letting go

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I can’t see what’s in front of me. It was pouring rain and as I weaved along the country roads toward the airport the foggy thunderstorm left my hands clenched on the steering wheel praying I would not drive off the road. Street lights are a novelty in the rural Midwest, and apparently, so is seeing the lane lines on the road.

Thank goodness it only takes fifteen minutes to run from the parking lot through security to my assigned gate for departure at the Madison airport. I made it. Phew.

There wasn’t a moment on the drive that I thought I would miss my flight. Despite decreasing my speed by 80% and a total lack of vision of the road and other vehicles, I knew I would make it to my plane in time. Such confidence freed me to slow down and take the necessary precautions on the stormy roads that morning.

I can’t see what’s in front of me, but still I want to trust you.

I have no vision of the year ahead, let alone the next five to ten years of my life. I can’t tell you if the Midwest will be a stop along the way or a place that ever truly feels like home, and while the desire to be married and have a family grows in my heart, I can’t show you proof of if or when that chapter will be written.

What I can tell you is that prayer works. Talking and listening to Jesus opens us up to hear the voice of God, to feel his presence, and to find peace in the middle of not having many answers. When the people of God lift their voices to him in unison, he listens. He responds.

Lately, I have felt Jesus responding, but it’s not what you think. I didn’t hear an audible voice and I don’t have any hints about the future. But I do feel him. I feel Jesus wanting to set my heart free from the weight of doubt. I feel Jesus desiring to alleviate the feeling of exhaustion that comes with constantly trying to calculate life’s outcomes. I feel Jesus carefully loosening my grip from the fear of being forgotten.

He is giving me little tastes of what deeper trust feels like. (As an aside, I just pictured him handing me truffles, one by one.)

Trusting Jesus feels a little like reckless abandonment. It’s invigorating. It’s thrilling to let go. I picture myself running and dancing with arms tossing in the air as the sun kisses my skin and the wind caresses my curls. It’s marvelous.

It’s hard to stay there though. I’m sure you can relate. As much as the glorious release of concern enthralls me, thoughts rush into my mind grabbing my attention and dampening my courage to run freely with Jesus.

The moment is enough though. One moment gives us a taste of the sweetness of trust. Trusting in Jesus empowers us to believe in the unbelievable. It catapults our dreams to the heavens and unleashes a beauty and fearlessness that puzzles the world.

Isn’t it ravishing? It’s most desirable.

Won’t you run with me? 

I can’t see what’s in front of me, but Jesus, I trust in you. 

 

 

Photo credit: Little City Magazine

a desert season

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Every Lent we talk about going into the desert with Jesus. Sometimes, I swear it becomes trendy to share with others that we are in “a desert season.” The anticipation of Lent lasts throughout the year. One time someone told me during the summer what they were planning to give up in Lent. Really, six months ahead of time?

That is so silly! Why are we waiting for Lent to get our lives in order and give up the things we knew we should not have been doing all year long, only to return to them after Easter? Now let me clarify, I am not saying that we should not give something up during Lent, but I am wondering if we understand what it means to go into the wilderness (the Judean Desert) with Jesus.

Jesus is led into the wilderness/desert by the Spirit to be tempted by the devil. After fasting for forty days and forty nights, he is hungry. Maybe even hangry, who knows?

He is tempted three times: sensual pleasure, power, and glory.

These are basic temptations. We face them every day.

We are told to indulge.
We are told to control.
We are told to seek the praise of others.

However, there’s something much deeper going on in the desert between Jesus and the devil before he is tempted.

The opening phrase of the devil’s first two temptations begins with a small but powerful word that bullies us: IF.

“If you are the Son of God…”  (Matthew 4:3,6)

He says it twice. The devil tries to undermine Jesus’ identity by implanting a question, a seed of doubt, where God has grown certainty. He attempts to disrupt Jesus’ tired, hungry, and vulnerable soul by questioning the one thing he knows to be truer than anything else, who he is.

Gulp. This is too real.

So often, it’s the times when I am weary, stressed, and feeling lonely that the devil creeps in with the temptations of pleasure, power, and glory, but prior to that temptation, he inserts an IF. The “ifs” vary for each of us because he’s crafty and manipulative, but for me, it sounds something like this:

What if you really didn’t hear the voice of the Holy Spirit in your prayer? 
What if you’re not really meant for this? 
What if God doesn’t fulfill the desires of your heart?
What if you fail? 

It keeps going, but you get the idea. What follows? Temptation.

Temptation to take matters into my own hands. Temptation to mask the discomfort and uncertainty with immediate gratification in the indulgences of the world. Temptation to make a full proof plan that will ensure success, adventure, romance, beauty, and security.

I see the value of removing the things we turn to in the midst of temptation during Lent. But it’s not enough. If we don’t get to the heart of the matter, it’s like putting a band-aid on an exposed wound that lies above a broken bone. We have to be willing to feel and recognize what’s underneath the surface.

Going into the desert with Jesus means wrestling with our “IF” moments in the midst of feeling tired, hungry, and exposed. So here it is:

Will you expose yourself to the Lord?

Will you let him enter in to the questions, doubts, and “IF” moments that seek to undermine the beginning and end of who you are? 

This is where healing begins and where restoration dwells. Do you hear the voice calling out to you in the desert? He’s been there, he’s walked the same path, he knows what it feels like, and he will give you what it takes to endure. Beyond enduring, “he refreshes our soul” (Psalm 23:3).

Jesus came to reconcile the Father to his beloved – not a small task. He couldn’t afford to have a moment of doubt in his identity as he began his ministry on earth, and neither can you! We are called to participate in Jesus’ mission on earth, and we can’t do it without knowing and believing that he is the beginning and end of who we are.

And remember, sister: Jesus makes the darkness tremble. 

A desert season prepared Jesus for his ministry, and it is a desert season that will equip you for your mission on earth. The purification of the refiner’s fire makes us a new creation, deepening our identity, and convicting us of who God is calling us to become.

Who are you becoming this Lent?