Friday, May 8, 2015

"Welcome to the Chart Room"

I have been in the midst of the BRAVE journey with Crossroads and many other churches in our city.  Recently, I spent some time going through the BRAVE experience at CityLink Center.  This interactive prayer experience was one that provided some hands on tools to further explore the places in which God has been calling us as individuals to be brave.


I walk into the Chart Room not knowing what to expect. 

I am met by two huge wooden tables that look as though they have maps on them underneath a sheet of glass.  They are surrounded by well lit alcoves filled with messages inviting me to chart out a course. 

The track playing through the headphones I am wearing tells me to look for the message that connects with my heading.

My heading during this BRAVE journey has been: “Find a woman of peace.” 

I landed on this after reviewing a few things the BRAVE app pulled up for me to consider—where I want to be less stressed, where I need change, something I want to do, and looking at my “next spiritual step.”  It was this last area that really drew my attention, since all of these other items felt like areas where I have actively been make changes in my life recently. 

In looking at the spiritual progression—from seeking truth, to receiving Jesus, to focusing on obedience—I really am at the place where these are a part of my story, but I need to step towards replicating my faith in others.  This is something that I have been open to for a long time; and in some ways I think this happens on some level in snippets with many people I meet daily.  I am a teacher and love to share the things I am learning.  I also have the privilege of doing this daily with my Little Love.  However, I am constantly challenged by the stories I hear of others in our community at Crossroads who are actively and intentionally moving with a purpose to disciple others in their lives, encouraging and guiding them along as they seek Jesus in the midst of their life in a more disciplined and regular way. 

I don’t know how pursue this, really.  It doesn’t seem like something I can make happen.  So in some ways this brave challenge seemed to be the one that would require me to trust God to act most.  In the end, that is why I picked this heading. 

Truthfully, it feels risky to me, because I see no way of accomplishing all this on my own. 

However, after too many times of failing, I have learned that when I build up plans in my own way, they fall far short of what I hope for or expect.  God’s way is always better.  I sense that God has been in the midst of the formation of this heading, but nothing in my life at the moment really seems to suggest that this can be accomplished.  Certainly not in six weeks. 

Yet, I’m choosing to follow.  That’s what it is to be obedient, right?  I think of the disciples.   Jesus often asked them to go and do things that probably seemed a bit odd to them.  Yet,they followed and discovered things just as he told them they would be.  I wonder what I will find.

When I am asked to sum all this thinking up in six words or less, I remembered a phrase I have heard used around Crossroads to describe the way they encourage discipleship—“find a person of peace.” 

This phrase was meant to refer to the passage where Jesus sends out his twelve disciples in Matthew

“ Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave.  As you enter the home, give it your greeting.  If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.  If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.”  -Matthew 10:11-14, NIV

It is a phrase to express that our time is best spent sharing the good news and fostering growth in someone who is a willing recipient.  This person is a “person of peace.” 

I have all this in mind as I set my heading.  “Find a woman of peace.” 

I think about all of this in the Chart Room as I look around in these nooks trying to find a message that speaks to me. 

It is the sign that says   “I AM THE AUTHOR OF PEACE” that I keep coming back to.

There is something in this proclamation of God’s character makes me pause. 

I grab a brochure and sit down to consider this.

I am struck by the idea that in this journey to “find a woman of peace” it is God who is the author of peace.  He wants to bring His peace to my life.  I am also amazed by the thought that just as He brings His peace into my life I can trust He will prepare a person of peace for me; and as I consider this, I begin to think that perhaps this journey to find a woman of peace is not primarily an external thing.  I didn’t see that coming! 

As I Set Sail I am aware of God’s love for me.  I am aware of his provision.  I am aware that He wants my good, as I seek him and desire to be part of His vision, where disciples reproduce.  He wants me to be a woman of peace.

I step into the Storm Room and take a seat on steps.   I watch as people walk out on the water.  Like Peter, when Jesus says, “Come,” these people step out in faith.  The waves are churning and still they go.  I spy a spot high up and walk across the waters where I find a place to rest on the edge of a wave.

I sit and think about the storms that have been raging in me during this BRAVE journey.  Fear is something I have battled again and again in my life.  This time fear comes in the form of a full life.  How does this challenge fit into it?  I am not sure I see that yet.  I am afraid of being overwhelmed.  Yet, I realize, Jesus knows my capacity better than I do. 

I keep coming back to that chart room message: “I am the author of peace.”

All I can think is that God will take care of finding a woman of peace.  He wants me to concentrate on the internal journey of finding my peace in Christ.

With this revelation I move into the sanctuary.

I move through in the sand up to the front and find a spot to sit on a wooden bench.

I sit and listen to the music.

I lift up praise.

I thank God for speaking to me.

It is good to rest here in His presence.

In His presence I find peace.

As the minutes pass and I finally stand to leave.  I leave knowing that I do not go alone.

The peace of Christ goes with me.  He is with me wherever I go.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  I do not give as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  -John 14:27 NIV


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we seek Christ and step boldly into the plans He has laid out for us—especially when they seem bigger than we can handle.  May we find that He is the peace in the midst of the stormy places.  May we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.  May we discover that He never leaves us or forsakes us.  May we come to know His faithfulness anew.

Jessica :)

A big thank you to my dear husband for capturing some photos of the prayer experience for me.  It wasn't until long after I returned I wished I had thought to pull out my camera!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Of Strong Ankles, Fullness of Life, and His Perfect Way

I have been in the midst of the BRAVE journey with Crossroads and many other churches in our city.  This week I spent some time meditating as a part of a group work challenge.  There were two other options that probably would have stretched me in terms of experience a little bit more, but I didn’t have time to do them before the first of my groups met on Tuesday morning.  So I went with a practice that I enjoy and practice more regularly than the other options presented. 


The instructions are to pick up to five passages from a list of about ten.  I begin looking at the list and quickly find myself reciting most of the Scriptures based only on their location.  I come to the last one Psalm 18:30-36.  I am not familiar with this passage at all.  I think to myself, “I guess this is the one I’ll use.”  To be honest, I am feeling a bit obstinate and based on the other passages in the mix I have no clue how this Psalm could possibly relate to me and the area of my life God has been inviting me to be BRAVE in. 

I grab my Bible, open it up and began to read.

“As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
    and your right hand sustains me;
    your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way.”

                                                -Psalm18:30-36 (NIV)

It is when I reach this last verse that I stop in wonder: “You provide a broad path for my feet, so that my ankles do not give way.” 

God gently reaches down into my proud and skeptical heart and sets me straight.

In that one line he reminds me of what he has done in my life and what he wants to do as I trust him right now.

Once upon a time, my left ankle gave out again and again.  Three times in six months when I was a sophomore in high school; again in my senior year; and then four years later as I was looking forward to a honeymoon full of hiking.  With several of the sprains, including the last one, nothing happened to jar my ankle. I took a step or shifted my weight and it just gave way.

It was a time when I was so fearful.  After the last sprain, I remember wearing my air cast weeks after the six weeks it was to be worn were over.  I didn’t want to be using crutches on my wedding day.  I worried over the hiking that Jason and I would be doing—would my ankle just roll while were out?  The image of feeling of my ankle collapsing, the icky sound and the pain played over and over again in my mind.  It was awful. 

Now, in this moment God is reminding me of that time in my life. 

He is reminding me of how He met me there and healed me.  Through a time of unexpected prayer for healing He gave me back my ankle. 

I remember how for months afterwards, I had a hard time leaving that image behind me.  I didn’t know what healing looked like.  I kept wondering if it would be the next hike or simply walking down the sidewalk that my ankle would roll.  Even now, if I let myself, I can still hear the sound, picture the rolling, and feel the pain.  The memory is one full of fear.

It has only been trusting God’s healing one day at a time that has brought me to a new place, a better place, a freer place.  I walk with my family and speak praise when my ankle begins to roll and instead of buckling it corrects and holds strong.  Instead of walking in fear, I walk in His power.

In this moment I am wowed.  I reminded of all he has done for me.  I am led to a place of gratitude.  This is really how God wants me to come to Him and His Word--with praise for what He has done in my life and expecting Him to act in my life right now--ready to receive the His good gifts.  I read the passage again.

At first I see more feet.  “He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights.”  What agility a deer has!  What beauty can be seen from the heights!  I think of places I have hiked.  The views I have seen.  It is in His perfect way and in His security I stand on those heights.  What new heights might He be leading me to climb?

Then, I notice how He trains me.  “He trains my hands for battle; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.”  I imagine what that is like and I feel energized, ready, empowered.

He not only trains, He protects.  “You make your saving help my shield, and your right hand sustains me.”  I feel upheld in the midst of difficulty.

I read, “Your help has made me great.”  David, who wrote this Psalm recognizes that he is not just surviving.  God is doing something bigger than he could do himself.  God's help has made him great.  I tend to think about how it is God who is great and he is.  But it seems God wants to do great things in us too.  I can’t help but wonder if this is all part of his plan to reveal his glory.  That is a new thought.  He wants me to be great with his help and by his power, not apart from it.  I do not think of myself as great.  What might greatness look like in my life?

Then, those words again!  “You provide a broad path for my feet so that my ankles do not give way.”

For whatever reason, I think about the words of Jesus that say “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  (Matthew 7:13-14)  What amazes me is that God’s perfect way, this narrow road that leads to life, is broad enough.  It is a sure path.  It is a good path!  This is not about pain or failure or fear.  This is about healing and wholeness and good in my life! 

I look back to the beginning again.  “As for God, his way is perfect:  The Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.  For who is God besides the Lord?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”

And I wonder what it looks like to take refuge in God in the fullness of life anyway.  I sit and consider this for awhile.  As I do words well up.

I wiggle and squirm
With thoughts of dishes and dinner undone.

It is here you invite me to sit
In Your presence. 


It is here you remind me
You are

Right here in the fullness of my life
Not apart from it.

You are inviting me

The path is wide
So that my ankles will not give way.

I begin to realize that it is in the midst of my full life God wants to remind me of who he is.  It is in the midst of my full life that God wants to lead me to stand on the heights.  It is in the midst of my full life He trains me so that I am energized, equipped, empowered—ready for all He leads me toward.  In the midst of my full life He protects and upholds me.  In the midst of my full life He leads me towards a greatness that reveals His glory.  In the midst of my full life He is leading me towards wholeness, healing and good.  He is my Rock.  He is my refuge and by His power He keeps my way secure.  

I rest in all of this, thankful.

I feel invited to step out into his perfect way, knowing the path is wide so my ankles will not give way.


Grace and peace be ours in abundance as we allow God to meet us right where we are at—in the fullness of our life—and lead us into his perfect way.  May we learn to step with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  The path is wide and our ankles will not give way.

Jessica :)

P.S.  The photo was taken during a trip to Canyonlands National Park during the first year we lived in Utah.