Right where you are

“I’m not healed yet.”  “When I feel more together I’ll serve.  I’ll help.”  “I can’t help that person.  I don’t have time.  It’s too much.”

Some of those phrases are true.  Some of them are not.

Perfectionism says we have to be in the perfect spot at the perfect time to do the perfect thing to help the perfect person get to the perfect place where they feel perfect, completely together.

Wow.  As I write this out I see how ridiculous that statement is and how impossible it is.  No wonder we don’t chase our dreams and goals.  Or just help someone.  We aren’t sure if we are the “one” that needs to help them, or we aren’t sure if we can commit to that sort of time.  These are all valid statements, unless they are statements we use over and over.

Because, at the end of the day we are all busy.  We are all stretched.  Maybe we need to say no, so we can say yes to the things that give us life.  To make room for life-giving stuff.  I don’t know what that is for you.

I didn’t understand this.

So for the past few years I’ve had to say no a lot, to a lot of things.  Three kids five and under can do that.  But I also know there are things that bring me to life.  Writing is one.  Mentoring is another.

Writing I’ve made a purpose to pursue each week.  Mentoring was one I was feeling the itch to add, but I had no idea how.

If we look up, we will see God using us even in these moments.  These moments where we aren’t sure if we are ready or not.  Hint: I will never know if I’m ready or not.  I can’t sit back my whole life, safe, wondering if it’s time or not.

So I moved.  I’ve wanted to meet with a  few of our college girls, and a door opened for me to start a small group with a few of them.  It’s the second small group I serve with.  And it is totally life-giving.  In saying that there’s not one perfect thing to do.  We just have to do, do something.

Two months ago, I was asked to play volleyball for our church and at the time it just didn’t fit in our schedule.  I was pretty frustrated.  Wondering when life was going to let up so I didn’t feel so overwhelmed with the slightest change.

Now, sitting with that truth two months later.  Mondays are the night we were able to meet for this small group.  And it is so completely life-giving.

What is one life-giving thing you can pursue with God?

Love perfected

Paul prays it for us in Ephesians 3:19, “… to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge…”.

John lays out in 1 John 4: 7-12, “Love is from God, God is love, Jesus-the epitome of God’s love in flesh, that God loved us, calls us to love others, and in all that His love is perfected in us.”

To know Gods love is to give it away.  Believing He will still fill us up at the end of a hard day, with hard people to love, and that He will do it again tomorrow.

I’ve been fearful.  Stingy with my love at times.  Afraid I didn’t have enough to give out.  But slowly I’m trusting, this perfecting, that God will refill me.   But that requires some practices on my part, like praying for others, so my heart softens and changes towards them.  Praying for patience with my littles.  Praying the Holy Spirit shows up for me, because I am not able to love in a way God has for me.  It is beyond me.

I love Ephesians 3: 19 says “…and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”   I love more that this is Paul’s prayer.  He understood what it took for us to know Christ’s love for us.  It has little to do with us, we don’t have to organize perfect prayers, just honest ones. Like we need Him.  We can’t do this thing on our own.  It is impossible without Him.

As we pray, I’m challenging myself to look less for the answers, and more for where God is showing up in this mess.  I’ve focused hard on the answers for so long, instead of the One with all the answers.

Love is perfected:

  1. as we get to know our Savior’s love for us through:
    1. Prayer
    2. Reading His Word
  2. as we love our neighbor:
    1. without expectation
    2. with anticipation of God showing up and making His love known

Life goal: to know His Love for me, because it will undoubtably pour out.

Faithful, not perfect

I’ve confused these two words a lot.  Faith.  Perfect.

I thought Abraham was perfect.  I thought David was perfect.  But when we look at their stories they really weren’t perfect.  They did some messed up things, but God still used them.  So how were they righteous?  Not by their own merit.  Not by their acts.  But their faith.  Not in themselves.  But in their God.

See when you are an achiever like myself, it’s easy to confuse faith with achievement.  It’s a belief wrapped up that says, “I’ll show you God why you want to use me…” and “I’ll teach your people to get it together.”  But faith is not within ourselves.  Isaiah says, “even our righteous acts are like filthy rags to God.”  I think because even our good acts are compromised by our humanness.  And when we teach people to achieve and try hard to be perfect, we teach others to become Pharisees.

Pharisees hurt the people that were following them by placing unbearable burdens and laws on their followers that were impossible.  I’m sure a lot of people stepped away from this walk and were judged harshly by the Pharisees because “they couldn’t cut it.”

I’m challenging this belief in myself because it has no merit in the gospel.  It’s the opposite.  God does not desire for us to live perfect lives.  But to realize in Christ we already are perfect before Him because of what Jesus did on the Cross.

Now we get to live messy, stumble, get up, and move forward in grace and love.  Not in works and achievements we once so desired.

James 2 makes it clear that God honors works, but James 1 declares we are free from this law.  So we have the freedom to serve and to live out our faith.  God calls us to work, but maybe in a simpler way.  A way that takes the impossible burdens off our shoulders to do it all, to hold everything up, to keep everything in line, and instead move with grace and love and pour that out instead of burdensome living.

Because if you are like me, its easier to measure our works.  But a heart changed by God is a miracle.  One we cannot do.  And I want that for others, not a burdensome living that is impossible to measure up to, but a life that is free.  Free to serve.

Faith, not perfection, in a God who is true and honest and pure.  He wants our faith in Him and He will move mountains.

Oh help us to see Lord.