Lies I Tell Myself


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I’ve been thinking a lot about a little word called justification lately. And not the good kind of justification where Jesus takes away our sins and makes us right in his eyes. The kind that whispers, “Well, it’s not so bad if I tell a little white lie. It’s harmless. I’m not really hurting anybody.” I’m talking about the excuses I make that let me take the easy way out and ignore the hard things that demand a higher standard in my life. That’s what my justifications are, excuses designed to allow me to do whatever I want to do which is usually completely out of line with what I know God wants from me.

What got me thinking about this, you might ask? I was recently confronted with the knowledge of something that caused my heart to grieve and I kept wondering, completely puzzled, “How could this person even think that what they’re doing is okay?” I just couldn’t wrap my head or my heart around it. I thought, surely they know better! And then I felt the Holy Spirit drop this word–the subject of this blog– justification into my heart. See, we can almost always come up with ways to justify our actions, even truly ugly ones, and the Holy Spirit reminded me that I do it all the time. Um, ouch!

When we were living in India as missionaries one of the things I justified, big-time, was my lack of compassion for people on the street. Whenever I felt a tiny nudge to reach out to a beggar I usually reasoned, “Well, I can’t make any sort of real difference. Since I can’t change everything, I should probably do nothing. This problem is just way too big for me. I don’t have the resources or the time to do anything significant.” Or at least that’s what I convinced myself was true. What I was really saying is, “I don’t want to do anything, stopping to help this person would be too inconvenient for me.” I’m ashamed to admit that the more I told myself those lies the more I believed them, until one day I found I could walk by people, dirty, destitute and broken, and not bat an eye.

1 John 3:16-17 (The Message) says: “This is how we’ve come to understand and experience love: Christ sacrificed his life for us. This is why  we ought to live sacrificially for our fellow believers, and not just be out for ourselves. If you see some brother or sister in need and have the means to do something about it but turn a cold shoulder and do nothing, what happens to God’s love? It disappears. And you made it disappear.

Justification allowed me to read that verse and say, “The number of people in need that I see on a daily basis is staggering, surely God doesn’t really mean this! I would drive myself crazy trying to live this out on the streets of India!” And just like that I could conveniently ignore it and dismiss it as too extreme and definitely too hard. I just want to say that is a scary place to live, picking and choosing the commands you want to follow, a place I no longer want to live in, and I’m sorry that I lived in it as long as I did. Truly sorry. I weep over the opportunities I missed, the people I could have helped, over the times that I made God’s love disappear in a place that desperately needed it to be tangible and visible. I truly hope you don’t relate to my story, but if you do, it’s not too late to change! Are you making excuses to justify disobedience? Ask God to help you change; he will!

Let me know what you think! Drop me a comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Look at Me

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Photo Credit: renedepaula via Compfight cc

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Summertime, for all it’s lovely qualities, can get a bit frantic. Daylight hours stretch and expand giving me endless opportunities to stretch and expand our schedule to fill the sun-soaked hours, baseball games and practices, camps, play dates, the list goes on and on.

As I head into this frantic season, my heart keeps circling back to something that I read several months ago in Exodus, something that brings a sense of calm in the chaos. Moses was heading into an overwhelming season that would begin with the frightening prospect of ordering the Egyptian Pharaoh to release God’s people from years of slavery and then leading them through the desert to the land that God had promised to give them. And at the end of chapter 6, Moses is arguing with God, explaining all of the reasons why he’s not good enough for the job, and maybe God would do better to find someone else, thankyouverymuch. But the words that God utters to Moses have stuck with me, and keep rattling around in my brain. I want to share them here, so maybe they can rattle around in yours too! 🙂

Exodus 6:30 (The Message) says, “And Moses answered, “Look at me, I stutter. Why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

Um, yes. I can relate to Moses, I’m a pro at finding all sorts of reasons why I can’t (or won’t) do the things God’s asking me to do. Stuttering sounds like a pretty good excuse to me. And yet God says three words that stopped Moses cold, and it stops me too. Every time. Whether I’m obsessing over a schedule, event, or writing. He says in Exodus 7:1 “…Look at me.” And just like that, the argument’s over. If I’m looking at Him the impossible thing I’m facing seems plausible and miniscule, but if I’m looking at me…well, let’s just say things aren’t nearly as comforting.

So right now, in this moment, I’m refocusing, making space to look at Him instead of me and some things in my life that seem too big for me to wrap my head around. Taking time to breathe and read things that turn my eyes towards God, and quietly reminding myself when I get off track to look at him.

What about you? Do you find yourself overwhelmed, looking at what you need to accomplish, or feeling the narrow pinch of a harried pace? Have you been telling God, “but, this and this….,” making excuse after excuse about why you’re not good enough or up to the task he’s given you and God is saying to you, “Look at me”? Do you need to refocus today? I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment about what God’s saying to you!

Bucking Bulls and Ambiguity

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Photo Credit: Al_HikesAZ via Compfight cc

One of the things that threw me faster than a bucking bull knocking a cornflake off his back was the ambiguity of life in missions. It is what you make it to be. Before we became missionaries we had been happily working as youth/worship pastors at a church in Des Moines. Our roles, and the expectations, were clearly defined. I knew where I fit into the big picture of our ministry and what that looked like on a day-to-day basis.

Insert India into my life and everything changed. India has a way of doing that! I no longer had a defined role or set of expectations. Outside of learning the language, our options were limitless–and overwhelming. I was being given an opportunity to basically reinvent myself and the way ministry looked for me, and I was paralyzed.

My husband is an amazing man and an incredible minister, and for most of our married life, and certainly in ministry, I had been hiding behind him. Mostly out of fear. Fear that I wasn’t good enough, that people wouldn’t like me, or that I would say or do the wrong thing (all things I still deal with!). I didn’t realize it at the time, but God was inviting me to step out of hiding and begin to walk out the individual call that he had just for me. Of course, Jonathan and I still have a call to do ministry together as well–and I love that!–but God had something for which he had uniquely equipped me. Unfortunately, it took me a long time to figure that out–and I’ve only recently started doing it! It’s been a long road of God whittling away my excuses!

Many of us, especially us women, will have the opportunity to reinvent ourselves and the roles we play over and over again in our lifetimes. In our families, our careers, and in serving Jesus. Very few, if any, of us will occupy a static role for our entire lives. From someone who’s finally(!) being obedient to God’s direction in her own life, I want to encourage you to listen to the voice of God and don’t be afraid to celebrate the new seasons and step out of hiding. Someone’s waiting for you to be obedient to whatever God is calling you to do.

Has God been speaking to you about something that you are uniquely gifted to do?

What’s keeping you from doing it? Education? Opportunity?

What can you do to remove the obstacles?