Come Closer

James 4:8 “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.”

I’ve been wrestling with these words. Grasping for meaning. Searching for the other piece of the puzzle. Today it’s placed in my hands. It all makes sense now. Why I wasn’t getting very far.

Matthew 15:8 “These people draw near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.”

It all makes sense now. I’ve been one of ‘those’ people. I’ve held out one hand saying pour in while I’ve clutched my heart shut with the other. Not in fear of it but in fear of what it may require. My heart must follow after my words.

I’ve got one foot in the laver trying to get ‘clean’ enough, good enough, worthy enough while the other foot slowly inches toward the brazen alter, the consuming fire. And yet the distance is too far, I have to step out of the laver. I have to stop looking back. It’s all or nothing, one or the other, I can’t stand in two places.

I must be poured in before I can pour out. And He’s standing there ready to pour, waiting for me to take that next step.

Acts 2:18 “On my handmaidens, I will pour out of My Spirit!”

 

 

Well Laid Plans

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January 9th, 2013. Four years ago. The Facebook memory app just reminded me what happened that day. It’s not exactly a day I care to remember but it was a pivotal point in my life. An event that would cause me to re-evaluate my life and the choices I had made.

It was the hardest lesson that I ever had to learn. And I willingly chose to learn it the hard way. And four years later, I’m still paying the consequences.

In August 2012, I had applied for and got hired for a job in Florida. A job that would require me to move across multiple state lines. My reasons for applying for the job were for all the wrong reasons. I wasn’t supposed to go, but in my stubbornness, I ignored all the make a U-turn now signs and breezed past the stop signs. I went anyway.

The job didn’t make me as happy as I thought it would. I was downright miserable and I knew I wasn’t supposed to be there. But still I stayed.

On January 9th four years ago, I was in an automobile accident on the way to work. My wrist was in the surgeon’s words, shattered. Surgery was required. Surgery led to 3 months with a steel rod screwed into the outside of my arm. I was handicapped and unable to work, unable to write. Unable to wash and brush my own hair. This wasn’t part of my plan.

My well laid plans fell apart. I learned the hard way to be obedient and to always “acknowledge Him in all my ways” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

In my devotions today I was reminded again of how important it is to include Him in my plans and to allow Him to have the final say. His will not mine.

Proverbs 19:20-21

” Hear counsel and receive instruction, that thou may be wise in thy latter end. There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”

2 Peter 1:10

“So then, brothers (and sisters), give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if you do these things, you shall never fall.”

“Walk with Me in  holy trust, responding to My initiatives rather than trying to make things fit your plans. I died to set you free, and that includes freedom from compulsive planning. When your mind spins with a multitude of thoughts, you cannot hear My voice. A mind preoccupied with planning pays homage to the idol of control. Turn from this idolatry back to Me. Listen to Me and live abundantly!” – Sarah Young- Jesus Calling”

 

” In no way is it enough to set out cheerfully with God on any venture of faith. You must also be willing to take your ideas of what the journey will be like and tear them into tiny pieces, for nothing on the itinerary will happen as you expect. Your Guide will not keep to any beaten path. He will lead you through ways you would never have dreamed your eyes would see. He knows no fear, and He expects you to fear nothing while He is with you.”- Streams in the Desert”

 

 

 

 

 

Blind Faith

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” For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7

When we walk by faith, we walk blindly. Walking by faith takes trust. Trusting that the One guiding us will not lead us astray; that He will keep us safe.

When we walk by our own perceptions; we see what lies ahead. We see the hard and the change and the storm and the obstacles. We see the danger and the squalor and the pain and the suffering. We see what we don’t want to see. And fear takes hold. And so we look for the way out or the way around and oftentimes we find it.

Because we take the short-cut around; we miss out. We miss the mark. We lose the blessings that were rightfully ours. We learn our lessons the hard way. And while we’re still wallowing in our fear and self doubt; He sends the obedient ones to do the job He had for us. Because souls are at stake here. Hearts are hanging in the balance, some by a thread. And they needed us in that moment; and we failed them.

When we walk by faith, we don’t know what’s coming. We don’t know what He has in store for us. We just have to trust that wherever He leads us, is for our good. That the road He has us on is the right one, no matter how many hills and valleys. No matter the flying leaps of faith we must take. We have to trust that no matter what; He is right there by our side, guiding us and walking the road with us; and trust that if our foot slips, He will be there to catch us.

So this year, with blind faith, I write unhindered by fear and doubt. This year, I let the guardrails down and I allow my heart to spill out onto the pages. Because souls are at stake here; and I don’t want to fail them.

 

Which King do You Seek?

Got your steel toed boots on? Good, you’re going to need them. I’m wearing two pairs, one right over the other! You know for that extra protection needed for those toes that are about to be stomped on.

I’ve been reading Lisa Bevere’s book titled Girls With Swords. After coming across this line; MY toes are throbbing…so much for those steel toed boots!

“Let us now compare two warring kings-Israel’s first king, Saul, and her final and forever King, Jesus. Israel’s soldier-king, Saul, was anointed as both king and deliverer because Israel wanted to be like the other nations. They wanted a king to call their own-a figurehead of sorts that they could point to with pride. Rather than submitting to the invisible, invincible, eternal God Most High, they wanted someone they could see and touch. They wanted a human champion who could lead them into battle rather than a heavenly King who would fight for them.”-Lisa Bevere

OUCH! That one hurt!

I’m just like them. I want tangible. There are days when His invisible presence just isn’t  good enough. At least that’s what my flesh tells me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that it’s wrong to desire a tangible, affectionate relationship because it’s not. But it is wrong to place that desire above the desire for deeper more intimate relationship with Jesus.

God did give them the kings they wanted. But if you look at the lives all of those kings led, they had faults. They let the Israelites down.

Saul committed suicide. (1 Chronicles 10:4). David committed adultery. (2nd Samuel 11:2-4). Solomon had multiple wives and concubines. (1 Kings 11). Herod led an infanticide. (Matthew 2:16).

What we want isn’t always what we need. We don’t need a king; We need Jesus.

“God is everything we need but He sent His Son, Jesus, to be everything we want.” -Lysa TerKeurst

So which king do you seek? The one who will often fail you; or the One that will never leave you nor forsake you? (Hebrews 13:5).

Please excuse me while I go ice my toes.

 

Relentless Pursuit

I took this photo on my birthday last year. That day I had woken up to gray skies and threats of rain. That just made what I just knew would be a horrible day even worse. I kept thinking about that dreadful 30  coming next and the countless ways my life had gone so wrong. I was nowhere near where I wanted to be, hadn’t accomplished the long list of things I wanted to do with my life. I felt as if I was going nowhere fast. Twenty-nine wasn’t looking so good to me that day.

As my family and I were heading out the door that day, my mood was just as gray as the sky. I remember leaning against the doorway and thinking “Once, Just once; I would like to have blue sky on my birthday!” But blue sky in November just wasn’t going to happen. At least I had convinced myself of this.

On our drive to dinner and a movie, this woe is me self was staring out the window when all of a sudden  the sky opened up and a shaft of light shined through. And there it was, a patch of blue sky in the shape of a heart!

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And I didn’t even directly ask God for it. But He knows our thoughts. (Isaiah 66:18). He knew how desperately I needed that piece of blue sky.

It was as if He was saying, “I see you, I know, I am here, I love you.” In that moment I realized that God pursues us. He was pursuing me that day.

His pursuit of us is relentless. It is “immovable in purpose or will” and “occurring without interruption or end”.

These past couple of years for me have been about pursuing more of God. But in the midst of my pursuit, I failed to see the moments when He was already there. He’s already here!

Tokens of His affection are scattered all around us; we need only open our eyes to see and our hearts to receive.

“Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:5

 

 

In My Father’s Arms

I will never forget that day I climbed into my father’s lap and asked him why we were not packing his things in boxes. I was five  years old and didn’t fully understand what was going on. But I was observant. I knew enough to know that we weren’t packing his things. I looked him square in the eyes as he gave me a half-truth. The army wouldn’t let him go yet. He still had another year of service left at Fort Leavenworth. I will never forget looking into his eyes that day and seeing the heartbreak pooled there. It would be years later that my mother would reveal the full truth to me. She had every intention of filing for divorce that year. I am so thankful she didn’t. He may have been gone for that one year but by the grace of God, he won my mother’s heart back and is still here with us today.

I don’t know if it was because of that ‘lost’ year or those few scary times when we thought we might lose him to one health problem or another; but to this day my favorite place to be is in my father’s arms.

There is truly nothing like the sound of my father’s heartbeat.

The sound of his heartbeat takes away all the fear and melts away the stress. There, I am safe and secure. I’m a daddy’s girl through and through.

As much as my earthly father loves me, there will be and are days when he will fail me. I will be let down. Promises will be broken. His arms will fail me. He won’t always be there to catch me when I fall. I won’t always have the sound of his heartbeat.

But there is One whose arms are everlasting.

Deuteronomy 33:26-27New King James Version (NKJV)

26 There is no one like the God of Jeshurun (the upright one),
Who rides the heavens to help you,
And in His excellency on the clouds.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
And underneath are the everlasting arms;
He will thrust out the enemy from before you,
And will say, ‘Destroy!’

My heavenly Father desires me to depend on His everlasting arms more than I desire my earthly fathers arms.

Everything I need can only be found in my heavenly Father’s everlasting arms.

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.

O my soul, you have said to the Lord,
“You are my Lord,
My goodness is nothing apart from You.”
As for the saints who are on the earth,
“They are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight.”

Their sorrows shall be multiplied who hasten after another god;
Their drink offerings of blood I will not offer,
Nor take up their names on my lips.

O Lord, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup;
You maintain my lot.
The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places;
Yes, I have a good inheritance.

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;
My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
I have set the Lord always before me;
Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices;
My flesh also will rest in hope.
10 For You will not leave my soul in Sheol,
Nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
11 You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

 

 

A Searching Heart

We are all in search of something.

We look for love. We look for a sense of belonging.  We look for purpose. We look for security. We look for what we’ve lost.

Our heart longs to find that which it lacks.

We are so desperately hungry for it, that we look in all the wrong places. We look everywhere but the one place it can be found. We want love so we turn to people and our hearts get broken. We want to belong, to be accepted, so we try to fit in and we find ourselves trying to be something we’re not and end up hurting ourselves. We want to have purpose so we try anything and everything that we think might make us happy but end up more empty than before. We’ve lost things and people along the way and are grasping for something, anything to fill that void. But nothing we do works. All we find are Band-Aid cover-ups. The wound is still there, just hidden away.

Are you looking in the right place?

All these things and so much more can only be found in one place. They can only be found in Jesus. ” But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.”- Matthew 6:33 Seek Him first! He should always be the first place we look. You need not look far. He said He will be found by us. “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:13

What is your heart searching for?

 

 

A Heart to Know Him

Jeremiah 24:7 KJV “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.”

Today this verse strikes a cord with me. For the longest time, I knew about God. I had a heart to know about Him. I loved hearing the stories about him. I loved memorizing and reciting His word.

 But I didn’t know Him. I didn’t  have a heart to know him. I am discovering that there is a big difference between knowing Him and knowing about Him. Knowing about him is good but it doesn’t really mean anything until the head knowledge turns into heart knowledge.

Sometimes I look to other translations for different wordings for better understanding. In the amplified bible it says “a heart to know, recognize, understand, and be acquainted with Him”. Contemporary English version says “a desire to know him, and a want for him to be our God”. International Standard Version says “the ability to know him”. The living bible says “a heart that responds to him”. That’s a lot of responsibility on our part! But he’s already done His part.

He desires to know us! So much so that he gives us a desire to know him. It’s a relationship that requires communication and action! Let’s not be one-sided in this! We get more out of him than he gets out of us. Let’s make this personal. (He will give me a heart to know him, that he is my Lord: and I will be His, and He will be my God: for I will turn to him with my whole heart.) This implies an intimately close relationship. He desires to be with us in that secret place, the place that only He should ever be allowed to go.

See  Psalm 91:1

Do you know Him? Or do you just know about Him?

 

No More Permissive Will

Proverbs 19:21  ” There are many plans in a man’s heart,
Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.”

How true this is! And oh the countless times I’ve chosen to learn this the hard way! God has a special plan for all of His children! If only we would choose to be obedient, if only we would choose to listen to His voice alone.

He does allow us His permissive will, but He desires us to be in His perfect will.

I started this blog six years ago. Then I was all about missions and going back to Africa. Though I am still very passionate about missions and still love Africa, God is moving me in a new direction. You will notice that those older posts have disappeared and the name of this site was changed four months ago from Mali Love to Write With Purpose. I do still love Mali, but I want my words to speak life. I want my words to have purpose. I want my words to lead you to Jesus.

God’s plan for me far outweighs anything I could ever plan on my own. My plans have slipped through my fingers like sand in an hour glass. But God’s plan/ God’s counsel will stand the test of time.

Surrender the Dream

” True dependence is not simply asking Me to bless what you have decided to do. It is coming to Me with an open mind and heart, inviting Me to plant My desires within you. I may infuse within you a dream that seems far beyond your reach. You know that in yourself you cannot achieve such a goal. Thus begins your journey of profound reliance on Me. It is a faith-walk, taken one step at a time, leaning on Me as much as you need. This is not a path of continual success but of multiple failures. However, each failure is followed by a growth spurt, nourished by increased reliance on Me.” – Sarah Young – Jesus Calling.

This hits close to home. Too close. I have learned to do this and am still learning to do this daily. It is hard, so hard. But the reward far outweighs the hard of it. The pain of it, the heartbreak of it.

” The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto the broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.” Psalms 34:17-19

I surrender the will; surrender the dream. I lay all my plans, desires, dreams at the savior’s feet. And I say Your perfect will not mine.  And He takes them and places in my hands, my heart His dream for me, His plans for me, His desires for me.

“Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.” Psalms 37:4-5

I submit to His will. I learn to delight in my savior. I learn to fall in love with my savior. He is near to my brokenness. I surrender the fragments of my imperfections, the fragments of heartbreak. He takes them and fills the void and lavishes His love on me. And He gives me the desires of my heart. A piece of blue sky on a rainy day as a token of His affection. I take His hand and trust His steps, He guides my feet. And the courtship with my Savior begins.