Tag Archives: Lord

My Dual Identity

It’s one thing to say that my identity is in the Lord. It’s another to actually walk in that. It’s yet another thing to begin fully grasping at what that exactly means. Jesus has been clear in these past few weeks that there are two pieces to who I am in Him. What’s more, I so easily confuse the two; it’s humbling and convicting to realize how much of what I perceive as my identity is actually deeply rooted and a little backwards

On one hand, I am (or strive to be) the good and faithful servant. It’s the Matthew 25 or Luke 19 principle, the master’s praise to the hard-working, mindful, selfless servant. There are countless verses and stories that detail our call to obedience: to love the hurting, feed the hungry, share the Gospel, shelter the homeless, fight against injustice. To do for the least of these and imitate Christ. After all Luke 12:48 makes it clear that if we’ve been given much, much will be expected. We are called to obedience, to follow the Lord into hard things, to love our neighbors and lay down our lives. My prayer becomes “Lord, let me be faithful in all that you’ve given me” – whether big or small (which, in and of itself is really just my hierarchical perception of what “big” and “small” even mean). I want to be found faithful in my commitment to the Lord and to loving His people, regardless of the cost. And that’s a good, biblical, God-glorifying thing.

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However, when I start or end with my identity as a good and faithful servant, while partially true, I err in terms of living into who God actually and fully says that I am.

Because first and last, I am the beloved. I am only able to love because He first loved me, irrespective of anything I’ve done or deserved. I’m called beautiful and whole by the one who’s very body was broken for my redemption. It’s the childhood truth of Jesus’ love for us that comes not by anything we preempted or for anything other than the fact that He simply loves us. Except it’s not simple, because this love is deeper and stronger than we will ever comprehend; no human love even comes close to measuring the love through which God sees us. The only reason I can even think about leaning into my identity as a faithful servant is because I’m doing it out of a place of being unequivocally loved by Faithfulness Himself.

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I don’t know that the church has always done a good job at explaining the relationship between justification and sanctification, or our place as both faithful servant (sanctification) and child of God (justification). Believing that I’m simply the beloved seems to negate the command for obedience, for love of neighbor, and for service. It trivializes or minimizes everything I’ve ever done, sacrificed, or stepped into on account of the Lord. And if it doesn’t mean anything, I’m not super compelled to continue walking into costly obedience.

That’s the tension we are asked to navigate everyday – because being good and faithful servant does matter. It matters a whole lot. We please the heart of God when we walk in tandem with His Spirit. We are called to follow Him, to die to self, and care for others. However, the tension comes when we realize that we can never start with that. That can never be the whole foundation of our identity. Because if base who we are in being a good and faithful servant, we inevitably come back to a view of God’s love that makes sense, something that we control. “I know God loves me . . . after all, how could He not when I’m so clearly following Him?” It no longer becomes the whole, pervasive, inexplicable love of the Father but the kind of love we can earn, maintain, and understand. The kind of love that feels comfortable and makes us feel worthy.

I feel like the mental shift should be easy: I am beloved first, faithful servant second. Both necessitate one another. However, I think that this tension will likely take a lifetime to master. Because being beloved, for as beautiful and amazing as it is, carries with it some fearful connotations.

We know that perfect love casts out fear, but the fact of the matter is that my only concept for love is human love. For as much amazing human love as I’ve experienced, it has not been without failures, heartbreaks, and conditions. If I lean fully into the eternal, incomprehensible love of God for me, I inherently strip myself of any control. It becomes this wholehearted trust in the heart of God for me, that it will never fail or diminish. That none of how He sees me is contingent on what I do or don’t do. And even though my theology tells me that nothing can separate me from His love, the questions still seem to arise in my heart from my flawed, fleshly concept of love. Because what if I’m too messy? What if I lean into being beloved and then He gets disappointed in me? What if I’m not good enough for the Lord or He decides He doesn’t want me anymore? What does it mean if my obedience isn’t changing His view of me, isn’t earning me more favor in His sight?

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He’s pleased with me as His faithful servant, but He loves me as simply His daughter.

I think that’s a dichotomy worth wresting with, since it has everything to do with who we are, how we approach life, ministry, and the posture with which we go before God. I’ll probably be wrestling with it for the rest of my life.

Crying in a Coffee Shop

The other day one of my roommates and I were sitting at Blackberry Market, our post 2:00 class decision to hang out and pretend to do homework. It’s like the Holy Spirit decided to meet me in the midst of the lemonade I’d been craving all day and a rainy day coffee shop. Why He chooses these moments, I’ll never know. As conversation topics rolled into reading a devotional together, the tears quickly surfaced. What the heck. I promise, I don’t plan on crying as often as I do. It’s not like I plan to have these heart-to-hearts with Jesus and the people in my life, they just kind of happen. Pretty soon we were both crying and laughing and sharing the hot cinnamon roll in front of us.

After our verbal processing session, a quick run to Target, and some literal running on the indoor track of our gym, I went to drive my car back to our apartment only to find that my key wouldn’t unlock the car. The unlock button wouldn’t work and I couldn’t get the key to turn in the door. What the heck. . .again. I found myself on a long walk back to my apartment to get the other set of keys. A long, rainy, cold walk to the apartment and then back to the car. A walk through puddles that I’m pretty sure could be classified as small sized ponds. My sneakers are still wet y’all. Needless to say, the Lord and I had a pretty honest conversation through the rain and my chattering teeth. To give you a glimpse into the state of my heart last night, I may or may not have said out loud: “well maybe Your plan for me is to just get hypothermia from being out here and then I’ll die. At least then I don’t even have to worry about any of this stuff you are asking me to deal with! I wouldn’t have to wrestle with questions of who I am or have to trust you with my future. And I wouldn’t be wet or cold anymore!”

Did I mention that I don’t ever plan for these things to happen to me? They just kind of do, leaving me shaking my head and sometimes my fists but always marveling at the means the Lord uses to draw me back to Himself.

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These moments didn’t lead to some profound realization. They were just simple, unplanned moments where I met the Lord. Moments where He revealed pieces of my heart that I hadn’t been willing to look at. I realized that old fears had resurfaced. Old identity issues had came back up. There were things I thought that I’d worked through, until the Enemy snuck them back in and I’m reminded yet again of the lifelong battle that we fight.

It’s nothing new. These questions of am I enough? And more than that, is Jesus enough?

Am I enough in the midst of my sins and recurring struggles? The circumstances I can point to where I’ve obviously failed in loving the people around me? The ways I’ve failed to guard my thoughts and submit my desires for sanctification in the Lord? Am I enough for the things He’s calling me to that I feel incredibly unprepared for?

But then again. . .is He enough for the uncomfortable, challenging things He calls me to? Enough for the moments when I feel painfully alone? Enough for the sins that, despite the disciplines and fighting on my part, seem to have no problem resurfacing? Enough for every hope and desire of my heart?

Obviously, I know the answer to every one of those questions. I’m guessing you do too. I know the Scripture that combats every one of the questions. But just because I know doesn’t mean that I won’t forget. It doesn’t mean that I don’t need these moments in a coffee shop or in the rain where the Lord reminds me of who I am and who He is. It doesn’t mean I’m falling apart or that I’ve somehow failed Him again. It means I’m human. It means I’m in need of His grace. It means I’m still living in a broken world where the Enemy can still lie to me. It means there will never be a day where I don’t need to proclaim truth to my heart.

The truth that I am beloved. He is for me. He is near me. He is enough.

What’s He Up to?

“When an answer I did not expect comes to a prayer which I believed I truly meant, I shrink back from it; if the burden my Lord asks me to bear be not the burden of my heart’s choice, and I fret inwardly and do not welcome His will, then I know nothing of Calvary love.” Amy Carmichael

I’ve started 4 different drafts with ideas about what the Lord has been doing in my heart lately. Funny stories from the past few weeks at Wheaton. Pieces from my journals, quotes that I’ve found. Usually when I sit down with my journals and Bible notes from the past few weeks, a blog post flows naturally from the recorded thoughts. They click together; writing it here gives it clarity in my heart. But seriously, none of it is coming together in a blog post. I’ve started and given it a few days to process, and even coming back to it, nothing seems to fit. I don’t know what I want to say because at the root of it, I really don’t know what the Lord is doing.

So that’s what I’m going to write about. That’s what this first semester has been. Pieces, fragments, lessons, moments that don’t always seem to fit together. It’s like my heart and emotions and desires are doing summersaults – and as much as I’ve fought for consistency in them, it hasn’t come. I wake up thinking one thing, and I go to bed excited about another. I go from content to confused, frustrated to satisfied, excited to anxious, and back again.

Don’t get me wrong – it’s been a wonderful semester. But it’s been wonderful within the tension. . .I have been both incredibly challenged and blessed by the nearness of the Lord. I’ve never been more grateful for my family, friends, and Wheaton, while simultaneously being grown in ways I didn’t really choose. I’ve never been more excited and content, but also confused and unsettled about my future.

I just don’t know what He’s up to.

Here’s what I’ve got: seldom do we know the will of the Lord. Sometimes it bothers us and we find ourselves wide eyed and demanding answers, sometimes it doesn’t and we ride the waves of trust. Sometimes the Lord graciously increases our faith and decisions, like coming to Wheaton, ones that just don’t make sense, are filled with incredible peace. And sometimes, it just doesn’t happen that way. Sometimes He asks us to cling to Him in the silence and unrest.

I’ve found myself forced to cling to the daily bread of Jesus, because yesterdays is literally not enough. Because day to day, I really don’t know what He is doing. And it’s not like I ever really know, but lately I’ve been very aware of just how much I don’t know. It brings me to a place of living in the present, and I’m not always entirely comfortable with that. My pride likes to think I could handle knowing His plans for my future. . .but when it comes down to it, I’m not always at a place where I want to hear what the Lord has to say about something. Sometimes it’s because it is too hard or too much and sometimes because it would distract me from what He is doing today. It’s like Amy Carmichael said: He’s molding my heart to look more like His and I’m not always the biggest fan of the process, even though I can’t imagine anything greater.

We only ever see the “tip of the iceberg” (gotta put my new knowledge of Geology somewhere) of what Jesus is doing. So why am I often so obsessed with figuring the rest of it out?

I know that Jesus is sovereign; I trust that. Or at least, I want to. But how does that look practically when He’s being silent on the questions I am bringing to Him? And beyond trusting Jesus with my heart, why is it so hard to trust Him with my family and friend’s? I have to trust that others are walking in step with the Lord – that they are noticing, learning, and responding to His guidance. I have to trust that Jesus is bigger than the surface that I see.

The Love that conquered sin and death on Calvary is infinitely bigger than my circumstances and my wandering heart. The massive, metaphorical “tip of the iceberg” that I’m seeing is unfathomably bigger, and just because I can’t see it now, doesn’t mean it’s not there. It’s seen by the very Creator of real icebergs. And yet, our God chooses to know our hearts intimately. Jesus became man and chose finite understanding. He’s gets it, and He still did it perfectly.

Today, I rest in the fact that not only is He worthy of my trust because He is sovereign and loving and omniscient and good, but because He knows what it’s like to not always know what the Father is up to. He let’s me come wide eyed and searching for answers, drawing me into greater dependance and love when He knows it’s not time for them yet.

I have to choose daily bread. I have to choose trust. In choosing those things, I choose Jesus. And that’s the only thing I really know for sure.

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The Gift of Hope

I’ve written here about hope before. It’s been kind of a theme this past year and a half. But when I started realizing the necessity of hope in ministry and just life in general, little did I know of how big the Lord’s vision for it could be. This isn’t just about my hope in the Lord. This isn’t just about my family’s trust in the Lord’s provision. This is about the eternal Hope for the nations!

I’m sick of Dad’s job. I’m sick of Dad’s complaints about it. I am sick of Dad’s workload. Jesus, You have to have a better job for him. You have to have a job that glorifies You.” September 5, 2010

Little did I know how He’d answer that prayer I desperately journaled a little over 4 years ago.

I can’t pinpoint where this work of the Lord in my family began because I don’t know that it even had a “start.” I do know that something shifted in my heart when He made it clear that He wanted me at Wheaton.

Wheaton never made sense. It’s far. It’s cold. I didn’t know anyone who was here or had ever been here, outside of Billy Graham and the guys from End of the Spear. But most of all, it never made (and still really doesn’t) sense financially. The Lord’s direction in telling me to go to Wheaton was so clear that I sent in the deposit before we got financial aid information back. I knew He would provide.

So when our need-based aid came back a little dry, I inquired of the Lord. Why would you tell me to go to Wheaton and then not provide? Loans don’t make sense if you want me on the mission field, Lord. You get that right? I love how He lets us come to Him with such honesty. And I love His answers even more.

Faith, hope, and love are eternal. My degree from Wheaton isn’t. My finances aren’t. The Lord is using Wheaton to cultivate things in me that are going to last long beyond my Wheaton education. He is giving me a gift in teaching me how to trust Him as my provider. I prayed for stories of His power. . .I guess I just forgot that meant being put in a place of desperation for Him. The ways the Lord has grown my faith in His faithfulness and hope in His provision at and through Wheaton has been more of a blessing than I could’ve ever imagined. From finances to my freshman year roommate, Jesus has clearly had His hand in growing me and drawing me closer to His heart every step of the way.

Little did I know that He was doing this same work in my family.

I’ll never forget wandering up and down the sidewalk in front of Fischer lawn, soaking up the still warm air last October, listening to my parents on the other end of the phone. They tried to explain to me how my dad had lost his job, through a series of crazy events that I still don’t understand. It was too crazy not to be the Lord. It’s what I’d been praying for years – that Jesus would lead my dad out of his corporate workplace into the Kingdom work that I knew the Lord had gifted him for. I just didn’t anticipate it feeling the way it did that day. And the months afterward.

Hearing it all second hand, I wrestled through the idea that my family was secure in the Lord but also without an income. I knew my parents were both being brought to new spiritual depths but I could also hear them struggling with some of the practical aspects of losing a job, seeking the will of the Lord, and reaching out to others. And I was 11 hours away. At a school that was just sucking away more money than I cared to think about.

I don’t know that I realized until a few months later (probably around when I did the blog post on the necessity of hope) how vital hope was, for me and my family. I never doubted that the Lord would uphold us. That He was leading us. Though I may have let worry slip in on occasion, I never gave into the doubts that my family was truly alright. That Wheaton will somehow get paid for. That all the closed doors with jobs was really the hand of the Lord. The gift of hope sustained us.

And then, so did Hope Products. Though at first it was just the dream of Hope Products.

The whole thing is crazy. My mom’s unused degree in international marketing, my parent’s prayers to do sustainable ministry together, the connections through our church and other crazy outlets. I think Hope Products is one of those dreams that Lord put into my parents hearts a long time ago that they never even realized was there. It wasn’t what they expected or pictured, but then again, no one anticipated that I’d be at a college in Illinois and my dad would lose a job that he’s had since as long as I can remember. I love it when Jesus just does His thing and blows our minds.

And Hope Products is continually surpassing our wildest expectations.

Seriously, I can’t even get into all the too-crazy-to-be-coincidence things that have happened in the past year. Connections, relationships, provision, answered prayers. It’s been amazing. Hard. Challenging. Testing. Stretching. At times, downright uncomfortable, especially for my parents. But so filled with Jesus.

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So, it’s with incredible gratitude and excitement that I introduce you to Hope Products International.

Go peruse the site to see the products and read what it’s all about (if you want to see some of the fruits of my labor from the summer, you can watch the vision video here). In short, it’s just the really exciting beginning of what the Lord is doing in a lot of people’s lives. He’s connecting people to each other and to the nations through this new business called Hope Products. We would love for you to join us on this crazy adventure in following Jesus. We don’t know where He’s going, we certainly didn’t expect Hope Products to be a stop along the way; yet, it is and now I can’t imagine the past few years looking any different.

Also, I’m a little biased, but you should totally buy something too. Or lots of things. And tell your friends! Also, feel free to ask me about it! I kind of like sharing the stories of Jesus, the exciting ones and the hard ones.

We serve an incredible God. We are loved by an amazing Savior.

And we are carriers of His hope. How can we not share that with the world?

Don’t forget: the faithfulness of the Lord

Rereading through my journals as the semester winds down, I am amazed at how many times “remember” or “don’t forget” show up between entries. And yet, for as often as Jesus reminds me of the necessity of remembrance, I forget so quickly. Things like doubt, confusion, stress, worry, fear, all usually in the context of… Read more. . .