God, Isaiah and Roller Coasters

I opened the Bible this morning to Isaiah and found myself immersed in the consistency of God.

roller coaster colorThroughout my life I have felt as if I have been on a constant rollercoaster. Every day, sometimes every moment, bringing about a new challenge, a new victory, a new emotion to conquer, a new level of faith to cling to, another mistake to repent for, another sin to be healed from, another fear to face, another excitement to celebrate. It’s exhausting even typing it.

But God is so consistent.
It’s not a rare occasion that I get that concept completely mixed up. I feel as if God is the inconsistent one. I’ll sit and lament to Him at times saying things like, “God where are you?”, “I thought you told me this was going to work out”, “Why are things changing so much?”, “Why does this evil continue to win?” when really that is just the reality of life because this world is filled with humans and brokenness and sin. We are broken, and we need a Savior and yet the entire time I blame God for being flippant and flighty, distant and disconnected.

Perspective is a beautiful thing, and as I read about the plight of Israel and the constant betrayal to God they committed only to have Him continually pursue them and redeem them I couldn’t help but think of that beautiful thread of God’s consistent and pursuant heart throughout the story of Scripture. His love and commitment toward his inconsistent children is the story of the Gospel.

The Gospel is truly a story of God never giving up on His people, and that reminder is more than enough for me to be flattened in awe of His faithfulness.

There’s a part in Isaiah chapter 44 where God lists all of the things that the people of Israel did to appease their idols, and then in verse 24 He says you have not bought any fragrant calamus for me, or lavished on me the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins and wearied me with your offenses.

captiveWe sacrifice for the idols in our lives – settle in relationships so we won’t be single, cheat on our taxes to get that extra buck, tell one more white lie to save our pride – and yet our idols and the things of this world want absolutely no good thing for us. We bow down to our idols, and we run away from God. We bow down to the things of this world that we think will help us and deliver us from the agony that reality can bring at times and run from our Father who is the only healing ointment for all of our wounds. Our idols; this world, will only ever take from us. God on the other hand, has sacrificed everything in order to be in intimate relationship with us and chooses still every single day to carry the burden of our sins for us, offering us freedom and redemption at every single dip and twist of our roller coasters that we insist on controlling as much as possible.

After God’s lament of Israel’s insistence on worshipping the world instead of God we read, once again, God’s continual commitment to blessing His people if they would only turn to him. 44:1 declares But now listen, Jacob, my servant, Israel, whom I have chosen. This is what the Lord says – he who made you, who formed you in the womb, and who will help you: Do not be afraid, Jacob, my servant, Jeshurun (Jeshuruan “the upright one” is a poetic name for Israel) For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.

swing
He never fails to pursue, offer freedom to and bless us.
I was reminded this morning that every single time I think I can control my own life, I am robbing my heart from experiencing the ability of God to show up in massive ways in my life and through my life.
Instead of blaming God for wherever we have found ourselves on this roller coaster today, would you join me today in pausing for a moment, gaining a bit of perspective, and courageously trusting God again that He has only ever pursued us in order to free us from the grasp that this world has on us?

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23

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Sustained.

life

My God. The God of surprising sustenance.

He sustains me when my life feels like it’s a constant cycle of moving boxes, semesters of grad school and emotional scar tissue being built up through constant surrender and intention.

Healing takes time. Moving to a new place takes settling. Jobs change, semesters change, my moods change, my body changes, the seasons, relationships and positions of the moon are never still.

But my soul can be. And that is only by the grace of a sustaining God.

I had a really beautiful morning with Mary and Elizabeth and a bunch of boys in the Gospels today.

I read the story of Mary, a faithful, believing and sustained young girl going through the transition of all transitions. She goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth who is with child as well after waiting through much heartache and intentional trust in God’s promises.

Their babies leap, the Spirit moves and they worship Jesus.
Then there’s the story of Zachariah, the doubting husband of Elizabeth who upon receiving his voice back faithfully praises the God who sustains instead of being bitter about why his voice was taken for a time.

There’s John the Baptist, faithful from the womb.

flower budThere’s Andrew who bids his brother Simon to come and see this new Jesus guy where he is given a new name upon interacting with the One who sees us as our truest identities.

Page after page I read and soaked in the stories of my ancestors before me.

They weren’t perfect, but they were willing to trust that just around the corner there was a promise already fulfilled waiting for them.
They listened to the ache in their hearts for something more even when the world told them they were crazy to listen.

They held onto hope, let go of bitterness, and worshipped. They invited others to come and see the hope that they knew.

They allowed themselves to be sustained. In all of their humanity, imperfection and doubt, they allowed God to show them that He actually meant it when He said that none of that could keep Him from loving and sustaining them.

I sit amongst boxes again today, yes, again, as I pack up the home I’ve only known for three months and get ready for yet another transition.

I’m tired physically, unsure of what’s coming next, but my soul is truly still. I feel an incredible peace that I know only comes from the only force larger than the inconsistency of this life.

This peace has only come from me taking a cue from my brothers and sisters in the Bible worshipand making a choice this morning. A choice to be quiet, to be still, to rejoice and to worship my sustainer. I pictured being in the room with Mary and Elizabeth—Facing the unknown; trusting in the knowing God. Worshipping.

I put on some worship music, and I swear those two sisters of mine were in the room with me as we praised a God who knows. A God who holds us.

We lifted God up with thousands of generations of praise. We lifted a God up who transcends time and space and every limitation of this temporary home of ours.

I am sustained by this truth.

God is truly the anchor in an ever changing world, and that is always cause for worship.

 

Co-Pilot.

One of the most vivid memories I have as a child is when I would get to sit in the front seat of the car with my dad while we went on a road trip. I don’t remember the first time he called me this or if it was actually only once. If it was only once, it was more than enough because this is one memory my brain has involuntarily hung onto my entire life.

Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetCo-pilot.

There was something in the way he said it. I felt special, equal, useful and more than anything, I felt like we were in something together that not everyone was invited into. It was our thing. It was our name; a code of sorts that you could say while looking at the other one with a wink and a smile and for that moment it was just the two of you in on some secret mission against the rest of the world.

He was choosing me to be this special Co-Pilot, whatever that was, and it was awesome.

Armed with a pillow to sit on (this was back before car-seat rules existed apparently) and a Garth Brooks or Amy Grant cassette tape to put in the dashboard, my Co-Pilot checklist was checked and I was ready.

Dad in the driver’s seat, me in the front passenger seat, I felt like I was the most special and equal partner to one of my favorite people on the planet. I felt like I could do anything. We’d drive down the long stretches of highway on the way to see family in southern Oregon and as dad drove I was perfectly content sitting and riding along as Co-Pilot. After all, that’s what Co-Pilot’s did. They sang along to I’ve Got Friends in Low Places and dad would try to avoid the question of what whiskey was (I think he actually convinced me the word was whiskers for many years) and there was not a care in the world.

roadtrip 1As I think back on that memory with a smile, and I often do, I’m struck with how much that simple title meant to me without any understanding of what it was. I remember later in my childhood learning what it actually meant and I was baffled that it wasn’t something that was only known to my dad and I. I remember feeling as if a little bit of the magic had been lost when learning that this was a term used for thousands of people and not just for me.

But upon further investigation into my heart surrounding this topic I am coming to learn that it wasn’t actually about the name at all. It was about the one who gave it to me. My dad could have called me a sewer rat (affectionately of course) and I wouldn’t have cared because it was coming from him.

We see this play out in the lives of many children, both on the good and the bad end of the spectrum, and throughout the course of our lives we still hold great loyalty to the ones who said these things to us whether they impacted our lives negatively or positively.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to learn who to listen to. I’ve started to be able to untangle the titles put on me and, even if they were put onto me by people I loved and respected, I’ve started to learn how to cast off the ones that God never intended for me to have.

dad embraceI think we all need to come to a place like this at some point if we’re going to truly step into all that God has created for us.

I don’t need to hold onto the titles of being too much or dramatic or emotional or immature or the myriad of other things that come up in my mind right now as I think of some of the more hurtful titles that have been given to me involuntarily. No. They may have been given to me involuntarily, but now it is my turn to give those back; to ask God to help me strip myself of those that He never intended me to bare, and to have Him replace those with the ones that He has deemed worthy of His daughter.

Now it is up to me. It’s my turn to choose now who I listen to. Will I listen to God or the enemy? Will I live as the woman who only filters my identity through Christ? Or will I continue listening to this world? At some point we’ve got to choose. And once we choose? Well then it’s time to fully commit.

What about you? What titles have been given to you that it is now time to strip off. Which ones remain after seeing yourself through God’s eyes? Which ones truly embrace who you are and free you to go after this life without anything holding you down? Have you asked God recently who He says you are? It doesn’t have to be a common answer. I believe He’ll give you a memory or a word that means something to just you and Him and that is the title to fully embrace right now.

It’s time.roadtrip 3
It’s time to take your pillow and your favorite cassette tape and sit back and be that Co-Pilot like there would never be another Co-Pilot again. It’s time to sing at the top of your lungs unapologetically and trust the one who gave you that name; trust that this was the name you were created for and that together, in your full God-given identity, you can truly do anything.

He Will Do It

IMG_1944I am moving to Washington D.C. one month from today. One month from today I will take a suitcase, my cat and every ounce of courage I can muster up and fly across the country into, well, the unknown.

Many of you have asked me why I’m moving, what’s out there and why D.C.? And honestly I have no good answer for you. Well actually I have a great answer for you but it’s one of those answers that you’re embarrassed to give because it’s the one that induces shocked and confused looks from others, which is usually at the very least a minor shaking of your confidence, and at the very worst a look that causes all of the doubts and voices that you’ve been keeping locked up quite nicely to come springing out like one of those creepy Jack in the Box’s which then leads to you being in a puddle of tears on your kitchen floor….not that I have experienced anything like that.

But the truth of the matter is that God and I have this dialogue going, and I have worked for years to be able to hear Him clearly and I am still learning every day. And back in November I heard Him quite clearly tell me that it was time for me to move forward into something new, and that the new was not in Portland. And that’s all I knew. And so I did what any strong Christian woman would do. I doubted and I feared and I questioned and I gave into the fog of confusion for a few days and then I prayed and I had others pray and I sat on my bed one night and spun my globe and asked Him,

Where?

And all I can tell you is that I have a peace about D.C., because that’s all I knew then, and that’s all I know now.

That’s all I know about where I’m going, but I do know more about the one who’s sending me.

The one who’s sending me is the one who’s going with me, and He is. He really is going before me. I could tell you a million little ways that God has partnered with me in this, letting me know He’s with me at every turn, but what I will tell you now is that He is awakening my voice in this move. I know He is releasing a side to me that I have had hidden for years due to abuse, conformity, fear and insecurity. And it is time to break the silence.

I know that His heart is that I would love Him, love myself and love others in entirely new ways this next year. That I would speak up and out for my worth and for the worth of others. That I would find courage and learn how to be bold and respectful at the same time. And that I would never fear adventure, authenticity or advocacy again. These things will come bubbling out of this Brooke a million different ways over this next year and beyond, and I’m just as curious as you are to see what that’s going to look like.

My conclusion is this, for now: that I seek God with literally everything I have. With my voice, with my thoughts, with my body, with my mind; and then let Him take it from there. When He opens my mouth to speak may it be with the boldness that only comes from being soaked in Him. When He tells me it’s time for my fingers to move over this keyboard than may it be done with the respect and faithfulness that any art deserves. When He tells me that it’s time to go for the “more” that is out there for me, first stop D.C., then may I go with courage and surrender that can only come from having the power of the Holy Spirit truly being the one in charge.

It’s a beautiful and terrifying and confusing and exhilarating partnership, mine and God’s. I believe with my whole heart that He’s called you to a partnership in this life that is just the same. Be bold with me?

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” 1 Thess 5:23-24 NIV

So we must be blameless through and through…spirit, soul, body…and yet the one who calls you is faithful, and HE WILL DO IT.

So I submit. And He does it. I ask for courage. He provides it. I offer myself as best as I can every single minute to surrender, repent and receive all of who He is.

And He will do it.