Tag Archives: Fading West

The Best is Yet to Come

Is there any way to fully capture the feeling of falling in love?  Any way to adequately describe it?  To really do it justice?  It stirs the soul.  Joy-saturated energy rises up from somewhere inside and overtakes you.  In that moment, you can conquer the world.  You can take on any obstacle.  You can overcome any fear.  You can be fully alive.

I just listened to “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” by Switchfoot from their film and album, “Fading West” and that’s exactly what I felt.  Fully alive, overflowing with that joy-saturated energy.

I always enjoyed Switchfoot’s music: “Dare You to Move”, “Meant to Live”, “This is Your Life”.  Good songs.  Great anthems.  Powerful lyrics.  Strong.  Motivating.

But in the summer of 2014, when I first watched the film, “Fading West“, I fell in love.  Not with the guys (although they are adorable), but with the feeling behind this film.  The breath-taking scenery from all over the world, watching the guys surf monstrous waves, play concerts, interact with fans, each other and fellow bands on tour.  And the music.  Oh, that music.  It lifted my soul.  This was actually the beginning, the spark, of everything that happened in the fall of 2014.  My miracle started here.  If you don’t know that story, you can find it here:  My Story

That particular story concluded on my birthday, 10-19-2014.  And here I am at another birthday.  I always post a blog on my birthday.  Sharing these posts has continued to be a daily joy and I can’t imagine 2017/2018 without sharing a new one with you.

It started in 2014:  Moment by Moment  (all that junk – yep, Jesus redeemed that)

It continued in 2015:  Through Heaven’s Eyes  (what does God see when He looks at us?)

And this was 2016’s installment:  Treasure Hunting  (can we really live every day better than before, or is this as good as it gets?)

And for the entire month of September 2017, all I heard was “the best is yet to come”.  Everywhere I went.  Here are just three examples:

  1. Craig McGlassion of Paradox Church gave a message on 9-10-17 called “Plan for Rain“.  Craig told of hiking the Grand Canyon and finding himself wanting to stop and camp at every turn, so beautiful, massive and enchanting.  Thankfully, Craig was with people who had gone this way before and they encouraged him to keep going because they knew what was ahead.  Every stop was more amazing than the last, and he was thrilled that he listened to them and kept going.  Craig tied that story to our lives today and said, “Our best days are yet to come….  Your best days will always be in front of you instead of behind you….  Don’t be satisfied….  Don’t spend more time reminiscing about what God did than dreaming about what God is going to do.”
  2. I was blessed to be able to attend Beth Moore’s Living Proof Live Simulcast in person in Toledo, Ohio on 9-16-17.  Beth spoke on regaining our vision.  She said that we may have had an “initial vision”, but something happened along the way and we lost it.  Maybe we gained an “unwanted vision” in the process, and saw the darkness in the world and in ourselves, which lead to cynicism.  We wanted our eyes to be opened to good and evil (like Adam and Eve did), but we weren’t expecting to see our nakedness.  We wanted to see grandeur, not gore.  So, maybe we lost our vision.  And now it’s time to “Re-Vision” our future, which may include our original vision, but it will most likely transcend it.  This new vision will probably be harder, but it will also be more meaningful.
  3. And then on 9-24-17, during the first week of the message series called “Leave a Mark“, at exactly 1 hour 15 minutes, Chris Zarbaugh said, “We are incredibly grateful for all the past stories of success and life change, but THE BEST IS YET TO COME.”

So, why all of this encouragement to keep going?  Craig McGlassion put it this way:

“Where are you camping in your walk with God?  When the past of what has been satisfies us more than the future of what could be is driving us, we’re camping.”

Camping.  Yep, I’ve been camping.  Actually, I think of it more as “coasting”.  I’m 46 today and I’m coasting.  If my great grandmother, Willie Katherine Saylors, had lived three more weeks, she would have been 96 years old (February 13, 1908 to January 20, 2004).  So, at 46, if I live to be 92, I’m only half way there.  Coasting?  For half of my life?  Why?

Christopher Cook answered this for me.  On 10-5-17, I received an email survey regarding Chris’s podcast, “Win Today”.  In the process of completing the survey, we were asked to read the story behind his company, which included this statement:

“I was safe and stuck in my very small world, with arms wrapped tightly around every aspect of my life in an attempt to control and prevent further pain.”

Why am I coasting?  Chris said it: “To control and prevent further pain.”  If I stay safe in my own little world, maybe I can protect myself from pain.  But notice that Chris said he did this “in an attempt” to prevent pain.  In practice, it doesn’t actually work.

At the simulcast, Beth Moore took a deeper dive:

“We can so protect ourselves from being hurt that we protect ourselves from JOY….  We think it isn’t worth the risk….  Lord, grant us courage to live.  To really live….  Awake me to the wonder of You, finding wonder in the every day….  Wonder cannot be held.  These are moments.  But they are worth it….  We live in the Now and Not Yet.  The world is a mess, but we’re still called to rejoice in it and to love each other with His Love.”

Back on 5-13-17, I received a “Whole 90 Devotional” email written by Cliff Johnson, our Birmingham campus pastor.  Cliff expands on Beth’s thoughts:

“In Ephesians 2:8-10, Paul reminds us to remember not only how we were saved:  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not of works, so that no one can boast,”  BUT WHY WE WERE SAVED, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which He has prepared in advance for us to do.”

I have not only been saved FROM something—like death, sin, hell—but I have been saved FOR something.  God actually has moments waiting for me to boldly engage to advance His Kingdom.  For those of us longing for new stories, this truth should be music to your ears.  Although the journey has been painful at times, sharing the story that God has crafted in me through both heartbreak and healing is part of the future He has laid out for me.”

And that future is worth living for.  The Prophet Isaiah said it this way:

“Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
    Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland.”
-Isaiah 43:18-19 (NIV)

In 2016, Jon Foreman, Switchfoot’s lead man, did a TED Talk at the University of Nevada called Live Your Song.  Check it out.  It’s nineteen minutes of pure inspiration.  After the first of three songs, Jon encourages us to keep on keepin’ on:

“You matter.  And there is a void in the symphony of life when you are silent.  The pain, the anger, the frustration, the dissonance.  Be brave.  Sing through it.  Be brave and sing the truth, one note at a time.”

Don’t be silent.  We need you.  Fill the void with your song; a song that only you can sing.

And join me in falling in love, letting yourself be overcome by the exhilaration of being fully alive, belting out “Love Alone is Worth the Fight“:

We’re only here for a season
I’m looking for the rhyme and reason
Why you’re born, why you’re leaving
What you fear and what you believe in

Why you’re living and breathing
Why you’re fighting it and getting it even
Let’s go headed down the open road unknown

And we find what we’re made of
Through the open door
Is it fear you’re afraid of?
What are you waiting for?

Love alone is worth the fight

-Switchfoot, “Love Alone is Worth the Fight“, from the film and album “Fading West

“We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.”
– Colossians 1:9-12 (NIV)

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Hearing Aids

When is the last time you’ve heard from God?  It’s hard to hear Him with all of the noise around us, but I believe that God still speaks today.

Maybe we’re afraid to hear what He has to say and we’d rather tune Him out.  Maybe we think He’s mad at us; that He’s going to lecture us about all the things we’ve done wrong.  Or maybe we think He’s going to tell us to become a missionary in Africa.  Or He’ll tell us to forgive someone we could never, ever forgive.  So we crank up the radio, turn on the TV,  check our Facebook status, go shopping, volunteer at church, anything to stay distracted and busy, busy, busy.

Or maybe we want to hear from God, but we’re not sure how.  How does He speak?  In the 20 years I’ve been following Jesus, I’ve heard from God in many different ways.  I’ve never seen or spoken to Jesus directly, but I know someone who has.  Check out Jaya Sankar’s Story to read, and hear directly from Jaya, about his encounter with the Living God.  Here are some ways that I hear from God.  I hope they act as “hearing aids” for you:

1) The Bible

God speaks when I read the Bible.  Not every time.  Sometimes I’m just reading words, but other times the Word truly is living and active, penetrating, dividing soul and spirit (Hebrews 4:13).  Those times are well worth waiting for.  Energizing, exhilarating, mysterious, thrilling to the core.  If we’re going to recognize someone’s voice, we need to get to know them.  What better way to get to know God than to read the love letter He wrote to us?

The writer of the book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the exact representation of God’s being (Hebrews 1:3), so if we want to know God, we need to get to know Jesus.  The best way I’ve found to get to know Jesus is by reading the gospels, which are the first 4 books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  You can start with just one, you can read them all start to finish, or you can read one over and over until it feels like an old friend (thanks to Dan Kopp for that great suggestion).  John is a great book to start with, as John goes into great detail about who Jesus is and why he came.  But if you love a good action movie, start with the book of Mark.  You won’t be disappointed.

The most important thing to keep in mind when reading the Bible is that it is not an ordinary book.  The best way to read it is in humility, asking God Himself to speak to you through His Holy Spirit.  If we ask for understanding, He is faithful to answer our prayer.  Jesus tells us over and over again that those who ask will receive, and James 4:3 clarifies further regarding asking with right motives.  I can ask for a BMW, but I really don’t think I’ll receive one.  🙂

2) Circumstances

I’ve heard God speak through circumstances in my life over and over again, and I love to write about those times.  If hearing how God has spoken to me helps you recognize His voice in your life, then I have done my job.  When I categorize a post under “miracles”, it’s probably a story of how God spoke through a particular circumstance.  This is one of my favorites, about how I knew I couldn’t giving up on having another child:  Fresh Eyes.

3) Music

I love to hear from God through music.  Sometimes it’s through the words of the song, like MercyMe’s Greater.  Other times it’s the music itself that makes my soul fly.  I fell in love with Switchfoot’s Fading West album after watching their documentary of the same name twice within 48 hours in late August.  I bought the album a few days later and couldn’t get enough of it.

Even though I didn’t see Swtichfoot in concert, DTE Energy Music Theater chose to play that album in between every set on Saturday night, September 13th.  All night long, in between Ellie Holcomb, Colton Dixon, MercyMe and Third Day, Switchfoot’s Fading West album played over the loudspeakers while the stage was being set for the next act.  As each song came on, my heart was being romanced by the God of the universe.  He chose the perfect background music for the mood He was creating between the two of us.  You can read more about that evening here:  Redeemed – Part 1.

4) Nature, 5) People & 6) the Holy Spirit

God speaks through nature, through people and through His Holy Spirit.  Instead of telling you about each one separately, here’s a little story that combines all three:

In May 2014, at the SMASH women’s retreat, we were given a morning devotional booklet to go off by ourselves to complete.  There was a question that I was supposed to talk to God about, but I also needed to eat breakfast, so I brought the booklet with me to the cafeteria.  I grabbed my breakfast, found a table and set down the booklet.  I went about my morning, chatting with lots of different women at breakfast, outside the cafeteria and on the long trail leading back to my cabin.  Walking through those gorgeous woods, with my cabin just ahead of me, I gasped and thought, “Lord, I forgot to talk to you!”  He quickly, but calmly, responded, “No, you didn’t.  You’ve been talking to Me all morning through all of those women.”

May 2014 SMASH Women's Retreat at SpringHill CampsMay 2014 SMASH Women’s Retreat at SpringHill Camp in Evart, MI, ready to go on the zip-line

Sometimes it takes “getting away from it all” to really hear His voice clearly.  Please join us at the SMASH Women’s Retreat at SpringHill Camp May 15-17, 2015.  Registration opens March 27th – click here: Events.  You won’t want to miss it!  And if you’re not female, Kensington puts on a retreat just for you each Fall.  Check the same link in Summer 2015 for the “Man Up” retreat, which is normally held at SpringHill Camp each October.

The Tyranny of the “Should” (Part 4)

My last post about Two “churchy” words presupposes one important point: do you want to turn to God?  What if you don’t?  What if you think He’s royally angry with you?  I was very thankful that Jesus had saved me, but I had this nagging feeling that he really didn’t want to.

“Look at all that Jesus has done for you.”  I could see God looking at me, slowly shaking His head back and forth, disappointed that I hadn’t done more to pay him back.

I sang the words to the hymn, “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe,” and I believed it heart and soul.  I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.  If I could just be good enough, somehow achieve perfection on my own, maybe I could pay him back.  If I could just be a “good girl”, maybe I could earn God’s love on my own.

I was absolutely positive that I deserved death and hell, but that by some stroke of luck, I received God’s grace instead.  I had a “get out of hell free” card, I had good “fire insurance”, and the only reason God didn’t incinerate me was because Jesus took my place.

Switchfoot’s album Fading West includes a song called “The World You Want” that hits me on so many levels.  It starts out with these words:

I’m kickin up the pieces
I’m trying out adhesives
I’m trying to fix a place that feels broken

Over the last 20 years, I’ve done countless Bible studies, attended countless conferences and retreats, read countless books, trying to fix the place that feels broken.  It’s kept me going.  I get a little piece of the puzzle and I feel better for a little while.  Like being on a treasure hunt.  But it doesn’t last and I need to find another piece.

I found a BIG piece of the puzzle in 2013.  My next blog post, The Face of Grace, will be about that discovery.  But even that wasn’t enough to keep me above water.  I’ve spent so many years feeling that I owe everyone and that I can never adequately pay anyone back, it all feels hopeless.  It feels like nothing I do makes any difference at all.

The Switchfoot song goes on to say:

Is this the world you want?
You’re making it
Every day you’re alive

You change the world
Every day you’re alive

I don’t like how I’m changing the world.  It’s really icky.  And if I wanted to change it for the good, how can I if I owe everything to everyone and I don’t have the energy to keep it up anymore?  It’s too exhausting and I don’t have it in me to keep fighting the fight.

On September 12, 2014, just ONE day before the “redeemed” weekend, I wrote this in my journal (along with more words from “The World You Want”):

“The Tyranny of the “Should”

I waste so much energy trying to decide what I “should” do. I get all tied up in knots, wondering if I don’t do this, how will it affect that? If I don’t take the air compressor to the store right now and with a good attitude, what bad thing will happen to me today? Will John get stuck at work and not be able to go to the wedding with me? Will tomorrow get completely ruined and he won’t be able to go to the Third Day concert? I better be a good girl, put on a happy face and do what I “should” do.

You start to look like what you believe
What you say is your religion
How you say it’s your religion
Who you love is your religion
How you love is your religion
–Switchfoot’s “The World You Want”

What do I believe? I believe that I better be a good girl and make good decisions, or bad things are going to happen. That’s my religion. What I say and how I say it is my religion. Who I love and how I love is my religion….  If I feel like I owe you something, I don’t know how to function. I don’t know how much is enough. I feel like I owe God. And there is no way I can pay him back. Why would I want others to accept him as their Lord and Savior? Then they’ll owe him too. Why would I do that to other people?”

I finished writing this at 10:49am, just as an email came in from someone I had written to on August 31st, twelve days earlier.  She chose exactly that moment to write back to me.  Or did God choose that exact moment?  It was a beautiful, encouraging email and all I could think was, “How is it that the Lord loves me so that He sends people like this to me?  I don’t deserve that kind of love.”

Click here for Part 5