My birthday is two weeks from yesterday! Yes, I am already counting – 13 days! I personally think birthday’s should be a national celebration.
The day you entered the world.
The day you gasped your first breath on planet earth.
The day you cried as little ones do.
Birthdays are important because we celebrate someone’s life, we pause and acknowledge their innate value because they are a part of the human race that God sovereignty ordained.
As much as I adore birthdays – the party, the gifts, the cake, the balloons, the excitement, etc. a part of my heart dreads them.
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.
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.
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…..
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org )
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 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.
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
Well…that was convicting.
I came before my Father and expressed how hard it was to choose to forgive.
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
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.
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.”
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.
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)
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?
My heart is broken over the events that took place in Boston today.
Our nation we have paused and gathered together to pray for Boston. The events surrounding the bombing are still unclear, but right now, that doesn’t matter. What matters is we as Christians stepping up and showing the world Christ’s love.
Many people have questions right now and are asking the question, “Why?” Beloved, we have an opportunity to shine Christ’s love to a broken and shattered world. Hearts are ready for Christ. Will you join me in spreading His love? No, we don’t have all the answers as to why suffering occurs, but we can use these tragedies as an opportunity to spread the Gospel?
Remember, one day things will be redeemed and restored!
I sank onto my knees in one of my very favorite place on campus – the prayer chapel.
Isn’t it gorgeous?!
That place is so dear to my heart because it holds some of my sweetest and most difficult moments with the Lord.
-News that forever changed my life.
-Pleaded with the Lord for unsaved family members.
-Asked the Lord to restore things that were lost.
-To heal me.
-Sat in awe of my Heavenly Father.
-Worshiped with other believers.
-Had strangers pray over me.
Recently, I jogged to the prayer chapel and when I entered the building, I was delighted to find that there was no one else there! (Not that I wasn’t happy no one else was praying, I was happy to have the whole place to myself!) There is a piano in one corner, and I headed over to it, and quietly began playing one of my favorite hymns
“It is well with my soul”
I sang the words over and over to my Father. As my voice began to quiet, the tears began to fall. That is when I slipped onto my knees in front of a cross that’s placed in the front of the room. I began to pour out my heart to the Lord. Since there was no one else in the room, I prayed out loud. If you’ve never done this (praying in groups doesn’t count!) I strongly suggest it!
My Father heard all of the cares and worries that I don’t want to burden other people with. I told Him what has been making my heart heavy and sad recently.
“O God, I cling with feeble fingers to the ledge of your great grace.” -Piper
Beloved, in the few hours I spent with the Lord on my face before Him, He never promised to take away the difficult circumstances in my life. However He promised to give me joy in Himself.
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” – John 15:11
My joy can only be complete in the Lord. Apart from Him, there is no joy. He doesn’t merely give me joy, He is my joy!!
“It would not be fully gracious of Jesus simply to increase my joy to its final limit and then leave me short of his. Christ not only offers himself as the divine object of my joy, but pours his capacity for joy inot me, so that I can enjoy him with the very joy of God.” – Piper
Seek the joy that can be found only in the Father! Trust me, absolutely nothing else compares to it.
Will the journey be difficult? You bet!
Will you feel like giving up? Mmhmm!
Will everlasting and deeply satisfying joy with the Father be worth it all? I could write for the rest of my days, and never have enough words to say how worth it Christ is!
Keep pressing on! The Lord has great things planned for your life, it might not look like you think it should, but His promise is this…
Your Joy Will Be Full In Me!
Last week, I had the privilege of teaching on the topic of unfulfilled longings. As I studied to present the lesson, the Lord did a number on my heart. I would like to share what I have been learning, and I am going to be extremely honest, it has been hard for me. I have been on my face before the Lord having to surrender a lot to Him. I have had to repent. I have had to seek His forgiveness.
Our Father is so incredibly loving and kind, and has gently been teaching me.
To begin with, I am going to define my terms. A longing is defined as, “A yearning desire or a craving.” And the word desire is defined as, “A strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen.”
As I searched the Scriptures for examples of people and their longings, naturally I turned to the book of Psalms.
“O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.”
“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.”
I found it encouraging that the psalmist pours out heart before the Lord and admits that he has longings, and things that his soul desires.
A big part of my story is a big unfulfilled desire that the Lord has chosen for me. There is an area of my life where my Beloved has chosen not to fulfill my longings in the way I thought He would. At first, I was frustrated with the Lord, because I didn’t understand why He had chosen the path He did for me.
I still don’t understand…but I trust Him!
As you read these verses, and I share a tiny bit of my story, I would encourage you to search your heart before the Lord and ask yourself this question, “What are some areas of my life that I am frustrated/angry/anxious because God hasn’t fulfilled a desire in my heart?
Beloved, we are always going to have unfulfilled longings this side of heaven.
“Thou hast formed us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless til they find rest in Thee.”
What a beautiful truth. How often have I run around and held my heart to so many people and things and said,
“Will you fill my cup?
Will you satisfy the deepest longings of my heart?”
And every single time…I am disappointed! When I run to my Savior and ask Him the same questions, He always respond with a resounding “Yes, my dear child!” I challenge you to spend time with Christ, and ask Him to reveal His extreme love for you!
It is important to note that it is not necessarily wrong to have longings, however, it is wrong when we demand that those longing be fulfilled here and now, or be met in illegitimate ways. Until God provides the legitimate context to fulfill our longings, we must learn to be content with unfulfilled longings. (Idea taken from the book, “Lies Women Believe” by Nancy Leigh DeMoss) I’m not going to lie, this truth is a hard one to swallow sometimes. I cannot tell you how often I have thought about sneaking around and trying to fulfill my own desires without the Lord knowing what I’m doing. (How dumb can I be!) Dear One, the Lord knows and remembers that you have longings! He hasn’t forgotten you!
You see, our Savior knows that every created thing is guaranteed to disappoint us. You are always going to live in a state of disappointment if you expect people to satisfy you.
You were created for Christ!! Don’t ever forget that!
The past 48 hours have been pretty difficult….
Tuesday around midnight I received a text from my Uncle informing me that my grandma was in the ER. I was pretty shaken up, and up half the night. Thankfully she will be okay, but nevertheless, a text in the middle of the night about someone being in the hospital is never easy.
Yesterday, I found out that my financial situation for this semester isn’t working out how I originally thought. To be completely honest, I’m not 100% sure when it’s going to get resolved. My eyes have cried plenty of tears over the past 2 days, but I have not gone into despair. Why??
Because difficult life circumstances point me straight to Christ!!
Over the past year, the Lord has placed many difficult circumstances in my life, and then said,
“Chelsea, are you going to trust Me?”
I would like to say that my response has always been a resounding “yes”, but that is not the case. Often times, my first reaction is frustration, fear or anxiety. But the Lord is so gentle with me, and has been teaching me how to trust Him. I trust God because…
He is Good
He is in control
He is God
He is on His throne
He will never leave me
He has a greater plan than I can see in this moment
He will never forsake me
He is sovereign
Beloved, my heart is well acquainted with suffering. The past three years have held some monumental trials, but throughout the biggest trials in my life, here are some things that I have learned.
* When I found out from a doctor that my body isn’t “perfect”, and that there will yet be trails in my future concerning my body – The Lord revealed that my ultimate hope cannot be in something physical. One day, He has promised to redeem everything that was lost, and I know that one day, in heaven, my body will be perfect.
* When someone extremely close to me chose to walk out of my life – A relationship with a friend or family member cannot be who I look to for fulfillment. People come and go, and while it is almost devastating when someone you thought would be there forever chooses to leave, the Lord will always remain with me.
* When a family member doesn’t know the Lord as their personal Savior, and has told you that they want absolutely nothing to do with God – This situation gives me reason to trust that the Lord loves this family member more than I could ever imagine, and that I will choose to be diligent in prayer concerning this person and pray fervently for their salvation.
* When money is tight – Things on this earth will never ultimately satisfy, and the same goes with money. The Lord has promised that He will provide everything we need…not everything we want. Through times like these, I have searched my heart and laid everything bare before the Lord concerning what I truly need.
Dear reader, this isn’t meant to be a giant pity party for myself, or to ramble on and on about the trials I’ve faced. We have all had our share of difficult times. I wanted to use this time to encourage you! My life isn’t perfect, but I serve a perfect God!
“This is God’s universal purpose for all Christian suffering – more contentment in God and less satisfaction in the world.” – John Piper
I pray that as your go through this life, through all the good and the bad, that you will fall more and more in love with Jesus! Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible, and I found myself there this morning. As I read, I began to weep, because Paul so clearly expressed my hearts desires.
“Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.” – Philippians 3:8
Everything you go through in life should be to bring GLORY to GOD, and so that you may gain Christ! What a beautiful truth. Beloved, I assure you that when you press in to the Father’s loving arms and say…
“Lord, I have absolutely no idea how you are going to work, I don’t see how this trial can be redeemed. But nevertheless, I choose to trust You. I choose to declare that knowing you is better than anything this life could ever bring.”
Please know that I am praying for you as you read these words. If there is anything specific I can pray for, don’t hesitate to ask!!