Worth It

Last night I went to bed with my tear-stained cheeks and the thought in my head… just go to sleep – His mercies are new every morning… tomorrow the sun will rise.

This morning I dropped Ben off at work, followed by Belle, and I breathed in God’s new mercies… I AM going to have a good day today!  I commanded myself.  About this time I glanced at my mirror only to see the reflection of the dreaded authoritative flashing lights behind me.  I looked down at my speedometer and noticed that I was driving under the speed limit – maybe he’s pulling me over for driving too slow?

NOPE!

I failed to notice that I was in a school zone.  I needed God’s mercy in the biggest way, but instead I received a 4-point ticket with a double fine totaling $300.00.  It was the first time in my life that I cried in front of an officer.  I tried to mask it and took in deep breaths, but the sobs kept getting louder.

It’s not his job to ask my current financial situation; nor is it his job to know my Spiritual state and the fact that I’ve been through five months of brokenness, so I guess I didn’t feel the need to say anything to him.  Instead I just thanked him as politely as I could.

The tears accompanied me the whole way home as my thoughts quickly snowballed from one question to the next – I can’t afford groceries, how can I afford this ticket?  I never speed, how come the one time I accidentally speed I get stuck with a ticket?  God… where is YOUR mercy?

Genesis 15 marks the beginnings of Abram’s journey of faith.  God approaches him and says fear not Abram.  I am your shield and your very great reward.  Sometimes I think that we look for God to show us mercy through the world.  I wonder if I want my shield and reward to come through financial peace and a steady job.  Yet as God begins to take this man and refine his faith, He first lets him know who He is in His life.

And so it is true with me ­– God’s mercies are new every morning.  But that doesn’t mean that the morning holds no pain.  Sometimes the mercy of God strips us of ourselves so that we run behind His shield.  Sometimes the mercy of God rids us of worldly things so that we cling to the One True Reward – Jesus Christ.

By the end of today I felt completely drained… emptied… vacant of any “Camryn.”  And though I don’t see a way out right now, I know that I am hiding deep behind God.  I have wrapped myself in His hem and I am crying on His garment – LORD, please shield me!  I have nothing left and so I am learning to allow Him to be my exceedingly great Reward.  Days like these force me to echo the words of one of my favorite artists, Rita Springer… It’s gonna be worth it – He’s already worth it!

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The Healing of Naaman

Lord, please heal me.

I think sometimes we don’t know just how broken we are until we are easily re-injured.

I had a friend who tore her ACL.  The doctors told her that she should avoid rigorous sports like snow skiing.  Against her doctor’s wishes, she decided to brave the mountain one day.  Her injury wasn’t fully healed and she tore her ACL again.  This sent her into another long six-month recovery program. Although that was bad, I’ve seen worse.  I knew a girl who didn’t let her knee injury fully recover before she decided to engage in her favorite pre-injury activities – she didn’t re-injure her bad knee, but instead, she injured her good knee.

Our hearts react in similar ways.  We think we are healed, but then something happens and we realize that we are far too easily injured.  What’s worse is that sometimes we don’t re-injure those same places in our hearts, but we end up injuring other places, places that were completely whole.

2 Kings 5, tells the history of a valiant warrior named Naaman.  Naaman had the favor of the LORD and was given victory in battle, which gave him the respect of the king.  He was brave and wonderful, even his name tells us so – Naaman means “pleasantness”.  However, Naaman didn’t have everything, he was a leper.  Imagine his life, a respected warrior and an outcast leper.

One day a little girl was taken captive by Naaman’s people and she told Naaman’s wife the sweetest thing: “I wish that my master were with the prophet who is in Samaria!  Then he would cure him of his leprosy.”  Can you imagine the faith of such a girl?  I think of my own little daughter and I wonder if she was taken captive would she have good wishes for the man who took her?  Naaman’s healing began that day with one little girl who wanted good things for her master.

Naaman went to the king of Israel to find this prophet.  When he arrived he found Elisha confirming the words of the little girl, “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh will be restored to you and you will be clean.”  These words didn’t bring Naaman great happiness or hope, but rather they infuriated him, “Behold, I thought, ‘He will surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper.’”

Naaman had his own ideas of what healing should look like.

I must admit – I am too much like Naaman.  Sometimes I just want God to come down in a glittery cloud and cure me.  I don’t want to go to the Jordan.  I don’t want to dip in the river.  I don’t want to hear about my cure from the mouth of a child.  I want something much more glorious – I want something much more magnificent.

Since being in Boulder, I’ve been made more aware of the broken pieces in my life.  I am forced to face them because I have very little here to comfort me.  Even my great days take incredible faith and dependence on God.  Yet I know, in the most unlikely city in the world, my healing rests in this land.  I want to just be comfortable again.  I want God to just wave His hand over me and make everything pleasant.  But, sometimes our healing isn’t that glamorous.

Sometimes God brings us to a place of humility to actively wait for His healing.  I emphasize the word actively, because I think that far too often we think that healing is a byproduct of us just being God’s children.  But more often than not, we are asked to “go and do” in order to receive the healing that God has for us.

Truth be told, I would love for God to tell me to go dip in my bed and sleep for seven nights and then I’ll be healed.  But instead, I’m instructed to open up my heart to Him and let Him bind up my broken heart.  And of course, to keep a disciplined mind and refuse to meditate on thoughts that lead me further into my own destruction.

After Naaman was healed in the river he says, “Behold, now, I know that there is no God in all the earth, but in Israel.”  I wonder if Elisha was present during Naaman’s healing if Naaman would have even seen God in it.  I picture this valiant warrior, vulnerable and humble and ALONE, dipping into a river for his cure.  When he comes out of that river with new skin, he has no choice but to acknowledge the hand of God in it.

I am fully convinced that our healing usually lies in those intimate moments when we are alone with God.  We definitely get revelation and words of comfort from fellowship and other’s wisdom.  But genuine healing often comes when we just lay our hearts bare before the LORD in a quiet place… sometimes we need to dip ourselves in God’s healing rivers and allow Him and Him alone, to wash over us.

a joyous labor

I remember going into labor with Arrabelle.  There were moments throughout the labor where I wanted to quit, but I knew that there was only one way to end the pain… to go through more.

There are no words to describe the first time I embraced her.  I didn’t know I would love her as much as I did.  I really didn’t expect to be so overwhelmed.  I looked into her eyes and saw mostly Ben, and a little of me.  I was awestruck.  God gives us the freedom to create life – to make something miraculous from practically nothing.

I often feel like we most reflect God when we are creating.  The first thing we see in God’s character in the Bible is His amazing ability and passion to create.

Yesterday was tough in all ways.  It was one of those days I wished I was never called to plant a church.  I desperately wished Ben was the CEO of a major company, instead of a lowly church planter.  There were moments when I grew overwhelmed with the task of planting a church.

Today I received fresh vision for what it is we have been asked to do.  I thought back to the day when I brought Arrabelle into the world.  I alone know the sacrifice it took to get her here.  No one else bore the pain, no one else carried the cross of nine months of nausea.  And no one else got to sigh the relief of holding her for the first time, knowing… every moment of discomfort and pain was more than worth it!

As Church Planters, God calls us to carry the pain and discomfort of scrutiny, insecurity, financial hardship, disappointment and fear.  And yet, I know that in the midst of the journey, we are reflecting our Father in the most miraculous way – we are creating something from nothing.  God placed a tiny seed in our hearts and from that, we get to create.  At the end of the laborious journey, we will be able to physically embrace the fulfillment of what is now just a dream.

We get to create.  I feel humbled and overwhelmed that God would call me to bring His dreams to fruition.  I am thankful that I get to be the one to see His desires brought to life through my tiny hands.  The labor will be worth it and in the end, we will get to embrace those who God has given us, and we alone will know the tears that were wept to bring them into our arms.

obedience

two days ago my friend posted… Our job isn’t to get results; our job is to obey God’s voice.  i am so convicted when i read this.  why is this so hard?  why do we constantly struggle to get results, when all we are really asked to do is obey God.  i confess that my focus is usually on the results and not on my obedience.

abraham never saw the fulfillment of God’s promise to him – but it was fulfilled. i’m always challenged by this.  jim elliot was a missionary who was martyred on arrival.  he never saw the fruit of his journey – an entire tribe in love with Jesus.  he’s just one story, there are many more.  i’ve read stories of missionaries who gave up everything for what became the salvation of ONE person.  i’d be lying if i didn’t tell you that i struggle with this.  i don’t want that to be my story.  but the reality is, at the end of the day, praying for an entire city is not nearly as meaningful to me as praying for our 80-year old neighbor whose days are numbered.

our obedience is most pertinent in the daily grind of life.

as i prepare for Bible study tonight, i get anxious about who will show up.  i grow concerned that no one will come.  i worry about the results, because i am not completely convinced that our simple obedience is enough.  i worry that others are looking for results and i wrestle with that.  what if others think we failed?  i fear being marked a failure.

in the midst of these worries, i must take a deep breath and remember – my job is to obey God’s voice.  what He does with that is off me.

still not content

I sit here and write this as I watch my two daughters spin around their room in their play dresses.  I am constantly amazed by their naivety – especially during this most recent season, when the weight of the world has weighed heavier on me than it ever has before.  They have a room full of toys and we have never gone without a meal, so I guess now is a good time for me to repent for feeling sorry for myself.

Yesterday I walked through a store and saw at least fifteen outfits that I wish I could afford; to be honest, I just wished I could afford even one of them.  In these moments, I go back to when life was comfortable.  Ben and I have never had a lot of money.  We have never been able to just spend our paychecks on whatever we wanted in that moment – but we have always been able to buy those random desires… a shirt every once in a while or a cheap pair of jeans.  We don’t get to do that these days.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I spent money on a cute shirt, just because I wanted it.

But as I watch my girls enjoy life, I am reminded that I really have everything I need, and so much more!  My children are full of joy and get to be kids.  They aren’t worried about what they are going to eat because God has always placed food in front of them – in front of us.  Sometimes I worry about how we are going to pay our bills, but we have always been able to pay them (even if it is only “barely”).

I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what God has provided and I know that all those things that I covet in the store are just stumbling blocks.  The enemy puts them in front of me to accuse God of not being a good and faithful God – I am sorry for believing that for even a second; because when I watch my girls play with carefree abandon, I know that God is a good God.  It may be years before I am able to afford to buy a new shirt just for the fun of it, but I will always be able to feed my family.

If only we lived our lives dwelling on the true treasures in life our lives would be so much richer.  When I cast my careless worries at the foot of the cross I get to live for the richer things in life – faith, family, and an eternal relationship with an amazing God!!!!

Breathe Him in… He is life… and He is good!

2 Chronicles 20:17

‎”Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you…”   2 Chronicles 20:17

I am currently meditating on this verse.  It is packed with truth.  Sometimes we fail to live the balance between waiting on God and acting in faith.  We don’t share Christ because we have convinced ourselves that it’s only God who brings people to Him, so we should not force Him on others.  Or, we are so busy doing the work of God that we fail to simply be still and wait on Him.

Yet throughout God’s word we are told that waiting and acting are married.  We have a responsibility to simply be still and know that God is God.  And yet, before we are told to stand still, we are commanded to position ourselves.  We are not pawns on God’s chess board, idly waiting to be moved by God.  We are called to position ourselves in life.  Place ourselves in the midst of amazing circumstances so that we can see the salvation of God.  Once we position ourselves, then we get to stand still and wait.  But if we want to see the salvation of God, we MUST put ourselves in the midst of what He is doing.

After we are told to position ourselves and stand still, we are then commanded to see the salvation of the LORD.  So often I think we miss this.  We fail to see what God is doing all around us, and in failing to see what God is doing, we fail to recognize that wherever we are, God is with us.  What a powerful verse!!!

when nothing makes sense

I made you one promise when I opened up this page… 100% honesty.  And so, here I am, not quite as raw as I was a few weeks ago, but still processing.  Over the past month-and-a-half, God has drenched us in fire, and though I feel as though we are at a reprieve, I can still smell burnt flesh.

We haven’t started “planting” yet, although I don’t really think that’s true.  When you set out to plant a church, you begin to plant months before you even arrive on location.  However, with physical eyes, one would think we haven’t really begun yet.  I believe with all that I am that it hasn’t been God’s timing – we also know that He’s releasing us to start.  I don’t know what the last two months have been about; I know we are being purged and I know we are facing trials worse than we’ve perhaps ever faced.  But I still don’t fully know why.  But what I do know, I will share.

It’s become increasingly apparent to me that I am holding on very tightly to some worldly dreams.  A simple example of this was made known to me when I wasn’t able to pay any of our bills last month.  I was ready to throw in the towel… no exaggeration.  You may be thinking that I’m not cut out to be a church planter if I want to quit that easily, and if so, that’s fine – you’re entitled to your opinion.  However, I want to just comment on that – no one is cut out to be a church planter.  Church planting is a calling that God gives us grace to do, and that’s the only way anyone makes it out alive; of this, I have become fully convinced.  Church planting is as much an individual journey as it is a global pursuit, and for me, the journey has begun in the fires of refinement.  Everything in me wanted to quit, and for one reason… three little numbers that some system calculates for society and then defines us with… my credit score.  Not paying my bills meant that my credit score was going to be severely hurt, and for that, I wanted to call it quits.

The LORD disciplined me that day by revealing to me where my treasure lies.  If the spread of the Gospel could be compromised in my life because of a worldly system, than I am too immersed in the world.  Please hear my heart – paying our bills is a godly responsibility and we are to make every effort to do so in a timely manner.  God will provide for my bills, that I am certain of, but in the meantime, if missing one payment causes anxiety and a willingness to leave God’s calling, then I am being led astray.

God picked me up after I fell, by providing enough to pay our bills and get caught up, but it came at a price.  Ben and I have slowly been selling some of the things we are passionate about.  We have sold some of our hobbies and have rid ourselves of some unnecessary toys.  In the process of purging our stuff, our hearts are also being purged.  We are reminded that the Gospel is costly – it cost Christ His life, God His only Son, and so what makes us think that we are above any costly pursuit of Him?

Jesus reminds us to consider the cost.  We’ve lost that message in our Western Gospel.  No one will know the dark nights and days of me sneaking into a room away from my girls, weeping on the floor in fear that I will not be able to buy them food for the month.  And yet, we have had food every day, and we have had more than enough.  God reminds me that though there is a cost, I am also more valuable than the lilies and the sparrows – if God takes care of them, surely He will take care of me.