Deep calls to deep – The God of your pain!

This week was rough.

It all started last Sunday, when the sermon at church opened up a wound in my heart. As I fought to hold back the tears, the hurt in my heart lead to the tears spilling down my cheeks. In my embarrassment, I timidly wiped the tears off my face, trying not to draw attention to myself. A friend put her arm around me as I fought with everything in me to control the emotion spilling over my heart in the form of tears.

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I Will Be Their God!

I will be their God

 

Christian, here is all you require. To make you happy you want something that shall satisfy you; and is not this enough? If you can pour this promise into you cup, will you not say, with David, “My cup overflows.” (Psalm 23:5) When this is fulfilled, I am your God, are you not possessor of all things? Desire is insatiable as death, but He who fills all in all can fill it. The capacity of our wishes who can measure? But the immeasurable wealth of God can more than overflow it. I ask you if you are not complete when God is yours? Do you want anything but God? Is not His all-sufficiency enough to satisfy you if all else should fail? But you want more than quiet satisfaction; you desire rapturous delight. Come, soul, here is music fit for heaven in this you portion, for God is the Maker of Heaven. Not all the music blown from sweet instruments, or drawn from living strings, can yield such melody as this sweet promise, “I will be their God.” Here is a deep sea of bliss, a shoreless ocean of delight; come, bathe your spirit in it; swim an age, and you shall find no shore; dive throughout eternity, and you shall find no bottom. “I will be their God.” If this does not make your eyes sparkle, and your heart beat fast with bliss, then assuredly your soul is not in a healthy state. But you want more than present delights—you crave something concerning which you may exercise hope; and what more can you hope for than the fulfillment of this great promise, “I will be their God“? This is the masterpiece of all the promises; its enjoyment makes a heaven below, and will make a heaven above. Dwell in the light of your Lord, and let your soul be always ravished with His love. Get out the marrow and fatness which this portion yields thee. Live up to your privileges, and rejoice with unspeakable joy. 

 

* Taken from Charles Spurgeon’s Morning by Morning Devotional

Hope Deferred…

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This week, millions of Americans will gather around the table, fill their bellies with way too much turkey and pie, then settle into an afternoon of enjoying one anther’s company, watching football and sneaking in a nap. I’ll be headed home to North Carolina the tomorrow and am fully planning on enjoying every moment with my family. As much as I treasure the holiday season, this specific week stings my heart. You see, it was this week almost four years ago that a major event happened in my life that changed my life. I remember every detail as if it were yesterday.

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The time a homeless man showed me Jesus!

The title of this post might seem paradoxical.

Shouldn’t I be the one showing Jesus to a homeless man? Isn’t that what I’m called to do?

 

Allow me to explain the exchange that happened last night. My heart was blessed and I want to share it with you, in hopes that it might encourage your walk with the Lord.

 

I was leaving the crisis pregnancy center where I have been training to be a counselor. (That is another story for another time, but let me just tell you, I don’t think I’ll ever leave that building with dry eyes.) My friend and I were taking the metro home, and as we were walking down, a homeless man asked us for some money in order to get a metro card.

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We stopped and chatted with him for a few minutes. He told us that he wanted to get to the local homeless shelter to get a bath and spend the night in a warm building instead of sleeping on the sidewalk in the freezing cold weather. I happily put some money on a metro card for him, and started to walk away. The man started talking about how he hoped the shelter still had some food left, because he was hungry. (At this point, it was about 10:00 pm, and highly unlikely that they would still be serving dinner.)

 

Let me pause in my story….

Ever since arriving in D.C., I have been struggling with how I should properly respond to the homeless. They are literally everywhere. I probably pass at least 8-10 between my office building and the metro station. It is literally impossible for me to help them all. I am a single woman supporting herself in a large city. I’ve gotten so overwhelmed, because I know that I can’t help them all. As a result, I haven’t done anything. A famous quote from the beloved Mother Teresa has been swirling around in my mind recently…..

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Resume story…

 

The Holy Spirit urged me to offer to buy him dinner. I asked if we could provide dinner for him, and he immediately answered a resounding, “yes”. My friend, and I headed up the escalator with our new friend. He told us that his name was Charles. On our way to get food, the conversation centered around him currently looking for a job. The conversation seemed to take a natural turn towards spiritual matters. I asked him very bluntly if he knew Christ as his personal savior. He immediately got a huge grin on his face and said, “Yes, yes I sure do”.

 

We stopped in a local pizza joint and he ordered himself a pizza. While we were waiting, he shared about his relationship with the Lord. The restaurant was empty except for the staff, and while we were talking, I noticed that the staff was intensely listening to our discussion.

Wow, this man knew his Bible inside out. He shared one spiritual truth after another. One thing that he spoke about was how we as Christians have a duty to show Christ to the world by our actions. Obviously, we are saved by faith alone, but how will the world know that we belong to God if we never show them HIS love.

 

One thing that Charles said that will stick with me for a long time is this:

 

“We can’t out give God!”

 

I’ve heard this cliche saying before, but coming from a homeless man, who told me how he has sought to give out of the little he has and how God has continued to bless him. Now that is powerful! You would expect a homeless man who literally has hardly any earthly possessions to hold onto what he has with clinched fists. Instead, this man has chosen to give thanks and see how God multiplies. He has chosen to trust God.

 

I don’t understand the circumstances that lead to homelessness. I don’t have all the answers. I don’t even know why Charles was homeless. All I know is the Lord asked me to buy him dinner and have a conversation with him.

 

What resulted was Charles, my brother in the Lord encouraging my faith. He showed me Jesus. He reminded me that I can trust God with everything – my finances, my relationships, my job, my love life, my past, my future, my time, my resources, etc.

 

Don’t get me wrong, just because I give, doesn’t mean that God is going to immediately bless me with material resources. I am not an advocate of the prosperity gospel, in fact, I think that is heresy! What I am advocating for is the truth in these verses:

 

 

And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,you did it to me.’” – Matthew 25:40

 

“Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” – 2 Corinthians 9:6

 

My Jesus paid for my salvation in full on the cross of Calvary. He shed his innocent blood for the satisfaction of the wrath that I was deserving. Because I have been given everything, I want to seek to give everything. Who am I to be stingy with my time, talent or treasure.

 

Beloved, I urge you, slow down, take a few moments to notice those around you who might need someone to talk to, a hot meal, a word of encouragement, or most importantly, who need Jesus!

 

The fact is, you might be the only representation of Jesus that someone ever sees! How do we represent God if we brush people off, act like we are more important or can’t be bothered! No one is perfect, and we have grace to fail, however I desperately want to show Christ to a dying and hurting world!

Will you join me?

 

 

“A man there was, and they called him mad; the more he

gave, the more he had.”

– John Bunyan

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Raw Thoughts On Forgiveness…

I am choosing not to go into great detail into the events and circumstances surrounding the topic I’m addressing today for two reasons. 1) It would take way too long to explain. 2) Not that I mind sharing, but the details aren’t absolutely necessary to the discussion. (If you care about the details, feel free to ask. I would love to share how the Lord is working specifically. Feel free to e-mail me at chelseacpatterson@gmail.com )

Forgiveness.

To be quite honest, this isn’t a topic that I have given much thought to until this past year. In the past, if someone hurt me, it was usually unintentional or was something that could be resolved quickly and relatively pain free.

There is someone in my life very close to me who has hurt me deeply over the past 12 months. Last night, some words were said that cut me to the core. I had an “ugly cry” (if you aren’t familiar with what that is, ask any girl, she’ll know!) You see, in the moment that the words were spoken, I choose to believe them.

You aren’t worth anything.

You aren’t worth getting to know.

Those words hurt.

I cried.

I entertained the thought that maybe, just maybe those words were correct and accurate.

Maybe I am too much trouble to invest in.

Maybe I am too complex and aren’t worth time.

Maybe…just maybe…

NO CHELSEA!

Snap out of it. I shook with sobs as I poured out my heart to my mom about how much those words hurt.

You see, at that moment, my head could acknowledge that those words were lies, but it was obvious from the tears falling down my cheeks that my heart was choosing to believe them.

Words are my love language, and I am the type of person that takes a lot of things personally. (Sometimes – in this case, it is not a good thing.)

I’m not going to lie. I threw myself a pretty big pity party this morning, complete with waltzing into work with red eyes and a bad attitude. I was polite to my co-workers, but inwardly I was fighting to take the thoughts swirling around me head captive and submit them to Christ.

“It’s just not fair God! I have done literally everything I know to do to show love to this person. Yet they still are hurting me.”

And so I began my day…

Once in my office, I grabbed my Bible and started reading Ephesians, and stumbled upon the following verses:

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away form you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:31-32

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Well…that was convicting.

I came before my Father and expressed how hard it was to choose to forgive.

Darling,

You are acting selfishly. Why would you choose to wallow in self-pity and believe those lies? Don’t you know that I defeated the devil’s control over you and your mind on the Cross? Hand it over to me. Allow me to bring justice to bear. You can choose to dwell on those lies, or you can choose to allow me to stand between you and those hurtful words.

Beloved, as hard as it is, I am making the conscious decision to allow the Lord to teach me forgiveness. This person hasn’t asked for my forgiveness, offered up an apology or uttered the words, “I’m sorry.”

However, I can make the decision not to take offense at the words and hurt thrown my way.

Yes, it hurts, but I can choose by God’s grace not to allow it to destroy me. I can choose to be kind, I can choose to keep my heart soft and tender, and most importantly, I can choose forgiveness, because Christ has modeled perfect forgiveness for me on the cross.

I will be exploring and grasping the depth of Christ’s forgiveness of me and my sins for the rest of my life. Ah, what beauty!

“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.”

– C.S. Lewis

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Dear One, I do not profess to have it all together, far too often I am before the throne of my Father with tears falling down my cheeks begging for His grace, unending love and mercy and incidence in my life.

But I am choosing to remember that Christ showed me the ultimate forgiveness. He lived a sinless life, was crucified and raised to life. Why? To satisfy the wrath that I was deserving of. To pay the payment on my behalf. To offer me ultimate forgiveness.

I have chosen to accept Him as my Lord and Savior. As I result, I choose to obey His command to forgive as Christ forgave me. It is hard and it hurts, but praise Him that I don’t have to do it alone. I have the Holy Spirit living inside me who is helping me.

I choose to love. I choose to forgive.

Forgive

Suffering – For God’s glory and our good

Suffering is inevitable.

 

Turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper and you will be bombarded with discouraging news. Everyone will experience some kind of trial or suffering in their lifetime. This guarantee of suffering exists for two reasons, first because the world is fallen and infected with sin. Because sin entering the world, suffering exists. The second reason is because as a follower of Christ, we will experience suffering because the call to follow Him is a call to die. Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me.” –Matthew 16:24 Why does Christ give this difficult task to His followers?  In his last hours on earth, why did he reiterate the certainty of suffering in a Christian’s life by stating that “In the world you will have tribulation.” (John 16:33) It would be an impossible task if that phrase is all we have recorded in our Bibles, however in the very next breath, Christ gives the ultimate encouragement when he says, “But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

 

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Dear One, whatever kind of suffering you are experiencing, take heart because you have a Savior who has overcome the world. The One who died for you experienced the ultimate suffering by leaving His heavily throne and stepping into human flesh to ultimately die on your behalf for your sins. Because He has suffered, you have the greatest example of how to suffer well. When Christ suffered death on a cross, His suffering lead to eternal life for the ones who choose to call Him Lord and Savior. 

 

Suffering as a Christian has two purposes – God’s glory and our good.

 

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When we respond to suffering in such a way that shows the unbelieving world that Christ is more glorious and precious to us than our suffering, it shows who and what our true treasure is. By placing our ultimate hope in Christ and not the temporary things that are causing our hearts pain, God receives the glory.

 

“My body is sick with cancer, the paycheck didn’t quite cover everything this month, I have an unsaved family member, that phone call changed everything”  – the list can go on and on. The question begs to be asked, “how can suffering possibly be for my good?”

 

Suffering as a Christian serves several purposes for our ultimate good. First, suffering sanctifies and purifies us like nothing else can. When earthly pleasures, things and people are stripped out of our lives, it is revealing of where we have mistakenly placed our hope. Suffering draws us closer to Christ, because we don’t have the worldly comforts to rely on. Christ desperately longs for us to fix our eyes upon Him, and not the things the world tries to romance our souls with.

 

Beloved, my charge to you is not to waste your suffering. Instead of throwing yourself a pity party (although I have thrown and attended several grand ones for myself), seek the Lord’s voice speaking in your suffering.

 

“Do you trust Me?”

 

How often does the Creator of the universe whisper those words into our souls? Often, our first reaction to suffering is frustration, fear or anxiety. One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received is the following:

 

“When you cannot see the hand of God, you can always trust His heart!”

 

When your heart is breaking, and your world is falling apart, when all around you, it seems like there is nothing but death, tragedy and heartache, take heart! Remind yourself that your God, your Father, your Lord has overcome the world! Trust in His character. Remember that God loves His children and that He is ultimately good. Do not forget these truths for they are your lifeblood in times of suffering .

 

Regardless of your present…

 

Circumstances or crisis,

Pressures or pain,

Suffering or sorrow,

Failures or frustrations,

Danger or disease,

Memories or misery,

Temptations or trials,

Problems or persecutions,

Burdens or brokenness…

 

Your situation is temporary compared to eternity!

 

In the closing chapters of the final book of the Bible, God makes a beautiful declaration to His children.

 

“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3)

 

 

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If this present world was all there was and there was no Savior in which to place our hope, we should be pitied, but that is not the case! This world is not our home, we are merely passing through. As you evaluate the current pain in your own life or in the world right now, meditate on these questions:

 

What is the Lord teaching you about Himself?

How can you use your suffering for His glory?

 

Contentment

In the past, when people talked about contentment, I used to get so annoyed and aggravated. Usually I would roll my eyes, paste on a smile and show insincere interest! Horrible I know, but hey, at least I’m being honest!

 

As bad as this is to admit, I’ve always equated contentment as something that is dull, uninteresting and undesirable. I want to be the girl who’s adventurous, full of life, charismatic, and joyful! Until now, I could not reconcile how being content, while maintaining the liveliness in my spirit could go hand in hand.

 

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The Lord is currently wrecking my life and my perspective on contentment. Gear up, because I’ll probably be talking about this topic for awhile on this blog!

 

I’m currently reading a book entitled, “Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow and it’s a must-read!  I don’t say that often or lightly, but it is teaching me how to have accurate and Biblical contentment. It is not cheesy or repetitive; instead it is filled with deep, though-provoking wisdom and advice! Pick up a copy here – you won’t be sorry!

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After my honest introduction on my thoughts on contentment, allow me to share some thoughts I’m processing through from the first chapter!

 

What we are on the inside, what we continually think about, eventually shows in our words, actions, and even our countenances.

Allow that to sink in.

 

You are what you think about! Whether that’s the outfit you’re going to wear tomorrow, what the latest news station is discussing, or what the Lord is saying to you. What you fill your mind with, is eventually who you become!

 

I don’t know about you, but I want to be someone who’s vision is clear, because I have an eternal perspective! The word perspective means, “Looking through; seeing clearly; the capacity to view things in their true relation of relative importance.” Therefore an eternal perspective is God’s way of seeing!

 

In the book, Linda shares rules for contentment. After reading this and meditating on it for a few days, I’ve written it and put it up by my desk at work and in the front of my bible!

 

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I’ve begun to be more aware of these things in my life. Let’s just say that I have a long way to go!

 

Beloved, I’m sharing these thoughts from my heart for two reasons! First, because I want you all to know that I am not perfect! (But you already knew that!) Second, hopefully my struggles along the road of sanctification will encourage you. We are all doing this messy thing called “life” together, and we should be cheering one another on!

 

I am not there yet, but oh how I despertly want to be a woman who has a peace that is separate from my circumstances. With my eyes fixed upon eternity, I want to always rest in the fact that my tomorrow’s belong to God! When my tomorrows are nestled in God’s strong arms, then I can be free to live today!

 

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Will you join me on this journey? I am learning that contentment, true contentment is one of the greatest things I can possess. It is the farthest thing from boring! It actually frees me to live the life God intended me to live – fully alive!

 

As I share my thoughts on my struggles and victories, I encourage you to rally together and pursue contentment with me! Please let me know where you are on the journey! Let’s be the brothers and sisters we ought to one another!!

 

“Contentment is essentially a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is good and therefore it is good.”

-J.I. Packer

“I Have a Dream”

This week marked the 50th anniversary of March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, where an estimated quarter of a million people gathered in the nation’s capital to raise their voices for in support of a strong Civil Rights legislation that would greatly reduce segregation and mistreatment for African Americans.

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When one thinks of this impactful event, the first thing that comes to mind is Martin Luther King Jr, the fearless leader for Civil Rights. Standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial, a monument commemorating one of America’s influential presidents who helped eliminate slavery in America, King delivered the historic speech, “I Have a Dream”. He noted in the opening statements that what was taking place on that August day was the “greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation”.

Deep passion permeated every word spoken by King as he described his vision of a nation where one was not judged based off the color of their skin. “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” Pursuing the goal of Godly equality characterized the life of King and many others as they fought for a better future for their children and grandchildren. The Civil Rights leaders understood that a person should not be treated differently by their appearance, by their skin color, or by their economic status. Instead, King advocated for the day when his children would one day live in nation where they would not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.

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King was renowned for his efforts to ensure that men and women were regarded as equal. He understood that God calls for mankind to treat one another with respect and love, because all are created in His image. Although the African American community was met with animosity, King gently reminded the nation that, “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Retaliation with bitterness to such hardship would have been expected and was the reaction of some. However King understood that the only thing he could change was himself and his reaction. He once stated that he had decided to stick with love, because hate was too great a burden to bear.

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Even though our nation isn’t currently fighting for legalized racial equality, there are still many issues that a Christian’s heart should be broken over.  The fact that 40 years ago, America legalized the killing of more than 55 million babies under Roe v. Wade. The fact that gay couples can freely be with whomever they choose. The fact that immorality is rampant and celebrated in the media.

The list could go on and on. Even though American Christians find themselves in the middle of a nation that does not honor the Lord, there is still hope. In Matthew 5:43-44 Christ gives this charge, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you.” The Lord understood that our flesh’s first reaction is to hate our enemies. However, He calls us to something higher – to love and pray for one another. It is not always easy to love like Christ loves, but as Christians we have the Holy Spirit living in us to sanctify us.

In light of the anniversary and celebration of the achievements of Martin Luther King Jr and others, be thankful to the Lord that much has been accomplished in America to honor Him in the nation’s past, be prayerful over the nation’s current leaders, be mindful that there is still work to be done, be active in making your voice heard and be loving towards others.

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Raw thoughts on loneliness !

I’ve avoided writing this post for a while, because I was scared that if I did write it, I would pack my bags and be on the next plane home within an hour.

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The first week in DC was the honeymoon phase – I was learning a new job, I went out on a date, I explored the city….then it hit me

“WOW, I just moved my entire life to this strange city. What on earth was I thinking?!”

As much as I love DC and my job, I have been more lonely than I have ever been in my entire life! That sounds a bit dramatic, but for 4 years, I was at Liberty University, where I was surrounded by thousands of people, and I had a whole community that I could call on at anytime. Whenever I wanted to, I could call up a friend and have someone to go to dinner with me, jog around campus together, come up to my room and watch a movie, or walk with me while I poured out my heart. Even when I was back home, there are 8 people in my family, so I always had someone right there for me! Whether I needed a shoulder to cry on, or someone to go get coffee with me, there has always been someone in close proximity for me!

In my new beautiful city of DC, I have yet to make a lot really solid friends. My roommates are super sweet, but they have all been here for awhile and have established community here. There have been many nights when I’ve come home, gone for a run, made dinner for myself and found things to entertain myself.

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To be honest, I think I need this season of loneliness. As much as I hate to admit it, and as much as I’ve cried to the Lord to give me friends immediately, I’m learning things that I know I could not learn any other way.

So, I’ve complied a few thoughts on things I’m currently learning through my loneliness. This is by no means extensive, but I hope that it encourages you in whatever stage of life you are in!

1) I’m learning how dependent I have been on people, and not the Lord.

As hard as it is to swallow, I’ve never realized just how much I’ve puffed myself up with pride in the past, based off of how “popular” I thought I was! It’s so easy when I’m surrounded by people to run to a person to satisfy my desire for companionship. Don’t get me wrong, I am thankful for the body of believers, and I believe that we are designed to live in community with one another. However, I had unknowingly put people in the place of my Lord in my life. 

In the past…

  • When I’ve been sad or upset about something, I’ve gone to a friend’s shoulder to cry on and receive a hug and their sympathy instead of going to the Lord to comfort my heart!

  • When I’ve been lonely, I’ll call someone up (usually a guy friend) to come and fulfill that need in my heart to feel loved and desired instead of seeking my Great Lover to satisfy my heart and deepest desires.

  • When I’ve been excited about something, I’ve gone to friends to cheer for me and to celebrate instead of going to my Father in thankfulness and seeking to rejoice in Him and with Him!

  • When I’ve been angry, I’ve vented to any available person who would lend an ear to me for more than 5 minutes instead of working out my problems before the throne!

This season of loneliness is making me aware how dependent i was on others in the past. I had tried to place an impossible burden on them of meeting my needs and desires that only my Savior can meet.

2) I’m meditating on Scripture more than I ever have in my life!

While I could sulk and throw myself a grand old pity party (obviously I would be the only one in attendance!) and dwell on how I have no friends, I’ve chosen to fill my head with God’s truth!

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Psalm 25 has been capturing my heart’s attention, and I’ve been dwelling on the first verse. The Lord has been revealing to me how many things other than Him that I lift up my soul to, and I’m learning to lift up my soul to Him and Him only!

Beloved, I don’t know where life finds you right now. Whether you find yourself in the exact same boat, and just needed a breath of encouragement, or whether you’re surrounded by a million friends and this serves as a caution to you. Always, always, always make sure that Christ is first in your heart! It’s easier said than done.

I challenge you to seek out some alone time with the Lord to really search out your heart. There are always things that we need to hand over to our Father! Lay those down before His throne and rest in the fact that He loves you!