Monday, June 27, 2016

Precious Promises

Psalm 119:50
“This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life.”
2 Peter 1:3-4
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us His precious and very great promises so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”

Precious promises. Precious promises that give me life, joy, peace, and hope. All of the comforts that this world can never offer me, are found in the arms of my Jesus. They aren’t hidden from my sight, no. They are right in my view, right in my grasp. So why do I go looking for anything but Him? Why do I search, and search, and search, hoping to find fulfillment and hope someplace else? Why can’t He just be enough for me? I don’t know. I don’t know, and I don’t really have an answer. Instead of claiming these precious promises, I hold fast to the lies of the enemy, which as of late have been endless. He tells me that I am ugly, fat, not good enough for anyone to love, that I am too far gone, that I am running in vain, that my future is hopeless, and I am not called by God, that God doesn’t care about my cries, and that I am just one, big failure. These are just a few of the things Satan whispers in my ear, and for whatever reason, I give him the time of day and entertain every single lie. Lies that offer me no hope, love, joy, peace—no life, only death. But His promises, they give me life, and life more abundantly. Abba, you bore me in your thoughts, and breathed life into the dust to create me. You say that I am fearfully and wonderfully made; that I am your workmanship, created to do good works which you have prepared beforehand. You say that all have fallen short of your glory, but that your love covers over a multitude of sins. Jesus, you have good, good plans for me, and if I am willing and obedient, you will lead my feet to a land of abundance, the land of the living. Jesus, bring these words to my memory when I am feeling so low. Let me not forget that your ways and thoughts are higher than my own. I have access to infinite and divine promises of hope. In my affliction, in the valley, on the mountaintop, and in the field of flowers, your promises, the love of your heart, is the only thing that keeps me alive. Only you, Abba. Only you give me life, and purpose. May I stop giving the enemy the time of day, and instead reflect on that which is lovely, and true, and honorable, and pure. Thank you for granting unto me, all things that pertain to life and godliness. I love you, Jesus. 

Application: These next three months I have in Kenya, I will write down all of the promises that God grants unto me, while I am doing my morning devotions. Now I will have something tangible to look at, when the lies seem overwhelming. 

Jesus Knows

Psalm 34:17-18
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

It has always been my life goal to not end up brokenhearted, whether that be by a guy, friend, family member, pastor, or any person really. It’s a pretty reasonable goal to have—I don’t want to be hurt, and no one with a soul wants to be hurt. It is the reason why we put up walls, lie about how we are truly feeling, and have such a hard time trusting one another. We as humans know what we are capable of. We know the damage that we can inflict upon one another, and it scares us. Unfortunately, this ‘barely alive’ feeling that David is talking about, is inevitable. I am truly blessed to say that I haven’t felt this way many times in my life. I have faced hardships for sure, but I think my life has been filled with greater joys, rather than pain. However, I do know this crushed feeling. I remember when my dad lost his job. A lot of people knew about it, my friends definitely knew about it, but no one really knew all that was going on in my heart. It didn’t matter how many people surrounded me, I always felt alone. By God’s provision, I was able to continue dancing as many days a week that I wanted to. It was in those moments, when my dance teacher would turn off all of the lights and just let us dance, that I stopped wrestling and started to let the Lord hold me. By the end of the night, I would usually end up in a ball of tears, but I felt held, I felt heard, and I felt loved. As inevitable as these heart breaking moments are, they are not a cause for lost hope. No, there is always hope, and my hope just so happened to come in the form of a baby, born in an evil, soul piercing world that He did not deserve to live in. Jesus, God in the flesh, came into this world because He wanted to save me, and not just save me, but know me—my pains, my joys, my bone crushing moments. But His bones were actually crushed, and His heart actually broke, because we all betrayed Him, forsake Him, and crucified Him. You see, we tend to feel alone on a daily basis, but we will never know true loneliness like Jesus did. God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that is a promise I claim with an iron fist, but Jesus didn’t have that promise, He was forsaken by His own Father, if for but a moment. I will never know that kind of pain and separation, but I know that He will always know and feel the same hurt I experience every single day. My brother, Jonah, reminded me of this in a letter He wrote to me about a month into Kenya. This is what he told me: “Psalm 34:17-18 talks about how the Lord is near to the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed. David uses the word ‘contrite’ here, which speaks about being pulverized and ground into dust—it is an adjective describing complete destruction—and it is a feeling that all of us have suffered within one way or another. But what’s rad about this verse, is that there is another place in the old testament that uses this word for crushed—and it’s found in Isaiah. Isaiah writes about one who was “bruised for our transgressions, and crushed for our iniquities…” This is the same crushed used in Psalm 34. Jesus knows your pain, and he understands the trials you are going through; so know this, when everything has gone awry, and you’re laying face first in the mud, don’t be afraid. He, Jesus, the Lord, your comforter, understands what you’re going though, and He is right there beside you. So don't give up sister, hope in Him.” My cry reaches beyond the temple, even into His ears (Psalm 18:8), and “He will surely be gracious to me at the sound of my cry. As soon as He hears it, He answers me” (Isaiah 30:19). My God is not far off; He will never abandon me to the dust. His ears are attentive to my voice, and He desires to be near to me, carrying these dry bones if need be. He will never stop saving me. I am not alone. 

Application: I will text my brother, and thank him for the letter he sent me, and for encouraging me to hope in God.

The Coming Step

Isaiah 26:3-4
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever; for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” 

Perfect peace. Wow. Perfect peace sounds like a dream, some type of fiction that I can never make come true. It’s true, honestly, I can not make perfect peace come true in my life. As a child, I raged and peace was far from my grasp. I wanted to kill myself, I wanted to die, and my thoughts were endless. Most of my life, I have battled some form of insomnia. I would sit in bed from 9 o’clock at night until 3 o’clock in the morning; my mind would not stop running. Though I am not filled with anger anymore, nor do I battle restless nights consistently, my thoughts still plague me constantly. There are days that my brain won’t shut down, and I feel helpless to the attacks of the enemy. I had a week like this a couple of weeks ago. Two of my close friends graduated, my brother is graduating college today, and my mentor got married. I couldn’t stop thinking about all that I was missing out on back home. Then of course I started thinking about my future, and the pending question of, “what in the world am I going to do when I go back to California?” People say that the future is bright, but mine is looking pretty bleak. So what do I do? How do I find peace in a world that is full of such chaos and mess? How do I find joy in a world that is full of so much pain and depression? I go. I go to the arms of my father.
The one word that God gave me for the year is come. I must come to the Lord, because God knows I can’t handle this life on my own. I was reading about the woman at the well in John 4 a few weeks ago, and I noticed something that this woman did that I am so lacking. She came to Jesus, sat and listened, and then her eyes were opened, and her soul was fulfilled. I have the answer to perfect peace, and yet it is that coming step that is just so hard. Why? Because I have blinded myself. I have become so self absorbed and consumed with my own problems, fears, insecurities, and doubts, that all I can see is me. It’s as if I am walking down a path with both of my hands covering my eyes, and Jesus is standing there with His arms stretched towards me, just waiting for me to put my hands down and find him staring right into my eyes. I have to look to Jesus, there is nothing that he has not done for me. I can’t play the ‘what if’ game in my head, and trying to figure out the plans God has for me in the future, makes me inefficient for the ministry He has for me today. So this perfect peace that seems so out of reach, is really right in my grasp, if only I would just open up my eyes. Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.” God, you are a refuge for me. All you want me to do is come and sit with you, and listen to the promises you have for me. Father, help me to take that coming step, and drink deep from the fountain of living water—your words, which are life to my soul. “I can run straight into your arms, unafraid, because every time I need you, I’m met by love.” (Met by Love-United Pursuit) 

Application: I am going to write out this verse and hang it up in my closet, so that every morning when I wake up, and every night before I go to bed, I am reminded that peace truly is not far off. Though I may never have consistent peace, I have a faithful God, and if I remind myself of who He is, and what He has offered unto me, how can I not find relief in Him. 

Monday, June 6, 2016


Psalm 51:8
“Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.”

A year ago, this verse probably wouldn’t have meant anything to me. It would have been just another pretty sounding verse, but I wouldn’t have understood the meaning of it like I do now. Why? Because brokenness really wasn’t a part of my vocabulary. I was the girl who had to be strong. I didn’t have time to be broken and vulnerable before the Lord. I had to look after my brothers, and my friends, the kids at my school, my dance team, and the youth group kids. I had to be strong, always. It’s not like anyone really put this pressure on me, but over time, I think I put the pressure on myself. I wanted to feel like I could protect, care, help, even ‘fix’ somebody. I wanted to feel strong and important. The truth is, I was not strong, I was weak. I did not have it all together like I tried so hard to make it seem. I was broken and hurting, but I suppressed those feelings so I could take care of someone else. My problems, my fears and insecurities, didn’t matter, and I really didn’t feel like I was worth anyone’s time. I became so caught up bearing the weight of everyone else’s burdens, that I neglected my own pain, and I didn’t bother coming to the Lord. It was just me against the world. Looking back at who I was a year ago, even six months ago, makes me laugh. I really thought I could make it through this year unbroken, doing everything on my own. I genuinely believed I was strong enough to walk through this life, but God knew I wasn’t, and if I have found anything in Ignite it’s this: brokenness. 
My friend gave me this verse a few weeks before I left for Ignite. Hosea 6:1-3. “Come, let us return to the Lord. For he has torn us that he might heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up that we might live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Slowly but surely, God used the power of this verse, to show me what a wretched sinner I am. The mask began to fall off, and I saw myself for everything that I was not, and in return, I saw God for everything that he was, is, and forever will be. He broke me in the most beautiful of ways. He revealed to me my never-ending cycle of self-sufficiency and the independence I so desperately try to have apart from the Lord. It’s pride that told me I was strong enough, good enough, even that I wasn’t important enough to come to the Lord in honesty and openness. And for the first time in my life, I longed to be broken by the Lord. I longed for him to carve away pieces of me, and fill me with the fulness of him. I longed for Jesus to tear me apart, rip my heart open, and shine his light in my dark, messed up heart. I needed my eyes to be opened to who I really was—broken, prideful, self absorbed, and battered by the world. But now, my broken bones rejoice. They rejoice because the Creator of the Universe, the Maker of my inmost being, my Friend, my Father, my Redeemer, is mending me back together. He is trading my sorrow for joy, my ashes for beauty, and breaking me apart to build me up to be the woman he designed me to be. Now, being broken isn’t about being weak, it’s about being willing. Being willing to be exposed; being willing to listen to God’s voice; being willing to come to Him; being willing to change and be renewed day by day. A.W. Tozer says this, “It is doubtful that God can use a man greatly, until he hurts him deeply.” We have to know who we are not, so that we can remember who God is—faithful, loving, gentle, holy. He died for me, and I think it’s time that I let pieces of myself die for Him too. 

Application: There were a few people in my life who saw right through me, and poured out their hearts, and so much of their time, mentoring me and loving on me. I want to write to each of those people and thank them for how they have pointed me to Jesus, and helped to heal parts of my heart.