in the dirt

Some, if not most, of life’s most pivotal moments happen without an audience. No one to see. No one to listen, care or applaud. A life completely wrecked, transformed, and the world keeps spinning. The moment passes. Life goes on, forever impacted.

These moments, invisible earthquakes of the heart, leave one feeling alone staring at the rubble of their life, wondering what it looks like to rebuild. You live in the invisible wreckage. Meanwhile, there’s a world full of people oblivious to the natural disaster of the heart.

But one sees. One knows. One is there in the dirt where you stand.


Last year I spent months reliving the past, feeling entirely unknown in the silent earthquakes of my own life. It ate at me to know that no one would ever live those moments and understand the implications. No one saw the moments that shaped me, the moments that made me who I am now.

I poured this out to a friend who prayed a Spirit-prayer about how God was WITH me in the darkest moments of my past. He was WITH me in the dirt.  Not just looking down on me from above, but holding me in the mess, wiping the tears, promising hope. These Truths washed the gift of Immanuel over me in an entirely new way.

Realizing Jesus was in those moments, seeing me, feeling what I felt, changed the weight of them. Suddenly I didn’t carry the memories alone. I wasn’t alone then for His eyes were upon me. His eyes are upon you too.


He is there in the dust as you cut your flesh deep and the unspoken pain runs red into His pierced hands.

He sits in the dust with you as you frantically try to pick up pieces of your broken heart worrying someone will see you shattered. Someone will know who you really are.

When you just want to disappear He is with you seeing you for all you are and all you will become.

He stands under the dark cloud of depression with you, providing comfort you can’t ask for, light when you can’t see.

When Loneliness and his friends seem to be your only companions, He is with you. Your truest friend.

He lays beside you as fear runs a marathon in your mind. With you in every heavy breath. Every sleepless night.

He picks you up from the dirt, declaring it enough, when it’s gone too far. He won’t let you stay in the dirt longer than you can bear.

He stands strong in the wake of tragedy, loss and trauma. Your firm foundation.

When you are left behind, everyone running ahead into new adventures, He stays to run your race with you. Promising adventures for you too.

When you are covered in the dirt of self-hate, He shows up with clean water to wash it all away and show you who you are underneath.

He shields you in the storms of change, so that you can still see His face, His constancy through it all. And when the dust settles, He will be there to rebuild and show you the way through your new terrain.

He sees you as your desires, the secret ones you hold close, sift through your fingers, turning to dirt beneath your feet. He is there to remind you what can grow in the dirt. He reminds you of the beauty that comes from ashes and the streams flowing in the deserts.


I don’t know what your dirt is, where you find yourself sitting, but He does. He knows because He is right there WITH you. Patient. Gentle. Constant.

He was there in the dirt where you stood. And He is still there in whatever dirt you now stand in. He is WITH you always, the dirtiest King you will ever see, all for the sake of your heart.


HERE AND NOW

by United Pursuit

when your faith in perfect love
can’t explain the pain that you feel,
you will find you’ve looked for a sign up above
but he was there in the dirt where you stood

and there’s hope found
here and now, here within the real
in the midst of all we’ve done
all we’ve given up on
he was with us every step
feeling what we feel
when your soul was buried down
burden by the long road

and in time we will learn to grow
through and pain and into hope
for the storms they come
and swallow up the sun
but the light lives on and on

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Immanuel

In seasons of waiting one of our first responses is to doubt God. Doubt His hand in things, His nature, His very presence. We wait and wait and wait for Him to show up. We wait for Him to show up in illness, grief, unmet expectations, failure, change and so much more. And when He doesn’t we are quick to ask, “Where are you, Lord?” We grumble, get angry and lose hope. Our worlds come crashing down when, in waiting for our Lord, it feels like He will never come.

In these times, there is Truth to be spoken over every weary heart in waiting: Immanuel. That is the Truth we all need when waiting for our Savior. Immanuel, God With Us.

It is in remembering His with-ness that we realize the One we are waiting for has already come. The One whose presence we are both doubting and longing for is whispering gently, “I am here. Where are you? I am with you. Are you with me?”

In a painful diagnosis, I am WITH you. In loss too great for words, I am WITH you. In big moves and lost jobs, I am WITH you. In failures and friendlessness, I am WITH you. In every disappointment, every unmet desire, I am WITH you. It’s who I am. Immanuel, God WITH you.

It is not about waiting for the Lord to show up. He already has. It’s about looking around, looking up, getting on our knees in the dirt, to find Him in this place, wherever “this” place may be.

When we stop waiting for Jesus our Savior to come, we free up space to see Him in our midst. Then, and only then, will we be able to say with full confidence, just as Jacob did, “Surely the LORD is in this place” (Genesis 28:16).

Throughout this Advent season and all of our lives, may we long not for the coming Savior, but for Immanuel, the Savior who has already come and dwells with us.

 

seasons of wintery waiting

I am fascinated by changing seasons. I love watching the trees go from green to orange before falling off and then budding anew. I love seasons in the world around me, but I have always disliked the changing of seasons within me. I like constants. I like knowns. But in life, we don’t get the privilege of knowing the seasons end or the seasons ahead. We live in the waiting, the unknowns feeling like our only constant.

Right now I am knee deep in the waiting, the wondering, the constant unknowns, the unpredictability of the future. Seasons with people are shifting. The season of my heart is changing. The blueprint of seasons ahead are locked tight. It all looks and feels as bleak as a January morning. Maybe you are in the same place…


Maybe you are waiting for your miracle after watching friend after friend experience theirs and you’re wondering why them? Why not me?

Maybe healing — emotional, physical, spiritual — is what you’re waiting for and you can’t help but ask how much longer?

Maybe you’re waiting to feel something again, for the fog of depression or grief to lift, so you can see the world again.

Maybe you’re waiting for the day when you can love yourself for real and not wear a smiling mask to hide the brokenness below.

Maybe you’re waiting for someone to notice you, notice your pain, your past, your very presence and as you wait you start believing you aren’t worth waiting for.

Maybe you are anxiously waiting for a phone call, a next step, a sign in the sky, anything to point you towards your purpose and you are getting frustrated.

Maybe you’re waiting to understand, waiting for your life, your circumstances and experiences to make sense. Waiting to see the good in it all, in hopes that then your hurt and anger will go away.

Maybe you don’t know what you’re waiting for, but you feel the weight of it anyway.


The question I’ve been throwing around lately is this — what do we do in seasons of waiting, seasons of winter?

I’ll tell you what I do. I doubt. I get discouraged. I feel hurt or angry. I try to do something, anything to fill the winter and speed up the waiting. I get impatient and contentment escapes me. Perhaps you do the same.

As I did all of these things listed above in the span of a prayer, the Holy Spirit did His thing — His gentle, earth-shattering thing — and whispered words like warm breath to frosty fingers. REMEMBER. Remember. remember. 

Remember My word. Remember My presence. Remember all of my faithfulness to you. Remember all of my truth for you. Remember who I am. 

With these words came a picture of trees, barren in the height of winter. Surrounded by snow, no spring in sight. In that state, do they doubt that spring will come? Do they question the timing of their creator? Do they live in fear, forgetting the harvest they just had? No, no they remember. They remember the fulfillment of the harvest. They remember the spring joy. They remember the summer freedom. They recognize winters importance, yet know it will not last.

Trees remember, so they wait. They wait all winter, saving their energy, for the spring growth that is to come. And it is in their waiting that they are prepared for the coming seasons. They don’t know when, but they trust and they wait.


For in the wintery waiting one thing holds true — the spring WILL come. It always does. And when spring finally comes your winter, your waiting, will make sense in the light of God’s glory.

God is the God of seasons — ALL seasons. Meaning He is as much the God of spring as of winter. Know that your waiting does not go unnoticed. He will come through, the sun will melt the snow, things will bloom again.

But in the meantime, you and I must dare believe that God knows what we need in THIS season. We must trust that His timing is better than our own and that He is still working, even in the wintery waiting.

Often times it’s in the seasons of waiting, of nothingness, surrounded by endless snow, that we are able to see the hand of God most vividly. He stands out amidst the barren winter background. And we are forced to face Him — shivering, uncertain, fearful — but face to face with our Father. And is there truly any safer, sweeter place to be?


These words won’t expedite the spring. They won’t change where you are. They certainly haven’t changed where I am. But they have reminded me to remember.

And in remembering I have come face to face again with the person of Jesus Christ — the unchanging, constant, faithful friend in every season I have walked through.

Remembering Him doesn’t change where I am, but it changes WHO I am in this place.

I pray remembering Him, His face, His character, His warmth, changes who you are in your season of wintery waiting.


I remain confident of this:
    I will see the goodness of the Lord
    in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
    be strong and take heart
    and wait for the Lord.

Psalm 27:13-14

mountains among skyscrapers

 

Walking the streets of Santiago with the hustle and bustle of millions of people. The air heavy. Cigarette smoke lingers. Voices, music, cars sound all around. Eyes down, thoughts all over the place, I block it all out. I walk with purpose, on a mission to catch the metro to continue the mundane, until I’m stopped at the corner. I hear myself audibly gasp. A smile spreads and I laugh aloud as I look up, as I look before me.

There they are. The mountains. The Andes. They stand before me, peeking between skyscrapers and above buildings. There they are in all their glory just like usual, but this encounter is different. This encounter changes me.


As I stood on that street corner, the Holy Spirit spoke boldly. The lesson learned, pondered, taught, nearly forgotten, but recently remembered. Full circle you could say.

The lesson was simple: I AM WITH YOU. The picture was breathtaking: the mountains among skyscrapers. The importance was more than I could have known or understood in that moment.


With my eyes lifted, a goofy grin on my face, I knew the truth. The buildings stand tall, but the mountains stand taller. The skyscrapers loom, but the mountains are still present. My fear, my uncertainty, my inadequacy rise to the heights of the Costenera Center. Anxiety and unknowns grow until I can’t see anything else, until lifting my gaze above them is too much. But there they are, those mountains, waiting to be seen. Amidst the chaos of the city, the Andes stand firm, unchanging. Amidst my overwhelming thoughts, God stands. Just like the mountains, He stands unchanging. He stands with me.

Fear grows, but the Lord makes His presence known. Commitments take over, but He is unmoved. Unknowns remain unknown, but He makes Himself known. Uncertainty addicts, but He refuses to give us up. Life overwhelms, but He surrounds with provision and protection. Everything is too much, but His “with-ness” is enough.


“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.” Psalm 125:2

This verse and the picture of the mountains among the skyscrapers all scream this one truth to my forgetful soul: He is WITH me. He is Immanuel. He is GOD with us. It’s who He is.

As the Andes surround Santiago on every side, so does the Lord surround me, so does the Lord surround you.

There will be rooftops moments where the mountains clearly surround like the walls of Jerusalem and our souls rest, in unmistakably seeing their presence, and sometimes all we get is a glimpse of them between buildings. But no matter the moment, no matter the time, the mountains are there. They never change, never move. They’re constant. What changes is our posture. Are we looking up or down? Are we looking around, walking blindly by? To see the Andes around Santiago one has to look up. One has to choose a different posture, that of expectancy. We can always expect to see Him. We should always look up, ahead, between. It is only when we change our gaze to the steady, the unmoving, the Mountain in our midst, that the breakneck speed world turns slow and finally our souls can rest. For when we know the Presence before us, we know the One WITH us.


Despite seeing from the rooftop, I somehow forgot about the mountains, about their faithful presence despite the buildings in the way. I forgot about THE Mountain, the One that is bigger than all of my distractions and uncertainty. But a truth-telling friend reminded me, “When the distractions, the seemingly impossible tasks, the skyscrapers of life start to cloud our view, we are reminded of the mountains; never moving, never changing, never faltering. Just like those mountains, my God never leaves me, never changes, and is always WITH us. Remember THE Mountain, the Mountain forever WITH us.”

I’ll remind you and me now. Whether your view is from the rooftop or the streets below, your surroundings, the mountains, our God, remain the same.  We change. He does not. We move. He does not. We are easily distracted. He is always present. He dwells within and without. He is the Mountain among our skyscrapers. He is God WITH us.

 

 

thoughts on His love

His love is constant and enduring. It knows no bounds, not of time or place.

His love is a flame that can’t be dimmed. It spreads like wildfire, in the best of ways.

His love is fire and rain. It’s refining and cleansing and quenching.

His love is wind and snow. It’s moving and pure.

His love is among us, a light in the darkness for all to see.

His love is extravagant. He gives us all of His heart not just parts.

His love is not anxious or afraid, instead it calms all our anxious storms.

His love is rest, our safe place.

He can’t be outdone in generosity for He is the God of abundance.

His love is gently aggressive, outrageous and unexplainable.

His love is forever engaged, present in our present.

His love keeps every promise to us until eternity.

His love is good. His love is wild for us. It’s unashamed in its intensity and devotion.

His love is uncontrolled and uncontained. His love is proud of us.

His love is faithful and devoted. He will have His bride.

His love is WITH us for His very essence is love. It’s who He is.

His love is this: “My life for yours.”

not the only but the best

When things seem hopeless, we pray. When life is out of control, we pray. When we feel helpless, we pray. When we’re thousands of miles away, physically separated and unable to do anything, we pray. When souls seem lost to us, we pray. When life and health are on the line, we pray. We pray because it’s the only thing we can do.

People of all kinds persecuted for all things. We pray. Loved ones living in darkness, us helpless to reach their hearts. So we pray. People fighting injustice, being the voice, for those who can’t. We pray. Friends grapple with dangerous inner demons. And we pray. Families experience loss and heartache. We pray. The news plays and we feel small, unable to curb the violence and hate. We pray. Strangers across the globe are being bombed out of existence, forced into a rubble grave. And we pray.

Prayer is often viewed as a last resort, a back up plan, what we turn to when all else fails.

In many cases prayer is the only option we have, but what if it’s more than that?

What if prayer was not only the only thing you could do, but also the BEST thing you could do?

That’s exactly what prayer is – the very best thing you could ever do. All that has to happen is a shift in focus, a healthy dose of humility, a realigning with His heart, a surrender to stillness, a commitment to stop doing and start listening.

If we find ourselves busy on our feet more than still on our knees, then fear and doubt have overtaken. If we try everything in our own power before tapping into His, then we have our priorities all wrong. If prayer is not our first response, then pride must be. If prayer has become a back up, then we have become our very own god, we have taken a place we can never fill.

So let’s step down from that place we were never meant to hold. Let’s kneel still and long. Let’s lift voices to Him in desperation, in helplessness, in humility, in praise. Let’s reach hands towards His throne of grace, the place that allows us to both give and receive that very same grace. Let’s pray and expect His presence, His undivided attention. Let’s pray for when we pray we enter that thin place where heaven meets earth and we truly see. Let’s open our hands, our hearts, to so much more of Him.

Because here’s the truth – prayer is not the only thing we can do. It is the BEST thing we can do. Prayer is not a last resort, but our weapon of choice. Prayer is not the back up plan, but our go to. Prayer is our defense against lies and our line of communication with our Father. Prayer is the oldest, most underrated trick in the book. Prayer is powerful, never changing. Constant as the sun rise. Prayer brings us back to humble communion, equips us to keep living and loving. Prayer prepares us to change the world in His name.

Let’s stop doing and humble ourselves to pray. Because when we pray, we not only do the only thing, we actually do the very BEST thing.

 

lessons about us from the view

I imagine God forever in His heavenly workroom with a table covered in clay, a potters wheel, tools, every color of paint and brushes strewn about in joyful disarray. He’s singing, dancing, having a party while creating every piece of earth. He’s carving mountains and painting sunsets. He’s flattening some parts and making other parts rise to heights that leave you breathless. He’s shaping lagoons and sand dunes. He’s coloring the sea every shade of blue. He’s a creative genius at work.

With that image in mind, here’s the thing I thought as I stood exhausted, makeup less with bed head and dirty clothes before a beautiful lagoon surrounded by volcanoes.

God does this just for fun. He does this just because He can. He creates because He’s good and beautiful. And I am part of that good and beautiful. He says I am His masterpiece. He whispers that not even this before me is created in His image like I am. 

Standing before some of the most beautiful views I have ever been privy to and that was what I thought. I have now hiked the Andes, swam in saltier than the Dead Sea lakes, been surrounded by volcanoes, watched too many yet never enough sunsets and seen water too blue for words. Yet every single view has left me speechless, in a flurry of thoughts.

You see, there I was awestruck at His creation, His creativity and glory and I realized something. I am seen as more beautiful than all of this. In that moment the Lord challenged meHow can I declare beauty in everything around me, yet be hesitant to declare the beauty in myself? How quick am I to marvel at the mountains, but how slow to marvel at my own skin? How easily do I gaze at oceans and foliage in wonder and then question my own design?

The thing is, what I marvel at is God’s leftover. He colors rainbows with His leftover paint and fills lagoons with salt water, because why not? But when He makes humans, when He makes you and & I, He plans every detail beforehand to reflect Himself. He takes the most delight in hand crafting each of us with unique characteristics that mimic His. He molds us on the wheel, carving every detail of our being. He laughs when he paints our freckles & birthmarks because they’re part of his creativity. He gets messy with every paint color when He comes up with never before seen eyes & hair. He takes joy in forming our arms & legs because He knows exactly who they’ll hold, serve & the lands they’ll travel. He paints the sky & carves the mountains with the leftovers from His real masterpieces, us. His real creativity & joy comes out in the dreaming up of every man.

So how can we hate on ourselves while admiring the majesty around us? How can we feel insecure when we are created in the image of a God who made THESE masterpieces?  These pieces of creation are stunning and they aren’t even made in God’s image. They’re just made for His glory & our enjoyment. We are the ones made in his image. We are the ones who display the breathtaking beauty and awe of God himself. We are the ones worth dying for. We are the ones molded around His character. We are not His leftover, but His dazzling design. We are not an afterthought, but His forever first thought. What joy & rest we can find in the TRUTH that we are His masterpieces more loved & treasured than the most breathtaking view in all the world. I dare you to believe it.

The Comparison Trap

Guest writer: Audrey Davis

Comparison is something knit into our sin nature, but through the power of the Spirit we can gain FREEDOM. My dear friend Audrey learned an awful lot about comparison in her summer of some serious boldness and she has thankfully agreed to share what the Lord has taught her. It’s such an honor and privilege to have heard these lessons on comparison (and many more) from Audrey and I’m grateful you get to learn from her too! 

Comparison. We’ve all experienced it. If you’re anything like me, you’re very familiar with it. It happens in the blink of an eye. It’s ever so subtle, so that at first we don’t even realize we’re doing it.  Then before we know it comparison has consumed our thoughts.

The Lord has surely done a number in my heart this summer. He has humbled me, revealed himself to me, brought me near to him, and shown me little glimpses of what He intended life to be like. But of all things he has taught me this summer, the one that stands out among the rest is a lesson in comparison.

Comparison is:

  1. A lie from the enemy.

Satan is a liar. When comparison fills your thoughts, it tends to cloud things, making it hard to see the truth. When you compare yourself to others, know that it is not from God. Jesus is a truth-teller. Jesus is life giving. Comparison is NOT life giving. I think Satan has us convinced that life is a zero-sum game. That if someone else experiences a win, then it must mean that I have experienced a loss. That if someone else is praised, then it must mean that I have failed. That if someone else receives a compliment, then it must mean that I am not good enough. My friends, this is a lie. There is no room for this in the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a positive-sum game. When my brother or sister in Christ experiences a win, I also win.

  1. A thief of joy.

I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase before, but it’s 100% true. Comparison can diminish joy in an instant. One moment you can be confident in who you are, and the next you can be listing off all the ways in which you don’t measure up. We’re left sitting in a puddle of insecurity and doubt. So we try to change ourselves to be more like celebrities, our classmates, or our friends. And what for? So that we can be less than God created us to be? He didn’t make a mistake when He made you. Don’t settle for being a second-rate version of someone else when you can be a first-rate version of yourself.

  1. A choice.

Satan is a tempter. He tempts you and I every day. He even tempted Jesus. Whenever Satan tempts you to compare yourself to others and see how you stack up, it takes a deliberate, conscious decision to say no to that. But the good news is that YOU get to choose which voice is going to be louder. You get to choose if you’re going to believe lies or truth. You get to silence those lies by calling on the name of Jesus (whether that looks like worship, prayer, opening your Bible, or simply loving on a person). The choice ultimately is yours. Don’t let Satan tell you differently.

  1. Centered around me, and not around Christ.

Comparison often stems from a place of low self-esteem.

It comes from the belief that “I am not good enough.”

This lie manifests itself in many different ways.

Maybe for you it sounds like this:

“I am not smart enough to be a doctor/teacher/minister.”

“I am not pretty/attractive enough.”

“I am not spiritual enough.”

“I am not thin enough.”

And do you know what those statements lead to? They lead to a nasty trail of jealousy and comparison. Those statements turn into this (fill in the blank):

“I am not as smart as _________________.”

“I am not as pretty/attractive as _________________.”

“I am not as spiritual as __________________.”

“I am not as thin as _______________.”

The problem with each of these statements? They all start with “I.” They automatically put the focus on myself and not on God. They find every little thing that is wrong with me and magnify it by ten. The equation is simple, really:

Low self-esteem = High self-focus

My mind was blown when a dear friend and mentor shared this statement with me. For the first time in my life, I realized that my low self-esteem was directly correlated to a level of self-centeredness. It’s a tough pill to swallow. Amidst my tears and struggles in that moment, she assured me that God, when he humbles us, does so ever so gently. He does not condemn us, but rather he in his great love invites us into his grace. She also assured me that one could be healed from this disease called pride. All you have to do is simply turn your gaze heavenward. Stop dwelling on all the ways in which you think that you are not enough, and look at all the ways in that He IS enough. Take a moment to stop focusing on self and instead focus on the One deserving of your attention. When you do this, you are free from worry and you are free to listen.  And if you listen, and I mean truly listen, I think we can hear God saying this back to us:

My Dearest _________________,

Why do you compare yourself to others? Why do you wear yourself out trying to see how you stack up to everyone else? Don’t you know that I made you to be YOU? Why are you letting jealousy take root?
Your value does not lie in your abilities. It doesn’t lie in what kind of grades you get. It doesn’t lie in how many likes you get on Instagram. It doesn’t lie in others opinion of you. It doesn’t lie in how many times you’ve failed. And it doesn’t lie in how many times you go to church.

Your value lies in the Jesus in you.

So do not worry so much. You are good enough. You are adequate enough. And when you fail, I am there. Where you lack, I will give you strength. I will get glory, even in your weaknesses. Trust me.

Know this:

You are fully loved.

You are mine.

You are valuable & incomparable to me.

I would do anything for you.

 Because that’s who I AM.  A good, good Father. The world doesn’t get that, and you are going to be constantly tempted to compare yourself, my child. But remember, your value doesn’t lie in your abilities. It doesn’t lie in your beauty (which is immeasurable, by the way). It doesn’t lie in who the world tells you you are.

Your value lies in who I say you are.

And I say this:

You are fully loved.

You are mine.  

You are valuable & incomparable to me.

I would do anything for you.

Love,

Your Heavenly Father

_________________________________________________________________

One of my close friends pointed out to me that I’m really good at preaching this message to others, but I’m not so good at believing this about myself. It’s easy for me to see others for who they are in Christ, and not what they believe about themselves or who the world tells them they are. I decided it was time to start practicing what I preach. And do you know what I found?

Freedom.

Freedom from my fears of not being enough. Free from my fears of being disliked. Free from all the lies that the enemy tries to convince me of. Free from the lie that if people knew me fully, then they couldn’t possibly love me. Free from the self-condemnation that comes along with comparison. Free from being so focused on myself. Once I was free from these things, I became free to believe other things.  Free to like myself for the way God created me. Free to trust that he made me on purpose and for purpose. Free to rest in his unending truths. Free to focus less on myself and more on Him. Free to be both fully known and fully loved. Free to see myself the way that he sees me.

My prayer for you today is that you would have the strength and courage to say YES to freedom and begin to see yourself the way God sees you.

what college taught me about food and my body

Last summer, as I was getting ready to start college, I had one huge unspoken fear. FOOD.

Most people are nervous about classes and friends. I was tied in a knot over food. I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I would react. I didn’t know who would understand, if anyone. I wasn’t nervous about it, I was scared.

I was scared for months leading up to college. I would sit on my couch in my therapist’s office week after week and go over the same “what ifs.” What if this? What if that? All of my “what ifs” and my fears concerning food and my body were glaring me in the face. The only voices I could hear were telling me, “Just wait. You’ll be overwhelmed and out of control. You’ll eat too little and spiral downward again. You’ll never recover. Or you’ll eat too much. You won’t know what to do. You’ll gain the freshman fifty and no one will love you.” My ears were tuned to hear only fear and failure. My eyes trained to see only what could go wrong.

So I entered college, with these barely exposed fears. I had only just gotten used to my food routine at home and now it was turned upside down, inside out. I had no idea what territory I was embarking on.

I can’t say it was a perfect transition, because it wasn’t. I had a few meltdowns in the cafeteria. I had a few silent cries. I had some subconscious restrictions. A few calls and emails to my home base. Many frantic questions and fears and failures scribbled in my journal. It was not perfect, but I’m okay with that, because it taught me a few of the most important lessons I could’ve learned.

I was reading 1 Timothy 4 and it was as if the Holy Spirit lifted a veil from before my eyes and I could see a new picture of food. “Through the hypocrisy and pretensions of liars, who forbid people to marry and teach them to abstain from certain kinds of foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and have knowledge of the truth. For everything God has created is good, and nothing is to be thrown away or refused if it is received with thanksgiving. For it is hallowed and consecrated by the Word of God and by prayer” (1 Timothy 4: 2-5). In the prior verses Timothy says that these things will come from “seducing spirits and doctrines that demons teach.” These rules and regulations concerning food are not of God. They come from hypocrites and liars. Food rules and restrictions are not of the Lord. They are of Satan who seeks to use what God meant for good, to destroy us, to leave us unable to serve the Kingdom.

I read this passage over and over again, specifically verse four, because of the truth it spoke.

Food is good.

Food is good. It’s goodness itself. And it’s a central part of how we experience God’s goodness towards us. Food matters. Food is part of God’s new and good creation. He created food and He called it good. He didn’t call some foods good and others bad. It doesn’t say some foods or the “safe” food or even the healthy food. It says everything. (Read verse four again if you don’t believe me). He called them all good. He says everything, all foods, He created are good. Let that truth sink in.

Not only does God call food good for us, He shows it’s good for Himself as well. When Jesus came to earth He ate food. He ate the same food as everyone else. He didn’t have some sort of “perfect heavenly food.” The food here on earth was perfect and literally sent from Heaven. It was, is, created by God in Heaven to be good and perfect for our bodies. Nor did He restrict certain foods calling them “bad.” He ate and drank what everyone else did.  Our food was good enough for the Son of God. I think that speaks volumes.

The truth is God made food. He ate food. He calls food good and He desires us to call it good too.

Food is a gift. 

Yep, you read that right. Before college I laughed at the thought of food being good, much less a gift.Food has always been fuel to me, something I need to survive. Nothing more and nothing less. But the Word of God tells a different story. Food is a beautiful, priceless gift to be received with thanksgiving and joy. Food is fuel, but it is not just fuel. It is the sole sustenance of our physical bodies. We cannot live without food.

I always yelled at God for making food. How could He do that? Why did He make me dependent on food? Why couldn’t food be optional or at least plain, bland, unimportant? The answer is that God could have made food just fuel. He could have even made us to be self-sustaining. But He didn’t. And you know why? Because He loves to go over the top for us. He loves to lavish grace, mercy and love upon us. One way He does that is through food. He sees food as a gift, a way to show us how much He cares.

It’s also a tangible way to remind us of our dependence on God in all things. We are not self-sustaining on purpose. We cannot survive without God providing food for our bodies. God made us dependent on food for a reason. He wants food, which we have to eat in regular increments, to be a constant reminder of how much we need Him and how much He loves us.

God hasn’t made food to harm us, but to bless us. God didn’t make food to cause division, but to bring people together. God made food and gave it to us as a gift. Food can seem like a burden, but with a changed perspective, food can become a beautiful, even holy, gift from our Father.

My body is good.

This is also something that I could not have said or seen a year ago. Before college, I made do with my body. I didn’t necessarily hate it, but I certainly didn’t love it. I tried to avoid it as much as possible, although being a dancer made that pretty hard. My body could have been described as “fine” or “okay,” but never good.

Now I can look at myself and say “my body is good” and really believe it. My body hasn’t changed at all. My mind has. My perspective on my body has changed. Slowly, my eyes turned from what my body couldn’t do, to what it could do. From what I didn’t like, to what I did. From reasons to be self-conscious, to the God who gave me a spirit of power and love. The Holy Spirit changed my focus. He realigned my vision for my body, with the vision God has for my body. God’s vision for my body is vastly different than my vision was.

God doesn’t care what size and shape we are. He cares what we do with our bodies. Yes, we are to be good stewards of our physical bodies because they house the Holy Spirit and are a gift from the Lord. However, God cares far more about how we love and serve than how we work out and what size we wear. He would rather us sit in His presence than anything else in the world.

So, yes, my body is good and so is yours. Our bodies pump thousands of gallons of blood a day. They get a bite of food through a complex system of compartments and valves. They know which things are welcome in the body and which are to be fought off. Our bodies are incredible. Not only that, our bodies are vessels of hope and joy for everyone we come in contact with. They are how we communicate the love of Christ to the lost and hurting. Our bodies are incredible. Our bodies are good.

We have to choose to believe that God made our bodies and He doesn’t make mistakes. He cannot. It’s against His nature, contrary to His character. That thing about your body that you think must be a mistake, it’s not. It’s good.

God made my body fearfully and wonderfully. My body is good. So is yours.

God knows.

College taught me that God knows. He knows all about my heart and soul. He knows all about my body. Nothing gets past Him. He knows what foods I like and what foods work for me. He knows what my unique body needs to function best.

I thought I knew what my body needed. I thought it needed less of everything. I thought restricting types and quantities of foods would be best, but God has shown me otherwise. My body is the Lord’s. He is in control of it, not me. Any action that attempts otherwise is a proud attempt at playing god.

The Lord is in control of all things, including my body. I may have thoughts, but His purposes for it will stand (Proverbs 19:21). My body, along with everyone else’s, is in His capable hands (Job 12:10). Though I want to believe that I know best, I have seen the folly in that. When I played god over my body, I sent it into a deep, dark pit, but when God has control my feet are placed on solid rock. God is in control and He knows best.


What was bad became good. What was fuel became a symbol of God’s love and grace for me. What was a grudgingly accepted gift became an opportunity for fellowship with others. What I believed was a mistake ridden body became a way to love and serve those around me. What I thought would destroy me, actually remade me. What I thought would be a burden carried alone became something shared among many. What began as my greatest fear in college became my greatest freedom. 

 

If you’d like to learn more about foods role in lives, read “A Meal With Jesus” by Tim Chester. I read it my first semester of college and it changed my world. I have no doubt it’ll change yours too.