Yesterday was one of those ugly, in-the-trenches mom days. Hours spent in the car shuffling around town to all the places we needed to be. A long wait at the doctor’s office with two kids and a baby in tow. Feeling well-covered in all the fluids that babies make (I’ll leave that one there…). Two kids with questions that seemed never to end and a baby who just wouldn’t sleep…at all. And it seemed that everything that possibly could go wrong did.
Some of the thoughts that passed through my head included:
I don’t know if I can make it…
If I hear “Mom!” one more time, I swear….
It would feel so great to throw the remote straight at the TV right now…or punch a wall…
You know? One of “those” days. Just. Barely. Hanging. On.
Then, this morning, my alarm went off early, as it does on Wednesdays so I can go write. But I was confused. In all the mess of yesterday, I’d completely forgotten that today would be a new day, with new hopes and new happenings. I could get up, grab a cup of coffee and spend some time doing something I love, soaking in grace and the fresh mercies that come with every morning.
Here’s the problem with those problem days…When we allow ourselves to be defined by our fears, our feelings, our failures, rather than be defined by the Father. The problem isn’t that the difficult days come. We were told that they would.
It’s not strange to have a difficult day where everything feels upended. But what will we do with those days? What truths will emerge from those fiery trials? Here are a few truths I walked away with after yesterday:
My God is incredibly gracious and forgiving. Without Him, I am utterly lost.
My husband is my hero. (Thanks, babe, for listening to me vent, dropping everything to pick up the kids from class, picking up dinner, checking on the baby when he started to cry, handling the moments of discipline the evening brought, tossing in some laundry, and still managing to put up some drywall in our current room under renovation…all after coming home from your own long day at work.)
My kiddos have amazing brains and hearts that want to help. All their questions just reveal the depths of their inquisitiveness and the honor I have of guiding them into wisdom and knowledge.
Showers wash away the ickiness on my skin and mercy washes away the ickiness in my soul. Pretty simple. I just need to choose to grab that shower when I have a free moment and receive the mercy handed to me at every moment.
So, what will your day hold? What has it already been like? And what truths will you carry away from it?
Will you choose to be defined by the fears that attack? Or the feelings that shift? Or the failing moments? Or will you, rather, be defined today by the Father who’s standing right by your side, hands full of forgiveness and grace just for you?
photo via Pixabay
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I can be wasteful with my moments. I throw away the extravagant, the blessing, the inheritance to find myself sunk low. And it happens in an instant.
The child whines; my temper flares. The so-called friend slanders me; bitterness takes root. Plans go awry; my flesh cries out, demanding its own way. Gossip around me stirs; I enter in. I find myself bored or upset; I turn to food for comfort rather than the God who comforts.
How many ways can I fail in a single day? How much waste can I leave in my wake?
We read the parable of the prodigal son and we imagine this one, life-altering experience. We think, “Sure, I was a prodigal at one time.” But our expectations lie in wait, convincing us that once we’ve returned to the Father after that long time away, everything should be smooth. We think, “I’d never do that again.”
But then we do.
I am an everyday prodigal.
We think of the prodigal son and remember his self-centeredness and his wastefulness with the gifts given by his Father. “Prodigal” actually means “wasteful.” He cared only for himself. He didn’t think about the pain his selfishness would cause. He didn’t imagine his Father would be waiting every single day for His son to appear on the horizon.
But when he came to the end of himself, the prodigal son made a choice that changed everything. He arose. He humbled himself and began the walk back to his Father and his home.
“And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Luke 15:20
He arose. He humbled himself. He realized his own end and found a fresh beginning.
It amazes me, nearly three decades into this walk with Jesus, that there’s so much more to discover than what I know. He’s still piercing through my preconceptions, teaching me, breaking off lies I’ve believed. Just a few days ago, I heard a song by Crowder that rocked my idea of what it meant to be a prodigal.
“If you’re lost and wandering
Come stumbling in like a prodigal child.
See the walls start crumbling;
Let the gates of glory open wide.
If you’re lost and wrecked again
Come stumbling in like a prodigal child.
See the walls start crumbling;
Let the gates of glory open wide.”
Everyday, I wander. Everyday, I am wrecked. And everyday, I have a choice: continue or return. I don’t return to God walking tall and strong. I come stumbling in, head low, feet unsure. I think through my list of all the things I need to do to earn my place back in His home, in His heart.
But, when I’ve put one stumbling foot in front of another, pointing my toes in His direction, I barely have a chance to look up to meet His eyes before I feel His embrace, His kisses lavished on me, unworthy.
Everyday. Not just once. Not just for “something big.” For every slip, every failure along the way of this life.
Arise. Be received with open arms.
Humble yourself. Be lifted up, returned to your place of sonship.
Step towards the Father. He will come running to embrace you.
He reminds me that my list will never be enough, but His love is. He reminds me I don’t have to be strong, because He is. He reminds me that I just need to make a choice and turn my steps towards Him. He’ll make up the distance my feet could never cover.
Today’s post is written by Summer Hoover, a guest contributor and invaluable friend. Her insight, humility and openness speak into my life through every conversation we have. I pray that her thoughts here will bless and challenge you today.
“It is when we notice the dirt that God is most present in us; it is the very sign of His presence.”
Failure. What comes to mind when you read that word? Do you think of a specific moment? A relationship? A job? A sin in your life? Do you see yourself? Whatever it conjures up, I think we can all agree that the word “failure” is filled with negativity, loss, sadness, hurt, pain, regret, embarrassment, or shame. What would you add to that list?
For me, fear of failure has been a paralyzing, self-loathing force in my life. I have allowed it to control what I do or don’t do, how I respond when I mess up and how I allow those mess-ups to form me, oftentimes with negative effects. When I was around twelve years old, my parents got me a Nike T-shirt which simply said, “Losing teaches you one thing…it sucks.” That pretty much sums up the perspective I had on failure.
However, as much as that statement may resonate, it is misses the mark completely. We can allow failure to push us back, paralyze us, derail us or transform us. Three of these four options are void of God’s redeeming nature and His willingness to turn our mistakes and mess-ups into defining and teachable moments where He is revealed and we are transformed.
Lately, God has been opening doors for me to walk through in pursuit of His call on my life – to lead others to know Christ and show them the way out of captivity. These recent months have been a beautiful whirlwind of ministerial blessings, spiritual transformation, and personal face-to-face encounters with my God.
After so many spiritual “highs” of late, I was excited to celebrate over dinner with ladies from the post-abortive Bible study I’ve had the honor of leading (called Surrendering the Secret). We may have started out as facilitators and group members, but God has grown our relationships into ones without labels or roles – simply sisters in Christ. At dinner, when our server told me they didn’t have Dr Pepper or Mr. Pibb (all kinds of wrong, I know), I opted to have a Peach Bellini from the bar – a rare choice on my part. Despite the food in my system, I started to feel a bit light-headed, not surprising considering my drinks normally consist of water, Dr Pepper and creamer with a bit of coffee.
After dinner, one friend reminded me that another friend at our table had a past addiction to alcohol. Failure.
How could I have forgotten? I knew that. How did that not even cross my mind? How? I don’t even like alcohol that much. How could I have been so careless? I was distraught, wounded by my own sin to my core.
I immediately called this friend and apologized through sobbing tears. She was so gracious, compassionate, and forgiving. I plead for forgiveness. She willingly, without question, offered it. She assured me that she had not felt tempted in the least. A healing stitch. I then cried out to God, praying, crying, apologizing, and receiving His forgiveness. But, the paralyzing, self-loathing response to failure had already begun to take root in me. It has been, after all, my default. Losing teaches you one thing: it sucks. Remember?
All those amazing “God moments” of late were in danger of being swept from my mind. The self-loathing threatened their very existence in my heart and mind. I had failed…in a big way. How could someone who is supposed to be leading do something so thoughtless? Then, God stopped me and reminded me of a main point from that weekend’s message: Defining Moments by Kay Woodward – “The moment of truth is the truth of the moment”. He snatched me from the deceit of my habits.
Yes, it was a failure on my part, but it was also a defining moment – one that can either be defined by the truth of Christ or by the lies of Satan. What truth did God speak to me in the stillness of my bedroom? “Yes, this was a mistake, but it was unintentional and made in a safe place. I know you won’t do it again. You must forgive yourself.”
This was the truth of the moment. We can either allow our failures to define us or we can allow our God to define our failures, to sanctify us and reveal His glory to us and through us.
Jesus reminded me, as only He can, that my failures do not strip me of His love or calling on my life any more than my goodness is responsible for Him giving them to me in the first place. Failures are defining moments, there is no doubt, but how we allow them to define us is completely up to us.
It’s no coincidence that I was able to sit in all three services the previous weekend and hear Kay preach the same message three times. My God knew. He knew what was going to take place, and He knew I would need that truth planted firmly in my heart. He prepared a way for me out of my failure before I ever entered into it. He has done and will do the same for you.
I was tempted to fall into what I believed was my default, but our God is faithful to keep His promise when he said through the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 10:13, “You are tempted in the same way all other human beings are. God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted any more than you can take. But when you are tempted, God will give you a way out so that you can stand up under it.”
Hear me. You are not defined by your failures. You can choose to believe the lies Satan so freely whispers in your mind. You can choose to partner with him in saying them to yourself. Or you can choose to seek God’s face, crawl into His arms and allow Him to show you the truth of who you are.
In her book, Breaking Free, Beth Moore says, “A Christian is held captive by anything that hinders the abundant and effective Spirit-filled life God planned for him or her” (p. 25). This is what Paul says about that in Galatians 5:1, “Christ has set us free. He wants us to enjoy freedom. So stand firm. Don’t let the chains of slavery hold you again.” Don’t let the chains of shame, guilt, regret, or self-loathing hold you again.
Do something for yourself. Fill in the blank: “I am letting the chains of ________ hold me captive even though I have been set free by the blood of Christ.” Now…go. Pray. Seek God. Open your Bibles. Do not let another minute of that captivity go by.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom…Jesus came to give you life and life to the full…While we were still sinners, Christ died for us…I no longer live, but it is Christ who lives in me.
In order to know the truth, you have to know the Truth. God has an abundant and effective Spirit-filled life planned for you. Do not remain in the cage of captivity when Jesus has already opened the door and set you free. Failures will happen.Fail forward.
Go check out Summer’s previous guest post, Surrender All To Me.
I felt God woke me this morning at 5:30 am to tell me something. It was that sometimes we dont pay attention to the smallest of things. He gave me John 12.47-50, “If anyone hears does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
I have found that many times we come to this text to prove the fact that Jesus did all of the things He did and said all of the words He said not with His own authority, but with the Authority of God, the Father. One thing that is odd to me is that we skip right over that Jesus says,”that His [God the father’s] command is everlasting life.” This is huge, With the authority of God the father, and following what the Father tells Him to do he says into existence that God the Father’s command is everlasting life.
Think about it, God’s commandments are the laws we have to live by to be in relationship with Him, right? If He didn’t set the bar high enough with the first ten, then over 300 commandments, try this one on for size. He wants us to have everlasting life. I don’t think God ever thought that we could pull that one off. What I think is that God, like the perfect parent that His, wants to be with us, his children, forever. Being the righteous and omniscient God that He is knows that if we come into his presence in the unrighteous state that we are in, we would be annihilated. The problem is that the debt that we owe because of our sin is too great for us to pay. But because Jesus fits the bill, He pays our bill, and then purifies our unrighteousness so that we may obey this commandment.
Everlasting life, that’s a pretty cool one to be a part of. Most of us look at the whole washing of our hands and some of the ritual commandments as not exciting, but I can get really excited about that one.
Remember, God didn’t give us the commandments to boss us around or to toy with us and laugh when we missed the mark. He was showing us that only someone perfect like Himself, or Himself could come before Him without being annihilated. It simply points out to all that we need a savior, that we can’t do it without His help. That’s all he ever wanted was for us to reach to Him so He could love on us. Remember that all came possible by the Son, Jesus, Jeshua, the Messiah, dieing for us.
This last part is for anyone who has not been born again, John 3:3-6 ESV
“Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”
If you do not know the Lord Jesus as your Lord, please take a moment search deep in your heart and listen for the sweet voice of the Holy Spirit. If you hear God asking you to be close to him, to come to him so he can love on you, you must become born again. How you do that is simply in your own words, confessing that you can’t live up to perfection, you are flawed, and asking him to purify you through the blood of Jesus. One other crucial part is asking Him to take the reigns from here, let His will be done. Surrender your will for his, as in Jesus’s prayer, your will be done on Earth as it is Heaven. Accept it, embrace it, enjoy the Love of God. I pour blessings out over you and ask God to pour His love on you as you live in His will from this day forward.
P.S. you will never get it right, you will never be perfect, you will continue to sin, but if you always come back to Him asking for His will those sins will become fewer and fewer and you will continue to become more like him. God Bless.
Originally written 4-15-2010