When his words are bigger than His words.

book-92771_640

(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.

A picture of grace.

poppy-356761_640

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?

For when it all seems wrong.

Image

For the She Reads Truth, #SheSharesTruth challenge: 1 Corinthians 2:1-5

It’s all opposite. Backward. Wrong.

It is the foolish He uses to shame the wise.

It is the weak He uses to shame the strong.

He chooses the despised, the things that are “not.”  

He asks us to serve out of our weaknesses, for it is His power that is made perfect in weakness.

He promised a child, then made that promise look impossible from every human standpoint, before bringing the promise to fruition.

He hardened Pharoh’s heart over and over again, made the Israelite’s escape and rescue look impossible, before rescuing his children through a jaw dropping miracle.

Oh ya, and He asked a guy really bad at speaking to persuade a divinely hardened heart.

He made a promise that involved authority and rulership, and then made that promise look impossible through slavery and two years in prison, before causing the promise to become reality.

He turned one of the greatest persecutors of the Church into one of the greatest apostles of all time, who eventually wrote most of the New Testament.

He used a virgin to birth the Son of God. He sent a King cloaked as a lowly man from the home of a mere carpenter to save a universe damned to Hell through a humiliating and degrading death on a cross.

It’s through the most painful circumstances that He teaches the greatest lessons.

It is our enemies that we are commanded to love.

It’s the meek that will inherit the kingdom.

It is through surrender that there is freedom.

It is through death that there is life.

His ways are not our ways. His thoughts not our thoughts. 

Why?

Because it is through our weakness, through our sin, through our pain, through our failings, through our worst character traits, through our greatest deficiencies, through the worst of circumstances, that He displays His power, that He is glorified. That it becomes clear that it is not man who should be glorified, but God. It is not man who works for himself, but God who works for him.

For it is not the mouth that speaks that is powerful, but that gospel, that grace, that is powerful. (Remember Moses?)

It penetrates even the haziest of drunk stupors, the darkest anger, the deepest pits, the coldest dampest jail cells, the hardest hearts, the worst of sinners.

So we don’t see human ability, but divine ability.

So we are not awed by human wisdom, but by God’s.

So our hearts do not long to worship man, but the sovereign, holy, just, merciful, gracious, and loving God that is alone deserving of our bowed head, soul-prostate worship.

So we might truly know the vast power and depth of the beauty of Jesus Christ.

For in human weakness, in human failings, in finite ability, it is Jesus Christ that is magnified. It is Jesus Christ that is glorified. So that our faith might rest not on the wisdom of man, but on the power of God. 

So that no. one. may. boast.

The world screams we can do anything we set our minds to, that whatever we want, we can achieve; yet, in the Kingdom, it is through humility, obedience, and reliance on the Spirit that He works His wonder. It is through death of self that we really truly live.

It is the least of these that are saved, used, and lifted high so the greatest One might be glorified. 

So that your faith might rest on the power of God (alone).

That we might know nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

For this, this is a true mercy.

“And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words or wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:1-5 

(By the way, it was that great church persecutor that wrote that. Amazing huh?)

————————————

How has He shown himself alone to be worthy of praise through the most opposite way you would have ever imagined? How has he used you in spite of yourself, your weakness, your failing?

(Thank you for reading.)

 

Image

 

It’s Like the Ocean

Image

Another post for the wonderful She Reads Truth #SheSharesTruth challenge. (Joshua 1:8-9)

I sat watching the waves crash onto the shore, feet dug deep in the sand, absolutely mesmerized.

Transcendent beauty painted against the backdrop of power and strength. 

Life, healing, wholeness, delight, joy, and majestic glory hovering over might, massive depths, commanding respect and fear.

I thought about that thing I was angry about. That circumstance I knew He had the power to change and wasn’t. And so I was frustrated. And I didn’t want to read. I didn’t want to listen. (Yes, I was trying to boycott the God of the Universe…and didn’t get very far.) And soon, I was desperate for His love once again.

His Word.

It’s like the ocean.

Beautiful tension. Unmistakable contrast. 

The very Word that saved my soul, healed my gashes, and soothed my aches has also incited long, sweaty wrestling matches…igniting internal struggles reaching to the very depths of my soul.

And it is the strangest struggle. A battle I know I won’t win, but I try.

My humanity fighting for breath. His gracious hand heavy on me. 

And it is the strangest tension.

For it is the very words that command respect, honor, and submission, that produce abundant joy. And peace. And life. And hope.

The very thing that has the capacity to stir my rebellious spirit, always drives me to my knees in surrender.

The very thing that I push hard against, run from, holds me tight in arms of peace, and soon softly quiets my struggle.

The fight. Temporal and eternal. Flesh and majesty. My desires pitted against His love, goodness.

His grip tight, gracious, healing, molding my desires to His.

And that grip is grace. And that wrestling is grace. And love.

Because it is in the very struggle that I am changed.

And that wrestling drives pride to surrender.

Confusion to peace.

Anger to joy.

For it is from the very thing I want to run, that I am commanded to hold dear.

To meditate on. To love. To obey.

It is the very Word of God.

A sword. Sharper than the most jagged edges of sin. Than the hardest hearts and most calloused hands. The only cure for the sin sick soul. The only answer to the hopelessness. The only healing balm. Able to stand against, to fight, the most deadly thoughts, sin, pride, anger.

It is my air to breathe. My water to drink. There is no life outside of those words. There is no light outside of its shelter.

In those words are found life abundant. Words that will make the way prosperous, successful.

Why do I run from those Words? Words of promise and truth.

For it is in those Words that He is near.

It is in those Words that there is strength and courage. 

It is from those Words I am never to depart.

It is behind the shield of those Words I will not tremble. I will not be dismayed. 

It is in those Words that He. Is. With. Me.

It is in those Words I find meaning and hope.

It is in those Words I find love.

It is to those Words I will cling, and never let go. I will not let it depart from my mouth, from my heart. Regardless of the pain, regardless of the confusion, regardless of the ache, regardless of the circumstances.

For HE is my life. And it is in His Words I find life abundant. For the Lord MY God is with me. And I need not be afraid.

“This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:8-9

 —————————————————————

What about you? Have you felt this tension? Have you ever not wanted to read those life-giving words, knowing they would heal you? Have you run from its promises toward your own desires? How did He draw you back? What did you learn?

(Thanks so much for reading.)

P.S. For those who follow this blog, I apologize for the lag between posts this week–I was out of town, taking much needed time for refreshment and relaxation:) Sitting on the sand, contemplating this post, actually!

When the answer is wait.

Image

(Written as a devotional for She Reads Truth, #SheSharesTruth Challenge)

Can I be honest?

People throw it around a lot. That phrase.

“Wait on the Lord.”

After the breakups, people said it.

When I graduated college and didn’t know what to do with my life, people said it.

When I wanted that thing to happen that wasn’t happening, I knew I was supposed to, yep, do it.

So then I’d say I was surrendering my desires and my plans, all the while, hanging onto those desires and plans.

I’d say I was “waiting on the Lord,” all the while waiting on that thing I wanted.

A marriage, a job, a car, a house, an answer, a whatever….I waited on all those things quite effectively under the guise of “waiting on the Lord.”

I carried out the first part of Psalm 130 perfectly: “Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice.”

Night after night I did that.

But I completely missed the second part. “But there is forgiveness with You, that you may be feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait, and in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord.”

Because learning to fear Him is part of learning to wait on Him.

Because pride is the opposite of humbly fearing.

And pride causes us to wait on our desires.

So He breaks our pride.

By revealing the sin that devastates our relationship with Him. Driving us to our knees, reorienting our cries to and for the only one who’s worth crying out to and for. 

To the only one who’s worth waiting for. 

But then.

He reminds us that He forgives that devastating sin. And our worship of this fleeting life is utterly shattered. And is replaced by awe, reverence, and fear of Him.

And we see His abundant love.

So we start fearing Him and stop fearing what we want. So we praise Him and stop praising what we want. So we see the futility of what we want against the backdrop of His worth.

And in that, we see the glory. His glory.

When the things of earth grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.

And then.

The waiting is redefined: “It’s the bowed-head, soul prostate refusal to take the situation into our own hands. We’ve trusted, we’ve delighted, we’ve acted, and now we say “Let the Lord do what seems good to him!” (2 Sam. 10:12). And then we are still before him. We are waiting, after all. Waiting. Holding on.” (Desiringgod.org)

Not for what pleases us, but for what pleases Him. 

And that’s how we learn to wait for Him.

And our hearts become clay in the potter’s hands. Our hearts bow. Our hearts want what he wants, whatever that might mean, because our hearts long only to see Him, to see His glory. Because we are in awe of who He is. Of His worth. Of His love.

And we are doing something. We’re waiting. And we’re hoping in His word. Hoping in Him. Not in the things that will come through Him.

And then there’s the third part of that Psalm:

“O, Israel, hope in the Lord, for with the Lord there is lovingkindness”

“And with Him is abundant redemption.”

So we hold on. We trust. We wait.

Reveling in the love and forgiveness that abounds.

Because we know.

In the waiting, after the waiting.

There will be lovingkindess. 

And.

There will be redemption. 

Abundant redemption.