God’s timing is impeccable. He really does speak to us. And when we have consistently headed in the wrong direction for a bit too long, He waves the red flags. Wildly.
Sometime between breakfast and church, I spiritually crashed. Took a nose-dive. Went south in a hurry and could not get myself turned around before I entered those church doors. I wanted a “thinking bubble” to appear above my head announcing, “Please do not talk to me.”
At first, I chalked it up to my introverted self not getting much time without someone talking to or at me. It’s the end of summer. I can see days of uninterrupted work in front of me. I can imagine hours of silence. A pleasant cup of tea or coffee uninterrupted by a child’s need. (I love my children. I really do.)
But I sit in church and we’re singing a song and there’s a line that catches my heart about bringing praises to God and my first thought is this: Jesus, all I have are ashes.
And then later another song and another line about seeking God’s face alone and I wanted to fall flat on mine.
The past week and half we have moved our daughters from one room into each their own, redecorating both and assembling 2 new IKEA beds. (God bless my husband and my neighbor.) We have revamped an extra space to be a reading nook. I have also painted and reorganized our pantry/laundry room. I have repainted a bathroom and my bedroom. I have sanded and painted 5 pieces of furniture. We’ve also taken apart the backyard swing set and replaced our back door. My thinking was this: Let’s do all the home improvement projects we can before the kids go back to school because once August 25th hits, I’m not going to have any time to do anything creative but teach bible study, run the SDG site, plan for retreats, and launch a book.
Really, it was all about control.
Let me control every aspect of the space within my house because I feel completely out of control with this upcoming season of launching a book about porn.
Let me feel better about my physical surroundings because my emotional ones are in shambles.
Let me make my house ultra presentable because I’m afraid people are going to think our lives are not.
I come home from church and make my way to my desk. I pop in Cindy Bultema’s Red Hot Faith DVD because this post is supposed to be a review of her new Bible Study. God whispers, Watch session 4. I’m captivated from the very beginning because Cindy’s an amazing speaker (and yes, she is my dear friend, but I am telling the truth), but God gets my attention when she’s recounting how her toddler daughter, Manda, used to pull herself up to Cindy’s knees, and say “need you, need you, need you.” Manda didn’t know what she needed, just that she needed something.
Oh, God. I need you. Desperately. I’ve been trying to pretend I don’t care if the book doesn’t do well, if people’s opinions of us change, if we get bad reviews. I’ve been telling everyone it will just be fine, I’m good, I’ve got this, but the truth is I have very little control of what will come and that scares the you-know-what out of me. That Lenten fast from criticism? Did it help at all? Lord, I need you to reignite my faith in You, that You are in charge, not only of this process, but of my heart.
Cindy’s tying in the Letter to the Church of Laodicea (see Revelation 3) with us today. That church thought they had everything they needed – they were self-sufficient because of all their material goods (gold, black wool, and eye salve). There was no room for Jesus because their hands were full of everything they thought held so much value. They thought if they were okay externally, they were okay internally.
I just spent the week and a half focusing on the external in order to avoid the internal. What started out as creative morphed into control. My crash today highlights the error of the Laocidean way of thinking. And I am sure y’all can concur.
Jesus’ message to the church is this in Revelation 3:18:
“So I advise you to buy gold from me – gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be ashamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.”
I convinced myself I needed new paint, new wall hangings, a fresh arrangement so I could deal with the emotional turmoil and stress to come, but really, I was looking to all the wrong remedies. I lived in a state of self-sufficiency instead of climbing up to the knees of Jesus, saying “need You, need You, need You.”
How do I transition from self-sufficiency to Christ-sufficiency? Cindy gives me 3 helpful tasks:
1. Come to Christ.
2. Let it go.
3. Receive God’s remedy.
Today, I’ve done steps 1 & 2. I’m thinking His remedy right now for me is to reflect on who I am in Christ (there is a whole Who I am in Christ worksheet in the back of the Red Hot Faith leader’s guide or you can find it here in the Free Resources from Cindy’s website) and put down the paintbrush. And the other part of this remedy? For me to not just give you the highlights of Cindy’s bible study, but to be really real with you that I’m a bit of a mess. A recovering mess now, but still, I benefit greatly from my community knowing my internal, not just my external.
I want to leave you with some highlights of the study kit:
- The kit includes a participants guide, a leader’s guide, and an 8 session DVD. This is a great study to do pretty much anywhere with any size group of women. Need a study for fall? This is a FANTASTIC one!
- The leadership guide is FULL of helpful things. For example, it has 3 different formats for the length of time your group can devote to each session. There are tips you could apply to any group bible study you are facilitating. There are FUN! “Spice it up!” activities you can do that bring light and laughter to your group. (I’m learning how important it is to have FUN! during Bible study!)
- The study is about the Letter to the Laodiceans, but it’s chock full of other relevant scriptures that we can memorize to help us to have Red Hot Faith.
- Best of all, Cindy is a wonderful Bible teacher. She is warm, engaging, and real. She tells her story in a powerful way, admitting how she has experienced brokenness and how God has lead her on the path of restoration.
Now, it’s my favorite time…time for a GIVEAWAY! Leave a comment (perhaps sharing something you have turned to instead of Jesus or something you’ve done externally to avoid the internal struggle raging within) and you’ll be entered to win a complete Red Hot Faith package containing the leader guide, participant book, and DVD. (Winner will be chosen Thursday morning. Giveaway comments must be posted by Wednesday at midnight.)
Upcoming SDG Connections Posts
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.