Moving Forward With A Burning Fire
As we enter March I feel like the proverbial bear coming out of hibernation. Starting last month out with Snowmageddon, I had a lot of days at home. I’ve been trying my best to live in alignment with my current season. My push hard accomplishing self wants life to look like summer 12 months out of the year.
While summer weather would be a glorious reality right about now, the pace and demand of that season isn’t one my body was created to sustain. God has been helping me see the damage I’ve done from operating from such a place. As I’ve been telling people who ask how things are going, “I think I’m still recovering from August.”
I’ve been seeing the ways we are to live out our current season as an act of worship. So while this place of prioritizing rest and what often feels like wasting time has been rather challenging, it is teaching me a new way that is bringing me new life.
With this slower pace, I’ve been studying the book of Jeremiah and Proverbs with the First5 App. In addition to this, I’ve had my fair share of audiobooks and podcasts in my ear.
One challenge I have is that when I start new things, I carry shame over the fact I love to consume content. However, God’s helping me see what others might view as a liability in fact can be used for his glory. More on that in a minute!
I do my best to battle this and consume content in freedom, which makes my selections VERY random. Yet God has orchestrated it all down to details I couldn’t have ever imagined. From song lyrics to books my friends kid hands them when I’m sharing what God is doing with what he is teaching me!
Every time I turned my ear to listen, God floods me revelation. I’ve been completely overwhelmed by it all. I try my best to take notes and document it but it’s been an impossible task. I remind myself that if God is wanting me to have these words, I don’t need to live in fear of losing them.
So as I reengage here on my blog (once again) I can’t help but feel like writing a where I go from here post. Almost like an introduction or preamble to all that I want to share from here. The fact I have a verse that fuels this direction also drives my desire to do so as well.
In the book of Jeremiah, the following verse jumped off the page and into my heart in a deep and meaningful way:
I say, “I won’t mention him
or speak any longer in his name.”
But his message becomes a fire burning in my heart,
shut up in my bones.
I become tired of holding it in,
and I cannot prevail.
Jeremiah 20:9 CSB
This is what I wake up with every day. This burning desire to write, share and communicate what God is doing in my life and I can’t hold it in. However, while God has birthed a clear vision for my blog, direction has been a different story. My failure to gain traction has been an ever pressing issue for me. I try to come up with the right answer, the perfect series or the best content plan. And as I try, I fail. Terribly. Over and over again.
But as this verse says, even as I fail, the desire and passion won’t. And in some ways I don’t think it can. The more I learn the more I want to share. And because I keep waiting for the perfect time, capacity and ability, nothing keeps happening. Over and over again.
And due to this, the content floods gates overflow in my life, and while this all burns within me, my blog remains crickets.
Yet, in the quiet I’m gaining clarity of how to move forward. Redeeming this winter season. What has always felt like a waste of time and, one I dreaded and wanted to get over as quickly as possible. The fact I can be fond of this time of year is nothing short of a miracle.
“In winter, we look out and see how dead things are, but what if we instead thought, but look how far we can see” - Melissa Helser on the Jonathan David & Melissa Helser Podcast episode, Singing in the Storm
While I have whole notebook full of revelation during this time, God helped me see these three things most clearly:
The need to expose the lies in my life.
Looking at my weaknesses in a new way
Being aware and actively fighting my real enemy
Because this revelation helped me gain traction in what feels like an impossible season, I wanted to share what God has been teaching me in hopes it can be of encouragement to you in your season.
First, the need to expose lies has been a big component of this season. Not because I’ve had so much victory, but because the lies have been so loud as my season as been quiet.
Here are some of the lies I’ve had on repeat:
You are going to get doctrine wrong so it’s not wise to share your words.
You don’t have the time or capacity to do this so why do you think you can. Plus, you have no future here, everyone blogs, why are you wasting your time.
You are arrogant to think anyone would want to read your words and that I’m unable to share anything without being arrogant.
You are terrible at writing. You have never been a good writer and you won’t be able to ever to been good enough at writing to have a blog worth reading.
You are going to annoy people. They don’t want to hear what you have to say and you creating content that talks about what you are learning is just going to annoy them.
You are going to be judged by those you know, trust and love because they are going to see right through all of this you keep trying to do.
And the list goes on.. it’s sadly rather long.
But thanks to great wisdom from my Go + Tell Coaching call last week, Jess Connolly explained how I can look at those lies in light of the following verse and begin to look at the liabilities of these lies in a new way.
But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me. - 2 Corinthians 12:9 CSB
Which leads me to the second things God has been teaching me. Because here’s the thing. While the statements above are lies, there is still some very real truth in there.
That’s what the enemy wants to do. He wants to take what is in some ways is true and twist it to make you believe something else that you then believe. The enemy doesn’t use lies that I wouldn’t believe. And what he gets us to believe, is something God never wanted us to believe and only leads to our destruction.
So here is my response to each of those distorted truth from the list above that keep tripping me up:
I’m going to get doctrine wrong. This is true. To think I could get everything about God right is to think that I am Jesus. If I COULD get everything right, Jesus wouldn’t have needed to die on the cross. God calls me to hold the tension of being as true and right as I possibly can be (not taking lightly the call to correct doctrine) while at the same time being as real and honest as I possibly can be with what I know today. There is some doctrine that is so black and white that I don’t imagine I’d get wrong in my posts, but there is also a lot that I even the smartest people in the words struggle through. So because I only know in part, I’m going to try and do my best with the parts I do have confidence in.
I don’t have time or capacity. Also true. While my schedule has changed so much, I still work part time and still have a successful photography business. I have many priorities that come before my blog, but as I look at the other things in my life, God doesn’t give us worthy things to do and the perfect open agenda to get them done. If it’s worth while, it will require getting intentional, disciplined and creative with my time. And because I believe this is a worthwhile cause, it brings me great joy to be committed to doing the hard work.
Arrogance. This is a hard one for me as I’m an Enneagram 3 this is what I’m prone to when I’m not healthy. It’s only by God’s grace that I’m ever any reflection of health, and so I have to know this sin is a reality that I will have to face. With self-awareness can fight arrogance in the name of Jesus.
As I looked into how I could boast in my weakness of arrogance, which in and of itself seems counter productive, God revealed that Jesus would have been considered arrogant. His message was this, “I am the way, and the truth and the life, No one comes to the Father except through me”. That sounds rather arrogant to me. But he is only considered arrogant by people who didn’t want to acknowledge that what he said was true. And this included the religious people as well!
The truth in my flesh wants to have an exaggerated sense of my abilities, because I believe my worth comes from what I can do. But Jesus has helped me see that my worth comes from Him and Him alone and that I can apply this truth in order to fight this temptation towards sin. Which gives me all the more reason to give this whole things a try. It will help me see ways I can wage war on this area of sin in my life.
I’m going to fail at writing. Again truth as I’m sure you have noticed in this blog post! I’m eager to grow and learn but if I make this about perfecting the English language I’ll never get to doing kingdom work so for now I set all of that to the side. So I’ll show up and do my best with the help of Grammerly!
I’m going to annoy people. Once again, truth! I know it. I annoy myself more often then I’d like to admit. But when I’m annoyed with someone or something, it often reveals that something is wrong in my life and not theirs.
As Matthew 7:2 says, “For you will be judged by the same standard with which you judge others, and you will be measured by the same measure you use.”
That by the measure I judge, I will be judged, and so dealing with this in my own self is more important than ever being worried about other people being satisfied with me. And if someone is annoyed by me, I hope they have the ability and freedom to not follow and read my content so that they too don’t heap on judgement on themselves.
As for fearing judgment, see point above!
So while I could go on, this is what I have been wrestling with as I apply God’s truth. I’m going to be afraid to step out in faith, because that is the nature of faith. Doing something that I don’t know what the outcome will be always generates an unsettling feelings. But what’s amazing about faith in the God of the bible, is that He has made himself known so we can we get to know Him in order to put our trust in him making the fear in our faith something we can work to diminish.
Which leads me to the third thing God has taught me in this season. My need of being aware and actively fighting my real enemy. It really didn’t jump out at me until yesterday either and seems so obvious now. It was most clearly revealed when I was listening to a teaching my friend sent me on discipleship. It discussed how we are to live in a manner that advances the Kingdom of heaven. That neutrality in this world doesn’t exist.
Everything is either for or against the kingdom of heaven and when I choose neutrality it isn’t keeping things status quo but in fact works against the Kingdom of Heaven. Ouch! As I heard this it cut right to my core, to which I had to respond in repentance, as I so often chose neutrality and never saw this as partnering with the enemy.
But by God’s grace, this whole thing isn’t new to me, and I know this is a battle he’s already won and I get to now partner with him. The winning team.
As my eyes open to my enemy and his tactics, I begin to see what’s really at stake here. God has put something in me that burns within me to share. I have lived in direct opposition to this desire because of the endless list of lies that Satan wants to try and twist in order for me to believe and I wasn’t putting up any fight.
I was entangled in my fear, believing that staying quiet, hidden in shame and insecurity must be the meek and humble life God is calling me to. But as I learned the ways the enemy wants to use the language of God in hopes of getting me off course to get me off mission. To which I want to put an end to and instead fight with the weapons God has given me to fight to advance his Kingdom, which is the Armor of God.
This means I need to carry with me the truth bible, the righteousness Jesus freely gives, His peace, His faith, His salvation, and His Spirit.
Can I be honest. This utterly terrifies me. These aren’t weapons I think would be affective against the enemy because I’ve seen his works. Even typing these words against the Kingdom of Darkness and exposing the way the enemy works, leaves me afraid of what could happen next. Knowing there is just another shoe about to fall as the enemy tries to attack back. But as the song, Not Today by Hillsong United perfectly states,
“Fear is just a liar running out of breath”
So I get to trust God in faith, that he desires what is only good for me and His glory. What the enemy may intend for my destruction, God will use it for my good and as stated in Jeremiah,
“The Lord is with me like a mighty warrior” Jeremiah 20:11
So going forward, I’m setting aside all of my plans and expectations because it’s my flesh that puts perfection on this place. The enemy wants me to be sure I know how much I will continue to fail at this. But instead of letting me shrink, I’m going to in some ways agree. I will continue to fail at this BUT God will use my failure for good. That for me, my obedience is my victory which doesn’t always look like the perfect image I craft in my head for this space. That my act of worship will to show up and do what I believe is an act of faith, no matter what others think, or better yet, what even I think. Because as my bullet points listed above, my thoughts can’t be trusted and desperately need the hope God provides applied to them.
God’s ways are greater than my ways, and He will continue to push me forward by his grace.