You know those great men of faith who would pray all night long or for hours before their day began? I always used to read about them and be in such awe of how anyone could pray that long and actually have enough to say. I've always had a bit of a radical heart and whenever I'd hear of people with that kind of experience I'd get so inspired to try and do the same that I'd get up early and kneel down, and well, you know the rest. Either fall asleep, get discouraged, or run out of things to say.
I remember one year setting a goal that I'd pray for an hour straight every single morning. And I actually did for about a week. But somehow the excitement never lasted. It always ended in feeling frustrated with myself that I just couldn't do it.
Then Jesus began to win deeper pieces of my heart and I started opening up to Him more and more. I started to pray because I just wanted to talk to Him.
That's grown for a couple years now. My prayer times have gradually gotten longer and longer and I honestly hadn't really noticed. It's not been about trying to pray for a certain period of time. It's not been about trying to be like a reformer. I pray because I want to be with Jesus and I can't help it. I can't live without it. Life without long conversations with Jesus everyday becomes more like existence.
I think I'm starting to grasp now how Jesus prayed all night. Why Enoch left all society to spend time talking with his God. Why Martin Luther is quoted as saying... "I have so much to do today that I shall never get through it with less than three hours of prayer." They didn't do it because they had to, or because they wanted to be like some great man who had come before them. They did it because they couldn't live without Jesus and they just wanted to be with Him.
Maybe if we loved God like they did we would spend time with Him like they did. Maybe then we'd catch ourselves praying for hours and not even realize it had been happening...
Maybe our problem isn't that we don't try hard enough but that we simply aren't in love? #dailysoulmoments #prayfortherightreasons
So I'm just going to be honest and admit that sometimes I'm more in tune with the notifications constantly popping up on my lock screen than I am with Jesus' gentle voice. Yeah, it's not a good thing.
Somehow it's come to be the norm in our world to be more in touch with the Internet than with God. We're so focused on the world we can see that sometimes we entirely miss the one we can't.
I've been thinking a lot of late of Abraham living in the wilderness for year upon year and talking to God in open meadows under starry heavens. I see him waking up in his tent and quietly communing with God before he even begins his activities of the day. I see him walking the fields with his flocks and having long conversations with God. I see him standing by altars at midnight, listening to the voice of his Friend. There seems to be some kind of stillness that characterized his life after he bid adieu to his homeland. I can't imagine him rushing around his days complaining of not being able to find enough time to spend with God.
And there's this part of me that aches for that kind of quiet and aloneness with God. We don't spend years with little more than flocks and herds to distract us from constant communion with God. We don't live in that world anymore. Sometimes I think we'd be a whole lot better off if we did, but yeah, there's not much chance of that happening.
Somehow we've gotten used to constantly being in touch with another world. Not the heavenly one unfortunately, but the one labeled "Internet". I wonder if we have traded something deep and grand for something rather frivolous.
Don't get me wrong. In a lot of ways, the Internet is a huge blessing. I've come to understand a whole deeper level of friendship from the gift of being able to have deep and frequent communication with friends the other side of the country. But that's only one side of the story. When we cannot have quiet hours with God because we feel like we constantly have to respond to our latest email, text, phone call, or FB notification, we are missing something huge.
It seems unbelievable to my little mind to imagine Abraham, if he were alive now, putting off conversations with God under the stars because he's on Facebook. I can't imagine him telling God he'll talk as soon as he finished texting such-and-such. I can't imagine him limiting his conversations with God by his own schedule or Notification Center. If he did, he wouldn't be half the spiritual giant I've thought he was.
And yet we do it. I honestly think he'd take one look at us and be horrified that we trade something so sublime for something so trivial.
I'm not here to say the Internet is of the devil. I don't believe that to be completely true. But maybe it is time that we take stock of our lives and see if we are missing something huge.
My own reckoning led me to turn off all notifications except for phone calls and uninstall FB on my phone (more cumbersome to use a computer which naturally limits time). I don't want the world-and-his-wife coming looking for me all day long when I should be with Jesus. I don't want constant distraction. I think back to all those times that Jesus and I were in the middle of a deep discussion, or about to get started, and some trivial distraction caught my attention and pulled me away from Him. I'm ready to be done with that.
That doesn't mean I don't have a gazillion things to learn on the topic. But I'm ready to begin learning.
Because who said we couldn't have the experience Abraham had? Who said we had to miss out on that kind of sublime life? Who said constant conversations with God were only for the Patriarchs?
I'm not ready to settle for less of Jesus. More Jesus, less Internet? Yeah, sign me up.
I wonder sometimes if we rob God of the intimacy He meant for us to have with Him when we spend more time thinking about our own personal plans and future than we do the joint one we were meant to have with Him. Like, maybe this whole thing isn't about me and what I want to do with my life but about us and what He wants us to do together. Maybe it would put a smile on His face if we'd sit down with Him for an hour and talk about the big picture plan of our future with Him. Somehow I think that by the end of it, we'd be smiling too. #dailysoulmoments #reevaluatingourtogetherfuture
Crazy days have morphed into quieter ones and I once again have enough time to have more frequent deep conversations with Jesus. Today we talked again about saying yes. In all circumstances.
I realize again that we take life into our own hands so easy. We start to reason through our responses and reactions to life and somehow think that we have the prerogative to make little decisions ourselves because maybe He wouldn't really have much to say on those anyway. And yeah, life is made up of little decisions, so before we know it, we're basically doing it all ourselves.
But what if by doing so, we miss a certain beauty of closeness with Him? What if He wanted to be involved in what texts we send, what work we do in a day, what our reaction is to little stresses? Yeah I know what goes through our mind. We're not sure if we want to give Him that much control. But what if it isn't about control, but actually wanting Him involved in everything because He's our best Friend?
I'm still learning (yeah, you guessed it... by trial and error) but the more I let Him be involved and say yes to His every wish, the sweeter this road becomes.
And I have to wonder... what if we didn't just talk about doing every single part of every day with Him? What if we did it?
So yeah, I'm probably not the only one who has ever let other's expectations start to control who I think I'm supposed to be. It seems to happen pretty easy in our society. We think that to fit in we have to be more outgoing or cool or active. You name it. The standard we think we have to reach always ends up being something we think everyone else is and we are not. We subconsciously start trying to conform to those standards and slowly our own souls start to die.
What if we had this whole expectation thing mixed up? What if we were never meant to be governed by other's expectations? What if it wasn't ever about being clones of each other?
God has expectations to. That we will live free. That we will be the unique person He created us to be. That we'll fall in love with Him and make the most of living our little lives.
What if we started cutting the ties of the expectations we have been bound by and started living by the ones we were made for? What if we stopped doing things because we thought we had to and started living the life we were created to live? What if we took stock of our lives and started saying no to the things that bind us? What if we realized the only expectations worth living by were the ones of our best Friend?
Maybe we'd find the life we were meant to live. Maybe we'd realize it's ok to be different from the masses and be the unique heart He made us to be.
Maybe it's only when we start living what He expects that we'll learn what it means to be the generation for such a time as this. And maybe it's only then we'll be able to do the work He created us to do.
Which means that yeah, maybe He can't come back until then. #dailysoulmoments #livingfortherightexpectations
Sometimes we think that to make a difference in the world we have to be popular and noticed. There's something about the being known and followed that seems grand and attractive while the quiet work of touching hearts while no one sees somehow seems inferior. Truth is, it's not about the pizazz of being the popular one. It's not even so much about what we do as it is why we do it.
Real world changers aren't out for the pats on the back and faces turned their way. That's not why they serve. They serve because they have a passion for it. They love, not to be noticed but because they love to love. They live their lives to the full and give life their all even when it seems they have been sidelined and others crowned king of the show.
They're world changers, not because it's a cool thing to do, but because their convictions run so deep that they cannot help it.
Some of them are never noticed here. Their love and efforts are never acknowledged and praised. But they keep on because they know that One does see and know. To Him, they are the real jewels... the real stars of the show.
So yeah. You may not feel like the greatest thing since sliced bread today. Live your calling anyway. You will change more of the world than you know.
So yeah. Today is the day we celebrate this beautiful country of America. The land of the free and the home of the brave. And I have to wonder how many of us really feel all that free and brave these days.
I mean, really, we're in the middle of a wild political race that can make all of us a little on edge at times. Values that our grandfathers never would have questioned are being reevaluated. Violence and terrorist attacks that we never imagined in our wildest dreams keep happening left right and center. It's easy to question if all we're supposed to be celebrating is crumbling right underneath our feet.
I wonder though if we've forgotten that it's not a country that makes us free and brave. It's a Person. And maybe the best way to say thanks for the land we live in is to recognize that our security doesn't come from here but from the One who created it.
Long ago our fathers were promised a better country-- a heavenly one. Maybe we could all hold our heads a little higher if we remembered that we're on a journey. And we're not home yet.
Yeah, crazy things are happening but it's ok. This is just a stop on our journey and we're here to love. So we'll open our arms wide and embrace each day with a heart free and brave, because soon we're going home.
And in the meantime, let's say thanks for getting to spend our journey in a country that's been as blessed and beautiful as this one.
It all started with prayer after prayer whispered quietly or typed in my journal. I've tasted the burning joy of loving my Jesus with all my heart, but sometimes life gets in the way and we loose the freshness and depth of that love. I'd sensed that might be happening and I'd begged Him to do whatever it took to keep my little heart close to His.
He did. It was a simple question and it came when I was least expecting it.
"Will you say yes to being best friends with me again?"
Something inside of me clicked and I smiled. That's what I'd forgotten. Sure, we were friends. But somehow in the busyness of life I'd forgotten the part about living every single day together and loving Him more than all else.
I'd forgotten that being best friends with God is much like a marriage. It's not an optional relationship we engage in when we need it and rush on without when we're too occupied. It's about being involved in each other's life every second of everyday.
Marriage is about being involved in the beautiful and the ugly of each other's days. It's a commitment. Backing out isn't an option.
And too often I forget that very thing with the God I'd promised to be best friends with. Some days I don't really want to tell Him what's going on inside, and too often I don't. I want to keep my mess to myself and rush through my own little life in my own little way.
But this gentle reminder-- this question-- I knew what it meant. Yes is yes. Not just when I feel like. Not just when I want it.
All day. Everyday.
I smiled again and my heart beat thanks for a God who would actually ask me again.. who would actually want to be so close to me that we live in lifelong commitment to each other. I mean, He didn't have to. He could just instruct me from heaven. He didn't have to be my best Friend and get involved in the mess of my life. But He wants to.
Sun glints on my face as I look out over the hills. How can I say anything but yes? Why would I ever want to say anything but yes?
"Yes Jesus. Yes. A thousand times yes, again."
I'm reminded again though, that saying yes and living yes are two different things. It's one thing to stand on a hill at sunset and tell God again that I want to be best friends with Him every single day for all of my life. It's another thing to do it.
I remember my answer when the work starts piling on and I'm tempted to be overwhelmed and not make time to have long conversations with Him. I remember when I feel more like stuffing my heart inside and keeping it to myself and not talking to Him about every last thing. I remember when the devil kids me that I'm too much of a mess to ever be His friend. I remember, and I pause and let Him remind me He loves and cares about every detail and that's what I'm saying yes to anyway.
It strikes me that maybe this whole thing is actually pretty simple. Maybe saying yes is not only the way to become best friends but the way to stay best friends.
Yes to talk time when I think I'm too busy. Yes to opening up when I don't want to. Yes to being loved even when I don't think I deserve it.
The other thing that strikes me is how often I say no without realizing. Sure, I don't look up at His pleading eyes and shout no. But sometimes I live no. And that's the same thing.
Sometimes we make this whole Christianity thing way too complicated. Sure, it's deep and beautiful and sometimes hard. Just like marriage. But it's pretty simply really. Say yes to Love. Live yes to Love.
All week I hear the gentle question in my head when I'm frustrated or confused. "Will you say yes?" And yeah, I admit, I don't always smile and whisper it sweetly. But I'm learning. Sometimes yes hurts. Sometimes I don't even know how to say it. But every single time I do, it's sweet.
Every time I do, this journey continues. And every day it gets deeper and we get closer. That's the thing with saying yes to God. Being best friends with Him never has to end. Ever.
So yeah. I don't know where you are in your journey, but I can promise you... We can all have happily-ever-afters.
Because when He asks for our yes, He says yes Himself. And the yes of God is too great to even be reckoned with in this life.
It lasts forever.
We live in a world of instants... Fast food restaurants. Entertainment at our fingertips. Internet that will take us most anywhere in a second. Texting. We're used to everything happening right away.
Some things, though, can't be done quickly. And yeah, most of the time, we're pretty slow to figure that out. We think we can rush into God's presence and get instant relief and then run back out again and carry on with our own life. Like it works that way. Whatever happened to long and deep conversations with God? Like Abraham gazing up at stars at night and talking to his Friend for hours. Or Enoch taking weeks in the mountains to delve deep into conversation with God. Or John the Baptist living in the wilderness and literally doing life with just one friend-- his God.
But somehow we think we can schedule God into our spare moments. We think a five minute (sometimes five second?) prayer is enough. And then we read our Bibles and wonder why we don't have the spiritual power of those men. Umm, hello.
What if we stopped trying to put Him into our boxes and opened ourselves up to long conversations with God that aren't controlled by our schedules? What if we decided to trade five minute prayers for hard and holy conversations with Jesus?
Maybe then we'd find something other than fast food Christianity? And maybe then the world would actually take stock and notice that we have something different and that we've been with Jesus.
Because we have.
Low self-esteem has become the plague of our generation. (don't ask me how I know) We never seem to feel enough-- smart enough, cute enough, cool enough, popular enough, good enough. You name it.
Truth is, sometimes we hide our warped perspectives behind this value called humility. I mean, if thinking we're the best is proud, isn't it holy to think we're the worst human being out there?
Maybe not. Really humility and self-depreciation aren't the same. Humility sees our not "enoughness" and runs to Jesus to complete the puzzle. Self-depreciation sees our not "enoughness" and harbors it for days. Weeks. We get some sort of selfish pleasure in convincing ourselves that we really are worthless, stupid, and unworthy of love. We know it's not true, but we don't want to let it go and acknowledge that we are loved in the midst of our mess. We want to earn love by being enough. Uh yeah. Isn't that pride?
Maybe we've been hiding this dark bit of our hearts behind the idea of a holy habit. And maybe it's time to let go and recognize that we are loved in our mess. We don't have to earn it.
You are special. You are loved. You are treasured. Right now. And yeah. We don't deserve it. But we accept it anyway. That's what humility does.
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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