Tag Archives: faith

He’s in the waiting…

Recently I realized I had been living with a false assumption. Well, more accurately, God revealed to me during my time with Him just how mistaken I had been. You see, I have always had a very clear understanding that God goes before to prepare and I have always believed that God comes behind to protect, but I was neglecting to recognize perhaps the most important aspect of relating with and walking with God. He’s also in the waiting.

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In the midst of changing careers and with the future looking so uncertain, I have chosen to believe God has a plan and is preparing the way. I have always cognitively believed that to be true. It is not hard to acknowledge that an all-knowing God knows and understands more than my limited brain can. It is harder to choose into trusting God’s goodness and sovereignty in carrying out that plan. However, in the midst of this transition, I have found trusting God wholeheartedly with my future to be easier than in the past.

Similarly, I have always known and understood God comes behind me, that He “has my back”. God protects and provides and He responds to my steps of faith in Him by doing those things in ways that are often beyond what I could ever have expected or anticipated. This too was not a new concept to a lifelong Christian. A good father is protective. A good father provides. And God is a very good father, so naturally He comes behind and ensures my safety as I take courageous steps of obedience.

Here’s where the revelation came…God is not just ahead, He’s not just behind, He is also walking with me. He doesn’t just prepare the way. He doesn’t just protect after the step has been taken. He is with and alongside in the waiting. Kristene DiMarco of Bethel Music has a new song called “Take Courage”. The song hasn’t even been officially released yet (thankfully you can find a live recording on YouTube – don’t worry, I provided the link below). The lyrics to the chorus read, “Take courage my heart, stay steadfast my soul, He’s in the waiting.”

I was introduced to the song during “Unite Midwest”, an evening of prayer and worship led by teams from Bethel, including Kristene. Frankly, it had been a very long day at the end of a very long week. I didn’t even want to go to the event. I wanted to just stay at home and order pizza. But I made a promise to a kindergarten age friend that I would attend the concert and sit by her, and you do NOT break promises to six year olds! So I headed to the venue, weary and worn out.  All around me, people engaged in genuine and heartfelt worship. And though I sang along, my heart and head were elsewhere. Until Kristene began to sing, “Take Courage.” At that point, my knees hit the ground and tears began to fall.

A deeper understanding of how God relates with me, with all of us, was forming in my heart. Later a friend asked why I became so emotional during that particular song. I couldn’t articulate why at the time. And that shows another wonderful truth about our God – He’s SO patient with us! Because change takes time. Growth doesn’t happen in an instance. Instead, it happens slowly overtime, requiring patience and careful observation. You must have eyes to see it and ears to hear it and a heart open to change.  And so let me invite you into one of my quiet times.

I honestly don’t really like to call it a “quiet time” – it sounds so boring, like a child in timeout. And so often my “quiet time” is anything but quiet. It is simply time I set aside to spend with God. I sometimes end my “quiet time” worshiping. (It is a good thing I live alone because anyone listening would long for this time to truly be quiet – make a joyful noise, not a pretty one right!?) As I lifted my hands towards heaven, I heard God clearly, and might I add both tenderly yet firmly, say, “I’m RIGHT here. I’m right here.” And my hands dropped. And I could feel him sitting WITH me. And THAT is why I had hit my knees. THAT is why tears began to fall. Because my God is a God that walks WITH me.

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Yes, God is far above. Yes, God goes before. Yes God comes behind. Yes, God is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. Yes. But…

He is also EVERYTHING in between. He is WITH. He is ALONGSIDE. He is RIGHT HERE. He is in the decision. He is in the arriving. But He’s also in the waiting…

Today I walked away…

There are defining moments in everyone’s life – decisions that determine the very course of your life. Several months ago, I made one of these life defining decisions, and today I took the first step down the path determined by this decision.

Today I walked away from one career to start another. After 9 years, I officially left full time practice as a counselor at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, an organization I respect, that trained me, and took me from a scared, insecure graduate student to a (mostly) confident and competent professional. Today I left coworkers I love, admire, and consider family. In so many ways it could be a sad day. And honestly, in some ways, it is. But the sadness is tempered by two things.

1. Pine Rest is going to let me stick around a few hours a week to keep my clinical skills sharp and to make sure my coworkers don’t miss me too much. So it’s not really “good bye” or even “see you later” as much as “see you less”.

2. I’m leaving a career, but I’m moving towards a calling.

I’m following a calling to teach and so Monday I start what I hope to be a long career in academia. And it starts as a visiting lecturer at Central College. And you see, a “visiting lecturer” is just that – “visiting”. It means I have a full time job for exactly one year. So today I walked away from the security and predictability I’ve enjoyed for the entirety of my adult career. Today I walked away from the known and into the unknown, from the certain to the in between.

But…

Today I walked away from doubt and towards belief that God is good.

Today I walked away from fear and towards faith.

Today I walked away from holy discontent towards peace that surpasses understanding.

Today I walked away from defiantly being in charge towards relinquishing control to the Lord.

Today I walked away from the comfortable and towards the courageous.

Today I walked away from settling towards living in God’s sweet spot He’s called me to.

Today I walked away from the good, in fact the very good, in order to walk towards God’s promise of great.

If you’ve been following my most recent blogs, you’ve been on a journey of learning about Jesus as our Good Shepherd, a trustworthy shepherd that protects, provides, knows us intimately, and loves us deeply. His voice is calm and steady. His guidance is certain and secure. He has my best interest always in mind. And he promises following him leads to a rich and satisfying life. So yes, today I walked away from a lot, but I also walked towards my Shepherd’s voice…

Is Jesus asking you to walk away from something and towards His voice? What’s holding you back? What is keeping you from following the Shepherd’s voice? Maybe today is the day to walk away from all that keeps you from walking towards Jesus.

And of course…Go Dutch!! 😉

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Mat Kearney 2.0: Experience Changes Everything

I was blessed to see Mat Kearney in concert for the second time last night. The mark of any good concert is incredible music (check), feeling connected to the artist (check), and of course those who experience it with you (check). Mat Kearney’s music has been the soundtrack to some of the most important times of my life. (If you haven’t checked out his music – you need to! I’ve included links to a couple of my faves.) This week I am leaving the bleachers to experience the goodness of God and movement of the Holy Spirit in a whole new way. I’ll write about it later, but for now I simply covet your prayers. I’d love to hear your stories about “getting off the bleachers” and experiencing God moving in your life or the lives of others so feel free to leave me stories! Hope you enjoy what I learned from my first Mat Kearney concert!

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I’ve been to more concerts than I can count. I love the experience of live music and spent much of my youth chasing my favorite bands around the country. When I first started attending concerts, location was everything. I’d fight and claw and scratch my way towards the front. I’d stand my ground against the jostling and positioning of others. I’d jump and sway with abandon, not caring about what others thought. This changed as I got older. With each passing year, I slowly moved farther back and I progressively became more passive during each show.

Recently, I attended a concert of one of my favorite artists held on a college campus. As I walked into the gymnasium with the student who had graciously secured the treasured ticket, I headed towards the bleachers in the back, as I had become accustomed to doing. I heard her say, “No, Karen, this way” pointing toward the mob standing before the stage. Suddenly the changes I had made in my approach to concerts became apparent! I found myself surrounded by excited college students, and I was suddenly quite aware that I was not one! Insecurities initially overwhelmed me – I’m too old, I don’t belong. However, excitement for the experience soon took over and I found myself no longer annoyed by the student repeatedly bumping into me as he jumped, or put off by the smell of sweat salient in the air.

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And then something truly special happened. The artist jumped down into the crowd, breaking the barrier between performer and audience. And I was a part of it all. He realized he’d spent too much time among his adoring fans, and looked right at me as he proclaimed “I’ve got to get back to the stage!” Then he ran past me, actually knocking into my shoulder, as he scrambled back to the stage. At that moment I realized that I would have significantly missed out had I been sitting in the bleachers. I would have observed, but I would not have experienced.

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The Bible says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” After my concert revelation, I have to ask myself, “How often do I observe God instead of experiencing His goodness?” How often do I choose to sit on the bleachers in the back instead of standing in the crowd in front?  How often do I convince myself that sitting in the back is really no different than standing in the front when really I’ve missed out on something special and unique and maybe even life changing? The truth is that it is easier to sit in the bleachers. The bleachers are comfortable. It is work to stand in the front. It’s hot, smelly, crowded, and exhausting. But it’s in the front where the possibility of experiencing and even participating in the action takes place.

God seems to be inviting us to come to the front, to fight the crowds, to withstand the discomfort for a taste of what He has to offer. Is it possible that He is even inviting us to participate? What if He jumps into the crowd? Do you want to be in the bleachers or in the crowd with a chance of reaching out and touching Him and perhaps even receiving something from Him or being invited to join Him?

Now perhaps I’ve pushed the metaphor too far, as we are all called to join Jesus in bringing God’s kingdom to earth and because the Holy Spirit lives in the heart of every believer, we can fulfill this calling. And obviously Jesus isn’t a performer on a stage. But stay with me here, at one point He spoke to the masses – some clamored to be near him, some risked everything to touch him, some watched from a distance with skepticism, and some simply walked away. What about Zacchaeus who climbed a tree to get a glimpse of Jesus? Jesus ate at his house that day! What about the bleeding woman who dared to touch His cloak? She was healed after 12 years of suffering! What about the men whose love for their friend was so great that they destroyed a roof in order to lower him down to Jesus. Their friend was healed in more ways than one! Those who dared to get the closest to Him, experienced Him, and were never the same again. Those people ended up changing the world. Those who kept their distance have long been forgotten and are but an anonymous footnote in the annals of history.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided it is time that I stop sitting on the bleachers just observing. True change happens through experience. Learning about the artist and knowing the lyrics to the songs is great, but can never replace the impact and transformation potential of the experience. In order to truly believe that I am God’s beloved child and to truly comprehend His great love for me, I need to experience Him, not just learn about Him. It’s time I head to the front to fully experience His presence, and to “taste and see”. I hope you join me.

Like I said, I’d love to hear ways you are avoiding the bleachers, fighting the crowds, and experiencing Jesus from the front row. How do you see God moving in the world around you and how has he called you to join him? And finally, thanks Mat – not just for entertaining, but for offering an experience of heartfelt and meaningful music!