Posted in Women in Leadership

God Is Pleased With Me.

It is my last day here in Canmore, Alberta where I have spent the last four days with my kids. (Not all could be here, but most were.) We’ve shared laughs, meals, walks, and done some incredible hiking together. And amidst it all we read together the book of 1 Peter. It was a random choice as I wanted to be able to finish what we started, so I chose a book that I knew had 5 chapters. 

It came as no surprise to God as he knows exactly what we need and when we need it, and even though we think it may be a random choice, God’s Word to us can be so timely. In the right season it is healing  balm for our soul – and that is exactly what happened! It was day 2 that God, through His Word, spoke powerfully to my soul.

For God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. 

Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.

For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.  (1 Peter 2: 19-20)

I have felt a sense of “calling” to serve in the Body of Christ since my early twenties. It is a call that has taken me on a long unpredictable  journey, and on that journey there have been seasons of intense happiness and times of deep grieving. Things that have caused these seasons can be attributed to both external and internal circumstances. And for the last number of years I have been going through a season of deep refining. It’s been painful. But I now experientially know this: God is pleased when we endure.

There are season of enduring in relationships with people who do not have our best interests at heart. Heck, they may not even like us much. There are seasons of leaning into discipline/correction/hard feedback at work or church or school that, though the fruit is not immediately seen, can transform our life. 

During the last few years there were so many opportunities where I could have chosen an easy path, but I chose to lean into hard. Hard cost me. It cost me my pride – which needed to go anyways. It forced me to remain silent when all I wanted to do was fight! It forced me to lean into God and ask him to fight my battles. It forced me to learn new skills. Hard allowed me the opportunity to be broken and changed, and I like who I am becoming. Why? Because God is pleased with me. Because in and with Christ I have discovered a much better path and viewpoint that had I not leaned into hard, I would have never discovered. 

If at the end of my life it could be said of me that she suffered for doing good, she endured patiently, she encouraged Christian women to lead with confidence, she loved others well, and she knew God was well pleased with her so she kept on choosing hard over easy, that is enough for me. 

The view is better the other side of hard.  

Wherever you are in the hard (suffering for doing good), may you experientially know God is pleased with you.

Posted in Christian, Devotional, Encouragement, Life, Monastic, Spiritual Discipline

Yearning for God…intentionally

Prayer was a continuous way of life in the desert. It was intentionally cultivated until it became second nature. Prayer involved the hard work of learning a new language – the language of heaven. For the ascetic, prayer was not merely the speaking of words. It was the yearning for God, reaching out in hopeful openness to being touched by God. Prayer was for the Holy Spirit breathing through the inner spirit of the ascetic and returning to God with yearnings of intimacy. (Laura Swan, The Forgotten Desert Mothers; Sayings, Lives, and Stories of Early Christian Women [Paulist Press, 2001], 27)

I do not know where you are at today, nor do I know what your journey this last year had been like. For me, it has been a year of getting to know myself, of sitting in my “cell” and facing myself. And it has also been a year of intentionality, of yearning, of longing for God to breathe afresh and anew in my life – and He did not disappoint.

It has been a year of discovering that I am ridiculously in charge of my own life and that I alone bear the responsibility for its stewardship. It has been a year where I came to grips with the fact that there will always be circumstances that are out of my control and which have the power to shape me, if I chose.  It has been a year where I embraced the truth that I have choices. Moment by moment, day by day, month by month, I can choose how I will spend the gift of time and how I will react to the things going on around me.

The desert fathers and mothers, whose writings I have been reading since last summer, taught me that their intentional choices influenced their personal growth and their relationship with God. Prayer was “intentionally cultivated,” solitude was “intentionally cultivated,” yearning for God was “intentionally cultivated.” How they chose to live was intentional.

I think too often we give away our power and numb our senses which leaves us crippled and confused about who we are, what we are feeling, and what our soul yearns for. In some cases, we have allowed technology to become our master, telling us when to drink water, how many steps to take, what our heart rate it, and we wear our fitness devices as some sort of reminder that we want to be aware. But somehow in that wanting, we have stopped creating spaces for silence and solitude. We have stopped taking the time to be present to God and present to ourselves. And perhaps for some of us, if we are really honest, we have become expert runners who run from ourself and try to run from God.

So today,  if that’s you and you long for something different as I did last summer and still do, join me by reaching out your hands towards God and saying: “God, I yearn for you and you alone. I take back the power of choice to steward my own life, and I commit to intentionally cultivating the behaviours and thoughts that allow me to be present in life.”

A special note of thanks: Dear David, a soon-to-be-new-brother-in-Christ, thank you for courageously picking up your phone today and reaching out to a stranger (you happened to get me) to ask about how one becomes a disciple of Jesus Christ – you confirmed for me that this blog post matters. I hope you’ll call again and am praying for your wholehearted “yes” to Jesus.