“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” – Matthew 16:15-16
“I never thought I would live to see the day.” Lately, in our country’s present and not-so-distant past, I find myself repeatedly saying these words. One tragedy after another, one heinous statement after another, one injustice after another, leaves me wounded in these United States of America. Most look to some form of respected leadership for answers and guidance during tumultuous times. Unfortunately, I, as well as others, are finding disappointment in touted leaders whose influence goes no further than a photo-op and witty social media post.
The persistent turmoil in our nation requires much more than what we have offered as a response. It requires a courageous confession, earnest prayer, patience, obedience to God, and openness to a movement that refuses all manner of injustice and embraces peace.
In our most difficult moments when we wrestle with the impossible, we must muster the strength to plead the words of Psalm 5:1-7,
“Hear my words, Lord! Consider my groans! Pay attention to the sound of my cries, my king and my God, because I am praying to you! Lord, in the morning you hear my voice. In the morning I lay it all out before you. Then I wait expectantly. Because you aren’t a God who enjoys wickedness; evil doesn’t live with you. Arrogant people won’t last long in your sight; you hate all evildoers; you destroy liars. The Lord despises people who are violent and dishonest. But me? I will enter your house because of your abundant, faithful love; I will bow down at your holy temple, honoring you.”
Give yourself permission to hang on to hope. Leave room in your heart to trust God no matter what it looks like. A glorious new day is in view where God is lifted high. It is so.
“So what are we going to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” – Romans 8:31
In the tense moments of life, when I am the hardest on myself, the moments when I feel the smallest, God gives me a nudge. He pushes through the self-inflicted interference and assures me. God tells me, “I am doing a great work in you.” His words reach down deep into the crevices of my heart where weariness finds its hiding place. They settle there like healing hands. Because God knows me, He nudges me again and repeats His words, “I am doing a great work in you.” He knows He has my attention now. And most importantly, He can feel my heart begin to lose its grip on the forces that weigh me down. Then, suddenly, I’m free once again from the traps and tricks of the enemy, to complete the work God has started in me.
Ephesians 2:10 states, “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” God is doing a great work in us. Don’t allow selfish cravings, illusions of popularity, mental games, or irresponsibility steer you away from the good things God has planned for you, things planned before you were in your mother’s womb. We are His beautiful masterpiece. As the artist, each stroke of God’s brush is divinely placed on our life’s canvases to tell a story of faith. We should not be comfortable portraying ourselves as counterfeits. Allow God to finish what He’s started in you. God is doing a great work in us all.
There was no such thing as Spring cleaning growing up in my house. That’s because my parents, especially my mother, believed in cleaning every season. There’s a total of four siblings – two girls, two boys. I’m the oldest girl. The house rules were, my sister and I were responsible for house labor – roll up our sleeves, get on our hands and knees, meticulous cleaning. We cleaned floors and bathrooms; we dusted; we washed clothes. On the contrary, my brothers did very little housework. They took out the trash, did yard work with my father, and to me and my sister’s delight, on occasion, they had to help with kitchen duty.
One evening, my sister and I made a deal with my brothers before dinner. They would clean the kitchen so that we could get a break. My sister and I were so pleased with the agreement we made. And to our surprise that night, it seemed as though my mother was in on the arrangement. We were convinced she used every pot in the house to cook dinner. My sister and I enjoyed quite a laugh, boasting it was our brothers’ night to ‘bust them suds.’ After dinner, instead of our regular kitchen duty, my sister and I went upstairs to our bedroom to enjoy our night off, listening to music and doing homework. But to our surprise, our brothers were back upstairs from cleaning the kitchen much quicker than we estimated. How was that possible?
In the middle of the night, we all got a visitor in our bedrooms. My mother came to our bedroom first, turned on the light, and said calmly, “Get up and get downstairs.” She left me and my sister’s room and went to my brothers’ rooms and repeated the same. We all fumbled down the stairs to follow mama to the kitchen. When we gathered in the kitchen, she walked over to the stove and opened the oven door. To me and my sister’s shock, my brothers did not wash one pot from dinner. Instead, they put the dirty pots in the oven to escape the work, counting on us to clean them the following night. We quickly got our previous question answered about their speedy cleaning. Clearly, my brothers didn’t think everything through. They forgot about mama’s late-night walks through the house after everyone was asleep. While we were sleeping, she discovered our brothers’ deception. All four of us suffered behind our brothers’ clever trick that night. Mama ordered us all to clean the whole kitchen, from the dirty pots to the countertops, to the floor. And she enjoyed a giggle on her way upstairs to bed.
God has a way of getting our attention, of touching our hearts, to get the best out of us. He will rouse us out of our sleepy conditions, and point us to our hidden spaces, awakening us to desire something more excellent. He wants us to have a clean heart that renews us deep inside and compels us to follow Him. Stop trying to avoid dealing with the messy issues of your heart. The sooner you take the necessary time to address the mess, the sooner God can clean you up and give you peace for what lies ahead. Wake up sleepy head and handle your business. God wants us to have a clean heart!
Growing up, I was taught your reputation is everything. Most importantly, I was taught the truth of your reputation is exposed when unexpected events disrupt your routines, and adversarial darts turn your world upside down. Who you really are lights up like a neon sign in moments of life that matter. Do you recognize who that person is? Are you satisfied with who you currently are and what you represent? Break from the shackles that restrain you from your purpose to please God. Be courageous and take the necessary time and effort to uncover who you are beyond the baiting of fleshly desires. Your deep dive will reveal you are who God says you are. God says you are unusual.
Who, in today’s attention-seeking world, would want to be different for God? God’s people don’t mind being different. As unpopular as being unusual can be, it is the reputation God calls for us to live out. God’s people are trendsetters, not copy-cats. God’s people are moved to action when the least is ignored. We decrease our egos so that His greatness is increased in our witness. We hold His Word close to our heart and profess it in the most uncertain times for peace and direction.
You are rare. You are remarkable. You are peculiar. You are unusual. That’s who you are. Now live it, with the praises of God continuously on your lips.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” – 1 Peter 2:9-10