You were lied to, and your world has exploded.
I see you battered, broken, and bludgeoned.
I see you dazed, disillusioned and devastated.
I see your despair of having to carry your mangled and mutilated heart in your chest.
I see you unable to move, murmur, or meditate a coherent thought.
You were deceived. You were discarded. You feel destroyed.
I know your pain. I know your hopelessness. I know your darkness. I have felt your anger.
And I know your way through.
My word for 2023 was abide. It was all I was capable of most of last year, really. More days than not, I curled up into the hands of our gracious God and willed myself to exist. I didn't have the strength to move, think, or dream. I was heartbroken, and the thought of carrying the million shattered pieces of myself into anything outside of myself was more than I could wrap my brain or smashed to smithereens heart around. All I could muster was to remain, be still, and pray that God would breathe for me.
There is inactive abiding, and there is active abiding. I don't believe God accepts us as we are. I think he accepts us in spite of who we are, and he absolutely refuses for us to remain as we are. He demands sanctification, meaning there is work to be done if you are going to heal. Active abiding is waiting with God, remaining in God while participating in the excruciating work of pruning, counseling, grieving, and, yes, worshipping.
Abiding showed me that the closer we are to something, the larger it becomes. Conversely, the farther we are from something, the smaller it becomes. Have you ever held a penny so close to your eye that it completely blocked the sun? We all know an airplane isn't as small as looks from the ground. Abiding created the correct perspective of God. There is a stillness in abiding. There is peace, clarity, and a resolve not to move until the Lord directs. Waiting on the Lord is a spiritual discipline that I learned, and I found that strength is restored in the stillness and solitude. As I remained and waited with the Lord, I developed trust and a reliance on God that I have never experienced before and never want to live without.
The Hebrew word “qavah,” which is translated as “wait,” literally means “to bind together like a cord” or “the twisting or winding of a strand of rope, to intertwine.” It's like a three-legged race. You tie your legs together, and then you have to get in sync with your partner before either of you makes a move. That's what wait is in Hebrew. You get in sync with God, and He ties up with you.
You feel when He pauses, and you pause.
You feel when He runs, and you run.
And those who intertwine, who wait to tie their lives up with God's life, renew their strength.
You become so close with the Father that you don't know where He ends, and you begin. God becomes larger than life. God becomes your life, so your focus on outside problems, pain, and purposes is significantly diminished. And while that is a great end result, how do we make it through the pain, anger, and deception? We make God bigger.
Introducing my word of the year for 2024. Magnify.
Magnify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3
Sunday in church a month ago, our worship team played a new song called "To The One" by UpperRoom (click to listen). Fitting as my church is actually in an upper room above a coffee shop. The band says the song was birthed out of a spontaneous moment in which they felt compelled to pen lyrics about the Majesty of Jesus and to magnify his life.
As I mentioned earlier, the closer we are to something, the larger it becomes.
Janean Reish writes: "Many people think that magnifying God is simply praising Him. And while praise and worship are a part of it, magnifying God comes from getting close to Him. When we get close to Him, we experience His manifest presence, we obtain revelation and transformation, and His glory spills over into every area of our lives. We see God as He is- great and greatly to be praised. When we see God in the correct perspective, we do not doubt His ability or willingness to put us over the top in all aspects of life. And that produces praise."
The difficulty with these expressions is that, objectively, it is impossible to exalt or magnify the Lord. How could we exalt Him, who is already the Most High? Or how could we magnify Him, who already surpasses all? Objectively, this cannot be done, but subjectively, it can.
Let's look at it this way: there are microscopes and telescopes. We are not called to be microscopic believers. We are called to take a big God and make Him appear bigger, just like a telescope does. If you ever wonder about your purpose or God's will for your life, choose what Peter says is the reason why we exist and are ultimately saved in 1 Peter 2:9, “You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”
From one’s perception, God may only be small and unimportant. By thinking and speaking about Him more exaltedly, He is magnified. So, how can we magnify God in our lives and to others?
Brag about God's goodness
Obey His commands
Seek time with him in silence and solitude
Thank God for every breath, every still small moment (and yes, the crazy, hectic ones, too)
Invite God to every moment
Never forget His promises (there are 8,810 to choose from)
Compare it with a magnifying glass; placing a small print under it makes the letters appear much larger. Of course, the letters do not change, but we perceive them to. So it is also with exalting and magnifying God. God is not small, and He cannot be changed, but when we think and speak of Him as He really is, then He becomes greater in our thoughts and words, and the perception of our pain and problems becomes dramatically smaller.
God is so faithful and mighty to save. Don't allow yourself to believe anything the enemy lies to you about to plant itself in your mind and heart. It will take time to heal. It will take work, but by trusting Jesus to withdraw with you, He will fill you with grace and fortitude - a confident, warrior spirit to battle what you are facing. Curl up into His hands; he so desperately wants to mend your heart so that your life and story will ultimately magnify Him.
They say that after God gives you a no, he intends to fill it with a better yes. I was dealt a hard no at the end of 2022. It was the most painful heartbreak I have ever had to navigate. They say that after God gives you a no, he intends to fill it with a better yes. In 2023, I renewed my strength by abiding with Christ, remaining in Him, and waiting on Him. And while I don't understand the why of the no I was given, I became deeply intimate with the Who. The who to whom I belong and the who in my family who surrounded me with sweet support and unconditional acceptance. It's not the life I dreamed of. But it is the season God is using to build and shape me into who he created and intends for me to be. It is full and beautiful and brimming with love. It's not fancy. It's not glamorous. It is small, simple, and still. And therein lies the perfection. The willingness to perceive God in every still, small moment and then to magnify him in it. I am living my better yes after an excruciating no. And the best is yet to come.