Monday, November 29, 2010

A Re-introduction

God is so good! He knew that I would hear that song yesterday, and He gave me words to write. Then today, He knew I would receive and read Louie Giglio's book "I am Not But I Know I AM" and again, I can't not write about the things the Lord is teaching me.

Yesterday, when I answered the question "Who Am I?", I said, "I am Yours". But that was only the half of it. By saying that I am Christ's alone, I am saying that I am not me or mine. You see that? I am not. I was bought with a price, and the Holy Spirit has domain over my body.

The world is full of i am nots. That's every human that's ever walked the planet. Because God - the Creator - is the only I AM. When we realize that we are so very small, it shouldn't make us feel like we don't mean anything. Rather, in that smallness we should experience a chain of realizations. We are small. God is big. God is love. God loves us. We are not. God is I AM.

"True humility is not a sign of weakness, failure, or inability, but rather a sign that we are getting to know God and have glimpsed His glory". Think about it. When we let go of our pride, what we're really doing is acknowledging that the Lord dwarfs us. And when we come before Him and say, "I am not", that is when He can use us; He knows we'll be pointing all we say and do right back to Him and not to ourselves.

Now, we're going to go to one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands. It is vastly underrated, but it's truer than a lot of other things in this world. I am not, but Lord, You Are

So, everyone, let me re-introduce myself: Hello, my name is i am not.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Who Am I?

It's one of those big questions we all ask ourselves. What am I doing? Why am I here? Who am I? We're all on this journey to find what is good and honest and true.

But what if we're asking the wrong question? What if the question isn't "Who am I?", but "Who are You?". In examining the life and mission of Jesus Christ, we find a better version of ourselves than we could have ever dreamed of. When Jesus was baptized, prophecy was fulfilled as God spoke, calling Christ His Beloved Son. And in Christ's death and resurrection, we too are adopted into God's family. That's who we are.

At the beginning of October, I saw Tenth Avenue North in concert. My appreciation for the band heightened after this experience, because they didn't just get on the stage and play music and talk about themselves. They talked about Christ and the realities of what He did for us. They were truly there to worship God for who He is, and to help everyone in the audience do the same. They talked about something from the gospel of John in a way I'd never heard before. They said that John's gospel is the only place he is referred to as "the one Jesus loves". At first, I thought that was quite amusing. But the guys from Tenth went on to say how incredibly humble that statement was. You see, John wasn't wrapped up in who he was; his entire identity was in Christ.

And I got to thinking today as I heard the song "Who Am I?" on the radio. And Lord, the best way for me to say who I am is 'I am Yours'.

Save me, for I am Yours; I have sought out Your precepts. Psalm 119:94

Since you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Isaiah 43:4

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Jesus the Redeemer

Last night, I was on the phone with an amazing friend (love you!) In our conversation, I put to words the thoughts I've been having for the last few months.

Every time I come home, I look through about a decade's worth of old journals. I've been keeping one since I was seven years old, and the collection is one of my greatest treasures. I've grown to write a lot more, more often, and about more serious things, but one special thing has stayed constant. I've always written down some of my prayers. It's amazing to see how my prayers have been answered - in unexpected ways, at unexpected times. Things have happened to me in the last few years that I prayed for when I was just 8 or 9 years old. I didn't remember them, but God did. That's so incredibly awesome, but there's more to this story.

Flipping the pages, I felt pain, regret, shame, sorrow, and guilt. Things I should have said, things I should have done. So many missed oppotunities to make the Lord known, to make Him look good. All because I was too worried about what everyone else would think to surrender to Christ's life in exchange for my own.

But, in that shame, in that weakness, God displayed His awesomeness and authority. He showed me my past two years of life, and how He's redeeming me. He's putting me in situations that give me a second chance. He's letting me do now what I didn't do then. Peter denied Jesus three times, but when Jesus rose, He gave Peter the opportunity to profess his love for Christ three times. I'm sure I've turned away from my Savior far more than three times, but in His blood, He's given me way more than three more chances.

It's not about me - it's about the Word in the Flesh poured out on the cross.

Father, thank You that I'm not who I once was. Thank You for sending Your Beloved Son to die that I might live again. In Your Name, Amen.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Prayer

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving. Here on the blog, I'm going back to basics. I'm delving into my journal - which NO ONE ever gets to read (yes, you should feel special) to share excerpts from my prayer last night:

Father, I can't thank You enough for people, opportunities, for my very life. Thank You for Christ. Thank You for using His blood to make me clean and whole, God. Thank You. You are so good to me. You are my everything, Lord. No matter where I am, You're here. You're waiting to sweep me off my feet - the only one who can, the only one who knows me. You know all my failures, even the ones I haven't had yet. You know my doubts, my fears. But you know my hopes and dreams, too God; You know my deep desire to love You more. My heart is so full of love that's it's taking my breath away; it's coming out my eyes in salty wet tears. I close my eyes and see You on the coross. I try to imagine what You felt to love like that. And the love in my heart boils over. I adore You, Lord. Savior, I worship at Your throne. I bring myself and the song of my life - praise to You and Your glory. Here I am, Father. I'm here to know and cherish You, and love You with every beat of my heart. In the Name of the precious Christ Jesus my Lord, Amen.

I wrote that ^^ while listening to this:

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.Worship the LORD with gladness;come before Him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is He who made us, and we are His;we are His people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the LORD is good and His love endures forever; His faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lessons From Dressing

Ok I know I just posted, but what can I say? God is good!

When I was younger, I thought that the whole point of wearing a sweatshirt was that if you got hot, you could take it off. Then, when I was six, I experienced my first snow day. I was getting dressed, knowing I was going to be playing in the snow all morning, and I told my mom, “I think I can just wear a sweatshirt by itself; I won’t be getting hot today!” This seemed logical to me. It was cold, and I certainly wouldn’t be taking my sweatshirt off. My mom then explained that I should wear a t-shirt underneath anyway because I need a layer close to my body to keep me warm.

As I pulled on a sweatshirt today over a tank top, knowing I wouldn’t be taking my outside layer off, I thought back to that day and of what I’ve learned since then.

And then I thought about my life today. I go out and take on a lot of ‘stuff’, much of which is solid work for the Kingdom of God. I’m not going to get into the other things, but I admit I’m constantly checking myself and evaluating my priorities. But I still need that layer close to my skin; otherwise all that other ‘stuff’ goes to waste.

That layer is the living Word of God. It’s the heart of the Gospel. Maybe you’ve noticed that I go right to the cross of Christ in a lot of my posts. Well that’s because, for me, that’s all there really is. The entire Old Testament sets the stage for the Savior’s coming, from the fall of man right down to the messianic prophecies. After the death and resurrection of Christ, the focus turns to the mission of God. It’s about preparation for the second coming of Jesus, for the establishment of God’s eternal Kingdom.

How is that relevant to our lives? In every way. Every single way.

I’ll return to the sweatshirt analogy: service, fellowship, etc are all awesome and great things, but if we don’t have that core layer woven right next to our skin, we’re still going find ourselves cold. The eternal Truth of Jesus Christ is what keeps our fire going. And we can’t leave it off just because it’s not directly seen. Sometimes what’s not seen is even more valuable than what is.

A song so many have come to know, love, and then live. But it's so true. Keeping Christ at the center of our hearts is our absolute. Worship is our response to what we hold most dear to our lives. So pull the Truth of the Gospel right down to your core, and let your heart be for Jesus.

My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" Your face, LORD, I will seek. Psalm 27:8

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:22

Stopped In My Tracks

Over the last year or so, God revealed to me all of the walls I've continually built up. I hide who I am in order to avoid getting hurt. I try not to get too close to people because I'm afraid they'll reject me. My close friends know this, and some of them have even known it since they first started getting to know me.

Well, in case you haven't noticed, God's not a big fan of walls. He's always tearing them down. So it is with me. In January, I remember being so small and vulnerable on my knees before the Lord, laying everything I am down at His feet. And ever since then, He's used that. There have been moments where I get overwhelmed with studying and projects and He tells me a verse and I stop. One evening I went for a walk, and, looking out, I was pulled to my knees by God's greatness. Things like this have happened more and more frequently as I've made myself readily available and vulnerable to the Lord.

Tonight, I had one such moment. I went out to pick up some dinner and bring it back to my room to continue working on a few things. I had my iPod in, and I was listening to the "Beautiful Exchange" album from Hillsong, as I have many times before.

This song came on:

And I stopped. I've heard this song probably a hundred times. But I stopped right where I was. I sat and I smiled as tears streamed quietly down my face. How many times have we tried to define, explain, experience, feel, and evoke love? It's been a central theme in one of my courses this semester, and I've spent the past few days completely wrapped up in the planning of my final project: a museum exhibit of cross-centered single and married life. And that's the key. Cross-centered. At the foot of the cross is where we find true, pure, unconditional love.

We didn't deserve that. What claim did we have to a perfect God in the flesh giving His life for our own? We've rejected Him, we've forgotten Him, we've disobeyed Him, but in all that, Jesus Christ hung on a cross for us. He gave all He was, is and will be to us.

That, I believe, is the very definition of love.

But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Romans 5:8

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Touched By A Child's Heart

I teach Sunday school for a small group of 5-7 year olds, who never cease to amaze me. God has blessed me so dearly through them; I'm overwhelmed. Sometimes as a teacher to such young (and hyper) students, I wonder if they're really 'getting it', and God has shown me time and time again that He is indeed revealing Himself to them.

Today, naturally, the focus was on Thanksgiving. I handed out tiny bags with 5 individual corn kernels in them. The kernels represent the meager meals the pilgrims had their first winter in America. The activity was pretty basic - name five things you're thankful for. Many of the answers were standard: delicious food, pets, friends, families, me, our class. All wonderful blessings indeed!

But one girl's answer was just so simple and pure; I just melted.

1. God always protects us.
2. God gives us everything we need.
3. God made a beautiful world for us.
4. God gave us Jesus.
5. God always loves us.
6. God makes sure we're safe.
7. God made all of us special.

She then pauses, and asks how many that was. I tell her it was more than five.
She says, "Um, Miss Kate, don't you think God loves us way more than five things?"
I told her, "Yes, McKenna. He does. In fact, He loves us so much that we could sit here for a very long time and still not be able to count them all"
She told me, "Well I'm going to keep thinking about it every day"
And I said, "That's a really great idea"

Count your blessings, no matter where you are. And thank the One who blessed you.

God, I thank You so much for every aspect and detail of my life. You are my Lord, Maker, Creator, Redeemer, Friend. Thank You for Jesus Christ on the cross, for it is through Him I have access to You. Thank You for His resurrection, for showing me You are bigger than anything I know, and always always always victorious. I thank You for Your love and faithfulness. Thank You. Amen.

Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is Yours. Yours, O LORD, is the kingdom; You are exalted as head over all. Wealth and honor come from You; You are the ruler of all things.In Your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give You thanks, and praise Your glorious name. 1 Chronicles 29:11-13

Friday, November 19, 2010

Is God Your Safety Net?

Wow I have a lot to say this week! This post is kind of a spinoff of yesterday's.

I am now halfway through Louie Giglio's 30 day worship challenge: Look through the Psalms each day and find a trait or name for God that resonates with you. Write it down, any thoughts, and then meditate on it throughout the day. I've been seeing who God really is through new eyes all over again.

With that, it really amazes me how many things there are in this world, and how easily they keep us from the One thing that truly matters. People come and go, "stuff" gets lost or becomes out of date, but God never ever leaves us! We always have Jesus Christ.

And I think that's where we can go wrong. We know Jesus will always be there, so we think we can keep Him as a safety net, something to fall back on. We say that we're going to do it our way, but if something goes wrong, God will get us through it. That's not living in surrender, in awe of the greatness of God. That's not grace. That's not taking that daily trip to the cross with our hearts held out to our Lord.

If we truly understand what Jesus did for us, we love and trust Him. We walk the tight rope 100ft in the air, blindfolded, and without a safety net. We give Him control of each and every step, because we know that we will fail without the Lord. And even though it can be absolutely terrifying and there will be people staring up at us telling us we're irrational, or completely insane, God is what controls us, and He will never let us fall. He may let us wobble, or ask us to jump. He may let us slip so that we're hanging on by just a few fingers' grip. But He will always be there. God wants the best for us, and He knows what He's doing. And in the end, we will make it across, because the Lord made us and wants to spend eternity rejoicing with us. If we have this awesome of a God watching and controlling our every single step, why would we ever demote Him to safety net status?

Father, my future is decided. I'm going to live not just with You, or for You, but completely in You. I am Yours, God, and I can't move without You. Amen.

Trust in the Lord with all your hearts, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meet Me At The Cross

When was the last time you took a trip to the cross of Jesus Christ? When did you last let yourself feel like it was the first time you realized what He's done for you?

I was starting off my morning today and before I even woke up all the way, I had "You Are The Lord" by Jeremy Camp playing not just in my head, but in my heart. "Let all Your people raise their voices, now as Your glory fills this place. Heaven and earth will not be silent, You are the Lord that is Your name"

The word Lord is so so beautiful to me. Master, our superior, but also our owner. God takes ownership of us. We are His responsibility. And He did that through Jesus. Jesus was His Beloved Son, and through His blood, we are adopted into the family of God. In John 15, Jesus says that we are not slaves, but friends. We are friends of the one and only Redeemer and Savior.

That is awesome, epic, fantastic, wonderful, mysterious, beautiful, unwavering, glorious, matchless, and every other word that, put together, would mean unfathomable. And what do we do with that?

Before we make a single move each day, I think we all need to take our hearts in our hands and kneel before the throne. I think we need to let ourselves get emotional about what God's love really is. Because on the cross, Jesus hung in personified love. If we lose sight of what the cross is and means, how do we ever expect to share that with anyone else? If we're not moved by its power, there is no chance of us seeing more lives transformed by the life of Christ our Lord.

Let's do this, my family of God. Let's come together at the cross every single day of our lives.

My Lord, You are so amazing. Your love is more than I deserve, but I smile in that recognition. Let me come to the foot of the cross daily, the place You died and poured out all of Your love for me. Let me be completely overwhelmed by that unconditional sacrificial outpouring of affection. And let my experience be used to further Your Kingdom and Your glory forever and ever. You are my Savior and best friend, and I give You my heart, soul, and life. In the precious name of Jesus Christ Amen .

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

In love, He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will— to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Ephesians 1:5-10

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

To Prince

Those of you who know me well know that I am extremely passionate about complete purity of mind, body, heart, and spirit. I am 100% committed to giving my entire heart and body to my husband. So for now, that means focusing all of my energy towards getting to know and love Jesus instead of looking to guys for relationships. I am so fulfilled in Christ that I usually don't even feel like I'm missing anything; at times a calling to singleness (for the season or even a lifetime) even feels preferable.

But, in the last few weeks, a lot of my friends and acquaintances have begun relationships or moved to the next level, and these are the days when I really wonder about my own future. I am so grounded in the fact that God has a plan for my life, and I truly believe that He will use me for His plan.

But I am human, and a girl one at that, and sometimes I let my mind wander. I think about how nice it would be to go for a walk with a male someone, or have deep conversation; in these times I turn to this article. I remember how truly amazing it is that God, the Lord over all things, wants to walk by my side. He wants to hold my hand and listen to me. He wants to tell me about what He has in store for me, but also for all of His people. He longs to spend time with me. In Christ, God initiated the most intimate and loving relationship with me that I could ever hope to have.

I had really been struggling with being comforted by the Lord, so this morning I dedicated my prayer time to talking it out. He led me to a verse that I am very familiar with, but needed to take note of once again.

Delight yourself in the Lord and He will fulfill the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
God first, everything else a far second.

This post is called To Prince, because I write letters to my future husband, something I've been doing for around six months now. I call him Prince because Jesus is the original- He is my Prince of Peace, and my standard for absolutely everything. I tell him my hopes and dreams and prayers for us, for him. I share what I'm learning from God, how we'll grow together, and most of all, how much I love him. Because I have been captivated by Christ, I feel like I've already fallen for this man I've never met.

This is a song for him

Love you!

We loved because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Faithful Running

I just ran at NCAA D3 Midwest Cross Country Regionals (sounds official, right?) I didn't win, or place, or even pr. Actually not only did I come in dead last, but I also ran 2 minutes slower than my last race. It shouldn't feel this good. But I have never experienced such pure joy after finishing a race.

The whole time I was running, I was smiling. I heard my teammates cheering me on. And I repeated this, "Breathe and relax. Then smile because this moment is the only one you have for sure. When Jesus came for you, He dealt with all of your sin and darkness. All the frustration, all the jealousy, the shame, the pride, and the bitterness in your heart. He took care of that with those six hours spent on a cross. Christ didn't die for you to have a bad attitude. He died so you could be free" And then I'd smile a little bigger.

I reflected on what I did two years ago almost to the day: I qualified for my fourth YMCA National gymnastics championship. But God had another plan for me. He showed me over the next month how gymnastics had become an idol in my heart. I would skip church for meets, and youth group for practice. I spent more time making goals for each practice and listening to my floor music than I did in His Word and singing songs to Him. I felt Him asking me to quit, if I trusted Him. It was so very hard, but I was obedient.

I gave up the sport I'd lived and loved for 13 years and God gave me a new one - cross country - and I was really really bad at it. I hated running. People, including myself, thought I'd really jumped off the deep end. I was essentially stepping off that medal podium and becoming the lowest of the low.

And as I ran those 3.75 miles today, in a field of 250 amazing runners, many of whom have been running years and years just for the chance to race in that meet, I just thanked God for who He is - good, and ever faithful. I trusted Him when He told me to quit gymnastics, and I cried about it, but I did it. He pushed me into running, and when He wouldn't let me quit, I stopped fighting it. God has taught me so much through distance running, it's incredible! As I submitted my utmost for His highest, He drew me in nearer.

When I walked up to the start line, I was jumping up and down to, "I will sing it when the sun is shining/I will scream it in the dark: You are faithful! " (Yes, I did look somewhat foolish, but I made my anxious teammates laugh so it was all good)

And when I finished, still, I was singing, "You are faithful, You are faithful"

Read this out loud: God, Lord of the Universe, Creator or all things, is faithful to us- a pile of sinners with nothing left to bring, and not just faithful, but faithful to death on a cross. God is faithful. And He is so powerful and strong that He can use some of our weakest, most humbling moments to show us how true that really is.

God knew that I would learn this through quitting my strength, gymnastics, and embracing my weakness, running. He knew this was one way He could get me to trust Him. He made me do something I could not do so that I would see what He can do. I gave up what I held dear and grabbed on to something far less glamourous. But through His Spirit, it was made beautiful and precious and dear. God is so awesome!

Because of the Lord's faithful love, we do not perish; His mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness! Lamentations 3:22-23

Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Joys of Life

I think sometimes it's very easy to be focused on God when we're going through something. When we're hurt, angry, trying to remember that we're forgiven, when we're wrestling with questions of faith, when we have to make a hard decision, when we're feeling overwhelmed, when we're dealing with some sort of personal issue or doubt. Those aren't fun times, by any means, but they do draw us closer to God, and that's, in part, why they exist. They may not be inherently 'good' things, but our God is pretty awesome, and has a habit of turning bad things into good. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28.

I was meeting with a mentor today, and he asked what I had going on. Now this is coming off a weekend where several of my close friends realized things they were working through, and after a few weeks where Christian Fellowship was discussing things that we're struggling with right now. I realized that I'm really not hurting right now. That could all change tomorrow, but I can't remember the last time I wasn't dealing with an issue of some kind. I feel really good about who I am in Christ right now, and what I'm doing for the Kingdom of God. I expressed that it feels weird to be surrounded by people going through something, and to truly be happy and filled with joy. He reminded me of the importance to enjoy this season of life. I can read good books and write poetry and play the guitar and go for walks. I can take a nap! (I had my first one of the semester on Tuesday). And I can be there for other people. I think that's really important. I'm not going to be clouded with my own personal drama, which will allow me to be a better listener. And someday, I'll be the one who needs support. Life comes and goes, but no matter what, it happens.

I think what God is teaching me through this stress free bliss is how to enjoy these seasons of joy. I don't have to question it, or try to find some sort of problem. I can just be happy. I can reflect on all the good the Lord has done in my life. I've spent even more time dedicated to praying for other people. I'm allowed to just be, and be happy in it.

Father, I'm really happy, and I thank You so very much for this time of my life. I will sing praise to You, and live all for You and for Your glory. Thank You for showing me how to enjoy the life You've given me for what it is. All through Jesus Christ my Savior I pray, Amen.

Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. Psalm 150

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Girl America

So I pray. A lot. For a lot of different people, places, situations. Every morning I get up early for what I call "Sunrise With The Savior", though it starts long before the sun is rising. I spend around 2 hours in prayer and with the Bible, just talking and listening to God. I think sometimes we get caught up in praying for generalities, which is ok; I'm not saying it's bad to pray for all the people who are lonely and need to be loved, for all the lost people in the world, for all sick, all the hungry, but sometimes I think we need to focus a little more.

I've been a fan of Mat Kearney for some time now, and I was listening to his song "Girl America" the other day and it really struck a chord with me.

"And I see each tear and every scar
The hands that have held you where you are
And I can see we've strayed so far
A king born under that morning star
As a crown of thorns was placed to erase
Each tear that's touched your face
And his palms and sides were pierced with spears
He hung in love just to draw you near"

I bet you know one of these girls looking for someone to love her, perhaps not knowing she's looking for Christ. Pray for her. She needs to know that someone cares about her, and she needs to know that she is worth something, worth the life of a sinless Son of Man, actually. And through his wounds, we have perfect peace.

Lord, I thank You for Your creativity in making all of us wonderful girls. We're all different and special, but You also created us with a space in our hearts that only You can fill. Let us not look elsewhere for a filler, and let us not be drawn away from Your arms. We can't thank You enough for all You do for us. In Jesus' Name Amen.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Eve Was The First But She Wasn't The Last

Hey everyone! I just got back from InterVarsity Cross Training 2010, and I thought I'd share a few thoughts.

I attending the Witnessing Communities track, and it was all about guessed it...we can get groups of people together as witnesses for Christ. At first, I was sort of disappointed, because I really didn't learn new things, and I'd already been thinking/talking through a lot of applications with our chapter already. But then the Lord really revealed to me the value of the interactions with my table group, all from MSOE, as well as the reuniting with a friend I hadn't seen since graduating high school. It's amazing what God has done in both of our lives. I also wanted to say that this weekend, girl times and chapter times were absolutely amazing, and I wouldn't trade any of it(you) for the world.

Last night, there was a two hour worship session, and from the start, I felt uncomfortable in that room of hundreds of ecstatic Christians adoring their Savior. It was really weird, because usually I'm really excited about being able to worship in large groups like that. Part way through, I really felt God speaking to me. My heart started completely shattering for the millions of people in this world who never get excited about something like this, because they don't know Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior. During that time, I was hurting so, so badly, and tears were streaming down my face uncontrollably. It reminded me of a song I've prayed so many times, "Hosanna". There's a line that says, "Break my heart for what breaks Yours", but in French, it translates to, "I want to cry with You". The Lord was answering my prayers, and allowing me to cry by His side for the same things that break His heart. Everything from the weekend really fell into place, as I became convicted in the need to leave my comfort zone, go where God calls me, and bless everyone I meet.

This morning I was strongly reminded of our second track session, when we'd gone through the Bible looking for the command for witnessing communities. We'd literally gone through from Genesis to Revelation, and had talked about how Eve had caused her seeds a lot pain, but also God's promise that it would be one of her seeds that would restore the nations. We have this opportunity, to leave behind a seed of faith in every person on our campuses, and in our lives.

God, thank You so much for not giving up on us, and for hearing our cries for help. Thank You for standing by our side when we continue to try to walk away, for never letting go. Let me be a blessing to those I meet, Lord, and let I proclaim boldly the news of redemption in Jesus Christ. I thank You that my small and imperfect seed can have an impact and purpose in the mission of Your perfect kingdom. Forever I will live to worship You. Amen.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20

Thursday, November 4, 2010

By My Spirit

Hopefully this post will explain is based on my experiences at the Midwest Conference Cross Country Championships on October 30th. I wrote this piece and have to decided to publish it for you here.

Do you know Zechariah 4:6? If you had asked me to say it anytime before I awoke on race day, I wouldn’t have known where to start. But as I prepared to run in one of my final races for the season the same way I’d start any day, with prayer and the Word, I was drawn to this particular verse: Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit.

This was only my twelfth race ever. My season had been so mediocre and I was getting frustrated. Two awful meets in a row, and a dreadful last tune up workout had left my confidence shattered into pieces. I took comfort in the fact that God doesn’t care if I’m a fast runner; He loves me for who I am, but I wanted to do well as an act of worship for the body He gave me. I prayed continually for strength, for perseverance. Only that’s not what I needed. I needed to let go and let God. I’d put in all the work, I had the desire, I just had to lay down my pride and surrender my race to the Lord.

At the line, I had the perfect combination of peace and excitement, equal parts thought and recklessness. I started the race with this prayer, “Father, let today be for Your glory. I am giving these next 3.74 miles to You, Lord, to do with what You will. Forgetting what is behind, and reaching forward to what is ahead I pursue as my goal the eternal prize in the heavenly call of Christ Jesus my Lord” The gun went off with suddenly and the digital beep of over a hundred watches echoed the golf course. Here we go.

I got going, and felt overwhelmed. This course was a tease – since one loop was done twice, but not twice in a row, we passed the sign for the 3rd mile just a few hundred meters into the race. Torture. I felt tired so early in, and when I hit a hill, I started to doubt. But I looked at my left hand, where I’d written, “By My Spirit”, and knew that God had me. I pressed on to the first mile, where I was surprised to hear I was far under any time I’d ever been. There was a girl from another team who was running just a little ahead of me. I wanted to pass her; I knew that I would, it was just a matter of when.

The second mile is so hard in the 6k. I felt like I couldn’t. But then the Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for You, for My power is perfected in weakness’. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10. How awesome it is to have the Word of the Lord written on my heart! And, by the cheers of the men’s team, I passed that girl, not long before mile two ended, and never looked back. Mile three took me to no man’s land. I couldn’t see anyone ahead of me, and the crowds were all gathered to watch the conference champion. But I sang to myself from Times, by Tenth Avenue North, “The times you doubt Me, when you can’t feel, the times that you’ve questioned ‘is this for real?...The times you’re broken, the times that you mend, the times you hate Me and the times that you bend…The times you’re hurting…In times of confusion and chaos and pain…My love I will keep you by my power alone”.

The power of the Almighty God and Creator of the universe, made perfect in my utter weakness and surrender. I kept working so hard, fighting for every step. Our assistant coach, my pole vault coach, Karl, sat at the 5k marker, waiting. I knew why he was watching so closely. I had the potential to hit a 5k pr, and milestone – in the middle of my 6k nonetheless! Sure enough, with a 32 second pr, 7 seconds under that elusive time…and a thousand meters to go. I wanted to stop right there. Honestly. My strength was gone, but as I worked it up that hill once more, again, “Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit”. God had this in the bag. A teammate enthusiastically yelled, “keep fighting!” I prayed, “I can’t do this Lord, but You can. Not by my strength or my might, but by Your Spirit alone”

When I didn’t know how much further I could go, I managed to utter a “how far?” Karl responded, “less than 500. You’ve got this – runway!” Runway, as in pole vault runway, was my key word. It made me run fast, my legs striding out, and a slight forward lean. He’d actually brought the pole all the way to the meet, just for me. I started the acceleration; this was a huge pr. It got faster as I approached the finish shute, ending with a kick to be remembered, greeted by my head coach “aw yeah!”

That girl who paced me, the one I passed – I shook her hand, and she was so sweet. I met up with a girl from my high school at another school and exchanged hugs and laughs.

And then I was surrounded by teammates – laughing, hugging, talking, exclaiming, playing. As much I love the guys’ team, it’s the ladies I have the biggest heart for. We all worked so hard, together. We’ve seen every bit of stress, all the anxiety, the nerves, the tears, the pain, the sickness, but have been able to share in the laughs, the fun, the jokes, the dancing, the love.

And as we drove away, I thought about the race.
For all the stress that is cross country – the practices, the races – I felt like I should have been happier. I was pretty happy, but not excited. It was more relief. But I looked all around me, and I was so proud of every single girl. We had pr’s ranging from 14 seconds to 244 seconds, with my own being 208 seconds.

And I realized I never wanted that pr. If it had truly been the desire of the heart, I would have been incredibly stoked about it. No, the longing of my heart is to be found and fulfilled by Christ. “Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit” As I reached that conclusion, I was completely flooded with pure joy and unreasonable happiness; I had been filled with the Spirit of my Lord.

So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by strength, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty. Zechariah 4:6

He will guard the feet of his faithful servants, but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness. It is not by strength that one prevails. 1 Samuel 2:9