Somehow a month has gone by since the last time I’ve written, and for that, I apologize. Perhaps this post will make up for it? Let’s skip the small talk. I’ve got lots to share.
It’s officially spring! I love new life. Babies. Puppies. Budding flowers. The first day of school. There’s just something about newness. The reset button is pushed and the possibilities are endless.
This winter has felt long. (I’m blaming the groundhog) It felt like it came early and it stayed late — and if I’m honest, in my spirit, I still feel a little “wintry.” A little bare, a little cold; asking questions and wondering when I’ll have answers. Not to mention wishing I had a little pigment on my skin. 😉
In the last month, life has been absolutely crazy. Noland and I were in three weddings in four weeks. He spent a week in LA leading worship and I spent a week in Nashville visiting friends. We celebrated and we grieved. I’ve glimpsed heaven in brides that I love, dressed in white, being presented to a groom. I’ve felt the sting of death on a couch with a dear friend who just lost her brother. I’ve enjoyed long-awaited reunions and first-time meetings, as two close friends had babies since the last time I’d been home to Tennessee. I’ve asked questions I may never know the answers to after time spent with the mom of a friend who’s walking through some dark, heavy stuff.
There was a common emotion in all of these experiences: longing. The longing felt between a bride and groom during an engagement season that finally ends on that glorious day of their union. (And all the married readers said ‘Amen!’) The longing felt when we grieve; a longing for eternity where we see the ones we’ve lost again. The longing I’d felt for a year and a half to meet those sweet babies of dear friends, and the heavenly moment of a first tiny hug from them. The longing for understanding for a friend in a circumstance that’s unfathomable. The longing to be with my husband again after a week away from him.
And longing is kind of strange, because I’m pretty convinced we never stop feeling it on this side of heaven. In some seasons we feel it more than others — I think I’ve been in a “more” season in the last 6 or 8 months. Longing for the fulfillment of dreams and promises I’ve been standing on for a long time. Longing to finally feel rooted somewhere; growing weary of feeling like I live my whole life in transition, and trying to constantly stay aware of not living in a “the grass is greener elsewhere” mentality.
In a season of being intensely refined, I felt like God had given me three things that He was doing in me. That He was tattooing on my spirit something that I had to endure the discomfort of until He was done, otherwise it wouldn’t be the beautiful work of art He intended for it to be. Those three things I felt like He told me would mark my life and my ministry were boundless trust, fierce obedience and contagious freedom.
To trust Him without limit, to obey Him with deepest passion and conviction, and to wait on Him with hope and expectation, walking in a freedom that comes from a deep rootedness in the truth that He is GOOD. These are the things I want to mark me forever.
But sometimes I grow weary, and I ask questions because it’s hard to always stay so convinced of His goodness when people are dying without explanation and suffering unjustly, when children don’t have homes and women can’t have children, when winter is long or the road through the desert seems never-ending. And ironically all these doubts are also the exact reason Noland and I follow a calling on our lives to go plant the spring of living water that is The Church right in the middle of a desert valley. Because where would we be left in hard circumstances if hope in a love that’s perfect, that perfects all things, wasn’t where we anchored our faith?
I was reminded in an evening spent with a dear friend in Nashville last week of the importance of having scripture written on our hearts. Five years ago in a really hard season, she challenged me to memorize some Psalms with her, and it completely changed my life and my walk with Jesus. It almost seems too easy, knowing His word deeply and using it to defeat every attack of the enemy. So easy that somehow I think I’d forgotten that it really is that simple.
It’s the same thing Jesus did when he was tempted by Satan in the desert. Every response to temptation started with, “It is written” — followed by scripture quoted to combat each of the enemy’s lies with truth.
This morning I was listening to a teaching by Graham Cooke on taking our thoughts captive. He talks about moving in the opposite spirit of every enemy attack, and he says that good thinking promotes righteousness, and righteous thoughts produce Godly behavior. And not only is this an excellent discipline, it’s also a prime requirement of a spiritual warrior. And it’s pretty simple. Whatever the enemy most wants you to do, just do the opposite.
I was reminded of one of the most ridiculous acts of God in the Bible: the virgin Mary bearing Jesus, the Son of God. I was recently reading about this story in the book Moments with the Savior, and I loved what Ken Gire had to say about Mary’s response to the promise: When the angel appears to her to tell her what’s about to go down, she never doubts the promise, she only wonders at how it will be fulfilled. It was never “that’s not going to happen,” it was “how will this be?”
Since reading those words, I’ve been checking my heart often in those places of longing in my life. Because longing is just an emotion, but how I deal with it will determine whether I’ve chosen to partner with Satan or with God in my thoughts. So when I find myself in a state of longing or questioning something that still feels far off, I’m asking myself, “What’s the posture of my heart right now? Is it doubt, or is it wonder?”
Doubt fears uncertainty. Wonder marvels at the beauty in the unseen.
Oh Lord, let me be the one who wonders, not the one who doubts. I repent for my unbelief. Boundless trust has no room for doubting. Fierce obedience is not defiant and it does not complain when things don’t go exactly as planned. Contagious freedom has never been born out of unbelief or fear.
As I write your truth on my heart, let it be the first thing out of my mouth when the enemy tries to tell me otherwise.
Thank you that just as spring has come in the natural, you are springing forth new life in my spirit. Thank you that as sure as the sun rises, you will appear; that you will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth. [Hosea 6:3]