Blog Intermission

My Sweet Readers,

I just have to tell you, I am so sorry for these posting delays. I always strive to post quality content that has not only been well thought out, but is is encouraging and purposeful. With grad school and this move (I move this week!!) I haven’t had a second to sit down and write the kind of post I want to post for you all. Please forgive me, and please bear with me during this time. Posting should resume as normal next week! Please pray for me as we pack, travel, and as I start my new job:) Pictures of all my DIY projects for my apartment coming soon as well!

Blessings on each of you; I am beyond grateful for you.

In the meantime, for this week, I have been so thankful for and blessed by this verse…It’s one of the best, and I know I can always use a reminder about that incredible throne of grace we are so privileged to have access to.

“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

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When “why?” is a beautiful question.

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(In my next several posts, I hope to respond to your sweet questions to my post for you. They may not be direct answers, but I pray they touch your heart as you seek to know Jesus more in the pain. For those of you who shared trials and hurt, thank you, thank you–this one is for you. Blessings on you. Also, I apologize for the funky posting schedule lately–I’m working around my two week on-campus grad school schedule:)) 

Sometimes my answer is so utterly simple.

I don’t know.

As pure and honest as that.

Because I don’t. 

And my heart breaks and I weep, and I grieve alongside you.

And I don’t know why.

The pain. The heartbreak.  The ache. The gut-wrenching hurt. 

It can be horrific. And appalling. And unthinkable.

The road God sovereignly ordains many of His children walk down.

And so, sometimes, my answer is frank and simple: I don’t know.  Why. Why He chose that you, my sweet, sweet friend, walk through that of all things. That. 

And that answer. 

It’s finite. And small-scope. And it’s little dot on big white board talk.

But that answer, there is something beautiful innate in that answer. That answer. It’s fragile, it’s dependent. It’s reliant. And it’s intricately woven into the distinct human knowledge that there is a why

That there is something more. Something bigger. 

That there’s sovereignty, and purpose. That there’s something greater at work, something more than us—than you, than me. 

That there is Someone or something orchestrating and majestically and masterfully penning each word, each moment, each note. Perfectly phrased, perfectly tuned. 

Because, why, at its most basic element, is a question of someone or something. Because that question, it boils over from the deepest part of our souls, the part that knows, knows, there is a God. 

A God that knows. A God that sees. A God that hears. A God that acts.

Oh, sometimes that question, it’s David.

There are times, times I feel his thoughts intimately. 

His utterly prostate, organically human, unreservedly dependent cries. 

How long, O Lord? 

Why, O God? Rescue me!

You have seen me, I have been obedient; do not be silent!

Vindicate my cause! Make haste to help me.

Raw. Honest. 

Yet something profoundly beautiful emerges from the dust of those cries.

Because those cries symbolize dependence, trust. Chosen faithfulness; believing, despite the knowledge of his eyes. 

Because it is pure, desperate knowledge that it is God, God, who must act. God who must move. 

Oh, what a beautiful mercy. To be brought low; to know sheer and utter dependence on a powerful, holy, sovereign, God.

And to not only know his power, but to taste the sweet fruit of His goodness. Might we rest in that dependence. 

And my answer finishes–I don’t know why, but I know my God.

I don’t know why, but I know Him. 

I know His grace and I know His justness.

And I know that His every action and His ever thought is profound and pregnant with purpose. 

And perhaps it is that. That, that is one of the greatest beauties of pain.

To be brought face to face with human depravity, with human dependence. And in that, to come face to face with His power, His glory. 

To come face to face with Him. 

Because it is in the desperation that we are desperate for what we don’t humanly possess. 

For what we so desperately need. 

Him. 

For it is His power that is made perfect in my weakness. 

Perhaps David is one of the greatest pictures of loving God when life screams pain, when life is far too difficult to express in words. 

Perhaps it is his response we must mirror. His outright confusion, his desperate cries; yet cries marked by humble boldness with his Creator. 

Cries that are cocooned with a deep, unshakeable, profound knowledge that God is… God. 

That He will redeem, that He will rescue, that He will act, that He will move. Cries framed by and shrouded in the very character of God, the unchanging Truth. 

Cries not asking if.

But when.

Because He is God. 

And that never changes, my sweet friend; that never changes. 

(Psalm 35-45 are some of the most beautiful Psalms, in which we see David crying out to God for help. They are wonderfully encouraging.)

 

For when it is just so very dark.

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(**Remembering this post from awhile back. It was such a difficult time, but God has been so gracious to grant much healing and blessing. So if you see yourself in this post, please be encouraged. I imagine almost everyone can relate to a dark night or two, so if you can relate, relish God’s goodness with me. And for all of you who responded to my last post, thank you, thank you for sharing your hearts! You wrote some wonderful things, and I will respond to each in posts in the very near future!)

I layed in bed, staring at the ceiling in the darkness.

The darkness seemed especially dark tonight. The pain ached. Deep deep down. And just wouldn’t quit.

God’s promises are real and true–I believe that with all my heart–and, believe me, I was clinging to each one as hard as I could.

But the very real and raw emotions that come right along with loss, rejection, and betrayal were unveiling their ugly presence. Part of being human I guess.

But then, in a way only He can, in the middle of that piercing darkness, He reminded me of one simple, yet very profound truth.

He’s been there.

He experienced excruciating loss, rejection, and betrayal. 

Sound cheesy? Hear me out. There is a certain unexplainable comfort that comes when someone just knows.

He gets it, on a much greater scale than mine, He just gets it.

He was rejected and betrayed by His very own, the very ones he was dying for. And He was separated from His Father–the most agonizing loss of all.

And on top of all that, He walked each step of His darkness, loss, rejection, and betrayal, with His focus on the glory of His father and the good of us, not once on himself.

I squeezed my eyes shut. Convicted. Ashamed.

I don’t know about you, but that is not how I typically deal with pain. It’s always all about me.

What would happen if we focused on His glory and His plan through our aching darkness? Knowing that His glory is divinely intertwined with our good?

I bet our darkness would be utterly transformed.

The story could stop here, and it would still be amazing.

But here’s the most incredible part, because of that very suffering, through our pain, we never have to experience separation from our Father. So we never have to walk through our darkness alone.

 He walks each step of that darkness with us.

Words that have eased darkness for me time and time again filled my mind.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night, even the darkness is not dark to You, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You….” Psalm 139 11:12

That’s incredible. The profound darkness I sensed, wasn’t even dark to Him. He knows just where my story is going. He can see the end, the purpose, in the blinding light of day.

Actually, He planned it.

Just like the darkness that overcame the earth at the death of His Son, wasn’t darkness to Him. He knew exactly what the end was going to look like, even in the darkness.

Actually, He planned it.

But His beloved Son had to walk through that darkness in order to get to where He needed to go. Not because God didn’t love His Son. Not because He didn’t have a plan.

But because it was the plan. For our good and His glory.

And so often, He asks His children to do the same. Not because He doesn’t love you and has lost control.

Because He does love you and does have a plan and is in control. For your good and His glory.

So trust.

That when everything seems out of control, nothing is out of control.

And when you’re tempted to doubt, remember the story of your Savior.

And the unfathomable good that came from deep, painful darkness.

And the unfathomable good He has in store for you.

That He’s been there. And is here now.

And let THAT ease the ache of darkness. Like nothing else does or ever will.

And you’ll find beauty even in the darkest nights.

This one is for you.

This one is for you.

Yup, you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately–and praying for you of course (!). I am so incredibly grateful for each one of you. You are gracious and kind and supportive and wonderful and you inspire me to keep writing. (And did I mention wonderful?)

Yes, YOU! Each one of you precious readers.

Your emails, your comments… I’m continually humbled, and praising Jesus right alongside you!

That’s why this post/question is dedicated solely to you. I want to write to you and for you. And I imagine you probably get tired of all my mumbo jumbo.

Sooo…

What would YOU like to hear about? This time, it’s your choice.

Whatever it is, I’ll write about it!

Do you have questions about a passage of Scripture? Anything you’ve been wrestling with? A topic you’d like me to address? Just dying to know what my favorite cereal is?;) What I struggle with…what I love? How I’m prepping to move to L.A.? More on my health diagnoses? A topic you’d like me to write about on a weekly or monthly basis? More on breakups? I mean, let’s be honest, I’ll even write about the color teal if you’d like! (Cause I will!)

This blog is largely for your support and your encouragement, so you name it, it’s yours. Pop it in the comments below or click on the “Contact Lauren” link above, and it’ll send your question straight to my inbox:)

….and on that note, I’ll leave you with one of my all-time favorite phrases from Scripture–one I continually cling to. Have a blessed week! May you grow in grace as you seek the face of our Savior.

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When his words are bigger than His words.

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(I love writing for She Reads Truth, #SheSharesTruth. The writing prompts challenge me to
think about unique caveats of this life journey–drawing me to dwell on His faithfulness–situations and moments that may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Enjoy!)

For so long I let him name me.

Lower case he. Not upper case He. 

Reminds me of that song. “Begin Again” by Taylor Swift. Do you know it?

She sings:

He didn’t like it when I wore high heels…

He always said he didn’t get this song…

I think it’s strange that you think I’m funny ’cause he never did…

I saw myself so vividly in that song. 

Except mine went a little more like this…

He said I wasn’t observant enough…

He wished I liked sports more…

He said I asked too many questions…

He said he wanted a girl that made his whole world come to a stop, and it wasn’t me…

He didn’t care enough to try anymore…

Bottom line: I believed the lie that I wasn’t good enough, that I was a failure.

The words cut somewhere deep, deep down, and for so long I let them define me.

Those words, they were bigger than my God. I let them be. 

But then there was this.

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.” Genesis 50:20

Yes, there it was.

There was seeing a God who was powerful enough to make evil the slave of His grace.

More powerful than those words, than that pain.

There was immersing my mind so deep in Scripture, it was too drenched in the Truth to believe the lies. There was seeing the Truth for what it was. The Truth. The Truth that destroys the lies, tearing up its roots and burning its words.  

There was meditating on that Truth.

Not books, not  uncontrolled thoughts, not my interpretation, but Scripture. Raw Scripture. Letting the very breath of God breathe life into my weary bones.

There was reading Genesis, journaling, slowly, methodically, with tears in my eyes, witnessing the full scope of God’s character. Infinite, beautiful, unsurpassed love and beauty of God, painted against the backdrop of His holiness and wrath.

There was His sovereignty. The hand that holds, comforts, controls, drives, guides, and loves in every moment, every detail.

There was seeing my Savior. Him. Beautiful and pure and perfect.

There was seeing the cross and the grace. Undeserved, merciful. And then choosing to bestow that same grace and forgiveness on the boy that spoke those words.

And my God became bigger than those words.

And I saw a God who called me His own.

His child. His love.

I saw a God who chose me before the foundations of the earth. A God who knows the very number of hairs on my head; who planned my life before the beginning of time and is chiseling away. Refining. Transforming. Molding.

His vessel. 

I saw a Savior who lived a perfect, sinless life, and demonstrated a love I have never known.

And bore the wrath I should have born.

A God who imputed me with His Son’s righteousness and sees me as He sees His Son.

Perfect. Despite my wretched sin.

Not defined by the pain of those words or that boy’s opinions or his sin or my sin.

But.

Chosen.

Justified.

Forgiven.

Redeemed.

Loved.

Precious.

His clay pot. His work of art.

Daughter. Daughter of the King.

Names that bring life and joy and hope and healing.

The only names that matter.

Line dancing and canceled appointments.

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Amidst moving preparations and grad school work, here’s something little for you today:)

I can’t get enough of the grace.

The grace that I’ve seen lately.

The grace that has carried me through the difficult times and blessed me in spite of myself.

The grace that abounds when I’m least deserving.

The grace that kept me from marrying the wrong guy; that kept me at a red light longer than I wanted for the sake of my life; that kept me in a place in life I didn’t love to root out sin and heal relationships.

The grace that was at work even when I didn’t see it. The grace that supplied everything I needed to no credit of my own–socially, financially, physically, emotionally.

This may sound silly, but I even see the the opportunity for line dancing every week for some good clean fun as grace, and the friend that loves to go with me (as abundant grace!). It truly was a highlight of my week and has been a blessing. 

Even the grace in a massage appointment being canceled, so (unbeknownst to me) I’d have more money to furnish my new apartment. (At the time, I had no idea my life would dramatically change in just four days.)

Yes, there was grace when housing options fell through here, where I currently live…now I know to financially better prepare me for this move to L.A.

I never used to look for sovereignty and grace in every single little detail, but now I’m starting to learn.

And, can I tell you? It is incredible.

Might I encourage you to look for the hand of God in every moment…in the delays, in the detours, in the pain, in the joy, in the confusion. In the red lights, in the extra diaper change, in the extra conversation, in the canceled appointment, in the long checkout line. 

Why? Because grace abounds. For you.

Your Father delights in granting you grace.

Because it brings you joy and Him glory.

Watch in eager expectation for all that He has for you today.

“Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” 2 Peter 1:2

What is your unexpected grace story

Thank you for reading!

 

When surrender meets change and God moves you.

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I can’t even believe I’m writing this post.

And I’m not even sure I can find the words, but I am so excited to share with you.

Step back with me to 2010…A college graduation and a move back home. A long-term relationship headed for marriage had ended, my plans and dreams up in the air. I didn’t know what I wanted. I didn’t have specific career dreams. I didn’t know who I was. Frankly, I assumed I’d meet someone fairly quickly and end up married with babies without putting much thought into it. That’s everyone’s story, right?

God had other plans.

It’s been four years since that college graduation.

Four years of adventure. My first big girl job and career. New friendships, some stayed, some come and gone. Two health diagnoses. A revamped diet. New medication. A healed family relationship. A new car. Debt paid off. Two failed relationships, one of which failed twice. Death of two dear extended family members. Four raises. Two job title changes. Another family relationship mended. A new church. Grad program started and almost completed. Too many weddings to count. A new brother-in-law. A spiritual life overhaul.

Imprints on my heart. A life transforming. 

Two words: Difficult. Beautiful.

Much of these four years have been raw sanctification, mixed with abundant grace. So. Many. Times. I just ached, carried along solely by the grace of God. At times confused and frustrated. But more than anything, brought to my knees in humility and worship. God spent much of these four years rescuing me from myself.

Weeding. Planting.

Tearing down. Building up.

Surrender. Drawing out my plans, my dreams; shifting from my hands to His.

Can I tell you? So often I struggled. So often I felt just…stuck. So often I wanted out, I wanted change, I wanted movement. I wanted something different.

God, what is your plan for me?! Where are you taking me?! 

But He continued to whisper His grace. Through every downturn, through every ache, through every disappointment. Moment after moment. Year after year.

My plans are not your plans, my thoughts are not your thoughts.

Step after step of faith, trust, clinging to promises. Clinging to Truth.

And now….four years later, it’s all starting to make sense.

All the waiting, all the confusion, all the pain. 

For four years He tilled the ground. For four years He didn’t stop working. For four years He poked and prodded and refined. Despite my questions, despite my pain. There was purpose, there was direction.

And I drew strength from this.

“The Lord will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O Lord, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” Psalm 138:8

And

“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27: 13-14.

He was equipping me, preparing me. Physically, emotionally, financially, academically. 

Healing me. Growing me.

And now much of that, of this season, is visibly coming to an end.

And then just a couple short weeks ago, I finally, really, really, let it all go. True, the truest, surrender. Sweet, pure. Palms open wide, knees to the ground: God whatever you want for me, my ransom life is yours.

And then two sweet women in my life started praying for answers, for movement.

And then, perfectly timed. One week ago, it’s as if God said, alright it’s time. Let’s go.

A job dropped into my lap without me doing much of anything.

And just a couple days ago I accepted that job. 

Ten hours away. In California. Near L.A. 

Can someone pinch me?

Did I really just quit my job to move to LA? 

Yes, yes I did.

And then the finances fell into place.

And then the housing and roommate situation fell into place.

And I can see the hand of God like never before.

And I just want to worship.

And suddenly those years of confusion are making sense. All those experiences. They had purpose (!).

I don’t know what life has in store for me. It’s a bit scary starting a whole new life, new friends, new world. But, can I tell you? I am beyond excited.

Because I don’t see me, what I’ve done or what I’ve accomplished or how I’ve changed. I see Him. His work. I see the glory. I see the grace. 

I see a God who loves me and has plans for me. I see a God who hasn’t given up on me even when He should have. 

Because grace abounded all the more.

So, this, this is for you.

For you, walking through seemingly unending years of pain and confusion. You, confused about His plan. For you….wondering if He is still working, taking you somewhere, refining you, or if He’s all but given up.

But He is. He’s preparing. Equipping. Sanctifying. Loving. Molding. Teaching. Transforming.

You.

And when the time is right, He’ll move you, literally or figuratively. He’ll act. Purpose will begin to emerge.

And you will see the glory.

And the grace.

I promise dear friend. Hang in there and keep looking up.

Blessing await. His plan awaits.

You are adored by the Creator of the Universe. 

And His plans for you are beyond your wildest imagination.

“But, as it is written, ‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.'” 1 Corinthians 2:9

(I move to Southern California at the end of July to take a job in the Student Life Department at the Master’s College and Seminary. Ladies and gentlemen, my posts will be coming to you from the Greater Los Angeles area! Nope…never saw this coming… :))

For when it’s just been one of those days and you don’t know why.

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Have you ever had one of those days?

Where you’re just struggling.

And you have no idea why.

That was me the other day. Yes, I could go on and on about the abundant blessings of life. And there is so much joy in it all.

But for some reason I didn’t want to get out of bed. I just wanted to sleep away the daily grind. There are dreams unrealized. Hope deferred. Long tiring days. Expectations and demands. Guilt from being too tired to do it all.

And sometimes it’s just so so much. And all I want to do is pull a blanket over my head, shut out the world, and cry. And I’m so not a crier.

And then I had lunch with my mom and had a complete and total meltdown.

And I didn’t even know what was wrong (for all the girls out there:)). There was just this monstrosity of slashed hopes and hurtful words and expectations and pressure and relationships and pain and failure and…well there was just life.

And through the tears I tried to talk myself out of it all. 

I…I…I…am (sniff)..so…(hihu)…(hihu)…tha…nk…ful…for… it…all. He’s…ddone…so…(hihu)…much. I’m…so…bl…essed…(hihu). I…don’t…kn…ow…wh (sniff)..at’s…wrong…with…me….

(Got that?;))

And amidst my snorting and coughing and wiping my eyes and making myself into a hot mess, my mom said, “Lauren, you’re human.” 

“You’re allowed to have a good cry. You’re allowed to feel a little sad. It’s ok to have a day where your heart aches a little. It’s ok to have a day you don’t get out of bed to go to the gym. It’s ok to be tired and want a vacation. You’re human.”

And for some reason, that was just what I needed to hear.

And then my sweet friend text me this: “I think people sometimes think that believing in the sovereignty of God means that we are never confused, or feel sad, or question, or wonder, and it’s simply not true.”

So often I wonder if we put expectations on ourselves that He never places on us. So often I wonder if Christian lingo pushes us into false pretenses.

And suddenly the cultural expectations crash head-on into that Christian lingo and that collision tells us we need to just be ok. To hold your head high and smile through the pain and don’t cry over the same thing twice and pull yourself up by your bootstraps and keep going and it will all work out ok.

But. I don’t find that anywhere. Have you noticed He doesn’t ask us to be happy all of the time, or bottle our emotions up, or never hurt, or never feel sad, or never cry, or never have a day where the ache seems heavier than normal?

No. But He does say something else.

Trust me. Lean on me. 

Hard. And the worse it hurts, the harder we lean.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28

“Cast all your anxiety on him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

And that might sound cliché, but it’s true. But do you really do it?

Because the reality of life…of Christian life is hard. It’s not a shortcut, it’s not the easy way out.

It’s a sacrifice. And it’s sanctifying work. And it’s refining work, and that refining comes through heat. And sometimes my prayer is just this: “give me grace to do your will.” 

And so, here’s to the days where you need rest, both emotional and physical. Here’s to the days that it’s ok to mourn the dreams unfulfilled–not in an angry, wallowing way, but in an I’m-sad-but-still-trust-you kind of way.

Here’s to the days it’s ok to not do it all. 

Because He never asks that.

Because yes, He does tell us to rejoice in all circumstances. But perhaps one of life’s greatest clarifications came when I understood that doesn’t mean be happy all of the time, or be happy that I’m hurting. 

But rather, I am to rejoice because of what God is doing through the ache. Because of how He is working. Because of what He is up to. Because, despite the confusion and pain and ache and this-doesn’t-make-any-sense, I can trust that, through me, He will be glorified, and there is wonderful good coming from all of this.

And I can trust that, because that promise is rooted in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

And then there’s this.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16

What beautiful words in the midst of this life.

How can I pray for you today?

A picture of grace.

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Another post for the wonderful She Reads Truth, #SheSharesTruth

I used to recite my Awana memory verses to her. I was 5.

We lost touch.

I’m 26 now. (Today actually!:))

She’s the only Biblical Counselor in the area.

I’m studying to be one.

Last fall I attended a retreat she spoke at. By God’s sovereignty, she offered to meet and mentor me, and I agreed (honored, of course!)

This relationship, it was divinely orchestrated. Actually anything reflecting a discipleship or mentor relationship is part of that master plan. That master plan to mold us and shape us and refine us and change us and encourage us and grow us into the image of His Son. To teach us to live lives that honor the King.

Interwoven grace to help save us from ourselves.

Another picture of that redemption work. That work on the cross that touches every aspect of life.

There’s reason, there’s beautiful purpose for those relationships. Loving guidelines, love soaked truth, steering us from our natural tendencies.

We see a glimpse of one in Titus 2.

“Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” Titus 2:3-5 

I’m not married, I don’t have kids. It’s only partially a Titus 2 relationship for me. But it is a perfect relationship for the phase God has me in. And I am thankful beyond words.

I look forward to every coffee date. Our conversations about life never fail to encourage and bless. Conversations about counseling leave me inspired, educated, and hopeful.

Her love for the Lord is nothing short of what I strive for.

And when life encouragement is needed, she’s there.

Recently, after struggling with a couple difficult and painful relationships, she wisely spoke these words to me:

“It was a tool. They were tools. Those people. That time period. Meant to refine you. It was all for a purpose, a specific, divine purpose. Part of His story. No more, no less. And now He is finished using those tools.”

“He cast that drama with those chosen characters and it was not a mistake.” (More on this here.)

I could almost physically feel my burden lift with those few, divinely ordained, spoken words.

Perhaps the Lord is so gracious to give us just what we need in the moment, in the season. The person, the words, the encouragement.

Perhaps His love for us and knowledge of us extends far beyond our own.

Perhaps His grace is abounding far more than we will ever know or see.

Perhaps community, the body of Christ is far more important than we will ever understand.

It may not look like another’s grace-moment. The words, the person, the encouragement, the relationships are different, because the stories are different.

But it’s perfect.

This sovereign plan, this work of the Holy Spirit in her life, in my life.

This grace.

This gift. These gifts.

Leaves me awe-struck.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

They come in the most unexpected forms at the most unexpected times, amen?:)

The perfect forms at the perfect times.

When we don’t even know what we need. When we don’t  even realize we need it.

What perfect gifts at the perfect times has He blessed you with whether it be words, a person, or otherwise?

Because hiding is always easiest.

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I wanted to tag onto my post from last week with a couple more thoughts:) Enjoy!

The reaction is always to hide.

Hide from the shame.

Hide out of fear.

Hide in denial.

Hide from the truth.

Hide out of protection for self.

Just hide.

Someone else thought so too. In the Garden.

And their hiding was initially provoked by fear.

Fear that God was keeping something from them, something good. That God didn’t want their best. That His Word wasn’t true. That He was playing some cruel joke on them. That there was really something better out there, and they needed to discover what that was.

On their own.

“But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” Genesis 3:4-7.

The servant did it too. Hid. With his talent, his gift. Perhaps out of fear.

“But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Matthew 25:18

We’ve been hiding out of fear since the beginning of time.

Me too.

And it manifests itself in the most unlikely ways.

I’ve been torn apart, turned inside out, taught, refined, loved, humbled, seen and experienced abundant grace.

I’ve been brought to my knees and seen the face of my Savior. 

It’s a gift.

And it has been beautiful. And I would do it all over in a heartbeat if it meant learning what I’ve learned.

But isn’t it strange.

So often I want to hide it. That gift, those lessons, that pain that produced beauty. Pretend everything has always been ok. Like I haven’t struggled, don’t have a grace-story.

The Enemy likes to whisper that it’s a hindrance, that gift. That I should be ashamed. Ashamed of that pain, of that grace-filled work.

That I should care what others think. So I’m tempted to hide. Out of fear. What if they think I’m a mess? What if they think poorly of me? What if they have pity on me? I don’t want that.

Discouragement. He’s good at it. Fear of man trap. He’s good at that too.

That man’s opinion is more important than God’s. That any little criticism or hurt should derail my Kingdom work.

Can you relate?

That couldn’t be more opposite from the truth.

There’s a purpose. A specific, divine reason for this gift. It was no accident He chose me to experience the gift of that trial. That He chose to gift you with that specific gift, with that trial.

And it’s my honor to be entrusted with this gift.

To invest it. To use it. To till it, work it, and return it for the work of the kingdom.

And it is my joy.

But. The road to this…well it’s tough. This. Learning to fear God more than man. To care more about Him than I do about them. To worship Him, not them. To seek Him first, not them.

To offer my gifts to Him, not them.

But it is essential. If we are ever to be moved, to be uncomfortable. If our work is ever to accomplish anything for the Kingdom. If we will bury our gifts or invest our gifts.

He alone must be the object of our worship.

We must fear Him alone.

Yes, if fear is the problem, then fear, in fact, is the answer.

And then I found this. And I cannot think of a more appropriate way to phrase the blessings that flow from fearing God alone, of serving, sacrificing, offering those gifts with one goal in mind, and one goal only:

“I serve an Audience of One. Therefore, I can say to the world, ‘Before you I have nothing to prove, nothing to gain, nothing to lose.'” -Elyse Fitzpatrick

Yes, this. This is it. Living before an Audience of One. The only way to wholly offer our lives, our gifts, on the altar of praise, for the glory of Jesus Christ.

What gifts have you been entrusted with? Are you hiding out of fear? Perhaps God is urging you forward, asking you to make the most of the gift you’ve been entrusted with. How can you partner alongside Him in His work?

Thank you for reading!