A Perfect Starting Point For You + “7 Simple Essentials” Giveaway

Recently, I’ve had this recurring theme bubble up in conversations or smack me in the face while I’m studying the Word or praying. This is typically an indicator that encouragement is needed. A friend – like you – needs sharpened, or there’s inspiration ahead.

This theme I mention is about your walk with Christ. Not your spouse’s, your BFF’s, or the people you see in church on Sunday. It’s about you. Have you ever said:

-          “I want a deeper walk.”

-          “I need to be a better Christian.”

-          “I need to work on my relationship with God.”

-          “I am dry.”

-          “I’m not consistent.”

I’ve said those same things, too. Funny enough, right now I seem to be telling myself, “I’m outside my comfort zone.” The good news is this: none of these statements are wrong. Oftentimes we think we’re the only one who feels these feelings and so we choose to stay stuck because we don’t know a better way.   

Today, let’s talk about getting unstuck.

Step 1: Own Where You Are

Most likely, you’re familiar with the story in John 4 about the Samaritan woman at the well. I’d encourage you to click the link and refresh yourself on it before we move on. Genuinely ask God to speak impactfully and directly to your heart. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Done? Don’t cheat! You’re only cheating yourself. Take a moment and do it – seriously. [I’ve cheated before. It never pays off!]

Verse 4 says, “Now he [Jesus] had to go through Samaria.” Pause. When it comes to your life intersecting with Christ’s, remember that He’ll go out of His way to get to where you are. Let that ruminate.

We know it was noon time (aka: hot outside) and the Samaritan woman was drawing water at an unusual time to protect herself from others and the pain they’d most likely inflect through their whispers and slighted commentary. Christ knew this. Instead of dipping right into her sin we see Jesus asking (not telling): “Will you give me a drink?” He goes out of his way to get to where you are, and you must know when He’s with you, He’s a gentleman. He didn’t bring His hammer and nails to the party. He graciously asked if she’d spend time with Him.

Folks, when it comes to your walk and moving onward and upward, you must understand this truth: own where you are. What do I mean by that? We love to tell ourselves lies. We justify our actions with, “I’m too busy” or “I must get ______ done first.” Nah. Those are lies. You must own where we are and tell yourself the truth. You are busy, but one reason you may keep busy is because you may not want to feel what un-busy feels like. And that’s okay.

You do have time, but you haven’t chosen to make time because – let’s be honest – you don’t have the desire to make time. And that’s okay.

You like to shop on Amazon and you are ah-mazing at justifying that the One-Click purchase you made because it was something you were needing anyways, right?! Which is maybe a half-truth, but not the whole enchilada. And that’s okay.  

We just need to own the full truth. You’re going to the well at noon because you’ve made some lousy decisions in life and you’re living outside His will. And it’s okay to own up to this. You know why it’s okay? Because He’ll go out of His way to get to where you are, and He’s a gentleman and will lead you to the Truth.

Go back to those “confessions” listed at the beginning of this reading. Let’s look at the other half of that statement. For example:

-          “I want a deeper walk, but I don’t know how.”

-          “I need to be a better Christian, but I really don’t want to sacrifice my life.”

-          “I need to work on my relationship with God, but I don’t want to ________.”

-          “I am dry, but I don’t know how to be watered.”

-          “I am not consistent in my walk; but, I’m not really consistent with anything in my life.”

Beloved child of God: it’s okay. You are where you are. This is the perfect starting point. Call it what it is and don’t lie to yourself. God knows. He sees. And He has gone out of His way to get to where you are – but you must tell yourself the truth.

Step 2: Be Vulnerable

“’I have no husband,’ she replied. Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. That fact is, you have five husbands, and the man you have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’” (John 4:17-18)

These are #breakthrough verses. She owned who she was and confessed that to Jesus. Powerful. Don’t miss this! We must own where we are, and then acknowledge it to Jesus. Notice how Jesus responds to her: “What you have just said is quite true.” Jesus confirmed TRUTH!

Again, we must tell ourselves the truth, and if we’re not certain what truth is, He’ll let us know when we have it right. Being vulnerable is uncomfortable. It’s unguarded and raw and has this strange, exposed feeling. When we are vulnerable, those coping mechanisms dissolve. We say, “I am hurting and there is nothing protecting me.”

He needs us in that place. Adam and Eve experienced the same. They were naked in the Garden pre-sin. Uncovered, no varnish, raw. It was good naked. Then, came sin and they immediately saw nakedness differently. They sewed fig leaves together (Genesis 3:7) to cover themselves. We are no different. It’s not a literal fig leaf, but if you’re quiet long enough, God will reveal to you how you have sewn habits in your life as protectors. Sex, drugs, food, drinking, unhealthy relationships, music, shopping, busyness, laziness, hyper-activity, fitness, binging Netflix. The list is endless – and trust me, you’ve got a list. I’ve got a list. And some of the items on the list aren’t even bad. But, they are being sewn together in a destructive manner that is a poisonous “salve” to protect your wounds. They are wilted leaves.

We must pray Psalm 26:2 and say, “Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind.” Choose to be vulnerable. Choose to feel and allow the Lord to reveal what’s underneath. It’s uncomfortable. It makes you squirmy on the inside. But He knows this and you are safe with Him.

Step 3: seek healing

Jesus and the Samaritan continued to exchange words on a specific topic: worship. Jesus said, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” The woman didn’t realize, up until this experience, that her worship was constructed around falsities. It wasn’t until she owned where she was, chose to be vulnerable, confessed her pain, and exposed her destructive habits that the Savior could begin replacing her old behaviors with an understanding of true worship.

This past week, a friend asked me how to “be still” or “unplug.” There’s no right answer here. You must figure out what your style is, but I’ll share a few approaches I’ve used:

-          Sometimes I’m without words, but the Lord has a song that I keep hearing. Right now, I love listening to “I Surrender” by Hillsong. It serves as a prayer for me in this season. [One side note: I must be careful with music. Even Christian music can be a “coping mechanism” for me because when I have “noise” I don’t have to “feel” as much. Godly music is a blessing, but test your motives.]

-          Choose to be brave, and ask God for strength. I’ll often pray, “God, I want to have courage to own where I am and have You show me the false protections I’ve constructed in my life. Give me eyes to see and a heart to obey.”

-          Create silence. This is almost comical because I have four boys and a career outside the home. However, I assure you that it can be done. At times I get up early, stay up late, skip nap time, leave 5 minutes earlier in the morning to sit in my car before going into the office, or spend 15 minutes of my lunch reading and praying. You’d be surprised how much God can work in a small amount of quality time.

Step 4: share the Testimony

Ah, I adore verse 29. “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Friends, your Savior knows everything you’ve ever done. He’s not disappointed in you. We know we’re truly free when we can openly share where we are and be vulnerable with Him. There is freedom in this wide-open space. If we read on starting in verse 39, “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days.  And because of his words many more became believers.

A dear friend recently sent me a quote from Max Lucado’s book, Anxious for Nothing. It reads, “When a father leads his four-year-old son down a crowded street, he takes him by the hand and says, ‘Hold on to me.’ He doesn’t say, ‘Memorize the map’ or ‘Take your changes dodging traffic’ or ‘Let’s see if you can find your way home.’ The good father gives the child one responsibility: ‘Hold my hand.’ We Christians tend to miss this. We banter about pledges to ‘change the world,’ ‘make a difference for Christ,’ ‘lead people to the Lord.’ Yet these are by-products of the Christ-focused life. Our goal is not to bear fruit. Our goal is to stay attached.”

As the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” Keep holding His hand (without wearing any gloves you’ve sown yourself). Amen.  

Seven Simple Essentials: Gifts of Encouragement for you!

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Love ya!