Embracing Inadequacy

“Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God.” – 2 Corinthians 3:5

Lately I have been feeling incredibly inadequate in nearly every area of my life.

I don’t feel adequate in school as it is not magically becoming easier or more enjoyable.  I don’t feel adequate to be working at camp this summer because of constant comparison. I feel like I fail as a friend daily. I know for a fact I fail in my relationship with the Lord. And don’t even get me started on my feelings about post graduation. So you could say I’ve been pretty “down on myself” lately.

But then God picks my head up. He dusts me off. Wipes away the tears. And He says, of course you are inadequate, but do you think I am?

See, the problem with feelings of inadequacy is that they generally (or always) stem from the fact that we look to ourselves, not Him, to figure out how to live this life. And we look to this world to find approval and to find something or someone to tell us we are enough. But there is always going to be that one (or four) classes that we aren’t good at, or that person that is always going to seem better than us, or that terrible voice in our head from the enemy telling us we are not enough.

I’m a big fan of looking up definitions for words so the internet’s definition of inadequate is: insufficient for a purpose. And that’s the truth. Without the Lord, we are insufficient to be able to fulfill our purpose on this earth.

Think about the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000 (Luke 9:10-17). Jesus spent the day speaking to a crowd about the kingdom of God. Then as the day was coming to an end the disciples told Jesus to send the crowd away to go eat and find places to stay for the night. Then Jesus, being Jesus, said no let’s feed them. Can you just imagine the look, that was probably a very common one, on the disciples faces? Here is a crowd of 5000 people and they have 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Pretty inadequate right? 5 loaves and 2 fishes were pretty insufficient for the purpose put before them. Somehow they forgot who they were with because Jesus said let’s do this thing. And they did. And everyone ate to their hearts content and there were leftovers!

I think about the disciples and wonder how in the world they could doubt Jesus and His ability to make what little food they had work. But then I am hit with the reality that I do this every day. I wake up in this world full of need and 100 different things pulling me every direction and say “Jesus I can’t do this, I am not enough”. And if the disciples had been in front of the 5000 alone, without Jesus, they wouldn’t have been able to do it either. But the truth that I seem to often forget is that I’m not doing this life alone and I never have to.

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens” – Psalm 68:19

So He looks at me and says “Of course you aren’t enough. But I am.” Can we just believe that with every fiber of our being today? HE IS ENOUGH. He wants to use us. We get to be used by Him! The disciples had to embrace the fact that they were inadequate on their own so that they had to trust Jesus. If they had tried to feed those people with what they had, they would have had some angry people on their hands. And if we think that we are going to somehow make it through this life without Him, we are going to fail and we going to constantly be in this cycle of feeling too inadequate to do any good.

But if we just come and sit at His feet and ask Him to use us in our inadequacy, He will do things we could never even dream of.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

So I want to start learning to embrace my inadequacy in a way that points me to his extremely adequate power. He is more than enough for us. His adequacy is shown through my inadequacy.

Analogies are my favorite things ever, so God likes to give them to me, so here’s the one that hit me while thinking about all of this.

I think of this as a child that wants to have a lemonade stand. She knows the family recipe and she wants to share the awesome lemonade with everyone that passes her house. However, she wants to make the lemonade all on her own, no help from anyone else. Unfortunately she’s not strong enough to carry the massive pitcher of lemonade outside but instead of asking her dad for help she tries anyway. So naturally it falls on the ground and shatters and the awesome lemonade is ruined and won’t be able to be shared today. Her dad watches her, waiting for the moment she will realize she can’t share this lemonade on her own. He patiently waits and when she finally gives up and asks, he doesn’t tell her “I told you so” or make her do extra chores for his help. Instead he lovingly and excitedly helps her.

This is the heart of our Father. So let’s stop being stubborn and let Him help us share the lemonade.

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It’s free

So it has become probably a weekly occurrence that I will stay up at night freaking out about what in the world is happening when I graduate in May. In case you aren’t aware, pretty much the only thing I’m incredibly passionate about and enjoy doing is camp and while I know deep down I am more than okay with going into camp ministry, the world tells me that’s not acceptable. People think I’m joking or that it’s some far off dream and that I’ll figure out what I’m really going to do soon. So naturally my reaction to the underwhelming support of that dream is to search for some dream that is more socially acceptable. I have such a ridiculously deep desire to please others and to have their acceptance. I so badly want to be able to say I had this awesome internship in New York this summer and that I can’t wait to pursue X, Y, Z after I graduate and I want people to hear my plans and say they sound great. I want to feel like a successful senior by the world’s standards because it’s so hard to be where I am right now. This is not to say that if I had all those things (as some people do) that everything would be just peachy but from where I am that’s what I want. So, I stay awake at night trying to scrounge around my brain for SOMETHING, ANYTHING else that I could possibly be passionate about doing because I refuse to go into a field I don’t have any passion for. And every night I am left with the overwhelming fact that my Father didn’t make me for that job in New York or that job at that big office building or whatever else I could think of as being ‘successful’ with my major. Quite honestly sometimes at the end of these freak out sessions I’m a little upset with God for not letting me be one of those people with a clear path but other times I’m so thankful for it because the only helpful reaction to this fact is that I HAVE TO trust Him or turn into a person whose whole life is a freak out session. I’m thankful that He gave me enough strength to not just give into a certain path because it seems easy or acceptable.

Here’s the real problem though, I’m seeking the world’s approval. There’s a couple massive problems with doing that. 1. It will never satisfy me. No matter how many peoples approval I earn, it will never be enough. No one seeking the world’s approval will be satisfied, because: 2. It’s not God’s approval. God’s approval is the only one that will ever satisfy us and here’s the beautiful thing… we ALREADY have it in Christ. There’s a line in a Bethel song that I replay in my head on repeat (because it’s not available anywhere, still bitter):

“You never ask that I earn Your affection, I could never earn something that’s free. I never have to fight for Your attention, because Your eyes are ever upon me.”

I seriously could never sing those words enough. I could NEVER earn something that’s FREE. That is the very definition of something that is free and that’s what His approval is, freely given to those who seek it. Y’all we have the approval of the dang God of the universe, our heavenly Father, Abba. What more could we want?! (Speaking so much to myself) Stop seeking the approval of this world and pursue His will and His kingdom. There’s a quote in a book that I can’t remember right now that says “The plans of God are only revealed in the presence of God. We don’t get out marching order until we get on our knees.” I’m not going to magically figure out what His plan is for me after graduation by worrying about it and freaking out and trying to lean on my strength. I’m not saying I can just sit around and God’s just gona tell someone to hire me but whatever I seek I need to seek while sitting at His feet. The plans of God are revealed in the presence of God.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ” – Galatians 1:10

A Running God

This morning I was hit with a new picture of my Father. A picture that the further I verbalize the more clear it becomes so here’s a post for me to continue to process this picture.

Over the past year I’ve been learning a lot about guilt and shame and have been wrestling with guilt and shame of my own. It all came to a peak this summer as early morning coffee conversations often involved diving deep into the darkest parts of who I am and of things that I have done. My people this summer helped me sort through it every time the Lord decided to dig up a new topic of who/what/where I find my identity, the things I’m tempted by, and all the places I feel inadequate. There is a distinct difference between guilt and shame. One has to do with actions and the other has to do with relationships. You feel guilt when you do something that you know isn’t right. You feel shame when you have done something to hurt a relationship. Obviously the two can go hand in hand. In our relationship with God we can easily feel guilty about disobeying Him and feel shame that we have failed in our relationship with Him. Now here is where I’ve believed a lie. It is a lie that I think we can so easily let slip into our heads and then we internalize it even though everything we say as Christians contradicts it.

You have disobeyed and now He is disappointed in you.

I’ve had this picture in my head that I didn’t even realize was there. This picture that God is standing there with His arms crossed looking at me as a failure. We get this picture in our head because honestly that’s how anyone else would react if they knew every sin we had ever committed. But He knows that AND every thought we’ve had, every motive, every word, literally everything that has ever happened in our life, and still He remains unchanged. There’s a quote by Brennan Manning in The Ragamuffin Gospel that just smacks me in the face:

“He is not moody or capricious; He knows no seasons of change. He has a single relentless stance toward us: He loves us. He is the only God man has ever heard of who loves sinners. False gods—the gods of human manufacturing—despise sinners, but the Father of Jesus loves all, no matter what they do. But of course, this is almost too incredible for us to accept.”

A single relentless stance: LOVE.

Something Ben Stuart said a few weeks ago in Breakaway is that we know that God loves us but sometimes we don’t think He likes us. We think He kind of just tolerates us sometimes. We know He loves us but does He want to? We know He forgives us but does He want to? This is where we need a perception shift. God LONGS to be close to you. He LONGS to cover you in His love and forgiveness. And that is His stance FOREVER. Nothing we ever do will change that and that is so incredibly hard to grasp. It should be. One of my favorite things that someone said this summer is that they wouldn’t want to serve a God that could completely grasp. His love is never going to completely make sense to us but that is part of what makes Him so amazing. It makes it hard but wow how cool is it to know we are loved so deep.

I have also now realized that (at least for me) there are two different types of guilt. There’s the immobilizing guilt and there is the driving guilt. The type of guilt that tells you you might as well just give up. What you have done can never be forgiven. God could never want you after this. That’s the type of guilt that immobilizes me and makes me want to cry in my room all day. That guilt is founded in lies and spurred on by the enemy. Then there’s the guilt that is founded in truth. The guilt that tells you to mourn your sins but to see His grace and mercy surrounding them. This kind of guilt allows God to come into the dark place, pick you up, dust you off and send you back out into the battlefield. I say battlefield because I’ve come to terms with the fact that sin has declared war on us and we can’t keep saying we are just “struggling” with our sins, we have to go to war against it. I think as Christians we would so much rather ignore our sin and guilt than to confront it and “grieve, mourn and wail” as James says we are to do. But this keeps us from realizing the power and the glory of the cross. The depravity of our sin magnifies the beauty of Christ’s sacrifice. It helps us grasp His love better. And that helps us to see Him as He truly looks at us and not in the box we try to put Him in made up of how the world sees us.

Now I can see God is not standing there with arms folded but He is RUNNING to me with open arms as He always has been, ready to comfort me and let me feel remorse for my sin and then be sent back to fight it. He has been chasing after me this whole time just waiting for me to stop running from Him out of fear I didn’t even know I had. He follows me into the places I never want Him to see and loves me anyway. He chases me into the places I feel trapped and speaks freedom.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we still sinners, Christ died for us-Romans 5:8

Blessed persecution

There are currently two people I love very much just sitting in my kitchen talking about their lives and what the near future holds for them. That’s a pretty normal thing in society but what’s different is that they are also talking about how God is a part of what’s going on and how He is preparing them for what is coming. I am just so thankful that they are allowed to be openly talking about Our Father and how cool He is and how they have been seeing Him move in their lives and how they can compare His work to things they are learning in class. I’m just sitting on the couch so joyful that these are the people around me.

This past month Breakaway has been doing the Shalom project. Shalom this year is focused on the Middle East and specifically the persecution of Christians happening there. I have become so much more aware of the situation simply because of Breakaway and I’m so thankful for that. It has also made this past month one of deep, aching sadness for my brothers and sisters in persecution but also one of empowering encouragement through them and how unashamedly they are proclaiming the gospel and doing Kingdom work. It blows my mind to think about everything they are going through and that they STILL proclaim Jesus as their Savior, and yet this is exactly what we have been called to. Over and over and over again we are told in His Word that we face persecution as Christians. It should not be a surprise to us that it’s happening. It hurts to know what lengths that truth is being fulfilled but we can’t say we didn’t know.

“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” – Matthew 24:9

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.” – Matthew 5:11

In this past month, we have cried for our brothers and sisters, we have prayed for them and their persecutors, we have rejoiced in God winning hearts, but most of all we have learned to appreciate and cherish the freedom we have here. We don’t have to fear death for worshiping our God whenever and wherever we want. So what is stopping us? Fear of not looking like the rest of the world? Fear of not fitting in? We were never called to look like the world. We were MADE to look like Him. We are loved by the One who put all the stars in the sky and that God is on our side. We know our purpose here is to further His kingdom and glorify Him. So what is stopping us? We have been given the amazing privilege to spread His Word freely and we need to utilize that daily. My brothers and sisters face jail, torture, and death every day but they aren’t afraid because they know who’s on their side and they know He wins.

They know at any moment their chance to use their influence in their community could be taken away so they don’t waste any time. I think one of our biggest problems, or at least mine is that I “make time” to do His work. I put off a conversation with someone until tomorrow because it’s more convenient. While I don’t face the type of persecution happening in the Middle East, I am also never promised tomorrow. That hit me hard this week. What if my “no, not today” led to that person not hearing whatever they might have needed to hear from the Lord through me? Or any other number of scenarios that you can think of. My point is that we can’t waste time. God has given us a place of influence and the power to speak His truth by His mercy and we can’t waste that. I’m not saying that I’m so awesome that one conversation with me could change a person’s life, but I am saying that God could be asking me to make a sacrifice so that HE can speak THROUGH me. And that is an AMAZING opportunity that I think we are called to daily and yet we forget how awesome God is and all that He do on this earth through us if we just say “yes”.

So I am continually growing more and more thankful for the freedom to talk about how awesome and just plain cool my Jesus is. I pray that He starts to open my hands and help me hold my life and my plans with a lighter grip. I pray that I never lose the wonder of how AWESOME it is that He chooses to use US to do His work. I pray that I will continually say “yes”.

The Game Changer

Sorry about the corniness of the title, I had to.

So, I’ve recently discovered one of my flaws that is kind of the umbrella over a lot of tiny issues I’ve been having this past year or so. I’ve realized that I find my worth and sense of importance from the people I am around. I understand this is probably something that a vast majority of people do but I think I’m on the extreme end of this flaw. I yearn to feel needed by people. I base my importance to someone on how much time they want to spend with me and freak out when I feel like I’m annoying them. Recently I’ve been hearing the phrase “some friendships are only for a season” and I hate it. Even if it’s true this phrase sums a lot of my frustrations. I have gained and lost many amazing friendships throughout my life and I don’t handle losing them well at all. I fight tooth and nail to keep certain people in my life while God is looking at me trying to get me to realize it’s what is best. I get attached to people and when those friendships inevitably dwindle I can’t handle it. This fact became increasingly apparent to me through this summer at camp. This summer was a lot to handle and I definitely still haven’t processed all of it. It was hard. It was lonely. It was amazing. It was frustrating. It was joyful. I knew from training week that this was going to be a big teaching summer, but I wasn’t prepared at all for how He would be teaching me.

Going into the first week of camp I knew I needed to prepare myself big for the comparisons I would inevitably make between last summer and this summer. I needed to remind myself that last summer was a gift just as this summer would be, and I needed to find the joy in every day I had with my campers. However, I wasn’t aware of the loneliness I needed to prepare myself for. As I said, I get attached to people and, no matter what anyone does, I hardly ever feel important enough to those people. Last summer I had a few people who I would call my best friends and they would say the same of me. I know it’s shallow, but having people that thought of me first when they needed someone to talk to was a comfort (and an ego booster). So when I went into this summer without “my people” like I had last summer, it was hard. There was no one that I ever felt needed me around. I had an overwhelming feeling of unimportance to everyone around me. I know the devil was working his way deeper and deeper into my heart with every one of those thoughts and I wasn’t stopping him.

Those were the moments when I know the Lord was shouting to me:

“Come, you are important to Me. I have always chosen you. You are My perfect daughter.”

I spent all summer aching to feel important to someone, anyone. Jesus was sitting there with me on my porch every night. He was with me when I felt alone. He was aching to show me that I am important because I am chosen by Him, that He died to save me, to adopt me, because He loves me.

I rely on others to show me that I am worthy of love and that I am worth their time. That is my problem. Not that I want to feel loved or worthy. The problem is that I am relying on people that will fail me. I know they will fail me because I know I fail others daily. That’s part of our flawed human nature. Jesus came to fill in the gaps. He came and He alone has already shown us that we are loved and worthy. He died for us. We can’t take that lightly. Think about it long enough and it will blow your mind and fill your heart to the brim. The God of the universe. The God that created EVERYTHING. That God sent His Son to die for you and me. His death on the cross is more than enough to prove our worth and that is where our identity lies. It lies in the fact that when we accept Jesus Christ into our hearts, we are adopted into the most amazing and loving family ever. We are children of the almighty God. We are loved, accepted, and important to Him. How could I ever take that for granted?!

I didn’t come out of this summer with a ton of new best friends, but I am thankful for that. The people I worked with this summer are amazing and I love them all immensely but I believe the Lord had a bigger plan than just filling me up with love from them. I have finally been able to see the purpose in this summer even though it was hard. God used this summer to tear down my need to feel accepted and important to others and filled me up with the truth that He is all I need. That my worth lies in who He made me to be. That His love is so much more constant and enduring than any love on this earth.

“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of His glory is Christ Jesus”-Philippians 4:19

He knew what I wanted this summer but I’m thankful He knew what I needed this summer.

Montreyall

I went to Montreal for a week on a mission trip through Austin Stone with a team of 9, you guessed it, Longhorns. Truthfully the only reason why I hate that they all go there is that I now have to drive about two hours to see them this year. I could have never imagined how much I would love these people by the end of this trip. The Lord truly blessed me with an amazing team for my first mission trip out of Texas.

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And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.-2 Corinthians 12:15

Our team leader shared this verse with us in the airport of our first day together. It was meant to be our mindset for the entire trip, that we would let our lives, time, and energy be poured out for the people of Montreal knowing that we were there for them, not expecting anything in return.

Any time that I experience something big it’s really hard for me to process everything that He taught me and showed me. This is why I started blogging in the first place because something about trying to put it all into words helps me realize things I didn’t even know I learned. Processing, for me, is about a two month process so this post will definitely not cover everything and if you ask me what I learned in a month I’m sure my list would be completely different but here’s an attempt. I tried to write this post as a day by day layout of what we did but it just wasn’t working like these posts usually do. So instead, here’s a list of what God did and what He taught me.

 

Spiritual warfare is real and it is powerful, but He is stronger and has already won.

I had already been learning this through my experiences at camp earlier this summer but I have never felt the kind of darkness in my heart that I felt in this city. The first time I felt it was on a prayer walk we were doing. My heart felt so extremely heavy and was hurting so much for the people of the city and it eventually forced me to stop and pray over the strip clubs we were passing by. The moment we stopped praying, I felt it lifted. I have heard people tell me about this happening to them in various situations but to truly understand the magnitude of the feeling of God coming in and lifting that darkness is unexplainable.

 

COMMUNITY ROCKS.

This is a lesson I never get tired of learning. There’s just something about being around 9 people that all have the same purpose (at least for one week) and love the same God as you that creates friendships like nothing else can. I came into this trip with struggles and hurt and while I won’t say that everything has miraculous been fixed, I will say that my teams encouragement and willingness to listen has been a huge blessing to me. From the intentional conversations I had while walking from place to place about things God has taught me to breaking down in front of my housemates to being encouraged after every struggle I shared, this community we created rocked my world. There is absolutely nothing like friendships centered around love for Christ.

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”-Philippians 2:1-4

 

“If we are going to be on mission, we need to be connected to the one the mission is all about.”

One of the coolest things about the church, Initiative 22, that we partnered with was that they meet in a movie theater every week. So on Sunday we got to experience that and it was awesome! During the sermon, the pastor of the church, Dwight, said that quote up there and it smacked me in the face as most things do that He has been trying to teach me. While I could tell you a million times that we can’t live this life for Christ on our own, lately I’ve been living like I think I can. My prayer life had become quiet, my quiet times had become a meaningless routine, and I had been focusing more and more on how I was going to handle this summer. Sure I thought I was doing everything right because I was going on a mission trip, I was going to be working at camp, and so I thought I was doing great and living for the Lord. But this is a lie we as Christians so easily get caught up in. As long as we are doing “Christian things”, we have nothing to worry about. PTL He did this early in he week because there is no way I could have handled the rest of this trip without His strength.

Another nugget of wisdom Dwight shared with us: “Don’t ask Him to get behind you, ask Him to lead you behind Him”. DUH. I tell myself this all the time but I still haven’t learned that my plans are NEVER better than His. Praying for Him to help me fulfill my plans is the dumbest thing I do. We need to change our mindset and realize that it would be so much better to humbly ask Him to be leading us on His path for our days.

 

Dying to self.

Something we go over and over and over at camp is the concept of dying to self. At camp, dying to self can look different every day just as it can outside of camp. The verse that goes along with it is in Galatians:

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”-Galatians 2:20

Basically the concept is that we deny our flesh and remember that we are a new creation so Christ is living in us and we try to live each day for Him rather than our selfish desires. I hadn’t thought about the concept much during this trip until Tuesday, Saint Jean Baptiste Day for Quebec, which was the day I finally hit the wall of emotional, physical, and spiritual tiredness. All I wanted to do that day was be selfish and sit at a table watching kids color. God, as always, had a different plan. Knowing how much I love kids, God sent me an angel named Kara. Alisha and I had made friends with this little girl at the festival we were volunteering at and she was one of the most energetic, kind, and loving little girls I have ever met. Her laugh was the most contagious laugh I’ve ever heard, her joy was constant, her patience outlasted mine, her kindness towards everyone amazed me, and her respect towards her mom was incredible. It would have been so easy for me to sit and let Alisha go off and play with her but there was a small voice yelling at me to get up. Thank the Lord I listened because otherwise that entire day could have been a tired, grumpy mess. Getting up forced me to turn back to Him and depend on His strength and grace all day. Thank you Father for sweet Kara. She was exactly what I needed that day.

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Missional prayer will change your heart to be more like His.

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”-Colossians 4:2-6

I haven’t fully processed that one yet, but there’s something there that stays in the back of my mind. Right now I think missional prayer is about letting your heart break for the things and people that He loves and that His heart breaks for. On this trip my heart broke for this city and then broke for my city. I think missional prayer is about begging Him to come into the situations and the hearts of people that your heart is breaking for. It’s about “being watchful” and expectant because you know how powerful He is and you know that He is right there with you in your prayers.

 

That’s all I have processed for now and half of it will probably change over this month but that’s what I love about how God teaches me things, giving me a little bit at a time because He knows I couldn’t handle it all at once. Overall this trip reminded me over and over again how good, faithful, loving, powerful, and amazing my God is. I am thankful for this city and I am thankful for this trip.

Also, I LOVE MONTREAL, so here’s more pictures.

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 So this is Tam Tams. They do this EVERY Sunday.

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Casual acrobats at Tam Tams.

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Into My Stretch Zone

If you know me at all, you know that I LOVE camp. T Bar M Camps has been one of the largest factors in shaping who I am today. I never could have imagined that the place where I spent my first week away from home ever could have impacted me so much in the past 8 years. God has used that place to break down my walls, to show me what it is to have a relationship with Him, to teach me the importance of community, and to draw me closer and closer to Him. The friends I have gained through camp are some of the best people I have ever met and I am so thankful for how they constantly love, challenge, and encourage me. Every summer has had its challenges and this one has already proven to be no different. After spending last summer working at Sports Camp, He decided to put working at Camp Travis on my heart and so I, hesistantly, followed Him. I was extremely nervous and really confused as to why He called me to switch camps. I thought it would have been so much easier and more comfortable for me to stay at Sports Camp and be with all my friends, be a returning coach, and know how everything was run. That’s exactly why He moved me. For growth to occur we have to be taken out of our comfort zone; we have to be stretched and I knew going to Camp Travis was going to stretch me in ways nothing else could. I’ll skip all the details of what happened during bro week and training week because that would just turn into a novel but I’ll try to sum it up. Basically I let the devil come into my mind and my heart. I let him attack every good thing that the Lord was speaking to me. I let him tell me to compare every little thing about Camp Travis to Sports Camp. Comparison truly is the theif of all joy. It didn’t matter what I was comparing, I somehow found a way to be so angry at myself for switching camps every time. This continued every single day of bro week. I didn’t fight it. I didn’t even try. I just believed the lies.

You shouldn’t have switched.

You made the wrong decision.

You will never fit in here.

You will never be loved here like you were there.

You’re going to hate it.

You are alone.

Looking back at this list breaks me into a million pieces. How could I ever let these remain in my heart? How could I forget my Saviors promises to me? How could I doubt His plan for me? I am thankful beyond words for my very precious friend Kelly that can always without fail point me back to Him. When both camps began training week out at Sports Camp I thought I was going to break down in front of anyone that asked me how I was handling the switch. I just needed to vent to someone and cry it out. That’s what I do. But there was no way I was going to do that in front of the entire camp staff. So I held it all in until that night when I got to sit on a swing with Kelly and cry and talk for two hours. Don’t get me wrong, I’m in love with Camp Travis and I am STOKED for this summer but I let all of those thoughts get in the way of the purpose of this summer and that is why I needed to cry. So I did, and she listened and then she encouraged and encouraged and encouraged some more. She reminded me that despite all of these lies, He does have a plan and a purpose for this summer and for this camp. He did put it on my heart for a reason. He’s not going to make me struggle for no reason. He IS faithful, especially when I am not. Most importantly, when I am feeling alone and unloved I can quickly shut out that lie by knowing that He chose me and He loves me. I have an entire book to prove that.

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.-John 15:16

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.-Ephesians 1:3-4

He chose to die for me before I could even love Him and even though He knew I could never give Him anything in return. Too often we don’t love people until they have given us something that we think makes them worthy of our love. This is the worldly box we try to fit God into. His love is too big for that box or any box we could ever create. That is why it is so hard for us to grasp it and feel it to its full extent. So when I was allowing those lies to fill my head I wasn’t even considering God’s love because I was stuck in my worldly, selfish mindset. I had decided that I was going to be upset and that if anything was going to get better then I was going to have to do something. However, my amazing Father, as always, found a way to pull me back to Him and to cover me with His love, forgiveness, acceptance, and grace.

 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.-Philippians 4:19

Lifting the rug

But I trust in you, Lord;
    I say, “You are my God.”-Psalm 31:14

I don’t even know where to begin with what has been happening this past month (whoa didn’t realize it’s been so long since I posted). The next word on my list was obedience and that set off a chain reaction of the Lord placing things on my heart and not letting up so that I would pay attention to them and then try to act on them in some way. Most of the “acting” involved telling people close to me about what was happening but even that was difficult for me, but I knew that that is what obedience looked like in those situations.

When walls were being torn down in the middle of a breakaway one week obedience was sitting down and trying to listen to what He was telling me. When I was freaking out about my future, obedience was being honest about why I was afraid with someone that I knew would point me to the Lord. When I knew that something He was placing on my heart was something I couldn’t ignore anymore, obedience was accepting the fact that not everyone was going to accept that calling on my heart. It meant that I was going to have to have some hard conversations in the near future. In all of these situations He has drawn me closer and closer to Him and shown me that He has pulled me through each of these and made me stronger because of them. There’s still a lot of things that I know I need to process more but I am so thankful that He made me finally look at each of these things and stop hiding them under my rug of busyness that I have created.

I swore after high school that I wouldn’t get involved in too many things in college because when I’m busy I tend to ignore God when He’s trying to tell me something really important. While I like to tell myself that only being a sorority doesn’t do this to me I am extremely wrong. So, as in high school, God gets very creative in making me pay attention to what He’s saying. It could be making me cry in the middle of breakaway for reasons that were hidden from me (that was a fun one) or having someone important in my life force me to talk about things that I didn’t even know were on my heart. He’s funny, gracious, and merciful in these times.

Back to things that were placed on my heart part. Over this month I feel like I have been asked way too many times 1.what I want to do when I graduate and 2.if I plan to get some type of awesome internship this summer. 1. I’M ONLY A SOPHOMORE. 2. No I’m working at my favorite place in the entire world while I still have time to. These are the answers I sometimes want to scream at people. However, being the people pleaser that I am I have come up with answers that will hopefully satisfy all of these adults that keep asking even if I know they are all lies.

Why do I do this? Why can’t I just tell them that all I want to do in life is work at camp, love people, and serve God? Because when I tell adults that I’m working at camp this summer their response, usually, is “oh, well that’s awesome…you should look into getting an internship next summer”. I know you may think I’m lying but this has seriously happened to me in some variation quite often. I understand that they don’t understand why I would want to spend my summer working at camp but I wish they would at least try to. I think this causes my fear of telling people about the fact that I feel an extreme calling for camp in some way, shape, or form. I know I could be completely wrong, but right now, that’s where I’m at. I also have a huge passion for wanting to go work for organizations that fight human trafficking and that is an answer that I know no one wants to hear from me when they ask what I want to do. I’m not just fearful of not getting people’s approval for these things, I’m also quite terrified that these things might actually be what I am being called to do. I in no way feel adequate to do either of these things and often look at God like He’s crazy for putting these passions in my heart. My bible gives this commentary on a verse and it sums up my feelings exactly:

“When God gives us instruction sometimes we run in fear or stubbornness. We claim that He is asking far too much of us.”

God, you’re crazy! There is no way you expect me to do that. But then I’m reminded of the well known saying that God doesn’t call the qualified. He qualifies the called. And even though I may not be pleasing many people who believe solely in the worldly view of success by following that calling, I know that I won’t make it anywhere without Him so I need to follow Him wherever He leads me. I could be completely wrong about these passions and could end up doing something I’ve never even considered (probably) but as long as I’m following Him I know it’s better than any of my plans. Obedience to God begins with humility and we must believe that His way is better than ours. My prayer today and everyday is that His kingdom comes and His will be done, even if that leads me out of my comfort bubble. I pray that He continually teaches me to be confident in Him and in where He is calling me.

Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.-Isaiah 64:8

I am Barabbas.

Grace is something I will never fully grasp in this world because, just like the rest of God’s characteristics, it is like nothing I have ever experienced. There is nothing in this broken world like His grace. I have learned that He shows me grace in different ways every single day. Every blessing I receive is grace because I don’t deserve any of them. Every struggle I have is also showing me grace because they help me lean on Him and walk closer with Him. EVERYTHING is grace.

This week grace was wonderful weather that reminded me of my powerful, beautiful God. Grace was time to have coffee with a friend. It was talking with my discipleship partner for over 2 hours that resulted in crying, laughing, and everything in between. Grace was nights with people I never get to see. It was encouragement through all of those people. It was God breaking down walls in the middle of breakaway that made me turn to Him for answers. This week and everyday grace is everywhere and everything. Grace is the only reason I am able to live the way I do: free, forgiven, and loved.

Perfect Jesus died so that I didn’t have to be.

That line gets to me. My Jesus is perfect. I am not anywhere near it. Yet, He died for me. Imperfect, unholy, enemy of God, one who should have died, me. This fact should bring forth only praise and joy of my freedom. But one of my favorites, Judah Smith, explains the way we react best through the story of Barabbas.

“There seems to be no conscious of Barabbas. There’s no record of him turning to Jesus and saying to Him I owe you everything now, for you have set me free. No, I don’t see any of that in Barabbas. And God knew that. Jesus stood there silent, for He knew the will of the Father. He said it’s fine Father, let them have Barabbas for Jesus knew that the Father would have to treat Jesus like Barabbas so that He could treat Barabbas like Jesus. Barabbas thought it was the people that set him free. No, it was the love of the heavenly Father.

When I look at the story, I realize who Barabbas really is…That’s us. I was reading this the other day and I felt God speak to me, I love Barabbas. But God, he’s a bad man. I love him and I wanted him to go free. But didn’t you know that he probably would have never acknowledged the free gif-Yes, but I love Barabbas. For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God sent His son for Barabbas, even the one He knew would walk away from Jesus and His free gift and never come back. He loves him. And the nerve, the audacity of believers to think, I got saved by grace but now that I’m in this deep dark place of bondage, I’m gonna work hard to get myself out. What?? That’s the opposite of the gospel. Are you bound? Are you held under the power of this temptation, this sin? What are you gonna do? “I’m gonna shake myself free.” Stop it! No you won’t. You’re no match for the powers of hell and urges of sin. You will not overcome it and you will never overcome it…There’s no answer within yourself…There’s only One and He’s the One that took your place. He’s the One that stood silently on the platform with Pilate and said yes, let them have Barabbas, take me. How many times have I stood on that platform with Pilate and Jesus and I’m the Barabbas and they started to take my chains off and I said “no, no I deserve this. I deserve the guilt. I deserve the shame. I deserve the consequence. I deserve it.” Jesus seems to look at me and say no son. Let me have it. Let me have your sin. Let me have your pain. “No God, I did it to myself. I deserve it…God I’m so ashamed.” Give me your shame. “But God what if I do it again?” I’ll still be here. “God I don’t want to hurt you, I love you, I don’t want to do this anymore.” Give me your sin son.

This is all we got…We can play church games. We can pretend like some people are better than others and that’s why they’re blessed, or we can all come to the honest conclusion that it’s God. It is God alone. The greatest challenge is not your discipline, your devotion, your focus. Your greatest challenge is believing the gospel. Could it be that there’s a God with a love so scandalous, so wide, so deep, so vast, so high, so expansive, so welcoming, so inclusive? Let me have your sin son. And I give Him my sin and I stand in this empty space of forgiveness and acceptance while Jesus walks off to the cross that I deserve. I see Him walking to the post to be whipped as I stand a free man. All the attention is turned now and I feel the love of God saying go son live your life. I’ll pay the price.

Where do we get off thinking that we were gonna set ourselves free. It’s still Jesus. It’ll always be Jesus. It’ll never stop being the power of Jesus. If His blood is sufficient for your salvation, His blood is sufficient to sustain you through every challenge and every sin and every temptation. Jesus is enough.”

He gave us grace, now we have to learn to accept it. I am Barabbas. I was supposed to be the one on that cross, but God loves me just as He loves Barabbas and He made me His child and died for me so that I could be free.

The Father had to treat Jesus like Barabbas so that He could treat Barabbas like Jesus.

Jesus took on everything that I deserved so that He could bless me and love me like Jesus. That concept is grace. Grace is so incredibly hard to grasp but I want so badly to spend my life attempting to live out of the freedom of that grace. The best part of this message and the part that we miss so often is that it is completely free and is only for those who know they are a mess. Jesus came for the broken. Jesus came for us.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you;
    therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.-Isaiah 30:18

 

Scandal of Grace

Grace.

This week I am going to attempt to grasp grace better than I have in the past.

This week is going to be hard but oh so good.

Grace is something that brings me so much joy and yet so much pain at the same time. I am so incredibly happy that my Jesus loves me so that He gave me salvation. Yet I have such an ache in my heart in knowing that grace put Him on the cross because of me.

One of my very favorite songs by Hillsong United sums up how I think most christians feel about grace.

Grace, what have You done?
Murdered for me on that cross
Accused in absence of wrong
My sin washed away in Your blood

Too much to make sense of it all
I know that Your love breaks my fall
The scandal of grace, You died in my place
So my soul will live

The scandal of grace. Scandal: an action or event regarded as morally or legally wrong and causing general public outrage.

Jesus IS Grace.

Grace is scandalous because He who was without sin dying for us is not morally right according to this world. In this world if you commit a crime you are the one that is punished. The message of grace from Jesus is that you commit the crime, no matter how large, and He will not only be punished for you but He washes you clean of that crime.

Grace what have you done? Jesus why did you die for me on that cross? I’m not worthy.

I know. That’s why it’s called grace. I love you more than you can fathom. Now go and live freely because of this gift I have given you.

He died in my place. That punishment on the cross should have been mine. He took it. I can’t keep trying to take it back from Him. It makes no sense but I think we are all constantly trying to tell Him we deserve it and that we should be punished. It’s true. We should have punished to the extreme for what we have done against our Lord. We were creatures of wrath. But my Jesus showed me amazing grace and mercy and now I get to live out of that freedom. I can’t let my guilt immobilize me. I have been given SUCH an amazing gift.

Grace: being given something we do not deserve.

I DO NOT deserve this love and freedom. But I will not ignore what I have been given.

Death, where is your sting?
Your power is as dead as my sin
The cross has taught me to live
And mercy, my heart now to sing

Death, you have no control. My Jesus has defeated you. On that cross He overcame you.

And it’s all because of You, Jesus 
It’s all because of You, Jesus 
It’s all because of Your love 
And my soul will live
 
Oh to be like You 
Give all I have just to know You 
Jesus, there’s no One besides You
Forever the Hope in my heart

It’s all because of You Jesus. Every part of my life. The freedom and joy I live with. It’s all because you showed me grace Jesus. I will give all I have. I will make every effort to become more and more like You, to get to know You. There is no one besides You that I want to live for. Help me to continually put You above everything. You are the only reason I live.

“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”-Brennan Manning