What About You Wednesday | Brittney

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Today we welcome Brittney to the blog! Let’s step into her season…

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Describe the season you currently find yourself in.

“The only phrase that seems to suffice the past two years and where I currently am is “The Assurance of Christ within the Change”. Of course a season and attitude of change is a constant and very necessary thing, but what I didn’t expect was that it would be so painfully beautiful. I began full blown vocational ministry right out of college, and through many joys and trials I have seen God move in crazy ways in the lives of myself and my faith family. From grieving hurts that come along with the progress of immense change in a church body, to seeing God have to remove people from positions to deal with sins or simply because He has another plan for them, the Lord has shown me so much about finding my assurance in Him.”

What is God teaching you/revealing to you during this season?

“It has been a long process in seeing what God has been teaching me in this season. Mainly because of my stubbornness. I don’t know if others do this, but this past couple of years, it felt like I just needed to keep my head above water. “Don’t sink Brittney, you have to keep going even when the waters around you seem to be crashing everywhere.” This was the mindset for a while and it was exhausting. The sweetness of God and His consistent character is that He doesn’t stop pursuing us and He deals with us with so much patience. In the book, “A Dangerous Calling,” Paul David Tripp sums up exactly what God has been revealing and teaching me during this season. “Either you will be getting your identity vertically, from who you are in Christ, or you will be shopping for it horizontally in the situations, experiences, and relationships of your daily life.” and “If you are not requiring yourself to get your deepest sense of well-being vertically, you will shop for it horizontally, and you will always come up empty.” I quickly became weary due to this “horizontal search for identity” and I finally recognized because the idol I had made to replace the perfect Savior was hope in myself and hope in other people. I found assurance in people’s approval, assurance in my morality, and assurance in my abilities, when all the while Christ was patiently guiding me to assurance in Himself.”

How have you/are you changing during this season?

“God has been moving me from the fracturing assurance in self to abiding in the joy-filled assurance of Christ. Even though I knew Christ was who I needed to abide in, I definitely wasn’t living out or understanding John 15:5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, it is he who will bear much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” God has shown me that the gospel frees me to obey and serve Him because He has first accepted me. My obedience and service is not a way to earn His acceptance. The way of working hard to keep my head above water, performing well, not screwing up, and gaining people’s approval is NOT the gospel. Honestly it’s pride. God has been breaking down that pride, making me dependent upon Him by allowing me to walk through a season of change filled with fear to make me realize that Christ is my only assurance. He is the only one who brings joy, peace, endurance and to the fact that I need Him in all I do. That seems like a “DUH” moment, but it’s huge. I am not sufficient! Brittney isn’t capable of holding her head above water. In the past two years I have felt like Peter in the passage in Matthew when he went to go meet Jesus by walking on water but was so quick to take his eyes off of Jesus, became afraid, and quickly began to sink. But in Christ’s sweet sweet grace He has reached out, caught me and spoke softly, “You of little faith” and then carried me in His security to show me truly who He is. That He is able and I am not. That He loves me enough to give me the strength and capability, things I sought in people who were incapable of supplying those things (myself included), to continue in what He has called me to do.”

What encouragement would you like to share with someone who is in a similar season?

“God cares about His people and He is a God of compassion. The idols we make out of people or our own abilities can never give you the assurance you desire or need. Only in Jesus and the giving of the Holy Spirit are we able to find assurance, strength, love, acceptance and joy within difficult situations. God is a good Father who never stops changing us into the image of His son. Let us all find sweet assurance in Him above all other tempting and sweetly-false things through every season of change.”

A Prayer for Brittney

Constant Father,

Thank You for Brittney. Thank You that You are aware of her and with her in this season. Thank You that You use change to change us. Thank You for using change to change Brittney, to make her look more like Jesus. Thank You for revealing to her the idols of others and self. Thank You for being the One who never fails us, never gets fed up with us, never needs time away from us. May the same gospel that saved Brittney continue to sustain her. May she continue to walk in freedom and do things out of adoration instead of obligation. May she continue to crave Your sweetness and long for more of You. Continue to help her to utterly depend on You. Instead of just doggie paddling to try and stay above water, may she sink into Your grace, may she drown in Your love, may she lose control only to rest in You. Help her to continue to abide in You and as she does May You bless the works of her hands. May her ministry, her life be fruitful because she knows you as the Vine. May Brittney rest in Your blessed assurance.

Amen.

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Featured Friday

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“Here we are, living in a world of ‘identity crises’ and most of us have no idea what an identity is. Half the problem is that an identity is something which must be understood intuitively, rather than in terms of provable fact.” – Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet

What About You Wednesday | Justin

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Today we welcome Justin to the blog! Let’s step into his season…

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Describe the season you currently find yourself in.

Currently I am in a season of starting a new job, freshly moving to a new place and adjusting to a slower paced style of living. Just a little over two months ago I was a successful branch manager of a rental car location. Growing up I never aspired to rent cars, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s not anyone’s dream to rent vehicles, but that’s beside the point. Renting cars was not my passion.

During my career I struggled so much with finding satisfaction and worth in what I was doing. Even though I was not happy, I struggled to trust the Lord with the direction my life was heading. Too often I found myself leaning on and trusting in myself and did not trust the Lord to guide and direct me. For months I prayed to the Lord to just show me why I was there, and every time He would say, “Trust Me.”

I would apply to other jobs that I thought had to be better than my current situation and I would get rejected and the Lord kept saying, “Trust Me.” It’s funny because I remember thinking, I am going to mess up your plan Lord because I am impatient and I can’t take it anymore. Every time He would say, “Trust Me.” During that time I remember thinking there is no way I am ever going to do what I love and follow my passion because I can’t afford to move on from such a good paying job, with great benefits.

Then one day, just an hour before my shift was over I was threatened by a very angry customer with my life. You never really think about your life flashing before your eyes but in that moment, it did. That day I remember leaving work, trying to process everything that happened and thinking to myself, my life is not worth risking to rent a car. That entire night I tossed and turned as I tried to brush off what had happened that day as if it were nothing. The fact remained that it wasn’t just a normal day, it was a day when the Lord was boldly reminding me to trust. Trust Him with my life, trust Him with my future, trust Him that He hears my prayers and the deep inner workings of my heart.

So the next morning I woke up and it was clear that it was the day I was going to unabashedly trust the Lord. So, I did what any reasonable person would do, I quit. I walked away from a financially stable job. I walked away from great benefits. I walked away from an amazing career path. I walked away from what I thought was my identity. And I walked into the open arms of my Father that loves me and cares for me and I trusted Him.

What is God teaching you/revealing to you during this season?

During this season the Lord has taught me a great deal about trust. In trust there has to be humility. The act of humbling yourself before the Lord is truly admitting that His plans are greater than any plans we can ever imagine. Humbling yourself before the Lord is saying that He is greater than I, and I have no purpose outside of making much of Him. James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” What’s so funny about this verse is that it doesn’t reference time. Timing is something I had to humbly give over to the Lord and say to Him, “I trust You, and I trust Your time.”

After I quit my job I was unemployed for right at about two months. One of the most humbling things is to patiently wait for the Lord to open up doors and opportunities and to trust Him when He shuts doors. I remember praying to the Lord often and asking Him, “Why?”, when He would close doors that I would try to walk through and He would faithfully say, ” Trust Me.”

Those were the moments when I had to remind myself that He has been faithful to provide thus far, so why am I doubting His plan?, and then once again humble myself and trust Him.

How have you/are you changing during this season?

Goodness, I have never felt a deeper relational bond with the Lord than I have in these past few months. This entire season has shaped and changed the way that I view my relationship with the Lord so much. I genuinely see how deep His love is for me and has always been for me each and every step of the way, even in affliction.

I recently read a quote that perfectly sums up how I view the love of the Father, it says, “Devine affection doesn’t mean that you won’t face affliction.” This season of life has altered the way that I view the so called “valleys” in my life. Yes, in those valleys it feels as though you are trapped, but God is and always will be faithful. It wasn’t until I reached the other side of the valley that I was able to reflect on how the Lord used these past few years to prepare me for my future.

Recently, I accepted a position at a local Christian camp. I have always had a heart for camp and camp ministry and I looking back I can say that the Lord heard every one of my prayers. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” What a sweet reminder that the God of the universe cares about what we care about.

What encouragement would you like to share with someone who is in a similar season?

I want to encourage anyone that may be going through a similar season to truly take a step back and examine every area of your life. See which areas you haven’t fully surrendered to the Lord and what areas you are still trying to do it alone. Something that I learned, and am continuing to learn, is sometimes you have to trust even when it doesn’t make sense, even when the Lord is saying, “quit your job and follow Me.”

Another thing that I want to encourage others is to remember that the Lord is so good to minister to us in unique and unconventional ways. Unfortunately, for me it took an extreme situation for the Lord to get my attention and remind me that He is enough and I need is to put my trust in Him. My last encouragement comes from one of my favorite worship songs. It says, “find me here at Your feet again. Everything I am, reaching out I surrender. Come sweep me up in Your love again and my souls will dance on the wings of forever.” What an amazing reminder that when we totally surrender, we are wrapped up in the love of the father and like it says in Matthew 5:5 – “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” So give it over to the Lord because He cares.

A Prayer for Justin

Caring Father,

Thank You for Justin. Thank You for the season You have him in. Thank You that You are aware of him and with him in this season, as You teach him how to surrender trust in himself and to trust You. Thank You for letting him share his story, one that resonates deeply on a personal level for me, for I walked a similar road. Thank You that with You our valleys become our mountain tops. Thank You for stripping Justin of his earthly identity, so that he would be reminded that the only identity that matters is who he is in You. Thank You for caring enough about Justin to care more about his holiness than his happiness. Thank You for giving him grace in the waiting, by pulling him closer to You even when he was impatient. Thank You for closed doors, Lord. Thank You for not giving Justin what he wanted, but what he needed. Thank You that Your timing is perfect. Thank You for showing your beautiful timing in Justin’s life. As Justin begins his new position and adjusts to new rhythms of life, continue to draw him closer to You. Help him live what he learned in the season he is walking out of. Heal any parts of him that are still wounded from his afflictions. Show him what trust looks like in this season of his life. Guard him from trying to find his identity in this new position. Help him to remember that You are Purpose so he does not need to go searching for it. Thank You for being the One Thing we can always trust. In Your Trustworthy Name, Amen.

In A World Where We Are What We Do…

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“What do you do?”

“What are you up to now?”

Two questions proving that our world confuses what we do with who we are. Two questions proving that in this world our identity matches what we do.

And when you don’t know what you’re doing, don’t like what you’re doing, or wished you did something else, this question becomes one you dread. I know, because I am one of these people.

Growing up I defined myself as a daughter and sister.

In grade school I defined myself by what grade I was in, the sport I played, or the extracurricular activities I was involved in.

In college I defined myself by my major, the school I attended, and my involvement there.

But when I left college, I found myself in a cubicle, working for a non-profit, in a corporate building, and it was culture shock. After being drained at the end of the day because so many people had come into my office at my previous job, now the only person I spent time with each day was me.

And for the first time in my life I hated being defined by what I did.

I was not passionate about what I was doing. I could not see how what I was doing was making an impact (even though many people told me I was). Nobody really knew me. The only people I really talked to each day were the customer service agents on the other end of the phone, as I sorted through the non-profit’s bills. I only saw my “team” members once a week. The non-profit was shifting its identity, and there were growth pains. I was used to a different type of boss. Long story short, this job drained the life out of me. But yes, it did provide tremendously so I stayed.

A year later, after being married and under the support of my husband, I was able to walk away from that position. My boss even told me he had felt the Lord impress on his heart to “release Amy.” (Not in a fire her way, but to let her go because she felt as though she was in a cage). This confirmation encouraged my heart that I was doing the right thing (because it’s in my nature to always seek to do the right thing and sometimes that cripples me). I walked away from something believing God had something else for me.

But that something else has come slower than I thought it would, in a different shape than what I thought it would be. And this has caused me to question many things:

Did I do something wrong to end up here?

Who am I?

Do I have purpose?

Has God forgotten me?

Am I really gifted?

What do I even enjoy?

Why does a job come so easily for them and not for me?

Am I a disappointment?

Am I a loser?

I’m no longer able to hide behind the identities I’ve hid behind for so long.

At a Christian college, in the Christian world, we talk and learn about finding and living in our identity in Christ.

But what about when your learning is tested with your living? When everything around you is screaming “you are what you do!”

And when you don’t think you’re doing much, you don’t think you are much.

And this, this is how the enemy twists the Christian, deceives the Christian, makes the Christian ineffective. He tells us we are nothing in this world. He discourages.

Hesitantly I write this, because I told myself I wouldn’t write about it until I was out of this season. That was over a year and a half ago, and it is where I still find myself, discouraged and tired of fighting to find my identity in Christ. It’s still messy and all over the place in my mind, so how could I ever put it into words?

But I’m coming to accept this season will never end this side of Heaven. Getting a job I love won’t fix my identity issues, because then I’ll still be defining myself by the wrong things. I have a severe heart problem, so the Doctor keeps me in surgery. In this world, I will always have to fight lies for where my identity lies.

But oh, what a day that will be, when God returns to take me to a world where I am defined solely by what He has done and not what I do.

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