Reality check Monday

In Genesis we learn that God weaves into the very fabric of creation a time to rest. Without rest and a reflection period we won’t grow we will just run
ourselves dry. Today I was confronted with what it really means to rest and I began to question what it was that I was truly resting in. As I listened to a podcast from Christine Caine and began to think back over the things I have been learning the past few weeks I faced a reality check that needed to be addressed.

If you spend any time with me you’ll know that I have a tendency to complain about how tired I always am or that my schedule is just to busy…yes I am that girl. Don’t judge me. Because of this I justify my laziness. …”I’ve been at work all day so I’m just going to lay down”, “it’s been a long week I’m going to “rest” and watch Netflix instead”. These are just a few of the scenarios that have played out. All the while I’m neglecting precious time that I could be using to invest in the lives of others. Now don’t get me wrong here I’m not saying there is anything wrong with catching up on your favorite show but in my life personally I was misusing my resting period.

So today as I’m listening to this podcast on the definition of rest she states that “rest does not mean the absence of an activity”. What? If rest doesn’t mean I get to be lazy and do nothing then what exactly does it mean? Well here it is. Rest is an act of something that replenishes you, brings refreshment and rejuvenation. Not something that depletes you…cough cough binge watching netflix in my case. I mean seriously, I rarely feel refreshed after laying in my bed staring at a screen all day, if not more drained then how I started.

Now the reality that needed to be faced was this. I need, no I must, find my rest in the unchanging love, never ceasing grace, and supernatural strength of Christ!

Rest is not a term to justify my laziness it is a time to be spiritually rejuvenated in Christ. A time set apart to deeply pursue The Lord and reflect on the week, whether that be going for a run, talking over coffee with a friend, or spending time in prayer. Furthermore I began to acknowledge that I often use my tiredness or busy schedule as an excuse for not spending time in scripture. During the school semester I have found a common theme around many people that I talk to. We seem to struggle with finding joy and rest in Christ with all of the other things going on around us that pull for our attention. But get this in John 14 Jesus says “peace I will leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled.” He goes on to say in John 15 “as the father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Fathers commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you that my joy be in you, and that your joy may be full.” How crazy is that! We don’t have to fight for peace and joy in our crazy and messy lives, Christ has already provided us with peace and joy if only we choose to rest in Him! May I choose to use my time wisely and use it to rest in the love of Christ and to pursue his people instead of my own silly desires.

Trust in The Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In ALL your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear The Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3.

“The one-way love of God meets us in our failures. Our failures make His one-way love that much more glorious.What qualifies us for service is God’s devotion to us — not our devotion to Him… the value of our lives rests on God’s infinite, incomprehensible, unconditional, love for us!”

-One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian

What a relief that is! So many times I weigh myself down with the pressure of being the best, being enough. Thoughts stroll through my mind that say, “your not cut out for this, they’re more qualified than you, you messed up, way to go…how are you ever going to be used in the Kingdom.” But isn’t that the beauty of the gospel in the first place? God doesn’t call perfect people who have it all together, he calls the lost, the hurt, the broken, the ashes among us and turns us into a new and beautiful creation that could only reflect his glory.(Matt. 9:9-13) Galatians 1:15 tells me that he set me apart before I was even born, and then in my sin and my shame he called me by his grace! If only I could wrap my mind around His relentless love for me.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I am nothing without Christ. But in Christ I have been made new, holy, blameless, and an ambassador for Gods kingdom. Wow!

In One Way Love he talks of a story found in John 21. Peter, who was previously named Simon, denied the Lord three times. Three times! After he persistently said he would never deny him. During this scene in John, Jesus has pulled him aside and asks Peter three times do you love me? Peter responded yes, Lord you know that I love you. How could he not, Jesus pursued him even after his denial. Jesus refers to him as Simon instead of Peter each time he asks him this question. The name Simon reminds Peter of who he once was and who he now is in Christ. We would think, with our mere human minds, that the next scene to follow would include punishment, disappointment, anger…but what does Jesus do instead, the exact opposite of what any of us what do! Peter messed up, and i mean he really messed up not just a little oops,. Not only does Christ forgive him and continue to use him as a disciple but he entrusts him with even more responsibility. Please tell me how many times that’s going to happen to you at your job. It’s not. Jesus tells him to go “Feed my Sheep.”

That my friends is the beauty of the gospel. We don’t have to walk on our toes fearing each mistake we will make or have made. God has called us and God will use us even in our inadequacies and shortcomings. Because of my love for Christ I no longer desire to walk in the life and sin that I used to live, but because of Gods grace and love for me I don’t need to live a perfect life and place myself under so much pressure to measure up in order to be a servant of Christ. It is Christ in me and through me nothing of my own doing. God continues to mold me and grow me in Him daily, and even though I don’t always enjoy it, he chooses to use the hurt and sin of my past to shine his Glory into others lives. You see it’s our messy stories that make Him shine so bright, its his redeeming and relentless love that draws us in. He is the only one who can satisfy our soul and hold the weight of our worship. You don’t have to be a picture perfect person to be an ambassador of Christ, there is no such thing. But take heart Christ has overcome all of your mess and if you stand confident and firm in all of his holiness and glory, then He will continue to bring you from one glory to the next.

Now the question is what would it look like for us to take the freedom and love that God has placed in our lives and share that with our friends, our neighbors, our schools, our parks, our communities, our cities, out states, our world? Well to be honest I don’t know if the world is ready for the kind of love but I know that is what each and everyone of us so longs and desires for. So my challenge to you is to take heart, Christ has already overcome you are made victorious in him. Because he has overcome we now have the confidence and freedom to share his love to the ashes around us that long to be made new and beautiful in Christ.

Be Bold. Be Brave. Be Free. Be HIS!

Why?

Why? Are you sure? Okay, but I don’t get it. That’s a big risk. Seems crazy to me….that’s some of the responses I have gotten from family and friends as I have discussed the Seven Experiment and praying about the possibility of moving across the country to the foreign city of Portland, Oregon. How could I leave Tennessee…Why plant a church so far away…How can you leave your family and friends and what you know…Why only eat seven foods and wear seven outfits, it seems so silly and crazy. The answer is simply, the God that I serve is bigger than my own plans and he continuously calls me out of my comfort zones to serve him. He is not just a God in East Tennessee but Lord over all of creation, and he has called me to reach out to the lost and the brokenhearted. (Isaiah 61:1) Yes, I am very capable of doing that in Tennessee and after this next year is over I may find that the Lord is calling me to stay and serve his people here where I already am. But at the end of this year if I find that packing up and moving to the beautiful city of Portland is where I am to go I want to be more than willing. You see, my desires so easily form around my self, what I want, what i’m comfortable with, what I think I need. But time after time God has shown me that my own desires will fail me if he is not the one at the center of them. He has given me these passions and these desires and he knows better than myself what I need when I need it. Ephesians 3:20 says, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all we ever ask or think according to the power at work within us.” I don’t want to miss out on the work of the gospel because I chose to let my fears and inadequacies leave me where i’m at. God is doing a great work in his kingdom. While He has given me the freedom to stay here where i’m comfortable and continue to use me, I want to be obedient in His calling,..and to be honest it is really exciting just to think about what the Lord has planned for my life if I just choose to walk in obedience. My prayer over the next year is that my passion and desire for the Lord would be greater than any other desire that I have. Which is what led me to The Seven Experiment. In two weeks I will begin this journey based on eliminating excess from my life and focusing on my relationship with Christ. My hope is that God will use this experiment over the next seven months to transform my heart. May my desire to Him and to be in his word and in prayer transform my heart. May my selfish desires decrease and my desire for him increase above all else. (John 3:30)