Happy Advent! The SDG Gathering is back after Thanksgiving break and I have such an exciting post to share with you from Jennifer Camp. Jennifer was our speaker at the 2nd Annual SDG Retreat and she is the author of a brand new book I have the privilege of endorsing. It’s a new devotional – one that makes me pause and really listen to what God is saying. And this listening? I believe it’s crucial to the call to rest, which is what I’m going to begin sharing with you about next week. But for now, here’s Jennifer:
A few summers ago, I climbed Half Dome with my dad, my brother, and my husband. Half Dome is in Yosemite National Park, and the 16 mile round trip adventure to the top is awesome and tough. We hike through beautiful terrain–ranging from rocky switch backs under a canopy of forest, to slippery stone stairs next to showering waterfall where we get totally wet. The final climb is up steep cables harbored in granite rock. You cling to those cables with all your strength. The rock, even with the wooden slats placed for your feet to stand, is steep. You can’t trust that your footing is enough to keep you from tumbling below.
You’ve just got to hang on.
I love challenges. I am not running marathons every few months, but I feel God close when I push myself to a place where I am dependent on Him to help me keep going. Physically, emotionally, mentally.
When my family piles onto the couch each week to watch The Amazing Race (the show we are currently crazy about), we root for our favorite teams as they endure mental and physical challenges in a race around the world. We watch the teams struggle to do things they have never done before: play bagpipes in a Scottish castle, make sandals on people’s feet in Panama, free fall 37 stories off a skyscraper in Berlin. There are lots of mistakes and lots of freaking out. But, because there is a goal to complete–and it is a competition for one million dollars, and they are not doing this all alone, but with a teammate who believes in them and is cheering them on–the team members do these crazy things.
They have each other–so it is together that they stumble and pick themselves up and endure.
They keep going. They willingly allow themselves to be stretched in ways they didn’t think possible. No matter their fear, they just don’t quit. There is a prize for sticking with it–and it isn’t just the money. After every leg of the race, the last team to arrive at the mat faces some kind of consequence, or ultimately, elimination from the race. They shed tears when they are eliminated. There is frustration and wishing things had gone better so they could go on. But you see joy, too–in each teammate’s face–when they have given all that they had.
No matter what the outcome, we are rewarded when we give this race we run our all. When we have not held back. When we have trusted. When we ran with everything we had, and more.
In this amazing race, there is a cost to not trying. There is a cost to quitting. There is no reward for giving up and giving in and not going all in, full on.
In Loop, (just released on Friday) I am reminded of God’s presence with me, in the toughest of circumstances:
I stand with you, daughter. You are not out there on your own. Pause and see Me. Look for Me. Heed Me. Desire Me . . . I do not ask you to go ahead, on your own.
Cling to Me. I am steadfast. Cling to Me. I give you words. Cling to Me—a life of prayer, each thought and action in accordance with my spirit in you.
You are not alone. Do not separate from Me.
You are mighty in my name and go boldly where I go. Boldness, on your own, is not boldness, but weakness and pride. Lay that down, my love.
I have more of Me to give you.
Can we dare say it is fun to be stretched out of our comfort zones, wherever God leads? Can we believe we are made to be bold, live the race fully, walk hand in hand with God?
Are we even really living if we choose to not keep our eyes on God as He coaxes us on, with each step of the way, running with us the race He has for us to run? Maybe it is perfect that we feel we don’t have what it takes, on our own, to run this race well.
I have more of Me to give you.
Can you hear God cheering you on?
Jennifer Camp is the author of the newly released Loop: What Women Need to Know, a one-year, twice-a-week devotional for busy women hungry to hear God’s voice right to their hearts. Purchase Loop before this Friday, December 5 and receive six art downloads to print out and hang in your home or give to your friends for Christmas. Or, purchase ten or more Loops and receive the new audiobook of Loop, by February 1.
(Just email Jennifer the receipt at firstname.lastname@example.org) You can also find Jennifer writing regularly at her blog, youaremygirls.com, and holyentanglement.com, a blog she writes with her husband, Justin, about the hot mess of a holy marriage.
On Wednesday, Melissa Smallwood shares about adoption and family in her post, “The Family that Love Built.”
On Friday, Michelle S. Lazurek writes about simplified hospitality…right on time for the holidays.
SDG Gathering Important Information
Lisa Smith is helping me facilitate our gatherings each week. She is visiting those of you who link up on “even” numbers and I am visiting the “odd” (don’t worry, I’m not calling YOU odd). She will also be sharing on Mondays with you from time to time, opening up her heart and life to you, as you faithful do with us each week you link up. We do have some important housekeeping items about this gathering, so if you have not read them, please come here to catch up. The condensed version: Link up ONE post that shares your heart authentically and be sure to check in with some of your sisters who have linked up with you. Leave a heartfelt word of encouragement for them after you visit their space. This is a community where we actively seek to get to know each other.