Dear Younger Me

Dear Younger Me,

College will be a season of great change and growth for you, one that is full of excitement and so much fun. College is one of the most transformational times in your life; it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, excited, and anxious all at the same time. It’s a big change, but it can be a really good change. God has set the path before you, there is no reason to fear. You will adjust to the change. You will miss your family, but you will also grow to appreciate them on a new level. You will figure out a major that fits you, even if it takes a few years. You will make some of the best friends in your life, even if it takes a little time. You won’t be stuck in the dorm eating cafeteria food forever. Don’t worry about the “freshman 15” (or the freshman 5, for that matter), it’s okay to gain a few pounds when your body is still growing and maturing. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Don’t worry about what you cannot control. Don’t be so busy with school that you forget to live.

God will provide for you financially and in every other way that you need. You will love Him more than at any other point in your life. You will learn how to share the gospel with other people and be bold for Jesus. You will experience unity with the body of Christ in a radical way. You will learn how to fight for joy on the harder days. Your faith will become your own, the rock and solid foundation that you build your new “adult” life upon. 

Over the next four years, you will learn and be reminded of many things, the most important being who God is and who you are in him. 

God is your loving father. 

Ever-present.

Sovereign savior. 

Glorious king. 

Righteous redeemer. 

Fountain of satisfaction. 

Protector.

Deliverer.

Defender. 

What does this mean for you? Because you have entrusted your life to Jesus…

You are never condemned. 

You are paid for. 

You are washed clean. 

You are redeemed.

You will be made like Jesus. 

You will be set free from anything that is enslaving you on this earth. 

You are a beloved daughter of the most high king. 

The plan for your life is already figured out. 

You have been saved from death, hell, and the grave.

God has marked you with a seal, that is, the Holy Spirit. 

Nothing will satisfy you more than being in the presence of the Lord. 

You will be protected by God.

You are never alone. 

You will be delivered from evil. 

Nothing will over take you. 

You soar on wings like eagles. 

You will run and not grow weary. 

You will walk and not be faint. 

The angel of the Lord encamps around you. 

You are precious to God. 

You are beautiful to God. 

You are made in the perfect, precious image of God. 

You are a righteous child of God.

You are a conquerer in Christ. 

You are going to rock it these next four years.

Believe in yourself, because God is within you, and you will not fall.

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Where is God in Depression?

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If you have walked through a season (or lifetime) of depression, or know someone who has, you understand that it is much more than having a few bad days.

Depression is draining and so heavy on the heart.  

People with depression can’t just “get better” with their own will power and hard work. If they could, they would have already done so. I would have already done so. 

I’ve spent hours wrestling with God, asking him where he is in my depression. I don’t feel like a have a good reason to be depressed. I just graduated from college with a 4.0, married the love of my life, have a wonderful group of friends, and a family that I love dearly. I am financially stable (by the grace of God) and the beginning of my career starts in just a few weeks. I have no reason to feel the way I feel sometimes, but some days I can’t shake the weighty shadow following me around.

That’s hard to explain to people, and even harder to understand. I don’t even understand it sometimes.

My mind often races with thoughts about how I am not good enough at anything that I do. I am bombarded with attacks about my physical appearance and diet + exercise routine daily, and must constantly fight back so that I don’t act on them. I still struggle with insomnia and anxiety, which worsens my depression. And last year at this time, I weighed 30 pounds less and was extremely malnourished, entrenched in the depths of anorexia.

Food restriction leads to psychological problems; it makes your brain crazy, and so does having an eating disorder.¹ My depression made a little more sense from a world standpoint just a year ago.

I now no longer restrict food. I am no longer malnourished. I am no longer underweight. My sleep patterns are starting to normalize (although there is still much room for improvement). I have developed a much healthier relationship with food + exercise (again, there is still room for improvement), and I am starting to kindle a new relationship with my body. I feel like I should be able to move on & leave behind everything that I’ve been through the past year. The eating disorder. The anxiety. The compulsive exercise. The poor body image. 

Yet, the depression still lingers, for reasons that I cannot fully comprehend.

I can’t count the number of times I have cried myself to sleep, begging God to take this burden off of my shoulders.

In many ways, he has.

His love has healed my heart in ways that nothing else on this earth could.

His promises lift me up and give me hope. 

His presence has filled me up with joy even on the darker days.

His faithfulness in the past encourages me to trust him in the now. 

His provision sustains me day in and day out, even when the anxiety and depression levels are both high.  

But there is still healing that is yet to be done. 

Last night I had a particularly difficult night so I did the only thing I knew to do at 3:00 AM: I sought out his word and asked him to come close to me. 

He led me to Psalm 42:

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One,
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?

Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”²

As I read these words tears began to roll down my cheeks. The psalmist put into words what my aching heart has been trying to process and piece together in these past couple of years. 

“My tears have been my food day and night…”

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed in me? Put your hope in God!”

“I say to God my Rock, why have you forgotten me?”

“Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”

“My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long, where is your God?”

He doesn’t hold back. He doesn’t try to cover up. He doesn’t have a filter. He simply comes to God and asks to be healed, just as he is. This, my friends, is the first step to healing. 

Only God can heal the heart burdened by depression. 

From the very beginning, he writes, “My soul thirsts for God, the living God. Where can I go and meet with God?” The psalmist knows. He understands that it is only God that can lift him out of this pit.² He doesn’t run to other false Gods for temporary relief. He doesn’t look for easy ways to numb his pain. He runs to the one he knows will restore his joy- and he doesn’t waste time. I am so guilty of this. When I see anything that can provide me with some sort of relief I run to it so quickly that I don’t even realize what I am doing until it’s too late. And then I end up empty handed and even more broken than before. 

The very first thing he asks God is where he can go meet with him. He longs for the presence of the living God. He knows that only God can heal his heart.

As much as they may love us, our friends, family, and even doctors can’t restore to us the joy of our salvation. Alcohol doesn’t restore us. Sex doesn’t restore us. Relationships don’t restore us. Food doesn’t restore us. The perfect body doesn’t restore us. Only Jesus can do that.

Remembering God’s faithfulness gives us hope for the future.

The psalmist doesn’t understand why his soul is so burdened. We see this clearly when he asks multiple times, “Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?” It’s okay to ask why. It’s okay to wrestle with God. But there is a fine balance between asking why and living in the why. The psalmist doesn’t stay in the “why”. He moves into a place of thanksgiving and remembrance. He knows that the “whys” of his situation will only lead him to further frustration and despair. So he does what he knows to be true- he reflects on the ways that God has delivered in the past, which then leads him to worship God for who He is. He lays down the crippling circumstances in which he finds himself in. This lays the foundation for hope and is the beginning of his restored joy.

The psalmist isn’t healed the moment he lays it all out to God. There is a good chance that he had to wait on the Lord before there was any change. But he does just that. And in the waiting, he draws near to God and worships him. He invites God to be the joy in his waiting, in the time in-between. 

 

I’m not sure why depression has to be apart of my story. But I do know that it causes me to yearn for the presence of God and my home in heaven so much more so than if I didn’t struggle with it. It reveals to me the brokenness of the world we live in, and in that, makes the light of Jesus shine even more so in my life. It magnifies my need for him and pulls me into a deeper joy that I wouldn’t be able to appreciate without it. 

God isn’t absent in depression.

God is near to the broken hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.It’s not in his nature to let his beloved stay in a place of complete sorrow and despair. Even on the many days and nights where it has felt like God was far away, I know that he wasn’t. Because he never is. He promises to be with us always, & that he will never leave or forsake up. It is by his grace alone that I am where I am today, and by the joy that he has produced in my heart, a joy that could only come from worshiping and serving him. Our God is a god of hope, and there is no power that depression has that is more powerful than the finished work of the cross. This world is broken and running rampant in pain and suffering- but do not lose heart. There will be a day when he will wipe every tear for the final time, that there will be no more crying, suffering, pain, or depression. This is the hope I am holding on to. 

REFERENCES:

  1. Lasker, Gabriel Ward. “The effects of partial starvation on somatotype: an analysis of material from the Minnesota starvation experiment.” American journal of physical anthropology 5.3 (1947): 323-342.
  2. Life application study Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Psalm 42. 
  3. Life application study Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Psalm 40.
  4. Life application study Bible. New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print. Psalm 34:18.

 

 

 

 

 

 

King of My Heart

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Y’all, sometimes my heart doesn’t feel right. Sometimes I can pinpoint why, and other times something just feels off. My heart longs for immediate gratification, complete understanding, and order + control. My heart isn’t tame; it loves fiercely and hurts deeply (both of which can get me in trouble at times). I can go from sorrowful to full of joy (and vice versa) within just a few minutes. My heart is unpredictable & has no filter. Above all, my heart reminds me that I am constantly in need of saving, in need of comfort, and in need of Jesus. 

Our hearts are so deceiving. Maybe other people aren’t as much of an emotional rollercoaster as I am. But we all can’t deny that our hearts are deceptive and broken. The prophet Jeremiah puts it like this: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”¹

Our hearts are in need of saving, and that’s where Jesus comes in. Ezekiel prophesied that God would one day restore and transform our hearts: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”²

A new heart.

A new spirit.

Not just a better one, but a completely new one. 

This heart is a precious gift from our father and we are to protect it as such. Proverbs 4:23 reminds us to guard our heart, because everything that we do flows from it.

God didn’t include this in his sacred truth for no reason. He reminded us to guard our hearts because he was sure that they would come under attack. He knew that a heart built on his truth would often be playing tug-of-war with our emotional responses and aches & pains of this world. He knew that we would be tempted by the enticing and evil desires of this world. He knew that the enemy would try to tamper and discourage a heart that has been redeemed by the blood of Jesus.

The song King of My Heart, written by Sarah McMillan, hits the nail on the head when it comes to this topic. In these lyrics, you will see a plead to God, that He would reign in the hearts of those he is king over, the hearts that rightfully belong to him.

But there is this thing called sin, that we will all be fighting against until the day that we see Jesus face to face. The good thing is that if you are a follower of Jesus, God is fighting for you not against you. Nothing can compare to our king. He knows how hard it is. He isn’t surprised with it, which is why sent Jesus to die on the cross to save us from his wrath. Yet, in our limited thinking and processing, we so often try to “fix” or satisfy our hearts with things other than our king, which always leaves us worse off than before. We can’t outrun or escape these things on our own. So what do we do? Run to our king. When I listen to “King of My Heart”  it reminds me that the answer is Jesus.

“Let the King of my heart
Be the mountain where I run
The fountain I drink from
Oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the shadow where I hide
The ransom for my life
Oh, He is my song

Let the King of my heart
Be the wind inside my sails
The anchor in the waves
Oh, He is my song
Let the King of my heart
Be the fire inside my veins
The echo of my days
Ohh! He is my song.³

Jesus, be the mountain we run to. When we want to run away, may we run to you, not another relationship, dead-end path, or road that is outside of your will. We don’t want to chase anything short of your glory. We acknowledge that you are the mountain in which we will flee to in the last days. You are highly exhaulted lord; help us to fix our eyes on you.

Jesus, be the fountain we drink from. When we are unsatisfied and thirsty, be our living water. Satisfy our souls with your presence and your word. We are yearning for our hearts to be satisfied, and we often fill them with everything but you. Forgive us Lord and be our satisfaction. Be our everything. Quench our thirst with the power of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus, be our song, our battle cry of faith. We worship you and proclaim your goodness. We ask that you would help us process the things in our hearts. In sickness + health, sorrow + joy, death + life, and discontentment + satisfaction, may your glory shine through us. May we never stop praising you and proclaiming the good news that sets all people free.

Jesus, be the shadow where we hide, the rest that we desperately need. Comfort us when our physical and emotional limits are tested by the weight of this world. Reassure us that we will be okay. Remind us of our safety in you. Be our protector; our safe place in the scorching dessert. Help us to rest from the emotions + feelings that so easily drain + discourage us. When we want to curl up in a ball and hide from all of our responsibilities, relationships, and everyday realities, be the shadow in which we hide. May our time alone spent with you strengthen us and give us everything we need to walk in the scorching sun.

Jesus, be the ransom for our lives. May we understand our position before you: saved by grace & so deeply loved. Help us to rest in the work that has already been finished on the cross. Convict us when we try to perform for you with good works. We thank you for delivering us from death & the grave. May we not take our salvation for granted; may our lips never stop spreading the truth of the gospel.

Jesus, be the wind inside our sails. Help us to not become weary in doing good. Encourage us when we are down. Convict us when we are heading in the wrong direction. Holy Spirit be our internal compass, our teacher and our guide. Don’t allow us to stray from you.

Jesus, be the anchor in our waves. Be our strong tower when our world seems to be falling apart. Be the rock that we stand on. Hold us up so that we don’t get knocked down by the waves that are intended to harm us. Be our stability in situations that are unpredictable and out of our control. Level out our emotions when they are about to burst at the seems. When we feel like we are going to drown in the depths of the sea lead us to what is higher and greater than any circumstance. Lead us to you. Remind us of our blessed assurance, that we are marked with a seal and have a forever home in heaven. Jesus if its in your will, settle the waves + calm the storm. If not, sustain us until the day we see you face to face.

Jesus, be the echo of our days. May our lives be worth nothing to us unless we use it to tell others about the good news of the gospel. Be our meaning and purpose. Be our fire. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus, be the king of our hearts.

REFERENCES:
1. Jeremiah 17:9

2. Ezekiel 36:26

3. “King of My Heart” By Sarah + John McMillan

 

 

Jesus, how long?

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“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? 

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts, and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.

Give light to my eyes or I will sleep in death,

and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him.’

But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation.

I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”

-Psalm 13

Here we find David, a man after God’s own heart, crying out to for deliverance, freedom, and redemption, running to Jesus with his heart as it is; he didn’t try to cover up his thoughts or feelings. He let God have a piece of his mind and heart. 

He didn’t understand. 

He needed comfort. 

He needed reassurance. 

He needed to hear. 

He needed to see. 

He needed to feel. 

He needed to know that God hadn’t forgotten him. 

He needed to know that God wouldn’t hide his face from him. 

He needed to know that he would not always have to wrestle with unwanted thoughts. 

He needed to know that one day there would no longer be sorrow in his heart. 

He needed the eyes of his heart to be enlightened. 

He needed to know how long, how long it would be until he could make some sense of the broken pieces in his life. 

The worst part? 

God seemed to be silent– at least in that moment. 

Although David knew the Lord and loved him,

He felt forgotten.

He felt abandoned.

He felt hopeless.

He felt defeated.

David is desperate for relief; from what he needs relief we are not exactly sure.

It is safe for us to assume that he is agonizing over a few things: 

  • Abandonment v.1
  • Wresting with his sin v.2
  • Lack of Joy in his heart v.3
  • Lack of victory over his enemies v.3

Sound familiar?

How long, Jesus?

How long will I have to fight off lies from the enemy?

How long will my tears be my food day and night?

How long will my prayers go unanswered?

How long will I have to fight off anxiety?

How long will I be uncomfortable in my body?

How long will I feel like this?

How long will I wrestle with unhealthy thoughts?

How long will it take to break bad habits?

How long until I am a little less broken?

How long until I am free?

How long until my heart begins to believe what my mind is certain of?

How long until you will act on my behalf, & do what only you can do?

How long will I struggle with the temptation to turn back to my eating disorder?

How long will I be in recovery? 

How long until I am healed?

How long until I am no longer broken-hearted?

How long until I am completely free?

How long until you come back?

How long, Jesus? 

How long.

This is David’s ultimate cry. This is our heart’s cry: Jesus, when will you make this all right? When is it all going to make sense? When will you return?

David doesn’t try to minimize it or diminish it. He expresses his pain. He cries out in anguish. He brings his raw and real emotions before the creator of the universe. He is simply asking with an earnest heart, and he doesn’t immediately hear back from God, & so often we don’t either. 

In the time waiting, David shifts his focus and proclaims, “But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise for he has been good to me.” v. 5-6

In other words:

Even when it hurts, I will praise you.

Even when nothing makes sense, I will trust you. 

Even when I am sorrowful, I take heart in the joy of my salvation. 

Even when I face trials, I will praise your name. 

Even when I don’t immediately hear from you, I will choose to believe in your unfailing love. 

David didn’t know how long, & neither do we. 

But God didn’t abandoned David, & he doesn’t abandoned us. 

In his own timing, wisdom, understanding, & sovereign hand, God delivered David from his enemies. He forgave his sins. He brought forth joy in his heart. He walked in victory. 

Through his blood came the awaited messiah, our savior, redeemer, deliverer, and peace in the time waiting. 

It’s okay to ask how long. 

It’s natural. 

It’s healthy. 

It’s freeing.

Wrestling with the “how long” reminds us that this world isn’t our home. It’s a reminder of our desperate need for Jesus each day. It’s a reminder of how truly great the good news of the gospel is. The gospel that saves us from it all. Even with a broken heart, weary soul, anxious mind, and lacking ability, we can move into a place where we rejoice in our salvation and trust Jesus even when it doesn’t all make sense. We can move from “how long” to “this won’t last forever”.

We can freely say:

We trust you. 

We trust your promises.

We trust that you are good. 

We trust your ability to heal, to redeem, to show grace, to provide, to keep your promises, to be with us always, to deliver us, and to finish the good work that you have started in our lives, to make sense of our suffering; we trust in your timing & let go of the burdensome “how longs” that so often rule our minds. 

 

To love less

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

[Luke 14:26 ESV]

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This verse has made me feel uncomfortable since the day I first read it.

I have been a christian for around 10 years (whoop whoop, praise Jesus), however, there are still many parts of God’s word that I wrestle with.

Luke 14:26 is one of them.

HATE my family?

My parents?

My sister?

My dog?

Myself?

Every time I come across this verse I quickly dismiss it and move on to something different. I don’t like to confront the idea that God may be asking me to do something that doesn’t make sense to me.  

Last week I finished packing up all of my things & moved out of my house completely for the first time in my life.

I couldn’t hold back the tears rolling down my cheeks and the anxiety that took my breath away.

I was shaking, trembling, and honestly heartbroken.

Life as I knew it for 21 years was about to the flipped upside down and I wasn’t ready.

I love my family more than anything in this world, & in many ways my parents home is my safe haven. My sister is my joy. My sweet puppy is my peace.

I was excited to move in with my husband; I was excited to decorate the apartment; I was excited to start figuring this whole “adult” thing out.

But I was also at a loss.

The time went by too fast and it felt like I was losing such an important part of my life.

Saying “see you later” just didn’t quite have the same ring to it.

I knew I would see my family later, but when? A few days from then? A week? A month? Longer?

I didn’t know how to process all of the change, so I did the only thing that I know to do in these types of situations: I opened God’s word and asked him to speak.

I was looking for a “feel-good” verse, something that would bring me comfort, reassurance, and relief.

I eagerly opened up my bible, the word that has nourished my soul with love, joy, comfort, encouragement, and peace. I was ready for what God had to say to me. I wanted to hear his voice. I needed some insight into this situation.

I put on my pajamas, brushed my teeth, turned on my side table lamp, & began reading the first verse that I had found that related to “family” in my bible index:

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” 

[Luke 14:26 ESV]

Why did Jesus direct me back to the same verse that I have wrestled with for so long? Out of all of the verses in the bible, why did he lead me to this? This wasn’t making me feel better…if anything, it made me feel worse. 

So I started processing:

I know that God loves everyone.

I know that God is a God of relationship and fellowship.

I know that God loves me.

I know that God loves my family.

I know that the bible tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. 

I know that God’s word tells us that love covers a multitude of sins (I don’t see anything about hate in there). 

I know that we are called to bear with one another in love.

My own understanding wasn’t enough. I decided to dig a little deeper & do some research.

In the original greek, the word used for hate in this passage is miseō. Strong’s concordance has a few different definitions for this word: 

  1. To hate  
  2. To detest 
  3. By extension, to love less

A lightbulb turned on in my head:

In this verse, Jesus isn’t commanding us to spew words of hatred towards the people that we love (or ourselves). He wants to emphasize that we need to love him more than we love anyone or anything else. To hate means to love less. “If anyone comes to me and does not LOVE LESS his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” 

Why? 

As Tim Keller simply states in his book, Counterfeit Gods, “Human make terrible Gods.” As much as I love my family, there have been many, many times when I have hurt them or have been hurt by them. As much as I love myself, there have been many times when I have chosen what has hurt me rather than what would have kept me safe. We are all fallen and imperfect. If I place all of my trust into my family (or myself), I will be crushed when they disappoint me (or when I disappoint myself). To believe that humans were created to satisfy us more than Jesus is to believe the lie that God isn’t who he says he is.

When I choose to run to Jesus before anything else, it actually enables me to better love my family, because God’s spirit will produce in my joy, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control, & peace.  

God isn’t asking us to hate our families, but he is making it clear that I cannot be his disciple if I don’t love them less than him.

I’ve been very lucky to grow up with a family that loves Jesus and reflects his glory on a daily basis. I am confident that God uses them to encourage me and love me in tangible ways…but if given the choice, the deepest parts in my heart would always choose Jesus first, even when it’s hard. 

Why? 

It is only God who can produce inexpressible joy in our hearts. It is only God who can flood us with peace that surpasses all understanding. It is only God who can heal my deepest wounds and redeem my life from hell and the grave. 

My family and I weren’t made to do that.

I cannot be his disciple if I let my family determine every decision that I make and action I take. 

I cannot be his disciple if I rely on my family to be my Holy Spirit. 

I cannot be his disciple if I rely on my family for salvation. 

I cannot be his disciple if I don’t love him more. 

I cannot mature in my relationship with Jesus by always staying in my comfort zone. 

No one can. 

 

I don’t always put God before my family… it’s a very difficult thing for me to do. 

I seek first their opinions. 

I crave their love. 

I desire their approval. 

I want them to satisfy me in ways that only God can. 

I want to be comfortable with them. 

Family is such a beautiful blessing from God. He created it the ultimate family model in the father, son, and holy spirit. God created families and desires to be glorified in them on earth and in heaven. It’s such a sweet gift to be able to walk in a family that encourages, prays, uplifts, and gives life.

But when I place my family on a pedestal, I elevate them into a place that only God can rightfully reign, and I begin to become bitter and angry when my family doesn’t do what I think that they are supposed to. I have to guard myself against this temptation.

Loving Jesus more than I love my family produces freedom that can only be found in the union with christ.

For me, loving Jesus more is being okay with moving out and going out into the community and working, because that means that I will have more opportunities to share the gospel and bring God glory. I have to be okay with going where Jesus wants me to go, no matter where my family is. 

For others, that may mean removing yourself from a toxic situation, speaking out about your faith, or providing your child with the resources to head oversees to share the gospel. It also may mean risking your life, status, or position in your family all for the sake of Christ. 

For everyone, loving Jesus more & the world less means: understanding who Jesus really is: the savior the world, king of kings, prince, of peace, fountain of life, living water, good shepherd, lover of our souls, ultimate sacrifice, high priest, intercessor, and our only redeemer. 

Our God is not a withholder of good; he knows what we need, when we need, & why we need it more than anyone else on this earth, even ourselves. 

Even when it hurts, even when it’s hard, & even when it doesn’t quite make sense:

Love less so that you can love more. 

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How I know He is the One

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Josh and I have been dating for almost 6 years; it’s crazy how fast time goes by when you’re having fun!

We’ve navigated both high school and college together.

We used our weights class as a study hall and pretended to “do abs” the entire 55 minute class period (we put the “student” in student-athletes).

We somehow managed to get A’s in AP calculus & AP psychology (I’ll let you guess who was better at which).

We convinced our college professors to move our tests when we wanted a long weekend (true story).

We’ve celebrated more holidays together than I can count (from Christmas to St.Patrick’s day….?)

We’ve laughed until we had tears streaming down our face.

We’ve road tripped 14 hours to NYC, 9 to KC, and 7 to PCB.

We’ve had some long-distance summers, & others spent together.

We have gone on so many fun dates, from picnics at the park to fancy dinners in downtown Nashville.

We’ve laughed, cried, danced, adventured, made memories, and grown together in so many different ways these past 6 years.

Let me tell you a little bit about Josh, & how I knew he was the one:

Josh shows me love each day even when I don’t deserve it.

He always pays for my meals (even when I accidentally order the most expensive item on the menu…oops 🙂

He gives good gifts & it generous with his time.

He often gives up his own plans for mine.

He always knows how to put a smile on my face.

He makes me feel funny and he laughs at my jokes (most of the time).

He has gone to therapy with me to support me in recovery.

He is sweet to my friends.

He holds me when I cry.

He drags me out of the house when I need a pick-me-up.

He challenges my thoughts when they are irrational (hard to believe, I know).

He let me buy more than 5 throw pillows for our apartment (a big compromise on his part).

He has the most balanced, healthy relationship with exercise, & encourages me to follow him in that.

He encourages me to eat dessert when I want it, & to save it for later when I am full & satisfied.

He only makes positive comments about my body & appearance.

He takes my mood swings like a champ.

He comes and watches me speak every chance that he gets.

He shows love to Maddie even when it means getting her hair all over his black shorts.

He is very intelligent & good with money (thank you Jesus that I don’t have to construct our budget or do our taxes).

He loves spending time with family.

He respects me & doesn’t hesitate to tell me how proud he is of me.

He supports my career & is willing to work while I do my dietetic internship.

All of these things are great, but they weren’t the deciding factor in determining if he was “the one”.

Jesus was the deciding factor.

I knew that a relationship that wasn’t built on the rock-solid foundation of the gospel wasn’t going to work for me.

I’m not sure how it works for anyone.

With the divorce rates in the United States ranging from 40-50% (even within the Christian community), I wasn’t going to take my chances with just anyone.¹

I wasn’t just looking for a guy who went to church, attended a bible study, or lived a moral life.

I needed someone who shared my love for Jesus.

I needed someone who was born-again, & believed in the daily work of the Holy Spirit.

I needed someone who would fight his sin like a true man, while also encouraging me to do the same.

I needed someone who would hold my hand during worship.

I needed someone who would be to me who Jesus is for the church.

I needed someone who would receive the grace, mercy, and forgiveness and God, because Lord knows I need that same grace, mercy, & forgiveness every day.

I needed someone who would prepare for the return of Jesus with me.

I needed a good “kingdom-building” partner.

I needed a man who was after God’s own heart.

Josh is that person for me.

What makes loving him so easy is his humility, willingness to turn from his sin, and recognition that his purpose in life is to know God & make him known. He understands that it is only by growing in intimacy with God that he can grow in intimacy with me. He loves Jesus, he fears the Lord, he believes in the power of God’s word, & he has been born again, a new creation through the blood of Jesus.

It isn’t because of the nice dates, fun times, or even memories made. It isn’t because of the cute pictures & holidays spend together. It isn’t his good looks or his charm. It isn’t even his personality. As wonderful as some of those things are, they wouldn’t have held us together these past 6 years.

It’s because of Jesus.

Nothing more, nothing less. The saving blood of Jesus unites us together in a relationship that can only become more intimate through the covenant of marriage.

REFERENCES:

  1. http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/

 

Wedding Week.

All of our plans from the last 13 months are coming together this week.

Thank you notes are being written at full force.

My bags are packed for the honeymoon.

My dress was taken to David’s Bridal for a last minute button repair (yikes!)

Rainy weather prep has been taken care of.

The marriage license has been signed.

We are both more ready now than ever before (how could you not be after dating 6 years?!)

In 4 days, I will be marrying the man of my dreams; the one who has loved me through the darkest season that either of us have walked through; the one who makes life less complicated & reminds me to make time for work AND play; the one who holds me and prays for me when human words are not enough to comfort.

In 4 days, we will make a covenant before God (how cool is that?!), promising to love each other deeply, in sickness & in health, for better or for worse, & to build a life around the gospel that glorifies Jesus in everything we do. What a beautiful blessing that could only come from Jesus.

Life couldn’t be any better, but this week hasn’t been a walk in the park. “Wedding bliss” has been a far cry from my reality.

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I lost my retainer & had to pay $300 dollars out-of-pocket (for a new piece of plastic).

My anxiety has been ramped up & I haven’t been able to sleep very well (let’s be real, when do I ever sleep well?)

My stomach has been in knots & I have had sharp pains on and off each day, often without explanation.

I went to the doctors office to get a physical done & I about threw the scale across the room when she told me my weight (dramatic? maybe so.)

My eating disorder has attempted to resurface this week, so I’ve been having to fight the lies with truth & fight to practice good recovery.

I haven’t spent much time recently with Josh because we are both super busy between the wedding & work.

Feelings of depression have flooded my heart.

Oh…….and my dog, my sweet Maddie May, has a cancerous tumor in her right eye, & she tore her ACL.

What a week, & it’s only Wednesday.

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I know that none of these things are a coincidence. See, the devil doesn’t like it when two people who love God commit to marriage. He knows all too well that a cord of 3 strands cannot easily be broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12). He prowls around like a lion & devours me every chance he can get (1 Peter 5:8).  He wants to steal, kill, & destroy not only me, but everyone who inhabits this earth (John 10:10). He is bitter towards God & tries to reap havoc on everything that he can.

Do I think it’s a coincidence that my eating disorder urges are strong, my anxiety is high, & my dog’s illness was revealed to me this week?

No.

Josh & I are both Christians & we are both committed to marriage…the devil has already lost those battles, but that persistent, pesky fallen angel doesn’t give up easily. He tries to do everything in his power to deceive, distance, & disrupt our relationships with God. He does everything in his power to render the Christian as powerless, ineffective, and unfruitful.

When responding to his attacks, we have a few options:

  1. We can run to the things of this world to distract ourselves from what we are feeling & relief our pain temporarily.
  2. We can try to run & isolate ourselves.
  3. We can become bitter towards God.
  4. We can turn to Jesus and fight back.

I ran through my options:

I could revert back to my ED behaviors to numb myself to what I am feeling…..maybe skip a meal, go on a long run, or binge on cereal until I am sick to my stomach.

I could just sit in my room with my door closed until the day of the wedding…life is too much sometimes. It would be easier just to not do this week or talk to anyone.

I could just get pissed at God & distance myself from him because I don’t feel his presence in these situations. “WHY would all of this happen on what is supposed to be the best week of my life?! Does he not know what is coming up in just a few short days? Does he care?”

I could turn to Jesus & refuse to lie pray to the enemy’s schemes. I could fight back for joy, fight back for peace, & fight back for my soul. 

Number 4 isn’t necessarily the easy option. It doesn’t always feel good. It doesn’t always make sense. It’s hard.

But, even so, how could I not turn to the savior who has redeemed dead places in my life more than once; the one who loves me more than anyone else on this earth (even my fiancé); the one who has NEVER left me or forsaken me; the one who has already won the battle on the cross?

When I decided to turn to God rather than run away from him, he gently reminded me of the scripture that has been engrained in my mind since my late high school years, the scripture that reminds me of the power of Christ that lives in me, the scripture that has been the most helpful to me in fighting off lies from the enemy:

“Although we walk in the flesh, we do not wage war in the flesh. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal (of the world, man-made), but mighty in God, for the pulling down of strongholds, casting down of arguments, & every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking every thought into captivity & placing it under the obedience of Christ”­ (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).

Modern Day translation: You are not fighting your circumstances, the things that are seen. We are fighting off the lies that the enemy whispers to us in the midst of situations that may or may not already be difficult to walk through. He makes things up. He tries to pit man against man, woman against woman. He wants us to believe we are powerless. But, God the Father has granted to us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm to fight off these attacks. The power of the cross is great enough to break down sin patterns that have been engrained in our lives for years. The power of the cross speaks louder than any argument the enemy tries to engage in. The power of the cross tells us that there is nothing too big or too hard for God.

God knows that the enemy will attack us, but he doesn’t leave us to fight the battle alone.

He asks us to take our thoughts captive. He wants us to discern what is true & what is not through his word & the guidance of the holy spirit. He takes hold of the destructive thoughts when we surrender to him. The weapons that he has given us are the sword of the spirit (the word of God), the helmet of salvation (our secured victory & eternal destiny), the breastplate of righteousness (our position before God because of Jesus, our identity), feet fit with the gospel of peace (a foundation of peace & trust in the gospel), and the shield of faith (God himself, protecting us & guarding us from the fiery darts that the enemy uses in hopes to wound & discourage us). Our weapons are more powerful than the weapons of this world (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Satan wants me to turn back to my eating disorder because he knows it renders me as useless & crippled.

Satan tries to worry me because he knows my body doesn’t process anxiety well.

Satan encourages me to fixate on small details that don’t really matter in light of eternity.

And Satan tries to destroy me here on earth because he isn’t powerful enough to seduce my soul.

Friends, the battle has already been won, which is something we so easily forget.

So as I continue to prepare for the wedding on Saturday, I refuse to sit back & allow the devil to beat me down. I will sing songs of praise to Jesus, fight back with scripture, & pray by the spirit any chance I get.

I will crush satan’s head with every step I take towards my groom on that glorious Saturday afternoon. I will make a public declaration that he hasn’t (and will never) win battles against me. I will rejoice in the beauty of the gospel & the privilege of getting to do life with such an amazing man, one who is after God’s heart. I will live in the now rather than looking ahead and worrying about the future. I will not be shaken by circumstances or lies that are only meant to destroy me. Not from my own power, but from His. Saturday couldn’t come soon enough!

 

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Following Jesus Daily

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Y’all……following Jesus isn’t for the faint of heart.

And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” (Luke 9:23)

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:38)

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” (Galatians 5:16)

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling…” (Philippians 2:12)

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” (Colossians 3:12-14)

When I test and examine my heart with the scriptures, it becomes quite easy to identify the areas of weakness in my walk with Jesus:

Am I dying to myself when I choose to start my morning scrolling through my social media feed rather than opening my bible & spending time with the sovereign creator of the universe?

Am I presenting my body as a living sacrifice when I neglect rest & I am irritable because I haven’t eaten enough?

Am I walking by the spirit when I rationalize my sin & ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit?

Am I demonstrating compassion when I am easy to anger & quick to forgive?

Am I showing kindness with my words when I am sarcastic or rude?

Am I walking in humility when I spend 15 minutes trying to come up with the right caption & filter for my latest Instagram post (come on, we all do it)

Am I acting meek when I talk more than I listen?

Am I patient when I decide to take matters into my own hands?

Do I really approach God with fear and trembling when I scroll through social media in the AM rather than opening up my bible & asking God to speak? 

No. 

There are many, many days where I don’t feel like “being like Jesus”… & I often don’t believe that I even have it in me to live up to half of what he has called me to do.

The world is too dark.

The enemy is too deceptive.

My sin feels too good.

I am too weak.

The truth of the matter is, we don’t have enough in us to live like Jesus. We are absolutely nothing apart from him.

We can’t escape the corruption of the world.

We can’t out smart satan.

We can’t resist our sin.

We can’t, but God can.

His word tells us that where sin increases, grace abounds all the more.¹ He lavishes his grace upon us.² He became sin for us, so that we may become the righteousness of God, free from all guilt, shame, and penalty for our inability to save ourselves.³

Why did he do all of this despite the infinite number of ways we fail him each day?

Because he loves us. He loved us while we were still sinners, when we trampled on the gospel and rejected the good news. He still loves us, even when our sanctification process seems to be at stand still. His love heals, his love transforms, & it is only his love that can bring us joy while dying to ourselves.

Many times we know what we need to be doing in our heads but our hearts aren’t convinced. We are torn between the prompting of the Holy Spirit & our flesh. In that moment we must decide: Are we going to choose Jesus, or are we going to do what we want to do?

Are we going to spend time with Jesus or scroll through Facebook for 30 minutes?

Are we going to bite our tongues, or are we going to blurt out the first thing that comes to our minds?

Are we going to present God with our prayers and petitions, or are we going to create scenarios in our head & worry about things that may or may not happen?

Are we going to give into our sin, or are we going to justify it & minimize it?

Choosing Jesus won’t always feel like the best option; it may in fact be the most painful option. It often doesn’t feel good at first. The immediate satisfaction may not be there. The pain may still be present. It will be uncomfortable, unnatural, & maybe even a bit awkward. Depending on how long the sin has been rooted in our hearts, it could take a lot of time to heal from the consequences of our sin.

But every time we say “yes” to Jesus and “no” to ourselves we take a step towards freedom, satisfaction, wholeness, healing, & true joy.

Choosing Jesus is the best option. When we are willing, he is able to set us free from strongholds and sin patterns that have held us captive for years. He equips us. He fights for us. He faces the battle head on when it takes all of our energy to get out of bed. He does all of this for us because he loves us. He doesn’t want us to be ripped off. He doesn’t want us to believe the lies from the enemy. He isn’t waiting to cast us down & condemn us for our sin, he wants to save us from it. When we understand this love, we are free to obey God & love him back because we genuinely believe that he knows better than we do.

Jesus, because I love you, I will trust you.

Jesus, because I love you, I will abide in your word.

Jesus, because I love you, I will confess my sins, repent, & turn away from them.

Jesus, because I love you, I will do what you think is best for me.

Jesus, because I love you, I will pray by the spirit.

Jesus, because I love you, I will praise you even when it hurts.

Jesus, because I love you, I will forgive those who have hurt me.

Jesus, because I love you, I will take heart in the power of the cross.

Jesus, because I love you, I will walk by faith, not by sight.

Jesus, because I love you, I will test my feelings against your truth before I speak or act.

Jesus, because I love you, I will take up my cross daily, die to myself, & follow you.

Not because I feel obligated.

Not because I need to impress you.

Not because it will earn me more love.

Not to impress other people.

Not for my own glory, but for yours.

You have already taken up your cross for me, more so than I have (or ever will) do for you. It’s not just, it’s not fair, & it’s not deserved, yet you did it anyways, out of love, a love that always runs deeper than my sin.

REFERENCES:

  1. Romans 5:20
  2. Ephesians 1:8
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:21

Prayer + Positive Vibes

 

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The “positive vibes” tagline began circulating throughout social media in 2016. The premise behind the “positive vibes” movement is that our lives (and the lives of others) will become better when we reflect positive energy in our lives and onto the people around us.¹ Negative energy is seen to be equated with lower quality of life, while higher energy is the ultimate way to achieve “the good life”.¹

By “sending” positive vibes to other people, we are transferring positive energy into their lives & situations in need of a positive touch.

“Started my morning off with a great cup of coffee; It’s going to be a good Monday! #PositiveVibes

“I would appreciate all prayers and positive vibes sent my way today!”

“I am sending you positive vibes we as speak, good feelings to you sister!”

If we can’t muster up the positive energy by our own strength, or somehow attain it from other people, we won’t ever reach the “good life”, whatever that may mean.

Biblical prayer, on the other hand, can be defined as “a solemn request for help or expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.”

The word “solemn” used here is an adjective meaning formal and dignified, earnest, genuine, firm, and with deepest sincerity. To be solemn is to approach God with awe & reverence + expectation that he will act in accordance to his good, pleasing, & perfect will.²

Prayer is based off of the premise that “we can’t” but that “God can”. It allows us to enter into a conversation with the creator of the universe. It grants us access to every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm, weapons to guard our hearts and minds that are radically powerful.

I am struggling to say what I know to be true as nicely as possible….but then again the gospel is offensive. Here we go:

I take issue with the belief that prayer and positive vibes/positive thinking have the same power & influence in this world…I’m not saying that you can’t be a prayer warrior + positive thinker; I am saying that we alone cannot generate enough “positivity” or “good vibes” to save ourselves or other people. Only by abiding in Jesus can that joy be produced in us.³ 

Positive vibes encourage us to change the way we think by our own ability & strength, or that of other people. Prayer encourages us to come before the throne of God just as we are, & to present our requests to Him. It reaches into the realm of heaven & asks God to do something that isn’t possible for us to do. The results of prayer don’t depend on us, they depend on God. Prayer allows for anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, addiction, & doubt; it doesn’t only accept happiness & positivity. God doesn’t expect us to produce positive vibes in our hearts & minds. It is only through a relationship with Him that our hard, stony hearts can be replaced by a soft, responsive one. But even then, God actually warns us by saying that our hearts are deceitful & wicked, & cannot be trusted apart from the guidance of the Holy Spirit & Jesus in us.

I am not mentally strong enough to put on a smile 24/7 & push through life generating my own positive energy.

I don’t trust my heart…it fails me on a daily basis; it leads me astray. It’s often irrational, driven by emotion, and is subject to pain, sadness, & brokenness on a daily basis.

My heart needs the truth and direction of the Holy Spirit, through the channel of prayer.

Do not be deceived: As catchy, feel-good, & #Hashtag worthy as the “positive vibes” tagline may be, they are absolutely nothing compared to the power of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Why settle for “positive vibes” when we have a direct communication channel with God? Why settle by placing our trust in some abstract, concept that resurfaced a couple of years ago instead of the word & truth that is a lamp to our feet & light on our path? Why put our trust in something man-made rather than God-ordained? Why take the risk?

Positive vibes don’t have the power to heal the sick & bring the dead back to life. They don’t heal cancer or brain tumors. They can’t comfort a mother who just lost a child to a miscarriage.

Positive vibes don’t have the ability to fix broken marriages, break addictions, or tear down strongholds.

Positive vibes cannot simply lift us out of anxiety & depression.

Only prayer can do these things. Only God can do these things.

What does the bible say about prayer? How does God’s power compare?

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

“In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” (Psalm 56:4)

“You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.” (Psalm 119:114)

“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14)

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11)

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.Who are we trusting in today?” (Ephesians 6:18)

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) 

“He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” (Psalm 102:17)

“In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weaknesses. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the spirit himself intercedes for us with wordless groans.” (Romans 8:26)

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” (Ephesians 6:18)

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)

May our eyes be opened to the power of prayer for the renewing of our minds, restoring of our souls, & provision of our greatest needs.

REFERENCES:

  1. Nicole Bethune. “Positive Mind, Positive Vibes, Positive Life.” Pitaiyo. N.p., 03 Dec. 2016. Web. 15 May 2017.
  2. Romans 12:2
  3. John 15:14

If Not, He is Still Good

cropped-city-crossing-crossroad-road.jpgI was getting coffee with a friend the other day & the topic of “worse case scenarios” came up in conversation. We talked about how life is such a beautiful, yet difficult journey to walk through each day. It’s easy for us to praise God when our “best case scenarios” play out i.e. a new job, financial provision, healing, material blessings, relationships, marriage, & and having a plan for the future.

What isn’t so easy for us to process are the possibilities of our worst case scenarios coming to life: infertility, rape, failure, terrorism, persecution, death, singleness, divorce, cancer, HIV, car crashes, human trafficking, or our children making the same mistakes we did.

How easy is it to trust that we will be whole, healed, and taken care of heaven when our life on earth is going well, that one day every bit of evil & sin will come under the wrath of God, & every bit of brokenness will be restored? It’s easy for us to praise God when we think about the realities of heaven and the glorious moment that we will see Jesus face-to-face one day. What is not-so-easy, is trusting him in the now, where we know that we are not shielded from our worst-case scenarios from becoming a reality here on earth.

We can pray for healing in ourselves or other people, but we know that Jesus won’t always cure the cancer or take away the brain tumor when we want him to. 

We can pray for our sons and daughters, but it isn’t a way to guarantee that they will never smoke, drink, or do drugs; that they won’t be taken advantage of; that they would not fall into sin. 

We pray for safety during travel each morning, but somehow there always seems to be a devastating crash on I-65 while traveling to work. 

We pray that the addictions in our families would cease to exist, but we know that the road to recovery is long, hard, & often without end.

We pray that our relationships would bloom and our marriages would flourish, yet the divorce rate in the U.S. is still over 50%.

We pray against ISIS attacks, suicide bombings, child soldiers, persecution, & war, yet it still plagues countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, and China. 

We beg God to bring a well-established, Christian man into our lives, & 5 years later there still hasn’t been a call. 

We pray that the lost would be found and the slaves would be set free, yet there are still so many people who have completely fallen away from God. 

We intercede for America, begging God for revival, to change the hearts of those in Washington & in Hollywood, yet there is still so much corruption. 

We call the prodigal home, & still there is no one at our doorstep. 

I start to wrestle with God, begging him to help me figure this whole thing out.

“So God……….I trust you. I trust that I am going to spend eternity in heaven with you, I trust that you will ultimately take care of me, but I must confess that it is difficult for me to trust you in the now, in the moments that seem to be without hope, in the situations there the bad seems to outweigh the good. It’s hard to trust you in the present, when past situations have left me empty and bitter. I want answers. I want guaranteed safety and security on this earth. Jesus, ultimately I know that I often don’t trust you in the present because I don’t believe that you are good ALWAYS, and that the sufferings in this life don’t compare to my permanent home in heaven. I don’t believe that you know best. I don’t believe that you are acting quickly enough. I don’t believe that you care. Jesus, help my unbelief.”

It was during this prayer, with tears rolling down my cheek that God gently reminded me of his truth, the truth that saves my soul, comforts me, and takes the weight off of my worst-case scenarios.

“How abundant are the good things that you have stored up for those who fear you, that you bestow in the sight of all, on those who take refuge in you” (Psalm 31:19).

“Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere…For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless” (Psalm 84:10,11).

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (Psalm 34:8).

These verses don’t answer all of my whys and why nots, my if whats and if onlys. They don’t take away or minimize real and tangible pain. What they do, is remind me that I am called to cling to what it good, & that our God is a good father who knows what he is doing even when we don’t.

Jesus isn’t the problem, but he is the only way to escape the corruption, sin, & evil in this world. We can’t escape it without him. HE himself is the solution to all of our worst case scenarios, whether they happen or not.

It is only by understanding these truths that I can claim, “If Not, He is Still Good” in my life, what happens in our lives doesn’t change who God is.

It is only by believing that God is always good that I am able to have peace in my prayers and petitions to heaven, no matter the outcome.

He uses our trials to mature us, sharpen us, & grow us closer to him (which ultimately produces the most joy in us.) He uses our deepest hearts and turns them into a platform that helps us share the good news with other people.

My worst-case scenario isn’t dying in a car wreck or getting cancer, it is living a life apart from Jesus, my one true hope.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)