an honest and brave offering

an honest and brave offering

What if we saw our needs as opportunities to trust, grow, and learn.  Have you ever tried to replace words like trial, frustration, difficulty, or fear with words like opportunity or invitation?  I do this with my kids a lot now, for instance, “this is an opportunity to grow in character and persistence as you love your brother who just put peanut butter in your hair” or “what a great invitation to serve Jesus by cleaning up a mess you didn’t make!” Ok, they are starting to roll their eyes, but I trust it will sink in one day…but not just in them, mostly ME too, if I’m honest with you! For example, “what an opportunity to trust God through this seemingly impossible task (of raising kids! ha!)”, or even, “I have an opportunity to invite someone else into my sin and hold me accountable”. All those are still scary, BUT opportunity and invitation encourage wonder, change, growth, and maybe a little excitement.  They draw me out of myself and into something grander.

Embracing a limitation, be it physical, emotional, time, or place, is an invitationto simply be where you are; a freedom to see more clearly what is in front of you – a time, space, and physical limitation that invitesme to abide more deeply. To be connected to a real place and time.  To stay in my lane.  To remain connected to the Vine right where I’m planted.  

In a fantastic podcast I am listening to, Emily Freeman asks the question, “what if your limits aren’t holding you back, but pointing you forward?”   If you’ve been around me awhile you might know that this resonates with me deeply – I may have been know to ask, what if your limits are actually gifts?

Do you know the story in John 6 – with the boy who had 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish that Jesus fed over 5,000 people with?  The boy who offered his lunch to Jesus?  He gives what he has, and gives generously.  Maybe he knew what Jesus would do – but that’s unlikely considering God always does far more than we could ask or imagine (Ephesians 3)!  

He just came with what he had. He came with what looked like a limited supply of food.

Not knowing if he was giving up his food for the day and would walk away hungry, or if he would walk away full.  

But here’s the thing: he was honest about what he had and at the same time he didn’t hold back.  He didn’t shrink from the service because the need was so great.  He took the need as an opportunity to trust, and trust isn’t a passive thing.  Trust is incredibly active.  

When we come with open hands, bringing what we have, even knowing it won’t be enough, something miraculous happens.  We know it’s never been enough, nor could it ever be. 

But Jesus.  

He invitesus to be a part of the miraculous.  The mundane bread and fish.  The ordinary PB&J.  The constant questions.  The fear of the future.  The sin we can’t forget.  The anxiety deep and hidden within.  The gifts, talents, and abilities we’ve forgotten we have.   

Why not ask?  Why not admit the need, the want, the hope, the desire, the dream, or the anxiety?  

Why not come to Him with an open hand, where you are, with what you have?  

Even in our needs, in our limitations, we have something.  What are your limits pointing you forward to?  Or maybe the better question – are they pointing you to Jesus? Allowing you to point others to Jesus?  

We have something to offer a watching world, our kids, our friends, our spouse, our church.  If we belong to Jesus, we’ve been placed in a specific place, at a specific time, with specific gifts and yes,even specific limits – for the glory of God.  

Let’s give it to God first and see what He does with it.  How will He multiply it?  If we’re bold enough to ask, honest about both our gifts, our weaknesses, and our needs, then we open up our awareness to the answer and the miracle He is doing right in our midst.   

We are invited to walk into an opportunity to be where we are, offer what we have, and actively trust and wait to see what God will do. 

Somehow, I imagine it will feed hungry people, it will break chains of sin, it will offer someone hope, it will meet a need, and it will transform us.  

Somehow, I imagine these opportunities will be beyond our wildest dreams.  

abiding – because Christ is IN you!

abiding – because Christ is IN you!

Can you really be satisfied in Christ? 

A friend recently asked me this question.  A friend who knows the Word, prays, memorizes scripture, is involved in discipleship groups, leads groups, and gives to others, without asking for anything in return.  She wonders about satisfaction in Jesus putting into words what many of us feel or have felt, saying, “So that is real? More than just reading the verses and enjoying the nice idea of it? I don’t by any means expect to live in a constant state of contentment or “spiritual high”, but should I at least be acquainted with a sense of spiritual satisfaction at this point?”  

What beautiful honesty for a question many of us are too scared to ask.  I mean, I wasn’t going to ask it.  But maybe asking it is part of the answer.   Maybe its an awareness that there’s something more, a creation longing that can’t be satisfied on earth, an awareness that things aren’t quite as they should be in our own idol-factory hearts.  

The basis for the question came from a recent sermon from my husband focused on our union with Christ – that the fullness of deity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, dwells within us. (Colossians 2)  We often forget our union and let our reality frame our union with Him instead of letting our union frame and shapeour reality. This led her to a discussion of satisfaction in Christ alone with her husband.  It’s a good conversation – a conversation, if we’re honest, we should all have aloud with someone we trust. 

I think for people who are as introspective as me, it’s easy to let “the barbarians roaming the streets of your mind” ( I love this phrase from the book, Think Again) condemn and even may be more prone to let Satan, the ultimate accuser, tell us we aren’t satisfied enough in Christ so we must not really have pure or real union with him.  This is a lie from the pit of hell used by our enemy to torment us.   I can almost hear the enemy’s filthy whisper of “you’re not satisfied enough.  It’s not good enough for this God who you claim to be your king and savior and friend. You. are. not. enough.”  When Satan can’t get us to sin loudly, he makes us quietly question the truths that have been proclaimed in the Bible, too scared to those questions to others who will remind of the truth.  He makes us question the perfect blood of Jesus that has covered us.   

What happens when you’re not believing the truth?  

The more inward focused I am, the more dissatisfied I am.  The more I lean into morbid introspection, the more hopeless I feel. The lies from the enemy get watered and begin to grow.  I forget that the Spirit of God is LIVING inside of me.  He is POWERFUL inside of me.  If I don’t fight for satisfaction in Christ, for knowing Him more, then I walk in weakness, from a place of my own supposed, yet empty, power – not from His. 

And yet –

He who SPOKE the world into being. He brings dead wombs, and people, and desires to life.  He finishes what He starts.  I am HIS.

When He gives me this desire to be more satisfied in Him alone and not in myself, I begin to see where I look for self-gratification more, so it appears I’m getting worse…but the truth is, I’m just becoming more aware of what’s been there.  And this awareness leads me to ask the question – is satisfaction in Christ real? If it is then why am I not? Is it more that a nice thought?  

So, I lean in. I lean in to the questions without feeling condemned.  The Spirit leads me to the truth; he convicts to bring healing.  The enemy accuses to bring hopelessness and death.  But I lean into the One who has the answers.  The One who holds me.(Isaiah 42:6 )  I lean into His mighty arms and ask Him to give me what He alone can give. I lean into telling my heart the truth and not listening to the wavering emotions of my heart.(Jer.17:9)  

For me, most often, a deep, inexplainable satisfaction in Jesus comes most when I see my overwhelming need for Him and am desperate.  It’s either in a season of suffering when my senses are heightened to His presence, and I’m clinging to His promises and Word more dearly; or, when I’m looking at the vastness of my sin and feeling the heavy weight of it and know without question that I have no ability to rescue myself, change myself, and even forgive myself, and I begin to understand the truth of His unrestrained mercy, love, grace, and power more clearly.  I know who He is most in those times because I am leaning into Him and His promises more.  It may be that I’m so easily led astray to being satisfied on my own that I need these more desperate measures.   Either way, I’ll choose to see it as a grace.  

If you want to dive more into this, here’s some questions that you could ask yourself and see how the Spirit leads you: 

1 – Are there any areas of unconfessed sin in my life I need to confess, repent of? (Psalm 139:23-24, James 5:16)

2 – Could this be a mountain prayer you could pray for 40 days? For example, “God, satisfy me in you alone”, or “Reframe my desires”, praying the same very simple prayer, without telling God how to answer it for 40-45 days (Matt. 17:20). (I’m going to write more extensively about this in a later post, but for now, know that praying for 40 straight days for a mountain in your life to be moved is transformative!) 

3 – Am I looking for Him and aware of His presence around me in the ordinary?   

Maybe these questions prick something in your spirit, but, also, maybe they are something you can be encouraged in.  Maybe Satan is accusing you and leading you to find less joy in Christ and you need to take your thoughts captive and put the enemy in his place, and put your thoughts and emotions in their rightful place.  Or maybe, the Spirit is convicting you and leading you into something deeper…maybe He’s leading you to ask the question to lead you to roots of unbelief or unconfessed sin so you can walk in more freedom.  

The truth is: you can walk in freedom, you can lean into the questions without fear of the answer, you can be satisfied in Christ and fully live out your union in Him day by day as He continues the work He’s begun in you.

After all, the fullness of the deity dwells bodily IN you; you a son of the King, you, a daughter of the King.  (Colossians 2)

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