For Those Who Ache

For Those Who Ache

I imagine you feel like damaged goods. Like what little was there to start with is now irrevocably tarnished. So much so that you're not worthy of love or any goodness in life. People have started treating you differently- like your pain and wounds are just too much... too ugly... to big for them to handle. Right?
The pain goes too deep to root out the cause, the treatment to heal too scary to consider seriously. The worry and anxiety of such a burden that you carry is overwhelming and yet you are unwilling to put it down or even share the load.

You run. You hide. You numb. Picking your poison to flee from the pain and ache of all that has gone wrong.

And by now you’re convinced none of it matters anymore. You’re beyond help. Beyond attention. Beyond redemption.

Dear one- you need to hear that you are loved, treasured, precious, and accepted by so so many people. Your life, your sins, your wounds, all are worthy of notice, love, and healing. You are worthy of redemption. You are worth it. Even minute of struggle, every moment of regret, every bad memory, every hurt whether visible or invisible- is known by your Father in heaven and He longs to heal you.

You need to stop running from the pain and listening to the lies. You need to know that you have plans and a purpose in this life and this season of tremendous hurting will be redeemed by your Savior. The crazy thing is that He has already done it... but you need to accept the gift.

No longer numb- take your pain and agony, worries and anxieties to God. He is trustworthy and a safe shelter.

I am reminded as I write of a lyric from Oh Holy Night.

'The thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.'

Sister, dear sister- hear me clearly- your night need not go on forever. Today is a new day, another morning to start anew. Take time now to make some choices- you need to put down the drugs, the drinks, the anger, whatever you're numbing the pain with- they're doing you no good and not stopping any pain in the end. You know this. They are the easy way out... until they're not. Rather take a step towards your Father and onto a road of supernatural and TOTAL healing. Healing that is complete and eternal. Healing that cannot be mimicked by anything or anyone this world will ever offer you.

“When you sit enthroned under the shadow of Shaddai, you are hidden in the strength of God Most High. He’s the hope that holds me and the Stronghold to shelter me, the only God for me, and my great confidence. He will rescue you from every hidden trap of the enemy, and he will protect you from false accusation and any deadly curse. His massive arms are wrapped around you, protecting you. You can run under his covering of majesty and hide. His arms of faithfulness are a shield keeping you from harm. You will never worry about an attack of demonic forces at night nor have to fear a spirit of darkness coming against you. Don’t fear a thing! Whether by night or by day, demonic danger will not trouble you, nor will the powers of evil launched against you. Even in a time of disaster, with thousands and thousands being killed, you will remain unscathed and unharmed. you will be a spectator as the wicked perish in judgment, for they will be paid back for what they have done! When we live our lives within the shadow of God Most High, our secret hiding place, we will always be shielded from harm. How then could evil prevail against us or disease infect us?
God sends angels with special orders to protect you wherever you go, defending you from all harm. If you walk into a trap, they’ll be there for you and keep you from stumbling. You’ll even walk unharmed among the fiercest powers of darkness, trampling every one of them beneath your feet! For here is what the Lord has spoken to me: “Because you have delighted in me as my great lover, I will greatly protect you. I will set you in a high place, safe and secure before my face. I will answer your cry for help every time you pray, and you will find and feel my presence even in your time of pressure and trouble. I will be your glorious hero and give you a feast. You will be satisfied with a full life and with all that I do for you. For you will enjoy the fullness of my salvation!””
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91 TPT

Find those God has placed in your life who know these dark paths well and who don't fear the monsters in the shadows. There are multitudes who have fought these fights and won glorious victories in Christ. Our testimonies should be a map of the roads we’ve walked. We will walk alongside you. You have many ready to fight with you. You are worth it!


End of An Era

My first-born, who started Kindergarten this year, informed me earlier this month that he had twenty days left of school. I was caught off-guard since we were still solidly in April… and, let’s face it, I birthed him last week. Or at least it feels that way. Ugh! It continually amazes me how quickly time flies. I look back at the many years before we had kids and wonder (not rarely) what the heck did I do with all that time!? I know it felt busy during that season, but knowing what I know now… I literally could’ve established world peace with all that time sans kids… But I digress…

My son will soon be in first-grade and in my mind, into legit, big-kids school. (I realize this actually occurred this current year... but #denial) It’s the end of an era. A short-lived one, but one all the same. He is super excited, and my momma heart celebrates along with him. May has hit!

I’m coming to notice more and more that May is quickly becoming the busiest time of year for almost everyone. Forget Christmas or the beginning of school… no, May has got the lock on extreme scheduling. It marks the end of so many things for people. Whether it be sports tournaments, end-of-the-year choir or music concerts, church classes coming to a close, graduation… you get the idea. May is the quintessential month of ‘ends’. It is always a bittersweet time as we put a period at the end of the chapter and turn over the page into a new season, a new pace of life, a new job, a new school or grade.

Like parents bemoaning their littles growing too fast, or graduates bemoaning their entry into the #adulting world… we all meet change with just a little trepidation and bewilderment. Excitement usually, fear commonly, and a healthy dose of faith always. The end of eras always causes a bit of self-reflection- looking back and what we woulda, coulda, shoulda while looking forward to lots of maybes, hopefuls, fingers-crossed, and unknowns.

Depending on what your view backwards looks like, I would imagine that most of us have our fair share of self-improvement ideas. Whether we have a short list or an entire Encyclopedia Britannica’s worth of corrections... know this- God’s got a new thing going for you. If this era has been too dark, too hard, filled with regret and shame, please know that God can turn this new season into something wonderful and promising. He can turn your dark and ugly into light and beautiful. You do not have to carry your guilt with you. Our heavenly Father loves to put His divine period at the end of an era and start another season full of His promises, hope, supernatural revelation, and anointing. While we may not just love to jump into the new and uncomfortable, God thrives in it. And He will cause us to thrive in it as well.

Romans 8:28 ESV promises, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Be of good cheer as we turn over the calendar this month into what will be many ‘ends’. God is gearing up to do a new thing for you!

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:9

What are Your Loaves and Fishes?

Part 1 of Are You Feeding the 5000? This is the first of a 3 part series written over Matthew 14: 13-21. Stay tuned for the second and third blogs the following 2 Mondays!

 

What are your loaves and fishes?

It's an interesting question- one that I was struck by this morning at church. The sermon was not specifically about this, nor did it ask this question, but I felt like this was the first of 3 that God impressed on my heart. So you, my dear readers, get to help me answer this on my own and perhaps work out your personal answers as well.

Strap up, and let's dig in...

In Matthew 14 we read the well-known story of Jesus feeding 5000 men (not including women and children, so in actuality the crowd was closer to 15,000-20,000!) with just 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish. Most people are familiar with the story, the miraculous multiplication of the food in order to feed everyone (if you don't know it or want a refresher, read it here.)

I think often, with miracles like this in the Bible, as voyeurs reading these passages some 2000ish years later we tend to generally mute the awesomeness of such a happening. Since this miracle doesn't include supernatural healing or raising people from the dead, we too quickly put it in a different category. Maybe it's not as dramatic, immediate, or sudden as many of the others- so it's not looked at as such. I mean, seriously, it's simply about a large amount of smelly fish, some old bread, and a ton of tired and hungry people. Not exactly the most glamorous setting. Yet this was no less fantastic than any of the others... and in some ways, I feel like it has much more impact as an example to us today as the other's we subconsciously see as "more miraculous." It's the only miracle of Jesus that is mentioned in all 4 gospels, so it must have had quite the impact on the writer's (aside from the resurrection).

The immediate question that begs to be answered is why didn't Jesus just simply and suddenly cause food to appear out of nothing? I envision Him saying "Let there be FOOD!" in a booming voice and immediately plates of piping hot food appear in everyone laps. But that's not how it happened.

This particular miracle was not immediate, or sudden, or instantaneous... it evolved over time.

And Jesus, for unknown reasons, required a couple of things in order for it to unfold. He required some food to start with and laborers to distribute it. As mentioned, He absolutely could have spoke food into being without a "starter" (much like He did with the Israelites in the desert), but in this case, He wanted to show something more profound. He wanted to show what He could (can!) do with very little... with not enough... with meager... with insufficient.

He took from a young man, a freely given offering; one which was ridiculously small and insufficient in comparison to the need and the purpose of what they were trying to do. And yet after praying for it, as we all know those 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish fed upwards of 20,000 people.... to full.... with baskets of extra left over.

Jesus took the meager and made it massive, magnificent, major... choose your favorite "M" word.

He made it miraculous.

He does the same today. Potential for making the meager into the miraculous lies in every one of us. God desires to feed the 5000 that are looking us in the eyes and needing to be fed (stay tuned for more on that in the second part!) But too often we see the crowd, we know the need, we feel His calling to feed them... and we look down into our basket of food and get caught up in the loaves and fishes we have to offer. Or the lack thereof...

One-hundred percent of the time what we can bring to the table of miracles is very little.. is not enough... is meager... is insufficient. We don't have the time, enough money, the energy, the 'heart', the experience, the education, the contacts, the popularity, the intelligence... the list goes on and on. And we get hopelessly entrenched in the pitiful appearance of our little basket of bread and fish.

His basket of opportunity turns into our basket of excuses.

I would ask the main question again to you dear one- look down into your basket, what are your loaves and fishes? What are your excuses? Why are you not giving those to God to let Him multiply, magnify, and make into miracles?

What would have happened if that kid assumed his meager offering of food wasn't enough? A lot of people potentially would have gone hungry and he for sure would have missed out on being a part of the most chronicled miracle of the Bible. What a missed opportunity!! It was such a small sacrifice to give... which is the irony of it- God asks so very little of us to make into miracles.

The very reason we don't want to give is the very reason it should be so easy to give. The smallness of the offering.

Would you prefer He required a larger one? You can't have it both ways.

I pray that my basket of excuses doesn't cause me to miss out on the miracles God is wanting to do with my involvement! I want to look at what little I have and offer it all... regardless of how meager it may seem. I want to see the God-possibility in it instead of the insufficiency. We will never be enough, good enough, or have enough to give to Him- after all God doesn't need us- but He does ask us to give what we have. I love that He allows us to play a part in the cosmos, though He most certainly doesn't require our participation. It is most generous of Him!

Take an inventory of what your situation is today. Look out at the crowd and start identifying them (again stay tuned for that next Monday!) and for now, look within your basket and what's inside. Instead of the meager, look at it as miraculous. What is He asking you to donate to the crowds today... and will you do it?