Let there be Light (Or, maybe NOT.)

I was warned. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t properly estimate how dark the impending darkness was going to be.

We never do.

I had received a sweet little letter from our electric company telling us there was going to be a power outage on an upcoming date, from about 11:00 p.m. to around 5:00 a.m. (You know, give or take a few hours.) That would have been fine and dandy except this particular night we were going to be getting up at 3:30 in the morning to get ready to catch a plane. (Not the most optimal time to have a power outage.)

Since there was a chance the power would come back on right before we’d be leaving, and being the extreme type-A, exceptionally organized, need-to-be-prepared person that I am, I made my mental list of things we’d need to do before we left our house if we were so fortunate to regain power: reset the sprinkler system with the proper time, reset the automatic light timers, and so forth. I felt quite proud of my dang self.

Except I forgot one thing.

It didn’t dawn on me until right before my alarm went off that I would be waking up to complete darkness. And then showering in complete darkness. And then putting on my makeup in complete darkness. And then finishing my packing in complete darkness.

There wasn’t a lick of moon-shine to be seen. Not even a sliver.

It was a scream. Literally.

The instant I woke up, I freaked out and stared into the blackness before me in complete horror. Makeup in the dark???? In my sleep deprived state, I couldn’t think of anything worse.

Thank goodness for cell phones because they have this handy-dandy flashlight so you can see three inches in front of you. Thank goodness for brilliant dad’s, because they give their daughter’s killer flashlights that are so powerful, they’ll burn your retinas if they make it three inches from your eyes. And thank goodness I love candles, because I have about fifteen in my bathroom.

It was with these multiple sources of light that I did my best to wash up and beautify my anxious self. The kicker was, they worked quite well. Actually, a little too well.

Have you ever held a flashlight right up to your face in front of a magnified mirror? Talk about a literal scream. Every flaw, every wrinkle, every…well, you fill in the blank. I was even more mortified than when I had first awakened and thought I wouldn’t be able to see myself at all.

But that’s what light does. It reveals.

On the plane ride to New Orleans, it got me thinking…How much light am I willing to shed on my insides? To what extent do I want to see the truth about who I am? Do I typically use candlelight or am I willing to withstand a burn-your-retinas-out kind of light?

Seems to me we all have a choice as to how much light we’re willing to engage with, the primary one for Christ-followers being God’s Word…

Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path.
Psalm 119:105

But there are other great sources of light as well: podcasts, churches, personal growth books, friends who are cool enough to be honest with you…

All of them wonderful. Except, there’s a catch:

Did you know you can read the Bible and never use it to expose your flaws so you can make some much-needed adjustments? (The Pharisees were great at this.) Or go to church once in a while but never get involved enough to let it change you? Or be in a small group but never be authentic enough to let others know the real you?

It’s interesting. I always had a handy-dandy flashlight on my phone, and the super-cool one my dad bought me that’s in my nightstand, but I had never held either of them up to my face before.

I had never let the light get close enough to reveal my unique imperfections.

And more than that, the more light I held up to my face, the more imperfections I saw. (Yahoo.) And I realized something through all of this: that it’s not a matter of whether we’re living in the “light” or the “darkness,” but just how much light are we willing to have shed on us…

Some of us content living our lives by candlelight that makes us look good no matter what; some of us braving light that could fry our eyes out; and others of us at various places in between.

Personally, as painful as it is, I don’t want to live fooling myself. After all, we only have one life; no do-overs, no dress-rehearsals.

I want the kind of light that shows me what needs to be changed – so that it can be changed.

So bring on the Word. Bring on the podcasts, awesome friends, books, and every other fry-your-eyes-out kind of light. I’m ready to use them to my advantage; I hope you are too. :)

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Trusting God

It always happens. Being tested in the area I’m going to be speaking on, that is.
In January I spoke on ‘Trusting God’. Yippee.

I’d already had an eventful 2016 with lots of reasons one would need to trust God…visits to the emergency room for my husband’s heart which kept insisting on doing its own thing; family illnesses; deaths; hormone-changing surgery (if you catch my drift); the worst case of pneumonia I’ve ever had in my life (well, the only case of pneumonia I’ve ever had in my life); attempted identity theft and credit card fraud…all of this and more, while trying to finish some pretty tough classes so I could finally graduate.

You know. Life.

It was in the midst of some of this “life” that I had to work on this ‘Trusting God’ speaking engagement and let me tell you, not only was I tested in the area of trusting God, but have continued to be ever since. (I’m beginning to realize that my speaking and writing is not so much for others as it is for me. Another yippee.)

That said, there’s a flip-side to all of this. Yes, I’ve been stretched in the area of trusting God till my sanity is about to snap, but I’ve also had the opportunity to live out what I’ve spoken on and reap the rewards.

For instance, one of the points I made is that we find peace and joy in the midst of life’s trials when we trust in God’s person, not His performance.

What do I mean?

Well, no matter how hard I try, I cannot get God to do everything I want Him to. He just doesn’t always take my advice. For example:

  • I’ve asked Him over and over to heal me from migraines I get every so often. (I have one right now as I write.)
  • I asked Him to let the preparation for my last speaking engagement to go smoothly THIS TIME, without any stressors. (I dealt with pneumonia, credit card theft, and two deaths.)
  • I’ve asked Him repeatedly to make me a few sizes smaller. (I’m still waiting.)

My many life challenges expose an interesting truth about me: it’s when things don’t go my way or get resolved that my trust begins to waver. Why?

Well, one reason is that, quite frankly, it’s not really a trust issue. It’s a me-not-getting-my-way issue. I’m the little brat who folds her arms, takes her ball, and marches home – leaving God in the proverbial dust. It has nothing to do with trusting God and everything to do with being disappointed and dissatisfied.

The other reason, however, is quite different:

It’s that my trust is centered on what God is going to do in my circumstance rather than trusting in Him and His character. It’s about trusting His performance – not His person.

This concept is huge and can be a real game-changer once we get it.

One way places trust in how the circumstances will turn out. The other trusts that the One who is in control of all circumstances is so good, and on our side, that no matter how the circumstances of our lives turn out on this side of heaven, somehow, He’ll use them for our good.

Migraines and fat thighs included.

Moreover, think about it: the God of the universe, our biggest advocate and cheerleader, cannot be bad in His care for us.

How friggin’ cool is that?

Now, that’s someone we can trust in!

If you’re struggling with trusting God, boy, do I understand. Working on the various points of my last speaking engagement helped me in more ways than one; perhaps it will speak to you too. You’re welcome to watch it by clicking here.

Until next time, my friends, live blessed!