, your relationship, your hope of a life full and free into an airless and dark tomb.

It sounds like all is lost. It sounds like you have failed – maybe it even sounds like God has failed.

But listen –your expectations…your promises…your hope is in “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not. “

Romans 4 goes on to say that “against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”

Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead- since he was about a hundred years old – and that Sarah’s womb was also dead.

Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.”

Abraham saw the facts and it looked hopeless. That voice was loud and clear – it was over.

There was no reason to think that he and Sarah could have a child, not when their youth was gone and the spark of life taken from their bodies. There was no reason to think that they’d ever have the joy they’d wanted for so long.

No reason – but God. God had promised. God had spoken to Abraham and said – Yes, this is going to be your blessing and through it all men shall be blessed. Yes, you will be the father of nations and Sarah will be their mother.

Yes- the years, they passed. The perfect timing and the perfect circumstances passed.

But still Abraham in hope believed, against all hope – against all the facts and all the fears – that God had the power to do what He had promised.

When he least expected it, when the odds were fully against it – a baby boy came kicking and laughing into this world. God fulfilled His promise in the better way, in the miraculous way that no other could accomplish.

It’s His way, to bring salvation in the strangest of ways. It’s His way to show up in the can’t-be-done and the it’s-too-late now. It’s His way to leave no doubt that He and He alone is Lord over all – because who else could do what our God has done?

Who else could part a sea to make way for escape from an enemy? Who else could bring down a city with a march and a shout? Who else could knock down a giant with a single stone? Who else could shut the lion’s mouth? Who else could bring men out of a fire, without the slightest singe? Who else could make an army flee from Jerusalem without a single man of Israel lifting a sword against them? Who else could use a giant fish to save a drowning man? Who else could feed thousands with one basket of food?  Who else could speak to the days-dead in their grave and watch life walk out?

Who else could defeat death by sacrificing His own life?

No, your facts might not be what you want them to be. Your situation may be far from the promise for which you’ve been waiting.

But, friend, dig your heels in. Raise your hands in victory. Because your hope is in the God of the impossible. Nothing is too hard for our God and He will not abandon you to that dark tomb. The thief may be trying to steal, kill, and destroy you but here’s the end of that verse in John 10 – Jesus came that you may have life, and have it abundantly.

He knows exactly where you are. He knows exactly what is going on. He knows your need. He knows how long you have waited.

He also knows the best way, the better way – the glory-only-to-the-God-of-the-Impossible way to fulfill His promises for you.

I love what He says in Isaiah 55: “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is My word that goes out from My mouth: It will not return to Me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn-bush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever.”

We can’t always understand how He is working. We usually don’t understand why we are in a season of waiting.

But trust in Him because you know who He is: mighty, merciful, faithful to His every Word. He will accomplish what He desires for your life – He will bring you that beautiful place of peace and so much joy that creation itself cannot help but burst into song!

He has saved you and called you because of His unending love for you – and He is not going to leave you alone. Even as you wait, even as you hold onto your hope – His divine power has given us everything we need for a Godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3).

Never, ever give up your hope that is in His name.

When you hear the voice of the enemy telling you to abandon your purpose, that your prayers are pointless – do not be discouraged and do not be afraid. Instead, ‘be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Pick up your sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and stand your ground. ‘Press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus too hold of’ for you. Hope in His promises!

I am confident – because He never changes! – that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. This (all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-gracious!) God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.   (from Phil. 1:6 & Psalm 48:14)

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. –Hebrews 10:23

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. –Romans 5:5

…but He will bind up our wounds…He will revive us, He will restore us that we may live in His presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. -from Hosea 6

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.-Psalm 138:8

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Hope Fulfilled: “It is Well”

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We have a few days left in this month of October and I want to spend them in remembering what we have been promised. What, exactly, is it that we hope for?

This song is the perfect place to start…because we are created with the hope of a relationship with our Creator. And this hope is fulfilled in our Savior. He came to die in our place so that our sins would be forgiven and no longer hold us back from the presence of God.  We can know that it is well with our souls  because Jesus Christ “shed His own blood for our souls”.  Because of His grace, we are welcome and at home in the arms of God.

“Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.  But now in Christ Jesus you who once  were far away have been brought near  by the blood of Christ.”

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”

(Both verses from Ephesians 2)

“It’s the word of faith that welcomes God to go to work and set things right for us. This is the core of our preaching. Say the welcoming word to God—“Jesus is my Master”—embracing, body and soul, God’s work of doing in us what he did in raising Jesus from the dead. That’s it. You’re not “doing” anything; you’re simply calling out to God, trusting him to do it for you. That’s salvation. With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: “God has set everything right between him and me!” (from Romans 10, the MSG)

Mission (anything-is)Possible

“Jesus returned to Galilee powerful in the Spirit. News that he was back spread through the countryside. He taught in their meeting places to everyone’s acclaim and pleasure.
He came to Nazareth where he had been reared. As he always did on the Sabbath, he went to the meeting place. When he stood up to read, he was handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah. Unrolling the scroll, he found the place where it was written,

The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.

Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:14-24

I’ve been sitting with these words for a few days now. Frankly, they overwhelm me.

Our God didn’t come to us for what we could do for Him.
He came to us for what He could do for us.

Do you see the absolutely outrageous upside down logic in this?

Lyrics from John Mark McMillan come to mind — “If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking…”

The Creator sent His Word — His heart — in the flesh. This was a hands-on mercy mission to change us from the inside out. To change our forever. This was a King who did not come to His people to be lauded, to exercise power, to have it all.

This was the King rejected in order to include us.
He became poor to make us rich.
He was despised so that we’d know love.
He was hurt to heal us.
He was bound to set us free.
He died to give us life.

Adam ushered in the broken era. Pain, death, sorrow, bondage.

Jesus ushered in the era of the Kingdom of God. Liberty. Vision. Healing. Restoration. Provision. Salvation. Redemption.

It was no secret, under-cover, keep-it-quiet mission. The Savior entered the world to save. He came to turn everything we thought was impossible into reality. He came to demolish the foundations of every lie we believed.

He came so that we could see Love for ourselves.

If you’re discourged, if you’re hurt, if you feel over or underwhelmed, if you’re caught up in things you can’t get yourself out of, if you can’t quite see which direction is the right one — take another look at Love. Take another look at His mission. We walk in His victory and it is complete.

His good news is for you. His love is for you.

Do not be discouraged. The same Jesus that stood up with authority and revealed His intentions to rescue His people is the same Jesus loving you right now. Do not be afraid. The Savior is with you. The King of all Kings knows your name.

He is still Emmanuel, God with us. And He still comes to our rescue.

Water in the Desert

Hungry. Tired. Lonely.

Maybe these aren’t words we usually associate with the King of Kings, but His divinity was wrapped in the same flesh we wear….

So imagine yourself there, alone in the desert for forty days.

Worn out by the weather. Desperate for comfortable rest. Aching for sustenance.

This is where the Spirit of God led Jesus after His baptism, after that wonderful moment when God’s voice spoke out of Heaven and said ‘This is My Son and with Him I am well pleased.” 

From a moment of confirmation and peace to long, trying days that test us…it seems like that is the way it often goes. 

Most of us haven’t spent forty days alone in a physical desert, but we all travel through emotional and spiritual deserts.  Times when we feel stranded in the wilderness, with hollow hearts needing to be filled…these are the deserted spaces of tired motivations, fears, worn-out hope, loneliness.

And just as Jesus was tested by satan during His desert-days (Matthew 4), so are we often plagued with doubts and fears while we make our way through the day with a desert-heart. Satan will take advantage of what he sees as weakness.

What he doesn’t take into account is that when we are at our weakest, God has more room to work on our behalf.

Satan presented Jesus with half-truths and shiny, pretty offers of food, power, and authority. Maybe, since Jesus was in need of every human comfort, satan thought He could be persuaded to take the easy road.

But Jesus responded with the power of God’s Word.  It didn’t matter how tired He was. The Sword of the Spirit (the Word of God!) does not grow weary or faint. God is sovereign no matter how we feel.

So in His exhaustion, with the power of God, Jesus told satan to get lost.  And he did. 

You see, even in the most desolate of dry lands, the Living Water bubbles up and over and mightily moves…ask the Holy Spirit to so deeply plant His truth in your heart that it will spring forth when you need it most.  No matter the circumstance, no matter the test, no matter the storm…His Words are our lifeline.  In His power and authority, we can tell satan to get lost when he presents us with solutions of compromise, false promises, and opportunities he lines with gasoline and a live wire. 

Once Jesus left that desert, tried and unshaken in His purpose, He began His ministry. As hard as it can be to see when you’re in the middle of nowhere, God has a purpose in allowing you to walk the land you’re traveling. When we surrender our journey to Him, He will bring good out of it. He will teach us, strengthen us, and use us to help others…our trials can become stepping stones in His kingdom…

So wait on the Lord to guide you through your wilderness and your heart will be nourished by the only One who truly satisfies…if you are in a time of desert days, stay faithful. He has been there, too. And He is there with you now, every step of the way. 

“Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote, God is there, ready to help; I’m fearless no matter what.” (from Hebrews 13)

The Bully & the Hero

My mama-heart is hurting today.

My oldest son, who is 7 and in second grade, has had trouble this year with a few of the kids in his class. For whatever reason, they’ve chosen Sean as a target…he’s had to deal with name-calling and intentional rough-housing. Once he finally told me what was going on, I’ve had on-going talks with his teacher. She has done a great job at keeping things in hand and I felt confident that things had gotten better.

However, she wasn’t at school today. And when I went to pick him up to take him to a physical earlier today, I was surprised to find out that he was already in the office….specifically, the principal’s office. Although Sean gets into plenty of trouble at home, he has never gotten into much trouble at school…so my stomach immediately dropped. I was completely unsure of what to expect.

He came out of her office all teary-eyed and with his head hanging low. The principal quickly explained that he had punched another kid in the nose…and although Sean explained that the other kid had hit first and called him a loser, the punch-in-the-nose response was not the route he needed to take.

I assured her that we’d definitely discuss the behavior and I walked Sean out to the car, where he promptly burst into tears. I asked him if he was upset because he had gotten into trouble.

“No,” he responded through sniffles. “I just don’t understand why he wants to be mean to me.”

Cue mother’s heart breaking.

Because I don’t understand, either. And I can’t stand hearing my child question himself as he has been doing these past few months (am I really smart, Mom? are you sure? maybe I’m really a loser. maybe I’m terrible at running. I’m just a slow-poke…etc…) because of a bully.

I try to be strong for him. I tell him the truth where he is being fed lies. I build him up and love him, love him, love him. I intercede when I can. But it breaks my heart to see him hurting.

As I was driving over to the doctor’s office, trying to not burst into tears myself, I was struck by this thought: If my heart aches this much over my son’s pain, how much more does God’s heart ache for us?

The only reason I can love my kids with this passionate, unconditional love is because God placed that love within me. His love is unfathomably bigger than mine…

It takes all of my self-control to not just pull Sean right out of that school, because I don’t want him to face these hardships. But I know that I can’t remove every problem from his path. To grow into a functioning, healthy adult, he needs to learn how to handle difficult situations. However, I am there every step of the way to hold his hand, to remind him of who he is, to be a safe refuge in a world that is not always kind.

Maybe your heart is hurting and you think that God isn’t there with you in your pain. Maybe you think He doesn’t understand what’s going on or maybe He just isn’t all that interested…but He is.  He hears your cries and He aches for you…Psalm 56: 8 says He keeps track of all your sorrows and collects all your tears in His bottle….another version says “You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, Each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.”

He is looking at you with that great big all-compassing love and He’s waiting for you to run into His arms…Psalm 34:18 tells us that the LORD is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. If you let Him, He will be the strength you need in your weakness. He will calm the storms in your heart, if not the storms in your world. He is your safe place.

If He didn’t care so much, then He never would have sent His Son to bear our sins and to be wounded for our healing….to die so that we might have the life He intended for us to have.  (John 3:16)  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.”  ”

  Yes, He knows your pain. Yes, He sees every tear. Yes, He is there. Yes, He loves you- loves you – loves you.  

This bully in your life? His name is satan and he is a liar. He wants to make you doubt every good thing in yourself and in your life. He is out to hurt you. He does not care if you cry. He does not care if you spiral into despair. That is his goal.

Go to God. Please be a tattle-tale. Tell Him every single lie that satan has told you and let Him fill you back up with the truth! 

Yes, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Yes, you are redeemed. Yes, you are a new creation in Christ. Yes, you are the child of the Almighty God and King. Yes, you are loved  with an unshakable, everlasting love!

My husband’s advice to Sean has been this: stand up to them. Tell them they’re wrong. Don’t be afraid and they will leave you alone.

The advice of James to you: RESIST the devil and he will flee!   (James 3:7) Paul tells you to put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes! (Ephesians 6:11)…but before that, he says “Be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.” (Eph. 6:10)

You are NOT in this alone. Let me repeat: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (1st John 4:4)…..But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 15:57).

This fight —these heart aches — these moments of please help me….we have a faithful Father longing to hold our lives through it all. Take it ALL to Him. He will, in His time and for His glory…because He loves you…He will give you a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61:3)

(Matt. 11:28) Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.

 (1 Peter 5:7 ) Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares about you.

Fear(less): Work in Progress, part 1

 As scribbled down in early October, when my Kailey was fighting an awful case of the croup…
The world looks different from the inside of a hospital room. I’m on the 5th floor of Wayne Memorial today, on the dreariest, rainiest day ever. Kailey is asleep in the hospital bed, wires connecting her heart rate and oxygen levels to this monitor that I keep obsessively checking. I’m looking out at a gray sky, a side road into the hospital parking lot and a main road through the city, busy with cars and people. From here, it seems strange that all these people are going on as usual. From here, the world seems trivial and too full of people wondering what to make for dinner or if they remembered to TiVo their show.  And although when she’s better, I’ll also worry about the little things…for now, it’s inconceivable that anything else matters besides getting a smile back on her face.  She’s my girl. My whole world stops when she’s in pain. 

Sitting here by her, I’m thinking a lot. About her future, about our relationship. I’m thinking about all that I want  for her…I  hope she will never doubt how much I love her and how unbelievably wonderful she is.

I want her to be strong, confident, passionate. I want her to know, without doubt, that she is valuable and has purpose. I want her to know that she is beautiful in every stage of life, be it awkward or graceful…because she was made specifically to be who she is by a God who makes no mistakes. I want her to know that she is talented and lovable. I want her to be caring, giving, and loving. I want her to know God alone will fulfill her. I want her to stand up for those who need help.  I want her to be like Jesus.

It’s a big list, I know. And I can’t help but think—as far as examples go, am I setting the one I just described? Am I the kind of woman I want my daughter to become?

I guess finding that out means asking some hard questions. And, even worse, answering them.

Do I believe that I am beautiful, no matter what, because I reflect my Creator?  Do I believe that I have worth? Do I belive I am unconditionally loved? Do I believe I have a purpose?

I want the answers to be a whole-hearted yes. In my head, I know who I am in Christ. But in reality, do I live with the confidence of a woman who finds her value in Jesus? Or do I play into Satan’s subtle game-plan of ‘comparison’, in which I keep my eyes on myself and others…always ending up on the down-side of the equation?

And back to today…

I’ll be bare-soul honest with you. I’ve struggled with fear throughout my entire life. Fear that I can’t measure up to other people. Fear that no matter how hard I might try, I’ll never be worth real love that won’t abandon me. Fear that I won’t accomplish anything with my life.  Fear that my abilities aren’t good enough for God to use.

Does any of this ring true in your life?  If it does, let me tell you something.  We are  not meant to live like this. I would never wish this fear of worthlessness for my girl or anyone’s girl.

And  I am God’s girl. You are God’s girl (or guy, if that’s the case.) So He doesn’t wish it for us.

In fact, He brought that to my attention late last year with this question: Do you trust Me?

My answer was quick — of course. You’re God. You’ve saved me and blessed me. I trust You.

And yet– the Holy Spirit wouldn’t stop nudging me.  So I had to stop and think about that declaration of trust.

Because if I really trusted Who He is and His intentions for me, would I constantly second-guess my worth?   If I really trusted that He was sufficient for me, would I seek validation in other people and successes? If I really trusted His power and purpose, would I be afraid to step out and speak up for Him?  If I really trusted His forgiveness, would I keep holding onto shame from my past? 

These questions urged me to jump back into God’s Word. Because I knew that God’s perfect love would drive out fear — that’s promised to us in 1st John.  But I needed to re-understand God’s desires and love for me.  I think most of us know that God loves us in that general way that He loves everyone…but getting a hold of that in a personal, minute-by-minute, real way is vital to living in the boldness and joy that we read about in scripture.

Back in January, fearless kept running through my head…I wanted, so badly, for 2011 to be the year when my faith would carry me through and out of fear, so that I could effectively make a difference for God…I didn’t want to be held back by insecurities any longer.  And so when I came across the OneWord movement I shared a few posts ago, I knew that fearless would be my word for this year.

I decided to share this with you…whoever you are reading this…because I don’t think that I’m alone in this. I’ve seen too many women haunted by jealousy and insecurity. I’ve seen too many women trying to find their worth in a man and building their worlds on a foundation of another human’s emotions and actions…and way, way too many people filled with the fear that they don’t measure up to some undefined standard the world has given…and my heart breaks. Because I know how it feels.

And if, together, we can understand that Jesus is our portion and the purpose of our life — if we can really trust Him and understand that His love is truly more than enough to satisfy our souls….then I know that fear will taunt us no longer. Because in the presence of His love, our enemy will flee. And all of the negative lies he uses on us (to keep us from fulfilling our God-given purpose) will go with him. We have to choose to stop listening to satan, tuning our ears instead to the voice of God.

And in His perfect love, in His truth, we can forever stand with our heads held high and our hearts in unshakable peace.

I am always with You; You hold me by my right hand, You guide me with Your counsel, and afterward You will take me into glory. Whom have I in Heaven but You? And earth has nothing I desire besides You. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” ~Psalm 73: 23-26