I am learning to depend on Jesus in a way I never have really experienced before. I described it to someone as, “I’m depending on the Lord in a whole new way. A, like, not cute way. More of a desperate way.” I told another friend this and we decided: nobody needs cute faith. Cute faith is fun for Instagram but will not hold you up when your world has been destroyed. Cute faith is good for the summer camp highs but will not offer you the strength and grace and courage to continue on when the storms of life hit.
You might read some sorrow in these words, and you’d be right. I have been walking through a really hard thing recently that I’m not really ready to share with the “world.” But I still think there are some things I am learning that can be shared, and I never want God’s grace to me to be in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1). So whatever you might be walking through, and whatever “level” of hard it might be, I hope this is a gift to you.
I have been living in Psalm 18, a beautiful story of God rescuing and caring for David in the midst of attack. The word picture of verse 16-17, “He drew me out of deep waters, He rescued me…” has resonated in moments where I felt like I was drowning in my grief and needed saving. In verse 19 it says, “He brought me out into a spacious place, He rescued me because He delighted in me.” Just like the Israelites, we are consistently experiencing God’s rescue and deliverance. We are often found in bondage, and He brings us into the wilderness to escape. And yet, this wilderness is not the promised land. That is a future destination. This is the in between. We spend much of our earthly lives in the wilderness, experiencing mere glimpses of the promised land that we will eventually enjoy. The wilderness is a powerful picture all throughout Scripture, for many different reasons. We see the Israelites there, Jesus spends time there, Paul too. It is often a place of great wrestling, of “doing business” with God. It is a place of enormous growth and equipping. The wilderness is where God meets us. It is often hard, heartbreaking, life-changing, and altogether transformative. We should not come out of the wilderness the same. It is not a place for cute faith, it is meant to cultivate desperate faith.
After a particularly hard week this summer, I received a package in the mail from Amazon. Usually I know what we’ve ordered from Amazon, and we weren’t expecting anything. I opened it to find a pack of face masks (not the kind we are used to wearing now, think spa face masks) that my Mom had sent me.
I texted her and told her they had arrived and she said, “I want you to close your eyes and reflect on God’s goodness and faithfulness in the midst of suffering… and soak in His love.”
Leave it to my Mother to turn using a face mask into a beautiful spiritual discipline.
She said it made her think of 2 Corinthians 3:17-18 that says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
Our faces should reflect the glory of God. Spending time with Him leads to us looking more like Him. We all know that we start to look and act like the people we spend the most time with, it is just as true with God.
So I began a new spiritual practice I like to call “soaking.” I put on my face mask, I set a timer on my phone for 15-20 minutes and then put my phone far enough away from me that I cannot be distracted by it. I lay down and spend that whole time soaking in God’s goodness.
While I’m in Africa, I’m having some friends post over here on the blog! And how fun and fortunate that this first one actually lives in (South) Africa! I learned from this post that we have something in common: we both thought high school was less than enjoyable. 🙂 Fran is super fun, writes hilarious things about being single (you know I love me some single-sass blog posts), and describes herself this way: Equal parts sassy, kind and fun, I tumble through life a writer, thinker and sushi eater. I reckon when we are generous, cool things happen. Running, writing and Jesus keep me sane. Somedays I eat banana chips for dinner and some days I drink wine with my friends while watching the Cape Town sunsets.
Soak up this story from Fran:
When I was a child I used to climb a hill to talk to God. I would put on my Tommie Tekkies (the pair with holes in the toes) and a zip up wind breaker. I’d take the dogs – Dad always said, “go, but take the dogs.” I’d climb through a barbed wire fence, run down the hill, avoid the thistles and cattle dung and jump over the stream.
We don’t get to do things for the first time all the time. As we age, there are less and less chances to do something for the very first time.
I’ve now gone indoor skydiving (see Instagram), I’ve been baptized, I’ve tried sushi. I have gone on a friend-cation to Mexico, I’ve had a Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit, I’ve seen a concert at Red Rocks. I have kissed a boy, ridden a horse, lived on the east and west coast, and seen a sunset in Nicaragua, Hawaii, and Canada. I’ve been a bridesmaid, graduated from grad school, skied down a mountain. I’ll never do any of those things for the first time ever again.
But I am about to experience a whole lot of firsts. First 12 (or 14) hour flight, first time to Dubai and Africa, first time taking 14 college students out of the country. First time being out of the country for three weeks. And who knows all the other firsts we are about to experience?
I want to provide a place of encouragement, a place where we can bring our hurting and sadness and heartache and feel held. Where we can bear each other’s burdens, and hold each other’s lies up to the light of Truth. This is a space for speaking well of one another.
So, dear friend, this is the blessing, the “speaking well,” that I have for you today:
This past weekend I was at a Beth Moore conference that was nothing short of amazing. It was not your typical Beth Moore conference; it was geared specifically for women in their twenties and thirties who are passionate about and feel called to teach and write about the Bible. Beyond anything else, I walked away with a renewed sense of passion for the Scriptures and for intimacy with Jesus.
So I came home and was determined to be in my Bible, which has been a rare occurrence in recent months. I analyzed my daily liturgy to see where I was wasting time and where I could make room for what really matters.
I started in Galatians, and barely made it through chapter one. I was struck by the way Paul starts this letter with his story. He is reminding the church in Galatia of their need for the Gospel – the true Gospel. In order to convince them of this, he tells his story.
To be seen, and in that moment to know that I am loved immediately and fully, is the most overwhelmingly beautiful experience I will ever know.
“I left that conversation, and I knew exactly what I wanted for the rest of my life – for nothing and for everything. I thought, how unjealous I am of anyone on this planet. All I ever want for myself is the kingdom version of me, the exact thing he is making me.” This quote […]
The favorite question of my best friend is: “What are you learning?” So I’ve felt inspired to share that this week. Here is what I have been learning recently…
I have to ask myself these questions. Otherwise I start to question if God knew what He was doing when He created me. Woof.