Set That Woman Free

The Sinful Woman

Coming Undone at the Feet of Jesus

Read Luke 7:36-50.

As I think back to this time about a year ago, I see a lot of heartache, a lot of pain, and a lot of confusion.

I see darkness.

I see hopelessness.

Like the woman in Luke 7:36-50, I found myself in a place of solitude and isolation; seemingly having no way of escape.

Granted, my entrapment was not due to the same sin as this nameless woman, but it was caused by sin nonetheless.

It was caused by worry, self-fulfillment, vain striving, and a forgetfulness of who God was in my life.

I sat sulking instead of still.

I worried rather than worshiped.

I strove for satisfaction rather than sanctification.

I was, and most certainly still am, a sinful woman.

However, when I think back on that time, another memory stands out in my mind as well; one filled with hopeful tears and joyful anticipation.

It was a Sunday afternoon and God suddenly became real to me.

The vitality of His presence shook me to my core.

I fell at His feet, completely undone by the love and goodness He so readily demonstrated to me that Sunday afternoon.

This passage – often read, considered, maybe studied from time to time, but in the end always skimmed over, is one that I believe offers a lot of insight for the lives of women.

The example set by this woman trapped in a sinful lifestyle but undone by the love of her Father is one that should not be quickly overlooked.

Consider a sin that you have been stuck in for a long time.

Think about the times that you’ve tried to step away, successful for a period of time but never failing to fall back into its defeating rhythm.

It’s hard.

Now consider this sinful woman.

She was trapped in the sin of prostitution. That is all we know. We don’t know how or why she found her way into this lifestyle.

Perhaps she was forced.

Perhaps it was out of fear that she’d be left alone.

Perhaps this was her livelihood; her only means of survival.

We simply do not know.

All we know is that she was a sinful woman who was not welcome.

Do you feel unwelcomed because of your sin?

Do you feel as if your sin is painted on your forehead for everyone to see?

Perhaps this is a sin that you can’t even pinpoint the beginning of – it’s just always been a part of your life.

Perhaps there are emotional motivators behind this sin; motivators like fear, anxiety, or depression.

Perhaps this sin is your way of survival; the only way to protect yourself.

I don’t know, but believe me when I say – God knows.

He knows the depths of your sin just like He knew the depths of the sin this woman had committed.

Yet He loved her all the same.

In fact, He, being the only one who truly knew what she had done, loved her deeperharder, and longer than anyone ever had.

And that was enough!

That was enough to completely undo this woman, and it is enough to completely undo you as well.

That same God who loved this sinful woman loves you in all of your sin.

Let that settle for a moment.

It wasn’t until this woman realized the magnitude of God’s love for her that she fell – broken, emptied, defeated, and undone at the feet of Jesus.

Those exact qualities; those qualities of being poor in spirit are beautiful examples of a woman desperate for her King.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  – Matthew 5:3

To be completely undone by the greatness of Jesus Christ is a quality that escapes most of us. We are constantly striving to have it all together; to play it cool and be steady under pressure.

This woman was experiencing tremendous pressure under the weight of her sin, yet day in and day out she maintained.

Are you maintaining right now?

Are you fighting with every ounce of your being to play it cool under the weight of your sin?

Take this sinful woman’s example – fall at the feet of Jesus, undone by the love and acceptance He longs to give you.

When you find yourself face down at the feet of Jesus – broken, emptied, defeated, and completely undone by all that He is, the very essence of God will rush in like a crashing wave and fill every void space with a sweet sense of abandon; a vivacity that can cause a prostitute to fall before a man and wash his feet with her tears, hair, and expensive oils.

I experienced this kind of undoing that Sunday afternoon a year ago.

I had been striving so hard to be everything I could; to adjust to my new life out of college with grace and independence and work hard while remaining humble.

But the loneliness and depression hindered my ability to experience the overwhelming peace and assurance of Jesus Christ, so I maintained.

I woke up every morning under the weight of my worry, anxiety, and self-sufficiency with little to no change that very same night as I crawled back into bed.

The moment I realized it though; the moment that the goodness of God Almighty became real to me was the moment I was completely undone by His love and acceptance.

It was a moment of absolute abandon; of worshiping God through tears of surrender.

Sister – come undone.

It’s okay!

It’s okay to not be okay.

Cry, take a load off, and fall at His feet.

Your tears are prayer too – Romans 8:26 – so go ahead and cry.

Sometimes it’s our tears that bless and glorify Christ the most.

There is no power, no height, nor depth, nor anything in all of creation that can separate you from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39) so you have nothing to fear; nothing to lose.

You are held secure in His loving and gentle hands.

He already knows, so empty yourself and allow Jesus to gently take your face in His hands and say – “Your faith my daughter, has saved you. Now go in peace” (Luke 7:50).

Come undone today and watch as Jesus takes your brokenness and builds from those pieces a woman who has been set free!

A Prayer for the Expectant Heart

Thank you God for not placing expectations on me.

Thank you for dying on the cross so that I would no longer have to live under the law of this world, but rather under the law of grace.

Thank you for allowing me a life where I can live in full expectancy of seeing new mercies every morning.

Open my eyes to the expectations that I place on others that surpass reason; where the ideal exceeds reality.

Show me how I am placing unreasonable and selfish expectations on my loved ones to satisfy any void that only you can fill.

When I seek affirmation, remind me that it is only you O’ God that upholds and affirms me.

  • My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8).
  • Though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds the righteous (Psalm 37:17).
  • In my integrity you uphold me and set me in your presence forever (Psalm 41:12).
  • The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down (Psalm 145:14).

When I seek happiness, remind me that it is the joy of your name that strengthens me.

  • Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength (Nehemiah 8:10).
  • The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song (Psalm 28:7).
  • When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul (Psalm 94:19).
  • Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls (1 Peter 1:8-9).
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as your trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).

When I seek approval, remind me that it is only for you that I live, that you O’ God may be praised and I unnoticed.

  • For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
  • For in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28).

When I seek fulfillment, remind me that you are the God who fills all things in every way.

  • …the fullness of him who fills everything in every way (Ephesians 1:23).
  • I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:17-19).
  • It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
  • For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority (Colossians 2:9-10).

Bless me with unmeasurable grace towards others, that I might not place unrealistic expectations on them, but extend the same love and grace that you have shown me.

May my contentment come entirely from your promises and truths, O’ God.

Help me recognize the plank in my own eye before addressing the speck in another’s eye (Matthew 7:3).

Give me grace to live in expectancy rather than expectation; to respond to others in love rather than place responsibility on them, that we may not be taken captive by hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human traditions and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Colossians 2:8).

May I be a vessel of love and grace rather than expectations and responsibilities.

May it be so – Amen.

What Is Your Name?

I was given a gift when I was younger.

This gift was a framed document with my name spelled out in beautiful cursive letters at the very top. Immediately below that was an explanation of what my name meant.

The English meaning of my name is Follower of Christ, or in its original Greek, The Anointed.

I’ve always loved my name for this very reason.

The intent, or the purpose of my name has made it precious to me; a name I can strive to live up to.

We find many moments in Scripture where God changes a name. Consider Abram (Genesis 17:5), Sarai (Genesis 17:15-16), and Jacob (Genesis 32:28). Even consider Peter (Matthew 16:18), to whom Christ assigned several names.

Genesis 17:5 – No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.

A father of many nations…

Abram means the high father. Yet in light of God’s plan for his nation Israel, He changed Abram’s name from the high father to a father of many nations in order to align with his God given purpose.

Genesis 17:15-16 – God also said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you are no longer to call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah. I will bless her and will surely give you a son by her. I will bless her so that she will be the mother of nations; kings of people will come from her.”

The mother of nations…

Sarai means my lady or my princess. Yet we find once again that in light of God’s will, He changed Sarai’s name from my princess to the mother of nations to match her God given purpose.

Generations later we can look back and see how these name changes aligned perfectly with the plan God had already set in motion.

Abraham really was the father of many nations and his wife Sarah really was the mother of nations; bearing kings of many peoples.

So my name might have a meaning that I hold dear, but when it really comes down to it, Kristin is just the name my parents gave me.

I have a different name.

I have a God given name of which will align with my God given purpose.

You have a different name than what you go by here on earth.

You have a God ordained name to match your God ordained purpose.

Now it is up to us to live, breath, and respond in a way that will allow God to shape our hearts in order that they might align with His holy and perfect will.

Perhaps you don’t feel worthy though.

Perhaps the idea of actually having a God ordained name is a scary thought.

It was for me for quite some time.

To think that God would or could actually use me in any context to further His Kingdom was rather intimidating – but only because I was looking within myself.

An awareness of our shortcomings is healthy to some extent. A heightened awareness of where we fall short has the potential to reveal the magnificence of Christ’s sufficiency.

It also has the potential to make us self-focused and self-absorbed.

Consider Peter.

He was blinded to the eternal glory and divine purpose for which Christ was sent to earth due to his self-obsession.

We find Jesus prophesying his death in Matthew 16:21-28 and like most of us would, Peter immediately denies what was soon to come.

Jesus rebukes him, renouncing him by saying, “get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men” (vs. 23).

Peter was self-absorbed; focused only on what he could see and not on who Jesus was.

Later on in the book of Matthew we read how Peter denied Christ three times (Matthew 26:69-75); focusing only on himself and his own well-being.

Believe it or not, we do these exact same things every day.

Sure, they may not be in the same manner or context as Peter, but we do them nonetheless; having in mind only the things of men rather than the things of God.

We discourage a friend who feels led by God to do something that seems radical in the eyes of man.

We indulge in behaviors and humor that mock the name of Christ.

We deny being changed by the Holy Spirit in the way that we speak and act.

We contradict the driving love of Christ in our apathy.

We, along with Peter, are sinful and unworthy of any calling as great as the one God has given us.

That’s the beautiful thing about grace though, isn’t it? It’s not about the one who receives, but rather about the One who gives.

God’s grace; God’s purpose for your life hinges not on what you do, but rather on what He has done.

Peter messed up big time, yet God still gave him a new name; a name that would have eternal impact.

Matthew 16:18 – And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church…

Peter was the rock on which Christ built His church.

That’s quite the divine purpose.

God used the man who denied him (Matthew 26:69-75), doubted him (Matthew 14:29), was a hindrance to him (Matthew 16:23), and the man of little faith (Matthew 14:29) and made him the foundation on which He built His Kingdom; His very nation.

So don’t you think for a second that God doesn’t have a new name for you.

What you’ve done is not your name.

What He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do through you is your God given name; your God ordained purpose, for it is only in relation to Jesus Christ that our name has any purpose here on earth and in Heaven above.

The Road to Emmaus

Sometimes I really miss the old flip phones.

They were so much simpler than the iPhone; offering a lot less distraction and time wasted sifting through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

My favorite part about the flip phone though is that whenever I was frustrated at the end of a call, I could dramatically slam my phone shut.

Seriously, I know I’m not the only one who found that incredibly satisfying.

Furiously pushing a button on a touchscreen just isn’t the same.

This is how I felt that day after getting her voicemail for the third time in a row. I had a few spare moments in my day and desperately needed to talk to my friend and get her advice on something that had be plaguing my thoughts all day long.

I just needed to talk.

I needed to vent.

I needed wise counsel, guidance, and a listening ear.

Yet all I got was her voicemail…over and over again.

I wonder if this is how the two disciples in Luke 24:13-35 felt.

The events of recent days past must have been plaguing their thoughts, dreams, and memories. They had just seen their Teacher, their Master, their Lord, and their friend murdered.

Beaten before their very eyes.

Hung from the cross like a criminal they knew he wasn’t.

Helplessly standing by.

Afraid.

Unsure of what the next couple of days, weeks, months, or years held for them in this disrupted, corrupt, and divided land.

Can you imagine the amount of grief, confusion, questioning, and venting they needed to get off of their chests?

Thus we find them; these two disciples of Jesus walking down the road to Emmaus.

Verse 14 describes them as being deep in conversation with each other; discussing all that had happened.

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him (Luke 24:15-16).

I think it’s easy for us to read this passage and think to ourselves, “well gosh, how did they not even recognize Jesus? How, if they had spent so much time with him, did they not know his face?”

How, if we have Jesus living and breathing in and through us, do we not recognize His voice?

Consider that.

Consider how many times we, with all good intentions, seek the godly wisdom of others before Wisdom itself?

I will be the first to admit that I do this all the time.

In fact, I did this just the other day.

With confusion and uncertainty looming in front of me, rather than going straight to the only One who could offer any kind of consultation or understanding, I desperately grasped for the advice of others.

Now don’t get me wrong – God puts amazing, wonderful, and very wise people in our lives for this very purpose – to receive wise counsel.

He even instructs us on the importance of seeking this wise counsel on many different occasions (Proverbs 12:15, 11:14, 19:20-21, 15:22) (2 Timothy 3:16).

So I am not saying that seeking the advice, guidance, and wisdom of others is not important.

It is very important, but even the most important things can be misprioritized.

We live in a day and age where constant input is the norm. We are persistently feeding our minds with discussion, news feeds, music, podcasts, information, and the opinions of others that we are often kept from recognizing the voice of Jesus.

Like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, even though the input they sought from each other as trusted friends was good, it was noise nonetheless.

It’s not just that the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus, they were actually kept from recognizing him; meaning there was something actually hindering their ability to hear the voice of their Teacher.

We often get so distracted and so hung up on getting the advice of others; on hearing their opinion and what they would do in our certain set of circumstances that we end up preventing ourselves from hearing the still, small voice of Jesus.

We end up filling our hearts and minds with others’ interpretation of who God is rather than seeking to know God for ourselves.

When we constantly subject ourselves to these outside sources, two things happen:

  1. Our minds become numb; and
  2. We override our ability to be still.

We lose the ability to really listen to what we are taking in and truly digest it and understand it. The voice of God can so easily slip into the background; into the mix of input that we are constantly feeding our minds that we either mistake other voices for that of God’s or miss God’s voice altogether.

We become numb to the awesome and very distinguishable power of His voice while we quickly lose our ability to quiet our thoughts long enough to hear Him.

It wasn’t until these disciples were in communion with Christ; until the bread was broken and the wine passed around, that their eyes were opened (Luke 24:30-31).

This isn’t to say that we necessarily need to partake in eating the bread and drinking the wine to hear God’s voice – though that is a sure way to cleanse the heart and soul.

This is more to say that we need to seek communion with Christ; intimacy, relationship, and time of one-on-one union with Him to train our thoughts to dwell on His still, small voice.

Daily intimacy with Jesus Christ, seeking His guidance and His direction above and before all else, is the first and only true way to cultivate a spirit after God’s own heart.

Bridging the Gap

I remember watching this video for the first time. I had to have been a freshman or sophomore in high school and I remember one line in particular really stood out to me. It didn’t stick in my memory because I related to it, but rather because I couldn’t relate to it.

You are never too much, and you are always enough.

Too much? Enough?

Up until then I had never felt as if I were too much and had for the most part always felt like I had a lot to offer.

However, several years later, one too many heartaches and a few too many tears brought with them an awareness; a painful awareness of my own seemingly problematic complexity.

One too many minutes of looking in the mirror, a few too many numbers on the scale under my feet, and several crushing rejections told me I had plenty of room for improvement to be considered enough.

I finally understood that line as the lies seeped into the depths of my psyche.

                I am too much to handle.

                I am not enough.

Somehow you can feel both of these lies at the same time even though they are opposite of each other, but that’s how the devil crafts his deceits – to defy logic and resonate in our hearts rather than our minds because the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? (Jeremiah 17:9).

What’s the first thing we say when given encouragement or advice as we’re faced with trying times?

“I know, I know…” (eye roll included)

We know the truth.

I knew I was cherished by God. I knew my beauty was found in His Spirit rather than my outward appearance. I knew because of Him I had worth. I knew He understood the depths of my complexity and loved me all the same.

This was logic.

This was head knowledge.

We find these truths in the Bible and repeat them to ourselves over and over again hoping that they will eventually find their way to our hearts.

However, rather than embedding themselves deeper and deeper into our hearts and minds, the repetition serves as a numbing agent, causing us to lose touch of the freedom these truths offer.

The 12″ gap between the mind and heart is overwhelmingly immense, but we try nonetheless to bridge the gap and always end up with an abundance of knowledge and a waning spirit.

I wish I could say that there is a point where our hearts might fully believe the truths we pound into our minds, but unfortunately that won’t happen this side of heaven.

For now, we only know in part…(1 Corinthians 13:12).

We don’t know the fullness of these truths because we are still human beings; our hearts are still deceitful and will always lead us astray.

We only know the freedom these truths offer in a limited sense; restricted by our finite minds. There is a day though where we will be able to inhale the fullness of God in entirety and feel our hearts pulse with living, breathing truth.

One day.

Until then, rather than dwelling on all that we are not, we should focus in on all that God is and all that eternity has to offer us.

Our identity; our worth does not lie within our own ‘enough-ness.’

Our worth lies just beyond our reach.

Our worth lies at the edge of the parted waters (Exodus 14:21-22).

Under the looming walls of Jericho (Joshua 6:15-20).

In the shadow of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:45-50).

At the doorsteps of Nineveh (Jonah 1-4).

At the foot of the bloodied cross.

Our worth lies where our own ability ends.

Our worth lies where Jesus Christ begins.

I can’t tell you anything more than you already know my friend.

You know the truth.

God’s love for you is more beautiful, more powerful, and more satisfying than anything this world has to offer.

So when you’re feeling as if you are too much and want to hold back, don’t.

When you are overwhelmed by your own failure and inability, look up.

Go ahead.

Allow the power of Jesus Christ to bridge the gap.

“Dare to be a little more of your honest to goodness, daring, real, raw, messy, imperfect, complete, and wholly loved by God self.” –Anonymous

 

This We Know

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11).

How often do we say this and actually believe it, or act on it for that matter?

We like to think that our hearts are content in all circumstances, but when push comes to shove, we find ourselves striving harder and harder towards fantasies of satisfaction.

Why is this?

Why is being content so hard?

Why does even the mention of that word cause a collective sigh of frustration?

I remember in late High School or early college working my regular night shift at Perkins Bakery. I was in the back baking up some pies while listening to the radio like usual when the song Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave came on.

I had heard this tune before so I didn’t really pay much attention to it until the lyrics began to pull me out of my distracted thoughts.

 

I hear the sound of Your Voice

All at once it’s a gentle and thundering noise, oh God

All that You are is so overwhelming

 

I delight myself in You

Captivated by Your beauty

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

 

God I run into Your arms

Unashamed because of mercy

I’m overwhelmed, I’m overwhelmed by You

 

It hit me. It was more than just head knowledge this time, it was a true, deep-rooted belief in my heart – I. Am. Content.

I was content right then and there, in the Perkins Bakery covered with flour. I was content and fulfilled with all that Jesus was in my life.

I was content with simply knowing Him and seeing a future with only Him in it.

Contentment is hard though. One minute it’s there and you’re happy with life – where you’re at, who you’re with, and where you’re headed.

Then out of nowhere something changes and suddenly what you were aiming for and patiently (or anxiously) waiting for is gone; replaced by something different and often times not what you were hoping for.

Contentment is pretty hard to maintain, but perhaps that’s because it is dependent upon things that are ever-changing.

In order to be content in all circumstances we need to find our contentment in the One who is consistent in all circumstances.

A couple of weeks after this ‘ah-ha’ moment, a friend of mine started dating this guy she had been talking to for a while. It was cute and all, but gosh – I wanted that too!

And wouldn’t you know it, my contentment somehow shifted from the all-sufficient God to an ‘ideal love story’ I was certain was just around the corner.

*insert exasperated sigh*

I told God that I was content in Him, but not in Him alone. Sure, I could be content with God for now, but eventually the thing that I really wanted would come and only then would I be fully, completely satisfied.

Jesus was enough…but only for now.

It wasn’t until about a week ago though that I realized my misinterpretation of what it means to be content.

Often when we ask God to make us content, we think in terms of what we want. We have this mirage of happiness – marriage, children, white-picket-fence lifestyle, a career, or wealth – whatever it may be, we have it dangling in front of us as we run around in circles trying to attain this idea of happiness.

We say, “God, please make me content in waiting for this or for that. Make me content and patient to wait on You.”

But what are we really saying?

Our contentment is based on that idea – that ‘ideal, perfect life’ that we have pictured for our future, and yet we wonder why our sense of contentment falters in the face of change…

We are asking God to make us content on our terms, and according to Paul, that’s just not how it works my friend.

…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength (Philippians 4:11-13).

Contentment is not found in waiting for what we hope will be.

Contentment comes when we find fulfillment in what we know to be true today; right here, right now. Today.

So we ask ourselves, “What am I absolutely certain of in this moment? What are the truths that I can hold onto right now?” Consider the following…

**This is an excerpt from my prayer journal on June 14, 2017 –

Help me to be content in the only things I know for sure:

  1. You are good;
  2. You are faithful;
  3. My purpose is to glorify Your Name;
  4. Today I am alive;
  5. Tomorrow I do not know.

This we know to be true.

Each of these statements are unchanging, never-ending, and ever-present in each moment of our lives.

These truths are consistent in all circumstances. You will never find yourself in a situation where any one of these is not true.

Therefore, if your faith and contentment is found and nurtured on these consistent truths, then believe it or not, you will have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11).

This we know, and it is in this that we find true contentment.