eyes on the Author- the every morning struggle to walk by faith

I don’t wake up full of vision and motivation.  Actually, what motivates me most is the idea that my french press and single-origin coffee from Guatemala are just minutes away from awaking my senses with it’s warm, toasty aroma.  And on those days when I get my stiff, puffy-eyed body out of bed and make my way to the cabinet to prep the press with my favorite coffee and find we’re out, I feel great motivation to get dressed and drive to the local store so I can hurry up and get back home before too much time has passed and get my coffee going.

Basically, coffee motivates me to get up in the morning.

Mixed in the grogginess between eyes open and that first cup of coffee I remember who I am.

I am not my own.  I am a Christian.  The weight of meaning in that word falls on me like gravity on the fledgling attempts of a young eagle to fly every morning.

I feel myself falling.  Falling. Squawking out a cry, “Help!  Help Lord!  I am yours. Let me hear your loving kindness in the morning lest I be like those who go down to the pit!”  Sometimes sooner, sometimes later, but never failing, my faithful Helper and Friend, my God, my Father, the one who made me a Christian and bought me out of slavery to the law of sin and death, he swoops down and lifts me up on his everlasting wings.

He’s teaching me to fly.  To soar on wings like eagles.  To walk and not grow weary.  To run the race set before me as a woman finding her identity in Christ, as wife to James in a difficult marriage, as a mother raising men, in a community and time full of the “treasures of Egypt“.  And when he finally lifts me up I see the wonder of who He is and what He’s done and what He’s doing in me, I can face the day.

I don’t always get a chance to reflect on the truth of what God has done in calling me his own daughter like today.  Usually the day marches on and I struggle to fix my eyes on the One who wrote this story. He’s the author of my faith, and since he is, he’s also the one who will finish the story he started in me.  He’s not an inconsistent blogger or an aspiring writer.  He’s the author of life, and the writer of faith, and the one who began this good work in me.  And he will be faithful to complete it.

Every morning the struggle is real.  And that’s no cliche.  I need to get my eyes on Jesus every morning and remember who I am, and the promise that He who began this good work in me will be faithful to complete it.  I need to remember that God gave me life in Christ and I am destined to be with him forever.  I need to remember because I’m called to die daily.  I’m called to follow Jesus in taking up my cross daily.  I’m not here for my best life now.  My life is not all about me and getting all the pleasure and comfort and ease I can squeeze out of the day and people in my world.  I’m a Christian, my best life is already and not yet.  I taste it here in every little resurrection, when I deny bitterness and embrace forgivenesss, when I deny ease and choose serving, when I feel the sorrow and the pain of my own sin and others’ sins and rejoice in the promise that the One I love, who I have never seen, He will make all things new.

If I could just get my eyes on the Author today I’ll be OK.

“…let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith,” – Hebrews 12:1-2

Honestly, I’m drooping

Nine years ago I started keeping a journal which I only write in at the end of the year. The word “faith” is on the cover. It’s where I write reflections on the year and my prayers and longings for the year to come.

I read through the previous years’ entries. As I look back there’s been an increasing intensity in my entries. They’ve gone from excitement in testing to discouragement, yet pressing on to look up.

In 2009 I wrote that if in the past I had felt like I was on a mountaintop “transfiguration” experience in my walk of faith in Christ, that year felt like I was walking through the valley of the shadow of death. In 2010, 11 and 12 if I had one word to describe my entries: refinement. In 2011 I wrote I felt my faith was being crushed into powder. This year, as I look back and look ahead at the race God has set before me, I hear Hebrews 12:1-17 very strongly, especially verse 12-14:

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

I definitely feel like, spiritually, I’m drooping and weak. I feel like my feet are at a cross in the path where striving for peace runs perpendicular to striving for holiness.

I was reminded today that one of the greatest evidences in my life that something is amiss spiritually is my lack of joy. If my eyes were fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of my faith, if my eyes were fixed on what He has done and what He promises to do, I would be rejoicing despite the sorrow that comes with the struggles here.

So I cry out to the One who can help me lift my drooping hands and doesn’t break bent reeds. I call on the One who can restore my weak knees and doesn’t put out a barely flickering flame. I seek direction from the One who would not compromise holiness or peace and therefore was stretched out at that cross in the road and died. For me.


I’d be lying if…

…I only posted my “happy face” posts and didn’t let you know when I’m struggling. Actually, I feel like I struggle more than I’m “happy” which is probably a testament to my immaturity in Christ. Nevertheless I’m compelled to share what lifted my head amidst the tears today.

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” -Hebrews 11:6

Did you catch that last part: God is a rewarder! He gives rewards to those who diligently seek Him! Do you believe this?

The test of whether I believe this is now. Now, while all I can seem to do is cry. Now, while the one I seek to win to Christ by the pouring out of my life is harder than ever to Him. Now, while my kids require so much constant attention and training and my body is exhausted. Now, while I’m desperate to be held and led in Christ. Do I believe that God is my rewarder?

My motivation is unveiled. If I can “recall the former days in which , after I was illuminated, I endured a great struggle with sufferings,” (Hebrews 10:32), the true motivation of all I do, of why I remain faithful, of why I keep reaching out, of why I keep speaking the truth to my kids, of why I keep going on alone comes to light. It’s because I seek God to reward me.

This isn’t earning my salvation. This isn’t what I speak of. I’m talking about my motivation. What is keeping me here. What is keeping me going forward. What is giving me hope. I already know I can do nothing to rescue myself from the destruction my flesh and all creation is heading for. Jesus did that for me. He took the heat for me. He is my answer to all that condemns me. But what keeps me desiring to obey His will when nothing seems to be going the way I thought it would when His will is obeyed? It’s Jesus saying undeservedly to me, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in the small things, now I give you greater things to enter into. Enter into the joy of your Lord.” (my paraphrase version).

Oh how I thirst for His reward and that is why I know my life is pleasing to Him. Because that’s what faith is: believing that God is, and that He is a rewarder, not a punisher, not a criticizer, not a scrutinizer, a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

As I read through the messages spoken to me by the great witnesses in Hebrews 11, I’m most impacted by those who are un-named in verses 35-39:

“… out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens. Women received their dead raised to life again. And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented– of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise… -Hebrews 11: 34-39 NKJV

I have not seen some glorious, physical miracle worked through my life. My calling is not for abundance but for “trials of mockings”, wanderings, for “not accepting deliverance.” As Watchman Nee wrote, piercing me with conviction:

“So there is your problem. You feel that were you to follow in that other brother’s steps- were you, shall we say, to consecrate yourself enough for the blessing but not enough for the trouble, enough for the Lord to use you but not enough for him to shut you up- all would be perfectly all right. But would it? You know quite well that it would not.”

My testimony of faith, the road by which I come to God believing that His is and that He is my rewarder as I diligently seek Him is one of being consecrated for “the trouble” and for the Lord to “shut me up.”

Sometimes I fall for the lie that because the race God has called me to is one of trouble and quietness, that I am not being used by God and that He has rejected me. But the truth is my Lord has sent me a message through the great cloud of witnesses, that He calls some to a race of faith through which they see blessing, deliverance from lions, birth rather than barrenness, etc. and some He calls to a race of faith through which they see trial after trial, and rejection, loneliness, prison, and “shutting up.”

I’ve forgotten in my downcastness these past weeks that God is my rewarder. It may defy all logic. All reason. Nevertheless it’s true. He is the rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Maybe you’re downcast today. Put your hope in God with me. Not in your situation. In God. Don’t look for rewards here. Look for them in God. Press on with me believing until He comes that He is going to reward us, though we know we don’t deserve it. He isn’t rewarding us because we’ve got it all figured out. He isn’t rewarding us because we did everything right. He’s rewarding us because we come to Him diligently and we simply believe He rewards that.

Oh God of heaven. Father of my Lord Jesus. You know me! You knew me before I ever tasted of who You are. Be the lifter of my head. Be the lifter of my sisters’ heads. Fix our eyes on Jesus. I cast down the lie in Jesus’ name that says that because things aren’t the way we thought they’d be that You are punishing us or rejecting us and that You are critical of us. You are the rewarder of those who diligently seek You. We must come to You believing that. Help us to be believing in Your mercy and grace, not unbelieving.

So glad He found me ,

Isaiah 51:3