These writings are for the imperfect person searching for more of the Perfect God.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hiding among the baggage



God said to a young man, "You are a mighty hero Gideon!" But Gideon replied, "God, this can't be so! I am the least in my entire family!" (Judges 6:12,15.)




Have you ever felt the least of your family?

I have. 

There was my brother....  And than there was, well, me.

And inspite of my family's consistent affirmations of love and praise towards me, in my mind, the facts simply outweighed their sweet words.

My brother is strikingly handsome as all get-out. And don't get me started on the natural, raw, God-given talent that oozes effortlessly out of his angelic vocal chords. 

Truly.

Than there's his innate talent to perform. To light up a stage. To memorize line upon line of hours worth of production material and to consistently be the hit of each and every show.  

There's more-- he's an artist too. Yep I know. He takes a simple pen and an empty blank paper and turns it into absolute creative beauty.

Just when you think there couldn't possibly be more, he also is the founder and head honcho to one of the only creative churches in existence that focuses on the community of creative arts and the acting community.  (It's called the greenroom-- check it out thegreenroom-annarbor.com)


Okay, I saved the best for last. Because of my brothers very existence, my dad turned his life over to Jesus (literally.) He heard Gods audible voice while looking at his new born son in the hospital and chose in that very moment to follow Christ.


My brothers birth brought Dad to Jesus.

I'll never forget the day I walked into Mr. Lenz's choir room in the fall of 1990 to try out for Concert Choir.  Concert Choir was where it was all at! You've reached the top of your vocal game when you've made it into Concert Choir.

I was much more interested, however, in wearing that satin royal blue floor-length flowing performance dress than the singing portion of it.

But, I never did get the opportunity to wear that satin royal blue floor length gown. (I'm still grieving over that loss.) And even though Mr. lenz' excitement that Scott's sister was there to tryout for Concert Choir surpassed that of my own excitement to one day parade the stage wearing my royal blue satin dress, it soon fizzled out. Quickly. Abruptly.

His face lit up as I approached his piano. "Look everyone!"  He proudly announced to the handful of cool high school singers lingering in the choir hall. "Scott's Sister is here to try-out!" as he smiled from ear to ear.  


The room grew fearfully silent as he straightened his back, placed his hands perfectly and properly on the ivory keys and pressed his three fingers gently on the C chord for me to follow with my voice.

Within seconds the exaggerated ear-to-ear hopeful grin, without even a slight hesitation, turned to a look of panic, than to a look of confusion, than to a look of just utter disappointment.

Yep, than there was me.

But in spite of my own obvious weaknesses, I remember vividly experiencing a depth of proudness that bubbled over while listening to my brother delicately sing life into a song, or confidently preach on stage, or effortlessly perform in a theatre production.  I loved (under statement) wearing the label of "Scott's sister."    

But, this title all too soon and all too easily became a piece of my own identity. 

Scotts sister. 

I hid under this label because my brokeness, my bondage, my fear, my anger, my toxic thinking, my emotional strongholds, my unforgiving spirit-- they all fed my heart lies that I would never find wholeness, fulfillment, purpose and genuine life-giving intimacy with God. But at least I had one good thing going for me... I was Scott's sister!

A man named Saul was chosen by God to be the very first King of a nation. And when Saul found this out, he immediately said "This can't be! My family is the least important of all the families of the land.  Why are you talking like this to me?" (1 Samuel 9:21.)

But God persisted and chose Saul to be king. So, soon after thousands upon thousands of people gathered together in one place to see and be introduced to their brand new king Saul!

"But Saul was no where to be found. When they looked for him, he had disappeared!" (1 samuel 10:21.) 

Why?

The story reads : 
Because "He was hiding among the baggage!" 
The king that God hand chose was hiding among the baggage. (1 Samuel 10:22 nlt)

I was hiding behind some baggage too.

I know I'm not a King, but I am the daughter of One. And He has whispered ever so gently, yet persistently--- come out from under the weight of your baggage, Joyelle. Come out of hiding and allow me to fulfill the purpose, the calling, the plan of your life.

"But God," I'd whisper in my spirit, "I'm naturally naive. Naturally foolish. Naturally lacking in common sense. Naturally un-talented." 

"Yes, that's you away from the cross." God would share as He spoke directly to my heart. "But next to the cross, sweet daughter, anything is possible."  

 "For the lord grants wisdom, from His mouth comes knowledge & understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.  He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the path of the just & protects those who are faithful to Him." Prov 2:6-8

In other words, God's looking for a heart that seeks Him. He sees beyond my fragile humanness, my hindered weaknesses, my less than perfect vocal chords or even my natural strengths --- and goes straight to the heart.

"The Lord doesn't see the things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7.)

God uses both the naturally talented and the least-of-the-family to accomplish His purpose. There's no human lack or human strength that prevents him from using us; as long as there's a humble, willing, thirsty, obedient heart within these human tents, as frail or as mighty as they may be, pleading  "Here I am lord, send me. And I will give to you ALL the glory due."

Is He, by chance, calling you out from among your baggage?

To prop up your head just ever so slightly above the mess of the baggage and see your Father reaching out for you?  Waiting for you to rid yourself of the weight of your past, the lies of the enemy and the shame of your weaknesses-- so that you'll embrace the life of purpose He has hand-crafted, hand-sewn, hand-designed, hand-structured, hand-chosen, just for a time as this... for you and for me?

My brother, yep, he's pretty talented and creative and handsome.  But he, too, will be the first to share that all of his natural strengths mean nothing when compared to the incomparable power and incomprehensible might of Gods spirit working within our surrendered, weak and fragile bodies-- so that His power alone is what radiates through the cracks of these human vessels . His. power. alone.



Monday, September 12, 2016

A letter to the one who wakes me in the middle of the night

Dear worry, 

It's 3:33am as I write this, being woken up by you.

We both know you care very little about my sleep.  In fact it's during these hours you choose to heighten the awareness of your presence. You tug aggressively at the hem of my pjs, obsessing over a need to deplete me of enduring hope and permanent solution.

You tactfully harass the mind with painful lies, inaccurate assumptions and deceitful worst-case-scenarios; all in an evil effort to lose my sure-footing on this path God has purposefully, distinctively and passionately designed for me to walk.

The path on this journey-of-life has deep valleys and high mountains.  And yet, over-and-over-and-over-and-over God has filled in the valleys, leveled out the mountains, straightened the curves and smoothed out the rough places (Isaiah 40:4.) All the while, planting large road signs in bold capital letters along the path stating, "Be strong and courageous!"  Another one reading, "Do not be afraid and do not panic!" And yet another, "I will neither fail you nor abandon you!"

But you know all this.

I don't need to remind you of Gods truth.  Or of His enormity. Or of His power. Or of His provision.  Or of His wisdom.   Or of His faithfulness. Or of His sovereignty.  Or of His Holiness.  Or of His justice.  Or of His grace.  Or of His protection. No, you know it all.

Yet, truth remains your greatest competitor.  While seeking to eliminate any and all remnants of its existence from my mind at this 3:am hour, your weapon of fear has become  the very infrastructure to your method of destruction.

It's the very ingredient you use to  wake me up. Grab my attention. Cause an increase in my pulse.  Remove my gaze from Solution towards problem. I see how fear is your valued and treasured companion.  And together, your collaboration is orchestrated for one purpose only--  To take that which God has redeemed, restored, renewed, and blind the mind at this dark hour so that all truth, clarity, and Godly perspective can potentially become obsolete.

And for a split moment, I hear the gentle, kind, familiar, warm, safe voice of Truth speak purposefully and directly into my spirit-- reminding me what the enemy intended to do at this wee hour of the night. And it certainly was not for enlightenment, but for exhaustion.  Not for awareness, but for anxiousness. Not for truth, but for deception.  Not for help, but for harm. Not for rest, but for confusion.

Yet, what you've failed to remember is that the Holy Spirit, who IS the Sprit of Truth, is using this restless moment for good. These very words would not of been spoken, these absolute truths would not of been revealed, God's powerful presence would not of been experienced had you not woken me up at this 3:am hour.

So, thank you, worry.

Thank you for being a constant thorn in my side that keeps me securely planted and purely refreshed by the knowing I have a God who is the solution to all that you threaten, harass and violate the mind of which belongs to Him.  Yes, I do know your battle with me is real.  And I have two options; to fold at your threats or fight for the territory that doesn't belong to you!  You have invaded Holy ground that is not yours to take.  Therefore, the battle must be fought, daily.

But I know how this ends.  You know how this ends.  And this we both know, it is most definitely not in your favor.

Sincerely, me.



Jesus takes all the worries of the heart and confidently places it down at His feet. While cupping our face into His gentle hands, He repeats three penetrating words which have the potential to alter an entire generational line: "I've got this."

Yes, Father, indeed You do.


"Don't worry about anything.
Instead, pray about everything.
Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done.
Then, you will experience His peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your heart and mind as you live in Christ Jesus."
(Philippians 4:6-8)

"I prayed to the Lord and He answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with joy."
(Psalm 34 4-5)




Thursday, September 1, 2016

When opposites attract

My mom gently led my hand into hers.

Her tear-filled eyes locked a strong gaze with the eyes of my heart as she spoke ten words that punctured through this very moment in time we were sharing on her sunroom couch.

"Just because I'm crying doesn't mean I don't have faith."

Yes, sweet momma, you are most definitely right.

A heart overflowing with painful grief,
can still be a heart overflowing with anchored faith.

A heart consumed with tragic loss,
can still be a heart consumed with incomprehensible hope.

A heart absorbed with deep implanted sadness,
can still be a heart absorbed with boundless belief.

A heart flooded with threatening fear,
can still be a heart flooded with unfathomable trust.



And yet, as I peal back the pages of my life containing doses of pain, seasons of suffering, moments of wounding, stints of hurt, times of loss and chapters of grief, I recognize a dangerous pattern of polluted thinking and a diluted mentality of Gods power.

My lips spoke, "God, you're my refuge."
My heart spoke, " God, you're not enough."

My lips spoke, "God, You're awesome and powerful."
My heart spoke, "God, You've forgot about me."

My lips spoke, "God, Your love is enough."
My heart spoke, "God, I need something more."

My lips spoke, "God, Your plan is perfect and good."
My heart spoke, "God. You need my help."

I was the exact replication of the women Paul describes in his writing in 2 Timothy 3:7- "Such women are forever following new teaching and are not able to understand the truth... they have depraved minds and counterfeit faith."
Until, that is, the band aids of my counterfeit faith slipped off the open wounds of the heart- revealing former loss, grief, pain and hurt which I attempted to stuff in the darkest of corners of the heart.  Still in its original form, yet now toxic, infected, smothered in shame.  The counterfeit thief strategically deceived and convinced the mind that these raw emotions simply were incongruent to that of a follower of Jesus, so that he could fulfill his purpose to kill, steal and destroy that which Christ came to set free.  

When in the beauty of Gods reality, His truth tells me He hears and rescues when I call to Him for help(Psalm 34:17).  He is close to the broken-hearted and rescues those whose spirits are crushed (Psalm 34:18). He does not ignore the cries of those who suffer (Psalm 9:12). He is a shelter for those of us who are weighed down with burden, pain, hurts, wounding, grief and loss.  He is a refuge in times of trouble (psalm 9:9). And after a season of suffering, He will restore, support, strengthen and place the heart on a firm foundation. (1Peter 5:10).

I'm still in awe to this day when I hear of a brave and courageous soul who purposefully, willfully, deliberately and obediently chooses God as the One and Only method of comfort, while in-the-pain.  There is no greater a privilege than to be witness to such a transaction as this.  It's not for the faint of heart-- to courageously swim against the continued strong tides of the worlds system which temps and deceives a mind that there's an easier route, a quicker fix, a better way to go-around-the-pain instead of staying-in-the-pain with Jesus.  Yes, beauty in its rarest and purest form is found when the faulty and easily deceived human heart is given divine access to receive the boundless, the unequaled, the matchless, the enormous love and healing power of Jesus.



It's in-the-pain where I can tenderly and intimately feast on the raw, undiluted grace and kindness of Gods power.   A power that takes that which is mourning and turns it into dancing.  A power that takes that which is ash and turns it into beauty.  A power that takes that which is weak and turns it into strength.  A power that takes that which is sorrow and turns it into laughter.  A power that takes that which is painful and turns it into joy-- so that, I don't avoid the pain, but embrace it and suffer well in the arms of the Only One who can sufficiently, adequately and fully restore the sparkle in my eye (Psalm 13:3).   

Our very being is purposefully, intricately & delicately designed to experience the opposites of both pain and Joy while clinging to the assurance of His comfort, the fulfillment of His love, the rest of His presence and the confidence of His power.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega- the Beginning and the End.  To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.  All who (choose me while-in-the-pain) will inherit all these blessings and I will be their God and they will be my children." (Revelation 21:6-7)