The Hero Myth

I don’t really know how to write my heart today. Sometimes the weight of a burden is bone-crushing, and you need to cry and shake and pray your guts out with a fellow sister because you KNOW that this is beyond your control or power and is something that only God can do… because the one that you are up against is the prince of this world, and your only power to fight him is in Jesus alone.

And here’s the thing: princes don’t come in raggedy clothes, and they don’t go unnoticed. They come dressed to the hilt in majesty and wealth and are the epitome of everything that we covet in this world.  In the same sense, so does the enemy.  He comes dressed in just enough religion that he looks godly and just enough worldliness that the thing we want most happens:  we get to do both.  We get to call ourselves Christians and still live in and of the world.  We get to be the hero of our own stories, and when things go well, we get to shout out credit to God. When things go wrong, we get to shout out God’s graciousness and love.  And through it all, we live an agnostic existence that proclaims God through our mouths but lives as though every choice is our own because God has “equipped us” to not only live but to master this life without Him.

Brothers and Sisters, our God is not the God of agnosticism.  He did not create us fully equipped and then leave us alone to walk out our destinies.  He created us to be in relationship with Him, to rely on Him for every part of our lives.  Every part of Scripture speaks to this personal, relationship-centered God who loves us as a Father and desires for us to live the purpose that HE has placed on our lives. And every part of Scripture where people assumed that they knew what God wanted and proceeded to take steps without praying and HEARING from God about the situation ended in destruction–not just for themselves but for generations of people.

We are no different.

As believers, every word that proceeds from our mouths and every action that we take WILL have a Kingdom impact, and if we are not listening to God and feeding in His Word, the impact will NOT be a good one.  It is not enough to send a microwave prayer and cry at the altar.  Prayer is an incredible gift that God has given us to communicate with Him…but praying alone is not enough. We MUST hear from God in His Word.  This does not mean Googling “What does God say about this or that” and searching for a justification for the choice we’ve already made.  This means prayerfully spending time with the Master every day in His Word and asking the Holy Spirit to speak to you.  He will. Every. Single. Time.  And when He does, when you have that incredible moment when you’re reading something that seems completely unrelated to your situation but God illuminates the Scripture just for you… only THEN can you walk in the assurance that you have heard from the Lord.  Then you can confidently take steps in the direction of your goals with the assurance that you are in His perfect will.

I am grateful for a culture of acceptance, encouragement, and empowerment, but as with anything in this life, I have to measure the truth of anything I read, hear, or experience by the Truth of God’s Perfect Word.  If it is contradicts that, no matter how much I want to hear it, I have to recognize it for what it is…and who is really behind it.

It is the cry of my heart for you to KNOW the One that you proclaim as your savior.  He has given you an open line of communication with Him through prayer and the Word.  Are you using it?

“I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the Word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the Truth and will turn aside to myths.”

2 Timothy 4:1-4

Advertisements

Arrows Rising

It’s the beginning of a new year, a time of optimism and change, new beginnings and hope. It’s a time when we believe that anything is possible.  As I opened my Bible this morning, so many thoughts and emotions poured over the words in front of me, and I found myself once again sitting in front of a few verses that have been on my heart for months.  I still don’t know if I’m able to articulate the way that they are weighing on my heart, but when you ask what my resolutions are for this year, I can’t help but open the pages and point here:

Listen to me, you islands;
    hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
    from my mother’s womb He has spoken my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
    in the shadow of His hand He hid me;
He made me into a polished arrow
    and concealed me in His quiver.
He said to me, “You are my servant,
    Israel, in whom I will display my splendor.”

Isaiah 49:1-3

I’ve heard of the armor of God for most of my life. I love to imagine it physically, like I can touch my head and feel the helmet of salvation or grasp the weight of the shield of faith as I hold it in my arms.  I imagine myself as this mighty warrior who can face anything as long as I cling to the Lord who designed this armor, the One who gives it power.  I know, in the surety of Scripture, that I am safe inside of it, and I am.

But then the war comes, and I find myself hiding.

I cower behind the army and cover myself, reminding myself that I am a target because I belong to the King of Kings.  I remind myself that I will be okay even though I don’t feel like I will.  I literally sit, suited up in the armor, resting on the promises of God, and don’t move.  I wait for the situation to pass and pray for God to help me.  And my self-absorption continues as I pray to my cosmic vending machine and completely miss Jesus.

Here’s the thing: I don’t sit on my couch in actual armor, and I don’t know a single soldier who is suited in armor for the purpose of sitting in a corner and wallowing in self-pity.

God suited us in armor because we were intended to be warriors in His Kingdom, not just sitting targets. It was to protect us from the evil one even as we war against his powers in this world. So when I read these verses for the first time, what struck me most was the idea of being an arrow in the quiver of God.  Talk about an eye-opener.

You see, an arrow doesn’t just appear.  It is fashioned and sharpened; it is tested and proven.  An arrow is polished by its maker, and it has a purpose: it is aimed at a specific target.  It is fast and accurate and sure in the hands of a skilled archer.

So if we, as God’s people, are called from the womb to be “polished arrows,” we, too, must have tremendous purpose. God intends to use us–can you even imagine? The God of the UNIVERSE wants to use US in His plan.  He has fashioned us from the womb and desires to sharpen and polish us. He has appointed every aspect of our lives and has specific targets for us.

But do we, as believers, recognize this? Or are we stuck in the corner, crippled by every small battle, praying to God each day while we actually worship ourselves?

I don’t want this year to be about me and all that I will do to change or reinvent myself. I want Jesus to be my focus at all times.  I want to sit at His feet and listen to His word. I want Him to sharpen me. I want Him to be everything to me. I want to have the right perspective– the one that sees the world as Jesus sees it, the one that offers grace and speaks truth, the one that sees the Gospel as infinitely above every other issue in my life.  I want to be open to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to guide me, to teach me in any moment what He is doing so that I can join in the work before me. I want to run this race in the way that God intended– as a bondservant, a warrior, and a child of the King of Kings .

So when someone asks me what I want for 2018, I don’t know how else to answer:

I want to be an arrow.

 

 

 

Photo by Andrew Peloso on Unsplash

 

 

 

God’s Waiting Room

“Did the doctors give you a potential timeline for how long it would take for her to pass?” I asked my mom, trying hard to steady my voice.

“No, baby. We are in God’s waiting room now, and as much as I’d like to have control, it’s all up to Him. He will do everything in His perfect timing.”

God’s waiting room. Hmmm.  I’ve spent lots of time in God’s hallways, wishing for this or that door to open, but I’ve only spent a few times in God’s waiting room.

Waiting rooms are interesting places. They are places of tears and exhaustion, places of reminiscing about good times and remembering that, despite any differences we have, at the end of the day, family comes together.  Waiting rooms are desperation; they are rollercoasters of steadiness and then unexpected free-falls. Waiting rooms are places of surrender– places where it doesn’t matter our background or our history or our societal status or position. They are level ground for all. They are the places where we come to terms with how we see God and trust that He is good even when we don’t understand.

I’ve watched my grandmother’s downward spiral for two months, and yesterday the doctors removed the ventilator. It’s excruciating to watch her try to breathe, especially knowing that her efforts will ultimately be fruitless.  She is so weak, and her body tells the tale of death, but I want you to understand that I am not afraid of her dying; I am afraid of her living.

You see, the woman lying in that bed is only nominally my grandmother.  My Memaw was not labored breathing, paper-thin skin, and weakness. She was warmth and strength and an open seat at her table with the best pecan pie you’ve ever tasted.  She was undivided attention and belly-laughs, practical advice, and dominoes.  She was fried eggs and bacon and biscuits and gravy, and she was radiant with the glow and pride of her family.  We were her life, and she was ours.  If you ever met her, she treasured you. She remembered you and held you in her heart, and if she saw you again, she’d be sure to let you know it. She loved people more than anyone I’ve ever known and used to say that she either should’ve been a nurse or owned a cafe.  There was a safety about talking to her.  Even as an adult, I’ve laid my head in her lap many times as she stroked my hair and reassured me that everything would be okay.

My grandmother was strength. She was born during the hardest year of the Great Depression, and she knew the value of contentment, family, and working hard. She never desired wealth– she desired a godly legacy and the simple things, like having her family sit with her at church or come over to spend time with her.  We loved hearing stories about her childhood, how she even lived in a tent at one point, and laughed because her sisters couldn’t get along in such a confined space.  She told us about the first time she met our grandfather– how he wanted to take her home from the cafe, but her brother wouldn’t allow it because Poppaw was too old for her.  Years later, they met again, and the rest is history.  She told us of how she cared for her mother until her dying day and did the same for my grandfather after being married for almost 60 years.  When I asked her how she kept going after he passed away, she would gaze off and tell me that life has to keep moving forward.  I think that’s why her favorite hymn was “One Day at a Time.”

I know that some of you might wonder why I’m writing this while Memaw is still with us. I suppose we all process things differently, but I don’t want to remember my grandmother on her deathbed, and I don’t think she’d want me to remember her that way. In fact, if she could speak, she would probably tell me to bring my curling iron up there to do her hair since so many people are dropping in to say goodbye.  So I guess I’m full-circle in this post– back to the not being afraid of death part.

You see, death is a gift when you know Jesus as Lord and Savior.  It is not an ending; it is a beginning. It is a promise of eternity in perfect peace.  It’s walking into the arms of Jesus. It’s finishing the race.  It is perfection.  And while I can’t imagine a better banqueting table than the one my grandmother could set, I know that it will pale in comparison to the one that Jesus has set for her.

The other night I dreamed that I was in an elevator. Behind me, a voice said, “Going Up!” As soon as I heard it, I knew who it was.  I turned and saw my grandfather standing there with Memaw.  I looked at him, confused, when the elevator doors didn’t close.  He said, “No baby. We are going up, but you have to stay here.”

I know it was just a dream, but I think it was a reminder that the Lord has a place prepared for her.  And I can just imagine Memaw and Poppaw, together again, dancing like David to the glory of the Lord.

Maybe they’ll even teach him the Jitterbug.

Missions and Measurement

We arrived home from Poland on Sunday night, and my mind has processed a thousand different emotions and lessons that The Lord taught me while there.  How do you describe the warmth of the people, the beauty of the country, the power of God’s Word, or the Spirit that flows through believers of every nation? How can I tell you the peace, the welcome, the feelings of “family” that we experienced with complete strangers or the joy of sharing with those who are considering who Jesus is for the first time?

 

You see, missions is not just about the pretty pictures or the bottom-line of numbers.  God works mightily in so many things on a mission trip, and I want to give as full of an account as I can.  So here goes:

Several years ago, Melaina fixated on a Polish missionary and began praying for her every day for more than a year. This was not our doing. It was The Lord. Only HE could call a 7 year-old to pray like that. We sensed then that we might one day go to Poland.

Fast forward to several weeks ago, and we were $3,600 short of paying for our trip. With so much going on with my family, I had no time to fundraise. The Lord quietly reminded me that HE was sending us to Poland, and He owns the storehouses. I continued to pray and enlisted my prayer warrior friends to pray with me. The Lord provided MORE than we needed for the trip!  Again, only GOD can do that.

We arrived safely and Danny preached the next morning in Olsztynek.  A younger man and woman offered to translate, but after a minute or so, they realized that they couldn’t. A visitor who came in late stood and offered to translate.  It turns out that he was a professional translator AND a pastor. He was in town for the day because his son was placed in the children’s hospital there.  At the end of the sermon, one precious woman came to the front and professed Jesus as Lord.  Just think of the odds of all that coming together at the perfect time…Ya’ll, only God can do that.

So the camp consisted of Polish workers, teams from Arkansas and Florida, and the guests who signed up or who the Polish church members invited. Our theme was the “I Am” statements in the book of John, so all of our lessons walked through those.  The camp was a family camp, so we had a variety of men, women, and children.  Each day followed the same pattern: team devotion, breakfast, worship service, crafts, separate men/women/children Bible studies, and lunch. We then had free time for a couple hours followed by games, whole group Bible study, dinner, and open discussion time.  For those that could stay up late enough, there were games until almost midnight each night.

So now that you know the format, where do I even start in telling you how God is moving?  I could tell you about the man who has battled alcoholism and was saved before coming to camp.  I could tell you how he gave his testimony that if the Bible could help him, he swore he would profess Jesus to everyone he encountered.  This man was baptized at the lake in the camp, and his girlfriend crowned him with a beautiful lei of flowers that she made.

Maybe I should tell you about the women’s group, how open the ladies were to listening to the Bible stories or how they were willing to ask questions and be transparent.  One said, “Last year, my heart was not ready, but this year it is.” Will you pray that she will fully surrender to Jesus?

Maybe I should tell you about another lady who shared the story of her dream while at camp.  In her dream, she went to the store to buy cabbage, but someone stole her wallet. On her way home, she was crying and Jesus appeared to her and gave her a new wallet that was better than anything she had before.  She told us that she believed that she had the dream because she was getting baptized, and she believed that the dream represented the death of her old life and the resurrection of her new life in Jesus. This, she told us, in a room full of women who do not yet believe.

I could tell you about the precious translator who just absolutely won my heart. She has the sweetest spirit about her, and I know that we would be close friends if we lived in the same country.  She said that she has always considered herself “spiritual” but not “religious.”  She has never believed in Jesus, but after translating, she is now interested in what we believe. Will you pray that she understands how very much Jesus loves her?

Would you pray for the precious Polish believers who war with a culture of  religion instead of relationship?  It is so difficult to break from traditions that you’ve held since birth, even when your heart tells you that they’re wrong.  One couple is confronting this now and will have to come to terms with what they believe to be true about God and His Church.  Will you pray for them?

Will you pray for the ones who had serious questions during discussion time? This was an open format for people to be honest and genuinely ask anything they wanted to know without any of us interjecting. As the Polish pastors fielded those questions, it was amazing to see the Lord move and to prompt people to give their testimonies.  One such testimony came from the pastor’s wife, a precious woman with more light in her than I can possibly describe.  She came to Christ through a vision of Him after she was contemplating committing suicide.  Isn’t it incredible how the Lord redeemed her and is using her so mightily? Will you pray for her family?

Shall I tell you about the children? They were everywhere! I absolutely LOVED the family culture.  My daughter didn’t know how to feel about being able to roam freely around camp by herself without worry.  She got to play and be a kid instead of worrying for her safety.  It was wonderful! God grew her faith, too.  She celebrated as He provided for us, and while the beginning of the camp was hard for her, by the end of the week, she managed to befriend two precious Polish twin girls.  It was wonderful to see them play, and I know she will cherish them in her heart.  It also helped her to consider those at her school who might not speak her language.  She got to experience what it felt like to be an “outsider,” and I know that this lesson will stay with her.

On the last day before we got on the plane, we had the opportunity to see Warsaw.  It was both exactly what I expected and none of what I expected. I imagined flocks of tourists and museums to remember the Warsaw Ghetto.  Instead, I saw only a small plaque on the wall of a building and a marker across the sidewalk.  It took me a moment to catch my breath, but then I realized why this was so.  Most buildings had plaques of some sort or another, some from WWII, others from Russian takeover.  In the midst of Old Town, there are remnants of the old fortress wall, and in the center stands a beautiful castle. At the end of the day, we had the chance to tour the castle.  It was incredible with ornate, gilded ceilings, massive murals and tapestries, and centuries old artwork from floor to ceiling in almost every room.  We even saw two original Rembrandts.  What struck me most, however, was the contrast: the palatial glory of the castle in the midst of so many memorials to those who were slain.  Even many of the paintings depicted the rise and fall of empires.  This was my first time seeing things so old, and doing so reminded me that everything in this life will pass away, but the glory of the Lord is forever.  In Him alone can we find safety. In Him alone can we find eternal life.

So how do I “measure” this trip?  It isn’t by the bottom-line question that so many of you will ask: “How many got saved?”  I measure this trip by the seed sown. I would love to tell you that everyone at camp accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior, but that is not what happened. What I can tell you is that they heard the Gospel over and over; I can tell you that God moved mightily; and I can tell you that He isn’t finished.  The campers have spiritual questions now, and those questions are the beginning of seeking Him.  Will you pray with me for the Polish believers to continue to shine their Light in darkness?  Will you pray for the Word to take root in good soil and not be choked out by the culture? Will you pray for Jesus to break down the fortress of each camper’s heart and reveal His Truth to them? Will you pray for the missionaries and church planters to seek the Lord, grow in Him, and stand firm?  Only 200 of 2400 counties have an evangelical presence in Poland.  Will you pray for more people of peace to rise up, plant churches, and see His Gospel transform Poland?

It’s hard to come to a close, but I suppose that’s because I don’t believe this is one.  The trip is only part of the mission, and the mission isn’t over.  Will you join me in prayer?

 

 

 

The War for Authenticity

I grew up in church. I was there every time the doors were open. I loved every part of it until one night at church camp.  I was broken and crying out to the Lord and felt that I needed to speak with a counselor.  While I won’t claim that I was pure in any way for most of my teenage life, I will tell you that, at this point, I was still really young and trying to follow the Lord.  When I met with the counselor, he asked that we go outside to talk. It was dark, and he began to ask me really uncomfortable questions.  As he spoke, my anger raged inside me. Maybe he didn’t intend to make me feel the way he did.  Maybe he thought I was naive enough not to notice where his questions were going. Either way, that was the turning point for me walking away from the church.

I spent the next several years going through the motions with spiritual highs and lows and times of nothing spiritual at all. My parents did everything possible to pour God’s Word into me, but when I looked at the church, I didn’t see God’s love.  I saw judgment and slander and gossip and anything but the Gospel.  For a brief time, I saw God’s love in a youth minister who I knew I could share my heart with.  He was special– when I looked at him, I knew that he knew that I was living in sin, yet he welcomed me with open arms and continually pointed me to Christ.  And then he was gone.  The church changed leadership, and in what seems like an overnight decision, he was ousted. The one who walked with us, the one who met people out on the streets and asked them to join us, the one who didn’t care about the color of our skin or our background, the one who day in and day out week after week shared the Gospel, was gone.  And that was strike two for me.

Fast forward a few years, and I had just turned seventeen and was living in my own apartment and going to college.  When I finally got the nerve up to attend a church, guess what happened? It was NOT church. It was a Republican rally.  The only time Jesus was mentioned was in the opening prayer.  The preacher (and I use that term VERY loosely here) literally ended the “sermon” of talking about the death penalty by slamming his hand down on the podium and screaming, “and I say let’s kill em’ and kill em’ faster!”

I. Was. Done.

So how on earth did I end up back here? And why on earth do I encourage people to attend the local church? How did I come to love her so much in my adult life when I found no relevance in her in my younger, more pivotal years?

The answer is simple: Jesus.

I remember the moment when I knew I must go back.  I had spent years shoving the Holy Spirit into the recesses of my being and living the way I wanted.  I was empty inside and hurting, but I was also stubborn and wanted to live my own way.  Then one morning it happened: I was in the shower, and I felt this “leaving” within me. I don’t know how else to describe it. I know the Lord never leaves us,  but I believe that He allowed me to feel that so that I would return to Him.  I remember hitting my knees and screaming out loud, “WHERE ARE YOU, GOD?!”

I have never been so scared in my entire life.  It had been years since I spoke with God, yet in that moment, I knew I would never be the same.

You see, God pursues us. He is the Good Shepherd, and He never loses one of His flock. His children hear His voice. There was no person, no sermon, no pastor, no program, no music, no graphic, no show that brought me back to Him.  It was God Himself.

This was my experience as a believer.  This was the Lord calling and my willingness to surrender.  But God didn’t stop there. He didn’t intend for me to walk alone. After years of being away from church, I had a desire to be with people of God.  But how, after my experiences, could I find an authentic church?  Did it really exist?

I share my story with you for two reasons.  I want you to understand that this is not some generic “5 Ways to Become More Relevant as a Church” list.  It is what made me listen after years of turning away.  It is also to encourage you, fellow church members, to BE The Church.  Our worship times are full of “fans” who are not actually followers of Christ, and it is hard for outsiders to differentiate.   We must be active in reaching people instead of sitting comfortably on our pews. We must live what we believe.  We must be authentic in the midst of pride, comfort, busyness, and distraction.

So now to the grit of the matter: How can we, as a church, reach the lost or even the believers who have experienced “church hurt”?

  1. We have to be relevant in the right ways. While it’s important to contextualize, we have to be careful not to simply advertise.  Every gimmick, every show, every song, and every graphic is important, but these things are ultimately just vehicles for the message.  Millennials have been sold the philosophies of postmodernism and relativism mixed with tremendous undertones of existentialism.  They question the meaning of life and whether or not life even has meaning.  They are searching for purpose in a world that doesn’t fulfill and doesn’t make sense.  They see suffering and hatred that are incomprehensible, and they are searching for peace. When millennials walk into our churches, if we don’t have substance to support the hype, they will not stay.  They can get great coffee at Starbucks instead.
  2. We have to LOVE people, not adopt “projects”. This might be the hardest part. Discipleship is not us sitting at a table and imparting our knowledge on a group of eager listeners as they highlight their Bibles and become the next Timothy.  (Okay, so maybe it can be for some, but that’s rarely been my experience.) More often than not, discipleship is MESSY. It is first and foremost a friendship.  We are all family in Christ, and we should treat each other as such.  This means sharing our burdens, warring together, praying together, and pointing each other to Christ.  It means receiving a call at 2 a.m. from a friend who has fallen into sin and telling her how much Jesus loves her and that His mercies are new every morning.  It means holding each other accountable in the Word, not condemning each other.  After all, we can’t be someone’s Holy Spirit.  We are all on a journey, and we are all being sanctified daily.  The Lord is the One who works on us. If we could fix each other with our judgments, we wouldn’t need Him.
  3. We have to get over ourselves.  We are obsessed with perfect angles and pithy quotes, but if our lives don’t reflect the Gospel, we are “stale bread” to outsiders. As we disciple each other, let it be that we point each other to what God’s Word says. Anyone can argue with our personal thoughts on a matter, or the latest celebrity preacher’s thoughts on a matter, no matter how eloquent they sound, but they can’t argue with what the Word says.  Let us be a people who abide in the Word so that it flows through our hearts and minds and out of our mouths and into our limbs! As my mom would say, “Let your walk talk what your talk talks.”
  4. We have to love ALL people.  Oh friends, if I could scream one sentence from the rooftop, this would be it.  Yes, ALL people, because God loves all people. Jesus died and rose again to pay the penalty of sin for ALL people.  You know… the ones with different skin tones, the ones with different nationalities, the ones with different backgrounds, the ones with illnesses, the ones with different religions, and even the ones with different sexual preferences!  Jesus didn’t say, “Go and share the Gospel with all nations of people who look like you and are already Christian.”  He didn’t say, “Go and sit on a pew with your best friends and form a holy hill that digs into my Word but never practices it.”  What about the woman who sneaks into the back of the church right when it starts and leaves during the offering? How will you reach her? What about the one who smells like he hasn’t had a bath in a week? What about the one who only speaks broken English? What about the one who just got out of prison? What about the one who has a bad reputation?  What about the one who is openly gay but decides to try your church? Friends, oh dear sweet friends,  we have to stop.  We have to see the unseen. We have to walk into church with eyes for the lost just like we walk into the world with eyes for the lost.  We have to do more than wave hello. Anyone in the world (especially in the South) will do that.  We have to be willing to get into people’s lives.  It can be uncomfortable. But each of us has a circle of people that we encounter each day that are totally unique to us.  What if we stopped letting fear stop us? What if we loved ALL people as Christ loves them? What if we shared the Gospel with ALL people, no matter their background?  The Gospel has the power to save! It has the power to transform! We should be a vehicle for sharing it, not a barrier preventing it.
  5. We have to be available.  Enough with limiting our hours to Sunday and Wednesday at specified times. That is NOT authentic.  Would we do that to our family members?  Would we do that to our friends? We don’t throw seed in the ground, water it once, and expect it to continue to grow.  We need each other! God is relational, and He has designed us to be relational as well.  There is no greater blessing than having a group of people to pray for us, encourage us, and continually point us to Christ.  We have many burdens in this world, and when the Body of Christ functions as He desires, the Church becomes a safe haven, a place of refuge and growth that is not limited by time or place.

For me, church is not about a building; it’s about a group of people.  I spent years without that support, and while finding it was difficult, it has been one of the greatest blessings of my life.  If you don’t have a church, I’m urging you not to give up.  Jesus loves the Church and desires for you to be connected.   If you do have a church, I urge you to take these things into consideration.  We will never win a culture in a fallen world, but through The Church, the Gospel can win a people.

 

Photo Credits: <a style=”background-color:black;color:white;text-decoration:none;padding:4px 6px;font-family:-apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;San Francisco&quot;, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, Helvetica, Ubuntu, Roboto,

 

Four Things I Want My Daughter to Know in a World of Feminism

Dear M,

You are getting older, and the world is screaming at you to step into the role of womanhood, even though you are only nine. I can no longer buy you dress shoes without heels, and I had to explain more than I cared to as we walked in the mall and you saw the ceiling-height poster of the scantily clad Victoria’s Secret model with her legs spread open. I watched the horror on your face and the roses pop up in your cheeks as you grappled with why anyone would want to show so much of her body to the world. And while I have to quell your curiosity when you ask me why you can’t search random questions on the internet and look up Google images of whatever pops into your little mind, I know this is only the beginning.

For now, I can protect you, but I know this time is running out, and inevitably you will have to decide for yourself what kind of human you want to be. The world will paint many pictures of womanhood for you, but before you buy into them, here are a few things I want you to know:

1. You are loved…unconditionally, irrevocably, forever. You don’t have to show off your body, compromise your values, or try to be something that you aren’t in order to achieve this love. Before God spoke words and created the world, He knew you. He chose you. He loved you. And He moved Heaven and Earth to save you. When you pursue love, pursue Him.

2. You are unique. There is no category or label that molds perfectly to who you are. In fact, who you are now will be very different from who you are ten years from now. Embrace the gifts that God has given you, and don’t try to fit into someone else’s idea of perfection. Of the seven billion people on earth, there is no one else like you. Embrace who you are, and walk in it with confidence. When you have doubts and insecurities, remember that God doesn’t make mistakes; you are His masterpiece.

3. You should not deny your nature. Being a feminist shouldn’t mean hating men, rejecting all traditional roles for women, or shaving a Nike sign into your nether-regions and posting it on Instagram before marching in Washington. Being a feminist should mean recognizing that all women have value equal to men, yet we are uniquely and beautifully different. I once heard someone say, “I don’t want to be equal because I am not the same. I want to be parallel.” You don’t have to reject traditional roles of womanhood to be powerful. You will be a powerful, strong woman whether you choose to run a company or stay at home with your children. Your power does not lie in your worldly position; it lies in your Kingdom position. You are a daughter of the King of Kings! There are many molds for femininity within the Kingdom of God, from faithful wives to victorious judges. When you look at the world and your role in it, embrace the beautiful qualities that God has designed in you. Your femininity is a gift!

4. You are enough. You don’t need to compare. You don’t need to keep up. You don’t need to document every aspect of your life to prove anything to anyone. You are enough. And when you reach that inevitable point where your feelings of inadequacy threaten to drown you, I need you to remember not just who you are but WHOSE you are. Forget the camera angles and the social media posts. Forget the likes or the friend counts. You belong to Jesus. You are a daughter of the Lord of Hosts. He commands His angels concerning you. When you feel like you aren’t enough, look to Him and you will realize that you never had to be enough…because HE IS.

Sweet M, so much of this world will compete for your heart, but you must be a warrior and keep your focus. God has designed you for this and equipped you to be a powerful, loving, and compassionate young woman. Seek Him with your whole heart, and there is nothing that will be able to stop you. And as always, I will be by your side, proud of the young woman that you are, and cheering on the woman that you will become.

Love,
Mom

"But now, this is what the Lord says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." Isaiah 43:1