Not Unredeemed

… living the beautiful tension between what is, and what will be …


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What Longing Isn’t (Longings, Part 2)

Longings come from a lot of different desires and dreams (most of them good!), but some things longing isn’t meant to be.

Longing isn’t an excuse for sin. Longing for something isn’t inherently wrong. It’s often actually good and God given, but it’s what we do with longing that makes it right or wrong. In regards to our desires and longings, they only become sin when we are willing to sin to have the longing fulfilled.

 “if you are willing to sin to obtain your goal or if you sin when you don’t get what you want, then your desire as has taken God’s place and you are functioning as an idolater.” –Elyse Fitzpatrick, Idols of the Heart

The place that longing holds in our hearts determines whether or not it is sin. Another way to think of it is to ask, “Are we controlled by this longing? Do we act out of the longing, or out of the Holy Spirit’s fruit (self control) and leading?Longings can be traced back to motives. While they often start out with a pure desire, longings can quickly get twisted in our hearts when we sin because we don’t get what we want. (Insert complaining, doubt, self focus, anger, pride… You name it; we all have a default reaction when we don’t get our way.) – Let’s get uncomfortable for a minute, what’s your default reaction? Mine, gulp, well mine is usually pride and doubt.

Longing isn’t a place for a pity party where the honored guests, “what if” or “I wish” get center stage:

 “There is a somewhat philosophical realization that actually I have lost nothing. We may imagine what it would be like to share a given event and feel loss at having to experience it alone. But let us not forget – that loss is imagined, not real. I imagine peaks of enjoyment when I think of doing things together, but let not the hoping for it dull the doing of it alone.  What is, is actual – what might be is simply not, and I must not therefore query God as though He robbed me – of things that are not. Further the things that belong to us, they are good, God given, and enriched. Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.” Jim Elliot in a letter to Elisabeth, Passion and Purity.

If we don’t have it, we don’t need it.  It’s a hard truth, but Peter tells us that we have been given ALL we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1) When we think we are “owed” something by the Lord, or by life, we open wide the door for sin (offense, bitterness, distrust, doubt). Accepting what we do have is the greatest risk we are asked to take, because in acceptance, we surrender our pride (I know what’s best for me) and have to trust the Lord that He is good, and that He is faithful.

Longing isn’t meant to rob us of the now. Longing is simply a battlefield between the now and the not yet. It’s where we fight our dragons of fear, insecurity and pride, as we wrestle though facing our Maker and ourselves.

A red light in our longing means the adventure is not yet finished where we are! There is more to be done here – will you be brave enough to accept what you have, and offer it to the Lord as a sacrifice for Him to use?

 “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God” Psalm 50:23

Thanking God for our longings can be one of the hardest things we do – that is why it is called a sacrifice, but in doing so – it opens the way for us to see the salvation of the Lord. (And when we see the salvation of God – is it really such a sacrifice then? It becomes a no-lose situation)

Longing doesn’t rob us of our “now’s” – perspective does. With our minds we can live in the land of “not yet”, or we can ask God to see His salvation where we are, and let Him create tools to fight our dragons, and live fully in the now. That doesn’t mean we don’t still long for things, it means longing takes its proper place in our hearts, and lets God have the throne.

Next: Seeing our Salvation within our longings.


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What to do with Longings

I looked down at the text message from my bestie and burst into tears. No, I silently answered through the tears, the hoped for, longed for, text had not come. It had been three years since I’d been in a relationship, and while there had been a few “almosts”, and “sort of’s”, I was still single and feeling passed over yet again. My heart wrestled with my head, arguing that the Lord knew best, and His timing would be perfect, but it didn’t diminish the pain and longing I felt in that moment.

“Why Lord?” My heart begged. I really liked this guy, like a lot. I was waiting, ready to love, and had been past by yet again. In the midst of my frustration and tears, the Holy Spirit began to whisper, “Katie, how many times have I stood by ready and waiting to love you and you passed Me by?

Ouch. Those selfish, pitiful, tears instantly turned into tears of repentance and thankfulness.

longings

The Lord started a new season in my heart that night, a season of learning what longing is, and what it isn’t. – Won’t you join me for a short series on longings? While the these posts are going to be classified under a larger umbrella of a series on singleness, the next few posts going to focus on longings and desires. At the heart of it, all longings feel the same; they just look differently in each persons life. My longings have ranged from marriage, to friends, healing, ministry, family and a mentor. Others I know long for children, jobs, relationships; you fill in the blank -most of us have longings. What do you long for?

Next: What Longing Isn’t.

Also in this series:

What Longing Isn’t

Seeing Our Salvation in our Longings

What Longing Is

Longings – What now?


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Stingrays of Fear

Pst. Let me tell you a secret. I’m TERRIFIED of fish. Yes, fish. Even goldfish, and I own one! My dear Beta was given to me as a gift, and as a low maintenance pet, I love having it. I enjoy watching him from a distance, but when it’s time to clean out his bowl, GULP. What if he falls out?!? I’m a texture person and there is something about a cold, slimy, wiggly, flopping, scaly fish that makes my flesh crawl and my stomach churn.

Eating fish with skin and scales sends me hurling, an escaped goldfish sent me screaming for the nearest male to come to the rescue, a fish tossed at me resulted in the fetal position, and swimming in a pond only lasts 1.2 seconds longer than a nibble on my toe.

You get the picture; I have an irrational fear of fish and water animals. This tough farm girl is reduced to near hysterics near anything with gills.

There is no solid basis for my fear, but that is the nature of fear is it not? Fear is never based in reality for a child of God.

The paradox of fear, is that what we are afraid of is what we are often unknowingly drawn too. Why in the world would I own a fish, when I am terrified of it? Why do we rent rooms in our mind to the things that we fear?

Because on the other side of fear lies the fulfilled promises of God. Fear is simply a distortion of reality; which is a distortion of truth. Nothing can be distorted that was not once pure.

This week I fell in love with sting rays as I crossed off a bucket list item – visit an aquarium. (When I’m scared of fish… I know I know… ) We are drawn to what we fear, because fear is only meant to be a door, not a wall.

Stingrays were swimming everywhere in a low open tank – my girlfriend really wanted to see and pet them, (I would have kept going.) At her insistence, I timidly held my hand just below the surface of the water, bracing myself to hold back the scream I knew would force it’s way through my lips as my palm brushed the slimy back.

The first touch was GROSS. It was just a slimy and cold as I imagined it to be. But as one stingray after another came close to be touched, my heart softened. What once paralyzed me began delighting me.  Stingrays are magnificent! So much power, breathtaking beauty, and grace, gliding just beneath the surface.

On the other side of the stinging rays of fear lies the Lord’s beauty and grace. In EVERY area of life. Fear acts like a wall keeping us from grace.  But fear is not meant to be a wall, but a door we walk through.  It’s only AFTER facing our fears that the grace comes. The Lord can’t fill our hands with His love, when they are clutching fear, just as light can’t come through a walled off door. Fear is only overcome in the presence of the Lord, by facing it and walking through it. We will never know how big our God is, until we walk through the fear. Remember that fear is a distortion of reality – the reality that our God gives us ALL that we need.

Psalm 84 sayssting rays 2

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
The Lord will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!”

No good thing does He hold back from us. The Hebrew roots of this phrase has the conation that there is nothing better left to give us. He withholds nothing from us, and gives us the VERY best, as we walk uprightly. “Uprightly” is translated from a word meaning “complete, entire, whole”.

There is so much blessing just over the threshold of trust, when we give Him everything.

Wouldn’t it be nice if every fear in life was a small as stingray problem to overcome? But then again, isn’t it? The choice to walk through the doorway is always ours. What’s on the other side of your doorway?


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Into Me You See {Intimacy}

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. A.W. Tozer – Knowledge of the Holy

Who God is to us is one of the most important things about us, because it reveals the transformation that the Lord has done in our lives and our understanding of who He is. There is one major important step however that needs to come before we can clearly see who God is and subsequently what we think of Him.

 I read in a periodical the other day that the most fundamental thing is how we think of God. By God Himself, it is not!  How God thinks of us is not only more important, but infinitely more important. Indeed, how we think of Him is of no importance except in so far as it relates to how He thinks of us. C.S. Lewis – Weight of Glory

While Tozer is right and I still agree with him, Lewis presents another very important side. We must first see ourselves as God sees us, before we can truly see God.  Continue reading


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A Cup of Joe to Go?

really Up until this last year, coffee was something I always had on the go. Running to work, running to school, running an event. Mt. Dew and Coffee were never far from my hand- they were like an extension of my hand. I never sat down and enjoyed them; they were simply a way to cope with stress.

I often times treat patience in my life like I do my coffee. Carrying just enough with me to get through a situation.

Have you ever thought about enjoying patience?!

In the Christian world when we think about needing patience we always see it as a negative thing. It’s something we must have in order to get by. If you could look into my heart of hearts, often it would cry a sarcastic “Really?” when faced with a situation that needed patience. Patience meant a circumstance to endure. Not enjoy.

Over the last few years I have been in several situations and circumstances that have run longer then I thought would have been humanly possible to endure.

Slowly, ever so slowly, The Lord has changed my perspective on patience. Ecc 7:8 encapsulates some of what He has done in me. Continue reading


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Fear

It’s one of the emotions we can taste. Its tendrils can creep and slither into our hearts unnoticed, or fear can rush in with a fury that steals our breath away. It is something that leaves us feeling powerless. What a lie!

We are powerful. Powerful because in us the fullness of Christ can dwell! A friend pointed out to me today that fear is not an unsustainable emotion. In order for fear to stick around it must be fed. How often do I feed the fear?

 We feed fear by believing it, by dwelling on it, and hiding in it. Continue reading


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Christmas Magic?

I wanted a big miracle at Christmas, you know like the ones in movies. The magical, nostalgic all your dreams come true moments. It’s Christmas Eve and my dreams seem to be running away from me rather then coming closer to fruition. Were the magical moments of childhood just that – a child’s perspective? The older I get the harsher the realities of life and dreams seem.

No, I will not be depressed – it IS Christmas!

In two hours I would home and the last thing I wanted to do was paste on a fake smile for the kids. They still believed in the magic, and I didn’t want to spoil it for them. They will grow up all to soon. Desperate to not fall into the “black hole” I fiddled with my iPod trying to get some worship music playing. I need a different focus. Desperately.

As the miles rolled by I couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the snow looked covering the dead brownness of the countryside.  It was beautiful. I couldn’t deny that, no matter how surly my mood.

Maybe there is still a little magic left?

Trees bowed low under ice and snow crystals that shown even brighter because of the grey sky. Dead and broken weeds and branches now created enticing tunnels into the unknown.

Even the Darkness Continue reading