Sometimes in life, one is required to take a “leap of faith.” To me, a leap of faith, is where, as a Bible-believing, God-loving Christian, you step out in faith to do something you don’t feel comfortable doing, but you do so anyway, trusting that God will see you through it—whatever “it” is. This has been on my mind as of late. And, I felt the Holy Spirit compelling me to write about it. So, here I am.
As I have been pondering “leaps of faith” these last few days, a thought occurred to me. Each and every day of our lives, we all take small steps of faith. We all do things that we don’t necessarily know what the outcomes will be. What do I mean by this? Well, five days a week I get into my car to drive to work. I take it on faith that I will make it there. Most every day, I take our dog for a walk around our neighborhood. I take it on faith that we will make it back home safely. I do both of things so often, that I don’t even think about them anymore. They are just part of my everyday routine. I have certainly never thought about them as little steps of faith before. But, that is what they are, aren’t they?
In my drive to work, I could have a wreck. In our walks around our neighborhood, I could fall and sprain my ankle. I know that these are very real possibilities, but I choose not to worry about them, or for that matter, even think about them much. I mean, what would be the point? If I put my focus on all the bad things that *might* happen, I would never leave our house. And, God gave us life, and He wants us to live our lives to the fullest! God wants us to be joyful and content. God tells us in John 10:10, “I have come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” He wants good things for us.
So, back to leaps of faith. Maybe there are some things that are looming over you, or things that are happening that are out of your control. (Heck, there really isn’t that much that is IN our control, is there?) Maybe there are some things that you NEED to do and maybe there are some things that you just desperately WANT to do. Maybe you lost your job and need to find a new one. Maybe you have been through some difficult times and want to move and start over with a clean slate. Maybe you want to start your own business, or maybe you just want to go back to school.
When it comes to making the big decisions that define our lives, it is normal to be scared about them. Truthfully, I would be worried about you if you were NOT scared about them. These big decisions are definitely scary and stressful and they can be life-changing. We often doubt ourselves and our choices. I mean it isn’t called a leap of faith for nothing!
Whatever your personal situation is, I think it will help you to remember that each day you are taking small steps of faith, and this can make those big leaps seem not quite so scary. And, the biggest most important thing to remember is that God loves you and He is FOR you.
I think that once you make that decision to take a leap of faith, you will be surprised with how much you can handle on your own. All you really need to do is give yourself a chance. Oh, and put your trust and belief in God. No matter what happens to you in life, He has always got you.
Have you ever moved? If so, you know that it can be both exciting (hopefully) and/or stressful and tiring. If you have lived in any one place for any reasonable amount of time, once you start packing to move, you quickly realize that you have a lot more stuff than you thought. It is amazing to me how much stuff we can acquire over the years, or even in just a few short months.
About four years ago, Paul and I decided we wanted to downsize. The home that we lived in was much too big for just the two of us. We purchased a smaller home, which we liked, but that meant we had to get rid of a lot of things. But, that is what downsizing is all about, right? It was a good move. We had a ton of things that we didn’t use or need anymore. Most of it was donated to various charities and what couldn’t be used again or salvaged was trashed. It felt so freeing to get rid of so much stuff. It made me realize that less is more. Especially when it comes to physical objects. If you don’t use it regularly or just dearly love it, why keep it?
Well, after these last four years, Paul and I have realized we would like to downsize again. The older I get, the more I love the idea of having less “stuff” and less house to clean. I mean, why have three toilets to clean, when you only need and use two? Even if you don’t use all three toilets, you still have to clean them. (Ladies, I know you know what I am talking about!) Less is more. Having less stuff and less house to clean, gives you less to do, less to keep up with, and less to worry about. This, in turn, gives you more time and energy to focus on other things, and simply more freedom. Who doesn’t want that?
So, we are planning to move to a smaller home in about a year. And, we are both so looking forward to it. (Plus, this will give us plenty of time to go through everything we own and get rid of anything we no longer use. I am actually looking forward to cleaning up and cleaning out!)
(As an aside--have you ever heard of Marie Kondo? She wrote an international bestseller called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In it, Marie talks about how our belongings can be seen as beings that help us live a good, comfortable life. And just like people, things don’t like to be neglected and forgotten about. If they don’t serve you, they would be much happier to serve someone else. This approach may seem silly, but I think it makes a lot of sense. Clutter creates stress and distraction. And, don’t we all have enough of that in our lives anyway without adding more?)
Now, back to task. As I grow in my spiritual life with the Lord, I have realized that having less clutter allows me to focus more of my attention on God. And, when I say clutter, I mean both the physical things that take up space in our daily lives and the mental junk that we tend to obsess over. And, oddly enough, I have found that as I get rid of more of the physical objects, the more my mental outlook clears up as well. It is kind of funny how that works!
When we have less to worry about, less “junk” on our minds, it allows us to put our attention and focus on what is really important in this life: God, ourselves, our family, our friends, and our relationships.
I don’t know about you, but I am in love with the idea of having less to keep up with, less to clean and look after, and less to worry about. What about you? Maybe you can join me in my year-long of cleaning up and cleaning out. I think that by doing this, we can all clear out the clutter of our lives and put more of our focus on God. Which is where it should be!
I am a child who was born in the mid-70’s and grew up in the 80’s and 90’s. I also am a child who grew up in a musical household. My father and brother are both musicians. So, it should come as little to surprise to those who know me, that I am a fan of Wayne’s World—a comedy sketch that first appeared on Saturday Night Live and was later made into a movie.
The premise revolves around the characters of Wayne, played by Mike Myers, and Garth, played by Dana Carvey. What I really remember the most is that they would encounter rock stars, and upon meeting them, would grovel and proclaim, “We’re not worthy. We’re not worthy.”
Well, the reason I am sharing this with you today is because that is how I have been feeling lately-- “not worthy.”
Do you ever feel this way?
This past week it was my birthday. My amazing husband took me to a TobyMac concert at Six Flags in New Jersey as a surprise! (If you have never seen TobyMac live, you MUST go. He is amazing!) And, we spent the next day in Philadelphia checking out the cool historical places in the city. (Think Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell.) We then topped off our trip with a top-notch dinner at a little French bistro called Bistrot La Minette. It was probably one of the best meals I have ever had in my life. Honestly! (Check out some of our pictures of the trip below.)
Of this love and special treatment, I don’t feel worthy.
I had more than 100 family and friends call, text, or message me “Happy Birthday!”
To be remembered like this, I don’t feel worthy.
I decided to create a special campaign to raise money for The Rutledge Center for my birthday via Facebook. My goal was to raise $200 for this nonprofit that is doing uplifting work in our community by serving and promoting the general welfare of individuals with developmental disabilities. Well, I had family and friends step up and give $215!
Of this generosity, I don’t feel worthy.
Because of my birthday and all that has been happening because of it, I have been reflecting on all the love and blessings in my life. I have so very much love and so very many blessings. I can’t even begin to digest it all or fathom it. And, I don’t feel worthy.
Then, I started thinking about just how much I loved by God. And, of that, I most certainly do NOT feel worthy.
Here I am, this horrible, selfish, wretched person, stained with sin. But, God loves me so much that He sent His only Son to die on a cross for me. Jesus died in MY place. For me. For MY sins. FOR. ME. For me.
And, Jesus died on that cross for you, too.
He carried the sin of every single person on the earth to that cross. He carried the sins of everyone who is, was, or will be. Isn’t that mind-blowing?
And, as I sit and think about how much He suffered, how much pain and anguish He felt, how much torment He went through, I am shaken. I am at a loss. I am bereft. I definitely don’t feel worthy of that. I don’t feel worthy of any of that.
But, God says we are worthy. You are worthy. I am worthy. Why? Because He created us. That is why we are worthy. We are each special and have a unique purpose on this earth. That speaks volumes, doesn't it?
Before I leave you this week, I thought I would share something else with you. A friend of mine shared this on her Facebook page. It helps to reflect just a little of the depth of love that God has for us.
“Outrageous grace is God’s goodness that comes looking for you when you have nothing but a middle finger flipped in the face of God to offer in return. It’s a farmer paying a full day’s wages to a crew of deadbeat day laborers with only a single hour punched on their time cards (Matthew 20:1 – 16). It’s a man marrying an abandoned woman and then refusing to forsake his covenant with her when she turns out to be a whore (Ezekiel 16:8 – 63; Hosea 1:1 — 3:5). It’s the insanity of a shepherd who puts ninety-nine sheep at risk to rescue the single lamb that’s too stupid to stay with the flock (Luke 15:1 – 7). It’s the love of a father who hands over his finest rings and robes to a young man who has squandered his inheritance on drunken binges with his fair-weather friends (Luke 15:11 – 32). It’s God’s choice to save a slave trader knowing full well that it would take a decade for this man to recognize the wretchedness of his ways. It’s one-way love that calls you into the kingdom not because you’ve been good but because God has chosen you and made you his own. And now he is chasing you to the ends of the earth to keep you as his child, and nothing in heaven or hell can ever stop him.”
― Daniel Montgomery, Proof: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistible Grace
Have you ever come across someone who was really accomplished and wished you could be like that person? I do this a lot! I find myself especially envious of people who have been given an artistic talent of some sort. (You know, people who can draw, paint, sing, dance, write, play an instrument, act—that sort of thing.) I can draw and paint a little, but I am not especially good at either. (And, I cannot sing, dance, act, or play an instrument-- much to my dismay.) And, while I realize that these things can be learned, I also feel like it takes something special inside to really be good at them.
I recently had the pleasure of meeting a gentleman named Edward who has a gift of another sort that I would love to have. I had lunch with Edward, another new acquaintance, and a friend. And, within just a few minutes, I could tell that Edward looks at people through the eyes of Jesus. He led with prayer before we ate lunch and shared some Bible verses with us as we ate. At one point, he pulled out a pocket version of the New Testament, handed it over to me and asked me to read Acts 26:18. I did. It says, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” Edward said that that verse summed up the work of God for him. And, then he told me to mark that page and keep the book. And, I did. It was a touching gift.
Edward’s love for the Lord and people was so powerful that I got teary-eyed. My friend Jenni just smiled and said something along the lines of, “This is just Edward, this is just who he is.” I then looked at Edward and said, “You see others the way Jesus sees them. I want to be like that.” And, I meant it. I want to be like that.
As you read the New Testament of the Bible and learn about Jesus and who He is, you realize that He is the most loving and kind person there is. He has this special gift of seeing past our sins and ugliness. When He looks at us He sees our beauty, our potential. Jesus actually sees us. He. Sees. Us. And, I so desperately want to see people the same way, with those same eyes. With love and kindness. I want to see the true person and their heart---not just the outside cover.
I don’t know about you, but I, for one, think this is probably one of the most worthy goals I, or anyone, can achieve in this life. And, I believe that it is a goal that you or I can strive for and one day, reach. Will it be easy? No. Will it happen quickly? I doubt it. Even if we do achieve it at some point, will it be something that we can sustain for the rest of our lives? Who knows? We may finally get it one day, but the next day, it will slip our minds. I mean, we are only human, after all.
So, where do we start? How do we reach this worthy goal? I think the best first step we can take is to pray and ask God to open our eyes so that we can truly see. We can pray that He gives us His eyes. We can pray and ask God for His help in this endeavor.
And, if we take it one day at a time and remind ourselves to look at others with the eyes of Jesus, our focus can start to shift. Our vision can change. And, that in turn, can change lives. Both ours and others. Meeting Edward the other day, well, he is my proof of this.
We have a huge flower bed on the side of our yard. (We live on a corner lot and this flower bed runs alongside one of the streets we sit on.) My hubby and I planted lots of nice flowers and plants so that we, and our neighbors, can enjoy them. The problem with having a flower bed as big as ours, is that it requires a lot of upkeep. We created it initially thinking that it would be less grass for us to cut, and thus less work. Boy, were we wrong! We should have just put sod there. Oh well, live and learn.
This flower bed is so big that we must have a truckload of mulch brought in to cover it all. (Otherwise, it would take us 50 trips to Home Depot and back to get enough bags to fill it in.) And, buying mulch by the truckload is not cheap. And, next we spend most of the day spreading said mulch.
Then, there is the chore of keeping out the grass and weeds. We have Bermuda grass, which I really like because it is nice and soft and green most of the year. But, man, does it spread! If you don’t stay on top of it, it can quickly take over and get into places where you do not want it.
Well, I have been remiss in keeping out that Bermuda grass this year. I have been watching it spread through our flower bed for a while now. I kept telling myself that I would get up early, when it was nice and cool out, and then I would pull up the grass and weeds. But, weekend after weekend passed and I didn’t do it.
Finally, this past weekend, I decided to get out there and do some work before I really regretted it. So, I got up and got out there while it was still cool and I got to work. I worked for a good while. I got a lot done and felt good about what I did, but I still have a good bit left to do. (Le sigh…)
So, while I was in my flower bed cleaning out the encroaching grass, I got some quality time in with the Lord as well. The Holy Spirit shared some good insight with me.
As I was pulling up that grass, I couldn’t help but think about how our lives are a lot like gardens. Having a fruitful garden and a fruitful life is a lot of hard work. Pulling up grass and weeds can be tough. If we want to have a garden full of beautiful flowers and plants, we must be diligent about keeping the grass and weeds at bay. Likewise, to have a happy and healthy life, we must keep all the bad thoughts and negativity at bay. It is something that I often find myself struggling with, as I am sure you do too at times.
With each clump of Bermuda I plucked from our flower bed, I kept thinking about how I also needed to be plucking out every negative thought as soon as it popped into my head. Wouldn’t it be so much better for us to rid ourselves of anything ugly immediately, rather than letting it linger and take root in our hearts and minds? Wouldn’t it be so much easier to do this as they pop up, rather than just waiting and trying to get rid of a ton of them later? I think so! Because, just like that Bermuda grass, negative thoughts spread quickly and before you know it, they have taken over.
Cleaning out of the bad and negative thoughts in our minds will allow us to focus on the good and positive thoughts. And, those will grow and thrive. This will bring us peace and contentment. Keeping the unwanted grass and weeds from our flower beds allows the flowers and plants to grow and thrive. This will bring about the beautiful flowers and good fruit that we seek.
In life, I think it is nice to have things to look forward to. Don’t you? As I am sitting here thinking about it, I would go so far as to say that having something to look forward to is an important part of life. Of course, what we look forward to will change as we grow and change. But, I think it is just a normal, healthy part of life.
When I was a kid I looked forward to summer break, Christmas, and my birthday. How about you? I bet you were the same. Summer break was my favorite because I could play all day and watch cartoons. The things that made me happy were simple things. Oh, how I wish I could go back to being that carefree.
How about as an adult? What do you look forward to now? As someone who works full time, I look forward to weekends, vacations, and any opportunity I can get to spend time with my family and friends. I look forward to retirement and not having to work anymore. I look forward to being outside in nature. One of my greatest pleasures in life is to just sit outside and read a good book. (I also enjoy lazy afternoons where I can take naps!)
How about as a Christian? Is there anything you look forward to as a Christian? One of things I look forward to most is being reunited with family members that have gone on before me. As Iris Dement penned in her wonderful hymn, That Glad Reunion Day, “There will be a happy meeting in Heaven, I know. When we see the many loved ones we’ve known here below. Gathered on that blessed hilltop with hearts all aglow. That will be a glad reunion day.”
It is such a comfort and blessing to know that we will be with our loved ones again one day. How do I know that this will indeed happen? The Bible tells me so. (See 1 Thessalonians 4:14, 2 Samuel 12:23, and Luke 9:28-36.)
But, as a Christian, what I am really, truly looking forward to is seeing Jesus face to face and getting to spend all of eternity in His presence. I just can’t wait to run into His loving arms and get a hug for Him. Oh, what a hug that will be! I can’t even begin to imagine how glorious that will be. My gut reaction, just as I am thinking about this and typing it out, is to start crying. Crying because I am not worthy. Crying because it will be so amazing and wonderful. Crying because of the pure joy and contentment. It is funny, as I try to picture myself in heaven, this is how I see myself—all crying and emotional for a huge variety of reasons. I guess because that is how I am here on earth—crying easily and emotional for a huge variety of reasons.
Death can be such a scary thing. And, while I don’t want to die any time soon, just knowing that I will be in heaven one day with Jesus, well, that makes death a lot less scary. Actually, knowing and trusting in God makes death not scary at all. Yes, going to heaven, being with my loved-ones again, and spending eternity with Jesus, now that is something to look forward to!
A topic has been popping up in various places in my life the last few months and it is one that I have been contemplating writing about for a while now. And, I am feeling a strong pull to make it this week’s blog post. So, today I want to talk about, and explore, being a part of “God’s Family.”
Once we accept God into our hearts, truly believing in Him, trusting in Him, and repenting of our sins, we become saved--we become a Child of God. God is often referred to in the Bible as Father. Ephesians 3:14-15 states, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.” Through the creation of this world, God, who is our creator, is also our Father. God is responsible for everything that exists. It just makes sense that we would refer to Him as our Father. After all, He is the one who gave us life.
As I have been growing spiritually, I have noticed that many believers refer to each other as brother and sister. At first I was a little taken-aback by this. But, now, seeing as God is our Father, I understand this reference a lot better. If God is our Father, and all of us are His children, then it is an obvious leap that we would call each other brothers and sisters in Christ. And, the more I think about it, the more I really like that thought. This means that we have all kinds of brothers and sisters all over the world! Our brothers and sisters in Christ are of all different backgrounds, races, and nationalities. Wow, even think of this—they are from different time periods as well! While we will never to get meet to most of our brothers and sisters in person, one day we will get to meet them all in heaven. I think that is pretty cool!
All of us who love God are a part of one big, giant family. We have a common Father who binds us together as family. We are God’s family. We have a loving Father who walks with us, talks to us, guides us, and corrects us when we need it. He wants us to seek Him and have a good relationship with Him. Once we do these things, i.e. seek Him and enter a real relationship with Him, our world will start to change for the better. That is what a good Father does, He changes you and your life for the better. And, if you will let Him be a part of your everyday life, you will see what a truly good Father He is!
If you are not yet a part of our family--God’s family--I would love for you to join us. This is your open invitation. Come on in. There is plenty of room at our dining table. Pull up a chair, we have a seat saved especially for you. If you don’t yet understand how to became a child of God, please allow me to help you. Click this link to go to Joyce Meyer Ministries. There you will find a guide that is simple and easy to follow that teaches you “How to Know Jesus.” I pray that I can soon add you to the list of my brothers and sisters. Allow me to be the first to say, “Welcome to the family!”
I am so glad you are here! I am Erica Strickland, a girl who loves God. My goal here is to simply share His love and light and any good thing that I come across.