“I am the LORD your God,
who teaches you what is best for you…. (Is 48:17).
When I was in college I went through a major swing change during the winter in preparation for the upcoming golf season. I spent hours in the indoor training center preparing myself for what was coming. At first, the swing change felt awkward and wrong. It was difficult and challenging and to be quite honest, I wasn’t hitting the ball better, at least, not at first.
Travis was his name, the guy in the indoor center who spent all those hours with me years ago to help me prepare for the upcoming spring season. I went to college with relatively low scores in high school, but things quickly changed when I had to play from the men’s tees. My scores shot up and I knew something had to change.
After a number of weeks, my swing started changing. It became more natural and it wasn’t so awkward anymore. To do this day, I have a very fundamentally sound golf swing thanks to Travis.
There were many times when I wanted to give up on Travis’s instruction. As I wrestled through the new swing change it didn’t feel right at all. I was tempted to go back to the old way that I had known. It seemed easier to do so. I questioned a number of times if what Travis was teaching me was correct, but I knew that Travis knew more about golf than me and so I trusted him with the process.
If we allow for it in our own lives, God can become our teacher too. Showing and teaching us new things about life and about ourselves. The process albeit difficult and painful at times is one that we can trust. After all, God knows a little bit more about life than we do. At first, the changes He makes in us feel very uncomfortable. The things He asks us to do don’t make sense in the present moment. It feels easier to revert back to the ways we’ve always done things. We feel more comfortable there. We wrap our arms around our love of a comfortable life, but at the same time, our comfortable life wraps its arms around us holding us captive.
As we embrace one another we find a false comfort in each other, but oh how we love it. We have joined ourselves with a lie. As we let go of our embrace with a comfortable life God starts to change us and make us new. We must keep walking the difficult road of sanctification if we’re going to really be made more like Jesus.
Some of us have a beauty that’s coming in our lives. Something God is working out for His great glory and fame. It’s something we’ve never known before. It’s a new teaching that our hearts are bucking up against. It’s His will against ours and everything within us wants to fight the process. However, it is when we let go that we find HIs promises are true for us. That He who began a good work in us will carry it out until the day of completion in Christ Jesus. It’s there, as we let go that we find a new teaching for our hearts and it starts to re-shape us and make us new.
God is always working to create in us a new heart and mind. This is His will, that we would be conformed more and more to the image of His Son. Could it be that we have believed the lie that says, “God doesn’t know what He’s doing!” “Don’t walk this road, it’s difficult!” “Go back to what you know, it’s safer!”
I think so. Yet, we can trust the good teacher knows what He’s doing. Stick with the process. Allow for Him to change your heart and mind and wait with hopeful expectation for the beauty that is coming.
Oh Lord, forgive us. You’re trying to teach us something new, but we believe we know better. We’re afraid. We don’t like being taught a new thing, because it makes us uncomfortable, but thank you. Thank you for creating in us a clean and pure heart. Show us the grace of your mercy that is new every morning. Transform my heart, in Jesus name, Amen!
What I feared has come upon me…. (Job 3:25).
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also…. (Mt 6:19, 21).
Yesterday, I was bustling about through the airport with a short layover in Atlanta where I grabbed a quick breakfast at Chipotle. However, the folks at my beloved Chipotle forget to provide me with eating utensils. Knowing that I could not dine on my Chipotle breakfast without an eating utensil sent me scurrying quickly about the terminal. I only had a few minutes before my flight was boarding, and I was hungry. I didn’t want to go India style and dive into my veggie bowl with my hands, so I now had one mission- find a fork.
Unfortunately, my mission sent me into a place of anxiety, worry, and hurriedness. I have noticed when I get to those places the person I treasure the most is myself. It’s in those times that I perpetuate my own desires, placing them as more important than anyone else’s.
Hurriedness is an issue of mine. I dart about from one thing to the next and sometimes have a hard time being fully present in the moment as I start to treasure my own wants and desires. This shuts me off from community and caring for people because in my mind what starts to take precedence is me. I’ll become overwhelmed with my own personal list of things that “I” want to do.
I think when Jesus says, do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, He’s not just referring to material possessions, because what have found in my own heart, what I treasure the most is not things, but myself.
In my search to find a fork to eat my Chipotle, I came across another restaurant that had plastic forks sitting in a cup on the counter. I thought to myself, “jackpot!” I knew I should have asked the gentleman at the counter, but since I was in a hurry and was afraid that he might say no I just went ahead and grabbed for one of the forks. On my way out he said to me, “you’re welcome.” Immediately, I was hit with conviction. It may seem like a trivial thing, a fork, but I knew what it really revealed was my heart. My heart that cared about what was best for me, not the business owner.
Maybe you’ve lived there too, in the places of anxiety, where you feel the tension in your heart to fix things, so you shove yourself through people to get what you want.
Jesus never found Himself in such a place. Not once do we ever read that Jesus was in a hurry. The pressures of getting ahead, doing more, being more, and having more never drove Jesus. What drove Him was His Father’s peace. Through this peace, Jesus was able to care well for people, because His mind was not centered on His own agenda.
If we dwell on our Father’s peace our hearts stay in a place of tranquility. If we allow ourselves to enter into a state of worry, we’ll be led by anxiety which is sure to keep us from loving people well for God’s great glory.
Lord, I long to be a Kingdom worker for you, yet there is still so much work to be done in my own heart. There’s still a whole lot of Heather in there, but I long for my heart to be just like Jesus. Lord, shine light into my heart where I am the most selfish and please, by your loving grace, change me, in Jesus name, Amen.
I will give you a wise and discerning heart…(1 Ki 3:12).
Have you ever lacked the humility to ask for help? I have. Have you ever believed that asking for help showed a sign of weakness? I have. Have you ever lived with the fear that if people saw your weaknesses they would consider you replaceable? I have. Have you ever been jealous of the gifts of others, wishing you had their gifts and their platform? I have.
In 1 Kings 3, Solomon goes before the Lord in humility. He expresses his need for God’s grace and guidance in his life to lead and govern the nation of Israel. He recognizes that in his youth, he is incapable of leading well without God’s wisdom guiding him.
God honors the humble state of Solomon and grants him his deep desire for wisdom and discernment. He blesses Solomon for his willingness to come before the mercy of God with a heart that is willing to showcase its weaknesses so that God’s power might now be put on display.
I have spent a number of years trying to hide my weaknesses. For many years I believed that delegating certain responsibilities meant that I was an incapable leader. People would surely see that there must be someone better than me to lead this thing. At the root of these thoughts lie deep pride and insecurity. We often live our lives hoping people will think we’re great, so we have a hard time admitting our weaknesses. We get defensive. We don’t bring our weaknesses into the light, because we fear them. We fear not being praised by people, so we shove them in the corner, hoping no one will notice.
However, the best kinds of leaders are those who surround themselves with people more gifted than them. Sure, you have your own strengths, but those are limited. Through humility, exceptional leaders invite even more exceptional people to fill in the gaps in the areas where they are weak. Doing this creates synergy, unity and a movement of the Spirit’s power. Whenever we feel threatened by the gifts of others it only reveals something in our heart that desperately needs to change.
Take heed if you have a hard time praising the gifts of others. This reveals something about your heart that is leading you down a jealous path of destruction. God resides in the places of community. Where the body of Christ lives without a covetous heart towards one another but instead rejoices in the gifts of one another. For the sake of the gospel of Christ and the for the killing of your own personal pride.
Jesus, I want to live with a heart of humility. I want my life to be centered on giving you praise and showcasing the gifts of others. Lord, I let pride and insecurity die in me so that your power might be put on display. Let your glory fall, not on me, but on your body, for your Kingdom, in Jesus name, Amen!
on the seventh day, he rested from all his work….Genesis 2:2
Today I woke up tired. My body is still trying to recover from the early wake-up call yesterday and the quick morning of travel dashing throughout airports, sitting on planes and engaging in a long day of work.
I have lived many seasons running at high speed, feeling the weight and tension of needing to do more to be acceptable. I have put undue pressure on myself believing that others expected such a thing of me. This has caused me to put myself in places of striving, away from the peace of God.
There is no minister who can do much for God if they are not practicing proper rest. Even God Himself rested on the 7th day from all His labor. Why then do we feel the tension to constantly be doing more?
Barbara Bush passed away this week, she was quoted as saying, ““At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal. You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.”
Could it be that we have strayed so far from rest that we have starved ourselves of one of the most fundamental needs of life- to live in deep relationships with others? In all our striving to become something, we forget that our most precious moments are not found in what we’re doing, but who we’re becoming, and who we are investing in.
As I contemplate moving from a place I have lived most of my life and where some of my extended family resides I am not overcome with grief over wishing I would have spent my time doing more, being busier and doing more ministry. I am saddened because I desperately want more time with loved ones. The bonds of friendship, the relationships with family, all of them are so precious, but I didn’t always prioritize them as such. I found myself busy, running about from this place to that.
Our busyness is killing our relationships. The time we spend with our children is not best spent as their chauffeur taking them from this event to that. Time spent with our spouses is not best spent staring at our phones while we dine at a restaurant. We have forgotten how to rest because we feel a need to always be connected. The problem is, we’re connecting to things and not people. We’re creating spaces in our lives that lead us away from rest and into an overly busy life.
Those closest to us will not remember us for what we did but instead will remember us for who we were. How did we treat people? How did we love others? What about our time? How did we invest it? If we build something great for ourselves, who did we have to leave out to get there?
Our time is precious. It is rest that God requires of us. When we rest, we find satisfaction in Him. We find joy in being fully present with others, for God’s great glory.
Oh Lord, I am so distracted by busyness. Sometimes I am not present with others, because I would rather be doing my projects or waste time looking at my phone. Lord, I want to practice Sabbath. I want to love others like you would. Forgive me, I am selfish with my time. Make me more like you, in Jesus name, Amen.
his hand grew tired and froze to the sword….(2 Sa 23:10).
A number of years ago deep suffering entered my life. Prior to this time, I had a relationship with God, but not one of deep abiding. Not like I do now. Suffering brought me to a place of utter desperation for more of God in my life. I can recall many mornings feelings as though I was clinging to God’s word for dear life. The promises of scripture had to become like water to my soul. I’m not sure I would have made it without them.
Suffering brought me to a place of deep desperation. The kind where the soul feels as though it is being tossed about in the ocean. The kind of hardship that hits the core of your being and seeks to destroy your very sanity. We all experience these moments. The loss of a child, a health scare, a death, an unmet hope, dream or expectation. Suffering holds many shapes and sizes. Many circumstances can arise in our life, thrusting us into deep waters.
Your story is your own. Your suffering is what you are walking through. Sitting with someone in their suffering can be the greatest gift we can give to them. Dismissing someone’s suffering can be one of the cruelest ways we can treat a person. Oh Lord, forgive me for my lack of compassion for hurting people.
In my time of suffering God had to become the most real thing in my life. I had to find Him. There was something about Him that I had to know that I had not known previously. The suffering son of God had to become my greatest delight. Otherwise, bitterness, resentment, anger and the like were sure to find residency in my heart.
In 2 Samuel 23, while in battle Eleazar grew tired in battle, but his hand clung to the sword and the Lord brought about a great victory. Many of us will grow tired and weary in battle. Yet, he did not give up, for his hand froze to the sword. Could it be that we have lost some spiritual battles in our lives because we have not clung to the sword of the Spirit? Which is the word of God?
Could it be that suffering has presented itself in our lives as a gift from the Almighty to make us more like His Son? I know it seems backward, but would we cling to Hm without it? I do not believe God is purposefully bringing suffering into our lives to force our hand to follow Him. Suffering is a necessary result of living in a world where there is sin. God is actively using it for His and our good. If we would but cling to Him for dear life we would find what is true of Him to be sufficient for our heavy, burdened souls as He lifts us from the pit and sets us in a spacious place of His love.
Jesus, sometimes this journey is hard. You know that. You experienced a grave amount of suffering, so much so that you lost your own life. I am weak, but in you I am strong. You grace meets me in the places of deep waters. Jesus, be my greatest joy. Be the light of my life. Thank you for your word that speaks truth into my heart, in Jesus name, Amen!
Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth…..(2 Sa 22:13).
David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted….(2 Sa 21:15)
When I was in junior high I used to run the 4X200 relay race. When my turn came to run, I would wait with great anticipation for the handoff. We would go over it many times in practice, to prepare ourselves for it. Once I received the baton I would run with all my might. Doing it for my teammates, coaches, school and those cheering me on.
We as adults have a baton to pass along too; it is the work of the Kingdom. As David grew older, those under him recognized that it would no longer be wise for him to go out into battle like he used to. David would now have to trust those under Him to fight for his Kingdom. He had spent years, investing in and training up these men and now it was their time to fight. It was their time to protect the kingdom and David’s throne.
Could it be that the generations under us are not investing their hearts, energy, time and talents into the Kingdom, because we have not passed them the baton? Could it be that we have spent far too much training them to be worldly instead of Godly? Now the time has come to rise up and they are running the opposite direction. Could it also be that we ourselves are not even running the race God would have for us? Maybe you’ve sidelined yourself out of fear. Maybe you’ve given up on running hard after God because the anti-thesis feels much safer and easier. It could be you feel like such a failure the thought of getting back in the race feels overwhelming, so we leave the race and burrow our heads in the sand, hoping that life will get better in our hiding.
The generations under us are looking for significance. They are longing for authenticity. They want to make a difference in this world and the baton that we have passed to them is a smartphone, a tablet and a whole lot of pressure to fit in, be the best athlete, get a college scholarship and be the top of their class. We are not checked into the Kingdom, because we have checked out on social media ourselves. We do not “look up” with eyes ready to see God, because we’re looking down, checked out on relationships. Instead, checking ourselves into mind-numbing activity.
What if we started training the generations under us to be Godly? What if our time and energy were spent investing in their spiritual lives? So that when the time comes, as we’re all running the same race with God, the baton gets passed to them? Then, they start running with all their might to do the work of the Kingdom.
Jesus, help us. Our eyes are often not fixed on your Kingdom work. We are easily distracted. Forgive us. Raise up Kingdom workers for your glory. Go before us. We want to follow you with reckless abandon. Jesus, we trust you, fill our lives with great purpose as we run the race you would have for us today, Amen!