Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Faithful Grace: Embracing Builds Muscle

I did something hard last week -something new, something a few months ago I wouldn't have even considered, let alone committed to.

And even though it was hard and I was tired (physically, emotionally, mentally), in some ways it was exhilarating.

This may be no big deal for some of you more adventurous types.

But for me, yep. Biggie.

AND I embraced it.

Despite all the change that we have currently experienced and are still settling from, I chose to do something different. Why not? What's a little bit more newness, right?

Before you get the wrong impression and think I'm just using my blog to toot my own horn (or whatever comparable saying might sound a little cooler here), let me explain where I am going with this.

There will always be something that is intimidating, no matter how adventurous and bold you are. There is something that threatens you, that maybe you avoid or push to the back of your mind anytime it pops up. But it's there all that same, gnawing at you and whispering lies that you aren't _________(good enough, talented enough, loved enough, etc.) to possibly considering doing the thing.

And whether we realize it or not, when we allow a lie to persist in our hearts and minds like that, it affects us.

Anything that does not line up with the Word of God in us will lead us away from what the Lord has for us, the abundant life that He so graciously offers through His sacrifice on the Cross and through His Holy Spirit.

"We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5

And what does this knowledge of God include?

That we are more than conquerors through Christ.

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Romans 8:37-39

"nor anything in all creation" - that pretty much covers it.

*Let me make one thing clear. I am not saying that because we are more than conquerors in Christ that this means that we will achieve the results we desire every time we step out and tackle what lies outside of our sweet, precious comfort zones.

What I am saying is that if we dig deep enough, I believe what we will find is that it's not really the thing that we're afraid of, but more the thought of the potential failure associated with it (whatever that looks like for you).

And why is failure so bad? Because I believe that somewhere deep down we equate failure with these statuses:

I am deficient.
I am undesirable.
I am unworthy.
I have nothing to offer.
I am unacceptable.
I am unlovable.

Maybe it's just me, but I have fed into the lie for far too long that I needed to accomplish or 'do' in order to be acceptable, in order to be really loved.

But that's not what my God says.

He says that Christ did what I couldn't, and that Christ is the final word over my life.

"It is finished."

No more need to try to do what I was never able to do for myself in the first place.

And because of this AMAZING salvation that I'm offered through Christ, I now also gain the freedom to try new things.

I may fail, but ultimately, it doesn't change my status in Him.
So - that was my BIGGEST take-away from this past week. But here are a few more related ones that I gleaned as well.
  • When I step out and try something new,  it is no longer as intimidating.
    There is a level of intimidation that only comes from the unknown. Once we've experienced something -gotten close enough to examine it and grapple with it, there is knowledge that comes from that experience that helps you stand up to those feelings of intimidation and put them in their place. The Lord shows up and gives you a greater glimpse of Himself and who you are in Him. And therefore, they are no longer quite as intimidating.
  • When I don't avoid hard situations, I learn how to maneuver them better.
    No huge real revelation here. We learn from experience. If you've been down a path once, it's easier to know your way the next time. HOWEVER, there is quite a difference between knowing this intellectually and actually walking it out. Easy to say, harder to practice.
  • When I step out of myself and my natural skill-set, I experience God's faithfulness and grace. Faithful Grace.
    I just love the sound of that. And it's true. When I am no longer relying on my own personal strengths, it gives the Lord room to show up and show out in and around my life. If I choose to get my eyes off myself and my immediate circumstances, and focus on Jesus, then I get to experience Him in a new way.

Each new, intimidating, hard thing I face offers a new step that I get to take with my Savior. He promises to be an Ever-Present Help in time of need, to never leave me or forsake me.

He is my Constant Companion.

If the Lord is for us, who can be against us?

So here is a victory yell for anyone that has stepped out of their comfort zone lately!

We all need to celebrate the little victories. Sometimes that is where we gain the most ground against the enemy and against our own fears, and where the Lord does some of His greatest work in and through us.

Don't underestimate the little things.

I'll close this with a personal challenge from me to you, in love (which I am taking myself as well):

Ask the Lord to reveal an area of your life that you may be shying away from out of ________ (fear, feelings of insecurity or inadequacy, past failure, etc), and ask Him to go with you through it. I'm not talking mammoth steps here, unless that is where the Lord leads you, but rather something small that will help build your faith and trust in the Lord as you experience His faithful grace through it.

And I pray, sincerely, that God will bless you through it. I believe it brings His heart joy when we ask Him to reveal more of Himself to us, and we put ourselves in situations for Him to grow our faith.

And if you are so bold, I would love love love to hear about it. My comment section is always open - I would offer you a cup of coffee as well if that were possible!

(While I was writing this post, this song was playing through my head and I added to my rotation as my own little personal theme song. Find one for yourself that you can cling to as you pray and step out!)

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