Thursday, January 2, 2014

no one hands it to you

I've been thinking and praying and hoping for my one little word for 2014. I had all but settled on "brave" when I realized...

that's really not enough. 

"I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have tribulation. But 
take courage;
I have overcome the world."
John 16:33

"Be strong and let your heart
take courage
all you who wait for the LORD!"
Psalm 31:24

I do want to be brave, but I'm not sure that it's something I can just switch on or off; and, like I said, I don't think "brave" is quite enough.

Then I heard it. I recalled it--felt it even.

Take courage.

I can do brave things every once in a while, sure--but I long to be courageous. I long to have that as part of me. Deep down. At heart. 

I know, though, that courage is not something you just fall into. No one hands it to you. You don't become courageous by mistake or wake up one day and discover that it has overtaken you. 

You take it

You take it.

You fight for it, even.

 "Be strong and courageous
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed,
for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:6

One of my favorite characters in Scripture is Joshua. Most of my favorite people in the world remind me of him. They live with no fear of man because they know the power and sovereignty of God. They speak with confidence and courage because they know wherever they walk, the LORD has already walked before them. 

Their obedience, their faithfulness, their belief, and (yes, again) their courage can knock down walls to bring God glory.

I'm not sure what, specifically, I want to accomplish with this one little word (it's really two words--I get it), but I know I want to do that

I want to courageously break walls down so the Spirit can rush through and do His thing...

Be it in the quietness of a heart or with all the chaos of Jericho.

Grow a courageous heart in me, LORD. Plant it deep. I'm willing to fight for that kind of courage.

I will take it.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

a little low: 2013 in review

A year ago, I wrote a little post about a little word:

I remember being worried that I would forget about it. It was a whole new kind of resolution for me--one word from the Lord that would impact everything. Resolutions are typically forgotten, though, and I feared I'd lose sight of it altogether. 

With twelve months to my credit, I did not forget. 

I didn't always make the best choices to support that one little word, but I didn't forget it. 

I got irritated when I should have been grateful.
I judged when I should have trusted.
I spoke my mind when I should have listened. 
I splurged when I should have saved.
I rushed when I should have waited.

And every time, I heard the whisper: "Low." 

There were high points and good moments and right choices through the year, but I think my favorite part of 2013 was not that I perfectly achieved the goals I set...

I didn't forget what God had spoken. 

He held me just as accountable to it in November as He did in February. I think that's a resolution gone right. 

This year was hard. In a lot of ways, it felt low. This year was good, but if I could only use one word to describe it (sure it was an opportunity or growing or fruitful or stretching or rewarding), more than anything it was hard

I planned large events for the first time.
I made big apologies that were waiting to be made.
I moved in with new roommates and moved out two months later. 
I said a lot of goodbyes. 
I struggled with healing and processing. 
I prayed, brokenhearted, for friends who were helplessly hurt. 
I felt like a grown up. Like a surprised, unprepared, unsuspecting kid disguised as a grown up. 

Reflecting now, I wonder if maybe the Lord gave me "low" to prepare me rather than challenge me. Regardless of how He gave was the very word I needed. 

He's good that way. 

He's good in a lot of ways, really. 

I made some sweet new friends in 2013 and, even if it gets a little confusing when we have the same name (grin), it's been good. 

I went on a road trip to Arkansas with my daddy to meet the one person alive who is most like his mother. It was so good for me.

One of my most favorite friends got married and it was so good to celebrate with her.

I went on my first vacation in years with my parents. We had a blast. It did so much good.

I went on my first date ever. Y'all. It was good. 

We can't forget the time I met the Backstreet Boys. That was good. wink 

I laughed. A lot. That's always good. 

At the end of it all, I realize that it's not God's gifts to me that make me love Him or even by those gifts that I know He loves me; but those gifts tell me He thinks of me. That, I love. 

My hope is that, as your 2013 comes to a close, you can know in spite of --maybe even because of-- your low days, there is a Father who thinks much of you and often. 

How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them! 
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand--
when I awake, I am still with you.
Psalm 139:17-18, NIV

Monday, December 2, 2013

the implanted word

I'm mentally kicking myself for this cliché Christmas post. I say that so you know you don't need to do it for me, okay?

In the past few weeks, every friend I’ve talked to, every conversation I’ve eavesdropped overheard, every planning meeting I’ve sat in has sounded a little something like this:
“Ohmyword. It’s almost December. DECEMBER, people!”
“You should see my calendar. I am booked SOLID through January 1.”

“I cannot WAIT for Christmas to be over.”

Like Christmas is a punishment.
Like Christmas is a dreaded event.
Like Christmas is a nuisance or a hassle or—heaven forbid—a burden.

So, here we are—here I am—in this cliché of a post, because we need it.
James 1:19-21 (emphasis mine)
"Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to
, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires. Therefore put away all filthiness and rampant wickedness and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls."

The thing that sets us apart as believers is that the Word is implanted in us. When we walk with the Lord—like really live Him and breathe Him and know Him, His Word isn’t a thing we carry with us or toss around or take lightly. It’s in us. We let it penetrate our hearts and it takes over.
The Word changes things. 

John 1: 1-5, 9-14 (emphasis mine)
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. […] The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh
and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth."
The thing that sets Christmas apart from just any plain ol’ holiday is that the Word was implanted in us. The Word who was with God, the Word who was God, left the presence of the Father and made His home with us. He walked with us and talked with us and never once took us lightly. He became with us. He penetrated hearts and He took over.

The Word changes everything.
Christ didn’t come to send your December into a tailspin. He came to save souls—yours and mine and many. He came to dwell with us and change us. 
And if the Word has truly changed me, my attitude this Christmas should reflect that. My pace, my budget, my joy. They should all be telling of a great change.
In a season when so many are lonely, broken, needing, and hurting, how many opportunities to minister and serve are we trading in and giving up because we’d rather be frantic than faithful? I’m guilty of it, but I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to remember that the Word has been implanted. I want Him to take over and I want to make the right kind of trade.

I want to be slow to speak, quick to listen.
I want to be slow to anger, quick to show compassion.
We can be slow to spend, quick to give.

We can be slow to fill our schedules, quick to pour into others.
The Word can change anything.