Now You See Me

Last year I was at a point in my single life when I was uninterested in men who were uninterested in me. Fed up with dead-end “friendships” with emotionally unavailable and unresponsive men, I prayed the prayer I almost regretted. I asked God to protect me from men who didn’t have my best interest at heart. If he wasn’t the man I would marry, then you could count me out.

But what if that prayer is slightly off the mark? What about the men I could positively impact during my season of singleness? What about the men God would call me to serve alongside? What about the men who have never experienced the beauty of femininity, confidence, and grace from a woman who loves Jesus? What if asking God to hide me is selfish? What if there is a more powerful prayer?

Photo Credit: m_bartosch via FreeDigitalPhotos.net, royalty-free

Photo Credit: m_bartosch via FreeDigitalPhotos.net, royalty-free

When I met my boyfriend, he was more refreshing than an ice cold glass of water on a sweltering summer day in the south; more refreshing than a warm shower on a wintry night; more refreshing than a hearty meal after a season of fasting; more refreshing than… well, you get my point. I wasn’t paying any attention to him, but he saw me. Shortly after we met, I had a lunch engagement with my mentor. There she challenged me to ask God what this young man’s purpose was in my life and what purpose I should serve in his life. Every man you meet is not going to be your knight in shining armor. Every man is not your potential, and should not be treated as such. You may be who God uses to show him how Christian women conduct themselves. You may be who God uses to show him that all women are not seductive and manipulative. You may be who God uses to minister the gospel of Jesus through your testimony of purity and unwavering dedication to Christ. Our purpose in a man’s life could lead to a wedding ring, but our first order of business is to demonstrate the love of Christ.

Although I knew I was beginning to develop feelings for him, I kept everything in perspective by allowing Jesus to guard my heart, emotions, and intentions. All I asked was for Jesus to be glorified in however this relationship was to progress. Some time had passed since my last lunch date with my mentor. This time when she asked about my budding relationship, I told her I believed he was the one my heart had been waiting for. She asked me how I knew. I told her, “Because God allowed him to see me.”

I have always looked this way, written this way, and loved this way. Like an abstract sculpture that few people notice, people have walked past me with little appreciation, but only one man stopped to see me for the masterpiece that I am.

It was that moment when I realized the stunning beauty of those words. This man’s eyes had been opened and he had the vision to behold the beauty (and flaws) that make up who I am. He knows me because he wanted to know me. He listens to me because he wanted to listen to me. He understands me because he wanted to understand me. But he loves me because he sees me, and he sees me because God opened his eyes and placed me in his line of sight.

So, what if the more powerful prayer isn’t to be hidden but to be seen by the man who is sent from God? To be hidden can be lonely, but to be seen and known is the deepest desire in the heart of every woman. Asking to be visible makes us ready for God’s use. Let’s be unafraid to be seen by men. Let’s ask God for His purposes for the men in our lives. Let’s ask God to lead people in our lives we can impact, and who will positively impact ours. Let’s be willing vessels for His good during our singleness. Let us be fully seen by Jesus, and ask to be seen by the man who will vow to love us until the end of time.

After the Dust Settles

Wow! It astounds me how swiftly time passes.  It has been five months since my last update, and in those five months God has succeeded to stun me over and over again with the overflow of His immeasurably more. Back in July I decided to take a hiatus from blogging and social media so that I could focus on my writing career, my personal life, and my God. I originally set out to spend 30 days in the presence of God to achieve certain goals, but it turns out that God had other, bigger plans for me. 2013 brought me the best of times and the worst of times, but everyday has been pregnant with the possibility for God to show himself strong on my behalf. And He has. I have learned many lessons, cried many tears, crossed many bridges, and prayed many prayers that have all prepared me for the road that is still ahead of me. Throughout the course of this year. I have seen the glory and power of God through many avenues and facets, but there are a handful of events that have shaped me drastically this year.

I Found Myself

I am probably one of the most outspoken, vivacious, friendly individuals you would come by. I love people. I love encouraging people, speaking truth over their lives, getting people excited about the most mundane things like sunsets or the sighting of a full moon over the city skyline. I am a leader. I can organize a meeting, a team, an organization, and I have been successful in those things. Yet, in all that no one would have ever guessed that I deeply struggled with low self-esteem. The grips of insecurity were relentless and broke my heart everyday. It was the reason why I tolerated toxic relationships, allowed hurtful things to be said to me, blamed myself for things that were out of my control. Finally, through the grace of God and powerful community, I was delivered (and I am being delivered) from wrong thinking about myself. I see myself from God’s vantage point. I only see what He sees in me. My whole life changed. Where I used to see things with a fog of self-doubt, I have perfect clarity. Jesus showed me I am beautiful on the INSIDE and I have great value because He formed me with His hands.

Love Found Me

I am in a relationship and I am so in love. I can hear the records scratching now. You read right; the ‘content in singleness’ woman has changed her relationship status. I met and [grew] in love with a courageous, remarkable, passionate, tender man of God. He is everything I didn’t know I needed. He’s the answer to a prayer I didn’t have the wisdom or words to pray.  He is gentle, tender, loving, attentive, dedicated, intentional, focused, energetic, warm, sweet, courageous… He is a true gift from God–the answer to the prayer I didn’t have the words to pray. He is more than I could have ever hoped to have in my life as a loving partner, friend, and confidant. When we met, there was something different refreshing spectacular about him that set him above every other man I’ve ever come in contact with. No, it wasn’t love at first sight (if ever such a thing existed in the first place), but by the end of our first encounter I knew that something miraculous had transpired, and God confirmed it with each and every step in our relationship toward Him and toward one another. 

I Started Working

Many of you may have known that I had been actively believing God for full-time employment. Shortly after I met my love, life kicked into high gear. I have a job that has given me the opportunity to impact people daily with the power of God. It’s amazing how God allows us to carry Himself in us so that we can positively change the world. I have been practicing leaving deposits of Jesus in my workplace, and I am honored to be working again for God’s glory.

I Started Writing A Novel

I am blessed to be working on this novel. The story and characters are so dear to me. It’s a story many people have never told (I know I’ve never read it anywhere), so I cannot wait to complete this project and share it with the world.

I Lost a Family Member

My family lost someone very close to us. My uncle passed the week before Christmas. It was sudden and unexpected. It has broken our hearts, but even through this very tough time, I have seen the hand of God so meticulously and tenderly caring and holding us all together. If not for the love of God, we would be hopeless. Thank Jesus that it was His blood that made a place for my uncle in Heaven. He is waiting for us there. I miss him so… I will always miss him. But through this I have learned to love HARDER…more intentionally. Life is fleeting, but God and love are FOREVER.

———————————–

How great is my God that He would allow such incredibly beautiful gifts unfold in my life. When I didn’t see any of them coming, He so graciously had them preset and prearranged down to the very date that I would receive them. I know more than anything that my steps are ordered…and so are yours! If you are waiting for something big, know that God is still in the business of immeasurably more. He doesn’t want us to settle for the basics when He has gifts in His hands.

What to Expect on the Blog this Year

More posts! I was very quiet for the last half of 2013, but God has been blowing me away with many lessons. I have so much to say about:

* Singleness

* Dating & Relationships

* Sex

* Work 

* Jesus

* … AND MORE!

Bear with me as I try to find some stability in my schedule. I believe that there are many things God wants me to write about, so let’s hop into this new year and new season together!

It’s so good to be back!

With all my love,

Jei

Living in Immeasurably More — Quick Update

The Lord our God is ever faithful | Never changing through the ages | From this darkness, He will lead us | And forever we will say, “You’re the Lord our God!”

I’ve been singing the praises of God’s faithfulness all week long! I am at a complete loss for adequate words to express the goodness of God that I’ve experienced this past month. Every time I pause to reflect on it, I am overcome with emotion and extreme gratitude that God has so intentionally poured His love and grace on me. Quite honestly, I feel like words might somehow mar the glorious strokes of faithfulness God has so graciously painted on the canvas of my life.

Thirty days ago I began an intentional journey with God in which I would be seeking Him to do a seemingly impossible task. I went into it with no other expectation except for God to do immeasurably more.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21, ESV

Many of us are familiar with this text, but this is the passage on which I’ve set my anchor of faith for this year. Underneath this banner, I’ve placed a heavy demand on God to do more than I could ever ask or dare imagine to happen in and through my life. I have a very vivid imagination, so it’s sometimes hard to believe that God can outdo my dreams… Somehow I think I’d forgotten that I’m a dreamer because my Father is… God is the biggest dreamer of them all. And when I say that God has outdone me I mean He’s superseded my expectations in ways only the Creator of the universe can.

Photo Credit: stockimages, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: stockimages, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

You will command the highest praise | Yours is the name above all names | You stand alone | I stand amazed. Jesus, only Jesus.

My community and friends are aware that I originally took this sabbatical so that I could complete my first novel. I have, indeed, begun that great work but I did not meet my goal to finish it in 30 days. At the end of my 30 days, I realized that God had more — immeasurably more — in mind for this past month. As I reached day 30, I was riding in the car with my friend when she looked at me and said, “Jeida, you thought you would be writing your story in 30 days, but God said, ‘No, I’m going to be writing your story in 30 days.’” When she said that, I felt my heart leap in my chest and I realized that she couldn’t have been more accurate. God is changing me, changing my life, changing my circumstances… all for His glory.

This is brief check-in to simply say that God is FAITHFUL! He is so faithful. Right now I am on a journey into the depths of what God has presented to me…and it’s beautifully crafted for me. And He was dreaming of these things for me before I had the capacity to desire them. I’m not the same woman I was 30 days ago…and it’s because I allowed God to do immeasurably more in my life. And, do you know what? He’s only just begun!

Here’s to 30 more days!

After a While, Crocodile

Hello friends,

I am incredibly overwhelmed by the goodness and faithfulness of God that has been shaking everything in my life. For the last few months, God has been orchestrating new opportunities, refining my character, and breathing new life and inspiration into me. I have made many attempts to describe all that God is doing in my life, but for once words fail me. There aren’t enough of them to give the glory of his works proper description. He’s so good to me.

With that being said, I am going to take a hiatus from blogging for a while as I venture out to explore the avenues God has so graciously set before me. I am experiencing so many emotions: excitement, anticipation, happiness, and eager expectation of what my future holds. Every day God has been melting away any uncertainty, doubt, fear, and intimidation. He has prepared the  road ahead of me and I’m ready to embark on this beautiful journey of faith and trust.

I have so many wonderful things to blog about, dear friends, but I am taking some time to move forward on this adventure. When I return, I hope to have incredible stories and lessons to share with you all.

All I ask is that if over the next few weeks and months you should think of me or Destiny Collisions, please take ten seconds to pray for me. Pray that God will guide and direct me. I can be readily reached via email: Jeida[dot]Storey[at]gmail[dot]com. My heart and prayers are with you all.

With hugs and kisses,

Jei

photo (19)

Pouring Into the Pitcher

Lately I have been so grateful for the people in my life. There are friends who God brought into my world who are impacting me in ways I didn’t think were possible. There are even brand new people who He’s using to demonstrate His love to me in new dimensions. As I arrive home from church, I can’t help but praise God for today. I’m grateful for this very moment because right now I am fulfilled and loved and happier than I’ve ever been.

Two years ago I met a young woman in college through an organization I was president of at the time. I didn’t know then, but God knew that one day she would be one of the most pivotal people in my life who would encourage me to fully embrace myself and, in turn, embrace a new level of depth in Christ. That woman is named Ashley Breaux.

Ashley and me, 6/15/2013

Ashley and me, 6/15/2013

I have many wonderful friends and they all mean so much to me, but Ashley is a special lady who has been influential in my current season because God has allowed her past to bring healing to my life. Everyday I am amazed at how much she looks like Christ. She’s an inspiration to me and I’m proud to know her and call her my sister and friend. Here’s some inspiration she shared with me today. I pray it blesses you the way it blessed me.

Expectations are an agreement between you and God. [They represent] a trust in his sovereignty and him being for your good. And joy in disappointments is the same! When you make a commitment to live in the moment…you are allowing God to write your future and not worry about it. To live without expectations for yourself, others, and life in general is to live without faith.

Everyday I remind myself I am indebted to God for bringing my friends into my life. I have truly seen the face of God through my community of sisters. If you have a great band of friends and loved ones around you, celebrate them! Call them. Send them a text message. Let them know how much you love them and need them and appreciate them.

Ashley, this is my small way of letting you know I love you and I’m excited I get to be a part of your life…and that you’re a part of mine. As you’ve so eloquently said before, I finally get to pour into the pitcher that freely pours God’s love and grace into me.

Old Faithful

This past weekend was one of the most fulfilling weekends I’ve had in a very long time. They were full of wonderful friends, fantastic adventures, new people, warm conversation, and joyous hope for the future. Saturday morning I attended a beautiful baby shower for my dear friend Santana and her husband. After I left the shower, I was blushing with excitement. It was a beautiful afternoon with perfect, sunny weather. I wanted to be romanced, so I turned to the One who loves me most. I decided to see a movie and spend time driving around talking to Jesus. I ended up driving to a department store and meandered inside for a bit.

I’m a simple girl, but for some reason I found myself drawn to the jewelry section. This is usually unlike me. However, I began to glance at the rings and admire their shining magnificence. As my eyes scanned the selection, a certain beauty commanded my attention. I reached for it and read the inscription around the silver band. Believe. I slipped the ring onto my thumb and it was a perfect fit.

ring

Tears sprang to my eyes as I admired the ring on my finger. I felt the spirit of God amplifying lessons and examples of his faithfulness in my life over the course of the last two months. He has been steady, loving and correcting me unconditionally. As memories of his faithfulness swirled through my mind, I felt a strong impression that he wanted me to use this ring as a reminder. My life has been on a calculated ascent ever since I began to dare to believe all that God says about me and all that he says I am. That’s how salvation begins for us all, when we decide (as a response to God’s awakening, not our own doing) to believe he is true and good. Yet, I knew that this thing was to be a reminder for me everyday to consciously decide to believe God on a consistent basis.

  • I believe Jesus is enough for today

I am fully persuaded that all that I need in life is in and flows from my precious Jesus. There is no real fulfillment outside of having a personal relationship with a God who brought me from death to life. There is no room for discontent in my life because Jesus is the source of all of my satisfaction. Does this mean that we don’t need money, friends or family? No! This simply means that we should understand all we need–all things good–comes from him. Therefore, he is my Superior Pleasure above all other things. As long as Jesus is on the throne, we shall never face a day that isn’t full of hope in him.

  • I believe God is for my good

Every good thing comes from God and God does not withhold good things from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). Not only do I believe that God does good things, but that he wants good things for me more than I want them for myself! Consequently, I can rest and trust his timing, his placement, and even his delay because I know he will come through for me.

  • I believe I am loved and accepted

I am not a mistake. God decided (it was in his perfect, detailed plan!) to create a woman who looks like me, smiles like me, laughs like me, thinks like me, loves like me. I am a purposeful, hand-stitched creation that God yearned to see in the world so that I could bring him glory and impact people for his kingdom. I am accepted and loved by God. It doesn’t matter who else has beautiful hair, a nice smile, or even who can write better than me. This world has space and a need for my particular personality, my particular words, my particular influence. Be grateful for the person God made you to be because it doesn’t matter how many people you think look, work, learn, or perform better than you do… God has a sphere of people and lives that only you can touch. You are special. You are loved. You are important. You are needed. You make a difference.

Blinking back tears, I took the ring to the register and paid the cashier. I find myself staring at it often and remembering that I do believe God in all these areas of my life and more. It’s not always been easy, but it’s worthwhile to trust a God who cannot fail.

Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky. Psalm 85:10-11, ESV

I love how the people of God declare that love and faithfulness are friends and righteousness and peace are intimate. It’s a beautiful picture of the goodness of God and the wonderful life he offers us. When I read this passage, my heart swelled. This depiction of faithfulness flooding from the ground like a geyser and righteousness shining down from the heavens creates an image of the earth being an incubator of the goodness of God.

Photo Credit: Andreas Tille, Creative Commons

With such a beautiful, biblical description of God’s faithfulness erupting from the ground, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the infamous geyser in Yellowstone Park is named Old Faithful. Nature in all its magnificence only scratches at the surface of the awe-inspiring glory of God.  Everywhere our feet trod is covered in faithfulness; everywhere the sun beams light and heat radiates in righteousness. What a picturesque truth! The faithfulness of God is inescapable. It’s who he is and it’s all around us.

Single and Satisfied through Community

I am fully persuaded that being in a healthy, thriving, God-centric community will change your life. Really. I have witnessed the greatest expressions of God’s love, majesty, grace, healing and power through my small group. At the beginning of this year, God placed it on my heart and the hearts of a few other ladies to dig deeper into His word and into community. I remember a conversation I had with my friend, Kristi, about how desperately I needed a community of sisters who wanted more of Jesus. So we went to God and by his grace we began to meet with some ladies who shared our desire for more. We came with no plans, goals, or expectations except that we would facilitate a place every week for us to encounter God. People have asked us what we do on Wednesday nights to which I simply retort, “We open the Bible and see what happens.”

Today I am especially filled with unspeakable joy after this past Wednesday’s study session. We’ve just recently begun reading and discussing Captivating by John & Stasi Eldredge. Anyone who knows me (or follows me on Twitter) is aware that I am a huge supporter of Captivating because God used it to begin healing my heart. Naturally, this seemed like a great study for our group because I believe God wants to heal the broken hearts of the women in His Church (Click to Tweet!). Wednesday afternoon I asked God to do something new and fresh, to melt our hard hearts until we’re ready to be vulnerable and open to our desires, our dreams, and our wounds (so they can be healed). Simply, I wanted God to come. He always does, but I wanted something special.

There was something new in the air. I could feel it almost as soon as we sat down. Ironically, all of my notes for the discussion were wiped away from my phone seconds before we began. Clearly, God wanted to come in to the meeting and have more control than I did. The spirit was so sweet. Everyone was happy, hopeful, excited. Even those who began to share difficult and tough situations began to experience a shift from doubt to faith–the change was visible on their faces! There was a moment when I asked everyone what their favorite movies and stories were when they were younger. Every single countenance began to glow as we welcomed the rush of nostalgia.

“Sleeping Beauty!”

“The Lion King!”

“Cinderella…the one with Brandy and Whitney Houston!”

Suddenly everyone burst into song and infectious laughter. Someone shouted through laughter and shining eyes, “Oh! My heart is racing right now! I feel good!” In that moment, we were all little girls again in the presence of our God… in a place where nothing and no one could harm us. Not even the memory of pain was able to penetrate that circle of love.

By the end of the night, we were all so full of life and hope. The energy in the room was intoxicating. We had abandoned our agenda over an hour ago and were fixated on Jesus and the perfect love He gives that we sometimes reject. We often feel unworthy, undeserving, or that it’s too good to be true. But as I looked around at all these women, I was experiencing God’s love.

As we prayed to close the night, we were shouting and celebrating each prayer that was lifted up to God. We were celebrating being women. His women. His daughters. Together. Black women. White women. Filipino women. So different. All broken, but wanting Jesus.

One woman prayed, “In this moment, we are all fulfilled. May we always keep this moment of wholeness in Christ and community.”

She was right. And as she prayed that, the audible sighs that escaped from everyone’s mouth was confirmation. We were fulfilled. We weren’t thinking about the men we didn’t have or the weight we haven’t lost or the job we didn’t get. We were whole. Complete. Radiant. Captivating.

God’s gentle, loving spirit led us into a new place of hope that I don’t know many of us have experienced before. I know I haven’t. There was something so sweet about what happened there that night. We allowed God to love on us and He did it so well. I woke up Thursday morning feeling drunk on love. I’m loved. I’m accepted. I’m pursued. And in a circle full of ladies, I was completely fulfilled. (Click to Tweet!Giggling, blushing, singing, hugging and fulfilled.

If you ever doubted that godly female friends could enrich your life, let the story of my community change your mind. I have seen the face of God through the women in my small group. Don’t think that it’s impossible to reach fulfillment in relationships until you get married. That’s simply not the truth. (Click to Tweet!) My heart is expanding, my prayer life is increasing, my life is receiving deposits of Jesus with every word my friends speak into my life. We look forward to Wednesdays because we know we’ll leave feeling better than when we arrived, and we know Jesus will be there. I’m fully persuaded that God, too, looks forward to Wednesdays because there is always a place where He is welcome in our homes and in our hearts.

My friend noted, “Who would have thought, as women, to feel that fulfillment did not require a single man in the room!” (Click to Tweet!)

It’s an incredible thought. I have never been more fulfilled in my life. A younger me would never believe that the experiences I’ve had could be enjoyed without a man on my arm. But, as the Cinderella song that my girls and I love to sing says:

Impossible things are happening every day.

When I think of God’s love overflowing, I think of Him pouring wine into a glass until the red liquid runs on the table, the carpet, everywhere. When we reject His love, it’s like we’re trying to mop up the wine with Bounty napkins. Why do we do this? God is telling us, “Drink it! Take it all! It’s for you!” In our hearts, we can’t comprehend why anyone would pour wine into a full glass, but His love can’t be contained! But we steadily try to mop up the ‘mess of love’ because it’s too much, it doesn’t make sense. All He wants is for us to drink and let Him love us. Don’t wipe away the offer, drink it in!

– from the heart of Ashley Breaux, 6/19/2013

Who Do You Say Jesus Is?

I love the Lord. He is so vast that He can die for the sins of the world once and for all, yet He’s so personal that He can speak directly to our hearts and spirits every day. I love that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all and the Giver of Life and the King of the universe, but nothing makes my heart swell more than when I consider that I personally know Him. There isn’t a day that goes by where He is unattainable, inaccessible, or unreachable. God is near to us! And He has the uncanny ability to become whatever we need Him to be for us. The Apostle Paul said that he becomes all things to all men (I Corinthians 9:22), and I believe he learned that from Jesus. Throughout my life, Jesus has become many things for me, and each facet of His Person has had an astronomical influence on my life.

Friend

Photo Credit: Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every teenage girl experiences the overwhelming desire to be loved and accepted by her peers. I remember feeling the pressure of being liked. I never had a hard time making friends, but it seemed that my circle of friends was constantly shifting and changing. I didn’t know why the people around me faded out of my life. All I wanted was certainty and to establish a secure friend. I met that Friend when Jesus walked into my life. I talked to Him about any and everything. He was the only Person I felt would never tire of me. Jesus wasn’t annoyed by me, no matter what time of day I called on Him. Although there were others around me, Jesus was my only consistent friend. From there, our relationship grew.

Lover

A woman becomes beautiful when she knows she is loved…Cut off from love, rejected, no one pursuing her, something in a woman wilts like a flower no one waters anymore. She withers into resignation, duty, and shame. The radiance of her countenance goes out, as if a light has been turned off. But this same woman, whom everyone thought was rather plain and unengaging, becomes lovely and inviting when she is pursued. Her heart comes alive, come to the surface, and her countenance becomes radiant… This doesn’t need to wait for a man. God longs to bring this into your life himself.
from “Captivating” by John & Stasi Eldredge
ID-10047309

Photo Credit: Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Jesus and I grew from companions to lovers. We crossed that line of camaraderie, and I began to pour myself out to Him in new ways. The things He whispered to me became more intimate, more piercing, more intense. He wooed my heart in ways that caused my pulse to both quicken and stand still. He formed me and knows exactly what words to say that will release tears of love and gratitude. Jesus is more than our Savior; He is the God who stooped down and looked at the adulterous woman in her eyes and loved her. He is the God who took the longer route to his destination in order to have a life-changing encounter with the woman at the well. People write songs and poetry about being in love with Jesus, but I had never been that infatuated with Jesus. It wasn’t until I knew Him intimately that my appreciation for Him grew to incomprehensible love. After years of wondering if it was actually possible, I fell in love with God.

Warrior

Photo Credit: "Without Fear" Jennifer Ellison, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo Credit: “Without Fear” Jennifer Ellison, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every woman longs to be the princess who is rescued from a mighty man of war who has come to win her freedom and win her hand in marriage. This man has successfully leapt over walls of fire, swum across tempestuous seas, swung on thorny vines across bottomless pits…all to save a beautiful woman who is bound by an oppressor. We fantasize about our knight in shining armor galloping on his robust steed over the horizon just as the sun is beginning to set. There he is! We long for this man to come for us so we can get away from this place we are in and be with him. As long as I’ve known Jesus, I readily identify Him as friend and lover, but I have not seen him as a warrior. Until now. My eyes have been opened through recent discoveries and now I see that He eagerly fights for me. I am wide awake to the fact that my enemy is bloodthirsty for me, but God is my Warrior and my hiding place. He hides me in the shadow of his wing and He will annihilate my enemy. God is a mighty Warrior eager to protect me from intruders and unwanted assailants. Since I have seen Him this way, my perspective of the Lord has grown. Suddenly, my confidence in Him has grown exponentially. He is mighty. He is fierce. He is able to ward off my enemies. Mostly, He believes I am worth being rescued.

The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name. Exodus 15:3, NIV
But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten. Jeremiah 20:11, NIV
The LORD will march out like a champion, like a warrior he will stir up his zeal; with a shout he will raise the battle cry and will triumph over his enemies. Isaiah 42:13, NIV
The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17, NIV


Join the discussion! Who has Jesus revealed Himself to be in your life? Leave a comment!

“But what about you?” Jesus asked. “Who do you say I am?” (Mark 8:29)

Prayer: The Escape from Temptation

Last week was one of the most confronting weeks I have experienced with God in a long time. It was a time of consecration, isolation, and true adoration (pardon my rhyming) of the One who formed life from dust. Prayer was my focus, which was great for me since my prayer life needed refreshing. I have been thinking about our greatest deterrents to prayer and the difficulties we face when approaching prayer. One particular idea stood out to me. I believe one of the most difficult times to pray is when we are battling temptation. (Click to tweet!)

When I was younger I had a dream that I have never been able to forget. In the dream it is dark, so void of light that I can feel the darkness threatening to suffocate me. Suddenly I see a tiny glimmer of light in the far distance. Naturally, I am drawn to the Light and I began to walk toward it. As I mesmerized by this Light, it begins to grow bigger and shine brighter until it is blazing in the horizon. As the light grows, I notice people on either side of this path who represented temptation. They were people who I wanted to associate myself with who were doing things that I wanted to do. They represented all the things that appealed to my flesh. As I walked past them, many of them tried to coerce me to indulge with them, but I was determined to get to the Light. It wasn’t until I reached a certain temptation that I didn’t want to resist that I turned away from the Light. I gave the temptation my undivided attention and indulged in sin. After I sinned, I turned frantically about in search of the Light…but it had vanished.

Jesus handled temptation much differently from the way we usually do. (Click to tweet!) Let’s study how He wrestled with temptation.

And Jesus came out and went, as was his custom, to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed him. And when he came to the place, he said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.And when he rose from prayer, he came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow, and he said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Rise and pray that you may not enter into temptation.”

Luke 22:39-45, ESV

Jesus knew His purpose

In the text, we know that Jesus is preparing to die. He knows that His time has come and He knows what lies waiting for Him at Calvary. He also knows that He exists for one purpose, which is to reconcile God and man once and for all. Before Jesus goes into this battle, He has it in the forefront of His mind that He is not there for Himself. He is not there to gratify Himself. He is not there to do His own will because He has a higher will to accomplish.

Jesus negotiated with God

 Jesus knew that before the world began that He would lay down His life for the souls of man. After the plan was set, the environment perfect, Jesus has finally reached the moment in history where He faces the precipice of His sacrifice. Now He has a choice to make: Am I really going to go through with this? Is there any other way?  Jesus’ prayer is saying, “I know this is the day we’ve been planning for, but is there a Plan B? Is there another trick You want to pull out of Your hat, Father?” His flesh was kicking and screaming out, “If there is any other way for me, then I want to do it! If there is any other way for me not to do what God is calling me to do, then I will.” (Click to tweet!)

Jesus’ humility provided strength

But Jesus remembers that His life’s purpose is to be for God and not for Himself. Jesus then prays, “Not my will, but Yours be done.” He sets aside His personal agenda and submits Himself to God. Then something incredible happens. An angel comes to strengthen Jesus. It wasn’t until after Jesus submitted His own will to God’s will that He received angelic strength. He was vulnerable with God and admitted the weakness of His flesh. When Jesus submitted His will He was in the perfect posture to receive grace and strength to withstand temptation. (Click to tweet!)

Jesus prayed more earnestly

After the angel poured strength into Him, one might assume that the struggle was over. Not so, for the Bible says that Jesus was in agony. Then, He began to pray more earnestly. This is not our usual response to temptation. When the temptation intensifies we tend to collapse from the pressure and tell God, “Nope, I can’t do it. Lord, forgive me in advance.” (Click to tweet!)

Many of us shy away from praying about the things that tempt us because we are ashamed of them. Our greatest temptations are alluring to our flesh and, if gratified, reveals a portion of our brokenness. Our temptations show us what we want, crave, feel entitled to–it is something we might go to extreme lengths to get. It is the guilt of that rush we feel in the middle of temptation that causes us to hang our head in shame and avoid prayer. The adrenaline we experience from the mere tempting thought makes us feel that we have already failed God, so we may as well trudge on into sin. Temptation is not a sin. When we are offered a sinful thought, desire, or opportunity, we can reject it. It is only after the acceptance of that temptation that it becomes sin. This simple truth can free us to boldly approach the throne of grace in the heat of temptation.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. James 1:14-15, ESV

James tells us that temptations lure us away (remember the dream I had), and desire conceives sin. Yet, we know that the temptation itself is not sin, but when it conceives it becomes sin to us. How, then, do we stop the conception of sin?

Stay tuned for the answer in Part II of Prayer: The Escape from Temptation.

Join the discussion! What are your thoughts on this topic? What are other reasons why we don’t pray when we’re tempted?

———————————————-

We’re new to the Facebook neighborhood! ‘Like’ Destiny Collisions now!

The Prayer I Almost Regretted

It was at a point of brokenness, heartbreak, and frustration with myself and painful situations that I prayed the scariest prayer to ever leave my lips.

Lord, if he isn’t the man I will marry, then don’t bring him into my life.

Sounds harmless, right? Wrong. I wasn’t mindful that I serve a jealous God who loves me more than my mind can comprehend. I wasn’t thinking about God as my Father who would do absolutely anything to protect my heart from intruders and invaders. I believe He was eager to answer this prayer because in about two years not a single man has tried to win my heart.

1080946_24278190

Photo Credit: Glenda Ortero (glendali), royalty-free

I didn’t know that the answer to the prayer would mean:

- lonely weekends void of dates (Scandal re-runs and Words with Friends, anyone?)

- battling insecurities and self-doubting thoughts of inadequacy (Am I good enough?)

- nearly no male companionship (Hey, boys, remember me?)

- struggling with jealousy (I want to be happy for her, but when will I get my chance?)

I don’t think I realized what I was asking for when I made such a serious request. As time had gone by (and still no one on my doorstep with flowers), I had progressively retracted my trust in God and foolishly whined and complained to Him. How silly am I! Who would point their finger at God and complain about the very thing they prayed for?

How dare you answer my prayer, God? You knew I didn’t mean it.

The amazing faithfulness of God blows my mind because He answered a prayer that hurt my pride and heightened my weaknesses, but He’s doing it for my good. Had I not had these moments of solitude, I would never be in the place of learning and valuing dependence on Him. I am remembering and embracing the fact that I need to be single.  It’s in my total singleness that God is perfecting me, shaping me, refining me, and making me whole. Is it for a husband? No. It’s for Him! And if a lifelong partner happens for me in the future, then he will get the benefit of all God is working in me right this moment.

So, the bitterness, jealousy and insecurities are vanishing into thin air by the grace of God. My grievances have been turned into thanksgiving. I am thankful that God was eager to answer my heart’s prayer (this process is torture to my flesh, but my heart is ever grateful) because He knows what it cannot handle. I am thankful that even when my heart ached from loneliness, I was protected from heart aches from unhealthy relationships. I am thankful that when no one is calling my phone or asking me out, I have a God who longs to spend every waking moment with me. He is diligent and steadfast in His love. All the love I need to be whole flows from Him.

It was the scariest request I have ever prayed, but  now I am bursting with joy and hope. I am loved. I am never forgotten. I am protected. I am kept.  I have a God who goes to war for my heart with more strength and intentionality than a girl could hope for in ten thousand warriors. And He is holding my life and my future in His hands.

Leave a comment & join the discussion! What is the scariest thing you have asked God? Was the answer what you expected?