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Fullest Potential

Raw, Vulnerable, & Honest

Word ArtAs I was driving home from an errand, I listened to the devotional thought of the day put out by Family Foundations. Craig was talking about the signs of a hardened heart. I listened as he described the signs and symptoms of a hardened heart, and I realized that it described so much of what I am walking through in my life….

In the past year, God has really been breaking down a wall in my heart. A wall that was put there to try to protect myself from ever being hurt again. God took me back into some of the darkest times of my life to expose a deep trust issue that has been holding me back for years. There were some circumstances that occurred when I was very young that had shattered my very basic trust in people, especially in adults and Christians. Along with that was a deep trust issue with God. Through those circumstances came a tremendous amount of shame, fear, and a fierce anger. Each incident that “confirmed” the lies in my little heart was like another brick in the wall I began to build to protect myself.

One night, God very gently peeled off the blinders as I was seeking answers for the block I kept sensing in my heart, and I saw and realized that I was afraid of being completely known and loved. This fear was holding me back from fully loving and understanding others in healthy relationships. I was afraid to be vulnerable or indebted to anyone for fear I would be used and betrayed. Although I tried to drown out that voice in my head it kept yelling that something was wrong with me that made me beyond love. In my head I knew these were lies, but in my heart it didn’t take the hurt away. Forming new friendships and relationships are exhausting when you are afraid to be loved or vulnerable. I was holding everyone at arm’s length and wait for them to prove to me they could be trusted. It was like I would reach a certain level in relationships and then suddenly be gripped with an overwhelming fear that I couldn’t understand and every fiber of my being would scream to get as far away as possible from that feeling.

You know it amazes me how God can use painful circumstances to rid our hearts of walls. I had just come out of a toxic situation that had left me feeling emotionally exhausted and wondering how I could have been so blinded and deceived. While the betrayal I experienced in that situation hurt, what hurt me more was the fact that I didn’t see it coming. I felt like I had betrayed myself by not protecting myself from being hurt, and that if I had just been more careful I wouldn’t have been hurt. All of that agreed with the lie in my head telling me there was something wrong with me. As painful as that situation was, when I invited God into the pain, His truth flooded my heart with healing.

In coming out of that situation, I realized there needs to be boundaries, yes. But when we lock ourselves away for fear of being hurt, we will miss out on all the fullness life has to offer. Toxic friendships or relationships can exhaust you, but in the end being vulnerable and real even if it hurts is still better than isolation. I also saw where I had allowed the toxicity to attack the core of my self-worth and identity. It revealed not only who my true friends really are, but also areas where I had placed value on what people were saying over what God says. I had listened to the lies the enemy was trying to plant in my mind and had turned all my confusion inward to “what is wrong with me?” instead of running to Jesus who is the source of my identity and healing.

I think many of us have these walls that we begin building early in life. We get hurt, and to avoid feeling pain we pick up a brick and place it between us and the source of pain. In time we lay it down with the mortar of self-pity, and every hurt becomes another brick in our wall. We might call it a good wall. A safe wall. But it doesn’t change the fact that we are left walled up inside and the walls around us grow taller and thicker with every hurt.

God, in His love for us, continually tries to reach our hearts, and when we reach out and receive His love it comes into that place with us. The love of God can not be contained by the walls we build. His love begins to chip away at the walls we built. We can protest and hold back for fear of being vulnerable and exposed or we can join God in the process. God is a kind father and He will nurture us along the way if we choose to allow Him to tear down the walls. He does not force us to get rid of the walls. He loves us whether we remove the wall or not. It is us who often hold Him at arms length out of fear that keeps us from fully experiencing His love. He always leaves the choice to us. He is not a dictator and He will not force us into something we don’t want.  He will stand beside us as our eyes adjust to the sunshine coming through the walls as they begin to crumble. He understands the moments when we fall in a heap and cry from utter exhaustion. He pours ointment on our blistered hands when the ax begins to dig in. He holds us close as the bricks crumble and shelters us with His wings of protection from the flying shards. He takes the pain for us, allowing those bricks to hit Him. It’s a painful process because in order to remove the lies we have to allow Him to heal the circumstances that opened the door to the lies. Yet as another wall crumbles, He tenderly holds us close whispering His promises of love and reminding us about the gardens of fruit that will grow where there once was only a cold barren land surrounded by bricks. From the dust will arise a beautiful song of praise from the river of Life that now can freely flow without being dammed up by the wall. This process is a choice. It’s not a feeling. It’s not something that just happens. It is a conscious decision to dethrone the lies of the enemy and to put Truth in its place. It is us deciding to align to truth. God does the work, but we have to give Him permission. God is a loving Father who allows us to choose.

No matter where we come from, we are not immune to pain. Life is going to be full of messy, painful experiences and relationships. We are going to hurt. What we do with the pain, however, will define us. In my life that has looked more like a process and less like an overnight change. Yes, I cry when I remember the painful things. I still battle with fear. I’m not perfect and I’m tired of pretending to be. My Father is perfect and His perfection is all I need. How would this world change if we would be okay with vulnerable, messy, and honest? I’m sure glad Jesus is okay with it. He came to this world as a vulnerable baby and was spat upon, beaten, and then killed in a horrific manner. He suffered. He cried, and then He defeated death, defeated sin, defeated the lies when He rose so that we can also live undefeated, fearless, and bold lives.

I struggle to post this because I feel it is vulnerable. It is very much a part of my current journey and isn’t really a “happy ending feeling” blog because honestly being vulnerable is more about a lifestyle than a one time experience. I’m going to post this anyway and I invite you to be vulnerable too. So far I am finding that being vulnerable can be painful because there will be people who will slap you in the face for it. Just remember that every blow in the face you get is from someone who is hurting. Raise your sword toward the enemy, pray to Jesus for healing and be kind to the person who hurt you. I know it’s hard and I’m not going to bother to pretend that I have done well at this. I have likely been found running the opposite direction when that happens. (All grammar aside for a moment because I feel like this statement needs a southern mama twist!) “Ain’t nobody been truly saved from being hit in the face with a Bible.” It’s the vulnerable, reckless, messy, and amazing love within its pages lived out in everyday shoe leather that makes the message within the pages come alive. I’ve been around vulnerable, every day shoe leather people, and I’ve been around slap your face with a Bible people, and I can assure you that the former is what made me develop a hunger and thirst for God that I didn’t know was possible, while the latter left me more hopeless and confused than ever.

Here’s to learning more about being okay with being vulnerable. This is very much a #goals post than a #achievements post in my life.

Go out there and spread you glitter!

-Jenni

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Small Things… Big Impacts…

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This morning I was reminiscing with my mom about a time in my childhood… We were discussing some of the details of the most trauma-filled years of my young life. I shared with her one memory that I can not talk about to this day without crying. You would think it was a bad memory, but it’s not. Even as I write about it, I have to cry… Maybe because it was one of the moments that defined something greatly important to me.. kindness in the small things….

You see, due to circumstances beyond my parents’ control I spent a lot of time in other homes in my early childhood. I don’t blame them for it. My mom could not help the fact that she was in the hospital and we nearly lost her, or that she was physically too unwell to lift a baby.

But one week in particular is still etched into my young mind. It contained some unpleasant incidents and probably the worst case of  me feeling abandoned or orphaned in my life… But in the midst of it all there was one girl… she was much older than me, but she was in the same home I was. While she couldn’t be with me all day, when she was there she was my sun and my hope. I didn’t sleep well, could barely choke down my breakfast, and couldn’t leave the table until I choked down my plate of food… and that pressure only increased the size of the lump in my throat, but every morning she was assigned the seat by me and she noticed my predicament and took charge. With kind words she took my plate and cut my breakfast pancake into perfect squares. She carefully counted them…”Eat it just one square at a time,” she said, and I did. For the rest of my time there she always helped me find a way to eat my food before she had to leave for the day, and a hundred times a day I would ask WHEN she would be back. She always took time to spend with me in the evenings before we’d be separated again at bedtime.

From then on I thought pancakes cut in perfect squares tasted the best, but somehow no one could cut them to taste right like she did… I have since come to realize that it was the simple act of kindness, love, and caring that made the difference, and not the perfect squares.

Sometimes we do not really fully realize just how much a kind word, a small act of service, or a gentle touch can change someone’s life for the better, but it can, and it does. We might never see the fruit of the seeds we plant, but Someone does.

Just as God allowed that girl to be there to cut my pancake into perfect squares to help me eat and feel loved, so He delights in caring for His children through us in ways that may to us seem small. I know He delighted in the willingness of the girl to care and do something for me in my time of need.

What about me? What about you? Are we willing to do something as simple as “cutting a pancake into squares” for that whining, possibly annoying, homesick, child at the table? Just some food for thought on my Saturday…

Writing… (My How, Why, Pros, Cons, and Random Observations)

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Words… Spoken words… or written words… I’ve been thinking a lot in the past year about how words impact our lives. Today I’m going to talk about written words.

A bit of a back story: When I was a little girl traumatic incidents left me feeling like I had no voice, and that even if I did speak, no one would believe me. Lies. All lies! I remember entering my school years with a determination to learn how to read and write. I remember the first time I was given a creative writing assignment and my own diary. Suddenly through written words I felt like I had an outlet for expressing my deepest feelings. I was terrified of someone reading them though, so I destroyed most of my diaries by tearing out pages and shredding them after I wrote. With creative writing, I could write a story about a fictional character and weave my feelings into my writing. Somehow it made me feel better. Pen and paper became my outlet for the things I was too afraid to speak, and when I lost the use of my right arm for a length of time I learned how to type left handed, password protect documents, and hide the writing on the screen from other people. I would sketch out a stick figure representing me and little bubbles with words of what I was feeling or facing surrounding my head while my feet stood on rocks filled with the facts and circumstances that put me there. Writing became my way to try to process what I felt, and it was my preferred method of communication. Writing left little room for error or misunderstanding. Writing felt safe and happy because no one could try to silence what they did not hear and I could control how much they saw. Sharing my writing or speaking about how I felt was scary and vulnerable. I did not like scary and vulnerable. But that’s no way to live! I am so thankful that caring people reached out to me and walked alongside me, ever pushing me into the scary and vulnerable areas, which, by the way, are not as scary and vulnerable once you know your identity! Writing was a tool that helped me find the courage to speak. I remember the first time that I read something I wrote to a group of writers; my knees and voice shook, my palms were sweaty, my head throbbed, and I wondered if it was going to explode. Tears pushed their way out of my eyelids, blurring my vision, and I thought I would pass out. Although everyone was kind and supportive, I sat down afterward and vowed to myself that I would never speak to crowds. I could write, but I would adopt a pen name, and hide somewhere so I wouldn’t need to speak! While speaking to more than 5-10 people does still make my knees feel weak, it is a fear I have confronted, and continue to confront. Whether public speaking is my gifting or not, the fear of it does not need to define or control me!  And that’s a bit of how and why I got started writing. Today I still enjoy time alone with a paper and pencil or a clunky, noisy keyboard. I have lots of writing goals, but life is busy and I’m also working on a bigger project that consumes much of my writing time which is why I have not posted much for a while. But today, I decided to do something spontaneous and write down some of the thoughts about writing that are rambling through my brain!

So without further ado here’s what I like and dislike about written words.

  1. Written word leaves little room for misunderstanding as long as your word choice is precise and well thought out. It is far more binding than spoken communication, and is best used for businesses and agreements wherever possible to avoid error. Written or spoken– words have impact. One big problem with written words is that the tone of voice is missing which can cause misunderstandings. Depending what you need to communicate it is still better to speak it so it can be heard and received in its intended voice tone meaning. Social media is largely written, or recorded voice, and we tend to feel “safe” because we can post words and pictures and keep our distance from the real issues. Because we feel so safe we tend to forget that we still have to give account for the things we say on social media. I believe that written word, once shared with an audience holds as much weight as saying it to a person’s face. I wonder how Social media would look if we all stopped and read our post out loud first, and then asked ourselves how we would feel if we heard someone talk this way to us or a loved one. Just because something is true does not mean it needs to be gossiped about or even spoken about in anything less than an intentional and loving way! If it is an issue between ourselves and another person we should be grown up enough to pick up the phone, meet face to face or at least open our email and work it out with those involved. Words can damage or build up, and if we wouldn’t want it said to or about our loved ones, then we would do well to forget about posting it and work through the real issue at hand. (Social media and cyber bullying is really another topic on its own!)
  2.  A written list of goals helps give me a visual of the things I want to work toward. If I am planning an event or have a dream or vision of something to be brought into fruition, it really helps to sketch it out and make a list of things that I will need in order to be successful. While making lists and goals are great ways to start a project or solve problems they can also be unrealistic! I often tend to think that if I can write it on a piece of paper I can get it done in a day, and that simply is not always a possibility. I also tend to forget that just because I can hold five lists in my hand doesn’t mean that I should do it all by myself. In fact there may be five people who can do a much better job at taking over parts of a project than me! I have really had to work with being okay with asking for help. (Yet another topic.) Most importantly we should pray about our goals and seek God’s plan above our own. If He gives us the dream- it is for a reason, and He can bring it about!
  3. Writing helps me de-clutter my brain. My mind probably most closely resembles either a jumble of wires or a browser that has many tabs open. I like to have variety in my life. I like to think of it as cooking a meal. I’m constantly fussing over one kettle, but have several more simmering on the stove. There does come a time to complete each thing though, and that’s where my struggle lies. I would love to just hand half cooked kettles over to the next person walking into the kitchen and go light another stove in another kitchen, but life simply does not always work that way. So if I have 2,001 things to do in a day and I hardly know which way to turn first, it helps me to grab a cup of coffee, a pen and paper and write out everything I need to do. Next I reorder the list, putting the tasks in order of importance and with other tasks of similar type where I can multi task. While the sight of a well ordered planner, notebooks, flair pens, and freshly sharpened pencils make me feel all squirmy and happy inside some people want to run the opposite direction. Planners and to-do lists do not work for everyone and for every situation. I know of some people who can accomplish a mountain of work without writing out a list, and that’s okay. Most of the people I know who do life beautifully without a planner also have the amazing ability to pick one project and stick to just that one thing until it is finished. I love to have friends who have this amazing gift. I need people like that in my life to bring some order into my chaotic bunny trails, keep my feet on the ground, and help me bring my half started ideas to completion! I do not always plan my days, and still get things done, but it helps me stay focused if I have a list of the things I hope to get done as well as the events and deadlines that I have approaching. If I am not careful, I will easily plan to meet for two separate things on the same night! I am more of a spontaneous dreamer and by writing things on paper I can free my mind to think about something else and check my list to keep me on track with deadlines and appointments. However when writing out a plan, it is easy for me to get a picture in my head of how my day should go and then get frustrated when it does not go to schedule. I like being available to drop things and go somewhere at a moment’s notice. At one time that nearly derailed me, and I was constantly frustrated that my plans wouldn’t work out. Since then I have found that it is so much more rewarding to write my plans and be okay if they change. I do still occasionally get frustrated, when I can’t just drop things and go somewhere else. What helped me was to write down what I did instead of the things I had to cross off my list. In time, I was able to look at my planner at the end of the day and laugh, before re-writing a list for the next day. As a teacher, I sometimes felt like crying when I looked at my plan book at the end of a long hard day. One day I took the challenge of sitting down and writing what I did do, and suddenly I  realized that what I did get done was so much more important for that day then what I had planned to begin with. So when I write my schedule I want to write it in pencil not in concrete! I want my schedule to allow spontaneity.
  4. Writing something validates it. I can not stress this enough. Writing is often the first step in making a dream a reality. Seriously folks! There is so much power in writing the things that God reveals to you. There is a place for speaking them too, and I don’t want to downsize the importance of speaking them, but there is so much power in sketching out the dreams God gives you, and the vision you have. This is one thing I am trying to be better at- to write the things that are impressed upon my heart from day to day. I have seen where a small moment that was impressed upon my heart that I took the time to jot down tied into something later and became a useful tool in my life. I have a note book app on my phone, and I also try to keep pen and paper with me. If it makes an impression on me, or stirs my spirit, I try to capture it in words, or take a picture and write about it later. By recording it I can capture it and retrieve it so that I can remember it when I need it.
  5. Writing is a tool that helps me to spill out anger and pent up feelings, or difficult circumstances. After I have written and cried out all the feelings, I pray through each detail, forgive the person or persons, and destroy the paper. Forgiving without releasing the pain is really rough because it is like putting a band-aid on top of an infected cut. The wound needs to be cleaned, and allowed to heal! Writing is not the cure. That being said, Writing alone is not always enough, there have been times when I wrote it out, cried it out, and prayed about it, and still needed to just pick up the phone and call a friend and ask her to pray with me about something. Sometimes it needs to be spoken. Writing could be a tool in your healing process, but don’t feel bad if it isn’t. Also just as you don’t want to carry a grudge around for the rest of your life, if you do write it, don’t carry the paper trail of grudges with you! When those things have been processed, dealt with, and taken care of, get rid of those papers! Besides it really is a satisfying feeling to see those things you have forgiven and all the bad feelings you have go up in smoke or be scattered into tiny bits. It’s like giving it to God and allowing Him to take the broken pieces and ashes to form into something new and beautiful.
  6. Where would we be today without the Bible having ever been written. God inspired men to write about the things they saw, heard, and observed as a record for the generations to come. Writing it validated it, and while opinions abound the original writing is still there and as unchanging as ever. If someone who did not live in that time wrote about it now, we would question the validity of their writing. Even today we measure things by the written Word. The record was kept, and the promises haven’t changed. I took the challenge to copy a whole book of the Bible making it personal as if it was written for me, and it was really a game changer in my mind. Writing it, and seeing it in print as written for me helped my mind to absorb some powerful truths that I struggled with.

Well, that sort of sums up my ramblings about written words. I feel like it was really a scattered topic that tied into so many other topics that would warrant a deeper look at. Whether written or spoken, words contain power, and we do well to allow God to guide us in how we use the voice He gave us. If you have ever felt like your voice was choked- take heart! God gave you a voice to use for His glory that the enemy wants to silence or distort. Amazing things happen when we allow God to use our voices to bring light and hope into the world!

Be blessed!

-Jenni

 

 

David vs. Goliath– The Spiritual Battle

So…. yesterday morning as I was driving to school I was hit with a thought that hasn’t left my brain yet so I took to writing it… You know those Aha! moments you have now and then when you teach a Bible story to kids and suddenly re-discover yet another truth in the story that you never noticed before. Well, that was me. Except I wasn’t teaching the story to kids at this time. I was simply on my way to school and praying about some difficult circumstances and things that are on my heart right now.

In 1 Samuel 17, we see the account of how David went to the Philistine camp simply to carry food to his brothers. He was a shepherd. At least that’s what everyone thought. David had an identity that had not yet been discovered by many around him. You see just prior to this David was privately anointed to be the new king of Israel, yet he continued caring for the sheep. He even killed a lion and a bear to protect his flock. No big deal right? Just the life of a shepherd? Then he was ushered to the palace, but not to be honored as a king. No, instead David played his harp for the king! Soon he would face the ultimate battle. The battle that would define David’s character and reveal his identity. This battle would also be a test.

David was doing a simple every day task. Certainly not a task that a king would be doing! As he approaches he sees a problem. The problem has a name– Goliath! The problem is intimidating and breathing huge threats making even the most experienced men tremble. David begins to see that his time has arrived. David knows the answer. It was time for David’s identity to be revealed.

Then David took the first step. He did what I like calling “breaking the sound barrier”. David spoke. He was not about to stand around and allow a giant to defy the Living God. When David “broke the sound barrier” he faced what many of us will face– cold faced accusation and resentment. This time from his own older brother, Eliab. Eliab did not see David’s identity, he even tried to place David back with the sheep, but that did not stop David. He kept right on asking and speaking and breaking through with his words until the king heard and asked to see David. Even King Saul tried to stop David by trying to remind him that he was only a boy. Once more David rebutted the words against him by declaring the faithfulness of God in helping him conquer a lion and a bear.

Finally Saul consented, and here is where something interesting happens. Saul orders an armor for David to wear! Not just any armor. This was the king’s armor. How fitting right? But no, this armor was too heavy for David. This is the question that hit me yesterday morning as I was trying to pray and reason through some difficult circumstances. “Why did David not wear armor?” And that was when I saw the spiritual similarities. We are in a spiritual battle. We are constantly making it about the physical. When we fight a physical battle we will try to equip ourselves with the best armor possible. But it’s the wrong kind of armor. We need God’s armor to protect us. The physical armor is too heavy; it trips us. We can’t run our race efficiently because we are always tripping over our own feet. The spiritual armor allows us to be active in the kingdom we have been called to. Our spiritual weapons just like the stone and the sling will fell the biggest giant.

Why did David choose five stones? It only took one! I don’t know for sure, but I like to think that David was preparing to stay at his task until it was accomplished, and that God always equips us with more than we need to fell our giants. If David had taken the armor that Saul provided him, it would likely not have ended well for the Israelite army. This way there was no doubt in David’s mind WHO had won the battle!

What we see manifesting in the physical is directly related to what is happening spiritually. In order to be successful in felling the giants we need the correct armor. (Ephesians 6) Way too often I find myself fighting against symptoms instead of felling the giant causing the symptoms.

While there are many more applications that could be drawn from that account, I think I will conclude there.

Blessings as you stand tall wearing your physical armor and remembering your identity! Don’t be afraid to break the sound barrier! It is the first step into victory!

Identity and Purpose

I love this song for so many reasons! Before any one of us ever even existed, we were God-planned for “such a time as this”. Each one of us represents God in a unique and irreplaceable way. The enemy knows this and he will do his best to steal, kill, and destroy in order to stop us from fulfilling our calling. When we give in to those lies we begin to live out of them and question our existence.

Quote: “I believe that the attacks on your life have much more to do with who you might be in the future than who you have been in the past.” -Lisa Bevere

For too long we have been answering to the wrong name. We have been listening to the voice of the enemy for so long that we have begun to answer to his names for us. It is time that we cry out to God and learn to respond. It is time for the church to awaken and it must start within our own hearts. We are all a part of the body, but each of us must have a personal encounter with our Creator and hear Him speak His truth into the very depth of our hearts. He alone fully and completely understands us and our needs and wants to call us by a new name and whisper His truths into our hearts until all the pain is gone and the lies are destroyed and replaced with truth. He sings over us and delights in us. Only when we have personally encountered this love can we walk in full freedom and confidence as the body of Christ.

I love the words of Isaiah 62:1-5. The whole chapter is really great and well worth a read. (Actually the entire book of Isaiah is!) This chapter is a picture of the yearning of the heart of God for His people.

Knowing and walking in identity is a game changer! Suddenly instead of walking in defeat and living our lives based on lies, we walk in identity as a child of God. If we believe we are worthless, we will begin to live out of that lie. Actions follow belief. We are not worthless and will never be worthless. But the enemy does not want us to know our true identity so that he can use us to do his work. When we believe and know our identity is in Christ, we will begin to live as a child of God. No power of hell can stop a child of God who knows his authority and identity!

Surrendering to the call of God in our lives is not a promise of a comfortable life, but most great things happen outside of our comfort zones! When we step out in total surrender to the call, in faith believing that His arms are around us and holding us up, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is Him doing the work and not us! When God says “Speak.” We can open our mouths in obedience and the words will be there. When God says “Move.” We can take the first step in obedience and know that the walls in the way will crumble. When God says “Give.” We can give knowing that we won’t run out. When God says “Go.” We can go knowing that the transportation will be provided and the destination will be shown to us at the right time. Oh, the enemy will try to stop it from working. But set your chin, do what you are called to do anyway because that liar knows just exactly who he is up against and that he holds no authority over a heart that has is sold out to Jesus Christ. This makes the enemy tremble. In great fear he cries out lies and threats to try to stop us. But just like Esther we can walk boldy into the throne room and make our request known.

I believe it is time for action. Maybe we have been holding our tongue and keeping our head down for a season, but the season of release has come. The things we have learned need to be spoken. The calling and gifting within us needs to be fanned into flame and awoken. Our tongues need to be loosened and fear needs to be slain by perfect love so that we can be unshakeable in our calling.

Women of God: for too long we have been silent or have misunderstood our role. Maybe we have believed the lie that our voices were robbed from us and as a result have kept it locked up inside. Maybe we have tried to fill a role we were not born for and as a result have cut down men in the false hope that we would feel better. We were gifted with voices for a reason, we were intended to be answers, to be voices that birth life in the hearts of others. Our voices were not made for death and destruction. We were created for unity and not division. The enemy has been robbing, stealing, and destroying and we have been listening to his lies for far too long. It is time for us to break past the sound barriers of the enemy and shout the voice of triumph. We represent the bride!

The fence is broken. We can not sit with one foot in the kingdom of God and the other in the kingdom of darkness. There is no middle ground. The middle ground is all a lie. Which side are we on? For too long we have attempted to sit between the two kingdoms bound by religion and held back by fear. We have attempted to look good on the outside and have resorted to dressing in filthy rags in an attempt to hide our nakedness and need. When our filthy rags have failed us we have wildly grabbed for fig leaves in an attempt to hide our nakedness and sin hoping that we will be acceptable to God. We need to be washed in the blood of Jesus and put on the wedding gown of righteousness that God has for us. We need to answer to His call and live under His righteousness knowing that He alone is our righteousness.

Many of us have felt the heat and the darkness of the battle weighing on our spirits. It is time to stand and declare that we are on the side that has already won instead of hiding our heads hoping that when we surface it will all be over. We have an entire armor and a sword for battle, and it is time to stand shoulder to shoulder with our fellow soldiers and wield our swords in battle. We will be provided with all we need to fight, but we must always remember that the battle is not physical, but spiritual.

Recently I found myself in a situation I could not find a solution for. One day as I was praying and just weeping from the weariness of it all, I cried out to God and for a while I just told Him how frustrated and upset I was, then I asked Him why this just wasn’t working and that’s when I heard God say, “The problem is that you have been fighting this battle in the physical when it is a spiritual battle.” Suddenly all the pressure evaporated as I realized that the battle was not mine. God has already won the war. We lose time and valuable energy when we fight spiritual battles in the physical.

About a year ago, I got a phone call. It ended with something like this “Please pray! Can you come?” I could hear the despair dripping from the voice. I said “I’ll be there soon!” I got my things together and got into my car. I was praying all the way. I didn’t even know why I was supposed to go, what to pray or what to do, I just knew I needed to go and I needed to pray and that all I could do was trust God to handle it. As I was driving and praying, God gave me a picture of the situation. I saw a heavy curtain of darkness hovering over the area, then I saw two angels from heaven’s army pulling at the curtain, and as I prayed they suddenly gained a new strength and the curtain began to move. I was not the only one motivated to pray right then. The Spirit of God had laid it on the hearts of more than one person. We do not often see just how much impact our words, actions and prayers have in the kingdom, but they do have impact. When God says to do something, do it. If you don’t know what His voice sounds like, allow Him to teach You. There may be times that God asks us to do something that makes no sense to us. We may never even see the results on this side of eternity, and that’s okay. We are His hands and His feet. He lives and moves in us. We must only be surrendered and willing to do what He calls us to do. That calling and purpose, the story of our lives written by the hand of God– It is the most fulfilling thing we can ever do and be with our lives.

Blessings!

-Jenni

 

Who is Jesus? (Part 3)

Word Art (1)One day someone looked me right in the eyes and asked me a question that forever changed my life. “Putting aside all you have ever been taught or know about God, Who is Jesus to you?”

Putting aside all you have ever been taught or know about God…

Who is Jesus to you?

I had no answer, because any answer I could think of started with, “Well someone once said…” or “I’ve heard…” Today, I ask the same question… ” That question started me on a search. A good search to discover for myself who Jesus is. Now I leave you with the same question. Who is Jesus to you? Do you know Him personally or do you just know about Him?

What would change in your life if you didn’t spend all your time and precious energy trying to measure up to a standard that no one can reach on their own, but instead lived in the perfection of Jesus Christ, in faith allowing God to mold, shape, transform, and enable you to live your life’s calling? What kind of freedom would you find in releasing the walls you have built and instead being completely transparent before God? What kind of healing would you experience? What area of your life do you feel is too broken to be repaired? Would you give God the chance? 

I’m not saying that everything in my life was immediate roses and sunshine or that it’s been easy since I took on the challenge of finding an answer to that question. It really hasn’t been easy. Life still happens. This is still a sin cursed earth. It’s just that now I  walk through life in my identity as a child of God instead of as a slave who is always afraid of its master. I can embrace the power and authority I have as a daughter, and smile in the middle of pressure and fear, knowing that my spirit is free.

Religion…. it is riddled throughout the churches. Jesus faced it when He walked this earth. The scribes and the Pharisees knew about God, yet when they saw Him they hated Him. Religion tried to get rid of God when He walked on this earth in a human body. It rejoiced the day it managed to keep its “clean front” by getting the Romans to do the dirty work and put Jesus on the cross. While that seemed like a dark day, it was also the day that would forever change the history and the future of mankind. What religion tried to stamp out, God used to bring righteousness into the picture. Religion rejoiced for a few days thinking that it had killed the One threat to its reign, but the grave is empty! It doesn’t hold any dead bones! It held life; it held resurrection!

Today religion is still very active. It teaches about God and yet tries to destroy His image in other people. Religion operates through fear, God operates through relationship. Religion focuses on making the outside look good, but leaves the inside lifeless. Religion tries to put a nice white bandage over pain and sin. God focuses on the inside. He takes care of the sin, heals broken hearts and restores us to a relationship with Him. Religion tries to please God by doing all the right things. God gives His own life for us so that we can be made right, whole, and restored into His kingdom. Religion has favorites and discriminates based on the outward appearance. God made all of us as sons and daughters and each one of us represents and bears His image uniquely, leaving no room for favorites.

Religion always tries to stomp out the Holy Spirit of God moving in a life and replace it with some so-called logic or rules. I can not stress this enough. It hates spirit filled worship especially if it involves physical movement during a worship service because it hates seeing people physically moved by the Holy Spirit in worship of a God that it opposes. If worship is the explosion that results from a heart that is being moved by God, religion will try to destroy that connection and shut it down.

When the Holy Spirit moves in a life, its fruits begin to flow out of that life and the need for rules and regulations is gone. (Galatians 5:16-26) Religion does not like when a person is moved by the Spirit of God, instead of the spirit of fear. Religion demands a change of outward things in order to look right. God changes the heart, fills people with His Holy Spirit, and then out of love for Him, action will spring forth, life will be born, and resurrection will take place. This is why teaching of the Holy Spirit is so strongly opposed in many churches. Many people fail to live in victory because they have not received the Holy Spirit and allowed Him to move in their lives.

Recently I was walking along a spring fed creek. The water was crystal clear and beautiful. As I meandered along, I happened upon a pool off to the side of the creek that had a levee that was too high to let water in or out. The water inside was a thick green stinky muck. Obviously the only source of fresh water that this pool had was rain or an overflow of the creek.

Religion builds walls like that. When the Holy Spirit moves in a life the clean pure water flows in and overflows refreshing others. Just as the water in the spring fed creek was clear and transparent, when you are being fed and moved by the Holy Spirit there will be transparency. When religion is at work, you will see very little genuine revival or moving of the Holy Spirit. Any outpouring will be forced and transparency will be gone. There will just be a filthy muck.

Who is Jesus to you? Have you been hurt by religion? Do you feel like you are in a hopeless cycle with no way out? Is religion failing you? There is hope! His name is Jesus. He has been misrepresented by many who know about Him, but don’t know Him. His name has been misused, and yet the real Christ still is and can never be destroyed. Are you ready to embark on a journey to freedom.

A lot hinges on this question, “Who is Jesus to you?”

In Matthew 16:13-20, We read how Jesus asked the disciples who people say that He was. They answered with, “Some say you are…” Jesus pushed past all that and said, “But who do YOU say that I am?” Just prior to this Jesus had exposed the deception and hypocrisy of the Pharisees and the Sadducees and warned the disciples about their deception. Jesus pushed past the religion to the heart of the matter when He asked the disciples who they believed He is. Jesus is still asking us that same question today. Peter answered that Jesus was the Messiah, and Jesus said that God Himself revealed that to Peter.

It is important that we too, have a personal revelation from God of Who He is, and not some man-made concoction depicting God to us. God has revealed Himself personally to us and continues to do so. Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. We are not stuck here with some irrelevant teachings and a God who is out of touch with the times.

Many times when we are in bondage to religion we may not even recognize it. I didn’t for a long time. When I first learned what it was and how I had spent so many years in bondage to it, I was upset. I began to point fingers and identify religion at work in the lives of others. One day I realized that my pointing fingers were also driven by religion. That was the day that another wall in my life fell down and a deeper level of healing and transformation took place in my heart.

It is time that the church of today lays aside petty differences, gets stripped of the filthy rags of religion, puts on the bridal robe of righteousness, takes up the sword and begins to promote Truth. It’s time for us as a part of the body of Christ to walk in identity and purpose. It’s time to reach out to the wounded and the lost, help equip and empower people to live their lives in freedom and identity. Life is too short to spend it rolling around in dirty rags of self-righteousness. It is time for transformation, and when that happens the right actions will follow! Where the spirit of the Lord is there is freedom!

Breaking free of religion may mean rejection. Don’t take it personal. It is not a physical battle, but a spiritual one. The rejection may sting, but the freedom, relationship and acceptance of Your Father will become even more precious. And that, that relationship, that love, that calling is worth dying for!

Who is Jesus to You?

 

 

 

 

Who is Jesus? (Part 2)

Word Art (1)

Just for clarification as you read this, I will be referring to fear and works based living as religion, or more specifically the spirit of religion. I know that the word religion may have more than one definition to you, but for context I am referring to the definition of “man-made effort to try to please God through a set system of living”.

One thing that has become very obvious to me is that we can spend our entire lives learning all about Jesus without truly KNOWING Him. In this blog post I will be jumping back to a time when I was considering another religion because knowing about Jesus was just not healing the incredible ache inside of me. In an attempt to keep this short and straight to the point I will need to crop out large portions of what all transpired in my life to bring me to the point where I was considering another religion and what changed my life. I have not included many details about my early childhood, but I experienced trauma very early in life and suffered abuse under professing Christians. This obviously also shaped a lot of my young perspectives. Even with cropping out large parts, this will be rather lengthy and far more a personal account of what my life was like living under religion.

Have you ever read Bible stories of how people met Jesus and were totally changed? Well, I believe that those stories are still happening today. I am about to share part of the story of my life, but my story would not be worth sharing unless Jesus entered it. This is part of my Jesus story.

I did have a real and personal encounter with God, and was born again in my teens, but soon after that the doubts crept in. I became suicidal and questioned whether there even was a God. One night I decided to do it. So I cried out into the darkness and told God that IF He existed, prove it. I saw a glimpse of God that night, and that is what kept me from attempting suicide.

I would read my Bible and then close it completely confused because I had so many questions and was afraid to ask anyone. If I did ask or even if I didn’t I would often hear “That’s not relevant for today. Don’t even question it. The way it is now was good enough for other people.” I was so afraid that I would be mislead by reading the wrong things that I relied on the examples and beliefs of other people who seemed to know what was relevant for today and what wasn’t. But after a time that just wasn’t working for me. I just wasn’t able to understand what was for today and what wasn’t on my own and so this whole Christianity “thing” had me all mixed up. If Jesus truly was enough than why did we have all this chaos? I wondered what kind of a God would leave us stuck with a book that we, in the twentieth century, now had to determine what was for our time and what wasn’t. It made no sense to me. I bitterly concluded that asking questions was a sign that I was stubborn and rebellious. I wanted to be a “good girl” and well approved of so I tried really hard to just fit in.

I was laid up for quite a time with an incurable genetic disease. During that time I would lay on my bed and plead with God to just let me die. I had no desire to live the rest of my life like this. At some point in time my focus shifted from the incredible pain and my physical limitations to finding God. Although I was still angry at Him for making me with deformities and allowing all these bad things happen to me, I also wanted to know more about Who He is. I read a book that really put things into perspective for me, and I began to find a level of healing, but when I spoke about it, I found that it was not appreciated or accepted by some people so I went into somewhat of a relapse.

I turned to a host of things to try to soothe the pain, but it didn’t last and only brought me more pain. Some of them became an addiction, and others I soon dropped because I was so performance oriented that I wanted to keep my job and look good on the outside. Those days of misery are not a time I enjoy thinking about. On the outside, I appeared like a good person, but I knew I was a hypocrite. I just figured everyone else was too.

I wondered if life really just consisted of a bunch of wretched people walking around in their little good looking bubbles talking small talk and trying to sound righteous.

With time, I began quietly studying different religions and concluded that who you worship is not so important- it’s about what helps you be a good person, and that you do worship something. I thought “Must be the religion I have is not working, and so I’ll just need to find what does work for me.” So I began experimenting with different things to find the thing that works for me… I believed that there were multiple ways to God and I just had to find the right one for me. I perused the self-help books and tried to become a better person through my own efforts in the hope that I could please God.

Nothing was working. I would crank up the Zen music when I was angry or depressed. I’d listen to motivational speakers. But while it distracted my mind from the pain, I’d just pick it all back up again afterward. I was desperate for answers. I decided to take 3 weeks of Bible school, and see what happens. I remember one night I was so completely fed up with everything. In frustration, I left my dorm and went to sleep in another room by myself so I could think without anyone around. That night, in total desperation, I cried out to God once more and said “God, I don’t know WHAT to do, send me your Spirit, or someone to show me the way!” I fell asleep only to half wake to a room filled with a bright white light and the most beautiful singing I have ever heard. I then lapsed into a refreshing sleep and woke the next morning feeling like I had slept 8 hours instead of 4. From that moment on something in my life had changed. I was still frustrated, tired and depressed. I still didn’t know which way was up, but somehow I had this thing within me that was guiding me… It showed me things about loving people for who they were. I knew without question there was a God. I just wasn’t sure yet how that was going to affect my life and how to gain His approval. I wrote about that night in my journal. Looking at it now, I can see that even in my journal entry there was incredible disbelief about what all this meant. I did not really believe God would answer that prayer, but He did. It was as though my eyes were so darkened with unbelief that I could not see God for who He was even when He personally revealed Himself to me multiple times.

One night one of the teacher’s wives spoke to the girls. I don’t know exactly what she said, but something in her gentle manner hit a chord in me and I started to cry. I was approached later by a concerned staff member who saw my tough exterior and then saw it crack and asked me if I was okay. I totally broke down again. She told me where this lady was staying and suggested I go visit her. I almost lost my nerve, but I did it. I walked over that doorstep and formed a friendship that pointed me straight to God.  That too, was an answer to my prayer that night. At the time all I knew was that someone cared so much about me that they would actually let me come live with them while I sort out this messy life. At the same time I was terrified, what if she knew everything about me? Would she still love me?

When I returned I was fighting confusion and distractions of all sorts, and was sure that this encounter with God was wrong! I didn’t believe that God spoke to people like that today. I figured people would think I was crazy if I told them. I began reading my Bible again with a deeper desire to understand. One day I was reaching toward God and the next day I was screaming at Him for the incredible pain and void I was feeling, and wondering WHY if He was a God of love would He allow so many bad things to happen to me as a child.

Those were dark days where I literally had worked so hard and was living the life I thought I wanted, and yet I would often sit and cry when no one was looking and wonder why I’m still here. I would get into my car after a long day at work and just drive. Sometimes I would speed. A few times I nearly lost control of the car and that shook me up. I didn’t want to hurt someone else. Besides I was now thoroughly convinced that there was a God, but I wasn’t sure if I was on good terms with Him. I didn’t welcome the thought of meeting Him without having that settled in my mind. I don’t even know where all I went. I just drove. Sometimes I wished that the earth was flat so I could drive off the edge of it. Sometimes I contemplated running away. Some days I was sure I was losing my mind. Other days I functioned like an average person.

Finally as a compromise with my parents who were very concerned about my well being, I went for counseling. I figured I could go and just not talk. My parents would be happy because at least I tried. I went through the first session and every time anything was said that triggered that painful feeling I would stop talking and try to change the subject. By the grace of God working in the lives of these people, I began to soften even more. I remember after the first session, I went through the motions of eating, trying to make conversation with people that evening, and then going to my hotel room where I closed the door and slid to the floor and began crying. I remember sitting there with my back to the wall and hands over my head sobbing “I’m not okay, I’m not okay.” But I didn’t know how to tell anyone how not okay I was. It was as though a dark cloud had just fallen in over me and I was suffocating.

I tossed and turned all night. I considered the prescription medication I had along. I considered running away. I considered all kinds of things. But the one thing that kept me hanging on to hope was two friends from Bible school one of whom had offered me a fresh start by taking me into their home.

Finally, morning came and feeling completely sick of it all I decided why not? Why not tell them everything I can think of that is weighing on my mind? Why not just unload all the weight of pain and sin and just see what happens? I didn’t even think I could trust myself to talk. Depending where a conversation went I would clam up and could not even find words to talk. I was so afraid of being judged or misunderstood again. So I wrote everything I could think of that I was scared to talk about in the time I had left before the next session. I did not even bother re-reading it for fear I would lose all nerve and throw it away. If they rejected this, lectured me, tried to excuse the people who had wronged me, or judged me- that was it for me. If they saw no hope, I didn’t know what I would do. I didn’t know if I could trust them, or anyone. But I figured I was so far gone at this point that I had nothing to lose by trying. There was something incredibly intriguing in the fact that they had that same softness, and that kind gentle look in their eyes as I saw in my friend at Bible school. I was so tired of trying to be the tough person. Tired of holding up to all the pressure. Tired of performing for love that didn’t satisfy the deep ache in my heart. So incredibly tired of everything. Obviously all of them had something worth living for. But the real question that burned in my mind: “Was what they had enough for me?”

So I went and we barely had the “hello’s” out of our mouths before I shoved them that stack of papers, then sat tensed and prepared to bolt from the room. To my complete amazement there was no judgment. No long prescription list of do’s and don’ts. Only incredible kindness, love and hope. From there on I began a process of healing. I began to see who God is as I cried out to Him and allowed Him to heal my heart. I remember one night I had a vivid flashback of me as a little girl in Sunday school singing “Jesus Loves Me” and wondering if He really did because of how dirty I felt. I felt like I was somehow outside the doors exempt from His love and how desperately I wanted to know it was true. And right there in my hotel room I sang “Jesus Loves Me” as healing tears washed my face.

I also struggled to believe that physical healing was for today. It just didn’t line up with what I had been taught. But I had a dream that God wanted to heal me. I woke up thinking, “Yeah right!” I opened my Bible with eagerness to begin reading more about Jesus and wouldn’t you know it, I was just ready for John 9 where Jesus healed a man born blind. The word BORN jumped off the page at me. I was born with an incurable deformity and my right arm had limited use. I always blamed God for making me this way. A few hours later as we gathered and prayed, my arm came alive. From that moment on, I began to read my Bible as though every part of it was for today. If I didn’t understand something, I would make it a point to pray about it and study it instead of avoiding it.

In my life, doors began opening and closing. And freedom and healing were happening. I began to see that all these years I had the wrong picture of God. The wrong picture of who He is. I knew the story of the Bible. My outward life looked good and successful. I did the “right” things, wore the “right” clothes, went to church almost every Sunday of my life, I tithed, and volunteered, and tried hard to be pleasing to God and to people. I hoped that somehow all the good I did would outweigh the bad. I thought that knowing about God was what mattered, yet I didn’t really KNOW Him. And all the while under that mask my life was a broken down wreck of pain and sin that I could not find answers for.

Sadly,  what I shared is only one of countless stories. Religion miserably failed to save me or provide answers for my deep wounds and hang-ups. Because one religion didn’t work I looked to another religion, but another religion would again focus on the outward instead of the root problem. I turned to all the wrong sources for answers. I believed a whole mess of lies.

I don’t hold what I went through against anyone because I realize that every person must choose for themselves what they believe. One day each of us will answer for ourselves. No one else can answer for me or for you. I was holding people to a standard too high for them to fill.

The truth is that no matter how pretty our bubble looks, if we don’t have Jesus on the inside we are all just full of dead bones. If religion has failed you, please hold on and do what you need to do to break past it into the arms of a Father who loves you far more than you could ever imagine.

To those who have been hurt deeply by religion and believe they are beyond love. I am sorry that you were not cared for with love. I am sorry that you have been judged, abused and deceived by this spirit of religion. If you, like me, find that religion has failed you, please give Love a chance. Perfect Love is God. When Jesus enters the picture there is no story that is beyond His Grace.

There is Hope, and it is there for you!

To be continued… Part 3 will be the summary.

Who is Jesus (Part 1)

Word ArtEarlier this year I was at an event. There were hundreds of people there. I began to feel extremely claustrophobic. Not just because the room was stuffy and full of people. I’ve been in many rooms that were stuffy and full of people. No, this was much different. I was on the verge of tears. Why? No one around me seemed bothered and yet here I was surrounded by a crowd of people wondering if I was the only one who was struck with this sense… I couldn’t put it into words. Not right then. It took a while, but here I am attempting to put into words a message that I believe needs to be shared.

I began to pray about this as the day progressed and I would be hit again with this tremendous sense of claustrophobia, heaviness and grief. As I was praying I sensed God say, “When people are ruled by a spirit of religion, they put Me in a box, and whenever someone puts me in a box, it allows no room for My Spirit to move in their lives. That is why so many people live in a box.”

I began to think over my own life. I too, have attempted put God in a box. I have lived in a box afraid to step out of my comfort zone. God does not fit in a box, and His people were not intended to live in a box either. Inside the walls of these “boxes” there is much pain! Outside of the box there is tremendous freedom and healing.

God does not fit in a box and His people were not created to live in a box!

The life inside the box is stagnant and allows all kinds of abuse to grow and be covered. People are not allowed to choose or think for themselves, instead they are taught what to think, how to feel, what to believe. My heart began to weep for these people, yet I wondered how do I even begin to reach them? They have been taught to close off and not speak. Many of them have been controlled into silence since childhood. They have been taught that surrendering to this fear is what brings them happiness. If so, then why are so many sad? Why then do so many of them depend on herbal supplements or medications for depression and anxiety? Why are “witchcraft cures” such a common occurrence? Why is sexual abuse so rampant and hidden in these cultures?

Could it be that this spirit of religion has given many people such a false sense of security that they have only learned to follow this spirit of fear instead of the true God of Heaven who fathers us and loves us with an everlasting love? Many of them preach and warn about the antichrist as if it were some person or figure that will rise up and challenge what they have taught. Could it be that the antichrist spirit they have warned so many people about is even now running rampant in their life and within many churches today, but is hidden. The definition of anti is strongly opposed to or against. And if religion is the ruling factor then it is anti to the working of God.

Many churches of today are in a deep sleep and fighting against their very Savior? Just as the Jews once fought their own Messiah and did not recognize Him even when He was right there under their very noses even though they read and memorized prophecies of their coming Messiah. What will it take to awaken the church of today?

Just after Pentecost, some of these Jews suddenly understood as Peter preached. They were pricked to their core as they realized that they had just ordered to have their Messiah crucified. They were terrified! Imagine! The One who came to save them, and they wanted Him dead!? (How the cries of “Crucify Him!” must have rung in their ears.) They must have thought that was the end for them, yet when they asked what to do Peter’s answer was short and to the point. Repent and be baptized, and receive the Holy Spirit. That was the answer. Repent, be forgiven, be baptized, receive the Holy Spirit. No long list of rules to restore favor with God. The work was already finished. Although they thought they had messed up the plan, God simply used their mess-ups to restore humanity to relationship with Himself. God Himself would be born into their hearts and His Spirit would direct them how to live. (See Acts 2)

To be continued… In Part 2, I will share part of my personal testimony and my tangle with religion…

I’d love to hear from you! Give me your feedback or share your story if you like. Comment below or email me at jenni.yoder224@gmail.com.

Not Knowing, But Knowing

412930_323852540983030_1007922383_oAlright, so faith has definitely been on my mind this summer…. and finally, I got my noisy chunky keyboard set up for a late night writing rendezvous, and I decided to jot down the thoughts that have been dancing about in my brain. Maybe it’s because the camp I volunteered at this summer had Hebrews 11 “Walking by Faith” as their theme this year. Or maybe it was because I was reflecting on my past leaps of faith in light of some new leaps of faith. At any rate, it seemed God has been showing me a lot of things about faith in the past two years. Recently I sat down to read Hebrews 11 again. I just felt like there was something I was missing in that chapter. Okay, well actually I woke up one morning and simply could not sleep and as I rolled over, grunting about how early in the morning it was, I sensed God saying that there was something specific He wanted to show me. So after laying there thinking about it for a few moments and trying to get my eyes open. I got up, and sat on the front porch where I would (hopefully) stay awake, because the coffee wasn’t ready yet. And I opened my Bible and started to read, but I kept hearing Hebrews 11, which was not where my marker was set to, but I went there anyway. I started reading it quickly and spouting out the words like I usually do when I’ve heard something so many times it’s in my memory (bad habit), but I sensed the need to slow down. (Can you tell I need more patience?) So I slowed down and re-read that portion, but I was still sort of skimming through to find what it is that I’m missing, and that’s when it hit me. By “hit me” I mean a sentence bounced right off the page of my Bible and hit me in the forehead, well not literally, but that’s what it felt like. I didn’t have a mirror or anything, but I suspect my mouth probably dropped open as I re-read the verse and understanding began to dawn on my sleep deprived brain. “Oh! Wow! God what are you trying to tell me?” I gasped. My eyes began to scan the pages. I raced to the Old Testament, then back to Hebrews 11. I was amazed! How many times I had read the faith chapter, how many times I had paraphrased it, how many times I had mentioned or read over it, and how many times I had fussed inwardly (I’m just being real honest here!) about the people who stop in front of the conjunction in verse six (which is another subject in itself) and yet I had never stopped to consider this one little sentence that now stared at me and danced about in my brain and shook me to the very core of my rather faint heart. This phrase whispered hope, boldness, daring, and bravery right into the very depths of my soul.  The latter part of verse eight in the NLT reads “He went without knowing where he was going.” And I began to think… All these people did or went without knowing. And why? Why would someone go somewhere without knowing? Old fears began crowding into my brain. Fears of the unknown, fears of failure, fears of… but they stopped as God whispered. “They went not knowing, but knowing.” Wait what? My tired brain was finding this a little contradictory, but then I saw. They knew God. They went knowing God, His faithfulness, His love and His provision and with that knowledge they went, not knowing where, but knowing that God would take care of the not knowing part. Alright, so there were some who did doubt. Like Sarah who laughed, and I’m sure that all of them felt doubts along the way, but still they did and they went as God said and look where it got them! Okay, so I have always had some trust issues in my life. Trusting God was a journey for me, but thankfully God is a very patient Father who is very worthy of trust and fully understands every trust issue. So right there, in my non-coffee, bed headed, sleep deprived state of mind, I just bowed my head and thanked my Father that in all the current unknowns of my life, I could go forward knowing He is there and I just surrendered my life to going and doing. Going where? I don’t know! Doing what? I don’t know. Does anyone really know what tomorrow brings? Faith is an adventure, faith is not knowing, but knowing our Guide. For me that morning it was the realization that I need to just surrender to God to be used by Him in ways I don’t yet see and know. It was crushing the fear of the unknown and saying that in the name of Jesus I trust my future into the hands of a God who knows, who sees the whole picture and as such I will go where He leads me, do what He calls me to do in surrender to His will even when it doesn’t make sense to me, and with that was the absolute peace in knowing that God is with me and will go with me wherever He leads me. And so it is by faith that Jenni…

How will my faith story read one day? How will yours read one day? Serious thoughts for sure, and a learning adventure all the way! I just love it how God doesn’t get done showing us new things!

Credits: The photo was done by me when I was a teenager. Model: One of my younger brothers (they are so good at that!) I just thought those binoculars hiding his face were so cute. But please, let’s lay down the binoculars and go in faith! 🙂

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