Stop

“I have come to the end of what I know how to do. I know how to suffer. I know how to make the best of things. But I don’t know how to do the most basic thing—I don’t know how to stop. I want to stop… but what if that’s the beginning of my decline? What if I need to keep going a little longer? How will I know when I can stop?” – Kate Bowler

Prosperity

“What would it mean for Christians to give up that little piece of the American Dream that says, ‘You are limitless’? Everything is not possible. The mighty Kingdom of God is not yet here. What if rich did not have to mean wealthy, and whole did not have to mean healed? What if being people of ‘the gospel’ meant that we are simply people with good news? God is here. We are loved. It is enough.” – Kate Bowler

Who Are You?

Where do you find your identity? Who are you?

Do you define yourself by your career? What if your career is stripped from you? By something in the industry, your failure, or the failures of others? Who are you then? Do you still have value?

What if you lost all your money and had to resort to begging? Would you be just a beggar?

Do you define yourself by your appearance? What if you had a terrible accident or lost your health? Who would you be then?

Do you define yourself by who you are associated with? By your family, your spouse, or your friends? What if they all were gone or turned on you? Who would you be then? Do you still have value as an unmarried person or an outcast?

Do you define yourself by your level of educational attainment? What if you lost your mind? What if your knowledge and skills were not needed in the market anymore? Who would you be then?

Do you define yourself by your children or the lack thereof? What if they turned on you or were gone? What would that say about you? Do you still have worth when you are unable to conceive? What if you have aborted a child? Does that define you?

What if you were paralyzed, blind, and mute? Totally dependent on others? Would you still have value? How would you define yourself then?

What has been stripped away from you? What are you missing today? What is holding you back from moving forward? From enjoying this day?

Certainly sadness is not a crime. Or anger. But what story are you telling yourself about who you are and your place is this world? What story are you telling yourself about God?

Your time is not over. But even if it was… who are you?

Here’s something to consider: you were created in the image of God. What if I am the Sarah-ness of God? What if there is nobody else in all of time past or time future who is able to represent the Sarah-ness of God like I’m able to? What if your name is Joe or Pam and you are the Joe-ness or Pam-ness of God?

Look at the animals. So much diversity. So much Creativity. All of nature, even in its fallen state, is telling us about who God is. He created majestic sealife and silly puppies. Beautiful flowers and huge mountains.

How much more do His humans bear His image? The love that so passionately moves us. The courage we have. Our concern for others. Our creativity. The excellence of an athlete or the smile of a child. Even our tears.

There is only one of you in all of Creation. You alone are able to be you. You alone carry what the world needs to see about the you-ness of God. Nobody else can express that exactly like you can.

Now that would give you meaning everywhere. To yourself. To others. To God.

Of course we pervert the image we have been given. That’s a given and not the issue at hand. But I’d bet a good portion of our perverting comes out of not knowing our value and who we are. Of trying to be something more and yet less than who we already are.

What if God loves you? Really loves you? What if He enjoys nachos and a jamming beat as much as I do? What if He enjoys sunsets and the ocean as much as I do? What if His heart breaks for the broken as much as mine does?

What about you?

Sufficient

God’s strength is sufficient but the process of releasing my desire to be self-sufficient has been full of me kicking and screaming all the way. Part of that resisting has been a stubborn insistence that I must feel better and have answers in order to move forward.

Finally accepted that God will give me the strength to take the next step even if my emotions are not settled and I have no idea what the future holds. Have to accept that I am capable of moving forward even if I don’t feel like it. Honoring the feelings without giving them the power to paralyze me.

My new mantra is: just do the next thing. It’s good enough that I take care of business. I don’t know how religion traps us into thinking the only worthy pursuits are those that change the entire world. Paying your bills, taking care of your space, cooking a tasty meal, enjoying Creation, loving well the ones you’re with – those are significant accomplishments. Focusing on what I do know and leaving God the rest. Leaving Him the business of greatness.

Our economy is not His economy. His thoughts and ways are higher than our thoughts and ways. It might be the simple “little” thing you do well today that sets in motion events that effect great change in some tomorrow. Everything you do today is planting seeds. Even giving a stranger a smile.

I think He delights to participate with us to help blow up the small boxes we and others try to put Him in. But at the end of the day, is His opinion enough for me? Do I find my identity in Him alone? What parts of me still do I still allow to be held hostage by the opinions of others?

Boxing

I’m learning to run to God more. My Trainer. My Coach. My Physician. I’m amazed how He lifts me back up and gets me going again.

I’ve never really leaned in before like I’m learning to do now. Receiving comfort that I feel like I don’t have to explain or defend. But hope that I wish I could share with the whole world.

Fall onto God. Give Him the whole ugly weight. Don’t take it back. Wait. Ask for the next step.

I think the longer you walk, especially if you pray to be closer and to know God more, the less information you get for the future. It feels sometimes like I literally live minute to minute. Manna. I can’t carry today’s comfort into tomorrow much anymore. I have to go gather anew every day. New mercies. New love.

It takes abiding to a whole other level. I don’t like to be that dependent. It feels scary to let go and trust.

The hard part is releasing my expectations. Being in the moment. Learning to be ok with things not going according to my plan. And being patient. Holding onto His character and His promises even when all circumstances are screaming the opposite.

My strength fails but thankfully He pours out a fresh new batch every time I ask. Just amazes me. I am a tiny undetectable speck in the universe and feel the presence of our Creator. Just blows my mind. And I’m not “special”; He’s there for you in the same way also.

Seek. Knock.