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I spent a lot of my life trying to behave perfectly to earn the approval and acceptance of God. Then for a few years, trying not to be smited because I had full scale run amok.
Truth is God loved me the whole time. He saw me. The real me. He knew the truth. He knew the lies I had been believing about myself and about Him. His heart broke for me.
I am clearly not fully living life to the fullest yet…but in reading Your God Is Too Safe today, I was reminded me how far I’ve come, and just how grateful I am for my relationship with Him. ❤ I continue daily to be in awe…
“Holiness is not a bid to be noticed or loved or accepted by God. Holiness, rather, is acting out and acting upon the truth that God has noticed, loved, and accepted us long before we did anything to warrant that. It’s a discovery that we’re alive when we thought we were, and ought to be, dead. Holiness is simply living into and out that aliveness.” -Mark Buchanan (Your God Is Too Safe)
This whole book is hitting me where I live because I like my safe world with Jesus. I love it being me & Him.
But Jesus didn’t heal me so I could sit here be safe and hidden forever. For a season or two yes, but not forever. He healed me so I could live my life fully! Abundantly! He is the God of bigger than I can ask or even think.
He tells me repeatedly two things…
“You think too small.”
Those two things are super scary…because I am very aware of just how BIG my God really is. I know what He is capable of doing with His kids…
Turning a shepherd into a king. (David)
Turning a barren old woman into the mother of a nation. (Sarah)
Turning a stutterer into spokesman who literally walked his people out of slavery. (Moses)
Turning an introverted girl into an outspoken Queen who risked her life to protect her people. (Esther)
Turning some guy from the sticks in a defeated country into a mighty warrior. (Gideon)
Turning an unknown wife living in a tent in the desert into a war heroine. (Ja’el)
“For who do you know that really knows you, knows your heart? And even if they did, is there anything they would discover in you that you could take credit for? Isn’t everything you have and everything you are sheer gifts from God? So what’s the point of all this comparing and competing? You already have all you need. ” 1 Corinthians 4:7 MSG
I believe that there’s potential in everyone to do amazing things. I can see the gold in people…even myself. I believe that the people above were born with everything they needed to fulfill the destiny they were born for!
Just like us, life kicked these folks down, and the world disappointed them. They were told no. The enemy lied to them. Maybe they believed it…maybe they didn’t.
But there came a point when these regular people stepped out of the safety of their little lives..and believed God. They chose to parner with Him.
As a result…a king, a mother, a deliverer, a queen, a warrior, and a heroine stepped out of the shadows and changed their world.
Knowing all this…I cannot help but wonder what will He do with me? And you?
You may not be a king…but maybe you’re a community leader, a state representative, or a mayor in the making.
You may not give birth to a nation…but maybe you’re one who empowers kids as a teacher, a mentor, or a foster parent.
You may be called to fight modern day slavery or sex trafficking.
Maybe you’re be introverted and shy…but you still have a voice!
Maybe you are designed to be a military leader or a police officer.
Maybe you are designed to raise a family and invest in those little people who will one day lead.
Whatever it is you’re designed for, walk in it! Live fully! That’s what freedom is. It’s why Jesus was resurrected!
Point to ponder while you wander… Freedom isn’t running amok and doing whatever you want whenever the mood strikes. It’s being able to be the whole you. Healed. Healthy. Real. It’s stepping out of the shadows and becoming who you were designed to be.
“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 NLT
Today is Monday. Monday is a day some actually dread. But I John 4:18 in the Amplified Version tells us in God’s love dread does not exist.
“There is no fear in love [dread does not exist]. But perfect (complete, full-grown) love drives out fear, because fear involves [the expectation of divine] punishment, so the one who is afraid [of God’s judgment] is not perfected in love [has not grown into a sufficient understanding of God’s love].” 1 John 4:18 AMP
In that vein, today’s musical selection is, No Longer Slaves by Jonathan David and Melissa Helser.
Point to ponder while you wander… You may have heard this song before, maybe many times before. But take some time today and really listen and declare who you are. And who you are IS A CHILD OF GOD. The rest is just details. 😉
I need to share something I read on FB last week. It impacted me deeply and I am going to tell you why, if you don’t want to know why, feel free to scroll down.
I had made a vow as a nine year old that walled me in from allowing myself to be loved. It was in reaction to nearly losing my mom. While I didn’t actually lose my mom, she’s still alive and kicking and completely fabulous, the thought of losing her crippled me in a way that I have no words for. I was terrified of loss. So at the age of nine after a complete bawling session, I washed my face and looked my little blonde self in the mirror and said, “I will never need anyone again.”
Here are some effects of this vow:
1. I sabotaged relationships and only committed myself to relationships that I knew couldn’t possibly work.
2. I struggled with commitment to anything, even though I craved stability.
3. Even though I had my mom and still have my mom, I didn’t really let her be my mom. I could be found most often trying to be her mom or trying to distance myself from her as far as possible. It would be easier for me that way, like it wouldn’t hurt so much if I lost her. Wow. That doesn’t sound crazy at all, does it?
I need to take a minute to tell you about my little tiny mom. (She’s 4’10” and weighs about 100 lbs…so I call her my little momma). My mom is not perfect, but I have to give her a shout out here. I was not the easiest child to raise (rebellious, mouthy, attitudinal, angry, ran away from home and hitch-hiked to Florida with my boyfriend and one of my best friends at age 17…you get the picture). But she was always there. She never left. My mom is stubborn, honest, and fiercely loyal. She always went to bat for me, and she still does. One could do worse than to have a mom who will fight for you and against you when needed. She made a choice to love me and she never stopped, even when it was hard. Thank you, Little Momma!
4. I went to college and got a degree, but didn’t go after photography and writing which were my actual dreams. I was afraid they would tell me I wasn’t any good at writing and photography, and I couldn’t bear to hear it. So I majored in International Relations (AKA wanting to live in foreign countries where accents abound).
5. I didn’t really try or challenge myself in High School or College because I didn’t want to fail. I always took the easy road, whichever path did not require effort. Why go after what you want? If you do, and do manage to get it, you could lose it. So I didn’t take any risk. Fear of failure, check. Fear of success, check. Crazy, check check.
The kicker is that I had no idea why I did these things. I only understood recently that the reason I was so afraid was wrapped up in a fear of loss and a vow I made at nine years old.
I never told anyone of this decision not to need anyone. I didn’t even remember it until God showed me why I was struggling so hard to give and receive love and why it was so incredibly difficult for me to allow anyone to bless me or help me. This vow was made to protect myself, but really what it did was isolate me and prevent me from really receiving the love I so desperately wanted. I believed that the lie that I wasn’t really loved. I believed the lie that I was a mistake that needed to be erased. I believed the lie that I did not need anyone, not even Jesus. Although I accepted Him as my Savior “just in case” because I was afraid of eternal fire and damnation.
Yes, I am aware of what a mess I was. Yes, I am aware of how crazy all of this sounds and is. It’s why I love Jesus so much. He loved me even when I was completely unable to love Him. He loves me still. And I am crying now. (Deep breath taken here.)
I disavowed that vow and asked Jesus to help me to undo it. I don’t know what kind of help I expected. But I certainly was not expecting a season where I had absolutely no choice but to allow people to help me and ask for help. I have always been willing to give, but receiving has been near impossible for me. And now I have to let people help me, even though I have no way to repay them. I have to trust that Jesus will repay what I cannot. I pray blessing over those that have come along side of me and been helping me. I hope that someday I will be able to pass on what I have been given to other people.
And now I am crying again…sheeesh. I seem to cry a lot these days. Not because I’m sad. But because I am overwhelmed by love and generosity and kindness of the people in my world. Something I never would have experienced if God hadn’t shown me this deeply embedded root. Gratitude abounds in a time when I don’t have a whole lot that seems to be going right.
That being said…here’s a post by Jo Ellen Stevens. (Note: I copied the following word for word. I did not write it, nor do I own the content.) I hope that this helps you.
WHEN MY VOW BECAME A GOD
Jo Ellen Stevens
” If a man vows a vow to the Lord or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break and profane his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” Numbers 30:2 (AMP)
The Lord spoke to me the other day out of the blue and began to show me something about many of you. He began by reminding me of my story. When I was very, very young I was married to a man that was abusive both verbally and physically. I don’t tell you this story to gain your sympathy or to make excuses for my life but to see you set free of something that you may not even realize has controlled your life for many years…
While I was married to this man back in 1969 I became pregnant with the only child that I ever had and is now with the Lord.. Because of some of the abuse I believe I lost this child.
When I began to miscarry he took me to the Airforce hospital in Michigan that we were stationed at and there he left me in this cold room with no one to be with me.. I remember there being another person in the room in another bed . I was in full labor because I was about five months along.
I remember at one point a nurse coming in and saying to me that I needed to be quiet so as to not disturb anyone else.. So as silently as I could in that much pain I finished having this miscarriage. The next morning I woke up to go to the restroom and passed out..The next thing I knew I was back in bed and they told me that I had, had a DNC. I didn’t even know what that was I was just 16 years old and didn’t know much about life…
When I came out and went home my husband began to tell me how fat I was, so I ate nothing but beef broth until I was down to my size three clothes again. I found out from someone that my husband had been at a party all the while that I was in the hospital with another woman.
The next week we went to a place with some friends and I was in the back seat and started crying as I was telling the other lady in our car about my miscarriage and my then husband stopped the car abruptly and turned around and began slapping me over and over..
I told you all of this to show you where I was going with this.. Many years later after I had been divorced and had gotten married to my husband now of 25 years. I was in my basement ironing and I was asking the Lord what caused my perfectionism that had driven me and everyone else nearly crazy for many years..
He showed me that at that moment that the incident happened that I had Vowed a Vow in my heart that I would never let another man do that to me again..That I would always be the prettiest and the skinniest, the best house keeper etc….
…He said that I needed to disavow that which I had vowed.. I cried all day but God set me free..
Now just the other day the Lord spoke to me again and said this…. He said that when you vow a vow that was not of him that the vow begins to inwardly govern your life and it becomes a God to you instead of Him..
He said many of my people in tough situations in their lives have become perfectionists and many other things because they vowed a vow that was not of Him..They have blocked out my will for their life because it had become a constitution to them…
He said that He wanted me to bring this out so that any of you can ask the Holy Spirit to shine His light on these areas and you can be set free to be obedient to Him again…
So ask the Lord right now to shine His light in any area that you have made your own constitution. He is ready to set you free…. It is not an easy thing to do .It will tear you up inside but it is a good tearing.. You will feel so free when this happens!!
Many of you will be healed in your body right now as you allow this to happen…. Glory to our Deliverer!!!
Father, we ask you to shine your light on those places in us that we have not yielded over to you because of ungodly vows in our time of pain.. We ask you to cleanse us of that and let your Holy Spirit teach us how to walk in freedom and obedience to your will In Jesus Mighty Name!! Amen!!
Arise,shine! Jo Ellen Stevens
Picture this. A prisoner has been pardoned. But instead of leaving the prison, the prisoner sits there in the cell. The shackles have been removed. The door is open. The prisoner could just walk out and be free. Yet the prisoner sits there because he’s not chosen to walk in freedom. His perception and perspective is that he is and will forever be a prisoner. But the truth, the reality, is that he’s free. He doesn’t believe the truth but has chosen to believe a lie.
If you are caught up in the cycle of addiction, you are that prisoner.
If you are beating yourself up over the past, you are that prisoner.
If you believe that you are worthless, you are that prisoner.
If you believe your situation is hopeless, you are that prisoner.
If you think that things will never change, you are that prisoner.
If you are allowing your past to bind you and prevent you from moving forward, you are that prisoner.
If you believe your past is more powerful that Jesus’ sacrifice, you are that prisoner.
Jesus came to reconcile us to God. Reconciliation was His main purpose. But that was not the only benefit and purpose of His death and resurrection. Luke 4:18-19 (Also found in Isaiah 61) tells us that He came to restore us body, soul and spirit. “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; to proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.”
He came to reveal the whole truth. The truth of His Kingdom, who we are, and how God feels about us. (In case you don’t know He loves us A LOT).
He came to show us who the Father is by doing what He saw the Father doing.
He came to heal your body and your heart.
AND He came to set you free. John 8:31-34 says,
“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”
Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
Even though you have been set free, you need to walk out that freedom. A slave (prisoner/unbelief) mentality and not understanding their true identity kept an entire generation out of the Promised Land. See Deuteronomy 1. They still saw themselves as slaves. They cried out to go back to Egypt. Their wrong perception of themselves and their lack of belief robbed the ENTIRE GENERATION of their inheritance. Only two men of the millions that left Egypt from that generation entered the Promised Land, Joshua and Caleb. Did you hear that? Two out of millions! And the only difference between those two and the rest of their generation was that they believed what God said, not what anyone else said. Did you hear that? They believed God. Not their circumstances. Not what they saw. Not what everyone else said. They believed God.
What’s my point? Well my point is that you need to believe what the Lord says about you and your future. You need to stop speaking negatively over yourself and beating yourself up for your past mistakes. You have value. You are loved.
Your situation is not too hard for God. Joseph went DIRECTLY from the prison to the palace. See Genesis 41. You don’t think God can do that for you? Nothing is impossible for God. NOTHING.
“Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” I Corinthians 13:5
Record in the Greek actually comes from an accounting term that means to count or reckon. It literally means to credit to someone’s account. It brings to mind someone who painstakingly keeps track of every single thing someone does to them. It is the exact opposite of forgiveness.
When God forgives us, He forgets what we’ve done. He sees us pure, holy, worthy, accepted and beloved. He separates our sin from us as far as the East is from the West, Psalm 103:11-12 tells us: “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”
Since this is God’s attitude and policy of forgiveness, we need to not only forgive others but also erase their actions from their account. Once we’ve been forgiven our sins/mistakes/screw ups/etc are covered in the blood of Jesus and God remembers them no more. (Hebrews 8:12 & 10:17 and Jeremiah 31). Since God forgives and forgets, so should we.
This includes forgiving yourself!
I don’t know about you, but it is easier for me to forgive someone else for what they’ve done to me than it is to forgive myself for the things I’ve done. I tend to remind God what I’ve done and try to disqualify myself from what He’s trying to do in me or for me. But God expects us to let go of the past and move forward. Paul said in his letter to the Philippians that He may not be there yet, but he’s pressing to get there. “No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14
Before he was saved on the road to Damascus, Paul was responsible for the imprisonment and deaths of disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. He could never undo what he had done. But when He accepted Jesus, his past was washed away by the blood. He was a new man. If Paul had focused on his past, and beat himself up over and over again, how could he have written 2/3 of the New Testament and reached the people he did? Truth is he couldn’t have.
So make a decision today to let go of the past and forgive those you are holding things against. Including yourself. Burn those ledgers. Move on. When the enemy tries to remind you of your past, choose to ignore him and instead speak this. “I am forgiven because of Jesus’ sacrifice, that mistake/sin is under the blood of Jesus. I am a child of the Most High God, and He loves me with an everlasting love. I have a hope and a future. I was called before the foundation of the world. I will forget the past and look forward to what lies ahead. I will press on to reach the end. I will not quit.”
Note: We really are called to forgive and forget BUT there are times when people have broken your trust beyond repair. You still must forgive them, for your own sake, but you do not have to repair and restore the relationship. If the relationship is hazardous to your physical person or if that person talks down to you and makes you feel bad about yourself, you don’t have to allow that person in your life. You have the right to end that relationship. God does not want you to be mistreated, taken advantaged of, or abused.
“Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; Shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness And rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19
I had a plan to write about God’s kindness today, but I can’t seem to focus on it. I can’t really seem to focus on much this whole week actually. I’m over emotional and exhausted and frustrated. I keep finding myself on the verge of explosion. It’s not my favorite.
Everything in my world seems to be changing and I’m having a hard time managing all the moving parts. I haven’t been able to put my finger on what’s actually bothering me. I am aware that all these changes are for the better. It’s good change. But my heart is hurting about what I’m leaving behind. It’s still a loss.
Then I realized. I’m grieving.
You don’t just grieve when someone dies. You can grieve and mourn the loss of many things. You grieve when relationships end or change and when you enter a new phase of life. I’ve grieved relationships. I’ve grieved jobs. I’ve grieved the loss of friends who moved away. I’ve grieved friendships that changed because of life changes. I grieved the loss of my little yellow Chevy Aveo, Daisy Sunshine. I loved that car. I miss that car. *sigh*
I’ve learned that when things change (or we lose people or jobs or move to a new place) we need to grieve the things that we’re leaving behind. Grieving is the process where we let go of what we had so we can open up to receiving the new things that are coming. I’m grieving right now. I’m grieving that I don’t get to hang out with, high five and hug my youth kids every Wednesday anymore. It’s only been a week, and I miss them. But I know that it’s time to move on to other things. God spoke and confirmed that to me. I know that I know that I know it’s time. But I’m still grieving the loss.
My understanding of grieving came over time. It started when a crap ton of my close friends got married over a couple year span. I was happy for them genuinely. But I really struggled with the new status quo. My girls were gone and they were replaced with couples who had different priorities. Some moved out of town and one even left the state. I was so depressed. At first I thought it was jealousy, but that wasn’t it. I had no interest in being married. Then I thought I was just selfish, but that wasn’t it. I really wanted them to thrive in their marriages. I didn’t understand that what was actually going on was that I was grieving the loss of the way things were. I didn’t want things to change. I wanted my girls to always be my girls. It took a long time to get over, because I never acknowledged and mourned the loss of the closeness I had with those amazing friends of mine.
Then there was the man I had loved for a very long time. I always thought we’d work it out and get back together eventually. So did he. But it never happened. I asked God in the middle of a hysterical fit, “Why can’t you just let this happen?” He answered me very matter of factly, “If you want him, you can have him. But you will miss everything I have for you.” That stopped me dead in my tracks. I was like what? I can choose to go outside of God’s will. I didn’t want that! I prayed that His will would be done. And I meant it!
God was true to His word. He let the door open and I stood face to face with the man I’d loved for most of my life. We could have gotten back together right then and there. We were both available for the first time at the same time. We both wanted it. We both still loved each other so much. But deep down I knew it would hurt us both in the long run. I fully understood for the first time that I was wrong for him and he was wrong for me. I saw so clearly that we would both be settling for less. Not that either of us are bad people, we just aren’t the right people. In my car on the way home, I sobbed. I truly grieved the loss of our relationship and I let him go. I still love him to this day, but the ache is gone. It doesn’t hurt anymore. Grieving him set me free. I was, for the first time, truly ready for the man God had for me. (Ahem…I’m still waiting, God… FYI)
The first time I actually recognized that you can grieve things other than people was when God showed me that the plan I had come up with was simply not going to happen. I was devastated. I went home and literally collapsed on my kitchen floor and wailed. I had one of the ugliest cries I’ve ever had. I mourned the loss of my plan. I sobbed and sobbed. “Why God? Why can’t You just use my plan? It’s what I really want!” I was absolutely acting like a 2 year old, complete with stomping and whining. Then after about an hour of kicking it toddler style…I heard very clearly…”Going there is not safe for you. You will backslide. You’ve prayed for My perfect will for you, and I’m preparing you to receive that. You need to let go of your plan. You need to trust Me.” I stopped crying and I stood up. I repented and I let go of my plan.
When I let go, I felt lighter. I felt free. That’s when God began to prepare me and speak to me about my future. About His plan for me. About the purpose and calling He has for me. I had been holding on to what I wanted so tightly that I couldn’t receive anything because my hands were already full!
What are you holding on to? God cannot give you anything new until you truly let go of the old. Ecclesiastes 3:4 says there’s a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance. It’s so true! There will be a time to grieve and cry, but then we need to let go. We need to laugh and dance and move forward. So for your own good, acknowledge what you need to mourn, grieve it and let it go! You won’t regret it!