Standing In Confidence: Scars Part II

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:23

I am a people pleaser.

I attempt to avoid conflict at all costs and have an innate need or desire to “fix” it, whatever that may entail.

And this is not necessarily a bad thing. Most of us would agree that it falls very nicely and neatly into those concepts of “love your neighbor as yourself” and “the greatest shall be the least” and even “laying our lives down for our friends”.

People pleasing. Bible Study 101.

Except, no.

At first glance, the life of Jesus may seem like a “people pleasing” one. Give all the things away, take the detour, love unconditionally…

But when you dig deeper, when you stop for a second and actually take a really good look- you find that he was anything but a people pleaser.

The number of times he single-handedly in a matter of sentences defrauded everything the higher religious powers were preaching at the time is astounding. And while he was continuously compassionate to men and women from every walk of life, he never hesitated to bring up the hard issues and deliver absolute truth in love. And don’t forget the time he literally began to flip tables in the temple out of heartbreak for his father’s home.

No, upon further inspection- Jesus was far from a people pleaser. He was a God-the-Father pleaser. Everything he did, he did as the Father asked him to, no matter where it took him or what it looked like.

Plus- ironically the people around you often fare better when you strive to serve and love them God’s way verses their way.

Over the past few weeks with my graduation coming faster and along with it a new chapter full of first steps, a hundred different comments have filled my head.

Typically they go one of two ways- A “Congratulations” or a “Why?”.

Why…. and fill in the blanks. The way I have chosen to spend my time, my life choices and my future direction along with probably any other miscellanous topic you can think of has come into question.

Followed by a ‘but can you really’ remark.

And of course my answer is, well I really don’t know.

I don’t know how this will all play out. I have a plan, I’m on a path, but the truth is I am not quite sure I have pinpointed the destination. I have taken a few guesses.

Something I do know is that I have completely surrendered my life to His design, and He directs my steps. No matter where it takes me or what it looks like.

Another thing I know, is that I am far from the only one who faces these questions and the inner doubts which knock on the door trying to follow in after them. As I have spoken to others, I have become increasingly aware of the fact you will never make everyone happy.

I realize this is a lesson that has been around for a while. But its as if for the first time I am seeing it in color. Because the truth is, according to some of my friends who were directed to take a different road and made the choices I did not, they get the same questions. Slightly altered. But the same.

And all this, breaks my heart. We all in our own and unique God-given way bear his likeness. We are all created in his image. Yet not one of us is the same. We have been uniquely, lovingly and purposely created and crafted with specific gifts and talents and treasures.

Our mission?

Overcome the fear and the doubt and bravely utilize those gifts and talents to grow and prosper our Father’s kingdom. To use them in a way that invests and inspires the world around us.

No it is not easy. And the enemy will continuously try to tell you that you are doing it wrong.

“That’s not what everyone else does.”

“You are stupid to think you could possibly do this. Why would you even try?”

“Is this really where you thought you’d be in 10 years? Everyone else is so much farther ahead.”

Yup. Fear, doubt, shame.

But if you don’t take the risk, you deny yourself any chance at the ultimate prize. The joy of entering into your Father’s happiness, knowing you took what he gave you and did all you could with it. Even though there was no promise of return. Even though it was risky. Even though it may not have been perfect.

You jumped in full heartedly. Or at least let God push you in. While the enemy is shouting his lies on one side, God is whispering on the other.

I am with you. 

I believe in you.

I am proud of you.

The reality is Jesus is calling you to step out onto the water while others are telling you to not rock the boat.

Another reality is that we have a God who looks at us and sees every weak and hurting part. And He believes in us.

He believes in you.

And that revelation has given me a strength and a hope I had not known. He believes in me, and if my God believes in me, what can I not do? What can I not overcome?

Let’s be a people that celebrates the different unique and glorious callings God has initiated and created in all of us. Let’s be a people who stand by one another- holding each other up when it’s hard and cheering when another has reached a milestone towards their destination.

How beautiful and awe-inspiring it is when we look at our own unexpected road and see the twisting road of other’s journeys and realize it was never needless wandering but purposeful molding. How much love and care was put into His plans for every one of us? He rejoices to see the work begin. Let’s rejoice too- in a God capable of creating and compiling so many beautiful stories.

Don’t bury your treasure- be it gifts, talents, time- from a place of fear but invest it in a way so big it will leave the whole world marveling at such a risk- knowing that victory or failure is not defined by worldly standards but Godly standards. And knowing that regardless of victory or failure according to worldly standards God will meet you with a

“Well done, good and faithful child of mine, I knew you could and I am so proud. Welcome home.”

You may be wondering, “Okay, so what does people pleasing have to do with your graduation cap?” And I am so glad you asked. Let me explain.

Nothing really.

I was just really excited about it. Besides it perfectly summarizes this post:

  1. Let the Lord direct your steps.
  2. Be sure to thank and keep close those who believe in you.
  3. Do not hesitate to seek the Great Perhaps God has in store for you
  4. As followers of Jesus Christ our chapters will ALWAYS end with “To Be Continued…

The song I posted last week Scars by I Am They has a second verse which I felt fit and included below:

“Now I’m standing in confidence
With the strength of Your faithfulness
And I’m not who I was before
No, I don’t have to fear anymore

I am thankful for the Scars”

A Story You’ll Use: Scars Part I

 Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

John 20:17

Listen for The Voice. Not a voice.

These last couple of weeks have been a blur, on a personal level my schedule consisted of finishing my current degree program, making arrangements for the next steps in my new degree program and discerning God’s will pertaining to the direction in which I needed to walk this summer concerning internship and career opportunities.

And of course celebrating Easter.

As I was going through the processes listed above my first and foremost thoughts were tempted to revolve around what I am not. I am not qualified. I am not done. I am not ready. I am not sure.

I had and have these great dreams of doing these great things. (Not earth shattering great things, but personally world shaking great things). The things I have deemed would be great to do. The purpose I believe God may have created me for, what motivates and inspires me. My dreams.

But there is something about those next steps.

Taking the next step is absolutely terrifying.

Taking the next step is all we want to do, all we plan for, all we patiently train and study and move toward…

But when we reach that threshold there is this moment.

A moment of complete vulnerability as we realize this next step will not only reveal the strengths we have carefully crafted, but the weaknesses we have yet to uncover and develop.

The path has changed so many times before. I have no doubt that it will continue to take unexpected turns. Unfortunately I have not been able to convince God to hand over the map- not even to let me get a quick glance.

So in the middle of the chaos of life and choices and unworthiness and vulnerability-

Easter broke me.

Easter shattered everything. Easter shatters every prerequisite, every sensible and rational doubt or reasoning.

Easter is the epitome of the impossible, improbable and impractical. Defined by love more powerful than the depths of Hell and by a mission not even satan could foretell.

Easter reminds us that we don’t have to be qualified. We don’t have to know the answers. We don’t have to be ready. And we don’t have to go alone. He will qualify us, He knows the answers, He is ready and He is already there and right beside us.

Standing in the threshold is like the dawn of Easter morning. Coming out of the dark into the light. Behind you is where you’ve been and ahead of you is what is next.

And you may not know exactly what that day is going to bring and you may feel as if you had all the wrong answers and you may be fighting doubt and fear and despair and remembering “better” (aka safer) days but…

What is on the other side is so brilliantly and dazzlingly worth it, something that you yourself never could have imagined in your wildest dreams.

How do we know this? Amid everyday, ordinary life, how do we know that something as simple and complex as taking the next step will ultimately lead to something so awe-inspiring and wonderful?

Because He has called our name.

Just as He called Mary’s. Mary who had just come through the darkest night.

Mary who I am willing to bet was surrounded by voices telling her all she’d believed, all she held true, all she’d trained for was wrong. Mary who was surrounded by those waiting to crush her.

Can you imagine? I am sure that between Friday and Sunday morning, more than once the enemy had come against her, that the enemy had attempted to put visions of all the stones being picked back up in her head. As she clung to Jesus words, I do not condemn you either. I love you. You are worthy, not because of what you have done or who you are, but because of who I am and what I have done.

Easter reminded me to look closer when I was tempted to look back.

Because amid all of the failed paths and unexpected turns, I can see how it has all shaped me and brought me to exactly where I am now. I can see the story that they’ve crafted and I can recognize that had those paths gone the way I had planned it may have been good, but the story would not be nearly as great as the one I am in now.

And as much as I love a good story, only God knows what it means to me to be part of His Great story which we have only yet begun to grasp.

There is a song by I Am They titled Scars. The beginning includes the lyrics:

“Cause my brokenness brought me to You/
And these wounds are a story You’ll use”

God used Jesus’ scars to tell the greatest story. And that story has not ended…

As I set aside all the doubts and questions and replace them with the memories of the times He has done all He has promised…

He qualifies me. He strengthens me. He enables me. He calls me.

And the scars? Those twisted paths? Those thresholds?

They’re apart of the greatest story, one we have not yet fully imagined.