It’s been exactly a month since I came back to this little space of the internet. I hope in the time I’ve been gone, you have found these words and they have created a bit of a home for you. I hope I’ve been a good steward with the gifts God has given me, namely writing. I feel like He has never been more present or made Himself more known than He has in this last month. I have never hungered or thirsted for Him as intensely as I do now. It’s incredible. It is a blessing to even be able to sit here on the other side of the screen from you and type those words. He is near, and He is good. Those are two things I have not questioned.
I have learned a hell of a lot about fear and faithfulness in the last few weeks. When we start to get quiet and listen, we get to see the places where people hide.
“We create a worldview out of fear. That’s the thing His perfect love is pushing out of the room.“
And over the course of the last couple weeks, I have gotten quiet before God and found out where I hide. i hide in the fear. I cover myself in newspaper articles about awful tragedies in the world and my own self-inflicted pain and self-deception and incredibly small boxes I force myself to live inside of and I just go ahead and box God up while we’re at it because I’m afraid of what I’ve done and I’m afraid to live and that fear makes the world small. I hide in earthly comforts and label it bravery. I cover it in daydream after daydream of expectations and false realities that only disappoint me. I follow the smoke that leads to the fire, and I find my burning desire to be known and understood and will not accept that that desire can only be quenched by the One who instilled it in me in the first place. I fear being completely known and overlooked. I pride myself on vulnerability and still keep the darkest parts for me, which only causes them to darken.
I have a deep-seeded fear of death and life. It reminds me of something I was told a couple weeks ago: fear makes its home and takes up the room if we give it free reign. I’m afraid of losing the people that are still around me. It’s crushing. It’s debilitating. I want to know the sweetness of the freedom we have in Jesus. I’ve caught glimpses, but I haven’t even come close to allowing myself to be fully immersed in it. I forgot about the courage. I had forgotten what it felt like to live hand-in-hand with Jesus Christ. I want control over the freedom process. I want control over the process. I haven’t allowed myself to be completely undone. Because that’s messy and painful and like peeling all of the layers of dragon scales off to get back to the boy. It’s painful. It’s fearful. It’s excruciating. But I want the courage back. I want to lose control. I want the undone part.
I have begged and pleaded with God. Take me back to the place where my heart was only about You. And He has been faithful in doing that. I have looked into the Lord and known the Maker of my soul, the One who has knit my heart to His liking and loved me beyond my understanding. He knows my darkness. And that’s a gift. I was able to sit across coffee with someone and thank them for loving the darkest parts of me. I walked around campus for 3 hours one night and pleaded with God and asked Him to heal my brokenness and my heart, and I was reminded of how desperate I am for Him. That is a blessing. That is God.
I have a desire for God that I have never known before.
I have been inspired beyond words in the last couple weeks. There have been articles and songs and books that have blown my mind, so I’m going to share them with you.
First, here are some songs that set my heart on fire and make me want to scream the lyrics at the top of my lungs with the car going 80 mph with the windows down, and hopefully they’ll make you feel those feels too.
When I first came into college, I wanted to go into ministry. Hands down. Without a doubt. I wanted to be a trailblazer in women’s ministry. But over the past two years, I have gotten to know God in deeper ways and see the way He has knit my heart together. For my first year of college, I wrestled with this idea of women in leadership positions within the church and running ministries and quickly realized this was something I wanted. Then I transitioned into wanting to work in public relations or marketing in the “business world,” thinking these were the “big girl jobs” (and thinking ministry was not, pushing it to the back burner).
I recently read a post by Sarah Bessey about embracing your calling. She would start all of her talks by saying, “Fair warning: I’m not a preacher; I’m a writer,” until one day, someone said, “You’ve got to stop saying that. The gift of God is clear. We all see that.” And I think we all have those tendencies to belittle our calling for fear of being too much. In relation to that, there’s a book that has sort of exploded in the Christian Women Book realm (if that’s a thing) that a few of the girls in our office have been reading called Wild and Free. Jess Connolly and Hayley Morgan talk about these fears we have and how they prohibit us from living fully free and fully wild in what God is calling us into. If I could type the entire book on here or let every piece of fiery Truth go into your mind just from clicking on this post, I would do it. This book is incredible. In talking about the fear of being too much and not enough, one of the women says, “This is no fairy tale where you’re relegated to wait inside an ivory tower until the men let you out or Jesus comes back. If you find yourself bruised and battered because you’ve been fighting for your place, or if you need some revival because you’ve been sitting sweetly for too long on folded hands–the time is now.”
That is the sort of statement of Truth that will rekindle the fire in your heart for whatever God has designed you to be passionate about. I have been super aware of the passions that God has instilled in me because whenever I leave a brainstorming session or a conversation about ministry or hearing someone’s story about coming to Christ, I feel on fire. I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I know exactly what God has knit my heart together for. And I hope you have those moments too, where you stuck standing still because you are just awestruck and know in those moments that this is exactly the thing that God is calling you to be a part of. This is part of what being a Kingdom-bringer looks like. This is where we find the movers and the shakers. This is where our faith steps in and we learn that we are all designed for specific things in God’s Kingdom. This is living.
I get really caught up in trying to qualify how I feel, as if that will somehow justify my actions or the emotions I feel, but God calls us into a relationship with Him despite how we feel. Like how I don’t just love my best friend because of the way I feel toward her, but that love is actually a choice I have to make every single day to care for myself and the people around me. If we only loved people when we felt like it, our relationships would be even messier than they already are. And this is what being loved by God looks like. We are chosen and invited and offered a seat at the table with the Most High God. Let that sink in. Your brokenness is exactly what qualifies you for a relationship with God. This intimacy we are offered is a gift, and that is a gift worth receiving and cherishing. And He is inviting you now. You don’t have to fight for your place at the table or sit nicely at it. You come as you are, take a seat, and let the Holy Spirit work in your life and use you in ways you never thought were possible.
I’ve also never been one to deeply study the Bible. I feel weird even writing that out, but I guess that’s the only way to word it. I had never felt a hunger or thirst for God’s Word in my everyday life, let alone in my desperate times. I never would have been someone to pick up a few hundred pages of commentary on a book of the Bible, but here we are, and I’m halfway through Part One of N.T. Wright’s commentary on Acts. AND It. Is. Incredible. I’ve never read through Acts or really ever pulled Scripture from it that I refer back to in my daily life, but it is literally a depiction of how the church was formed and what it ought to look like. I find myself looking forward to reading this history and being completely enamored with the person of Jesus and how we are called to be the church. I mean, I’m only through the first few chapters, and this stuff will blow your mind. This has given me time to sit and meditate on the bigness of God and what it really means when He calls us to live in community. When the writer lays out the “landmarks” of the church at the end of chapter 2, which were: sharing in the apostles’ teachings, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer, we get this beautiful image of the church. These 4 things, aside from embodying the person of Jesus, this is how we are called to live in community. This is where we get to see this agápē love come into play, when things stop being “mine” and they start being “ours” and we remember the importance of our brothers and sisters in Christ. This goes back to learning that love isn’t a word you just say out of habit or even feel, but this agápē love was created to depict this image of family where we care practically for one another and we work to make that more and more of a reality, not that we have warm feelings that need to get warmer. We were created to live in this community, and when we forget what that is supposed to look like, we risk becoming isolated and see the difficulty of sustaining a living faith (to take a few words from N.T. Wright) without the fellowship of believers.
A couple weekends ago at House Church, all cozied up on the couch with my 2nd cup of iced coffee, I learned about costly mercy. This phrase never crossed my mind. As Christians in western culture, we have been raised up to learn about Christianity and trying to love like Christ loved, but we do it at our own convenience (most of the time, I’m not saying this is true for every person reading this, but it’s true for me and if you’re feeling a little pang of conviction right now, it’s probably true for you too). We don’t go out of our way to extend kindness and mercy in ways that may seem uncomfortable to us because, though subconsciously, we love our comfort. I would say I put a lot of value in comfort, no matter how much I would try to deny this. To a certain degree, I highly value my comfort and security. But Jesus doesn’t affirm me every second of every day that I’m secure in that, that earthly comfort. I have to draw near to Him. He won’t reassure me that I will have a cushioned life. That is not what He calls us into. He calls us to love like Him, which is wild and freeing and way beyond our comfort zone. And THAT very place, the place where I form an intimate relationship with the One who has freed my soul, the place where I learn how to love wildly, and the place where I find that my security is in the freedom Christ has already given me, that’s where my comfort is.
I’ve never felt such a strong need to cling to my Creator. It’s not a beautiful word, but it’s a sturdy word. Cling, in every meaning of the word. To hold on tightly to. To adhere or stick firmly or closely to. To be hard to part or remove from. To remain very close to. To be overly dependent on someone emotionally. To remain persistently or stubbornly faithful to something. This is what we were created for. Holy Spirit, come and have Your way. Knit my heart to Yours. Make me more like You.