freedom, God's Will, Intentional growth, obedience, Resting in Christ

Learning to Live in the Now

Image of candles

Learning to depend on God’s plan, not my own, is a constant struggle, and these last few months with the pandemic have made that painfully obvious.

I’ve been both completely aggravated and wildly liberated this spring and summer by the inability to plan—well, pretty much anything. And it’s teaching me a lot about what it means to be dependent on God and live in the moment.

By nature, I’m a planner, which is where the frustrating part comes in. I keep multiple calendars, including six different categories of calendars on my iPhone, a hard copy calendar on my desk and another on my fridge. This doesn’t include the daily to-do list by my side. This all probably sounds completely obnoxious to some of you, I’m sure, but I’m a busy woman and a working mom. For me, it’s how I do life.

Yet as a Christian I’m well aware my craving for a plan is all too often an exercise in futility. We humans mistakenly believe we are “in control” and that planning can put the chaos of life into a tidy little box. That is an illusion, for only God is in control. I know this intellectually. Still, my mind often all-too-conveniently forgets this, especially in times of stress when I crave a plan, order, structure, and routine.

It’s as if the plan, not God, reigns supreme. Ouch.

At the beginning of the year, I had a grasp of how 2020 would probably go—a hot mess of travel between work and a host of family commitments, not to mention the day-to-day juggle of business meetings, church activities, school events, youth theater, and everything else that sucks up all our time. When the pandemic hit and all those things were forcibly paused, I’ll admit I was a bit relieved. For the first time in what felt like eons, I had unexpected free time.

It was both freeing and frighteningly chaotic.

As a planner, this was good for me—really good. I soon trained my brain and my heart to let go of the nonessentials, to let each day dictate what was to come courtesy of God, not Jessica.

When life started getting more normalized and our state began to reopen, that familiar go-go-go began to rise up again inside of me. I found myself impatient again, wondering “exactly when” we’d do this or that.

How quickly I started to forget the most important lesson the pandemic taught me: let go of the steering wheel and let God be the driver.

How quickly I started to forget the most important lesson the pandemic taught me: let go of the steering wheel and let God be the driver. Click To Tweet

God created us to lean on Him and be in a dependent relationship with Him. I struggle to remember this on a daily basis.

Yet Scripture assures me repeatedly that God is the one in control, not me.
God created us to lean on Him and be in a dependent relationship with Him. I struggle to remember this on a daily basis. Yet Scripture assures me repeatedly that God is the one in control, not me. Click To Tweet

In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reminds us, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34 NIV).

Graphic quote: we're to let Christ live through us.

And, as He says in Luke 9:23-24, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.”

Faith is about surrendering control, about understanding that control is an illusion. The only plan that matters is God’s plan.

Faith is about surrendering control, about understanding that control is an illusion. The only plan that matters is God’s plan. Click To Tweet

And God sees how this year, this decade, this century will play out with a perspective only God has. I cannot possibly understand all that God’s plan entails, or even why. All I can do is my part to bring myself into alignment with His plan and work to serve Him and spread His holy truth. All I can do is walk on the path God has laid out for me, and bring myself back on that pathway if ever I walk astray.

I think the Bible’s King David might have felt the same way I feel. For much of his life prior to his rule, David—while God’s anointed—lived on the fringe, his guard up constantly because King Saul resented, feared and envied him. For a time, he was forced to live in the wilderness, taking refuge in caves and other hiding places. Maybe he, too, fancied himself a planner, wanted to be able to say, “Next year, we will go here and do this,” or, “Next week, we will achieve that.” Instead, he lived on the run. Perhaps he felt forgotten or irrelevant. Perhaps he struggled with giving over his plans to God.

Yet the psalms, thought largely to be written by David, are filled with verses that acknowledge God’s reign and almighty power, a power we can trust and shelter beneath. Take a look at these three just as an example:

Psalm 20:7, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Psalm 28:7-8, “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one.”

And Psalm 62:6-8, “Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.”

Again and again, the message is clear: I can trust God. God is my refuge. God is in command.

Today is a good day, for today I remember the truth: When it comes to a choice between my petty human pride about all I plan and want to do, and heeding God’s plan, I choose the latter. God’s way is the better way—the only way for me.

When it comes to a choice between my petty human pride about all I plan and want to do, and heeding God’s plan, I choose the latter. God’s way is the better way—the only way for me. Click To Tweet

One day, maybe life will go back to the kind of existence I feel I can “manage” with multiple calendars, to-do lists, life goals and more. But right now, God is showing me a new challenge—what I call a “no plan” challenge.

And it’s good for my soul.

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

And before you go … have you grabbed your free e-copy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

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Intentional growth, Loving Others, obedience, Relationships

A Great Time to be God’s Church

What’s become very clear to me during the coronavirus lockdown: The church isn’t a place but a people and exists beyond any walls or boundaries.

And now is a wonderful time to be God’s church in the world.

This is not to make light of what we’re experiencing. People are getting sick and dying from COVID-19 at an alarming rate—and soon, if they aren’t already, these could be our friends and family. It’s scary. Our routines are upended, many have lost jobs and financial security… It’s both surreal and terribly frightening.

But it’s also an opportunity.

See, we hear all the time that the church doesn’t have walls, the church is the people—but still we think of church as a place, a building we go to every Sabbath to sit, pray, sing, hear God’s word, and experience fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Now, we are face-to-face with a new reality, and for many of us, that means learning to gather with other Christians and be God’s church in alternative and sometimes uncomfortable ways. I believe that is a good thing.

We are face-to-face with a new reality, and for many of us, that means learning to gather with other Christians and be God’s church in alternative and sometimes uncomfortable ways. I believe that is a good thing. Click To Tweet

We know church isn’t just on Sunday. Church isn’t just a noun but a verb. And church is us, every single one of us, whether we are gathered in person or we’re gathered online. But sometimes in the busy rush of life, we get so caught up in the day-to-day normal routine that we forget this.

Church isn’t just on Sunday. Church isn’t just a noun but a verb. Church is us, every single one of us, whether we are gathered in person or online. Click To Tweet

Right now, though, nothing is normal—except the things of God, which never change. The sun still rises and sets, and the birds still greet each new day with song. God’s love for us is still just as strong, and His promises still stand, timeless and unwavering. And for those of us who are believers, who understand Jesus is the Son of God and the One who saves, the Holy Spirit still ignites our hearts.

The sun still rises and sets, and the birds still greet each new day with song. God’s love for us is still just as strong, and His promises still stand, timeless and unwavering. Click To Tweet.

I believe the Holy Spirit can and does move through each of His children regardless of physical proximity. The Spirit moves through phone lines, through radio frequencies, through the internet and any other brilliant technological method we can imagine. The Spirit moves as we engage on social media, and it’s a glorious thing.

In fact, if you pay attention to faith on social media like I do, you’ve probably noticed some of these extraordinary, innovative things. Phone trees, YouTube and Facebook live worship services, video conference devotionals, and even church radio stations are helping God’s people stay connected. People at one church I know with a daily soup kitchen for the food-insecure are now offering free grab-and-go sandwiches, snacks, drinks, and other prepackaged items each weekday to anyone in need.

It’s beautiful and inspiring, and it all fills me with hope and deep admiration for the children of God who work tirelessly for His Kingdom, who strive day after day to share the Gospel and be God’s hands and feet in the world, whatever that looks like.

I’m not sure how Jesus pictured His church when He stood before His disciple, Peter, and told him, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it” (Matthew 16:18 NIV). But I don’t think He imagined any kind of earthly building. For we know structures, like earthly kingdoms, rise and fall. But God’s kingdom will never be overcome. For God, and God’s people, live on forever, ushering in His glory and His will on earth by whatever means possible. Even in the pandemic. Especially in the pandemic.

bethechurchFB

Jesus knew the future of the church, knew that what would start out as small gatherings would lead to bigger buildings and places, but maybe He’s calling us back to the beginning, to remember it’s more about the togetherness- hearts united and hands clasped.

However we spread the word of God, however we make God famous, however we model His ways and His love in pointing people toward heaven, is “doing church.”

We have a precious gift right now in this pandemic to truly live God’s love beyond church walls—even confined to our homes. What does that mean to you?

We have a precious gift right now in this pandemic to truly live God’s love beyond church walls—even confined to our homes. Click To Tweet.

Share your thoughts here in the comments below and make sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram!

The church isn't a place but a people and exists beyond any walls and boundaries. And now is a wonderful time to be God's church in the world. Click To Tweet

And before you go … have you grabbed your free e-copy of our Bible study yet? If not, you can do so HERE! (You can get a print copy for just $5 HERE.)

Also, make sure to visit us on Crosswalk to receive daily devotions sent directly to your inbox. You can find our devotions HERE.

Intentional growth

Becoming Like the One We Love

Becoming Like the One We Love

by Wholly Loved Editor, Yvonne Anderson

My daughter rolled her eyes and groaned. Once again, the mother of one of her friends told me, “I can tell she’s your daughter. She looks just like you.”

Being in my early 40s, I enjoyed being told I looked like my sixteen-year-old, but she obviously didn’t like it. That’s why I laughed when her tween-aged daughter recently looked back and forth between us and declared, “You look like Mom!”

The same is true of God’s children. No matter what our size, shape, or nationality, every Christian will look more like Jesus as we mature. “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him…” 1 John 3:2, ESV.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways” (1 Corinthians 13:11, ESV). When we “grow up” spiritually, we come to resemble God.

As spiritual children, we shouldn’t expect to be carried our whole lives—we must get up on our feet and walk. Instead of being content to let others spoon-feed us, we should learn to study the Bible on our own. Rather than hanging back, we’re called to put aside our fears and follow God into new experiences.

Many years ago, a pastor shared a beautiful illustration of this. He told of the first time he took his young son, Jay, swimming in a lake.

The father picked the boy up and slowly walked out into the shallow water. Jay hung on tightly. When the water reached his little feet, he pulled his legs up higher and whimpered. The father continued wading away from shore, the water rose higher, and the child screamed in terror.

His father, of course, knew the child was safe. “It’s okay! I’ve got you!” But the boy continued to cry.

His father stood still, waiting for his son to calm down. “It’s okay. See? I’m holding you. Don’t you know I won’t let you go?”

Jay screamed all the louder, refusing to be comforted. His father felt anger rising within. What’s the matter with this kid? Why doesn’t he trust me?

That’s when he saw the scenario as an analogy for his own life—for all our lives. When the Lord encourages us to grow up, to put aside our fears and trust him, we’re not always willing to do it even when we know it’s to our benefit. We’re afraid to trust the Father who holds us despite His assurances, “I will never let you go.”

If we will only trust Him, He’ll teach us to swim in the turbulent waves of our world. After Image of woman in the oceanwe’ve practiced, people who see our strong stroke will say, “I can tell you’re His child. You’re much like Him.”

Let’s talk about this! In what ways are you afraid to grow up spiritually? To what do you hold tight like a child with a security blanket?

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