How Then Shall I Live?

My husband, David, recently talked about having a life verse and I realized that even though I didn’t think I had one, I do. And it’s this one: Whatever you do, live your life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Phil 1:27)

Phil 1-27

Reflecting on this, I also realized that too often, if I am not diligent, if I am not intentional, life will squeeze Jesus out of my mind. My focus will shift to the things of this world: me, my efforts, my needs, my ability to influence or encourage or stand out. And these things will not grow strangely dim like when I am focused on Jesus, but they grow bigger and more oppressive.

When I read the stories of Jesus, I so often identify with Peter; bold, impetuous Peter. The first to say he believed Jesus was the Messiah and the first to deny Him when Jesus was on trial. The first to be called to follow Jesus and the first to get out of the boat when Jesus called him.

But lately I’ve been thinking about what Peter’s life looked like after Jesus returned to His Father.

Did he just go about his life as if nothing was different for his having known Jesus? Did he go back to life as he knew it before he knew Jesus? Was he satisfied to go back to a life of fishing and mending nets and nothing more?

Or was Peter changed?

Did Peter live out his remaining days in a manner worthy of the Gospel? The book of Acts indicates that he did. His words, his actions, his life and even his death pointed others to the risen Christ and the Gospel of Grace.

And this prompts me to consider how I am living out my days. Am I living with an eternal purpose or with an average purpose? Am I pointing others to Jesus and His grace or am I calling out, “Look at me, look at me, look at what I’m doing.”

If I am honest, too often, it is the latter.

And so today I’m asking myself, what does it mean to live a life worthy of the Gospel?

Today I’m Looking Up

darknessFive-Minute Friday. And go:

It’s Good Friday.

Will you join me for a few minutes over here, by the cross.

Because I don’t know about you, but I need to see Him. I need to absorb this moment, His final moments.

Despite the chaos of life that swirls into a cacophony around me.

Despite the loudness and laughter and bickering of my two little girls.

Despite the messy living room and the surface clutter that beckons me to tidy up.

Despite the myriad demands on my time in this moment, I need to be right here. At the cross.

It hurts to look up, doesn’t it?

Sometimes, it hurts to look up instead of at the world around us.

But right now, I need to look up.

I need to see Him. To see Him in His pain. To see Him in His sorrow. To see Him gazing down with love despite what He is enduring in this moment for me.

For me.

I need to see His last ragged breath and to feel the darkness that descends as He breathes His last.

I don’t want to think about Sunday.

I don’t want to think about colored eggs or frilly dresses or candy or Easter baskets.

I don’t want to think about Hallelujah choruses or rejoicing.

I want to be here, like His disciples, and acknowledge this moment.

Because in this moment, for His disciples, there was no anticipation of the empty grave.

And I need that today.

I need that so that I don’t take lightly that Jesus died for me.

For me.

I need that in the middle of my ordinary life. I need to look up.

Stop

(This post is part of Kate Motaung’s Five-minute Friday at Heading Home. She gives us a word and we write for five minutes. This week’s word: Good)

Truth Be Told

Isaiah 53-5

In the quiet. In the in-between moments of parenting two little girls. In my heart. Truth stirs and beckons to be heard.

Today is the day. Today is the day that the end of Jesus’ life and ministry began.

It began with a meal.

It began with the washing of His friends’ feet.

It began with serving and loving.

It began with grieving and pleading and praying. With praying with such fervor that His sweat was drops of blood.

It didn’t end there, but we don’t know that yet.

In fact, we don’t even know that the end is coming.

All we know as we sit at this table this evening with Jesus and break bread with Him is that we are celebrating. Celebrating the Passover.

But we are celebrating so much more.

We are celebrating His love.

We are celebrating that He walks among us.

We are celebrating God with us.

From where we are today, we know that we are celebrating His sacrificial love. His mercy. His grace.

But for right now, I choose to sit with Him at table and share this moment. To share one more moment with Him as He teaches and laughs and loves.

And later, when He falls to the ground in the Garden to plead with the Father, when He is arrested, when He is scourged, then I will choose to reflect on what it will cost Him. Then I will choose to reflect on all that He lost.

Then I will choose to reflect on all that I gained. That because of His death I am redeemed. That because of His death, I live.

That I live with Him and in Him and that I know Him and am known by Him.

Did You Hear Something?

Are you guarding something that matters to you?

Are you protecting something? A dream? An idea? A passion or God-given purpose?

Are you guarding something so fiercely that you might miss the invitation of God to join Him in the creating, the building, the revealing of something He intended for you to share with others?

Fear Not

(48/365 Days of Fear Not)

That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David! (Luke 2:8-11)

Sometimes, when God shows up and calls us to join Him, we are terrified, aren’t we?

Not terrified so much of God’s appearing, but of His bidding:You want me to do what? You want me to write that, say that, share that, create that, proclaim that?

Suddenly, the very thing that defines us in the depth of our being frightens us beyond measure. Even in the presence of God. Perhaps especially in the presence of God. Because we know what He wants. We know what He is about to ask of us.

And it scares us.

Because it’s one thing to birth and grow an idea; it’s another thing altogether to invite the world in to see our creation, our art, our soul, our heart – our baby.

But the message is clear: Don’t be afraid! I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people.

No, our dream is not the Savior come to earth, but it may be the reflection of Him that someone needs to see, to hear, to experience. The reflection of His truth or His grace or His goodness or His love or His hope or His presence.

For us, the good news is that it’s time to release our gift, our creation, our baby into the world.

Because it won’t be any of those things – truth, grace, goodness, love, joy, hope – unless like the shepherds we faithfully follow Him and share with everyone what we alone were designed to create.

For if we refuse. If we choose to guard our dream, our idea, our calling, our purpose. If we choose to perfect it rather than release it.

What joy will others be deprived of?

What beauty will others miss?

What goodness will others not witness?

What hope will others not receive?

What opportunities will we forfeit?

When God shows up we don’t need to be afraid.

When God calls us to the good works He prepared for us to do, He will provide us the means and the strength to do them. He has created each of us for such a time as this: a time when He shows up and whispers that our time is here. Our time is now.

Walk boldly and confidently with Him and bring forth the good works, the Good News, that a desperate world longs to know.

So, what is God asking you to release into the world? What’s holding you back from letting it go?

Enough for Right Now

By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.”  Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading. (John 6:17-21)

Fear Not(47/365 Days of Fear Not)

Change is a lot like darkness sometimes.

It’s difficult to see where I’m going.

I can’t see what comes next.

I know it won’t last; that I won’t be in this place of transition for an extended time. But it can feel like that, you know?

Facing change can be like being in a boat in the middle of the night when the winds pick up and the seas grow rough. I can feel out of control. And I can feel deeply, sorely afraid.

And sometimes, the presence of Jesus causes me even greater fear.

Have you ever been there?

Have you ever been in a place where the presence of Jesus in the midst of your life rocks your boat even more than the storm itself?

You’re afraid that He’s going to ask you to do something you don’t want to do.

You’re afraid that He’s going to send you somewhere you don’t want to go.

You’re afraid that He’s going to take away something you love: a dream, the vision you have for your life, a job, a passion, the status quo, the comfort of being stuck, your excuses.

You’re afraid that He’s going to step into your boat, into your life, into your right now, and take away all of the reasons you’ve created for what you’re doing or for what you’re not doing.

And you’re right to think so.

Because that’s exactly what He wants to do. But only if we’ll let Him. Only if I let Him.

I look up in the darkness and I see Him approaching me as I am tossed around by the storm of change and I’m frightened. Because He’s walking on the surface of the storm and though it swirls around Him, it affects Him not. Who is this Jesus? And what does He want?

I want to know, but He doesn’t say.

All He tells me when He comes near is: It is I; don’t be afraid.

Is that enough for me?

It was enough for the disciples: they were willing to take Him into the boat.

But what about me? Is it enough for me?

The disciples were willing because they knew Him. They’d lived with Him and traveled with Him and broken bread with Him and seen Him in action doing miracles and loving the outcasts.

They knew Him and so they trusted Him. And because they trusted Him they were willing to take Him into their boat. And immediately their boat reached the shore where they were headed.

The idealist dreamer in me would like to think that that’s all there was to it. That they reached their goal and now they could kick back and take it easy.

But that’s not how it works, is it?

Once they hit the shore, they still had many miles to travel and much more work to do and even a whole lot more to learn from Jesus.

That’s where I am right now.

Things in my life are changing direction and I don’t know where they’re going. My dreams are shifting and changing shape and even priority in my life right now. And the details of my day-to-day that have been so familiar to me for so long need tweaking at the very least and, in some instances, complete overhauling.

I have a strong sneaking suspicion that Jesus wants to take my excuses and my doubts and that He wants to stretch the comfortable places inside my passion and purpose and God-given dreamscape so that I can create them anew with Him.

And I want to know what that’s going to look like. But all He’ll say right now is: It is I; don’t be afraid.

Is that enough for me?

For today, it is.

In this moment I’m willing to take Jesus into my boat and let Him get me to the shore.

And as hard as it is, I’m willing to say that that’s enough for right now.