My friends and I haven’t experienced the light of day in one hundred hours, thirty minutes, fifteen seconds. I stand outside the old church we have taken refuge in, glance at my watch then back out at the ruins. Chunks of broken pavement enshrouded in night lay before me. Only four, flickering light posts, spread quite far from one another, dimly brighten sections of that pavement. Just as the sun has abandoned us, the moon is not out either.
I glance ahead. Small, hairy figures move into a lightened section then sink back into the shadows slowly. A dank smell, wet and moldy with a tinge of flesh follows them. They are hyenas. I know that much. Are they hungry even after feasting on the dead lying in the streets? Perhaps. But I need to get across the lot to get some nourishment of my own, water. The beasts don’t seem to be aware of my presence. I am willing to take the risk.
I take a step off the grass and onto the broken tarmac. A hyena standing in flickering light turns to me stares then lets out a loud, low, ominous warble. A grow sounds to my right then my left. Jolts of fear smash through my spine as I turn to run inside the church. The smell gets worse. Much worse. I reach for the door and slam it behind me. Turn the lock on the knob.
It won’t lock. Why won’t it lock? With high pitched, unearthly noises, the hyenas smash themselves against the wood, howling and pawing to get in. One sticks his paw through an open slot between frame and door. I scream and pull the door closer to me, slamming its foot inside. Blood stains the frame. The beast yelps in pain and hobbles away. Hopefully, my two friends sleeping upstairs will hear everything and lock themselves away safely, just like I encouraged them to do earlier. The onslaught of snarling faces, pounding and howling continues then gradually fades into the gentle sound of my crying. Finally, they had given up.
I slide down the door, my hand firmly grasping its handle. Sobs rack my body. I need to pull it together. How stupid of me to go out there! But we need water. It’s been almost three days without. I stay there, holding my arms tightly on the knob. I need to move upstairs, to be in a safe space but I can’t move my legs. I am exhausted.
A large shadow slinking across the yard catches my eye. I push myself to my feet and stare out the bulletproof window on the white door. I hold in a scream as a large face appears. Its green eyes study me. Black and orange stripes etch its face. I tighten my grip on the handle. It growls, then roars. Teeth bared. A tiger.
It turns and swings itself at the door with its body. Crack. The animal broke the wood with its sheer weight. There was no way I could hold it back. I release the handle, push myself up and run towards the dark hallway on my right. It bellows and takes off after me.
My foot snags. I fall and claw myself to standing.
“God! Help me!” The tiger’s eyes flash. An explosion of light. A loud, horrific moan. The tiger lays on the floor a hundred feet in front of me. Its arms and legs splayed; its eyes frozen in perpetual horror. I grip the wall and watch as a giant creature walks over the body of the tiger. A lion. My body stiffens. He stares at me for a moment with honey coloured eyes. His profound thought leaked through his golden eyes.
“My Child, ask, and you will receive.”
As we hold each other’s gaze, sunlight inches across my pale skin. A burst of light explodes through the back wall. A surge of power blasts through the right then the left. The building was imploding and I was in the middle of it. I throw my hands over my head and scream. The lion starts to roar. Deep, loud, terrifying. Glass shatters. Stone rumbles around me. The building crumbles. I wait until the sounds have died and look up shakily. I am not hurt. There is no lion. Only sun and warmth. I see my friends waving to me in the distance. I feel peace. Only peace. Something I hadn’t felt in a very long time.
Fear. It smashes into us in waves. It comes to us in myriads of ways. My fear manifested in the dream I just shared with you. I woke up in a sweat and begged God for peace so I could calm down and fall asleep again. As I lay there in the darkness, waiting, He reminded me of three verses I thought I knew well:
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
“The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14
“Cast your cares upon the Lord for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
For those of you who experience fear. Any fear at all… fear about what people think of you, fear for your job security, fear that you won’t make it into University or pass your classes, I ask you to discipline yourself to remember that God is a prayer away. Although our requests may not seem to be answered as immediately as they are in the dream I shared, He always answers. ALWAYS. In the right timing, the best timing that is condusive to our growth towards the Father.
He wants us to flourish and prosper! His heart is for us!
While you wait on Him, continually choose to soak in His word and truths. They are truth, they are light, they are going to let you live life to the fullest.
Above all, remember: He is for you. He has fought and continues to fight for you, even when you aren’t aware of it.
With much love,
Two days ago, a Christian publisher contacted me about signing my YA novel, The Fisherman’s Daughter, with their company. My heart leaped for joy but, just as quickly, sunk with trepidation. A week prior, I had read bits and pieces of my first novel with hopes of reviving it from the dust. After my brief, incredibly analytical survey, I determined it wasn’t good enough to send out into the world.
Nonetheless, my excitement at the publisher’s interest clouded my judgment for a brief period. During that hour, the publisher and I set up a phone call. After considerable thought, I was prepared to let her know that my book wasn’t good enough and that I didn’t want people reading it.
Much to my delight, and surprise, she told me my work had been chosen for a couple of reasons. Reasons being, it was fresh, good material with convincing characters and twists. She let me know that they wanted to work with me to polish my humble piece of art and make it really shine.
Point being, our feelings aren’t always indicative of reality. Just because I thought the book wasn’t good enough to be published, does not mean it wasn’t. Just because you feel like you will never succeed does not mean it’s true. When your mind tells you that you won’t overcome temptation, disregard the thought. He has not given us more temptation than we can bear. Just because your family seems impossible does not mean God will not give you the grace to overcome the pain of a broken world.
When you find yourself staring at something that intimidates you or makes you feel inadequate, remember: you have been made by the hand of a majesty, powerful, God. That same God wants to see you excel in the gifts He has placed in you. He wants you to be in a relationship with Him, the kind of relationship that brings life, joy and peace to a hurting world. He wants you to thrive and has given you the tools to do so.
Run to Him, lean on Him when you feel weak and inadequate. He’ll never disappoint you when you run after Him with all of your heart.
A friend of mine recently said something that shocked and angered me.
We were discussing child abuse and the effects abuse has on children long after they are grown. He went on to tell me that the abuse happening was not the child’s fault; however, that child, once they were at an adult, resumed responsibility for their pain. They were left with the choice to deal with the after effects of that abuse. They were in-charge of choosing to take the necessary steps towards healing.
What he said didn’t line up with my personal philosophy-of-fairness, at all… but that’s usually, isn’t it? We think we know what is best and choose what we see as the best options given our feelings. I tell you from personal experience, following our ever-changing feelings is like boarding a rickity ship into an onslaught watery disaster… I digress…
The way I saw it, those adults deserved to be beaten, drawn, quartered and slapped with a bill to pay for that child’s healing. Yet, what my friend was saying that the innocent, vulnerable child had to pay for the price of the adult’s sin?
Despite the anger rising like a serious volcano of heartburn I listened carefully and analyzed my thoughts on the subject. Difficult as it was, what he was saying was truth. Although it punctured holes in my millennial mindset it sprung wings of grace and gently resonated with my Spirit.
Ultimately our difficult yet fruitful conversation reminded me of the greatest sacrifice of all. Even though we have all sinned…
…if you think you’re a good person who has not sinned and is not in need of God, please do not be fooled by yourself. Stop and ask yourself: have I lied, cheated, gossiped or thought lustful thoughts about someone else? It’s no surprise to God that you have, that’s why He offered Himself, to make us pure in His sight…
He saw and paid for your imperfection before you even knew of its existence.
Now that’s epic.
Even though we have all screwed up and allowed sin into God’s perfect Word He still came to earth and gave His life for us. It wasn’t His fault that we chose the wrong road but He took responsibility for our actions and died the most excruciating death for our freedom. The thief, Satan, wants to steal, kill and destroy your joy. He wants to dangle tempting ways of escape that often manafest themselves as blame… oh, I’m just an impatient person. My heart was wounded, that’s why I am always angry. I am always scared because my parents abandoned me as a child.
Although I do acknowledge that each of these problems require healing I also acknowledge that they can trap us if we constantly ruminate on them and do not make a move to kill them. We ruminate on the unfairness of our situation day in and day out only to find out that we wasted our lives constantly blaming others and situations. Does that sound like a fulfilling, fruitful life to you?
Do you really believe God when He tells you that you are free? Do you feel oppressed by pain that has haunted you for years? Do you struggle with blaming others for the things you do on a regular basis?
I challenge you to step up to the throne of God, find a quiet space and confess your faults to Jesus. This isn’t easy and is something I find myself doing quite often. As challenging as it can be to admit our problems, it brings so much joy and freedom to our lives.
After you have told the Lord you are sorry for holding on to blame and anger ask Him to fill you with His incredible peace. As Him to hold you and heal you. He will bring SO MUCH freedom to places you doubted would ever feel full.
Come out of hiding, it’s safe where He is. He is the most safe, trustworthy and powerful Being you will ever encounter <3 He is so much bigger than any problems we could ever face and He wants to face them for us… now, that’s Love.
With His Love,
This morning I was preparing for my time with the Lord, trying to find the right song to listen to. For some reason or another, Panda by Desiigner popped up first in my search engine. I had heard the song but hadn’t seen the music video. Click. Being a reader and chronic time waster I scrolled down… 251,646,311 views on that bad boy. Oh wow. It must be incredible to have that kind of influence into people’s lives. But the comment section. That was the kicker. People were bad mouthing each other, swearing, making some pretty vile comments. Ultimately, nothing of value or merit was happening in there or anywhere within close proximity of that video. At least, none that I could see.
Enough time had been wasted…
I typed Jason Gray into the search bar. The song “Remind Me Who I Am” popped into view.
Click. 570, 704 views, not many at all compared to Panda.
Once again, I scrolled into the comment section. To my relief and joy, people were not spewing trashy filth onto the canvas. Instead, they were were opening up like blossoming flowers. Confessions about insecurities, grief, pain and pain poured over the space, colored it beautifully and making my heart soar.
People were asking for prayer. Others were commenting with prayers for the lost and hurting. This was not a waste of time. This was good. This was bringing people home and showing them how valuable they truly are. And yet the song only had 570,704 views.
That’s 251,075,607 less views than Panda but, despite the small number, Jason Gray’s song made a much larger impact.
How do I come to that conclusion? Just take a look at the fruit. Meaning (for those who don’t speak fluent Christianese), what did people’s hearts minds and souls take away from these songs? With Panda, not a whole lot of people even understood what the rap artist was saying. Gray’s lyrics touched people’s hearts so deeply they began sharing their deepest secrets and greatest pains!
So, here’s the kicker. You want to change the world?
Here’s the advice God is giving me:
Don’t go for what is popular to garner likes. Don’t try to tailor your work so other people recognize you. Also, don’t get me wrong, it is important to do an excellent job with whatever you are working on (Col 3:23) but don’t start that blog so people recognize you. Don’t sing so everyone will be overwhelmed by you. Don’t model so others will notice you. In the end, people won’t remember your name but they will remember the impact you had on their heart. Do you want that impact to be something of eternal value or fleeting, frivolous pleasure?
It can be tough sometimes to allow yourself to be small. But get this: being small is a great way for Him to create a BIG space inside of you that He calls home.
As we learn and grow in our talents and influence, let’s ask for more of Him and less of us. Because what matters in the end?
I can tell you with assured confidence that it isn’t us.
1 Peter 1:24 – “all people are like grass (yes, even Justin Bieber), and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.”
For the record: Colossians 3:23 – “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…”
With much love and great confidence in the things He will grow in you,
I slumped into my huge comfy couch after a long day at work.”Everything is meaningless…” I groaned. Alex stared at me for a moment before twisting his eyes away. “Katie…” he began. I put my finger to his lips. “Alex. I know what you’re going to say.” He kissed my finger and chuckled. “Only because I’ve had to say it a thousand times.”
I smiled. “More like a million.” We both laughed until I started slipping back into my thoughts. “Really though…we work our butts off day in and day out, I work hard on this blog thing and on my books but even if anything comes of any of it it’s still meaningless. What does it matter? We’re all going to die one day and no one will remember any of our work.”
“What you said is only partly true.” He continued smiling. “But who are we working for?”
“Yes, so who cares if no one else remembers or has seen what we’ve done except God?”
“Yes.” I sighed. “But…God remembers yes…it’s good to be reminded sometimes…that His opinion is the only one that matters.”
“It’s so hard to not want the world’s applause though…”
“Yeah. Well, that is a desire to take to God. Ask Him to remind you that everything outside of what you are doing for Him is meaningless in the end.” I studied my husbands handsome face and grinned, preparing myself to call him by his awful nickname.
“You’re more than just a looker Zoot.”
He rolled his green eyes and enunciated my nickname for him.”Same to you Zoot.”
Please consider this super short blog a reminder to focus on what really matters in your life, living a life worthy in God’s eyes. First comes relationship with Him, everything good and perfect flows from that relationship with Love, then come the works He has for us.
Those works are not for our glory and power but so that His name will be glorified. This can be very challenging for us to recognize in a culture with so many people telling us we need to look and act a certain way for the “camera” in order to be considered anything worthy.
Don’t worry about what the world says success is. Pursue God with everything in you. Allow His definition of success, living to glorify Him, overwhelm you and become all you live for.
I will be worth it. Trust me <3
With much love,