Tag Archives: Surrender

30 Days of Gratitude Day 20-Am I Enough for You?

“Heather, am I really enough for you?”

This was the question whispered into my heart by the Holy Spirit one recent early morning.

I have to admit, it startled me. Not the question. My answer.

You see, a few months ago I stepped down from a ministry leader position in my church after several years serving on a weekly basis. The ministry I led was fruitful, fit with my spiritual gifts and filled me with passion and purpose. But God revealed to me that it was time for a new season. As I began to pray and obey into this possibility, I began to see what God had in mind. My family needs more of me, as does my growing career. And then there’s the vision; the vision God has stirred in me since I was a little girl. The vision that will realize one of my most cherished prayers; my husband and I in ministry together. It’s time to get serious about building it. More on that later…

But as I sat with Jesus just a few mornings ago and struggled to answer His very direct question, I realized there’s more to the story. It isn’t just about family, career and ministry. It’s about me. Me and God. Nothing is more important to God than each of us in intimate relationship with Him. God wants more of me

I tearfully confessed to a couple of friends at church what the Holy Spirit had asked me and the struggle I had in answering the question. In that simple question, Jesus revealed to me that ministry had become my enough. My identity was getting mixed up in what I DO for Jesus, instead of who I am in Jesus. The fruit of ministry was becoming my personal yardstick, instead of who God says I am. I was beginning to believe God loves me for what I do for Him.

I actually said out loud to my friends, “If I’m not working for God, then what good am I? What value do I hold?”

I know better than that. Yet…

This was quite startling because I preach and teach on identity in Christ. My passion and conviction has always been about intimacy with God. Before I was a believer, I was very performance driven. As I pursued a relationship with Jesus, He really worked on me in those areas. I experienced a lot of victory. This revelation was like living in a house where you know every room only to discover a basement. My friends pointed out that Jesus is calling me to a place I haven’t yet been. A place of deeper healing and calling. A place of deeper intimacy and identity. 

It’s amazing how sly the enemy is. These performance traps aren’t obvious. They are subtly set and disguised as good things. Many times the enemy will use good things to distract us from the best thing; intimacy with our heavenly Father. If we’re not careful, what starts out as loving and serving God can become working FOR God. He doesn’t need us to work for Him. He invites us to work WITH Him. 

I’ve come to believe I’m in a time of rest and preparation. The preparation is in the rest. The preparation is in the letting go and going deeper, getting uncomfortable where all I have to hold onto is my Savior who leads me. He’s inviting me into a deeper place of more abundant fruit. But first I must let go of the things that bring me validation and approval. The things of man.

He must be my ENOUGH.

If He’s calling you out of something and it doesn’t make sense, trust Him. Let your heart surrender. Get uncomfortable, and trust Him.

I’m so grateful for the counsel of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God that teaches us.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-5

What are you grateful for today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days of Gratitude-Day Three

emerson1This is Day Three of my Thirty Days of Gratitude. Are you doing it, too? Are you working on your attitude of gratitude?

It’s not too late to get started. 

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Today I’m grateful for my story. And I wouldn’t change any part of it if it meant I wasn’t here right now where I am in my relationship with Jesus.

That’s a stunning statement. 

The halls of my past echo with pain, loss, laughter, adventure, death and destruction.  Broken dreams and battered hopes litter the floor like garbage strewn across an open highway. And woven through it all is love and tenderness and friendships.

The elements of my story probably sound a lot like yours. After all, this is the stuff of the human condition. We break and then we break each other. We do better when we know better, but until that time we bump along, bruised and bandaged. 

Perfect performance may be the banner you waved, too, to cover all that up. I carried mine pretty high and pretty proud. I was so good at pointing to that banner that no one knew it wasn’t a part of me. Performing for love as I like to call it. 

Can you relate?

When I became a believer I had to unlearn a lot of stuff. I had to unwind all the tapes in my head that said I had to be perfect to be loved. That all the bad things were my fault. That I’m responsible. That I’m damaged goods.

I had to even unlearn some mental disorderliness. 

I’m so grateful that I didn’t have to do that on my own. My power, which is so weak, wasn’t needed for this project. The same power that rose the broken body of Jesus from that wooden cross is the same power God used to rewrite my story. And as He rewrote my story, He gave me the courage to talk about all the broken bits. And the broken bits gave others courage too. My story grew out of the ashes of regret into one of hope and victory. And as I shared that hope and victory, others rose in hope and victory too. Together we became brave as we ripped off our masks to reveal the radiance of Christ shining through our broken bits.

No more mask wearing! We don’t have to wear them anymore…

Honest. Open. Authentic. Transforming. That’s who we are. Oh, and adored by God just as we are.

They triumphed over him
by the blood of the Lamb
and by the word of their testimony;
they did not love their lives so much
as to shrink from death. Revelation 12:11

Yes, our story can do that. Our story can save lives. But it’s not really our story, is it? It’s God’s story written in and through us that does the saving. The power of God is displayed through the stories of His people. 

Shouldn’t we be telling more stories? 

Even if your story is still in the making. Even if it isn’t tied up with a pretty little bow yet, please tell it. Encourage someone today. The struggle is real, but we are all in it together. The more we hear that we are not alone, the less alone we feel. That is what community is all about. People walking it out together.

I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

What are you grateful for today?

30 Days of Gratitude-Day One

gratitude-journalEvery day for the month of November I will be posting what I’m thankful for. November is the month of Thanksgiving, but the Apostle Paul wrote to us that we must give thanks in all things. That means every day in every thing.

The easy stuff.

The hard stuff.

And everything in between.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Our Pastor pointed out today in his sermon that Paul doesn’t say to be thankful FOR all things, but IN all things. That’s a huge difference. How can we be thankful FOR things like cancer, divorce, abuse, addiction and death? We can’t, and Jesus doesn’t expect us to. But He does expect us to be thankful IN those circumstances. 

You may still be scratching your head. Those are really hard things. Things that swallow us whole. I think that’s exactly why Paul tells us to rejoice always, pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances. We can be overwhelmed by pain, but when we focus on gratitude we remain anchored in hope. When we are anchored, nothing can wash us away.

What we focus on is magnified. I remember taking a bike ride with my kiddos one Spring morning. They were flying down the sidewalks with reckless abandon and skill, while I was wobbling behind them with great caution. Up just ahead was a fire hydrant planted right in the skinniest part of the sidewalk with a tall fence on the other side. I was going to have to maneuver between the hydrant and the fence, or pedal into the street. With cars speeding by, I made my choice. I did my best to slow down, but my attention was riveted on the problem, the hydrant. I won’t hit it, I won’t hit it, I won’t hit it….. BAM!! I hit it.

That which we focus on, we run right into. 

What if we made a commitment this month to focus on gratitude? What could happen? What could change? 

I’ll go first.

Today I am grateful that Jesus relentlessly pursued me, even in my sin, and saved my life. He didn’t tell me to get cleaned up first. He didn’t condemn me.  He didn’t say I was a lost cause, even though I felt like one. He met me smack dab in the middle of my mistakes and failures and said, “Come to my, my child.” He is a good, good Father who loves me with a fierceness that takes my breath away. I’m left with an aching desire to love Him the same. 

At the foot of the cross of Christ we are all the same.

We are ALL the same.

Sinners saved by grace through faith. It’s so simple, yet we complicate it. 

No matter what I go through, Jesus is by my side, holding me up, carrying the weight and cheering me on.

That’s what I’m thankful for today.

It doesn’t matter what else is going on. That truth trumps every circumstance. 

What are you thankful for today?

 

 

 

 

How I Met God in the Valley

My family and I went backpacking recently in the Eastern Sierras a few miles from the edge of Yosemite National Forest. We had an amazing, much needed, unplugged weekend filled with laughs and breathtaking scenes. On one of the days we hiked up into a valley above our camp. I have posted this picture so you may take this journey with me, although the picture doesn’t do it justice. Indigosky Photography

As the five of us crested the slope at the lip of the valley, my breath caught and my mouth gaped. There before my eyes was one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen. My eyes took in the expanse of the emerald green valley floor with the towering blue mountains standing guard on either side, marching down as far as the eye could see. The stillness of the air was only interrupted by the overwhelming presence of God that filled my being. Tears began to roll down my cheeks as unspeakable joy and peace flooded my soul. In utter awe and reverence, my eyes darted quickly down to the ground by my feet. It was too much. There I noticed the little worn path we had been following that seemed to disappear just a few feet away…

God’s silent voice was everywhere, booming and clear.

I AM with you in the valley. I’m like the mountain standing guard, watching over you, protecting you. I AM your Strongtower.

I AM like the path that leads the way, yet seems to disappear just ahead. I AM leading you with clarity and purpose. I AM limiting your vision so that you don’t run too far ahead. I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.

I AM the peace that passes all understanding, that transcends knowledge and sight. In the valley I sustain you.

I AM the joy you discover in the moments you pause to acknowledge my Presence. My joy revives your soul and brings a new song to your lips.

I AM your Teacher. I use the valleys to teach you how to live on the mountaintops. The valleys are intentionally placed in your path by Me. The valleys are blessings where you draw your hope and breath. The valley is a place of rest.

Oh Lord, I surrender! Again, I surrender.

I’m reminded of Psalm 23, which is commonly read at funerals, but It’s a perfect passage for our journey here with Jesus.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

When you give your life to Christ, you are assured an abundant life. Not a life free from trouble. Not a life free from valleys. But an abundant life, whether on the mountaintops or in the valleys. He is always with you. He will never leave you or forsake you. He knows where He is taking you. Trust Him. Follow Him.

He always reminds us of His Presence when we need it the most.

I’d love to hear how God has spoken to you in the valleys…

 

Grace To Spare

When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.

Jesus sees you.  He sees your need and has compassion for you.  He doesn’t stop at compassion, but leads with compassion.  

As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

Why do you look at your circumstances instead of God’s power?  You look at your at yourself and see lack.  You look at your position and see insufficiency.  Have you forgotten that God’s power is made perfect in weakness?

Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

Jesus won’t reject you. He speaks into your weakness.  “Take a step of faith, my Beloved.”

“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

Still, you fear.  Still, you doubt.

“Bring them here to me,” he said.  And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

Bring your fears and doubts to Jesus. Cast your cares upon him. He will multiply your faith! Out of your surrendered brokenness, blessings will flow. He will do more than ALL you can ask or imagine.  He will heal your heart and satisfy your soul with grace to spare.

Live in the expectancy of abundant life in Jesus.

 

 

 

A Willing Heart

Mary as a young girl

The Lord can do many things with a willing heart.  A willing heart is softened by desire to please God.  A willing heart leads to sacrifice and service.  A willing heart beats with humility.  A willing heart is the fertile ground for God’s promise to do more in and through us than all we can ask or imagine.

The Bible is filled with stories of people with willing hearts, but my favorite example is Mary.  She is the picture of humility and willingness.  Imagine what it must have been like for her.  A young girl; average and imperfect, pure and innocent, committed to her Lord and to her soon to be husband.  She is visited by the angel, Gabriel, who delivers a great message.

Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!”

Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean.  “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God!  You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.  He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.  And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!”

Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.”

The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the baby to be born will be holy, and he will be called the Son of God.  What’s more, your relative Elizabeth has become pregnant in her old age! People used to say she was barren, but she has conceived a son and is now in her sixth month.  For nothing is impossible with God.”

Mary responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May everything you have said about me come true.” And then the angel left her. Luke 1:28-28

I’m in awe of Mary’s courage as I imagine the ridicule and judgment she would  face.  I’m in awe of her faith as she responds with obedience despite her fear.  I’m in awe of her humility as she sacrifices her very own desires and dreams to be God’s servant.

But most of all, I’m in awe of a God that takes the willing heart of an imperfect person and creates the very way for mankind itself to be redeemed and saved for all eternity.  He took her willing heart and changed the world; more than she could ever ask or imagine.

What does God want to birth in you?

What is God calling you to?

Will you be like Mary?

Is your heart willing?