Many think we can live a loose life, abusing grace and continuing on in our sin and still make it into heaven. They want to relax God’s standards of holiness and will say, “it doesn’t take all of that to live saved.” But judging from the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:29-30, it takes all of that! In this passage Jesus states, “If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.” Jesus makes it clear that we are to go to extreme measures to keep ourselves in a place of purity and to flee temptation. He is not encouraging us to harm ourselves by gouging out our eyes and chopping off our hand. He instead is saying that we should remove from our lives the things that will cause us to succumb to temptations, even if our actions seem radical. Living saved is not for the faint of heart, and the temptations of the enemy are real. We cannot take a passive approach in resisting temptation. We have to radically reject what the enemy brings us and the things that make us stumble. If you have stumbled, don’t stay knocked down. Repent and, as the Lord reveals the things that threaten to ensnare you again, be mindful to flee from those things. We don’t have to do this in our own strength, God’s grace is there to keep us from falling if we want to be kept. The sinful pleasures we deny ourselves of now are nothing compared to the reward that awaits us in heaven.
As I was transporting my children to school this morning, a familiar scenario played out. I instructed them to put on their seat belts… more than ONCE! The three younger ones acted as if I was asking them to do something painful. After they reluctantly put on their seatbelts, I reminded them of what I had reminded them of so many times before. I told them that God gave people the wisdom to create seatbelts to help keep us safe. I am in the habit of praying and asking the Lord to keep us safe when we are traveling. I told the children that while praying is ALWAYS in order, we should not ignore the safety provisions that are available to help answer that prayer.
How many times have we been like my children; times where we prayed, but ignored the answer God provided? It is so easy to use prayer as a copout. We pray but sometimes we want God to do it all and not require anything of us. However, prayer requires not only something of God but in prayer, God may require us to act! It is not wisdom to pray but then ignore and not act on wh at God has given us to help answer that prayer. For example, we may pray and ask the Lord to keep us from fornication but we push to keep a relationship alive that God cut off. We may pray and ask God for financial resources. However, when He opens the door for us to get a job we decline because we think the job is beneath us. A student may pray and ask God to help her pass her exams but uses the time God provided to do everything else BUT study. Pray at all times? Yes! However, remember that prayer does not exempt you from action.
And just like that I have entered into a new season of life. A lot has changed.
My husband and I started a new church plant.
My firstborn is in high school and my youngest is in Kindergarten. The conversations I have to have with both of them blows me away.
I am hearing God in a way that I have never heard Him before and what He tells me is not always comfortable or convenient.
I am being challenged to steward my gifts well and be intentional about pursuing what God has placed inside of me. No more holding back, no more excuses.
I must confess that I am still trying to find my rhythm for my new NOW. Trying to operate the way I did a few months ago just makes everything off key. I like comfort and I like having a routine. But the longer I live, the more I realize that seasons are constantly changing and if I insist on holding on to what is familiar, I will remain stuck. I have been experiencing a strange and uncomfortable tension. I have cried a few times because this is all so unfamiliar to me, and so uncomfortable. But at the same time I long for the New that God is doing in my NOW. It’s a strange, beautiful, painful, giddy kind of thing that is going on inside of me. I am being stretched…yet again!
Yes, I have moments of frustration but it is undeniable that I, we, were wired for continuous growth. Growth requires a willingness to embrace change, to embrace the unfamiliar and become uncomfortable. I have heard that comfort can become a death sentence-death to dreams and purpose. I am a life kind of girl so I am choosing to say yes to the change, yes to the unfamiliar, yes to discomfort, yes to the growing pains.
In this season I ask you to pray for me as I embrace growth! How about you, are you in a new season, and how have you been responding to the change?
Ecclesiastes 3:1 NKJV
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven
I love to pray I really do. I spend time reading and praying with and for my children in the morning and during the day. However I must confess that I am notorious for praying really QUICK prayers with my children at NIGHT. Most nights I am ready for them to go to B.E.D. I am not one of those moms that sit and read 20 books and say lengthy prayers before bed. Don’t judge me. Last night I was in supermom mode, maybe the nice weather had something to do with it. I did the let’s read lots of stories together thing. Ten minutes into it, I was reminded of why I read in the day and not the night. Two of the children started fighting with each other. My warm fuzzy feelings turned into utter frustration. I wrapped up the story and before I left the room, my 7 year old asked me to pray for him. I was getting ready to pray and he said, “Can you come put your hands on my head and pray more than 5 words!” Excuse me, did he just call me out? I had no idea that he caught on to my quick night time praying habits. He then gave me his request, “mommy please pray that I won’t be afraid to tell other people about Jesus even if I get in trouble for it.” I prayed…and it was more than 5 words.
His prayer request was an answer to prayers that I have prayed for my children. I desperately want them to love Jesus with a contagious love. I want them to share their faith with boldness without concern for their reputation or the penalty. I want their actions to prove that it is not about them but about Christ who lives in them. I want them to be ok with not blending in but fearlessly standing out for Christ. I want them to make the choice to serve their creator when they are young and invite their friends to do the same. It’s in moments like these that I am reminded that I am raising up warriors for the Kingdom! It is a privilege and a great responsibility. I must be diligent in not only teaching them with words but also demonstrating what it means to be a fearless servant for Christ. As I teach, I am also learning.
I was writing a blogpost to complement my YouTube video, Why are you so stressed? I had the intentions to finish the post this morning. But somehow it got deleted. I was not happy! In the process of looking for it, I came across some thoughts that I wrote down not too long ago about having a shaved head that I hadn’t published. Why? I am trying my best not to make every blogpost and YouTube video be about my hair or lack thereof. Why? I don’t want to dwell on it. I suppose I want to appear strong. I want to act normal. Wait, you don’t think I am normal?
But truth is while I am seeing all that God is doing in me and realize this process is necessary, I have had some low moments. Some days I feel so free and then other days I am very much aware and self-conscious about not having hair. I have to fight to not invite shame back in. This morning happens to be one of those days. I woke up and shaved the new stubbles that had grown in to avoid looking like a balding old man. I then realized I had some razor bumps in the back of my head, the lemons are working well as a deodorant but not going too well for razor bumps! Talk about feeling deflated and super self-conscious! My conversation with God through my tears went something like this, “God can you at least take away the bumps. I mean I just got the courage to go out bald. Please God, please take the bumps away!” More tears.
I was just telling a close friend that I found myself thanking God for this process because so much has been revealed to me. THAT conversation took place on a really good day a few weeks ago. I am human and my feelings will go up and down. I know that I don’t have to hide my tears and as I am typing they are flowing. No I am not pretending that it doesn’t feel awkward, it does. No I am not pretending like I don’t care that I don’t have hair, I DO CARE. BUT I CAN’T stay stuck here. On a day like today, I have a choice to both go with my feelings and wallow in self-pity, or I can chose to magnify God above my less than ideal situation. Today I choose to praise, grab a scarf and keep it moving!
How about you? What situation in your life is less than ideal? Are you remaining stuck on how you feel and allowing self-pity to overwhelm you? Have you been magnifying your situation more than God?
Just in case you are interested, below are the thoughts I wrote out a few weeks ago.
NO Hair and I Do Care
NO hair and I wish I could say I don’t care
But the truth is, I care a lot
I look back at old pictures when the hair on my head was actually mine
And I long for yesterday
Funny how the girl back then was so discontent with what she had
And the girl today sees the beauty that the girl in the past couldn’t see
Funny how that happens…you don’t know what you have until it’s gone
I compared my hair to others
It wasn’t thick enough
But I now realize
IT WAS ENOUGH, more than
That’s what God gave me
But this attitude of discontentment was not just about my hair
I look back at the girl from yesterday
And she had no clue
She never saw herself as enough
How DO I, today, become content in my new reality even if it’s not what I want it to be?
How do I keep myself from sinking into self-pity?
I say to God, please restore my hair
I cry, I beg
But He has shown me that even without much hair on my head, this process has caused Him to restore so much in me
Much that was lost that I did not know about
Much that was lost that could not be seen
So no hair and I do care
But not to the point where I will allow it to define or hinder me
We have to break up
I know this all seem so impulsive
I mean it was just yesterday that I had on a long braided wig that covered what I didn’t want the world to see
And then all of a sudden, I grab a razor and shaved the little hair alopecia left behind
Then I had the nerve to get in front of a camera
Without a wig
And showed everyone watching
But this wasn’t all of a sudden, truth is I have been thinking about saying goodbye for years
But I didn’t have the courage to walk away
You see this has been a very controlling and abusive relationship
I didn’t know who I was
You robbed me of my identity
I doubted and denied who God created me to be
You had me dancing to the beat or your drums
And I was out of step
I listened to your songs of doubt and insecurities that played loud in my ear
They often drowned out the tender assurance of love my savior was singing to me
This goodbye has been a long time coming
I’ve tried to kick you out before
However when you came knocking again I opened the door
There is only so much a person pregnant with purpose can take
You see this relationship is just so toxic and I am afraid that if I stay, I will miscarry my destiny. So I am deciding to take the risk and step out.
I told you before, chains don’t look good on me because the blood of Jesus declares I am free
I became confident as I read God’s love letters to me
His words spoke to my spirit and unveiled my true identity
This relationship created an odd sense of comfort
Because you have been in my life for so long
But I am ready to move forward
I am ready to fully embrace my purpose
And you just don’t fit into where God is taking me
Now let me tell you something shame,
Don’t you try to send your cousins, fear and insecurity to try to talk me out of this breakup
I have tasted freedom and it’s quite addictive
Oh I am fully aware that you will come knocking again
But this breakup is final
I make no apologies
Plain and simple, it’s over
Question for reflection?