Now and Then

keem-ibarra-560576-unsplashIf Jesus did nothing else for me, he has still done enough.

As I worshiped, I focused on him, on the words I was singing, and how I run to him so often. I was overwhelmed with his provision and his sacrifice.

He laid down his life for me. He made that choice. He wasn’t a passive participant. He knew what he was doing. He died a horrific death. He endured undeserved pain, judgment, and death.

That is enough.

We can get so busy with life that we forget or downplay the weight of Jesus’ sacrifice. But when we know him well and we sit in the truth of his life and death, even for a short time, reality sets in.

Jesus is not past tense. What he did for me and for you isn’t past tense. He continues.

But even if he didn’t continue, he would be enough. He has done enough.

I am grateful he continues, but I hope I never focus so much on what he can do for me now and in the future that I minimize what he has already done. In fact, I hope I never focus too much on what he can do for me. Period. It’s not about me as much as it is about him. That truth calibrates and comforts me.

Not Enough

daryn-stumbaugh-58483-unsplashI’ve recently written several posts about “enough,” focused primarily on the combination of perseverance and contentment, always striving to grow but refusing to judge what is enough and what isn’t. We can spend our whole lives striving for the wrong “enough.”

But there is also a right “enough.” It is an enough we can never fully achieve but we have access to it. It is knowing our shortcomings while knowing we have access to a God who knows them better and constantly adds in the measure that makes us more than enough. He takes the sting out of others’ harsh assessments of us, not by placating us with surface affirmations as so many around us might do. (And let’s be honest: we like those affirmations much of the time because they build us up even if it is flimsy and temporary construction.)

God makes us more than enough not to placate us or build us up but to reveal himself. He has purpose in working through us. He knows we can’t, but he can. It might sound selfish to some: a God who works through us to reveal himself, but it is the opposite. It is selfless. He wants more for us. More than enough. The right kind of enough.

I struggled through something last week that made me think, “Perhaps I can redeem myself.” I didn’t say it aloud. In fact, I was glad that it was already uncomfortable enough just in my thoughts that I didn’t need to hear it spoken. Who am I to redeem myself? What power or wisdom do I have?

I have access to power and wisdom, and that’s different than owning it. I am not the source of it.

The next morning, I received an email from a friend. She forwarded a devotion, which in part included:

You and I are not enough—and that’s okay. Know that. Hear and acknowledge and embrace that…Let’s lay our striving down. May any good thing we offer simply flow from the joy of a heart that is eternally redeemed and forever thankful.
I am enough today not because of my own abilities but because I choose to let God flow through me.
I highly recommend it.



export-872046272Gentleness is power fully surrendered to God.

I had obviously thought about it before, since it was on my Timehop, but as I considered it again, it sank deeper.

Gentleness is fruit of the Spirit:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)

We’re not able to express the truth and full strength and purpose of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control without God’s help. And he has power beyond our comprehension. When we rely on him, we have access to his power, yet being an avenue for his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control requires surrender. It requires our willingness to trust him and let him work through us instead of us trying to work it out ourselves.

We often want the fruit of the Spirit, or rather, we want to obtain the characteristics or habits, but it is not something we achieve or acquire. It is what we access. It is what we allow God to do and develop through us. It is our connection to him that allows for love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Sure, we can emulate it to some extent. But it will never have the strength and wisdom he intends without staying connected to him.

Surrender is a challenge in our “I can do it myself” culture, but fruit can only thrive through the nourishment of the connection to the source.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)

Complacent Conclusions

photo-1448386992143-1356c5f4227cSometimes a conclusion can simply be the place or point at which we became complacent and quit thinking.

We all come to conclusions. We struggle for some and think we understand how and why we arrived at them. We seem to fall into others. Some take more effort than others, and that’s okay. Some seem comfortable in some seasons but ill-fitting in others. We often change our conclusions, and sometimes, our conclusions change us.

Instead of arriving at conclusions, perhaps we’d be better off to consider how we move through our conclusions. After all, we are still growing, learning, and changing.

A question mark or ellipsis might serve us much better than a period…

Fixing Others

28379807_10214369697011514_5480715444281979138_nThis image came across my social media feed recently: Fix another Queen’s crown without telling the world it was crooked.

We can help others without announcing to the world what we’re doing, and in the process, robbing someone of his or her dignity. We can maintain respect for others. Righting the wrongs of the world don’t have to include pointing out each person’s wrongs. Elevating standards doesn’t need to include stepping on others. Lifting values doesn’t need to include stomping on people who don’t share them.

In fact, we often help fix another Queen’s crown without her knowing about it. But perhaps she’ll walk a bit straighter, more balanced, and more confidently. It might matter less how and why her crown was crooked; what matters more is that someone took the time to walk with her long enough to help.

It’s Possible, So Why Not?

d190075“I can be flexible, so I might as well be.”

A friend was willing to change plans for me, and I was grateful. She chuckled as she told me she might as well be flexible since she’s capable of it.

It’s an important reminder.

Are you capable of being kind? Then be kind.

Are you capable of being patient? Then be patient.

Are you capable of being generous? Then be generous.

Are you capable of being forgiving? Then be forgiving.

It might be an oversimplification, and we need to be careful what we justify just because we’re capable. (After all, we’re all just as capable of being mean, judgmental, insensitive, and harsh, but we certainly  don’t want to justify those behaviors and attitudes.) Yet considering what we’re capable of can certainly be a good filter to use when deciding how to respond.

All things are possible with God. So why not stay close to God and do the possible?

A Real Shelter

20180303_141541“I knew immediately that this was not ‘just’ a park shelter but a REAL shelter.”

I had sent a friend a photo of the beautiful day in the park in reply to her sharing an outside photo of the day. I had taken the photo on my previous walking lap to send to another friend with whom I share significance in the specific shelter.

Because of all the open-hearted conversations and prayers my friend and I had shared over the years, I rarely walked by the shelter without a sense of peace, as well as a prompt to pray. I found comfort in the history, and most importantly, the consistent experience of God’s presence.

Yet I rarely sit under the shelter.

Real shelters are more than a roof under which we have to position ourselves for protection. Real shelters are more of a portable shelter that moves with us. We choose how to position ourselves and where to abide even as we move through many places, stages, and circumstances of life.

I am thankful for God’s presence and protection wherever I go.