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Trust, horses and us. 

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.” 

Proverbs 3:5-6 

For years, this verse graced the bottom of every birthday, Christmas card and letter my mom sent me.  I would read it nonchalantly and move on.  Rarely, did I sit and meditate on its deep meaning or why it was such a special verse to her.  It was her life verse. Throughout her life she experienced trial, trauma and suffering. Jesus rescued her through those things, holding her heart in His hands and bringing her to trust Him. She came to know first hand what it was like to stare down the path of the great unknown and traverse it holding the hand of her Savior. Not perfectly, she was human and had human concerns, but she took hold, held tight, and walked on. 

Trust. I’ve wrestled with it.  I’m sure you’ve wrestled with it at times too. Especially if you have had trust betrayed or had difficult experiences with those you’ve given trust to. 

 We recently got a new horse at the farm. It takes time for a new horse to settle in, and the more I observed this newer horse, the more I realized she had some ‘trust issues’. First, she didn't know me. It's hard to trust someone you don't really know- right? "Trust issues" are what horse people call it when a horse doesn’t warm up to you and trust that what you are asking them to do has their best interest at heart. (Can you see the spiritual parallel coming?) 

This can stem from a lot of different circumstances. Sometimes, if a horse is the only horse on a property and the owner doesn’t spend much time together, the horse becomes hardened and self-sufficient. Horses are herd animals. Most of them need other horses to feel safe and relaxed. The alpha, or boss horse, protects and directs the herd. Horses often will be ok alone, as long as they have a person who is actively their ‘herd’. Another reason for trust issues is perhaps there has been some mistreatment, or even abuse in the past. Once you’ve been hurt wrongfully it’s hard not to duck when something is coming to bop you in the head.  Good to say, this horse is warming up beautifully and learning that we love her and are trustworthy. Though, this isn't always the case with every horse.

We aren’t much different. When people hurt us, it’s difficult, if not impossible to trust again. 

I have struggled terribly to be able to trust men in my life. Abuse, abandonment, adultery and divorce have crippled my ability to trust immediately, I walk with a gimp in this area. Especially if I’m not leaning fully into the One I can trust, God. 

This trust issue often we wrongfully transfer to God. We place on Him the characteristics of those who have hurt us, betrayed us, and have broken our trust. We buy the lie that He is just like everyone else.  But He’s not.  

If we dive into His word, we see that He not only is Trust worthy and faithful, He’s the God of second and eighteenth chances! Check out the story of His people the Israelites! Whoa! If we aren’t a carbon copy of them most days! Yet He loves, showers mercy, and still longs to teach them and bring them back to Himself. Not for His best and good… but for theirs… and ours.  

So, when life doesn’t make sense, when you don’t get what God is up to- Trust with ALL your heart. His ways are not ours and His understanding is not ours… Trust that HE has your BEST as His primary concern, and what your enemy perhaps has planned for evil- HE WILL use for your good. I promise, He will direct your path as you lean into Him, our most trustworthy and loving God. 

Father God, 

Drive me deeper into trusting you. Give me eyes to see your power and how I can rest because of Who you are. Reveal to me the Truth about these things. I want more of you God.  In every breath.  Grow our relationship, for I know it is difficult to fully trust someone we don’t know… and God, I want to know you to my depths. 

In Jesus Name, Amen.

Dependence Day 

“Independence day was the day that we declared our dependence on God…” 

Mom has been gone for over two years now, but many of her words still resonate in my heart every day. 

On a day where it is imperative that we recognize and express gratitude for those who fought and gave their lives so we could live free, I believe it is imperative to remember the One who gave us freedom that is temporary and eternal. 

Freedom cost Jesus His life. His perfect life. In a world where we cry out because of injustice and unfairness when rights are violated, I am propelled to cry out on behalf of Jesus. He had every right to walk away.  Yet, He chose to freely give his life for our freedom. 

I sit gazing over our beautiful, freshly cut hayfield. Neat rows of hay waiting to be baled together. The harvest.  Jesus saw the harvest. He saw me. He saw you. He saw all of the beauty God created us for. He envisioned us free. Free from sin, shame, and death. He saw our souls so valuable he became a willing sacrifice. He knew setting us free would be worth His sacrifice. 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NLT 

We are often stuck in our own self-deception, selfishness, and sin. Trapped in the mud of earth, we sit on the merry-go-round of self-pity and focusing on our pains.  I did this for years.  The enemy had me tripped up in my head and trapped in my heart. He was working steadily to keep me enslaved. His one goal? To rob me of the freedom that has already been paid for and to render me useless for the Kingdom of God. 

John 8:31-36 

In speaking to believing Jews, Jesus said, 

“If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” 

Notice HIS teaching… not their adaptation, not their interpretation, not what they thought was right or convenient… His teaching. 

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 

Their response… 

“We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” 

Notice- they didn’t even recognize that they had been slaves on numerous occasions throughout history (check out the Old Testament). At the time, they were oppressed by the Roman government. They didn’t have eyes to see their own bondage. Neither do we at times. 

I have to wonder if Jesus had an inward smile, like when you watch your child inquire of something you long to share with them… did His heart leap as he saw the hunger in their hearts for truth and the freedom that was just around the corner? 

“I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed…” 

The freedom Jesus paid for is complete.  It is not only freedom from death and sin… it is freedom to walk confidently where He has called and gifted you. It is freedom to love others, even when they are cruel in return. It is freedom to give when it hurts. It is freedom to forgive when there has not been an apology. It is freedom to have joy, even when your world is crumbling, because this world is not all there is! We can live with eternity in view while traversing this broken land! 

Live free, my dear one. Release the chains you’ve been holding so tightly to.  Release the un-forgiveness, the bitterness, the anger that has you locked down in the pit of dark depression. Let go of the desire to control. Set yourself free by accepting His freedom and allowing Him to set you free completely and forever! He paid dearly for it. If you need to reclaim your dependence on Him or maybe you have never accepted it… let’s pray this together… 

Father,  

I come to you in Jesus name. Thank you for dying for my sin and my brokenness.  Thank you for your sacrifice of service.  I need you. I am weary of being chained and broken. I accept your gift of freedom and salvation. Make me your child, your true follower. Today, this independence day, I declare my dependence on you.  I need you to be God, because I have found that I don’t make a good god. 

I love you. Thank you for your sacrifice and for saving me. 

In Jesus Holy Name, 

Amen. 

Make this independence day the day you begin declaring your dependence on Him… and let’s continue to declare our dependence on Him first thing every morning. 

Thank you to those who have fought for our freedom in this great country. 

Thanks mom and dad, for your declaration those many years ago. My life is changed because of your choice to accept and give forgiveness. 

Thank you Jesus for setting me free forever.

Shine Your Light 

“Let your light shine before men… So they will glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Matthew 5:16 NASB (emphasis, mine)

Glancing around, I watched the congregation as they began worshipping.

“Many are perishing among you…”

“What? Lord… what? We are your church.” I stood there baffled at this sentence.

“Many are perishing among you. They have one foot stuck in the earth and one toe in me.”

I knew exactly what He was saying. I used to live this way. I wanted Jesus, but I wanted this life too. I wanted the things of this earth. I wanted my life to be a certain way, look a specific way, and my circumstances to be in alignment with my wishes. I gave Him my grocery list of desired blessings and things I wanted. I offered Him my Sundays, my Bible study mornings and quiet time, though there was only a fraction of true devotion and surrender. I was surrendered in only some places of my life, even though Jesus called me to complete surrender.

While my eternity was secured, there was little secure about my temporal existence. I had the deposit of the Holy Spirit, which gave me eternal security, but I was still perishing in my daily life. In reality, my love for the things of this earth, relationships, life going my way, and my financial security was hatred for God. We cannot serve two masters. (Matthew 6:24) It is a choice… and we must choose between the things of earth and Him. As we serve Him, we are given life abundant. Serving anyone or anything but Him brings death and destruction. Those things that can be destroyed, when we worship them, bring destruction upon us. So we must worship the One who is indestructible!

He came so we could be truly free… completely free, and dwell in this life abundantly and in peace regardless of the circumstances that come our way! As we live in complete surrendered worship of Him alone, we are given the chance to shine His light and peace into a dark, hurting world. This is the light we shine- His light of abundance, peace, and a life completely surrendered.

Believers, we are called first to shine His light to each other, reminding each other of the calling we’ve been given and the hope we have. If we cannot navigate through this life any better than someone without Jesus, what really do we have to offer those who do not know Him? We shine His light into the darkness to point the way for others to know Him. Be His light. Be His love. Extend grace. Extend mercy. Shine.

Many are perishing among you… Shine His light today.

Father God, Make us worthy ambassadors of your love, carrying it into our world this day. May your precious light in us be a guide to those who are lost, lonely, looking and hurting. Rid us of our selfish ways, our striving, and our desire to claim and control our lives as our own. Give us courage to completely surrender ALL things, past, present and future into Your Sovereign hands. All glory to you Great and Good Father, Amen.