“And she said, "Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the Lord. As long as he lives, he is lent to the Lord." And he worshiped the Lord there.”
1 Samuel 1:26-28
When I was 4, my sister was born, a day I had dreamed about since I could understand what a sibling and baby was. My dad at the time was working 6 hours away during the week and my mom had ended up hurting her back, so it was up to this towhead preschooler to take care of her baby - I got up every morning and took Maggie out of her crib to my mom to be nursed, and then back to our room to be changed and get dressed for the rest of the day. And that’s when I found the thing I wanted to do more than being in a rock band or driving a motorcycle or riding along in an ambulance....I wanted to be a mom.
That dream was the only thing that never changed with time, no matter how many times i changed my hair (lol) or sports I was playing seasonally (or shows and improv teams), or careers I wanted to pursue, I still just REALLY wanted to be a mom. That’s what i asked for and that’s what i prayed for. In fact my favorite thing to tell people when I was in high school was “I really honestly just want to get engaged senior year and then have 12 kids” which was usually also my explanation as to why I did not study for whatever the current test was.... (🙄) ...(and probably why I only dated like two people)...
So you can imagine (or already know if you have your own babes) how emotional it was to take our first child home. I got in the car and felt a wave of feelings I have never felt before (which is a shock, being bi-polar I thought I’ve felt it all). I sat in the back seat with Rudy and sobbed while Austin got us coffee. I sat in our recliner and sobbed while I nursed Rudy. I ate dinner at my parents and sobbed while eating chocolate cake (thanks KELLY!) and I’ve sobbed several more times in the addition to those, but why?
The easy answer is hormones or the trauma my body experienced or the lack of sleep. But I think the real answer, the deepest source of this emotion for me is redemption.
noun the action of saving or being saved from sin, error, or evil.
“I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you.” - Isaiah 44:22
On January 15th 2018 I was taken to Legacy Salmon Creek hospital because plainly, I wanted to die. I was done. My husband and best friends came and sat with me. My parents came and prayed over me and my doctors told me we would find answers.
On October 14th 2018 I was taken to Legacy Salmon Creek hospital because my son was ready to meet the world. My husband held my hand and my best friends waited eagerly. My parents came and prayed over us and my doctors told me “he’s beautiful”.
That hospital previously had held a lot of negative memories for me and I hated having to go back there. But WHO knew 272 days after sitting in that hospital in all hopelessness and despair....I’d be back there again, FULL of hope and eager for the future.
Out of the redemption of one life, God has saved two.
I look at Rudy and all I can say is “THANK YOU, that Your plans are so so so much better then mine could or ever will be”.
Thanks for reading,
Last week I got the chance to address the questions "Why doesn't Jesus always rescue us from our pain?" And "How does God use our suffering?"
We look at verses from John 11, Exodus 16 and Isaiah 43.
Its been five months since Ive sat here, intentionally trying to hash out what God has been doing in my life and around me since we last “talked”. I think part of whats been holding me back from writing is fear….I mean what do you say when you’re 22 years old, working as a youth pastor and find yourself in the hardest place you’ve ever been emotionally, spiritually and physically? Battling a mental illness is something I never saw myself doing especially in this stage of life. But here I am. And if I am being honest, Ive felt a bit hopeless through most of it. But thats not why we are here and that is certainly not where I am choosing to land this conversation.
In late August I found myself leaving a camp with insane peace that I hadn’t felt for a long time. And as we drove away from Lake Billy Chinook with worship music blasting in our car, I couldn’t help but feel life was about to be full of immense sweetness. After all, I was about to get married and got to lead worship every week at a church I loved not to mention speak occasionally in the high school ministry. Life felt amazing in that little gold Honda Accord. Until we stopped at the store for dinner.
I remember walking up and down the isles with my heart pounding in my ears while I repeated to myself “you are here for food, you are here for food, you are here for food”. Trying to catch my breath with no luck I ran into a friend who could tell right away I needed to slow down. “BRENNA, just breathe its only food you’re okay” he said. I remember trying to think of something to say back to him but I had no reaction. That was my first anxiety attack… and a good indicator of how the rest of the year would end up going.
September came around and after 20 days of shallow breathing, intense worry and never being able to shut my brain off, my body decided to swing to the complete opposite…something I knew well. My breathing then became slow and inconsistent and it was obvious I was suffering with flat affect (having a lack of emotional expression). I honestly felt a little bit of hope when this happened, maybe my anxiety swung me into depression, which was something I have dealt with before and could deal with again. Maybe this season would be hard but as long as anxiety was gone I felt like it could be manageable. However, October came and I started to feel like I was tasting a piece of hell.
I stopped sleeping. I started losing weight. My medications didn’t feel like they were working. Id have days were Id jump out of the bed in the middle of the night and feel the crazy urge to run ten miles or punch a window or squeeze my lungs until I couldn’t breathe anymore. Then just days later I couldn’t get out of bed at all..id weep on my couch for hours and stay in the same clothes for days straight. I was starting to feel absolutely insane. And I was starting to get pissed off at God.
Why….why did I have to spend the week before my wedding pacing back and forth in my house hardly breathing…why did I spend my honeymoon weeping every other night….and Why did I feel completely and utterly alone and clinically insane? If I knew God saw me, why was he letting me suffer?
Before I knew it two more months had passed and I had found myself wide awake in my bed after six days of absolutely zero sleep. My whole body hurt. I had seen my counselor who brought of the possibility of being bipolar, to which I responded with “ha, no”. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe her… after all, hearing that this could be something beyond “just depression” gave me hope for further answers and better medication. What I didn’t like about that statement was the unsaid implications over what I believe God’s calling on my life was/is. I had heard many speakers and pastors address their own struggles with anxiety and depression but never had I seen someone standing up on the platform owning the fact that they were bipolar. In fact, most of what I had heard about the mood disorder were statement centered around words like crazy, overwhelming, insane, and difficult. So in my mind I started to disqualify myself from the dreams I had about my future. And I felt like God had dropped me off on the side of the road. I felt left, sitting alone in chaos trying to make sense of it all. I sort of hated that God had let me come this far. And I certainly did not trust him with my future or present.
I was exhausted. And I still sorta am.
Six days, no sleep and no answers and no calls back from my psychiatrist and my brain couldn’t handle it anymore. I had to lead worship at a worship night but remember feeling completely numb and empty as I tried my best to sing and appear present. My heart ached… But oh, how God was obviousy on the move.
Through a series of events on the following Monday afternoon, I ended up being able to get checked into a hospital and seen multiple days in a row by a few doctors and psychiatrists (not to mention I GOT TO SLEEP) who were able to give me some answers. I left on Wednesday afternoon knowing I had underlining bipolar - a type of bipolar in which manic episodes can be magnified through the use of antidepressants, which I started in October.
Every day in the hospital id talk to my mom on the phone which filled me with a lot of peace. Austin and Lindsey drove up every day to see me and I hated watching Austin have to leave through the hallway doors at the end of each visiting hour, especially in the evenings. But the most defining moment of my time in the psych ward was the first night.
I was taken from Salmon Creek up to Longview late on Monday night. Once I got there they brought me to a room with nothing in it besides a bed that was drilled into the ground. I had only ever seen anything else like it on shows about solitary confinement. I sat on the bed and waited for my nurse to come in. After she was done asking me some questions I told her my husband was coming and asked when I could see him.
My heart sank.
“Visiting hours are from 12;30-1;30 tomorrow, you can call him after 9 Am if you’d like”. She left after that.
And I was alone. I was absolutely alone. My physical circumstances now matched my emotional and what I felt was my spiritual circumstances and I was profoundly alone. Never have I wept as hard as I did on that bed in that horrible, empty, cold room. I had spent so long ignoring God but now I felt like yelling at him….Why God? Where are you? I NEEDED YOU….. I NEED you…
I need you. I need you. I need you.
I slept. For the first time in months I laid down and I slept…. and I wasn’t alone. I was never alone. MY hope was nowhere to be seen but GODS hope for me was abounding over me. I probably shouldn’t have survived that season. But I’m breathing again.
There is a song that starts off by saying “plagued by Your promises”. I never got it. What a strange thing to say, that she was plagued by Gods promises. But now I get it. I see it. I feel it.
Not once during this season did God hand me over, not once did he leave me or allow me to take my own life or snap completely out of control. And although I wanted nothing to do with hope….it followed me. I wanted nothing to do with God’s promises…but they followed me. I wanted nothing to do with God’s people but they pursued me….
The definition of plagued is
past tense: plagued; past participle: plagued
0. cause continual trouble or distress to."the problems that plagued the company"
0. synonyms: 3 afflict, bedevil, torment, trouble,
“Plagued by Your promises”
I finally understand what she’s saying. This whole time I’ve been troubled…afflicted and tormented, yes with pain and anxiety and depression but even MORE so…by God’s promises. By his hope. By his plan. He doesn’t leave his beloved alone. Not once. Not even once.
“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.
Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Isaiah 43:1-2, 4-5, 19
As a leader and person in ministry I think God's asked me specifically to remain rather transparent with my day to day life and all that it entails, specifically with struggling. We (people in ministry or anyone actually) do not lead perfect, sinless lives void of tension and struggle, but I think rather often feel the need to appear as if we do. That doesn't necessarily encourage anyone though. It's often the times when I see people who fiercely LOVE the Lord and have STRONG ministries be vulnerable that I come into a better understanding of God's heart, character and affection for us. So, here is my story from this past weekend at the lake.
I left for a Thursday through Sunday boating trip to lead worship for the young adult ministry at my church. I headed into the weekend with the worst attitude. Being an introvert doesn't exactly set you up for excitement when it comes to 3 nights stuck on a house boat with 50 other people. I headed out with a heart set up to be defiant - I did not care to hear God's voice, make friends, be kind or even intentionally worship. I was ready to be pissed off for 72 hours.
That was not God's plan. Ha.
Every morning after breakfast we would have a short time of worship and then head into 30 minutes of silent devotionals. I entered this time each morning plugging my ears. It's funny though...how God often speaks in our thought process instead of physically out loud and how it's almost impossible to hush that up...so He got me there. Enjoy the following, much of which is from my journal.
Friday morning, 25th of August
I found a spot on the back of the house boat that overlooked the murky, green water that wasn't quite warmed up by the sun yet. My heart, still as strong willed and disobedient as ever said "this devotional is dumb" as I grabbed my iPhone and headphones in order to better ignore God while still being discrete. I eased part of my guilt of not doing the devotional by playing worship instead of my 1990s R&B hits I had saved onto my phone in a last effort to try and enjoy a weekend on the water without cell reception. I stared at the water and the water stared back. "Even in the depths I am there". What......? "Even in the depths I am there". I heard it over and over and over again, far louder then my music. Finally I reached for my bible and flipped over to Psalm 139 and raced through the text. I looked back up over the water and paraphrased to myself "Even in the depths YOU are with me. I make my bed at the gates of hell and YOU are there. I awake and YOU are still with me". And then God spoke.
"Brenna.... even though you've camped yourself in Sheol (deciding not to fight but give up and let anger and annoyance and defiance rule my heart, mood and rob my joy) I HAVE NOT given up on you. You cannot separate yourself from Me. When you expect me to grow tired... I am STILL with you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. Stop trying to get rid of me".
Saturday morning, August 26th
I was sitting on the back of the boat waiting for God to push back against my defiant mood and behavior in some sort of equal fashion, like a kid feeling the need to be punished so they act out even more waiting for the "iron fist" to come down on them and yet it never happened. Instead I heard the Lord firmly speak John 10:10 (“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”) as I stared over the water past the rough cliffs and plateaus of Billy Chinook. After reading through and past that, God highlighted John 11:35 ("Jesus wept") as well.
"Bren, the thief comes to do those things (regarding the iron fist mentality) ...but I GIVE YOU LIFE! Stop expecting me to be a tyrant, baby girl. I am here to give you LIFE, not punishment. Nor do I rush past your feelings to heal you. I SIT WITH YOU in your grief and pain, I emote with you and over you (i.e. Jesus wept for Lazarus). You are not a project, BUT DEARLY BELOVED. I sit with you and THEN I bring healing. I WALK with you through ALL the steps."
Sunday morning, August 27th
I started this morning with trouble focusing and kind of being okay with it, talking to myself about the drive home and how nice it would be to take a shower in non lake water. But again..out of the silence and busyness of my mind came His clear voice, "Choose this day who you will serve" Joshua 24:15.
"B, you can either continue to resist and fight or you can walk in obedience which leads to REAL LIFE and INTIMACY with Me. It is not easy or always peaceful...It doesn't always feel good. But MY ways are higher then yours and MY thoughts higher then your thoughts. My affection is for you. So, choose THIS day whom you will serve. Not in a week, not later tomorrow, choose THIS day."
So, now I'm home, feeling rested, tired and sore all at once. But also feeling great joy because of the great Love our Father has LAVISHED on us. A love that is not too shy to push back against our stubbornness. A love that is not timid. A love that bursts through the silence and interrupts our day in order to grab ahold of our hearts. Sometimes, God ain't no gentleman.
The past month has been a whirlwind full of work, a few short trips, lots of ministry and...planning. Between it all I've felt a lack of real rest which would often become evident after getting a full 8 hours of sleep and feeling more exhausted then before.
The funny thing is I *know* physical rest can't cure spiritual and emotional fatigue. That's something that comes with practicing God's presence and is only delivered by Jesus himself in HIS timing.
But I don't always like/understand his timing or the way He chooses to bring us rest.
See, the last month has also been filled with some days off, reading the Bible, soaking in worship, working out, walks outside, taking things slow and STILL not finding rest. I am at church an average of 4 times a week. I was (and still do) obsessively listening to the newest worship, podcasts and vlogs by Bethel, the Bible project and JMC. My life has been swept up by a multitude of (what I believe to be) GOOD amounts of BIBLICAL truths, spoken and sung and written out. But MAN did I still feel absolutely exhausted at the end of the day.
“What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity.”
Now, hear me when I say I don't consider spending time in the Word or in worship or learning more about theology "toiling" per say. But.....the problem?
I was searching for rest *IN* good things. Not *WITH* the Goodness Himself.
I realized this when I found rest in the most unexpected place....
In a boat with one of my best friends parents.
There wasn't anything extraordinary about our afternoon. It was warm, my friend was wake boarding and I just sat next to her mama. And I felt so much peace and rest. Afterwords when I was walking back to my car I was fighting tears a little just wondering WHAT about that time brought me rest. I kept thinking about me just sitting on the boat and wake boarding and just hanging out and that's when I heard Him say "because you were just WITH me".
I was just there. Not trying to learn. Not intentionally even trying to worship. But Just SITTING still on glorious afternoon in HIS presence. With people I LOVE.
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."”
"Come to ME".
It's relational. HE is peace himself. HE is rest himself.
This last Wednesday night I got the opportunity to speak on Acts 6 and 7 and how the story of the first Christian martyr plays a roll in the way we choose to live our lives.
GAL 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Romans 8:13 (NIV)
13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
Its MAY! What a remarkable month we are in the midst of! Its rained for what feels like a million years and I can hardly get out of bed!! So why so many exclamation points? If you guessed sarcasm, congrats you know me all to well but also NOT congrats because its not sarcasm this time (;
Depression has hit me hard this spring and as I enter the 8th month of my worship internship I can feel the exhaustion catch up with me as I fight apathy within the midst of ministry. Spring time for youth leaders always kinda feels like the last leg of a race. We want to prepare our students for summer, a season where they have a lot more time on their hands. Practically speaking, more time means more choices and in my own experience I feel like I either spent my time actively loving Jesus(i.e. going to small group, serving, reading my bible, practicing God's presence) or doing the exact opposite through my choices(i.e my testimony😬). But as a pray and make a push for my students to actively choose God and what He has I can't help but realize I also need to do that when it comes to depression.... so if you thought this was another blog about depression, no worries you are in for something much greater, and that would be the topic of JOY.
Joy has always been a difficult thing for me. I sorta love being known for my low, monotoned voice, but not my apathetic facial features and inability to emote in most situations (especially while leading worship). My go to phrase is constantly "it's whatever" and I refuse to let people think/know that I absolutely love people and physical touch (I will run from you SO fast if you try to love me or hug me). But in the midst of depression and after an insane ministry trip to the Czech Republic I've come to the conclusion that JOY is both a gift and a choice, and I should probably stop running from it and who God has made me.
Earlier this month I got the chance to serve Josiah Venture in the Czech along side two other young ladies, one of which I've grown up along side. We met when we were 8 in and God (graciously) has kept her in my life ever since. Over the years she has encouraged me and pointed me towards truth, but the week we spent together in Europe God absolutely used her to speak into my life. A couple years ago I felt like God had really broken down a wall in my life when it came to allowing myself to cry and feel emotions. This trip I felt like God wanted to break down another wall but I wasn't sure what it was so Lindsey prayed with me almost every day over it.
When I'm home I hardly hangout with other people, much less engage in Wild worship (dancing lol) or pray out loud(all things I LOVE but hate to admit). When I got back I felt like a million bricks were crushing my lungs and I did not want to get out of bed much less open my eyes. But my mind kept going back to the feeling that God was on the edge of breaking something down in me.
When I struggle with seasons of depression I always feel I have this huge amount of anger and energy and emotion that I have NO way of getting out. In high school I turned to self harm and later tried running, journaling, punching bags, rock music, throwing things, screaming into pillows.... the whole nine yards. Nothing helped. The stirring feeling remained as agonizing as ever and I felt constantly restless and tormented.
Until this last week.
I woke up Wednesday to go to work around 5 AM. I came home at 12 feeling completely numb. I laid in bed for 3 hours debating wether or not I should let myself sleep... I've been trying to say no to things that would take the place of me running to God...So instead I got up and went to the church in hopes that playing the drums to angsty rock music would help. I plugged my phone in and the first song to come on was a worship song, and my heart almost burst...
Hearing TRUTH about Jesus and responding by raising hands, dancing and singing as loud as I could felt SO RELEASING. And how insane is that? That the most awful pent up feeling I've ever felt is vanished when I physically declare the goodness of God..........
That's a picture of what Joy is to me. Being in the midst of darkness but choosing to believe and respond KNOWING that God IS the light and He IS NEAR. The problems and heart ache of this world are temporary but our God is forever, never ending.
So I believe God has chosen to break down the wall of resisting joy in my life. It's not something that will happen overnight considering I've built the wall up over the past 21 years.... but I know it is so worth it, letting God change me. I will be a little more charismatic in worship and a little less angry looking when people hug me. Because I really AM a lover of people and get great joy out of being loved but more so learning how to become more like Jesus.
I look forward to a million coffee dates and being okay with people playing with my hair/scratching my back (the ultimate way to melt my heart), I look forward to not using the word "whatever" as often. I look forward to knowing how to respond to the stirring feeling that always seems to find it's way back to me. Because the day that it returns (and I know it will) is ALSO a day that the Lord has made. I GET to rejoice and be glad in it.
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
1 Peter 1:8-9
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
"Far be from me to not believe, even when my eyes can't see, and this mountain that's in front of me will be thrown into the midst of the sea. It is well with my soul." - It is Well, Amanda Cook
I would consider myself to be in a very sweet time of life. I have a few different jobs that I absolutely love. I find myself getting to travel an overly fair amount, and I get lots of sleep. I'm in love with someone who is a true follower of Christ and just happens to be SUPER cute. I love living at home with my parents and sister. I am continually humbled and overwhelmed with the privilege of leading worship and discipling high school girls (whom I am endeared with).
But I've been crying. A LOT.
I guess "a lot" is a relative term, considering I never really cry. There was 6 months of my life during ywam that felt hard but I could also feel God softening my heart, in which I also cried A LOT. But since then I've seemed to level out to my normal "cry 2 or 3 times a year". Like I said, I'm in an awesome stage of life, So what's been the difference over the past couple weeks?
We've been doing a series at our High School ministry on the topic for around a month now. I think going into it I felt like I already knew all about it, factually. I had read a lot on the subject both old and new testament and the difference between those times. But that's just it, I knew it but I wasn't feeling it.
My absolute FAVORITE fact from biblical times is that when a High Priest would enter into the temple, he would typically have a rope tied around his leg, so that if he died in the presence of God they could pull him out without having to enter the room to remove his body. THAT IS WILD TO ME. To KNOW that YOU are entering into the presence of the GOD that created the universe and language and the limbic system who ALSO JUST HAPPENS TO KNOW EVERY STEP YOU HAVE TAKEN BLOWS MY MIND. Of COURSE you would prepare for your possible death, if not at LEAST the possibility of passing the frick out. CAN YOU IMAGINE???
NOW. Here is the thing.
Because the veil has been torn (Matt. 27:51) and because we have the Holy Spirit (“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”
John 14:26-27) , you are able to be in that SAME presence that overwhelmed SO SO SO MANY biblical figures throughout history. Not only are you "able" but there is no boarders for His presence now that Jesus has come.
How SWEET and AMAZING is the privilege that we have because of that? Meh.
What? No really. That's how I've been living. Meh. I have Holy Spirit but whatever. I get full access to God without fear of death or complication of animal sacrifice but so what, that's normal. Right?
NO. And as SOON as I realized that and started allowing God to humble my heart THAT is when the tears started coming. There is something SO TOUCHING and OVERWHELMING about our rights as children of God. And for me it starts with being KNOWN.
HOW WILD IS IT THAT THIS LIMBIC SYSTEM CREATING, STAR ORGANIZING, LANGUAGE MAKING GOD not only KNOWS you but CARES to KNOW YOU? He DESIRES to hear our prayers (Jeremiah 29:12). He loves to take our anxiety (1st Peter 5:7). He strives (and delivers) us peace (Phil. 4:7). I think about the amount of great people I REALLY love in this life but how I can hardly be bothered to spend time with them. And yet there God is always and forever waiting there for me, a sin stained, messy human being, and He NEVER walks away. He is never burdened by my complaints. He is not put off by my doubts. He is not offended by my actions. He is faithful. And within His faithfulness He is GOOD, even when it doesn't feel good. Within His faithfulness He is just, He is merciful, He is gracious, He is forgiving, He is self controlled and He is wild.
If you read the Bible then you know. If you BELIEVE the Bible then you stand by what it says.
Your mountain of unknowns or grief or anxiety or fear will be thrown into the midst of the sea.
The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
The God of everything who INHABITS eternity ALSO sits with us, not just in our pain, but in our joy, our grief, or moments of feeling mundane and our moments of feeling far from peace.
“For thus says the One who is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: "I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly, and to revive the heart of the contrite.”
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”
I think as a Christian who believes in having a personal relationship with Jesus its safe to say we are all kinda striving to go further with Him. Know Jesus more, read our bible more, pray more and over all, get CLOSER to God himself. Amidst a world full of darkness and pain we see light and want to draw near, we want to be held by our Father who shields us from harm. But the older I get I feel two things especially. I feel busier and more distracted then ever, and I feel like it is harder to be satisfied in Christ alone. I do not believe I am the only person that feels this way. In fact I would bet money on 90% of christians my age (yay millennials) are suffering in those same areas.
I didn’t know God talks to us. I never knew I could have a conversation with God like I have had with my mom or with a friend. I remember being 18 years old sitting on the floor of a bathroom when the leader praying for me stopped praying without saying amen….. It was a long pause so I opened my eyes but she was definitely NOT done praying. I closed my eyes again so it wouldn’t be awkward and instead she just said “Yes God, okay.” and proceeded to tell me….what God was telling her. That was the WEIRDEST thing I had ever witnessed in my life…… I asked her what that was, the whole pause thing and the response and she simply said “I was talking with God”.
I then spent the next week feverishly asking every leader on the base if they also talked to God…..and they all did…like it was normal. I had ALWAYS viewed prayer as me making my requests known to God and maybe he would respond later through action but NEVER had I ever considered that the conversations that took place in the bible was template for how we are to live and PRAY as christians now in everyday life. After talking to a million people about it one of them finally just asked “Brenna….why don’t YOU go try having a conversation with God?” um……..how the heck was I supposed to go from “never” hearing God to talking to him like a crazy person? I was told to just go be alone, without distraction and just talk.
You see I had gone my whole life not thinking that God talks to us because I had never sat by myself and gave God room to clear my heart and brain of distractions. I had never asked God to speak to me. I was not aware and therefore it was harder for me to see the times that God was trying to actively be loud in my life.
If you know me well you know that I fall victim to “out of sight out of mind” far too often. I want to read my bible but I wake up and see twitter and snapchat and instagram and Facebook and pinterest yelling at me via never ending notifications. I want to have long conversations with Holy Spirit but I keep getting texts and emails and wanting to listen to the newest albums on Spotify (childish Gambino is the sauce just FYI). I want to feel satisfied in Christ and Christ alone…..but I also want Yeezys, and the iphone7…. and a great flow on my instagram…and the latest aesthetically pleasing attire and the truth is there is not room for all of that.
Either I talk to God or I check my feeds.
I read my bible or I read a million emails.
I feel satisfied in Christ or I feed my lust by buying one more thing that adds absolutely NOTHING to my well being in Jesus.
I cannot love both these things equally (Matthew 6:24). I have to choose and after being luke warm in my relationship with Christ and feeling the animosity of KNOWING the peace and LIFE that talking with God and being in word brings and slowly losing those times I started to pay attention when people would make the argument that Jesus was a minimalist…..
But SERIOUSLY, he had NO home, which means he probably only had a few clothing items, He got away OFTEN to talk to His Father (God), He had very little to say about politics, nothing to say about fashion or the newest inventions, he walked EVERYWHERE.
WHY do we need so many clothing items, why do we need everyone to know our political stance, why do we need the newest phone or app or chemex and WHY on Gods GREEN earth do we need to update everyone around us on a million different forms of social media EVERY SWEET MINUTE!?
For reals, ask yourself WHY am I doing this?
For me, its satisfaction and stuff lust and a desire to be known. Satisfaction in having something new that goes away as fast as it comes, lust for things I still haven’t acquired, and the desire to be worthy of other humans attention…All of which God ACTUALLY has the most filling and real answers to.
And its Him.
I want to own less stuff and limit screen and media time more. I want to be okay with silence without reaching for my phone. Want tone okay with posting a picture that doesn’t match my feed. I want to sit in public places and read my bible and pray and I want to use my time en route wisely……
Have you ever noticed how many people in the bible were just WALKING or doing their own mindless thing when God decide to speak to them!? Moses was out in the fields tending his sheep…… Saul was traveling, Mary was sleeping, Isaiah was literally just always ready for God to show up. Howmuch time do you spend in your car? How do you use that time? What about when you are waiting for your coffee or doctors appointment? How different would your life be if you spent those times in conversation or expectantly waiting for God instead of on your phone?
I want Jesus’ voice to be familiar.
So thus i start the long road in trying to live SIMPLY so I can KNOW Jesus more DEEPLY.
Can we make an effort to trade stuff and things for the practices and disciplines of Jesus?