Who Are You Really?

Revealing myself to others is a struggle. I’m sure most people can relate to this. Starting this blog was a major step of faith for me. I feel exposed through my writing far more than any conversation I might have. Being truly known can be frightening. The fear that you may be rejected when you allow yourself to be vulnerable and allow others to see you for who you are is all too real. 

However, at the core of our souls, we want to be known. We want to be seen for who we are without judgement or fear of condemnation. Why do you think there are thousands upon thousands of personality quizzes? From the more respected like Strengths Finder and MeyersBriggs to the silly Facebook quizzes that tell us what song, scripture, color, or flower we are, we desire to be known and recognized.

Several weeks ago, I came across a website with information about making progress in your goals. It contained a quiz. If you are anything like me, you’re skeptical with online quizzes. I typically have a preconceived notion on what my results will be. If it is anything I don’t agree with, I write it off as being inaccurate or just plain silly. When I initially received the results of this short quiz, I scoffed. 

The result was something I inwardly wanted to be, but didn’t actually believe I was. However, as I read the description my eyes began to tear up. It hit the nail on the head. It described my situation perfectly. I was amazed that the results were so accurate for such a short quiz. I had been seen and on a rather deep level.

All too often, we look to be recognized by others. We want others to see who we are. It allows us to feel validated. However, as Christians, we must be careful who we are seeking validation from. Who are you looking to validate you?

Are you looking to your spouse, your children, your family, friends or work to validate you? Or are you looking to the Lord, the creator and savior of your soul for validation? He made us in His image. Who could possibly know and understand us better than He does? John 10:14 says, “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.”

But so often we are like Adam and Eve hiding from God in the garden. We don’t want Him to see our sin, our nakedness. We are scared we will be judged and rejected by Him. Too many times I have heard the expression, “God would strike me dead if I went to church.” This illustrates a lack of understanding for who God truly is. Romans 8:1 states, “there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Oh how incredible is His love and mercy for us! Even though I continue to sin, because imagine that I’m human, if I am in Christ there is no condemnation. He is there standing with arms open waiting to offer complete forgiveness and restoration to Him. I am learning to daily run to Him, seek His forgiveness and ask Him to help me do what pleases Him. I know I can only do that in His strength. The closer I am to Him, the more I recognize the sin in my life. However, I don’t feel condemned, He offers correction as a loving Father and I am known to the core. I trust that He is refining me.

God loves us far beyond our comprehension. Yes, sin does matter to Him. But He died for us even while we were still sinners. How incredible is that? The truth is He is the only one that can truly see us for who we are. He is the only one that can bring true validation. How powerful we become as Christians when we only seek validation from the Savior of our souls? We no longer care about what others or the world thinks of us. We no longer need their validation. It is then we are able to fully become who He created us to be. Who are you seeking to validate you?

Where Is Your Focus?

Can you imagine being Peter in that boat? It is the middle of the night and one minute this being you perceive to be a ghost is coming toward you, walking on the water no less. The next you are out walking on the water yourself! I have to say, I probably would have been one of the other eleven that sat by and watched in wonder. 

Most teachings on this passage focus on Jesus’ command to not be afraid. This is profoundly true and important. However, I want to stop and consider why Peter became afraid in the first place. 

The BIble says, “when he [Peter] saw the wind.” That night on the water, Peter lost his focus. Rather than focusing on Jesus, he began to notice the wind and waves around him. This caused him to be fearful and he sank only to be saved when Jesus reached out to him.

Several years ago, I began cycling with my husband. It had been years since I had ridden a bike. My bike handling skills left much to be desired. In fact, if I wanted to brake, I had to cautiously move one hand at a time down to the brakes. Stopping quickly was not in the cards for me. As I rode more, I became more and more confident. 

One of the major lessons I quickly learned was, you will go where your focus is. If there was a rock or other obstacle in my path and I wanted to avoid it, I focused my attention on the path I planned around the rock rather than the rock itself. This was the best strategy for avoiding obstacles on the road. 

As the saying goes, “Life is like riding a bicycle.” And apparently it’s like walking on water with Jesus. We begin to sink when we shift our focus away from Jesus. Jesus never promised an easy life, the waves are going to rage around us. Life is going to throw many obstacles along our paths. It is rarely easy. 

However, where we place our focus matters so much more than the actual problems we face. If we focus on our problems and obstacles in life, we become distraught, fearful, or angry. We begin to sink like Peter. We so often do everything in and of our own power to solve our problems, only exhausting ourselves and causing more anxiety, fear, and heartache. 

Yet when we begin to focus on our Savior, our perspective shifts. As we move our attention and focus to the Creator of this world, our problems don’t seem quite so daunting. My focus is no longer placed on myself or my situation. It shifts to the Almighty. The One who knows my end from my beginning. The One who formed this world, including little old me. When I look at my situation in light of Him, all those things don’t seem quite so important or quite so difficult. Because He is all that matters. So why don’t we make Him our focus?

The problem is generally my own as I forget to be mindful of what I am focusing on. So where is your focus? I guarantee whatever it is, that is what will determine your perspective on your situation in life. So determine to focus on the One with all the answers because He knows all and is an ever present help in time of need.

Who Has Your Attention?

What are you allowing to hold your attention? The cares and distractions of life are ever abounding. Children, spouses, family, friends, work, the news, social media, tv, movies, music, our phones are all constantly vying for our attention. It can become a cacophony that surrounds us day and night. It is often difficult to escape. Who has your attention? 

Are you allowing the voice of the Lord to speak into your life? All too often, He is drowned out by the busyness of our lives. And we allow the things of this world to capture our attention. 

Some might proclaim, “But you don’t understand. I am so busy! I have so many things to do!” I hear you. There is a constant laundry list of things we must take care of and deal with on a daily basis. Laundry itself being one of those tasks! It is exhausting. 

Yet, we have time for social media, spending mindless hours scrolling. (We’ve all done it.) We also have to watch the latest show or movie. We listen to our favorite podcasts or music. Or if you’re a fellow book nerd, you must read the latest book from your favorite author. There is an endless list of distractions with which we entertain ourselves.

These things are not necessarily bad in and of themselves. In fact, sometimes they can be wonderful. The problem becomes when we are giving all our attention to these things rather than the Lord. When our attention is more focused on these distractions they become an idol. 

Now some of you are saying, “Wait, hold up! My phone, tv, social media (insert whatever it is here) is not an idol.” I would challenge you to stop and think about whatever popped into your mind as you read that. Now seriously ask yourself, better yet ask the Lord, if you have made that thing an idol in your life. 

An idol is not just some statue we imagine they worshipped in ancient days. An idol is anything you place above God. Is there something you have put a higher priority than God? There is no shame, we have all done it. However, once we recognize it, we must make an effort to change. 

Others may be quick to say “Well, the Lord doesn’t speak to me.” Or “I don’t hear anything from the Lord.” When was the last time that you stopped to listen to the Lord? Typically, during our time with God, we sit and give him our laundry list of requests. We tell Him what we want of Him. But do we wait to see how He will respond or are we quickly off to the next item on our to do list? 

Consider this. Your friend calls or texts you a few times a week and all she ever does is tell you how she is doing and asks you for favors. However, when you try to tell her what is on your heart or ask her to do anything, it falls on deaf ears. You feel like you are talking to a brick wall. That is a relationship that is not only one-sided, but one that can never grow deeper. Yet how is this any different than how we sometimes treat the Lord?

He wants to spend time with us, quality time. He already knows us in and out. He created us. He wants us to take the time to know Him. He wants our attention. Remember, He wasn’t in the wind. He wasn’t in the earthquake. And He wasn’t in the fire. He was a still small voice. When He has our full attention, we will begin to hear Him. 

As we turn our attention to Him through our praise, worship and reading of His Word, we will begin to hear Him speak clearly into our lives. He will direct our path and give us clarity. He will give us the grace, hope, peace, and joy we need to survive the busyness of life. We will be able to hear that small still voice.

Do You Love HIM?

Do you love the Lord? Do you really? Do you love Him enough to sacrifice everything? Some may not hesitate to answer a resounding yes, proclaiming they would gladly die for the Lord. But what about your comforts, your home, your possessions, your friends, even your family. Are you willing to sacrifice your reputation? Are you willing to put yourself and all you have on the line for Him? (Matthew 19:21-24)

If so, then hold on, because Jesus warned we would be persecuted and hated for His name. (John 15:18-20) The early church knew this all too well. Hundreds suffered terrible deaths simply because they would not renounce their faith in Him. However, today Christians continue to adapt and meld with the culture around it. The church has long used such devices to make itself more attractive to the world. Lest you be quick to point the finger at progressive churches proclaiming, “Yes, but not my church.” Simply take a look into the traditions of the beloved holidays of Christmas or Easter and you will be quick to find the church has been melding with the culture to appease the senses of the world for centuries. This melding with the culture only creates a weak and diluted form of Christianity, one that is more and more concerned with what the world around believes and thinks than what He says. This creates a brittle faith, one that crumbles at the mere sight of opposition. 

In spite of this, God is calling out to us to stand strong. (Ephesians 6:10-11) Does disappointing Him grieve your heart and send you to your knees in repentance? Do not mistake, I am not speaking of what we would consider grievous sins, such as lying, cheating, stealing, even gossiping. Those sins we readily condemn even if we know we are apt to commit them from time to time. No, does it grieve your heart when you realize you have failed Him in even the smallest ways? Perhaps, you spoke in anger to the driver who cut you off. Or maybe you failed to speak to the woman at the grocery store when the Lord was nudging you to talk with her. Do you not think even these seemingly small sins grieve Him? Some may say, “Well, I didn’t actually commit a sin.” However, that is not the point. The point is, does it grieve your heart to disappoint the Lord? If you truly love Him with your whole heart, mind, and strength, it should. 

Others will proclaim, “But what about grace?” Yes, grace is a glorious gift from our Savior. One none of us deserves yet He freely gives. It is the reason we are able to live this life with a future hope for eternity. However, grace should not be abused. (Romans 6:1-2) We should not blindly convince ourselves that because grace is offered as a free gift, we should abuse it by grieving the heart of God. 

Do not be deceived, sin does matter and sin does grieve the heart of God. If you love the Lord, you will do everything to avoid grieving the heart of God. You will long to sit in His presence soaking in His glory. You will cling to Him and His Word unwilling to miss His voice in any area of your life. You will gladly sacrifice everything to serve Him and please Him. He loves you with an unfathomable love and He, like a good parent, longs for your good. That does not mean that pain and heartache won’t follow. It is often through such pain and heartache that we are drawn closer to Him. However, if you love Him, your sole aim in life should be to please Him, no matter the cost.

Oh, that we would fall so in love with Him that we would lay down all we are to serve Him and the purposes He has for our lives. Imagine the church living in such a way! The impact that would have on our communities, our nation, the world. It would truly never be the same again. It would be a revolution that would shake our world. So what is the Lord asking you to do? What is that one area you know you haven’t fully surrendered to Him? 

Oh, the fear and trembling those questions evoke. I know it wholeheartedly, as it has taken me months and years to finally step into what He has called me to do. It is a frightening thought to step out of our comfort and into what the Lord has for us. The fear of the unknown can be crippling. But when we draw closer to Him, we begin to know His heart. We begin to see the immense love He has for us. Once we are able to recognize this, how can we not lay down all we are in service to this God who became man to save us? As we draw nearer to Him, we begin to see and know how much He cares for us. How then can we not trust Him fully and begin to walk in the path He has planned for us?