When God tore the curtain, He ripped through every social circle layer and hierarchy of people preference, leaving nothing but complete access to Himself to everyone who believes. And He doesn’t just allow us to come close because He’s nice and feels sorry for us. Before you were born, God intentionally carved out a place not just near Him, but in Him, and He in you. He has the scars to prove it.
Did you notice that on Jesus’ last day on earth He surrounded Himself with previously distant people? You’d expect the needs of His darkest hours to be met by His best friends and family, but on the road to the cross, it was a complete stranger, not Peter, who helped Him carry it. And as He hung there, a criminal, not James or John, would be by His side, sharing His last conversation and encouraging Him with his last-minute faith. And it wasn’t his family who carefully took His body down and buried it. That role was filled by two men He’d once called whitewashed tombs themselves.
He didn’t allow these people to draw near and touch Him just because they happened to be around. Those interactions were planned since the beginning of time. Isaiah 53 prophesied that Jesus would die with the wicked and be buried with the rich. He loved that criminal and those rich, religiously elite men. He allowed distant people to minister to Him because He wanted them close. He didn’t want fear, guilt, shame, or pride to keep them from drawing near. He gave them their strength, words, spices, and tomb so they could come close enough to hand them back to Him.
The same is true for us. We’ve been entrusted with the resources and gifts we have on purpose and were chosen to live in this time on purpose. You are essential to the body of Christ. There’s a place for you. Not on the street admiring from afar, but in a seat next to Him.
This is the good news. Jesus doesn’t have an “inner circle only” policy because He only has an inner circle. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever. And since He paid what it cost to demolish the barriers between Himself and every human heart 2,000 years ago, He doesn’t want anything to keep you from Him today.
If you’ve been allowing other people’s gifts and abilities to intimidate you and paralyze you in fear, recognize that their proximity to Him doesn’t exclude you. He’s made you worthy and wants you close, so pull up your seat at His table.
Early on in my grief journey, I scoured the Bible for any sort of example of what I was experiencing. I wanted to find answers on how I was supposed to survive the pain I was feeling. The more I read, the more I realized that God doesn’t promise us rainbows and sunshine, and worry-free life on this earth. On the surface, that may seem like a harsh reality because that’s what we are all searching for.
However, in the Bible, we see Jesus suffering and weeping over the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11:35). We see the Disciples distraught and upset with the news that Jesus would soon be leaving them (John 13: 37). We see Jesus speaking about the future trials and turmoil of this earth. He speaks about earthquakes, famine, war, hatred, persecution, and death (Matthew 24: 6-12).
The truth is that not even Jesus, God with skin on, was exempt from suffering under the weight of this fallen world. But here’s the good news: Jesus leaves us with hope! Jesus said:
I don’t know about you all, but I’m thankful for a Savior that acknowledges that this world is hard. I’m glad Jesus didn’t sugarcoat and discredit the trials that we will all face.
However, I’m even more grateful for a Savior who is our Living Hope; Who promises resurrection, peace, and life through Him. This hope has carried me through my own grief journey, and is also available to you, too. In this world we will have trouble, friend, but take heart! In Him we have hope.
Jesus did come, and He began teaching the crowds. The boy listened intently, trying to understand His parables. Then he overheard Jesus asking His disciples where they could buy food for the crowd. After laughing, one of the men responded, it would take a year’s salary to buy enough food! Just then, another one of Jesus’ followers began approaching the boy, eyes locked on his basket. He didn’t know what to do! He wasn’t expecting to be noticed. The young man shyly offered his lunch. But He couldn’t imagine how it could feed so many people.
I imagine Jesus knelt down in front of this little boy, because Jesus loved children and valued them as much as He did everyone else. Jesus took the loaves and the fish and gave thanks, and the disciples began to distribute the food to the crowd. Much to the boy’s surprise, there wasn’t only enough food for everyone to eat until filled, but there were also twelve baskets left over! The boy, who had started his day just hoping for a glimpse of Jesus, became a part of His story.
Sometimes I feel a lot like I imagine this young man did: not important enough, talented enough, or (fill in the blank) enough to be used by Jesus. I find myself lowering my expectations, not really expecting to be a part of anything special. Do you ever do this, too?
When I was in high school I heard a song called “Ordinary People.” This song comes to mind every time I read about the boy in the crowds, with the meager lunch basket. The lyrics emphasize the truth that God uses ordinary people to do His extraordinary work. We just have to be willing to give him what we have, no matter how little or insignificant it may be. Jesus takes our “ordinary,” and turns it into much more than we could ever imagine.
As for me, my “basket” holds a passion for baking. God has taken that gift and used it to bless and encourage people in time of need. Whatever is in your basket— no matter how seemingly quirky or insignificant— rest assured: God can use it.
Next time you are feeling insignificant or wondering if you even have anything worth offering to God, remember the little boy and his little lunch. He gave it all to Jesus and he turned it into a meal for thousands.
He is waiting today to make much out of our little. Open your hands and your heart and give all you have to Him.
He was desperate. The disciples had tried but could not free his boy of the spirit. Upon Jesus’s rebuke, the father cried, “I believe, help my unbelief!” Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out screeching and throwing a fit.
The disciples had authority yet they failed to free the boy. They had authority, but their belief in that authority was now challenged. Had they grasped the attitude authority affords?
Have I adopted that attitude? Have you?
I exercise authority in my role as a parent, but do I have an attitude of authority over my emotions or moods? Or over my words, both spoken and thought? Over my perception of circumstance?
Am I walking in authority knowing I am the thinker of my thoughts, or am I letting those pesky worries steal my focus?
I have authority to proclaim the kingdom of God in all areas of my life. Do I proclaim it? Or do I make excuses? Excuses come between us and receiving what God has for us.
Prayer and fasting keep me in tune with who God is and who I am in Him so I can receive God’s love and power from a posture of complete surrender to His authority. (Maybe that is why Jesus answered the disciples’ confusion by sharing the need to pray and fast.)
When I am surrendered, I can operate with an attitude of authority--
I can claim kingdom authority in all areas of life. So can you.
So my question is: which father are you? Do you recognize Jesus’s authority and walk in it yourself? Or, like the other father, do you struggle?
So often, in my life, I struggle. To me, it can feel scary, bold, and completely out of my comfort zone to walk in the authority of Christ, but it is part of our call as believers to do it.
Can we, sisters, commit to try? Will you join me? We can be comforted in knowing that when we fail, just like the desperate father, we can cry “Jesus, help my unbelief!”...and He will.
I didn’t realize it then, but this mission can be summed up in one of the most familiar prayers of all time; a prayer that Jesus Himself invited us to pray. The “Lord’s Prayer” is spoken far and wide, but when we really dig in, we find there is enough power to change our lives in the first two verses alone.
“This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name...’”
This prayer is a beautiful invitation into a different kind of life than the common self-reliant life most of us live. ‘Hallowed’ is a bit of an ancient word, but a synonym for the word is the word ‘honored.’ When we honor His name, we honor all of who He is. He is Provider, Healer, Friend, Banner (Victory), Shepherd, Peace, Refuge, Present, Righteousness, Holy, Love, and so much more.
Can you imagine if we rehearsed who He is every single day in this prayer? I imagine our fears would be calmed, our trust would deepen, we would be inwardly at rest and our identity would become fixed in Him. Focusing on God shifts perspective, gives courage and promotes love. It changes who we are and in turn changes how we live. Looking at Him paves the way for the next verse.
“‘...your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’”
When we pray these words, we are asking for His Kingdom ways to infiltrate the earth. It can feel overwhelming to pray this until we realize His ‘Kingdom come’ is simply the result of individuals living differently. When we live with a “Your Kingdom come, your will be done” mentality, we begin to live our days on mission. We want HIS will to be done, not our own. This kind of heart changes our actions. We don’t get to choose other’s choices, but we always get to choose ours.
His ‘Kingdom come’ in our lives may look like…
Handling a temper tantrum with grace
Responding well when offended
Staying up late speaking life to a hurting friend
Welcoming others into our home with open arms
How many of the most important moments of Jesus’ ministry were, at the time, seemingly small and inconsequential? What if ‘His Kingdom come’ isn’t always a splashy moment in time, but a display of His grace, love and kindness in our hard world? What if like our friend’s home, our homes become a refuge, a sanctuary of sorts where His Kingdom ways are operating more and more?
What if we lived like that wherever we find ourselves? Never perfect, but always growing.
Father, who is above and over all, honored be your name. May YOUR kingdom come, YOUR will be done, in our lives and in our homes as it is in Heaven today.