blind faith

Blind Faith

I like deadlines and punctuality. I like knowing exactly what’s expected of me. I like agendas, and I’m more comfortable with schedules that help me meet all the short term goals that will lead me to the finished product. But I worship the God who is bigger than my schedule and expectations.

God’s timing is so different from ours that sometimes it seems to us that he’s not paying attention because we can’t see evidence of a plan. He doesn’t ask us to create a plan; he wants us to follow his. He doesn’t need our input on a timetable or agenda; he already knows it. He tells his children what their next step should be, and he rarely gives them the map that shows the journey all the way to the end. He told Abraham to take his family and move to a place that he would should him. He told the disciples, “Follow Me”. He never actually mentioned where they would be going. He told Rahab to stay inside her house while the walls of Jericho fall around her. He told Moses to go to Egypt and bring all of Pharaoh’s work force back home to the land God promised them. There was no detailed description of exactly how any of that would work. Daniel saw God’s power inside the lions’s den; Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego saw it inside the furnace. The disciples saw it inside the storm. Gideon saw it during the battle. The women saw it at Jesus’ tomb. God never gave them the details of how their story would end or how the battle would play out. Whether or not we can see the end or suggest a possible happy ending to God doesn’t change his ability to lead us forward in victory. Details are God’s job. All he required is that we obey for the next step, even in blind faith, so that we can trust him for adventures we can’t even imagine. All that separates us from his plan is our courage to take the next step in a direction where we usually don’t know what to expect.

I like predictability, but it is delight that makes life worthwhile. God did not create us to survive and be content; Jesus said he came to give us abundant life (John 10:10). The most memorable, glory filled moments of my life are those that brought the thrill of an adventure or awareness of God’s presence amidst what I thought was mundane. While I might find a neatly stacked set of papers tucked away in my file drawer ahead of a deadline more peaceful, the moments that interrupt my day with laughter or awe or just the briefest glimpse of God’s glory are the best part.

Delight cannot be scheduled. In order to find the delight in our relationship with God or in our day, we have to have the kind of blind faith that will allow us to step out and trust the plan of this God who will not be put in a box. If we insist on a secure path based on common sense, we will may arrive at our goals punctually, and never see the delight or know the adventure that God had planned for us.

May my limited understanding of who God is allow me to have the blind faith to follow where he leads me. May I never sacrifice adelight and adventure for predictable and punctual. May my blind faith lead me to have the courage to step past what I can (or can’t!) control and experience the delight and adventure that God has planned for me.

Ps 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of his heart.

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success 2Life is messy. We define “success” up front and then don’t know what to call it when the end result doesn’t match our plans. Our best intentions are sometimes sidetracked by pitfalls and interruptions that we don’t see coming and can’t control. The pristine “happily ever after” we envisioned seldom works out as neatly as we planned. But what if your current circumstances are the God ordained preparation for what is to come? What if your plans lead only to more of the same or worse, and God’s plans lead to victory and adventure? What if your ultimate success is based on your response to your current circumstances?

Successful people don’t waste time bemoaning what isn’t or complaining about what should have happened; they make the most of whatever circumstances they find themselves in. Mark Batterson has a book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day (which I HIGHY recommend). In it he shares his life philosophy which is also his admonition to his church.

Do the best you can You were never intended to be the best at everything. You may not like what you are doing; you may not be as qualified as someone else for what you are doing; you may feel like you are wasting your time. But for now, your circumstances are yours. Going through the motions may get you to the end, but it will never feed your soul. Half-hearted efforts usually deliver lackluster results. What if God is waiting for you to invest your best so that He can multiply it into something great or something different?

With what you have Life would be so much easier if we had more money, more talent, more time, more opportunity. I suspect that what we “don’t have” may be intended to help us be dependent on Him. God doesn’t call you to be someone else. He created you on purpose, just as you are. If we trust God with what we have, he can make it enough, even when it doesn’t look like much. Moses gave God his staff, and God defeated Pharaoh and the Egyptian army; David offered God his slingshot, and God gave victory to the army of Israel; a boy offered Jesus his 5 loaves and 2 fish, and Jesus fed the hearts and minds of 5000. What if God wants you to trust Him with what you have so that you can see his power at work in your circumstances?

Where you are Sometimes we waste our lives aiming for what we want and miss the blessing of where we actually are. You could have been born into a different set of circumstances in a different place…but you weren’t. There are people and opportunities where you are that are God ordained. What does God want you to learn from them? What do you have that God wants to use to impact those around you right now?

 Do the best YOU can with what YOU have where YOU are. We don’t get to be someone else. We don’t get to live someone else’s story. For right now, we are who we are, where we are. Perhaps doing the best we can will change us. It might even change our circumstances. God intends that we use what we have wherever we are to the best of our ability to bring our good and His glory. What do you have? Where are you? How big is the gap between what you are doing and your best?

new years resolution 2

Many will begin their New Year with resolutions to change their behavior: stop smoking, start exercising, eat fewer carbs and more fiber, decrease debt, increase savings, lose weight, improve health. Setting goals for our behavior can change our future. But what would happen if we focused on changing our perspective, rather than our habits? How would our lives change if we were as focused on our spiritual growth as we are on our physical health and financial stability?

How different would your 2016 be:

If you lived as though you believed your God was more powerful than your enemies?

If you made up your mind to find joy and be thankful every day?

If you started being defined by the possibilities of God’s power within you, rather than by your limitations, your past, and your weaknesses?

If you believed that doing the right thing was more important than blending in with the crowd?

If you focused as much on being holy as you do on being heard?

If you refused to allow those who wronged you in the past to continue to make you angry?

Improving your health and your habits can honor God. But becoming who God created you to be involves more than your weight, your habits, or your bank account.

As you make plans for your new year, what will you do to:

increase your holiness?

know the Word made flesh and to know His presence in His written word?

be kinder to the people around you?

make your prayers more of a conversation and less of a monologue?

May the changes you choose to make in your new year allow you to become more of who God created you to be. May you know the pleasure of your Father who created you for fellowship with Him because you have made Him your priority.

drummer boy

Of all the beautiful Christmas carols, Little Drummer Boy has always been my least favorite. I find the repetition of “pa rum pa pum pum” irritating. But today as I listened to it, I discovered profound truth in its words.

In the story of this song, the little boy with a drum is taken to the manger where he is told the baby is a king. He recognizes the significance of that moment. The baby’s parents are clearly not rich, but the little boy senses the holiness of that place where God has come to earth. The boy wants to give something to the baby, but feels he has nothing of value to offer.

Isn’t that true for most of us? We want to serve others; we want to show God how much we love him, but we feel inept. Other people’s capabilities and talents look far more glamorous and impressive. Others can inspire with their words or touch deep places in our hearts with music or art. Others are so confident or so gifted. We want to be significant and appreciated; we want to do the right thing and have it work out well. But too often, our best efforts look more clumsy and unprofessional than impressive. So we come to the manger again this Christmas, with patches on our disappointments, hiding our brokenness and frustration, desperately seeking to see the face of God in the midst of the mess and strife of this earth.

The drummer boy had nothing tangible to offer this holy family. But the God who created all the earth and has all power and majesty…didn’t want a gift that man values. What this God values is His people. The boy took what he had in his hands and used it the best he knew how. And the innocence and effort of the child brought a smile to the face of the King of Heaven. This was not about the best drum solo ever; it was about a pure heart offering its best to God.

Does your Christmas include seeking the face of God, or have you allowed our culture to devalue this holiday into frenetic activity? Do you withhold what God has given you because you disdain it or dismiss it as insignificant? Or will you offer what you hold in your hand, trusting that God will see the desires of your heart and transform your best effort into what brings your good and His glory?

What is your drum? The finest gift you have may not earn awards or praise from men, but it can bring a smile to the face of God if you offer it to bring Him pleasure. This Christmas, may you find yourself in the presence of the one who desperately loves you, who left heaven to come and be where you are. With all of your heart and soul, offer him whatever is in your hand…that is what he values most.

Come they told me, A new born king to see

Our finest gifts we bring to lay before the king.

So to honor him, when we come.

Little baby, I am a poor boy too.

I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give our king.

Shall I play for you on my drum?

Mary nodded; The ox and lamb kept time.

I played my drum for him I played my best for him.

Then he smiled at me and my drum.

stars and angelsUneducated shepherds were doing a menial job and were interrupted by angels. They found God in the middle of the night in a manger in their hometown. The Wise Men didn’t hear from angels; they saw a star. They felt compelled to travel hundreds of miles in a time when travel was dangerous and difficult. Their education and curiosity led them to leave where they were and follow a hunch to see where it led them. They found God at the end of a long, tedious, intentional journey.

Every once in a while, we see evidence of God in our world. Our awareness can come as an unplanned event that takes us by surprise, or it may be an intentional choice to pursue our faith in God, rather than focusing on our circumstances. Sometimes we “find” God when we’re not looking for Him. We are going through the motions of our lives, doing what must be done as best we can, when God interrupts our schedule and unmistakably calls us to Himself.

But sometimes finding God involves our commitment to keep looking. It may be a long journey from where we are and what we know to the place where we understand and see Him face to face. We may have to keep our focus on what we believe as we journey through all that will lead us from where we are to where He is.

The shepherds could have decided that a decent night’s sleep was more important than traipsing off into town. The Wise Men could have easily justified simply recording the appearance of an unusual star, rather than sacrificing a substantial amount of time and money on what could very likely be a wild good chase. But they didn’t. Their hearts were unmistakably stirred, and they ignored common sense and beheld the face of God.

We don’t know what happened after they left the Christ child and went home. Were they permanently changed by their encounter with God come to earth, or was the thrill temporary? Did they spend the rest of their lives telling the story of the moment they saw God, or did their circumstances and schedules retake control of their expectations? Was Christmas a one-time event for them or was it a turning point in their lives?

Our culture has tried to reinvent Christmas into something less than God intended it to be. Receiving the gift of the presence of God is too often eclipsed by the frantic search for presents to buy. Anticipation of His presence and blessing gets lost in the preparation and parties. We’ve made Christmas into something we do, rather than a celebration of the God who never forgets a promise, whose incredible love continually calls us into His presence, the one who left Heaven to come live with us.

Whether your invitation looks like an angelic interruption or the nagging hope of a star that draws you to seek Him, follow your heart into His presence. Find Him amid the to-do lists and demands of your Christmas. Immanuel, God with us, wants relationship with you. Let that bring you hope and joy that transforms the event of Christmas Day into a turning point in your journey with God.

RE_Words“Do it again”. As small children my boys would repeat these words to recapture the thrill of some moment or activity they loved. TV sports have been changed by the instant replay, and we mark the passing of time with repeated family rituals on holidays. Repetition is how we learn, how we find comfort, and how we establish tradition.

A significant portion of our lives is consumed by doing the same things day after day. We often drive the same way to the same job, looking for “our” spot in the parking lot. We go to church and want to sit in “our” pew. We repair things that don’t work, or we replace them with things that do work. We shop to replenish the groceries in our pantry, re-mow the same yard, and “reclean” the same house…over and over and over.

We repeat a request that is ignored, rewrite a paper, or reheat leftovers. Adding the prefix “re” to the beginning of a word indicates the idea of doing that action again. Have you ever noticed how many of the words that describe God’s activity in the life of man begin with the prefix “re”?

When God created Adam, He formed man’s body with his hands and breathed his spirit into that body and gave it life. Thousands of years later, in response to the prayers of His people, God recreated himself as a human baby. That baby grew into the one who would sacrifice his own life to redeem his people and restore their relationship with God so that they could receive eternal life. His body was resurrected from the grave so that we could repent and renew our hope in the future without fear of death.

I suspect that part of what we are supposed to be doing during Advent is refocusing our attention from what usually happens to what God is continuing to do. When we intentionally look for God’s activity in our world, we find that He is still working for good in the hearts of those who love Him. We discover that He is still seeking relationship with His people. We are delighted by the presence of the one who has never stopped loving and saving and speaking to His people…and He will do it again, over and over, until He calls us to a new life that we can barely imagine now.

God doesn’t require our perfection before we are welcome in His presence. He is patient with our flaws and our fears. But He wants us to stop repeating the sins of our past, repent, and return to a deeper relationship with Him. He wants to give us a fresh sense of His power and presence so that our faith is renewed and our joy is rekindled. Perhaps the best way to celebrate Advent is to stop going through the motions of what you’re used to doing, and look for God to interrupt your expectations with new perspective on who He is and on who He is recreating you to be.

Advent is the anticipation of His coming into our world. As you look back over your relationship with God, consider the most holy moments you’ve had in His presence and ask Him to “Do it again”.

advent

Our expectations usually land somewhere in between our hope and the reality of our past experience. Past disappointments can diminish our expectations. We can be so focused on our expectations that we miss God. That’s why we need Advent.

 Luke 1:5-25 Zechariah tells the story of God interrupting the lives of Zechariah and Elizabeth. They are both “well along in years”. He had been a priest for decades. He may have given up hope of ever serving in the Holy of Holies, but one day, unexpectedly, he was chosen as the priest who would go to burn incense in the Holy of Holies. He no doubt expected to be awed by the beauty and the deep meaning of the moment. He undoubtedly prepared a beautiful blessing to be given to the crowds outside, waiting for him to finish.

 Elizabeth spent decades hoping to get pregnant. In a culture that saw barrenness as a curse from God, she undoubtedly begged God year after year for a baby. But her wrinkles replaced her hope, and she no doubt gave up hope of having a family.

 God miraculously interrupted the expectations of both of them with what they did not expect. Zechariah went into the Holy of Holies to serve God; it never occurred to him that God would actually meet him there. Elizabeth assumed that if God didn’t honor her prayers on her time table, that God didn’t honor her prayers. Both underestimated the God who exceeds the expectations of His people.

 Zechariah’s doubt at the power of God to give him a son left him speechless (literally!) and postponed that prepared blessing until after the birth of John (Luke 1:67-79). We don’t know how Elizabeth received the news, but I have to believe that the pantomime when Zechariah got home was hilarious.

 Advent is the season of the Christian calendar where we “wait” for the coming of God into our world. We don’t like to wait. We try to fill the time with activity and tasks. Too many spend Advent frustrated with long lines, endless chores, traffic jams, and schedules that are too full. We will spend too much money on presents and decorations that will be momentarily appreciated and quickly forgotten. New Year’s Day will find us unchanged by the celebration of Christmas.

 I’ve always believed that I can nearly always find what I’m looking for. Looking for trouble or looking for blessing will give me a much greater chance of finding them. What are you looking for this Christmas? Are you so focused on your to do list that you will miss the presence of God? Does the mundane consume so much of your attention that the holy moments pass you by, unnoticed? Do you eagerly anticipate God’s presence? Do you expect that He will bless you and bring you joy? Are you planning for his answers to your prayers and expecting Him to do something new in your life?

 Hoping that God will interrupt your life to bring your good and His glory is very different from expecting that He will. Begin each day of Advent expecting God to interrupt your schedule. Look for His fingerprints on the events and circumstances on your day. Anticipate a new perspective on His plan for your life. Watch for Him to delight you with His presence and praise Him when He does.

 

wtc

We don’t like risk. We spend billions of dollars per year on insurance and warranties; we study Consumer Reports before buying anything. We buy new and improved safety seats for our children; we put them to bed in flame retardant pajamas, make them wear bike helmets, and insist that their playground be built on at least 6 inches of tire rubber to lower the risk of injuries. We buy tamper proof containers, and put metal detectors in our buildings and warnings on our hairdryers to decrease the risk of harm. We buy insurance for our vacations and our cell phones, and purchase extended warranties for our electronics and cars just to decrease our risk of financial loss. There are at two huge bureaucracies in our federal government, the FDA and CPA, devoted to protecting consumers from anything produced that might harm us. We don’t like risk for ourselves.

But we love it when other people take the risk. We glamorize the bad boys who live on the edge; the people who don’t play by the rules and still beat the odds. We make heroes out of frontiersmen and cowboys, soldiers, policemen, and firemen because they are willing to take risks. We root for the underdog and the one who pushes the limits to succeed. We wait with eager anticipation for the daredevils to do a life-threatening stunt; watch rodeos and NASCAR, waiting for the crashes.

Our culture seem to have a love/hate relationship with risk. But the real truth of the matter is that risk is inherent is inherent in everything we do. Every choice you make – to do or not to do something, has a cost. We may try to minimize risks, but we don’t want miss out either. If you take the chance, you risk failing; if you stay safe, you can’t succeed or accomplish anything of much value.

When I look carefully at the great adventures of the Bible, I realize that all of the awesome revelations and miracles were predicated on situations I would have desperately tried to avoid. Noah’s rescue from the flood followed a hundred years of construction that would most certainly have branded him the town kook. David, the teenage shepherd, accepted the challenge of a giant that the best warriors in the army of Israel had already refused to fight. Daniel’s miraculous rescue required that he spend the night with lions. Mary Magdalen suffered with seven demons before she could know God’s deliverance. All the people Jesus healed struggled with physical ailments and hopelessness.

I don’t want to be afraid or ridiculed. I don’t want to be thrown into a fiery furnace or sold into slavery. I don’t want to be falsely accused or put in jail. I don’t want to pick up a snake or be swallowed by a fish. I don’t want to challenge the authority of someone who has the power to kill me. I don’t want to have to defy my government to obey my God. I don’t want to mourn or be in pain or suffer or know shame. But it is in situations exactly like those that the obedience of ordinary people displays the extraordinary power of God.

The more I learn about God, the deeper my understanding of his character and his plan, the more I don’t want to be separated from him. I am an ordinary woman with real fears and weaknesses who worships the God who has all power and has promised to redeem me, and I want my life to display evidence of the extraordinary God I serve. But in order to do that, I’m going to have risk trusting and obeying His plan, even when I really like my plan.

The irony is that we control so very little. On August 17, 2001 my family visited the World Trade Center. We spent one hour in security lines. They knew they might be a target because they had already been attacked in 1993, and they were serious about security. They wanded each of us, they went through my purse and the boys’ backpacks, we were sniffed by dogs who could detect explosives, and each of us had to walk through a metal detector so they were absolutely sure we didn’t have weapons. 3 ½ weeks later, the people in charge of security for the World Trade Center on 9/11 again did everything they could to prevent the attack they expected.

The problem was that they weren’t expecting the attack that actually occurred. Their limited perspective and understanding didn’t prepare them for what really happened. Your limited perspective and understanding of the future won’t prepare you either. But your daily obedience to God’s call on your life will prepare you.

Those who choose to trust God more than they fear what they cannot control see the glory of God right here on earth. No matter what choice you make, it will cost you something. You can miss God’s presence and blessing, you can forfeit your front row see to God’s power at work in your life, if you insist on being your own God and reject any course of action that has risk. You’ll never see God’s power as clearly as when you finally realize you are not in control at all. Our choices don’t diminish or increase God’s love for us, but they do determine whether or not we allow God’s story to become our story. God doesn’t ask us to approve his plan or necessarily like what he asks us to do; but he does require that we obey…even when we can’t see the possibility of a happy ending. It is in those moments of obedience that He gives us the desires of his heart and a front row seat to see his power. If you refuse to do anything different, you will never accomplish anything new. Refusing to take risks keeps you tied to what has been, rather than what can be. Trust Him with what is to come.

lines 3

Borders. Walls. Edges. Fences. This far and no further. Last warning that we’re about to go too far. Intentional separations from what we fear and from what we don’t like. Division between what is allowed and what is not allowed.

“Picking sides” may require that we draw a “line in the sand”. Sometimes it seems that there is a fine line between right and wrong. Delineating our point of view may make someone feel that we’ve crossed the line into their choices. We may be required to line up our priorities with those who are in charge. We are encouraged to toe the line and color inside the lines. A foul line in baseball denotes the inches between whether a hit is a foul or a home run. Signing on the bottom line is a formal commitment, enforceable by law. Our lives are judged and often defined by the “lines” we honor and the “lines” we draw.

Sometimes it’s hard to know where to draw the line or even if we should. Refusing to draw lines can make us tolerant of evil and susceptible to worldly philosophy. Refusing to see the point of view on the other side of our carefully drawn lines can make us judgmental and legalistic.

Lines are problematic for Christians. We don’t want to cross the line of law into sin; we don’t want to cross the line of love into tolerance of sin. There is a vast difference between focusing on the boundary placed by God for our protection and instruction, and focusing on the God who calls us to obey.

Disobedience comes when we take it upon ourselves to draw new lines, rather than honor the lines that God has drawn. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor.” (Matt 2:39) He also said not one dot of the law will pass from the law until all is accomplished.  (Matt 5:19) What happens when my lines intersect your lines? Where is the line between sin and obedience? Between helping and enabling? Between purity for myself and respect for others? Between loving the sinner and obeying my God? Can we travel parallel paths and respect each other across the line?

The Pharisees defined themselves by enforcing the lines they chose to draw. I suspect they started out with good motives. They wanted to honor God; they wanted to help others honor God. But they eventually became more focused on the line that separated them from disobedience than they were in the God they were trying to honor.

How different would our lives look if we were more interested in obeying God in all things than in walking as close to the line as we can get without crossing it? If we focused on God, rather than on the things that separate us from others? When we focus on our “lines”, we miss seeing God. The lines drawn by the laws in Bible are to protect us from sin…they can become sin for us when we focus on the lines to the exclusion of God. May God forgive us for the lines we draw that are outside his will and for refusing to draw the lines that help us become salt and light when the world demands that we blend in. 

cinderella

I love her entrance at the ball when she looks good and everybody notices. I love that the prince searched for her all over his kingdom because he fell in love with her the moment he saw her. I love the scene when the wicked step mother breaks the glass slipper and it seems that all hope is lost, and Cinderella pulls the other shoe out of her pocket. I love it when the bad guys lose and the good guys win. I love the Disney doctrine of happily ever after. But the problem with that is the ending is not the whole story. We don’t get to focus on the parts we like and ignore the parts we don’t. Cinderella’s happily ever after was determined by the choices she made before her fairy ever tale began.

Focusing on the happy ending can keep us from seeing the truth about the story. We all want the magic dress and the handsome prince…without the surrender and sacrifice and service that made them possible. Cinderella’s story is tragic. Her beloved father died, and she went from being cherished to being abused. Rather than valuing her as a daughter in the house provided by her father, she is relegated to serving the wicked step-mother and step-sisters. She is treated unfairly and cruelly by selfish, hateful women. No one would have blamed her if she had treated them as spitefully as they treated her or if she had secretly despised them. It would have been perfectly understandable for Cinderella to lecture them on their ingratitude or to just run away and let those self-centered, lazy women do for themselves.

But Cinderella never allowed her sorrow or her pain or the vicious behavior of others to make her any less than the kind, gracious young woman her father raised her to be. She is the hero of this story, not because she destroyed those who opposed her, but because she did not allow those who opposed her to destroy her goodness and joy. She chose to be true to her upbringing and heritage, to what she knew was good and right, no matter how others behaved. She couldn’t really change her circumstances, but she refused to allow her circumstances to change her for the worse.

Her home with a father who loved her had changed to a place where she wasn’t loved. He died and she faced a “new normal”. What we do with our “new normals” determines our future. The unwavering strength of her character and her consistent choice to be joyful and kind made her someone the mice and the fairy godmother liked and wanted to help. Their help provided her with a new dress and a snazzy carriage and the opportunity to go to the ball and meet the handsome prince and live happily ever after. But it was Cinderella’s choice to be loving and kind that caused the fairy godmother to seek her out, to give her that magical evening. Before the fairy godmother gave her what was necessary for her happily ever after, Cinderella surrendered her pride; she sacrificed her expectations, and she became a servant in her father’s house.

Cinderella did not allow the difficult people or disappointing moments to define her. She stayed true to her character and chose joy, despite her circumstances. She cooked and cleaned for her step-mother and sisters, even cared for their lazy, ill-tempered cat. Her service to them may not have been voluntary, but her attitude in that service was completely her choice. She didn’t cheerfully serve them because they were good and kind; she cheerfully served them because she was good and kind. She didn’t focus on what she believed she deserved or her approval of who she was called to serve or even whether or not she liked what she was required to do; she chose to focus on what she knew was right, even when it was unfair and hard.

Cinderella had really good reasons to choose to be less than her father raised her to be. So do we. We are called to obedience in situations that are hard and unfair. We are daily confronted with difficult, negative, hurting people who demand more than they give. Our plans have not turned out like we thought they would. We dreamed of “happily ever after”, and we got tedium and chores and tasks and interruptions and frustrations and disappointments.

It is easy to obey God when He’s doing something we like, when He allows us to serve from our strengths and when we like the people we serve…but what about when one or none of those are not the case? Our happily ever after may be the ending to our story, but we have to obediently walk through a new normal to get to that part of our story.

 The thing is, one day the King of Heaven is going to come find us and take us from the mess of where we are to our “happily ever after”. He’s already prepared a place for each one of us, and he’s going to usher us into the New Jerusalem for eternity. We will be his bride. There will be no more death or mourning or pain. God himself will wipe away the very last tear you will ever cry. But our happily ever after starts with our choice to surrender now. Our choices will not increase or diminish God’s love for us, but they will determine whether our story becomes God’s story. We need to choose obedience to him now so that we will be prepared for what is to come. We need to sacrifice the things that separate us from Him, we need to serve those He loves so that we will be ready when he comes to take us home.