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There is nothing quite as embarrassing as finding out that your suitcase is the largest on your team, the largest on your row at the airport, the largest in the car transporting the group, or worst of all – you can’t lift it. Sitting on your suitcase in an effort to close it with your heels pressing into the floor for more leverage, and then having the thought is this zipper going to die on me!? is a sure sign that you packed too much stuff. I speak from experience.
The more you travel, the more you learn about how to pack effectively. You learn what you need, and what you don’t need. Most of the things that you think you need, you don’t touch. Somehow, the things you need the most still get forgotten. Oh, the terrifying discovery on the road of finding out that you are without your toothpaste, clippers, or a phone charger – yet again. And that all the more exasperated when you are headed straight for a stage, as I often am.
My packing skills grew immensely in recent years through a lot of travel. My suitcases are finally small. I own the most important things for trips in double, they remain packed. It’s a game to me now to only bring what I need, and negative points to carry home things unused. I can race through the airport without baggage now. My bags are light. This is a far stretch from where I started, studying abroad over ten years ago with two enormous suitcases bursting at the seams. Those bags held a queen-sized sentimental quilt and a full-sized keyboard that I simply “could not live without.” The zippers on both of those bags actually did break before I made it to my destination! Duct tape!
Our souls can act like a suitcase at times, carrying things that we need. Our souls also carry things that we don’t need. At times, our souls carry way too much, weighing down our entire being to exhaustion. The soul has a tendency to absorb and preserve more than it needs to, gripping experiences like an administrator who loves filing more than life. It often requires a directive from us to let things go, simplify, forgive - re-pack. Otherwise it becomes the historian we would be better off without, always reminding us of what hurt, when, why, and how.
Some people are carrying oversized soul baggage all the time. Others embrace repeated seasons of cleansing in order to travel light. Can you tell the difference when you look at someone? The heavy-packer has a heavy-heart. They tend to be intensely focused on self-protection, and unable to see passed their own needs. Most of their efforts are self-serving, and they live in fear of not having enough – thus the emotional hoarding. Those who travel light in their souls tend to be more joyful, able to engage in things outside of themselves, found giving to and serving others, largely judgement and negativity free. The light packer has a dependence on God, a firm trust in His provision for their needs. A person’s countenance often reveals the condition of their soul – how much is packed into it, if they have been able to forgive, if their passed is largely behind them or still with them.
I feel God challenging me to re-pack in my soul these days, to clean out and get rid of old baggage. In that process, I am reminded that you and I are unlikely to let baggage go until we know for certain that it matters to someone outside of ourselves. Friend, it matters to Jesus. Our burdens and pains matter so much to Jesus that He absorbed them, carried them, paid for them – with His own life.
This is an invitation to re-pack, to let go of old offenses, fears, anxieties, cycles of questioning, baselines of distrust, shadows of disappointments, and learn how to travel light again. Our souls were not made to carry too much. No one is forcing us to carry insecurity, no one is policing our baggage for heaviness and painful histories. It’s our choice what we are carrying in life. And, it's possible to get a skip back into our steps if can leave some things behind. Let's let go of what we would rather live without.
You and I can go so much further,
And with so much more joy –
if we are carrying less on board.
And, it is a journey.
Grab a Pen: Is there something you are carrying that you need to let go of? Is there someone you need to forgive? What do you need to release to Jesus in order to be traveling light in your soul again?
p.s. Sometimes it is helpful to have someone else assist us in the process of letting things go. We have a prayer ministry that focuses on helping people connect with God, and a wonderful team of people doing sessions for people online weekly. To sign up or for more information visit, www.iconnectup.net.
First written 12/14/15, Revised 10/14/20
Two years ago we lost our daughter to a terminal disease. I’m a Mom. I live with loss. Early in my grief journey a trusted friend looked me straight in the eye and said, “I am so sorry, Katie, but you cannot run from this, you must go through it.” I knew she was right and I have chosen to embrace the grief process. Weird idea. Who wants to embrace pain? No one. But when you discover that the deepest love, most profound comfort, and invaluable teaching happen in the crux of pain … you stop fearing it.
Last week I spent time grieving. I was at a meeting and sat on the floor crying for a long time. Deep expression tumbled out of my broken heart. I let the tears fall and fall hard. I wept and didn’t try to stop it. I held Holy Spirit’s hand and poured out my heart without reservation. I was a mess on the floor in a public space and did not care because I have learned that my heart honestly expressed is of value to the Father. Hear me. Three hours later a series of events occurred that caused me to feel a height of joy that I’ve not known in a long time. It was so encouraging it took me off guard. It wasn’t long before I realized that the joy I was experiencing was connected to my tears that had just hit the floor. It was coming as a response. And then I remembered …
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.
To those who grieve in Zion, I will bestow beauty for ashes …
Have you ever noticed that Isaiah 61 (beauty for ashes, joy for mourning, praise for despair) is allocated specifically to those who grieve? What if weeping is a passageway to joy? What if mourning sets the stage for comfort? What if ashes are the prime materials needed to create beauty?
Friends, it is in the tears, the groans, the raw outpouring of our hearts before God that we encounter the God who heals. People get over stuff all the time without healing from it. I believe that healing happens when we courageously face the reality of our pain and encounter who God is for us in it.
There’s something about the freedom to weep, mourn, and grieve that sets the stage for joy, comfort and beauty. God attaches provision to grief, which is why it is not okay to deny each other access to it. Too often we fear what we cannot fix and therefore short-circuit each other’s process through not giving each other permission to grieve. In that resistance, we also resist the God-given provision to those who grieve.
Life events and transitions have a strange way of exposing our losses; big and small. What you feel in this season matters. It matters to God. Talk to Him about it. He’s not tired of hearing from you. You don’t have to shove it down. He cares. You are free to grieve. There’s a love encounter waiting for you in the midst of what you fear to face. How do I know? Two and a half years of steady grief and I’ve learned to dive into Him without fear. He has only ever responded to me with love.
I can’t fix your hurt, but I can tell you that it matters to God. In that validation I hope your hands will be untied to face what you feel and pour your heart out to Him. You are free to grieve, and therein discover the beauty of who God wants to be for you in it. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him; for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8)
Reflection: Is there an area of sorrow in your heart that keeps tugging at you? Can you bring that to Jesus today?
A white plastic clock sits on top of my bookshelf. The casing is cracked. It is balanced on the shelf like a gymnast, unsecured. It wants to roll to the right or to the left. It wants to crack again, apparently. A lamp gives it a boundary so that it does not roll off the edge. It needs assistance to stand still. It is on the go unless I tie it down, box it in, and force it to remain still. Even then, it is never really still. Its hands are always on the move, on their merry way to the next black tick. The hands that appear motionless are deceiving, the one that always moves is the most honest.
Behold, the personality of time.
This week I returned to work part-time after an extended maternity leave. My time management needs are changing, my use of time is changing, my need for time is changing. What even is time? I find myself digging in Ecclesiastes 3:2-8. It is a reflection on time. There is a time. There is a season. For every purpose under heaven …
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
Stop. Read it again.
What one phrase stands out to you?
What time is it in your life?
Time is one of life’s greatest gifts. It is the thing that measures life from start to finish. It is a mold for valuable experiences. It makes room for us to sink deep or take flight in love. It stretches for relationships, and narrows for tasks. It is the wind at our back, when sinking would otherwise be inevitable. We chase it, and it chases us. It keeps us playing. Time is mysterious and determined, hard-nosed and quick. It can also be relentlessly slow, a master of the crawl! Time can race. Time can freeze. Time can breathe. Time can take our breath away.
Time cannot be controlled or bossed around. It must be embraced. The moment we begin to hate time, it will begin to hate us, and therein we will find ourselves in an unnecessary internal struggle, every single day. Time has no friends or enemies that do not first befriend or unfriend it. It waits to be utilized by the soul who dares to let it be what it is. Wisdom embraces the gift of time, and knows how to keep it acting as a gift.
Whatever your relationship to time in this season, I believe that the God who is outside of time is inviting you and I to get a washed perspective on what time is for. Some of you have been wasting time, watching it drain. Others are in an oppressive relationship with it, driven to exhaustion every day. No shame. It is not too late in your life for a fresh start with time. Imagine unwrapping the gift of time for the very first time. What do you notice about it? What excites you about it? What uses do you have for it?
To the Designer of Time, teach us how to receive time as a gift.
Write & Reflect: What are two beliefs you have about time? Do you want to keep them? Do you want to exchange them? The God who designed time is doing exchanges today on beliefs about time!
I pull up to an outpatient medical clinic and park my car. My headlights assign themselves to the front door where there are massive signs about COVID, screening, and how certainly you cannot go anywhere if you dare to feel sick for a minute. Meanwhile, I know many people who are sick right now, many more who got sick in the last few days. The pandemic is still screaming, welcome to a life of screening.
I dig for my mask, and then sit inside my car and stare at the windshield. It’s hot. My car air conditioner is broken. I am both sweating and trembling. I am afraid to go inside. It is odd how physical spaces hold old traumas, as if they are somehow doing us a favor by preserving them like jam. I would rather find the jar empty and washed, but alas, I must face it. This clinic hosted my strenuous medical care for the last two years. This team saw me through a tragic miscarriage after years of loss and infertility. That flat-line of a heart beat on the 12-week ultrasound still torments me at times. We named that baby, Eliad Leo. Then, they caught my tender courage over a year later when I showed up pregnant with Aimee, and celebrated each shocking appointment that everything looked good, “no signs of disease.” And then, they watched me exit out of these very doors, in tears, when fluid was identified on her lung. I was admitted to the hospital that afternoon.
That day was the last day that I was here.
The last day I saw these people.
The last day before the epic multi-month labor and delivery of Aimee Star began.
I find myself afraid to go into the building as if it will somehow arrest me and pull me backwards in my story. In reality, I have nothing to be afraid of today. It’s a simple postpartum visit. Someone will look at my C-section incision, tell me to keep drinking water as I breastfeed, and then congratulate me on my baby - with a smile I cannot see because of their mask.
Inside I check in. I step on a scale that tells me I still have baby fat, and then walk through empty halls to an isolated room. I had a baby during COVID, lived in and through multiple hospitalizations during the pandemic. It’s still all – weird. The emptiness. The fear. The masks. The distancing. The tension. The deafening silence. Weird have learned to dodge and validate distance with people. Now we do it with muscle memory, and applaud each other for it, which is its own spreading disease.
My favorite nurse on the team finds me in my patient room, she beats the doctor to me, as she always has. She exceeds every doctor. I want to hug her, but resist. She took care of me through a lot of loss the last two years. Sometimes nurses are our primary caregivers, present in moments of our lives that no one else will ever enter into with us. I find out from her that this team has been wondering for months what happened to me. It did not cross my mind to report back to this office after being thrust into medical care in another city. Oh…, I think to myself as I look into her searching eyes, I have so much good news to share with every one of you! Call them in!
The pictures of a smiley 4-month old Aimee Star Luse cause us all to erupt in joy. My dear friend who took the pictures has no idea how much these pictures are giving and will give, to so many people, for so long. This is a miracle in my story, and these people know it better than anyone. They wore the gloves, they caught the blood, they held my hands, and they let me dream again.
This seed of promise.
This star of hope.
This bright interruption –
Is most welcomed.
I sit quietly and choose not to mention much of anything symptomatically about my postpartum journey. I already know that even the most bizarre symptoms in the world are “normal” when you are pregnant. You can vomit for months, and people look at you with googly-eyed excitement. Or, you can swing violently in moods, lose half your hair, suffer sleeplessness, body adjustments and an overhaul on life postpartum and people grin and congratulate you on your baby. It’s all part of the process.
The womb carries life –
To labor it out –
To deliver it whole –
To nurture it to grow.
Let’s all thank God, despite the very real challenges, that I made it postpartum this time.
And, with a beautiful little girl. Thriving. Is this real?
A happy moment in the back of an outpatient medical clinic ensues. We let our eyes smile where our mouths are hidden, and rejoice. Everyone seems thirsty for a reason to sink into gratitude. I take their hands and we go there, together. I assure them that all of the shaking, the shock, the trauma, the fear, and uncertainties -
All of the laboring over months of unexpected crisis -
Was unto something –
For something –
A birthing -
Of new life.
Later in the week, a friend sends me a poem about our world.
The smokey sun.
The missing gatherings.
The disintegrated jobs.
And, I get to thinking … Will we make it to postpartum? And to those who do, what we will be left holding? What in the world is the world birthing? Labor and delivery is full of pain. Full. You breathe between contractions, and that’s about it. But, the life that emerges is full of beauty. Full. And it’s all brand new.
Our world is birthing something right now through very real waves of loss. We are carrying, we are laboring, and we are delivering – in places we did not ask to be. I’m living it as I’m living it. We are living it. Everything is changing through labor and delivery. Perhaps someday we will return together to our old quarters, as I did this week, and find out that all the suffering brought us into a brand-new life. And for that new life, we will thank God.
There will be a postpartum landing.
If I can land, you can land,
Hold on, friends.
Don’t forget to breathe between contractions.
New life is coming!
It will come.
Reflection Question: What new thing do you think God is birthing in your life right now? Reflect on this statement as it relates to your story, "Behold, I make all things new."
I first met Mitch Luse in the basement of an old academic building at Temple University in Philadelphia. He was leading worship for a campus ministry. I was in the back corner watching the room unravel in the presence of God. He was young, bachelor-life skinny, and slouched over his guitar. His hair was a wild brown curly mane, and his eyes were wide and deep, like Aimee’s. The sound that he filled the room with was soaked in something that I lived for, intimacy with God. I wanted to know him.
I proceeded to position myself to know Mitch at school, in cunning ways that I have rarely admitted to anyone. I dropped and added classes to “run into” Mitch Luse. I stood by water fountains for prolonged periods of time until he passed by. I joined a 7am prayer meeting multiple days a week which involved a subway commute that wrangled me up in dark cold mornings. I engaged in a campus ministry that I otherwise had little interest in. At the time, it was all for “other reasons.” Looking back, it was all for him.
Mitch and I started dating in March of 2006. I was on my last leg of my undergraduate studies. He was one year behind me in school. We both spent that summer abroad in different nations. I served with The Salvation Army in Kenya/Ghana, and then flew from there to work in translation at an Institute in Tver, Russia. Meanwhile, Mitch was studying Arabic at a language institute in Yemen. Our dating life that summer was an adventure navigated through remote internet cafes in different nations, often the only expat in the room, praying earnestly that the chat box would open and work. When the chat box disappeared suddenly, and the clunky computer shut down, I was always sure that the next thing he was going to say was, "I love you," and most likely I missed it.
I remember so clearly standing in a perilous line at the post office in Russia, successfully receiving one letter from him. It was postmarked from Yemen. Can you imagine the look that they gave me getting mail from Yemen? The rest of his letters to me disappeared. I never got them. We both felt that if our relationship survived and deepened after that summer, it was likely something of substance that we would be in it for a long time. Long story (for another time!) short … it was and is something of substance. Two years later we were married. Twelve years later he is releasing a book on marriage.
My wedding day hosted profound peace in my soul, like water that lacks a single ruffle. My spirit was thoroughly confident that, this is right. The Presence of God and a passion of prayer has always been at the heart of our relationship. We hosted countless prayer meetings over the years, worked together to cultivate community wherever we lived, and navigated through some of life’s greatest challenges together. “For better, for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health...” We were faced with all of that within six months of our wedding day.
Our marriage is not perfect, and neither are we. We struggle, we fight, we drift into friendship amnesia about why we like each other. But, we are best friends with the most secure commitment to each other. We have strengths as a couple that we have fought hard through real suffering to cultivate in our marriage. Not least among these is that in our marriage, we both take up space. We have a diehard commitment to co-reigning, co-leading, and supporting one another’s purpose. And that is the topic of Mitch’s book.
I would not be where or who I am without the propeller of a man in my life named Mitch Luse. He is the strongest wind source of momentum in my wild and ever evolving story. He is faithful and steady, proven both dependable and pure through raging seas. This man will grab the mast in a storm, save the whole ship, and never once expect or solicit credit for it. Over the years, he has sacrificed extensively, given generously, and served me with striking kindness in the both the ugliness of my grief-stricken heart, and the glory of my God-given successes.
When my personal significance hosted nothing more than carrying groceries up a lonely staircase, he would shout after me about how I was a revivalist, prophetic, and a world-changer. Mitch was my one donor to return to ministry school, and there catch a flame that would propel an entire community forward for years. Mitch funded the birth of ConnectUp alone through long days at a job he did not enjoy while I put my hands to the ministry plow. He was our first, and for a long time only, partner. ConnectUp now hosts healing for the brokenhearted, hundreds every year. This man fought for our connection when our lives were screaming to disconnect through the pain of losing a child. This man tolerated countless people at events and conferences over the years who approached him with, “Where is Katie?” “Can I talk to Katie? “Are you Katie’s husband?” overlooking the gem before them that is so much more than “Katie” will ever be. Oh … and the most prevalent one, “This is Mitch, Katie’s husband.” Which ... is why “Joseph, the husband of Mary” that he writes about in his book is so significant to him. Through all of this and more, Mitch chose to let his insecurities be confronted and die to celebrate that his wife could thrive, succeed, run far and fast - while remaining in relationship with him.
He has never talked about any of this … until now.
The 5:25 Call is Mitch’s journey pressed into ink, and a bold call to husbands everywhere to consider what it really means before God to take up the call of husbandry. I am humbled to tears by the authenticity of what this book is about. Mitch lives the call that he is making to the world. It is his call to make. God spoke to Mitch years ago to write this book. It is his costly obedience, it's content has soaked inside of him for a long time. As is the case with any creative endeavor approached by a spouse, we have journeyed through the birthing of this together, and the labor pains from concept to print are real. The writing, producing, designing, and somehow by the grace of God funding is such a process. We handed the manuscript back and forth many times, challenging each other to be forthright with the world about what we know.
I would not say that ours is a model marriage, or that we have somehow arrived through releasing a book on marriage (please no crazy expectations!). But, I will say with confidence that Mitch Luse has a message about marriage that I believe is for the whole world. The book is outstanding and practical. It hosts discussion questions for small groups, and a prayer guide for personal transformation. If you want to have an encounter with God through it, you will.
It is for men and women,
single and married,
young and old.
It is for the thriving and the hurting,
The married and the divorced,
The confident, and the insecure.
It is for everyone.
The 5:25 Call is an invitation for men to take up the brilliance of their divine call by becoming living propellers of God’s daughters around the world. It is also a megaphone of validation for women to take up space, stop forfeiting authority, and be the gift that we are to the world. This is the 5:25 Call which is based on Ephesians 5:25 … "husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
You do not want to miss this book. It is available for a discounted rate right now as a pre-order! Books will ship when they become available, no later than 10/17/20.
Buy it now!
To Mitch Luse, it is your turn to shine!
p.s. Read other endorsements on The 5:25 Call from people like Dr. Mike Hutchings of Global Awakening, Colonel Janet Munn of The Salvation Army Social Justice Commission, Pastor John Leach of Life Center, Associate Evangelist Justin Allen, Pastor Kevin Pitts, Author Phill Olson, and Lt. Tabitha Swires!
Solitude is the space where I face myself,
The place where myself is faced,
A case for authenticity.
Solitude is the space where I hear from God,
The place where God hears from me,
A case for divine friendship.
Solitude is the space that confronts my masks,
The place where my masks are removed,
A case for vulnerability.
Solitude is the space that calls me inward,
The place that releases me outward,
A case for renewal.
When I run from solitude, hide from it, dodge it, last less than ten minutes inside of its embrace before wiggling out to clothe myself again in noise - I am also hiding from, running from, dodging, and outright resisting in my life… authenticity, divine friendship, vulnerability and renewal. Solitude is not me plus one other person. It is not me plus my phone. It is not me plus some external noise. Solitude is nothing more than me and God.
Ever so scary.
Ever so wonderful.
Ever so necessary.
Friends, be brave.
Reflection: Do you resist being alone? What are you afraid will happen if you face yourself? I suggest engaging 15 minutes of solitude today. Carve out the space and time for it. You are much more beautiful in this season than you realize. You will not see that until you stop and face yourself. The Father is jealous for time alone with you. Solitude. Let me know how it goes! <3
I sit down to spend time with God after a whirlwind of emotional days. My head hangs low. I am ashamed. External pressures have pressed my connection with God out the door. I let it happen. Here I am, daring to return to Him. Shame does not want me to not return to God yet. It wants me to suffer for longer from a distance, somehow convincing me that vulnerability with God is too much work and I will likely be rejected by Him, so I might as well just reject myself. In reality, shame has an agenda for me that I never return to God. Distance, more distance, and then divorce … is what partnership with shame wants to lead me to in relation to God.
As I stare at the wet ground wondering if I should lift my chin to my Maker, I hear the Holy Spirit, Why are you wasting time? I just want to be with you.
At the sound of His voice, I am thrust back into a memory of when I learned this truth inwardly for the first time. I was directing the Jesus Theater at a Salvation Army Camp. The building we were in was moist, its’ wooden floors creaked with risk. The unsealed windows held history of being framed witnesses to divine workings over the years. A cast of twelve stood before me in a space taped out on the floor. Together we were journeying through the story of Christ, and finding ourselves alive within it.
We came to the moment during the crucifixion scene where the Father turns His face away from His Son, Jesus. I stopped directing and stood in resolved resistance. I could not place the scene, because I hated that moment. It felt to me like a confirmation of my worst fear, that the Father would turn His face away from me, that in fact He already had. I grimaced and stared at the cast. They knew from working with me for days that something was transpiring inside. We would wait for the Holy Spirit to have the next word. I found myself facing a large internal mountain that I hoped I would never have to face head on. Head on. Here I was. It was that moment in my life when I had no idea where the Father was and the worst thing that could happen – happened – to me.
My cast and I stood for a long time awkwardly, like we do, committed to authenticity before anyone makes another move. No one can tell a story effectively that he/she does not believe from the heart, thus the reason why so many messages fall lifeless and flat upon delivery. We would wait and find a way to engage our hearts, that’s how we work.
I stood and stared at my actors.
They stared back at me, waiting.
I looked them in the eyes.
They looked me in the eyes.
We began to drill down together.
Daring to face that moment.
Each – our own.
Our own moment when He felt absent.
We said nothing.
We waited for longer.
I physically stepped back and looked at the half-created scene of bodies waiting for direction.
What is this moment, God?
As clear as I bell I heard the Holy Spirit speak. His response sunk into my spirit and has served as a compass for me ever since. He spoke to me, Jesus took rejection from the Father so that you would never have to experience it. The Father’s face is always towards you. Come home.
Friends, we all are like “sheep that have gone astray” and do not deserve the Father’s acceptance. But in that rehearsal, I finally understood that Jesus took rejection from the Father that we deserved so that you and I could have the bliss of living with confidence in the Father’s love. The Father’s face is always towards us in acceptance. What a gift! You and I dismiss the sacrifice of Jesus when we insist that we need to be punished by shame before returning to God.
So … why are you wasting time? He just wants to be with you.
Reflection Question: When is the last time that you honestly faced God with a wide open heart? Can you return to that place with Him? Bend a knee. Lift your weary head. It's time to see His face again, and Him yours.
People are processing change. Some are being forced into it after the ground collapsed beneath their feet. These people are courageously stepping into new frontiers because they must. There will be grace for these people to discover a new world. The sun will rise again. These people are responding from strength.
There is another company of people, however, whose souls are thirsting for transition. The ground is still technically beneath them, but they are unsettled and itching to escape their current life. These people are aimlessly cutting ties and jumping off ledges into frontiers that promise them nothing, while their previous loyalties lay behind them in premature death. These people are reacting from weakness.
We are all facing change. How do we know whether we are responding or reacting? How do we know if we are being courageous or aimless? Finding focus or losing it?
Here is my attempt to provide a filter, a conversation, a knock on this moment in time …
What is motivating you to pursue change? Is it God’s voice or is it your restless heart? Who initiated the conversation? Who is continuing it? Does change give you an escape from a challenge, or does it call you into a challenge? Is this a new idea or an old idea for you?
You and I do not understand the impact that the societal unrest is having on us. We may feel it, but we don’t understand how it is informing our mental health and relationships. Months of isolation have left people in a pit of negativity about other people that is largely detached from reality. Relationships, organizations, churches and businesses are disintegrating as a result.
But, do they have to?
No. They do not have to.
Our commitments, loyalties, and friendships can find glorious days.
If, we don’t quit on them.
Presently they take more work.
Are you willing? Am I?
Ever admire someone who maintained a friendship for twenty years? Ever marvel at someone who attended the same prayer meeting for a decade? Ever meet someone who was part of a church plant team, and is still there years later? Granted, there are times to jump – depart - put up the sail – and GO! If that’s you, this piece is not for you. My hope is that you are already far out into the sea. But for many, this is not the time to set sail. On the contrary, this is the time to exert the hard work of remaining anchored.
There is a temptation right now to absorb the restlessness of the season and use it as an excuse to cut off commitments and loyalties that God has called us to maintain. People are choosing to pull up their anchors without realizing that they are voluntarily abandoning the very thing that God gave them to remain steady during this storm. Anchors will not be as easily found in the coming days as they once were. The sea of society will gleefully host this floating movement of renegades as they abandon their anchors now. However, these ships will likely still be floating aimlessly - looking for their “new shiny anchor” - years from now while their previous landing place hosts a hole that belongs to them.
I think there is a danger right now for people to abandon loyalties and call it courage, to take flight in the name of feeling "restless." The cultural unrest is providing free excuses to abandon people and things, no longer see them, and only engage with them through plexiglass and face masks, somehow massaging selfish ambition that laughs at the work of a long-loyalty in the same direction.
There are pressures of unrest all around us. This does not mean we have to become people of unrest. The bull is raging. This does not mean that we have to mount it. Some of us are mounting a raging bull, being flung around with uncertainty, even though the bull never asked us to ride it. “The raging bull was too much of a distraction,” we say, “so I gave into it and mounted!” The moment we react to the chaos, we are now being led by the chaos instead of by God.
The call in this time is to remain steady, rooted in God. We are called to be people of strength and maturity who are found with their anchors intact, who are still committed to the same people when the storm ends, who refuse to blame others for their own heart’s needs, and who understand that if you keep your land now then you will have something to plant on later.
Friends, do not forfeit your call.
Do not give up a good job.
Do not distance your heart from your friends, fight for your friendships!
Do not abandon your church.
Do not walk out on your community.
Most importantly, do not give up your life of submission to God’s voice.
If He is moving you, He can make that clear.
If it is not clear, you are likely being moved by something that you would say is not your God.
Simple faith, simple obedience, and passionate love work exactly the same in a storm as they do in the sun. Hang on. Don’t react. Respond.
Resist the renegade movement.
Crawl with me into an imaginary old cave. It is dark, a soft dark. It invites us to hide away from the threat of an undefined day, and within it explore the comforts of time passed. The cave is lined with chests, archaic gold chests that leak bright light. Each holds a pile of words, poetry, language sewn together in a previous time. These chests protect the lyrics of ageless songs. These timeless words married tunes of music under heaven’s eye, and there found a covenant of art that would feed people for a very long time.
Come with me further into the cave. I want to share with you a string of lyrics that I re-discovered this week. Open this chest with me. Watch these dancing words emerge! These lyrics breathe. They breathe as if they waited a hundred years to breathe again for me, for you. Pull out the string, finger through them, let them feed you, as they have me this week. A poem credited to Joseph M. Scritten, written in 1855, a hundred and sixty five years ago.
What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer
Oh, what peace we often forfeit
Oh, what needless pain we bear
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged
Take it to the Lord in prayer
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer
What is the "it" in your life right now? Take it to the Lord in prayer. These age-old lyrics invite us into soul liberty. That liberty is the release of "it" into prayer. The answer lies in prayer.
Reflection: What old song feeds your soul? Can you pull it out this week and let it feed you? Read it's lyrics out loud over your heart. Don't scroll through them and move on, sit with them. Let them sit with you.
Having a new baby is like losing all your limbs to gain a fuller heart. Many of you know my story, others may not. My life history holds waves of unexpected losses, one after another. My daughter, Ruby Joy, went Home before she turned three years old. My life turned itself over into something that I never saw coming. My husband, Mitch, and I became empty-nesters way too soon, and for many years fought to solve the scream of internal emptiness, without success.
God in the midst of it has been, is, will always be - my friend, my saving grace.
Aimee Star Luse makes her explosive entrance to planet earth in the middle of May. I now find myself in a dramatic re-construction of my life, internal and external. Baby on my shoulder, hands tied up and down, bottle parts scattered, time swallowed wholly every day by something undefined - is a bold streak of splattering color on the orderly canvas of my "normal." In a sense it is familiar, a simple filling of a spot long empty in my heart. I have mothered a child before, this is not my first baby and its not something one ever forgets how to do. On the other hand, it is complex. I find myself flailing as a novice at a whole lot that I have not touched or engaged with for years. I am pressed to re-define what a successful day looks like, and in that to let go of a whole lot that has defined my identity for some time.
As I navigate this massive reconstruction in my life, I consider Nehemiah re-building the wall, Solomon re-building the temple, Jesus re-building His church. There is great divine purpose in a season of reconstruction. It re-positions us to become more fully surrendered to God. It knocks hard on the idols that we have housed unaware. It remind us that we possess nothing but Christ. It calls us into a future that our hearts sing about, but our minds have not perceived. Seasons of re-construction demand the focus of our internal life, to hang on for dear life as everything changes. These times require a willingness to work hard - by choice - to accept the change that is presenting and move courageously into it.
Friends, a new normal is upon us.
Whether you love it, or hate it.
And, you are not a victim of it -
but a King or Queen who inherits it.
What are you going to do with it?
I am finding that I am not the only one who is in a season of reconstruction. There are many people right now who are in this place of watching their lives deconstruct in front of their eyes. As is often the case, my isolated season, and yours, find wings of understanding in the context of a broader movement. I am not alone. You are not alone. We are being deconstructed and reconstructed. It is what God is doing, now.
Friends, we must embrace this time.
It's pulsing undefined purpose.
Don't fight it.
Let it happen.
Let things change.
Redemption is on the other side of our willingness to embrace change.
Father, reconstruct my life.
You are the potter.
I am the clay.
To you, I say "yes!"
Reflection Question: What would it look like for you to stop resisting change in your life? How can you embrace it? Where is your sense of purpose in the new thing?
Katie Luse is a speaker and writer who is passionate about navigating life with eyes on a hunt for beauty.