Speak Light


Guys. Israel has changed everything for me. I'm really not kidding. I think of other ideas I had wanted to write about, but there was no getting past what God is doing in my heart currently though His Word.

If you remember back a few posts, I was writing and coffee talking to you from the Sea of Galilee in the heart of Israel. I've been home for three weeks now, and the repercussions of my ten days in the Holy Land are undeniable.

Exhibit A: I decided when I came home that I would start a journey through my chronological study Bible. (That is, after about five days of jet lag recovery and being completely frozen and overwhelmed from information and sensory overload.) I've had this Bible since my Bible College days and I've skimmed it here and there, but now seemed liked the perfect time to tackle it. To go big or go home.

It's been a week. I cannot for the life of me get past Genesis 1. Genesis 1 which I've read more times than I could ever remember or count. It's completely brand new to me. It's as if Holy Spirit changed out the old, worn down highlighter for a brand new one. And as I'm reading, He's reading along with me and painting the words with fresh, vibrant color. The words are quite literally popping off the page!

Now. Let me preface with this. I have not done any deep theological studies on this. I've simply let Scripture and Holy Spirit guide me. These thoughts are simply things that God has been revealing to me as I read His Word in light of returning from His land. Fresh perspectives and little links that have sort of been putting the story together for me. The goal here is to have a conversation. Because that's what Scripture should inspire. A dialogue. We should read and see brand new things (that are actually timeless God thoughts) and they should spark passion in us and that passion should ooze out of us in every single way. Including our conversations.

So, here we are.

I have always been fascinated at the very deep spiritual and theological connections between the first chapter of Genesis and the first chapter of John. And it could be residue from teaching John’s Gospel (yet again) this past year that has me stuck here at the beginning.


Several things popped off the page this time around:

#1 
God never actually speaks the darkness into existence. It says it was there. 

#2 
The FIRST thing God speaks is light. NOT the sun or moon or stars. That means there was light in the universe and in creation before any of those things…

#3 
God calls the light good, not the darkness. 

#4 
The first thing God does after He speaks the light is to separate it from the darkness. It goes onto say several times that the light and darkness were separated or divided.

I went from there immediately to the first chapter of John because those two are just woven together in my mind and heart.




Some things to note about this passage:

#1 
The Word (logos in Greek) is referring to Jesus. Meaning Jesus is God’s Word.

#2 
John is referencing the events we just read about in Genesis 1.

#3 
John is placing Jesus in creation and claiming that creation was impossible without His presence. 

#4
John calls Jesus “the life and light of all mankind.”

I'll stop there. I mean….are you seeing what I'm seeing!?

If we look at these passages side by side (which I did so many times over this past week) the magnitude and depth of their meaning working in harmony is mind blowing. For me anyways!

I'll do my best to sum it up here.

If Jesus is God’s Word and the light of all mankind..

If there was light in the universe before sun or moon or stars…

If Jesus was there in the beginning…

Then couldn't we say that the very first “Word” that God spoke into creation and into the darkness was Jesus?

By no means am I making the claim that God created Jesus. I believe wholeheartedly that Jesus is One with God and the Spirit and was there all along. I'm simply presenting the thought that God looked out over the vast emptiness and darkness and spoke the one thing into it that could change the very nature of it: JESUS. And then and there He drew a line between the darkness and the light. Between Jesus and everything else. He called the light good. He only ever spoke light into darkness. Never darkness.



Let's take just a moment more to apply this. Because if we don't, what's the point?

I am called to speak light.

I am called to speak Jesus. 

So are you.

We all are.

That can look like a lot of different things, but in the end it's the same calling.

To look out at the darkness and emptiness all around and to speak God's original Word: Jesus Christ.








Coming into Light

Bursting through the colored glass the light splashed across my face. The kaleidoscope of colors twisted and turned as the clouds pushed and pulled the rays of light through the sky. Though slightly chilled from the brush of wind on my back, the light warmed me through and through--all the way to my cold bones.

Standing amazed, stunned even, the light helped me to see mysteries and truths that time, hurt, and weariness had hidden from my heart. From my understanding. The light and the wind pushed aside the internal cobwebs birthing clarity to hidden visions and dreams.

That was the experience I had at the century old Chuny Abbey, France, as I walked on the stones and
tiles that priest and lay people alike walked on, knelt on, prayed on. Somehow in the ruins of this bombed out Abbey the light still poured through the remaining stained glass.

I felt the light and it changed me.

It's impossible to hide from light. It will find you whether you want it to or not. As a child my mom
rarely shouted at me to wake me from sleep. She just turned on the light. And that was enough to pull me from slumber into awareness. Even with my head under covers knowing the the light was on was enough to stir me from sleep.

God brings light to our lives many ways. Sometimes through people. Sometimes through situations. Sometimes through heartache. Sometimes through nature. But just knowing the light is on sometimes is enough to make us want it.

Our need for light is never attached to our want for light. We will always need light. But want? Want and desire...those are an entirely different thing. Though darkness can bring fear to a child there is comfort in knowing that God forgives ignorance. We're not held accountable for the realities that left the cobwebs of our mind.

Still, we should ask for the light of the Holy Spirit to pour over us...to bring new life to us...to bring light to every dark place in our mind, body, and soul. In doing so there is no doubt that the light of the Holy Spirit will find us and renew us. He will warm the cold places. He will bring clarity to our vision. He will give us passion to reach for our God-given dreams.

And just think, it's all from stepping out of the dark and into the light.


Broken Wells


Can I confess something? I am one of those people who loves love. I like watching romances and reading them. Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors. I don't just mean romantic love, either. I tend to tell my closest friends frequently how much they mean to me and to (sometimes) overwhelm them with affection.

Because I'm wired this way, I've noticed (like many of us) that it's very easy for me to get my sense of worth and meaning from relationships rather than getting it from God. If things are going well relationally, I am lulled into a sense of fulfillment and feel less of a need for God.

I've especially been noticing my tendency to make relationships an idol during this season of my life, because all of my closest friends are currently living far away. I find myself far too invested in what is happening elsewhere, rather than putting my hope in Jesus.

John Calvin famously called the human heart an idol factory. We are wired to love and to worship, and each of us are prone to taking good things and trying to make them the most important thing. This is a topic that gets discussed so often in the church that we may be inclined to dismiss it. But if we are to live as God intended, this is something we can't ignore. Each of us must regularly look into our hearts on this. In Jeremiah 2:12-13, God declared, 


No matter how wonderful our friends or jobs or significant others are, if we place the full weight of our hopes and expectations on them, they will prove to be broken wells. Because God loves us, He excels at allowing these things to disappoint us when we make idols of them. Some of the most painful moments of my life have occurred when I was hurt by someone or something that I had allowed to become an idol.

In his excellent book on this topic, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller writes that when God challenges us on the things we have made false gods, we can often react in bitterness or despair. Or, he says, we can do what Abraham did when God asked him to sacrifice the person he loved most. We can say to God,
 




As you're reading this, would you take a moment to ask God to reveal to you what things or people you've been relying on more than Him? Ask God to help you to treasure Him above all else and to show you that He is enough. 





Jump In


It's honestly hard to know where to begin with this post. It's been swirling around in my head and my heart for a little over a month now. It's come to me in pieces. And now that I'm here, literally on the shores of the Sea of Galilee (which is actually a lake) it's all so overwhelming and I can't seem to organize all of the pieces. But here, I shall attempt. I guess the easiest way to do so is to walk you through my thought process.

The word caught my attention first when I was reading through the story of Jesus walking on the water and Peter climbing out of the boat. That word, immediately, kept jumping off the page. The thought started out something like this:

Immediately. As soon as He was present, the wind was calm. The thing is. Jesus was there all along. It was a matter of their responses and their awareness. The wind calms and Peter is able to stand on the water the moment they acknowledge His presence NOT the moment He shows up. Of course Jesus can always fly in with a cape and put an end to whatever storm is raging around us, but that's not the point. The point is to find Him in the storm-recognize Him-call on Him-trust Him.

I tucked that thought away and looked forward to reading the story again while sitting on the shores of that very place. Fast forward just a little while and a lot of crazy and I'm here in Israel.

Our first night on the Sea of Galille, I raced to the shore to get all the daylight I could reading and allowing myself to envision the whole scene. I don't even think I ate dinner I was so excited! I decided to read this story (every Gosepl version of it to be exact) and then to read some others that happened in this same location. Let me tell you, context is magical. I had no idea what I was in for!


I went back and read the story of Jesus calling his first disciples. And again there was that word immediately. Immediately they dropped their nets-left everything-and followed him. And now I understand the magnitude of that more than ever. This place is hills upon hills and hotter than May in Mexico. Much. Following this Jesus guy was no joke. But they didn't hesitate for even a moment. And I think it's because His presence said it all (the same way it did during that storm out at sea). They saw Him and heard His voice and that was it. Take note of who was first...Simon who we know now as Peter. He was the first guy to leave behind his life and follow after Jesus.

I sat in the cool evening breeze, breathing in deeply the scents and the history all around. I wondered if I would have jumped in the water. I took one look at the water and knew without a doubt that if Jesus was in that water there wouldn't be anything that could keep me in that boat. But there was a storm! Don't care. I would rather be in that water with the wind howling around me and the waves crashing up against me where Jesus could IMMEDIATELY reach out and catch me than up in that boat far away from where He was. Absolutely.

And that's when it happened. This new connection with Peter that I'd never had before. I guess traditionally we're hard on Peter and we question His faith for looking away and sinking. But. The bottom line is, Peter is the only one who jumped into that water. Everyone else stayed in the boat. He might have struggled and stumbled a little….or a lot...but he was where Jesus was. And that was true of him all the time. Even in the garden when most of the disciples hid, Peter was right there next to Jesus trying to be a part of whatever He was doing.

I want to be that kind of disciple. I want to be the girl that Jesus can count on to always jump in. To be where He is, doing whatever He’s doing all of the time. Because in the end, that's the kind of disciples Jesus builds on. The ones that He trusts with His message and His sheep.

Forgive me for the length, but it's about to get cooler. A couple days ago we drove up into the mountains in the very northern parts of Israel. To a place called Caesarea Phillipi. The name doesn't matter that much, it's this statement that does. It's a very mountainous very rocky place. And in this place Jesus had a crucial conversation with His disciples.


Again Peter doesn't hesitate. He is so sure of this guy. So sure of Jesus. The man he immediately left

his life to follow. The man who helped him to walk on water. The man who rescued him from the storm. And again he's the first one to respond to Jesus.

Oh that I would never hesitate for even one fraction of a moment in my certainty that Jesus is exactly who He says He is. The Christ. The Son of God. My Savior.

I promise I'm about to close this out. Would you read just one more little chunk of story with me?

John 21. Jesus appears to many people after He has been crucified and buried and now resurrected. John tells us that they were out fishing and had been unable to catch anything all night. They see a guy in the distance calling to them from the shore. John realizes right away that it's Jesus. As soon as Peter realizes, take one guess where he was. In the water! He jumped right in and made His way to Jesus. I'll add here that this is now after He has denied Jesus three times. But none of that matters. Because Peter and Jesus are tight. They have a relationship and nothing can ever keep Peter away from Jesus. Not even his sin.

Immediately he is sorry.

Immediately he repents.

Immediately Jesus forgives him.

Immediately he regains the trust of Jesus.

Immediately Jesus restores.

And from there, Peter is a powerhouse for Jesus. He takes His message all over the world, sees thousands upon thousands come to believe, opens salvation to the Gentiles, and eventually is killed for jumping in.

Friends. Let's be followers of Jesus who jump in. Who don't care what we have to let go of or leave behind. Who endure the storm to be near Jesus and ignore fear knowing that He's near. Followers who never hesitate or stumble in our certainty of who He is. Who won't let anything keep us from being where Jesus is and doing whatever He's doing. Followers He can trust to carry His heart and His message to the world.


It's time to be present



“Be present” they said
“Really be in the moment”
“Soak up this season”

To be honest—there have been many moments in my life when I would have loved to throw those words across a football field. As if they were salt on a slow healing wound or something. Now that may sound harsh, but it’s the truth. I would commit to the Lord that I would dig my heels in and stay steadfast through the struggle, yet with my mouth I was complaining to Him about why I had to be committed to the process. When I moved back to my home state about a year ago, I committed to the Lord that I would enjoy this season of being home. Being close to family. Being near my closest friends (as it always feels as if they live light years away). Living in a culture that made sense to me. Living in a familiar area.

I have to admit that it has been the most healing season. For so long I felt as if life was just a constant struggle. I didn’t know who I was anymore. My joy was gone. I was tired of constantly fighting. Fighting with life. Fighting the urge to be angry. Fighting for my right to be heard. Fighting for truth. I was just simply tired.

But there’s just something about being. I’ve learned more from this season by just “being present” than I have from anything else and it has truly changed my life. I finally understand what it means to rest. Although in my core I struggle with the thought that I’ve been selfish in this quiet season, I also know this isn’t the truth anymore. There’s a reason that the Lord valued rest and the Sabbath. There’s a reason that Jesus would go away to spend time with His Father. To have His gaze aligned on Him and on His will.

For my 2017 New Years resolution, I committed to being present. No, I don’t know what the future holds. I don’t know when I’ll be back in full-time vocational ministry. I don’t know when all of the dreams that God placed in my heart will come to pass. I don’t know when I’ll be married or have kids or if I will ever be able to say this. I don’t know when God will bring healing to people in my life that desperately need it. I don’t know when God will answer the questions that I whisper to Him in the darkest of night.. I don’t know…but I do know I can trust Him. If there’s one thing that God has shown me more than anything else in my short lived life, it’s that He is trustworthy. That He keeps His word. That He answers those cries. That He fulfills His promises. That, at the end of the day, He has my best interest in mind. And that right there brings so much relief to my easily wavering and fickle heart.

So I’m choosing to be present this year. Still. I’m choosing to enjoy the unknown. I’m choosing to say “yes” when my pride screams “why”. I’m choosing to trust that He is who He says He is. That He does love me. That He does love you. That He hasn’t forgotten. That His grace is sufficient. That He is more than enough.  

Watch what the Lord will do


I sat in my living room holding my almost 2-year-old in my lap as I tried to explain to him the loud boom noise he heard could not hurt him. If you’re a mom you have probably found yourself in the same situation during the week leading up to the Fourth of July. I tried everything in my power to soothe my child and remind him that the fireworks outside could not get him. But, I didn’t stop there. I wanted him to experience how pretty fireworks could be so I tried showing him how pretty they were out the window. He was not having it. The noise of those fireworks was enough to make him run for cover each time.

I began thinking about this scenario in my head a lot. You see, my little family is in a time of transition. And sometimes, transition can become messy and hard. That’s where I find us. As I have been praying and seeking God during this time, I have found myself asking him (sometimes begging) for answers. What do you have for us? Why aren’t you showing us right now? What are you doing?

And amid my own personal struggles I was taken back to the firework scene. The array of lights a firework makes is beautiful. The noise that it makes beforehand can be quite loud and sometimes scary (especially if you’re a little one). I can’t help to think our lives are a little like this sometimes.

We’ve had people in our lives recently tell us that God has big plans for our lives. And, in our hearts we feel that God has big plans. But, often doubt settles in and you began to question yourself and what God has called you to do. Especially when God doesn’t show you immediately what He is doing or where He is taking you. Often, we allow our doubts, fears, insecurities to cause us to run away and take cover. All the while missing what God is wanting to show us. You see, I find myself in this place right now. I’m being forced (quite literally) to trust God with every single detail of my life and I cannot see what He is doing. I have cried more times than I care to admit, I have felt despair, and I have even been angry. To the human eye, God isn’t doing anything on our behalf right now. It’s in these moments I want to take cover, run for security because it’s just too scary. But then God whispers to my soul, “Be still and watch what I am going to do.”

This season of my life is requiring more faith than I ever thought was possible in every aspect of our lives. From the very beginning, even when things seemed out of my control, I have felt this crazy confidence that God was going to take care of it all. And yet, even with this confidence, I find the enemy coming in at times making me doubt how big God is. I want to know every detail right now. I want to see that it’s all going to work out before I truly walk out in faith. But, God is calling us to do more than that. He’s asking us to trust Him, to not run and take cover. And just like I didn’t want my child to miss the beautiful sight a firework makes, God doesn’t want us to miss out on the great things He has for us. Friend, don’t let your circumstances keep you from trusting God to do what He has already told you He would do. Whatever situation you find yourself in right now just remember it hasn’t taken God by surprise. It may have taken you by surprise, but not God. He knows. And He cares. He is working on your behalf right now even when you can’t see it. (And no, you haven’t ruined His plans for your life. He is much bigger than you;)

The truth is, faith is easy when you can see what lies ahead. But then again, that wouldn’t call for much faith. Faith, the kind that moves mountains, requires this unshakeable confidence that God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do. Not because of who we are, but because of who HE is. So today, if you’re like me and you feel like you’re in a hopeless situation I challenge you to stand firm on who God is and what He has promised to do. When you literally cannot see how things are going to work out and it seems impossible, remember He is the God who parted the seas. And when the enemy comes at you, remind him of the God who shut the mouths of lions. The God who walked on the water and calmed the raging seas. The God who can move the mountains. The God who is The Great I Am. The Jehovah Jireh. The Lord of Lords. King of Kings. There is no one like Him.

My friend, get ready. Because when you walk in faith, there is nothing, absolutely nothing our God cannot do. So, dear one, do not run and take cover. No…stand firm and watch what the Lord is going to do.




Stop


I’m one who loves to grow. Of course I don't always enjoy the growth process, but I deeply desire to further my relationship with the Lord. To be a more well rounded individual. To be constantly learning. To be aware of who I am and how I can be better.

That is until about two years ago when I began to crumble.

“No more reading for a while.”

These were the compassionate words of someone that I trusted. Words that I didn’t even know I desperately needed to hear. You see, growth is incredibly healthy and very encouraged. That is, until you take it too far and are tempted by this false idea and goal of perfection. This idea that maybe if you try enough, do enough, follow close enough, then maybe you will be enough. My schedule was consumed with meetings. I was only home long enough to essentially sleep and shower then go back at it again the next day. But this is the expectation that was brewing in my culture around me so I felt it was normal. I had also lived most of my life with two planners and a scheduled day so I didn’t see the trouble. If I could just work fast enough and long enough then maybe my worth will be enriched with deeper skill sets and extra responsibility. Constantly trying to prove myself to people, the Lord, or even to myself.

But the cycle didn’t ever stop. When it did then it felt as if I was missing something. That maybe I had dropped the ball and disappointment would be just around the corner. All the while, I was constantly judging myself while pretending that it was justifiably pursuit of growth. Now—there is a difference. There’s a difference between seeking to grow and seeking to prove your worth. As women, we are immersed in a culture that tells us to “be better” and “look better”. To be overextended in every area of our lives while making sure to always appear put together.
Friends,, my life was in pieces as I expressed all of these “feelings” to my counselor. Yes—counselor. (It was best thing I’ve ever done for myself). I sat there on that brown couch trying to make sense of it all. To make them understand the importance of all these “things” that I had filled my life with.  Trying to explain how I needed to be at everything,. How I needed to meet all of these unrealistic expectations. How I’d read all these books and how they’d open my eyes to new things…until the end of my session came.

“No more reading for a while. You judge yourself too harshly. You expect yourself to be able to carry the world on your shoulders. You’ve got to rest. How are you ever supposed to heal and move forward when you don’t even have enough time to create healthy boundaries in your life?”

In Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect, she puts it best: “The more I listen to myself, my body, my feelings, and the less I listen to the “should” and “must” and “to-do” voices, the more I realize my body and spirit have been whispering all along, but I couldn’t hear them over the chaos and noise of the life I’d created. I was addicted to this chaos, but like any addiction, it was damaging to me. Here’s what I know: I thought the busyness would keep me safe. They keep me numb. Which is not the same as safe.”

I was numb yet I kept on pretending to feel. I had this expectation that stopping to breathe for even  a little while was weak.  There was even a fear that if I stopped to look at my life long enough, that if I took the time to see who I really was….well then there would be no coming back from that disappointment. How could I ever be enough? When could I ever just stop and take a break for a while? Why did God have such a high expectation threshold over my life that He knew I was killing myself to meet?

One day, I did finally stop.
I stopped trying. Stopped criticizing. And the truth began to finally settle in. I slowly started saying “no” instead of “yes”. I started creating margins in my schedule. I started putting value on times of rest.

I’m not perfect and I never will be. I can’t fix everything. I can’t be everything for every person. But God never asked me to be. He never asked you to be either. When we finally have that revelation, we're free.

So I say to you, sister, stop.

Take a step back.

To you mommas, wives, daughters, grandmas, working women, stay-at-home moms, boss ladies—Those commitments that keep you from enjoying your life and soaking in the simple, little moments, let some of them go. I know you can't let them all go, but at least open your hands and start writing in pencil. I am begging you to take a breath! A long, deep one! We have one life to live so let's get to it! Let's actually live it!