WHEN GOD’S PRESENCE IS ENOUGH

Some of my most treasured moments with God have been in the simplicity of peaceful silence with him. There’s something uniquely special about the fact that he loves us so much he gives us the freedom to rest in him without working for something in that moment. Nothing more, nothing less.

When I first found myself enjoying the presence of God above anything else in such an organic way, a confusing thought would creep in.

I wondered if by “doing nothing” I wasn’t being as spiritually “productive” as I should be. I wondered if by embracing this priceless moment of allowing him to just love on me, and me love him back, I was somehow wasting time that was supposed to be spent on “greater things”.

I felt selfish because I thought that maybe by just sitting there, I was missing out on opportunities to produce fruit for God’s kingdom…. Aren’t there people out there who are dying, countries in serious threat, and hearts that are breaking? What am I doing enjoying this as much as I am, while others are suffering and I could be interceding for them?

Through these questions, I realized something I don’t think I ever truly understood until recently: He first desires that we fall deeply in love with his companionship. This comes before what we need to accomplish. More than anything, he wants our heart. 

He desires that, in both the high and low seasons, we discover what is feels like when HIS PRESENCE IS ENOUGH.

He wants us to experience the healing that emerges in his presence. This intimacy is the very substance that fills us and equips us to accomplish what he’s called us to do. He wants us to hear his voice louder and know that we too are enough.  

Have you ever felt like all you really wanted was recognition from someone that meant a lot to you?

How different would it be if we all learned to find complete joy and satisfaction in the time we spend with our Father…If we knew the value of our relationship with him FIRST. How different would it be if we really understood what we mean to him before running to other lovers to complete us.

You see, God’s perfect presence knows exactly how to fill the empty places within us in ways that we aren’t designed to do on our own.

While this doesn’t excuse us to neglect the need and desire for daily devotion, it is so important that we accept the reality that sometimes our Father just wants us to be with him. We may not fully understand it, but the power of God’s presence transcends beyond anything we could ever accomplish on our own time or with our human hands. The reward we receive for this time with him is a stronger relationship with his precious Spirit. As his spirit consumes more of our being, we create a FAR GREATER impact in his kingdom.

We need to embrace our time with him and allow it to be spent the way the Spirit leads you. Relax and find peace in his presence. Let him first equip us for what is to come by establishing our identity in him.

Be still and know that I am God – Psalm 46:10

WHEN UGLY REPRESENTS THE UTMOST BEAUTY

God recently spoke a word to me and said I’ve been going through a “beautification period”, similar to the way that Esther went through a season of preparation before she was selected as queen. He also said this period is soon coming to an end and that I will be stepping into the whirlwind of my destiny.

As I heard this, I was in immediate agreement regarding this season of life as it has been one of spiritual cleansing, renewal, and preparation. I knew right away that God wasn’t referring to physical beautification. He’s truly been uprooting things that weren’t aligned with his timing and replacing them by things that were. My favorite part is how he lavished me with his love and made me feel so worth it. He ignited a previously dormant desire to be in passionate relationship with him.

But if I’m completely honest, I thought to myself, “But I’m still a mess. I recognize that God’s done more in my spirit than I ever imagined, but I’m definitely not beautiful yet! I have so much left to fix. It’s still so ugly in here. So many things still feel ugly. I’m not ready at all, not any time soon.”

Then, I remembered something he had shown me just a few days prior, not realizing at the time how fitting it would be for this very moment:

I am a dancer. My feet look like they’ve been through some rough times. I’m used to most people thinking my feet are ugly, and I’ve always been ok with that, because I love my feet.

Why?

Because every single bruise, cut, and callus has been part of the magnificent process of perfecting my art. The uglier my feet, the more beautiful of a dancer I have become. Sometimes I look down at how worn out they are after hours of rehearsal and feel a rush of gratitude. What appears to be ugly represents an underlying beauty to me. This hidden beauty leads to an admiration for what God has led me to accomplish through hard work and commitment in my gifting. I also know that if my feet were to look any different, it would mean that I’ve neglected my passion and missed out on becoming the person I was meant to be.

I realized this is exactly how my Father sees me now.

I feel ugly because I have faced my struggles. I feel ugly because I still grieve and I still feel pain. I don’t run away from the pain like my heart was trained to do for so long. Instead, I’m handing over my aching to Jesus and allowing him to finally work with me through this process.

Of course it feels ugly- surrender and change don’t typically feel pretty when you’re in the middle of it.

The process of uprooting the old and preparing the soil for the new is not a pretty one. There’s dirt everywhere, holes in the ground, and nothing is really sprouting. At least not that I can see yet. But what he sees lies far deeper and is far more beautiful that what I see.

Whatever “ugliness” I feel within myself today is simply proof that I’m allowing my heavenly Father to guide me toward my original design. It is a symbol of the beauty that will radiate tomorrow.

 

COMFORT IS NOT THE GOAL. IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING.

My favorite part of being at home is my large, peaceful backyard. I love to sit silently on my patio and soak in my Father’s creation. After the vibrant green of summer and the colorful palette of Fall, the ground is eventually filled with hundreds of dry leaves that have fallen from the prior seasons. In order for the grass to continue to grow a healthy green in the spring, the dry leaves must be cleared out.

This is exactly what God wants to do when we allow him to get rid of what no longer has a place in our lives from prior seasons. But he doesn’t just clear them, he makes room for something else to grow. When we come to him with questions or in despair, he doesn’t only want to respond and comfort us. He gives us peace so that the burden we previously carried is removed and no longer blocking what he wants to grow in our lives.

That moment of bringing our troubles to God and feeling a weight lift from our spirit, is a wonderful, priceless experience. The problem is that many times, once we feel lighter from receiving the emotional and spiritual relief we longed for, we decide that’s good enough. We engage in daily routine, focus on everything else that needs to get done, or on what is simply “more interesting” than prayer and devotion. Meanwhile, God is still waiting on your heart. If we’re honest, this relationship dynamic with God is strictly self-seeking.

When you truly desire God, when you truly desire his presence, the removal or lessening of your troubles is nowhere near enough. In fact, it’s only the beginning.

It’s an entrance to a whole new place with God without the disruptions and burdens that were there before. Now is the perfect time in which you can actually begin to experience him in a way like never before.

The primary goal of prayer is not to achieve personal satisfaction so that we can move on to something else. Prayer brings us closer to the heart of our creator. From this closeness, our desires align with his and our hearts become fuller than ever. 

If you’ve received what you’ve been asking for, praise God for what he’s done! Praise him, then keep on pressing into a closer relationship with him. Keep on going by diving in more deeply and craving him more strongly. It’s time to embrace his loving presence and spend each day seeking to hear his voice.

The Holy Spirit is not intended to be a band aid.

God didn’t place his spirit in us so that it could all just be about us. He gifted us with the Holy Spirit because he LOVES us so much that he gave us a guarantee that we can be in constant communion with Him if we so choose. When you truly desire a relationship with God to the deepest depths he has to offer, you don’t stop with a sense of satisfaction after receiving what you asked for. That is never enough. Be encouraged to not move on to other superficial priorities once the Holy Spirit brings you comfort. Use it as a jump start to many greater things to come in your relationship with him. 

As you find the peace that surpasses all understanding in his beautiful presence, as you receive forgiveness through his grace, and as you rejoice in answered prayers, embrace it knowing that the path has been cleared for you to experience the Father in a way you weren’t able to before when everything else was bringing you down.

If you took your heart to him and he met you exactly where you needed to be found, let this be a catapult for the rest of your journey as a follower of Jesus. 

God wants to bring you out of your prior season for NEW THINGS to grow. He doesn’t clear out the dead leaves in your life so that your land can remain dry and barren. He does it with the purpose of allowing his precious living water to permeate your spirit and bring you the clarity needed to keep moving toward your purpose. This, my friend, is a process that should never come to a stop.

 

REJOICE ALWAYS DOES NOT MEAN BE HAPPY ALWAYS

One of my very favorite verses in the Bible is 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. It’s a beautiful verse, yet I think we sometimes read verses like these and don’t look deeply enough into what it’s truly saying. We equate the idea of rejoicing always with “never being sad.”

As a result, we create an expectation in the body of Christ that you’re not allowed to feel pain, that “rejoice” cancels out sadness. A completely unreasonable expectation.

This verse is reminding us to rejoice IN our suffering. To keep praising and being thankful in everything, including our sadness. We are called to keep rejoicing in the good moments and the bad ones because God is still good in all of them.

Rejoicing is extremely important- it helps bring healing and preserves a posture of gratitude. The more you rejoice, the more light shines in your dark situation. This glorifies God in everything and therefore brings life to every circumstance.

But it doesn’t demand that you not be human. It doesn’t mean your pain isn’t acceptable. One feeling isn’t supposed to entirely cancel out the other. Especially if you find yourself in the process of healing from a situation that has brought you pain.

In the beginning, God didn’t create two robots in the garden. God created man and woman- in his own image. He created us. He created feelings. If we are made in his own image, doesn’t God have an abundance of feelings? The Old testament is filled with story after story illustrating God’s emotions towards his people. In fact, even in the midst of his passionate love for us, we see Him expressing sadness time and time again as his children overlooked his love.

Romans 12:12 tells us to be, “joyful in hope, patient in affliction.” It doesn’t say “ignore the affliction”, or “be hard on yourself in the affliction”. Paul understood that healing from affliction is a process that requires patience and dependence on the greatest Healer. He understood that affliction is inevitable. He understood the beautiful truth that only with Christ is it possible for sadness and rejoicing to coexist and intentionally work together.

Romans 5:3 tells us to rejoice in our sufferings, and the rest of the verse explains why: “knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”

You’re not letting God down when you find yourself experiencing sadness. That moment when you acknowledge your feelings and surrender your heart to the comfort of the Father may be the first time you’ve given him the opportunity to fully embrace your heart and pour out a wave of healing on the pain you’ve been denying.

The more pain I’ve experienced in life, the more I’ve realized that each moment I shut off the pain was a missed opportunity to see God’s goodness. His presence in the hurting, his quickness to send an outpouring of love from all directions, the beautifully creative ways he showed me his heart’s response to my pain, all were things that marked me forever. Without allowing him to step into the places I had no idea how to mend, I would have never known him the way I do today. And I must say, I am so thankful I don’t see him through the same lens I used to.

So if you’re hurt, then hurt. If you’ve got pain, don’t ignore it. Yet also rejoice. Rejoice in the weakness that gives our Father a wide open space to be strong on our behalf.

Embedded within the pain, we can rejoice in knowing we don’t have to carry the weight alone.

We rejoice in our healing, knowing that the love of Jesus will shine the most brightly in the darkness.

EMPTY PROMISES vs GOD’S PROMISES

God is the only One who always means what He says.

In Acts 27, Paul traveled on a boat along with a centurion and several prisoners, when the weather suddenly took a threatening turn. Upon noticing the storm, Paul urged the centurion to turn the boat around and warned that if they continued, it would result in a disaster that could cost their lives. Paul’s warning was ignored, and they found themselves in a raging storm. The Word says that “neither sun nor stars appeared for many days” (Acts 27:10). They began to throw cargo off the ship and all hope of survival was lost. When least expected, Paul stood up and offered something they didn’t have before:

A PROMISE.

Paul told everyone they would survive. An angel of God had come to Paul and said to him, “Don’t be afraid, Paul. You must stand before Caesar; God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you” (Acts 27:24).

How did Paul respond to the angel’s message? By saying, “I believe God because he said it.” Period.

Think about this for a moment. Paul and several other men were caught in a storm so intense that they were literally on the verge of death. The only natural response in this situation is complete panic. Yet Paul immediately believed what was told to him, his only reason being that God said it. 

Initially, it was hard to wrap my head around it. I don’t know about you, but I’ve suffered greatly from broken promises. How many times have people you trusted spoken things to you, made promises you held on to, only to rip them away like your heart is far less than the treasure it was created to be? And as a result, you too may not have see the sun nor stars for many days.

I believe that our ability to hold on to the word of God as a promise can be heavily tainted by all the times our trust has been violated by others. As humans, we naturally guard the areas of our heart that have experienced pain. The greater wound, the greater the protection. We experience an empty promise, maybe a few, and forget that there is One is who will NEVER take away his plan for us.

When something comes out of the mouth of God and into our life, it is our responsibility to make room for his words to grow roots in our spirit by believing and walking in obedience. He doesn’t take back what he said, he doesn’t change his mind. Notice that many verses in the bible end with “The Lord has spoken.” This may seem like a minor detail, but it is a powerful statement. I think so many verses end this way because it’s equivalent to placing a seal. Similar to when the Kings wrote a decree and would complete it with a seal so no one could change it. “The Lord has spoken” means it will come to pass.

What I think is the best part, is that he LOVES us too much to make an empty promise.

Everything he speaks to us- personally, through his Word, through others, comes out of his immeasurable love that no human on will ever match. When we experience heartbreak or disappointment from an empty promise, he is sad too. He feels disappointment with us.

Remember… he knows what all of these things feel like. Jesus knew the deceit of a broken promise when Judas, his disciple sworn to loyalty, turned him over to a humiliating death with kiss. God knows what it was like to be abandoned by the Israelite people whom he deeply loved in old testament times again, and again, and again. God doesn’t give empty promises- he has been in our position far more times than we have!

Let’s not limit the desire of our Father to bring us what he has promised. He made a huge sacrifice so that you could always hold on to his promises- no matter how wounded you are, how much you’ve been let down, or how often you see others receiving their promises while you wait.

Ask your Father if there is anything you haven’t realized that could be standing in the way of you and your promise. Ask him if there are any areas in which he has been trying to grow you, and you might be pushing back.

Perhaps none of these things are the case for you. Perhaps he wants you to trust, wait, and continue to walk in confidence.

Wherever you may find yourself, let his words seep into your spirit and make residence in the most callused areas of your heart.

God says he created you and what he creates is perfect. Your flaws don’t change that. He means it.

He says that when you’re weak, He’s ready to be strong

When others walk away because you’re too much work or responsibility, he says he’s ready to fight for you

He says that when you forget about Him, he pursues you

He says that when you fail and others give up on you, he will NEVER give up on you

He says that it would it would break his heart to lose you

He says you are enough, you are worth it, and he will keep holding on.

He means Every. Single. Word. 

When the Lord speaks into your life don’t let your mistakes or someone else’s steal what God is excitedly desiring to give you. Hold on to what he speaks to you like it’s the most valuable and priceless treasure you will ever receive, because it is.

To God, your heart is not a joke.