Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The Wait: To Know and Be Known (feat. Jonathan McReynolds' "Make Room")

I've had Jonathan McReynolds' latest album Make Room on repeat since it dropped March 9th. If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, by now, you probably know I'm #TeamLifeMusic through and through, but this album...this music is--different. As usual, every song could be a single, but there's something so raw about this batch of material. Maybe it's because it's live, and we're getting the audience's authentic reaction to the music. Maybe it's just because McReynolds is anointed to write the woes of this generation. With the release of every album, I think, How can he possibly know EXACTLY what I want to say to God? Sure enough, he's read my mail again. Let's talk about the title track, "Make Room."

Jonathan McReynolds - Make Room (2018) / Amazon


I find space for what I treasure

I make time for what I want

I choose my priorities and

Jesus, You're my number one

First of all, we don't even really need to go any further into the song...and to be honest, the first time I heard it, I couldn't go any further. I was already crying 😭. This was eye-opening for me on SO many levels. Almost every time I listen to this song, God deals with me differently, forcing me to really reflect on what it means to make room in various areas of my life. One listen in particular led me to consider how making room (or not) affects the wait.

In my Valentine's Day post, I composed a short poem to my future husband, whoever he may be. I ended the piece with, "We'll be better together than we are apart, but for now, He's making space for you inside of my heart." As I was listening to "Make Room," it hit me: God can't--and won't--make space for a man in my heart until I've given Him ample room. This is why it's important to know and be known.

If I'm not finding space for God, I'm showing Him that I do not value Him. If I'm not making time for Him, I'm essentially telling Him, "I don't need You!" and yet, I want Him to send me a spouse? That's out of order! As I've said so many times before on this blog, relationships require hard work. I desire marriage because I know its ultimate purpose is to glorify God, but let's be honest: There will probably be days where my husband gets on every one of my nerves. And guess what? I'll still have to choose to love him. My wedding vows won't become null and void just because my husband and I go to bed mad (because inevitably, at least once, we will be angry after sunset). When I wake up the next morning, I'll have to make a conscious decision to continue to do life with him. Before God gives me the privilege of choosing to love my husband every day, I need to show myself accountable in my relationship with Him.

Why should God trust me with someone else's heart if He doesn't have enough room to move in mine? Above all else, in singleness and in marriage, He HAS to be top priority. The same way I'll have to choose my spouse every day, He wants me to choose Him every day. If I'm not letting Him move in me while I'm alone, why would He bring someone into my life who would potentially take His place? He shouldn't have to compete for the space in my heart that rightfully belongs to Him. I never want to make an idol out of marriage, and I certainly don't want to run the risk of making my husband my god. So, Lord, in the meantime:

"I will make room for You / I will prepare for two." For now, that "two" is You and I, and it will still be You and I when "I" becomes "we." I don't want to ever lose sight of that. No matter who You bring into my life, I never want You to feel that You can't live in me. More than anything, I want to know You and be known by You. I want to always choose You first, so whatever, whoever, however, whenever it is, if it's crowding the space where You should be, You can move that over! I mean it this time.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Our Wants vs. His Will (Part 2): Waiting for the "Why"

#WednesdayWisdom...on a Friday! God gave me this post not too long ago, and it goes so well with Wednesday's piece, I decided not to wait until next week. Wednesday's discussion was about making sure our wants are within the will of God. In asking for what we want, we should always acknowledge that He knows our needs, but the Bible also says God gives us free will. What happens when we add that to the equation? Today's post is close to home. In fact, it's something I'm grappling with right now, in this season. I've decided to stop waiting for the "why."

Why / Chief Learning Officer

What do you do when you pray about something and it doesn't seem like God is giving you a concrete yes or no? You make a choice. There were a few times in my life when I prayed and God gave me an answer right away, even if it wasn't the answer I wanted. As I've matured in my faith, I'm realizing that the answer won't always be crystal clear. Sometimes, He'll give you more than one option and you'll have to decide which one's the good one, and which one's the God one. How do you choose between the delayed yes and the right-away yes when both choices are almost perfect, but not quite? The answer is both simple and complex: You just choose.

Everyone says the "right" decision will bring an overwhelming sense of peace. I would argue that that's not always the case. Sometimes, even after you've made the choice, you'll still be apprehensive. Sometimes you have to weigh out the pros and cons and choose the one that might not make sense in every single aspect, but something about it just feels right. That something is what separates the good thing from the God thing.

Whenever I'd find myself in a split decision, I'd pray, "Lord, show me why You're calling me to this person/place/thing and what You want me to do with it/them." I used to pray that prayer all the time until I realized something: If you wait for the why, you're wasting time. Sometimes the "what" is all we need to know, and sometimes that "what" is just GO. Just do it, and do it now. If God doesn't give us the "why" right away, it's because He knows that if we see everything we'll have to go through to get to that "why," we might not want it anymore. He'll hold back the "why" until we move on the "what" because sometimes the "why" is intimidating. Don't let that deter you!

If you feel God calling you to something somewhere, answer the call, even if that call isn't what you expected. The peace may not come right away. Being called to a purpose does not guarantee that walking in it will be easy, but rest in Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (NIV). Travis Greene said it best, "I don't have to worry 'cause it's working for me!" We serve an intentional God whose motives should not ever be questioned. No matter what your starting point looks like, He always causes us to triumph! So if you've reached a fork in the road, pray, then choose a path and trust Him to direct you. The "what" is GO, the "when" is NOW. You're walking towards your "why."

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

#WednesdayWisdom: Our Wants vs. His Will

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. This week's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom is a word on what to do when things don't go according to plan. Well, they do go according to plan, just not according to our plan. Are your wants in His will?

"In their hearts humans plan their course,
but the Lord establishes their steps." -Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)

Have you ever tried to make something happen for yourself? Have you ever wanted something so badly that you almost willed it to be yours, and then God took it? I've been there, and honestly, it's the most frustrating thing ever. It's like, you tell God what you think is best for your life, and then He proves Himself sovereign, snatching that magic carpet out from underneath you, leaving you looking like who done it and WHY 😭? No, but seriously, if you stop and be honest with yourself, you already know who did it--God, of course--and there's really no need to ask why. He didn't allow what you wanted to happen because your will did not align with His.

Footprints / Back to Sonship

When you're praying for things you want, you have to be able to distinguish your own voice, thoughts, feelings, and emotions from the voice of God. You have to open yourself up to hear Him clearly, even if He tells you something you don't want to hear. If you mistake your will for His, you could alter the course of your life. It's okay to tell God what you want, but don't overstep your mortal boundaries. Here's an example of how I pray when I'm asking for something I want:

Lord, You know my heart, and You know my needs. My desire is [insert what you want here], but my ultimate desire is to please You. If [insert what you want here] is Your will for my life, point me toward it clearly, and help me figure out my next move. If [insert what you want here] is not Your will for my life, make that clear to me, and help me be at peace with it. Show me how to walk along the path You have paved for me, and let Your will be done and not mine. Strengthen my faith and remind me that You are still good and still in control. In Jesus's name, amen.

This prayer is not perfect by any means, but it's definitely a good starting point. The main idea here is that you should always want what God wants for your life. He can flip the script whenever He wants to. It may not seem like it right now, but when you look back at this moment, His change of plans will make perfect sense. When you really know that He loves you, no matter how much your flesh wants to settle for what it wants, your spirit won't accept anything less than what you need. God's will is always worth it. #WednesdayWisdom

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

#WednesdayWisdom: Got You Covered

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. Today's nugget of #WednesdayWisdom is a word on the importance of praying for others. I saw something on Facebook the other day that got me thinking. It was a post that said, "Pick a person, and for the next 30 days, pray for their happiness. Don't tell them you're praying for them. Just watch God work." I think this is a great idea!

Image credit: The Praying Woman

When I was a little girl, my mother used to stand in the doorway of my room and cover me in prayer as I slept. She would speak positive affirmations over me and declare that I would accomplish great things in the Kingdom of God. She would tell Him everything she wanted me to be and do. She did that every night from my first day of pre-K until I left home for college...and I didn't even know about it until recently. I'm convinced that her prayers played a huge part in who I am today and in who I'm yet becoming.

Christianity teaches us that we should all have our own personal prayer life and relationship with God. That's true, but it's comforting to know that someone else is helping to keep you covered. I hope this post encourages you to be selfless. Put your own needs to the side for just a moment and consider the silent battles your friends and loved ones may be fighting. They may never tell you what's bothering them, what mountain they're facing, but even if you don't know what to pray for on their behalf, just mention their name in conversation with God. You might not know exactly what they need, but He does. I love to watch my friends win, and their happiness makes me happy. I know what prayer can do because once upon a time, someone prayed for me. The least I can do is pay it forward. It's so rewarding when you intercede for a person privately and watch them flourish publicly. The prayers of the righteous availeth much. Who are you covering? Who's got you covered? #WednesdayWisdom

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

#WednesdayWisdom: Praying For A "Microwave" Breakthrough

Hey everyone, hope you're having a blessed week and making it over the hump. The #WednesdayWisdom series is back like it never left! Today's nugget is a word on processing, inspired by a quote from Pastor John Gray:

"Don't get upset when there's a distance between your anointing and your announcement, because the distance between your anointing and your announcement is the process."

Microwave / Walmart

We live in a "microwave" society. We want instant gratification, instant validation, instant success, instant income, instant everything. Patience has become a lost art. We don't know how to wait anymore--actually, if we're being honest, we know how to wait--we just don't want to. We see what we want, and we want it--whatever "it" is--right NOW.

Newsflash: We might live in a "microwave" society, but we don't serve a "microwave" God. Have you ever noticed that when you cook something in the microwave, its cooking time is shorter, but it doesn't taste quite as good as it would've if you'd cooked it in the oven? The same applies to your process. In an excerpt from Luke 12:48, Jesus says, "From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked" (NIV). If God anointed you for something, He will announce His timing. Don't rush Him. I think we hold on too tightly to the idea that God will take us where we need to be. He will, but here's the thing: The promise is not just in future tense. It's in the present, too--present in your process. The fact of the matter is, you're already exactly where you need to be. Right now, this very moment, is an integral part of your process. It may be difficult, but it's a necessary step closer to purpose. Your process has already started even if you can't see it yet.

A word to the wise: If God's taking you through your process slowly, it's because He's preparing you for higher elevation. Before you level up, God needs to make sure you can handle the altitude of your anointing! If you try to get out of this chapter too soon, chances are you'll struggle more in the next one. Skipping the struggle now may cause you to take success for granted later. The next time you're tempted to ask God for a microwave breakthrough, consider that the oven-baked blessing is well worth the wait. Give yourself grace to be seasoned in this season. Go through your process and finish this phase strong. You've got this! 💪🏾 #WednesdayWisdom