My Husband, My Rock

Standard

“The LORD is my Rock and my Fortress and my Deliverer, my God, my Rock in Whom I shall trust; my Shield, the Horn of my Salvation, and my High Tower.” Psalm 18:2 One New Man Bible

I’m literally sitting on my kitchen floor writing this, half crying, half imagining myself as strong while Bryan and Katie Torwalt’s “When You Walk Into the Room” bounces off the tile floor and echoes into the corners of my heart. The corners that I feel like are falling apart right now.

It’s the night before Thanksgiving. I’m supposed to be thankful right? And don’t get me wrong. I really am. I am so thankful for the promises God has for me, and the intimacy that I have with Him, and my goodness, how far I’ve come in the last two years is phenomenal. I really have a lot to be thankful for. I didn’t even realize how much until I started typing this.

Anyway, what’s “wrong” is that I have both a sinus and lung infection, my mom (probably) came down with the flu tonight, I realized that I have dress rehearsal in a week (a dress rehearsal I have barely been preparing for as the majority of my time has been either subbing or trying to fight this sickness), and I have no idea how we’re going to pay for any of it.

I’m going be honest. I’m slightly terrified that my mom is sick. (I was going to not put “slightly,” but then I realized I didn’t want to confess that over myself…not that “slightly” is any better. I believe the Bible says “Do not fear” not “You can fear, as long as it’s only slightly).

Why am I slightly terrified? Because she’s the major financial provider. Being a substitute teacher (which I’ve been doing since September) doesn’t make a lot, and I don’t work every day so I haven’t contributed a lot these last couple of months. We have some major expenses coming up with my dress rehearsal next weekend and my SHINE Conference at the end of the year. There’s Christmas. And there’s the fact that she’s in the middle of transitioning businesses, and satan has been putting lies and blockages every step of the way.

I’m slightly terrified because when I fall apart, she’s the one who can help put me back together, especially since I’m living at home right now. In many idolatrous ways, she is my rock.

So here I am on the kitchen floor while she’s thankfully in bed sleeping, as I am supposed to be. This is the moment in my life where I begin to realize what it means to completely rely on God.

As I sit here, I imagine some future scenario where I’m crying, and my future husband walks in and comforts me, reminding me that everything is going to be ok because God is in control. I imagine stability and security when I think of things like that. Then it hits me – why don’t I imagine Jesus walking in the room, having the same conversation with Him as I did with my imaginary husband, and find an even surer source of stability and security?

So I do. He comes and sits next to me, rejoicing that I opened my heart to see what is always true. Jesus is always there. Always. Period. The amazing Holy Spirit. Also always there. Need a Father? We’ve got one of those as well! Why, when I need to feel stable, do I imagine someone fake?

And to be clear, I’m not knocking…

  1. Imagining things. I am a writer and an actress. It’s my job to imagine things, but there is a purpose and a time for it. I don’t ever want my imaginings to come before the reality of Jesus.
  2. Being comforted by your husband. Obviously, we’re supposed to be comforted by other people. That’s part of why He gives us relationships. But again, they have their place after Jesus. I know in my heart I have definitely put people, even imaginary people, before Him.

Ok, back to business.

I don’t want to depend on other people more than I depend on Jesus, and I’m just asking myself why I do. Why do I really think that my mom can help me more than Jesus can? Why would I rather have an imaginary man’s arms supporting me when I already have the best husband EVER, period?

So when I imagined Jesus walking into the room, I felt it. I felt it this time. Now I don’t every time, but that’s not going to stop me from turning my heart and my mind towards His face. Because He is worth it. Because I know that His truth and His word that He is always with me is stronger than anything I don’t feel. I don’t want to miss the opportunity to sense His presence just because last time I felt like nothing happened.

Which really, you don’t know that nothing happened. I believe that every time we turn our gaze towards Jesus, something shifts in us and in the spirit realm. Just because we don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. That’s what faith is.

I don’t know your life story, and I can’t completely feel what you have felt. I can only offer you my experiences and promise you that if He can do it for me, He can do it for you. No, you may not always feel Him, but that doesn’t mean His love isn’t still lifting up your head. It doesn’t mean that the pain will last. It doesn’t mean that whatever crappy circumstances you find yourself in are not going to change.

It simply provides more opportunity for breakthrough. It means miracles are waiting to happen. It means that His love gets to be proven in your life.

Before my future husband, before my mom, I want Jesus to be my rock. Even His name is so precious to me. When I whisper it over and over, I can’t stop the tears that fall from my eyes. Jesus is beautiful! And to know what that statement really means is breathtaking.

I don’t know how everything will work out. I don’t know, but I know Jesus. I know His Spirit, and I know He changes things. He changes things a lot. For my good. For my mom’s good. For your good.

Jesus, thank you for everything You are. I love you, I love you, I love you. My Husband, my Provider, my Rock.

Guess what? I’m not crying anymore.

Broken to Chosen

Standard

“Cause those who were broken are becoming the chosen. So lift up your eyes, cause we’re not forgotten, and hope will lead us on.” –BarlowGirl’s “Hope Will Lead Us On”

Yeah, yeah, I know. I didn’t use a Bible verse this week, but BarlowGirl’s lyrics here fit so perfectly what I feel right now that I’m sure God doesn’t mind. He is the one, after all, who so divinely gifted them with the ability to write incredible lyrics. BarlowGirl, while sadly not together as a group anymore, are some of the greatest lyricists of all time. I would go so far as to say that if God were to add to the Bible today, He would use their songs as a new Psalms. I’m just saying.

I use these lyrics because I’m feeling kind of broken right now. Granted, it is partially because of this hacking cough I’ve had the last three to four weeks now. I finally succumbed and went to the doctor on Saturday, who diagnosed me with bronchitis. Yippee! I’ve mastered the art of sleeping sitting up since lying down causes great distress to my chest and sinuses, and this cough has officially wearied me, body and mind. On the plus side, I’ve gotten a great ab workout from all the coughing I’ve been doing. So there is that.

But I think I’ve also felt kind of broken lately because, well, because I’ve been broken. During the last two years, I have focused intently, almost to a fault, on inner healing. In other words, healing my heart and my mind from all of the semi-terrible things I’ve been through or done in my life. God has even taught me about generational curses and breaking them off.

I’ve come to this place where God has worked through basically every major issue in my heart and throughout my life. Not that I’m perfect, but I’ve received much needed healing and restoration to my heart. And yet, I’ve been so sad. I literally have no reason to be sad. I have thought this through I’m getting to do what I love, I’m (generally) in good health, I have a wonderful family, friends, and the Lord has given me so many promises for my future and even my present. I am ten times better than I was two years ago at this time. Yet, I’ve had to fight this sadness.

Besides being an obvious spiritual attack (satan loves to bring us down), I believe this ridiculous sadness comes from shame and fear, shame and fear that apparently I haven’t let go of yet. Over two years ago, I started dating this guy who I clearly was not supposed to be dating. Well at least it was clear to some people, who told me after we broke up. However, I just followed my already broken heart, looking for love and affection and wholeness that I hadn’t seemed to get anywhere else. As I’m sure you can guess, it was not a healthy relationship.

(And to be clear, I’m not trying to drag him down in any way. We both made bad decisions. We both had issues. This is just my story.)

Before that time, I considered myself a pretty good person. I had never, in my mind at least, done anything terribly wrong. Obviously, I was a sinner and needed Jesus, but I prided myself in the fact that I had never had a boyfriend or kissed anyone. I got my True Love Waits ring on my sixteenth birthday and worn it proudly, proclaiming that I was pure.

When I got into a relationship with this guy, I felt trapped. Trapped by the urgings of my own brokenness and conflicted by my true heart’s desires. And when (man, this is even hard to just write…) we went a little too far physically, I felt like I died. I felt like I lost something I could never get back. But I didn’t know how to stop because in some cruel way, I thought it fulfilled me. Of course, if it really fulfilled me, I wouldn’t have been launched into such a depression, that, I’m assuming, eventually had something to do with our break up. I lost sight of my dreams, I lost sight of myself, and I lost sight of the redemptive love of Jesus Christ.

So now, over two years after our break up, I’ve still been fighting that sadness that hit me then, fighting these feelings…lies that I’ve crossed some unseen border, and I can never return to where I was or who I was before.

But here’s what Jesus showed me. Before that guy, I relied on my own self-righteousness. I categorized myself in such a way that, when I fell so hard, I no longer fit in that category, and I truly forgot who I was. I’m all for complete abstinence before marriage, believe me, but my problem with True Love Waits is that I believed I was pure because I was “waiting.” So when I didn’t completely wait, I felt like I lost everything. I didn’t get True Love anymore.

Guys, we are not pure because of anything we have or haven’t done. We are not righteous because of anything we have or haven’t done. Just by being human, we are filth. We are broken. We are unworthy. But Jesus! But Jesus makes us pure. Jesus makes us whole. Jesus wraps me in His righteousness.

I don’t want to be sad anymore. It’s so stupid. That trap that I was in, for however many months, is gone. Jesus has healed it, broken the chains, set me free, and satan is a liar!!!! I don’t want to give into his crap anymore.

I know this is a message that we’ve likely all heard before, but it’s still my message. And it’s one I will continue to tell. Because the worst thing I’ve ever done has led me to know Jesus and His love in ways I’d never known.

I had been so broken. Broken from father issues, broken from friend abandonment, broken from loneliness and insecurity, and broken in college. But Jesus looked down at me during my brokenness and smiled, unable to keep His love off His face. He pointed to me while I was still curled up on the ground in my rags, and He said, “Look at her. She’s beautiful. I choose her. I choose her to stand and be my light, pure and radiant. Because, I love her.” And with bleeding hands, He lifted me up, the dirt already falling away simply from His holy presence, and He set me on a high place. Right on His heart.

Out of my brokenness, He chose me. And He chooses you too.

That’s why we have hope.

Eyes Up Please

Standard

“If therefore you were raised together with the Messiah, you are seeking the higher things, where the Messiah is seated at the right hand of God: you must continually have in mind the higher things, not the things upon the earth.” Colossians 3:1-2 One New Man Bible

To be honest, I have given very little thought to this week’s blog. But maybe that’s for the best because now God can come in and speak without any of my preconceived notions.

My level of care has not decreased for this blog. This past weekend I just simply focused my attention on my other passion, acting. I attended my last LAUNCH training weekend with AMTC before the SHINE Convention at the end of December. Let’s just say it was incredible.

So this morning, I woke up all inspired and excited for my future (also sick and semi-grumpy about being sick, but let’s not talk about that). I sat down to read Luke, which I started after I finished Mark. So this blog focuses on the passage I read this morning. Maybe not life-changing, but, I certainly think, interesting.

Luke 2:41-52 talks about Jesus’ pre-teen years, a mostly unknown time of Jesus’ life. He and His family came to the temple for a feast, and when it was over, his parents headed back home with the rest of the caravan. Jesus, being the spiritually driven child that I’m sure He was, stayed behind in the temple. His parents finally found Him in the temple, amazing all who heard His questions, answers, and understanding.

Mary, the concerned, scolding mother said, “‘Child, why did You do this to us? Look, Your father and I were suffering while we were searching for you’” (Luke 2:48 One New Man Bible).

At this point, I always, even when I was younger, thought Mary was right. I mean, Jesus should have told them He was staying in the temple. He should have let His parents know what He was doing. He should apologize for at least making them worry. That’s what I always thought.

But that’s never what happened. Jesus instead practically scolds them back, saying, “‘Why were you seeking Me? Had you not known that it was necessary for Me to be among these of my Father?’” (Luke 2:49)

Like Mary and Joseph, I “did not understand the answer that He spoke to them” (Luke 2:50). To me, He seemed so disrespectful and irresponsible. So today I asked Jesus about it. Basically I said, “Jesus, what the heck? Why did you do that? Why didn’t you tell your parents?”

His response to me had to do with having a kingdom mindset. Thinking about the bigger picture. If they had followed their spiritual mind, they would have known that, of course Jesus is in the temple, preparing for His ministry. Instead, they were focusing on their daily activities and what was supposed to happen next, but there was a bigger picture going on that Mary and Joseph weren’t paying attention to. They kind of missed the point.

Another good example in the Bible of being earthly minded or kingdom minded comes from Mark 12. The Pharisees and Hellenists attempted to trick Jesus in His teaching, so obviously that’s already earthly minded.

They asked Jesus a very earthly-minded question. “Is it permitted to pay a tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” (Mark 12:14b). It was such a black and white question. Either this or that. But Jesus calls them out on their testing him right away.

“Why do you test Me?…Whose likeness and inscription is this?…You must give back to Caesar what things are Caesar’s, and to God what are God’s” (Mark 12:15-17).

Jesus never got caught up in tricky questions because He had heavenly wisdom, and kingdom mind. So often we ask God questions, thinking He has to answer with A or B, when really the answer is C. Or the answer is something we can’t even comprehend.

Thinking with an earthly mind limits God, who He is and what He can do. Being kingdom minded expands our understanding and knowledge and brings peace and trust in the areas we can’t comprehend

In the past couple months, the Lord has consistently brought to me this idea of being earthly minded as opposed to heavenly minded. I so focus on the here and now, what I can see and what I’m feeling. I look at the circumstances and apply my own minuscule knowledge and understanding to what’s going on in my life. No wonder I get so frustrated sometimes.

Impatience, frustration, anger, revenge. All of these things could be lessened if we looked at the world through heavenly eyes. God is so much bigger than what I can process. He knows better what is truly going on because He sees the spiritual realm as well as the physical realm. He sees how He’s going to take things and turn them out for my good (Romans 8:28).

I think that some of the really hard questions we like to ask can sometimes be answered by having a kingdom mindset. Like the question “why.” That’s one I’ve really been trying to understand and come to a peace about in the last month or so. I haven’t arrived there yet, but I think part of it is because my mind is not yet kingdom minded. I’m too focused on the losses and pain of this earth, and I’m probably missing the point somewhere.

So I will continue forward probably write another blog about this, once I come to a better understanding. But I know I want a kingdom mindset. I’m so over getting stuck on the tiny details of this world. I don’t want to be trapped in the pain of rejection or the impatience of being stuck in traffic. I don’t want to get frustrated when someone doesn’t act the way I think they should act or hold onto regrets.

I want to see the bigger picture. I want to rest in power and in peace with my mind set on things above. And I’m asking God to continually help me get there.

By the way, I did ask Jesus why He didn’t at least apologize for making His parents worry about Him. He said, “I didn’t make them worry. They chose to. They chose to not trust my Father.”

That certainly left me with something to think about.

Betrothed to All of Me

Standard

“I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.” Hosea 2:19-20 NIV

While this verse contextually refers to the Lord speaking to His people in the Old Testament, every time I read it, Jesus whispers these words across my heart, like our own personal wedding vow.

Whenever you get married, I think you’re supposed to give all of yourself to your spouse – mind, body, and soul. Not that I have any personal experience yet but based on what I’ve heard. When it’s the type of relationship the Lord intended for marriage, the two really should become one. One heart, one ministry, one purpose, one mindset.

But right now, I’m more concerned about our marriage to Jesus, our perfect bridegroom. We can experience a oneness with Him that can never be replicated, even in our earthly marriages, though he graciously blesses us with earthly marriages to portray and demonstrate His love and our relationship with Him.

In an earthly marriage, if one person withholds…well, anything really, the marriage becomes unbalanced. Withhold honor, respect, compassion, service, whatever, and the relationship is no longer what it is meant to be.

Of course the same is true of our relationship with our heavenly bridegroom, but Jesus will never withhold from us. His love is perfect (1 John 4:18) and lacks nothing, so it must be us. What do we withhold from Christ? And why, when he so readily and willingly wants to give us the desires of our hearts (Psalm 37:4)?

The other day my mom and I watched a Kim Clement broadcast. He spoke of Hannah, who was barren in 1 Samuel 1. Her husband gave her a double portion of meat to sacrifice to the Lord. When she received a promise of a son and then received that promised son, she dedicated his entire life to the Lord. Then the next chapter states that, “The Lord was gracious to Hannah; she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:21, NIV).

Hannah completely offered back to the Lord what she had received out of her barrenness, and then the barrenness broke, and she received even more children.

So my mom and I paused the video and felt in our hearts that we needed to ask the Lord what He wanted each of us to offer Him. If it was money, we would give money; time, we would give time. Whatever it was, we would give.

We closed our eyes and tuned our hearts into the still, small voice of the Lord. Then we proceeded to, separately, have the exact same conversation with God.

“Lord, what do you want me to offer you?”

“I want your heart.”

“What? Lord, you know you have that. You know I love you. I’ve already given you that.”

“No. I want all of your heart.”

We were astonished to find that He had asked both of us for our hearts, telling each of us that we were withholding part of it from Him. I had been holding onto my future and my dreams, afraid of disappointment, afraid that if I released them into His hands my life wouldn’t turn out the way I wanted. I was just afraid.

We listened to some more worship and prayer time, and then before the broadcast ended completely, we asked God again what He wanted from us. You know, just to be sure. Because the identical conversations apparently weren’t enough.

To my mother He said, “I want all of you.”

To me He said, “I want you to be all for Me. Be ALL for me.” And yes, He did emphasize it that way.

We’re coming into a time where it’s not enough to go through the motions. As the world enters into a more dire state, we are to enter a state of more. More presence. More peace. More of the Father’s love. More of the power of the Holy Spirit. More of the face of Jesus. But we don’t get to that point until we are all for Him.

It’s not enough to simply go to church. It’s not enough to spit out the routine prayers that we know by heart and don’t even think about the words anymore. It’s not enough to say we’re Christians but live a life that looks no different from the rest of the world. It’s not good for you, and it’s not good for the people He wants to reach through you.

But it’s not just about your actions either. It’s the heart behind it. From the outside, I looked as though my dreams rested safely in the palms of His hands instead of curling tightly into the crevices of my own heart where I was unwilling to let them go. I did all the right things in following God’s directions with my writing and acting, but my heart had still not released them into the Lord’s hands.

It’s in your heart where it matters because your actions can only deceive for so long before your heart truly comes forth. In this day, Jesus needs people whose hearts purely motivate their actions.

That’s why Jesus wants all of my heart. That’s why He wants all of your heart. When you accept Him as your Savior, you only take the first step. Obviously a very important step but still just the first step. He wants and needs all of your heart to fully use you in this world and this time the way He desperately desires to use you.

Because if Christ truly reigns as Savior of your soul, then some part of your heart should burn to shine for Him, and the rest of your heart needs to follow.

It’s not enough to live part-time religion, part-time compromise. What He wants, what He burns for, what He LOVES is all of your heart that He might give you His in return. In faithfulness, in righteousness, in love and compassion.