When You Have Nothing Left

“I remember the power of God is in me; therefore the power of God is accessible to me. I just have to put my heart in a position to tap into it.”

I read these two sentences in Lysa TerKeurst’s book, Unglued, and my mind reeled. How could I forget this? How could I lose sight of the incredible truth that the power of God is in me? The power that created the world by a simple command. The power that parted the Red Sea and saved millions of people. The power that dropped manna from heaven. The power that rescued 3 men from a fiery furnace and shut the lion’s mouth. The power that healed countless hurting people. The power that calmed the storms and fed 5,000 men with a handful of bread and fish.

The power that raised people from the dead is in me.

IN. ME.

IN. YOU.

Y’all, I just cannot get over this! Two weeks ago I read this truth in the middle of a chapter in the middle of my living room in the middle of a very busy week. And I cannot stop thinking about it. I don’t think God has rattled the same thing over and over again in my mind in a long time. Or maybe I just haven’t been paying attention very well.

For about a year, God and I have been having lots of conversations about surrender and how I’m not very good at it. I like to take control. But I had just been so tired and anxious and frustrated because I had reached the end of myself. I felt like a basket-case emotionally (which is probably why I picked up a book entitled, Unglued, about how to manage your emotions). Do you ever feel this way? I began noticing my shortcomings and inadequacies as if someone had taken a giant yellow highlighter to those places in my life. I had been relying on myself for so long and kept coming up short. I hated it. But what options did I have? Keep working. Keep trying. Keep going.

But I am not alone in this struggle. And neither are you. In some of Jesus’ last conversations with his disciples, He longed for them to understand this just as He longs for us to understand. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John 14:26-27

I know this truth; I’ve heard it 100 times. But I don’t always act like it. I forget that I have the Holy Spirit, God HIMSELF, living in me every day. I forget that he’s not just here to convict, while he certainly (and often) does. He is here to give us access to God’s power.

Power to love those who are currently driving us crazy.

Power to be joyful despite the unsettling circumstances swirling around us.

Power to experience peace even though our mind poses questions we just can’t answer.

Power to be patient when we want to take control.

Power to show kindness even when kindness is not shown to us.

Power to do good even when it’s inconvenient.

Power to respond with gentleness instead of snapping in irritation.

Power to exert self-control even when it’s easier to give in.

Why? Because we can. Because God is with us! We can access His power to be and do all of the things we can’t be and do on our own.

I think that’s why all of those bolded words are called Fruits of the Spirit. Those qualities, those responses, are only possible when they are born out of our reliance on the Holy Spirit. God in us produces those things. We will never produce them on our own. But oh how I have tried!

That quote by Lysa, that truth from God’s Word, so encourages me. It’s a gentle reminder that we don’t have to keep trying and failing. We don’t have to take a highlighter to our life and point out all of the areas we’re lacking. We just take ourselves and our needy heart to the Father—the One who sent us a Savior and a Helper. We put our heart in a position of humility and readily receive the power of God that has been in us all along. Then we get a front row seat to see what He can do!

Applying this truth is not always easy, but we have to try. Realize the power of God is in you and is accessible to you. Tap into it today!

 

 

What do you do with your dreams?

We all have dreams. Something we long to do, see, accomplish, or become. Maybe it’s more of an aspiration; maybe it’s a full-fledged longing. Yet often those dreams seem too far out of reach. We deem them impossible before we ever set out a plan to accomplish them. Or, tired of trying and failing, we become irritated and discouraged by the plateau we can never escape. So what do we do? We set our dreams on a shelf.

What dream have you placed on a shelf? Did you set it up there yesterday? Or has been collecting dust over years of neglect?

If you’re recalling that dream right now, no matter how distant it is, I would say it still very much matters to you. It’s nearly impossible to let go of our dreams, or maybe our dreams don’t let go of us. Whatever the case, it’s time to take it off the shelf, make a plan, and get to work.

And that’s the sucky part.

On Saturday I determined to refinish the coffee table I bought a year ago on a virtual garage sale with the intention of refinishing. A year ago. I’ve looked at that coffee table 1,000 times in the last 365+ days and came up with excuse after excuse about how I didn’t have the time, energy, patience, or materials to refinish that table. Until Saturday. I realized that everyone else on Instagram seems to refinish furniture on Saturday and it was about time I do too.

It’s a beautiful, breezy, Saturday, birds chirping, our new puppy lazily catching both rays of sunshine and taunting mosquito hawks. I put on my mask, get out the sander, and go to town! Only sanding is the worst. I realize after sanding the top of the table that there’s a lot more of the table to sand. 4 sides! And 4 legs with 4 sides apiece! I question whether or not it’s worth it. There are so many other things I could do that don’t cause my hand to go numb and saw dust threatening to choke out everyone in the neighborhood.

sanded table
So this is my table. Top sanded…look how much I have left do to do! (Maybe I’m a baby. It felt like a whole lot more in the moment!)

I think about how easily Chip and Joanna Gaines remodel an entire house in one hour and it’s going to take me at least three to finish sanding this stupid thing. How in the world does Clint Harper make GIANT tables for her and still be her friend? I resolve that I’m never refinishing another piece of furniture again.

Because accomplishing something is hard. It takes work. It takes time. Refinishing a table requires hard work and so does accomplishing that dream of yours. In a world where people get famous by accident and it seems their wildest dreams come true with one post, it’s easy to get discouraged. But if that discouragement leads us to put our dream away, we will never know what could happen with it! Our longing will never be satisfied if we don’t put in the work required. We have to commit to the discipline, the dedication, and the stuff that will never be applauded or recognized. We just have to.

So I keep sanding and sanding and sanding. Trying to console the puppy that hates loud noises and sits by the back door looking at me with those sad puppy-dog eyes, begging me to let him inside. But we don’t know each other that well yet, and what I do know of this sweet pup is that he can’t be trusted in the house unsupervised. So he and I must both endure the awful process of sanding.

And guess what? Eventually, it’s done. The sanding is over. The hard work has been put in; the finished product can be visualized. This is the fun part. No more lame sanding. Now I can relax a little and enjoy the simplicity of painting. I grab the primer and settle into a rhythm. I have grand plans of painting this table an antique white and distressing the edges. But you can’t do all of that right away. Once the primer goes on, you have to wait. Once that dries you can paint, but then you have to wait before you can sand it or add another coat. Waiting is almost worse than sanding.

primed table
This is my primed table. Also, I thought I might have killed the dog because he ate some of the primer :/ and look what it’s called?! (It’s okay. He’s fine now!)

When we get a glimpse of what could be, when we see our dreams begin to take shape, or we come up with a plan that helps us reach our goals, there’s still a process that must take place. We often have to wait. This time of waiting does not mean we throw in the towel. Waiting doesn’t mean that our dreams won’t become our reality. It just means not now.

I believe waiting can mean one of two things:

  1. It’s not time yet for this dream to come to fruition.
  2. Your dream for you & God’s dream for you are not the same.

If option 2 is the case, then you need more time for God to shift your heart so that your dream and His dream are the same.

If option 1 is the case, that’s okay! Keep pressing on.

Regardless, we respond in the same way. We keep working hard; we keep waiting, trusting that God will lead us, believing that the dreams He’s placed in our hearts have purpose. So your take your dream off the shelf. Let’s see what happens!

What dream have you ignored? What are you challenged to do with your dreams?

What God Taught Me Through a Student

So this morning in Bible study, a sweet student asked me how she could partner with me in praying for our girls ministry.

I smiled at her question. Honestly, the thought never crossed my mind. It never occurred to me that the girls in this ministry should also be praying for our girls’ ministry.

But why shouldn’t they? “For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:20)

I have been thinking about how to pray for these girls a lot recently. Asking God what they need to learn and how I can better teach them. I’ve been crafting this image in my mind of the type of girl that I would like to see graduate from our ministry.

She should love.

She should be gracious.

She should be kind.

She should be patient and forgiving.

She should be confident.

She should hate drama.

She should turn away from gossip.

She should date the right guy.

She should obey her parents.

She should be an encouraging friend.

But I realized that I couldn’t teach that and make it stick. I can’t give her a list of who she should strive to be. I can’t give her a list of things to do to guarantee she becomes any of these things.

But you know who will not only teach her, but equip her to be these all these things and more?

And so my prayer is that each girl in this student ministry loves God…more than anything else. That she desires to study His Word. That He transforms her heart and she longs to honor Him with her life.

Girls, this is what I’m praying for you. Join me in praying this for the girl who sits beside you in small group.

Moms, this is what I’m praying for your daughter. Join me in praying this for her and for her friends.

Pray this for me too.