I settle down in the sun, back leaning against a tall ponderosa and mind soaring to converse with the One I love. It is only after I've been there for awhile that I notice the dates on the gravestones around me.
I read and all of a sudden it strikes me that these are not the graves of men who have faded from old age into peaceful sleep. These are men who still had twenty or thirty years ahead of them. Men who were killed because they believed in something enough to fight for it. Men who lived a life that was anything but ordinary.
My mind wanders and I see them fighting, wounded, taking their last breath. I see their families heartbreak at hearing of the lives cut short... of living decades without them.
It's then that I realize that the thread of longing that He has been touching in my heart is becoming a chain that is pulling me higher... Because yeah, I can live an ordinary life and just follow suit of the way too much of our generation lives and maybe I will have an uncontradicted life and fade from old age to peaceful slumber with hardly a finger lifted against me.
But deep down, I know that is not what I really want.
I look at the grave stones around me and I know that I too want to stand up and fight for what I believe in. I too want to live a life that is not popular even if that means that bullets (tangible or intangible) are sent my direction.
I'm not content to sit back and settle with twenty percent of the companionship with God that we were intended to have. I want a hundred percent. And I want it for my generation.
So yeah, I'll fight... for all of Jesus in my life, for all of Him in the lives of my kids, my peers, and my friends. And if one day my heart is stopped because it is deemed to beat too out of sync with the opposing side, I will give thanks that He taught it just a little about beating in sync with His.
For now, thank you Veteran Norman for not being content with an ordinary life and reminding me that I am not either.
When was the last time you laid aside all distractions and went and did something special, just you and Jesus? I don't mean reading your Bible while checking Snapchat between verses or praying while thinking about all the things you have to get next time you go to town. I mean, a date with just you and Jesus for the purpose of connecting with each other in a deeper way than happens in our day to day routines.
Today was one of those for me. It's my day off work and I couldn't resist the longing to use my time for some kind of adventure with Jesus. I decided to explore one of the trails in the beautiful wilderness here in CA and lay aside all my work related thoughts and just enjoy His companionship.
As we walked and He and I talked, I was amazed at how refreshing it was to step out of my normal routine and do something special with Him. Not only did it help me get my focus back on track, but He inspired me to aim for heights I hadn't even thought about for months.
And that's when it hit me... why don't I do this more often? Why doesn't anyone talk about doing this? Why is it such a novel idea to make time for a date with Jesus?
We talk about serving other, following His laws, and completely relinquishing sin... And we should. Really, we should talk about them a whole lot more than we do.
But why do we neglect to talk about making space in our schedules for special outings with Jesus? Why don't we go on adventures with Him, purely because we want a deeper connection? Why does that sound so unusual?
Maybe we will only find the power to serve others, follow His law, and completely relinquish sin when we are actually willing to make time in our schedules for dates with Jesus.
Because really, I don't think our generation's biggest lack is knowledge of the right, but lack of motivation to do it. Motivation comes from love. Love is born in friendship. And friendship comes from moments spent together.
So yeah... I'm looking at my schedule and clearing more time for adventures with God this year. And if you want my suggestion, I'd say maybe we should do this together as a generation.
Because it only takes one generation who has fallen so deeply in love with His heart that they follow every bidding to enable Him to come back. And that could be us.
It’s funny how growing up is never anything like we think it will be. I remember going through grade school and dreaming of those days when I would be done with college. I envisioned myself as this confident grown up person who drove to work each morning, had their life under control, and never had problems.
Somehow the future had this magical glow and Iooked ever so much brighter than anything in the present.
Truth is, life doesn’t exactly pan out magically. We don’t grow up and turn into completely different people who have no problems. The reality is that our battles grow as we grow.
Life doesn’t exactly get easier when we grow up and sometimes it looks nothing like we expected it to.
A few weeks ago I found myself walking along the little snowy road outside our house and finally finding words to explain to Him the jumble of thoughts that had been going around my head for awhile.
“God, it’s just that this is nothing like I thought it would be. When I left my peaceful meadow in the southwest, I never expected to find my heart torn between people and places and occupations.”
You thought it would be easier?
“Yeah. I never imagined that almost every single thing in my life would change except you and that sometimes all the shifting would blur even my vision of your face.”
I paused and then slowly…
“Really, you are my only anchor now. Everything else is changing.”
Gentle as always He replies…
Kiddo, I know this is hard. But really, did you expect more? Haven’t you said all along that you wanted me as your anchor?
I’m silent now. He’s right.
We sing the kids songs about the man who built his house upon the sand and when the rain came beating down, it fell. We contrast it with the man who built his house upon the rock and no storm could destroy him.
But what about when it’s our life? What about when location, friends, and occupations shift? What about when life changes and we find ourselves grappling for something to hang onto?
Maybe it’s then we learn what our anchor really is… maybe then that we discover whether our faith is genuine or whether we follow simply because our parents have.
All throughout my teen years I have looked around me and ached as I saw peers leaving the God they had loved. I’d wondered how it was possible. Now I think I’m starting to understand.
When life shakes us up and everything changes we have a choice to make— try and pilot our own restless ship or hold onto the anchor.
Sure, sometimes piloting our own ship can look a whole lot easier. After all, doing our own thing and seeking our own happiness and being in charge of our days can seem mighty appealing compared to handing it all over to God and taking whatever He chooses to hand out.
But as snowflakes blow through my hair and land on my eyelashes, I can’t help recognizing that no matter how much easier it may seem to take charge myself, there is something unbelievably beautiful about opening up my hands to whatever He desires and giving Him the reigns… even if He hands me thorns.
Because sure, I never expected my life to look like this when I was 11… I never expected Him to ask for some of the things He has asked for and take some of the things He has taken. I thought it would all be easier and more magical. But at the same time, I never expected Him to be so real and lovable. I never imagined that He would become such a tangible friend and win my heart in the ways He has.
Snow squeaks under my boots and I know deep down that no matter how hard this road gets, I can’t stop walking it. I look ahead and I wonder how I will be able to do some of the things He is asking but I look behind and see that He has already led me over insurmountable obstacles because His love sees no limits.
Really, this is where the rubber comes down to the road. It’s decisions like this that form the trajectory of our lives.
Will we choose Him when everything is shaking and we’re aching, and life isn’t just about preschool lessons and learning the alphabet? Will we love God even when He directs us down impossible roads?
Growing from magical childhood days to the responsibilities of adult life isn’t easy. Change never is. I look around and see the turmoil but I look up and know that my ship doesn’t have to be wrecked on the rocks if I hold onto the Anchor.
And so I will, Jesus. I will. This road may descend into the lowest parts of the earth only to turn and climb up the steepest mountain… but it’s okay. Because “even there shall they hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.”
The music swells in my earbuds as I walk and I sing along…
Take my life and make it Yours, Lord.
Fill me with Your love.
You are all I need.
I surrender all of me.
So the first week of the new year is almost over and sometimes we all just want to run off to a tropical beach and escape all the responsibility we face in the grind of the work week.
Let's just say that was me today. I whispered it to Him as I poured another cup of tea to soothe my burning throat thanks to the flu that's had me in bed the last few days. I told Him that I really just wanted to go sit on a beach somewhere and be with Him.
He smiled and whispered in His still small voice that He'd like that too, but right now He needed me here. I knew He was right, so I crawled back in bed to catch a few more hours of rest before my next assignment.
It was then that the music playing on my iPhone started to sink into my consciousness...
"My house is full, but My field is empty
Who will go and work for Me today
It seems My children all want to stay around My table
But no one wants to work My field."
I don't want to be the child who stays at the table all year when there's work to do in the field. Sure, there's this part for me that would love to sit and watch the waves crash on the beach but really, I just want to be where He needs me most.
We start the year with so many plans of what we want, but maybe it's time to be perfectly content with whatever He wants. Sometimes that might be sitting at His table, or resting on a beach somewhere, and other times that might be serving in the trenches.
But you know what struck me today? If we love Jesus best it won't matter whether we are relaxing on the beach or fighting in the trenches as long as we have Him with us.
Because the greatest heroes don't have supernatural strength and never want a break. They simply love Him so much that they are perfectly content to be wherever He points.
I take another sip of my tea and return to work with a smile because today, He needs me in His field. And this Hand that cares for the sparrows? He's well able to let me rest at His table when He knows I need it most.
You know how sometimes God points at a path that goes right through the middle of the fire and we're sure that in walking it we will be completely consumed? Yeah, it's precisely in that moment that we have a choice to make. We can choose to look for another path-- one that looks easier and less agonizing--and can temporarily avoid the breaking we feared. Or we can choose to embrace the fire and walk the path He's offered us, no matter how much we break in the process.
And you know what I've realized? It may be easier to run from the fire. It may not cost as much. But it will never never be as rewarding. In saying no to the fire we also say no to the priceless jewels He wanted to give us through the experience.
I don't know what path God has asked you to walk right now, but if it is through the fire... embrace it. Count yourself blessed.
Don't fight the breaking. Don't resist the pain. It may be that those very things are the biggest gift He could give you right now.
I've long said that pain is one of the biggest gifts God can give His children, but tonight as I look out over all the possibilities of this new year, I know it all over again and my prayer is simple...
"God if you have to break our hearts so that we love you best, then please... break our hearts. It is worth it. You are worth it."
Yeah, so maybe you're not sure what to give Him this Christmas because you've broken your own heart by loving everything in the world but Him...
Give it anyway.
Give Him your heart even if it's broken and dirty and messed up. Truth is, we all are. And for some strange reason He seems most drawn to the hearts that acknowledge their brokenness and filth. Almost like He finds the most joy in the hearts most bloodied and bruised... because they are the ones with the most potential for transformation.
So maybe you don't have some shiny gift to offer Him this Christmas? Give Him what you have. Give Him yourself.
It's what He wants most anyway.
#givehimall #merrychristmas #dailysoulmoments
Sometimes there are no answers to the questions that nag at our hearts. Mist covers the path ahead and our eyes can't see the future and our hearts can't feel His love. We know all the words in the book but somehow our own struggles feel far more tangible.
What then? Are we left with no option but to sit and wait for the mist to pass while we idle the days away in deadness of heart?
Actually maybe it's exactly when every inch of our path is shrouded in fog that we are given the opportunity to rise up in faith and believe the words in that book even though we don't feel them. Perhaps it is the very moment when God feels furthest away that we are to reach out and grab His hand by faith and hold it with a tighter grip than ever before.
Isn't that what the heroes of faith did after all? Could they have been given that title anyway if they had not walked through days of fog and determined that those were the very days they would cling to the promises even tighter?
Yeah, I know that some days we don't feel it. Our prayers seem to hang empty in the air and He doesn't feel like He's there. I have my share of those too... (like this morning?). But you know what He encouraged me to do? Believe anyway.
And you know what happens every single time? When I really believe the invisible it becomes visible right before my eyes. Because we see what we believe in.
We might have to reach through the fog to grasp a Hand we can't discern, but when we do we will find it was right there waiting for us all along.
The invisible is only such to those who don't have faith to see beyond what their eyes see naturally.
Come mist, come cloud, come storm... if we have cling to faith, heaven can never remain invisible. Never. #believeintheinvisble #byfaith #dailysoulmoments
And with that #dailysoulmoments are back!
Let me guess that I'm not the only the devil has kidded that it is impossible to live every single day as best friends with Jesus?
You know those days when you trip up and get distracted with work or school or traveling or just randomly texting a friend and forget to give Him your best? Yeah, well sometimes we can have several months of those in a row and that's when the devil comes in and says there is no way to pray without ceasing and there is no way to love Him most in every circumstance.
And for some reason, instead of blocking our ears, we listen. And the more times we fall and he starts on his rant, the more believable it starts to sound. Sure, we wouldn't claim that friendship with God is impossible, but deep down we're not sure that WE can be best friends with Him every single day.
So this morning in quiet moments of talking to Jesus it dawned on me that is was this very lie that had stolen so much of the joy I'd tasted in friendship with Jesus. Because if the devil can convince me it is impossible for me to live every single day as best friends with God, why would I try?
This morning He countered the lie and renewed my belief that it is never impossible to be best friends with Him. No matter how many times I've failed Him. No matter how distracted I have gotten. No matter how many times I have tried to remember His words and somehow ended up listening to the enemy's instead. The impossibility lay only in my belief that it was impossible.
So yeah, I don't know what the devil has been screaming in your ears lately, but tonight, just let him know that you're having none of all his nonsense about impossibilities.
Because the only thing impossible is for your God to ever give up wanting to be your friend. And as long as you say yes, there is no power on earth that can pull you from being best friends with Him for good. #noimpossiblitieswithgod #bestfriendswithomnipotence #dailysoulmoments
*It's been a little while since He first engraved this lesson on my heart, but lately I have remembered because He's been teaching me the same thing again and I decided it was time to share these words here.
Sun rises over the farm as I walk and pray. Pink wildflowers bloom along the side of the path and I stoop to pick them. Today He’s calling to my heart to open up and trust Him and the mental picture He uses to reach me takes my breath away. I think on this one for hours and the truth of it slowly sinks in.
I write and it becomes clearer than ever… We’ve all been broken and we all have a cell. The beautiful part is that we all have a Master knocking at our door. We get to choose how the rest of the story goes for us.
She hadn’t always been surrounded by bars. At one time she had been free to run through grassy meadows and watch the sunset from mountain vistas. But she wasn’t that girl anymore. Her imprisonment was not the kind you would expect though.
When she was free she had loved a lot of people. It seemed like the whole world was her friend and she jumped and skipped at the joy of loving and being loved. One day though, that had all changed. Someone that she had trusted began to slip away and repay her love with jealously and coldheartedness.
At first she couldn’t believe it. Why would someone she trusted turn on her? How could they do it? Did they not care as much as she thought?
That’s when she first started building her cell. She hadn’t even meant to, but somehow she couldn’t seem to stop herself from putting up the bars. She didn’t live there but when someone rejected her friendship, she would run to her cell and hide. Somehow the bars made her feel safe.
Slowly she started loving less too. What was the point of loving people who didn’t care as much as she did? All it did was bring pain and though she loathed to admit it, she was very afraid of hurting.
Sometimes she would venture out of the cell for a long time and almost forget the wounds of the past. She started to think that maybe it wasn’t her issue after all, and maybe most people were actually safe. Her wings of freedom started to return and the sun shone brighter.
And then it happened again. This time she had loved deeper and invested even more of herself than before. She’d thought she could really trust this companion but slowly she’d felt a gap coming between herself and her friend and she knew something was wrong. The wound of the past reared it’s ugly head and caused her to doubt if she was really worth loving anyway. She was too afraid to chase the one that seemed to be slipping away, so she just watched it happen while her heart crumbled.
Again she found a retreat in her cell. She ran into it and though it was damp and dark and lonely, there was no one there to hurt her. No one could penetrate the walls unless she opened the door and that was not about to happen anytime soon. She felt a strange comfort from the horrible loneliness of hiding and though she knew deep down it wasn’t a good thing, she felt helpless to do anything else. She would never have taken revenge on her friends who wounded her, but somehow this hiding from the world was a passive attack.
One can only hide for so long though before going crazy and as the weeks dragged on, her loneliness grew unbearable. She ached to see the light of a smile again, to feel a hug, and to hear someone say that they cared. At the same time, she was afraid of all those very things. How could she know she wouldn’t be hurt again?
Finally her longing for companionship pulled her out of her cell. At first, the sun hurt her eyes and the beauty of the world around her broke her heart. But slowly she started to smile again and before long she was back on the hills, running and skipping for joy. She’d made a new friend and she couldn’t help but soak up the happiness.
Despite still being wounded from her last interaction with people, she had trusted again. This time she was convinced that she had found a friend entirely different to her previous experiences and she threw herself into loving and being loved. Over and over she would catch herself smiling in the sunshine because of the warmth of being loved and truly understood. This must be what human companionship was meant to be! Maybe all along she had only tasted a fraction because she had never really opened up and trusted with all her heart. Maybe that’s why her relationships hadn’t always been successful. Trusting wasn’t such a bad thing after all, she decided.
Something started changing though and she recognized the familiar pain of a treasure slipping away. This time she would not sit idly by and watch. She was willing to fight to the moon and back and somehow she felt sure that that would be enough.
Time proved that it was not. Heartbroken, she started to retreat back into her cell, but her desperation finally pushed her out in one last attempt to re-secure her treasure. But alas, again she was left alone and she crept back to her cell, determined that this time she would never leave again.
Months passed and her eyes slowly began to adjust to the dark. The grassy hills became a distant dream as did the thought of human companionship. This cell was home now.
One morning she was startled to hear a voice outside. It wasn’t just any voice either. It was the most loving and understanding One she had ever heard.
Little one, I know you’re hurting. Will you let Me come in and hold you in My arms and comfort you?
She froze. She knew this voice. It was the Master. She’d been close to Him back in the days when she ran and skipped freely. She knew He cared and that He loved her more than any human ever could but somehow she had neglected talking to Him and as she built her cell to hide her from humanity, she found that she was hiding there from Him too.
His words made her heart break. Part of her wanted to let Him in, and part of her was terribly afraid to do so. The fear ran so deep that she didn’t know if she could open the door even if she wanted to.
“Master, I’m sorry. I know I shouldn’t be hiding here in the dark when you’ve made a bright and glorious world, but I can’t leave. You don’t understand. I can’t even open the door. I have been so battered and bruised that I just cannot love or be loved again.”
I know, kiddo. I actually do understand. I’ve been hurt too. I’m not asking you to venture out into the world right now. I just want you to let me in and tell me all about it.
“Part of me wants to. More than I can say. But how can I trust again? How can I be honest with anyone when every time I have ventured to in the past, it’s been thrown back in my face?”
Have you ever trusted me in vain?
“No. But it’s been a very long time since I have.”
What’s stopping you?
“I don’t think I can open the door of this cell even if I wanted too. I’ve been in this corner for so long, I am too weak to even get up.”
I know. I don’t expect you to open it alone. I will help you, if you’re willing to let me.
And so they did. He pushed from His side and she pulled from hers and slowly the door budged. The Master came in and listened to every ache that had wracked her little heart. Sometimes she told Him her darkest secrets with tears. Other times her voice was angry and she shouted out the pain that had kept her captive. Sometimes she merely whispered. Through it all, He listened and placed His strong arms around her.
Gradually something began to change in her heart. She began to trust Him. The more she opened up, the more of His love she saw and the more she fell in love with Him. He was everything her human companions had never been. He cared no matter what she said or did. And He never ever left.
Best of all, He was trustworthy.
One day, after talking to Him for several hours, she looked up and gasped in delight. It was unbelievable. The bars were gone! The dingy cell no longer existed! She was out in the sunshine on the hills with Him.
To this day she doesn’t know exactly how it happened but somehow He broke down the walls around her heart and set her free by His love. It had been a painful journey but a beautiful one. Now, when friends failed her and proved unworthy of her trust, she no longer runs to her cell. It is no more. Instead she runs to Him and He hold hers in His arms and she feels safer than she ever could have in her cell.
Again she skips hills and this time her smile is unmarred by the slights of the world. She has found a Friend. And He is trustworthy.
I walk hills too and I whisper in quiet…
Master, pull on your side of the door. Prove trustworthy in my life and the lives of my generation.
Break down the bars. Put your hands over ours and give us strength to open the door of our hearts.
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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Hands Open. Heart Full.