When Your Strength is Zapped

Be exalted in your strength, LORD;

we will sing and praise your might….. (Ps 21:13).

The other day I overheard a conversation where a tired woman responded to her friend by saying, “I’m physically and emotionally exhausted, but hey….that’s what life is all about, right?” I thought to myself, no dear sister, there is so much more to life than a tired and weary soul. But, I understand where she’s been, because I’ve been there too.
 
There have been seasons in my life when I have felt absolutely zapped of my strength, mentally, emotionally and physically exhausted. Where I’m at my total wits end and instead of sitting down to get some rest, I keep pushing forward and trying harder.
 
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I can also recall those seasons in my life when my strength was zapped because the circumstances of life became so painful that I felt as though I had nothing left. I can recall crying such deep tears that I didn’t even know were possible to cry over such painful losses in my life. I was ripped open and completely undone. There was this story that I kept telling myself in my pain. It was such a grave story of defeat and despair. I hated that story, but I would entertain it so much, because when you’re tired and worn, you’ll start to believe just about anything.
 
It wasn’t until I made a true commitment to get away with my Heavenly Father and start resting in His love when I became revived. As I sat with Him in streams of mercy, my life was no longer about trying harder or doing more. It wasn’t about pushing away the pain, but instead, embracing it for what it was, allowing the great physician to heal the wounds of my heart.
 
We are quick to run to a doctor when we are sick and we are wise to do so, but we are so slow in running to our Father when we are not well. I know for me, I have delayed in coming to Him, because I was fearful that my brokenness might communicate to others that I was weak, but you see, when you’ve become undone and your life unravels before you, there’s no longer any places to hide. Except for in the arms of a loving Father who longs to heal you from the inside out.
 
As we learn to rest with Him, believing and embracing His truth, we know that although our circumstances may never change, we are safe in the arms of His great love.
 
Lord, thank you for undoing me, because in it, I was set free from so much. Thank you for meeting me in deep, dark and painful seasons. Thank you for being my joy, hope, peace and purpose in those painful seasons in life. Lord Jesus, glorify your name in me, I pray, Amen.

You Are Not a Problem to God

Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”… (Luke 1:28).

Dear brother, dear sister, you are highly favored of God. Yes, you, the one who sometimes feels like your the refuse of God, the forgotten child or a constant problem to God and others. You are highly favored. Not because you’re deserving, but simply because of His mercy.
 
The more we keep seeing ourselves as the problem child of God, the more we will live out of that misplaced identity. I’ve done it. I’ve made poor decisions, walked terrible paths and tried to control certain parts of my journey all because my identity was in everything but Jesus. All because I didn’t understand just how loved I truly was by God and that love, was simply enough for me.
 
All of us are seeking affirmation. We want to know that even though we’re messed up, we’re OK. We want to know that, at the end of the day, someone will be there to receive us with open arms, not because we’re deserving because certainly, we know we’re not. Simply because we understand, at some level, the frailty of our humanness.
 
We, of all people, know the depth of our brokenness, but you see, although before God we may feel broken and far too messed up, truly, in His eyes, we are being made whole. He doesn’t see a broken vessel to set aside. Instead, He sees our potential. Yes, beloved, He sees what you can be if you might simply surrender yourself into the depth of His love.
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God can work with others who see their potential. He cannot do much with those who keep running from the potter’s wheel. Until we truly embrace that our identity is in the person of Jesus, we will chase, and pursue everything under the sun in an attempt to fix our broken selves.
 
Lord, give us more grace. Show us the tender love of your mercy that is for us and not against us. Lord Jesus, thank you that you don’t see a messed up sinner, but you see my potential. Praise God! You are so good, Amen.

Nothing is Too Far Gone

But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old….(Luke 1:7).

I know what you’re thinking. Things are too far gone. Nothing will ever change and your situation will never get any better. I get it. I’ve felt that way before too, living in a state of constant defeat, believing that because things have been as they are for so long that nothing will ever change within my situation.
 
Some things we may have been praying about for years and God just seems….silent. I get that too. I don’t understand why God chooses to answer some prayers very quickly but then seems silent with others.
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One thing I do know though is that God is always working. There are realms within our experience that we have no control over. There is a spiritual world where battles are fought for us daily in the heavenly’s. God is working for us in that place, even though He may seem deathly silent.
 
I don’t know what prayer you’ve been praying. I don’t know where you feel absolutely defeated. I’m not sure how your past experience is speaking into your present situation. I have found for me, that my past experiences that have not gone well, tend to taint my ability to believe God for a different outcome. I’ve found that when the same pattern repeats itself in my life, I’ll pray for God to work, but a voice tells me in the back of my mind that things are just going to end up like they did last time, so what’s the point?
 
In the midst of this I am reminded of what Jesus says to His disciples while on the Sea of Galilee, “Oh you, of little faith, why did you doubt?” You see, God is not bound by our pasts. He always holds within His hands the hope of a brighter future. He simply asks us to trust Him.
 
Although the outcome might not be as we would have hoped, even the second or third time around, there’s always a bigger purpose at work. There’s always an area of growth or a place for us to go with God that transforms us if we would be willing to hold fast to Him, even when it hurts.
 
Lord, nothing is too far gone for you. Help us to believe that. We want to live as people whose faith has been transformed, but we cannot do it in our own strength. Make us like you, Jesus, we pray, Amen.

The Deep Waters of Daily Renewal

‘You must keep the Israelites separate from things that make them unclean, so they will not die in their uncleanness for defiling my dwelling place…(Lev 15:31).

The same that was true for the Israelites in the Old Testament is true and necessary for us today. We must always be conscious of our need for washing and renewal through the Holy Spirit. Yes, it is true that a river runs through us thanks to the indwelling of the Spirit. However, it is also true that our own selfish, sinful hearts can keep that river from running generously through our souls.
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I know this to be true because I’ve experienced deep, dry seasons in my life. Seasons where God felt distant, my soul felt dry and my heart felt captivated by all of my worries, fears and insecurities. At the time, I could not have told you that’s what my life was being led by, but looking back, I can say with certainty that my dryness came from my lack of connection with Jesus. It came from a life that was too busy, too worn and too worried.
 
You see, what my dryness produced in me was a slow dying, not a continual renewal. Until we come before the Father, drinking in His great love, we will find ourselves in dry deserts wondering where God has gone and how we can find Him.
 
Have you ever went looking for God only to find that He had a drink for you in the desert, but your stubborn heart didn’t want it because it meant that you had to let go of what catapulted you in the desert to begin with? Maybe that’s just been me, but those dry seasons in my life always carry with them something I’m holding onto that is unhealthy and harmful to my soul.
 
There’s freedom when we learn how to let go and start drinking deeply from the well of our Father’s love. Yes, it may mean we have to let things go, give up control and face our issues, but when we do, we wrap ourselves up in the well that never runs dry. The well that cleanses us from the inside out, making us new people with each new day.
 
Lord, grow my heart. I know the only way I can grow is to be watered by your love. Water my soul now through the grace of Jesus. Let His love pour over me, as I come to Him for daily renewal, through the Holy Spirit, in Jesus name, Amen.

Power, Manipulation and Christ-like Leadership

they must be brought to Aaron the priest or to one of his sons who is a priest…. (Lev 13:2–3).

Be careful with the power you hold over people. Don’t misuse it. All of us, hold power over something or someone. It could be in our home, jobs or friendships. We can all be put in positions of authority over someone else and we must remind ourselves that we cannot use our power to manipulate or control.
 
There are times when I must remind myself of this simple truth. An insidious thought runs through my head of, “Well, if I go this route with what I have to say, that will shut this person down and I’ll end up getting what I want.” Since I know this about myself, I must instead come with open hands to the Lord, being ready to hear from Him so I don’t misuse the power He has given me.
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No one ever wants to feel manipulated, demeaned, or controlled, but we can quickly allow our own insecurities to lead us towards treating people like that. Until we wrap our heads around that, we will keep wrapping people up with all of our unhealthy ways of dealing with life. I don’t want to manipulate people into siding with me. I want to make people feel like they have the freedom to be who God created them to be.
 
Just as Aaron and his sons were given authority by the Lord as priests in the Temple, you and I have been given similar roles within our lives. Roles where instead of misusing our power, we must instead act like Jesus, who on many occasions gave up His power to become a servant. That’s the kind of leader I want to be. A leader who loves first and lets go of their need to be in control. A leader who trusts God with the results that my fear tries to convince me will come true if I truly do let go.
 
Father, I want to be like you. I don’t ever want to manipulate people or use my authority over them to demean or control. Help me first to be humble and not afraid. Lord Jesus, meet me in my need and show me yourself, I pray, in your name, Amen.

The Sustaining Power of the Father’s Heart

Abba, Father,” he said,….(Mark 14:36).

As Jesus prepared Himself for what we would be some of the most painful hours of His life He lay His head in the Garden of Gethsemane and sought the comfort of His father. At the moment, He did not see God as a tyrant, a dictator, unfair or cruel. He saw the heart of His Father that was for Him and not against Him and it was the heart of His Father that sustained Him in His darkest hours.
 
I remember, when I was a teenager, being absolutely devastated by something hurtful someone said about me. As soon as the words flew from their lips and into my heart and mind I was cut deep. Immediately, my first thought was to go looking for my father. I found him there in the hallway and embraced him as I explained to him what happened. Having my dad hold me didn’t take all the pain away or make everything right in a moment, but there in his arms, I felt safe, comforted and loved. My father’s heart help sustain my wounded heart in the midst of a deeply painful moment.
 
I’m not sure where life has brought you today. All of us are fighting some kind of battle. Some of us may even be walking through a deeply dark and painful season in life. Knowing that the Father’s heart is for us can help sustain us as we learn to lean into His great love that dances over us.
 
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Abba, you are so good. You are for us and not against us. Truly, your love dances over us. Help me to lean and press hard into your grace. Comfort those who are walking in dark and painful seasons today, in Jesus name, Amen.

When It All Comes Crashing Down

Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”…. (Mark 13:2).

Be careful what you build your life upon. It can very easily and quickly come crashing down. At least, it did for me. I built my life upon my insecurities and pride and with a swift and sudden blow, it all crumbled and I was left with a pile of ruins to sift through.
 
The Jews placed their hope and faith in the temple in Jerusalem. To them, it was what their faith hung upon. The temple was simply meant to be a place to worship God, it was never meant to turn into something to be worshipped. Whenever we turn things in our lives into something to be worshipped, making it an idol in our lives, don’t be surprised when it comes crashing down as you pursue the Lord and a deeper walk with Him.
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It’s not that God is punishing us for it. No, He’s trying to make us new and in every construction project, we have to demolish or do away with the old to make room for something new. I wish I would have understood that myself before everything came crashing down so that my life didn’t become so painful. But you see, even as I began to sift through the rubble that was my life I learned so many lessons about true, abiding faith. Without that season, I’m not certain that my heart would have grown nearly as much as it did and so because of that, I’m grateful.
 
Everything we hold too closely in our lives is really about a root of pride, insecurity, fear or something similar, so we come up with ways to soothe these issues in our lives. For me, it was my outward success and how I appeared so well put together before others. Then, when I lost all of that and was left with nothing but brokenness I came to realize just how much I trusted, not in God, but in my fears to push me through life.
 
Be thankful when things come crashing down. It’s often for our good. Truly, this is where God shows up in our lives. To meet us in the midst of our rubble and remind us who He is for us in that present moment of pain and in the hope of a brighter future.
 
Lord Jesus, thank you for demolishing pride and fear in my life. I never want to go back to that place. Therefore, I need your grace to keep walking the path you’ve placed before me. Help me to grow to be like Jesus and to see those areas that are too important in my life. Make me more like you, I pray, in Jesus name, Amen.