Count it all Joy

There was a moment five years ago when it truly felt like my heart was shattered into pieces with five short words, and I was forced to scream out of the uncontrollable pain inside of me. It was as if my soul was being strangled, and after that moment had passed, it took a long time to feel human again. People like to say that time heals all things, but in my experience, time only numbs, and for me, I lived a very numb life for many years after.
I remember praying, even after I knew Isabel was gone, that somehow The Lord would take me instead of her. Although this sounds very selfless of me, I can see now that it was very selfish. I couldn’t process the turmoil within me, and so I wanted to die to escape from my regret and grief.
The time in between our parting of ways as friends and her death had truly been the final step for her to turn to Jesus as her Saviour. At her funeral, I was told by many of her close family and friends that Isabel had grown to truly love Jesus Christ and follow after Him. Only hours before her death she asked her mom for one simple birthday gift, a cross necklace to remind herself of her purpose and to be a witness to others, and because of this I know I will be celebrating in heaven with her one day.
I often think of one of the last conversations I had with Isabel. Normally I was the one who wanted to talk about God and pointed to the Bible, but as we walked along with our Starbucks in hand, she listened to my pathetic complaints about my trials in life and said, “Hey, well look at Job! He didn’t understand why he went through the things he did either. But maybe God has a plan for you.” And she was right. God was about to set me on the path of refining through fire. And although Isabel and I didn’t know then, God was about to use her death to bring me to true eternal life in Christ.
I don’t know exactly how the mystery of salvation happens. I could give you many verses explaining the Biblical theology behind salvation, but truly it is a remarkable gift that only God can give, so how can I truly begin to explain the process of how He saves sinners who cannot be near His holiness? Truly the important thing is what He has done in order to save previous God-haters like myself, which is send His Son, the 2nd person of the Trinity, down to live among us with the flesh of a man, yet being 100% God, never sinning, only to finally lay down His life and be crucified on a cross, taking on the punishment you and I rightly deserve and conquering sin and death by receiving God’s just wrath for sin instead of us. I grew up knowing this truth, but had never truly encountered the God I claimed to know. Not because God had not revealed Himself to me countless times, but because I rejected His call to submit to Him, I did not truly know Him.
When Isabel died, I realized that although I was pining to die instead, I was already dead, because I didn’t have Christ. And although she was physically dead, she was now truly alive because she was one with the God she trusted and believed in for salvation.
As I have spent today reflecting on the way my life has been altered, I am reminded that despite the pain and loss I have personally experienced, there is no way that her death can minimize the grace and beauty of my Saviour Jesus who rescued me from my sinfulness. I can see now that any death I experience in this life, death of a loved one, death of a dream, death of a relationship, my Saviour has already had victory of death, and in Him I am truly free.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. – James 1:2-4

I’m Into Jesus

I’m sitting on a massive plane on my way to England at the moment, legs cramped, stomach flipping because of that less than cooked pasta I ate a little while ago, and yet as soon as I peer through my tiny window, all fades away and I am simply in awe of the glory of God. Clouds cover the earth like a blanket, and in the few patches that sunlight is allowed to break through to kiss the earth, I can see the glorious sea’s surface, the waves seem frozen in place to me from 39,000 ft up. And as I contemplate my Creator, I have a dctalk song that I still absolutely love called Into Jesus playing on repeat. My heart connects to the lyrics:
A sea of glass,
a raging storm has come to pass
You show your face in a array of ways. My feet may venture to the ground
but you will never let me down,
I can’t hold it in my soul is screaming Hey you- I’m into Jesus…
Hey you I’ve seen the truth and I believe.
It’s painfully clear to me that God’s Word is true; this world is passing away like a garment, but my Lord and Saviour will never change, fade, or forsake me. He is to be feared and to be cherished, and His name must be proclaimed. I want to be so into Jesus that I can see his face in everything I see. May the cry of our hearts each day be to fall more and more in love with Jesus our King!

Learning to Love Myself, or Him?

I wish I could tell you that every time I feel The Lord pressing on my heart to analyze myself and check the motivations of my heart before I do something, I submit my mind, will, and emotions to Him and heed the Holy Spirit’s discernment in my life. But that just simply wouldn’t be true. I struggle with failure in conquering sinfulness in my life simply because of my pride, and my resistance to obedience to God.
So even in this past week, I have had to admit some pretty ugly sin in my life to God and ask for His forgiveness, which He gives in abundance to those who will love and serve Him. One of these areas of sin I have only truly be convicted of in the past couple days, and so before I continue I’d like to extend my hand and let you know that I am right beside you, I am not at all attempting to put myself on a pedestal and judge from behind my little iPad here. These are just thoughts from one struggling Christian attempting to live a life pleasing to God.
Everywhere you look these days you see messages like “love who you are” and “love your body” and similar little phrases like this that feed into this overall propaganda that our society is feeding us which says “You should love the lord ‘you’ with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength, and don’t ever love your neighbour more than yourself (because we all know that we are our own best friend).” I’ve been told repeatedly, even by fellow Christians, that I should love who I am and not be ashamed of it.
How deceived are we?
I look to the Word of God, the Bible, to tell me truth and give me guidance, and this is what God has to say about ourselves apart from Jesus Christ living within us.
Jeremiah 17:9-10 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? “I The Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
I am dead without God, and my deceitful and sick heart takes the lead in my life rather than the Holy Spirit. I lie to myself and convince myself that I am the most important person in my life, and I deserve glory, recognition, and reaffirmation of how great I really am. When I realize that I am still allowing my heart to deceive me, I must cry out to God with the words of David.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Ps. 139:23-24)
Now what’s the application here? Instead of ‘learning to love myself’, I want to learn to love HIM- the one true God, Jesus Christ Himself. And so I’ve had to ask myself some pretty probing questions this week, some of which I’ll share with you.

* Would I rather talk to the people around me about what God is doing in the lives of His people, or would I rather talk about what God is doing in my life, or rather what I am doing in my life?
* Do I tend to spend more time in the day worrying about how I look and ‘fixing’ my outward appearance, or checking where my heart is and how God is being glorified through this simple vessel (which is me)
*Do I love worshipping God because I am entering into His presence, or do I love hearing myself worship?
*Would I rather do something for God or have an intimate moment with The Lord and keep it to myself, or would I rather post it on the internet for all to see? And would I rather promote myself, or promote God?

Before you start to get angry about how I’m pushing my convictions on you, let me remind you that these are simply things The Lord has been revealing that I personally need to check myself on. God is very clear that we all struggle with different things depending on where our heart is before Him. That’s why Paul said in Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of The Lord Jesus, giving thank to God the Father through Him.
To tie everything together, The Lord has just simply opened my eyes to the danger of self-promotion in my life, especially through social media. And so I am committing to no more ‘selfies’, or posts that would simply draw attention to how great I am or what great things I’m doing simply for the sake of self-gratification; and for any who know me, please call me out on this! So as I am committing to this, please don’t be offended by my personal decision to flee this temptation. If anything, analyze yourself to make sure you’re not deceived, and then release any fears you have to The Lord.
He is so faithful to speak to you if you would simply run to Him. Jesus Christ is not an impersonal god made of stone, or a lofty god that only wishes to punish you and watch as you struggle through this life. God manifested Himself as a man and lived a perfect life, healing and forgiving sinners like myself, all so that He could finally die a horrifying death on a cross and take on all of my sin, your sin, and the sin of the entire world upon Himself, and rose again from the grave 3 days later defeating that sin and death, that we might see our depravity and need for a Saviour, and run to His open arms. He is love, and He truly does love the world He died for, but we must abandon our love for ourselves, Jesus says we must die to ourselves, that we might obtain salvation and grace from the One who is so worthy to be promoted and loved and served.
One final thing: this article from one of the pastors at Harvest Bible Chapel London, Norm Millar, is an excellent resource for you who may want to know more about why social media and selfies especially can be so dangerous. In it, Norm also has copied an article from Josh Philpot which is also very helpful for your own personal heart examination. Here is an excerpt and the link:
“…is it too much to ask that we refocus ourselves and our selfies, to rethink how we think about our faces? Instead of dispersing our faces among so many selfie-factories, perhaps we should focus on a single point, or rather, a single person—the face of Jesus Christ. Selfies say, “I’m here! I’m important! I matter!” God says that he is what matters, and the only image that should concern us is the one in whom rests the image of the invisible God. God says that we should dwell on the light of his face, which, as Paul states, is so clearly seen “in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor 4:6). We want glory. We desire it. We want the light on our faces. But in Christ alone is the “light of the knowledge of the glory of God.” (#nofilter)”

Social Media, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I pray that God continues to open our eyes to our own self-deception and keeps us from pride, ignorance, or even rebellion. He is faithful even when we are faithless, but let us strive to be sanctified and become more and more faithful to His will for our lives. You are loved!

Bronwyn

The Question

There’s a question that keeps arising in my heart that has caused me to examine myself. It’s a question that drives me to anxiety, to guilt, even to desperation. It’s something I think we all struggle with at some point as men and women, but as a young woman who professes Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour and my reason for living, it is a question that I am supposed to, and in a way, already know the answer to.
So what is my purpose?
I’ve figured out that truly my biggest fear, even over torture or starvation, is purposelessness. The dangers in fearing this is twofold; I am worrying over whether or not God ultimately has a purpose for my life, which I know He does (The Great Commission Mark 16:15), and also the fact that this rather self-focused and irrational fear is the umbrella which feeds into other poisonous fears. I fear rejection, I fear loss. I fear loneliness, I fear apathy. I fear not being needed. I fear going through life without things, which will ultimately fade, to give me a purpose.
And this fear is deep set into every hidden place in my heart in which sin resides and reigns. This cycle of fear and sinfulness causes me to fall headfirst into the sea of guilt that Satan so desires to see us drown slowly in. I feel guilt over the fact that I do not always trust in the promises of the faithful God. I feel ashamed that other Christians all over the planet are being beaten, driven to starvation, murdered even all because they profess in the one God, while I cry out in anguish over feelings of confusion or uncertainty about my comfortable and cushioned life filled with blessings. My guilt very often turns into shame, which more often than not tends to more sin rather than repentance. After feeding into this treacherous cycle, I find myself completely in the dark, blinded and deafened to the voice of God and ripe for spiritual attacks from the Enemy who, in moments like this, attempts to whisper some nonsense into my ear how I would be better off dead. As a sidenote, I believe that demons have an idea of what kinds of attacks work on different people since their mission is causing as many to stumble as possible, but sometimes, where people are driven to desperation, they will plant as many evil thoughts and temptations as possible to see what sticks.
And to think that this whole cycle started with one question… but truly the problem is not the question. The problem lies in whom I am asking.
I know there is One who is able to answer my wandering soul’s deepest questions, One who is able to cleanse my heart and scrape away the grime of my deceitful and wicked nature and replace the darkness with a pure and holy light. It is the perfect, spotless lamb, Christ Himself. So when I begin to walk towards this destructive path, I must examine myself and look to my true reason for living, my Lord. In the words of the great King David,
Have mercy on me, O God according to your steadfast love..
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgement.
Behold I was brought forth in iniquity and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean; wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence and take not your Holy Spirit from me..
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
(Psalm 51)

So what is my purpose?
My purpose is to be a vessel for God’s glory: A simple servant who heeds the Holy Spirit, a woman whose eyes are only for her Groom, a follower of Christ who examines her heart and refuses to just give into her flesh, a Christian who truly believes the authority of Scripture and all it says, and a believer who truly trusts God.

As I leave you to analyze your own life, I want to direct your focus to another Psalm (57). Pray along with David, use the Word of God to convict, guide, and encourage you. I pray you too, would come to the conclusion that your purpose is found in Christ alone.

Be merciful to me O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge till the storms of destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills His purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me, he will put to shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and faithfulness!

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New Years

My super upbeat and smiley co-worker wished me a happy New Years Eve today, and on my way out the door she added, “2014 is gonna be your year, Bronwyn. I just know it!” I simply laughed and went on my merry way, but after having time to reflect I found myself thinking over the past year of 2013. I think in many people’s eyes this last year was not ‘my year’. If I was to judge a year as most people do, I might begin to feel sorry for myself since in all honesty there were painful times; trials meant for refining a sinful heart, necessary changes to mature and strengthen me, and a stripping away of many idols that I had been secretly cherishing. Seems to me that often in our weakness we begin to tune out the true pain and suffering of those around us and hone in on all our difficulties. And if we’re real for a moment, most of the time we aren’t setting our hearts to trust the God who promises to walk alongside us in the darkness, instead we recite comforting verses like Jeremiah 29:11 that we would like to interpret selfishly to mean we deserve something from God and cry out in frustration that things aren’t different. Then when the new year rolls around, we wish on a star that perhaps God will make our lives the way we desire them to be instead of laying our agendas down and worshipping the Saviour who saved and continues to save wretches like myself out of His immense mercy. After thinking further, I’ve come to realize I appreciate the painful times of this last year more than the ‘mountain top’ high moments, and that’s truly only because I know Jesus. Jesus is my Strength and my Song, my Lamp, my Shield, my Refuge, my Keeper, my Friend, my Husband, my Redeemer, my Healer, my Master, my Salvation. I am forever His, and He is mine, and so therefore all that I have and all that I am belongs to Him. How can I stand before my Creator and tell Him that His will for my life and the way He has governed ‘my’ past year is not right? Truth is that 2013 was not my year, and 2014 will not be my year. It is the Lord’s year, and He is the one who is sovereign over not only my life but each of our lives. I had a friend remind me yesterday that the more we set our focus on a certain milestone or moment, placing our hopes and expectations on an earthly event or thing, the more we miss opportunities to be used by God, to learn through Jesus Christ example, and to train ourselves to listen to the Holy Spirit’s promptings in our everyday walk. Although I do have a sense of wonder looking at this yet unblemished upcoming year and all the promise it holds, I am being reminded today that this next year on this earth is not where I should be placing my hope, I place my hope in a holy God who saved me while I was yet sinning against Him, and who promises to one day transfer me to His glorious kingdom where my beautiful Saviour is waiting for me! This thought is more breathtaking to me than any twinkling fireworks or magical kiss ever could be.
I do wish you all a Happy New Year, but more importantly, I desire for you to have a Holy New Year, with hearts set on Christ who died for us.
“For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10

Love and prayers,
Bron

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Birthday blessing

I just recently celebrated my 19th birthday, and while there was much to be joyful about, I found my heart aching.  I imagined a couple months earlier that my ‘special day’ was going to look much different, but little did I know how much my life would change in such a short period of time. While I was feeling the weight of the world, an email came in from my very beloved sister. She wrote this poem which I would like to share with you. I am undeserving of her encouragement and only hope to measure up to her descriptions of me in this. Beyond this sentiment, she has beautifully captured the joy of salvation, the beauty of the cross, and the reality of our struggle on earth on the journey to heaven. I hope you’ll enjoy as she is an exquisite writer and my treasured friend (I’m simply blessed we’re also related!) 
Bronwyn with Light within her breast
Once he dwelt where light abounds, though dark consumed his heart
A celestial being of beauty, but a traitor from the start
Murder he embraced, while love and truth he would profane
A crafty, cunning serpent, seeking glory for his name
Enthralled by his own beauty and enraptured by his light
Heavy with idolatry -A god in his own sight
Malice grew within his heart, as he coveted God’s crown
t was then his brilliance turned to black, and the devil was cast down
Now prowling like a lion, seeking prey he can devour

He longs to conquer all the light, and in the dark gain power

Jealous of the children who now bear the Son’s reflection

He schemes to make them suffer, winning souls with his deception

Gone is all his glory… All that glittered was not gold

His light is now a masquerade, his beauty gnarled and old

He knows that Light can only shine where truth and love abides

But he resides in hate, despising truth -The prince of lies

He paces like a feline and he hunts just like a shark

His cold eyes burn with hatred as he watches in the dark.

 

Meanwhile under curse of sin, the earth grows dim and bleak

Blind eyes dare not seek the truth, and lies consume the weak

Wrath is held back like a dam, as workers till the fields

Warriors of Christ sharpen their swords, and raise their shields

Each one carries a cross, and yet the burden is not heavy

And as they walk a song bursts forth, like fireworks or confetti

A song that cuts through silence, quieting the loudest storm

A song of peace and triumph, making icy hearts turn warm

The enemy is screaming out his curses left and right

The prince of darkness conquered by the One who brings the Light

He writhes in all his bitterness, but he will never rest

Knowing his defeat has made him all the more obsessed.

 

While the war wages, God has made a masterpiece on earth

Sculpted in His image – she’s a treasure of great worth

A daughter of the King, she would be noble, kind, and fair

With summer skies within her eyes, and sunshine in her hair

The light in her appearance would reflect that of her soul

For He’d already claimed her heart as one that’s pure and whole

He would give a name to her to prove that she was blessed

A heart he’d use to clearly separate her from the rest

A noble name that told of the fair heart within her chest

A heart of strength and truth – Bronwyn, with Light within her breast

 

His enemy would be hers too, and she’d be tried by fire

But through the trials He’d show her that she was His heart’s desire

Just like the bride of Solomon, her beauty was enchanting

Like water to a thirsty deer, who comes weary and panting

He put the truth inside her, like a lighthouse in the night

To serve as a beacon of His love, ablaze with holy light

 

Her birth was not unnoticed by the lion in his den

In fact, before she came he tried his best to seek her end

Hearing the rumblings from above of a daughter to bear His reflection

He did everything within his power to try and prevent her conception

Once he knew his plans had failed, he attempted her demise

By planting seeds of depression, and plaguing her mother with lies

He told the woman that this child was only a mistake

That her body was too weak, and the child was more than she could take

He told her she was worthless, with nothing valuable to give

Trying to convince her that she didn’t need to live

Knowing that this woman was a precious daughter too

He almost thought he’d won in stealing not one life, but two

 

And yet despite her sickness, her sweet child would thrive and grow

Though blind, she was led through the darkness by a voice she didn’t know

And when that child was born, the mother’s blind eyes came awake

Looking at that precious face, she knew this was no mistake

A short while later, that same voice would lead her to a cross

Transformed with babe within her arms, as the enemy faced his loss

He knew he’d lost the battle, but he’d keep waging his war

Recounting the lies he’d spewed from the start, and coming up with more

 

As the child grew older, anyone could see her worth

With a heart reflecting something that suggested noble birth

Her beauty was apparent, and her depth could not be reached

With a thirst for truth and answers that could not be taught or preached

As if she always knew it was in Heaven she belonged

As if her very heart was breathed out of that sweet, triumphant song

Love grew strong within her, taking root and growing deep

Sometimes the love surrounding her could make a person weep

The serpent in his malice grew more vengeful of her glow

And in his jealousy, plotted a way to bring her low

He’d wait until the quiet times, and whisper in the night

Repeating lies of worthlessness, to try to snuff the light

Telling her the same things that he once had told her mother

That she was just a burden, of no use to any other

He told her she was just a fake – her heart was not sincere

And tried to keep her love at bay by planting doubt and fear

He taunted her with warnings not to let anyone in

For when they saw the real her, they’d be sickened by her sin

He held her failures over her, accusing and insulting

Trying to strip her of her faith, and distract her from exalting

To try to keep her focused on herself, and not her Savior

-To keep grace from her mind, and keep her sights set on behavior

 

And yet the devil’s conqueror gained ground each day that passed

Until her heart was His, as she surrendered all at last

Angels sang as she laid down her life before her Lord

And Satan and his minions shrunk as she took up her sword

Cowering as the light within her burst forth like the sun

Abhorred that his adversary had already won

 

He vowed never to stop, although he knew his own defeat

Working overtime, ejecting lies set on repeat

Attacking any way he can, and using human bait

Weak ones he could influence to wound her with his hate

Puppets he could send– so easy to manipulate

Planting words within them that each one could imitate

And yet, this daughter of the King was not just fair but wise

For when her soul was born again, she also gained new eyes

Although her flesh was weak, easily stung with cuts and wounds

The Spirit in her could discern deception from the truth

 

For that same light within her would illuminate her feet

And keep her on the path known as the straight and narrow street

She would learn to follow no one other than the Light

Confident that morning always follows after night

For as she walked, she found her eyes continually opened wide

And in her ears, she’d hear Him say He’d never leave her side

Beside the path to left and right, He’s shown her sinking sand

But she will run the race and win, as she clings to His hand

She knows the heart inside her beats with pure and Holy blood

And she must never be afraid to use that heart to love

For he has recreated her with that mission in mind

The stone is gone, and in its place is something pure and kind

 

Soft hearts can be vulnerable, and opened to attack

But her heart holds a light that cannot ever turn to black

For He has made it pliable and warm with love that’s real

A strong and steady love that Satan cannot crush or steal

As she holds out her heart to Him, the devil cannot stand

For he knows all the overwhelming power held within her hand

A power that brings the light from Heaven down to blinded earth

Revealing that the love she holds makes her of matchless worth

And as she holds it out, the Lord protects it with a shield

It’s His alone, bought with a price, and with His blood, it’s sealed

One day He may share it with a son who bares His mark

And join the two together as a beacon in the dark

But ‘til that day, He’ll prove to her that He is all she needs

Together, they will run the race and see the captives freed

 

No doubt she will be married to a prince within this life

But long before that, she will prove to be a noble wife

For He prepares her for a glorious wedding in the sky

Pouring love upon her, making her the bride of Christ

Teaching her submission, and humility, and grace

That she might not have eyes for earth, but only for His face

He will forge a crown for her to match her gown of white

He’ll lift the veil, and she’ll forever live within the Light

Fairer than a heroine or princess in a tale

I know a lady who could never fall enough to fail

Brighter than the stars at night and deeper than the sea

She’s lovely as they get, yet holds more worth than sight can see

With love that never dims and strength to pass through any test

This woman’s name is Bronwyn, with the Light within her breast

Free to Struggle

I am not a good person, and as I may humbly point out, neither are you. Shocking as this sounds, this humbling truth is necessary to understand our condition as human beings. As children, we slowly begin to speculate the world around us, try to sort out the millions of thoughts and feelings that run through us daily, and understand the meaning of life. And this desire to strive after purpose in life never fades. Each soul that is brought into this world has a choice to seek after the elusive ‘truth’, and, depending on your worldview, truth may be relative or not. Yet we strive, toil, and struggle through each day, attempting to make sense of the short years we have on this planet. I may not know you, but I do know this. We are the same in one very important, devastating way- we are sinful by nature. Nobody had to teach us to steal the cookie out of the jar. No one had to teach you to lust after the sexy singles on your Facebook page. No one showed you how walk down the road of darkness that so many of us find ourselves in. Is there any redemption for us? Is there any point to the despair we face? I believe there is- I believe the struggle of life points us to a struggling servant. One who was shunned in this life, despised, mocked, and eventually, murdered despite his innocence. But this servant is not to be pitied, but worshiped. Despite his servant hood, He is truly the Master. Despite his lowly state on earth, He is matchless in glory. He is Jesus Christ, and yes, he died for the sins of the world. “Really, you’re gonna bring up Jesus?” We spend our lives chasing after the wind, falling on our faces time and time again, making choices that lead us to destruction, and yet we refuse to “turn our eyes from looking at worthless things” as it says in Psalm 119:37. How long will you allow yourself to be lost in the torrent of confusion as to your purpose in life and spit on the One who can give you meaningful life?

Many of us hold onto the fear that we may look like a failure in the eyes of others, and if we’re being honest, the reality of the existence of a God causes us to run in the other direction, therefore the plastered smile façade goes up and the truth of what is truly going on inside of us is lost. I’m being honest, and I’m choosing to let that fear go. I need to be obedient, not envied, and I need to be pleasing to my Lord, not to man. And with that said, how do I justify not reaching out to those around me who may need me? I know very well that the Lord has allowed me to face many trials and sufferings that I might be used as an example for His glory- one of his many blessings in disguise I’m coming to realize. What is the point of learning so much from my Saviour and keeping these precious treasures locked away inside of me? I want my life to count- I want Christ to be lifted high for His sacrifice on the cross and for the way He has changed the lives of those who have accepted Him, especially my life as I’m the one living it! Those who do know me, know that I scribble in multiple journals- my personal prayer journal is my way of keeping Scripture fresh in my mind and praying in a practical way that keeps me from simply treating the Lord like a vending machine or a psychiatrist( He is to be feared and worshiped and PRAISED-everyday) and a church/speaker journal which allows me to write down important concepts of sermons, etc. I very much prefer the feel of my favourite ballpoint pen jotting down on a fresh piece of paper rather than typing out all my ponderings, but my personal preference is really not important if I am to allow the Lord to move in whatever way He may choose, and offer His light to others- perhaps even through a simple blog. I hope that as I share what He has and is teaching me, you, the reader of this blog, may be encouraged, and enlightened to the world of a young woman who desperately needs the Lord every day (as we all do, yet not all feel that need so deeply.)

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” King Solomon said that in Proverbs 16:25. To my knowledge, Solomon was the wealthiest king recorded in history. I think many times we look at all the rich blessings the Lord provided for him, yet forget the trials he endured, and the sinful failures he committed. His dad was arguably the greatest king of Israel (and Christ’s bloodline was descended from David) and was called “A man after God’s own heart.” I always wondered if Solomon felt inadequate, perhaps fearful of not being able to measure up to his father.  When the crown was passed onto him after his father’s death, the Lord actually visited him and asked him what Solomon desired. He had his answer already prepared, “Wisdom.” Now, I cannot possibly compare myself to this great man in many ways, but I do feel that I understand how Solomon felt at this time in his life. Young, burdened by the responsibilities in his life, anxious about his future- and not unrealistic about his desires for simple human cravings like romance (he-llo Song of Solomon), financial stability, success, etc., but these things were not number one on his agenda. He took a look at his life and at the lives of those around him and knew he needed one thing to live a life worthy of the Lord- wisdom. Solomon also said that “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I didn’t understand this concept very well as I was growing up, but have been lovingly disciplined in order that I might grow in His grace. Wisdom isn’t simply self-control, or knowledge, or even just “doing the right thing.” Wisdom is the ability to walk in step with the true God who gives logic, reason, and integrity and see the benefit in walking in His ways rather than in our own. Not too long ago, I lived very foolishly. I loved this world, hated myself, and lusted after idols I thought would bring satisfaction to a heart that craved peace. I flip flopped between painful ‘relationships’, camouflaged who I truly was depending on the crowd I was hanging out with that day, and spent countless hours training in dance studios and theatres chasing after lofty dreams of being an independant dancer/actor/singer. Despite my selfish dreams, the Lord was relentless in his pursuit of me. He allowed many painful experiences in my life in order to direct me to the Cross. I had so many voices inside of me screaming for their attention, yet all the time I could hear the soft Whisper calling out to me as it speaks of in 1 Kings 19. The Lord eventually broke me- my heart was so withered and worn that I offered it to my glorious Saviour in hard-learned humility, and weakly asked the Lord for one thing, “Wisdom.” He transferred me from darkness and placed me on the road that offers true peace- not because the road is free from hardship, but because Christ walks with me. And He who promised IS faithful- he gives me the wisdom to love His law and to trust Him to bless me when or if He so desires.(After all, Solomon was blessed for seeking the Lord, even with his failures). The road that seemed right to me was leading me to destruction, to failure, to despair. But the narrow road that the Lord calls us to leads us to joy, hope, a home that can never be shaken. I’ve recently been enjoying listening to Tenth Avenue North’s album The Struggle, (their song Shadows inspired the title of this blog) and especially their single The Struggle. Their lyrics ring true for me and may ring true for you, you can listen here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSH3Q6O_7w8
There’s a wreckage, there’s a fire
There’s a weakness in my love
There’s a hunger I can’t control
Lord I falter and I fall down
Then I hold on to the chains you broke
When You came down and saved my soul
Save my soul

Hallelujah
We are free to struggle
We’re not struggling to be free
Your blood bought and makes us children
So children drop your chains and sing

So why Lord, do I still fail
Do I wear thin, why do I still give in to temptation?
On my own I am bankrupt
I don’t trust You, or take you at your word
what You’ve promised

Hallelujah
We are free to struggle
We’re not struggling to be free
Your blood bought and makes us children
So children drop your chains and sing

Hallelujah, death is overcome
And we are breathing
Hallelujah our stone hearts become flesh
A flesh that’s beating
Hallelujah chains have been undone
And we are singing
Hallelujah the fire has begun
Can you feel it?

Hallelujah
We are free to struggle
We’re not struggling to be free
Your blood bought and makes us children
So children drop your chains and sing

I know that I am weak on my own. I can feel like a failure, like I am bankrupt- and I’m struggling to be the woman of God I know I am called to be. What a comfort to know that we are free to struggle in this life, but to struggle in the pursuit of heaven. Our struggle is not worthless or in vain, and we are not placed under condemnation because of Christ; we are children of the Most High and are loosed from the bonds of sin. Yet, if we so choose, we can run back to our chains and lock ourselves in the prison we were once held captive in because of sin. We can return to the vomit, we can look back to the vile city of Sodom if we so choose… but there is only One way that offers life, and many that offer death and destruction.
When life seems it’s bleakest, when your security has become ruins, and your bright world is now clothed in darkness, do you run to your chains or to the one who has set you free? I’d like to tell you I have always run to the Lord when my world falls apart, but it’s not always true, especially in the past couple months. I have been guilty of still sadly grasping at dreams and hopes I think I need in order to experience a life filled with purpose, meaning, and most importantly, my personal happiness (because the world revolves around me, right?). Obviously, I am still a fool in transition in many ways. Lord forgive me for the way my heart has clung to idols of this world rather than You! Reality is, our lives should be a fragrant offering to Christ, my idea of what would be best for me and what would make me most happy is truly not most important. It doesn’t matter what your testimony is- this lesson will always be a hard one to learn because it involves dying to yourself and truly living for Christ, or, as it feels like a lot of the time, struggling for Christ.
I am not a good person. I’m a failure on my own, but I am bought with a price, and I am learning that every storm in this life brings me closer to what Jesus spoke of in John 16,”So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Many times we take this verse out of context thinking we can pray for prosperity in Jesus name and POOF, we’ll have all the idols we’ve been craving. Jesus said in that day we’ll ask nothing of him- because we will have all that we desire right in front of our eyes- all else will fade and we will see our true prize and treasure for all that He is. Yet Jesus still says The Lord will give us what we ask for. So what should we be asking our Heavenly Father for?

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, forever and ever, Amen.”

One thing I know, the Lord will always bless the righteous who ask for His will to be done- submitting yourself to the One who ultimately has the best plan for your life is the WISEST thing to do.
Friend, beloved, don’t walk down the path of destruction, find comfort in the God who saves our souls, grants us wisdom, and gives us the strength to struggle through each day.