Tuesday, 30 June 2015
What does abundant life actually look like? I’ve been pondering this a lot and I think there’s things God wants to teach and reveal here.
I think a picture of abundant life might look like this…
…a new mom, head bent low to the ground, arms lifted high in praise, tired and weary…but praising the Father who renews the strength of the weary and guides us into a spacious place because he delights in us...
…a young couple renewing their wedding vows, ten years in, they’ve weathered some storms, but they have not lost heart. Love has become so much more than they thought it was on their wedding day…
…a young woman, sitting in the hospital for her 6th chemo treatment, hard pressed on every side, but not crushed…hoping in her loving Father and on what is unseen, despite her present circumstances…
…they play for hours in the back yard, those brown haired brothers, running through the sprinkler, laughing, playing, fighting, saying sorry, eating popsicles & watermelon slices…
…it’s her 16th birthday. Friends gather to sing and eat cake and jump in the pool, making s’mores around the campfire and laughing and talking about dreams and plans for the summer, a long, slow, lingering night enjoyed amongst friends under the stars...
Do you see? Abundant life can look a million different ways.
I think that in order to understand Life Abundant, we can’t miss the first part of that phrase…life. It’s not just about the fact that he gave us abundance, but that he gives us life. And life is filled with happiness and joy at times…and at other times, it’s excruciatingly heavy and unbearable.
Life is both beautiful and messy. Watermelon, sprinklers, campfires, friendship, marriage, children, laughter…sickness, tiredness, tears, weariness, loss, broken relationships, heartache….
Life abundant is always available to us. No matter what season we are in, what age we are, whether we are single or married, healthy or ill, children or adults, with children or childless, lots of friends or only a few…
The difference between someone who is experiencing life abundant and someone who isn’t? How do they embrace their one beautiful and messy life? Abundance comes when we have open hands, palms faced heavenward, receiving whatever He gives. Because you know what?
He is good.
He loves us endlessly and fiercely.
And He really is all we need.
Monday, 29 June 2015
It’s day 8 and we’re talking about Life Abundant. I have loved what we’ve dug into so far here and to be honest, I’m starting to think… 31 days?! We’re only on day 8. But part of the wonder of God’s Word is that there is always more truth to discover. He continually reveals Himself to us. So let’s dig in today…
I’ve been doing the bible study “Seamless” by Angie Smith. It’s all about understanding the bible as one complete story. I’m on week three and we’re learning about the Exodus. You know, when Moses led the Israelites out of captivity and towards the promised land? I really feel for those Israelites. God does miracles for them, over and over and over… and yet they continue to question him. They begin to doubt His good plans for them and this leads them to sin and disobey him. They would be really obedient to Him for a while, and then they would do something really ridiculous. Reading it, you can’t help but think, “WHAT is wrong with you people?! Don’t you see God has a plan? Don’t you see how he’s provided for you, over and over again?”
But then I have to remember that the Israelites didn’t have the bible I’m reading from. They had no idea what God’s plan was for them, other than what was directly in front of them. They wanted more. They wanted to know they were covered for the future.
The truth is, I’m very much like the Israelites myself. As much as they frustrate me, I can’t help but think, wasn’t this just me, like, yesterday? Doubting God’s goodness, doubting His promises to me, doubting His sovereign plan?
It’s not sinful to doubt or question God. In fact, I actually think it’s a healthy aspect of our relationship with Him. Because relationships aren’t always perfect, are they? I’m learning that God wants a real relationship with us. He doesn’t want us to pretend like everything is ok when really we’re questioning or doubting our struggling. Truly, I believe he just wants to know our hearts.
But, if we live in a constant state of questioning God’s good plan for us, we will not experience abundant life. If, instead, we bring our questions and doubts before God when they arise, we allow Him to carry our burdens. He fills us up, reminds us of His love even when we doubt it, and we can rest in His promises. When we’re honest with God, he can take it. He’s not worried that we’re doubting our questioning Him. He is strong and His Spirit is strong in us. Instead of spending our time feeling bad about our doubts or questions, we really can release these burdens into the hands of our Father. He takes them for us and reminds us of the abundant life He offers, even in the midst of questions and trials.
So today, when I’m tempted to doubt or question, which will indeed take away from the abundant life He offers, I’m going to bring it to Him. Instead of dwelling on my doubts and fears, I'm going to release them into the hands of my loving Father. As I let go of what I was never meant to carry, I embrace the good promise of my loving Father: life to the full.
Wednesday, 24 June 2015
Ever have a ‘blah’ day? You know what I mean. Just one of those days that isn’t particularly exhilarating and isn’t particularly awful either. Just kinda… blah. For some reason, that’s how I feel today. And it almost stopped me from writing this blog post. Thoughts like, "what’s the point" or "I don’t have anything important to say" have entered my head today. But then I remembered something…
I went back and read something I wrote on day 1:
"I often live as if “abundant life” is a future feeling rather than a present reality."
Hmmm. It was kind of ironic to read that back to myself today because I realized this is how I’ve been operating today. As if life abundant is a future feeling…rather than something I can experience today.
Can you experience abundant life when you’re having a ‘blah’ day? I’m wondering why I am having a blah day in the first place. I think it has something to do with expectations. We are in a season of waiting and transition. I’ll be honest… it’s hard to be content in seasons like this sometimes. It’s really hard to not want to forge ahead with my own plan for my life, rather than waiting for God to clearly reveal His will. It’s easy to become a little bit bitter that other people or families our age have their lives a little more figured out… you know, like have jobs and homes and…things.
Jobs. Homes. Things. This reminds me of something I wrote back in Day 3 of this journey:
"It’s tempting to think that abundant life looks a lot like 'The American Dream.'"
I was reminded that my life looking a certain way won't actually bring life abundant. Only Jesus does that.
How do we experience life abundant when we’re having a ‘blah’ day? Or maybe even a blah month or year? I think one thing we can do is remember. Remember who God is and what He has done. Remember that we can trust Him and that He is for us. Remember that He alone can satisfy...not things or life circumstances or other people. Remember that “if the Son has set us free, then we are free indeed” (John 8:36) and that Jesus came so we could have life to the full…life abundant (John 10:10). Here. Today. Now. Even on a blah day.
This song, “Captain," by Hillsong United has been ministering deeply to my heart the past couple days. Take a listen and a deep breath. And remember that abundant life is Jesus gift to us.
My favourite lyrics from the song:
“Speak to the sails of my wandering heart…Your word will align my voyage and remind me where I’ve been, and where I am going…Your truth is the compass that points me back north…”
Thursday, 18 June 2015
The amazing thing with God’s Word is that there is always more truth to discover. He is constantly drawing us closer to Himself and when we allow Him to do that, the truth of His word becomes loud in our heads. And that’s what I want. I want His truth to be louder than the voice of the Accuser. I want His voice, the Voice of Truth, to always be the loudest. Living in truth brings life abundant. But what does “living in truth” mean? What does that even look like? Let’s dig into that today…
A few years back, a woman who was mentoring me asked me this question: “Are you living more in victory or defeat in your life right now?”
At the time, I knew the answer was defeat, but I honestly didn’t know why. For some reason, the voice of the Accuser, the Liar, the Enemy was pretty loud in my head at that point in my life. Christ was still Lord over my life, and of course my life was and is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3.) Satan can’t touch it. But he sure can mess with our heads at times. A lot of the time I lived in fear, allowing worry or stress to reign in my heart. Fear often took first place. To be honest, I didn’t know how to live in victory. This wasn’t something they taught in Sunday School. Or maybe they did and I just wasn’t paying attention :) Either way, I struggled daily to live in victory. You can almost get used to living in defeat without even knowing it. It becomes comfortable.
This past year, God revealed to me, loud and clear, the lies I had allowed to become really loud in my head. Instead of claiming who I was in Him, I held onto my desire to be perfect and to have things all together. I focused on “not failing” rather than simply abiding in God.
Once I started to realize how much these lies were bringing me down, God took me on a journey of rediscovering the truth of who I am in Him. And here’s the crazy thing about it…
This is who I’ve always been.
I have always been Loved, Redeemed, Forgiven, Chosen, Pursued, Equipped, Gifted, Clothed with Strength and Dignity, Commissioned, and Unbound. Always. (I found this identity declaration from Beth Moore’s blog.)
We can live our whole lives knowing who we are in Christ, but never actually believe it to be true. God took me from a place of knowing the truth to believing the truth.
When we believe the truth, we allow it to be active in us, changing our hearts and the way we think. Simply knowing it is just not enough. If we don’t believe it, we can ask the Holy Spirit to help us believe. Like that man who says, “I believe… help my unbelief" (Mark 9:24). We can ask this daily when our belief wavers. We don’t have to feel bad about struggling in our belief. We can just bring that doubt to our Father and let him make that truth alive in us.
Some practical things I do to remind myself of truth... I write it down and literally put it on my walls. I write it on sticky notes, put it on the lockscreen of my phone and laptop wallpaper, highlight it in my bible, write it in my journal. For me, it helps to visually see truth throughout my day. Just little reminders that He’s with me, He sees me, and He loves me.
Knowing the truth and believing it sets us free from the fears and worries and lies that keep us from abundant life. When we believe the truth about who we are in Christ and operate out of this truth in our daily lives, we live abundantly.
I pray that the truth will get loud in your head and that you will believe the truth of who you are in Him. He loves you and He is for you.
*To see the identity declaration I was talking about take a look at: http://blog.lproof.org/2015/01/identity-declaration.html
Tuesday, 16 June 2015
Today I’m thinking about experiencing abundant life in difficult seasons. A difficult season for me was being a new mom. Let’s be honest, parenting is a tough gig! When I became a first time mom last year, I literally had no idea what that was going to involve. If I were to answer the question: What’s the biggest surprise you had about being a mom? I would answer something along these lines: How tiring and exhausting and constant it is… but also how much my heart has been stretched to fit in so much love for this little person.
I’ve never been stretched so much in my life. I remember constantly saying to my husband, “I used to be able to handle things! I can’t handle this. I don’t know what I’m doing.” Been there? Maybe it’s parenting a newborn or maybe you feel this way parenting a teen. Maybe this feeling of not knowing what I’m doing never really stops… and maybe that’s ok.
It took a switch in my heart to realize I was trying to do it all on my own strength. The voice of the enemy became really loud in my head. He told me a lot of lies in those first several months of parenthood. The feeling that I was failing was the biggest lie I had to battle.
I had a hard time praying because I didn’t feel like God was answering my prayers the way I needed him to. It was a struggle for a while. Eventually, I just made the choice to believe Him even though I didn’t feel like I was getting the answers I needed. I made the choice to believe His promises to me and I tried to walk in them daily. Once I turned my worries into worship, things started to slowly change. God began to show me that I’m not alone in my struggle. The biggest gift he gave me was other moms to talk to or learn from who had been exactly where I was.
What does life abundant look like when we’re in the thick of a difficult season, whatever that might look like for you?
Jesus’ life wasn’t easy. He had so many trials and heartaches, all the while preparing to carry the weight of the sin of the entire world on his shoulders. Jesus modelled life abundant, even in the thick of it. How? He remained intimately close with His Father. Luke 5:16 says: “But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray.” When things got crazy and out of control, Jesus would often just take a breath, retreat to the wilderness and pray. As moms, we can’t always escape to the wilderness… but, we can find a quiet place in our heart or mind and go from there. (And other times we actually physically take a break- hire a babysitter, get Nana to watch the baby, leave Daddy on duty… because we need that too.)
I don’t think we are meant to avoid the hard and messy of our lives. For a long time, I operated as though the hard and messy were to be avoided. But I’m learning that the hard and messy shapes us just as much as the good and beautiful, if not maybe more. So I’m not going to try and avoid the hard and the messy parts of life anymore…instead, I want to learn how to embrace them and continually look to my Father for peace, strength and hope.
When I remain in close relationship with my Father - talking with Him throughout the day, asking for His strength in me, begging for wisdom, worshipping him with my thoughts, actions and words - I experience abundant life, no matter what the circumstances of my day or season of life may be.
Friday, 12 June 2015
I’ll be honest…I kept doubting yesterday’s post. I didn’t want it to come off as guilting people for having nice and good things. Because I believe God is the “giver of all good gifts” (John 1:17). He is! And he gives us all kinds of crazy blessings that add abundance to our lives. The heart of it is this: we don’t find our satisfaction, worth, or value in what we have or don’t have. Abundant life comes from living in close relationship with our Father.
Today I want to chat a bit about community as it relates to abundant life. When my husband left his job as youth pastor two Decembers ago, there were several months in which we didn’t have a home church. It was freeing in a way, but after about 7 months, we felt ready to connect to a new community of faith.
God, quite clearly, led us to the church we are at now. My husband has been doing his internship there this year for school. It’s been amazing to see how God has so clearly provided a community for us in this church. We connected with people quickly and God has grown those relationships.
Here’s the thing I’m learning about community: We need it. Plain and simple. God didn’t create us to live in isolation. He created us for relationships. Relationships aren’t always easy. But they are worth fighting and working for. I believe God reveals so much of His heart to us through community.
When we think about Abundant Life… a rich and satisfying life… I think that includes rich and satisfying community. Not perfect community… because that doesn’t exist. We are imperfect people. But we love and discuss and disagree and forgive and laugh and cry and question… together.
There’s a lot of verses that talk about community. But I love this one in particular:
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. -Hebrews 10:24-25
I love that one part… don’t give up meeting together. It implies that some people do give it up. Some people decide it’s not worth it. But I believe with every inch of me that it is absolutely worth it.
Living in community allows us to experience the richness of relationship - life abundant - as we seek God’s heart together.
Wednesday, 10 June 2015
It’s tempting to think that abundant life looks a lot like “The American Dream." House, 2 kids, dog, big back yard, perfect school, money in the bank, 2 great vacations a year, organic garden, good health, perfectly delicious meals each night, fantastic wardrobe, beautifully decorated home, great group of friends, etc.
Do you think it’s possible to have ALL of those things… and still not be living abundantly? I completely do. It’s not wrong to desire those things or to work towards goals. I love decorating my home and making yummy meals for my family. Vacations are great, fashion is fun, having money in the bank helps us plan for the future. But I don't think these things are the most important things.
A lot of times, in scripture, Jesus turns people’s ideas about life completely on their head. An example of this is in the beatitudes. Let’s just look at that for a minute:
Matthew 5:3-12 (ESV)
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons[a] of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
In this passage, these are the things Jesus speaks of as having worth in our lives…
the kingdom of heaven, being comforted by God, inheriting the earth, being satisfied in Him, receiving mercy, seeing God, being called sons and daughters of God…
Jesus says that being persecuted, meek, thirsting and hungering for righteousness, being merciful, peacemaking, mourning, and being poor in spirit… these are the things to seek in his life. Talk about flipping ideas around!
This is huge for us. We can stop trying to strive after every thing or life circumstance that we think may make us happy. Because it won’t. It just won’t.
When I think back on my life, I see this to be true. As soon as I start to put my value, worth, or satisfaction into something other than God, I am inevitably left feeling unsatisfied. And he draws me back with a whisper… “Only I can satisfy the deepest desires of your heart.” It’s really easy for me to start believing that certain circumstances or material things will give me abundant life. But Jesus shows us a different way.
It seems crazy. It’s countercultural. It’s not neat and wrapped up in a pretty little bow. But I believe it. Because I’ve seen in my own life that when I’ve lived with my deepest desire being Him alone… abundant life happens.
Abundant life happens when we let go of our earthly desires and instead cling to our God who shows us what we really need: more and more and more of Him.
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
This morning, I was reading the devotional “Savor” by Shauna Niequist. She writes about what makes her feel alive and connected to God’s voice and spirit. For her, it’s connecting with people around the table. This sentence stood out to me, especially as it relates to abundant living “…part of becoming yourself, in a deeply spiritual way, is finding the words to tell the truth about what it is you really love.”
The world is a lot louder than it used to be. Social media is a part of most everyone’s lives these days. We live in a culture that is just really busy and loud. Sometimes, this grieves me. I begin to feel disconnected from my family and friends. I look at people’s pictures on instagram who I don’t even know. Sometimes it just starts to feel overwhelming and life sucking, rather than life giving.
That’s why I think some days its important to just take a big, deep breath and restart. Do that right now with me, will you? Innnnn… annnnd….ouuuuut. Feel a bit better, don’t you?
This blog isn’t here to just add more noise. When I read that quote this morning, I was reminded of how I connect to God’s voice and spirit. For me, it’s two things.
Being with other people draws me closer to God’s heart. When I spend time with my friends, I become more aware of who I am. When I get to connect with people’s hearts, hear what’s going on in their lives, share what’s going on in mine… this is a huge way I experience God’s presence in my life.
And then there’s writing. I don’t write here because I think I have big, important things to say. I write because when I do, the truth about what I believe and think and feel comes out more clearly than when I just speak or think it. It’s a necessity for me to get my thoughts out. Often, I don’t even know my full thoughts on something until I start to write it out. As I connect with myself through writing, I am also able to better connect with God as I communicate my heart to Him.
Life abundant is living fully into who we are. We pay attention to the way we are wired, what we love, what brings us energy… and then we do those things that bring us life and joy and fullness.
What are those things for you?
Monday, 8 June 2015
Happy Monday Morning!
Mondays are hard sometimes, aren’t they? Before we went to bed last night I told my husband “I really need a good sleep tonight.” Last week was crazy. We had to have exterminators in our home (another story for another day, eek!) and it was just one of those busy weeks in general so we were pretty much feeling done for by Sunday night. Well, the good sleep didn’t exactly happen. Our baby woke up several times last night not feeling very well. But… His mercies are new every morning and and I’m choosing to abide in Him today.
On the blog, I’m going to be starting a series!
31 Days to Abundant Life
I got this idea from a blog I’ve mentioned before (Emily P. Freeman’s). I have always loved her ’31 days to’ blog series. I’m pretty excited about it! I’ll give you some background as to why I chose this specific topic…
The other morning I was sitting on our porch, staring up at the light blue sky, admiring the full, bright green trees in our yard, and I realized something. I often live as if “abundant life” is a future feeling rather than a present reality. I felt God stirring something in me. I was reminded that abundant life is here and now. But the question that remained for me was this: What is abundant life and how do I live abundantly?
There’s this verse in John 10:10 that gives us this idea, this God given word, about abundant life. It says this:
"The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (John 10:10, ESV)
I’m starting to realize that God’s promises to us, His Word, is really real. When he says I may come that they may have abundant life… He means it.
So…what does “Abundant” even mean?
- existing or available in: large quantities, overflowing quantities, abounding quantities
- having plenty of something…plentiful, lavish, generous, bountiful, teeming, rich
(Antonyms for Abundant: scarce/ sparse)
Here’s a few different translations of this verse in John:
I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (NIV)
My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. (NLT)
I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. (MSG)
Here’s what we learn from these definitions and verses...
Abundant life is:
Abundant life is:
-existing and available in overflowing quantities
-lavish, teeming, generous, plenty
-to the full
-rich and satisfying
-real and eternal
-more and better than we ever dreamed
Now that we understand the technical definition of abundant life, the question remains… How do I live abundantly?
Here’s my very deep and theological answer to that question: I’m not sure.
Which is why I want to take the next 31 days to explore it.
I want you to hear something important though. This is not going to be a to-do list or a how-to guide. Not at all. Jesus says we already have abundant life in Him. He came to give us this. There’s nothing we can do to get or deserve it. It’s only by His grace.
I’m not sure where these 31 days will take us. I do know that God’s Word is alive and active and that He reveals wisdom to us in order that we might live in truth and freedom.
Jesus, please reveal to us what abundant life looks like in you. You came into this world and died on a cross and rose again so that we could have life abundant. Not just eternal life which is in the future, but life abundant now, here on earth. Reveal what this might look like in our real, messy, every day lives. We love you and we look to you for all wisdom and insight. Amen.
Join me for 31 Days to Abundant Life?! I’m so excited to see what He will reveal to us.
Tuesday, 2 June 2015
One of my favourite bloggers (http://emilypfreeman.com/blog/) writes a monthly blog post including what she’s learned that month. I love reading it because although theres often heart stuff that she’s learned, theres also fun, silly things and I love that.
Sometimes we can forge ahead with our to-do list and plans for the month and we honestly just forget to look back and remember. We forget to remember the fun we’ve had and the things we’ve learned along the way. When we fail to remember, it’s easy to forget. So in the spirit of remembering, here are 5 things I learned in May.
1. Trying new hobbies, like gardening, can be fun.
We’ve never had a yard until this past March. A couple of weeks ago, I planted my first ever flowers…bright red geraniums. Although I don’t think gardening will become a huge hobby for me, I’m learning that its good to open myself up to trying new things, even if it is unknown to me. I literally told the guy at the plant store: “I’ve never planted anything before. What do I do?” and he laughed. I’m so proud of my little red geraniums.
2. Hosting people for dinner is always worth it.
Even though having people over for dinner doesn’t come naturally to me (I get a little crazy about cleaning and making sure everything looks and tastes great)… I’m realizing that it’s worth the effort. Community and laughter and fun and games and conversation… it’s all worth it. I want to do more of that this summer. So much good comes out of time spent around the table.
3. I actually can nap!
For as long as I remember, I have not been a napper because I’ve never been able to. I try and sometimes I just lay there and rest, but then I get frustrated and feel even more exhausted. Well, it finally happened. Last week Kevin was out, baby was napping, and I just laid down in my bed. I didn’t expect to sleep but I committed to resting. I woke up and thought it had probably been 2 minutes and it had been half an hour! Even if I never become a great napper, I realized it is possible. :)
4. The library is a great place!
How come I hadn’t discovered it earlier? I used to go as a kid. My mom would always take us. But I just hadn't made the plunge to get a library card and our library is literally like a 4 minute drive down the road. My son played with the train table and I chose books for us both and it was just really lovely. Yay, for libraries! May we all use these wonderful places in our communities with more intention and gratitude.
5. I like keeping post-it’s of truth on my windows
Often we begin our days with such great intention to live in truth and freedom. But, things come up and it’s easy to forget the intention we felt when we first woke up. Lately, I’ve been writing down little tidbits of truth on post-its and leaving them on my window for a few days. It refocuses me when I need a little encouragement and reminder of truth at the beginning, in the middle or at the end of my day.
Now it’s your turn. I’d love to hear what you learned in May!
Monday, 1 June 2015
Yesterday marked exactly one year since we uprooted our lives. On May 31 of last year, after a month of figuring out how take care of a newborn and packing up our little one bedroom basement suite, we flew from Vancouver, BC, to Toronto, Ontario. Our baby slept the entire way, only waking once or twice to feed. We landed in the afternoon, which felt like morning to us considering the 3 hour time change, and my in-laws drove us from the airport to my parents house where we would settle into their basement suite for the next 10 months.
The friend who dropped us off at the airport has been one of my best friends since we were 3. I should have been really sad saying goodbye to all of the people I’d done life with over the past 18 years (I lived in BC from the time I was 8 until last year when I was 26). I was so focused on my newborn baby and making sure all of our packing and travel plans went as smoothly as they possibly could. I couldn’t quite process all that was changing at the time.
I was elated to be living close to our families again, especially with our first child. But several months in, I started to understand all that I had lost when we moved across the country. Mostly, it was friendship that I missed. I come from a unique group of girlfriends. My husband always reminds me of this. The type of girls that have hearts of gold, remind me of who I am, laugh with me and cry with me. We had memories that went far, far back to when we were kids. You can’t make “new, old friends.”
This past year held definite highs and lows, trials and triumphs, questions, anger, gratitude, grieving, and celebration… all mixed in together.
I remember one day last fall, I was crying in the bathroom. (We all do this right?) :) I was crying out to God, asking him some hard questions. And quite clearly, he gave me the following verse:
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” -Isaiah 43:19
I am doing a new thing, He said. Ok, Lord, I answered… and carried on. Obviously I knew we were in a situation where everything was new. A new province, new living situation, new baby, new church, new role as parents, new friends, new climate, new, new, new. But it took some time for me to really understand what He meant.
It wasn’t just that everything in my life was new. It was that God was doing something new in me. I am convinced now more than ever that God is completely good, faithful and loving towards us. I’m learning, though, that Him being faithful doesn’t necessarily mean living an easy, cozy life. There will be hard things we have to go through. But none of these things lack purpose. God uses it all to draw us nearer to Him, if we can simply let Him.
This new thing God was doing in my heart… it wasn’t really about me. And that’s where I realized I could breathe a sigh of relief. It wasn’t about me striving to get to this new place with God so I could feel closer to Him or feel like I had things more together.
It was actually about me letting go and receiving from God everything he had already given me, so that I could begin living in a new kind of open space and freedom that already was and is mine in Christ.
The growth that has happened in my heart and mind and marriage and family… none of that is my doing. In Ephesians 3:20 we read that “With God’s power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine.”
Sometimes, it’s really, really hard for us to just let go. To give up striving and simply receive. But I’m learning to let God “lead me to the Rock that is higher than I” (Isaiah 61:3). He is faithful. He is trustworthy. He is the God of Peace. His promises to us are real. He is moving amongst us. And He will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the deserts of our lives.
At the end of Isaiah 61, after God talks about doing something new, He says:
I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.
We are custom-made to praise Him. Just let that sink in for one minute…
That is a beautiful truth. No matter the low valley or high mountain we are on in life right now, we are a people custom-made to praise our Jesus who provides water in the desert, rivers in a sun-baked earth, and drinking water for His people.
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”John 4:13-14