Are You Ready To Be A Burning Bush?

“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, ‘I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.’ When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ And Moses said, ‘Here I am.'” –Exodus 3:2-4 (NIV)

A friend and I decided to read through the whole Bible this year. We meet once a week and discuss what we read and what we personally are learning through it. We just keep each other accountable. A few weeks ago, we were discussing that week’s reading in Exodus, and my friend pointed out something that I had never thought of before. She was talking about the story of Moses in the desert when God spoke to him through the burning bush. You see, we tend to focus on many important parts of the story when we read it- Moses, God, holiness, or even obedience. My friend said that when she was reading it this time, however, it was the bush that caught her attention. As we discussed it, we realized that there were actually quite a lot of lessons we could learn from the bush. Who’d have thought? 😉

What was the bush’s part in this story? Not much, at first glance. It was simply there on fire for God…and God spoke through it.

Wait a second! Isn’t that what we are supposed to be? Simply on fire with God’s fire and available for God to speak through us? Who knew a bush could be such an example!

I got to thinking, though. The bush sure spent a lot of time (comparatively… for its life span, at least) sitting around on a mountain by itself, unnoticed and waiting. All it was supposed to do was grow slowly and simply just “be there.” I mean, the Bible says it was a ‘bush,’ not a seedling. So, I’m just assuming it was regular bush-sized. Have you ever hiked up a mountain? If you have, and you’re like me, while you may notice the occasional interesting plant or tree, you probably are more focused on the mountain itself: the views and the beauty. You’re not focusing on a random bush.

To me, this is just like us. God has us spend a lot of time in life waiting. Preparing. Unnoticed by the world. Guess what? That’s okay! God knows what He is doing! The question is, will you be ready when He lights you on fire and speaks through you? Will you be willing to let Him do that? Are you ready to be a burning bush? Are you ready to wait, but then to also come out of the waiting and allow His plans to unfold?

Your sister in Christ,

Sara

For the Girls: Responding to Chivalry

Recently, there has been a guy in my life who has completely taken me by surprise. You see, he has demonstrated chivalry to me and the girls around me. But, he isn’t flirting. Isn’t it sad, though, that that was the first thing I have to clarify? Isn’t it sad that I am so utterly surprised and confused by it that I don’t know how to react? You see, it’s simply because acts of chivalry are so rare- as young women, we don’t get much experience on how to respond to it!

I was expressing my confusion to some friends, and one explained a similar situation and how she handled it. She said she had made sure to thank the guy. He replied, thanking her for noticing…turns out no one had ever thanked him before! How sad! So, with that in mind…

To the guys: Thank you! If you are a guy who exhibits chivalry, thank you! We girls do notice. Do not grow weary in doing good! (Galatians 6:9)

To the girls: Ladies, are you confused, like I am, on how to react to chivalrous guys? Well, let me share with y’all a few things I have learned.

  1. First of all, our response to chivalry should be thanks! A friend did point out, though, that we don’t want to totally embarrass the guy… don’t make it too big of a deal in front everyone. Use discretion!
  2. Know the difference between flirting and chivalry. We should definitely encourage the guys around us when they are chivalrous! But it’s totally okay to remove yourself from flirting.
  3. Don’t be afraid to accept chivalry. It feels good to be strong and capable. I can definitely understand this, especially since there was a period in my life when I was physically incapable of simply doing the dishes. I now truly take joy in carrying a heavy grocery bag or taking out the trash. And that is okay! At the same time, it’s good to keep in mind that if a guy is truly showing you chivalry, he isn’t doing it because he think you are weak or that he is superior. Our culture has ingrained into us the view that it is impossible for guys to offer us a service without him possessing this mindset. But isn’t it okay for us to be females? Isn’t it okay for him to show us honor and respect? It’s simply a gift! Nothing sinister! 🙂 Another point- just be aware. It is rarely on my radar because chivalry is difficult to find in guys around me. As a result, I don’t even think about it and quickly brush off any offer of chivalry from my dad, brother, or any guy in my life. Don’t do that! 🙂 Give them an opportunity to be gentlemen if they choose to.

So there you go! That was chivalry with Sara. 😉 A few more articles I’d suggest on chivalry are at this link. 😀 Enjoy!

Your sister in Christ,

Sara

Lost in God

unknown

“Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?”

Exodus 15:11

 At the moment, I’m a bit confused. Well, slightly more than a bit. Well, maybe more than that… you get the picture. Have I confused you? Well, let me explain it: I’m confused. God has me in a place right now that I don’t understand. I don’t know why I am where I am. And I don’t know what to do in this place.

Are you lost? Maybe you’re confused about school. Or the future. Or a friendship. Or a choice. Or maybe you’re confused about a change. Maybe you’re more than just confused, you are lost. Lost in the confusion and you aren’t sure where to find yourself again.

Is it okay to be lost?

Yes and no. You see, it is totally fine to be lost, to be confused, to not know what to do or where to go. We are human! If you don’t ever feel lost, something is wrong. 🙂 But even when you are lost, you can still be found, and you can still know who you are. Even if you are lost, you are God’s child. You can’t forget that! Psalm 139:8-12 (NIV), says,

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

   if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

   if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

   your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

   and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

   the night will shine like the day,

   for darkness is as light to you.

Even if we are lost, we are found. I am utterly confused, and lost, wandering around with a blindfold on, but at the same time, even in that, I have found who I am! I know who I am in God, even in this craziness. Even though I cannot be confident about anything else, I am confident of who I am in God. I am lost in God. I am lost in His glory, His holiness, His overwhelming love.

I may be lost in that I don’t know where I am or what to do, but I am also lost in the sense that I am lost in God! When I am in Him, I can no longer see my fear, my struggle, or be wrapped up in trying to sort out my confusing self! When we are with Him, everything else fades.

If you are lost like me, that’s okay! I understand! I would just challenge you to join me in seeking to be lost in God.

Your sister in Christ,

Sara

 

Surrendering Our Struggles

Once upon a time there was a girl. Her brother was good at math. He was strong and fast. She was the youngest in her class. She wasn’t the tallest. She was shy. She was happy and confident in who she was, but she certainly wasn’t the best at much. But, she was okay with this. She didn’t rely on herself. God was her Father, her King, the One who always carried her. He’d never let her fall, and she knew His arms were strong enough no matter how big she got. Therefore, it was natural that when she got sick, really sick, she simply snuggled closer in her Father’s arms. She was sick for a really long time. Her Father brought her through it all, though, and she began to get better. The sickness has changed her, and to some degree, strengthened her. You can’t use a muscle constantly and not get stronger, after all! She began to venture back out into the world, and found her newfound strength to be helpful. She began reaching out farther and farther from her Father’s arms. She still spent all her time with Him, but more and more often got down to try and walk by herself… Uh oh.

Who has struggles? Raise your hand. Yup, me too. They’re inevitable! I don’t know what yours is specifically, or even if you have more than one rearing it’s impossibly overwhelming head in front of you. You thought you could handle it- the temptation, the project, or the obstacles. But now you find yourself trapped, confused, and overwhelmed. Things are not going according to plan, and now you just want to run back to the arms you never should have left. You’d have to admit you were wrong, though… and that you actually can’t handle things by yourself. Oh, why is humility so hard for humanity? Even though humility is hard, I must testify that it is worth it.

You guessed it. I am the girl in the story. I foolishly tried to do projects, to build friendships, to face certain things without surrendering them to God. I thought I was perfectly capable of these little things. I mean, duh, I’d give God the big things, but surely I could take care of these little things! That isn’t exactly how it played out in my mind, of course…I didn’t really realize what I was doing. But as my dad says, “Maturity is being aware.”

So what does it mean to ‘surrender our struggles’?

Through personal experience, when I was in that place…surrounded, lost, and unsure…I found such peace and relief in this concept of ‘surrendering our struggles.’

When God brought to my attention what I had been doing in my pride by trusting in my own abilities, I repented. And He welcomed me back to His arms. He enabled me to surrender my struggles to Him…to let go of the thought that I could handle things on my own…to trust Him again with all my life, even the little things. And guess what? I found that God was pleased with it! Yeah, who would have guessed? (That was sarcastic ;)). What I mean is that God wants to hold our struggles for us. He doesn’t want us to have to shoulder burdens we can’t handle, burdens that just leave us stuck and even headed off in the wrong direction. Will we give our struggles to God as a pleasing sacrifice and offering to Him?

“My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” Psalm 51:17 (NIV)

Are we willing to make that sacrifice? That’s a no brainer! Yes, leaving God in control is scary. It’s crazy. But is it? Is it so bad? Let me assure you: it’s so worth it!

Joyfully in Christ,

Sara

Removing Your Dragon Skin

Picture is from movie

Picture is from movie “Voyage of the Dawn Treader.”

In the book Voyage of the Dawn Treader, one of the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis  Eustace (one of the main characters) gets himself turned into a dragon. Yes, it’s his fault. Too caught up in himself, his heart is revealed on the outside: he becomes a greedy, self-centered dragon. But one day he is mysteriously led up to a beautiful pool of water. He turns around, startled to find a huge Lion standing there. Suddenly he is so itchy. The Lion tells him to scratch, to take the dragon skin off. Eustace obeyed- why not? Snakes shed their skin…who was to say that dragons were any different? Aaiiieeeee! It hurt to remove. Ahh, but it felt better now. Well, better for a moment…. Now it itched again, worse than ever! Eustace ripped another layer of skin off, only to find the same thing underneath. Every layer of skin that he peeled off only revealed the same scaly, itchy skin beneath it. Then the Lion spoke. He told Eustace to let Him do it. Tentatively, Eustace lay down, exposing himself to the Lion’s sharp claws. The Lion reached out and pierced the dragon skin. Not as Eustace had done, put the Lion truly pierced the skin. All the way through. It was agonizing! But when He finished, Eustace realized that the skin had truly been removed. The Lion threw him into the pool. He was human again!

I could not help but think of this scene the past few months as I saw some very similar things going on in people around me. No, they didn’t turn into dragons and back again, but they still had a form of dragon skin. A sin or struggle that they could never entirely rid themselves of. We all have those things. No matter how hard we try, no matter how many times we remove the struggle, temptation, or sin, it comes back…it’s still there underneath. The girl who wanted to let go of the unhealthy relationship. Or the one who wanted to not fall back into depression. The one who wanted to let go of bitterness, and forgive. The one who was so hurt by people and lonely. We wish we could do better. It is so frustrating and discouraging! We want to obey God! We’re trying! But it just isn’t working! Argh!

“But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear.” Isaiah 59:2 (NIV)

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17 (NIV)

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:51 (NIV)

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” Isaiah 64:6 (NIV)

Now, of the people I just mentioned, some of them succeeded and some are still struggling. As a friend puts it, the answer is: “It’s Jesus!” We can’t do this alone. We simply can’t reach deep enough or far enough to get the dragon skin off completely. It’s impossible. Only Jesus can do it. But to have Him remove it, that means that we have to expose ourselves to Him, to His claws. And we will never remain untouched by them. Giving one part of our life is not possible. If we choose God, we will have to give our whole selves to him. This is dangerous, right? But it is also so safe! It’s the best place we can be! Don’t you want to be free from the skin that is so itchy? Don’t get discouraged that it seems so impossible to get away from. Simply trust God. Expose yourself to His ‘claws,’ His truth, and light that pierces all darkness.

“Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation, the old has gone and the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

“For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Galatians 3:27 (NIV)

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 (NIV)

Your sister in Christ,

Sara

Submit to My Siblings?

My siblings are some of my best friends. They definitely know me the best! They alone know that I very much dislike mayonnaise, that I did indeed just play that song a total of six times in a row, and that I used to have a stuffed animal dog that I named ‘puppy’ (very creative, I know), which I lost on an airplane. They have seen me at my best and my worst. We have had so many adventures together- from the fawn we found in the gutter once to the short film we are making together right now.

Yet our culture that we live in doesn’t think that the paragraph above is possible or enjoyable. Continue reading

I’m Not Ok

Me: Hello! How are you?

Friend: Good, how about you?

Me: Good.

*awkward pause*

Friend: Okay, so how are you really?

How many times do we say that we‘re good when we aren’t? How many times do we smile when inside we are crying, hurting, or angry? If you are like me, probably a lot! Why do we do this? Maybe it is because most of the time when people do ask us how we are, they only expect us to answer with the usual, “good.” They don’t want to know more, really, or we don’t think that they do. Maybe it’s because we’ve tried before to say how we really are but have been met with someone nodding distractedly and not really paying attention to what we are saying.

Sadly, we can’t change the people around us. And it really isn’t our job, either…that would be God’s! 🙂 Bu, we can change ourselves and our approach. We can take what we have learned through our own hurts and experiences and love others. We can take the step to ask, “No, really, how are you?” We can also be transparent about ourselves. We can answer the question differently. A good bit of the time, they really do want to know how we are, even if we don’t think so! I have learned the hard way that you actually have to be purposeful about developing a deep friendship with someone… it doesn’t magically go from surface and fluff to real, deep fellowship. Sincerely asking how people are is such a simple yet powerful way to love others, especially since we know that there is a whole lot more behind the typical response of “good” that we usually give. Continue reading