This Mountain in Front of Me

This mountain in front of me

A fear, a sorrow, an internal game

Ever growing in greatness and degree

Every day it’s all the same

 

I struggle, I climb, I slip, and I cry

Everything I do bringing me closer to reprise

The smile on my face is just a lie

This too will become my demise

 

I fight to find the prayer oh so deep

The truths of knowledge so far from the heart

My faith in Him I desire to keep

From the love of my Savior I do not wish to part

 

I pray, “God, can you please move this mountain?”

And frantically read of a mustard seed

The thoughts “if only…if only…” through my head they ran

Faith oh so small is all I would need

 

But the mountain is still there God

Why is it still there?

The questioning begins – “Do I not have faith?” “Am I a fraud?”

Either that or He is just not fair

 

“Don’t go there,” I say

Oh, but I can’t

Don’t believe those traps the dark one lay

Don’t trust the lies he is sure to plant

 

My God is more

He is more than the mess I’m in

My body may be poor

But Abundance flows from within

 

My God can do more than move this mountain

He is more than the devil’s scheme

I will put my trust in the life-giving Fountain

If only to see His glory gleam

 

My God can do more than move this mountain

His power knows no end

He knows the names of stars by the thousand

And I know my heart He will defend

 

To see the powerful glory of God Almighty

I will calm my heart and bid it still

This mountain is oh so tiny

In light of His perfect and glorious will

 

Be it mountain, valley, or ocean

In His loving hands my future I see

His glory is my soul’s devotion

Even with this mountain in front of me

She Speaks to Inspire

As I swept the crumbs off my dress and finished my last bite of cake, the best man at my dear friend’s wedding stood up to give his toast.

I had known this friend since my early teen years. Unbeknownst to her, she had inspired me in so many ways to be the best woman I could; seeking God with everything I had and living each day with grace and purpose.

She’s the closest thing I have to a big sister and I have always loved her for that.

She’s naturally a pretty quiet person though and as the best man recalled their first introduction, he recounted how he was oddly suspicious, wondering why she spoke so sparingly.

What he said next took me by surprise but I’ve held onto it ever since –

“I [the best man] realized that she didn’t speak not because she had something to hide, but rather because she had nothing to say. She has such a quiet confidence and wisdom about her that she only speaks to inspire (paraphrased).

Even today I find myself remembering this friend and the influence she continues to have on my life, praying that God would grant me the same inner confidence and wisdom as her.

We have the power to speak life into people.

Did you know that?

Sometimes it doesn’t even have to involve words. A simple smile could be the spark that ignites a renewed hope in the depths of a dried soul.

That happened to me once. In fact, it was this same friend who was my first summer Bible Camp counselor. I remember watching her one time, thinking how cool she was and how much I wanted to be just like her when suddenly, she glanced my way and smiled at me.

That changed me.

As a 13-year old, it meant the world that someone I admired actually took notice of me; actually saw me for who I was, and liked me for it.

A simple smile changed that ornery little 13-year old girl then and still causes joy to swell in my heart ten years later.

A cheerful look brings joy to the heart…(Prov. 15:30) and a person’s words can be life-giving water…(Prov. 18:4).

Just as the genuine smile and gentle words of this friend inspired many, so too can the mocking glance, disingenuous conversation, and harsh word cause destruction.

I’ve been hurt by words. Even more so, I’ve been hurt by the lack of words.

I also know that I have hurt others with my words and harsh reactions.

Speaking words of hope and life into someone is so easy to do, and more often than not, those words will never be forgotten. Same goes for a harsh, mocking word – so easy to spit out but severely detrimental and almost impossible to forget.

Imagine though what might happen if we took one day – 24 hours – and dedicated everything we said and did to the purpose of inspiring others; to pointing others to the love of Jesus Christ.

To say something uplifting when a mocking remark is more natural.

To speak truth when lies are easier.

To be genuine when sarcasm might get more laughs.

To smile when disapproval seems necessary.

To remain silent even when the world beckons us to speak.

There is unfading beauty in a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight (1 Peter 3:4).

This kind of spirit is not natural. In fact, it is very unnatural. That’s why when someone like my friend exhibits this kind of gentle and quiet behavior every day, it is not easily forgotten and is cherished by all those who know her.

I read an article by Jon Bloom the other day that delineated the difference between a ‘presently preoccupied’ mindset and that of an ‘eternally focused’ one.

A presently preoccupied focus – Do, Have, Be – I do ‘this’ to have ‘that’ in order to be ‘this.’

However, an eternally focused approach would be just the opposite – Be, Do, Have – I am ‘this’ so I do ‘that’ which results in me having ‘this.’

In order for us to respond to people with gentleness in our voice and a smile on our face, we must first remember who we are.

Something I like to do in my time with God – and I encourage you to try this sometime – is take a piece of Scripture that reminds us of who we are in Christ and make it personal. I’ll give you an example:

Deuteronomy 7:6 –

For you, *insert name,* are holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you, yes you *insert name,* out of everyone on the face of the earth to be his treasured possession.

This is who you are!

You are a treasured possession.

Doesn’t that just make you feel awesome on the inside!?

Does it not just instantly calm your spirit; perhaps cause everything that you’re fighting to be and to achieve grow dim in light of this beautiful truth?

What are you trying to be friend? Where do you feel you aren’t measuring up?

Believe it or not, in the eyes of God Almighty, you are enough. You are holy and you are treasured above all the nations in the arms of God.

So take a second, remember who you are, and allow that to seep into your soul, because a heart that knows it is treasured by the most loving God will naturally speak life because it has life.

Harsh words come from a disrupted spirit. However, a spirit confident in who he or she is in Christ will be calm and gentle, overflowing with words that speak wisdom and inspire for years to come.

People remember kind words.

They remember a genuine smile.

I remember my friend and she continues to change my life even today though we are miles apart because she speaks to inspire.

When Jesus Gets Up to Greet You

Imagine yourself walking into a room filled with all those you hold dear.

Your friends, family, your brothers and sisters in Christ, and Jesus Himself are all there.

Now imagine you walk into that room and are immediately surrounded by all your loved ones. Everyone is so excited to see you. They want to be near you, talk to you, laugh with you, and simply enjoy your presence.

Pretty great, right?

But then you notice something.

Jesus didn’t get up to greet you like everyone else did.

Suddenly the euphoria of attention fades as you begin to wonder why He didn’t greet you. Nothing else seems to matter except for your growing desire to be greeted by Jesus; to simply feel His embrace.

No amount of attention could possibly hold any meaning because He didn’t get up to greet you.

I have often found it to be my strivings for social acceptance, approval, and praise that draws my attention away from Christ. This is not to say that these things are bad. I truly believe that God places the blessings of friendship and opportunity in our lives to help us grow and prosper. However, they must be approached and valued in moderation; never to be valued greater than the One who gave them.

Unfortunately, that is easier said than done.

All through college and even into the first several months of living on my own, I can see how much of what I did and set out to accomplish was for the sole purpose of social approval.

I went into college with a major that I didn’t particularly like, but it sounded good and looked nice on paper.

I involved myself with a group of people that didn’t necessarily bring out the best in me, but gave me the sense of acceptance that I so desired.

I pushed myself to the limit because it was socially frowned upon to not be as involved as possible; to not do everything I could to have that “college experience.”

Even now, I have found myself striving so hard to be that person that I think will be better accepted and celebrated that I forget to rejoice in the woman God has made me to be.

Being presently preoccupied with our social status keeps us from being eternally focused on Jesus Christ and our heavenly status as Children of God.

In reading through the Psalms, I found a time when David struggled with this very issue of social acceptance. In Psalm 142, we find David crying out to the Lord, expressing his soul aching pain of being overlooked by the world.

Look to my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares for my life. (Psalm 142:4)

You can practically feel the pain in his words. While this may not resonate with everyone in the here and now, I can guarantee that at some point in your life, there will be a time when it feels as if you’ve been entirely overlooked by the world.

I’ve felt this way many times in the past and fully anticipate feeling this way again in the future. However, my favorite part about this Psalm is that David doesn’t stop there.

He never ends his prayers with a complaint and he never leaves us feeling sorry for him. In every Psalm, David returns to the glory of God, reminding himself and his readers of God’s perfect and holy character.

I cry to you, O Lord; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.” (Psalm 142:5)

As David expresses the pain of being forgotten, in the same breath he also expresses the joy of being remembered and known by the one true God.

In the land of thriving and amidst the exhausting strivings and pursuits of the American Dream, Jesus Christ is our portion. He alone is our refuge.

Every day we find ourselves in this fight to gain or maintain social acceptance. I’ll admit to that – I’m one of the worst. I like to think that I am confident in myself, but when put in a position to either stay true to myself or gain further acceptance and praise, I will naturally fault to the latter.

This is simply the human condition.

Our human tendencies kick in when life tosses us to the side. Our natural reaction to being overlooked is to create for ourselves our own platform and our own source of glory, because as Pastor Austin Edwards from CityLight Church puts it –

We love our own glory more than we love His glory.

We like to create for ourselves a platform on which we can shine when we feel forgotten by the world and hidden in the shadows of others. We love our glory more than we love His glory, so we speak out, vying for attention and glorification. We scramble to do this and be that to ensure that we won’t be forgotten when we should instead be focusing on the truth that He remembers us and that He loves us.

Consider Noah’s story (Genesis 8:1), or perhaps Abraham (Genesis 19:29). Think about Rachel (Genesis 30:22) and the life of Sarah (Genesis 21:1). God is gracious and does for His people what He promises.

He remembers his covenant forever, the word he commanded, for a thousand generations. (Psalm 105:8)

David shows us in Psalm 142 that even when we do feel forgotten by the world, God sees us. He knows us, He loves us, and most of all, He is sufficient for us. The God who remembered His covenant to Abraham and all those ‘Hebrews 11’ heroes-of-faith also abides by His covenant with you – that He will never leave you nor forsake you.

So when we find ourselves in these moments where we feel discounted by the world; cast to the shadows and forgotten – instead of trying to manufacture some means of being noticed, we should seek to praise and glorify His name for reminding us through the solitude that He is enough.

We have this hope that we can find sufficiency in Christ alone; in knowing that none of it really matters because any worldly pursuit, no matter how good it may be, is only secondary to knowing Christ and praising His name.

David knew this and prayed in verse seven that God would set him free from his prison, that he may praise His name.

The prison of social acceptance and approval is a condemning one; one that leaves us feeling empty and broken inside. But God’s yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt.11:30) and the praising of His name will bring with it freedom from our bondage and relief from the chains of worldly pursuits.

When the presently preoccupying things of this world are disregarded, we are freed to look farther and deeper into God, His love, and His Kingdom’s purpose.

So let’s go back to our story and flip the imagery this time – now you walk into that same room, filled with the same people, yet this time, only one person gets up to greet you.

Jesus gets up off the couch and gives you a big hug as everyone else continues on with their own conversations. No one is showing any interest in the fact that you have just arrived, but it doesn’t really matter does it?

No amount of attention could possibly hold any meaning because Jesus got up to greet you!