Friday, February 28, 2014

That We Should Walk In Them

I've always been a bit of a daydreamer. My mind is truly a fantastic place to be. I love the imagination that God has given to me and lately, I have been considering: what should I do with it?

You see, I have these huge, gigantic things I want to do in my lifetime. They aren't huge, gigantic things for my own comfort or benefit either. In fact, there may be a degree of discomfort involved in the process of seeing these huge things come to life.

They are so huge, I don't even want to put them into words yet.

But He knows. He, being the One who knit me together. The One who knew my name before I was even a thought in my Mother's mind. The One who put the dreams and ideas and active imagination into my brain in the first place.

How do I know they are dreams from above?

Because they are big dreams. Big dreams that I can't ever possibly pull off on my own. Life-changing dreams, not necessarily for me, but for a world in desperate need. And the enemy tries to stomp them in the dirt under his angry shoes and say things like, "you're nobody from nowhere. How can you possibly think that ____ could ever happen?" Have you ever heard that mocking voice questioning your goals and making you think they're impossible? On our own strength, yes. These goals and dreams and callings we have are impossible. But that's where God comes in. His power is made perfect in our weakness.  His power makes the impossible become possible.

And also, this:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10

God already knows what the good works are that you and I are destined to complete. Because He had them in mind before, (and as) He created you to walk on this planet at this time. And He wants you to walk in them. Not sit and look at them. Not toy with the idea of them. But to walk in them. As in, NOW.

If you feel disqualified by sin or stopped by mistakes in the past? Consider that the very moment you are reading this has been ordained. Every moment of your life up until now has been part of a plan. All the ups and downs. Every past moment has led you to NOW. Tonight will lead you to tomorrow, and the next few days will build up (or tear down) your path into later next week, and next month, and ten years from now. Don't let a misguided meander in the past dictate your path today.

Because the big question isn't about the past. The big question is: What can you do today? What can you do right now to begin fulfilling the plans God has for you? And maybe they aren't gigantic. And that's ok. God has the audacity and the authority to call anyone anywhere, to do anything anytime.

In this season of your life, maybe your biggest work of the moment is to be a faithful spouse and joyfully love your husband or wife.

Or maybe it's to simply be at your job on time and earn an honest wage while respecting your boss and colleagues.

Or maybe it's to tenderly care to the needs of your young children all day everyday- to wipe their noses and make their chicken noodle soup and applaud their crayon-scribbled pictures.

There is no ranking of importance here in His Kingdom. In this world, there is an uphill battle to reach the top of the game- to gain the notoriety- the spotlight- the accolades- the platform.

But God, more often than not, can do a whole lot more with the sold-out heart of country folk from the backwoods-middle-of-nowhere who are willing to live a pure, humble, honest life. The kind of person who opens their hands to heaven and whispers, "this life? It's not about me. It's about YOU. What would YOU like me to do?"

So the first step to living out the dream He has for you- no matter the size, is to hold it out in your hands, and give it back to the God who planted it in your heart to begin with. To say, "Here. You know this thing better than I do. You made it. Now let's create the reality of it together."

Then, it becomes a delicate mixture of sit-back-and-watch and get-up-and-go.

In the times where we find ourselves waiting and wondering, we must lean on the love of God. In the times where we feel confident and are moving ahead steadily, we must lean on the love of God. Because that's where our inspiration, our strength, and our focus come from anyway. His love.

Because that's what matters at the end of the day. Nothing (Read it again.) NOTHING can separate us from His love. Nothing we can or cannot do. No dream, no disappointment, no things past, present, or future, can keep us away from His love.

And to me, the ultimate dream-come-true has already come true: A lifelong love relationship with the God who knows me best. Not just in this life, but in the eternal one to follow.

But in the meantime, it's kind of fun to let my imagination run wild. I, for one, am ready to run this path that He has prepared beforehand for me. Who's with me?

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Identity Crisis?

Hello friends. What on earth have I been doing all this time NOT blogging on here? You'd think I had dropped off the face of the planet. It's nothing quite that dramatic, I assure you. It's been a busy few months here at the Crawford house. We've had all the usual hustle of the holidays and a layer of general busy stuff on top of that. Plus, I have had the great joy and excitement of stepping in to some incredible songwriting. I have been taking part in songwriting coaching from Gabriel Wilson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA for a few months and my songwriting has shifted in to full gear. I eat, sleep, and breathe lyric and melody. I am totally diving in to this. It is where I belong- breathing in the revelation of God and breathing out lyrics and melody to capture and propel the response. Some unexpectedly incredible things are going on right now in songwriting world, but more on that some other time...suspenseful, I know.

I am reading a great book right now by Lisa Bevere called "Lioness Arising". There's a picture of an angry female lion stalking prey through some kind of tall grass of the African plains on the cover. I like Lisa Bevere's writing very much, but I was a bit leery of the content based on the cover. But it was 8 bucks, so I figured why not? Worst case scenario, I have a book with an angry lion on the front cover sitting on my bookshelf.

This book is ROCKING my world. And I am only on the third chapter. One page in particular is screaming at me. When a page in a book causes me to sit straight up, nearly gasping at the content, and I notice my heart beginning to hammer in my chest while at the same time hearing the whisper of the Holy Spirit saying, "This. You need this. Right here." I naturally want to see if it connects with anyone else. So, gentle reader, I'm just going to toss it right here for you to peruse. Maybe it's just a word for me, but I have a suspicion that this is a journey many of us need to start. Today.

With the birth of my son Arden Christopher (his name means 'fiery, determined, anointed one'), something within me shifted. Even though another child meant more of a mother load, I became a focused daughter. You see, like many other mothers, my God-connected self had been strained. I was almost at a point of drowning in my day-to-day life. I was so caught up with my ever-expanding and increasingly demanding to-do list, I'd forgotten who I was. I was full of self-doubt. My life was small, self-centered, isolated, petty, safe, and ineffective. I remembered my name, whom I was married to, and who my kids were, but what I did and who I was responsible for overshadowed my sense of being God's daughter. As I paused, God began to whisper strength to me and to call me by another name. To everyone else, I had a name that was attached to a job description. I was mother to my children, wife to my husband, pastor's wife to the congregation, but to God Most High, I was simply daughter. As I focused on just being His and what all that meant, life and strength flowed into my days, and rest entered my soul. My heart enlarged. (Bevere, Lioness Arising, P.10)

As I read this, it echoed some thoughts I shared with a dear friend of mine earlier in the day,

"What does God say about me? I think He sees a woman segmenting herself in all directions- His daughter who struggles to have a mind clear enough to hear from HIM. a Mom who just wants to raise 3 babies to know and love God, to be a good wife to a man who often proves he is a way better human being than I am. I want to do ministry well. I have huge dreams for my songs! I want to grow a garden. I want to keep a tidy house. Save money. Get in shape. Keep everyone fed and healthy. My plate is FULL! My mind is RACING! But God sees the heart behind it all- a daughter desperate to truly see Him and know Him."

We all have a variety of roles that we fulfill. That's not a bad thing. The bad thing is when we calculate our value through the lens of what we can do or how well we can do it. Because guess what happens when those things we can do are shaken in some way? Or what about when we fail in an area? When we can't decipher what our identity even IS anymore?

We feel of little to no worth or value to ourselves or anyone else.

This is not the way God intended.

It is time that we find our strength. Renew our passions. Dare to dream God-sized dreams. Step in to our destiny.

But the approach is not as active as you'd think. Yes, there is a time for the "doing", but the "being" is much more critical to begin with. You can't muscle your way through this life. This isn't a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps kind of thing we're talking about here. You can't just fire off of the starting line without first having realized your only worth comes from belonging to the only One who is Worthy.

Your salvation requires you to turn back to Me
and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves.
Your strength will come from settling down
in complete dependence on Me. -Isaiah 30:15

Settling down. Complete dependence. Being a child of the Most High God.

No striving. Just resting in His strength.

When you're tempted to look at all the ways you're sinking, arms flailing in the heaving depths of the ocean of not-good-enough, look to the One who calls out to the storm, "Peace! Be still!" and hear Him yelling those words not only to the storm surrounding, but also to your heart as you're holding on for dear life.

Yes, Lord. I am listening. I am captivated by Your grace and Your love. I am resting in Your powerful embrace. You are awakening me again to the powerful truth that I am Yours. Let hope arise.