When Chaos Meets Grace

running late

It started out as a great morning until it was time to get dressed. Suddenly everything in my closet was unappealing. I put on outfit after outfit and felt uncomfortable in all of them. This need to make a decision left me racing against the clock. Why can’t I wear sweatpants to work? I feel great in sweatpants. Literally outfits that I wore two weeks ago, outfits I picked out and received as Christmas gifts, left me feeling self-conscious. I don’t look good in anything! I muttered to myself as I threw another dress across my bed. Everything I thought I might like to wear couldn’t be found. I rummaged through the laundry baskets of clean clothes that I had yet to put away. Why did I not put these clothes up? New rule: don’t go to bed until all of the clothes are put away. Also, I hate laundry. My room looked like a tornado blew through it. And that clock reminds me that even though my hair is flat, I won’t have time to curl it.

Have you had one of those mornings? I know I’m not the only one.

And when I finally resolved to put on something and leave it on, I dashed out the door, determined that the rest of the day would be better.

Well, it was better until I got to work and realized I forgot the one thing I couldn’t forget at the house. I had printed off these papers and put them in a cute little folder and placed them in a very specific spot so I would not forget them when I left.

Of course I forgot them.

How could I forget them? I’m the responsible one! I have to run home and grab them. Could I make it there and back before the 8:45am meeting? I had to try.

I sped away, driving down Barker Cypress like a freakin’ NASCAR driver. All the while trying to breathe and convince myself that it’s not that big of a deal. Yet, I couldn’t help but give myself a mental beating. I should be the confident one, the organized one, the timely one, the responsible one. The mishaps and mistakes of the morning weighed down on me as I thanked the Lord for another green light.

In that moment God gave me an image that I can’t get out of my head. He spoke to me so clearly in that moment of panic and chaos. The image? Scales.

These scale balanced between Responsible and Irresponsible. Organized and DisorganizedPerfect and Imperfect.

I realized I work so hard to make sure the scale is tipping in favor of all of these expectations I have for myself. Any time I mess up, or fail to meet my own expectations, I feel as if a weight is taken off the pan labeled “Responsible” and put on the condemning side called “Irresponsible”. Unfortunately it didn’t stop there. All of these smaller scales turned in to one large scale labeled “Worthy” and “Unworthy”.

God showed me that I created this weighted system equating anything less than perfect as unworthiness.

I know God’s Truth, I know this is not of Him.

As I turned the corner to my house, 2 Corinthians 12:9 flooded my heart and mind, “My grace is sufficient for you”. God clearly and tenderly spoke to me: If I, a powerful, holy, and perfect God, show you grace in your imperfections, then you must also show grace to yourself.

By becoming my own judge, I’m denying God the ability to shower me with His grace. By trying to be perfect on my own, I am denying the righteousness of Jesus and limiting the power of the cross.

So I gave all of that to God–my crazy morning, my failures, my unrealistic expectations, my desire to be perfect. I received His grace with open arms. I committed to leaving the scales behind. And it turned out to be a really great day! (Not to mention the cardio workout I got from running around like a crazy person.)

If you find yourself in frantic mode today, remember that God’s grace goes further than we can even imagine! He longs to cover you and me with His acceptance, even in our not so admirable moments. We have to slow down enough to see it. We have to make our inner judge shut up long enough to see that God doesn’t look on us with judgmental eyes, moving weights around to determine our worth. Simply because He created us, saved us, and redeemed us, He finds us worthy of His love.

 

In the spirit of transparency, how does God speak to you in your chaotic moments?

 

The Problem with Fear

The problem with fear is that it keeps us from hearing, believing, and walking in the Truth. It is the enemy’s greatest tool. Fear overwhelms us and confuses us. It creates a murky fog that blurs our vision and understanding of God.

I am often crippled by fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of what might happen. I play the “what-if” game in my head way too often. This causes me to believe that all of these “what-ifs” might actually be true, or might become true at some point. So I start living in what is false instead of confidently walking in what is True.

Fear can come in many different forms.

We fear bugs, darkness, or zombies. (Any Walking Dead fans out there?)

We fear physical pain, disease, or death.

We fear emotional pain, betrayal, or rejection.

We fear embarrassment.

We fear failure.

We fear hatred.

We fear lies.

We fear vulnerability.

We fear new cities and making new friends.

We fear forgiveness and second chances.

For several months now, the song No Longer Slaves by Bethel Music has captivated me every time I listen to it. I just have this moment with the Lord. It’s a time of confessing my tendency to live in fear, and then it culminates in this sort of battle cry that I am no longer a slave to fear!

I’ve been wanting to write about this song for so long I just feel like I never have the right words, never know just what to say. Also because the song certainly speaks for itself and God can speak His powerful words of freedom and redemption to you without me.

But today it has a new meaning. Most of the time I think about fear in regards to the external or emotional fears that I have–fears of not measuring up or getting sick or losing a loved one. But today I’m overcome with the realization that we often fear the Truth.

We fear hearing the Truth.

We fear telling the Truth.

We don’t want to hear it. Especially if one of the emotional or physical things we fear happens in real life. The Truth is not always easy to hear. The Truth may contradict everything our hearts and minds are screaming at us.

When we’re panicked, Truth says, “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

When we have failed, Truth says, “We are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37)

When we want to seek revenge or walk away from a relationship, Truth says, “Forgive one another just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

When we’re ready to give up and don’t understand what’s going on, Truth says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)

There is also a moment when we are the ones who must speak the Truth to a hurting friend. Fear kicks in. They won’t like what I’m about to say, we think to ourselves. Or compassion and empathy is in overdrive as we begin to understand why our friend thinks and feels a certain way, a way that contradicts Scripture. Instinct says to pat their shoulder, affirm, encourage. That’s the easy choice. But that’s not always the right choice.

When we’re tempted to condemn or dismiss, instead we must “speak the truth in love.” (Ephesians 4:15)

When we don’t want to boldly proclaim God’s Truth, instead we must “not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord.” (2 Timothy 1:8)

Each of these situations points back to one thing: knowledge of the Truth. You can’t receive the Truth if you don’t know it and believe it. And you certainly can’t speak the Truth if you don’t know it and believe it. That’s where it has to start. We have to start reading God’s Word, soaking it up, not trying to find pieces of Scripture that support what we want it to say. We have to know it. We have to believe it. We have to let it penetrate our hearts and transform our minds.

Because there are going to be more and more opportunities for each of us to face this particular fear. We will reach a time in our lives where we need to hear the Truth and we need to be receptive to it. We will also find ourselves in a place that requires us to boldly speak Truth to someone. We must be prepared to give a defense for the hope that we have in Christ (1 Peter 3:15).

Whatever fear threatens to enslave you, discover His Truth.

Claim this powerful song and God’s Truth today. You are no longer a slave to your fear. God has rescued you from every fear that entangles you so that you can confidently walk in–and proclaim–His Perfect Truth.

Check out No Longer Slaves by: Bethel Music

 

 

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.