Category Archives: Devo Thoughts

A Weekend Word

Because this is too good not to share…

the God of hope

And who doesn’t need to hear this reminder, this encouragement, this TRUTH?

At the end of a weekend … full of many good and rich and wonderful things that in our weak moments threaten to exhaust and overwhelm?

At the beginning of a week … full of work and routine and busy that tempts us to get lost in the mundane?

In the everyday … as we learn to trust Him more one moment at at time?

Trust the faithful God of hope.

Be filled with joy and peace.

So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit alone.

—–

ps: just for fun, if you happen to love this print as much as I do, check out StudioJRU for this & others!

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Finding My Way Back Home

“For we know that if the tent
that is our earthly home
is destroyed…”

I’ve been in this new place for a little over six weeks now.

I knew going into this move that I don’t handle change well, and for a variety of reasons, this change seemed particularly hard and challenging and uncomfortable.

In some ways, I’ve settled into the new routine of it all much faster than I anticipated and have been able to get rid of far more [ultimately meaningless and non-essential] possessions than I thought my heart could handle.

After reading and pondering “Packing Light”, I might even consider giving up my couch when the time comes … I’ll officially cross that bridge when I get there. But the giraffe-print chair is staying. Period.

finding my way back home

But in other ways, I’m still fighting a constant battle.

I miss home. This house doesn’t feel like home yet. And as hard as it is to admit, I think there’s a big part of me that doesn’t want to make this house my home. Because it’s not exactly my home. It seems all too temporary for that, and I’m not sure I like what calling it home would represent. The duration and future at this house is just still so unknown. In all fairness, life in general is much that way as well.

But I’m willing to consider that perhaps that is exactly why I still feel so restless (of the entirely unhelpful and I-just-can’t-sit-still variety) in this new place.

That perhaps I’ve been fighting so hard against the idea of making it home that I’m winning this battle in my mind that never should have been waged in the first place.

That perhaps I have far more control over the way I feel and react towards this house than I realize.

That perhaps there’s a better reality – a truth, even – that I’m blind towards at the moment.

That perhaps I play a part in the unveiling of that truth by choosing where (and on Whom) to set my mind.

That perhaps it’s perfectly acceptable for this house that’s not mine to be a home for a season, no matter how short.

That perhaps home has far less to do with a physical house than with a state of my heart and soul.

That perhaps home has far more to do with resting in Christ where I am in this moment, wherever that happens to be.

“…we have a building from God,
a house not made with hands,
eternal in the heavens.”

I crave stability and security. I crave the comfort and familiarity of home.

But although I’m most definitely still a work in progress, I’m learning that apart from Christ, such things that I want and seek and crave just plain don’t exist.

While these things used to exist within the confines of a physical place for me, in this season of transition and a whole lot of newness, I find that the definition of home as a physical location having these characteristics is severely lacking and incomplete. This place I live isn’t my home. At least not in the sense I’ve known it before. At least not yet.

And all of those definitions of home floating around on Pinterest (you know, the ones that claim home is with the ones you love, or some variation thereof…) don’t hold up all that well for a single person with no prospective significant other.

So at its core, home must mean something else entirely.

I won’t claim to have figured out the best or most right definition for this thing we hold so dear and call home, but I suspect it has more to do with finding contentment of mind, security of heart, and comfort of soul in the person and presence of Jesus Christ than in any physical location or material thing.

And that’s not to say that the physical place we call home and those we share it with on this earth don’t matter. I think they do to some degree. A home (which looks very different person to person and culture to culture) is important. But the truth it represents is even more important. By extending the definition of home beyond my external circumstances, the transient nature of this life doesn’t dictate the settledness of my soul.

Whether I have one house or one room or nothing at all to call my own, I can find home wherever I am. Right now. Today. Because my Rock never changes and my Foundation is eternally secure.

That’s what home is really all about, isn’t it?

A constant place of haven and rest, a quiet place to dwell, a familiar place for our hearts to settle, a place where there’s freedom to just be, a place where we can be restored and renewed away from the world with all of its unending noise and demands.

So I’m finding my way back home, and as I am, I’m realizing that the place my soul is searching for can never truly be satisfied on this earth. But until I reach the completeness, the fullness, and the perfection of my eternal home, I more desperately seek Him and more tightly hold onto the promise of His presence with me always. Here. Home.

“He who has prepared us for this very thing is God,
who has given us the Spirit
as a guarantee.”
2 Corinthians 5:1&5 (ESV)

Beyond What I Could Ask or Think

I came home from a ministry meeting tonight with an absolute assurance that I had been in much more than just a meeting.

I was in the very presence of the Lord in that place.

beyond what I could ask or think

And I want to be intentional about capturing and remembering the beautiful and affirming moments that make up this life every bit as much as I want to honestly acknowledge the hard moments.

And this moment was beautiful.

As we all stood in a circle around that table to spend several minutes praying over a new season of ministry and new leadership, though it certainly wasn’t a flashy moment, it was a Holy Spirit filled moment.

It was good and it was powerful.

This summer has been hard. The Lord has been teaching me, stretching me, and growing me in ways that sometimes I’d rather He just not.

But this right here?

This new season of ministry, this new opportunity to serve?

It is nothing other than an answer to a series of prayers and desires I’ve had over years (years!) that I have often been too fearful or hesitant to even name as future hopes, let alone speak into actual requests.

But even that makes this answer in God’s perfect timing that much sweeter, that much more precious, that much more HIS.

I say it often – even when life doesn’t make sense at all – but y’all. Hear me say it in the good times, too.

God is faithful and God is good and God is sovereign.

And while I am quick to claim the truth of those statements … those promises … when life is hard and challenging (because it often is), I want to be just as quick to claim the same truths when life is good and all kinds of exciting.

And this is exciting!

Because in those precious moments of honest prayers from a roomful of fellow leaders who love the Lord and want more of Him and are willing to pour themselves out into the lives of others, I knew I was there for this.

This is what I was made to do in the right now of today.

And I didn’t get here by analyzing the heck out of my circumstances, or perfectly executing a five year plan, or having a clear idea of what this would look like.

I got here because seeking the Lord without an agenda (or much of the time even a clue!) allowed me to obediently say “yes” when the opportunity was presented.

And that is amazingly, beyond what I could ask or think, beautiful!

And this has only just begun.

God is so good.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21 (ESV)

The Part About Moving I Don’t Remember Hearing

This moving thing.

It’s messing with me in all sorts of ways.

With my routine. With my comfortable and familiar. With my control. With my ownership of, well, anything.

And I’m not even moving that far away.

I suppose any move involves a certain degree of figuring out and re-organizing and shuffling around and re-prioritizing.

But this is new for me.

I haven’t moved all that much, and this weekend, I’ll be moving for the first time in 5 years.

That’s right. I’m the single 20-something that 6 years later still has the same job I began the summer after I graduated college and still has the same roommate in the same rented townhouse I moved into one year later.

And now that roommate is buying a house. And so I’m moving with her.

the part about moving i don't remember hearing

And truth? There are parts of this move that scare me. There’s some unknown here. There are fears I haven’t yet fully figured out. Even some of the irrational ones (because even I know I’m being ridiculous about certain things…).

But when I share things about this move that are hard, no one seems overly surprised. Everyone seems to understand how disorienting and frustrating and draining a move is.

But it’s not something I remember hearing.

Oh, the living out of boxes thing, yes. The inconvenience of it all, sure.

But this heart stuff? Not so much.

But if there’s anything I’m learning in the process, it’s that this move is not just a physical thing.

And in some ways, because of that, it might be a catalyst for something really good. An opportunity to be pruned and refined.

But it’s hard. And some of it hurts. And I just can’t seem to get a grip on it.

I can’t get a grip on what’s going on in my own head. I can’t make myself think a certain way or react a certain way.

Even when I know my approach is all wrong. Even when I can see (when I force myself to look at it somewhat objectively) that I’m being ridiculous and self-centered and unChristlike.

But by trying so hard to wrap my own head around what’s going on in myself, I haven’t been seeking Christ nearly enough.

With all of my margin pushed out and my mental energy spent, I just plain haven’t been spending the time with Him that would actually begin to make the somewhat uncomfortable and unknown seem less like a big deal.

And I know that the more I seek to get Him right in front of my face, the more my own thoughts and inadequacies fade from significance and prominence.

And I know that the more I’m in His Word and intentionally mindful of His presence, the more anything seems possible because my hope and security and trust is firmly rooted in Him and His Word and His promises.

And I know that more than anything, I need Him in the midst of this.

Desperately.

I don’t expect a change in me to happen overnight. I will likely continue to handle aspects of this move ridiculously and immaturely and all wrong.

But I also know my hope … my trust and my security and my stability … is in Christ alone.

Even when my life is in boxes. Even when I’m spent and I’m at the end of myself and I have nothing left.

So through the hard and the hurt of this move, I still choose Him. I press on. I lean in.

And I pray with everything in me that through it all, He does in me what I cannot do in myself.

That He changes the parts of my heart that need changing. That He conforms me to His image. That this move, in all of its momentary discomfort, doesn’t win. That I would be more firmly grounded in Him.

“This God – his way is perfect;
the Word of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.
For who is God, but the Lord?
And who is a rock, except our God?”
2 Samuel 22:31-32 (ESV)

God IS

Sometimes life is hard.

Sometimes life is unspeakably beautiful.

I AM WHO I AM

Most of the time, the categories and seasons of this life aren’t so mutually exclusive. And somewhere in the middle, in the midst of the everyday that refuses to be so easily defined, I often feel like a hot mess of back-and-forth, up-and-down, I-don’t-know-which-way-is-up.

The inner tension and turmoil can become unbearable as I try to process and make sense of and unpack this life as it changes and unfolds.

There is so much that I just plain don’t know or understand.

The more I flesh out questions that don’t have easy answers, the more I try to make sense of how my life intertwines with others, the more I try to understand God’s plan, the more I realize how little I actually DO know and how far I have to go.

And it’s in those moments that I come closest to understanding the reality that I’ll never actually get there.

At least not this side of my eternal reality.

Because the “there” that I seem to be aiming for, that seems to exist only within the confines of my own brain, that demands nothing short of near-perfection and getting every little thing right all the time, doesn’t actually exist.

It’s a twisted perception that assumes if I just had this or were just better at this or could just improve this, life would suddenly be as it should be.

But that’s just not right at all.

And the weight of the error in that sort of thinking is downright crippling.

But on the other side, there is relief and release when I can come to grips with even a dim understanding that I’m not supposed to have answers to everything and that I’m more-or-less supposed to feel helpless and out of control.

Because the hard and unpleasant and I’m-not-even-sure-how-to-live-with-it truth is I am helpless and out of control.

I don’t call the shots.

I don’t control this life.

No amount of over-analyzing or self-evaluating or hyper-spiritualizing will EVER change that.

Yes, if I identify areas in this life that need work, by the grace of God and by the power of His Holy spirit within me, I can be changed. He can and will continue to sanctify me, to make me holy, to conform me to His image.

But I can’t get there by a sheer force of will or by maintaining the ideal schedule.

As I consider the future … having dreams and setting goals and making plans … it’s easy to become so task oriented and short sighted that I fall into the trap of thinking if I just make the plan and do the work, I’ll achieve success. Or conversely, that if I want something and don’t do anything about it, I’m just not driven or ambitious enough, and might as well accept failure.

But interruptions and inconsistencies and inconveniences are just part of life. That’s where God so often chooses to work. And the more I try to do all the right things or to have all the right answers, the more my focus ends up back on myself and my gaze slips from HIM.

This life still isn’t and never will be about me.

And when my eyes are rightly fixed on the Lord, when I’m seeking Him first, while I don’t have all the answers and I certainly still lack understanding, somehow perspective is restored and I can rest in the reality that I don’t make my own path straight. I can dream within the context of desiring more of Him (for myself and for others), but I don’t control how that plays out in this life nearly as much as I think I do.

So this is where I once again admit that I just don’t have many answers at all.

That this life is most right when my eyes are steadily and assuredly fixed on Christ.

That this life is more about seeking His presence than seeking all the right answers.

That this life is so much better when I trust the details and directions to His plan and His way.

That this life is not for me to make sense of because I’m not in control of it.

But in the midst of the unknown of this life, the one thing that I do know, that I can say with absolute assurance, that is beyond comforting is this:

God IS.

In all of His sovereignty, goodness, and holiness.

He’s the Great I AM, in control of this life and this world from beginning to end.

God IS.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”
Exodus 3:14 (ESV)