Around the block.

“You only get exhausted when you don’t enjoy the journey.”

Our residential complex is such that I love taking a small round around the block every once in a while. The pavements are beautifully laced with plants and flowers of varied hues and colors, varieties and species; making for an exquisite amalgam of creation presented in miniature. However, I noticed a very interesting dynamic taking place as I started to make these rounds. Let me explain.

Initially, as I started taking a round around the block, I would return feeling a tad bit exhausted and worn out. Then, something beautiful happened, almost as organic in its revelation as the wind in its movement. I felt something change and began to concern myself more with finding delight in the tiny steps that I was making as opposed to accomplishing the goal of finishing a round around the block. Ever been there? We all have, I’m guessing.

As I started taking the time to notice the beauty of the strokes within the plants that surrounded me and touch the majestic palms that I would otherwise be too preoccupied to pay attention to, my whole disposition began to change. I really didn’t care if all I took was four tiny steps, but in keeping with the rhythm of the beauty of creation around me, I knew those four tiny steps would be more than enough. The task of completing one whole round around the block was replaced with a delight found in appreciating the tiny, yet potently significant things along the way. Noticing The Creator within the creation started to bring a smile to my face and light up my soul. And it all began with a slight pause, a simple readjustment leading to a remarkable change.

The same holds true for our journey with The Lord as well. He takes us by the hand, and lovingly leads us on. In our childish impatience, we often demand a blueprint for our lives, but Our Creator knows better. He understands that as we make His Word a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path, we will have by divine design agreed to walk in sync with His leading, one step at a time. This positions us to enjoy subtle yet significant details of life. It enables us to find our delight in partnering with The One who brings all things to life. It graces us to travel light and free, with peace and rest in our souls. It liberates us from the need to know it all and grounds us in the reality of what is. It empowers us to be willing to encounter His Presence, a reality more tangible than the one we are currently standing in.

So, as I hasten to a close and perhaps prepare for a round around the block, I hope and pray that we will learn to find the beauty in the mundane and the sacred in the simple.

All my love!

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Secure with and without.

“Even in my vulnerability, I’m secure because I’m held within the arms of Perfect Love.”

This post is literally what The Lord has me walking through, and I still don’t know how to unpack it except that I’ll try.

In my experience, our walk with The Lord will have us go through phases of vulnerability that when stewarded well under The Sovereign Care of God, will prove to be invaluable in transforming us from strength to strength and glory to glory. I have come to understand that our journey has more to do with the strength of our relationship with God than the fickleness of our circumstances. The circumstances that we see manifest and change literally on a daily basis are only tools in the hands of God to draw us closer to Him in order that we may seek His Heart in the situation, thereby aligning ours with His, and manifesting a piece of The Kingdom wherever necessary. This spiritual heart posture requires vulnerability because it really humbles us to know that we don’t really know, and because we don’t really know, we are compelled to seek The One who we know does know. Quite a tongue twister, aye?!

Seeking the will of God and what it is that He is trying to teach us through circumstances that are clearly beyond us, but not beyond Him is powerfully liberating. It liberates us from the narrow confines of our thinking and draws us into the majesty of His Kingdom. We begin to humble ourselves under His Mighty Hand, acknowledge our need for Him and allow Him to guide us, counsel us and instruct us in the way we must go.

I personally had an experience of late where I saw circumstances shift dynamically in a way that was beyond my comprehension. I knew I had to put everything aside and simply let Jesus in. Friends, that is the best decision we can ever make in circumstances that seem out of alignment, but present themselves only to push us closer to His Bosom, because when He speaks, everything changes. Maybe not on the outside, but certainly on the inside of us.

I spent my day with The Lord, and as it wound to a close, I heard The Holy Spirit whisper,

“If circumstances are fickle, then what is not?”

I’m guessing you know the answer as well as I do. “The Infallible Word of God,” is what I found myself saying. You can well imagine the “selah” moment I had thereafter.

However, this wasn’t only a “selah” moment but a lesson for life. When circumstances come to contest The Word of God spoken over us, we can rest in what has been decreed as opposed to what is seen. What is seen will eventually align with what is spoken, which is what makes us vulnerable in the middle of the mystery. However, it is a vulnerability that Our Father honors and covers as He holds us close and promises to never let go. It is a vulnerability that makes us realize that without Him, we are not enough to win this battle. It is a vulnerability that finds us like little children again, eager to know more and willing to learn. It is a vulnerability that God uses to build our trust in Him, as the alpha and omega, the author and the finisher of our faith. And I also believe that it is a vulnerability that reintroduces us to the strength of His Perfect Love.

Standing in the midst of circumstances that seem daunting, I am held within His Perfect Love. Caught contesting for the seemingly impossible, I am held within His Perfect Love. Letting my light shine, one speck at a time, I am held within His Perfect Love. Sometimes fearful, sometimes faith filled, I am held within His Perfect Love. Seeking resolution and being lovingly restored to a place of contentment deep within, I am held within His Perfect Love.

All this to say that Perfect Love casts out all fear. We are defined by neither failures nor successes. We are defined by neither trials nor triumphs. We are defined by neither the perceptions of others nor their opinions. We are defined by nothing of this world, but everything of another – the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ.

And that Blood has set me free. It has given me an Identity that nothing can add to nor take away from. It has given me a Purpose that finds direction in His leading every single day. It has given me a Destiny so profound that it blows all my paradigms of how great Our God really is.

My experience has taught me that in our most vulnerable moments, it is the strength of His Love that keeps us, shapes us and molds us. It is His Love that comes to reassure us and settles as a deep peace within our souls. It is His Love that takes our weakness and transforms it into strength. It is His Love which looks at us with compassion and starts to make ways in the unseen, when we have realized that if all we have is Him, we have more than enough.

It is my hope and prayer, friends that this truth will shift our perspective on how we view ourselves in our vulnerability, and that we would be able to see ourselves the way God sees us, as much loved children who cannot fail, because we know the end from the beginning, and are determined to find the joy and delight in partnering with Our King in the process, a joy that will sustain us through the valleys and mountains alike, because it is a joy that comes from knowing beyond a shadow of doubt that irrespective of what is going on, we are held within the arms of Perfect Love.

Amen.

Perseverance

“As You prepare, I will persevere.”

As believers, our walk with The Lord will often have us receive promises of healing and restoration in the lives of our families and communities. I have realized that a promise from God inevitably ushers in a process that when embraced with a child-like trust, will see us changed from the inside out. Since ours is a purely relational journey, I feel that the biggest benefit of this is that God gives us the opportunity to allow Him to build relationship with Him through The Holy Spirit.

As unexpected situations arise, I believe He delights in seeing us run towards Him, and not away from. He waits patiently for us to be still in His Presence in order to hear what it is that He is thinking about the situation/circumstance that we find ourselves in. Sometimes, the revelations are astounding as The Holy Spirit begins to reveal what it is that The Father’s intended outcome for the situation is, thereby putting us in a position to depend on Him to help develop the patience, endurance and perseverance required in order for us to see His Word come to pass.

I made a mention of “child-like trust” in the beginning because when God goes to work, He puts us in seemingly impossible situations where perhaps the only bankable thing we can depend on is His Infallible Promise. He can change our situation in a heartbeat, but I think He is far more interested in changing us. The process of change requires trust in His Faithfulness, Goodness and Love. One of the most affirming verses we can turn to at such times is this,

“He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all–how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32, NIV)

If He has spoken, the outcome is guaranteed, and we can put the timing of it in His Hands. Our responsibility then becomes to seek Him in order that He may reveal what it is that He is preparing and cultivating on the inside of us which will make us more and more like Jesus – the very reason He gave up His Son in the first place.

The process of seeing the Promise come to pass will, of all things, require one thing of us: perseverance. The path towards the culmination of what we are contending for will perhaps be laced with times of difficulty and turbulence. How we navigate these rough waters is what will make all the difference because the best way to navigate them is in and through a relationship with Our Father. Assured of His Love, we can lean into His Bosom and ask Him to help us in our time of need: with the wisdom, tenacity, love and faith that we need to not just overcome, but be changed by it.

My recent walk with The Lord has embedded a verse in my heart,

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12, NIV)

Let us unpack this a bit. Yes, as surely as The Lord is asking us to persevere, He is also releasing a corresponding promise, that having stood the test, we will receive the crown of life. This personally took me back to the life of Our King, Jesus who for the joy that was set before Him endured The Cross. It made me think that if Jesus needed to tap into the joy of reward, then am I above my Master?

This revelation gave me the faith to believe in The Law of The Spirit in Christ Jesus. He is not a man that He should lie. He is Faithful to transform, prepare and when the time is right, deliver. If we sow, we will reap. If we surrender, we will receive. If we yield, we will transform. If we trust, He will never let us down.

Friends, I don’t know where this post has met you and what it is that The Lord has you believing Him for. But it is my hope and prayer that no matter what it is, we will be wise enough to fix our eyes not on what is seen, but what is unseen; for as surely as we are persevering, He is preparing.

Selah.

Salt and Light.

“I am Your Child before I am Your Church.”

The more I walk with The Lord, the more I realize how much He values relationship. He will allow situations and circumstances to manifest, and then invite us to listen to His Voice in order that we may discern what it is that His Spirit is doing in and through the manifested circumstances. I am slowly coming to a point where I recognize that the stronger my relationship with Him, the more I am in sync with Him which allows me to see, think and act the way He does in order to see His will manifest in through whatever it is that I may be experiencing. Perhaps, this is the reason we call our lives as believers a grand adventure with The Lord.

The way we were drawn into a relationship with Jesus is the way it is sustained. His Love is what won our hearts over, and it still is His Love which continues to. In a world rife with chaos and turmoil, we are often spurred to be the salt and light. After all, that is what Jesus has called us to be, and my journey reveals to me that the extent to which we allow ourselves to bask in His Light is the extent to which we can authentically be the light in our tiny part of the world. So, before I “do” anything, I am slowly learning the vital importance of “being” in His Presence. I love how The Bible makes this clear,

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.” (2 Corinthians 5:17, King James Bible)

This leads me to believe that God is more interested in our “being,” than our “doing,” for He understands that from the overflow of our fellowship will inevitably flow the desire, the resolve and the power to be the salt and light. This is where our striving ends, and our surrender to Him puts us in a place of being able to receive like a child, and as a child. This where we learn to receive His perfect love, unconditional acceptance and matchless grace. This is where we encounter Presence and allow it to transform us into a Child that knows how to host it. This is where our weakness meets His Strength. This is where our wounds begin to heal and our souls finds revival. This is where our hearts start to melt as His Love begins to well up from deep within. This is where authentic transformation in Christ begins.

My experience tells me that our journey is purely relational and transformational, the fruit of which is for the world to savor. We can give only to the extent we receive. It is therefore, important to realize that the foremost thing is to receive the love, the grace, the mercy, the forgiveness, the kindness and the goodness of God in fullness and abundance every single day of our lives. This not only keeps us tethered to His Presence, but takes us deeper and deeper into a relational walk with Him; from the abundance of which can freely flow the goodness that our world needs to see and receive.

As His Child, I first want to receive His Love first thing in the morning. I want to allow His Love to heal me, strengthen me, lead me, guide me and then, compel me. I want to let my “being” with Him define my “doing.” I want to yield more and more to the leading of His Spirit as opposed to what I may have thought is the best way to lead my day. I want Him to take centerstage in my life so that every move and every decision is assured of a favorable outcome. I want to first feel His Heart towards me, and then let that heart reach those that are near to me.

So, I told Him last night that I was first His Child, and then His Church. I want to be the lamp that He can put on a lampstand, but first I want to taste of His Love and Light that can be found only when hidden within His splendor shadow. I want to be the salt and light, but first I want to be salted and lit up from within. I want to be a world changer, but first I need my inside world changed. I want to be sheep among the wolves, but first I want to know what it is to be shepherded well. I want to be who He has called me to be, but first I want to encounter The One who has called me in the first place.

I guess what I’m trying to say is quite simple. In our walk with Christ, our foremost responsibility is to value our relationship over anything else. It is in the relationship that we forge that we get to know Him, and the more we know Him, the more we know ourselves and what it is that we are called to. As I write, the words of Jesus, after His Resurrection as He promised The Holy Spirit to His disciples, come to mind;

“I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49, NIV)

It is abundantly clear that the more we receive “power from on high,” the more we are empowered to be who He calls us to be: the salt and light of the world, His Children and then, His Church.

So be it.

Amen.

Vulnerability.

“You’ve seen me through it all, now You can have it all.”

I have been listening to Kim Walker Smith’s track, “Insatiable” lately. Needless to say, the lyrics are exquisite and eloquently capture the heartbeat of a believer’s journey. She speaks of how Jesus won’t stop till He has it all. She responds by declaring that He can have it all: heart and soul. Beautiful, right?

So what is it that inspires such bold confidence in being willing to be ever so vulnerable to God that we find ourselves wanting to give it all to Him, our hearts, minds and souls?

Clearly, it is an undeniable revelation of the unfathomable Love of our God who perseveres with us through our rebellion, gently breathes down our walls or simply chooses to break in with a radical encounter. Either way, He is too good to leave us the way we are, and hastens to redeem us. Every such experience only serves to take us deeper into the Love of God which is the number one thing that gives us the courage to be ourselves. One of my favorite Bible verses is as follows,

“Perfect Love casts out fear.” (1 John 4:18, ESV)

I love to remind myself that Jesus is a gentleman. He will never force His way in, but patiently waits for us to invite Him in. His sole intention is to heal us, restore us, affirm us and assure us that there is nothing that we have done or can do which will diminish His Love towards us, simply because Love is who He is. My own experience testifies that I need His healing, redemptive touch every single day; and the more I walk with Him, the more joy and confidence I find in learning to depend on Him for everything. Finding Him in every situation and asking Him to reveal His Heart in and through it is perhaps what fuels my relational journey with The Lord.

It wasn’t always like that, but through the passage of time, I have grown by His Grace. When I first started seeking Him, I needed a lot of things, in the natural. But what truly won my heart over was when I began encountering Him as Someone who wants to meet my deepest needs, who longs to bring healing to my bones and pour strength into my soul, who wants to not just do life with me here, but life everlasting on the other side. Eternity beats in the heart of man, and Jesus met me there. Suffice to say, it changed everything.

It began to sink in. He who has promised me Eternal Life will certainly be true in all His intentions towards me. Increasing encounters with Him where He would soothe my restless soul with words of loving kindness began to forge a Love relationship with The Living God where I began to trust that “a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.” (Isaiah 42:3, NIV)

Therefore, in our relationship with Jesus, we can be vulnerable with our brokenness simply because God is faithful to honor our trust in Him. We can invite Him into even those areas of our life that in the natural, seem to have no hope. But as believers, we understand that Christ in us is the hope of glory. He is our confident expectation of seeing something favorable manifest even in the most difficult situations, not because of anything we have done, but simply because our placement in Christ guarantees that our starting point is victory. We can tap into this consciousness intentionally on a daily basis till it becomes our first and most natural response, a response that eventually paves the way to a favorable result.

Each time doubt or unbelief threatens to sabotage our faith, we can simply look back at the faithfulness of God in our lives who in His unfailing love, comes through every single time. Whether it is brokenness in our souls, in our families, in our communities; He is able to mend it all into wholeness in a way that points to His Highest Name. I believe that Jesus didn’t just start coming through for me when I met Him, He came through for me at The Cross of Calvary, a death sentence that mandated vulnerability to the utmost extreme. Yet for the joy set before Him, He took The Cross for my freedom, releasing me to walk in the fullness thereof as I navigate my journey with Him here on Earth, learning to shed the old in order to adorn the new and keep looking forward to see what else He might do.

So friends, let us remember Him this day today in a manner that revives our faith in who He is, which will give us the courage to come to Him just as we are in order that He may begin the glorious work of making us the way He is.

Selah.