The Vulnerablity of Abiding {Lessons Learned}

cropped-abide-series.jpg

Several months ago we began a series on Abiding. It all began one fateful day in July… read the first post here. It has been an interesting journey of random moments, some intensely vulnerable. But that is the beauty of God, its vulnerable. And abiding with Him will require you to stand open and naked in the very moment you most want to hide.

Here are some glimpses into my abide moments that have been captured in a snapshot. Of course there is a story behind each picture – but what I most want to share is not the story of the moment, but of who was there with me. I was vulnerable – hurting sometimes – but He never shied away, He also never let me slip into the shadows. Abiding isn’t about scripture memorization or a voice to sing. It isn’t about hanging out at church or only having Christian friends. It isn’t Bible Study or Christian music. Abiding is recognition. Recognizing that you are in relationship with the Almighty God.

The lies, the distractions, the pain, the hard steps, the joy, the laughter, the process, the fears, the big growth moments, and the little seemingly meaningless ones, they are all shared with the sovereign Love of Holiness.

2014-05-04 22.49.30

Yes, I doubted too. I doubted I’d really see Him and I doubted this crazy project would amount to much. A simple prayer asking Him to walk through unbelief with me gave me the next step and the next until I was able to see Him standing there in the messy and hard moments. Those very moments used to be about me proving I had faith. I was wrong. These moments are about vulnerability of faith, strengthening the very connection I have with my heavenly Father.  That is abiding.

2014-08-05 21.40.46

 

2014-09-30 08.52.42

2014-08-03 22.49.56

 

2014-08-02 15.29.32

2014-07-31 14.43.38

 

2014-09-04 09.26.57

2014-08-09 14.51.04

2014-08-05 15.40.45

2014-09-16 15.41.16

I first had to recognize where I was tempted to leave the truth. At first it was awkward but do it a couple of times and you just might be amazed. Imagine your attitudes or thoughts in a picture on your phone – then ask God to show you where He is in that particular scene. Now listen: He whispers with love, He gently nudges with grace, He ever so sweetly soothes with peace. The more you practice, the easier it will be to find Him. Test Him in this, trust me. You will find a freedom you never knew you were missing.

“Test me in this”, says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing.”  Malachi 3:10b

 

“If you abide in my word… you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31 (paraphrase mine)

 

Sunday Selah

Sunday Selah Image

Happy Sunday to you! I hope you are kicked up on the couch soaking in the quiet rhythms of late day sun.

I don’t know about your last week but mine was wonky. (fun word isn’t it?!) Wonky weeks come and go and each year I fight that ebb and flow less and less. But that doesn’t mean I like them.

Last week I grumbled at the interruptions and resented the pull away from the pursuit of my dreams. I’m working on that, but I read this post about Dreams being just as much about the journey as they are the destination and I found encouragement. Solid encouragement.

“Sometimes living the road to our dreams becoming reality is better for us than living the dream.” ~Meredith Bernard

She went on to say that if God just handed us our dream in its entirety, it wouldn’t last. Nothing worth having comes handed on a silver platter, everything worth having is worth fighting for.

Check it out. Maybe you will find encouragement too ~ Here

Eph.210

Dare {Five Minute Friday}

Five Minute Friday

What if I could guarantee that tomorrow, whatever you put your hand, heart, or mind to could not fail?

What if, no matter what, you were sure to succeed, not just sort of but completely-all-out- fully succeed?

What if tomorrow, your dream was actually reality, not in part but in whole?

Would it change who you are? Would it alter your faith? Would it impact your relationships?

Just add Light by Evan Lessen

A dream not birthed through struggle is just a fad.

So I dare you to try. Go for it. All of it. I dare you to take that first step.

In reality you may not fully succeed tomorrow, or maybe you will tomorrow but next week you’ll hit a speed bump. Guess what? It is ok. Failures, bumps, set backs – they are all part of this journey. They are in no way an indicator of the validity of your dream. These messy steps are what form the foundation of your achievements. These broken parts give stability to your successes. It’s going through the hard stuff, the failures, that builds lasting legacies.

Don’t fear the falls. They only build you up. Don’t fear the what if’s, they only refine you. Don’t hold back, it starves your dream.

Give it your whole heart, one step at a time.

I dare you!

 

This post is part of flash mob of writers who gather every Friday around one prompt to pour out words. It’s fun. It’s challenging. I love it! Come check it out: here

For the One Whose Prayers Are Wearing Thin {A Guest Post}

Have you ever unintentionally met someone and had them leave an indelible imprint on your heart? One that will stay with you forever? I first remember meeting Abby in a large quiet hallway at a writer’s conference. As I listened to Abby share her heart about her project and her experience presenting to a publisher I was immediately drawn in. She spoke with such conviction not just of her book’s topic but also of her reader’s heart. This wasn’t just another writer, this was a woman who loves Jesus. Her heart to be with Him is contagiously apparent in her passion to share her journey through her writing. I am so grateful to have met her and am even more honored to host her here today! (We’ll have a little meet and greet after her oh-so-timely post on prayer and walking this life with Him!)

Abby McDonald

Please Welcome Abby!!

For the One Whose Prayers Are Wearing Thin

I sat on the edge of my seat at the conference, hanging on every word the author was saying. His most recent accomplishment was writing Billy Graham’s memoir, and he recounted the hours spent with this man of God who brought thousands of souls to the Lord.

One afternoon, he didn’t feel like he was getting the substance of the story. He tried to ask the right questions, but nothing seemed to work. Finally, he picked the right one and Rev. Graham lit up.

“How do you keep your spiritual discipline?”

Billy Graham leaned forward as though he was telling the writer a secret. “It’s right there in the scriptures. I spend time in the word. Every day.”

Not just to prepare for a sermon, he went on to explain, but for himself. His Bible lay over on the desk, open.

“And I pray without ceasing.”

I imagine at this point the author’s jaw may have dropped a little.

“Do you really pray without ceasing?” he asked.

As I sat listening, I could have heard a pin drop. The entire audience was riveted.

“I’m praying right now,” Billy Graham responded.

As the author retold the story, his eyes were filled with tears. Mine were too. I felt like I’d just gotten the inside scoop on a headline reading, “This is How You Live a Life for God.” This was the real deal.

Later, as I walked the halls of the hotel during a break, I thought about how often we try to complicate things. And yet here was a man who did exactly what the Bible said, and his life was living proof of God’s anointing on him.

Was it possible to pray without ceasing? Could I replace the continuous conversation in my head with an uplifting conversation with my heavenly Father? I wondered how it would change my own life if I embarked on this journey. To not just talk about the Word, but live it.

Uplifting Conversation

A couple of months later, God gave me a glimpse. Not because I was fulfilling these disciplines, but because I was failing.

Our entire family was sick for over a week and I was tired. My Bible sat on the table for days. My prayers grew thin.

As I counted the long hours and dealt with whining babes, my patience wore thin as well. At one point, my temper scared me. I apologized and then immediately cried out to the Lord in prayer.

I’d barely left the house in over a week and I felt like I was suffocating. But in that moment, God gave me a peak into what prayer without ceasing meant. Into what continual time in the Word does.

When we offer up ourselves in prayer in one continuous dance, we allow the Spirit to thrive. We give the Spirit the breath and life it needs to fight against our flesh. Against our selfishness. Against ourselves.

In Romans Paul says, “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.” (Romans 8:26 ESV)

Even when we do not have the words, if we choose to pray, the Spirit is mediating on our behalf. He knows what to say even if we don’t.

As I continued my day covered in prayer, I could sense a change in my attitude. I was more at peace. Where my flesh was weak, the Spirit was strong.

I realized that this near century old man of God may be onto something. And it was right in front of me all along.

~

Abby McDonald is mom, a wife and a southern girl, currently living on the mountain side of Maryland, who fell in love with writing at a young age. For most of her life, she never shared her writing with anyone. She started Fearfully Made Mom because she felt God gently pushing her to share her writing with others who may feel alone in their struggles with self-doubt, accepting God’s grace, and finding their identity in Christ. Her desire is to show women they are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who will relentlessly pursue them, even during their darkest times.

When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, Abby enjoys hiking, photography, reading, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest!

 

 

What If?

I have been haunted by a comment posed by a friend. She said, after describing the absolute worst day of her life, that she clung to her faith through it all. “Where else would I turn?” she said. Where else would she turn?

It lead me to the true story of a very rich man, who had it all. I mean really, he had it all. He had more money than he knew what to do with, and more than that, he had steady income. Prosperity was endless, his business booming. He had an exquisite family; a lovely wife and a stable, mutually satisfying marriage. Each of his children was healthy, prosperous, and well-rounded. And his faith was alive and active. He was respected and praised around the globe. Watching him from the outside was like looking at perfection. And really, from the inside it was – even God said so. There is no denying that this dude was doing it all right and God honored him for it.

And then the horrible, no-good, VERY, VERY, VERY, bad day happened. Job lost e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. Nothing was left, and when I say NOTHING, I really mean nothing. He lost all of his possessions, his family was killed (and violently at that). His business was stolen from under his nose. His wife turned from him and then to boot – He was struck with horrible pain and sickness that shunned him from his community. Job fell from the highest of highs to the bottom of the lowest of lows. Even his dearest friends came to accuse, to offer some explanation for this horrible, no-good, very bad day. As if an explanation, a predictable formula, could make it feel better or perhaps even remedy it. There had to be an explanation for this calamity. The comfortableness of those around him depended on it. Faith feels neat when we can fit into a box of formulas. Like Job’s friends, we think we need life’s tragedy to be avoidable and life’s grandeur to be attainable, right?

What if everything you called “blessing” was stripped from you? What if everything you held as “purpose” or “calling” was erased from your world? What if all the answers you sought were silent?

What would you do? Where would you turn?

Would you seek an explanation, cry out with demanding tears? Or give up and succumb to the weight of the hopelessness?

Life is full of adversity, I don’t need to tell you that. There is no way to avoid it, no way to get around it. Some destruction we cause ourselves, other times it just is. There is no formula to pray or deed to do to prevent trouble or make it go away faster. There just isn’t a guarantee like that. That is a microwavable faith and just when you think you’ve figured it out, the carpet gets pulled and you are faced with a choice:

Worship Him anyway or cling to the empty box you’ve put your faith into.

Job chose worship. Of course he was broken and hurting but he wasn’t wavering. With tears streaming down his face at the agony of his circumstances, Job stands and says of God boldly before His accusers:

“He drew a circular horizon on the face of the waters, At the boundary of light and darkness. The pillars of heaven tremble, And are astonished at His rebuke. He stirs up the sea with His power, And by His understanding He breaks up the storm. By His Spirit He adorned the heavens; His hand pierced the fleeing serpent. Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, and how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand.”

Job 26:10-14

Faith is forged in the fires of adversity and struggle. It is molded and shaped by the sometimes strenuous activity of walking out the twists and turns of this life.

Real faith is visible in the messiness of trials. It is the shimmery part of celebrations just as much as it is the bloody part of struggle. Regardless of storm or sunshine, God remains. He is sovereign over both the dark and the light, He holds all of life in His hands. If we really stopped to look at all the woe, all the pain, all the suffering that we so desperately want to avoid we’d see that God is right there in the midst of it all. Faith is not the absence of struggle; faith is the rock to cling to in the midst of struggle. ~Tweet That!

If I may challenge you today, turn to your faith and worship through the terrible, horrible, no good days the same way you worship at the glorious, bountiful blessings. The mustard seed of your faith can only grow there, and not even the worst tragedies can take that from you, not ever.

Forging Faith

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 648 other followers

%d bloggers like this: