Tag Archives: Jesus

On the Edge of a Cliff…

I had let my blog die. I knew it and I was ok with it. After all, life is busy and I have other projects I am working on now…. right….?! And yet, as I sit here on this beautiful Sunday morning, I am compelled to write. I don’t why but I must.

It was just a few weeks ago, I went with my husband and his family to pick blackberries about an hour away from us. I love blackberries. One of the sweetest, juiciest treasures of summer. However, picking them comes with a price. They grow on large thorny vines that seem to sometimes want to reach out and grab you. You cant pick these little purple jewels without getting scratched and poked. Also, they grow where there are scary little creatures like rattle snakes and spiders and scary big creatures like bears. Finally, they like to grow near water in what is otherwise a fairly dry area. So as you can imagine you often have to get into some interesting places to gather them.

It was in one of these interesting places that I found myself. I was teetering on the edge of a bank above a creek, my right hand in a leather glove grasping one of the long and pokey vines and my left hand snatching up any blackberry that was in reach. It was in that moment I was struck with my own bravery. As a child/teenager/even young adult, I would have NEVER found myself in this place. IF and I mean IF I had even had the bravery to go anywhere near this set of circumstances, I would have stayed as far back from the edge as I could have and only picked the easy to reach berries. So what has changed? How was I suddenly able to do something that I had never been able to do in the past? The answer is really nothing. I didn’t sit and work myself into being able to do something that had once scared me… I didn’t even stop to pray… All I did was go. HERE IS THE KEY… For once I didn’t lead with my own fear. In fact, I didn’t even let fear enter the picture. As I hung precariously from that sandy bank, my bucket full of berries, I realized that I had jumped some kind of personal hurdle.

I don’t mean to say that I now have no fear. It is truly one of my biggest struggles. Fear. Fear of people. Fear of circumstance. Fear of situations. Fear. BUT when I realized that a moment without fear was actually freeing I began to change. I still have so far to go… but I need to change. I have often in my life overcome a fear and found myself in interesting situations. (other stories for other days) However, I now realize that I don’t just want to have to work beyond my fear, I just want to be rid of it all together. I want to find myself with people and in places and discover that I didn’t have to convince myself of anything and instead I just didn’t lead with fear at all.

Throughout the Old Testament, we read about the Army of God being brave warriors. Over and over again that is how they are referred to. They were just brave. They didn’t lead with fear rather they approached terrible situations with courage. They knew that God was guiding their path and that is all they needed to know. It kept them moving in the right direction. 1 Chronicles 19 discusses one of these very times.

So why is this important? We often use fear as a descriptor of personality. “Oh, it’s ok she is just shy.” “So and so is very timid.” “That’s just how introverts are.” However, God has not called us to be fearful. Instead He says, “Be strong and courageous.” If we are supposed to pattern ourselves after God’s Son, I fail to find a time where Jesus was fearful. Fear is an emotion, but fear CAN become sin. When fear keeps us from relationships, keeps us from moving, keeps us from going after the things God has from us… fear is sin. If God says… “Hey, here is where I need you. This is what I have for you.” And you say… “Uh, I can’t do that. I might get hurt, I might be rejected and I don’t know what happens next and that’s not within who I am.” We are in direct opposition to God.

Recently, I spoke to our youth group about how often we try to justify our own sin to make it so that it doesn’t really “look like sin.” We looked at David and Bathsheba. When David (the “man after God’s own heart”) knew he messed up, rather than seeking God’s forgiveness, he looked for ways to make it seem like he hadn’t sinned at all. He tried to justify his own sin. To justify just means to to make something right. But once sin has entered the picture the only way we can truly make it right it through the blood of Christ. Otherwise, we continue to allow that same sin to stand between us and God. For David this meant that he had to hit rock bottom to the point of murdering another before he realized that God was truly the only one who could justify what he had done. And God was faithful.

And so God can be faithful to me. And to you… What is it that you often try to justify on your own, but in the end it just stands between you and God’s best for you? Truly, I cannot be brave without God’s equipping and His love and grace for me.

God, make me brave so that I can be the person you have called me to be. I want your exceedingly abundantly for my life. I want the fullness of all of the things you have for me. I want to thrive… not just survive. Amen

Bonus: This song is the beat of my heart right now… maybe it needs to be yours too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Hi-VMxT6fc

i am there…

This week I have been drawn into a place where there is a hillside covered with people, and I am there. There is the smell of livestock in the air, and I am there. There are angry shouting crowds, and I am there.

As with many other Easter weeks in my life, I nightly have the opportunity to live out the retelling of the story of Jesus of Nazareth. From his stories and miracles, to his death and resurrection, each day is told through dramatic interpretation and I am there.

Jesus, while fully God was also fully man. He walked this Earth 2000 years ago. He made real friends, ate real food, laughed real laughter, and cried real tears. There are moments that I long to have been alive all of those years ago. To observe, even from a distance, his comings and goings. However, I wonder what my reaction to him would have been. Would I have been like his followers who anxiously welcomed him into Jerusalem with shouts of Hosanna? Would I have been like the scoffers who only saw him as an eccentric and crazy man? Or, would I have been like Judas, a close friend who attempted to force Jesus’ hand to fulfill the need of the moment.

I would like to think I would be one of those who with unyielding faith followed the man called Jesus. Knowing him and trusting him for a larger purpose than the one at hand. But I am often afraid that I have more of Judas in me than I would like to admit.

For you see at this time the Jews had been so disregarded by the Romans, all they longed for was a day much before their own time, when David was king. When they could come and go as they pleased. When life was more “pleasant.” Judas, while he recognized the power of Christ, he could only see his power as a tool to solve the problems of that one moment. He BELIEVED that Jesus could free the Jewish people from their pain and suffering. He KNEW that with one word Jesus could realign all Earthly governments. He TRUSTED that Jesus was the Son of God. And yet, he limited Jesus to just that one moment in history. He could not see outside of that moment. Because of this, Judas betrayed his friend, Jesus. He turned him over to the very people who would put him to death. Judas wanted to force Jesus into something that was not part God’s bigger plan. And Jesus was silent.

PRAISE THE LORD for the silence of Jesus. He knew that his death and resurrection played a much larger role in the course of history. He knew that without his death we would be forever separated from our Heavenly Father. Knowing the end of the story, we often look at Judas as the “weak disciple”, or the “evil disciple.” However, I would like to propose that many of us often approach God with the attitude of Judas.

I know that many times I come before God only wanting my answers for THIS seemingly important moment. I pray earnestly for God’s will to be done now. Then, I wind up confused when things do not turn out the way I think they should. Yet, I say, “I BELIEVE,” I KNOW,” I TRUST” God for my everything? Does my God not know better than I, what the bigger picture looks like? Oh how I long for a glimpse of what God sees. Yet, if I really trust my God, if I really have faith, I will trust him when I don’t understand the immediate details of his plan.

*For more on the life and death of Jesus, read John chapters 18, 19, 20, and 21.