Available

Available.

 

Who is available these days? (No, I don’t mean single.) How long does it take to finally make that phone call? To meet that friend for coffee? To schedule that dinner you’ve been trying to schedule for months?

 

We live in a culture that is so fast-paced that many of us feel as though we do not have time to make ourselves available to those around us (and vice-versa). It is really easy to live our lives thinking that we can be entirely independent and do everything ourselves. While there is much to be said in regard to community with people, today the aspect of availability that has been on my mind is our communion with our heavenly Father. I believe that sometimes we get so used to emotional isolation that we forget the incredible fullness of life that can be experienced in the presence of God. In a place of complacency we often don’t seek that kind of relational intimacy with Him.

 

Yet somewhere along the way, life has it’s way of being life and we find ourselves in a place of brokenness, desperation and strife. We feel lost, wondering where God is and why He won’t help us. When we have not practiced walking with the Love that is available to us every single second of every single day it’s no wonder we feel so isolated when the going gets tough. It is easy to believe that because God knows our thoughts and our situation, there is no need to talk to him about all of it.

 

Thoughts don’t equal prayer.

 

That seems like a pretty simple concept, but I realized in my own life that I had been letting the fact that God knows my thoughts keep me from asking for the things I needed. Knowing that God could see my situation kept me from bringing it before Him. Thoughts do not carry the same power as prayers that we pray. Which leads me to the point that I want to get to:

 

He is available to us.

 

God is nearer to us than our very breath. He is Jehovah-Shalom, the God of peace. He is Jehovah-Rophe, the God who heals. He is Jehovah-Nissi, our banner and victory. He is Father, Comforter, Friend. He is our Strength, our Wisdom, our Sustainer. God is Jehovah-Jireh, our provider. He is all of these things, and He is closer to us than the air we breathe. There could be no one better to confide in and rest with…and He has made himself available.

 

Our souls long for relationship. We long to be known. We long to be loved. We were created with these longings. Unless we live in intimate communion with the Father, rooted deeply in our identity in Him, we will not have the capacity to experience the full extent of what relationship is designed to be…whether with Him or with people. Intimacy with Him provides stability, peace, and joy.

 

So what is one of the biggest ways to walk in relationship with God?

 

Prayer. The phrase “prayer changes things” is easy to dismiss as a Christian cliche. It is only now that I have experienced very tangible ways of prayer making all the difference in the world that I know that phrase is a phrase for a reason.

 

It is a promise in His Word that when we ask we will receive.“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt. 7:7) God also promises that He is a good Father. He wants to bless us with good things. “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11-13)

 

We must have the boldness to ask. It takes courage to lay down our self-sufficiency. For me it is extremely uncomfortable to do so. I confess that I like appearing as though I have it all together. I want to be a place of stability for the people in my life. I like feeling as though I am in control of my circumstances. But the truth is that I am not. I don’t have it all together. I make mistakes. I mess stuff up. I fail. I am not always the person I portray.

 

But here is what Jesus has really been speaking to my heart.

 

It is a beautiful thing to need Him.

 

What a beautiful thing it is to need Jesus. Why would I think I can do just fine without Him? Why would I let my heart reduce the wonder and mercy of His sacrifice by living like I don’t need it? This is the reality…God can do more through my failure and brokenness than I could ever do if I had never failed or been broken. He has shown me more clearly than ever in this season that His purpose is to create something beautiful and whole out of the parts of me that are the most torn. I desire to be self-sufficient and get everything right the first time, but He desires a relationship with me in which He works all things together for my good and for His glory. How can the glory be His if I am trying to get all the glory for myself by being self-sufficient? How much more can He do with my imperfection than if He had chosen to let me be perfect? But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

 

He is not only available…He is constantly working on our behalf, creating beauty from ashes.

 

Sure, it is easier to hide. It is hard to let Him have our hearts…with every wound and every scar. It is difficult to open our hands and let Him have what we are holding onto for dear life. Easy is available. But maybe God has something better than easy. Maybe He has a glorious wholeness for each of us that can only be revealed through dependence on Him. Yes, easy is available. But true, life-giving, intimate relationship is also available.

 

God is available.

 

For you. Right now. Today. Tomorrow. Always. Sometimes pain teaches us how near He is. It reveals to us how much we have needed Him all along. So let us not forget the marvelous gift of intimacy with Him as we allow Him to transform every aspect of our lives…one day at a time.

 

Let us make ourselves available to receive.

When God Won’t Fix It

Life is no field of roses right now. In all honesty, it’s actually been more like a field of thorns. Countless times over the past couple weeks I have sat in my car with tears streaming down my face interrogating God asking Him what on earth He is doing up there, cause I sure could use some help and some answers down here. My mind is continuously plagued with questions like, “Why?”, and “Where is God?”, and “Why won’t He fix this?”.

On top of that, I have been bombarded with anxious patterns of thought, attempting to analyze every single detail of my situation, asking the question, “Why cant fix this?”“Where did I go wrong?” “Why can’t I do anything right?” My feelings tell me that if I was any sort of intelligent and productive human at all, I would pick up the pieces, come up with solutions, and for goodness’ sake get myself together.

But then I am met with despair. I can’t get myself together. I really don’t know what to do. I hardly know my left from my right at this point, let alone how to clean up the mess that surrounds me. I feel as though I don’t know who I really am, or how God really views me. But I know for sure that I am not perfect, and that I can’t be. Does God expect perfection from me? Does He even really love me through this? Is He waiting on me to “fix it” myself?

So where does all of this leave me? What can I do when I have no answers, when God is silent, and yet the last thing that I want to do is stay where I am?

I had no idea until about 30 minutes ago. But then something dawned on me, and it all came through the actions of another human being. My mom gave me a hug.

What…???

As humans we have the capacity to love. There are people in your life, whether you realize it or not, that love you deeply. The thing about love that comes from a person, however, is that no matter how deep and true it is, it will never be perfect. There is always something to be desired, always some flaw or imperfection in the way we love others and the way that they love us. We go to the people we love when we are hurting and broken, wanting them to listen to us and comfort us. Usually we don’t really care if they have the perfect answers or solutions, we just want to be heard and known in our time of pain and grief. So why do we interact with God so differently?

In this time of such brokenness, I ask God 70 million questions, practically yelling at Him to provide the answers that I want to hear, wondering why He won’t do anything when I am so desperate for His help. But in that moment with my mom I realized that maybe He has something in mind for me that is so much deeper and more beautiful than just a short and simple answer to my angry questions. Maybe He wants to bring me into a fuller knowledge of the fact that His love IS perfect; never-ending, never-failing, and never a disappointment. Maybe my Father wants to show me that He has always loved me and will always love me exactly how he loves me now. He says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matt. 11:28 He doesn’t say “Come to me and I will solve all your problems and give you all the answers and make your life instantly awesome.” He says that He will give us rest.

Here is what the Holy Spirit showed me this morning: I get myself so worked up trying with everything in me to seek and please Him, when all He wants of me right now is go to Him so that I might know Him…as well as to come to the understanding that I am fully known by Him. Sometimes I get so caught up in wanting to hear the perfect answer (which I then get so caught up in trying to follow perfectly) that I forget that first and foremost what my Father desires is communion with me…relationship with His daughter. He pursues the kind of intimacy with me that allows Him to just hold me and for that to be enough. No wonder I felt as though I had no idea who I was or who He was, because I came to a place of being so distant from His all-encompassing love. In those moments of intimacy, I don’t need answers. Because His gentleness allows me to know that He is truly good after all, He does very much love me, and that I really can rest in that.

I can’t earn God’s goodness. I can’t earn His forgiveness. I can’t earn the privilege of having relationship with Him…He just gives it. Because He loves me.

So I don’t have some incredible end to the story, like my situation changing or me magically becoming joyful and happy. Things are still looking pretty much exactly like they were half an hour ago. But the difference is that I now recognize that my Creator just wants to hug me. He just wants to hold my heart. He can handle my tears. He can handle my anger. He wants to know me. No…I don’t know why He won’t “fix it.” I don’t know why He couldn’t just bestow upon me the ability to fix everything myself, which I assure you is what I want. But I do know that when everything falls apart…when the field of roses becomes a lot more like a field of thorns…He is there, arms open, ready to let me get my tears and snot all over Him if I choose to rest in His love.

1 John 4:16 – “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”

Hebrews 13:8 – “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

Psalm 18:30-35 – “As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the Lord? or who is a rock save our God? It is God that girdeth me with strength, and maketh my way perfect. He maketh my feet like hinds’ feet, and setteth me upon my high places. He teacheth my hands to war, so that a bow of steel is broken by mine arms. Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.”

Psalm 103:11 – “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him.”

Excitement for the Unknown

Here we are, 2017!

I’m not a huge fan of the whole New Year’s resolution/”new year-new me” sort of thing, but as the new year has rolled in I have found that I have learned one of the most valuable lessons I think I will ever learn.

I am a planner. I like my minutes and hours and days and months and years all scheduled out so that nothing can go wrong (haha yeah right!). I like to know what will happen when and how things will change or how they will stay the same. But obviously, that’s not life. As I have gotten older, those qualities within my personality have tended to turn into fear and worry. In the past, because I wanted control of my future, two things would consistently happen. Firstly, I had a very difficult time finding as much joy in living in the moment as I used to. Focusing on the present is so much harder when you are constantly thinking about the future. And secondly, I realized that most of my thoughts were characterized by a lack of trust…by trying to take control I forgot how important it was to surrender my life to God and rest in His timing. But that’s not me anymore.

This year God is uprooting my way of thinking. And it is pretty awesome! One night as I was praying and thinking, I was hit with this realization:

Why on earth would I choose worry over excitement? 

Wait WHAT. I can actually be excited for the unknown? I can run after those huge question marks in the distance instead of running away from them? Who knew! I know that comes very easily for some people, but it never did for me until now.

Life is an incredible journey. It is full of ups and downs, big decisions and small ones, hard choices and easy ones, questions and answers, good times and bad times. But the absolute best thing about life is that it is an adventure! And Jesus has so freely blessed us with the opportunity to walk through it with Him…and blessed us with the freedom to CHOOSE how we are going to walk through it. This year, I choose to walk as one who knows that God’s got me. Cause He does. This year I choose joy, I choose trust, I choose excitement, I choose to leave behind all that pointless fretting that doesn’t help anyone or anything. I choose to remember God’s faithfulness and press into it even more. I am going to dive in and enjoy the ride! And I am excited! Life is a beautiful yet very short gift…I choose to love every second of it and embrace this big adventure.

Who’s with me? 🙂

Shallow Love

So…hey! I started a blog!

I find that often I have way too many words floating around in my head or my journal that I just don’t know what to do with, so I decided that I would create a space for sharing them. I am a songwriter as well, but there is no way I could say everything that I want to in that format, so here we are.

Recently I have been thinking about love.

You probably have something your mind automatically jumps to when you read that word. It could be a person, a place, a movie, a food…who knows. But my thoughts during the past few weeks have been about love in its deepest, most honest sense. Let me explain what I mean.

In my observations, our culture has adopted a very shallow and meaningless definition of love. It is one of those words that you hear thrown around every single day. “I love this pizza,” or “I love going to the mall.” With our political climate currently, I have also heard love being tossed around as a word simply meaning acceptance or tolerance. That is not the fullness of what true love is.

Loving someone does not mean that you have to condone what they do. If I had gotten pregnant when I was 16 years old, my family would be disappointed in me for making some poor choices, but they would NEVER stop loving me. When a friend hurts you, you get upset with them but that doesn’t mean you stop loving them. Love is sacrifice, commitment, rooted in truth, and strongly present even amidst disagreement, failure, and pain. But according to the culture we live in, in order to love someone means to shut up and pretend like everything they do is right, and every sin they commit is not sinful.

We need to stop minimizing what Jesus did and what grace means by minimizing the depth of what love is. 

What makes the Jesus kind of love so powerful? It is powerful because it is different. That kind of love doesn’t say, “I don’t see all your junk, I just ignore it…so that means I love and accept you.” Instead it says, “I see all your junk, I call it what it is, and I love you ANYWAY.” You know what is powerful about the Jesus’ love? He was tortured and murdered to take my sin, and everyday of my life I do something to fall short of that sacrifice. Yet He loves me still.

He knew what kind of love that would take. It would take a kind of love that could forgive the wrong we do, not pretend like that wrong doesn’t exist. God’s word is truth. The only truth we will ever be able to find or know. So we must stop minimizing it! We must stop watering it down to appear more “loving.” That is not love. That’s fake.

Love looks at failure and says, “I choose to love you anyway.” Love is not some shallow form of a cultural acceptance. That is a warped view of one of the greatest gifts that God has given to humanity. We must stand up for honest, loyal, committed, forgiving, unconditional, tough, real, hard, uncompromising love…the kind of love that is pure like white…not a fading gray that mixes in with the rest of the gray, intangible concepts that are watered down by  the culture we live in.