Category Archives: Encouragement

08/08/17

Holding Back

And the Pastor tells the story…

“Suppose I owned 45 acres and was willing to sell you 44 of my 45 acres for a very reasonable price. It would be your land to farm, to care for, to build a nice big house on, to host bonfires, or whatever your heart’s desire. The catch is that the 45th acre that I am holding back for myself is in the dead center of your property. You can buy 44 acres, but I still own the center, or the heart of the acreage.”

Would that be a good deal to you??

Would you take that deal??

Of course not! Because even though we own the majority of that land, the landowner in the middle of our property could make it very miserable for us to own the 44 acres that surround them.

We would never take the deal, but we often expect God to. We expect Him to be okay with our 44 acres while we hold back the 45th.

Do you see that truth in your own life?

I do. I hate to admit, but I do.

You see, I accepted Him at a very young age. I was 9 years old and it was Easter week and I was the littlest angel on top of the cross at our Easter Pageant, The Living Pictures. Yes, it was just a musical put on by a small town Baptist church, but the music was amazing and the message we conveyed on stage night after night was life-changing. And as I stood up on that very high riser looking down on a struggling, agonizing Jesus as he took his last breath and the stage shook with the beat of the drums, something broke and shattered inside of me. It wasn’t until much later that night in the car riding home with Dad that I was able to ask questions and he pulled the car over and we prayed together, therefore ensuring my name was written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. The following Sunday, I walked the crimson carpeted aisles of FBC and make a public declaration of faith. I remember that I couldn’t wait to tell my teacher, Mrs. Copeland, about it on Monday morning in class. I was so very excited.

It was not hard for me to comprehend salvation, or the merciful Savior who gave the gift freely. It was a simple, childlike faith, but it was not hard for me to understand. I knew He loved and I knew I loved Him and accepted Him. It was not hard to accept the Savior Jesus Christ, the Redeemer, the forgiver of our sins. But, as I have grown in my faith walk, and as I have gotten older, it has been increasingly difficult to accept the Lord Jesus Christ, lord of my life. My whole life. All the acreage.

“If He is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.”

Do you believe that is true?

That He can be Lord of your finances? Of your relationships? Of your past, present, and future? Of your career? Of your health and well being and the health, wellbeing, and safety of others important to you? Of your decisions, both big and small? Of your marriage? Of your children? Of what you put in your mind- music, media, words, etc. that don’t honor Him?

I have been holding on to my final acre for far too long.

Maybe you can relate?

You see, I like control. I’m not too proud to admit it. I like knowing that I can take care of the situation in my time, in my plans, and in my way; the right way! So, there are certain areas of my life I have withheld from my Master. Letting Him in when it was convenient or it served a purpose or a goal. But, the burden is too heavy to continue to carry and I am weary from effort.

That last acre is a big one, one of my larger acres for sure.

It contains my singleness.

Will I ever get married? Will I ever meet “the one”? How will I know that it’s him, that he’s the one? What kind of wife will I be? Will I have kids? 

It contains my hope for the future, in the uncertainties I harbor around my career decisions.

Does what I do really make a difference? Am I in the right seat on the bus? Am I honoring God through my work, in my day-to-day efforts? What goals am I setting for the career I am striving for 5 or even 10 years down the road?

It contains fear.

Fear of failure, of ending up alone. Fear of losing a loved one, and trusting God with their total health and well-being. Fear of just existing, just getting by. Fear of losing myself while I am running the hamster wheel. 

It’s a big, hairy, ugly, fear-filled acre. And I don’t want to maintain it anymore.

I’m making a commitment to til it up and hand it over to the master gardener because I know what He can and will do with it. I know He can produce beautiful blooms for years to come. I know that His way is the only way and I trust Him because He is my Good Shepherd and He only wants what is absolute best for me.

So, why should I fear?

It may not be done in my way, in my plan, or in my finite sense of human timing, but divine work is about to happen on my acre and I cannot wait to put the “For Sale” sign in yard!

It’s always been yours Lord, my whole life, my whole heart, my everything. But I give up the 45th acre. I relinquish it to you. I have been foolish to think that it was mine or that I was owed a portion of all that you give. I’m tired of maintaining it. I’m tired of carrying the burden that you want to shoulder for me. Thank you for this journey you have me on, and I thank you for walking it with me. Be patient with me O God, because my flesh will fail and my spirit is often weak. Don’t let me take back “control” of that acre. Help me to hold firm to your promises that you have spoken over my life. Remind me daily of your unfathomable love and of your absolute truths. Amen. 

xoxoxo…

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07/23/17

Author

As a writer, I have drafted no less than several hundred term papers, countless essays, edited news copy for broadcast, press releases, written speeches to deliver at friend’s weddings, and hundreds of blog posts since I began blogging in 2012.

Even still, at my job, I am responsible for all edits for our department page on our corporate website and write the copy to introduce new franchisees to our workforce as we bring them into the fold- into our family. I am so very intentional about the word choice as I know that I am introducing this individual and want to be certain to allow them to glimpse their work ethic, past performance, hobbies, character, chemistry, and their leadership capacity. I still believe it is one of the single most important things I do on a weekly basis. And, as writers, and even as people, we believe that we are the ‘Authors of our own stories’ writing life one chapter at a time… 

… but we are not.

Someone else has been doing the writing long before we ever even existed.

Long before the foundations of the earth was laid. When there was just the Word and God.

Those words- those precious words in His story of our lives- are carefully crafted, individually selected for each and every one of us. Unique, just as we are. No two fingerprints are exactly alike, and no two stories are exactly alike.

I used to think that my story should align with others. I wanted my track to run parallel to theirs because I felt that was the way, the right way – the only way.

And when it didn’t? … because it never did (or does) perfectly align… I would be discouraged, discontented, and mystified.

Why?!? 

What was different about me?!?

What was wrong with me?!? 

Am I not worthy?!? 

Oh my, dear one. Those are dangerous and destructive thoughts that I allowed to have real estate in my heart and my mind.

The lies of the Enemy begin to swirl. And at times, they swirl still. And I feel powerless to stop their attacks, on my own. Good news is that the God of Angel Armies is on my side- protecting my heart, my mind, my spirit, and my entire story is in His hands. The portions that I know already in my past and in my present, and those chapters still left for me to walk into. Those times of unknown and still uncharted.Those closed doors and open windows.

I want no other Author.

I know that in the deepest sense of my being.

So, why do I continue to try and take the pen?

Why does this Control Monster bubble up from inside of me and it envies, and it aches, and it hurts. And it desires only the temporary or quick fix, and not the eternal. It wants to remedy the path in the here and now, and not be patient for His perfection. It thinks it can be satisfied by its own answers, and it tries to escape the timeline the Author has set before it. And isn’t that just so our nature?

I think of Sarai, or Sarah, from Old Testament Scripture. Abram, or Abraham’s wife, who had been told the great news that she would bear a son, even in her advancing age, and he would be the leader of a great nation of people and his name would be great. Well, if I had that sort of word spoken over me, I would be thrilled and patient and meek and mild, I am just sure of it! I wouldn’t at all be tempted, as Sarah was, to thwart the plan, speed up the timing a bit, and circumvent the process in order to reach that promised destination a little sooner.  I mean, come on… what is the harm in that!?!

And instead, in that moment of weakness, Sarah’s flesh, her own Control Monster, took the easy, less-trafficked road and put a new plan into place. And even still today, the legacy of that decision ripples through the ages as there was never meant to be both an Ishmael and an Isaac. God’s blessing was always meant to pass only through Isaac.

That was the plan all along.

His story. His words. His ways.

I hate to admit it, but I have compassion and strange sort of empathy for Sarah. I have Sarah moments more often than I’d care to admit. And the temptation to take the pen, to put ink on the page, is a very real and a tremendous temptation for me. It’s admitting I don’t have control, and we all know that we love to think we have control in our lives; in our stories. So, it’s that idea, that practice of total surrender.

Surrender.

Now, there is a life-long lesson that we as Christ followers need to learn and to practice daily.

Recently, a coworker of mine did a devotion to open up on of our team development meetings and he was sharing that he was spending the next year discovering what it meant to love Jesus and to serve Jesus with his “all.”

At first, I didn’t quite understand what he meant, but then he began to break down a simple, and incredibly familiar, piece of Scripture…

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. And, love your neighbor as yourself.

All.

All refers to the entire quantity or extent of a person, group, or thing. It is the whole of one person’s admiration, energy, and interest.

I desire Christ to be my All.

I want to be filled of less and less of me and more and more of Him. I want All of Him, and less of Me and this world to fill my thoughts, my days, my minutes. I want the work of my hands, the words from my lips, and the incantations of my heart to be wholly pleasing to Him.

I want to give him my All. Be in complete and total surrender.

But, something wells up inside me before I can make the final transfers… my human, sinful, control-hungry, selfish nature. And, those are when the Sarah moments, those moments of breakdown, occur.

I am on a self-discovery expedition of the heart to determine what it truly means to love, serve, and honor Him with your All. And, I have decided it is surrendering your story to His almighty plan. For, it is always, assuredly better than the ones we could imagine or write for ourselves, but that doesn’t mean that things happen in our ways, to our pleasure, and in our expected time frames.

It could mean seasons of wait- even very, very long seasons of wait.

It could be a “No”, or a “Not right now.”

It could mean some level of loneliness or a season of isolation, where you feel completely alone in this, but you are never alone. He has made that promise.

And, He always keeps His promises.

And, I want to dwell in and live in light of His promises. For, He is good and He is faithful.

xoxo…

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