Unfinished Glory

Unfinished Glory

Have you ever started a project that caused you to question the end result? Well, I have!! I am in the process of building an in-ground pool. I hired a reputable local pool company. I did my research, prayed about it, & finally chose this company because I trusted their reputation. The very first day the project started I began to second guess myself…what I had signed up for? I came home from work to see mountains of dirt throughout my backyard. It was only 8 hours earlier my yard was filled with beauty & lots of grass. How am I supposed to deal with this for 45 days?!

All I see is dirt, large equipment, & constant noise from all the work. I have strangers in my backyard at 7 am until 6:30 pm. All of this chaos started on day 1 and hasn’t stopped yet. I am constantly cleaning the floors due to my dogs tracking in dirt everywhere!! The pool building process isn’t what I imagined. I thought it would look a lot less messy. Not really sure why I thought that, but I did! I’m on day 17 now. The mountains of dirt have been removed & leveled out. I see the concrete shell, the skimmers, the jets, seats, & the area where the concrete decking will be poured. It sounds like it’s starting to come together, but It’s still not a pretty picture like you might be imagining.

As you can see it’s an ugly, empty concrete shell with lots of dirt all around it. It doesn’t quite look like a beautiful inground pool at this point. But, I can see it has potential of looking like the pool I envisioned when I took on this project.

Have you ever looked in the mirror or felt like your life was an ugly mess? I sure have plenty of times. I remember when I first became a follower of Christ. I was excited. I had a new fire inside me. I was a new creation in Jesus Christ. The old was gone and the new had come…Right? Well, yes & no. I was a new creation in Jesus Christ, but the new had not taken root in me yet. I needed to replace the old self with the new by reading the word of God. As I started to renew my mind the Lord began a sanctifying work inside me. It wasn’t fun, exciting, or pretty. Honestly, it was kinda painful at times and even messy. God was pruning the old dead parts of me, so that new life could spring forth. I can remember thinking I am never going to change. My life is a mess. I am a mess. I can’t live this Christian life like I’m supposed to. I am never going to get it right or stop sinning. Which is partly true…I cant stop sinning completely, I won’t get it right every time because I am not Jesus Christ. Only Jesus is perfect and without sin and only He got it right so we don’t have to. God sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for us once and for all. Therefore, our sins have all been forgiven for those of us who are believers in Christ.

A believer’s life can look similar to my pool project. Day 1, we placed our faith in Jesus Christ & shortly after wondered what in the world we got ourselves into. Our lives can look messy, ugly, empty, and dirty at times. It can be overwhelming, especially if you think you are supposed to get it right, never sin again, or complete the work yourself.

Remember the God who saved you is also the One who is working in you to sanctify you and change you day by day. You can’t see the end result of your life today, but you can live in freedom knowing that the One who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light also began a good work in you and He will also perfect us until the day of Christ Jesus. God knows the outcome of our life. He knows the story He is writing and it’s for His glory & our good. All the good, ugly, exciting, messy, pretty, difficult, painful, & scary unknown parts are being fitted together to form one beautiful masterpiece. But, we don’t get to see it until the day of Christ Jesus. Did you catch that? We won’t know what our life looks like until the end. So that means we aren’t supposed to be a finished project today or tomorrow even. We won’t be perfect or a finished work of art until the day of Christ! I don’t know about you, but that takes a lot of pressure of me. I can take a deep breath in & let it out knowing that my life today may look messy because God isn’t finished with me yet. And, He isn’t finished with you either!! Can I get an Amen?!

So back to my pool project…I know it’s not finished yet. It’s in the middle stage which looks kinda ugly right now. I would be worried about the outcome if it was up to me to finish the pool. But, it is not up to me. It’s the pool company’s responsibility to complete the job they started. And, I am confident they will finish the work they started because I trust their reputation.

I want to challenge you (and myself) to let go of our fears and doubts about the end result of our life. Let us be a people who trust our God who started a good work in us and will also perfect us until the day of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 1:6
“For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

CAT

Thirsty

Have you ever been thirsty or dehydrated? Typically, the brain will send signals to our body when we are thirsty before we get dehydrated. My mouth gets dry if I am really thirsty and I can’t seem to get enough to drink! Nothing will quench this kind of thirst except water. But, I can ignore my thirst and eventually it will turn to dehydration.

Did you know you can be dehydrated without even knowing it? Yep! Scary, huh? Our brain sends all the signals, but many times we don’t respond to it. The first signal is usually being thirsty. If you ignore it for too long more serious signals occur such as fatigue, bright yellow urine, foggy brain, dry mouth, confusion, dark circles under the eyes, dizziness, organ malfunction, and even death. This is how your body is letting you know it’s in the danger zone. Once you get in the danger zone it takes more than a cup or two of water to quench your thirst and get you re-hydrated.

Our spiritual life goes through a similar process when we ignore the signals. Many times we don’t even know our spiritual life is in the danger zone because we haven’t paid attention to our thirst. We fill ourselves with everything else except Jesus. We run hard after our career, kids, responsibilities, social lives, and or fitness goals. Or maybe those aren’t the things you pursue, but you pursue something. Whatever fills your time & mind, that is not God, that is the thing you’re chasing. We give Jesus our leftovers if even that much. We end up tired, weary, stressed out, & empty. These are the warning signals letting us know we are thirsty for Jesus.

I normally start my day by reading the word of God and praying. But, I can read the bible and still miss Jesus.

Especially if I am reading just to mark it off my list. Or, If my heart is not right within me and my mind is distracted by everything else I need to do. I can easily miss out on experiencing Jesus. I am guilty of all of the above which is why I know we can be thirsty for Jesus without even knowing it. We ignore the signals such as being tired, irritable, stressed, anxious, exhausted, empty, etc…these are indicators of a life that is spiritually thirsty. If we ignore these signals for too long we will end up in the spiritually dehydrated. Don’t get me wrong I know we have to manage our responsibilities and juggle many things to some degree. But spending quality time with Jesus is more important than anything else on our to do list. If I run myself ragged to get all my to do list accomplished, which I do at times, but miss Jesus what have I really accomplished?

Recently, I visited a friend’s church. The sermon was just what I needed to hear. It was not a feel good type of message. It was quite convicting. And it was uncomfortable to some degree because it shed light on my sin (which is a good thing). I had been chasing after everything, but Jesus. It was a powerful message because it was the very word of God being taught which spoke directly to my heart. I went to lunch with my friend after church. We talked for a couple of hours in booth at Newks. I could have continued to talk to her for hours. I could not get enough of the fellowship we were experiencing together that day. God used that particular Sunday to show me some things missing in my spiritual life.

My soul was thirsty for ONLY the Word of God being taught & community with other genuine believers. I did not even realize these things were missing from my life until I experienced church in a different way that day. I go to church regularly. I have godly friends from church & outside of church. I read the Word daily. But, something was missing in my spiritual life and had been for several months. I knew it in the depth of my soul due to all those warning signs, but I had not been able to identify the missing link. The signs were right in front of me daily. I was tired, exhausted, quick to anger, empty, & stressed out. So, how did I not know? Because I had not slowed down long enough to hear what God was trying to tell me. I had been filling myself up with all the things on my to-do list. I chased after more work, fitness goals, productivity over relationships, significance from other sources, etc…These things are never enough and will never be enough! These things leave me feeling exhausted, stressed out, & weary most days. If I am being transparent, I will always want more of something other than God to some degree because I am a sinner. But, God in His mercy created us with a hole in our heart, so that we would pursue Him to satisfy our wondering hearts. We were never meant to be satisfied by the things of the world. If the things of the world could satisfy us, we would never seek God Almighty.

These things even the good things we do daily to fill us are only temporary. Let us be people who seek the Lord, pursue the things of the Lord, and be filled up with the One true source of living water that will satisfy our thirst for more. He won’t leave us feeling tired, weary, stressed out, etc…He actually gives us strength, comfort, peace, & rest when we cast down our idols & seek Him. When we are filled up with Jesus Christ our hearts should be content with whatever God has given us. We may still want more, but we can trust God will provide it if we need it. We don’t have to run ourselves ragged in order to make it happen. God is the only One who can and will truly quench our thirsty souls. Let His love fill you up, and remember His love is not temporary, it is everlasting. Taste and see that the Lord is good.

What about you? Are you thirsty? Are you tired, stressed out, or feeling empty these days? Are you spiritually dehydrated? Evaluate your heart’s desires…Ask God to show you what’s in your heart. Do these desires align with the truth? Are you seeking eternal things or running yourself ragged for temporary things? If so, ask God to show you what He wants you to pursue. Pursue the things of the Lord, seek Him and His kingdom first and all these things will be added to you.

CAT

On Demand…part 2

Waiting-Staying in expectation. Waiting on, attending; accompanying; serving. Waiting for, staying for the arrival of. Waiting at, staying or attending at in expectation or in service. In waiting, in attendance.

Did you read the definition of waiting? That’s not how I would have defined waiting. My definition reads more like waiting on paint to dry, waiting for something to never happen. There is not much expectation in waiting for paint dry or waiting on nothing to happen is there? I usually paint one coat, leave, come back a few hours later to put the 2nd coat on. I don’t stay in expectation or wait in attendance. I paint it and I leave it to dry. However, waiting for a promise to be fulfilled is a lot different than waiting on paint to dry. I know the paint will dry. I don’t know when or how the promise will be fulfilled or even if it will be fulfilled here on earth. 
The waiting period is an active process in which we should be hopeful. We should wait by staying in expectation for the Lord to deliver on His promises to us. The phrase staying in expectation sounds to me like it’s filled with hope & maybe even a hint of excitement. I can assure you that I haven’t waited for my husband by staying in expectation lately. It’s looked a lot more like waiting on paint to dry. I pray for a husband. I leave it. I come back to pray again from time to time. But, I get frustrated with the process and stop praying about it. I stop expecting and hoping for the Lord to fulfill His promises to me. I try to stay positive. I try to focus more on what I have than what I’m missing out on. I throw myself in work, helping others, & settle down into the life I’ve been given. I do honestly believe those things too. I am very grateful for the life I’ve been given. But, I do want to be married again. However, I have more hope in the paint drying than my future husband arriving. 
Why is that? Well, I’ve been married before. It was a long time ago. I was 19. I did not have a clue about marriage and definitely not a God centered one. Some days, I think the reason I don’t have a husband is because I totally sucked at being a wife the first time around. And God knows I’ll be a horrible wife, so that is why He isn’t answering my prayer for a husband. Sounds a little absurd when I type it out. But, that is one of the big fat lies Satan tells me over and over again.

I don’t know what promises you are waiting on the Lord to fulfill, but I do know God doesn’t hold our past against us. Those thoughts that cause you to doubt yourself, God, & His promises are from Satan. Scripture says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬) Therefore, I am a new person in Jesus Christ. My past is no more. He wiped my slate clean when I placed my faith in Him. If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, He has done the same thing for you. You are not the old person from your past. You have been made new. Our past has been redeemed by the grace of God. He can use the things from past for our good and His glory. The past was a learning experience for the future. It was training ground for the next chapter. Those failures do not define you or me. We can learn valuable lessons of wisdom from these past mistakes. Failure is the hands on experience gained so we do not repeat our past mistakes. The enemy wants you to believe your past failures define you in order to defeat you. But scripture says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.” (Genesis‬ ‭50:20‬) Don’t believe the lies the enemy tells you anymore! Rebuke those lies in Jesus name! Replace the lies with the truth of God. I know it’s hard to stay on top of all the lies bouncing around your head, but it’s the only way to truly overcome the lies and believe the truth. 

I realize I need to do a better job at this myself. Let’s help each other by praying for one another & encouraging each other. If you are struggling with anything or just need prayer, Shoot me an email, text, or fb message. I will pray for you & encourage you as long as you need me to. Friend, our God is faithful and He loves us. God knows what is best for us. So whatever it is we are waiting on God to provide for us, let us wait by staying in expectation. Let’s expect the best from our Heavenly Father who only gives His best. 

CAT