What if This Time-We Don’t Pray?

I am so thankful for the many wonderful and encouraging friends, family members, and complete strangers who were praying for this weekend.  Sophie said that she knew of saints all over the world who were praying for this conference for young teenage girls. But not only were people praying leading up to the event, but also during it! Her church assigned 24 individuals to pray for an hour each for 24 hours, and two men met at the church to pray together all day, with schedules in hands, while the conference went on.  And it made me wonder this:

What would it be like if we did the entire day all over again, but this time without prayer?

What would have gone differently if people had not been praying about the day? Would we have had trouble with the sound or the powerpoint? Would the girls not have been quite so attentive? Would the weather have taken an early turn for the worst? Would the food have come late or would half of it been missing? Would my flight have been missed or delayed? Would one of the speakers gotten sick or last minute, been unable to make it? And on and on I could ask how things could have gone differently.

But they didn’t.

Everything went swimmingly! And maybe this is a foolish thought (feel free to rebuke me if it is!) because I know that God’s purposes and plans could not be thwarted based on our lack of prayers. His perfect plan would be completed, his glory would have been revealed, and whatever he wanted to do would have been brought to fruition whether we as his children prayed or not.

But I wonder which of the days blessings were a direct result of prayer-a blessing that would not have happened if prayers of intercession had not been made.  Because though I realize that every millisecond of the day could not have happened apart from God’s gracious allowance of that happening-I also recognize that prayer is powerful, commanded, and it changes things. I want to give our kind omniscient, omnipotent God every bit of glory that he deserves. And I just think it is such a neat thought to perseverate on that he, the creator and sustainer of the universe, joyfully gave blessings in abundance simply because he delights to answer the prayers of his children. It’s crazy!

Matthew 7:11If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!

Sometimes Travel Can Be Frustrating…

Sometimes travel can be frustrating.  Wrong turns are taken, items needed are forgotten to pack, flights are delayed, and some airport employees exude misery.  To combat against allowing any of these things to “get me down” I decided to make a list of the top 10 positive parts of my traveling experience to Kentucky.

  1. I listened to an awesome sermon on Habakkuk 2 on my way to the airport! Very encouraging!
  2. My carry on and personal luggage were within the weight and size requirements
  3. I got in front of a HUGE school group in the security line and moved through quickly
  4. I ended up not having to take off my shoes or take out my laptop through security-went through the “speedy line”
  5. The lady beside me waiting to board offered to buy me a bottle of water when she bought her own (as long as I agreed to watch her bag…)
  6. I was able to write this blog!
  7. Then I SAT beside the woman who bought me water and we talked the ENTIRE flight about life lessons, spiritual beliefs, how to motivate others, and why yogurt makes her groin hurt…
  8. I got the whole can of cranberry juice instead of just the cup!
  9. During my layover I got chips and salsa from Chili’s-to-Go…a personal fave!
  10. When exiting the plane in Paducah, we walked outside (instead of getting hooked up at the gate, ya know?) and it was a beautiful night! (Plus for some reason I always feel like the President when I walk down steps off an airplane…maybe that’s just me!)

So there you have it, folks-my top ten! So even though I got five “Flight Delay Notifications” and forgot to pack toothpaste and accidentally tried to park in airport employee parking lot when looking for Long Term B parking lot…there are still so many other things to concentrate on and be thankful for. I want to be a person who is not easily flustered and who can find joy in the everyday! Every experience is a gift from God that he is TOTALLY SOVEREIGN OVER, so let’s find reasons to thank him for them. Try and make this a habit in your life to aid in your sanctification. Especially if you know you will be tempted be annoyed/irritated/flustered. 

And as a side note from that, this won’t always work. I know my happiness can be taken from me in a moment, but joy, true joy from the Lord, is something deeply embedded into a believer that can never be taken away.  So even when I can’t think of ONE positive thing, not to mention ten, I have a trump card that has written on it the name of Jesus. 

 

“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy,  for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

Pray For Me This Weekend?

So I started writing in this blog a little over  a year ago. Hardly any one read it. Maybe my dad and one or two people from my church. Maybe. But then, all of a sudden, there was this one follower, a stranger, out of the blue, who started liking all my posts.

Her name was Sophie.

And not only did she like them (even spam bots can do that!) but she also would comment sweet, encouraging, things on each of them! She would tell me specific phrases she loved, and specific encouragement it brought her. Let me tell you, I am pretty sure I would not still be blogging today if it wasn’t for the encouragement of Sophie McDonald.

Well naturally, I started snooping around her (incredible!) websites and found out that we were soul sisters. So many of our heartbeats echoed one another, and from there our mutually encouraging internet friendship blossomed.

Strangely enough we both happened to sign up and attend a missions conference in Kentucky at the beginning of this year! (And of course, by “happened to” I really mean “wonderfully-perfectly-sovereignly-planned-and-ordained-by-God”.) And we were able to meet up for coffee and share even more of our kindred hearts!

Sophie is gifted at and passionate about many things-and one of them is disciplining and investing in the lives of young girls to help show them what godly femininity is and how to find their identity in the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ. When we met, she asked me if I would partner with her in this missions, and speak at her first True Beauty Conference in her hometown of Paducah, Kentucky.

Long story short, God has been magnificently gracious and at work in every inch of this conference and I’m flying out tomorrow to meet Sophie once again for us to co-labor with a few other sisters, for the souls of 200 women, from 5th to 12 grade girls, their moms and church leaders.

So I covet your prayers. For the speakers, for the logistics, for the nerves, for the travels, for the attenders, for the hearts, for the minds, and most importantly for the gospel to be seen as beautiful and glorious, all-sufficient and all encompassing, and for every woman to walk away from this conference longing to know, love, and be more like Jesus Christ.  Soli Deo Gloria.

Keep Moving Forward!

Perhaps you’ve heard this little quote by Grace Murray Hopper, an admiral in the United States Navy:

And I love this quote because so often we are fearful of the unknown and tempted to stay where we are comfortable and safe. We want to leave the harbor, but we don’t know where we should be going! Should we steer to starboard or to port? One thing is for sure, you can not steer to either if your boat is no in motion.

It is totally okay if are not sure about where God is leading you right now! But that doesn’t mean you can just idly sit in the harbor; you need to move forward. Because often times He does what He did with the Israelites after they escaped from Egypt. He could have parted the Red Sea DAYS before they got to it. They could have seen in the distance, “Look guys! The sea is parted! That is how God is going to deliver us from Pharaoh’s army! He’s done it! Hooray! Woopie! Ye-Haw!” (they, of course,  do a little dance of merriment) But no.

But that is not what He did.

He waited until they got right the edge of the water. He waited until they could taste the salt in the air and hear the sound of the beating hooves of the chariots, waited so they had no other option but to completely rely on God and trust Him wholeheartedly, and then, THEN he parted the Red Sea and they walked across on dry ground.

This might be that time for you. You might be waiting, walking, knowing that God has told you to take a next step, but you are not sure where to! You know what He is saying? He’s saying “Trust me, daughter. Keep moving forward. I will shut doors no one can open and open doors that no one can shut (Rev. 3:8)! I want you to glorify me with your life, and I WILL direct you to the best place for you to do that. Just seek me.”

As you move forward, the Holy Spirit will be sure to grant you peace if that is where our amazing Triune God wants you to be. He is the giver of peace! I love Proverbs 3:5-7 -“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your path.” The Lord’s timing is perfect, and though the path may not be EASY, He will make it straight. And because He is good and trustworthy and beautiful, you will grow to love and trust Him more because of this experience, of this I am sure!

The Semi-Broken but-not-so-naturally Contrite Heart

The other day I listened to a sermon by John Piper that heavily encouraged the importance of a daily contrite heart before God. He made the argument that if we have a weightier understanding of our depravity we are able to better adore God’s graciousness. Like a boat, the heaver the body is (contrition), the higher and larger the mast can be raised and the sails can fly(praise and gratitude!).

That makes sense to me in my little head. But after listening to the sermon, I didn’t quite know how to do it. I used to think that the people who were very sensitive to their sinfulness and who can perseverate on it continually where…I don’t know….wrong. I thought, “Stop looking at how gross you are and look at the cross, look at grace! Grace! Grace!” That’s what I do! Piper poses that though that OF COURSE is step two, it is ever so important to do step one of having a broken and contrite heart before the Lord. We are not supposed to be internally destructive, but we are to remember our sins for humiliation before God and glory to God. Looking at our vileness should lead us to His praising his OVERWHELMING grandeur.

Okay, so I was ready to do this! I wanted to have a contrite heart.

So I made a list.

I wrote out on a page a list of all my “Top Sins” in life. After I had wrote them out, I went back over and slowly read and sort of unpacked each one as I went through.  Wow. Let me tell you, that was NOT a pleasant experience.  But when I was finished, and went to the Lord in prayer, I understood more why it increases my adoration for God. My prayer to Him went something like this:

Lord, I am no where close to being a woman who completely follows you and is completley devoted to you. I too often compare myself with others and think, “Oh I am not that bad” though really I am! I should be looking only to your Son as the one I measure up to, and not to your other subjects. And oh do I fall short. My sin is such a wicked offense against you, your role, and power in my life. It is so constant, so belittled; how are you not enranged with disgust against me? Yes, you are slow to anger-but how long will you put up with this blatant disrespect I show you, O Lord? How long will I ungratefully abuse your grace, mercy, and forgiveness before you declare “enough!” and send me to hell where I belong? Why do I think I can trick you to being pleased with my sparatic offerings and diddys of praise when more often than not, I am ignoring you and your ways?  

(step two :))

HOW REMARKABLE IS YOUR STEADFAST LOVE OH LORD. THOUGH NEGLECTED AND UNAPPRECIATED, YOU WILL NEVER LEAVE ME NOR FORSAKE ME. THOUGH I HAVE DONE AND CONTINUE TO DO NOTHING THAT MERITS YOUR FAVOR, YOU HAVE GRACIOUSLY CHOSEN TO ALLOW ME TO BE YOUR DAUGHTER. I AM LOVED WELL BY YOU THOUGH I DO NOT LOVE YOU WELL. YOU HAVE PLANS FOR ME THOUGH I MAKE MY OWN SELFISH, SELF-PROMOTING PLANS. LORD, I HAVE DONE NOTHING TO DESERVE YOUR MERCY, FAVOR, GRACE, OR LOVE. THANK YOU THAT THOUGH MY NATURE IS TO OPPOSED YOU-YOU HAVE GIVEN ME A NEW HEART. ONE THAT THOUGH CONSTANT IN IT’S FAILURE AND WANDERINGS-DESIRES TO PLEASE AND SERVE YOU. WITHOUT YOU PLANTING THAT DESIRE IN ME, I WOULD STILL BE MOVING FORWARD IN LIVING TO PLEASE MYSELF AND SERVE MYSELF AS RULER AND LORD.

I am wicked. You are glorious.

I am guilty. You are perfection.

I am a breath. You are eternal.

I am selfish. You are righteous.

Yet. Yet you chose to redeem this undeserving, wicked child to give her purpose and joy in you!”

My prayer is that this post encourages you to dip deeply into your heart to see what it means to be contrite for the purpose of growing closer to our wonderful Lord and King.  I long for us to see Him more clearly and more lovely. I want our love for God to increase, and if remembering and being broken over our sin is the way to get there-then that is what we should do! Let’s pray to God to help us see our depravity in a way that honors Him and increases our understanding and affections for Him. Though a broken and contrite heart does not feel natural to many of us, we need it to see Jesus Christ magnified in more glorious splendor and overwhelming majesty!