Monday, November 17, 2014

Break Me [In]

Recently,  I watched a movie where the young actress was prepping for a ballet recital and I noticed her do something unusual with her ballet shoes.  I watched this girl literally bend, stretch, burn and scratch up a pair of perfectly good pointe shoes, all so she could move better in them.  Of course my first thought was: It doesn't take all that. However, after doing some research, I learned when you buy pointe shoes in their original form, they’re very stiff and limit any movement for the dancer, often resulting in pain. In order for the dancer to gain the flexibility needed to move, they must first cut up the soles of the shoe to add traction so that the dancer doesn’t slip while moving.  Next, the dancer adds immense pressure to bend the shoe to the mold of the foot. This gives the dancer the needed support to make difficult moves. I quickly learned that the dancer’s objective was not to break her shoe, but rather to break-it-in. Wow. The more I read about this process, the more familiar it was starting to sound.

"Much like a shoe, sometimes God has to break us in to get the movement He needs out of our lives."

So as usual, moment of transparency. I recently struggled with making a really tough decision...even after God told me what choice to make. I heard God's voice as clear as day and instead of taking Him at His word, I sat and rationalized the situation. I weighed out my pros and cons and eventually my head started blowing out smoke from over-analyzing a situation that God had already answered. I let my limited view of my situation make me second guess the Voice of God. The more I concentrated on the details of the situation, the more I found reason not to make a move. 

All of the sudden, it clicked for me.  I was just like that pair of pointe shoes in the movie. I allowed my own uncertainties and my lack of trust to stiffen me from being obedient to God. It was through this experience that I realized that much like a shoe, sometimes God has to break-us-in to get the movement He needs out of our lives. In other words, there are so many great ways that God wants to move in our lives, but as long as we depend on our own logic, we'll never fully experience all He can do.

"When we realize who God is, it will become easier for us to not only recognize but trust His voice when we're asked to make difficult moves."

Like the dancer with her shoes, the Lord had to put me through a process….to break-me-in. He literally had to cut away doubt and train my spiritual ear to hear His voice above the chaos of my own thoughts. However, don't think that just because God leads you somewhere it will always feel good. Trust me, sometimes it won't.  Heck, most times it probably won't even make sense. It's at this point that we need to be reminded it's not about how we feel, but it's all about who God is and what He's called us to do. When we realize who God is, it will become easier for us to not only recognize but trust His voice when we're asked to make difficult moves. The process was is not easy, but just when I started to slip and felt unsure, He added traction to my heart with His Word to reassure me that I was moving in the right direction. "...Those who trust God's action in them, find that God's Spirit is in them..." - Romans 8:5-8 (MSG)
"It wasn't until it underwent a process, that it became fit for use of its full potential."

The pointe shoes in its original form were actually useless.  It wasn’t until it underwent a process, that it became fit for use of its full potential. All of the discomfort, tearing, bending and stretching you’re experiencing right now, is on purpose.  Not with the intent of breaking you, but bending you, making you more flexible to move into the direction where He needs you to be. So stop being logic-led and start being spirit-led.  Allow God to change you from the stiff, self-reliant, over-analyzing, ordinary Christian you’re fighting so desperately to be, and let Him break-you-in for His use to do extraordinary things.  

*Bible Study
For more information regarding this topic, check out the following scriptures:

Romans 8:5-8

Friday, November 7, 2014

Take Everything...

“O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, all because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer.” 
-Joseph M. Scriven

I am a firm believer in taking everything to the Lord in prayer. As I’m continuing to grow in my walk with Christ, I’ve truly come to value and appreciate the privilege of prayer.  However, although I’m grateful for growth, I can’t help but look back on all of the time I wasted being frustrated all because I didn’t take everything to God in prayer. 

Recently at my job I’ve been given a new project that has been demanding all of my time. It’s a project that honestly isn’t designed for just one person to handle, yet somehow it was given to just me. Throughout all of the stress and late hours I’ve been pulling at work, my supervisor has continued to tell me the same thing every day, “Leah, if you need help please let me know, otherwise I’ll just assume you can handle it.”  Instead of fully evaluating the situation, I took her words as a challenge and my focus quickly changed to proving that I could handle it by myself.  So for the past week and a half, I’ve been so busy trying to “handle” everything that the quality of my work was beginning to suffer in the process.  

"Lack of prayer is a declaration of self-dependency."

Although the work had been getting done, it was not done effectively.  Finally, in a voice of defeat I came back to my supervisor to admit, “I can’t handle this project on my own.”  After expecting to be removed from the project, I was surprised when my supervisor responded, “I’ve been waiting for you to say that, I have already appointed someone to assist you in the process.” Man, did God speak to me on this one.  How many times have we been faced with a difficult situation but instead of first taking it to God in prayer, we rely on our own understanding? Joseph Solomon said it best, “Lack of prayer is a declaration of self-dependency.”   

"Prayer isn't informing God of your problem, it's acknowledging God as the solution to your problem."

My supervisor knew all along that I could not handle the project on my own, yet she waited for me to come and admit that to her. Whew! How could we ever think for a second that an all powerful, all knowing God doesn’t already know what we’re going through?  Prayer isn’t informing God of your problem, it’s acknowledging God as the solution to your problem.  It’s you coming to Him admitting that He is the source of your help.

The Bible tells us in Philippians 4:6, "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." However the scripture doesn't end there, "..and the peace of God, which surpasses all of our understanding will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."   Prayer is not only an acknowledgment to God, but it’s literally an exchange with God. When we bring everything that concerns us to God in prayer, He exchanges our worries for peace, our confusion for understanding and our sorrows for joy. 

In Matthew 11:30 Jesus said, ”For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light.” He literally provides assistance in taking the load off our heavy hearts, but we first must take all of the weights that our burdening our hearts to the Lord in prayer. Don’t be like me.  Don’t wait until you’ve stressed yourself out and have come to the end of your rope before you seek God.  Prayer should never be a last resort.  No matter how big or how small, take everything to the Lord in prayer. 

“What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer.

O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.”  
- Joseph M. Scriven

Bible Study
For additional information on this topic, check out the following scriptures: