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!

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That wrestling match.

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She looked up at me from across the table, hot coffee warming our hands, and I saw it.

The hurt. 

The deep, deep hurt. The kind that penetrates your soul, squeezes your stomach so tight, your body physiologically responds with nausea and shallow breath.

The kind where the very mention of it sends the emotions you are grasping to control by the tips of your fingers into a tailspin, crashing into the barrier you’ve barely knit together, unleashing the tears kept only at bay in the presence of others.

She blinked quickly. But I knew.

Because I’ve been there. Oh, I’ve been there. I know what it feels to hurt like that.

And I remembered how I wanted to scream when people told me to just move on, to just let go, to just get over it.

But then there was the story of Jacob. And how He wrestled with God.

He wrestled with God.

And I remember clinging to that story.

Because that’s what I was doing.

I was wrestling with God too.

The symbolism, the imagery is beautiful.

The God of the Universe took the time to wrestle a mere man for his thoughts, his affections, his worship, his trust.

Because the situation did not have an easy fix, it was not easy surrender, Jacob was not easily swayed. (Ugh, sounds familiar.)

Because when the pain reaches to the depths of the soul, the answer isn’t easy.

I learned something wonderfully powerful through that story.

I learned it was ok to struggle.

That it was ok that it was hard, that it was ok to hurt.

That when people minimized it by telling me to just let it go and move on, they were discounting the Lord’s work in my life.

Because the thing that caused that wrestling match … it wasn’t a mistake. It was a tool, a powerful tool used to break me. And teach me, and mold me, and refine me by fire.

And hands and knees and fists and elbows are drug through the mud. Because sometimes, God wrestles His children for their love, their affections, their dreams, their hopes, their trust, their worship.

And sometimes that wrestling match is long, and dark, and sweaty. Just like Jacob’s.

And that’s ok.

It’s ok to not just be ok. 

When the God of the Universe takes the time to wrestle you and teach you and calm you, that is love. And that is grace. And you are treasured abundantly by the King.

The Savior.

The Redeemer.

Because it’s when you’re not ok, when you’re dirty and tired and sweaty and hurt.

THAT is when He does His greatest work.

It is when there is no strength to keep fighting, gasping for air, grabbing hold of any ounce of energy left in your sweat soaked body, drenched in fatigue, that He teaches and sanctifies; and yes, you may well be injured in the process, and it will hurt.

But you will see Jesus Christ like you have never seen Him before.

And you will be awed.

Because that pain is His work.

Because you will come to realize that He alone is your lifeline. That He alone is who you need. That He alone satisfies.

And Jacob did too.

When, at the end of his own match, he finally said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

At that moment, He understood that God alone was his hope, his life, his breath.

For it is this reason that it is a great mercy to wrestle. 

Do not be ashamed of the struggle.

For it is in that very struggle, that we become desperate for Jesus Christ. And that is a wealth from which one can never be robbed.

(Some of the greatest testimonies of all have emerged through the dirtiest, sweatiest, ugliest wrestling matches. Mine sure did.)

 

For when its promises are empty.

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(On Jonah 2 for She Reads Truth, #SheSharesTruth)

There was blatant disobedience.

And then discipline.

Wills were pitted against one another. Fear of man against fear of God. Stubbornness against sovereignty. Selfish anger against holy wrath. Temporal against eternal.

A wrestling match ensued.

The hand was firm, the expectation obvious, the pursuit holy.

But when it became clear there was no battle to be maintained, the Victor sovereign and glorious and holy, there was a cry for help and a prayer for deliverance.

A white flag raised.

Actions responded to holy discipline. Knees bowed, but the heart stood tall, proud.

So that hand continued steadfast, firm. Breaking ensued.

And soon.

Through the brokenness, one thing became utterly, undeniably clear.

The pursuit of self, that sin, sacrifice to man-made idols was fruitless. It was destructive. It didn’t hold a candle to the Creator, the Redeemer, the relentless I AM. Whose love is just. And perfect. And holy. And righteous. And true.

And remembering that Creator, that love, paralyzed the rebellion.

“While I was fainting away, I remembered the Lord, and my prayer came to You, into your Holy temple.” v. 7

And the response astounded. In the midst of desperation, there was worship.

And sacrifice.

And thankfulness.

“But you have brought up my life from the pit, O Lord my God.” v. 6b

“Those who regard vain idols forsake faithfulness, but I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving.” v. 8-9

You see, therein lies the very remedy for an idol—that thing that fights for your affection, demands your attention, saps your strength, taunts you with its promises, destroys you with its lies.

Worship and sacrifice and thankfulness.

Because it is in the desperation that we must worship the one true God.

Demonstrating His worth. That He is more precious to me than all life can give or death can take.

Because it is in the moment the strongest desires are vying for the heart’s throne that that the lies, the empty promises, the idol must be sacrificed on the altar of true worship. (Here is my story of that sacrifice.)

Demonstrating that my hopes and dreams and plans fall second to my love for my God. Dying to self.

Because it is in the middle, not end, of the darkest night, the deepest valley, that we must thank—thankful for the trial, thankful for the pain, for the temporal gifts, for the abundance found in Christ.

Demonstrating that what I have in Christ is enough. That I will thank and praise Him regardless of circumstances. Because it is HE I treasure.

For it is in the worship He is glorified. And in the sacrifice He is honored. And in the thankfulness He is magnified.

And it is in seeing my Savior glorified and honored and magnified that my heart is healed and that idol is destroyed.

And it is in practicing worship and thankfulness that the void that idol leaves is filled with abundant love.

And I am reminded of the riches, the grace that abounds, the gift of my salvation. To be pursued, to be loved sacrificially, to be disciplined, to be taught, to be drawn near, to be held and never released.

And I am left in awe.

When God took that boy away.

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I’m continually amazed at the number of girls that struggle with it.

Idolizing a boy.

Ya. That idol.

It wreaked havoc in my life too.

And let me tell you, the relationship in which it manifested itself most strongly looked like a war scene….and ended like one too. And it is rather humbling to recount.

He became my whole world. My emotions rose and fell with his every action. I was happy when I was with him and sad when I wasn’t. I looked to him for my satisfaction, my worth; the fulfillment of all my hopes and dreams. When he was busy or needed sleep, I threw a fit to get him to stay. I manipulated with tears to get my way. I had some ridiculously unrealistic expectations for the relationship. The minute we disagreed on any little thing, it totally freaked me out. I was argumentative and needy–using sinful tactics to make it all go according to my plan. All I wanted was to be with him. I didn’t invest myself in anything other than work and him, especially the work of the kingdom. It was as if I saw him as my answer to everything, and I mean everything.

Ya, I know, I was the girlfriend from you-know-where.

But then God broke my heart by taking that boy away.

And I was destroyed. And broken. And desperate.

But He used that cavern of pain to teach me. So so much. Oh my goodness did He teach me.

And then He filled that cavern of pain with grace, and healed the broken pieces.

Because, can I tell you what He did with the giant mess of my heart? Can I tell you what I realized?

I’m no different than Eve. I bought the lies too.

I decided that my way was the best way. That God wasn’t enough. I wanted something else. Something better. I stepped out from underneath the instruction of the unfailing and protective Word. I sought hope in someone other than my Creator. I bought the lies that told me there was more happiness in my way. I decided God was keeping something from me if I followed His way–if I relaxed, let go, and trusted that He was sovereign, working to bring about His plan at that very moment. I loved my plan, that boy, more than I loved God. I sought hope, truth, satisfaction outside of Him who embodies hope, truth, and satisfaction.

Eve sought it in her quest for knowledge and equality.

I sought it in a fallen human being. 

A human being who is not designed to bear the weight of my satisfaction, my hopes, my dreams, my joy, my sorrow, my soul.

And it was sin. Utterly disgusting sin.

Because sin looks just the same now as it did thousands of years ago in Genesis 3.

But oohhhh boy was it heartbreak. When God removes the object of your affection. It. Is. PAINFUL.

And.

I fought Him. Hard. I wrestled long. I DID NOT want His way, I wanted my way. I was angry. I was hurt. And I was intent on pleasing myself.

But then there was the story of Abraham and Isaac.

And when it was apparent that Abraham was willing to sacrifice that son of promise, to put to death that dream, to lay that boy on the altar of obedience, the words that stopped him were these: “For now I know that you fear God since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” 

And then I read this book and this book.

And then David writes much of learning to fear God, most often through pain.

And suddenly I began to understand.

When these men surrendered what they wanted, what they dreamed of, their plan, often the most precious thing to them on this earth…really truly gave it up, proving it fell second to their love for God, God knew they feared Him.

That they valued His worth above all else. That they worshiped Him above all else.

That He was more valuable to them than all life could give or death could take.

That they would praise Him still, no matter what.

That their hearts were satisfied in Him and Him only. And earthly blessings were subsequent.

That they believed He is sovereign and nothing happens outside of His hand of protection, control, and love.

That whatever He decides is good. No matter what that might look like.

True surrender. That God is more important than any treasure of this life. And trust. Even when life appears to be spinning out of control.

And it was through this that He was tearing my heart open too.

Conviction turned that white-knuckled grasp on that boy to open-palmed surrender.

So, with a tear soaked face, I dropped to my knees.

And I gave that dream, that desire, that boy, that hope, up. I let go. Because I wanted Christ more than I wanted that dream.

And you know what verse rested on my heart? “For now I know you fear God.” (“Since you have not withheld…from Me.”)

And all at once He reclaimed His throne in my life.

And I understood.

What it means to fight to fear Him above all. 

What it means to surrender all this world has to offer for the sake of loving Christ above all else.

And His desires became my desires.

And my perspective on that boy was transformed.

And that wrestling match stopped.

And grace abounded.

And my heart was filled with joy abundant.

And I was satisfied. In the One whom my heart was created to be satisfied by.

 And I was at peace.

Not because my circumstances changed, but because my God saw He was more precious to me than all life could give or death could take. 

In laying down my dream, there was surrender. And freedom. And humility. And worship.

And He was glorified.

And I was satisfied.

And blessings have ensued in abundance.

And to this day, that verse encourages me like few others. 

And reminds me of the beauty found in correct fear. Of the blessings awaiting right worship. Of the joy found in God alone.