A few weeks ago I became all twisted up and bent out of shape. My cable broke, my internet stopped working, our heater blew, my car wouldn’t start…. And oh yes, my hair brush broke too! I suddenly found myself sucked through a funnel cloud of frustration. It’s so easy to do. It happens to everyone, right?
I sat tapping my boot against tile floor in the Honda service department. Coffee brewed and ESPN blared in the background as other customers chatted on cell phones and ate donuts. My eyes rolled and I let out a big sigh when the manager knelt down to break the news for the second time. Because you see, I’d been here before, two weeks ago…with the same problem.
“We still can’t find anything wrong with your car, ma’am,” the snide little fella responded.
I retracted, “Well the car doesn’t start? And leaves me stranded all over town.”
“I’m sorry,” he said with a shrug and walked away.
Since I’m an auto mechanic whiz (not really) I knew the problem ~ the battery. My pajama wearing, not-a-stitch-of-make-up-on self chased him down and reached over the table and said, “I am not leaving here without a new battery so be nice and go put that in my car… like now!”
I like to call these “episodes.” There are times when I go rogue, do my own thing, and then get into a heap of trouble.
Maybe you, like me, have had some not so shining moments. Things you may not want your pastor or your mama to overhear. Maybe these moments make you feel far away from Jesus?
Do you go through times when you don’t feel close to Jesus? If our desire is to dwell intimately with the Son of God and feel the breath of heaven on our lives, then we need to be where Jesus is… not drowning in donuts and a bad attitude in the auto parts store. For me, Jesus was not in that “episode.”
Sometimes we spend way to long trying to get Jesus where we are. What we need to do is start getting on board with the idea of getting where He is. If you haven’t felt a real intimacy with Christ and closeness with the Holy Spirit, it may be because you’re off doing your own thing, and God is elsewhere doing his thing.
A couple of things happen when we join His thing. First unbelieving people are glad and the nations rejoice because they are waiting, waiting to hear a life-giving Gospel. Second, we are happy we are walking with Jesus and are experiencing closeness with Him.
So when clouds of frustration loom we must remember that Christ wants to turn you inside out and right side up as you taste a dynamic, living, intimate relationship with Him. “Taste and see that the LORD is good,” on a daily basis (see Ps. 34:8). The Lord is saying today, “Look there are people who are waiting for me, and you are dying, and shriveling up in trivial nothings, because you’ve chosen to do your thing while I’m committed to doing mine.”
So who’s asking?
The one asking is a God who doesn’t need us but who’s inviting us to get on board with what he is doing in the world right now. Won’t you cast aside your thang for His today?
John tells us that if we don’t love the people we can see around us, then we don’t love God, whom we can’t see, (see 1 John 4:20). In Matthew 22:37-40, Jesus says the two greatest commandments are to love God, love people. Then Jesus says to those who follow him, “If you love me, you will keep my commands” [to love him and to love people] (insert added, John 14:15].
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One evening I am all alone. I slip onto the floor, my knees hitting worn carpet. I pray for Jesus to come near. I tell Him I want to follow Him forever. Then I’m silent. I sit and soak and wonder. I try to pray again but my words jumble. One word seems to pierce the silence. One word filters in between cluttered thoughts: engage.
Growing up we were taught to share Christ with those around us: friends, family, people we saw daily. You know, the folks in a five mile radius in and around your comfort zone ~ the “waiting for unbelievers to come to me” syndrome. I feel and have felt God tugging me away from this mindset.
In this on-my-knees-moment, Jesus reminds me He came as the sent and the sender (the engager).
“As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (John 20:31).
And now He is sending me, us, into our own Jerusalem (if I may be so bold) to proclaim His Gospel. I don’t hear “Wait aimlessly for others to come to me” I do hear “Go with intention and purpose.”
Living sent, engaging those around us, being mission-minded isn’t something God invites us into. It’s what we were saved for. It’s a purposeful, intentional initiation on our part to share Christ with those who have never been told.
I love that God so deeply knows my heart that He gifts me with the loudness of his presence in the silence of my room. I stand up, knees wobbling, and scribble down several thoughts for this new year.
Questions for 2013
Whom should I be ministering to and how? How can I faithfully serve the people God has placed in my life? Paul explains in Galatians 6:1-2, “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Maybe we aren’t all gifted to teach or lead a retreat but we all know people who struggle with sin. We know people who are carrying burdens. Our first steps toward ministry are easy… HELP THEM.
I’ve learned a lot this past year about getting involved in other people’s problems through our downtown ministry. Sometimes we think, “My life is messy enough, why complicate things by taking on other peoples junk?” The reason, however, is simple: God calls us to help other people. He created us to function this way. Will we function this way in the coming year?
Will I wait until my own problems are gone before helping someone else? I hope not, because this will never happen!
Finally, when we step outside ourselves and begin bearing the burdens of people around us, it is time consuming, messy, and often confusing. But it’s necessary. Helping people change and pointing them to Christ is what discipleship is all about. And most importantly, our sanctification happens as we do this, as we engage.
* Thanks Stuart Tatem for the beautiful photos from the Banquet (Dec. 2012)
As a wife for thirteen years and a mom for nearly eleven, I have MANY unglued moments that I could go on about. And you’d relate and we’d giggle over them together for sure.
But, there are things in my heart and on my mind that are fresher and more painful than any of those day to day unglued moments.
A whole year for example.
Like last year for example.
2012 was a completely unglued year for me.
It began the weekend after Christmas in 2011. My husband became very ill. Some of you know the details, but I’ll just say that I’m certain his pain was far worse than I ever experienced in child-birth. –-And, you know, ladies… we don’t give that card up too freely!
During that very same weekend changes took place in his business. And those changes resulted in us making really huge decision to move to Alabama.
We thought at the time that it was God’s plan. We prayed of course, but we were super raw and emotional with him being sick and after struggling with his business for such a long time, we thought this must be His answer.
So, in June we moved our life. And the moment we arrived we were certain it was a mistake.
During our time there I experienced the absolute worst of my unglued year. Countless times I fell, crying and heart-broken to my knees. And each of those times He faithfully met me there.
He continually pieced me back together with His Truth and His peace every-single-time.
Please don’t misunderstand me… the move and it not working out did not surprise me about God… I know His plans are hardly ever equal to our ideas on what’s best.
Yet, when you’re at your weakest and then hit harder and harder you tend to question your choices and whether or not they were yours or His to begin with.
I confess: I even questioned God.
And when things seemed like they might stay broken and unglued longer than we could continue to bear… His mercy came.
The opportunity to move back to Reno came. And within weeks (six months after we arrived in Alabama) we were on the road to home again.
Praise the Lord!
Now, we filter through the year. Searching for what we are to learn. The lessons keep coming. The Humility I spoke about in my last post keeps rising. Affliction is never meant for nothing… and I’m grateful for it.
Yes, I am grateful for the entire unglued year!
Because… He showed up for me. He counted my every tear and wiped them all away. His love held me in my hopelessness and His peace surrounded me in my weariness. He rescued me.
I seem to have fallen into the grace receiving category quite a lot lately.
I am beyond-words grateful to God for some really big things, like…
One very broken friendship restored… because SHE gave an abundance of sweet Grace to me.
And another friendship renewed… because we exchanged Grace over several cloud-covered years of misunderstanding.
Then lately, there are some smaller grace-related blessings that I am also grateful for…
From a friend… that I was nearly a month late at spending time celebrating her birthday.
From another precious friend… for teasing her in fun… but taking it a bit too far.
And, so, so much from my dear husband… in too many personal ways to share.
I never intend to do the wrong thing… but sometimes I do.
To confess. To apologize. To seek forgiveness.
And, frankly, the whole process really hurts.
The prideful flesh in me bites so hard at her lip that she tastes the blood. Her chest puffs up within, foot stomps and in her whiniest it’s-not-fair voice says… “why is it that I seem to need so much Grace from others?!”
Oh, but the Spirit… it rises high above that flesh-girl in me… and presses her out with such force… and ushers me right into what Grace is certainly all about: HUMILITY.
Did I mention that it really hurts? Yes, you know. That stinging, stretching kind of hurt.
Jesus never said growth in Him would be pain-free. Pain-full indeed, but with such refining and worthy results. I’ll take it any day.
And I do it joyfully/painfully clinging tightly to His promises…
“When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.”
“He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”
Happy New Year everyone! I want to start off the year with a challenge for all of us. To start the year by being open to hear and receive a FOCUS WORD-a word that God lays on your heart. You can pray and ask God for clarity, asking perhaps any of the following…
What does God want you to focus on FOR HIS GLORY in 2013?
What does God want you to receive FOR HIS GLORY in 2013?
How can God use you to DISPLAY HIS GLORY in 2013?
Share your 2013 focus word with others on this blog (in the comments section) or your close friends or family. And then start looking through the eyes of the Holy Spirit to see why God has laid this word on your heart. Share what is your word, how did you choose it, what does it mean to you right now, how is it affecting your choices and your life, and anything else relevant to your focus word.
My focus word for 2013 is PASSION! I will write more but I am already so inspired by the Holy Spirit!
Taken from my favorite, pastor John Piper…
“One of the reasons pursuing a PASSION for Christ and whatever else glorifies God is so important is the good effects it has on others. If you have it, and if it is really a passion for Christ, then it will have a God-designed effect on others. This is part of why passion is so good. It is an honor to Christ, and satisfying to us, and transforming to others. So, Lord, for your glory and my joy and the “stirring up” of others, give me a passion for your great name.”
Here’s to the most God-Glorifying New Year!!!
We’ve been ministering at the Castaway Motel for about eight months. Some of the residents have spilled into other motels and we keep in touch. I’ve spent a lot of time developing new friendships and trying to explain to them their need for Jesus. Needless to say, it hasn’t been easy. Some weeks I want to stay in my comfortable world of oblivion and forget they even exist. I wish I could tell you a bunch of stories of lives that have changed as a result. I wish I could tell you that hundreds have repented and are now serving the Lord faithfully. I wish I could tell you everyone invited attended the banquet last month. But unfortunately, I can’t say that.
Instead, my heart feels heavy as very few of my new friends are ready to ditch their lives to follow Jesus. Some are not convinced they need to repent at all. Some just want a ride or food. Some have had their fill of religion. Others are not convinced He is worth it.
Sometimes I am overeager like the two blind men described in Matthew 9:28. They shout for Jesus to heal them, to give them sight. Only to have Jesus respond with a question, “Do you think I can do this?” I sense Jesus impress this same question on my heart daily. “Kelli, do you think I can do this? Do you believe I have the power to save these people?”
The good news is that I often see God do supernatural things. My problem is that I expect these miracles to result in a mini motel revival, but now I understand what Jesus meant when He said, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31).
Lately, my weary soul finds comfort that Jesus never promised revival; in fact, He told us to expect the opposite (2 Tim. 4:3-4). Even when people saw the supernatural, it usually didn’t lead to repentance (Luke 10:13). They had Jesus right in front of them and they still couldn’t see the Truth. What Jesus did promise was that we would have His presence with us as we made disciples (Matthew 28:20). This I have definitely witnessed.
I find myself needing encouragement. This post is to encourage myself now and for years to come. I hope it encourages you too. I used to think that ministry was only successful if there were people falling on their faces and coming to Christ. This isn’t necessarily true. For those who are sharing Christ without much result, without seeing any fruit, take heart and continue to endure. We may not often see repentance in the harvest, but we do experience God being with us; and we do enjoy the peace knowing we tried. And that makes it all worth it, because He is worth it, worth ditching my plans for, worth losing my life for…
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:58