Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 1 John 4:15

About two years ago, my word for the year morphed into a two word combo of abide and remain. I have felt drawn to those words everytime I see them in scripture. It has been difficult for me to make sense of their importance so it has created this situation of recording the scripture I read and appreciating them. But today, something changed.

About two weeks ago, I was using scissors to cut open packages of new collars for my dogs and when I was finished I put the collars on the boys and noticed blood just everywhere. For the amount I saw, you would think that I would have had some pain but I didn’t even feel it…yet. I washed it and bandaged it and it was a pretty deep cut on one of my knuckles. A few hours later, I scraped the very next knuckle off of something. My injuries have been so painful and they prevented my normal activity (like doing dishes🤔) because everything burned upon contact. Then, this morning, I marveled at the continued pain as I bent the finger I had cut and my skin stretched and pulled. In that moment, the Lord taught me a lesson. I began to think about how disobedience and sin doesn’t seem to hurt at first. As the Holy Spirit reveals situations and behaviors, things can get very painful but it is the healing process. I recognized times in my life when I knew I was healing and it was still painful to my heart and soul. I am amazed at how God created us…the pulling and stretching to eventual healing and wholeness can be an extremely slow and painful process but He knows exactly what He is doing. I looked at the other knuckle and noted that it was basically healed already. I can still see where the scrape was but the cut went deeper. Isn’t that how it is sometimes? I wonder why some of my mistakes bother me more than others. But, I think those were times that those mistakes cut to the core…cut so deep that it revealed my character and those are so much more painful as they heal. It seems they have to heal from the most inner part first… we have to get right with God for the process to start and just when you think He is done, He continues on to the next layer then the next. God doesn’t stop until it is complete. My analogy went further with how we can inhibit healing and there was a brief thought about a scab but I am sparing readers of that. It just brought about the thought that I have found that it takes some work on my part for proper healing. I have to be obedient to the Lord’s leading. He has led me to sometimes do absolutely nothing…be still…remain in Him…abide. Other times have been the darkest soul searching moments where my fears were realized and He called me out of my safety zone. The word safe actually bothers me now because if I play things safe, I can’t ever get hurt and it is through being hurt that I experience healing and get closer to God. I am choosing to stay close to Him whatever that looks like. Abide. Remain.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1-2

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. John 15:4

To Live Is Christ

For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Philippians 1:21

I have found myself reflecting on various things this lenten season. I was listening to my favorites playlist and the song “To Live Is Christ” by Sidewalk Prophets started to play. The words touched my soul and I have decided to pray them throughout the coming weeks.

If I rise, let me rise on You
Not on all my successes
My esteem or my pursuits
If I lose, let me lose my life
Cause if I belong to Jesus
The flesh is crucified

For me to live is Christ
For me to live is Christ
For me to live is Christ
To die is gain

If I grow, let me grow in You
Wilt the seeds of wanting more
Ripping pride out by the roots
If I’m still, let me hear You speak
Not the tone of my transgressions
But the song of the redeemed

My great desire is to be with You
But this is the place You chose for me
This is the place You chose for me
To lift my cross and give everything
This is the time You gave to me
This is the time You gave to me

I’ll never be the same
I’ll never be the same
For me to live is Christ
To die is gain

I Must Decrease

Lyrics stream through my mind tonight…a song that comes when things seem like they are unraveling: “You are stronger, You are stronger, sin is broken, You have saved me, it is written, Christ is risen, You are Lord, Lord of all.”

My memory of the last time that song went through my mind is not a pleasant one. It was through tears and knowing that every effort as a church leader to keep the church I knew together was going to fail. It was recognizing that I was going to be torn away from people I cared for. It was an admittance to my God that I knew He was stronger than everything that was happening. It was my heart cry for purpose behind all the change.

This past Sunday, at Orchard Hill, the phrase “He must increase, I must decrease” was stated within the sermon. It forced me to look up the exact wording in the Bible because I do think the order of how it is written has value. It made me reflect on the last few years and while I have heard the phrase before, I heard it new because I have literally had everything that I held dear in terms of my spiritual walk and ministry stripped away from me. However, even though I struggle to make sense of it all and most likely will never understand the events, I am seeking Him more. I do see that over the last year and a half, God has provided for me over and over. He has placed me in the right place at the right time to meet the right person for spiritual encouragement. He will receive the glory and not I. He has proven to me over and over that He redeems. That word has become one of my favorites recently. He is stronger. He is Lord of all. I just am taking this moment to lean into Him a little closer and appreciate his sacrifice. He died so that I might live. I pray that I can surrender it all (make things less about me) that He be glorified.

He must increase, but I must decrease. 

John 3:30