A Trust Without Borders

Without Borders

It was a warm spring day and I could feel Winter melting away with every gust of wind that made my hair wave wild as I traveled home from a long day at work with the windows down. To my right was the big blue reflective Lake Tahoe that appeared to go on forever. In that moment, I was knee deep in a long conversation (argument) with God.

The year I lived in Tahoe had been one of the worst years of my life. I had moved a thousand miles away from anyone that cared about me to attend school.  My then boyfriend was going through a depression. I couldn’t seem to make a single reliable friend. I had a roommate of whom I could not see eye to eye with on almost everything, and I was living in the worst apartment complex in town. On top of that my Dad, who was six years into his battle with cancer had discovered a new form of cancer growing that was already considered stage four, which in case you don’t know, means the doctor basically said- enjoy the last few months of your life because your clock is ticking.

Needless to say I felt a little lost and a lot like God wasn’t paying attention to me or my life. I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world and hating every second of it. As God listened to me patiently rant about how he didn’t care, how he wasn’t paying attention or listening, He threw me a curve ball.

“I have some amazing plans for you, and if you don’t pay attention you’re going to miss it and cause yourself more pain in the long run.” 

It reminded me of my family’s favorite verse that we meditated over the past few years:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord “plans not to harm you, but to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I was so focused on my own life that I hadn’t even taken the time to ask God what His plan was for me because I wasn’t trusting Him!  After lots of prayer I felt God’s push for me to move back to Colorado. I ended up choosing to transfer to the University if Colorado, Denver and I was terrified, but I was surrendered.

I can recall God’s voice whispering in my mind…“Just look at me.” It felt like I was risking everything in order to obey God and His will for my life.

This week we’re studying Joshua. God’s call for me to trust Him reminds me of Joshua’s spies who navigated their way into the walls of Jericho and met Rahab, a prostitute who also trusted the Lord. They risked everything by staying surrendered to the Lord and his plan.

Living surrendered to Christ is not always easy but I promise it is worth it. And just like in my own life, God continues to direct my steps and I can rest in Him, especially in my weaknesses! It means that as believers we are actively seeking first Jesus Christ and resting in his Grace and taking hold of his promises, even when the ocean’s rise and we may feel like we’re drowning in life.

Have you ever felt like you had to take a huge risk when it came to trusting God with your life?

The song Oceans by Hillsong United paints a beautiful picture of what it means to constantly live surrendered and seek and trust the one who has never failed- check it out!

 

 

 

 

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Jump anyway

There I was, sopping wet and shivering, standing 15 feet suspended in the air looking down at a blue expanse that seemingly spelled my doom. Clutching the sides of the death trap I tried to steady my breathing and not curl up into fetal position.

What was it about this water in front of me that called me to jump, and what was this other terrifying sensation that insisted that I do nothing of the sort?

Exhilaration followed by paralyzing fear and then followed by a decision I had to make. Jump and discover the unknown, or climb back down to the safety of solid ground and certainty.

I hate to admit it but I have made the decision to climb back down those steps more times than I can count. Each time carrying a burden of shame and regret back down with me.

But man, I remember when I finally took that leap. Air flew through my air, the world raced past me as an  exhilarating sound escaped my lungs, and then the splash!  Ice cold water enveloped me for a second like a great big hug and then I rose up out of the water, feeling free and finding myself rushing back to the stairs to experience it all again.

 

Freedom. Exhilaration. Awe. Bewilderment.

It was all waiting for me at the end of the jump and I absolutely loved it.

That summer I spent hundreds of hours racing back up that rickety ladder to experience the joy of the jump over and over again. Summer faded into autumn, and the seasons took their course, taking the memories of those feelings with them.

The next summer I climbed up the ladder again, I saw the water welcoming me back, and I dove with a giant grin on my face, just to have the surface greet me with the loudest sound and the most painful belly flop that pool had ever seen. This did not feel like freedom, and exhilaration: this felt like betrayal.

And just like that, all of the joy that I had expereienced the previous summer, all of the the fun memories, were wiped away from my memory with one resounding SPLAT!

All I could seem to believe about that water then was that it was unforgiving and cold and frigid. Fear became an unwelcomed guest and the terror at the top of the diving board appeared once more.

 

The times that I’ve experienced the pain of a belly flop when jumping off that platform make the next jump harder if not paralyzing. It’s much easier for me to climb back down the ladder into comfort and certainty instead of experiencing that pain again.

It’s the same with life isn’t it?

It can look like a lot of different things.  A new relationship, a job opportunity, a move, etc.. It starts with excitement and endless possibilites, but sometimes something  happens and I leave the situation feeling hurt, betrayed and a lot of the times angry at God for the outcome. These times or situations feel like full belly flops and they hurt.

This has translated into my life as the fear of failure, fear of the unknown, and anxiety about outcomes I can’t control, forgetting about the amazing things that I have experienced and the times that I have felt abundant joy and God’s prescence in my life.

Has anyone else been there?

John 10:10 Says the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy.  Fear is a thief. Fear will do anything it can to keep me on the sidelines, at the top of the ladder looking down, or paralyzed from making any decisions. It will remind of the pain and all of the things that could go wrong. It wants to keep from doing anything, especially jumping, trusting.

Yesterday I was having coffee with a friend and he reminded me of something.

God is at the end of each jump regardless of the outcome. He celebrates with me in the triumphs and will be there to comfort me in the flops. The water is cool and refreshing and filled with His love and His strength.

To experience this I must jump.

Jumping is scary, especially when all we can remember or feel beforehand is the time we were met with a jarring landing instead of a welcome embrace.

God’s challenge to us is to jump anyway.

Joshua 1:9 ” Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” 

John10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

This week may we jump and experience God’s love in a new and profound way. May we live this life we have been given to the full.

 

…but who am I?

but who am i-

Several years ago, I met my (now) husband while working at a skate shop. We had gone on our first date and things were going well. We had both shared that we were believers- which in this day and age of dating was a huge relief. Especially since I had only lived in Denver for like a month. On our second date, we took laps around the Colorado Mills Mall just talking and talking. After what seemed like our 12th lap around the mall he had spilled some breaking news to me. He had two boys. At the time, I was Twenty-Two years old. I remember smiling really big and saying “that’s really cool! Tell me more about them.”

It wasn’t until I went home and told my roommate about our night that it really hit me. This guy had two kids. Not little little kids either, we’re talking almost elementary aged kids. I remember being filled with a large amount of doubt. How could I have met such a perfect guy, and yet he was so far ahead of me in his life journey. I felt ill-equipped, like a five-year-old wearing arm floaties in the middle of the ocean. In this moment, I could hear God saying to me-

“Don’t you trust me?”

He asks that of me a lot.

I called one of my best girlfriends the next day and verbally vomited over the phone.  I spilled all my thoughts and emotions in real projectile fashion. Bless her, she stayed silent on the other line being a wonderful listener. I expressed the doubt that literally felt like it was consuming me like a wild fire in a dry forest. She let me finish and then said very calmly…  “God doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.” A little cliché but it was just what I needed to hear.

As I was prepping for the teaching this past weekend I read this small passage out of Exodus 3:11-12

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
And God said “I will be with you.”

The answer to Moses’ question is that he was a nobody. He could have NEVER gone to Pharaoh and rescued the Israelites out of Egypt. …But God… was with him.  This passage washed over me like a refreshing wave. As a newly married wife and step-mom sometimes I feel just like Moses asking the same question.

“But who am I to raise this family? To be a mom? To be a wife?” and God’s reply is,

“I am with you.”

In other words, I am no-one. Out of my own strength I can not step into that role and be successful. John 15:5 says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

In our American culture, it’s so easy to take on the I’ll just work harder approach. Let me just say that it doesn’t work. We can’t fix anything, we must rest in the grace of Jesus Christ to do what only he can do. Our strength should come from him, and if we tap into him he will provide this for us eternally.

Maybe you’ve felt just like myself or Moses, questioning God’s decision to let you bat for his team. This emotion can be stirred up from a promotion, a fight with your teen, a new born baby, and yes especially being in kids ministry. Friends, I encourage you to continue to seek Christ and let him sit on the throne of your life, he will do the impossible. But without Jesus, you can do nothing.

The Lego-tastrophe

Proverbs 25:4 “Remove the dross from the silver, and a silversmith can produce a vessel..”

IMG_9160There are days when cleaning can be fun, carefree, and filled with plenty of dancing and sing alongs; the other day, however, the lego table decided it should go otherwise. As I was wiping down the gameroom, my hand ran across something that caused me to pause my Moana soundtrack singalong and stare down in sheer horror.

I’ll spare you the graphic details, but it did involve layers of grime, hair, and fluids mostly associated with allergies and flu-season and kids that don’t know what the purpose of a kleenex is.

What once was a lego paradise gleaming with creativity and bright colors became a land bogged down by months of build up. To clarify, the lego table was completely sanitary and still functional. It gets sprayed down with disinfectant every week, and hazards are removed so that kids can have an awesome time building and creating every weekend. The issue is what lay beneath: things that build up overtime and tend to cause problems when they are not taken care of intermittenly or regulary.

This is not a thesis on how to ensure a clean play area in the elementary room (everyone does an incredible job of creating an excellent, safe, and clean environment for our kids). Instead, it reminded me of what Ben taught on last week, and something that happens in my life all of the time.

Hiding.

Isolation, neglect, and fear of failure (or of what people might think) lead me to shove a lot of things in my life under the proverbial rug. When fear, shame, doubt, insecurity, sin, you-name-it, go undealt with for a long period of time, they can cause all the other areas in my life to lose their shine. I feel myself slowing down and becoming frustrated with all sorts of minor things until it usually blows up in my face, or until I have the courage to step out of hiding and face whatever it is.

Last week Ben said this: “Forgiveness starts when you step into faith. But healing starts when you step out of your hiding place.”

Confession is a spiritual discipline, and one that I am terrible at. What if we as a team reguraly took inventory of our lives, confessed what isn’t working,  prayed for one another, and moved forward in the strenghth that Christ gives us? That is such an amazing picture of wholeness and community.

James 15:16 Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. 

What is one thing in your life that you would love for Jesus to heal? 

What is one step you can take towards healing this week?

Ephesians 3:14 When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, 15 the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. 16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.

Love you all!

See you this weekend!

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