This week I’ve really been praying for God to reveal His plans to me for certain areas of my life. I know I have been living obedient to Him and walking in the things He’s called me to. While I don’t know every step of where He’s taking me, I’ve felt fairly certain of the outcome. Recently though, God has been moving us in ways I wasn’t expecting. Don’t you hate that? When you’re feeling so good about where you are and happy about the things you’re certain you’ll accomplish for Christ and then He shakes it all up? I shouldn’t be surprised. Life with Christ has always been an adventure for me, with Him taking me through life in ways I never expected to go. But still, when it happens, I get a little anxious and want to question the change in direction.
As I was praying about this today, God brought me to 1 Chronicles 28. It’s a surprising twist in the story of King David (although I feel like there are many unexpected turns to his story!). If you’ll remember, David was a shepherd boy who was good at music when his story started taking unexpected God-sized turns. After some seriously crazy circumstances, David became King. As King, he made plans to build a temple that would house the ark of the covenant. Surely carrying out this plan was something God had put into place when He chose to make David king those many years prior. Here’s what we read in 1 Chron. 28:
“King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my fellow Israelites, my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the Lord, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’”
Ok, let’s pause here for a second. Do you think that when God told him this, he was at least a little bit surprised? I would have been! He had been making detailed plans and plotting out this temple for a long time. In fact verse 12 of this passage tells us that the holy spirit had put in his mind detailed plans for the courts, the temple, the buildings, the store rooms, the upper and inner rooms and the treasuries. He also gave him instructions for the various servants in the temple and what each of their roles should entail. Furthermore He even designated the weight of gold & silver for all the things that were to be used in service for the temple. If it were me, I would certainly be thinking “why in the world would God give me these extremely specific instructions if He didn’t intend for me to carry them out?” I’m certain I would have questioned it and maybe have even been a little upset with God. But isn’t that the enemy’s way? He wants us to question the things we hear from God; he’s been doing it since the day he asked Eve “did God really say?” I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of allowing this question to penetrate my thoughts.
So, if it wasn’t King David’s role to build out this detailed temple, what was he supposed to do? Let’s pick up in verse 4:
“Yet the Lord, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the tribe of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel. Of all my sons—and the Lord has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the Lord over Israel. He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father. I will establish his kingdom forever if he is unswerving in carrying out my commands and laws, as is being done at this time.’”
I have no way of knowing whether or not King David questioned God’s decision, wrestled with rather or not to obey, or even if he felt disappointment. But I love that he took this moment in the passage to acknowledge the incredible thing God had done – made him King of Israel. That in and of itself was an incredible miracle and a powerful calling regardless of the current command that he was not to carry out the plans he had so carefully laid in place at God’s instruction.
What if he had not listened to God and decided he had put in too much work at this point to give the project to someone else? It was a holy spirit inspired project after all, certainly God would have been pleased even if he did choose to build it? Thankfully we don’t know what would have happened if he had been disobedient to this unexpected change of plans by God. But we do know what happened because he obeyed. In 1 Chron. 29:27 we read that David ruled over Israel for 80 years having enjoyed a long life, wealth and honor. And in 1 Chon. 29:25 we read “The Lord highly exalted Solomon in the sight of all Israel and bestowed on him royal splendor such as no king over Israel ever had before.”
It certainly is tough when God chooses to throw plot-twists into our lives, and especially surprising when we’re currently walking in obedience to him. But throughout His word and in my own life up to this point, I have seen and experienced the faithfulness and overwhelming blessings that come with listening, trusting, and obeying every direction of the Lord, even when it seems like He must have something wrong. I am reminded in these passages of scripture that God saw and sees a future so far beyond us that we should never hesitate to trust that He is unfolding a path that will not only bless us, but will effect generations to come.
1 Chron. 28:8 “So now I charge you in the sight of all Israel and of the assembly of the Lord, and in the hearing of our God: Be careful to follow all the commands of the Lord your God, that you may possess this good land and pass it on as an inheritance to your descendants forever.”
My husband and I haven’t lived what most people would deem an “ordinary” life. We’ve lived in many different cities, in many different countries. We’ve held a myriad of jobs, which had a myriad of schedules. We’ve chosen not to have kids, and we love to volunteer. This life we’ve chosen would seem scary and chaotic to many people we know, and that’s ok. I praise God every day that He gave me a husband as adventurous and as un-ordinary as me. We love our life.
I have been asked on more than one occasion how I can be comfortable selling everything we have and moving to a place we’ve never been; or how I can be ok with jumping into a new job I have no experience in, or how I can take big risks without knowing the outcome.
The answer is, it’s because I know my Creator well. I believe the verses that say “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” (Psalm 139:8-10)
There is no where I can go that I won’t be able to hear His voice. There is nothing I can do that will be unreachable to Him. There is no plan, no path, no course that will supersede the ones He has put in place. His hand will always hold me fast.
I’ve had those verses in the Psalms underlined in my Bible for several years now, but as I prayed this morning about what to share, trolling through my Bible for the words God would have me write, these verses jumped out at me again. They are an important reminder to me at this time, but I sense that there are probably others of you reading this who need to be reminded that His hand will hold you fast. Whether you’re in a “scary” place in your life or you’re needing to take a step into something unknown, His promise to you is the same.
I think about Jonah sitting in the belly of that big fish for three days. Cold, alone, and in total darkness, but even there he knew that he was still reachable by God…and he was. God was holding him fast even in that impossible place. Daniel in a deep lion pit, Esther in the court of a king, Deborah on a battlefield, Moses in a desert – all held fast by the hand of the Lord.
I’m guessing you don’t find yourself sitting in the belly of a fish or the pit of a lion, or the court of a king; but it may feel like it, or it may feel as if you’re walking into one of those. But hear me today as I share God’s promise with you: EVEN if you are His hand will guide you, and His hand will hold you fast. You have nothing to fear beloved child of the King. You are not alone and you NEVER will be.
In general I would say I’m a lover, not a fighter. However, if you challenge me on something I’m passionate about I will no doubt battle my heart out!
I’m currently studying the Armor of God with an awesome group of women at my church. We are daily diving in to Priscilla Shirer’s deep insight surrounding Ephesians 6:10-19. God has been speaking to me in a myriad of ways on this topic, so I thought I’d share a couple things that have really stood out to me.
As I’m sure many of you did, I learned about putting on the armor of God as a kid in Sunday school. The belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shoes of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit were all prominently displayed in plastic on whichever child had raised their hand first. We were told that we must “put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” (vs 11). I was cool with that. I had salvation, I knew the Holy Spirit lived in me, so I just had to be truthful, live right, make peace and not neglect my faith. Seemed like being a Christian meant wearing the armor; I couldn’t really separate the two. It also seemed like a lot to live up to.
One of my favorite things about deep Bible study is learning the background or history of scripture. So much of the New Testament is Jesus fulfilling the prophecies and lessons of the Old Testament. But if you haven’t taken the time to research, you wouldn’t know. Priscilla points out that Paul calls Christians to put on this armor because God himself did. Isaiah 59:16-17 records God putting on these very pieces of armor to battle for His people who had fallen to the evil one. Suddenly, I understood this armor in a different light. It’s not just an arbitrary armor of God, it is THE armor OF God! Do you see the difference?
Imagine yourself as a young person during the middle ages, countries always at war for new territories. Surely you would hear stories about battle heroes and perhaps you would dream of someday being like that hero yourself. When the time came for you to go to battle, you would be given armor that would hopefully protect you in the same way it protected that hero. But imagine if that hero came to you and gave you HIS armor. The armor that had seen many battle fields, stood the test of time and won many victories. That armor would be something special! And that is exactly what God has done for us. He’s not calling us just to put on any old armor, He is handing us HIS armor, the very armor He wore into battle for us over and over before Christ came to earth. What a glorious honor! And how overwhelming is His love for us that He doesn’t want us to battle with anything less than His victory-proven armor! It changes my view from something I “need” to do as a good Christian to something I am honored and humbled to do as His daughter. Wearing HIS armor I am ever protected, ever at peace, and can so clearly see truth. These are things I want in my life, not things I feel burdened to have to put on.
Verse 13 says “Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” If I had been writing this verse, I would have written, ‘take up the full armor of God so you can go out there and show them who’s boss!’ But he doesn’t say that. He says “stand firm.” Here you are all gussied up in this incredible victorious armor but all He wants you to do it stand?? That’s right. Because all those pieces of armor you put on are protecting you from every enemy that comes at you. You just need to stand firm in the confidence that that armor will protect you! You stand confidently and you pray (vs 18). You will get battle weary if you’re flailing around, swinging at anything that looks like it may hurt you; and without God’s armor, that’s exactly what you’ll feel like you need to do. But your Father loves you too much for that.
So, tomorrow morning, kneel before your Father in Heaven and allow Him to do you the great honor of bestowing His armor to you, then get up and put it on! You are wearing your Father’s armor now, you can stand in peace.
Eph 6:10 – “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of HIS might.”
During my time in college I had the privilege of interning for the first woman Mayor of San Diego. I worked in the PR department and we were in charge of putting together press releases that reflected the voice, character and heart of the Mayor. So, to prepare for this role, I spent hours reading articles about her, learning about her positions on the issues facing our city at the time, and studying her character in the leadership decisions she had made up to that point. Part of my job was putting together talking points for her interviews so it was crucial that my “voice” reflected hers.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to reflect God. What it takes to ensure that my thoughts, my character, and my stance on issues are reflective of God’s voice.
2 Corinthians 3:18 says “So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.”
The only way we are transformed is through God’s spirit. Thankfully those of us who have given our lives to Christ we have his spirit living inside us. But it’s not enough that He’s just there. We have to speak to him, read about him, learn where he stands on the “issues” and study the character of his leadership if we are to accurately reflect His voice.
Spending time studying the Word of God, gives us a good understanding of his character. Don’t just read the same stories over and over, dig into the scriptures, be curious and seek for answers. The more time you spend digging into the word, the more you understand who God is. The book of Luke is a treasure trove of lessons on God’s character as Jesus reflected them here on earth. Watch how He interacted with people and what He taught them. There is a lot we can learn about reflecting God’s character through scripture.
Secondly, we need to hear God’s voice in our own lives. That means we must spend time in prayer; time with the one whose voice we are seeking. Proverbs 2:1-5 says “My daughter, if you receive my words and treasure up my commandments with you, making your ear attentive to wisdom and inclining your heart to understanding; yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” I don’t know about you, but I definitely want to find the knowledge of God! His knowledge will give me the wisdom I need to reflect him in my decisions.
And lastly, once we’ve heard His voice, we must take action when He calls us to. The more we obey, the easier it becomes to act with confidence, knowing that our actions are reflective of God. The beautiful part is, every time we obey, our faith increases, making it easier to obey the next time around.
If we want to reflect the character, the heart, and the voice of God, we have to spend time digging into the Word, talking and listening to Him through prayer, and acting on the things He calls us to.
1 Corinthians 15:49–“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”
Let’s not just be people who TELL others we know God, let’s REFLECT him in all areas of our lives!
Wow friends! What a couple weeks it’s been! I have really been struggling. Grief (from the loss of our fur baby) hit me way harder than I ever could’ve expected. On top of that, I’ve faced personal deep hurts, setbacks and frustrations that I never expected this month and it has affected every area of my life.
Thankfully, God in His great mercy never gives us more than we can bear (although it certainly feels that way sometimes), and so in the midst of myself, in the midst of my hurt and sorrow, God stepped in. He always seems to step in in the least expected way.
This week I’ve been in Las Vegas attending the annual conference for my health and wellness business. I almost didn’t go. With all that has been going on, and the sadness in my soul, staying home seemed much more safe and easy. But thankfully I have an incredible husband who pushed and encouraged me to go. Once I made the decision to go, I began laying out in my head who I wanted to see, what I wanted to accomplish and what my overall agenda was for the long weekend.
The first day was rough for me. While I was enjoying my time, negative thoughts and comments were popping into my mind unexpectedly and the weight of the sadness and hurt I was carrying internally was distracting me from focusing on anything but myself.
When I returned to my hotel room that night, God in his merciful grace spoke to me and said “Dezerai, this conference is not about you. Stop looking at your own agenda, stop looking at how others will fit into your plan and start serving! You are here to serve. Go down there tomorrow and serve those girls on your team. Look for where I’m working and be an encourager.”
Whoa!!! Mindset shift!!!
The grief and hurt that I was carrying into this weekend was NOT what God had planned for me. When I chose to set those things aside and focus on serving, my time became rich! My time became joyful and purposeful! I focused on speaking words of life, on being open and sincere, and on being an encourager. Do you know what the outcome was? In return I felt life, people were open with me, and I felt encouraged!!!
What an incredible God to remind me of the example He portrayed so well! A life focused on service supersedes our struggles & our expectations, and brings our focus into alignment with what our Heavenly Father sees, and where He wants His spirit to be poured out through us!
Mark 10:45 says “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Throughout his ministry on earth, Jesus focused on serving people, encouraging them, and teaching them. He is the perfect example of how we need to set our focus.
I want to encourage you this week (especially if you’re struggling) to lift up your head and look for ways to serve those around you. Who can you encourage? Who can you speak a kind word to? Ask God to open your eyes to see where is He at work and partner with Him in that work. Then allow your spirit to experience the joy that comes from serving others in this way. YOU are faith, hope, and love.
I have some pretty strong opinions. Opinions on everything from political policy to the best place for a burrito. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone believes their opinion to be the right one. It can be easy to become lost in a world of opinions. Faced with controversy, doubt, divisiveness and mistrust on a daily basis, where do we turn? Who do we trust? What is truth and where should we stand?
In the world today there are “truths” being thrown around with great vigor. I’m not just talking about “truths” spewed by those who don’t know Christ, but more importantly the things being shared from believers. Within our own faith community opinions about where we should stand politically & socially abound. We have divided ourselves often times in very painful ways.
It’s time to shift our focus. It’s time to take our eyes off each other and turn them heavenward.
The reality is, it doesn’t matter what I think or what you think on any given issue; the only thing that matters is what the Bible says. What does God’s word say? What does Jesus say? - this is the only truth that matters. We desperately need wisdom in these days!
The Bible warns of us about seeking wisdom outside of Christ. In Colossians 2:2-3 it says “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
James paints a beautiful picture for us on what it means to have Godly wisdom in James 3:17 “But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.”
WOW. What would it look like if we began viewing and approaching the issues of our time in this manner? Godly wisdom replaces hatred with peace-loving, it replaces aggressiveness with submissiveness, condemnation with mercy, and partiality with impartiality. How much could we change the tide of our neighborhoods, our cities, our countries, if we approached issues with this type of Godly wisdom!? We all think we’re the wisest when it comes to where we stand on an issue, but if where we stand is not the Word of God, we are standing in the wrong place.
We have to start turning to the Word of God for answers! We cannot seek them anywhere else. The only way that we as Christians survive & battle in this world is by knowing the word of God; by knowing it inside and out. His word is truth, it is sharper than any two-edged sword, it splits the smallest fibers of truth and lies!!
To know the Word is to know the Father & to know the Father is to know truth.
Let’s get wise. Let’s be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks (1 Peter 3:15). The only way this happens is by knowing the Word of God. Every answer we seek can found there. And every answer we give can come from there.
Let’s be people who can say “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” (1 Cor. 2:7)
Proverbs 4:7 says “The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom. Though it cost all you have, get understanding.” Though it cost you ALL you have – that is a pretty big statement, wisdom, the wisdom that comes from God is literally more valuable than anything else you can attain.
Prov 17:27-28 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
The Lord desires for us to operate out of deep wisdom and understanding; we must make it a priority.
I know it’s the week after Easter, but I want to talk about Mary. I want to talk about Mary because I believe she is pivotal to how the Easter story came to be; and a beautiful example of the work God does through women.
From Eve to Deborah to Esther, to Mary to Anna to Mary Magdalene to Lydia, God weaves an essential history-altering thread through his daughters. His story & purpose is not fulfilled without women.
God could have easily just dropped the Lord on earth without ever having or needing a mother, but there was something about a mother, something about Mary in particular that God viewed as essential for the growth of his Son. Surely it wasn’t just a loving, caring mother. We can assume that God would have chosen a woman who knew the scriptures as if they were tattooed on her heart. This would have been essential as she would have been the one to impart these scriptures of the Old Testament which he referred to again and again in his ministry on earth. She would be the one who taught him to pray. It’s safe to say that God decided that a woman, a mother, was essential to bringing Jesus into the knowledge he would need to fulfill his purpose on earth.
And did you know, Mary was the one who launched his public ministry? In John 2:1-11 we read that Mary is helping to host a wedding (most Bible scholars believe it would have been for a relative) so she is deeply concerned when they run out of wine. She decides to ask Jesus to fix the problem. This is his first recorded miracle in the Bible and as far as we know, he hadn’t been performing miracles prior to this point, he may have done so at home (we don’t know) but never in public; so why would Mary take this issue to Jesus? Here’s what I think is so fascinating about the people of the Bible – especially those connected to Jesus – while He was clearly the Son of God, he was still Mary’s son, and she was still just his mother. If you have children, or grandchildren, or niece & nephews, or have ever been around children in any capacity, then you know that God has given us something as women that no one else has – we call it intuition. We don’t know how we know when children are not where they’re supposed to be, or doing something they shouldn’t, we just know – it’s our God given intuition.
So back to Mary, why did she decide to bring Jesus into this issue rather than sending some of her other sons to go purchase more wine? Prior to this story taking place Jesus has just been baptized by John and has been building his disciple team. I believe Mary was seeing these things unfolding. She knew who He was, and saw His ultimate role beginning to be played out. So perhaps God whispered to Mary’s heart – “it’s time, it’s time for my son to begin revealing himself to the nations.” And Mary instantly, intuitively knew that she needed to call on her son to provide a miracle.
You would think that the son of God would know when the time was right to perform his first miracle, but Mary wasn’t afraid to speak out in faith of what she knew needed to be done. If it was me, and I knew Jesus was the son God – even as his earthly mother, I’d probably be a bit intimidated to tell him it was time for him to perform a miracle. The more I read about her, the more I begin to think that the image we paint of Mary as a gentle, serene, quiet figure, is all wrong. I think she was chosen because she was a bit of a rebel. In each of her stories, we see her being bold, counter-cultural and most importantly unafraid to act on the things God tells her, regardless of the risk.
His miracle of turning the water into wine launched Him into His ministry here on earth. As He continued His ministry, Mary traveled with Him, supporting Him & His mission. She was essential and pivotal to His story from the day of His birth to the day He died on the cross and the day He rose again.
I am by NO means taking away from the sacrifice that Jesus chose to make. And I am by no means suggesting that the sons of God play an unimportant role. But I AM adamant in the daughters of God understanding that their role is essential. I am adamant that you understand that you are deeply loved!
As I spend time in prayer specifically for the women of God, I picture in my mind our father wrapping his arms around each of you & gripping you tight as he whispers
“Daughter you are loved.”
“Daughter you are loved.”
“Daughter you are loved!”
This Easter month, live loved! Live significant! Live in purpose! You are an essential part of the tapestry He is weaving, a critical thread in the history of His story.
How do you start a day that you know is going to be one of the hardest in your life? I wondered this to myself as I lay in bed earlier this week. I knew what was coming and I so desperately wished I could close my eyes and turn back time.
2 weeks ago, our sweet 10 year old dog (who happens to be our only child) was diagnosed with metastasized cancer in his chest and lungs. As the cancer cells took over his lungs, it became harder and harder for him to breathe. We loved him too much to let him suffer and so we made the heart wrenching decision to say goodbye. The night before we were scheduled to take him in, I tossed and turned all night as I listened to his little lungs work hard for air. I knew I was doing the right thing, but that didn’t make it hurt any less. I was heartbroken and I was scared. In my desire for both me and my furbaby to get some rest for the day that lay ahead, I whispered a simple prayer. “God, please bring peace.” Within seconds of that prayer, our faithful father spoke to my spirit “My peace I give you.” This beautiful promise from the book of John comforted my soul, and I was able to get a couple hours sleep.
So that morning, as I lay in bed dreading the day to come, I made a decision that it would be a day of peace. I whispered God’s promise to myself - “My peace I give you,” quietly got out of bed, shut off my phone, and with my loving husband by my side I began to get ready for the day. We took our baby to his favorite park for a slow short stroll. When we first adopted him, our morning walks at this park had seen me practically jogging to keep up with him, but in his condition, our walk was a slow one-foot-in-front-of-the-other stroll. It was peaceful and empty at the park, so we enjoyed every step. Each time I felt sadness and anxiety creep into my soul, I whispered to myself, “My peace I give you.” When we returned home, I put on worship music, straightened up the living room and did the last of the dishes. A clean and organized space feels peaceful to me. I sat down to read comforting scriptures in my Bible and God brought me to Psalm 36:5-6. It says “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.” AND ANIMALS! What a good God to remind me that he loves and cares for ALL of His creation, both human and non. When Cash was first diagnosed I remember God clearly telling me that I needed to trust Him with Cash as much as I trust Him with all the other people I love. Somewhere in the back of my mind I wasn’t certain that God cared that much about dogs; but he took the time to ask me to trust Him with my furbaby and in that, I knew He cared. The rest of the afternoon was spent loving on our boy and quietly shedding tears over what was to come. But in spite of the sadness and heartache I felt, I had a peace that passes all understanding. It was a deep, unexplainable, atmospheric peace.
When we said goodbye to him that afternoon, it was a joyful peaceful passing. After we said goodbye, my husband I took a drive through the beautiful rainy Napa Valley and stopped for hot tea & coffee as we shared favorite memories of our fuzz butt. It was a day filled with peace.
My heart still aches for him every day, but I wanted to share this with you, because I want to remind you how faithful our God is. I want you to know that his promises are true.
I realize that few people reading this will be facing this exact situation right now, but I can guarantee that many of you are facing a tough situation in which you need peace, a peace that passes all understanding. And so, I want to share God’s promise with you - “My peace I give you.” He didn’t just promise it to me, but to all his sons and daughters.
When Jesus makes this statement in the book of John, He is speaking to his disciples whom He has just told He will be leaving. They are distraught, they are scared and they are sad. Jesus knows that there is no peace they will find on earth that will comfort the hurt of their heart and so he promises a peace that cannot be found anywhere expect through Him. It truly passes all understanding. This is such an incredible gift to us. A gift that I never knew I needed until this week. Matthew 7 says “He gives good gifts to His children,” and an unexplainable peace in the midst of heartache is certainly a good gift. I guess above all I want to remind you that you are not alone. There is NOTHING you have to face in this life alone, so stop doing it! We are all guilty of thinking that we can somehow overcome challenges, pain, fear, heartache, and sadness in our own strength; but we can’t. And more importantly we don’t have to! I am sharing my story with you because I want you to know that in the midst of whatever deep heartache you are experiencing you can have peace. I challenge you to ask for it, and watch our God fulfill his promise to you.
“Peace I leave you, my peace I give you.”
John 16:33 - “I have told you these things, so that in ME you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
When Billy Graham passed away a couple weeks ago, I noticed something different. I noticed that every single post, tweet, quotation shared, and leader who made a statement was REJOICING. I thought about the actors, actresses, and well-known individuals who had passed away over the last year; and in each of those deaths, there had been posts of mourning, tweets of sadness, and a focus on loss. And yet the passing of this man, who was known the world over, was met with joy and rejoicing! I felt it too, picturing the overwhelming fulfillment of being at his Father’s feet and hearing God say “well done my good and faithful servant;” and I wanted it. I want my last day on this earth to be celebrated by everyone I know because they are confident the Father is welcoming me as a good and faithful servant.
Two weekends ago, I had the honor of learning from one of my spiritual mentors, Christine Caine at her Day of Ministry for Women in Ministry. As I looked around the room of 500+ women all in pursuit of serving God with their whole souls, I got excited. WE are the change makers, WE are the ones God has called forth into the desert, WE are the pipeline for the next generation of women, and WE are unafraid to run hard towards it. I’ve felt a shift recently, a breakthrough in the daughters of God. He is calling us to rise up like never before, to fulfill our destiny as leaders, as peacemakers, as women full of grace and grit, as daughters of the almighty king. Proverbs 31:17 says “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks.”
In Deuteronomy 1, after 40 years of wandering in the desert, getting comfortable at the foot of the mountain and believing that they would never see God’s promises fulfilled, Moses reminds the people of God’s command to them…”You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance.” (vs 6) Perhaps you have stayed long enough at your mountain? A mountain of uncertainty, a mountain of fear, a mountain of feeling unworthy? You have stayed there long enough. Today is the day God is saying break camp and advance! Can you imagine what it would be like if every daughter of God who is sitting at the base of their mountain got up and advanced!? We would overtake the enemy with a force unlike he’s ever seen! Together we would move into the land of God’s promises.
This is my rallying cry - PURSUE HIM! Pursue him with your whole being! Let nothing hold you back! In pursuit of Him there is fulfillment, there is healing, there is joy, there is worth. “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute; defend the rights of the poor and needy.” (Prov. 31:8-9) “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16). “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!” (1 Chron. 16:11)
YOU ARE WORTHY.
You are worthy of every calling, every blessing, and every reward He has planned for you.
I stood at the mouth of the precipice suited up, my harness secure. Looking down into the mist of the cave below, I couldn’t see the bottom, all I could see was darkness. I had been excited on our drive out to the cave. We were going to repel down 330 feet into a cave in the middle of New Zealand known as “The Lost World.” I’m an adventurous girl, stuff like this usually doesn’t scare me; but as I stood peering over the ledge that day, I froze. Fear completely consumed my body and my legs began to shake. My mind spun with questions – “What is at the bottom of this cave?” “What if the brake fails and I can’t stop myself?” “What if my rope breaks?” “What if I start dropping too fast?” And most importantly, “what if I step out onto the launch platform and slip off? Will I drop to the bottom?” I stood there for a good 10 minutes, completely paralyzed, squeaking out the words “I don’t think I can do this” to my husband and our patient guide who sat on the narrow plank waiting to begin the repel. They tried coaxing and they trying reassuring, but their words bounced off the ever-growing cyclone of fear in my mind. I managed to ask our guide my most pressing question…”If I step out there and slip off, what will happen?” With that, he slid his body off the plank and immediately the rope locked into place and he hung mid-air while the rope easily held his weight. “The rope is designed with a fail-safe brake, you have to release it to descend down, if you are not releasing it, you can’t move,” he told me. That was all it took. I stepped onto that plank with confidence and began the gentle descent into what truly was an entire underground world. The beauty of this “other world” was breathtaking. The pitch-black cave ceiling was filled with glowworms, the “stars” of this underground universe. We traversed stalactites and stalagmites, mini streams and large deep pools. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Had I never been brave enough to step off that ledge, I would have missed it.
How often do we do this in our faith? We know we need to take a step into something God has asked us to, but we can’t see the bottom (the end). Sometimes it is so scary to us that we become paralyzed with fear. Even if we’ve prepared, and we know we’ve “suited” up through prayer and the Word, when it comes to the point of stepping off that ledge, we freeze. Sometimes our fear is so deep rooted that we spend months, even years afraid to take that step…and we are missing the stunning beauty and powerful experiences that lie on the other side of that step. Here are 3 reasons why I believe we become paralyzed with fear...
1. WE ARE TRYING TO DO IT IN OUR OWN STRENGTH
When it comes to taking steps of faith, I think we often make the mistake of thinking we have to rely on our own knowledge and skill sets to make it happen. God has certainly gifted us with skills that will be helpful in the things he calls us to, but it is literally impossible to complete any task God calls us to without His help. When Esther made the decision to ask the king to save her people (Esther 4), she could have easily decided to rely on her relationship with the King, her skills of persuasion and her knowledge of the palace; but she knew that without God, the likelihood of her being put to death was extremely high. So, with great wisdom she sought God’s favor and direction through prayer and fasting. She did not attempt to take on this great task in her own strength, but relied fully on the strength of the Lord, believing that WITH Him, nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37).
2. WE HAVEN'T BUILT OUR "TRUST/FAITH" MUSCLE
Trust in God isn’t something that happens overnight. We don’t wake up one morning and have the ability to trust Him 100%. I wish it were that easy, but it’s not; and God knows that about us. He knows that we need Him to show us that we can trust him. So trust begins small, just like building muscle. You have to start with a small weight and gradually increase the weight to continue building and growing that muscle. God is gracious to give us “small” things with which we must trust him and as we trust him he begins to grow our trust bigger and bigger until the huge things we must trust him with don’t seem that difficult to do. He will show himself faithful again and again as we step out in faith and trust, but we have to take that first small step to begin the process of building trust.
3. WE'RE LOOKING AT THE UNKNOWN, INSTEAD OF LOOKING INTO THE FACE OF GOD
Maybe you’ve taken the first step off the ledge and began your journey to the unknown, but somewhere in the process, you stopped paying attention to the task at hand. You stopped daily seeking out the face of God and his strength to continue walking you through and you began to look at the circumstances around you and that deep dark bottom again. I think of the story of Peter walking on the water in Matthew 14. Peter was a fisherman, so we can assume he knew the rivers, tides, storms, and waves well. When Jesus called Peter to step out of the boat and walk across the water to him, all was going well until he took his eyes off Jesus. As he began to look at the waves and the storm around him, he began to rely on his “knowledge” of the situation rather than staying focused on the One who had called him out of the boat, the one who He knew he could trust wholeheartedly. When we keep our mind and heart focused on the Father, it keeps us from being distracted by the “what ifs” and the circumstances around us.
Bravery isn’t something we must muster within ourselves, bravery is being confident that He who lives in us and walks beside us is greater than anything in this world. Just like I had to release that brake on my rope to begin my descent, we must release our grip on fear and the unknown and allow God to gently and slowly move us into unfathomable beauty. So be bold and be brave! You are not alone, you are preceded by the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Hi! I'm Dezerai, a woman passionate about living in my purpose, about creating a life on purpose and about challenging you to do the same. I speak, I write, and I hang out with my husky and my handsome husband in the beautiful Napa Valley.