Unprecedented Times

Unprecedented times.

How many times have we heard that phrase over the last 6 months?

It seems as though our current world is sitting on the stove as the heat gets warmer and warmer, quickly reaching boiling point.

As a believer in Jesus Christ my life is completely guided by my faith in God. While I won’t pretend that I do that perfectly in any case, it is true that it is my desire to be led by the truth of the Gospel in all aspects of my life.

I’ve been challenged, as I am sure many others have been as well, by how to respond to all that is going on in our world. While I do not know the answers to all of the questions we are facing, I do know one thing – if I allow my response to be shaped by this world and not by scripture, what good is my faith at all?

That question might seem a bit strange but hear me out. Why have a faith that isn’t going to guide the way that we live our lives? Why claim to believe a Bible that we’re not going to let affect the decisions that we make? If we say that we trust the Word of God as infallible and the true source of life – how can we draw boundary lines in our lives for what it does and does not get to control?

“One’s lack of belief in the authority and sufficiency of Scripture leads one to adopting defunct worldly ideologies and methodologies to understand and address the issues that plague mankind.” – Natalie | Kitchen of Oppression

I scrolled across this tweet a few days ago. As Christians, if we are grasping onto worldly ideals instead of those held up in scripture, what does this reveal about our true belief in the all sufficiency of scripture?

Over the past year and a half there has been one word that seems to rise above the rest in my mind – remember. I’ve been challenged through this phase of my life to remember often the character of God, His promises to us, and the truths found in His Word. With that I’ve also been convicted in this – how can we remember what we do not know?

As we face the tensions that we are seeing reveal themselves in our culture, how can we expect ourselves to cling only to things that are in line with scripture when we haven’t spent the time getting to know what scripture says? How do we find peace even in the midst of what seems to be doom and gloom times if we do not know the reason of genuine peace? How are we to encourage others towards the only true hope in life in the Gospel of Jesus Christ if it isn’t what we treasure most?

I’ve had to do some real soul- searching recently. I spend time watching the news, scrolling through Facebook comments, scanning blogs and listening to countless podcasts seeking out answers. Why am I not putting the same energy into pouring over scripture day and night? Even as I write this my soul is crying out – God, I have fallen so short.

I have seen many Christians grasp onto to solutions to racial tensions, raging controversial politics, and coronavirus complications that are so far from what we claim to hold as the guiding source of our life. Why? It is because we don’t know it, or because we do not treasure it?

Those are hard questions to answer, but ones that I feel are necessary.

I fear that too many want to hold onto the Bible as a safety net, but they don’t want to hold it up to their entire lives, their political views, their relationships, their way of having discussions with others and so on and so forth to completely shape and mold who they are and how they live their lives. I include myself in that crowd.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us that our enemy prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Do not be devoured by false and untrue ideologies and solutions that the world offers to you that the enemy has so creatively crafted to cause you to hold on to something other than God’s words.

I leave you with this quote:

“Softening Scripture always leads to bad doctrine. Where Scripture speaks firmly, we need to stand boldly.”  – @Stopnconsider

Brothers and sisters – let’s not trade in the truth of Scripture and the hope of the Gospel for a worldly offering that leads only to death. Be guided by the Word of God – know it, study it, treasure it and allow your life to be shaped by it. For in it we find the answers we need and the reason to hope. Though our world seems to be shaken, our God is not moved.

To The Christian That is Questioning

We are walking through days that we have never faced before. We are all scrambling to do the best that we can. Not one of us know how to do this perfectly.

Since January when the coronavirus first started making its way into the American news streams, the questioning began: Is this serious? Will it kill? How should we react?

I remember conversations I shared with others that felt it was no big deal at the time, as did I. It didn’t take long for us to realize things were going to play out a bit differently than the typical flu season. As businesses and schools began to close, fears began to rise. How long will this last? Will there be a way to treat it? How will our hospitals handle it? What about those that are losing jobs? Will there be more implications from this than just a health crisis?

As time progressed, new information surfaced.

 I have watched countless doctors stand on two different sides of the “science” fence. Some advocate for stricter rules, others disagree and argue for re-opening.

Politicians rage between party lines. Some seem to be working for our health and freedom, others only for their own.

The point at which I feel truly mad when trying to discern truth is when I see people on two different sides of the lines, kicking and screaming for what they believe to be true, as I stand in the middle trying to grasp, “well who do I believe?” I hold no degrees in medicine, and I’ve never in depth studied the law. So, when many of those that do have that knowledge, divide on what they believe how are we to know what is true?

It doesn’t take but a few scrolls through Facebook to see that we are all just trying to figure this thing out. It’s not just information about the virus, either. The stimulus packages, the scandals, the hidden agendas, the medical debates, the election news, the economic downturn – all are things I find myself searching and searching to “figure out.”

I have spent hours upon hours over the last two months reading, listening, and watching. Though I have never been one to study too far into politics, this pandemic has flipped a switch in me. I desire to be informed, well versed, and knowledgeable on the positions that I take. Why do I believe what I believe? I do not want to be the one fighting for what I stand for, when I have no leg to stand on.

Trust me, I am just as frustrated as the next person when I read the news or listen to a new piece of information. It seems as though as soon as something is stated, something else is released that changes the story. Some doctors say to wear masks, some say don’t. Some say to stay inside, others say that’s causing us greater issues. Political leaders seem to change their mind every hour, or focus on parts of this pandemic that aren’t important at all to the health and well-being of our country.  I am frustrated with the constant circle of chasing the true narrative just like you are.

Whether or not we agree on the same means by which this all should be handled, I do think the majority could agree that we all want the same thing- we want what’s best for this country, for our families, for our livelihoods and for our health.

As a Christian I have battled deeply within how to view this time first as a citizen of heaven, and then as a citizen of America. Both are important, but only one is eternal. Not only has this time proved difficult as an American, it’s stretched my faith and caused me to look further into how to exist as a sojourner awaiting my heavenly home, while not neglecting to serve others, love kindness, and do justice in the country I have been born into.

The bottom line is this: we need grace for one another.

I understand that not all motives are pure, but we must seek to understand the views from the opposite side of the fence.

 While I am not saying to NOT question the powers that be and the information that you are receiving, because I do think that is important. I am doing that myself! I have opinions and views that may or may not be shared by fellow believers. I love debating these issues, conversing about them, and having discussion with others to help me further understand and grasp all that I believe or don’t believe. However, what I am saying that as Christians we must consider how our speech and our actions are affecting others. Are we building each other up? How are we seeking unity? Are we giving into what the enemy wants and dividing right down the middle as we cling to our sides more than we cling to our faith?

I am not speaking right now to what you should or shouldn’t believe. My concern is more so that the church is allowing the happenings of this world- the world that we are told is NOT our home– to knock us completely off focus.

Pastors and church leaders are having to make extremely difficult decisions – are you praying for them or are you only bashing them for not doing what you think they should do in the time that you think they should do it?

Christians who hold political positions are having to fight tooth and nail to preserve the freedoms we have to our religion. Have you considered that this time might be mentally, emotionally and physically detrimental to their health? Have you stopped to thank them for their desire to serve God by serving the country that he placed them in?

Politicians that aren’t believers are in incredible positions of power that make decisions that affect all. Have you reminded yourself that we are called, by scripture, to pray for our leaders? Have we forgotten that even the coldest heart towards our faith could be changed by the Gospel? Have we forgotten that He has the power to save?

Nurses, doctors, and front-line workers of all kinds are making massive sacrifices for the health of many. Have you reminded them how grateful you are for them and the work that they do?

Brothers and sisters in Christ are facing tremendous struggles from their health to their ability to feed their families and all else in between. Are you encouraging them, seeking to serve them, or casting judgement when you see them out wearing a mask when you believe masks are useless? Or, on the opposite side, are you shouting mean remarks (verbally, behind a screen, or even just in your thoughts) because other believers think that it is time to get back to normal, to open the economy back up, and to remove the restrictions in place when you think it’s too soon?

Maybe I should re word those paragraphs instead to read “am I” doing these things, because if I had to be honest, the answer would be no. Not enough, at least.

The church is on a pedestal right now– how will the world see us? As hypocrites who divide amongst each other and fight to get their own way? Or will they see an example of a people walking humbly together, even when we disagree, for a greater goal than any vaccine, economic breakthrough, political ruling, or medical discovery could every bring about? Do you even know what I am talking about? THE GOSPEL. Have we completely lost sight?

Are we willing to say “Lord, change my heart, even if it is uncomfortable? Help me to see as you see, and to love truth of your Word more than self and more than preferences.”

Psalm 1 tells us that we should delight in the Law of the Lord more than ANYTHING else. Are we seeking to spend time in Scripture just as much as we are seeking to justify and find facts to back up what we believe to be true about this pandemic? Though there isn’t a verse that says, “and when you face the coronavirus do this…” there are verses that tell us our purpose, how to love one another, how to face trials of various kinds, how to show grace and mercy, and how to walk in obedience.

Form your opinions. Seek to know the truth. Dig to find answers. Discuss it with your trusted friends and family. But in the meantime, show grace to others who are doing the exact same thing you are doing. Pray to recognize the leading of the Holy Spirit in your life, now more than ever. Meditate on His Word day and night. Seek to love mercy, do justice, and walk humbly with your God.

To even write these words my toes were stepped on. I have not done a good job at these things I’ve listed above. Instead, I have been more concerned with proving what I believe to be true.

As believers we are called to care, to be involved in government affairs, to make wise decisions in who we vote for, what we believe in, and how we live as citizens of this country. I hope to write more on my thoughts on that soon. However, for now, I encourage you brothers and sisters to not forget the hope that we have in Christ. This is a hope that is not based on circumstances, but on a grave that is empty. May we cling to that reality that is true and share it with others now more than ever before.  

Our hope is not in odds. Our hope is in God. – John Piper

We don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, but we do know what is going to happen ultimately. – Allie Beth Stuckey

Prayer Challenge:

I want to offer you this prayer challenge. It has helped me to switch my perspective each day. I invite you to join in on this with me. Change the days to make them personal to you, if that helps, but do not neglect to pray– for all things, knowing who your God is.

Monday: Your circle of friends, family, church members, and coworkers

Tuesday: Universal and persecuted church

Wednesday: All government leaders- local, state, and national

Thursday: Healthcare workers and first responders

Friday: Vulnerable communities- those who have lost jobs, those who are impoverished, single parent homes, those who are sick, etc.

Saturday: Those who do not know Christ

Sunday: Brothers and sister in Christ

It has helped me to set reminders in my phone to go off at a convenient time each day. If you join in on, let me know. I would love to hear how the Lord is working in your heart through prayer and scripture during these days.

I am praying for you, brothers and sisters in Christ. Those these times are hard, we know the end of our story.

Known in the Unknown

Overwhelmed. That’s how I feel today.

I have watched every press briefing that I can. I’ve read posts, listened to podcasts, researched and looked up everything I know to try and figure out the answer to this pandemic.

I want to understand it. I want to know how our government should be responding. Should we open back up the states? How fast? Do we wait till there is better testing or possibly a vaccine? But that will take more than a year? What if we shut everything down for as long as needed, but our economy tanks and people without jobs can no longer feed their families? What is worse? A virus, or a great depression? Is there a way to avoid both?

My mind has been running wild. Truth is, there isn’t an easy answer, and I am definitely not educated enough to be the one to figure out what even the best possible answer might be.

The other day I asked this question on my Instagram story: What have you been encouraged by during COVID-19? The answers were many.

“The Lord revealing Himself to me”
“The opportunity to learn new things”
“Reminders of who God is and what He has promised”
“How we are ALL in this together”
“The local church”

It was sweet to read all of reminders of the good things that are coming from even the toughest of days. The church is being mobilized, many are leaning into the truth of who God is, we are being slowed down to a pace we normally would not allow ourselves to get to, and we are looking up from our screens to see the world and the people around us from a new perspective. Despite what the headlines might say, we DO have a reason to sing.

Not Alone

Now more than ever the majority of us are walking through a time where our trust in God and faith in what He says has been put to the test. As some might say, it is a time when the rubber has met the road.

We have all walked through difficult days of various trials before this virus came along. Can you remember a time though when we were all simultaneously facing the exact same thing? Though it might look a bit different in each of our lives, it is still the same source of struggle. Though we are confined to our own homes, we are not alone in this trial. 

Count It Joy

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing” James 1:2-4

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Romans 5:3-5

Count it all joy. Joy is a word misinterpreted by many. It does not equal happiness, and it does not depend on our circumstances. Though we face trials, yet we rejoice. Why? Because of Jesus. True joy comes from knowing, walking, and resting in Him.

He is Our Hope

Our days don’t look as normal as they did a month ago. To get through this time I think it is important to practice establishing a routine, trying new hobbies, spending extra time getting things checked off your year old to-do list and so on and so forth. All of those things are great things to do, and they definitely have their place to help us keep our sanity. However, those practices cannot serve as our source of hope.

If a vaccine were created tomorrow, would we suddenly have hope? If the economy was re opened, businesses didn’t have to close and those that have feared losing their jobs no longer have to worry- would we then have hope? Is that the answer to all of our problems? No. When all of those things happen, and I pray that they do, one very large problem will still exist – sin. 

My struggle has come from not knowing and understanding what will happen and what should happen. But, my source of joy, hope and encouragement should come from what I do know.

What Do We Know?

  • We know that Christ is victorious. (1 Corinthians 15:54-58)
  • We know that we are fearfully and wonderfully made and each of our days were planned by God Himself. (Psalm 139:13-16)
  • We know that all things work together for good. (Romans 8:28)
  • We know that God is in control. (Psalm 115:3; Proverbs 19:21)
  • We know that God is the creator of the universe and sovereign over all. (Nehemiah 9:6; Genesis 1:1; Colossians 1:16-17; Job 42:2)
  • We know that He is good. (Psalm 107:1; Psalm 84:11; Psalm 34:8)
  • We know that He is with us. (Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 28:20)
  • We know that our government leaders were established by God. (Romans 13:1-7)
  • We know that nothing can separate us from Him. (Romans 8:38-39)
  • We know that even though we face hard days here, they are not worth comparing to the glory that is to come. (Romans 8:18-25)
  • We know that He is coming again. (Matthew 24:44; 1 Peter 4:7; Revelation 1:7; Philippians 2:9-11)

I pray that during this time when we can so clearly see the frailty of life that we will be reminded of our true source of hope and that we will run and fall fully into the arms of our Father, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

What is your hope placed in? A vaccine for a virus when tomorrow a new sickness could take over your body? Figuring out the right steps our government should take? A financially stable life that tomorrow could be whisked away due to other unforeseen circumstances? Or, is your hope rooted in Christ?

Do you know Him? Do you have that hope? If not, today is a good day to reach out and grasp it.

As reminded by my mom this morning, me figuring this out won’t solve all of our problems. I can watch all of the news I want, but the President won’t be calling me for advice. I can only control so much. So, why don’t we stop worrying about the things we can’t change and rest in the one that controls it all?

Brothers and sisters- lift up your voices and sing. Dance in the midst of the darkness. Rejoice- for our King is alive. Let the world see through us the God that we know, even in the midst of the unknown.

We still have a reason to sing 
The victory has already been secured 
We Walk in His defeat of death 
So let there be dancing in the night 
For Jesus Christ is King 

Post inspired by “Jesus is Alive,” by CityAlight

In the Midst of COVID-19

I sat on the floor beneath our apartment window, tears streamed down my face as the phone clicked off. I had been waiting for the coming weekend for 2 months to go home to see my family. Moving away was not something that was easy for me to do. Though only a few hours down the road, my family has a bond that I just can’t quite put into words and distancing myself from them was hard for me. However, I knew that Brannon and I were following where the Lord was leading. We have quickly fallen in love with Montgomery and have started to feel at home here.

Weeks ago we marked our calendar for this weekend- the weekend I would get to go home and see my nephew, who was just starting to scoot around on the floor, eat some of my mom’s cooking, and be under the same roof as my brother and sister again. They were going to meet our new dog for the first time and we were going to lay by the pool Saturday afternoon. When we made these plans, COVID-19 was not yet a household, everyday term.

I realize that many families live with many more miles in between them than mine do. I know that most don’t see each other but during the holidays. I’m aware that one day I might live even further, but for now I’m still adjusting to not being around the corner from them all.

In the midst of the chaos breaking out into our world, my family has discussed many times all that is going on and how we should be taking the virus seriously. We even talked a few days ago about if it were still safe for us to come visit, and at the time we saw that there was no problem. Today when my phone rang I knew that my mom might be calling to tell me differently. With my sister crying in the background we talked about how it might not be the best time right now. Though we’ve all been very careful and tried to practice social distancing as much as possible, the reports just keep getting worse- we didn’t want to put our own family at any greater risk. I knew it was the right thing to do, but it was not an easy decision to make.

I don’t believe that at any other time in my life have I lived where I see the world slowly crumbling around me. Even though my family has walked through difficult days when we lost my dad, and have had some trials since then, never have I looked around and thought to myself “Lord… things look so crazy right now. I’m truly afraid of the fate of our world.” From that place of fear of the unknown, anger that this virus is keeping me from the people I love most and how it is wrecking lives all around me in much greater ways, and sorrowful for all those that are walking through this difficulty in a variety of ways I have 2 things to share:

Psalm 77:11-12 says “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”

  1. Christians, we must not forget who our God is. Yes, things don’t seem very good around us right now. In the time that I have walked this earth I have been afraid of different things, but right now things seem to look worse than ever. Easily, if I allow myself to focus on the ways things look I will allow the problem define who my God is instead of allowing my God to define the problem.Yes, things are not good. Yes, we are in an unprecedented time of uncertainty. Our entire world is facing this trial. BUT, and I put so much emphasis on that but, our God is not any different than he was 3 months ago (Hebrews 13:8.) Coronavirus, though overwhelming to us, is no match to Him. He was not caught off guard, and He has not lost control.We live in a sinful and fallen world- COVID-19 is direct representation of that. As is all sickness and death that we face, they are the result of the world that we live in. They should be of no surprise to us. He tells us in John 16:33 that in this world we WILL have trouble, but to take heart because HE has OVERCOME the world.During these times we must REMEMBER who He is and what His Word says. We must not allow the state of our world, at any time, to allow us to forget His promises. So Christian- remember who your God is. Don’t hang your head in fear- hold it high in the strength of the Lord who is King of all, who even the winds and the waves obey. He has not forgotten us, may we not forget Him. What an incredible opportunity we have right now to show the world that the body of Christ is way more than just a church building.

 

  1. We must take this seriously.I’m not going to get into the details of what is going on with COVID-19, there are plenty of resources for that elsewhere. If you were to have asked me 2 weeks ago how bad I thought this would get I would’ve told you I thought people were overreacting and that this couldn’t be any worse than the common flu. Now, my thoughts are quite different.I am not the one laying in the hospital bed sick or hoping to get a test to know if I have even contracted the virus. I am not out of work (praise God!) and I have food in my pantry. But, I am being kept away from my family. We are choosing to follow the recommendations of those in charge and distance ourselves- even from each other. It Is not easy, but if it’s what we need to do in order to be able to see them for years to come, I think it’s worth it.I know how easy it is to feel invincible, to see the hurt others are experiencing and ache for them but never think that you could be the next victim. Even to this day, 17 years since my dad died, I sometimes cannot wrap my head around how my family was dealt this reality. My dad was a good man who loved the Lord, and my family was a close knit family. But, that did not make us immune to the reality of the world that we live in. It is a world stricken by sin and no person is exempt from that.It’s easy to feel sorry for those around you that are being affected by this, it will be a lot harder when it is your own family. If we don’t take this seriously, I’m afraid soon that will be the case.

 

A final thought: Christian- staying inside and heeding the advice of the professionals does not make you an untrusting Christian. It does not mean that you don’t have true hope in God. I happened upon this article the other day. Though it is directed to churches in general, I think it can go beyond that to the individual christian. I will not go into the detail that it discusses in full, but if you are struggling it is a good resource to look over.

Friends, please stay inside and take seriously what is going on in our world right now.

And believers, speak often of the hope you have in Christ in the midst of this storm- He still sits enthroned and we still have a reason to sing!

 

Steady

Before we dig in, let me begin by saying this- this blog does not come from a place of having conquered what I am about to discuss. Instead, it is written from the trenches. I am in the middle of the war zone standing on the battlefield currently having to fight against this struggle within my soul. The Lord is working on me, so I want to be sure you hear these words from that perspective.

Emotions are real. We face them daily. As I mentioned in my most previous blog, mine have been seemingly swinging from one end of the spectrum to the other with all of the impending changes happening in my life. If I allow them to, they will greatly affect my walk with the Lord.  If I rely only on how I am “feeling” at any given moment, I will begin to focus more on those fleeting affections instead of on the steady promises of our Lord. 

I’ve seen my emotions affect my quiet time in tremendous ways recently. I allow how I feel to dictate when and how much time I give to sitting with my Savior, instead of allowing the promises of God to override my human-nature tendencies, that are always changing. 

Here’s my challenge to you: stop allowing your emotions to determine your walk with the Lord and start meditating and walking in the promises of God so that they permeate and completely transform even the deepest emotions that arise inside of you.

The Lord made us to be emotional beings with souls that ache, yearn, love, and so on. Our emotions are a beautiful thing, but they are not our god. We must not allow them to separate us in our quiet time with the Lord, or determine for us how we walk with Him.

Here is what we do know:

  • The Lord is good. (Psalm 34:8)
  • The Lord is near. (Psalm 34:18)
  • The Lord is sovereign. (Colossians 1:17)
  • The Lord is victorious. (Psalm 46:10)

We have a sure hope in something so much steadier than what the world, and our circumstances, tells us to believe and feel for each day. We must stand strong in the promises of God and walk in them, even when our emotions are telling us that we don’t “feel” like it. He is our source of life, and our source of truth. We will easily give way and begin to believe the lies of the enemy, fed by the sinfulness of the world, and walk in them, if we do not guard ourselves against it. That means that even if we are not in the mood, we have every reason to be coming regularly before the Lord and digging into scripture. It is what helps us make sense of our emotions and guides us through the ups and downs of life. Learn what He says about who you are, His plans for you, His complete control over all happenings of our world, and how He will soon come back victoriously. Walk in full confidence of those truths.

From you sister struggling alongside you and fighting to know God more and make him known more, but who falls so desperately short so often- we must rely on something bigger than ourselves, and He is the answer. Fight for time with Him. Fight for knowing truth and walking in truth. Fight for eyes to see Him more clearly and and for understanding to know Him more deeply.

Love, Em

 

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Sure Strength

Wow! It’s been such a long time since my fingers have moved across these keys with the intention of writing. In the recent season of my life, I haven’t made much space for these words. I regret that as I feel most creative, free, and vulnerable while fleshing out my emotions, experiences, and lessons I am learning into something that can be read or listened to. A lot of times in the last couple of years I have lacked the words or the ability to piece together the thoughts in my head. This isn’t necessarily due to any “thing”- I think I’ve just been walking through life a lot, learning a lot, and processing a lot.

So, here’s a bit of an update on me: I’m engaged (Woo hoo!) I just became an aunt (Awww!) I’m about to graduate college (Yipee!) And I’m often times an emotional WRECK (what?!) Not where you saw that going, huh? Well, something that I have come to realize in the last couple weeks is that change is H A R D. Transition isn’t easy- even when it is packed full of good things!

I’m learning a cool characteristic about God in the mix of this messy life of mine- He cares deeply for me! There’s been several instances in the last few months where I have been so excited and anxious for the new to set in, yet find myself crying over the old that I will soon, in some ways, leave behind. In that place, I’ve felt guilty. It has kept me from being in the here and now of where the Lord has me. It has caused my focus to be shifted and my energy to be drained. I’m not sure that it’s due to the fact that I’m just a pretty emotional person in general, or the nature of the season I am walking through that has caused me to just be a little bit of a jumbled up mess!

Recently I have been beginning my quiet time by reading through a Psalm. I haven’t made it too far into the book and have already realized a trend throughout- the author of each Psalm is very real. Sometimes after reading a verse I think to myself, “now why would he say that?! Doesn’t he know who he is praying this to?” But that’s the thing! David KNEW who he was talking to! Many times he will begin a Psalm crying out over a certain issue or concern he has, and end it rejoicing over his renewed and restored vision of who God is and what He has promised. For me, there’s been a lot of comfort in the reminder that I can come to the Lord just as I am and He wants to listen, love, and care for me as my Abba Father and remind me who He is.

These transitions that are taking place in my life bring up a lot- thankfulness, worry, excitement, joy, and fear to name a few. I can come before my God with all of those things. There’s a lot of “stuff” changing in my life like moving to a new town, becoming a wife, being further away from family, and starting a full-time career. I’m so thankful for how the Lord is working and moving in my life in all of these different avenues, but more so than that, I am thankful for who HE is- that He is never changing! And I am thankful for the promises that this world is not my home. Although these things that we transition in and out of in our lives and the seasons that we transition through throughout our lives are very real to us, and very much supposed to be walked through for the glory of the Lord, they are only of this world. Our eternal hope is not in the success of all things in our lives- but in the finished work of Jesus Christ.

So, two things before I go:

  1. The Lord cares for you. All your mess. All your emotions. All your questions and fears. He cares. Come before Him and dig into the Scriptures to know how He can reassure you in His love, and comfort you in His promises. He is our Father, and we are His children! Praise God for that!
  2. Look to what is yet to come. Yes, these things that we face in life are important and we should not neglect to live for the Lord in all things He gives us. But, we must not forget where we are headed. We must not forget our eternal purpose, and our eternal home. What would change if we practiced living this life- and all it’s crazy seasons that it brings- through the lens of the impending return of our Father and our eternity with Him? That is our hope. That is our confidence. That is our sure strength in and out of every season.

 

It’s good to be back.

Love, Em

 

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Within These Walls

A few weeks before I moved away from home for the very first time I sat on my bed staring at the walls of my bedroom. If they could talk, they would have had a thousand stories to tell. They witnessed my childhood blooming, the heartaches of pre-teen life, and the excitement of my high school years. They knew me, in a sense, better than anyone knew me. They had a front row seat to the many emotions I had expressed within them and they had been a part of every new and old season of my life. Leaving the comfort of living within those walls was challenging and emotional, as I felt myself stepping out of a comfort zone that had been established from the beginning.

From those walls I moved to live within the walls of Trojan Village dorm rooms. For the next three years I would see 3 different sets of walls, but all resembling the others. Tonight I sit on my bed in the third of my Trojan Village rooms, reminiscing on the last three years of my journey of life and anticipating the next change of scenery that is coming. Though I am not quite at the end of my journey in Troy only one semester stands between me and graduation. Next semester I’ll be living off campus with my brother for my very last semester of Troy and his very first! I’m not quite sure how these years went by so quickly.

I’ve spent Freshmen, Sophomore, and Junior years within the walls of Trojan Village. Though small, it’s served as my space and my comfort where I could close off the world and just be alone with me. For other introverts reading along, you know how sacred that space can be! Within these walls I have faced immense growth that I was pridefully unaware that I was even in need of.

Freshman year brought tears and trials of a new beginning. I would sit behind my closed door too afraid of what was to come when I walked out of it. Who would I meet? Where would I go? How would I make it in the world? The walls of my freshmen year dorm faced with me the questioning and the struggling of figuring out my new life in Troy. As the year paced on, with it came new and unexpected friendships, a local church body, and many sweet memories that I’ll cherish for a lifetime.

Sophomore year was a year of becoming established. I finally felt more comfortable even outside the walls of my dorm room. I knew this place, I knew my people, and I knew my time here was good. There was less fear, less worry, and less tears. However, no year came without it’s portion of hardship. Within the walls of my sophomore year dorm I battled pride and bitterness. I sat before scripture and in prayer and the Lord revealed to me more about myself and my faith than ever before- and He also revealed to me more of Himself. Friendships wavered, and some stood strong. Those walls saw sadness, they saw joy, they saw struggle, and they saw victory.

Junior year, the year I’m finishing up now, has been one that I can’t quite define just yet. There’s a big shift that happens between sophomore and junior year I feel like, where the end is more in site but still not quite there for you to grasp. This year my door has seemed to stand open more than it has in the past. Though I love my space, something in me began to open up to allow room for others to come in. I knew I needed that time to myself and Jesus, but I also saw clearly my need for others as well. It’s been a year of questioning, change, and anticipation. Troy now feels like home, but only a home away from the home that will always be “home.” This year has seen the excitement of engagement, new friends, and new desires for what’s to come after college. Within the walls of this year, there has been deep sorrow over sin that takes hold, refreshing and renewed vision of the grace of Jesus, and humble bowing before the King of Kings that I need daily.

From one room to the next, as I look back over my time within these spaces I cannot help but think of the faithfulness of my God. Though many times I was unaware when it was present, He was working all things together for good- and He still is! It’s wild to me to think that this season of my journey will soon come to an end and the next one will begin. My time in Troy has not come without it’s regrets. There are things I see now that I didn’t see at the time, friendships I wish I would have mended sooner, and things I wish I would have had more boldness to step out in. However, it has been filled in even greater ways with sweet things- friends that will be by me for the long haul, lessons that have completely changed who I am and how I live, countless laughs and late nights, and many many other good gifts from the Lord.

I’m not sure who is reading this or what season that you are currently facing, whether its the beginning, middle, or end of it, but I want to speak one thing over your life:

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Philippians 1:6

I am speaking it over my life, as well. There were times my freshmen I wasn’t sure I’d make it through this journey of college. My heart ached for certain things to be restored or made whole. I thought I would never find a church home. I was confident the man I would marry would not be in Troy. While some of those aches and questions did eventually find answers over my years here, others still haven’t. But the truth of this verse puts all things at rest- whatever He begins, He finishes! Though it might not seem that way in the midst, from afar all things are being woven intricately and sovereignly together not only in a good way, but in the BEST way. Think back over the span of your life and I am sure you will see Him there, working and weaving.

The Lord cares for His children. He loves us. He has not left us. I am thankful for how He has shown me more of Himself within the walls of my dorm rooms, but also as I ventured out into this world each day.

Here’s to one last season in this town. Though I’m not sure where the next stop along this journey will be just quite yet, (though I do know part of it will be marrying my best friend wahoo!!!) I look forward to how I will know God more in that place and the opportunities He will bring for me to make Him known, as He has done day in and day out in Troy.

I am thankful that within these walls of the last three years of my life He gracefully met me, loved me, guided me, and called me closer and closer into His arms. He is good, and He is worthy of our lives and our praise.

Love, Em

Intertwined Faithfully

December 7, 2019. This date has been on my heart for the past three years. Some would look at me and laugh when I told them why, others would tell me I was crazy. Some, however, would crack a smile and nod and understand why it meant so much to me.

On December 7, 1991 there was a wedding. A young girl powdered her face with makeup, and a young man tied his tie with butterflies in his stomach. Two families hurried around to pull together the final details. Flowers hung on the pews, the guests began to arrive, and soon the two would become one. These two people would be married, walk together, and have a family. They would serve the Lord and stand by each other’s side in sickness and in health. This day is one I cherish, because that beautiful bride was my mother and that handsome groom was my dad.

Every year when this day on the calendar comes around I can see the glimmer in my mom’s eye of a tear as she thinks about her groom, longing for the years together that they did not get to share. Though she walks with a soul at peace in the Lord’s perfect plan, her heart yearns for the one she loves. Every year on this day I wonder what would have been different about my life had both my parents been present. Though I grew up knowing the love my parents shared for each other, I only got to see that lived out for a short period. How I wish there would have been more! I craved the type of love that my parents had for one another. The kind that gripped each other’s hands and walked head on into a storm that would not soon end, all the way until my dad was called home. They loved each other as Christ calls one to love their spouse, and until death did them part they walked faithfully.

As most girls do, I’ve dreamt for years about my wedding day and about the one whom I would marry. For the past three years, before Brannon came into my life, I had this idea that if I were to get married on the same day that my parents promised themselves to each other, in some way, I would always share in the same love that my parents had for one another. I could honor the marriage that they had, and give thanks for how the Lord orchestrated their marriage so that the day I marry would one day follow. When Brannon came into my life, and I realized how badly I wanted him to be a part of my forever, I started to dream of this becoming a possibility, but never truly believing it might become reality. Brannon knew how special this day was to me, for more reasons than just the date itself. He grasped what it stood for, and how greatly my heart desired for my parents love and marriage to live on, be celebrated, and remembered as I made that vow in my own life. To not have someone presently with you has translated into my life as always trying to grasp onto something to make them seem as if they’re still in your midst. This was one of those things that I so badly wanted to grasp onto.

January 5, 2019. My family went to take pictures overlooking a beautiful mountain scene. I was truly oblivious to how my life would soon change in the next few minutes. As Brannon and I posed in front of the camera, I could hear his heart beat speed up. An anxious thought ran across my brain wondering, hoping. Soon enough, he turned and took my hands and knelt down on one knee. He began to speak sweet words to me about our relationship, and our future. He began to talk about my parents, my dad specifically, and how he knew that I wished so badly that he could be here for this day and season of our lives. Tears fell from my face as he explained to me that the ring he would soon put on my finger was more special than just a regular diamond ring from any jewelry store. The diamond that would sit at the center of my ring is not a diamond that Brannon picked out, but that my dad picked out almost 29 years ago to place on my mom’s left hand. Brannon had found the perfect setting for the diamond to sit in, and with the blessing of my mom, placed the diamond worn on her finger for many years onto mine. My soul within could not quite process the depth of the words that were coming from his mouth. And even now, a month later, how special these words are to me sinks in all over again.

All that I ever wanted in December 7th now sits on my left hand. My parent’s marriage always remembered, their love celebrated, and a piece of both my mom and my dad that I get to keep with me every day that I live. I’m reminded of the sovereignty and of the goodness of the Lord. He knew all those years ago that when my dad walked out of the jewelry store that the ring he picked out would not only last through his marriage, but carry on into my own. Every day when I look down at the shiny diamond on my left hand I can’t help but stand in awe of the faithfulness of God. He was faithful to my dad, to lead him and guide him and save his soul. He was faithful to my mom to love her and call her to himself. He was faithful to lead them to each other, bind them in marriage, and walk with them through the good and bad seasons. He has been faithful to carry my family through the dark days of losing my dad, and renewing our joy within as we saw His hand at work in our lives. He has been faithful to Brannon. To mold him, make him, and call him his own. And in a beautiful intertwining of stories, He was faithful to allow mine and Brannon’s paths to cross.

Though we won’t be getting married on December 7th of this year, I’m excited to begin our story on December 28th, 2019. And with this ring tightly held on my left hand, it will seem as if my dad is a little nearer as I walk down the aisle to the love of my life.

 

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Do Enough; Be Enough

Tonight I have some homework that really needs to be finished. My laundry hamper is overflowing with dirty clothes that I am not really sure when I will get the chance to wash if I don’t handle it today. I have some unopened text messages that really need a response before tomorrow morning, and my to-do list is not all checked off. Instead, however, of completing all of those tasks, my fingers are racing across these keys.

Let me give you a bit of a backstory that might give you more clarity of what is going on…

For the majority of my life I have raced to work my way to completion. You see, I have battled countless days with the thoughts that if I did not do enough, complete enough, or be enough I had, in a sense, failed at that day. I wasn’t enough. I didn’t do good enough.

Day in and day out for the past however so many years of my life I have lived under this weight of working for _______ fill in the blank. And I have fallen into the trap of believing the lies that if I did not work hard enough, if I slid, if I gave in, if I didn’t do enough then I wasn’t enough.

I’ve walked in the weight of those lies for far too long. The idea of “works based grace” has not become so foreign to my way of thinking.

As I look and see the seasons of my life beginning to change, the leaves are turning colors, and soon all will look different. When I look ahead to those coming days, that weight that I am not enough if I do not do enough does not just creep into view it invades my soul. And I am heavy and I am tired of walking under that weight that I must BE enough, in order to be enough.

I must say this loud and clear. I must get this point across:

I serve a God that is faithful.

And I serve a God that is, by all definitions of the word, enough.

In light of that truth, there is freedom. Freedom that allows me to throw off the weights of working to reach a standard that I do not have the power to reach.

I am not enough. It’s true. And I don’t have to be. Because HE is enough.

He worked hard enough to be enough to cover all of my sins, all of my insecurities, and all of my struggles against the lies battling to win over my soul- so that I, too, could be enough.

In him, I am, by all definitions of the word, enough.

I am not encouraging a spirit of laziness, or pointing towards a life of apathetic living. I am, however, screaming at the top of my lungs, that I do not have to do enough to be enough, and praise God! that neither do you!

So, tonight, my homework will get done, but maybe not till later! I will find the time to do the laundry, or either just wear something else! My to-do list will eventually get checked off. But, the great things is, I can accomplish those things with a spirit of joy and thankfulness. I can look forward to the season of change that I am facing with excitement with full confidence in His guidance, in His wisdom, and in His grace- because it is enough.

Doing enough, does not make me enough.

Enough was already done on the cross, and now I stand covered by the love and the righteousness of the only one who is… enough.

Praise God! Bless his holy name!

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Kenya Series: Long Awaited Visit

A long time has passed, it seems, since I’ve sat behind these keys and typed out the memories I have from Kenya and how the Lord worked, and is continuing to work, in my life. It’s almost bittersweet for time to continue passing by, knowing that that season of my life just continues to grow further and further from me. I wish I could bottle up every single moment I spent in Africa and keep them close forever. There are so many things I still feel that I’ve yet to process fully and fear that I might not have the time to fully sit in the weight of each truth the Lord revealed to me before I begin to forget those times. I’m thankful, however, that somebody suggested I keep a daily journal throughout my time there. Often I find myself flipping through the pages, closing my eyes and imaging that my reality is still what is actually now a distant memory.

There was one day of my trip that I’m not sure I will fully wrap my heart around for quite some time. There was so much that led up to the day, so much that went on in my head the day of, and so much I continue to dwell on now that is has passed. Many of you knew my story, or have heard in the process of my going, why Kenya was special place to me. There was a school in the town of Njoro that a piece of me always felt a part of and longed to see. Through the faithful and gracious obedience of my grandparents to help a group of people put up the walls and fill the classrooms, a school was formed and built in my dad’s memory. Though my dad never knew these people personally, a piece of him and his legacy, I always felt, was left across the world from me. Since the beginning of the project I desired for the opportunity to step foot in its classrooms and hallways for myself. This is the story of the day that desire came to fruition:

The night before the scheduled day to visit the school we climbed into our matatu and headed out to Nakuru, Kenya. This part of our journey was towards the end of our four weeks in Kenya and the anticipation that had built up inside of me was so real. I journaled as we rode, trying to make sense of all of the emotions. I couldn’t quite fathom that this was real life.

“Tomorrow’s the day I’ve prayed over and dreamt about. I’m not entirely sure how my emotions will be, but I feel them welling up inside of me. I wish I could remember the lessons being taught to me by my dad that I now know and walk in. I wish I could feel his embrace and call him to hear his voice. I wish I could picture the day I get married with great anticipation of being walked down the aisle by him, without having to figure out how I will choose to honor his memory and fill the void.

But yet, here I am. Sitting in a van in Kenya, Africa traveling to the city where a school sits that has a sign that reads “This building in memory of Eric Tew.”

–  Journal Entry

We arrived at the home of the Bulimu family. These people were precious in every way. They were full of life that flowed out of everything they did, and it was evident it was the joy of the Lord that was running over in their souls. We shared a meal and many laughs before I took time to share my story with the group. I wanted each person present to understand why this day meant so much to me so that they, too, may taste and see of a glimpse of the glory of the Lord at work. I was so thankful to be surrounded by the people in that room, as I knew each heart was first steadfast after the Lord and second steadfast in loving and caring for me in that day.

“When I think back on my life it’s easy to picture daddy fitting into each piece. He could’ve been there to teach Ben to drive a tractor and handle our yard. He could’ve picked me up from dance and slept through recitals like Uncle Myron. He would’ve been the one that Aaron took out to eat when he asked for Beth’s hand in marriage. But in that place, instead, I look and see the hand of God woven intricately into each detail of my family’s life.

– Journal Entry

After sharing my heart and shedding a few tears, I learned that the family that had taken us in for those few days had recently lost their husband and father to cancer. I couldn’t quite wrap my mind around the kindness of the Lord in that moment to realize that he had taken two families, two stories, and two different faithful men living across the world from each other and intertwined their stories in such a beautiful way that spoke of His glory. Seeing this family, their joy and faithfulness to the Lord, encouraged my hurting heart in such huge ways. Ms. Bulimu placed her hand over mine and smiled. Her smile was full of peace in her Abba Father as she whispered into my ear, “it’s okay to be emotional, those are real emotions, don’t hide them. We’re here with you. He is here with you.” How beautiful are the plans of our Lord?

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I woke on the day of and butterflies filled my stomach. I didn’t want to have expectations for what was to come. After anticipating it for so long, it scared me to possibly be let down if it didn’t “live up” in some way to the ideas I had for it in my head. Oh, but how it exceeded all of those and more. We pulled into the school yard early that afternoon and before me were the buildings, the people, the students- all that I had only seen in pictures all laid out in front of me. A sense of calming peace rushed through my soul.

I was greeted by Isaac, the pastor who partnered with my grandparents those many years ago. It was his vision to build this school and he has been faithful to see it through over the years. The last time we had greeted each other would have been on American soil. Never in those moments did it cross either of our minds, I’m sure, that the next time we would embrace would be standing under the sky of an African day. My heart was so full of joy.

Isaac and other members of the school board showed us around the school grounds, from each office and every classroom. I walked slowly, trying to take it all in and not miss any detail. Thoughts of every kind rushed through my mind. One that I still haven’t been able to shake was the thought that real lives, real teachers, real students, with real families and real struggles- these were the souls that sat in these seats each day. This was their reality. This was their home, maybe all they ever knew. I rounded the corner of the new building and before me was the plaque I had long-awaited to see. Alas I read,

“This Wing of A.I.C Secondary School was built in honor of the late Eric Tew.

Son of David and MaryAnn Tew.

Husband to Andrea.

Father to Beth, Emily, and Ben.

Born: 1961

Died: 2003″

Instantly the lives of these Kenyans and my own collided. Those names on that plaque: real names, real people, real lives.

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“What if it took cancer coursing through my dad’s veins for a nurse to see a heart devoted to prayer, which led her to her own knees? What if it took a turn for the worst and a bad report for my dad’s friends to learn to cling to the Lord again? What if it took my dad’s dying breath to drive me to my knees in desperation so that I could find Christ as my Savior?”

-Journey Entry

Staring at the stone of the building, forever marked by my family’s names, sadness took hold of my heart. These were the emotions Ms. Bulimu told me not to push down. They were real, because sin is real and therefore death is real. “Is this all his life amounted to?” That’s the question that stung to the core. And for a moment I sat in that place. He lived, he died, and this is what is left. But the joy of the Lord came rushing in- yes, THIS is what is left! Yes- your life now redeemed by Christ THAT is what is left. My family, which now rejoices in hope and knows it so personally- THAT is what is left. And these children that live across the ocean from me and every day get to come to school and receive education, care, and love- THAT is what is left. What a purposeful life my dad lived, and died, if the Lord has used even his legacy to call the lost to his name and to provide for those without.

“What if it took the courage of my mom standing in front of the casket of her husband, singing, “It is well with my soul,” to inspire hope in a coworker’s heart that was facing dark days? What if it took the suffering of a family to bind them together in love and unity? What if it took the long days and hard nights for a single mother to learn true dependence on a Heavenly Father? What if it took the tears of a church family for them to understand God’s design for their local body? What if it took the life of three kids, growing without a father, for them to know intimately their heavenly Father?”

-Journal Entry

We walked into the newest building, their gathering place. I was told they had an assembly planned for our visit and was so anxious to put faces to the children I had imagined sitting in those desks. I was on top of the world walking into that room full of smiling children, who more than likely had no clue the weight of that day on my life. They never knew my dad and possibly had only ever heard brief stories of his life or why his picture was on the side of their building, but boy did I see him in each of their faces. They had prepared several presentations for us. Each of them were so talented as they recited poems and sang songs for our enjoyment. IMG_2771.JPGOne student stood to recite her poem and prefaced her performance by saying that the poem had been written about her own life. I leaned in a little closer to make sure I did not miss one detail. The poem told the story of an orphan girl, without both her father and mother, left alone in the world. Through the school, teachers, and community of AIC Secondary School her life had gained new meaning. She no longer felt held back or left alone due to being raised an orphan. Instead, she felt empowered, able, and loved. My soul shook within me. This young girl’s life had been forever changed because of the opportunities and the people placed into her life just due to the fact that this school existed. It’s easy to say that I would do anything to have my dad back with me present in this life, but when I looked into this girl’s face and saw the hope that existed, the joy that was present, and the life that was beaming within her my heart knew that,  though I lacked my dad physically in this life, the Lord had been sovereign and faithful over the death of His saint- even as far to this child’s life.

“What if it took the legacy of a man gone too soon to reach farther than his feet could have ever tread for the sake of the Gospel? And what if it took his memory to create a vision to build a school so that a child in the heart of Africa could earn an education?

“When peace like a river attended my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll. Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say: it is well, it is well with my soul.”

I sing this song in full confidence of a sovereign God that has promised and proven to work all things together for good. I trust that the life and death of my dad was of no exception.”

-Journal Entry

I wanted to stay for days and get to know each soul that sat before me in that room. I wanted to hug each person’s neck and know their names, their hearts, their goals and dreams. Before the assembly was concluded I was able to take a few minutes to share my heart with them and hopefully, the heart of my dad, as well. I had prayed through what the Lord would have me say so that they might get a closer glimpse of Himself through my family’s story. Throughout my entire life I have played the words of 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 over and over in my head. These are the words that are engraved at the foot of my dad’s grave. They were the guiding force of his life and the truth that he believed in. I knew that if there was anything I could share with these students, it had to be those words.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

Rejoice Always

… on good days when the sun shines bright

… on bad days when you’d rather stay inside

… when it all makes sense and you see the hand of God at work

… and when it all seems senseless and you have to ask God for eyes to see.

Pray Continuously

… when all seems well and praises flow out freely

… when your days are shattering- for He is with you in those moments, too

… for those you know and love, that they might know the hope of a savior

… and also for yourself, that you know him more and walk blameless in his sight.

Give Thanks in All Circumstances 

… because God is good and He is working all things together with purpose

… because God is true and He has promised his presence and will never walk out

… because God is faithful and in the midst of it all, He is chasing after your heart all the more

… and because God is love and when all in this world falls away- He remains.

For This is the Will of God for You in Christ Jesus. 

Now whether or not they understood my words or heard me clearly, I do not know. I believe that in that moment where my heart’s desire was to encourage them, instead, a IMG_2056piece of my own heart found rest and encouragement. Over the entirety of that day I saw firsthand the faithfulness of the Lord, the hope that He brings about, and the joy that exists only through knowing Him in an area of life where it would be very easy to never know those things.

“So, I joyfully ride through the countryside of Africa to step onto a school property that my God worked in a man’s life that would be born, raised, walk diligently with the Lord, marry, farm the land, raise a family, and go soon to sit at his father’s feet. If it took cancer, if it took tears, if it took desperation of one man and one family for many to be blessed- what glory to our God. Amen. “

-Journal Entry.

I read a quote yesterday that said something along the lines of “maybe you were given the mountains to show others around you that they can be moved.” It’s easy to drift to a place of bitterness and questioning when I think about the reality of my life. How could this be the case for MY family, MY life? The faithfulness of the Lord has continually been etching on my heart throughout each day I have been given a renewed perspective that views all that my family has faced through the lenses of eternity. The sovereignty of God is not absent in our sufferings and in our tears, instead, it is at work for our good and for His glory.

In our college service at church a few weeks ago we looked at the mirroring truths in the following two verses:

Isaiah 53:4

“… Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”

Matthew 8:17

“… He took our illness and bore all our disease.” 

When Isaiah wrote the words “griefs and sorrows” he was referring to our sins. Matthew, many years later, interpreted those words into our “illnesses and diseases.” This is not a discrepancy in translation of what Isaiah originally meant for those words to mean. The effects of our sin IS death (Romans 6:23). The presence of sickness and suffering in our world is due to the absence of perfection in the world that we live in. In Romans 8 we read that the entire earth, creation and mankind, alike, are groaning together in pains of childbirth waiting for the complete restoration from our bondage to corruption. Jesus DID bear all effects of sin on the cross, but we don’t get to enjoy all of those quite yet on this earth. The purpose of our sickness and suffering is to show the bigger picture. It is only a parable for the worst problem that exists: sin. Jesus came to be our healer and our redeemer. The suffering that we face physically on this earth should be used to point us to our greater need of healing, healing from our sin, which is provided through the blood of Christ.

As believers we are not exempt from suffering. My family was not exempt from suffering just because we proclaimed Christ as Lord. Cancer coursed through my dad’s bones because sin exists in this world and therefore our health is compromised. But one day all will be restored. Our health, our brokenness, and our scars will come face to face with the supreme healer- Jesus Christ- who not only has the power to heal us physically if He chooses, but more importantly, can heal us spiritually for eternity. That’s the healing we need most.

So when I think about the reality of my dad’s life and the trials and sufferings that my family has faced since then I am led to the foot of the cross where I am able to see the bigger picture- the picture where the Lord is sovereign over even death as near as in my own heart and as far as to the other side of the world in the lives of 150 high school students.

Romans 8: 18-25

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

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