Field of Dreams

I love the way God speaks.  When I intentionally keep my spiritual eyes open, I find He always shows me something significant in the mundane.  This happened to me recently as I went for a drive just to talk to Him and listen, and found myself in a neighborhood I’d never been in before.  Some houses were finished, some were halfway built, and some hadn’t even received a foundation yet.  I even saw a family looking at the home they were about to buy!  It was all so dreamy and thought provoking.  🙂  One thing stood out to me more than anything though, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it for two weeks.

 

While driving around in this neighborhood, I saw a large empty field with a SOLD sign in front.  That’s it.  Just a field…with nothing on it…that was already sold.  Something about this really struck me – so much so that I had to take a quick picture of it.  I asked God to show me how this related to me, and I did a search on the word ‘field’ in the Bible.  This is the verse that popped out to me:

“For you are God’s fellow workers, you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” (1 Corinthians 3:9).

 

You are God’s field.

There was literally nothing on the field, and yet, the field was sold.  Why would it be sold already?  Who bought it?  I can understand the family who was looking to buy the house that was already built, but to buy a field that is completely empty is a big risk.  The only reason why someone would buy a field like that is if they were assured that they could build on it, and that they would like what was built there.  They had to trust the one with the blueprint – actual sight yet unseen.  They had to trust that he or she knew what they were doing and could build them a beautiful home on the field.  Otherwise, I don’t believe they would have bought it.

Application: If I am God’s field, then He is the One who bought and took a risk on me!  He purchased me prior to any visible value, and He, the One who holds the building plan, is pleased with His purchase.  Knowing this, I am not only bought by the Lord, but I have chosen to be sold out to Him as well.  He has seen that I am something worth building, and I have seen that His building plans are good.  Much like that field, there may not be anything of structure or substance there yet, but He has created me with so much potential and possibility, and His plans are in the works.  I trust in Him to build on what He has bought.

 

You are God’s building.

I did some research, and guess what the first step to building a house is?  It’s digging!  Once the land is scoped out to see if it can be built upon, the builders have to dig in order to make enough room for the foundation.  I found out that ALL foundations require at least some excavation of the soil.  There’s actually such a thing as “disturbed” soil, or soil that has been changed from its natural condition by man, and all of it needs to be removed and replaced in order that there will not be any problems with the foundation of the building.

Application: Disturbed soil in this metaphor represents pain that has caused bitterness, hardness of heart, or unforgiveness and has therefore prevented God’s building process in your life from moving forward.  Literally, disturbed soil has limited air and water pockets, few micro- and macro-organisms, and shallow root growth, but figuratively, a disturbed heart leads to complete dryness in our spiritual walk, it sucks the life out of our personality, and it prevents our personal depth in the Lord.  God wants to do so much in and through us, and He has so much He wants to give, but He will not give us anything we cannot handle.  He is not only concerned with what is seen on the outside, but in the ground being tilled on the inside, making sure that there isn’t anything wrong or unstable inside of us.  If He finds anything in the field (or in the depth of our hearts) that isn’t ready, He will hold off on the outer, visible building because a foundation laid in unsettled soil determines the soundness of the building’s entire future.

 

Finally, you are God’s fellow worker.

Application: God is the One who bought and is building me, and I received His righteousness immediately when I was saved, but now that I love Him, I have chosen to work alongside Him.  This means that I, along with Him, am the one who is supposed to do the internal digging in my heart!  Hosea said it perfectly when he told the Israelites to: “Sow for yourselves according to righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God); reap according to mercy and loving-kindness.  Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek the Lord” (Hosea 10:12).

After He bought me, God entrusted me with the responsibility of studying the soil I am planted in – such as my own habits and thought patterns – and with actively making the needed changes in my life that He leads me to make.  This is not to be saved, since I now inherit the promises of God through faith and not works (see Romans 4), but so I can be the most blessed and at peace!  I am called to keep my eyes open to what He, in His mercy, wants me to work on alongside Him in my heart.  If I am God’s field, God’s building, AND God’s fellow worker, then He has determined to give me an active role in my own process of being built by Him, or in other words, my own spiritual growth.  This doesn’t mean taking the building plans for my life into my own hands, but it does mean surrendering to the process in which He has me in (see the dream God gave me in the Surrender the Building Plans blog).  I need to take care that I am removing things like the disturbed soil of bitterness and unforgiveness that do not give me life and replacing them, or building on the Foundation of Jesus Christ, with pure and God-honoring thoughts and actions.  As Paul says in 1 Corinthians:

“Let each [man] be careful how he builds upon it, for no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is [already] laid, which is Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One).  But if anyone builds upon the Foundation, whether it be with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, the work of each [one] will become [plainly, openly] known (shown for what it is); for the day [of Christ] will disclose and declare it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test and critically appraise the character and worth of the work each person has done” (1 Corinthians 3:10-13 AMP).

 

Last but not least, I want to encourage those of you who feel like you’ve been working for a long time, and haven’t seen much progress.  Isaiah 54 has some incredible promises for the building that is your life.  The Lord says:

“Behold, I will set your stones in fair colors [in antimony to enhance their brilliance] and lay your foundations with sapphires.  And I will make your windows and pinnacles of [sparkling] agates or rubies, and your gates of [shining] carbuncles (jewels), and all your walls [of your enclosures] of precious stones” (Isaiah 54:11-12 AMP).

 

If that doesn’t speak to you, then let me bring home how beautiful that verse really is: THE LORD IS THE ONE WHO IS BUILDING YOU!  He only builds with the best materials.  He sees you as worthy of His extravagance, just because He is extravagant, and He is the One who made you.  What you see as an empty field, He sees as an elaborate mansion with endless potential.  All you need to worry about is that you are doing the faithful job of preparing the soil (the atmosphere of your heart) for what God is building.  It is not your job to figure out how your building is going to be built.  Don’t underestimate the plans that God has for you, and don’t try and put them together yourself (once again, see Surrender the Building Plans blog if you haven’t already!).  Dream bigger and trust the Lord’s will.  Live confidently in His peace and love for you.  Do the internal work that He has put before you in this season with the hope that He who has called you is Faithful, and He will complete it.  Instead of being discouraged by the amount of the work that is ahead of you, remember:

The worker doesn’t just till the field; they also reap the harvest.  🙂

 

So, do work!  Your harvest is coming, and what once was just a field will one day exceed your wildest dreams.

The Mourning of a Great Adventure

I’m about to be pretty blunt here, but when I got home from Scotland last week, I had to have a week of mourning.  It’s dramatic, I know, but I found myself actually feeling really depressed that all my adventure and exciting explorations were over!  I was back in my home town, in a place that I love and with people that I absolutely adore, but also with the same old day in and day out experiences I’ve become so accustomed to, and stuck back in the same season that I was in before I left.  It wasn’t like I wanted to leave and live in Scotland, or anywhere else for that matter, but there was something in me still deeply longing to see things come to pass in my life that are yet unfulfilled.  Thinking it over, and having a pity party about it for a week, I believe the Lord showed me what was going on in my head, and as 2 Corinthians says to comfort others with the comfort God has given you, I think this may help a lot of you out as well.

 

Sometimes when we have great experiences, we want to pause time and just stay there, live there, and make that place our home.  When you think about it, it makes so much sense.  We were made for adventure.  We serve a God who created excitement and adventure!  If I think about the eternity that God has promised me through His Son Jesus, it makes my head spin and my heart swell.  I can’t even fathom the non-stop excitement and adventure that is Heaven.  The depths of God are endless…ENDLESS.  And they are depths of goodness and joy.  That is why to know Him is to love Him, and we will find ourselves throughout all eternity searching Him out.

 

However, on this earth, other fun adventures don’t always last forever.  There is pain.  There is the reminder of hope deferred.  There are yet-to-be answered prayers and unfulfilled desires.  Things aren’t always exciting and fun.  Sometimes, there is monotony.  You are required to keep your head down and just do the practical things of life like paying your bills on time, going to work each day, and keeping up with your weekly responsibilities.  Life can be tiring sometimes.  I realized that with my week-long adventure in Scotland, I had come home with some expectations of constant excitement and the immediate fulfillment of my dreams that were unrealistic.  I was never meant to live in an endless vacation on earth, and if I think that’s what I deserve, that’s entitlement.  But I’m not meant to have a mundane, boring life either!

 

So what do I do?  I have to pray and ask God for the right perspective, the perspective that HE has for my life.  I realized in my situation that I needed to repent to the Lord for my bitterness and resentment towards Him for the season of life that I’m in (again, I’m being blunt here).  When you don’t see exactly what you want to see, and things don’t happen in your life the way that you expect them to, you have to let go of your expectations and cling to what the Lord is doing.  Cling to Him.  It’s surprisingly easy, even if you deeply love the Lord, to fall into discouragement if you are focused on the wrong thing.  And what is the wrong thing?  The wrong thing is to focus on what God is NOT doing.

 

A few weeks ago, I wrote a song called Good & Better, the chorus of which goes like this:

“I will rest in what You’re doing, I will not be discouraged by what isn’t happening yet, cause You are actively pursuing, and You’re good and better than anything I could dream…”

 

The amazing thing is that the Lord gave me those lyrics personally as the perspective He wanted me to have in this season, and then two weeks later I heard Bill Johnson speak very similar words at a church I visited.  It brought so much confirmation to my heart:

“If you want to stay encouraged every day of your life, refuse to build your theology on what God isn’t doing, but on what He is!” – Bill Johnson

 

What a beautiful mindset to have – even when things aren’t going the way you want, you can lift up your desires to God and yet, still be thankful for what you DO have.  All of it is undeserved favor anyway.  🙂  He is so good to let us feel what we feel (our frustration with the monotony of it all), but then to speak truth and life into it (it’s going to be okay).  He is faithful to work all things together for good every single time.

 

I performed Good & Better, the song the Lord gave me, for my friends right next to the oldest Lighthouse in Great Britain on Southerness Beach in Scotland!  Don’t judge the quality – the wind was a constant gust, my fingers were chilled to the bone, I couldn’t remember the chords because I didn’t write the song in this key, I choked on air at one point while singing, and I had to rush and do it in one take because we almost missed our bus back home!  All in all, this was an extremely special and hilarious memory that I will cherish forever, and I don’t mind the imperfections one bit.  😉

 

Here is the song, and I pray it blesses you in your current season of waiting well with the Lord in whatever it is you’re waiting for.  It may be painful right now, but IT WILL BE WORTH IT:

 

Here are the lyrics for your reference:

Good & Better, Written by Amanda Rassamni

Comfort is something I’ve been searching for as long as I remember,

My words they fail, but what I feel drags on,

Time’s wasting, the noise and action pulling me along,

Are you moving?

Though I can’t see what I want to see, I will rest in You.

If You make me wait so I’ll seek Your face, I will rest in You.

And I will rest in what You’re doing,

I will not be discouraged by what isn’t happening yet,

Cause You are actively pursuing,

And You’re good and better than anything I could dream.

I will wait on the Lord and I will rise with wings as eagles, I will.

I will wait on the Lord and I will rise.

The Flip-Side to Hiddenness

I just came back from a week of much needed rest and adventure in Scotland, and wow.  Was it the best week of my life so far?  Probably.  Very much so.  Yes.  My time there with my friends got me thinking even more about the topic of Hiddenness, and I felt the Lord wanted to take me a little deeper into it (P.S. If you haven’t read my other blog on Hiddenness, now is good of a time as any to do so. :)).

 

Once we get the revelation that we’ll always feel hidden to the world, but that we are actually seen by the Creator of the Universe, it doesn’t stop there.  Knowing that we are seen by God is so assuring, so comforting, and so empowering, but I just can’t bring myself to believe that God would want me, or any of us, to each be an island alone with Him, even if no one else can truly satisfy our need to be understood.

 

So, what is our purpose?

 

I love what an old Pastor of mine used to say: the only reason why Jesus didn’t take us to Heaven immediately when we accepted Him (whenever we realized that He saved us and sees us), is because He wanted us to share Him with the world.  It’s so simple, and yet so profound if you really think about it.  Now that I realize that I can’t be satisfied by being seen, valued, and acknowledged by others, but find all of that fulfillment in God, I know that I can go to Him with everything, no matter what I feel.  However, my eyes have also now been opened to the fact that so many other people struggle with these feelings without any safe place at all.  The feeling of being hidden.  Misunderstood.  Unloved.  They don’t know yet that there is a God who sees them, knows them, and loves them.

 

So, what can I do?

 

My purpose, my responsibility, my job description is to see those who don’t feel seen.  I, who once felt so hidden (and still can to a certain extent as no one understands me the way the Lord does), am now in a place where I can actually recognize and see people who struggle with those very same feelings of hiddenness, and love on them there.  That is why we can’t just stay isolated in our personal relationship with God, no matter how blessed and wonderful it is.  He longs for us to reach out and minister to others, who have not yet come to that place.

 

I love how Jesus revealed to me that He knew more than me what hiddenness feels like.  He is God, and yet He lived as a man.  No one understood the path that He had to take, and the life that He chose to live.  Even His own brother did not believe in Him while He was alive!  He must have suffered with feeling lonely among the people in the world, but He did not suffer for long, because He knew His Father was with Him.  🙂  He also lived to serve others.  He truly saw who they were, and the potential they held, and He loved them to it.  He became a safe place for those who felt hidden, and He is our example.  He is the One who taught Paul, who wrote on and on (I’m reading all of his letters in the New Testament in order right now) to the churches that he established and started, sometimes with tears and sadness, and sometimes with the greatest joy and gladness.  He was teaching, and teaching, and teaching, and pouring out, and pouring out, and pouring out.  He wasn’t even married, which is a relationship in this world that, if done God’s way, can be such a safe space of encouragement and partnership in love, and not to mention, he suffered with great attacks and obstacles by himself.  I can imagine that there were times when he struggled deeply with feeling hidden and misunderstood.

 

You know what I believe he did in those times though?  He surrendered his right to be known to this world, began to know and be known by God, and helped others to come to this revelation as well.  This is why his one goal in life, his one mission and joy, was to spur others on in recognizing that they are seen by the Lord – because he had discovered this so much for himself.  This is why he poured his heart and soul into the Church and its people everywhere he went.  This is why he prayed for people in the streets and taught in the synagogues.  This is why he did not stop when he was hit with so much suffering and pain.  First, he was truly satisfied in the Lord, and second, he realized that there was more to his life than just him.  He followed Jesus’ example.

 

If you realize that you feel hidden, and just stay feeling way, what does that accomplish?  Nothing but turning you into an emotional sap who always feels sorry for yourself and is no good to anybody – that’s what.  We’ve got to move past the highs and lows of our emotions and see our lives the way that God sees them.  Even when you suffer with something that’s painful, when you see it the way that God does, He doesn’t ignore that it is painful, but He somehow makes it bearable – giving you hope, courage, and strength to make it through even what once seemed impossible.

 

So, what is the flip-side to hiddenness?

 

It’s knowing that you are not the only one who feels the way you feel.  It’s deciding to pour your heart out before the Lord, and to receive the healing that He longs and loves to give, but it’s also deciding not to be an island there.  Our lives mean so much more than for us to just satisfy our physical and emotional needs and then let them be over.  We are first called to be satisfied in the Lord and make Him our safe place, and second, we are called to become a safe place to others who don’t know Him yet.  The flip-side to hiddenness is that you are not alone in it.  Everyone is looking to be seen and heard and loved.

 

Why not let YOUR eyes that notice, YOUR ears that listen, and YOUR heart that has compassion show them the way through Jesus to the One true God who is able to give them everything they’re looking for?

Hiddenness

I typically like to play worship music as I’m working or doing mindless things for the sole purpose of basically forcing my mind to wander back to the Lord – what He’s saying and what He’s doing.  I love when He speaks to my heart when I’m not even expecting it.  This happened two nights ago.  A song was playing in the background and I wasn’t really paying attention, until I heard someone on the recording encourage the audience to try to recognize what they were feeling in God’s Presence, just so they could be more aware of how He was meeting with them in that moment.  My ear was immediately tuned in, so I asked the Lord to help me understand what I feel when I’m in His Presence.  Not a second passed by when I heard Him say:

 

“You feel seen.”

 

Seen…to be seen.  What does that mean?  Here are some of my favorite definitions from Merriam Webster:

 

  • to perceive by the eye :  to perceive or detect as if by sight
  • to have experience of :  to come to know :  discover
  • to form a mental picture of :  visualize :  to perceive the meaning or importance of :  understand :  to be aware of :  recognize :  to imagine as a possibility
  • examine, watch :  read
  • to take care of :  provide for :  to make sure, see that order is kept
  • to regard as
  • to call on :  visit (1) :  to keep company with, especially in courtship (2) :  to grant an interview to
  • to give or pay attention

 

I realized in that moment with perfect clarity that when I am in God’s Presence, when I am worshiping Him, with my eyes fixed on Him, I somehow feel and sense His eyes on me as well.  That’s what it’s like to worship the God of the Universe.  He is so close and tangible, and I know His loving eyes and His smile are on me.  There is nothing like it.  I am seen all the time everywhere I go by other people, but to be seen and to be known and understood, without honestly even saying words, now that is something completely different altogether.  Worship is not about me, but I cannot deny that worshiping Jesus affects everything about who I am.

 

To explain how much this revelation means to me, let me just say that I feel I’m in a season right now of hiddenness, not being able to be fully seen as I want to be.  I was kind of feeling sorry for myself and complaining about it to the Lord, wondering when it would be over, when He showed me that I’ve actually felt that way for a while…my entire life.  When something has been a part of your experience for as long as you can remember, it may not simply be a season.  The Lord may be teaching you something deeper – a lesson about who He is, and what you’re made for.  A lesson that will last a lifetime…

 

I was made to be known and understood.  I have always desired it, and I know that it is at the core of every human being’s heart.  This is why relationships are so pushed and pressed in our culture (and churches) today.  They are made to look like the be-all, end-all of successful, happy living, and being known.  It is not wrong, but…it’s not enough.  No one can satisfy you because no one can fully understand you.  It’s hard to admit, but no matter how many years you spend with a person, even someone that you truly love and study and admire, you will never be able to completely read their minds, and they will never be able to completely read yours.  This desire to be seen and known is not a desire that is able to be fulfilled on this earth, solely with earthly resources and relationships.  It’s much bigger than that.

 

So, what is the Lord speaking to me, and possibly to you too?

 

I am not only in a season of hiddenness – that’s actually the place where I live.  In this world, no human can ever fully understand us the way we all want to be understood.  We can grow and increase our communication styles, try to express ourselves as clearly as we possibly can, and we can still not fully get across what we’re trying to say.  Therefore, why do we desire that so much?  It has to be because that is available to us.  Because that is who God is for us.  He sees us and He knows and understands us.  Hiddenness is not a curse.  It is a gift and reminder that no one sees us the way the Lord does.

 

Whether I am in a crowded room or by myself, and whether or not I am feeling loved or understood or I am looking to be – He is there.  He wants to show me that He is the only One who can truly satisfy my soul.  Even years down the road, when I have been blessed with a family of my own, the deepest part of who I am will still desire to be known and loved and understood by the God who sees me.  A husband can’t satisfy that, children can’t satisfy that, and friends can’t satisfy that.  I have the Answer today though.  It’s Him.  In every season, He sees me and He loves me.  He searches me and knows me.  He searches out my path.  He knows when I sit and when I rise.  He perceives my thoughts from afar.  He is my Father, His eyes are on me, and nothing can separate me from His love.

 

I’m also learning that God LOVES hidden things: hidden beauty, hidden treasure, hidden revelation.  I did a little search in my Bible of all of the verses that contain the word hidden.  This is what I found:

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.” – Proverbs 25:2

“And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness–secret riches.  I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.” – Isaiah 45:3

“For [as far as this world is concerned] you have died, and your [new, real] life is hidden with Christ in God.” – Colossians 3:3

“But let (your beauty) be the inward adorning and beauty of the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible and unfading charm of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which [is not anxious or wrought up, but] is very precious in the sight of God.” – 1 Peter 3:4

 

It is His great pleasure to hide me; to conceal me in His Presence.  There are things that only He and I can share.  He absolutely loves for His children to go into their rooms and shut their door to meet and speak with Him alone.  Hiddenness is not a hindrance to real relationship.  Being hidden in the Lord is the most real relationship there is.  There’s something precious in Him allowing us to being hidden in order for us to grow in Him even more, because when I feel the most hidden, I am actually seen.

 

Some more verses about the beauty of hiddenness:

“But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” – Matthew 6:6

“His glory covered the heavens and the earth was full of His praise.  And His brightness was like the sunlight; rays streamed from His hand, and there [in the sunlike splendor] was the hiding place of His power.” – Habakkuk 3:3-4

“At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this is what You were pleased to do.” – Matthew 11:25

“And great and important and weighty, we confess, is the hidden truth (the mystic secret) of godliness. He [God] was made visible in human flesh, justified and vindicated in the [Holy] Spirit, was seen by angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, [and] taken up in glory.” – 1 Timothy 3:16

  • Just want to pause here to say: Who understood hiddenness more than Jesus Himself? Fully God, fully man, more often than not misunderstood by the people that He loved – YET, He kept His consolation in the Father because He knew He always had His eyes on Him.  He is our Teacher and our Model, and He understands everything that we feel and go through.

“He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the Spirit says to the assemblies (churches). To him who overcomes (conquers), I will give to eat of the manna that is hidden, and I will give him a white stone with a new name engraved on the stone, which no one knows or understands except he who receives it.” – Revelation 2:17

“So do not make any hasty or premature judgments before the time when the Lord comes [again], for He will both bring to light the secret things that are [now hidden] in darkness and disclose and expose the [secret] aims (motives and purposes) of hearts.  Then every man will receive his [due] commendation from God.” – 1 Corinthians 4:5

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in Your word.” – Psalm 119:114

“How abundant are the good things that You have stored up for those who fear You,
that You bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in You.  In the shelter of Your presence You hide them from all human intrigues; You keep them safe in Your dwelling from accusing tongues.” – Psalm 31:19-20

 

And this one got me.  Check this out:

You are my hiding place;
You will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with My loving eye on you.

– Psalm 32:7-8

 

What is sad about hiddenness if it brings me into greater revelation of the One who sees me?  Let me stay hidden forever before I miss His gaze

 

So, I make this my prayer:

Keep me as the apple of Your eye;

hide me in the shadow of Your wings.”

– Psalm 17:8

“So she called the name of the Lord Who spoke to her, You are a God of seeing, for she said, Have I [not] even here [in the wilderness] looked upon Him Who sees me [and lived]?  Or have I here also seen [the future purposes or designs of] Him Who sees me?  Therefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi [A well to the Living One Who sees me]…”

– Genesis 16:13-14

Surrender the Building Plans

 “Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.”

– Psalm 127:1

“Spirit break out, break our walls down!  Spirit break out, Heaven come down!”

– Kim Walker-Smith

 

I’ve come to realize recently that the most interesting stories tend to be the most drawn out, detailed, and delayed.  I don’t know why things seem to happen so slowly sometimes, but in relation to my personal story that seems to be a little bit delayed at the moment, my mom (one of my very best friends) shared something with me recently that has been hitting me hard.  I would like to share it with you:

 

“Maybe the reason you haven’t seen your dreams come to fruition yet is because God is wanting to bless you even more as a result of the delay.”

 

Wow.  What a crazy thought.  Even the possibility of this being the case is truly amazing to me.  I’ve personally struggled with the delays, but isn’t the God of the Bible beautiful?  I can know without a shadow of a doubt that He is a Rewarder of the one who diligently seeks Him, and that He will reward me (Hebrews 11:6).  My short life with my short-lived frustrations really shouldn’t affect Him at all, however, for some reason, what I feel affects Him, and more than just let it affect Him, He takes it ON.  He has forever linked Himself to me, and is not ashamed to call me family (Hebrews 2:11).  He created me for a purpose – life and life abundant, and He does not desire or have any less for me (John 10:10).

 

Abundant life doesn’t mean a life lived on my own pleasure, but a life that is lived to love and serve Him, and somehow in between that in His great kindness, all of my truest and deepest desires are fulfilled in Him (Psalm 37:4).  This is what it looks like to be a Christian.  I lay down my life for who and what I can’t see yet, but know and have already been made confident of, and I wait until the day when all will be manifested fully.  That doesn’t mean however that I don’t, just like the rest of the world, struggle sometimes not being able to see it yet.  With that being said, I want to share a dream the Lord gave me a year and a half ago that He recently reminded me of:

 

One morning, as it was just about time for me to get up, I had a dream that I was holding a blueprint in my left hand, and a list of building materials in my right hand.  The blueprint in my left hand looked like it was just a quick, sketch drawing of a wall, and the only building material listed on the page in my right hand that I could see was lumber.  I then looked up to the sky with these two papers in my hand, and said, “God, this is how I want You to build the Tabernacle!”

 

I immediately woke up, shocked at myself for my audacity towards God in my dream, but I somehow felt that He was convicting me of something more than what I had just dreamt about.  Since my philosophy is to listen to the Lord’s voice whenever He reveals something to me, even if it hurts, I began to genuinely ask Him what my dream could mean for His and my relationship.  Here is what He gently showed me:

 

The Tabernacle in the Bible was not just a structure or a building.  It was built for the sole purpose of hosting God’s Glory and Presence, and was therefore specifically and meticulously described in detail by the Lord to His people in order to truly bring Him the most glory.  Every single detail was chosen by God and spoken to Moses on the mountain, exactly the way that it was supposed to be done (see Exodus 25-31).  God hands didn’t necessarily do the work, but He did perfectly and powerfully equip His people to do it with His skill and creativity (Exodus 35-39).

 

Why all the detail?  What was the significance?

 

The Tabernacle on earth was meant to be a prophetic representation of what was in Heaven – every detail filled with overflowing beauty, power, and meaning.  Every detail mirrored who God was and is, and He was to be absolutely, 100%, completely glorified in it.

 

So, how does this relate to my story, or to me?

 

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 that my body is a temple (or Tabernacle) of the Holy Spirit, who is in me, who I have received from God, and that I am not my own.  I have the Holy Spirit so that I can hear His voice, and I am not meant to just hear Him, but to follow Him.  Therefore the Lord made it clear to me that again, like the Tabernacle, He has ordained me for great purposes – I am called to bring Him great glory.  Every detail of my life is significant, and He has beautiful plans for all of them.  I do have free will to make my own choices, and I don’t have to be afraid, if I’m trying to do the right thing, of making mistakes that will forever alter my fate (see 3rd blog post on La La Land), however, if I really want the best that God has for me, I will wait and listen for His voice in all things.  I will obey Him in every detail.

 

This revelation rocked my world.  Why?  Because I realized that what I truly desire from the Lord is already mine, and will be reflected on the earth as I take every step in Him.  He really does have what’s best for me, and He wants it for me more than I could ever even want it for myself.  I just have to keep my eyes fixed on Him for every detail, and every step, of my every day.  Is this exhausting?  No, because the commands of the Lord are not burdensome (1 John 5:3)!  Psalm 119:45 says “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out Your precepts.” Following God’s steps for my life is actually what removes all burdens and hindrances from me.  The things that used to chain me up and drag me down can no longer do so when I get my perspective right and really line my steps up with what He is asking me to do.  When I seek God’s will for my life, and not my own, yes, I may experience some uncomfortable delays, but they are never unnecessary because they truly bring me to the best that I’ve been desiring! 

 

I also realized that God is the One who is supposed to give the steps…not me.  Did I mention that, in my dream, the blueprint that I was telling the Lord I wanted my Tabernacle to look like was actually a sketch of a wall?  I boldly and with audacity looked up to God and basically said, “I don’t care what it is You’re doing, or what You have for me.  Even though this Tabernacle is actually for You, all I can see is what I want right now, and this is what it is.”

 

A wall.

 

Really?  If I relate my life to this sketch, a wall is quick to build and easy to put up.  A wall takes no effort, no time, no planning, no perspective, and no passion.  A wall is basically useless outside of a building.  Why would I want my life to resemble a wall?  What I really want is a life filled to the brim and completely overflowing with the MOST meaning, the MOST purpose, the MOST passion, and intentionality, and beauty.  If that is what I truly want then, why would I ever settle for just a wall?

 

God is showing me through my Pastor (Dustin Bates), through my parents, and through my experiences, that when I really want the best and am willing to wait on Him, He will give it to me little by little so that I am strong enough to actually carry it, I know what it is I am waiting for, and I will not settle for less (Exodus 23:30).  I will NOT settle for less.  It is an honor for me to allow the Lord to knock down all of my petty walls (my low-level expectations) when I realize that He has so much more and so much better for me.  He wants to blow me away, and I believe Him!  Why would I not?  I have seen what it looks like to try to attain things my own way, and even if I attain them for a season, it never lasts.

 

If you want the best, you want a story that will last.  There’s nothing better than the true fulfillment of a promise.  So, I am here to remind you:

 

Don’t give up too soon.  God is building the foundation of your Tabernacle so that the rest can stand firm, and you can keep what He gives you.  In time, you’ll see His wisdom and kindness in making you wait while He grew your character and patience in Him.

 

He is faithful, and He will be faithful to you.  You can trust Him.

When the Lord Gives and Takes Away

How I was healed of a broken heart last Valentine’s Day…

 

When I began my walk with the Lord, I really believed and understood that He was kind and good and loving.  I began to share my faith with others and would seemingly always find myself counseling and speaking into other people’s lives about the goodness of God.  I trusted Him wholeheartedly, and when He spoke to me, I listened.  I don’t know how I learned it, but I began to ask Him about everything, even the smallest details of my day.  I also learned quickly that He would always answer me because I simply believed Him, so I would just listen and obey, automatically moving forward in the direction He led me in without hesitation.  Whether it was immediate, or much later, I would always ultimately see why He led me in that decision and experience His blessing from following it.  For many years, I never really had a reason to doubt the goodness of God, or His leading in my life…until a reason came.

 

The Test

When I began to ask Him about my future and not just my day, He started showing me things that actually kind of shocked me.  What was I asking the Lord about, you ask?  Yeah, I was definitely asking Him about my future husband.  I know…super girly and dramatic, but don’t judge me just yet.  I genuinely wanted to know what the will of the Lord was for my life and I genuinely believe that we can all hear the voice of God.  I wanted to hear His voice and know and just follow.  Basically, I wanted to cut out all the drama of getting my feelings hurt with “going after” guys in my heart that weren’t for me, and let God tell me who to choose.  Simple!

 

The thing is: when I began to surrender my choice to Him in this area, crazy things started to happen.  The Lord put someone on my heart.  The next thing I know, I’m asking God for a sign…and He gives it!  I’m asking Him for confirmation…and He gives it!  I’m asking Him to give me a prophetic word through someone else or SOMETHING to make sure that I’m really hearing Him right, and He not only speaks this guy’s name to me in the craziest of ways (it’s quite an elaborate story), but He literally causes me to hear/see his name almost everywhere I go after that, every week for an entire summer.  None of this had ever happened to me before!  At first, this really freaked me out, but because I would more often than not hear this person’s name during sermons, stories, and even worship at my church, I knew this was from God and not just some sign from my own imagination or thoughts.  He was endorsing something, and because I was truly seeking Him and not this relationship, I knew that He was speaking to me.

 

So, I prayed for this person for nine months.  I wanted to make sure that this was from God, and not something that I was cooking up on my own.  Since things weren’t happening right away, I held fast to the confirmations that the Lord had already given me and prayed for this guy until suddenly, one day, God tells me that he is going to ask me out.  It happens that day.  Then, a month later, God tells me that he is going to ask me to be his girlfriend.  It happens that day.  So, here I am.  You can imagine that I was literally in awe of God.  I was freaking out because not only had I had this person on my mind for almost a year, and felt like I was a crazy person because of it, but God had actually fulfilled all of the things that He had spoken to me, and I couldn’t deny it.  I had been given an active part in this story, solely by praying and listening to God.  This was insanity to me, but it was my life, and I was amazed.

 

You can also imagine that I was completely sure of this relationship.  I had stepped into this, not the day the relationship started, or even the day that he told me he liked me, but nine months before.  I had started this with God, and I was determined to finish it.  Let me tell you that there was not a doubt in my mind that this was it – he was my husband.  You can imagine my utter despair then, when the exact opposite of what I was expecting and believing for happened.  The relationship ended.  I definitely wasn’t going to be the one to end it myself because of all of the confirmations God gave me, but when the other person ends things, you really have no choice in the matter.

 

I was so confused.  I felt betrayed and embarrassed.  I was devastated and in shock.  I thought, “How could this be happening to me if I was literally led into this by You, God?  Why did You allow me to believe that this person was my husband for so long if he actually wasn’t?  Why did You give me all of those signs and confirmations for nothing?  Why did You allow me to waste my year?”  All of these thoughts were swirling in my head, but this is what I heard in my spirit immediately after it happened:

 

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”

 

Let me be the first to say that I did NOT want to receive these words, which is why I knew it was from God and not from me.  I could not believe how God could give me something as drawn out as this, and be telling me so simply that He was taking it away.  However, as much as I wanted this to be what God had for me, I truly DID want what He had.  I was willing to let go.  In fact, I was unwilling to hold onto this if it wasn’t it.  So, I genuinely spoke those words out loud when I heard them, and I prayed and asked God to heal me.  I am not kidding when I tell you that I was healed in five days from a nine month process.  I’m not going to write about all of the details of that here today, but I do want to share with you what I learned from it, especially because it’s Valentine’s Day, and many of you may be in a situation similar to the one I found myself in over a year ago.

 

The Lesson

My experience after this was not necessarily easy or pleasant.  There was deep, deep grief in my heart, and I needed the comfort of God.  I knew that this was either going to kill me, or cause me to come alive in God more.  There were only two options.  I had to deal with the nagging question of why God would lead me with full faith into something that wasn’t mine.  Was He actually good?  Was He trying to deceive me?  Why would He allow my heart to be broken when I didn’t do anything to deserve it, but I actually trusted Him through all of it?  I ultimately had to come to the conclusion that if God is not real and present in my pain, then He is not real or present at all.  I realized that, because this relationship was made so clear to me, it was from God, and if God is truly good, He wouldn’t have given this nine month process to me if there wasn’t something good in it.  So, I became a glutton for the goodness of God.  I desperately needed His comfort, and I was not going to go a day without it.

 

Would you believe that even quicker and clearer than God spoke to lead me into that relationship, He spoke to emotionally lead me out of it, enough that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this guy was not, and would never be, my husband?  I ended up looking up the words that the Lord spoke to me right after the relationship ended – the very words of Job in the Bible, a man acquainted with a loss much greater than mine:

 

‘“The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.’” Job 1:21

 

What blew my mind was not just that he said this immediately after he was in unbearable pain, but also the fact that I had never noticed the next verse:

 

“In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.” Job 1:22

 

WHOA.  Let’s pick that apart for a second.  First, God Himself gave me what I desired and what I asked for.  Check.  Next, God Himself took it away.  Unfortunate check.  However, am I entitled because of this to charge God with wrongdoing?  ABSOLUTELY NOT.  God showed me that I cannot accuse Him of wrongdoing because He is incapable of doing wrong.

 

With this on my mind, I began to reason and ask Him: “Why then, did You allow me to believe a lie?”  What I say here may surprise you.  I realized that, in that entire nine month process, even though God gave me so many signs and confirmations of my prayers – more than I even asked for, I was never told by God that this guy was my husband.  You may be saying, “Um, yeah, you basically were,” but no, actually, I wasn’t.  You see, I took the signs that God gave me and I ran with them.  I interpreted them how I wanted to interpret them, and I didn’t really leave a lot of room for any other interpretation like: maybe this person was just a good example of a relatively healthy relationship for a season, or maybe there were lessons that I needed to learn in this that I couldn’t learn any other way?

 

Looking back, I realized that there were many times that I could have, with a clear mind, seen why this wasn’t going to work out, but I ignored those things by recalling the signs that God had first given me to lead me into the relationship, which were what I really wanted to hear.  I had stopped listening to what He was saying in the moment.  I had to repent for my unforgiveness towards Him in believing that He had led me astray, and praise the Lord that it was His “kindness” that led me to repentance, not His anger or wrath or judgment against me for being angry.  God understood what I was going through, and He understood my pain.  He was not angry with me for feeling the way I felt.  He just wanted to show me that He had a better way, and if I was willing to truly trust Him and let go, He could show me.

 

Through this I learned that God never, ever deceives us, HOWEVER, God is not afraid of our temporary disillusionment if it leads us into our eternal reward.  Just take a look at the disciples after Jesus died on the cross.  They thought He was dead and gone for three whole days!  However, He was willing to let them think that because He knew how they would ultimately be the most blessed by His raising from the dead.  He not only resurrected Himself and resurrected His disciples as well, but He still resurrects the dead dreams and desires of His children today.

 

I came to the conclusion that if I couldn’t reconcile this experience according to God’s goodness, how could I ever trust Him again?  I needed to KNOW that He was with me in this because even though I was set free from grieving over the person, I still had to grieve the dream.  In the months after this, God spoke to me, cleared my head, and comforted me like never before.  I heard His voice in deeper ways, and I felt His love and peace like never before in my entire life.  He showed me that I cannot resist Him and His love, no matter how hard I try, and even if I have to experience delays or extra development in my dreams, I still want Him more than whatever it is I’m asking Him for.

 

Job didn’t earn his beautiful family and all of his earthly goods due to his own efforts.  They were a gift from God.  And Job didn’t lose his beautiful family and all of his earthly goods due to his own failures.  God was still with him and was not only his comfort during this season, but his restoration.  Job didn’t earn everything back to him in double of what he had before due to his own efforts or piety or goodness either.  It was still a gift from God.  You see, we can never earn any of the things that God gives us, but even if He takes them away, we can trust that He knows what He’s doing.  Maybe He just wants to give us more.  🙂

 

Through this experience, I learned that if I am keeping my hands closed tightly over everything that I have, I will miss being able to embrace the double that He wants to bless me with – not including all of the encouragement of knowing that He is still good and has a purpose even in my most discouraging seasons.  I learned that sometimes healthy relationships don’t end in marriage, while some unhealthy relationships actually do.  Why would I want the latter half to be my story?  Even if I have to wait, or I have to suffer a painful season or two, isn’t receiving what God has for me worth it?

 

You may not always get why things work out the way they do in your life in this area, but whatever you do, don’t blame God.  He is sovereign and He is good, and He is not going to allow anything to happen in your life that has not first gone through His hands – because He is still holding you.  You see, I can think up a billion stories of how I want my life to turn out, but what I really want is the story that God has for me because I know He loves me!  So, I’m still letting Him choose for me, and I’m not saying that is always the easiest decision, but I know that I will see the lasting fruit of it – it will be my life, and I will be amazed.  🙂

 

“The blessing of the Lord—it makes [truly] rich, and He adds no sorrow with it [neither does toiling increase it].” Proverbs 10:22

Here’s to the Ones who Dream (Inspired by La La Land)

I saw the movie La La Land two nights ago, and I absolutely loved it.  I thought it was beautiful, powerful, emotional, theatrical, just all the “uls”; and maybe I’m a sappy romantic, but I totally saw myself in it.  Especially at the end.

 

***Spoiler Alert***

 

Everyone told me to prepare myself for the ending because it was so sad, but for some reason, I felt completely fine once it was over.  It was actually more like the complete and perfect peace of God immediately washed over me.  Now, don’t get me wrong.  The story IS sad.  I mean, who doesn’t love to wonder and dream sometimes about the way things could have been?  It’s a fun alternative to living in the way things are now.

 

But we were created to dream.  We were NOT created to regret.  And dreaming about what could have happened in the past is regret because it is not reality.  It is fantasy.

 

I realized at the end of this movie that, unlike Sebastian, I don’t have to imagine how my life “could have” been or what “could have” happened with sorrow.  Why not?  Because, if I truly want God’s will for my life (and I do), and if I have truly tried to be obedient to His still small voice in all things (I have), what’s in the past is in the past.  I may not have fully understood it, but He saved me from it: particularly in Him cutting people out of my life that weren’t supposed to be there, and in Him leading ME to cut people out of my life that weren’t supposed to be there.  If I have heard His voice and followed Him, what is there to look back on?

 

Regret is a fear-filled word.  Similar to Sebastian’s scenario, it comes from fear and sorrow that you have made a wrong decision.  But wait a second.  Doesn’t the Bible say that God’s perfect love literally casts out fear?  Perfect love casts out fear because fear involves torment (1 John 4:18).  Torment that you’ve done something – anything – to completely alter the trajectory of your entire life.  Things were supposed to go one way, but now, thanks to you, everything is wrong.

 

No.  I’m sorry, but THAT’S wrong.  You are not powerful enough to wreck God’s plans for your life.   How do I know that?  Because He says that His plans are to prosper you, and not to harm you (Jeremiah 29:11).  He also says, “I the Lord do not change; therefore, you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed,” or destroyed by your failures (Malachi 3:6).  No matter what decisions I make, He leads me in the way I should go because I trust in Him (Isaiah 48:17).  Whether I turn to the right or to the left, sincerely trying to follow His will for my life, my ears are going to hear His voice behind me saying, “This is the way; walk in it” (Isaiah 30:21).

 

I have a loving God who sees me and knows me.  He knows the desires of my heart, and He not only is intimately acquainted with all of my ways, but He knows the end from the beginning of all that there ever was to know, and His plans for me are good!  Are you kidding me?  To top that, I have His Holy Spirit – God Himself – literally living inside of me, which means I have 100% and 24/7 access to a Resource of wisdom and understanding that is far beyond anything I could ever attain or achieve for myself in this world.  I don’t even have the capacity to figure my future out on my own, yet God not only already KNOWS what is best for me and is leading me into that, but He wants what’s best for me even more than I do.  This means that, if I am living inside of His will, I don’t EVER have to live inside of any regrets.  His ways are higher than my simple ways, and His thoughts are higher than my simple thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).

 

I love the Lord because I don’t ever have to strive to figure things out.  I just get to walk in obedience.  And He doesn’t leave me alone.  When I seek Him, He will always lead me into what I’m supposed to do, where I’m supposed to go, and who I’m supposed to be.  The world will always be afraid of missing it, but I don’t have to be.  My Pastor (Pastor Dustin Bates) sums it up by saying: “What looks like risk to the world, is obedience to God.”

 

I still want to dream, but not in a way that pulls me back into a past that is over and done, and from things that He’s already set me free from.  The reason why I felt God’s perfect peace after watching La La Land, even in the saddest scene, was because He was gently showing me that I am in the center of His will for me and moreover, that He also still protects and blesses those who are not in His will for me.  Therefore, I will continue to be obedient to His voice in all things, I will continue to move forward, and I will continue to dream.  I know that I will see the fruit of it in my future.