I’m sitting at my kitchen table. It’s covered with chalkboard paint and little doodles from my roommate and I. Flowers and a cute ceramic owl to one side of me and a steaming mug of frothy coffee to the other. I love my mug, it’s big and red and has a ‘K’ on it…Winners. That store is awesome. The window is open slightly, the wind blowing the curtain and my fluffy dog is begging to be pet at my feet.

I have a cute life. It’s adorable! Quiet, peaceful, busy when it needs to be. Family, friends, a good job. I’m so blessed!

I realized as I sat here yesterday, having my daily reading time, that I’ve been through a valley lately. In the last few months I’ve been fighting what I knew was a huge lie, that I was undeserving to be in God’s presence. I would sit down (or maybe not even sit down, but just think about) and try to have quality time with God and this overpowering feeling of guilt, displeasure…I’m not sure how to describe it…would overcome me and I couldn’t present myself to Him. I didn’t feel adequate to pray or to read the bible. A voice, a lie, was whispered into my ear that He wasn’t hearing me, that I was faking my relationship with Him. And, as I had my morning coffee yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t felt that, or heard those lies, one single bit in the last week. I don’t know what changed, but those thoughts, Satan’s lies, just disappeared. I had unknowingly climbed from the dark, dry valley and reached the summit. Thank God!

Isn’t interesting that sometimes you fight a spiritual battle knowingly – you pray, you cry, you claim verses over the situation – and sometimes, all you have the energy or brain-space for is a simple prayer and suddenly you realize its over.

I love the feeling of when the cloud lifts. You’ve been feeling a burden for a while, you can’t seem to shake it, but then one day you wake up feeling awake. Feeling like you can breathe. Feeling like a battle has been won. It’s so amazing knowing that God and His warriors are fighting for us when we aren’t even aware. I believe that we still need to be sensitive to what He is asking us to do, how He is asking us to take part in the battle, but there are times when all we can do is say His name and trust that He is taking care of the rest.

As I’m learning lately, there are wins and there are losses, but they’re all used in God’s plan for your life. To form you into the person He needs you to be.

I’ve failed, I’ve fallen, I’ve turned my back purposely. And even if those choices aren’t what God would want for me ideally, they’re still parts of my story He saw coming and will use for His Glory. There is a reason for everything and as long as we remind ourselves in the desert and valley, that He should be our focus and our destination, we will come out the other side with more experiences to help us, or even others, through the next stage that He has planned.

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Just Give Up

I give up.

I giiiiiiive up.

I am tired of thinking and trying and over analyzing and pushing…I’m tired of my mind doing over-time, trying to work out my situation. It’s exhausting. I’m worn out. I can feel the stress, the tense muscles in my jaw and in my shoulders. I can sense it in my behavior and my attitude. And I. Give. Up.

I’ve gotten to this place multiple times before. God shows himself, I see a big movement on the other side of my mountain and then suddenly…nothing. And when the nothing appears I over analyze. My mind takes things into it’s own hands and tries to work out the when and why and how and who.

God brings me to this place on purpose. I can see it being his way of making me let go, making me realize that I actually have no control. It’s a place where I feel hopeless and helpless and the looming impossibility is overwhelming. And I believe that this is exactly where God wants me to come so I can fully surrender to him. It’s where I realize that this is the only answer; complete surrender and defeat of self.

The fact is, I can’t do what I’m doing by myself. There is no possible way I can accomplish what God is asking me to do unless he, almost literally, carries me through it. And this doesn’t just apply to people who are waiting for their husbands to return or standing for their crumbled marriages, but it applies to anything and everything that God is asking us to do. Nothing can be done unless he is the complete centre of it.

That’s why, I believe, when you are trying to accomplish something on your own God just sits back and allows you to try…”Go ahead,” he says “You do what you think you have to do. Then you’re done struggling and pushing and forcing and controlling, you can rest and see how much easier it would have been if you had just allowed me to take over.”

It’s grace that get’s us to this point. Grace that allows us to see how completely inadequate we are but that it doesn’t matter.

Grace is realizing that nothing we can do will work as well as moving aside for our Savior.

So I’m done. I’m done pushing and forcing. I’m done worrying and wondering. But what I’m not done doing is what God as asked me to do. I’m not done waiting on God’s promises. I’m not done trusting that he knows what he is doing. I’m not done seeing God work in ways I had no idea were possible. I’m not done waiting for God to show up. I’m not done seeing the miracles that God is preforming.

And when Satan tempts me to give up, you know what I’ll tell him? I’ll tell him that I will give up, I’ll give up my plans, give up my expectations and I will step aside. Because when I step aside, God steps in and when God steps in he shows up in a power I could never have on my own. When I give God the space to work, he works. And when he works mountains crumble, demons are defeated and victory is won. So yeah, I’ll give up alright. But watch out Satan, because you and your lies are going to hell in a hand basket.

 

Aside

I cry out to God the Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.

Psalm 57:2

I turned to my devotional book today and saw this verse. Perfect timing, for one thing, as I had just had a fight with my mom and was actually crying out to God because of my frustration with myself. But as I read the verse from my bible instead of the devotional book, I noticed that I had previously highlighted it and underlined the words “his purpose”.

Isn’t it interesting how we will read the same verse multiple times and each time something different jumps out. Tonight the words “God, who fulfills his purpose for me” were the words that jumped out.

God has a purpose for our lives, it’s not about our purpose or our path or our goals. Our life is about fulfilling God’s purpose for us. But the greatest thing about this verse is that it’s even bigger than God having a purpose for us. This verse says that God himself will fulfill his purpose in our lives. If we allow him to, God will take control of the direction of our lives and fulfill his purpose in it for us. Isn’t that amazing? We can actually just sit back and allow him to control our situations, circumstances and life direction, and he will do the work for us. It’s that simple. Notice I didn’t say it’s “easy”, because giving up control of your life and surrendering your plans to God goes against our human nature. But once we do it, we realize that it’s as simple as trusting him through everything that happens around us and to us. It’s not easy, because it’s not normal, but it’s really simple.

It’s simple because we can trust that in everything God’s hand is working. He knows every thing that happens to us and he knows our needs, desires and wants. It’s simple because if we trust with every step that God will make clear what we are meant to do and where we are meant to go, God will work in our lives in order to bring us fulfillment and also to bring him glory. It’s simple because when we start to realize just how huge God is, and that his hand is in everything anyways, we will also realize that fighting his plans or making ones without him is really making life so much harder than surrendering to him.

But this isn’t easy because it goes against the independence that not only are humans born with but that we are taught throughout life. We are taught to be strong, independent individuals. “Looking out for number one”.

Psalm 57:2 says that God will fulfill his purpose in our lives. We don’t have to do it! He has a plan for us, and God himself will accomplish that plan. It also says that the author cries out to God. So do that! Cry out, yell out, scream out if you have to! Be honest with God and communicate daily and continually to him and he will answer you. God wants your communication, he wants you to get to know him and to talk to him. That’s how we draw closer to him and that’s how we start to see answered prayer.

The bible says that part of our spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:18) is praying in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests. So let’s do that, let’s dress ourselves in our spiritual armor, pray continually in the Spirit and trust that God will work for us to fulfill our purpose in life.

 

Satan was once an angel. A servant of God. But when he decided to pursue his own interests, he fell from his place in heaven and became an enemy of God. He, not so suddenly, I’m sure, realized that he didn’t have to focus on the Creator but that he could create his own life and make his own decisions and follow his own rules.

Satan is a liar(John 8:44), he is uncaring, crass, rude, selfish, unsatisfied, a wanderer, a tempter…obviously there are more characteristics to satan, but these are a few. Weirdly they are actually words that could be used to describe me while I was running away from my own purpose in Christ. Connection? You betcha.

He who is not with me is against me…

Matthew 12:30

I made the intentional decision to take my life into my own hands, to walk away from God’s purpose for my life; to walk away from his instructions, laws and direction for every Christian. I felt at the time that my plan was better than his. His plan didn’t make sense to me, so I went with what did – walking away from my marriage into the life that I “knew” would make me satisfied and happy. My focus became myself. My happiness. My fulfillment. My enjoyment. My fun.

If you are not for God, you are against him.

If you are not living for God…you are living for….?

The longer I lived in my selfish life, the more frustrated I got. The more crass I became. The more tempted I was to try new forms of entertainment. The easier it was to think of being with other men. The more unsatisfied I was with my living conditions. The more argumentative I was. The more selfish I was. Satans characteristics were slowly becoming mine. And I was completely oblivious to it. Just like the frog that slowly, unknowing, boils to death, I was slowly being tricked into this deadly lifestyle.

Satan fell from heaven when he pursued his own interests.

When you pursue your own interests, you will fall from your own heaven. Not the Heaven that God resides in, your place in God’s kingdom is not something you will lose your place in although you will be accountable for every action you take. But you will fall from your rightful place in life. Happiness will elude you and satisfaction will always be an unattainable goal. Following your own path and interests, your own plan, will never lead to that feeling of wholeness and happiness like satan would like you to think.

You might be convinced that there is no way that being obedient to God could lead to your happiness. You might be like I was, in a place of darkness, frustration beyond what you thought was possible. You might be feeling trapped, lost, depressed…You might have a plan for a way out, a plan you “know” will lead to your happiness and peace…finally! Trust me, I’ve been there. I’ve pursued my own life. I’ve left my husband. I’ve drank like a fish. I’ve slept around. I’ve flirted around. I’ve cursed and told beyond disgusting jokes. I “knew” for a fact that being these things was being who I was really supposed to be. But in the end, after I chased after these things and fell from my own heaven…I realized that all these things were a lie. My wholeness wasn’t found in anything but God’s plan. And when I looked back at the destruction in my wake, I realized that I was only just becoming more and more like God’s enemy. I wasn’t whole, I was troubled. I wasn’t satisfied, I was lost.

And satan thinks he’s won this battle. He looks at poor little Katie and laughs when he sees that she has nothing to her name and her husband isn’t with her. But what he refuses to acknowledge is that God turns curses into blessings, what satan has used against me, God is turning to use for me, and satan will be crushed under my God’s feet (Romans 16:20)! My situation will be turned around to give glory to God and bring so many people to God’s kingdom. Satan will see how miniscule he is compared to the power my God has. He is a created being and the God of God’s, satans Creator, will show him who’s boss and will destroy him.

We might be fooled by satan for a while. We might deny that it is his presence in our lives and his voice in our head. But God will grab us back and show us that his glory reigns. He is who the only presence that will fill us so full it can’t even be described. Satan’s characteristics are nothing compared to God’s.

Our interests will only lead us down the wrong path, they’ll only lead to more questioning, more restlessness. Even when it doesn’t make sense, pursue God and his plan for your life. When you start to wonder what this might be, read his word and do what it says. Don’t follow your ‘idea’ of what you think God might want in your life. Follow the written word. Simplify. Press forward. PUSH into God with all your might, even when everything in you is telling you to run.

When our hearts are in this vulnerable state we can’t always trust what they are telling us, this is why we need to rely on what God’s word is saying in this stage in our lives.

Even when it doesn’t make sense, remind yourself constantly that God’s will for your life will bring you satisfaction. And just keep doing what his word tells you to do.

There is an end to these feelings. Satan has an appointment for failure.

Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!

Luke 1:45

 

Being a Christian means that we are followers of Christ. Which means that he is leading us. When you look back on your Christian life, would you say you have allowed God to lead you?

I know that I haven’t. I accepted Jesus into my life when I was five. I’ve been raised in a Christian home with parents who read the bible to us daily and brought us to church weekly. I’ve attended Christian high schools and a Christian university. I married a Christian man and even when I was running away from my marriage, I called myself a Christian. But I have never once allowed God to lead my life. I’m not even sure I knew how to do this before, and I’m definitely not a pro at it now.

How do we allow God to lead us? First, we need to know who it is that we are following. We need to study his character, study his text book, and really dedicate ourselves to his teachings like any other student. We need to realize that we are just that, students of God. We don’t have to pay anything for this training, it’s all right at our fingertips and even better than that…it’s what we were created to strive after! It is more fulfilling than any post secondary education…by a long shot!

I know that changing my view of my relationship with God to one of a student has made all the difference. I need to study him. And when I do, my heart feels full. It takes dedication and application. It takes time daily and discussion with other ‘students’. It takes communication with the Teacher.

We also need to realize that by following God, we will be different. There’s a piece of us that will fight this. A piece that reminds us that we won’t fit in, that it’s “un-cool” and that piece, the piece that satan loves to whisper in, will also tells us that we don’t have time.

We will be different and that is totally ok. When we keep our eyes focused on our God, the God that will judge us in the end, the God that has given everything for us to be his children, other opinions don’t matter. They’re just a tiny blip on the radar. God, however, feeds our soul and makes us feel complete. His opinion matters and our heart can feel it. Our heart aches for his voice, his presence and his teaching. His voice is the only one we should be listening to.

Being different isn’t a bad thing. It’s our boring society that has told us that it’s bad. For some reason society has told us that we need to be like all the others, we need to fit in, we can’t draw too much attention. But being a child of God will make us noticed. Even when we don’t say anything at all, pursuing our relationship with God will light a fire inside of us that others notice.

Once when I worked as a grocery teller, a girl came through my till. I knew the instant I saw her that she was a Christian and this was before she had even said anything to me. Later that week I attended a College and Career event from a church I was starting to attend and she was there. People can sense God in you without you saying anything at all. Why? Because their spirit is craving what you have. They know deep down that what you have with God is what they want. They know that what you have with God will make them feel like they’re finally home.

If your relationship with God isn’t making a change in you, if it isn’t making you different than your secular friends, there is something wrong.

We are meant to be like Jesus. Jesus wasn’t liked, he was threatened, he was challenged, he was despised. Even some of his followers denied knowing him and outright betrayed him. There will be and should be some of this in your life. We shouldn’t be creating drama in our lives, but we should be aware that if it happens, even if our hearts are in the right place and we are treating those around us with love (as per the definition in 1 Corinthians 13) there will be people that don’t like us just because of the faith we are living in.

If we are living as Jesus lived and we are allowing God to lead us in everything, we should be seeing drastic changes in ourselves and our lives. This isn’t going to please people around us and it will cause discussion…if not betrayal. Some friends might walk away from you, some might talk behind your back, some might respect you more and some might lean into God more because of the change they see in you.

What would you rather: A mediocre life without bumps, always wondering what the point of it is and wondering if there is something more? Or a life with some bumps, knowing that the creator of the universe has it all in his hands and knowing you’ve never felt more alive?

All you have to do is surrender to him, allow him to lead, and remind yourself often that he sees the entire picture of your life and knows exactly what he is doing.

 

 

 

 

I never knew before what it meant to surrender my life to God. How do you do that? It sounds so spiritual to say in a prayer “Yes, Jesus, yes, I surrender to you”. But how does a person even apply that? I would pray that prayer every now and then, mostly because I heard other super-Christians praying it, but then I would go about my day as though nothing had changed.

To surrender is to give up expectation. To know that when plans change, when circumstances become something you didn’t imagine, that God is in control and however the story pans out, it is in God’s view. God knows the entire story before it even starts to unfold. Even though our freedom of choice creates a story-line for our lives that wouldn’t have been God’s ideal plan for us, it doesn’t mean that it isn’t in his plan.

Everything is in God’s plan because everything is in his sight. God is never surprised when certain things happen.

Surrendering your life to God is realizing, even, or especially, in the confusing and difficult periods, that God has it. It might be out of your control but it is never out of his control. Surrendering means taking a deep breath and praying “God, this doesn’t make sense, but even though it doesn’t make sense, I give you my life, my marriage, my husband, my body, my mind…take me and mold me into the woman you want me to be. Please help me realize through the trials that you are with me and that I can get through anything when I lean on you. Give me the sight to see your hand in everything.”

And when the next hard moment comes, you pray this prayer again.

Surrendering is reminding yourself when you are crying that God is holding you.

Surrendering is telling yourself to trust even when you don’t think you have the strength.

Surrendering is allowing God to take control.

Surrendering is sometimes defined in our culture as being irresponsible.

It’s not about rushing forward, jumping into something and doing what your human eyes see as best. It’s about taking your time, allowing God to lead, and knowing that it may mean sacrifice. It involves taking a deep breath. It means listening for his voice.

Surrendering means that no matter what is happening around you, even when it doesn’t make any sense, prayer is more powerful than action.

Right, Katie?

Right.

You need to surrender Katie.

Yes I know.

Stop worrying, my sweet girl.

But it’s hard.

I know, but I love you and I will always love you and I will lead you. Just take my hand.

 

Aside

My whole life I’ve felt like I am chasing after an elusive goal. I’ve felt like there is something out there, some invisible finish line, that will make me feel whole…like I’m there.

I’ve chased after this…thing…in all sorts of ways. First it was through jobs. I’m 29 now and I’ve had around 25 different jobs in my young life. Sometimes it was two or three jobs at a time, but still, that’s a lot of places to work in a short time. Then I got married and chased after this feeling of success through my marriage. I was married 5.5 years and my husband was pretty close to perfect. We had a great marriage for the most part, communicated well, respected each other, had a ton of fun, laughed a lot, accomplished goals…but still this wasn’t it. Within my marriage I tried running my own crafting business, nope, that didn’t get me there either. Then it was network marketing. Nope, not it. When these things didn’t work and I fell into emotional turmoil bordering, if not fully in, depression, I assumed it was my marriage that was wrong. I left my marriage and chased after this need for success in whatever other area I could. Men, sex, drinking, travel…but that place I was trying to reach was always just a little bit ahead of me.

Is it just me, or is this something that every one is running after?

I think we all have this drive, this feeling deep down, that we have a place to get to…a destination that will make us feel whole and complete. It’s like when we’re thirsty, it’s that feeling that until we get a big, cold, glass of water we won’t be satisfied. It’s almost a physical feeling in our heart. An ache. A need for more.

I know that I have been searching for the cure for this ache my whole life. My mom used to tell me that I was chasing after God and I thought she was ridiculous. Turns out the old saying is true. Your mother is always right (don’t hug me and cry when you read this ok Mom?). But it is true!

The ache in your heart for something more is a hole that God created. He made us with an urge to know him more. And us humans search for the cure in everything that we can see, touch and taste. We search for the cure for this unquenchable hunger in everything but the invisible.

The hole that God created can only be filled with him. He created us to have relationship with him and this doesn’t mean that we fulfill something inside him, because God is perfect and doesn’t need us in any way. But he created us to desire him and when we pursue that relationship we are the ones that are whole. God wants us to want him.

The fun thing is, it’s so simple. It’s so simple that it’s confusing. It’s not a job that we have to go through an interview process for. Or a business that needs to be developed from the ground up. It’s not a relationship that we need to search high and low for. It’s talking to God and reading his word. That is all. Everything else falls into place from there. Once we start talking to God, he starts talking to us. Once we start reading his word, we start living his word.

It’s confusing because for some reason us human’s cannot comprehend how this relationship will make us complete. It has to be more than that! There has to be something bigger! It can’t be God, it has to be a job that completes us…because once we get to a certain level in the company and earn that dollar mark…that’s when we will be happy…right? Because that’s when I’ll be able to buy that boat or travel to that place…right? It has to be the marriage that will satisfy me…because then he will make me laugh and he will hold me when I’m sad…right? And then I will feel like I’ve reached my place in life…right?

Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.

Matthew 22:37 MSG

Once we love God and run after him, everything else will fall into place.

I know, I have tried just about every other avenue. In everything else, I felt alone, incomplete and unsatisfied. Satan loves to lie to us. He loves to tell us that what we are really searching for are physical things. He loves to tell us that happiness can’t possibly be something as simple as prayer and reading and listening. But it is!

There’s a hole in our hearts that is an urge to know God more. Nothing else that we try to fill that hole with will fit. It’s shaped like our Father and everything else will just fall short of the mark.

If this feeling of satisfaction is so simple, what’s the arm in trying it? If it’s only prayer and reading and listening to God…isn’t it worth a shot?

Dare to feel like you’ve gotten there