Who Are you..?

Hello, precious readers! Remember me?

This past season of life has been full of many winding roads, but the journey has ultimately reminded me of my Loving Compass, Guide, and Strength.

I am constantly reminded each day is a beautiful addition to my venture through life. In this post, I hope to encourage, strengthen, and virtually hug all of my readers who are on a journey of their own.

Fasten your seatbelts (…or sandals?) as we journey this dusty, and perhaps mucky road together.

About a year ago, I wrote a blog post focusing on the life of Jacob, and I titled it “Who Are You?” This was the question that God asked Jacob after they had wrestled until daybreak.

The narrative took place in Genesis 32:22-30:

The Angel: What is your name?

Jacob: Jacob.

The Angel: Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with man, and have prevailed

In my previous post, I reflected on the name “Jacob” representing the old/past/former man. You can insert many things such as the following: deceiver, cheat, liar, stubborn, potential, flighty… I suggested the idea that God proposes the same question to us, and our responses often entangle to the old self, the not-so-pretty, and the genuine self.

Just as God changed Jacob’s name, He was ultimately changing his life. In my last post, however, I missed an extremely important part of the narrative. In fact, a year ago, I was unaware of this crucial part of Jacob’s story. I had to experience Jacob’s journey in my own life in order to truly understand the importance of God’s new name for Jacob. I had to experience my own faults and failures, just as Jacob did. The experience allowed me to see how desperately I needed him to break me and ride me of…ME.

Now, let’s dive into Scripture, shall we?

Prior to Jacob’s wrestling with God at Bethel, he had a life full of tension, trials, sin, rivalry, and fret. Even before Jacob’s birth, his mother, Rebekah, could feel the wrestling of the twins in her womb. God informed her the wrestling was not only between the brothers, but also nations that would be led by Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25:22-23). Before Jacob was born, he was chosen. God knew that Jacob, although he would be human, sinful, and selfish, would be the one who would receive the blessings of God. I had read something that really stuck with me about Jacob and Esau, “Jacob, although he was a sinful man like Esau, was chosen. Jacob was not chosen based on his ability to prove himself, his strength, or his perfection. No, Jacob was destined to be the leader of God’s people because he was able to be transformed from a fleshly man, unlike Esau.”

The brothers represented two nations, one worldly/wicked, and one sanctified/blessed.

We have the choice: we can be a part of His chosen (humbly accepting His hand to work on our hearts and change us for His purpose) or the estranged man (running to our own way; never allowing ourselves to turn from an inward focus to look up).

Jacob was marked from the moment he entered this world, but his journey involved failure, heartache, confusion, estrangement, and sin before he reached the life-changing wrestling with God.

Jacob’s past involved the following:

-Deceiving Esau into selling his birthright (right or inheritance)

-Deceiving His dying and blind father, Isaac, to bless him instead of Esau

-Running to avoid being killed by Esau

-Working for his uncle in order to be given a wife

-Being deceived into marrying Leah instead of her sister, Rachel (Oh the irony…)

-Marrying Rachel as well

-Having children with fertile Leah, yet still favoring barren Rachel

-Having children with Rachel and Leah’s servants (Another sibling rivalry as a result of the sin of polygamy)

-Having a son with Rachel

-Using the blessing of his uncle, Laban, to inherit his livestock

-Fleeing with his family and livestock

-Venturing to his home where he would encounter Esau

-One last encounter with Laban

-Embracing Esau

Genesis 31:3, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your kindred, and I will be with you.” We see Jacob risk his life, his family, and his destiny because of God’s promise of faithfulness. In calling Jacob back home, we see God leading him back to the position where he can fulfill his God-given purpose.

BUT WAIT!

It was impossible for God to use carnal Jacob—the fleshly, selfish, deceptive version—to fulfill his destiny.

God saw POTENTIAL, REDEEMABLE, + MOLDABLE, but it took His mighty hand to humble Jacob and to change Him to the man He ordained him to be.

This is why God’s call for Jacob to return to Bethel is CRUCIAL.

Genesis 32:24, “And Jacob was left alone. And A Man wrestled with him until the break of the day.”

Honestly, I look at Jacob’s stubborn, persistent, head-strong self and it feels like I’m looking in the mirror. Jacob, determined to have his way, wrestled throughout the entire night. Similar to this, I have gone through a season of persistent wrestling… I subconsciously believed I could handle it in my own strength, all the while God was wrestling my flesh and reminding me that His way was worth the fight.

Finally, the DEFINING MOMENT for Jacob is found in Genesis 32:25, “When The Man saw that He did not prevail against Jacob, He touched his hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with Him.”

God knew it would take a humbling, hip-popping, reality check in order to break Jacob of his way and prepare him to fulfill his purpose in this earth. It was then, God told Jacob that he was no longer that worldly, deceptive, wandering, selfish man. No, God had something greater for Jacob. Israel, striving with God, was his new name.

Please, please, sweet souls, DO NOT MISS THIS. In order to reach the place where God transforms us from the old self, we have to reach the humbling, perhaps painful, process of breaking. If you’re like Jacob, and if you’re like me, sometimes it takes that extremely long journey, wrestling, and then humiliating hip-popping experience in order to become who God is calling you to be. Jacob, was able to see God face-to-face when He surrendered to His will and allowed God’s blessing to rule his future.

Precious readers, God is calling us to Bethel. The experience at Bethel was not a glorious, Instagram-worthy, or glitzy experience. No, Bethel was a dusty, dirty, sweat-dripping wrestling in order to fulfill God’s divine destiny.

“What is your name?”

“Jerilyn.”

(What I really responded was anxious, anorexic, unworthy, burdensome, bitter, hurt, loner…)

“Your name is no longer Jerilyn…”

Coming to a place of having God’s hand dislocate your hip is probably not a preferable way of submitting to His way… But my oh my, does the hip-check turn into a reality-check. Sometimes it takes the final break of the old us for God to prepare us for our divine destiny.

You see, Jacob’s journey was full of confusion, estrangement, struggles and sin… BUT it was also full of potential, molding, shaping, and redemption.

Just like Jacob, we are able to surrender the wrestling by looking to the cross and realizing that Jesus Himself came to wrestle our flesh. He was beaten until He cried, “It is finished” as the skies went black.

“It is finished”-> The wrestling is done, the debt is paid.

Three days later, the empty grave declared we are set free and have a new name—Beloved, Chosen, Adopted, Honored, Sanctified, Child of God…

Turn Your Eyes

Disclaimer: This post is not a claim to having it all figured out. It is not a proclamation of finding that perfect balance or knowing the exact remedy. This post is different than many in the sense that it is painfully honest in order to 1) connect with my readers who are battling idolatry in their own way 2) hold myself to the accountability of forsaking my own idol (continually, because it is an every day necessity) 3) open my hand out to anyone who may need accountability as well.

This was me for the past 6 months of my life: I crave pizza, deep dish of the cheesiest kind with a side of cheesy bread, about one night a week. I sit and fantasize of the day I can muster the courage to eat that chocolate cake I so frequently see on Pinterest. I work out every morning and cancel any sort of plans that interfere with that. I constantly calculate and plan every morsel that I will be consuming for the day and I have a set schedule for when they will be consumed. I sit in misery when out with family or friends because I can’t be sure that the food is being cooked to my standard. I fear people may notice that I feel full after four bites of food. I wait until the night to dare crave any carb-filled food, just in case I lose control and give in. I guzzle coffee to satisfy my stomach’s rumble so that I don’t have to mess up my eating times for the day… I fear gaining weight and believe my entire worth is in a number.

This was me in all my calculating, perfecting, fearing glory. Oh my, but that’s painfully honest. That’s the part of me I don’t like to really admit. That’s the selfish, broken, hurting me that I have come to know a little too well. Lastly, that is the part of me that overextended its stay, shifted my every breath to self and anxious feelings, kept me isolated from my loved ones, kept me doing those extra crunches, and kept me from living. Now, don’t get me wrong, I enjoy eating healthy and I am all for that. What I do not advocate is the obsession and idolizing of food which is where I too quickly found myself.

My precious readers, I tell you this because I began to not only take in and believe the lies of the Enemy, but I also began to build a golden calf in my Eating Disorder’s honor. Ouch—it’s painful to be so transparent, but I am confident that one of you needs to hear this. My prayer is that the Lord sent you here for this very reason. Shamefully, I was in the crowd of people who wasted so much time building that golden idol in the Old Testament, and I was expecting it to somehow resemble Christ. Without going into too much emotional detail, I believe it is safe to say that I was so focused on the idol that I, consequently, have missed some of life’s most pleasant memories with loved ones. My building and polishing of the idol sent me through a whirlwind of emotions (hangry 24/7 is not a good look on anyone, I’m convinced). Taking it a step further, this also caused me to be locked in a cell of shame and sorrow. My precious readers, my selfishness, pride, and brokenness have caused me to fix my eyes solely on the idol, stealing my gaze from the One who simply wants to work all things for my good if I would only turn back to loving Him (Romans 8:28).

I am a firm believer that God has us grow through what we go through in order to become who He has intended for us to be. In order to do so, we must eliminate all idols and return to His love that will not forsake. Flowers simply will not grow without the light, and neither will you, sweet soul.

Nehemiah 9:18-19, “Even when they had made for themselves a golden calf and said, ‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt,’ and had committed great blasphemies, You in Your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud to lead them in the way did not depart from them by day, nor the pillar of fire by night to light for them the way by which they should go.” Wow. Picture this: Even when God’s people created the idol and called it God, and gave it all their love and adoration, God chose to remain with them. He did not forsake them, even when they turned their backs on Him. What a picture of love. He remains true to us and provides everything we need, even when we go astray and turn to our idols. According to His great mercy (taking what we deserve) and love (freely giving), He simply waits for our eyes to meet His once again. It is then, and only then, that we are able to return to doing the work of the Lord.

My idol took captive of my mental and spiritual state, but it also debilitated me physically. My idol became obvious to my loved ones rather quickly, yet no one could turn my eyes away from it but me. In fact, I have even been offered money to overcome the idol (if I ate that slice of pizza I dreamt about daily), yet I chose to remain laser-focused on it. I allowed myself to be overcome with selfishness and pride during my time building the idol, yet even then, He gently called me back to Him. I love the way this song says it, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.”

Dear readers, all we have to do is turn to Him and realize who He is. In light of who our God is, all else will grow strangely dim.

Feeling Trapped in the Cycle

When I was younger, I remember reading about the history of the Israelites. It seemed as though they would sin, get their lives right, be overthrown again with temptation, discontent, complaining, and sin once again. Younger me used to shake my head, and perhaps say, “What are you thinking? God, the Creator of all things is on your side! Why are you choosing any other way?” The sad reality is that I have come to the realization that I am a part of that crowd. I am that grumbling Israelite. I am that Christian who steps off the path and gets my foot stuck in the net of the enemy.

How many times in your Christian life do you feel as though you are stuck in a never-ending cycle of falling down, being picked back up, only to fall once more? I know this feeling all too well, and to be completely transparent, I have been overcome with the guilt of it all for months now. I have treated my Christian walk as if God is keeping score of the times I slip in a day, after repenting, and it has become exhausting how stuck in the past I allowed myself to become. Precious readers, time and time again the Bible reassures is that we are forgiven, set free, and now have a new way of life. Galatians 5:1 states, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

In Nehemiah, God’s people were also trapped in this never-ending cycle. At the end of Ezra (the book before Nehemiah), the people were on a spiritual high and they turned back to God of Israel. By Nehemiah, however, the enemy entered. The people were once again overthrown, this time the wall of Jerusalem laid in ruins. Nehemiah saw the condition and brokenness of the city and was distraught and full of remorse (Be sure that sin will send you into this state). Nehemiah 1:8-9 states, “Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’” Sin scatters. Sin isolates. Sin keeps you as far away from the Father and the church as possible. I am guilty of allowing my struggles to get me far away from fellow believers because I believed the lie of the enemy that it’s better that way. Dear readers, if you have the desire to live a life of purpose, it is necessary for us to turn to Him, keep His commands, DO them, and He will draw us together again.

Now, Nehemiah, under the divine hand of God, entered with a special request before the King. He wanted to rebuild the temple and unite the people of Israel once again. Nehemiah was not only granted his request, but he was also given the protection of officers of the armies to go with him. How amazing it is to be at the center of God’s will–safe and secure. The problem, however, was that the enemy was enraged by this and sought to undermine Nehemiah. I love how Nehemiah 2 ends with verse 21, “Then I replied to them, “The God of Heaven will make us prosper, and we His servants will arise and build, but you have no portion or right or claim in Jerusalem.”

Get this: The enemy has NO RIGHT OR CLAIM ON YOU. When Satan and his army comes and fills your mind with guilt or speaks mockingly, “Remember when you did that?” Cling to the promises of God who has washed you clean. He has removed those confessed sins as far as the east is from the west. God is calling you to a life of freedom, dear friend. If you are like me, and you have felt completely trapped in guilt of the past, causing you to fall all the more, there is an important message. Jesus reassures us that we are set free to live a fearless life. We are no longer walking aimlessly in the dark, instead we are free to walk in light and love. May we, like Paul states in Philippians 3:14, “Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead,”

Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Free You Have Received, Free Give

I met up with an old friend for coffee yesterday morning—Starbucks of course. We had a great conversation that brought both encouragement and motivation. After talking for a while, we went to get refills and I told her I would pay for the refill and she told me, “You don’t have to pay for refills since you are a Gold Member! I’m surprised the Queen of Starbucks didn’t know that.” A mixture of our previous conversation about God’s unconditional love and this specific comment had me taken back. Just like being a Gold Member and getting a free refill, I was reminded that I am a child of God who receives unconditional love and grace. I was convicted. These past few months have been trying times full of attempts to feel adequate or worthy, all the while the Father has wanted me to see that I cannot earn what has already been freely given. Precious readers, is this you as well? Perhaps you feel guilt, shame, or burdened from your past. Maybe you feel unworthy, unloved, and unseen. To take it a little further, you may even feel as though you are on a never-ending pursuit to feel loved and worthy. If this is you, listen closely to these words: You are deeply loved, you are seen, you are more than enough. The Father loved you enough to send Jesus to show you just how much He loves you. Do you believe it? C.S. Lewis stated, “He died not for men, but for each man. If each man had been the only man made, He would have done no less.”

Freely you received, freely give

Jesus sent his disciples into the world to with a beautiful challenge. Matthew 10:5-8, “These twelve Jesus sent out, instructing them, ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And proclaim as you go, saying, ‘The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying; give without pay.’”

Dear readers, each of us were the lost sheep—we were once orphans. By the grace of God, we freely received His heritage that was given through the Son. Think of it this way: God sent His only Son, perfect and holy, to die a sinner’s death so that we could be His beloved children. What a love we have freely received. Now that we know that love, it is important that we freely give glimpses of light and His love to others as well.

There is a world full of hurt and heartache. There are so many people want to feel love, therefore it is our calling to love the “least of these” because that was once us. My precious readers, you are deeply loved by the Creator of the Universe. Never forget that wondrous fact. Beyond this, may we show this love (freely given and not expecting anything in return) to a world that is hurting. Oh, to be the hands and feet of Jesus! This is my earnest prayer for my own life, and it is my hope that my brothers and sisters have a similar desire. Though we are weak, He is strong and gives us the strength we need so that we are able to carry such a love to a world of need.

“My prayer is that, when I die, all Hell rejoices that I am out the fight.” -C.S. Lewis

Be Present

Last Sunday, I was not feeling well and I thought to myself, “I guess I will have to watch church online this week.” I am not the biggest fan of doing that, because it can quickly blind us from the importance of going to church and being surrounded by other believers. It made me realize how fast our society is shifting to little to no face-to-face interaction. It is no secret that our society is changing rapidly, and as a result, we are losing a sense of community. (Disclaimer: There is no shame in watching church online or listening to podcasts, BUT my fear is that it will soon replace church as a body of believers. As a result, we will lose the ability to be “of one spirit and of one mind” as Paul states in Philippians 1:27.) With social media, instant messaging, online shopping, online payments, online courses, and live streaming, we are slowly losing the ability to have deep and meaningful relationships.

Relationships involve both intentional time and communication. Without the two, it is impossible to have a real relationship. Dear readers, it scares me to think how far we have drifted from these deep, meaningful, and intentional relationships. It is as if we have swapped deep conversations and quality time with one another for people’s “best selves” shown through photos and light-hearted responses on social media. It saddens me to see photos in which people are secretly struggling, but are smiling with perfect smiles and trying their best to hide what is really at war deep within them. I know that this is the case because I am also guilty of this. Where are we, brothers and sisters? Why are we so far away from one another’s hearts? Are we losing our like-minds as a result of society’s shift?

Calling all my brothers and sisters

I remember thinking last week, “When was the last time I let my loved ones know how much they mean to me?” I don’t think anything could have broken my heart more than that thought. If I’m being honest, which I hope to always be through these blogs, it has been quite a while. I say “love you!” or “hope you’re doing well!” but why does it end at that? I have been failing to really listen to their hearts or seek to encourage them in their paths of life. Precious readers, if that is you as well, it is not too late to change that.

It should be our mission to take our relationships deeper. To have open communication and to spend intentional time listening can help with this. Paul stated in Philippians 1:8, “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” To yearn means to have an intense longing for something. Paul had such a deep love for his brothers and sisters that he had an intense desire for them to succeed spiritually when he was away. Oh, to love my brothers and sisters in much like Paul did. Sometimes people simply need to know that they are noticed, loved, and appreciated. May it be our earnest desire to not only think of our friends, or perhaps say a quick prayer when they come to mind, but to let them know that you care for them, pray over their lives, and are there for them in all walks of life.

Community is powerful

Over and over again, Paul mentions the importance of a body of believers. Why is this the case? There is strength when we are joined together and united by the blood of Jesus. It is a lot harder to fight battles on your own than it is to fight them with the help of other believers. Not only should we take on the whole armor of God for our own spiritual life, but for the lives of our brothers and sisters. The devil loves to make us feel isolated and lonely. One of his greatest tactics is to get us away from our brothers and sisters because it is a lot easier to fight one than an army.

I found myself in a place of total isolation about a month ago. I had hit rock bottom in a specific struggle, and my boyfriend encouraged me to start talking. It was time that I reached out to people for help and comfort. He reminded me that people love me and want to help me. As strange as it sounds, I had almost forgotten people knew I was still around, let alone cared to take on my struggles with me. Isn’t it crazy how much the devil wants to warp our thinking and keep us from the truth? In that moment of truth, it became clear that I was trying to fight this all on my own instead of allowing Christ to provide people to help me fight. Although it has been a challenge, there is victory in communicating with my loved ones because they help shield me from the fiery darts of the devil. Sometimes the devil’s lies seem so true until I vocalize them to my loved ones and realize how false they are. There is strength in being united, brothers and sisters!

If you are feeling isolated, lonely, or unseen, perhaps it is time for you to reach and to build relationships once again. (I am always available to be a listening ear or to help carry your burden!) No one was meant to fight his or her battles alone. If you know of someone fighting serious battles, seek to be intentional with them. Show them steadfast love and support. May we accept the challenge of building relationships once again!

Failure is Not the End

I spent time looking for a gluten-free, paleo, low-cal, vegan breakfast cake last night and this morning. The sad thing is that it actually exists and I made it this morning. I was so excited that I found something fun to make that would still help me have full control over my health. As I was mixing the ingredients, I realized something… not only am I a control freak, mixed with a health nut, with a dash of paranoid—I am a perfectionist. Now, I have known that just about my whole life, but it really struck me while baking how much my perfectionism has caused me to live in fear of failure. When I put the cake in the oven, I had the expectation of this just being a trial run. In my mind, I had already failed at baking; in my mind, I had already failed at life because I wouldn’t be able to cater to my future family’s sugary needs. Sure, my thoughts can be a little more that just a “dash of paranoid”… My train of thoughts become exhausting, dear readers, and I fear that some of you feel the exact same way. I fear that some of my readers are parents, spouses, friends, employees, and employers who are so scared of falling short that they choose to skip some of life’s greatest blessings. That’s me, I am right there with you. Precious readers, we cannot live in fear of failure and live in great victory. We will fall, even the Bible tells us that we will fall and we will fall short (Romans 3:23), but that is the glorious place where grace steps in.

Failure is not the end

The more we are looking to be perfect, we lose the richness of one of God’s greatest blessings—grace. You see, when we fall, whether it be into sin or daily mistakes, we have the choice to either choose pride and to try to rise on our own, or we can humble ourselves under His mighty hand and allow Him to raise us up once again. Failure makes us human and reveals to us how much we need our Savior. I love the way Paul phrased it in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”

Choosing God’s grace

Weakness and failure are a constant reminder that we were never meant to do everything on our own. So often, we look inwardly or we look around us to try to fix and fill everything in our lives, but the Lord says it so simply, “My grace is sufficient.” He is willing to give us what we do not deserve because of His extreme love! All He asks us to do is to humble ourselves and to trust that His strength is enough. To be completely transparent, as I spend an hour trying to find a recipe that is perfect, and sought to make the cake perfect, I realized how far I have slipped away. I have allowed perfectionism to take me in its landslide and it’s starting to reveal itself in my every day life. I am so worn from trying to make everything perfect and to do everything on my own. All I have to do is to surrender and to accept my failures and to look up to the Father.

Glorying in HIS strength

Paul takes it a little further and he said that he would rather GLORY in his infirmities that God’s power would be more present in his life. If you want to see how humble you are, try to do what Paul did. Glory in your failures and in your pain and in your inability to do it all on your own. In order to live a life of freedom and of joy, all we are called to do is to surrender to His way and to trust His control on our lives. Oh how I want to practice this, dear readers. There is no easy fix to perfectionism and to wanting all control, but I want to make the effort and pray that you join me in that as well.

Let me leave you with this, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time He may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:6,7) Humble yourself, cast your cares, and live in the glory of His unfailing grace!

Failure is not the end, it is a fresh start. Failure only reveals that we cannot do it, but He can.

Choosing Faith, Shunning Fear

On my way home from church last week, I was looking forward to spending some time in the sunshine. As I was driving, the skies began to grow dark from behind and it was headed towards home. I was surprised to see the dark clouds because I checked the forecast that morning and I figured it was going to be sunny and hot all day. I said out loud, “Great, of course the skies are dark now.” A few minutes later, the skies began to pour some of the largest raindrops I have ever seen.

In that moment, it all began to make sense. I was so looking forward to the sunshine, but I was surrounded by rain on every corner. How often does this happen to you in life? We press forward towards home and towards sunshine, but sometimes it seems as though the clouds are chasing us and we are about to face a torrential downpour.

What is your downpour?

Maybe it was the call that you lost a loved one. Perhaps you found out that your loved one has cancer.

Maybe you heard that your spouse found someone else and left you to be a single parent.

Perhaps you have broken relationships that you cannot seem to mend.

Perhaps you were called into work for the last time and then heard that you were being laid off.

Maybe your best friend decided that it is best to part ways.

Perhaps your finances took a nosedive and you don’t know how to pick them up again.

Maybe depression has taken you into a place of isolation that you just cannot seem to overcome.

Perhaps you are so inwardly broken that you forget what it feels like to be whole.

Am I speaking your language? Am I reaching you with one of these situations?

I hear it so often, “I just cannot catch a break.” Oh, how exhausting it is to enter into warfare—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

For clarity, we do not have control over life’s situations and storms are inevitable… BUT we do have control over what becomes of us during these times. The Father whispered to me the other day, “You choose. You can allow it to overcome you and you can fall under pressure, OR you can overcome it and allow it to make you stronger.”

Fear vs. Faith

I wrote a blog post about fear and faith a few months ago that explained how the two cannot coexist. (If you have not read that, it goes hand-in-hand with this blog post). To continue this idea, I find it important to illustrate how we can choose faith OVER fear in the midst of storms.

Before we can dive into how we can constantly choose faith over fear, it is important to turn to Scripture and see what Jesus had to say. Matthew 8:23-27 talks about the time that the disciples were on a boat when a storm appeared and they feared for their lives. As they were panicking in the eye of the storm, Jesus was sound asleep. They called out to Him, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing” (Verse 25). Jesus’ response hit me like a boulder. He said to his followers, “Why are you so afraid, O you of little faith?” In other words, Jesus looked at his disciples and said, “Why are you so worked up over this storm? Don’t you know who I am? Don’t you know what I am capable of doing?” I was convicted… How many times am I overcome with anxiety and fear instead of choosing to have faith in who He is and what He can do? I have spent too many days of my life trying to fight. I have spent sleepless nights trying to understand. I have spent YEARS trying to cope. Sometimes, all the time we spend trying to do this or trying to do that, Jesus is reaching out His hand and saying, “Where is your faith? Can you please trust that I am in control?” After He asks the disciples about their faith, Jesus rebuked the wind and waves and there was a great calm. The disciples marveled at His power over every part of creation. I am sure, in that moment, they were rather convicted as well for not simply trusting in who He was and what He could do.

I completely understand that it is easier said than done to trust at times. It is much easier to say that you will have faith in His might than it is to actually surrender the fight and to allow Him to do the work. The Father had some special words in Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” In order to be silent, at peace, we must understand how we can find peace and rest among storms. I have assembled the steps that God has given me to not only surrender my own way, but to put all faith in His way.

Implementing faith and trusting His divine will

Step 1) Have faith in who He is

Who is He? Answer that question to yourself. If you would, think of a list of names to describe the Father. It is good to rehearse all that He is because it helps us realize that He is capable. Without knowing who He is and believing in His power, we simply cannot comprehend how He will work all things for our good. If you are a follower and lover of the Father, He will work all things for your good (Romans 8:28). This leads me to my next point.

Step 2) Have faith in what He can do

My pastor spoke on Romans 8:28 a few weeks ago and related it to Proverbs 3:5-7 (A beautiful portion of Scripture about trusting in the Lord). He said, “Not all things are good. We, as Christians, get in the habit of thinking that we have the ticket to all goodness for the rest of our lives which is not the case.” We live in a fallen world that only seems to be getting worse—there are many things filling the earth that lack goodness. Death, divorce, heartbreak, sickness, pain, division, and loss are not good. BUT. He promised to WORK all things for our good if we would just love Him. My Jesus gave me His word that He is working all things for my good, even when I am driving into storm clouds. Think of it as a pinky promise from the Savior—He is willing and He is working. The moment we trust in what He can do, we hand the battle over to the Father as a statement of faith.

Step 3) Choose faith

It is simply not enough to acknowledge that He is God and to know what He is able to accomplish. We must CHOOSE faith… Precious readers, it is a choice we must make daily to have faith in His will and way. If we could just trust in Him, we would be at complete peace regardless of the storm clouds gathering.

“Jesus, Jesus, how I trust You”

I was driving to work this morning and this song came on my radio. It is an old hymn that I have known since diapers, but it hit me hard today…

“Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,

Just to take Him at His Word

Just to rest upon His promise,

Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!

How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er

Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus.

Oh, for grace to trust Him more!”

This afternoon, I got some sobering news. As much as I wanted to cry, as much as I wanted to fight… I was stilled. My soul was at peace by these very words I heard this morning. It is so sweet to trust in Jesus, dear brothers and sisters. It is a daily surrender, believe me, my stubborn self knows how hard it is to not always do everything for myself. BUT there is nothing sweeter that choosing to have faith in His way and to find peace that only comes from trusting His will above our own.

You choose! You can try to do it on your own, nosedive into concrete, and get stuck in a cycle of endless efforts OR you can simply have faith in Him and in what He can do in your present situation.

Trusting Him gives a sweet sense of stillness. He is promising to fight for you, we need only to be still and silent in light of faith.

Answer the Call

08A236C1-4782-4E41-8831-F8DC18017A01.jpeg    The summer of my senior year of high school, I went to a church camp in Tennessee. I remember one night, he told us that God does not need us to accomplish His will. At first I was a bit confused, but he continued with a word of encouragement. He said, “God does not need you to accomplish His will. He does not need you, but He wants you. He is calling you, but it is your choice on whether you answer or not.” 

    Flash forward two years…

    This morning, I opened my Bible to Matthew 1 and almost considered skipping to chapter 2 because I knew it was the genealogy of Jesus. Yes, it is so important, but I wanted something I could apply to my daily life. (Oh the irony… This ended up being above and beyond what I believed it to be.) I decided to read it anyway, and I am so glad that I did because the Father knew I needed it. I looked at verses 1-17 and I was astounded. Before I read them, I counted how many men and women were born to be used in the line of bringing the King to earth. These people, regardless of their backgrounds, their struggles, and their lives, were used of God in order to bring the Savior to earth. There were 41 people named that were used to carry the will of God. I heard exactly what I needed once again from the speaker at that summer camp, “He does not need you in order to do His will, but He wants to use you.”

    I noticed two names in specific—two people the Father knew I needed to see in the genealogy. The first one was Rahab. For those of you unfamiliar with Rahab, she was originally a harlot (whoremonger) that God called to be used. In this, I realized that God is the Master Recycler. He can take anyone’s life, turn it around, and use it for His purpose. Rahab is one example of this, seeing that she was named in the genealogy as the mother of Boaz. The second name was Ruth. For anyone who may not know very much about Ruth, she was a pagan, she lost her husband, then had to flee to Bethlehem with her mother-in-law (Naomi). In the middle of the journey with her sister-in-law and Naomi, Naomi demanded that they would go back to their land with their families. Ruth 1:16 states, “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.’” Ruth’s loyalty lead her to be named as the mother of Obed who is another line for the King to be born. 

    Dear readers, get this, I beg. You matter. He wants to use you for His purpose, because you matter! Every choice you make is either an answer to His will for your life or the opposite. Do not allow your life to be a waste. He wants to use you, but you have to make that choice for your own life. He would love to use you, but if your heart is so hard or your head to strong, He will have to use someone else to accomplish His will. 

    The beauty of the Savior is that He does not care what your past looks like, He wants to use you anyway. Perhaps you are a Rahab. Maybe you were, or are stuck in sin. Guess what? That was me too! The glory of my Jesus is that He gave His life so that the blood could wash our stains that we may have new life that is worthy of living. Maybe you don’t associate with Rahab, but more Ruth. Perhaps you were in a low place in your life, but determined that it would not stop you from turning to Christ and then being sculpted by Him. Regardless of your story of sin and heartache, He wants to use you for His will. Answer the call that your life may be lived as one that counts for the sake of the Kingdom. 

You Belong

Growing up in a divorced home meant two of everything–a double dose. Two homes, two birthday parties, two Christmases, two sets of grandparents nearby, two churches… Being double blessed and double loved was nothing to take for granted, but it was extremely easy to feel like you are living a double life. With that, the enemy began to put thoughts in my head. “Jerilyn, you just don’t belong.” “You don’t fit in with either.” Writing this, I am thinking, “You know it’s not true. Tell your readers that it’s just a lie and you easily shake the doubts.” I wish I could say that I shut Satan out my head, but honestly, I do not. A majority of my life, I felt like I did not belong.

Disclaimer:I have been raised in two loving homes with two parents who care for me deeply. This is not about them, this is about my battle with my flesh. You see, Satan knew that this was my weak and vulnerable spot. He knew this was what could get me to slip and face-plant into concrete. For the longest time, this was the devil’s greatest tactic to get me to live in a mindset that I am not enough, I am a fraud, I am not loved, and I am not important. I would tell my friends this, and of course they told me what any good friend would, but I still couldn’t shake it. I could not get rid of the feeling of never belonging. This was evident in almost every area of my life. For anyone who knows me, they can attest to the fact that I have been a part of mutiple churches, schools, friend groups, jobs, etc. Although it often appeared that I was “Miss Independent,” I was really just “Miss Trying to Belong.”

The more I would feed into the lies, the more I felt like a burden to my dear friends, loving boyfriend, supporting family, and sound churches. This is exactly where the devil wanted me, because isolation is his tool to get me away from where I am supposed to be and from what I am supposed to be doing.

Now, listen, this is not to throw a pity party or to grab any attention from you. This is a post to show you what my God can do, and to remind you that you are never alone.

In ninth grade, when I finally began feeling as though I fit the mold at my high school, I remember the Father tugging on my heart to go back to my old school. When I say tugging, I mean completely pulling my heart in the direction He wanted me. I kept pulling the other way, however. (Perhaps I have trouble with resisting my stubbornness…) I told Him that I would start a girls Bible study where I was so that I did not have to go back. The tugging did not stop, even when I started the Bible study. My Father opened my eyes to hurting people, to a good opportunity, and to His will for my life. I left to go back to my old school, but let me tell you… It was rough. I missed my friends, comfortability, and support. I was completely on my own when I switched schools, and I certainly did not find my place right away. Here is the irony—the Father put me in a place I did not belong to show me to Whom I belong. It went a little like Hosea 2:14 says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” My Jesus took me into the wilderness my freshman year of high school to show me that I belonged to Him. You see, I have battled a majority of my life believing that I do not belong and that I have no place to call home. I would be lying if I said I still do not struggle with that, but the Lord constantly reminds me that I belong to Him. I had this sweet verse written as a reminder to me on the front of a notebook, “You are precious in My eyes and honored and I love you.” (Isaiah 43:4a)

My Jesus constantly reminds me that I am not only His, but that I am His beloved. He chose to love me—He constantly chooses to love you too. It is so easy to believe that we do not belong, but that is not the case. Believing that I do not belong is a daily battle that I enter. If I do not go in with the proper armor, I will get shot by Satan’s dart every single day of my life. He really knows our weakness!

What is my armor, you may ask? First and foremost, Scripture is my sword. We must use truth to demolish the lies. Second, remind yourself of His love and all the darkness, doubts, and loneliness disappear. Lastly, remember that He also surrounds us with people to help in order to defeat the devil. Sometimes it takes an army, so look to His recruits and never be too afraid to ask for help.

Beloved readers, fight. If we are not sober-minded or fueled by the Spirit, we will lose every time. He has given us to grace, love, strength, and support we need to fight.

Never forget, you are so loved and you belong.

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