Walking It Out

There’s a story in the Old Testament that I think shows such an awesome example of how God desires us to walk out our faith in Him. I’m just going to highlight some parts on here but if you’d like to read the whole story it’s 2Chronicles 20:1-30.

So King Jehoshaphat receives word that armies are coming to attack him. He is of course terrified, as we all most likely would be. That’d be like if you found out a mob of people were planning to come attack your home and kick you and your family out of it. You’d be pretty scared. They’re not just going to politely remove you, it’s going to get violent and end in death.  All of your deaths.

So King Jehoshaphat does the first right move, he immediately begged for the Lord’s guidance. It doesn’t say he asked a friend or family member. He immediately went to God. How often do we do that? When we find out scary or troubling news do we immediately go to God? Or do we turn to a friend or our own wisdom to figure it out first and THEN bring God into it? I typically go to myself or a person immediately first. Jehoshaphat shows who he trusted the most by who he went to first….God. Who you go to first really says a lot. It’s only been in my most extreme low points that I’m pushed finally to immediately seeking what God says and no one else. Maybe that’s the point Jehoshaphat was at. That’s how it should be ALL the time. We shouldn’t need to be brought so low before putting Him first, but sadly that’s usually how it is.

King Jehoshaphat then gets all of Judah to start praying and fasting. He doesn’t just do it himself, he gets the whole family involved. Jehoshaphat starts declaring who God is. About His Lordship and all He’s done for them. He humbles himself and says to God, “We are powerless against this mighty army that is about to attack us. We don’t know what to do, but we are looking to you for help.” And then God answers, His Spirit falls on one of the men and gives him a word for everyone. That’s all it takes. A lot of us just keep running around frantic in worry thinking we’re just waiting for God’s word and direction. Then we get more worried and aggravated because we aren’t hearing from Him quickly enough. When God actually is speaking. He’s saying to stop, humble ourselves, seek Him FIRST, and quietly wait for that answer WHILE declaring who He is. We keep focusing on the problem and demanding an answer from God, but God wants it the other way. He wants us focused on Him and then HE will focus no the problem.

So God says to them, “Do not be afraid! Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army, for the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow, march out against them. You will find them coming up through the ascent of Ziz at the end of the valley that opens into the wilderness of Jeruel. But you will not even need to fight. Take your positions; then stand still and watch the Lord’s victory. He is with you, o people of Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid or discouraged. Go out against them tomorrow, for the Lord is with you!” And then all the people praised and worshipped God. They again immediately went back to focusing on God. They didn’t question His word or the fact that He told them to still march out. They trusted Him. I know I would’ve probably questioned the marching out part. But God will always require a stretching action on our part. He doesn’t do anything without our involvement in some sort of way. It’s all throughout the Bible. God requires a faith action in us before He will move. Sometimes that action will be something like simply praising Him in the middle of the storm and sometimes it will be walking out into the fight in faith. But He is always faithful to state His promises with it. He didn’t just say to walk out. He said He will be with them and that they won’t even need to fight. We get so worried about the action He’s asking of us sometimes that we completely forget the promise of HIS action.

So the next day they do what God told them to and they march out to the fight. Jehoshaphat reminds his army, “Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in His prophets, and you will succeed.” Singers get put ahead of the army and they start singing,“Give thanks to the Lord; His faithful love endures forever!” So they’re singing and praising the whole way to the fight. Keeping their focus on God and not their own abilities. Right at that very moment, the Lord causes the opposing armies to start fighting among themselves. By the time Jehoshaphat and his army arrive, all they see are dead bodies.

God comes through right in the middle of their faith and praise. Not right in the middle of their fear and worry. Worry is the opposite of trust. Worry takes up all the room to where God doesn’t even have a place to come in. If we just trusted and had faith like this we could experience so much more peace and ease. It doesn’t mean we wouldn’t ever encounter a problem, but our whole attitude could be different and we could still maintain a sense of joy throughout it instead of anxiety.

We overcomplicate things when it’s so simple:

  1. Situation comes
  2. Immediately humble ourselves and seek God
  3. Receive God’s word
  4. Trust and believe what He says
  5. Praise Him in faith
  6. Receive victory

All of these steps are taking our eyes off the problem and on to the ONE solution…..God. I pray today that each of us can turn to God like this. That we can live in that firm faith and trust. And that we can learn to step aside and let God come in.  So the world can see HIM and just how awesome and able He truly is.

The Struggle

So for about the past month God has been dealing a lot with me about my pride. I don’t remember but I’m sure I’ve mentioned it on here at some point. It’s been a real struggle. I really don’t always feel like this big prideful person. I don’t think I come off that way to people who come across me. But I am. I’m prideful in the way of thinking I can handle all my own stuff. I have a hard time reaching out and asking for help. With even admitting to myself that I need someone else and can’t do life alone is really hard. I’ve gotten a lot better at acknowledging that I need people but I still have a ways to go.

Like I said in a previous post, God gets included in the people that I keep out. Something that He revealed to me this weekend is that it has to do with my attitude when circumstances happen. In my mind I immediately go into a worry state and start figuring out how to solve the problem. My first actual reaction isn’t always to go straight to God with it. And when I do, a lot of times it’s just to tell Him about it and then keep worrying and trying to figure it out. This is me “praying” to Him about it. Part of praying IS pouring out my heart and concerns to God but…..it’s not supposed to be followed by worry. It’s supposed to be followed by proclaiming who God is in the situation. To proclaim God’s promises. Not to rely on my own self to fix it. That’s not fully surrendering anything to Him.

I was reading about Moses yesterday. About when God comes to tell him that he needs to go back to Egypt to lead His people out of slavery. The back and forth between Moses and God is SO like how I am with Him, and I’m sure like many of you can be too. God comes to Moses and says He’s seen the oppression of His people and heard their cries. He says, “I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land”(Exodus3:8). Notice that He says HE has come to lead them out, doesn’t even mention Moses in it. He then says He’s sending Moses to lead them out along WITH God. So God is saying basically, “I’m going to go rescue my people and I’d like you to go with me.” God has all the power to do it alone but wants to use Moses as a leader to bring it to pass.  Moses’ first and only question back to that was, “who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” To which God replies, “I will be with you.”

I just love that. God doesn’t even respond about who Moses is, He just answers all that needs to be said. That God will be with him. Moses is obviously immediately putting the whole weight of what needs to be done on himself and his own identity. And God is saying that all the identity Moses needs is in knowing that God has ALL the strength, ability, and power and that He will be with Him. Moses brings up his own weaknesses and doubts four more times after that. Each time God responds with saying who HE is. Does not even entertain the idea that it has anything to do with Moses or his abilities. God tells him, “I AM WHO I AM.” That “this is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.” Meaning that God is unchanging. He doesn’t flake out. He has power to handle a situation that we can’t even understand or comprehend. He is who He says He is.

I get so worried about how I will personally handle something that I don’t even stop to really believe these promises for myself in my own life. I cut off what He is able to do in me and for me by worrying and trying to handle everything myself. I keep saying “but what will I do to fix this? Who am I to handle this?” When He is saying that HE sees it and HE is able to handle it. It’s not about who I am, it’s about who HE is. My identity needs to be in HIS character not my own.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

The Problem With The Wall

I, like a lot of people, struggle with really letting people in. i’m usually not intentionally blocking people out, it happens more like a natural reflex from being hurt in the past & even some recent times. I think a lot of our natural reactions to things is to protect ourselves. I believe that God gave us that reflex for a good & healthy reason because sometimes there are actual times that we shouldn’t trust people. But there are also times that we take that reaction to an unhealthy point. I personally do that a lot. With almost every relationship that I have really. With people who haven’t even given me any reason not to trust them. I just subconsciously assume that they aren’t safe.

For a while, staying in control and not letting people in can feel good & safe. Makes me feel like I’m in control of my own life and that I can handle anything. That I can choose and be in control of who can or cannot affect me. Because if I let people actually emotionally affect me, then they have the ability to hurt me. Which is just complete backwards thinking because the whole reason that I protect myself IS because I am hurt. I continually just try to protect myself from something that has already happened….. Why do we do that? We really are just so deceived in our thinking when we do that.

The problem with that is that, while it feels good in the moment, it leaves me empty and alone in the long run. Having a wall of pride and control up around me blocks out all the real, deep relationships I can be having with God and the people around me who actually do love me. It also keeps IN the hurt. I’m not only just blocking people out, I’m also keeping all the hurt in. There’s no free flow happening. It keeps me from living in TRUE freedom. I become a slave to safety. I keep myself locked inside those walls while the freedom of life is going on outside.

I was reading this morning and came across Matthew 6:33, a scripture that I’ve read probably a thousand times.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” 

It jumped out at me in a different way than I had ever seen it before. Normally I think about it like if I continue to live for God and for His purposes then life will go well. Like things will work out. Like that I don’t need to worry about others because God will handle it. That He will handle all life around me. But for some reason I typically don’t really think too much about it for my own inner issues. Most likely because when I live behind a wall I also am keeping God out of there. Because I think I can handle my own issues and just ask for God’s help with everything outside of the wall. I just had to literally pause and just shake my head at myself at that revelation. It’s just so ridiculous to think that I have all this under control and to keep out the ONE that CAN actually do something about my inner struggles. The ONLY ONE that can bring true healing and freedom. Today I saw that He’s saying that if I seek Him first, not me, then HE will provide me with protection, HE will provide me with love. The key is actually believing Him and what He’s promised. To actually believe and trust in His character. With just me inside the wall alone I actually AM letting myself be continually hurt and unprotected. Just the simple fact of being alone in there. I can’t be on high alert at all times when I’m by myself. But if I just at least let HIM in the wall with me, He could then have the opportunity to protect me.

“He will not let you stumble; the one who watches over you will not slumber. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never slumbers or sleeps. The lord himself watches over you! The Lord stands beside you as your protective shade.” Psalm 121:3-5

I may not be able to always stay awake every second and protect my own self, as much as I try, but God NEVER sleeps. I don’t have to protect myself, God is my 24/7 protection. He NEVER sleeps or slumbers. His hand of protection and blessing is ALWAYS on me.

Codependency

Codependency has got to be one of the most cloudiest issues ever. For any of you out there that don’t know what codependency is, I’ll give a basic description. It’s basically being dependent on another person’s behaviors. Being dependent on what they do or don’t do or how they’ll react to something. There are A LOT of different ways that codependency shows up in people, but basically it’s that. I personally get confused in it because helping someone feels like the right thing to do. Naturally you would think to help someone. But there is a point when a codependent person steps over the boundary line into unhealthy. So where is that line?

A big lesson that I’ve been learning over maybe the last year is that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to help people, not mine. That people don’t need me trying to fix all their problems and stepping in to try to take over (as if I know better). This has been hard for me to grasp because I always thought we were supposed to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others. I’m pretty sure I took that thought to an extreme. What I have learned is that in order to be the hands and feet of Jesus, I just need to love people. Which lead me to realize, maybe I don’t really know how to love people in the life giving way that God intended.

Loving people doesn’t mean trying to soften reality or blocking them from having to deal with problems. Loving them means pointing them to the one person that can actually help, Jesus. Loving people means that I can still help and be a support or a friend to them, but it does not equal me stepping in to be what they depend on fully. Love isn’t controlling or smothering. Love should never take a person’s eyes off Jesus and on to me.

Codependency feels like love but it isn’t. It gets confusing because all you can think is that you’re wanting to care about another person and help them, but it just turns into a selfish act.

I believe that the main root problem that causes codependency is fear. Fear of another person getting hurt, fear of losing a person’s acceptance, etc. But God’s word says that perfect love casts out all fear (1John4:18), so if I’m living in fear then I am obviously not living in love. If I were really living in God’s perfect love, then I would be fully trusting Him to take care of the people that I love and to take care of me. I learned this week that one of God’s names is “El-Roi” which means “God who keeps watch”. That says to me that He sees it ALL. Even when my judgement is clouded, He still sees.  Nothing gets past Him even when it seems to me like nothing is happening.

So what is the solution then? If I’m aware that I don’t have the best judgement and I sometimes react out of fear rather than in His love, what do I do? …………. I keep my eyes on Him. I need to continually humble myself and acknowledge that I don’t know best. That only He has all of the real answers. That I need His wisdom in ALL circumstances. Proverbs 28:26 says “Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe”.

So how do we get wisdom? The way to wisdom is in having a relationship with God. To humble myself and acknowledge Him and ask for continual guidance before I act.  Always putting HIM first instead of putting the problem first. God loves to give us guidance and wisdom in all things.  He just wants us to come to Him for it. To stop trying to be the god of our own life or someone else’s and acknowledge HIM as the one true God. I can sit here and spin my wheels all day with trying to figure out how I can do better on my own, but it has always and will always come to nothing. The answer has always been in following Jesus’ example, and Jesus always pointed us straight to God the Father. Bottom line is that He’s got it under control and I don’t need to worry or have fear.

“Say to those with fearful hearts, ‘Be strong, and do not fear, for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.’ And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind and unplug the ears of the deaf.” Isaiah 35:4-5

His Unstoppable Pursuit

I’ve been thinking lately about how a relationship with God starts. I think the beginning of it is one of the most beautiful parts of the entire relationship. I didn’t think of mine as really anything special at the time, but when you can look back on it later you can see that He was pursuing me way before I was ever seeking Him out. Way back in teenage years, on Bourbon St or some random club, at whatever time, doing who knows what, and God was there with me. I didn’t know back then what His presence felt like, but it’s a feeling I know well now. Memories of times of such confusion, being lost in what was going on, and knowing that there has to be more to life than this, and I could feeling Him calling for me to come to Him. Again, I didn’t realize that was Him at the time, but He was there, patiently waiting for me to see Him so He could get me out of where I was.

I just think it’s so beautiful because He finds us and wants us exactly where we are. He doesn’t wait until we get ourselves together. He doesn’t wait until we figure everything out. He sees us and loves us right in the middle of whatever mess we may have gotten ourselves in. He loves us right in the middle of whatever addiction we can’t seem to quit. He loves us right in the middle of whatever bad relationship we can’t seem to let go of. He loves us right in the middle of our lack of belief in Him. You name it, and He will unconditionally love us and seek a relationship with us in it.

I’ve had so many back & forths and failures in the maybe 15 years of starting my relationship with God. There’s a huge portion of those 15 years where really I was not living right by Him at all and still falling into old behaviors BUT He loved me through it all and never left me. Even when I left Him. He knows our destinies. He knows the potential we hold inside that we have so much trouble seeing. He sees it ALL. He sees way beyond our mistakes.

Don’t ever think that you have to be better before God can love you. He loves you with a love deeper than your understanding. He loves your yesterday, He loves you today in this moment, and His love never stops. His love is patient and gentle. Never forceful. His love will pursue you ALL the days of your life.

“And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” Ephesians 3:18-19

“Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:6

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39

Assisting or Resisting the Enemy?

I think most of us don’t realize the fact that we are in a daily spiritual battle. Sure we all are fully aware of daily struggles and aggravations, but we typically blame that on other people or on our own inadequacies. Not on the truth that we have an actual enemy seeking us out each day.

“Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” 1Peter 5:8

I’ve typically been an avoider when it comes to conflict with people and I realized recently that I do the SAME thing dealing with the devil. I try to think that if I just keep my focus on what I need to be doing and just keep moving that the issues won’t catch up with me. I think we’ve all learned in life that avoidance solves nothing. It only adds to the problem and prolongs it. It’s the same with the enemy. I give the enemy a foothold in my life through avoidance. Like as if I ignore him then he can’t bother me. Not true. All that does is give him the ability to quietly creep up all over because I’m not even paying attention.

All of us down here are more than used to the aggravation and grossness of roaches. The roaches won’t stay out of my house if I’m just trying to avoid them and not look, trying to pretend they aren’t there. No, I have to ACTIVELY protect my home against them with spraying bug spray, not leaving food out, and not leaving doors open. Fighting the enemy is just like that.

Avoidance and being blind to our adversary is like becoming his doormat. We open the door and let him right in and then wonder why we feel like we can’t break through whatever we have going on. Whatever that is. It could be depression, addiction(not just to drugs or alcohol, could be to social media, the internet, food, people, etc), anxiety, conflict, lusts. The list could go on. We all have issues we face every day but the only way to resist these things instead of assisting is to know WHO you are actually fighting. Blaming others or ourselves comes to nothing. It just feeds into the cycle of the problem, bringing us around and around again, never finding our way out. We need to find the true source of the problem.

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12

This isn’t to say that another person or even ourselves can’t be a problem. It means that the enemy will use us or other people against us. He can tell us a lie like that we’re stupid and we’ll believe it and a string of events in life will follow because we believe that one lie. Or he tells another person a lie and suddenly they are dealing with anger or suspicion towards us and it causes conflict. Things like that. Whatever the situation is, the root of all the problems come from the enemy.

“The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).” John 10:10

Do you feel like you’re living an abundant life? Or do you ever feel like it’s a struggle to just enjoy it? Thankfully God “trains my hands for battle”(2Samuel 22:35). He gives us a solution and battle plan to follow…

“Therefore, put on every piece of God’s amor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.” Ephesians 6: 13-18

I could dig in deeper to that whole passage but basically it’s saying that our weapon against the enemy is in our full love, knowledge, and security in God’s word and character. We fully cover ourselves inside and out in the TRUTH of who God is and who He says we are. Just like we take a shower every day and wear clothes, we need to cleanse and cover ourselves in Him. So WHEN, not if, the enemy comes along and tries to tell us something like that we’ll never overcome this feeling, or we’ll never have peace or succeed in life, we can immediately shut it down with the TRUTH of God’s word that says we are “more than conquerers” (Romans 8:37). To put it all in one simple step, get to know God. Don’t overcomplicate that step, just get to know Him more. All the answers flow from just starting with that one easy step.

God loves each and every one of us SO much and has so much more good for us than we even know or can imagine.

Be alert and know the adversary you’re dealing with. Stop assisting the enemy and start resisting him. Throw yourself FULLY into the abundant love that God has for you and boldly walk with confidence in the TRUTH of who you are IN HIM.

Love Is An Action

“After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter replied, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then feed my lambs,’ Jesus told him. Jesus repeated the question: ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ ‘Yes, Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love you.’ ‘Then take care of my sheep,’ Jesus said. A third time he asked him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’ Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.’ Jesus said, ‘Then feed my sheep.'” John 21:15-17

How many times have you heard a statement like that before? “You know I love you”. I’ve said it myself numerous times. We most likely all have. The fact is that if someone has to ask, then it’s most likely not being shown. I think we all fall into the thinking that as long as we say it then that should be enough. But bottom line is that if you love someone then it shows up in your actions. You don’t ever need to stop telling someone you love them but you’re whole relationship should be an outward physical representation of that love.

The same goes with our relationship with God. In John 14, Jesus says that if we love Him then we will do what He says. This isn’t said as a controlling master. It’s said from a place of love from Him to us. When you love someone and trust that he/she loves you, then you trust them to have your best interest in mind. That’s what Jesus is saying, that if we say we love Him then we trust that what He says for us to follow is the best path for us to take because He’s proven His love for us.

I think it’s interesting that Peter gets his feelings hurt that Jesus questioned him three times. Peter had JUST denied that he even knew Jesus when He got arrested. Out of fear, Peter deserted Jesus in that moment. Completely throwing out all of the years of intimate friendship that they had shared. I think it’s a fair question for Jesus to ask. But don’t we all do that? Just say to ourselves that God knows all things, He knows our hearts without us ever doing anything or speaking a word, so He already knows we love Him. God is not a God of empty words like we can be. When He says He loves us, it shows in EVERYTHING He does. Love is action. Love is a verb, not an adjective here. If we love God, then we follow what He says. We take the love that He has given us and we pour it out on others. We don’t live in fear of being found out. God’s love should make us bold. It’s not meant for us to keep it just for ourselves. God’s love is meant to be a continual flow. Like water flowing from Him, to us, and on to others. Water can become polluted when it’s blocked up and stuck in one place. But a continual flow gets continually refreshed. Selfishly keeping it to ourselves pollutes it because of all the junk each of us carries around with us. But if we allowed the water to flow through us,  it cleanses everything. Like cleaning out a wound. We need a continual, active, free flow of His love constantly going through us.

Jesus told Peter that if he loves Him then take care of His flock, His people, His followers, all God’s children. To not fall back in quiet fear, but step out, be bold and tend to His people. To follow the two commandments, to love God with all that he is and to love people the same way. To share everything that He learned. Show love. Live the example of Jesus’ love. Be love in action.

These words are not just for Peter, it’s for us all. This is Jesus’ commission for US. Sometimes doing this can feel hard but Jesus leaves us with this promise…

“I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

Grow Up

“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” 1Corinthians13:11

A little over a week ago I went to a one day retreat at my church. I’ve gone to a lot of different things similar to it. Each time pouring out my heart about the same issues over and over again. Each time I think I’ve made more and more progress, but this time was different. I always go up for prayer at events like this. My thinking is always that even if I don’t feel like I need prayer, there’s a good chance I actually do and I’m just not aware of it. I just never want to pass up the opportunity. So I was going into this service with the same thinking. The first part of the teaching was about letting go of control and letting God be God. I for sure went up for that. Then the next teaching about rejection came. I thought for sure when it started that this is definitely an issue that I need more prayer for. Rejection is always a reoccurring thing for me internally and something I was dealing with the week leading up to the retreat. But as the teaching ended and the worship music started for people to go up for prayer, I felt like God was telling me not to go. I felt like He showed me that I needed to stop going up for prayer for this issue and treating it like it’s still happening. That it was time to finally, fully let it go and trust Him and move on. To keep going back for prayer about it hundreds of times is like when a kid continues to ask his/her mom to pour a drink for them even though he/she is ten years old and more than capable of doing it on their own.

Let me be clear, God ALWAYS wants us to come to Him. Period. If I had chosen to still go up for prayer anyway God would not have been mad at me and turned me away. Just like a parent doesn’t want their child to stop coming to them for help when it’s needed. But there comes a time when you reach maturity and you handle your stuff differently. Spiritual maturity is the same thing. God didn’t turn me away, He handled me as a mature adult and walked me through as an adult. Instead of going up I stayed in my seat and released the whole past situation to Him fully, acknowledging that I could trust Him with it. He walked me through it. I had to stop reacting in the same past emotions and take the full knowledge that I have of God’s character and what He says and choose to believe it instead of thinking my stuff is hopeless. When we don’t believe His word and character and continue to just sit in our stuff, we really are just working against Him.

There reaches a point in each of our walks when it’s time to grow up and let these childhood hurts, emotions, and reactions go. To stop handling life as a child and to walk in the reality of being an actual adult. The only thing that is supposed to remain childlike in us is our trust in God. And just like a good parent, the only reason that He wants it this way is for our own good. Without growth, there really can be no real healing. We hold ourselves back and keep ourselves miserable when God is trying to show us that there is MORE to life than this. There is life beyond the past issues. There is actual freedom we can be living in. That we can trust ALL our every day and past problems with Him. We just have to see it and make the choice to trust Him.

Preparation

I think everyone knows the David and Goliath story. It’s about a teenage boy that stands up to a super big man that an entire army is too afraid to fight. He ends up taking Goliath down with a slingshot to the head. No one believed in David. Of all the people they thought could take down a giant, an unknown teenage boy was last on the list.

“‘Don’t be ridiculous!’ Saul replied. ‘There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.’ But David persisted. ‘I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,’ he said. ‘When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!'” 1Samuel 17:33-37a

I think it’s so interesting how God prepares us for the things to come. These trials that come against us like a car breaking down, a job loss, our kids having trouble in school, etc, they ALL have a purpose. They are all training and preparing our character to be able to handle what God has for us. I have no doubt that there were many times that David sat out with the sheep and goats and wished he could be doing something more. Like his brothers, out at war, seeming to be doing something so significant. But God is so faithful. He finds us right in the middle of mundane and ordinary. He found David in the middle of being a faithful son,working for his dad and presented him with these “opportunities” for preparation. I know that he couldn’t have felt like fighting lions and bears was really this great gift from God, but look at the outcome. David was able to have full confidence in God to rescue him out of ANY situation BECAUSE of all those past hard times.

As I’ve said before, I deal with a bad back. I can’t really work more than a few days a week and even then it can sometimes randomly take me out and I’ll have to miss those days even. Financially, depending on my income can really be up in the air. This is a regular trial that I have to deal with that I don’t really enjoy BUT one thing I can say that I’ve gotten from it is more faith in God to provide. Time after time this past year He has come through for us. Every time something happens and money is supposed to be really low and put us in the negative, randomly Tim gets an opportunity for over time or money just comes in from somewhere. It’s hands down been every single time. He has provided in such huge ways. I still stay responsible and plan for when there is money loss, I don’t just get lazy and act like I don’t have to work now because God will handle it. If I did, then the whole point of what God is trying to do in the situation would be lost. But I have actual peace and trust when it happens now. If I need to let myself take a day and heal, then I’m much quicker to listen to that need and actually take the day instead of push myself just to make the money. It has shown me that I can believe in God for bigger and better. That I can trust Him even when things seem impossible. So now when trials come up against me I can be confident in His protection, provision, and love for me.

Point being that trials prepare us. Trials build our character. But we have to be open to what God is trying to do. David had every opportunity to become bitter. The youngest son, left out in the field, dealing with protecting sheep, putting his life in danger, being unappreciated and not believed in. But he didn’t become bitter and angry. He stayed sensitive to God. He saw past what these circumstances looked like on the outside and saw what they truly were underneath. He didn’t see himself as just a random worker. He saw himself as a person capable of anything, protected by God, a man of purpose. It’s all about perspective. We all have these trials come up against us, trying to hold us back. What if we changed our perspective of them and saw them for what they really were? What if we could see the big picture? What if we saw them through God’s perspective?

Identity Crisis

Recently my pastor asked me if I knew who God was. I said yes immediately with confidence and said who He was to me. Then he asked if I knew who I was……….I had no answer. It seems like such an easy question to ask but really I had no clue how to respond in the moment. Am I just treating my relationship with God like I’ve treated every relationship I’ve had? Where I get so wrapped up in who the other person is and I lose my identity in them? This is a tricky train of thought because finding my identity in Jesus is EXACTLY what He created me to do. So when it comes to God, yes, I AM supposed to get wrapped up in who He is and follow His examples BUT I feel like my problem is that I just leave myself out of it.

I find that a lot of times when I come to God I am mainly telling Him how good He is and faith statements about all He can and has done. When I talk about myself to Him, I’m mainly bringing up the things I need to work on and do better, or something I need help with. It’s rarely ever that I really spend time thinking about who He says I am to HIM. I have a hard time believing the good things people say about me and when God says it I react exactly the same way. I have a hard time believing that He actually feels that way about me. Not because of anything to do with His character, but to do with mine. I easily believe what He says about what I’m able to actively do through Him and with His help but I struggle to believe what He affectionally says about who I am to Him and how He sees me.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” Ephesians 1:4-5

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, ‘Abba, Father.’ For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory.” Romans 8:14-17a,b

This is who God says I am. His child. He has adopted me as His own. So what does it mean to be a daughter of God? An heir? To me, that doesn’t sound like just a random girl that He’s taken into His home because she has no place else to go. He has fully adopted me as if He is my own blood family. He’s made me an heir to ALL that He has. He’s chosen me as His own. I have the full rights as an actual blood relative. Back in bible times keeping things in the family was a big deal. Especially when it came to who would be the rightful heirs. So for Him to say He has fully adopted me and made me an heir is no small thing.

So what does that mean for my identity? It means that I need to stop seeing myself as “less than” or not good enough. I’ve been having my identity in my faults and how I feel I don’t measure up. God says I am an heir to all of His glory. I’ve made myself a daughter of fear and shame, not a daughter of righteousness and love. It’s time for me start seeing myself for how God, my Father, sees me, to actually believe what He says, and start walking in the confidence and security of His love for me. I’ve always known and believed that God IS love, but I need to also get it in my head that His love is for ME. Not just for other people but for me.

I think this is a big one for a lot of us. In a culture that is constantly demanding more, better, thinner, faster, etc, we start to feel like enough is never enough.  Just add in some mistakes in our pasts and there you have it…………..a whole world of people trying to prove themselves and find their identities in their accomplishments. Our Father says we ARE enough. The emptiness that we all tend to feel and that desire to feel acceptable can ONLY be filled in knowing our true identity in Him.