“God, I’m Tired.”

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Lately I’ve found myself longing for rest. Longing for things to slow down. Needing relaxation. Needing rejuvenation. With a busy schedule and responsibilities beckoning, I just wanted some time to relax. Getting ready to depart for a Christian young adult conference this past weekend called Passion, I was so excited to get away for a few days and have a refreshing time with the Lord. I enjoyed the drive down and felt a peace with the Lord that I so needed. But as the following day or so progressed, my anticipated relaxation morphed into an apparent fatigue.

My expectancy and excitement for all that I was about to ingest, from great preachers to awesome worship music to community group time, started to turn into downright exhaustion.

I was confused at why I was so tired because the sermons were so powerful, the music was touching my heart and I really felt the Spirit of the Lord in our midst. But I was getting more fatigued by the minute. And I so longed for rest. I just didn’t understand why I was feeling so tired in a place that has always been a place of restoration for me. I loved being there. My desire wasn’t the issue. But the rest and rejuvenation I was hoping for just wasn’t materializing the way I expected.

By the second day of the conference I still found myself exhausted. Then for the first time in a long time I was fluctuating with whether or not I wanted to go to the worship service that was going to take place at 11 pm that night. And anyone who knows me knows this is a rarity for me as I am a music fanatic! But I was just so tired. And it was affecting my joy and my want-to.

I started whispering to the Lord, “God, I’m tired. I don’t think I can go…I just want to go back and rest. Please, can I just leave and rest…” And God convicted my heart in those moments telling me that He didn’t want me to have rest the way I wanted. I didn’t really understand why He wouldn’t want me to have rest except that He wanted me to be obedient and continue on in the conference I had committed to. And that He would take care of me.

Tired and spent and a little discouraged about why I was feeling this way, I walked with a new friend to the arena. Our leaders had told us during community group time to walk back silent as we walked back for the worship night. So as we walked through city streets back to the arena, thousands of us moved in silence. No words. No chatter. Just silence.

And right there, God started working in my heart. There was something about that silence that just renewed my spirit.

Right then and there, God started to teach me what real rest is.

As we continued, I sat down in the arena and we waited for the music to start. Then they began to play. Softly and quietly.

There were no lights like the session before. No drums. No flashing colors. No jumping up and down. Just a sound. Just our voices. Just worship.

In that moment I sensed God moving in my heart reminding me of the power of stillness. Reminding me of the simplicity of His presence. Refreshing me with the calmness of united praise to Him. And I began to experience how He was giving me rest.

And though my body and mind were still tired and exhausted, God met me in that night to show me that real rest comes from a different place. Not the place I wanted to go to rest. But the place He wanted me to go to rest. God is showing me that despite my impoverished soul God can bring forth rest from His Spirit to impart to me. Temporary rest may give me a boost of energy, but real rest eases the soul. Long-term. Only God can manufacture this kind of rest. And it was the rest that I needed.

In looking back on this it seems strange to me that I would have been longing for rest in my soul. I mean I was at a Christian conference for crying out loud, what better place than that to tap into the rest of the Lord, right?!

Or so I thought.

But I see now that I was not resting. I was too busy doing.

I was not letting God’s spirit wash over me. I was not resting in Him. I was too busy taking notes and listening and teaching myself what I needed to apply that I was missing out on the real rest of God to still me. I prioritized the knowledge of God over the experience of God. And that’s why I was feeling so drained and so spent.

Until I got back from this conference and started to think about what God had shown me concerning this, I wasn’t even aware of how much rest my soul was longing for. I had mistaken my longing for soul-rest for a physical kind of rest. But I realized that there had been a steady deterioration occurring in my soul on behalf of my busyness, my school work, and my unmet expectations that had started to whisper lies of discouragement to my soul. Lies that told me I was striving for nothing. That I needed to hide away from it all. That God didn’t want me to have relief. That I wasn’t getting the rest I deserved.

But what I really needed was God’s rest deep down in my soul.

I needed to be reminded that God is God and I am not. To take my focus off of myself and put it onto God. And that there is purpose in what I’m doing because it is preparing me for the next step.

I needed His rest to quiet me. His rest to calm me. His rest to put me at ease. His rest to let me know that everything I’m so worried about will be okay. I needed Him to put my soul at rest.

Psalm 63:1 says, “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek You. I thirst for You; my body faints for You in a land that is dry, desolate and without water.” Like the psalmist I find myself totally impoverished and in need of God. For He alone can provide the rest my soul is thirsting for.

Now I see that this kind of real rest can only come from God. And it cannot be manufactured on my own. Rather it requires me coming to Him completely empty and exhausted so that He can then still me with His love and give me that rest that I need.

So strange as it may seem, God’s rest flourishes best in me in the torrent of my exhaustion.

For my emptiness makes room for Him to move in my heart. I am no longer in His way. And He can be my only supply. My only source of life.

Through this experience, God is teaching me that expecting rest and relaxation through accumulating knowledge of God doesn’t always promise the rest of God. I thought that going to this conference would give me rest and energy like it had in the past… but really…it wasn’t until I was utterly spent by the end of it after working so hard to accumulate all the knowledge I could hold that I broke down and became tired and empty…that I finally met with God in a way that satisfied me.

In Philippians 3:7 Paul says, “Everything I counted as gain I count as loss because of Christ.” Paul understood the all-surpassing significance of experiencing closeness and rest with God through Christ. For him, knowing Christ was more important than all the other knowledge he had accumulated in his life…and Paul was a pretty knowledgeable guy. So for him to say that everything he had learned was a loss compared to Christ is a pretty extreme declaration. I can’t get past it. Because of Paul’s confidence that Christ is worth far more than every other thing he had worked for, I am inspired to also see everything I have and hope to have as nothing in comparison to knowing Christ.

For as I get to know Him, I do find rest.

Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28-29 that we will find rest for our souls when we come to Him. So I just want to keep coming to Jesus, letting Him give me the rest that I can’t find on my own. Then I will find that all the things that drain me are actually meant to redirect me towards Jesus.

God is having to reteach me how to rest in Him. God is having to teach me how to just sit quietly with Him.

How to be with Jesus.

How to stop thinking, and just let Him speak.

How to stop singing, and just let Him still me.

This is hard for me sometimes because I feel like I’m not connecting with God if I don’t think or sing or learn and so on…but God is teaching me where real rest comes from.

He’s teaching me how to let Him be God and how I can just lean in to Him.

Now I’m realizing that real rest is not found in the place that I wanted to look for rest. If it were, I would have left for the night, went back to my hotel room and went to sleep. I would have gotten physical rest, but I would not have gotten the rest I was really longing for…rest in my soul. God gave me the rest He knew I needed even when I didn’t know it myself. Because His idea of rest and my idea of rest are completely different. And He will always do what is best for us, even despite us.

If He would have given me the rest I wanted which was to skip the last worship session and go back so I could sleep, I would have missed out on the chance to experience God providing rest for my soul in that acoustic worship session.

I would have missed out on the beauty of 15,000 college students walking in silence before the Lord.

I would have missed out on a chance to be still before Him in total exhaustion, desperate need, and emptiness.

I would have missed out on the chance to bask in silent worship, listening to the voices around me praising my King.

I would have missed out on the chance for God to fill me. For Him to give me the rest that only He can give.

Now I’m learning that God has not been giving me the rest I’ve been wanting because the rest that I want will not help me whatsoever in finding peace. It will rather give me a false sense of serenity. A complacent hideaway. And I will not be taught anything if I rest how I want to rest. I will not grow. I will not learn.

I have to let God teach me how to rest in Him even when I feel exhausted so that I can learn how to practice obedience and faithfulness.

So now I’m asking God to change my “God, I’m tired” prayer to a different kind of prayer:

When I’m exhausted and weary and feel like hiding away for any moment of relief, I’m learning to ask God to help me say, “God, I’m tired… But I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to run away. Please help me to be obedient to what you have called me to. And give me the rest that only You can provide. Help me as I am so weak.

I know that He will be faithful to answer, even when it’s hard for me to feel joyful in that moment. For God cares about the condition of my soul far more than anything else about me. And the same goes for you too. He will fight for you and me to bring us to the point where we have no other source of rest apart from Him. Then we can experience a kind of rest that is unattainable by any other means. For we find it from Him alone.

So I pray that we would be brought to the end of ourselves in total exhaustion, just ever needy of Jesus. I pray that we would be keenly aware of the rest God is waiting to pour into our souls. I pray that we would ask God first for rest before looking for it in and through ourselves. I pray that God would meet us in that moment, filling us up with His fullness. And I pray that we would all come to that place where we are so desperate for God that He becomes our only source of rest, our only source of peace and our only source of hope. May we get to know Christ better and find that in Him is rest everlasting. A rest that satisfies.

“Rest in God alone, my soul, for my hope comes from Him.” Psalm 62:5

Questions for Today:

  • Where does real rest come from?
  • What should I do when I feel exhausted and weak?
  • How can I ask God to help me when I am feeling this way?
  • Why is it significant that God wants to give our souls rest and not just our bodies rest?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?

“I Surrender” by Hillsong Worship

There’s Gotta Be Something More: Waiting for an “Aha” Moment

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For so many of us, we live in a constant state of looking towards the future. Waiting for what’s next. Waiting for our lives to finally fall into place. Waiting for something more. If I’m not careful, I can find myself thinking these thoughts over and over again.

So often I’ve thought that if I could just get to a certain point in my life that it would all make sense. That my life would finally have meaning. That I would finally fulfill my purpose. There have been times when I’ve been discouraged in the waiting periods of my life to the point where I miss the ministry opportunities right in front of me. Thinking that I can do something better and so I must work really hard to attain the means by which to get there. Or thinking that what I’m doing at a particular moment isn’t really making the difference that I want it to make.

And I find myself wishing for that moment…that opportunity…that season of life.

But that time doesn’t seem to arrive, does it? Even when we make decisions that land us in new, exciting territories that we expect to grant us a sense of purpose…it never satisfies. I know it never puts me at ease. It never puts an end to the longing in my soul for more to accomplish.

And in this place I find that God is waiting for me to realize…that this is the point.

Yes, there will always be something more to do. Yes, there will always be something else to consider. Yes, there will always be unfulfilled wishes of my heart. Because “the heart is utterly sick and who can understand it?”, as it says in Jeremiah 17:9. I can’t trust the something more of my heart.

But God is teaching me to be okay with not having the something more. He wants me to know that He is the someone more.

And through Him, I can learn to be faithful right here and now. Through Him, I can be at ease. Through Him, I can find meaning in my place in life. Through Him, I can do ministry to those around me. Through Him, I always have purpose and I don’t need to wait for what’s next.

The greatest ministry opportunity I’ll ever have will always be: right now. Wherever I’m at. And wherever you’re at, know that you have a calling to do ministry in that place too. God is calling us today.

The psalmist writes in Psalm 95:7b-8, “Today, if you hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts as at Maribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness.” Again this is repeated in Hebrews 3:15, “Today, if you hear His voice: “Do not harden your hearts.”

It is imperative that we focus on today, instead of wishful thinking of what the future may or may not bring. I know I am guilty of this. But the truth of scripture reminds me that I do not know what tomorrow may bring or if it will come (Proverbs 21:7 & James 4:13-14). But I do have today. So do you. And today is in desperate need of the love of the Savior to reach a lost and dying world.

As we focus on God as our strength for today, we immediately find purpose. The purpose that we’ve been waiting for. A heart change happens that shifts our desires away from ourselves and onto God. And we find purpose by being in relationship with the Savior who created us to long for Him and find satisfaction in the longing. This is best demonstrated through the words of the psalmist in Psalm 84:10. It is one of my favorite psalms and a prayer for the trajectory of my heart. Let us meditate on it together: “Better a day in your courts than a thousand anywhere else. I would rather be at the door of the house of my God than to live in the tents of the wicked.”

I love the passion of the psalmist in this passage. He is so enraptured with God that the sheer thought of being at His door is enough to fill his heart with zealous longing. Just at the door. Even for one day. Even if he doesn’t get to peek inside. Or see God’s face. Just to be at His door is enough for him.

And I am pierced in my heart as I ask myself: Is it enough for me?

I know I can get so distracted by all of the things I have planned, all the things I want to do for God, all the things I hope to accomplish…but what if I stopped to think about God in the way the psalmist does? To stop thinking about what I can do and simply rest in the thought of where I could be.

What if you and I stop and meditate on the thought of just being at the door of God’s house even for one day? To love Jesus with such passion that the cares of this world don’t even enter our minds because we are so enraptured with a longing for just a glimpse of the house of the Lord. May it radically change our perspective.

As I meditate on Jesus and ask for Him to grant me a longing for Him, I find indeed that He is the something more. Really, He is the someone more. And He gives me purpose for today. I’m finding that being faithful where I’m at is more important than all my future goals, even of service to Him. Because He’s more concerned about who I am becoming than where I am going.

Now I can stop waiting for my “aha” moment where life finally makes sense. I don’t need to anticipate it any longer. Because it is not a future moment I must wait for…rather it is an imminent gift I must take possession of. The gift of learning more about Jesus today. The gift of making the most of my opportunities today. The gift of relationship with Jesus today. May we, who are in Christ, never take that relationship for granted. For intimacy with Christ today is much more important than the plans of tomorrow.

And as we become who we were created to be in Christ, our influence magnifies in effectiveness because we have more to offer others.

In 2 Peter 1:5-8, Peter writes, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peter is encouraging us to grow in our relationship with the Lord in all of these ways so that we will be effective in our faith and ministry. Our character in Christ is directly proportional to our fruitfulness. We must take possession of the gift of Christ and make every effort to spend time with Him, knowing that we are maturing into who we are made to be and can then reach others the way Jesus did. It matters who we are becoming. Because those around you and I are impacted by what we say and do…so we must receive that influence and decide to make the most of it in any way that God calls us to, no matter how big or small it may seem to us.

This is why we must be faithful now where we’re at in life. We must be diligent now to spend time with Jesus. Today is the day of salvation, as it says in 2 Corinthians 6:2. Today is the day we grow in our faith. Today is the day we make a difference. Today is the day. May it be a reminder that forever compels us to press on with urgency.

And then, we will realize… that Christ in me …Christ in You…that is the “aha” moment! That is when it all makes sense. Colossians 1:27 says it so well!  “To them God chose to make known how great among the gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Christ reigns in us! This generates hope within that can never be quenched. Realize just how significant you are right now, not just to God, but to all those who surround you wherever you’re at in life. Today, you have purpose in Christ. The hope of glory. To make His name known. To magnify His name above all others. And that means above ourselves. And above our plans.

I must decide to embrace these moments right now as the moments that matter. As the moments that have purpose. As the moments that are making a difference. Because if Christ is in us, everything we do right now has purpose! There is someone more that is working in our souls. Generating purpose. Generating satisfaction. Generating passion. Generating a longing for Him. And through Him, it all makes sense.

We can choose to think about all that we could be doing, should be doing, would be doing if we were in another place or had another set of circumstances. But what if our circumstances never change? Will you and I still be faithful today? Will we still trust Him today? Will we let Him be enough today? We must decide today who we live for. It’s a decision that has major implications for our lives. But also has the potential to dissolve so many of the fears, worries and lack of purpose that plague our hearts.

Let the finality of what it means to have Christ in you be enough. Let it amaze you. Let it sink in. Let it prompt you to want to bring Him glory in everything that you do and make the most of today for the benefit of another.

“But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” – Hebrews 3:13

Questions for Today:

  • What future goals are distracting me from being faithful today?
  • How can I make the most of my place in life right now?
  • Why is Jesus more concerned with who I am becoming rather than where I am going?
  • What next step is Jesus asking me to take in my relationship with Him today?

“My Heart if Yours” by Passion Band ft Kristian Stanfill

Mark Cuban, Church Music and the Body of Christ

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Recently, I was intrigued by Mark Cuban’s comments regarding stereotyping and prejudice. To sum it up, he described how everybody has certain biases, prejudices and stereotypes about people. Surfacing in the wake of Donald Sterling’s incident, it stirred up a lot of buzz and media attention, especially on ESPN which revolved around Cuban’s comments almost non-stop for an entire week. It’s a pressing issue that isn’t going away anytime soon. Living in a fallen world plagued by sin, prejudice has always marked the human condition in some form or fashion. Light skin prejudiced against dark skin. Men prejudiced against women. Rich prejudiced against poor. Lifestyle prejudices. Religious prejudices. Food-eating prejudices. Unfortunately, humanity tends to drift towards fear of others. Fear of what we don’t understand. Fear of what we fail to empathize with.

The problem is that most people don’t think they are prejudice. Most people don’t articulate a major prejudice. Most don’t get into trouble like Donald Sterling with public comments. But honestly, we all have certain prejudices that – when acted upon – cause others to feel inferior. It happens when a vegetarian looks down on his friend ordering a burger. It happens when we glance at somebody dressed in unusual clothes. It happens when we label certain parts of town. It happens when we stir up debate with those we know have different political and/or social views than us. It happens when we let our personal views become the standard by which everyone should live by.

I encountered one of these moments about a month ago – in a place I least expected to observe prejudice. I happened to be visiting a divinity school with the possibility of attending there. One of the professors was giving a lecture on the history and evolution of contemporary worship music. I was intrigued. As the lecture went on I became more and more aware that this was not really a lecture for the purpose of educational knowledge, but for argumentative defense of a very clear bias: that contemporary worship music is a distortion of formal worship.

I was not bothered by the fact that he had a different opinion than me. Coming from a liberal arts school, I’m used to that. I was not even bothered that he didn’t really care for contemporary worship music or “mega-churches.” What bothered me was that this professor attempted to ridicule others who go to big churches and/or worship in a contemporary style, saying that they can’t see God as clearly.

This is a reflection of a major problem existing in religious circles. Prejudice towards a certain way of experiencing “religion” is eating away at the very lifeline of the body of Christ. Causing division. Causing resentment. Killing diversity. Killing community. All that’s left are people fighting. People fighting over budgets. Fighting over carpet colors. Fighting over methods. Fighting over church music. Surely, there are more important issues than this.

But after that lecture, my thoughts started to change. I started to be reminded of all the times I have been prejudiced towards other people. The Lord really convicted me of a lot of viewpoints I had. I kept thinking of all the times that I secretly judge other people who don’t go to the kind of church that I go to, or have different stances on social issues, or have certain lifestyle habits. I realized that I can be just as prejudice as that professor was. I am just as guilty. That experience has really softened my heart to come to the realization that difference and opposition is inevitable. And it’s okay. All that matters is that I show all people Christ’s love. And when it comes to disagreeing with Christians about the way we experience God, I have to step back and acknowledge that my way of experiencing God is not everybody’s way. Jesus relates to all people differently. And each church is unique and can be uniquely celebrated and worshipful. That doesn’t mean that we should compromise what we believe when it comes to biblical doctrine and theology. But it does mean that we should accept others for how they do church and pray that we all can learn collectively about Jesus from how He works uniquely in each of our lives.

The only antidote to prejudice within the church is a deeper understanding of how and who God created us to be. Then, division because of differences might be converted into multiplication because of differences. In Romans 12:4-6, Paul writes, “Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. According to the grace given us, we have different gifts.” Psalm 139 also talks about individuality and diversity in the way that God created each one of us. We were created to embrace diversity for the sake of strengthening one another with the various gifts we have to offer. We were created to work together.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s masterpiece created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.” A masterpiece illustrates multiplicity at its best. It illustrates the beauty of many layers, colors, and hues all working together as a brilliant piece of art. So together as the body of Christ, we are His masterpiece. Not one person. Not one church. But as all of the people and all of the churches unite together in Christ, we are His masterpiece. Once a church understands that diversity is a good thing, they will grow exponentially as more people feel welcome and they develop more ministries to reach out to a variety of different people.

As we work together to accomplish His will on the earth, we are able to achieve far more than we ever could on our own. But in order to be productive contributors towards that cause, we must prepare ourselves to be individuals who are accepting, compassionate, and empathetic towards different kinds of people. We must relish the opportunity to learn from others. This only happens when we surrender to Christ and let Him transform our minds as it says in Romans 12:2: “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.”

Then, the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 2:16 that “we have the mind of Christ.” (emphasis mine). It is ours. And His mind enables us to think the way He thinks and see the way He sees. 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” Without the mind of Christ, we are susceptible to our natural, human way of seeing and thinking. We are without hope to see others beyond the surface. But since we – who have chosen to surrender to His lordship – have the mind of Christ, we too can see the heart just as the Lord sees it. We are able to see others for who they are on the inside, instead of what they appear to be on the outside. Our mind is not at the mercy of prejudice. And we are profitable to the body of Christ.

But if we are not persistent in training our minds to be transformed and renewed to be like Christ, we will struggle to win the war of prejudice. Really, we will struggle to win any kind of assault on our mind. It’s not humanly possible for us to do so. We need God’s help. And with his help, we find strength in our time of need. As we let Jesus help us in this battlefield of the mind, we are more apt to overcome any inclinations towards prejudice. And we are more gracious whenever we encounter those who have yet to let go of the prejudices they still possess. We can take the chance to analyze our own hearts and lives to see if there is any wayward way within us so that we can change and be a light to others. Then we will come to experience God’s beauty and His Spirit as He shows Himself to be the author and creator of a world full of rich diversity.

 “The earth  and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord; for He laid its foundation on the seas and established it on the rivers.” -Psalm 24:1-2-

Questions for Today:

  • What unique gifts do I have to offer my church and my community?
  • What prejudice is keeping me back from contributing to the body of Christ?
  • How can I let God renew and transform my mind?
  • What next step is God challenging me to take in my walk with Him?