How Sweet the Sound of Grace: When the Joy of Jesus Defeats Your Battles

Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. James 5:7

Spring is in full force here in Wisconsin. I can see it bursting forth in the buds on the trees and in the little purple flowers peeking up above the ever growing blades of grass. The Sugar River has begun sweetly flowing again, and any sign of frozen ground has melted away. It seems too poetic to say that my heart is experiencing its own season of new life. The winter was hard, both on my soul and on my body. But God has begun placing sweet blossoms of hope on the hard places of my life and I’m seeing Him revive me in every sense of that word.

Revive. What emotion that word evokes for me! I know I keep talking about this same battle, but it’s the battle that has most tried to define me. Infertility…infertile…as in nothing will grow. And I believed that for a short while with all my heart…that nothing would or could grow from me. I sought doctors who prodded and tried to jump start my body, but nothing. I had placed my hope in needles and in x-rays and in hormone therapies and in procedures. And as sterile as those doctor’s offices felt…so did my heart.

I had wanted Jesus to bring about new life naturally. I hope that one day He will. But for now, I am experiencing a form of new life that I had not planned on. I feel as if something inside me has woken up. Some storehouse of Joy that I had left untapped. My husband and I are on a new adventure, and I had thought maybe that was what had made the difference. But I think it goes deeper than that.

It goes all the way down to the roots of my disappointments and to the ugliness of my dark days. As we come out of the season of Lent, the season of grieving both for our Savior and because of our sins, I have discovered that Jesus went right to the darkness I had reserved for myself. He broke down that door, and He entered with Life.

Joy has everything to do with Hope, and is based entirely on Grace. Infertility brought out the ugliest side of me I have ever seen. I was broken, shattered, fragile, and bitter. I cried more nights than I didn’t. I literally grieved for a life that never existed. And yet I kept pushing. Something would come of this. Something HAD to come from this. And so I preached Hope. I clung to Grace. Even in my ugliness I ran toward my Savior. I wasn’t sure how this battle would end….I just knew it would.

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24

I am not pregnant…and yet I feel like this battle has been won. I can feel it in my soul. I walked blindly for over three years with the hope that infertility would fade away, and I grieved what I thought I had lost. I prayed God would heal my heart, even if He chose never to heal my body. I prayed that infertility wouldn’t become my idol…that it wouldn’t cover up who I am in Him.

I prayed those words, but I’m not sure that I actually expected to feel almost a physical weight being lifted up off of my shoulders. I told my women’s group a few months ago, that I actually felt like I was coming out the other side of this battle. A friend had sent me a message, concerned that I had lost the peace that passes all understanding. And just in that week before I read what she wrote, I had experienced that exactly. I do not understand how the bitterness of my soul was lifted. I can not explain why the depth of sadness in my heart has been healed. But it has continued on being healed, more and more so each day.

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Next month is Mother’s Day. For three years that has been a day of sadness for me. I watched as mother’s in our churches were praised and how their children loved them. And I couldn’t understand why God would keep me from becoming a mother. I was broken as those around me became pregnant and as their families continued to grow.

But now…something has changed. I have been changed.

My life was never mine to plan out. God has shown me this so clearly. I belong to Him, every part of me does. And this is true whether we are aware of it or not. He is our creator, our Father, our maker. Our lives belong to Him. And we can go through this life kicking and screaming, complaining at every “wrong” turn, or we can surrender.

We can surrender to the beautiful sound of Grace in our lives. We can sit back and watch how God unfolds the moments of our life right before our eyes. Beautiful lives don’t come from plans and savings and working our days away. They come from the Giver of Life. They come when we loosen our grip on bitterness and disappointment and heartbreak. We so often hold onto to those things…and we don’t have to.

We may experience hard winters. We may feel them coming. We may see everything freeze around us. And yet…God will bring about Spring. He can melt what freezes in us. He can bring fresh sprigs of green from hearts that we thought couldn’t grow anything. You are not what you battle. You are who He says you are, His child, His beloved, His redeemed.

Joy won’t come with the fulfillment of our plans. It won’t come in the safety of our savings. Joy is found in Him alone.

Your life is found in Him alone. Until we turn our faces toward Him, we are simply wandering away. I used to worry that all this talk about prayer would simply be talk. That I would talk to God, and He would always for eternity tell me to wait. I was scared that I wouldn’t see an answer, that I wouldn’t feel a difference.

But I feel changed. And my circumstances haven’t changed. The only explanation is Jesus.

I find myself completely defined in this hymn, Amazing Grace. It is who I was and who I am and who I will become.

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that Saved a wretch like me. I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.

The Lord has promised good to me; His Word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares I have already come; ‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.  – John Newton

Friend, if you have been praying that God would heal you, that He would mend your broken spirit, that He would revive your withered soul…know that He will. He is faithful. He who created the heavens and the earth, He who became like us and died a death that only we deserved, He who conquered death and who declared victory over our sins…He has not forgotten who you are. He won’t leave you alone in this.

I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.

Isaiah 49: 15b-16a

A Grace Note: Easter Morning 


Dear Reader, 

Out of the grave, He sprang up, and with Him came freedom for the soul of the sinner. We saw Him rise, we know that He physically lives. His scars are our scars, His wounds were our Hope. Our ugliness was wrapped up in His Grace and as His blood poured forth, so did the tears of God as the Redemption of His beloved people came near. To love, it seems, means to know deep pain. We decided that it had to be so when we took of that forbidden fruit in the garden. Even then, we sought quick glory over time woven grace from the Father. To know Him is to love Him, and to be known by Him is to experience His Grace. You know when the devil told Eve that she would be like God if she ate of the fruit? The twisted truth was that God loved her enough to become like us. Made in His image, we were already loved, but maybe we didn’t believe it. Jesus came that we would know for sure. Jesus is the proof of the goodness of the Father….the same Father who made sure that even as we faced the consequences of sin, we would never do so alone. He banished us from the garden…in Love. We couldn’t eat from the tree of Life and live in sin forever. We needed Grace. We needed a clean slate. We had to become a new creation…in Christ. Death where is your sting? Where is your victory? Jesus proves with an empty grave that nothing can separate us from the love of the Father. We are alive in Him and never forgotten. Now, instead of the warning not to eat of the forbidden fruit, we are greeted with the invitation to “take and eat”. Jesus has become our tree of Life…and Jesus was freely given. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

Old Roots: When Jesus Wakes Your Soul

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“The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead – whom you killed by hanging Him on a cross.” Acts 5:30

A mere 1/2 acre is what our small home sits on. Yet, in this tiny corner of the world, we have full grown pine trees that seem to reach all the way up to Heaven. We have lilies that peek in through our bedroom window, and purple irises which light up our front yard in the early summer. Sometimes, when I walk out onto our deck, I feel as if we own our own forest. Cedar wax wing birds live here, and little yellow birds like to greet our sweet cat through the windows as they eat seed from the feeder. And as I begin to see all of these living things come back, springing green and fresh from the ground, and hatching fresh and new from their nests…I know that I can take no credit for any of it.

Mine were not the hands that planted those flower seeds, and I was not the gardener who grew those tall pines. These things, these living things, which pop back up year after year, from roots older than I am, come back new and vibrant….even though in the winter months they appear as dead.

Jesus had roots too, you know. Scripture talks about the root of Jesse, and Jesus calls Himself the vine. His Spiritual tree is rooted entirely in the Father, and His mortal family tree goes back all the way to the Garden of Eden. His human life is rooted all the way back in that tree that we chose to eat from…the tree that would someday become His cross.

Today, I’ve thought a lot about that cross. The symbolism will always blow me away. I have been thinking of how that cross made of wood was once a seed, and then how from that seed sprouted a green chute, and how after it popped up, tender and green, it grew. For years it continued to grow. Until, one day, someone came along and chopped it down. And its life seemed to have ended…but its purpose still had not.

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“And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground – trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Genesis 2:9

I was thinking how that tree, the one where Jesus would be lifted high, was entirely linked to that first tree in the Garden of Eden, the one we ate from. The one we chose over the tree of life. And how fitting it seems, that through the fruit of one tree that brought into the world death…so our Savior would become the fruit of another tree, that would remove death from the world. And how He would tell us, “Take and eat. This is my body, given up for you.”

The tree that lifted Jesus high, was rooted physically in the world, like us…but its spiritual roots were tied to our sin.

We have roots too. And like the roots of a tree, ours are very often tangled and deep. Our roots grow old, and yet as we age we seem to experience new life out of them. There are parts of our roots that bring us joy, that seem to resuscitate us. And then there are parts that are too strongly knotted, and they cause other parts of us to die. This is because unlike Jesus, our roots are not always found in the Father. Instead, we find ourselves rooted in pride, in greed, in pain, in disappointment, and in sin.

When we chose to eat of that tree in the Garden of Eden, we chose to allow our roots to wander off, to grow into territory that wasn’t meant for us. And so we find ourselves looking for fertile soil in places we cannot flourish, in places our roots simply can’t hold onto. Our sin has caused our own hearts to become a tangled mess. And so when that tree that would become the cross was cut down…maybe a part of our own broken world was cut down too.

Good Friday feels like winter to our souls. It’s when the world feels at its darkest. It was when God literally withheld the sun, and turned away His face…for one brief moment. So that we would feel the magnitude of what it meant to be without Him. Our Jesus, nailed to a tree that grew from our tangled roots and that died in our tangled mess, was lifted high amidst our broken world and our tattered lives.

But in three days, friends…Jesus will rise. His body, planted low in a grave, will shoot out of it. That tree that ran red with His blood and that bore witness and an active part in His death, will become our pathway to the tree of Life. Our winter, will become spring.

Because Jesus shares His roots with us. He has weeded out our gardens. He has untangled and unknotted that which we could not undo ourselves. He has become for us a river of Life….and by His wounds we are healed.

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“I am the vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-4

Our roots are no longer grounded in this temporary world. Because of Jesus, who sprung up for us, our roots are now founded in the ancient and in the eternal. We get to return to the Garden of God. We get to be rejoined with our Maker. We get to walk with Him in the cool of the day. And the Lord God will be our Light.

Don’t you see, friends? Everything about our life story can be found in the Garden of God. In the Garden we lived and then we fell. In the Garden, grew our free will. And in the Garden, grew the Cross.

Jesus’ life story is rooted in the Garden too. I see it made evident in the imagery scripture uses to describe Him and in the way He portrays Himself as the vine. And as He walks through the Garden of Gethsemane, on the night He was betrayed, I see it again, all too clearly. Our sin began in a Garden…and in a Garden is where it would meet its end.

Go to dark Gethsemane, all who feel the tempter’s pow’r. Your Redeemer’s conflict see. Watch with Him one bitter hour; Turn not from His griefs away; Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

Early hasten to the tomb, Where they laid His breathless clay; All is solitude and gloom. Who has taken him away? Christ is ris’n! He meets our eyes. Savior, teach us so to rise.

Go to Dark Gethsemane, by James Montgomery (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal)

 

Of Broken Things: Why Jesus Broke For Us 

“Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there He put the man He had formed.” Genesis 2:8

Only God’s beauty could have pulled me out of bed today. My head hurts with a cold that just refuses to quit, and yet my heart willed me to get up for just a few minutes and breathe in the fresh air of spring, and the perfection of these flowers that miraculously sprung from the ground this April.

The previous owner of our house had planted what looked like an overgrown garden of weeds right into the yard in front of four towering bushes. Each year, the plants she placed there would be the first to spring up, right out of the grass, to my dismay. They weren’t pretty. They didn’t flower. Weeds quickly took over, and last year out of sheer frustration at the determination of these “weeds” my husband decided to simply mow over them with the lawn mower…

And then this year, just as we were debating whether or not to dig up that whole area of yard in order to get rid of this shambled mess in front of the bushes…they began to flower. And they are beautiful.

You see, last autumn we trimmed up the bottom of those towering bushes. It turns out that all we needed to do was cut them back and let the light shine in on those plants that were so determined to grow. The warm sunlight had turned what we described as an undesired mess into a small corner of beauty.

Our lives mirror this in so many ways. How many times have I cried out and yelled that my brokenness is ugly? How many times have I looked away from broken situations and crushed spirits? The world is afraid of broken and messy things. We are called brave when we stand amid the tangled messes and the bruised life stories. We are labeled heroes when we jump into the darkness and dare to continue carrying on holding the light.

Bad things happen to us, and we cry and we break and we wail and we ask God why a million times. And those whose lives seem perfect to us stare back and call us strong. Yet so often we don’t see it. We don’t feel strong. We feel broken and shattered because of what has happened to us. We don’t feel like our stories are worth telling because we didn’t choose this. We didn’t choose what happened to us. We simply find ourselves treading water in the midst of it.

 

These daffodils that sprung up in my yard didn’t choose the darkness that they were covered in these last few years either. And yet, knowing that they were planted with a purpose, they continued to pop up year after year, even as we saw how messy and broken and unhealthy they were. They didn’t give up. Each year they grew out of the ground with the hope that this year the light would hit them and transform them, that this year would be the year that they would bloom.

I feel as they did. That each year through infertility and brokenness, I have to keep having hope. I have to keep popping up out of my darkness. I have to hold on to hope that the sun will shine and that God’s warmth will hit and that He will bring goodness and life out of what I see as dirt.

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“At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.” John 19:41

And then today I thought of Jesus, who walked through darkness for me, and who chose to have the light withdrawn from Him, so that He could plant in me Life. He was broken for me. And He who was broken, for us, became the most beautiful. His story was redemption. His scars became our joy. His death became our Life. He was the Light that would shine in our darkness. He is the warmth that we waited centuries for. He lifted up that curtain, that veil, which cast darkness over us, and He let the Light of His Father shine in on us. He who was the Light of Heaven, became the Light of us.

And out of our dirt….He sprung up. The root of Jesse. The Vine to whom we are the branches. Our Garden in which we were planted, in which we were formed, became our mess. And yet Jesus dared to walk in the Garden again…even though it became dark…even though it traded in its name of Eden for Gethsemane.

Nailed to a tree, which sprung from the ground from which we were taken and to which we would return, He humbled Himself, that the same tree that saw death would bring us Life. That though we ate from the tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and would surely die, we would also taste of the tree named Life and Live.

Our darkness would disappear. The sun would once again shine on us, and that sun would be the Light of Life. Yes, indeed, a garden will grow from where we have been planted. We will once again see the blossoms of life. Our messes will become our past and a Garden will be our future.

For Jesus did not come just to die…but also to Rise. For us, Eden became Gethsemane. But because of Jesus, Gethsemane transforms into Heaven. For though paradise was plunged from light into darkness, God chose to walk among us even when the Light could no longer shine, for God Himself is the Light of His people, and nothing can separate the Love He has for us.

Your mess is only the place in which you learn that God refuses to give up on you. Your tangled weeds, are only remnants of a darkness which once held you but no longer can. For now, because of Jesus, a Light has begun to shine, and you can grow.

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“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” John 15:1

God who has planted all things, has reentered the Garden. His light will thaw you out. Your winter is over. Your spring has come. And soon Summer will find you blossoming in His warmest Light. Because nothing God has planted in you will return to Him empty. His love never fails, it never gives up, it never runs out on you. Gethsemane has traded in its name. It no longer stands for darkness, but instead for Light.

So while you continue to feel as though the world is trying to mow you over, and that darkness is trying to choke you out, remember that Jesus who chose to be broken for you is cutting back the veil and sending His Light into your Life to warm you and to encourage you to grow from His light and from the vine  to which you are now grafted into. “Arise and shine, for your Light has come”. Don’t be afraid to grow. Jesus broke to raise you from this mess.

 

 

 

 

A Beautiful Mess: The Cross and What it Means for Our Current Tally of Suffering

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We were sitting in church this last Sunday as our Pastor preached on the book of Colossians. He wanted to know where our hearts were at, or rather, he wanted us to know where our hearts were at. Where are they rooted? This is something I have written about recently. I’ve considered how what is in our hearts comes out in the language we use in prayer, towards God, and with others.

But a new thought presented itself to me as I sat there, thinking deeper about the condition of my heart, and it was this: have my burdens become my gods?

I will confess to you that the phrase, “a beautiful mess”, has almost become a tagline for my life. Infertility, illness, waiting, dashed hopes, uncertain futures…these things have wrecked my world. And yet I have sought, as many of us do, to find the beauty in  them. I’ve set my eyes hard on watching what God will do with my suffering. I’ve hungered for His presence to become real in tangible ways in the midst of them. I’ve given myself over to the mindset that because God has asked something hard of me that there must be some kind of unimaginable beauty waiting for me at the end of all of this. That one day, everything I have felt in the depths of my heart, all the hurt and disappointment, and brokenness would be worth something. Did you catch that? I thought it would make me “worth” something.


Our suffering won’t ever make us worth something. That is the hardest point to take…but it’s the whole reason that Jesus came for us. He saw that we would suffer. He saw that we would die. He saw that no matter how many times we strive to be refined in the fire…without Him we would simply disappear. But Jesus…His suffering makes ours worth it.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

You see, I keep records of wrongs. I remember the blessings that have not come my way. I remember the hurt. I remember the pain. I remember how I felt when I thought God had wronged me. And while I probably am not likely to speak this out loud, the truth is that the hope I often feel, especially in my infertility, is that God has seen me suffering, and because I have suffered…He will provide for me. Maybe if I’m being honest, I haven’t separated my suffering from who God is. Instead, I’ve added it to a running tally of why God should show up for me.

I have wanted to claim that my mess is beautiful. But I have looked for beauty in the wrong place.

The beauty of our stories, laced with hurt and disappointment, is not actually found in how well we have handled things or in how we have used our pain for something good. It’s not really in how well we fought our battles. It’s not in the outcome. It doesn’t arrive when we finally receive what we are praying for. The beauty is not in us at all.

The beauty is in who God is. It’s written on the palms of His hands and the tears He himself cried for us in the form of Jesus. It’s in the way He perfectly loves us. It’s in all the prayers He has heard us shouting up to Him. It’s in the way He bends low to reach us, even as our hearts sink deeper. The beauty of our pain is actually the truth of His resurrection, that though we feel as dead we are alive. That though our pain seems huge, Christ’s strength is stronger. That no matter the outcome of what we hope for in this world, we know that the outcome of our salvation is always Victory.

Because of Him, the disappointments of this life will NOT be the disappointments of our eternity. Our hardships here have to loosen their grips on us, because they can no longer hang onto us forever. Better things are coming.

“…Because God is love.” 1 John 4:8

The beauty in our mess has nothing to do with us at all, and everything to do with the beauty of our God who saves us from it. The most beautiful mess of all can be found on the cross of Christ, because that’s where all of our sins and sufferings were nailed. Jesus stretched His arms wide and took it all away, because He knew nothing but destruction would ever come from our suffering without Him. We could never sacrifice enough. Our suffering couldn’t save us, couldn’t bring us closer to God. Hard things would and will continue to come our way, but we wouldn’t choose them for ourselves. Jesus chose the suffering on the cross so that our suffering and sin would no longer define us, and instead we would be defined by His grace for us. Know this friend, it is not Jesus who wants us to hurt. It is not Jesus who brought about infertility, or illness, or suffering, or shame. It is Jesus who saved us from all of it. And it’s not any amount of suffering that we have come through or any amount of our lives that we used for His glory that catches the attention of our Heavenly Father…It is really only Jesus.

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

The beauty is in Him. Always Him. Only Him. And because of Jesus, we get to see that beauty on display. We get to “walk with Him, and talk with Him, along Life’s narrow way.”

A Grace Note: The Grief of Waiting 


Dear Reader, 

I just wanted to encourage you today if you are in a season of waiting. Sometimes, I feel like my wait will never end. That I will always hope, only to see my hopes dashed. That I will always make plans, just to watch them crumble. And for years I have put my life on hold…on wait…because something might change. 

I have very much so let infertility steal away my identity at times. My dream to grow our family ended up growing bigger than how I saw myself…or worse yet, how I thought God saw me. I was taking count this morning of the things I’ve walked away from in order to keep chasing down this dream. I entered marriage knowing I would be a mom, knowing that I would fit that biblical mold of wife and mother. But my knowledge failed me, and God’s wisdom prevailed.

There are things I love, talents God gave me, gifts I’ve set aside in favor of grieving my losses. I haven’t celebrated my wins in a long time. I haven’t picked up those things I used to love. Grief steals…but God is a giver.

 What have you been refusing from God in your life lately? What have you set down and given over to grief? If you are waiting…if you’ve been waiting for a long time…I want to encourage you to step back into something that brings you Joy. Chances are, God has given us reasons to rejoice, we’ve just forgotten about them. 

God has given you a rich identity, don’t lose it in your wait, don’t surrender who God created you to be, all your joys and loves and talents and hopes, to grief. Beauty rises from ashes, Jesus rose from the grave, and you now rise to new life. 

How will you celebrate and take hold of that today? You are no longer held in bondage. Take off those burial wraps and pick up a new song of Joy. Your wait does not define you. 

In Him, 

A Fellow Grace Wanderer 

The Language of Thanksgiving: Day 10

 

“For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Over the last 10 days I wrote about the The Language of Thanksgiving with the hope that the way we speak about God and to God could change our lives. I had hoped to unearth the depths of my soul that had been in hiding…the ugliness of pride, forgotten identity, a lack of peace, an absence of thanksgiving. And it all comes down to these words from Luke: “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks”.

 If our language toward God in prayer exhibits impatience…perhaps it’s impatience that is filling our hearts. If it exhibits worry, stress, chaos, confusion, or guilt…maybe those are the things we are letting rule us. Our language is only a symptom of deeper things. What we speak and how we speak it is the fruition of what we hold inside. 

Scripture tells us to give thanks in all things…this is to be our language towards God and to the world. But to be authentically and deeply thankful, especially when our circumstances are heavy, our hearts must be rooted in something so much deeper. A language focused around giving thanks to God doesn’t mean we must always exhibit happiness. It simply means that we are rooted in Truth…the truth that we are loved, that we are saved, and that even in brokenness we have the hope that God will bring new Life. 

God can speak into our heart’s deepest chambers. He can illuminate the darkness that hides there. He can resuscitate our Joy. He can heal and mend and reform. So what is your language showing today? What is it revealing about your heart? Who rules it? Is it God and His peace or is it something else? 

The Language of God, His Word, is what brings life to our bones. And our language toward Him, our word, is meant to bring Him praise…and this praise heals us in return. Because the heart of God is wholly Good. From His mouth comes only truth, only love, only justice. Our hearts, once given to Christ, become like His. So the words which flow from our lips can begin to take the form of the language which flowed from Christ’s lips. 

We are redeemed. We are restored. We are changed from the inside out. God gave us new hearts that a new language would also follow. May our words reflect who we really are: restored and redeemed.

The Language of Thanksgiving: Day Nine

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Our church is going through Colossians. Today during the sermon my eyes wandered ahead to this passage: “Let the Peace of Christ rule in your heart” I don’t think those are words we place together very often, “let peace rule”. 

I find myself fighting to rule my circumstances each day. I catch myself fighting for peace, struggling to let go of conflict and stress, and gripping hard my dreams and realities. But scripture tells us to let Peace rule…we don’t rule Christ’s peace. We don’t get to tell it what to do or when to show up or mold it to how we think it should fit in our lives. 

Did you know our hearts and souls were fought over? Did you know the kingdom of chaos and darkness and stress wanted you too? But our God, the God of light and peace and mercy stepped right down and broke our chains…because He wanted us more. And each day of our lives here on earth we stand at a crossroad of peace and chaos, of light and darkness. 

Freedom in Christ means that Peace gets control of our hearts. Isn’t that beautiful? And scripture pleads with us to let that Peace rule in our lives! Christ didn’t wage war against the enemy so that we would still be bound to its vices. He won the battle so you would be caught up in His love.

 Peace it would seem is a choice. It’s free in Christ. Will you take it? Will you let it rule? Will you speak of it? Will you let your heart be saturated with it?

 In our language of thankfulness to God there must be this underlying foundation…Christ’s Peace. When we take hold of this gift we’ve been given, Christ can unlock all our doors, open all of our closed minds, and release our hearts from the bondage that once held them. Christ is your Victor, His Peace is our prize. How will this change your language today? How will this change your life? 

The Good, The Bad, and the Burnout: A Contributing Post

Photo Credit: Imperishable Beauty


Did you know that the enemy can offer us “good” opportunities with bad intentions? Today, I’m taking a break from The Language of Thanksgiving series, which will continue tomorrow, to talk about seeking discernment from God concerning opportunities we should pick up and when we should set some down. Burnout in ministry is a real thing. If this resonates with you, please check out my latest devotional posted over at Imperishable Beauty today: The good, the bad, and the burnout: Imperishable Beauty

The Language of Thanksgiving: Day 8 

“He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:17b 

Living water is such a powerful image. Movement in currents and waves and the sounds of bubbling brooks and rushing streams have always captivated my heart, because this is how Jesus describes the Holy Spirit living within us. Water rushes at times, and then sometimes stands still as glass. It possesses the ability to be both power and tranquility. It gently washes but it can also etch deep into stone.

 I have so many friends right now who are walking through storms. I try to comfort them with words of understanding, words of “I know it hurts. I know what it’s like to be alone.” But we don’t know, really, how others hurt. We can only measure it by the depth of how we have been hurt in the past, how we have worried and felt alone. We all, it seems, carry huge burdens. We walk through hard seasons and we wonder if the season will ever change. 

My heart wonders this morning if it is possible that our hard seasons are only meant for the Spirit to etch into our hearts. For the Spirit to come rushing powerfully hard against the forces of evil so that our hearts will understand when the season finally switches and the Spirit remains still as glass. The fact that our hearts keep beating despite the rushing force is proof that what Jesus gives us is meant to bring us life, that what He brings us through is meant to keep us alive. 

“Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within Him. By this He meant the Spirit.” John 7:38-39

We cry tears of water both from joy and from pain. I have to believe that the Spirit is in both. So today, whether you’re walking on the water or sinking beneath it, know that God is in it. Know that your language in the Spirit can be that of one who has been redeemed, can be that of one who has no fear because God walks ever before you. 

May your language today be that of confidence in the Living Water of God, may it be strengthened by the currents and washed clean by the brooks. May it speak with power of the Lord Jesus who fights for you, and may it never give up hope.