Psalm 94

“O Lord God, to whom vengeance belongs – O God, to whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render punishment to the proud. Lord, how long will the wicked, how long will the wicked triumph?  They utter speech, and speak insolent things; all the workers of iniquity boast in themselves. They break in pieces Your people, O Lord, and afflict Your heritage. They slay the widow and the stranger, and murder the fatherless. Yet they say, ‘The Lord does not see, nor does the God of Jacob understand.’

Understand, you senseless among the people; and you fools, when will you be wise? He who planted the ear, shall He not hear? He who formed the eye, shall He not see? He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct, He who teaches man knowledge? The Lord knows the thoughts of man, that they are futile.

Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord, and teach out of Your law, that You may give him rest from the days of adversity, until the pit is dug for the wicked. For the Lord will not cast off His people, nor will He forsake His inheritance. But judgement will return to righteousness, and all the upright in heart will follow it.

Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? Who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity? Unless the Lord had been my help, my soul would soon have settled in silence. If I say, ‘My foot slips,” your mercy, O Lord, will hold me up. In the multitude of my anxieties within me, your comforts delight my soul.

Shall the throne of iniquity, which devises evil by law, have fellowship with You? They gather together against the life of the righteous, and condemn innocent blood. But the Lord has been my defense, and my God the rock of my refuge. He has brought on them their own iniquity, and shall cut them off in their own wickedness; the Lord our God shall cut them off.”

Psalm 94

// A world that is literally falling apart in every way could easily be (and for some people, is) a reason to doubt the very nature or even existence of God. But I choose to believe that a world falling apart is the very thing that He will use to reveal the fullness of His glory; that nothing happens that is outside of His perfect plan; that even the worst of all evil can and will be used to ultimately bring honor to the Name that is above every name. I seriously do not understand a lot of things, but I also don’t have to understand everything in order to still put my faith in The God who does. He sees it all, knows it all, is heartbroken by it all, but in the midst of it all, I know that He is present, He is enough, and He will bring justice when He so desires. //

undone

Psalm 65:4 “Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house.”

I came across this verse a couple days ago. A couple days ago, that is, when life felt pretty good; when, even in the midst of so much uncertainty and what feels like an endless season of waiting, I felt at peace & good & excited about life in general. {Quick side note: I’ve been learning recently that those feelings that come from God Himself, by His grace, have to be actively sought after and received anew each day. His mercies really are new every morning because they are needed every morning. They are SO there for the taking and I have come to learn that it is my responsibility to do just that – to accept what is offered to me as a gift every single day, without fail. More than once I have succumbed to the belief that I can experience God one day and that the “high” will then last me for a few more days. Realizing that this is actually how I have lived freaked me out, so I began asking God to show me how much I need Him; to expose me to the person that I am without Jesus so that I will want Him and therefore pursue Him that much more. And He listened. I’ve started feeling much more aware of my sinful human nature and the things that I become so easily entangled in that He has called & continues to call me to be free from. And how beautiful that when my anxious thoughts, discontentment, worry, self-focus, selfishness, laziness, jealousy, and whatever else meet me in my waking moments, so does His mercy.}

Anyways, where I was going with that is here: one day I came across this verse at a nice high point in life, and a couple days later I referred back to it because somehow, in the span of only a couple days, I had gone from “Yay, it’s so fun and exciting to have absolutely no clue what the heck will happen next because I trust Jesus and that’s all that matters!” to “holy crap, what if I end up going to college in Turlock, California and working the same exact job for literally the rest of my life because I never finalize a major or decide on a career and then I’ll never move out or get married or have kids or have the opportunity to live somewhere else??” Leave it to my brain to spiral completely out of control and freak myself out, imagining all the worst-case scenarios. All this to say, emotions are unpredictable. One day I was fine, the next, part of me was hating life and questioning the will of God. Story of my life. Back and forth. I am being reminded of my need for Jesus, and not just my need for Him, but also to what extent that need exists within me, if that makes sense… And let me tell you: it is all the time. I can trust nothing but His promises.

Psalm 65:4 convicts me of letting my heart dwell in a state of discontentment and thus completely overlooking a gift (another gift) I have been given, undeservedly, and am only now just figuring out how to actually receive. This gift? The season I am in. There is an extensive amount of stillness & waiting & fighting against discontentment and thinking too far into the future happening right now, and it’s a fight because it’s easy to go there, but I desperately do not want to miss out on what is right in front of me. I choose to believe that it is a gift. Although I can only see so far ahead before the view gets hazy, I trust that there is much to be gained.

Psalm 65:4 “Blessed is the man You choose, and cause to approach You, that he may dwell in Your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of Your house.”

Here’s why I love this verse; why it brings me to my knees in both humility and weakness because I am completely undone by the reassurance that I don’t have to worry about a single thing: I see this season of my life as God choosing me. He’s causing me to approach Him constantly because when I’m forced to wait for so many things that I want but am not getting at this moment, the only thing I can do or even want to do is come before Him, where He then turns all other desires that I have into one single desire for more of Him. He chose me and continues to choose me every day. He invites me to approach Him with boldness, to cast my cares on Him, to dwell in His courts with Him. And I shall be satisfied with His goodness, the one thing that is always certain.

ocean analogy

a little piece of me & the deep blue sea

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“no other place would i rather be, but for now i’ll seek earnestly and find, undoubtedly, contentment with reality.”

today i was thinking about how much i miss the beach (what’s new?), and then i remembered this photo i took awhile back when my family went together for a few days… and then i thought of this cute little caption that rhymes and i wanted to post it on instagram… and then somehow a simple caption turned into a little poem, which is weird because i’m totally not a poet. ever. and it was supposed to just be about the beach! because from a surface level perspective of this “poem”, it really is an honest expression of how there is no other place i would rather be right now than at the beach. but i’m not, and i can’t be, so instead i’ll try to be okay with staying home in an air-conditioned house in drought-stricken Turlock. then i read it a couple more times and realized how, beneath the surface, it speaks of a lot more than just going through beach withdrawals; often times i do struggle with contentment and totally would rather be anywhere other than where God has me, but i’m learning that no matter what stage of life i am in, no matter what the reality of my circumstances is and whether i like it or not, if i choose to seek Him earnestly, i will undoubtedly find Him; and when i find Him, i find rest and “contentment with reality”. even if the harsh reality is that i’m not at the beach. 😉

a few months ago, as most everyone knows, i was discontent with the idea of staying home and working this summer; i wanted to leave the country again on mission with Royal Servants, but felt a conviction i couldn’t ignore to stay. not once since the moment i complied and officially decided i would stay home have i felt like that was the wrong decision. on the contrary, i have felt nothing but consistent peace and reassurance. so far, it has been a restful summer, like i thought it would be. small trips here and there, but mostly working, and on my days off, actually resting, reading a lot, or meeting with friends for coffee here and there. all of this to say, in this brief quiet season, God has shown such faithfulness. in the past couple months 1) i have experienced conviction about truly pursuing righteousness for His name’s sake; i have learned that doing this means being obedient to His Word, and that obedience only happens if it stems from love, not my own feelings of wanting to obey or not. 2) after wrestling with my own anxious heart, some honest conversations with important people in my life, and some time to refocus, i realized contentment has still been lacking in me, and i ran, helpless, back to the feet of Jesus.

1) At the beginning of the summer, God placed in me a deeper awareness of the importance of living like Christ in every way, and i began to desire for Him to show me specifically how i can live more righteously. i remember Him convicting me about my language; how i often let myself slip up and then just blow it off and say that i’ll be better the next time i get angry, startled or frustrated. so there i was, in a very incongruent state of being because i wanted two very different things: i want to be like Jesus; oh, but i also want the freedom to say whatever i want on occasion. and every time i would ask God to work in my heart and make me more like Him, over and over again, He would bring to mind James 3:8-10 : “But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our God and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so.” i finally took the hint that maybe God wanted me to work harder on thinking before i speak, and in my angry or startled or frustrated state, not to sin. however ridiculous it is to say that that lesson was kind of hard because it’s something i didn’t want to give up, it’s true. “sometimes it’s just really fun to say a bad word and it feels like there’s no other way to really express how you feel inside, okay!!? besides, i only say certain things around people who really know me and know where my heart is.” umm what does that even mean? clearly, even i was wrong about “where my heart is”. so once i was fully aware that this needed to change, i asked God to just help me be better and to not let me say words that dishonor Him. i asked Him to help me actually want to speak differently, and then, once i had the desire to change, obviously it would be so much easier to do so, and i would! and that’s when i realized what love is. God basically said “I don’t care if you want to do this or not; if you want to be my disciple, first and foremost, you have to be obedient and that means forsaking your own “wants” and doing what I ask.” that was my first lesson. forever convicted to be more careful in this area of my life, and by no means am i perfect. but i will say that practicing obedience yields a desire to actually continue in obedience. “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” Philippians 2:13.

2) a few weeks ago i had a conversation with my dad and he basically called me out in my anxiety. he’s only known me since day one for twenty years… i guess that’s enough time to know that i so often struggle with having an anxious heart. i’m always wanting to speed up the plan, whether it’s someone else’s plan, my plan, or God’s plan. i am always wanting things to happen faster. he reminded me of God’s call to keep me home this summer; reminded me that He has a purpose for that, even if it seems so simple or not even apparent right now; reminded me of the importance of seeking Him, and encouraged me to do just that: to sit before God, to rest in Him, to wait on Him, and to seek Him. He was right, i had lost sight of the path God had me on. i got tired of waiting, tired of the quiet. but i quickly realized that’s exactly what He wants from me right now, and forging my own path in an attempt to speed up any part of His plan is a bad idea. God also reenforced His truth to me through a conversation with my best friend, whose purity of heart i so deeply admire. we concluded our talk having decided that the most important thing to do is to run the race God has set before us, eyes fully focused on Him, and to let the pieces of our lives come together the way God desires them to, not as a result of any of our own efforts to make things happen the way we want. at the end of the day, our lives should have His name written all over. so, praise God for speaking truth into my life through other people when it’s seemingly the only way to get through to me.

all that said, i’ve recently reached a place of stillness, and the most fascinating part about it to me is that it’s not something i really sought God for. it’s a state of mind and heart that He Himself has led me to, and it’s something i didn’t even know i needed until He brought me to it, like the Good Shepherd that He is, taking care of my needs before i even realize what they are. my circumstances haven’t been chaotic, but what i did need rest from was the chaos within my own heart that God has made me aware of. i’m thankful for this season of life, now that i see how necessary it is, and i’m reminded daily how much i need Jesus, every moment, even when things are calm. the need never goes away, but neither does God’s desire and willingness to be the only source of true satisfaction for us.

“‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and confidence shall be your strength.'” Isaiah 30:15

w a l l s .

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If you ever doubt that God speaks when we seek Him, doubt no more. And I’m totally saying that for my own sake just as much (if not more) as I am for anybody else who may need to be reminded of that. Because I say that, and I experience it firsthand like I’m about to share, and I still doubt Him, all the time. Go figure.

I remember sitting at the Western Wall in Jerusalem last summer, praying alongside my teammates and the Jewish people. I remember what I prayed, too: 1) for God to please show me how big He is, and 2) how and why am I even here right now? First of all, I was in complete awe of that fact, and then I was humbled, realizing the freedom that I have in Christ, and the access that I have to Him at all times because His Spirit lives in me, no longer in a temple, behind a wall. I watched the Jewish people around me praying so fervently at the Wall and I was amazed. These people have a reverence for God and a dedication to Him that is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and it is something I deeply admire about them. But I remember thinking so often how they are missing out on the truth that God has already forgiven them, and that He offers a life of freedom through the blood of His Son, right now, independent of anything they do to try and earn it. I remember it didn’t take long for God to respond to my pleas to know how big He is, and to know what He wanted with me being there… I think at one point I was just staring at the Wall and looking at the people in front of me, listening to them praying and hearing them weeping. I thought of how these are His people, how He is the God of this city, the God of this nation, the God of this world, the God of this universe, and then He said (not audibly, but… audibly. You know?) “I am the God of all of this and all of these people, and yet I still desire to be YOUR God.” My only response was to join everyone else who was crying. This verified to me what He told me while in Haifa, Israel, during our first week: that He wanted (and still wants) to transform my relationship with Him and make it more personal. He showed me that I had unknowingly turned it into something that was about how I appeared to other people and essentially lost sight of it just being about me walking with Him, and Him leading me (for more details about that, check out my post titled “Refine(ME)nt”). He wanted to become more to me than I have ever known Him to be before. In essence, He wanted (and still wants) to tear down the walls that I have put up between Him and I, including expectations that I put on myself of how my life should look from the outside, and making that a priority instead of my personal walk with Him, alone. He wanted (and still wants) to tear down the walls that I have put up between Him and I because I’m afraid to fully listen to Him; I’m afraid that He will ask something of me that I won’t want to be obedient about, and that’s hard.

In a nutshell, I define a “wall” in my life as anything that in some way drives a wedge between God and I; anything that somehow makes it difficult for me to hear or want to hear His voice; anything that becomes more important to me than His council. I put up walls  subconsciously. And yet, once I realize what I’ve done, I am reluctant to tear them down myself, and almost more reluctant to let God tear them down for me. I really can’t do it for myself, I know this. I can so easily put up these walls on my own, between myself and God, and myself and other people, no problem. But only He can demolish the false protection I attempt to guard myself with, thinking it’s actually a safe place to be.  About the same time (several weeks ago) that I became aware of these barriers in my life is when God started bringing back to my mind these memories from last summer. And they have been specific memories of extremely pivotal moments that I experienced, such as the one I just described. God began to bring back these memories, asking me if I remember all that He showed me last summer, and telling me that He still desires to fulfill these plans in my heart and life, if I would just let Him.

At a Bible study a few weeks ago, I came across Ephesians 2:14, which says “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation”. Paul is referring to the fact that Christ, through His death and resurrection, has demolished the “wall” that set apart God’s chosen people from the Gentiles. He died for one and all, and regardless of any and all characteristics that make people diverse, we all have one thing in common and that is that we are human, which means we all sin, which means we all need Jesus. I get that, and it’s wonderful. And what else is wonderful is this awesome parallel that I see in my own life. God Himself is my peace, and therefore I have no reason to be afraid, no reason to want to hide in my little shell of complacency. And He can and does break down these walls of separation that I, often unknowingly, put up around my heart.

So, why the walls? Heck if I know. That’s what frustrates me. I don’t know why I feel like I should be timid or somehow guarded; as if my heart belongs entirely to me; as if there isn’t a God infinitely greater than me, infinitely more powerful, all-knowing, who gently holds my heart in His own hands, who desires to be my everything and to fulfill His plans in and through me, if I let Him. Actually, I do have a very valid theory about this. And it’s pretty obvious: Fear. Just fear in general. Let’s be real, God terrifies me. In the most admirable and beautiful and lovely way, He is pretty intimidating. And, in light of that, I can be certain that inviting Him to be part of every aspect of my life means I can expect to experience some heart-wrenching convictions. It means I get to learn His heart, what He wants to accomplish and how He wants to accomplish it, and what my role is in that process – all really exciting, but also really scary things. Letting God have full access to my heart means there will be no toleration for self-constructed walls that I put up to block out other people, experiences, and convictions simply because I’m afraid of the potential pain and difficulty that could arise, even though I KNOW God would use it for good and for growth. But why now? Why am I suddenly so acutely aware of these walls? Because I have this feeling that God has something to say right now, at this time in my life, that is probably going to scare the crap out of me once I hear it. Pardon, once I listen. And I’ll admit I haven’t been ready to hear it yet. I haven’t been listening very well lately. I’ve been talking a lot, definitely. Trust me, I have a lot to take up with God these days, but when it comes to letting Him have His turn talking, sometimes I have selective hearing. He is persistent though. And I think slowly I’m starting to feel like I can’t hold onto these fears any longer. He brings me to a place where I start to feel like I’m really missing out because I let fear hold me back from surrendering entirely and finally choosing to listen. Today I was thinking about how challenging some situations in life can be, but then I realized that I really wouldn’t want it any other way. If I felt capable all the time, I wouldn’t be inclined to lean on Him for strength. So on that note, I’m still afraid. But I’m trying to step out in faith and not let fear hold me back, but instead let it propel me further, into a deeper understanding of His love.

On another note, this is a great song:

Called Me Higher, by All Sons & Daughters

I could just sit
I could just sit and wait for all Your goodness
Hope to feel Your presence
And I could just stay
I could just stay right where I am and hope to feel You
Hope to feel something again

And I could hold on
I could hold on to who I am and never let You
Change me from the inside
And I could be safe
I could be safe here in Your arms and never leave home
Never let these walls down

But You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord
You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You lead me Lord
Where You lead me
Where You lead me Lord

And I will be Yours, oh
I will be Yours for all my life
So let Your mercy light the path before me
Cause You have called me higher
You have called me deeper
And I’ll go where You will lead me Lord

called to [ s t a y ].

Which is harder, to go or to stay? I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer because I think, depending on the state of the heart, both are equally difficult. And I now know what being called to both of them feels like.

S T A Y : to remain in a specified state or position. Specified, indeed. This word and I? We’re not friends. Nope. Until I get so lost in Jesus that I can fully embrace the calling behind this dreaded word, “stay” and I are close to arch-enemies.

For the past two years I have felt God clearly ask me to leave everything and go serve Him in another country for the summer. I vividly remember the feeling, both times, knowing that He wanted me to leave my comfort zone and trust that He would take care of me and, more importantly, that He wanted to do some incredible work in my heart through such an experience. I remember trying to balance feelings of utter excitement with overwhelming fear, and at times I let fear got the best of me by simply sitting on my bedroom floor, crying, telling Him I couldn’t do it because I was so terrified. And part of what made me so afraid was not just fear of the unknown, but of that which I also knew very well: that because He was calling me to go, He had some pretty radical purposes in mind, and I was honestly scared of what that would look like/feel like/require of me. But because of His great love and faithfulness, that fear and dread that accompanied the initial conviction to leave was soon remedied by a burning desire to grow as a person and as a follower of Christ. And, as departure drew closer, excitement overwrought any fear, and I felt ready. All of that to say, it was still really hard for me to respond with obedience to God’s call to leave home for a time. Home was where I was comfortable, which is exactly where He did not want me to stay. (*feel free to cringe because there’s that word again*) And for the past six months I have struggled with the same issue of feeling God calling me in one direction, but wanting so desperately to go the other.
These months have been full of me seeking, God convicting, me doubting, God confirming, me denying, God reassuring, and me, finally, listening. Somewhat reluctantly. Okay, more than somewhat. And all the while, He has been perfectly patient with me, as only He can be.

Since before I returned from my second summer overseas, I was already thinking about what I would end up choosing to do the summer of 2015. In the late fall, I started receiving e-mails from my Royal Servants leaders, encouraging me to come back for the third time and travel with them to Poland, Slovakia, and back to Israel (or Turkey, depending on how the conflict in the Middle East is by that time). I wrestled with thoughts of leaving for so long, yet again; of raising the money, yet again. But I also got really excited when I thought about everything I’d be saying hello to almost immediately after saying goodbye to home: being reunited with a few friends, making new ones, growing to know and love Jesus even more, eating really good food, eating really bad food, laughing, developing inside jokes, sleeping in tents, dealing with the nightmares of traveling that eventually become some of the greatest memories, and of course, being in other countries and watching God place opportunities right in front of me and the rest of my team to share His love with lost souls. Difficult and wonderful and beautiful things.

This is right about when God began to teach me discernment.

I wanted to go, so badly. I still want to go, so badly. Hence the struggle at hand. But from day one, deep down, I knew that what I wanted was not lining up with where God was and is calling me… To stay. Home. To stay home. Poland, Slovakia, and Israel, or possibly Turkey? Mmm, I think I’ll pass. I’d rather stay home. SAYS NO ONE EVER. At least, not me. This was clearly not my response, that I’d RATHER stay home. In fact, this was so far from my response that it literally took close to six months for me to accept the fact that it just isn’t going to happen this time around. I went back and forth with God on a daily basis, asking, “Are you sure about this one…? Is this something you actually do? You allow an opportunity like this to arise, only to tell me NOT to choose it? Seriously, there’s still plenty of time if You want to change Your mind. Just lay it on my heart to go and I will go.” Because here’s the thing: Discernment. Yes, I wanted to go. But there’s a big difference, I learned, between wanting something myself, and knowing when & if God wants it too. I didn’t have the same overwhelming excited, afraid, dreadful, “I have to do this” feeling about going that I have felt the past two summers. I felt that way about staying home, but I denied it for a long time because I didn’t want to pass up my other option. I had to check my motives. I wanted to go because my leaders wanted me to, and I wanted to make them happy. I wanted to go because I dreaded seeing all the pictures on Facebook after the fact and wishing I had been there. I wanted to go because I don’t want to feel like I missed out. Selfish, right? Well, eventually the deadline came and went, and I still felt the same unwavering conviction that I’d felt the entire time. It took a lot of courage for me to type and send a response, saying I will not be traveling with Royal Servants again this summer, because doing that meant it was set in stone; it meant I was officially acknowledging what God has been and is asking of me, which is freaking scary when it’s not what I necessarily want to be doing. So, in the sweetest way, it broke my heart a little bit, but God was right there, picking up the pieces as they fell. Or rather, catching them in His hands before they even hit the ground.

There’s a trend here, if you haven’t noticed yet. God really likes calling me outside of any level of comfort that I reach. And He’s really good at it. Seriously, anytime I get comfortable, He is pretty quick to make sure that I don’t stay that way. But it’s no wonder because the discomfort is where I thrive and grow the most. I reached a point in the past (the more recent past) where I honestly wanted more than anything for God to completely change me and grow me into a woman after His own heart. Whatever it takes, I wanted it. I still want it. And He has definitely remembered that prayer, let me tell you. Apparently it takes uncomfortable situations for me to grow the most, because it is in those times where I have no other choice but to fully trust Him.

So, simply put, God is calling me to stay home this summer. But there’s more. There are two things He brought back to my mind a couple weeks ago when I was asking Him for more clarity about my final decision, and they were the two very things I remember He had laid on my heart to put into practice back at home right after last summer: to fully invest in my relationship with Him, and to fully invest in relationships with people. The moment those two things resurfaced in my mind in the midst of asking for confirmation and trying to bring myself to make a final decision, I knew what had to be done.

I am staying home to work and possibly take summer classes, but I’m doing this because, for some reasons that only God knows, I need to invest myself and my time in the people He has so graciously placed in my life right here at home. I have to continue intentionally living out my faith around people I actually know. It’s somewhat comical that this is really my thought process at this point… that that scares me. But I’m a firm believer that a lot of times it’s easier to go to a completely different place and share Jesus with people you’re probably never going to see again. That’s how I have felt about it before, anyways. Why it has to feel that way, I don’t know. But now we’re back to the comfort zone thing; this is uncomfortable for me. I’m uncomfortable thinking about all the uncomfortable situations God may choose to put me in with people I know where He’ll want me to deliberately share my faith. So there’s that. Also, I’m used to anticipating jumping on a plane at the start of the summer and not coming back until right before school, and it’s weird knowing I won’t be doing that six months from now. But the fact that it’s so hard gives me more confidence that it is also right. And that’s as far as my eyes can see. I have no idea what specifically to expect out of this summer, but I know I can count on God challenging me and doing some wonderful things, and I’m getting excited.
I guess Royal Servants has become my new comfort zone, which is strange to say, considering how afraid of it all I have been in the past. That being said, for the sake of summarization, I want to restate my current calling: stay home, but don’t stay comfortable.

Here are a couple passages that have been stabilizing for me:

Psalm 37:3 “Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.” -theme verse, right here.

Psalm 143:4-8 “Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is distressed. I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your works; I muse on the work of Your hands. I spread out my hands to You; My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Answer me speedily, O Lord; my spirit fails! Do not hide your face from me, lest I be like those who go down into the pit. Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.”

>> leadership <<

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during some much-needed time spent with Jesus i realized what i’ve been holding onto that needed to be let go of. i’ll be honest and say it’s been awhile since i’ve set aside some solid time to actually tell God everything on my heart and meditate on His Word. last friday, i sat on my bedroom floor and started telling Him all of the things that have been on my mind that i’m concerned about, that i need to make decisions about, come to a conclusion about, or stop worrying about. school and classes. work and my concern about not being able to accomplish everything expected of me. friendships. missions trip opportunities. everything. well, i thought i had said it all, but i still felt uneasy and like there was something left that i had kept hidden deeper in my heart; something i didn’t want to discuss with God. i sat for a second in silence, listening. i felt Him graciously take from me the things i had surrendered to Him, but i also felt Him tell me that there was still one very important thing left to give up, and what came to mind was “leadership”.

i’ve been a part of the leadership team with my college group for a little over 2 months now, and it has been nothing but a blessing. i have trouble committing to things like that sometimes, afraid of the times where i won’t want to participate, when it would just be easier to not be part of it at all. but this was an opportunity i couldn’t pass up because i knew God was calling me to step into it. shortly after i joined, i also became a member of the worship team. i’ve loved to sing for as long as i can remember, but i’ve always been pretty much just a closet singer. not even my parents ever really hear me sing my best, haha. i’m convinced, however, that the only reason i’m comfortable enough to sing in front of the college group now is because of all the practice i had over the summer with the amazing and musically gifted team i traveled with to Israel and Greece! i don’t remember a day NOT singing my heart out at some point with some of my favorite people. 🙂 that’s one way i definitely see how God prepared me for this position of leadership He now has me in. i’ve learned a lot through it so far, and i know this is just the beginning. i’m starting to understand what it means to genuinely worship and to comfortably lead a congregation of people to the feet of Christ through music. it’s no easy position, and last week especially, i was reminded that not only as a worship leader, but as a leader in generally, i still have much to learn. God so beautifully broke me down this last week and reacquainted me with my own inadequacy, my undying need for His strength, and the reminder that His mercies are new every morning. what a gift.

i totally did not have the right mindset for leading worship last week, and part of that was caused by my distraction with this new song i wanted to introduce to the college group. i thought i knew it well enough, but ended up not feeling so comfortable with it after all. i should’ve practiced more. anyways, it threw me off. i wasn’t focused on the words as much as i was focused on how horrible of a job i was doing… i missed a few cues and go totally lost. i knew my focus had been elsewhere, and that made me disappointed in myself for many reasons. i was upset, but i brushed it off and told myself that most likely everyone forgot, or they didn’t even think it was as bad as i thought it was to begin with. my friend and fellow worship leading companion, Marta, (who also happens to have years of more experience doing this than me) texted me the next day and wanted to meet up for coffee to talk about worship in general and what it means that we are part of this team. she knew i was nervous on thursday and out of the kindness of her heart wanted to come alongside me as a sort of mentor. we went to starbucks and the first thing i did was cry. i had just come from that quiet time with God when i heard Him tell me to surrender leadership. suddenly it all made sense. i knew that what seemed to me to be an awful experience leading worship the night before was exactly what i needed. God used it to break me down and show me that i had been taking matters into my own hands, and that needed to stop.

it’s time to stop being comfortable. i am a follower, and i always have been. i’ve always been so much more comfortable hiding behind other people, doing what they tell me to do, letting them take authority and get the job done instead of being the initiator, myself. God does not want me to be stuck in my comfort zone because there comes a point when it hinders me from reaching my full potential through Him. that’s how i know that leadership is something i am called to. and i know that it’s a characteristic that is essential to every aspect of my life right now. at church, in relationships, at work, at school. there’s more to leadership than i realized, before it was a heavy calling on my heart… i believe it’s about taking action and getting something done when it’s easier to be lazy or let someone else take care of whatever the task is; initiating conversations with people and truly taking an interest in getting to know them; reaching out to others instead of expecting people to reach out to me all the time; being responsible and diligent; but most importantly, letting God be the one to grow these qualities in me in whatever ways He sees fit instead of trying to develop them myself. that is where i failed miserably. and when God let me fail is when i realized how easily i got off course, how desperately i need His help, and how hard it is for me to accept His grace. i don’t deserve it. i’ve been such a letdown… i haven’t cared about school as much as i should; i let my coworkers take care of the duties i don’t necessarily want to do at work; i screwed up at worship the other night; i totally haven’t been reaching out to some people in my life who i know really need it. i literally have failed at being a leader in every way that God has asked me to lead. at first i thought that i should just give up now; clearly, i can’t do this whole “leadership” thing that He’s called me to. i suck, obviously. but that’s when i was reminded that this is not something i’m supposed to be able to do on my own. the whole point is so that God can be glorified through me. i will fail, and that’s okay. all the more reason to rely on my Savior to sustain me and complete me. God hasn’t called me to do this on my own, He walks alongside me; He strengthens, forgives, corrects, and loves me. and He wants me to always accept His grace and mercy with humility and thanksgiving.
i’m motivated now. now that i stand corrected, i desire to keep trying. i want to continue to become the person God is shaping me to be. i want to work harder in every area, especially in trusting Him to be my ultimate source of strength, and the One who helps me excel as a leader.

// Nehemiah 9:17 “…But You are God, ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abundant in kindness, and did not forsake them.” //

A Little Longer

The title of this post is actually unoriginal on my part. It’s the title of one of my favorite songs, and it goes like this:

What can i do for You, what can i bring to You, what kind of song would You like me to sing? Cause I’ll dance a dance for You, pour out my love to You… what can i do for You, beautiful King? ‘Cause i can’t thank You enough… ’cause i can’t thank You enough. All of the words that I find, and I can’t thank You enough. No matter how I try, I can’t thank You enough. Then I hear You sing to me… You sing “you don’t have to do a thing; just simply be with Me and let those things go ’cause they can wait another minute. Wait… This moment is too sweet. Would you please stay here with Me and love on Me a little longer, ’cause I’d like to be with you a little longer. I’d love to be with you a little longer, cause I’m in love with you.”

It’s by Brian and Jenn Johnson. Listen to it if you haven’t. May our hearts maintain this attitude in all seasons; may we desire nothing more than to lay down everything we are and all that we have at the feet of Jesus in exchange for more of Him; may we want HIS desires to be fulfilled and HIS plans to prevail, and not our own; may we relish in the beauty that is His presence, and rest humbly in the knowledge that He simply wants US; may we love Him with all that we are because He first loved us, and loves us completely; and may we overflow with thanksgiving because He is so beyond any meaning of the word “good”.

Stay in awe.