Jesus should’ve given up on me long ago. I gave up on myself, especially during my teen years, when I spent more time drunk than sober, and filled with enough anger to emotionally combust.
But each day, God pursued me and lovingly drew me until, eventually, His gentle and persistent love soothed my inner angst and healed the hurt it came from. He always offers us more grace and patience than we’d ever offer ourselves, and His staying power far exceeds ours. I know this, but in moments of doubt or discouragement, or when my pride wins out over obedience, I can easily forget.God's love for me is based on who He is, not what I've done, and my salvation rests on what He's done, not what I haven't. Click To Tweet
In Christ, I am held secure.
I never fully understood God’s heart for me, and the power and strength emerging from it, until I became a parent. But having walked beside my daughter through nearly a lifetime of good, bad, the obedient, and at times, flat-out rebellious, I’ve caught a better, deeper, picture of my Father’s heart—a heart that never lets go, never gives up, and will in no way ever turn away.
When our daughter was seven or eight, we moved across the country from Southern California to Bossier City, Louisiana, a transition she struggled with. Though initially, we were oblivious to her pain—seven-year-olds aren’t often able to express their emotions—we soon became alert to a drastic change of behavior. Our normally cheerful, affectionate little girl had become sullen and angry.
I was confused and concerned.
One afternoon, she grew quite upset with me (for reasons I can’t remember), shouted, “I hate you!” and slammed her bedroom door.
That was the first, and perhaps last, time she’d ever said something like that to me, and it broke my heart. But not for the reasons you may assume.
My heart broke because I knew hers was breaking. Beneath her anger and harsh words, I saw her pain, and in that moment, what I longed for most was to draw her near and hold her close.
Throughout my faith journey, I’ve displayed a similar response toward God as she had to me, numerous times. Like when my friend was dying, and I struggled to reconcile my circumstances with what I knew regarding God’s love, power, and sovereignty. Once my emotions settled down, guilt and fear followed. Had my anger angered God?
Had I—or would I—do something that would drive Him away for good?
But each time, not only did He remain. But He took giant, loving steps toward me.
How securely are your feet planted in grace? When doubts and insecurities arise regarding God’s heart for you, how might pausing to remember who He is, rather than what you have or haven’t done, help you rest in His embrace? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.
For those wanting to learn how to more fully embrace their Christ-centered identity and rest in His grace, grab a free copy of our study, Becoming His Princess. You can do so HERE. And make sure to join us for one of our upcoming Fully Alive conferences to learn how to connect on a deeper level with your Savior and live vibrantly alive in every moment. Find out more and how to register HERE. Want us to join you for your next women’s event? Contact us for more information or to schedule a time to chat by phone HERE.
In every moment, we have a choice as to what we’ll focus on and, therefore, how we’ll feel. We live in a world that is all about me. What’s in it for me? In fact, when someone gives of himself or herself unconditionally or doesn’t appear to understand the gravity of their situation, how many of us question their motives or their sanity? What are they up to? What’s their agenda?
However, God never intended us to live this way.When someone gives of themselves unconditionally, how many of us question their motives or their sanity? However, God never intended us to live this way. Click To Tweet
In John 10:10b Jesus says, “I have come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” Abundant life refers to life in its abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, body, and soul” (NIV). As I studied this, I realized that it didn’t say we’d have an abundant life with no problems, or an abundant life with no worries or difficulties.
I have a friend who is a great example of what it means to live life abundantly. Anytime someone asks her how she is doing, her response is, “I’m blessed, blessed beyond measure.”
With that response, you would think she lived a charmed life. You wouldn’t know her daughter was just diagnosed with MS, a crippling disease that will eventually take her life. You wouldn’t know her husband, who is 62, just lost his job—three years before full retirement. You wouldn’t know all of these things because she believes that the gifts she has been given, even the gift of another day with her daughter, makes her blessed. Her focus is on the blessings and she has real joy.
I love to share the story about a group of alumni, highly established in their careers, who got together to visit their old university professor. As they sat in his living room, their conversation turned into complaints about stress in work and life. The professor went to the kitchen and returned with a large pot of coffee and an assortment of cups—porcelain, plastic, glass, crystal—some plain looking, some expensive, some exquisite. As he passed the tray around, he invited them to help themselves to the coffee.
When all the students had a cup of coffee in hand, the professor said, “If you noticed, all the nice looking and expensive cups were taken first, leaving behind the plain and cheap ones. It’s normal for you to want only the best for yourselves. That is the source of your problems and stress. Be assured that the best cup itself adds no quality to the coffee. What all of you really wanted was the coffee, not the cup, but you consciously went for the best cups.” All of the former students looked around the room at the cups each person held. The wise professor held up a plain, ordinary cup and continued, “Now consider this: life is the coffee. Jobs, money, and your situations are the cups. They are just tools to hold and contain life, and the kind of cup you have does not define, nor necessarily change the life you live. By concentrating only on the cup, you fail to enjoy the coffee God has provided. “
God has offered us a life overflowing with joy and steadiness of mind, body, and soul–if only we focus on the coffee and not the cup. The abundant life is attainable for all of us, regardless of our circumstances.The abundant life is attainable for all of us, regardless of our circumstances. Click To Tweet
What about your “cup” are you focused on? Your circumstances, job, finances, struggles, personal weaknesses?
What are your blessings? The coffee in your cup? Make a list of the blessings God has given you—mind, body, and soul.
Then begin focusing on those blessings (the coffee and not the cup) by practicing the phrase my friend says when asked how she is doing, “I am blessed, blessed beyond measure.”
I was worn out from the chase. For as long as I’d practiced Christianity, I’d felt like I was running after God and perfection and both were slipping through my grasp. I thought His love for me ebbed and flowed based on my merits. But I found a power working in me that’s separate from my striving and never tires. He’s the Holy Spirit.
He’s a member of the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—whom we may avoid because He seems elusive. Early in my faith, I wasn’t sure how to rely on an unseen Being with immeasurable and invisible power. I felt like a failure most of the time. Seemed like everyone around me was crushing it while I was smothered by the stress of life.
Could the Holy Spirit provide power and guidance to transform me into the wife, mother, friend, and servant I desired to be?Could the Holy Spirit provide power and guidance to transform me into the wife, mother, friend, and servant I desired to be? Click To Tweet I needed Him to be real because I was tired of trying to change for the better on my own. So I opened my Bible and read everything about the Holy Spirit I could find. The most important truth I found is that He is with us.
Scripture asserts that God was Emmanuel (God with us) when Jesus walked the earth, and now is present through His Spirit poured out after Christ rose from the dead. In order to rely on His strength, we must believe that God resides in our being. And that with His Spirit, God will build us into who we were made to be.
As we tuck daily into the Holy Spirit’s presence and yield to His leadership, we’ll experience abounding love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). These were all the qualities I wanted to embody and everything I couldn’t become on my own. So I trusted God to work them out in me as I came near to Him.
Here’s what walking in God’s leadership has looked like for me. As I spent each day intentionally reading my Bible, praying for every need, growing friendships with other faithful women, and building a relationship with God, I began to hear the His voice. It was never audible, but a gentle nudge guiding me from my old sinful ways to His loving ones. He’d replay truth from Scripture in my mind when I needed help. In moments of anger, I heard to be quiet. While grieving my Grandma’s death, He assured me people are never lost and that Jesus has overcome the grave. When I felt alone, He proved God’s love for me affirming that I’m chosen and adopted into God’s family.
We can’t trap the Holy Spirit’s power by our limited knowledge.We can’t trap the Holy Spirit’s power by our limited knowledge. Click To Tweet We’ll never fully understand the vastness of His reach in this life because we are human and He is God. But we can choose to believe He’s active in our need. Knowing God’s Spirit is with us in every situation empowers us to keep going and fixes us on the right path.
I’ve found the closer I stick to God through His Spirit within me, the more peace I feel in this chaotic and messy life. Problems still arise, people still disappoint, my sin still tries to drag me away, but now I live with God’s power fighting for me. I simply step in His footprints and keep my gaze on Him. Find comfort this week knowing perfection is not required of you, but that the perfect Spirit of God will transform your life into something better than you can fathom.
Let’s chat about this! How do you come near to God in your everyday life? How would it change things to know that you are not alone in the battle? Visit us on Facebook to share your thoughts. Or connect more with Andrea at her personal blog.