Faith

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Some time ago I was reading in the New Testament about the blind man whom Christ heals in John 9. I really felt like God showed me something extraordinary in that chapter that I’d like to share here. This is for anyone who feels like they have no purpose, anyone who feels forgotten or useless.

In this chapter of John, Jesus is walking and sees a man who was blind since birth. His disciples saw who He was looking at and asked Him, “Master, who sinned, that he was born blind? Was it him or his parents?” (My paraphrasing.)

Jesus answers: “It wasn’t that this man sinned or his parents; he was born blind that God’s works should be manifested in him.”

This is the verse that stood out to me.

Jesus’ words, “…but that the works of God should be made manifest in him,” struck me in a way they never had before. Because in these words is the crux of every soul’s heart-cry: “What is my purpose? Do I even have one?”

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Take a moment and think about this blind man.

His story is hardly explored but we can learn a lot from the disciples’ question. They took one look at him and assumed that he was being punished for something he did wrong. How many people, do you think, looked at him over the course of his life and thought the same thing? How many people even told him to his face that he was accursed, that he or his parents deserved this affliction? Can you imagine how broken this man could have been? To think he was rejected of God and man, simply for being born?

He would have been a burden to his parents his whole life. It’s unlikely that he could work and it doesn’t seem like he had any family, outside of his parents, whom we meet a few verses down. We can imagine that this man’s life was probably a lonely one. We can assume that he must have felt terribly purposeless and useless at times.

He spent his whole life in a prison of darkness. Not knowing why. Not knowing what he had done that he should be afflicted so. I wonder if he ever cried out to God, begging Him, “why, God, why? Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Why was I even born?”

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And then here comes Jesus.

Jesus, sent by God, walks past him, of all men, that day. I’m sure that he could have never forgotten that fact afterwards. Jesus walks by him and He stops and says this incredible thing: that God’s works were going to be manifested in him. Jesus anoints him and sends him to the pool of Siloam to wash, which he does.

When his eyes are opened, he sees.

And so this man who was once a burden, once the object of people’s censure and criticism becomes a living, walking miracle. The man who once had no purpose learns that God had one for him all along.

He is questioned and followed by the naysayers and the incredulous. He tells them all the same thing: “I was blind, but now I see.” He tells the Pharisees in verse 25 that, “Whether he (Jesus) be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”

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The words of the beautiful hymn Amazing Grace came to my heart when I read those words. I was blind, but now I see. Not only do we find such an incredibly encouraging truth regarding God’s purpose for us who feel the most useless, but we see a beautiful analogy for how Jesus opens our eyes that we might see the light and be in darkness no more.

That’s why Jesus, after speaking of God’s works being manifested in the blind man, says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” He is the light that reveals the darkness of our sin; after we are washed clean, our eyes are opened and we see what we have never seen before: the truth of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.

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This man recognized what had been done to him. He realized, in verse 33, that “if this man (Jesus) were not of God, he could do nothing.” And the Pharisees cast him out from their presence when he said those words, saying, “You were born in sin – and you think you can teach us?” What abominable pride – more than that, what blindness. It was they who were blind, and not that man.

But you know what? I don’t think he cared very much at that point.

Because when he was cast out, Jesus heard about it and He came and found him (how I love those words). And He asked him, “Dost thou believe on the Son of God?”

The once blind man answered, “Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?”

And Jesus said to him, “Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.”

And he said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped Him.

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. (10)

So much can be gleaned from every verse written in the Bible. There are a thousand more sermons that can be written on this chapter, but what the Lord showed me through it was exactly what my heart needed to hear. Not only can we see an incredible example of how God opens the eyes of sinners and washes them clean, causing them to “see the light,” but He has a purpose for each and every one of us, even those of us who feel the most useless, the most purposeless, and the most unworthy. And like this man, I do believe God has a time prepared for each of us when He reveals that purpose to us.

So hold on to that hope. You may not understand why right now (not very many of us do) but I truly believe you will someday. God had a purpose for you from the very beginning. You weren’t a mistake and you haven’t been forgotten. God’s works will be manifested in you, in the proper time. Wait for Jesus. He’s coming your way. ♥

He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. (11)

Faith

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Today I thought I’d write about one of my favorite writers and greatest spiritual inspirations, Elisabeth Elliot.

For those of you who don’t know who she is, she was a well-known author and the widow of the beautiful and inspiring martyr, Jim Elliot, who died in 1956. She wrote such books as Let Me Be a Woman, Passion and Purity, Shadow of the Almighty, etc. All books which my sister and I have.

I don’t remember when I first learned about her, but I think it may have been sometime before her death (which was last year in the summer of 2015). My sister and I were reading some of Eric and Leslie Ludy’s books and she was mentioned in their writings. Soon after that, I heard about her death and I started to read more about her. Stumbling upon some of her quotes immediately captured my attention. There was such maturity in her words, such keen understanding, such wisdom – she wrote in a way that my feminine heart could identify with.

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I learned more about her and then bought her book Shadow of the Almighty: The Life and Testament of Jim Elliot. It was there that I learned about the death of her husband, how he was martyred, and the joy with which he went to his death. Through his letters and journal entries, I gained entrance into a heart that was sold out for Christ, a soul that was bent on sharing the gospel, and a mind that was so intensely human and yet so extraordinary in its spiritual maturity.

Time and time again, I return to Elisabeth’s writings and my soul gets fed on such quotes as:

“The secret is Christ in me. Not me in a different set of circumstances.”

“We never know what God has up His sleeve. You never know what might happen; you only know what you have to do now.”

“Faith does not eliminate questions. But faith knows where to take them.”

“God has promised to supply our needs. What we don’t have now we don’t need now.”

“Waiting on God requires the willingness to bear uncertainty, to carry within oneself the unanswered question, lifting the heart to God about it whenever it intrudes upon one’s thoughts.”

“One does not surrender a life in an instant. That which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.”

“Of one thing I am perfectly sure: God’s story never ends with ‘ashes.’”

“Freedom begins way back. It begins not with doing what you want but with doing what you ought. That is – with discipline.”

“When obedience to God contradicts what I think will give me pleasure, let me ask myself if I love Him.”

“Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.”

“The will of God is never exactly what you might expect it to be. It may seem to be much worse, but in the end its going to be a lot bigger and a lot better.”

“Waiting silently is the hardest thing of all… But the things that we feel most deeply we ought to learn to be silent about, at least until we have talked them over thoroughly with God.”

“Is it more important to understand than to obey? Is it more important to me to know than to believe?”

“When people are depressed, they are almost invariably angry, and the anger almost always leads to fear. Put your trust in God.”

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith.”

“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”

“The fact that I’m a woman doesn’t make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I’m a Christian does make me a different kind of woman.”

“We are not meant to die merely in order to be dead. God could not want that for the creatures to whom he has given the breath of life. We die in order to live.”

“When you don’t know what to do next, just do the thing in front of you.”

“I have one desire now – to live a life of reckless abandon for the Lord, putting all my energy and strength into it.”

“To be a follower of the Crucified means, sooner or later, a personal encounter with the cross. And the cross always entails loss.”

“If your goal is purity of heart, be prepared to be thought very odd.”

“Restlessness and impatience change nothing except our peace and joy. Peace does not dwell in outward things, but in the heart prepared to wait trustfully and quietly on him who has all things safely in his hands.”

“He says no in order that He may, in some way we cannot imagine, say yes. All His ways with us are merciful. His meaning is always love.”

“Leave it all in the Hands that were wounded for you.”

“You are loved with an everlasting love. And underneath are the everlasting arms.”

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I hope these words bless you as much as they do me. Elisabeth Elliot, and her martyred husband, were truly a man and woman of a great God.

Faith

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Once in awhile I get into a slump. It’s a period of time in which my creativity runs dry; exhaustion seems to seep out of me at every side; and my general energy and inspiration is nowhere to be found. I’ve been having one of those as of late (which would explain my absence) and I decided I’d try to sit down and write about it.

A slump can be caused by any number of things. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you’re going through a slow season, where God has you waiting on Him for some promises. Maybe you’re overwhelmed at a task you’ve been given or responsibilities you may have. Maybe your inspiration is low and you don’t know where to go next. For me, the reasons vary, but I guess you could say it’s some combination of these.

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Sometimes I just have to wait the slump out. Other times, a good conversation with my mom can spark me back to life; most of the time, sitting down to journal for a bit proves to be an excellent help.

But where I find true freedom and deliverance is in quiet, consistent time spent in my secret closet with the Lord.

There, my energy is renewed. My eyes are refocused on what truly matters. I am strengthened and I walk away feeling that I have rediscovered my purpose.

But what about the daily grind, the times in-between our projects, the wearying routines of life that sap us of our inspiration?

Back in October, I decided I needed a good, purpose-driven project to keep me busy and give me back some of the pep in my step. I decided to start a fitness regimen. I’m really happy at how it’s been going so far and it’s definitely given me a little bit of something to look forward to. I think we all need some of that in our lives. Whether its fitness or some other worthy project, we all need something to work towards, a worthy occupation, a reason to keep going and to stay focused. Right now, fitness is doing that for me – in times past, finishing my book or working on a writing project produced a similar effect.

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Writing my second book hasn’t been that project for me, unfortunately. My family is at a place right now where working on it just proves to be just a little bit too painful. It’s regrettable, because it was my goal to work on it this year, but 2016 threw me for a loop. That’s okay. I know it will happen someday; maybe I just need to buckle down and work through the pain aspect. I’m not really sure. Either way, I rely on the Lord to lead me.

If you’re like me and you too go through these recurrent seasons of fatigue and weariness, know that you’re not alone. First of all, Jesus is the source of our joy and strength and He will renew it. He is also faithful to ensure that we are about His business, full to the brim with the calling He has placed on our lives. But in those in-between seasons, where we feel a little bit like sitting ducks, we need to be faithful stewards of the time given to us and keep ourselves from growing stagnant or complacent.

Here are a few ideas to spark your creativity, inspiration, and/or give you back some energy!

  • Take up a worthy hobby (gardening, fitness, writing, etc.)
  • Learn a new skill (cooking, knitting, crocheting, painting, drawing, an instrument, a language, etc.)
  • Get outside often and/or go for long walks.
  • If you’re a writer like me, try doing some creative pieces or poetry.
  • Keep a journal.
  • Spend (a lot of) time with the Lord. Make it a goal of yours to grow closer to Him, to learn more about Him, to spend more time in His Word. The benefits are endless!

One last thing: remember that slumps are temporary. “For every time there is a season,” and seasons, praise the Lord, do pass. In the end, you and me are going to be just fine ♥

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