The Sacred Art of Remembering

Can I be honest? I’ve had a hard time engaging with God lately. Maybe it’s because I’m 3 weeks post-partum and I’m a little thrown off my rocker. Or, maybe it’s because it’s the dead of winter.  Either way, I finally made some time–just to meet with Him.

My husband and daughter were out at a basketball game. And my newborn son had just fallen asleep.

I brewed some coffee, and opened my Bible and journal. I was trying. But…the words in my Bible just seemed to blur. And I stared instead at my blank journal.

And felt…just that.

Blank.

My mind was tired from the day, and I had nothing.

I looked down at my newborn son sleeping in my lap. I studied his face. When so subtly, I heard the Lord say…

“Remember when I healed his brain?”

My heart wrenched. (To read that story click here.)

Tears filled my eyes.

I remembered.

And my spirit, which has felt asleep the last few weeks…suddenly awakened.

I wasn’t prepared for what came next.

“Let’s play a game,” I felt God say, “It’s called…’Remember when I…”

My heart burned. And my hands trembled.

And I opened my journal, and began..

“Remember when I heard your cry to get pregnant?”

“Remember the day you found out you were pregnant in the upstairs bathroom, and fell on your knees by the sink?”

“Remember when I provided for you and your husband?”

“Remember when I showed you which house to rent?”

“Rembember when I provided the house you have now?”

“Remember when I…”

(I know these examples may seem flat as you read this…but to me, they are deeply meaningful experiences I had with God. And there are more. More than I could share. And some, too personal to share.)

But what I want to say is…I began to remember.

All of these specific moments where He came through. 

Where He showed Himself faithful.

Where He showed Himself kind.

Where He showed Himself.

Close. To me.

Presently involved in situations I didn’t know He cared about.

But He did.

And He does.

And He’s close. Closer than any of us dare to believe.

And as I wrote in my journal, as I took time to simply “remember,” a song called “Take A Moment” by Will Reagan came on. And no joke, the words were, “Take a moment to remember, who God is, and who I am…”

“Take a moment…to remember.”

I was pierced to the heart. God came through to me. Even in spite of my sleep deprivation. Even in spite of my many unspiritual thoughts lately. Even in spite of my lack of effort to draw near to Him.

He was simply inviting me…through some mysterious invitation from His Spirit, to “remember.”

Remember. 

We always want God to speak something new to us. We always want God to do something. To change something. And we should–after all, He is God. He invites His children to ask Him, to call upon Him day and night.

But there is something so sacred and so holy about just pausing to remember what He has already done. 

The more we remember, the more we can trust Him. The more we can rest in Him. The more we know how very near He is.

David wrote, “I shall remember the deeds of the LORD;
Surely I will remember Your wonders of old.

I will meditate on all Your work
And muse on Your deeds.” Psalm 77: 11-12

Maybe you too have had a hard time engaging with Him lately. Maybe you aren’t sure what to read, or write, or do. And it’s okay.

Because maybe you just need to look behind you for a moment. Take a breath and see how far He has taken you. Where the road has curved and bent. Where it was dark and scary. And where He brought you through the pass. Where He met you and showed you how to walk.

Maybe you just need to sit a rock, and remember. That time. And that time. And that time.

Because He is so faithful. And the things He does…are worth remembering. This is the sacred art of remembering.

And maybe He’s whispering to your spirit tonight. Maybe He’s inviting you to play a holy game called,

“Remember when I…”

Remember. 

Why I Really Need Jesus This Christmas

christmas

The whole house smelled like the sharp scent of Windex and furniture polish, mixed with something delicious baking in the oven, and the vacuum was always running. Mom gave us all a job to do, to get ready for their arrival. My grandparents.

As soon as I finished my chores, I would stand at the door and wait. I stood so close, my breath would appear on the cold glass. And I would draw smooth lines with my finger. And my heart would rise and fall with the passing of each car. Until finally, it came.

Their big cream colored Cadillac stopped in front of our house. And my heart leaped.

When you’re eight years old–you don’t wait for people to ring the doorbell. (Especially when you’ve been watching out the window for a half an hour.) And you don’t give them “courtesy time” get out the car. No. You run. You race down to greet them in your socks.

You nearly climb into their car before they can even climb out. And you cover them in hugs and kisses, and cling to them like a starfish, so they can barely walk.

Have you ever had that feeling of longing? Of waiting so long…it physically hurts?

(Click here to read about infertility and longing for a baby at Christmas.)

I’ve been thinking about expectation lately.

Maybe it’s because I’m expecting a baby a boy in less than four weeks. And I’m longing to meet him and touch his skin, and look into his face.

Or, maybe it’s because we just finished a very a ugly political season. And I’m watching rioting in the streets on my TV. And the world seems dark. And in need of a Savior.

Either way…I’m feeling this longing. This expectation. This need for Jesus. To be here.

So I’ve decided to celebrate Advent this year.

(Please on’t think I’m super spiritual…because I didn’t even know what “Advent” meant until a couple of weeks ago. I thought an Advent calendar was a paper calendar with chocolates inside.) (And it is, in many grocery stores.)

But I didn’t know Advent is so much more.

The word “Advent” actually means “coming.”

And I just found out that people celebrate the “season of Advent.”

The season of “coming.”

The season of “waiting for His coming.”

You  know how the sky grows darkest before dawn? How it seems so black, and then slowly it turns blue, like that deep, glowing blue, that gradually turns pale blue…and then the dawn breaks through? The light pierces the dark?

That’s Advent. Like watching the dark sky, and waiting for those first gentle rays of light.

Because the world is dark. And we are all waiting, quietly, desperately for Him. For Jesus. To come.

In years past, I guess I have “tried” to celebrate Advent. I tried to print something off Pinterest and force my 18 month old daughter to do the readings with me each night, while she screamed and ripped up the papers. I tried to force my husband to do this “tradition” with us, that I read was supposed to be so meaningful.

But since everyone hated it. (Including me.) It only lasted about a day.

(Maybe someday, we will figure out some wonderful Advent tradition that works for our family… )

But for now, I’m realizing: I need it.

Instead of trying to drag the family to do something I want to be “meaningful,” maybe I’m the one who needs to find something meaningful in this season.

I’m thirsty for it. For Him to show me who He is.

I feel Him prompting me to “behold” Him. I don’t really know how, but I feel like you can’t “behold” someone, or something in a two-minute rush (like I usually do). It takes some time.

So, I’m trying to learn how to behold Him, And His coming. And I’m celebrating the season of Advent this year. The season of darkness before the light, the season of waiting, and expectation, and longing so bad, it hurts.

And I’m celebrating by myself. Because I realize: I need Him. And until I am able to “behold” Him—I can’t help anyone else to do the same.

So I bought a book on Amazon, called “The Greatest Gift” by Ann Voskamp. And It’s a book all about Advent. A book about “His coming.”

I know Christmas will come either way. All the Black Friday Ads are coming in the mail, and the hustle and bustle will start us all racing to December 25. We will do gift exchanges, and parties, and try to make our homes warm and beautiful, and full of light.

But what if the preparations don’t need to be done so much outwardly?

What if the real preparations happen inwardly?

Maybe I need the light inside me this year?

Because there is something about preparing a place. Inside. Like the Christmas carol says, “Let every heart prepare Him room.”

When we would prepare our house for our grandparents to come, it wasn’t just about work. It was about anticipation. We could all feel it in the air. It was in the expectation of standing at the window, and watching for them.

I feel that Jesus is calling me to prepare a place for Him. Maybe I’m not the only one who is desperate for His light to pierce through?

Maybe He is calling you to prepare a place for Him this Christmas, too.

Maybe you will stand at the cold glass door, and wait for Him. And watch for Him, to come.

And when He comes…

When He comes…you won’t wait for Him to ring the door bell. Or to get out of the car.

You will run out in your socks to greet Him. You will run wildly, like the father ran to meet His prodigal son while he was still coming up the road. You will cling to him like a starfish, so he can barely walk.

When you see His light appear, you will fall down and weep before Him. You will behold Him.

And He will hold you, and He will not let you go.

And this “beholding” is what Christmas is all about.

Emmanuel. God is with us.

His Word says,

“Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; But the LORD will arise over you, And His glory will be seen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1-2

If you feel the night is black right now, hold on. Christmas is coming.

For you.

Jesus is coming.

For you.

The night is long. But…

Your Light is coming.

Yes, He will be here soon.


For more encouragment about infertility, motherhood, or marriage follow Barren to Beautiful by entering your email address in the box on the right of this website. Or, “like” the Barren to Beautiful Facebook page, by clicking here. For more Christmas posts read “When All I Wanted For Christmas Was You,” or “Christmas Is For Desperate People.” 

5 Officers Killed In Dallas And Truth For Your Soul

dallas officers

I turned on the TV this morning to find a kid show to watch for my daughter. But I didn’t leave the channel. “CBS Live Report: 5 Officers Shot and Killed in Dallas.”

My heart sunk. My eyes widened and I stared, as the TV showed nightmarish scenes of these brave officers who were led into an ambush, and shot. And killed.

The screen’s red and blue lights shone, and they blurred out the officers dead bodies in between their police cars.

Then the whole screen blurred, with my tears. My heart is grieved over this. Over men trying to protect us. Over men whose lives were stolen away, in a moment. Over their wives, and kids, and friends, whose loved ones were snatched away by wicked people.

“These weren’t like other attacks,” the officer they were interviewing said, “This was a skilled, military-style ambush.”

The female newscaster then said, so accurately, “It seems like every day many Americans wake up, not sure what tragedy they are going to find, that’s even worse than the day before.”

“What do you make of it?” she asked the officer being interviewed.

“Well, to be honest, our culture is changing,” he said, “People are not satisfied with anything any more. They are impatient. Nothing is good enough for anyone. They are more callous and rude. They take matters into their own hands. And with the right kind of weapons they’re very dangerous.”

“It seems that the anger of the American people is at a tipping point,” she said.

“What can law makers do to stop this from happening?”

Law makers??

What can law makers do?!

I wanted to pick my TV off my wall and shake it.

Nothing. 

How I wish “lawmakers” could change it somehow.

The problem isn’t the laws. It’s the people.

There is no law that can stop this. You know why?

The problem is in the heart. 

In all of our hearts.

 

And that’s the truth that our culture refuses to hear.

Our culture: that believes we are all right in our own eyes. 

And we preach tolerance–because everyone is okay.”

No. I’m sick of it.

We are not okay.

I am ready to scream from the rooftops,

“We are not okay! Look around! We are not okay!”

Let God be true and every man a liar.

The words the officer said began to ring louder and louder in my ears.

“Our culture is changing.

People are angry.

No one is satisfied. 

We’re getting worse.

People are more rude than before.”

And just like that the Holy Spirit reminded me of a passage in Scripture, where God utters these very words. It’s in 2 Timothy 3:1-5:

 

“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” 2 Timothy 3:1-5

Is this not our culture? The description here could not be more accurate.

I don’t say this as an innocent person. I say this as a sinner. Who is guilty of most of what is on this list. We all are.

But I don’t share this to shame you. I say this to encourage your spirit.

When you see what’s happening on TV, and all around you–you need something solid to stand on.

You need to find comfort. And it’s found not in how many weapons you have, so you can hunker down and build a bunker for when it all goes down.

It simply comes down to one weapon. 

You either have it, or you don’t.

But you sure as hell, better get it. Because when hell breaks loose–you are going to need it. 

Here is the weapon: the Sword of the Spirit.

God’s Word.

You can laugh. You can mock it.

But you can’t live without it. 

Hell is coming for you. Whether it’s through the hands of terrorists…or simply through the selfish desires in your own soul, that make you want to love pleasure more than God.

Do you have a weapon?

Do you know how to wield it?

You need to learn. I need to learn. 

Today, drop what you are doing. Get your sword out. Open God’s Word. And if you don’t understand it, learn from someone skilled in it. As if your life depended on it.

Because it does. 

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12

That passage in 2 Timothy, the one that says how our culture is going from bad to worse–there is an encouragement there for believers. Here is what it says,

“But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:13-15

It’s not a joke. The thing we are told to stand on is: God’s Word.

“All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16

You wan to be equipped for every good work?

I don’t care how Sunday School-ish it sounds: read God’s Word. 

Devour it. Hide it away in your heart. Soak in it. Let it penetrate your soul.

And live it.

It’s the only way.

We are a people, who are not okay. 

Every. Day. We need reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. So that we may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I don’t know what bombs or bullets may come against me.

But we aren’t warned in God’s word about bombs and bullets. We are warned about “principalities, against powers, against rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12-13

Maybe I will get shot in a movie theater. Or maybe I will be the victim in some terrorist invasion. Who knows? The way our culture is going, the odds are going up every day. But however I die–is not up to me. It’s up to God.

But how I live–that is up to me.

Every day it’s up to me.

And I live in a culture that is slowly, or quickly, killing itself. People have no hope, no God, and desire pleasure, always, more than God. And it pulls me down with it. Every day is like trying to crawl out of quicksand. But we are not called to simply try to “survive.” We are called to so much more in Jesus Christ. We are called to stand up. To play a part in Jesus’s rescue mission in this world. Because our lives are not about us, they are about Him.

Our lives are not about bunkering down in our little kingdoms, they are about wildly advancing His Kingdom. 

They are about letting Heaven invade earth. 

So, we don’t have to hide, we have to stand. We have to stand and not deny God’s power. 

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints…” Ephesians 6:14-18

It’s not that our world has too many weapons. It’s that we don’t have the right kind of weapons. 

Without the weapons of the  Spirit–we fight this battle like a naked man. 

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Ephesians 6:10

 

 

Put your armor on. And do not deny His power.

We don’t need more lawmakers.

We need Jesus. We need heaven to invade earth.

For His is the Kingdom,

the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

Photo credit: CNN.com

To the Mama Fleeing Terror Tonight

mama

We were sleeping over at my parents. All three of us in the little guest room. My husband and I were in the full-size bed, and my daughter, age 3, was in the Pack n’ Play close beside.

I woke up to her crying in her sleep. I reached down and rubbed her back, hoping she wouldn’t wake the whole house, until she fell back asleep.

But a few hours later, she was crying again. Frustrated, I tried to quiet her. But this time when I reached down to touch her, I felt she was wet.

Soaked really.

I felt around, and realized: she had wet the bed. And it must have been hours ago–because it was cold.

“Oh, baby, come here,” I whispered in the dark.

I lifted her out, she wimpered. I laid her down on our bed. Peeled her wet underwear off from her body. And went to the hall closet to grab towels.

I dried her off. Found some clean, dry Minnie-Mouse underwear in her bag. And laid her on a towel between Brandon and I.

She fell instantly to sleep.

And after I did my best (3:30 A.M.) job of cleaning up the Pack n’ Play, and carrying all the pee-soaked blankets, towels, and undies to the wash–I finally crawled back in beside her.

As I lay there, all three of us cramped in this little bed–my mind began to wander. I’m not even sure why, but I began to think of  the mamas in the world fleeing terror tonight.

Just two summers ago, I wrote a post about Christians fleeing from ISIS in the Middle East. The husbands and children were being beheaded in parks. The wives and daughters were being raped and murdered.

And I remember how my heart wrenched each time I thought about their reality.

And what happened? Do I think it just stopped? Do I think it’s all better now?

Just because I don’t hear about it on the news, or see it on TV doesn’t mean this horrific reality of my sisters in Christ across the ocean has gone away.

Just because all my T.V. shows me is stupid clips of Donald Trump, and the Cavs winning the Finals, and the World Cup, and a thousand other forms of entertainment–doesn’t mean that my sisters across the ocean are suddenly okay.

It just means no one is talking about them.

But just lean in for one moment with me. And remember the least of these that no one is talking about…

Our sisters across the ocean, are running for their lives tonight.

Their homes have been invaded and destroyed.

Their husbands have been killed.

Don’t just think of the masses. Picture one woman.

Picture her olive skin. Her dark hair. Her deep brown eyes.

And her babies are hungry, and there is no consoling them.

She doesn’t have the luxury of scrolling Pinterest, and pinning ideas for DIY projects in her home. She has no home. She has no nursery for her babies. She is running every day, from place to place.

She doesn’t have the stress of a busy summer schedule, or checking things off a fun bucket list, or packing for vacation. She is living on the run–to survive.

She isn’t worried about her clothes being trendy–all she has is the clothes on her back.

She doesn’t complain about making a meal plan or grocery shopping–how she would love that luxury! She is thankful to even find any food at all. Any clean water, that will sustain her and her babies another day.

And when her child wets the bed in the night–she has no clean, dry clothes to put her in. She has no linen closet full of white, fluffy towels.

She has nothing.

She peels off the wet underwear, and hangs them to dry. She takes off her own clothes to wrap her child in. And waits for morning to come.

To the Mama Fleeing Terror Tonight,

I never think about you. But tonight when my daughter woke up soaked in pee, I did think about you.

I thought about you tonight, as I lay next to her, until a hot tear rolled into my pillow.

I thought about you as I looked over and saw my daughter and husband, sweetly sleeping in safety. Without threats, or danger, or gunshots, or bombs in the distance.

Where are you tonight?

And what are feeling right now?

I just want you to know, I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I forget about you.

I’m sorry that I don’t pray for you, or even think of you.

I’m sorry that I complain. In all my luxury, I complain. And grumble. When my internet doesn’t work. And when I have to grocery shop. And when I say, “I have nothing to wear.” I speak like a fool when I say that.

I know this isn’t much.

But here in America, I am dreaming of you tonight.

Because you are one of “the least of these,” that Jesus loved so dearly.

I wish you were here. That I could share my clothes, and my blankets, and my house, and my food. I wish I could wash your little girls pee-soaked underwear for you. And you dry clean clothes for her.

But I can’t.

But this is what I can do:

I can remember you.

I can pray for you.

I don’t know your name tonight, but God does. And He sees you running.

And I can ask Him, to show me, and convict me, and lead me in real, practical ways–that one day I can help you.

And something else I can do.

I can stop complaining and acting like I deserve all the luxuries I have. And next time I want to complain about something so “First World”, even as the words form in my mouth–may the Holy Spirit convict me, and remind me of you.

May all my foolish grumbling, over Pinterest, and Target, and H&M, be replaced with prayers for you, in your suffering, my sweet sister in Christ.

My sister, I love you tonight. Here in my safe bed.

I am praying for you. I have to believe that it effects you somehow. That it protects your babies. And helps you sleep tonight.

I don’t know if I will ever be in your shoes. But I hope if I ever am. That my sisters across the ocean, will think of me. And pray for me. And my babies.

After all, this is what God tells us to do.

“Resist him, [the devil] standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” 1 Peter 5:9

We are called to pray for each other.

Your language my be different than mine. Your skin may be different than mine.

But we have the same blood.

The precious blood of Jesus Christ, that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. That washes us. Restores us. And makes us whole.

And one day, we will sit down together at the Wedding Supper of the Lamb. As true sisters.

I am praying the angels surround you tonight. And the Spirit comes and speaks into your ears, all the words you need to hear. Because you are a beautiful, precious jewel.

You don’t deserve to live in a dump, you deserve a palace, and right now, at this moment, Jesus is preparing one for you.

You don’t deserve to wear stiff, dirty, thread-bare clothes–and one day Jesus will clothe you in robes of white.

You don’t deserve not to shower or bathe–but one day Jesus will wash you, and cleanse you, and heal you.

And on that day, when you finally get to go “home,” the real “home” you have longed for so badly and with tears, Jesus will bind up your every wound, and kiss away every tear. Until the memory of anything painful, is completely vanished.

And His face will shine like the sun. And never will you see anything so bright, or feel anything so warm–as His face smiling into yours.

And for every painful tear, will flow a thousand happy ones.

That’s where I will find you.

In the place of His rescue.

But until then, stay strong sister. Do not lose heart. Do not lose hope.

For “the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5:10-11

Don’t Lose Sight Of Your Lover

crowd

We were in New York City when I lost sight of him. My husband–the fast walker. The only one who knew the way through the crowded streets. The only who knew how to get where we were going. He was only my boyfriend at the time–and you’d think as in crazy love as I was–I would have kept an eye on him.

But I didn’t.

I looked around at all the glowing billboards, and stores, and people. I could see him ahead of me. I was keeping track of him from a distance. He was just a couple people ahead of me.
And then, he was gone.

I didn’t see him anywhere. His friends, who were also following him, caught up to me, and asked where he was. “I don’t know,” I said. “I don’t see him.”

This was before cell phones–and we searched for him. We moved awkwardly through the crowd, me and five others. Until we finally found him, waiting for us underground, in the subway. “Where did you go?” he asked, clearly waiting for us to come stumbling in.

And it’s like that with Jesus, too.

We think we can follow at a distance. We think if we keep an eye on Him–we can get to wherever it is we want to go.
But then we look up, and He’s gone.

And we have no idea where to go.

We get callous and and all we care about is the “plan.” When all along, it’s the relationship that mattered. It’s the relationship that would have kept us in the plan.

My friend Adam Frano says, “We have to come to a place where we trust God’s character, more than His plan.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of trying to follow Jesus at a distance. Because these streets are crowded. And loud.
And I’m lost. Without Him.

I want to follow Jesus so closely, I am walking right in His steps. I want to walk so close, that when the wind blows, the mantle of His robe gently hits me in the face. I want to be so close I feel His breath on my cheek. That I can hear His voice when He is softly speaking. And not only when He is shouting. Or rescueing me from peril.

Jesus wants to be my Lover, not my tour guide.

My heart is pierced today over this. Because I’ve tried to make Him a tour guide–and I’m lost.

If you too have lost sight of Him…

Maybe today He is waiting for you in the subway.

Maybe when you find Him, He will say, “Where did you go?”
But when you do find Him–slip your hand into His.

And do not let go.

Let your pulse beat with His. Let your feet move with His.
Jesus is on the move. Move with Him. He’s going somewhere today.

Go with Him.

It’s all I want. I pray, it’s all you want, too.
There is nothing better you could do today–then to lock hands with Jesus. To lock your eyes on Jesus. The Lover of your soul.

The streets are crowded today.

Stay with Him.

How Fear Robs Me of the Life God Wants Me To Live

life

They said the lump is probably nothing. But I can’t know yet.

I have to wait. And my mind—it goes there every single day. I don’t mean for it to. It just…does.

What if I’m dying and I don’t know it? What if I don’t have much time left?

I am afraid to die. I am afraid of many things.

And it shifts. Sometimes it’s ISIS. Or mass shootings. And I wonder if some gunman will start unloading while we’re in the grocery store, or at Target. Or the movie theater. Or a restaurant. Or concert hall.

Because that’s what happened in Paris, right?

And is there any safe place?

Some nights I go to bed, and wonder if some foreign enemy will attack our lands over night? And every sunrise feels like a little miracle. That we are safe another day.

When I get in the car, I whisper a prayer over my daughter in her car seat. I strap her in tight. I kiss her face all over.

I ask the angels to watch over us.

And, I try to be so safe, you know? I try to be so vigilant. But I worry we’ll get in some horrible accident.

There are so many fears that haunt me. There are so many fears that shake my inner peace.

I don’t want to die—but look at me. Look at my fears:
I spend my days dying, more than living.

Fear has this way of choking out everything good in my life.

All the joy.

And this is one of those things—I don’t really want to talk about.

But I have to.

Because it’s real. It’s this reality that is living under the surface of my skin. All the time.

Tonight, after I gave my daughter her bath, and dried her hair, and zipped her into her fleece jammies, I started worrying about the “lump” again. The one they said is probably just a lypoma. But they can’t be 100% certain.

And as I began to get lost in the fear—that I could be dying—the Holy Spirit whispered something to my heart, He said,

“Will you choose life or death?”

He was confronting me, ever so gently. “Will you spend your life living? Or dying? Because if you spend the days I’ve given you as a slave to fear and death–then you will spend your days dying and missing all the good I have for you. But if you trust Me, you will live and spend your days alive in Me.”

I remember reading a Scripture about God telling His people to choose life or death. And I left the last few dishes in the sink, and I went to find it.

I searched in the back of my husband’s big study bible—and I found it. It’s in Deuteronomy 30.

Moses is at the end of his life and he is preaching to the people of Israel. He’s telling them to choose life or death. Obedience or rebellion. Blessings or curses.

He says,
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off…But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”
Deuteronomy 30:11 &14

It is not too hard for you.

It is not far off.

It is near you.

It is in your mouth and heart.

You can do it.

“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping His commandments and his statutes and His rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish.” Deuteronomy 30:15-18

He sets before you life and death.
Good and evil.

And if you want to possess the land—and the life—then obey His voice. And live.

But if your heart turns away from Him. If you stop listening for His voice. If you are drawn away to worship other gods. (Even the god of self-preservation. And the god of fear.) And if you serve those gods—

If you serve those gods, you will surely perish.

The god of fear makes you a slave–and it will make you spend your days dying, not living.

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.” Deuteronomy 30:19

God says, we get to choose.

Life or death.

Will we follow the way of Life,
Or the way of Death?

Every day Death haunts me—threatens to steal my peace, my joy, my life.

But tonight Life is calling me.

He’s running toward me, and beckoning. He’s shouting loudly, “Live!”

Don’t spend your life fearing you will lose your life. Or you will lose it. Slowly. Every day.

If I keep living in fear, if I keep letting anxiety rule my life, if I keep letting dread dictate my steps, and my thoughts—I won’t be living anymore. I will be dying.

Dear brothers and sisters—I don’t want to constantly think about how I might die.

I want to start thinking about how I will live.

I don’t know how I will die–and I don’t need to know. I need to know how I will live. I need to know how I will every day and every hour throw off the shackles of fear, and burdens of doubt. I need to know how I will inhale and exhale the breath of God and eat His Word like it is my only food. I need to love well, and love hard, stop being so afraid to risk this life–because it’s not my own anyway. I was bought at a price.

And I hope when I come to the end–however near or far that may be–that I show up to heaven’s gates having lived. That I will have spent my life living–and not dying. I hope I show up with my heart riveted with scars, but bursting with joy, with wrinkles in my skin, and fire in my eyes, and my arms open, and my pockets empty. Before Him who is Jesus.

The One who called me. The faithful and true. The beginning and the end. Who first whispered my name, and who I will hear whisper it again–the moment my eyes flutter open to eternity. To see Him, with my own eyes.

“Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying His voice and holding fast to Him, for He is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Choose life. (Choose Him over your fears.)

Love the Lord your God.

Obey His voice.

Hold fast to Him.

For He is your life.

And length of days.

Jesus said, “The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy. But I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.”

Have life.

And have it more abundantly.

So stop thinking about how you will die,

And start thinking about how you will live.

In Him.

For He is your life, 

and length of days. 

8 Things I Learned This Year

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1.  I learned that I don’t want to stay the same.

I don’t want to stay the same each year. I want my heart to grow, and expand. I want to continue to be transformed. I want my heart to be soft enough to keep changing. I hope my mercy and compassion for people grows each year, along with the desire to understand people who are very different from me.

2.  I learned I need friends. 

I wrote this post called Three Little Words That Ignite Friendships. And they are, “I need you.” It’s hard for me to verbally say that. But I feel stronger with friends. I feel happier and more connected. I need friends that encourage me, and recieve encouragement from me, too. (I also learned that if you don’t have any good friends, and keep praying that God will give them to you: He will!)

3.  I learned I need to be more heart, and less attack. 

Thanks to a Pandora station, I stumbled into the band Needtobreathe this year–and I’m so glad I did.  Their song, “More heart, and Less Attack,” has become a breathing song for me. I didn’t really care for it at first–but the more I listened–the words are just perfect. I want this to be a mantra for the year to come.

Especially toward my husband, I want to be “more heart, and less attack.”

4.  I learned I have a tendency toward heaviness. 

Realizing this is helpful–because I can bring that heaviness to others. And that’s something I want to be careful not to do–or to do too much. I am drawn toward sad things, and I can easily get lost in tragedies. I can become paralyzed by fear. I don’t want to use my words to make people feel burdened. I want my words to help lift the burden. 

5.  I learned of an author named Emily Weirenga. 

I read her first memoir Atlas Girl, and am now on her second Making It Home. And she feels like a soul sister to me. She knows the language of the soul and how to soothe it. Her authenticity is refreshing to me–and reading about her life unlocks something in my heart–in a way that typical Christian non-fiction cannot.

I had forgotten the power of good writing–how the words move something in my spirit. And how my soul longs for something more than just “information” in this crazy over-loading information age. I don’t need more books about information. I need a living, breathing person, and stories–and that’s what I find in her.

You can find her site here.

6. I learned I want to sing more love songs with my husband. 

It’s something we’ve never done before. But I want to. I want to sing love songs with him, and I want to fall deeper in love with him, too.

Because, he is really amazing.

I read the book “Redeeming Love,” by Francine Rivers last February, and it broke something in me. I wanted to love more tenderly after that, because God’s love for us is so tender and passionate and good. And I think marriage should reflect that love more than anything.

7.  I learned that God’s plans are a lot better than mine. 

I spent so many nights this summer scrolling through Zillow and Realtor.com apps hoping I might run across our “dream home.” I would get frustrated and hopeless with the market, and the houses, and prices.  I was dissapointed when a house we bid on fell through.

But, all along God had prepared a house for us just down the road. I’m so thankful our plans didn’t work out. And His did.

He is always more at work than we think He is–even when it looks like things are falling through.

8. I learned being a mom is one of the greatest pleasures of my life. 

I continue to learn more from this little girl–than almost anyone. She brings me so much laughter and joy and so many happy tears. Watching her grow is one of the best gifts I’ve ever experienced–and I thank God that He let me be her mom.


 

These just are few things that have shaped my year. (And I’m sorry if this post seems kind of self-focused.) But I just had to take some time to reflect on what God has done, and where He is leading me. I hope you take some time to thank Him for what He has taught you this year, too.

I sketched this in my journal the other morning, and I want it to be my theme for 2016: Open Arms

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I want my arms to fall open like a book.  

Because the posture of surrender,

and the posture of receiving

is the same. 

 

Open arms.

Come Lord, do all that you have in mind.

I open my arms completely

to You.

 

I hope wherever He has lead you this year, and whever He leads you in the year to come, your arms will fall open like a book.

And you will open them wider than ever before.

And embrace all He has for you.

Much love,

Rebekah

 

To The One Feeling Major Anxiety With The Start Of The School Year

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When I was a kid, I used to be terrified the night before school started. So much, that I couldn’t sleep.  So much that one year, my little sister and I decided to get out of bed and do jumping jacks–just to make us tired enough to sleep. (Of course we got in big trouble when my parents heard “thumping” coming from our second story bedroom. And soon, we were back to laying in our beds, just staring into the darkness, and praying for the apocalypse to come before morning.)

I’m no longer praying for the apocalyspe, but “Back to School” season still brings me some major anxiety, even though I’m no longer a student, or a teacher. But just because the season is changing.

The other night we were driving home when I felt my stomach starting to twist into knots. I just felt…anxious. And I couldn’t connect it with any one thing. It was just everything. “Everything is making me feel anxious,” I told my husband. I couldn’t find the words, it was just…anxiety that slithered in like python, and was beginning to wrap around me.

I started to think about the start of the school year. And about the way our schedule will change. The new responsibilities I will be taking on. The goals I have. The expectations, and mounting pressure to, “Do more, and be more.”

And I don’t know if you ever feel this…anxiety.

But I do.

And I think it’s the same thing I’ve been wrestling since elementary school, when I was afraid I wouldn’t have someone to sit with at lunch, or I wouldn’t know the answer, or I wouldn’t be good enough for the team.

And the thing I fear is: Inadequacy.

My inadaquacy.

The fear of not being able. Of being insufficient. “Not enough.” Or too weak to follow through with my goals. The fear of not meeting expectations. The fear of failing. Of not performing well enough.

And as I thought about the year ahead, I just felt so sure I would drown in it.

“You will never be good enough. No matter how hard you try, you will always fail.” 

I  felt like I already failed—and I hadn’t even started yet.

“I’ll never have enough time to accomplish what I need to do. I’ll by flying by the seat of my pants as always. I’ll be stressed out. I’ll never have the energy. I will always do a mediocre job at everything I do.”

I felt defeated—and I hadn’t even tried yet.

And then came the worst voice of all, “What are you so worried about? It’s not like you’re even doing anything. People do tons more than you every day, and you don’t hear them moaning about it! Just suck it up!”

If you have ever heard a voice like this, or had a thought like this, I want to tell you right now: this is not from your Abba Father.

This is from the enemy of your soul.

And you want to know something? He wants to destroy you.

Because no matter what your “job” is, no matter if you get paid the big bucks, or none; no matter if you are teaching, or homeschooling, or just walking your child to the bus; no matter if you have six kids, or one; no matter if you have lots of supervisors to report to, or you are self-employed—you may be hearing these whispers, too.

They come from a deep and dark place, and they are the voice of the enemy. And they just keep whispering, “Inadequacy, inadequacy, inadequacy.”

Direct Your Deeds To The Lord

The morning I was wrestling those whispers, and my stomach was churning with anxiety, I happened to read Hosea 5:4, “They do not direct their deeds toward turningto their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord.”

What pierced me, was that God says,“They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God’… ‘And they do not know the Lord.” I looked down at my list of “to-do’s” and realized something BIG: I was not directing my deeds to the Lord.

And that’s why insurmountable stress was building. I was taking on goals, and responsibilities, and jobs myself—and not directing those “deeds” to the Lord. I was not even asking Him for help.

I completely believe that God wants us to call on Him during even the most minor tasks. So yes, call on His strength when you are scrubbing the toilet, ask for His patience while your internet is being slow, ask for His love when your husband desperately needs a back massage and you are tired as a dog. Because…

This life was never meant to be lived apart from the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

And we desperately need Him to invade every single area of lives with His grace. And something happens when you call on Him—He comes. He gives you the strength. He brings you the peace. He fills you with the joy.

When Anxiety Meets His All-Suffiency 

I know the voices that rise against you, because they rise against me, too. And I could try to encourage you by telling you how great you are. How talented. How there is no one like you. But at the end of the day…that doesn’t actually help.

See, God spoke to my anxious heart. And He didn’t encourage me by telling me how great I was, He encouraged me, He empowered me by telling me how great He was.

And as I looked over my scribbled to-do list, and prayed for the strength to do it, God just spoke so simply and softly to my heart. This is what He said:

“My Grace is where your “not enoughness” meets My all-sufficiency.”

My Grace is where your “not enoughness” meets My all-sufficiency.

Dear brothers and sisters, there is so much grace in Jesus Christ. And for the one who feels like you failed, before you’ve even begun this year…To the one who feels defeated, before you’ve even got started, maybe it’s today is the day you lay your insufficiency down at the cross of His all-sufficiency.

It was as if He is shouting,
“Hey! All you insufficient ones! I will make you sufficient!
All you weak ones! I will be your strength!
All you unable ones! I will make you able!
So call to Me! Cry to Me! Because I am going to blow your mind this year!
And you won’t be impressed with what you can do! But you will be in total awe…of what I can do! And at the end of it, you will fall down and weep with joy because with your own eyes you will see and behold Me!” 

God is going to give you everything you need this year.

God is going to give you the energy you need. The financial provisions you need. The mind you need. The motivation you need. The organization you need. The vision you need. The weakness you need. The brokenness you need. The humility you need.

And He is going to give you Himself.

And He will fulfill His purpose for you.

So the pressure is off. And we can send the whispers of anxiety back to the father of lies, where they came from.

Because we have a good, good Father. And as long as we fall on Him, we cannot fail.

His grace is sufficient for us. His power is made perfect in our weakness. And when we are weak, He is even more strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9)

And God did not entrust you to anything this year that He will not overwhelmingly empower you to do.

So come, indadequate ones and fall on His grace, that beautiful place where your not-enoughness meets His all-sufficiency.

“For He who calls you is faithful, and He will surely do it.” 1 Thessalonians 5:24

All I See Are Blooms

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She’s supposed to be sleeping, but instead, I hear her across the hall. She’s laying in her bed, telling her “knock knock” joke to her stuffed horse. And chattering softly to herself, to her stuffed animals. And to any angels who may be listening in.

I’m sitting on the bed, typing, just to let my soul breathe for a second. Just to inhale this moment. Just to breathe in His grace. And all the love He’s lavished right here in this place. Just to pause for a moment and look around at all He has given me.

Our room is messy, with the clothes we decided not to wear tonight still scattered on the bed, the dresser drawers are pulled out unevenly of the furniture that doesn’t match. Our curtains are ones that I picked up at a yard sale in June.

And I feel like a queen. Not because of anything I’ve done, or accomplished, but because of how great a thing I’ve been given. Because what I have is so good.

And I don’t always see it. The treasure that is my life. The treasure that is my husband, that is my daughter. The treasure that is my God.

But tonight, for these couple minutes of quiet, the blinders are off my eyes. I can see.

And what I see, is so good. Many people who are more successful, more wealthy, more “whatever” could look on me, and see failure. But I don’t care at all what others might see.

I care what He sees. And I care that He sees me, seeing Him. All of Him, and only Him as the One who has blessed me beyond all I could ever ask, or hope, or imagine.

And all of the best things, are coming with me to the next life. All of the best things aren’t the ones that thieves can break in and steal, or moths and rust can destroy. Because Jesus said, that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

And my soul is free tonight. For once, even if just for it a little. I can fly. The thing I’ve dreamed of doing all my life.

And if Peter Pan was right about one thing—it was the happy thoughts.

That happy thoughts make you fly.

It’s easy to be weighed down by all the evil, all the horror. I can think even now of the terrible news I read on news feeds tonight. And it’s so easy to let my eyes grow dark with the darkness. To let my heart grow heavy with the sins of the world, and it’s aching groans.

I’ve always had a bent toward sorrow, toward grief. Almost like grief would keep me sober. Grief would keep me ready for anything. It would protect my heart from being naïve. And so, I only listened to sad music, I identified with it. It seemed most real to me. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always been more captivated by sorrow, than by joy.

Until now.

Because I feel God wants to open the floodgates of joy. Because joy is more powerful than anyone thinks it is.

Joy is the heartbeat of the other world we were all made for. The world to which we are all waiting, and longing to go. The one where all of our treasures are.

In the movie, “Luther,” there is a monk who says, “All my life, I have lived in a world that has hated evil, more than it’s loved good.”

A world that has hated evil, more than it has loved good.

I know I am guilty as charged. Perhaps many other Christians are as guilty as me. It’s just that the bad things are so…bad. Sometimes I don’t realize that the good things are so…good. Or that the good things are all…from God.

I remember one night several months ago, there was such outrage on Facebook, about a very broken man who was trying to become a woman. And there were photos of him, and there was anger, and perversity, and nasty comments going back and forth. And my heart felt so heavy, over our world, over the confusion, over it all.

But just then, as I was feeling so discouraged, an email from the other side of the world popped up in my inbox that said, “Xavier was born!” He is my nephew, born to my missionary sister-in-law and brother-in-law in Niger, Africa. And when I saw his face, his little tiny newborn face, in the photo attachment—I just cried happy tears because, he was so beautiful. And the news was so good.

He was my happy thought.

And in the week to come, I kept thinking of his little face. I kept feeling I could fly. Just because of him. The joy he was. The evidence of “good.” Of God.

And I began to learn that however large those dark clouds hang, they are not bigger than the light that bursts through these good and perfect gifts from God.
Last spring, I was weeding my flower bed and I felt sure I heard the Lord speak to me. Not in an audible voice, but in my mind. But He said, in an Irish accent, (and I know how crazy this makes me sound) but He said, “Do you hate weeds more than you love flowers?”

And right away, I knew exactly what He meant. “Do you hate weeds, more than you love flowers?”

Do you hate the bad, more than you love the good?

Do the weeds invoke more anger and irritation in you, than the joy of these blooming flowers?

Do you mourn the losses, more than you celebrate the victories?

In this life, there are always going to be weeds. There are always going to be flaws, there are always going to bad things, and people that are not perfect. There are always going to be problems, and trials, and evil. There will always be weeds.

But there will always be flowers, too.

And when I look out on my life, on other’s lives—am I going to see the weeds, or the flowers? And am I going to hate the weeds, more than I love the flowers?

I think God likes flowers. And maybe that’s why He hasn’t “rototilled” us all to pieces by now.

He’s more gracious than I can comprehend. And sometimes, when I read about King David’s life, all I can see is this lying, adulterous, deceitful man, enslaved to sexual addiction, and lust.

All I see are a whole bunch of nasty weeds.

But that isn’t what God sees. God notoriously calls David, “A man after My own heart.” A man who passionately worshipped, and cried out to God from his bed, and who sang with his whole being, and knew his own brokenness, and God’s own goodness and mercy, and trusted in it, all the days of his life. That’s what God sees. The flowers. The beautiful, glorious flowers.

And I want to see how God sees. In my own life, and in other people’s lives. Because I think He sees and appreciates and rejoices in beauty more than anyone thinks He does. And when we join Him in this—we feel His pleasure.

Oh, I want to feel His pleasure!

So I’m going to love the good, more than I hate the evil. I’m going to love the flowers, more than I hate the weeds.

Because flowers are beautiful.

Last night, I fell asleep to my husband playing his guitar and singing in the other room. And there was no sweeter sound in all the world. I just lay in our bed and soak in his voice like the most soothing lullaby I’ve ever heard.

I forget the miracle he is sometimes. I forget the mystery of the way we met. I forget how precious he is. I forget the softness of his voice.

And just to lay and listen, as tears form in my eyes, and love him all the more—just because he’s mine. Just because I wouldn’t trade him for the world. Just because God gave him to me, as a gift. A good and perfect gift. Not because he is perfect, but because He is from God, and that makes him perfect for me.

Right now, Selah is sleeping across the hall. But tonight, when I put her down, I lay with her in her bed and as we lay in the dark, she held my face in her hands and smiled wide at me, looking at me like she was a proud grandma. With her hands still on my cheeks, I said, “Hey Selah, did you know that I always wanted to have a little girl named Selah?” And she just giggled. And after a few minutes I said, “Hey Selah, what do you think is in heaven?” And she said, “Toys.”

And we both laughed with the blankets pulled up to our chins.

She’s two, and the youngest miracle I know. And I don’t know what heaven holds, but when I hear her laugh, when I hear my husband sing, I feel heaven breaking through.

I feel the treasure they are. I feel my heart move into that place where no one can steal my joy away. And I see flowers breaking through the dirt.

And I love flowers because they are beautiful. Even with the weeds, they are beautiful.

And tonight, all I see are blooms.

A Morning Prayer: “Conform Me To Jesus”

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I’m going to let you inside for a moment. My journal. Just for this. Because I started praying something last week, and it started to change me. It started to set me free and open up joy in me. And I want to share it with you–so that you can be free. And so that you can have joy. And so that you can be full of Jesus.

When I was little, Jesus was just this little flannel-graph cartoon. He was a name I heard a lot. I saw pictures and porcelain figures of Him as a little baby at Christmas time and always wondered what He really looked like.

But that little cartoon version of Jesus you see in the little kid’s Bibles—is so false. It may be good for toddlers, but as you get older and the weight of sin and gravity of world begin to pull on you. You need more than a cartoon to save you.

And it took me about twenty-five years to stop thinking of Him that way. Like that little cartoon face with a white tunic and a blue sash. And to start actually thinking of Him as a person. Who thinks. Who breathes. Who crushes snakes under His heels. Who laughs. Who cries with loud sobs. (Hebrews 5:7)

But this Person, in the last three years, has meant more to me, has become more real to me than He ever has. And it’s not because I’m so “spiritual.” Or I have enlightened understanding. It’s not because I’ve really mastered the spiritual disciplines or pull myself up by my bootstraps each morning. It’s actually quite the opposite. It’s because I’m beginning to see my desperate need for Him.

See, for a while I thought I was strong. But trusting in my strength never brought me closer to Jesus, it only propelled me further and further away. And it only made my heart grow colder. (Much like the Pharisees.) But lately, what has brought me nearest to Jesus is my own realization of how very weak I am. It’s not about “trying harder,” it’s about complete and total surrender. It’s instead about praying, “God, have mercy on me. I’m a sinner.” And it’s been about the surrendering of my will, my methods, my dreams, my control. Or the illusion of it. It’s about letting Him carry the burden for me, morning by morning. It’s about wanting Him to come as He is, and not just who I want Him to be.

If you’re reading this and still feel like you have that “hollow” Jesus in your head. I’m going to pray for you. Because He is more than capable to show Himself–in a way that is real. And in a way that is close. And in such a way that will just make you weep and long for Him. And in a way that makes you feel like your insides are on fire and you could run a thousand miles and scale a hundred walls. And in such a way where you might burst out into singing or laughing hysterically. Even in public…Because suddenly you see Him everywhere, and you can feel Him seeing you. All of you. And loving all of you at the same time. And this gives you strength and joy and peace. Even when you shouldn’t have it–by the world’s standards.

And morning by morning He waits. He waits to explode into the atmosphere at my simple invitation. He rushes in, at my first cry. But He waits for it. He waits for me to want Him.

And on a day last weak, after much battling for joy the days prior–the Holy Spirit led me in a simple prayer: Conform me to Jesus. And it may be one of the most powerful things I have ever prayed.

Scripture tells us that it is God’s will to conform us to Jesus. Romans 8:29, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” We ask God for a lot of decision-making wisdom of where to live, who to marry, what to study, what to buy…and He leads us each in a thousand different ways. But the bottom line is, whatever He says, and wherever He leads us, the goal is the same: that we will be conformed to the image of His Son. Jesus Christ.

For some, this is a great path of pain and heartache, for others it’s filled with sweet symphonies of joy. And for many a big mix of both. But God determines that, and He determines what is best for us, by steering us in the way that will most conform us to Jesus. And He does this, (Vs. 28 says) “for the good of those who love Him, and have been called according to His purpose.” So He does this for our greatest good, and our greatest joy, and His greatest glory–all at once. Because being conformed to Jesus Christ is exactly what we all desperately need. Every day. We all need to be violently rescued from ourselves, from our flesh, from our selfish ambition, from our pride, and dependency on ourselves. Those things all lead to death and the grave and kill our spirit–no matter how pretty they look on the outside.

Instead what we need, is to be like Jesus. And I know how cliche that sounds. I’ve heard it my whole life–but when I understand who Jesus really is, and what He is really like–it doesn’t sound cliche anymore. It sounds like being parched and dying of thirst, with my throat burning and then being led to the only stream in the world, from which the purest, and coldest water flows, and lapping it up like a thirsty dog.

I began writing this prayer out in my journal one morning, and as I prayed it, I felt such intimacy with Christ. I felt loneliness flee away from me, as I invited Him in. And gave God full permission to conform my heart, my will, my desires to His. I’ve been praying this every day since, because it changes the way I see everything. I hope it does the same for you.

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Conform Me To Jesus Prayer:

God,

What I really need, as I open up Your Word to seek You, is really just for You to conform me to Jesus.

Conform me to His Heart.

His tender mercy.
His hell-binding compassion.

His argument-bucking grace.

The way He NEVER falls for Satan’s schemes, or tricks, or offenses. Not once.

Conform me to His Wisdom.

Conform me to His TRUST in the Father. The way He held the Father’s Word higher than any other. Even as Satan breathed out threats against him. Even as people persecuted Him.

Conform me to His power to “throw down” arguments, instead of trying to “win” them.

Conform me to His discernment and patience.

Conform me to His Love. 

His love that “suffers long and is kind.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)

That is not “irritable or resentful.” (13:5)

That “believes the best.” (13:7)

That “always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres.” (13:13) Always, always, always. The love that always wins. A love so true and powerful that it can do more than wisdom, it can do even more than faith. A love that can move mountains, loose strongholds, and cover over a multitude of sins.

Oh God, I can read and study and pray. I can evaluate my heart and interrogate others.

But without love, the love of Jesus–it is nothing.

Clanging gongs and cymbals.

I can read long, I can read short. I can wax poetic, or write for hours trying to find it. Trying to find You.

But if I don’t walk away from this time with my heart a little more conformed to Jesus…

What is the point?

I would be better off a pagan.

It would be better for me not to know Your grace, or to have tasted Your salvation—than to have tasted it, and turned and used as as some sort of ruler to measure others and cast judgement.

So conform me to Jesus.

Conform me to His Joy.

To the “joy set before Him.” Joy that enabled Him to endure shame. Joy that the Father would always come through. Joy that all authority in heaven and earth had been given to Him. Joy that the victory was sure. And that one day sin and darkness and perversity will be blotted out from the earth forever. And that sorrow and sighing will be no more.

Conform me to His joy. His humility. His pleasure in getting low. In the way He came not to be served, but to serve, and give His life as a ransom for many. (Matt. 20:28)

Because whatever happens today, whether my worst nightmare, or greatest pleasure. You have ordained it to conform me to Jesus. Whether my family, and friends, and spouse are pleasant and easy to love, or stubborn, arrogant, and rude–conform me to Jesus.

Whether things go my way, or absolutely nothing goes my way–conform me to Jesus. Whether my body thrives with energy, or dies away with disease–conform me to Jesus.

Because this world, and my family, and my friends, and my spouse desperately need more of Him, not more of me. So let my will, my ambitions be crucified again this morning, so that I may be rendered dead, and Christ can live in me. (Galatians 2:20) And so that I can know You. So that I can glorify You, by enjoying You forever.

I need You to break into the atmosphere this morning. Conform me to You. That there may be less of me, and more of You. More of your joy, your peace, your wisdom, your mercy and compassion. More of your power, and more of your purity. And all the things I’m not–You are. So conform me to You. The One whom I live and long for.