Wake up. Spend time with Jesus. Eat Breakfast. Pack bag. Drive to Troy. Dance. Go to class. Eat lunch. Do homework. Drive. Teach dance. Dance some more. Drive. Dance. Dance. Dance. Eat dinner. Drive more. Go to sleep. Do it again. This is how my daily grind goes. On the surface, it is full of a whole lot of busyness, to-do lists, yes, dancing, and flat out responsibilities. However, when my day is presented in a series of commands on a white background, the naked eye cannot possibly see how my days are also full of so much life.
At Troy University, we have a wonderful ballet teacher named Dominique Angel, and she often talks about the difference between mimicking her movement and actually feeling the movement for ourselves. “It’s finding the work,” she says. Mimicry is an important part of our brain development. When we were just toddlers, we watched our parents and learned how to walk like them, talk like them, and eat like them. I remember when I was younger, I watched my older step sisters’ every move because I wanted to be just like her. I ate what she ate, I picked up her sayings, and I copied her style of clothing. Eventually, we grow out of that kind of excessive mimicry; however, sometimes I catch myself playing copycat in my dance life, social life, church life, and really just everyday life.
The danger of mimicking is lack of experience and authenticity. I can go to class every single day, bend my knees in that plie, stretch some at the barre, and get all of the combinations technically right. However, after a couple weeks of taking a dance class like that, I will see that I have improved little to none. Going to ballet is a routine. It is repetitive, yes. This is a good thing, but again just like mimicry, there is danger in repetition. I can go to class and pass the test, but what did I learn? I can go to dance and match the movement, but how have my muscles grown stronger? I can smile throughout the day and mimic the life of a christian, but where is my heart at?
These are the kinds of questions that wake me up and take me out of the list of commands I started this blog post with. A dancer must always come to class ready: to live in it, breathe in it, and thrive in it. She must be full out 100% of the time, always thinking about what her body is doing. She must always be strong in her core, and never get tired of the basics. I decided that if a dancer needed to come to class mentally prepared like that, then so did the christian entering the day. I decided that if going through the motions was unacceptable in dance class, then it is also unacceptable to go through the motions in my everyday life.
When I started taking dance class a little bit differently, I messed up a whole lot more. I put myself in the front of class so that my brain could constantly be working for itself and to keep it from relying on some other dancer to mimic. In those moments of complete awareness, I notice a difference in how my body feels. I’m not following along, I am leading my own steps as if I choreographed the combination myself. But because I’m not use to this new way of thinking, I often thought so hard about the correct muscles to use I fell behind or just flat out forgot the combination. But that type of failure trained my brain to pay closer attention to the instructor next time for the steps. I tried. I failed. I learned. I improved. That is growth.
Yes, the fear of failure cannot hold you back in this way of thinking because the hard truth (especially for me) is that we will fail time and again; though, I find I learn so much more when I am not just mimicking those around me, but I am experiencing life with them.
When I first wake up in the morning, the thought of copying the tasks on a to-do list is so overwhelming, but choosing to be present in every single moment actually slows my day down; it keeps me from burn out and becoming lukewarm. It is easy for the busy christian to deal with life in the same way the tired, burnt out dancer does. (Believe me, I have been both.) We wake up, pray, read the word, go to church, sing some songs, and leave feeling “good.” It’s routine. Repetition is good, but again there is danger in going through the motions. Just like the dancer who just wants to make it look right, the Christian is being robbed of actually LIVING in that way of life.
A dancer is a dancer all the time just as the christian is a christian. A dancer is always changing, improving, and testing her limits by doing the repetitive things with LIFE. A christian should be doing the same. There is power in consistency with the right intentions. Having a routine because it’s what you’ve always done works only in some cases, and serving Jesus should not be one of those cases. I’m not saying over analyze your every move, but say if you read every morning because that’s the time you’ve always read, ask yourself, “Am I reading to check this off the list? Or am I hungry for God’s word?” All I’m saying is, don’t be a robot just because your everyday things have become a gigantic list. Going into a day of to-do’s might be less intimidating with a little bit of LIFE and enthusiasm in you!
So examine your heart. Examine your mind. Life will always be busy because in reality, we like it that way. The only time it gets rough is when we start taking it for granted and turn our brains off in the midst of routine. WAKE UP! Look at your calendar in the face with so much joy, but also just be present in the day you are given. Be HERE with your heart, soul, mind, and body. Never mark your life. ALWAYS be full out.
Thank you for reading every word! I hope this was helpful to you as this way of thinking has helped me. I love you guys.
Matthew 5:13 “You are salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its salty taste, it cannot be made salty again. It is good for nothing, except to be thrown out and walked on.”
I am so salty. I prefer it that way. It is such an easy flavor to keep. Have you ever bought one of those gigantic pretzels at Auntie Anne’s with the huge grains of salt on them? Sometimes the flavor is too strong for me, and I have to pick the grains off. But even when I do, it’s like the flavor is still there. You can’t get rid of it! That’s why I would rather be salt of the earth. I read my word in the morning and get a little sprinkle of flavor there. On certain days of the week, I go to a church service and find some more salt there. It is easy to be salt behind closed doors, which is kind of counterproductive based on what the word tells us (hint: salt OF THE EARTH); however, I still feel so much more comfortable with the thought of just me and Jesus.
I think it’s good to be more active in my relationship with Jesus in private; our relationship should be very personal. Though, Jesus called us to be light just as much as He called us to be salt, and still both require exposure.
I remember a time in my life when I actually believed wholeheartedly that God always wanted me to remain in the background. I said, “God, I’ll keep setting up Crossroads Church before service. I’ll clean the toilets if you want me to. I’ll give to churches anonymously. No one needs to know about our relationship or the good things I am doing.” That thought stemmed from the fear of being prideful and selfish, but how prideful and selfish is that to keep the gifts the Lord had blessed me with all to myself and to believe that those good works were done all by myself?
Maybe that’s you. Maybe you are really good at being consistent when no one is looking, and actually would rather no one look. I’m not knocking that because it is important to keep the intentions of our hearts pure when we act, but we were also called to be a light not for ourselves, but for Him. That’s where I was gettings things wrong. We are not called to be a light for ourselves, but for Him and others.
Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in Heaven.”
Jesus Himself said that we needed to live so people will see the good things we do and praise the Father. I always had a hard time accepting this because I also know God looks at our heart. I was afraid of people thinking the intentions of my actions and the good works were about myself. And I actually was afraid of becoming someone who is too proud of who they are, but God’s word says that it’s actually okay to be that because it’s not really us we are proud of, it’s Him.
I’m currently reading 2 Corinthians, and it is the hardest book I think I’ve ever read. Paul keeps confusing the mess out of me. However, it is the perfect book for this season of my life because I’m learning all about what it means exactly to be a light.
2 Corinthians 5:11-12 says, “God knows what we really are, and I hope that in your hearts you know, too. We are not trying to prove ourselves to you again, but we are telling you about ourselves so you will be proud of us. Then you will have an answer for those who are proud about things that can be seen rather than what is in the heart.”
Ummmm, Paul that’s kind of selfish, why would you tell someone something with the intention of making them proud? That was the first thought that popped into my head because again, I run in fear at the word pride. I do not like it. But pride holds a different meaning when you use it in the correct way.
Paul makes it clear that he wants the Corinthians to have a better understanding of the different ways to use pride. There are those who are prideful in actions- what can be seen. That all along is what I have been afraid of. However, Paul still exposed who He was in Christ with the intentions of only showing his intentions. He basically says to be proud of what is in the heart. And why that is such a humbling statement is because being proud of what is in the heart is still pointing back to the One who has made your heart pure.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:12, “In everything we have done in the world, and especially with you, we have had an honest and sincere heart from God. We did this by God’s grace, not by the kind of wisdom the world has.”
So being a light cannot possibly stem from our actions, it stems from the intentions of our hearts that are made pure through God’s grace giving Him greater glory.
2 Corinthians 4:6 says, “God once said, ‘Let the light shine out of the darkness!’ This is the same God who made his light shine in our hearts by letting us know the glory of God that is in the face of Christ.”
So in a way, because His light is already shining in the hearts of those who know Him, we cannot help but to shine His light. So maybe all along, His light has been shining in my heart for others to see, and I didn’t even know it until recently. I pray everyday that He would be seen, and not me.
I often think about Luke 9:23, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”
However, the way I took that was deny, deny, deny. Deny any and everything about yourself that is not good. Deny everything about yourself that is good. Deny what you want. Deny who you are. Deny.
I remember not admitting my anxiety because I thought it was wrong to fear. I remember staying silent about past situations that were still hurting my heart. And I remember denying even things that I did that were good. There was a specific time where a very important leader in my life told me, “You are consistent in coming to prayer.” That’s all that was said. And my immediate response was, “Oh I more so read today. I haven’t really been in my word, so it was nice to read.” SHELBY! I knew good and well that I was in my word constantly and I definitely read AND did a lot of praying that morning. I denied because it made me feel like I was doing something right even though there were things in my life that were wrong. It was a compliment to me, and I felt it was undeserved.
God doesn’t want us to live in denial. Yes, we have to deny things that keep us from Him, but pretending bad things or good things aren’t going on in your heart is not how He wants us to live. Being a light means showing the struggles that are in our heart, but it also means letting people see His goodness. His strength is made perfect in our weakness. Christians SHOULD stand out from the rest of the world, and for a long time I did not like that at all. But now in this new season in my life, He is teaching me that being a light doesn’t even really have anything to do with me. HE has given me the desires and intentions of my heart, and HE should be praised for it. In that way, more people will come to know Christ.
I hope you have learned something about being a light and the good way to be proud. I’m still learning myself. It is okay to be proud of who you are in Christ, AND it is okay to have people in your life that are proud of you for it. In no way shape or form does God want us to live a life of self depreciation. To belittle ourselves, is to belittle the work God has done in us. So don’t be afraid to let His love shine!
Matthew says, “You are the light that gives light to the world. A city that is built on a hill cannot be hidden. And people don’t hide a light under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand so the light shines for all the people in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and will praise your Father in Heaven.”
The passion within our youth has taken us to places of accomplishment, fulfillment, and overall life. Because of that passion, I continued dancing through the sore limbs, the bruised knees, and the feelings of inadequacy for ten years and counting. I have also grown into the daughter of God I am today, and say it proudly so all because of the burning desire to know more of Jesus. Though, despite all of the good that passion has brought me in my short 18 years of living, it has also put me in some big trouble. Most of the time, passions stem from desires, and in many situations, I have desired to be right more so than I have desired to share the love of Christ. I have let emotions steer my words, and in turn, hurt some people’s feelings- usually people that I love very much. Most of the arguments I have been in seem like they can be justified, but in all reality, “our fight has never been against the people on this earth” (Ephesians 6:12).
It is true that we are called to be warriors every single day; however, that doesn’t mean we walk around with the spirit of offense, ready to defend against anyone who might try to attack us, hurt us, or make fun of us. Our fight is not against people; it’s not even against people who don’t know Jesus. Brothers and sisters, our fight is “against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavenly world” (Ephesians 6:12). It is against the insecurities that make us feel like we need to defend ourselves. It is against our pride that tells us we have to be right. It is against the doubts we may have about who God says He is. It is against the true enemy whose only job is to keep us from spreading the love of Christ. Instead of walking around with the spirit of offense to defend which does absolutely no good for you or the Kingdom of Heaven, trade it for the armor of God: the belt of truth, the protection of right living, the Good News of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of God’s salvation, and the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14-17).
The armor of God can redirect an entire argument or even keep one from happening. Realizing that our fight is not about ourselves is absolutely liberating. Instead of directing all that energy to prove our point to someone who doesn’t have the same eyes as we do, we can use our minds to come up with understanding, compassionate, and loving words. Some arguments are sensible, but others stem from the root of pain because “hurt people hurt people hurt people” as my pastor always says. This world is dark and cold, so try as much as you can to let Jesus shine through- people very much need it.
So yes, the armor of God is much needed in disagreements or even when someone says something that hurts your feelings, but it is also so much more than that. It brings us closer to our heavenly Father, and gives us a better understanding of His love for us. Paul talks about each of the pieces of armor and what it protects, and I found it so interesting how those two things parallel:
The truth behind our fight is that it has already been won. It’s just that the enemy wants us to believe we have a chance to lose. However, the Word says that NOTHING can separate us from Jesus’ love. Take off the spirit of offense, pride, shame, guilt- those things are not from God- instead, “put on God’s full armor. Then on the day of evil you will be able to stand strong. And when you have finished the fight, you will still be standing” (Ephesians 6:13). I love you guys, and I pray for every single person who reads this that whatever Satan has made you believe about yourself or others is revealed as a lie. I pray that you would instead be filled with the truth of the Gospel, and that you would use your passionate youth for the Kingdom of Heaven- that you would always wear the armor of God.
I am a perfectionist. I am the person in the group project who voluntarily rejects the idea of equal distribution of responsibility. I would be the director, actress, editor, set designer, screenwriter, and costume designer for fear someone else isn’t taking their work as seriously as I am. I am the person you see in the hallways juggling six different loads of unnecessary junk while kindly refusing your offer to carry some of the weight. I am the person who has a hard time admitting I am struggling or that I failed like Peter who denied Jesus for the third time when he once said he never would. I am a perfectionist which, ironically, distances me from being perfect.
There came a day when I just couldn’t handle the pressure of looking perfect anymore. I couldn’t keep prepping a dirty house to make it look clean every time I invited Jesus over for dinner. I couldn’t keep sewing a beautifully patterned piece of fabric over the rips and holes of my worn out sweaters; I was running out of fabric. I couldn’t keep pouring new wine into my old wineskins; my wineskins kept bursting. I knew deep down I could truly never be perfect, but the idea of fault scared me so I would continue to tidy up, walk proudly, and do what I was told. The day came, however, that reality hit me in the face: perfection was never in my reach because it hadn’t hit my heart. This day came when I already knew Jesus, just not well enough.
I was currently in the midst of running a one man show. We had to create a music video in theatre as our final exam grade. It would pull a lot of weight in our final average grade whether that being towards our favor or away from it. It was five days before the due date, and my group still had filming to do. Naturally, I was stressed out-REALLY stressed out... to the point of tears, 2 am wake up calls from my brain, and frustration towards people who didn’t even have anything to do with this project. But I wouldn’t admit it. I was worried and Jesus told us not to be, so there was still a smile on my face as far as the public was concerned.
We were supposed to film that Saturday (the video was due Wednesday), but a very much needed actress in the group project texted me that morning and said she could not film. She had a 102 degree fever and her parents wouldn’t allow her to meet with us even if she did want to suck it up and shoot for the video. I almost couldn’t handle this news. I know. It’s just a high school group project that wouldn’t mean anything in 5 years, but I am a perfectionist when it comes to my work. I needed this video to be good.
I told her something along the lines of this: “We are still filming today whether you are there or not. We will film tomorrow also. I will try to make it look like you were there when I edit the video. I truly do understand. I’m just stressed out. Feel better.”
It was far from showing the compassion of Christ especially to someone who couldn’t help getting a 102 degree fever on the day we needed her most, but like I said, I was stressed out. I am also an overthinker. The thought of failing my theatre final haunted me. Although, the idea of not getting into college all because of an F on a theatre final sounds absurd, I had the idea, so I cried. I cried and cried and cried thinking about sending my final transcript to the college of my choice with a big fat F next to Advanced Theatre III of all things.
As I usually do when I am overwhelmed, I turned to God. I decided to stop a minute and just read His word. I know He always blesses the time we choose to spend with Him, and I sure needed some blessings. I prayed the same prayer I do every time before reading, “Father allow me to just focus on you. Make me more like you. Let these messages reach my heart and change my life.” But before I said amen, I said, “Tell me what I need to hear.” Amen.
I was, at the time, reading Matthew right around the part where Jesus gives his famous sermon on the mount. I had read this before, so I thought I knew what to expect. Soon enough there would be a whole passage telling me to not worry. “You do not add anymore days to your life by worrying.” However, that is in chapter 6 and I was still on chapter 5.
I began to see words, but not really read them. I began to hear, but not really listen to what God had to say. My mind was elsewhere on the horrific thought of an unfinished project. Then the words appeared on the page. They were words I had let slide past me every time I read them. They were the words I prayed for when I asked God to tell me what I needed to hear. Matthew 5:48 says, “You must be perfect, just as your father in heaven is perfect.”
If I would’ve had any sort of beverage in my mouth at that time, I would for sure spit it out across the room in disbelief of what God’s word said.
What had always comforted me about my relationship with God was knowing that I didn’t have to be perfect for Him because His Son already was and is and is to come. But now there are these words that seem as though they contradict other parts of the Bible. God knows we would never be perfect so why would He have His Son, Jesus, give us a command that cannot be obeyed?
The verse is written after a how-to Jesus gives on love. It says to love our neighbors and our enemies. It said to bless and pray for and give to and love those who hurt us, curse us, and hate us. He said we must do this because there is nothing special about someone who only loves those who love him. This was nothing new to me, and I guess that’s why I skimmed it over so quickly. However, when the perfect verse slapped me in the face and I was forced to rewind, something jumped out at me. “So that you may be sons of your Father in Heaven,” Jesus said in Matthew 5:45. (Read that verse slowly again so you don’t miss it)
Becoming God’s child sets us apart from the rest of the world. However, what makes God’s children actually different from the rest of the world?
When I read Matthew 5:45, it made me feel like I had a name to uphold. God is my Father, I am His daughter, and there is much worth in that. It made me feel different, like royalty. And God’s standards for royalty are much different from the world’s. God said to love those who hurt you, to make yourself the least of these, to give yourself to others, and to offer grace freely. That is what a child of God looks like which is much different than the way the world looks. But it is still not what makes God’s children different from the rest of the world.
What makes God’s children different from the rest of the world is Jesus. Jesus makes us who we are.
“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins,” from 1 John 4:10.
When Christ comes into your heart, He shows you a love you have never known before. It’s different because what He did so long ago for you was done while you were still sinning. It brings your heart this overwhelming sense of joy. It cracks open and Jesus shines His light, His perfect light, and makes you also 100% perfect, without fault. That is why His command to “be perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect” is not at all impossible to obey. The command doesn’t come from a place of our own ability, but it points back to the One who did it all for us: Jesus. So I was right, we do not have to be perfect because Jesus was and is and is to come, but the Good News is not just that Jesus is perfect, but that He makes us perfect too.
We were made perfect by His love, and in that sense we should love perfectly. The image of a child of God I mentioned earlier who loves those who hurt them, makes themselves the least of these, gives themselves to others, and offers grace freely is Jesus Himself, and we were made in His image. This does not mean that we do not sin, we are only human. It just means that we are made perfect and perfectly only by the grace of our Father, not by anything that we do.
This gives me so much hope. I, the perfectionist, had wasted so much time on perfecting the wrong things. I had an image I had to keep cleaning up and updating forgetting about the perfect image Jesus has been trying to give me for so long. My image was something seen with the eye, but His image could change me from the inside out. My image was a few new patches sewn on an old raggedy sweater, but His was a brand new winter coat that kept me warm all the while.
I still have a hard time letting the idea of perfection go in areas that don’t really matter and that especially hinder other areas worth perfecting. I remember being so worried about the perfection of our music video, I pushed Jesus’ perfect love right out the cracks of my heart when I heard about the girls 102 degree fever. But the most beautiful thing about Jesus is His love for us even when we are wrong. That is why He lead me to that convicting verse. He loved me enough to not leave me where I was but to take me to exactly where He always will be.
“In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment; for in this world we are just like Him,” from 1 John 4:17.
Trust Jesus’ perfect love and allow it to change you from the inside out. Listen to His voice. Sometimes it is merely a whisper. Love others even if they hurt you because it is done. Forgive freely because it is done. Have peace because it is done. Do not worry because it is done. Give because it is done. There is no “to-do” to be perfect, only it is done, and from that we can be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect. He loves you sooooo much. Let that be your will to do the impossible and be perfect.
I’m literally the WORST at compliments especially if it has anything to do with God. I’ve been told I’m anointed, heavenly minded, Godly, and have a great connection with the Lord. It’s great encouragement coming from others, but I know God looks at the heart. And when I look at my heart, I feel like replying to those people who are saying good things about me with, “You’re lying. You don’t even know what’s going on in my head.”
I want to deny, deny, deny, EVEN THOUGH everything I’ve been told by people, I have already been told by God through His word. We were all told the same thing: we were made in His perfect image, that we have a Christ-like mind, and we are without fault in His eyes because of His son. So why is it that we can still feel so ashamed to raise our hands during a church service because we made a mistake that day? Why is it we feel unqualified to walk through those church doors?
We feel the need to hide from God when satan comes our way making us feel inferior. Adam and Eve did it when they ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 3:8). Moses did it in Exodus when he killed an Egyptian for beating his own people. It says in Exodus 3:14, “Moses was AFRAID and thought, ‘Now everyone knows what I did.’”
Have you ever done something you’re not supposed to do or said something you shouldn’t have said, walked into a room full of complete strangers, and felt like EVERYONE knew what you did? Yeah. Moses that’s a bit dramatic. Not EVERYONE will know what you did. But he was still so scared! He ran away from his home and lived in the Midian land.
I have run away before in my mind, too. I wouldn’t come to God for anything. I tried to do life on my own. But God has remained the same since the beginning of time.
Do you know what God did after Adam and Eve sinned and hid from Him? It says this in Genesis 3:9, “But the Lord God CALLED to the man and said, ‘WHERE ARE YOU?’”
WHERE ARE YOU?
That’s what God asks me when I get lost from running so far. He calls out, “Where are you?” It’s not as if He doesn’t know where I am, but He knows that those words cause me to look around and realize that I don’t know. I have NO CLUE where I am. Then I come back and remember why everyone always says, “It’s not about you.”
I’ve been told that the more you focus on yourself, the more you find things that need fixing, and it’s so very true. If at any point in time I have felt not good enough to raise my hands in the air because I love God is because I wasn’t focusing on Him. I was focusing on myself.
I just said that I would raise my hands in the air BECAUSE I LOVE GOD. I'm not raising my hands because I gave more than 10% that morning. It’s not because I read my bible every day that week. It is because I love God, but sometimes I just forget why I CAN raise my hands.
In previous posts, I’ve talked a lot about Exodus, and this one is no different. (Please read it. It’s good!) I came across this verse, Exodus 10:9, where Moses is telling the king who will go to worship the Lord, “We will go with our young and old people, our sons and daughters, and our flocks and herds, BECAUSE we are going to have a feast TO HONOR THE LORD.”
I thought about how it doesn’t say “the ones who have the most faith” or “the ones who resist sin the most.” It says the young, the old, the sons, and the daughters which I think pretty much covers everyone. EVERYONE. I also thought about how it doesn’t say “because we’re perfect” or “because we sacrificed the most for God.” It says, “because we are going to have a feast to honor the Lord.”
So in other words: EVERYONE IS GOING TO WORSHIP BECAUSE OF THEIR LOVE FOR GOD.
God chose the Israelites to be saved and by God no matter what they did, who they were, or where they came from, if they were an Israelite, He was getting them out of slavery.
Today we are all chosen by God through the blood of Jesus Christ. God no longer sees our sins we’ve committed, but He sees His perfect Son written on our hearts. And NO MATTER what we’ve done, the minute we walk through those church doors on a Sunday morning, whether it’s our first time or our 100th time, He sees us all with the same eyes of love. It says this in Galatians 3:28, “Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman.”
Worship Him for the first time or for the 100th time. Worship Him when you have good days and worship Him when you mess up. Worship Him because He loves you so much and you love Him. And THE MINUTE satan creeps in your mind making you believe you are not good enough to worship God, you tell him that’s the point!
The Word is that God is an “all or nothing” kind of guy. (;
(Did you catch the pun? I couldn’t help myself.)
It’s no secret that God wants our whole hearts. I always hear that hard truth on one of those Sunday mornings where it feels like someone told the pastor my life story. He would keep making eye contact with me, and then I end up questioning why in the world I sit so close to the front.
Pastor’s know everything.
So why is it that everytime I hear that message or read about it in the bible, I cry my eyes out, say a little prayer, and ask God to take everything that I am still holding on to out of my reach? It’s because letting go of things is hard. Like REAL hard. I have to do it daily because if not I end up holding on to so much crud in my heart I have no room for the other stuff God is trying to give me. There are no such things as half white flags or gray surrenders.
I kind of always secretly wondered why God wanted ALL of us. I thought, “God, don’t you think that’s asking for kind of A LOT? I mean I got plans dude.” However, I’m reading Exodus right now, and I found some clarity.
So far in this story, God tells Moses to go tell the king to let His people go or else. Moses tells the king, the king doesn’t listen, God punishes them, the King apologizes and says he’ll let them go, the punishment stops, and then the king goes back on his promise. It’s cray cray.
After God punished Egypt with a hailstorm, the king FINALLY says (with some convincing), “Go and worship the Lord your God. But tell me who just is going?” Moses says that everyone is going-- the young, the old, the men and women, and the farm animals-- EVERYONE. In Exodus 10:11, the King says this, “No! Only the men may go and worship the Lord, which is what you have been asking for.” But God did not settle for just the men.
God wanted ALL the Israelites to go to worship Him in the desert-- not just the men. The king was willing to let the men go, however, he was still holding on to the women, children, and livestock. As long as he held on to those people and animals, the men could not go to worship God either.
God cannot fully bless even the things you are willing to let go of if you still have things you are desperately clinging on to.
For example, in my heart I find insecurities, hurt, unforgiveness, and pride. Multiple times I have let go of the insecurities and the pride and the unforgiveness, but I can’t seem to let go of that hurt that still lingers around in my heart. So on the days the hurt surfaces, unforgiveness wells up inside for the ones that hurt me. Then insecurities pour out and instantly I begin to believe every lie and insult I was given. Shame builds up another wall and pride rages making me believe I should’ve done better. I’m too good for mistakes. Have you ever believed you were too good for mistakes? I have. I’ve beaten myself UP for making a tiny mistake. Silly right?
So for me, if I don’t let go of everything, I can not live the life that God called all of us to live: free. It’s just like the king. Until he has let the men AND the women AND the children AND the livestock have a feast in the desert to worship the Lord, he will continue to be punished; even the people he is willing to let go cannot experience that worship ceremony because he is still holding on to a few others.
I’m still learning how to let go of EVERYTHING all at once. I want to experience God’s blessings in all its glory. I’m not saying God can’t bless you even when you are clinging on to some things. Believe me, I’m gripping hard yet I have been blessed abundantly. However, God can’t bless all areas of your life until all areas have been surrendered. And when you let go of the things you weren’t willing to let go of before, you will see even greater blessings in the things that have been waiting patiently for you to raise the white flag.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone that doesn't really feel like a conversation because they just keep yakking on and on and on? Or have you ever walked into school or work excited to talk to a friend of yours, but when you see them, they rush right past you in a hurry and apologize that they have no time to talk? It kind of sucks. We all have something to say. Sometimes we have too much to say and too much to do that our world becomes exactly that: ours, spinning on an axis of approaching deadlines and heavy responsibilities. And if we miss just one of those bullet points on our checklist for the day, our world will spin off into a complete opposite direction of where we wanted to go.
We miss the fact that this world isn't ours and that we should be thankful that it is not. Plans secure us for some reason, but when something doesn't go as planned, we feel we are floating in the middle of space with not even gravity telling us where to go. What we don't realize is that the control was never ours to begin with.
We jam pack our schedules, speak so there's no room for someone else to speak, and rush through life with our own little ideas. Our strategies are not new. They are stolen from a King in Egypt long ago.
In Exodus, Moses was appointed by God to free his people from slavery in Egypt. Well when Moses asked the Pharaoh to allow his people to go to the desert to worship God, this was the King's response, “Make these people work harder and keep them busy; then they will not have time to listen to the lies of Moses.”
Silence is scary. It leaves room for correction, instruction, and direction from others and from God. Having time can be scary, too. The King of Egypt knew that if the people had time to even consider what Moses was saying, the king would lose all his workers and his power.
So we're no different. We fill our lives with plans that don't matter, prayers that are asked half heartedly, and a calendar that makes us too busy for God. I have said before that I am too busy to read my bible, which I am exactly right. I am TOO busy. Way busier than God ever intended me to be.
I've learned to stop and enjoy silence. To be okay with God's voice in my life. To let go of some things. Moses did, and look where he went. He split a whole ocean, but he could only do it by the voice of God.
Prayer is a conversation, and listening in prayer is a form of sacrifice. Opening your ears instead of your mouth is a way of telling God, "Your ways, thoughts, and words are higher than mine." God loves the vulnerability that silence brings us. It pushes us farther into His love and grace. So put down the phone, say no every now and then to the world, and be willing to hear everything God has to say.