I am sitting in New Hampshire about to speak at 1 of 5 women's conferences over the next 6-7 weeks. And, Sunday, we launch Essence Place. Pray for me. I am crazy. Others probably think I am crazy. But, God. Because I am deeply confident that this is where He has me even if it has thrown me worlds away from my little box of comfort. Even if I don't have a lot of confidence in myself to keep up - I have confidence in Him. I have learned to not put God in a box.
I keep having these moments where my breath catches, I close my eyes - giving a slight shake of my head, I realize the graciousness of God.
My salvation has been worked out in new and hard ways this last year or so.
Is it worth it? I have asked this question over and over again.
When my parents died many years ago, I went through something similar. The heartbreaking question of - is this for real? This faith, this belief of mine. And if it is, is it worth the yes that I keep saying over and over. At that time, God came in like the most gentle and tender surgeon. Removing and cutting away these parts inside that contributed to a lack of overall spiritual health. I was forced into a storm of loss that proved to be the redemption of my soul.
It changed me forever, those years of sorrow. The old cliche - what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger rang true as I said yes to God, and no to giving up. Here I am some years later, and the yes that He is asking for is not faith and trust in the midst of unexpected loss and tragedy. I was not forced into this season of yes.
I chose this. On my own accord, on my volition. He asked and I said yes. As much as I want to blame someone - my husband (no offense, Brad), friends, mentors, my faith...in reality I blame God and I blame myself. But I blamed God more.
You asked, and you knew my level of willingness to surrender. And you asked for the hard, the painful. You asked for the uncomfortable. You asked for sacrifice.
Yes, He did. And I said yes.
My obedience in this season has not always been trusted or faith-filled obedience. There has been resentment. I have wrestled and fought - surrendering over and over as I question over and over. Is.it.worth.it?
The gentleness and tenderness of this surgeon has given way to a gracious precision that is targeting new places - places that need to desperately be cut away. And as much as I want to jump out and scream in distrust - sign myself out and run. His eyes still shine with the same tender love. A love of like a father. A father who deeply desires the best for His child. A father who desires that His child be filled with a greater capacity for love. A wider capacity for caring and serving others.
In His love He disciplines.
There are places inside of me that are so selfish. Places that wreak of my stubborn desires to have things my way. Unsurrendered parts of my soul that still are driven to perform - a drive to measure up and gain approval of not just the world around me-but gain the approval of my Father. Even though He insists grace and unmerited favor.
Obedience is so much more than a yes. And faith and trust is much more than “doing” the right thing. Our obedience and purpose lived out is most fruitful when it flows from a grace-filled willing heart. A willingness to lean into what God is doing through your life as His child, I believe, represents true obedience.
It’s all part of the journey, though. 2017 was a year of wrestling. Pushing, pulling, and finally settling. I had to. It was necessary for my journey. The pain, the wrestling, and even the anger are all parts of my story in this season that under the redemptive hand of my God are just beautiful.
I am not ashamed. I don’t have regrets. Through all of the mess, through all of my frustrations, doubts, and questions - I am sitting a little closer to my Father. Confidence rises up within me as I experience for another time, His compassion and grace. His willingness to go with me to that broken place.
I am walking out of that season of wrestling now, leaning into what God is doing. I am fully engaged in heart-willing obedience assured that He is with me. And I am reminded again - this why we allow ourselves to be vulnerable before God. This is why we open our heart to Him even when we might fear He will turn away. This is why reach into the pain, and we deal with it. Because waiting on the other side is redemption, and it’s another level of living and following wholehearted after my faithful God.
Is it worth it? Yes. Emphatically yes.
Ps. Don't judge my mismatched socks.