God Is Not Terence Fletcher

My heart has been tested recently with how deeply I really trust the Goodness of God.

Not just the sovereignty of God – the fact that He is in control of everything. But the Goodness found in that control. The fact that He is not an evil dictator; He doesn’t enjoy my pain and suffering; He does not delight in causing me hardship.

When circumstances get hard and I choose to believe that God is good in them, sometimes I start associating the negative circumstances with the goodness of God.

My heart subconsciously believes “Yes, He is a good God. He just makes me suffer because He believes I’m strong enough and wants to help refine me. God in His goodness will keeping placing hardships on me. That’s how this relationship works.” 

I begin seeing him as that loving and so tough Olympic coach. Maybe even that professor from Whiplash, Terence Fletcher, but without the name-calling and especially without the vulgar language. (P.S. That movie was awesome but the language was horrendous.) I see God as the one who will push me to the breaking point to get me to be the best I can be.

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I’m missing something critical about the character of God here.

God’s heart is not for suffering. It is not for hardship. And it is certainly not for my pain.

Oh yes, there are times he permits hardships. He shapes all things together for good and uses the hardship to refine me. Absolutely.

But there is an even more prominent characteristic of God.

His desire to give me good things. 

“Fear not, little flock. For it is your Father’s great pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” – Luke 12:32

When I reject this belief in the sovereign goodness of God, it changes how I interact with situations in my life.

It makes it almost impossible to confidently walk into good. 

There have been good things that God has placed in front of me, and yet I start picking them a part, trying to predict the flaws and figure out how they are going to spontaneously combust in front of me.

“They can’t be this good” I think to myself.

So I find all the little flaws. And my heart retreats back into itself. I hold out the flaws before God and say “See? See this is why it isn’t the fulfillment. This is why it isn’t good. I know what You’ll do. You’re going to ask me to give it up. That’s what you always do, God. You ask me to give it up. But see? I know the flaws. I know why it wouldn’t work. So when You ask me to give it up, it’s fine! It won’t hurt because I never fully believed it could happen anyways.”

Oh. Little. Flock. 

He sighs at me.

Believe in my goodness” He whispers. 

If I don’t believe the simple Truth that God longs to give me good gifts, that He longs to bring the fulfillment, He longs to answer promises, I will never walk into the fullness of them and thus, I will never truly receive them. 

How can I receive Good when I am consistently believing God is going to take it away?

I can’t protect myself from the One who just wants to give me Good.

He is better than I believe He is.

He wants to give me better than I think He does.

Sometimes you must risk to believe something is completely Good. Not only partially Good.

Sometimes you must accept the thing at face value, and not pick it a part to try to figure out the one way it must be bad.

Eagerly anticipate the Good, friends.

Not the hardship.  

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Why I’ve Stopped Guarding My Heart

There’s something on the tip of my tongue.

I don’t know what it is but it’s burning in me. I think it could be the thing causing the migraine right now.

I can barely sit still as I think about what I want to say but don’t have language for yet. So here’s to hoping that somehow, as I write this, my words with transform into what has actually been wrestling inside my heart for days.

I wasn’t made for the waiting room. 

For my whole life, as I’ve grown and walked with Jesus, one of the things I’ve been trained in is how to guard my heart. Guard your heart, Courtney. Guard your heart. Guard your heart.

What does this mean?

In my mind it’s meant protect yourself. Keep yourself safe. Don’t give your heart away.

Hear me out – There is validity to this. 

We aren’t called to flippantly throw our hearts towards passions and people that are not from God. Especially when it is the wrong time and they are the wrong things.

But what happens when they are the right things?

What happens when Love begins to beg you to let your heart lead?

I’ve realized lately how risky Love is. And as a woman who struggles with wanting to maintain control over her life, I fear the totality of allowing Love to lead. Who might I be if I wholly surrender to It? What kind of decisions might I make if I let Love lead me instead of my own logic and reasoning? 

This is a terrifying reality to me.

Can’t I trust Love? Can’t I allow It to lead me into the good and pleasing will of God? God who is Love?

I still want control. And I realize it’s because I don’t completely trust my own heart. It has led me astray in moments before. It has been persuaded by beautiful words and empty promises and manipulated by false romance. How, then, can I allow Love… Love that is a matter of the heart and not the mind… to lead me? 

I can’t reason out falling in Love with Jesus. I can’t lay out enough evidence for why I should fall in Love with the Most Holy. I love Him, surely. But have I risked allowing that Love to consume me? To surrender my control and fall hopelessly into Love with Jesus?

When I fall in Love, there won’t be a logical reason for why I follow. I won’t be able to soundly prove why I will follow Him wherever He urges my heart to go. I won’t be able to argue my point for why I will obey His calling no matter what. My heart will be controlled by Love and nothing else. I will have lost control.

But He’s worth my whole heart.

He’s worth the surrender.

He can be trusted to lead and guide me into good and pleasing things.

My heart can be found completely safe within His calling.

Sometimes it feels safer to stay in the waiting room. 

We get into a comfortable place of waiting on a promise – interceding for the breakthrough. We know that we’re kept safe in the waiting room and at the right moment, the promise will come. So we gather in words and visions and promises for what might be on the other side of the waiting room. We develop expectancy. We foster unbreakable hope in the waiting room.

This is all well and good. It’s what we’re supposed to do in that season.

But how will we respond when Love calls our name? 

When He begs us out of the waiting room and into the promise? 

We must risk to believe.

We must risk to let Love lead.

We must risk to follow His calling – that He will keep us safe.

Sometimes, we are no longer called to guard our own hearts. Sometimes, when Love calls, He promises to be the One that guards our hearts instead. Sometimes, we’re supposed to open it up to whole-heartedly believing the fulfillment has arrived.

At the right time, we’re called to step out of the boat. And to maintain focus on the One who called us out of what felt so safe and comfortable. And into the risk.

The Story of A Hopeless Heart

Hope is one of the most risky things we’re asked to hold on to as Christians. 

That might sound like a bold statement.

But hope is often met by pain and disappointment and it is one of the biggest risk we are asked to consistently take.

So why hope? Why is the Bible filled with both faith and hope; two necessary factors in walking with Jesus? Why must we choose hope time and time again?

My heart has been sick since January. Somewhere in the process, I let go of hope. I stopped believing for the best. I numbed myself to dreaming.

The pain that came from having expectations and hoping only to see them shattered or unmet was too much. And so I retreated back to my own personal limits; my own well-kept yard of not-risking. And my heart began to wither. I let go of dreams, desires, expectations… and the vibrant life in my heart began to dull. I couldn’t feel God. I couldn’t hear Him clearly. I felt abandon, dry… like I would die of hunger for Him. I  became cynical. Practical. I hated love. Didn’t believe in it.

I was physically ill most weekends from February – March; my heart often anxious and unrest in the midst of this.

Hope was too risky. And keeping my heart safe within its walls was surely the way to keep it unharmed. Right?

But God.

God, concerned for the health of my heart, pressed on it, ever-so consistently. I felt everything I didn’t want to feel as He begged my heart to hope again.

Cynical.

I filled my world with busy-ness and activities. I ran myself weak.

He continued to press.

“Why love? Why hope for the impossible best? Why hold on to dreams that are so far out of reach?” my heart fought back to Him.

But God.

Around three weeks ago, He found me at my breaking point, weary, anxious, desperate. And He crawled into the narrow gaps I had left open for Him.

He breathed, “Faith sees, and hope FEELS. And my precious one, when you choose to not hope, you choose to not feel. When you choose to not hope that there is the best in store for you, your heart becomes sick. Hope deferred makes the heart sick, my love. Choose hope. Believe the best. Believe I’m that good.” 

And I gasped for air. Alive. My heart began pumping again.

Undone by my sudden light-ness, I became aware of the necessity of hope.

Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of how many times I had been disappointed, regardless of the impossibilities that stood before me or the lack of visible breakthrough, I had to decide to choose hope. 

Hope was better than the outcome. Hope was the thing keeping my heart alive.

So, friends, while hope seems risky, don’t cut it off because you don’t see the breakthrough in the timing you imagined.

God is a God of “And suddenly.” In moments, He changes the course of events. In minutes, He brings the fulfillment. In seconds, He arrives in a better way than you ever thought possible.

Saul became Paul in an instant.

Lazarus was raised from the dead in a single moment.

It only took 3 DAYS for the sins of EVERYONE IN THE WORLD (past, present and future) to be paid for for eternity! 3 Days! 3 Days is not a long time, friends. In 3 days, Jesus was crucified and rose again and EVERYTHING CHANGED. 3 Days!

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Hope paves the way for your breakthrough. You must develop a lifestyle of unbreakable hope in your life. 

Hope that is not swayed by situations or circumstances. But hope that is founded on the truth and goodness of The Most Holy One.

Follow the calling of His voice. Risk when He says risk. Dream when He says dream. Hope when He says hope. It will never be in vain. And you will never be unprotected from His grace.

I Think I’m Normal: 3 Post-Breakup Thoughts

There are things that happen on the other side of a break-up. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this. I guess I had forgotten about it since my last breakup when I was 19. But there are consistent things that happen… thoughts that go through your head.

I am still unaware of how to deal with many of them. I post this to let you know that if you, too, are dealing with the healing after a break-up and are experiencing some of these things, you are not alone.

I don’t have the answers for this. I still fight the tension between who I was when I dealt with a break-up as a teenager and who I am now that I’m dealing with a break-up as an almost 25 year old.

So here’s a little glimpse into my mind lately:

The thought: 

I LOVE BEING SINGLE. *10 minutes later* I HATE BEING SINGLE. 

This one sucks. I feel flippant. I feel unresolved. I feel easily swayed. I feel discontent one minute and completely content the next. There are moments I am so confident that this was the right thing and am hopeful for my future. There are other moments where I am miserable, full of doubt and second-guessing, wanting to do anything it takes to mend my previous relationship. Unfortunately… I’m pretty sure this is normal. I think this is part of the process of dealing with a break-up.

The Truth:

“For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.” – Jeremiah 17:8 (AMP)

“so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind…” – Ephesians 4:14 (ESV)

I am not one who believes truth according to her emotions. I am proclaiming that over myself, being the emotion-filled woman that I am. The truth of the situation is that in want or plenty, in singleness or dating, I am content. I am right where I should be. I am not exempt or escaped from God’s will. Even if there are moments it hurts more than others, I am content. Because God is still good. And that means His plans for me are good. Just because something is painful in the moment, doesn’t mean it’s not exactly where you need to be. 

The thought:

We totally broke up because he thinks I’m fat and ugly… he just didn’t want to say that. 

I mean… yea. That thought crosses my mind more times than I’d like to admit.

The Truth:

Really, Courtney? Haven’t we already dealt with this?

Because God says “You’re beautiful from head to toe, my dear love, beautiful beyond compare, absolutely flawless” – Song of Solomon 4:7 (MSG).

And I am enough. Just as I am. In my places of too much and my places of not enough, I am enough just as I am. We did not break up because of my physical appearance. That is just stupid. Next.

The thought: 

I missed God. I missed it. I messed everything up. This could’ve been it but I was too prideful, too controlling, too over-analytical. I ruined something good. It’s all my fault. 

Honestly… this one feels like truth more times than it doesn’t.

The truth: 

“Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored….

That’s why I don’t think there’s any comparison between the present hard times and the coming good times. The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next. Everything in creation is being more or less held back. God reins it in until both creation and all the creatures are ready and can be released at the same moment into the glorious times ahead. Meanwhile, the joyful anticipation deepens.

All around us we observe a pregnant creation. The difficult times of pain throughout the world are simply birth pangs. But it’s not only around us; it’s within us. The Spirit of God is arousing us within. We’re also feeling the birth pangs. These sterile and barren bodies of ours are yearning for full deliverance. That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don’t see what is enlarging us. But the longer we wait, the larger we become, and the more joyful our expectancy.” – Most of Romans 8 in the Message.

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Bottom line: I haven’t missed anything. His will for me is perfect. And I haven’t escaped it. It’s not possible for me to escape the will of God for my life when I am seeking Him. It’s just not possible. I choose hope. I will believe the best. I will allow the joyful anticipation to deepen, even in the midst of a momentarily painful season.