When I was just 15 years old, I had the privilege of going on a mission trip to Kenya. I had never once been in an airplane even once before, let alone experienced so many layovers.
Twenty years later, there are still things I remember vividly about that trip--
Bumpy van rides
Dancing with the village church children
Oohing and ahhing over the Sahara desert out my airplane window
Eating goat. Or should I say, chewing it.
When we first arrived at our host house, it was completely dark. After drinking customary tea and a small meal, we settled in for the night. I awoke early the next morning to the sounds of roosters crowing. I climbed onto my knees to peer out the window. The radiant sunrise was breathtaking.
Down below, the yard was surrounded by a large stone wall. It contained a small garden, and also a goat. I was enamored by what I deemed the “house pet.” That is, until a couple days into our trip.
That was when I realized my goat friend was gone. Later that evening we ate mystery meat.
Well, not so much a mystery. They explained what it was in Swahili. When I bravely asked, “What’s that?” they answered in plain English: “Goat!”
From what I remember, the meal actually tasted great (forgive me Mr. Goat). The problem was the texture was more like bubblegum and less like, well, meat.
Chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, chew.
I’m a talkative gal, but I think I hardly got in a couple dozen words that evening. I knew the meal was a generous gift for us guests. So I chewed, and I smiled, and I complemented the chef.
I was reminded of this distant memory as I read through the Gospels this week. That’s because, at times, Jesus’ words are just as hard to swallow as that not-so-mystery meat.
When I was a child, growing up in church, I innocently accepted them as normal. Now, as an adult, I understand why Jesus was— and is— so controversial.
“Whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” (Matthew 16:25)
What Jesus is saying here is that true, fulfilling, and eternal life can only be found in Him. If that statement wasn’t clear enough, later on He declares, “I am the Way and the truth and the Life.”
Chew, chew, chew, chew, chew.
Let’s be completely honest: this idea goes against our very human nature. More is more. Protecting what I have is good. The more I keep to myself, the more I have. Right?
Every earthly advertisement and self-help blog, and convey--
You can do it!
You are enough.
Believe in yourself.
Meanwhile Jesus says, in John 15:5, “...apart from me you can do nothing.”
As harsh as these words may sound, and as hard as they may be to swallow, Jesus doesn’t mince words because He knows only the whole truth sets us free.
The truth is we weren’t designed to live our lives independent from God. It has been His desire since the beginning of time that we would be rooted in an intimate relationship with Him.
I love what David Guzik says about Matthew 16:25-27, in his Enduring Word commentary: “You don’t lose a seed when you plant it, though it seems dead and buried. Instead, you set the seed free to be what it was always intended to be.”
Contrary to what the world says, we will never “find ourselves” outside of Christ. True, eternal, abundant life can only be found in Him. He wants all of us— our identity, our dreams, our purpose— to be buried in Him. This is why He told His disciples to “make disciples and baptize them,” as a sign that new believers were “all in.”
I know, for me, I’ve come a long way from where my journey started. But if I’m honest, there are still areas of my life that I hold behind my back. Jesus isn’t asking for anything He didn’t already give— He gave His whole self for us, and now He wants us to be completely surrendered to Him.
Friend, what part of your life are you still holding back from God? Do you find yourself struggling to stay rooted? Do you find yourself running to other sources for joy, purpose, peace, and fulfillment?
Jesus’ words can sometimes be hard to swallow but, like my goat, they are served out of love and compassion. He wants to free us from striving, and teach us how to lean on Him.
Acknowledge today that His way is the only way to life and freedom. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you be wholeheartedly all in.
As a mom, I can’t count the number of times I’ve felt like I have nothing else to give.
How many times have you been so exhausted that you’ve said, “I just can’t take one more thing!”
But, also, how many times have you said that only to have “one more thing” come up?
Indeed, we all know how it feels to be exhausted and need a break.
This is the proverbial "boat" the disciples were in, when we read their story in Mark 6. For weeks upon weeks the apostles had been traveling with nothing to their name but an extra shirt and a staff (Mark 5:8). They visited nearby villages, driving out demons, healing the sick, and preaching that people should repent. When they gathered together again, they each gave a report, then Jesus said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a remote place and rest...”
Imagine how good that must have sounded. Mark tells us they were so bombarded with needy people, they “did not even have time to eat.” (Gosh, that sounds all too familiar.)
Yes, Jesus. I deserve this! The disciples were probably thinking. Then Mark tells us “they went away in the boat by themselves to a remote place.”
There was just one problem, to which I think we all can relate: “Many saw them leaving and recognized them, and they ran on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.” (6:33)
“CAN’T I HAVE JUST ONE MINUTE TO MYSELF?!” I can imagine Peter lamenting. And all the Mamas say, “Amen” as a tiny hand slips under the bathroom door, again.
Did Jesus have mercy on them? Did He send the crowds away? No. He does something outrageous: He began to teach them. THEN, when dinner time came, He told the disciples to feed them.
Feed them? There were 5,000 men alone, let alone woman and children!
I can sense the tension in the disciples’ sassy response: “Should we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread?"
Jesus patiently endures their sarcasm, then He simply asks, “How many loaves do you have?” The disciples report, as they hand the meager snack to Jesus... Their total inventory? Five loaves and two fish.
Jesus isn’t alarmed. He simply blesses the food and breaks it, then hands pieces to each disciple to give to pass on to the people.
Now, I imagine you’ve heard this story before, so you’re not surprised to hear everyone ate until they were full. Well, apparently the disciples weren’t surprised either. Not because they’d seen Jesus raise a dead girl and open the eyes of the blind. Mark reveals that they didn't even perceive the miracle that happened through their very own hands "because their hearts were hardened” (Mark 6:52)
Hardened by what? Most likely disappointment and sheer exhaustion. They were zeroed in on the escape they thought they needed.
In the following verses we read what happened after the world's largest picnic. Jesus sends the disciples away to stall the people and give them a break. Later that night, Jesus is up on a mountain praying. He looks out and sees the disciples in their physical boat, straining. The wind blew so hard they were unable to continue crossing. Yet, here comes Jesus— out on the water, walking. Now, at THIS miracle, the disciples were “completely astounded, because they had not understood about the loaves. Instead their hearts were hardened.” (Mark 6:51-52)
The disciples had played a part in feeding probably 15,000 men, women, and children from 5 loaves and 2 fish! Yet not Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John share in their accounts that the disciples were ever “astonished.”
Maybe they were bitter that it seemed Jesus showed more compassion for the crowds than He did for them that day. But He wasn’t being heartless, instead He was trying to teach them an important lesson:
Jesus didn’t expect the disciples to muster up the miracle on their own. Their job was simply to posture themselves to receive, then pass the provision onto others.
The disciples wanted Jesus to take away the crowds so they could rest. Jesus wanted to show them how to find rest IN Him, in every season.
Friends, Jesus isn’t asking us to be the perfect Christian, the perfect friend, the perfect spouse, or the perfect mom. He doesn’t expect us to be everything to everyone. In the midst of our exhaustion and disappointment, God is simply asking that we position ourselves to receive from Him. He wants to work ordinary, everyday bread miracles through us.
In the middle of this seemingly never-ending pandemic, I think us moms are feeling especially depleted. We don’t have to leave the crowds (husband, kids, and pets) to find rest— we can have rest in every season by simply trusting in Him.
We serve a God whose power is perfected in our weakness. Instead of asking God for an escape, let’s position ourselves to receive the strength, the patience, the wisdom, and the peace that He freely gives. And when He multiplies what we have in our hands, may we be astounded and give Him the glory and praise.
Walking on water may be entertaining, but it’s the everyday Bread of Life that sustains.
My children are easily distracted.
It’s not unusual for me to catch them grabbing a snack or “checking in” on a sibling in the middle of digital learning. When I tell my boys to clean their room, I often find them playing with Legos instead. As their mom, I gently lead them back onto the right path, reminding them of what they are to be doing.
I am easily distracted too.
It’s not unusual for me to find myself on social media, staring at someone else’s latest #goals, project, or parenting hack. One moment I know exactly who I am and why I’m here… the next I’m careening down the rabbit trail of all the things I “should” be doing. (This most often happens in my marriage, motherhood, and ministry.)
Here are just a few “shoulds” I told myself this week:
You should take the kids on more walks.
You should make a chore chart.
You should post more pictures on social media.
While all of these are very good things, in the end my well-intended “shoulds” become exhausting.
Keeping up with the Joneses has always been a struggle, hasn’t it? The F.O.M.O. is real. But if we are to make our lives count during our short time here on earth, we must learn to stay on mission.
When I think about a man on a mission, I think about Jesus. He knew why He was here, and that vision propelled Him. No one could deter Him from His path. Carrying out God’s will for His life was food for His Spirit— life-giving and satisfying. His life was powerful because it was focused. (Think for a few seconds about all Jesus did in just a few short years of ministry!)
No, Jesus didn’t have Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram, but if we look closely, we can see multiple opportunities where He could have easily been distracted…
Satan tried to distract Him. (Matthew 4)
Even Peter tried to get Him off track. (Matthew 16:21-23)
The Pharisees and Sadducees constantly opposed Him.
Through it all, though, He never once swayed from His mission. And thank God He didn’t! Our very salvation depended on it.
So, then, what can we learn from Jesus’ example? I love what my friend, Anne, says: “God’s ways are always simple.” (Hint: simple doesn’t mean easy.)
When it comes to being moms on mission, there are only two things we need to do:
Easier said than done, right?
What is your mission as a mom? Is this something you’ve considered? Knowing your mission helps you to define what matters most, so you can let everything else take a back seat.
I’m convinced many of us don’t enjoy motherhood the way God intended because we’ve taken on a bunch of unnecessary expectations (here’s looking at you, Pinterest). Like Jesus, carrying out God’s mission should be satisfying and life-giving to us as well. That doesn’t mean it will be “sunshine and rainbows” all of the time, but it certainly shouldn’t feel like a burden.
Friend, what is God calling you to? I challenge you to spend some time in prayer, sit down, and write out your mission.
Next, acknowledge anything you’ve taken on that is heavy or ill-fitting. Just because fourteen friends have backyard gardens doesn’t mean you should too. Just because your sister’s kids are thriving at homeschool doesn’t mean it would be best for you. Just because your neighbor loves her side hustle doesn’t mean you will. Learn to set boundaries with both others AND yourself.
Once you acknowledge and get about your mission, you can expect a visit from the enemy called “Distraction.” It’s impractical to think you’ll never get off track. You will. I will. We all do.
Here’s the key: allow Jesus to firmly and lovingly re-center you. Ask Him to remind you who you are, and why you are here. Learn to “keep in step with the spirit” (Galatians 5:25). He guides and directs us, helps us in our weaknesses.
As moms, God has entrusted us with the next generation. This mission is too great to miss! Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, and run with focus.
As a mom, I live on a steady diet of my own words. Just when I think I have a problem or phase figured out, I’m confronted with another… then another… then another. Over time my mental list of “problems to tackle” seems a little too much like my never-ending pile of laundry. Do you ever feel the same?
Unlike my Mount Rushmore of stinky socks wrought with abomidable pre-teen stinch, I’ve learned I’m not alone in my quest to tackle all of life’s problems. Neither are you, my friend.
As Believers, God has placed within each of us the gift of the Holy Spirit, His very person and presence. The Bible tells us the Holy Spirit is a seal that serves as proof that we are His (Eph. 1:13). The Holy Spirit also convicts us of our sin (John 16:7-8), and intercedes for us according to God’s will (Rom. 8:26-27). I love the story of Mary and Elizabeth, found in Luke 1, because it points to another function of the Holy Spirit...
When Elizabeth became “filled with the Holy Spirit” she gained insight that she didn’t have before. In case you’ve never read the story, Mary never told Elizabeth about the angel’s visitation, or that she was carrying the Son of God. The Holy Spirit gave her that knowledge. Isn’t that awesome?
What’s even more mind-blowing is the Holy Spirit wants to do the same for you and me. Now, I’m not saying he’ll set off an inner-radar that tells you when your BFF is pregnant (that would be cool though, am I right?). However, when we find ourselves in difficult situations where the answers aren’t so clear, the Holy Spirit can reveal wisdom to us we wouldn’t have inside our own limited understanding. This is often called revelation or discernment.
The Bible tells us that the Holy Spirit searches “the depths of God” (1 Cor. 2:10), and gives us access to His knowledge and perspective. This is not a special gift reserved for the “ultra-spiritual” among us. It’s for you, for me, and for ALL followers of Christ!! The Holy Spirit can pull back the dark curtain of confusion from our minds, and allow the light of hope inside. He can help us recognize Jesus in every situation we face.
In what area do you need revelation today? Maybe it’s your marriage, a wayward child, finances, your career, or even your health. We were never made to have all the answers. We were made to look to the One who does.
You don’t have to figure out your next step alone. The Holy Spirit was given for this purpose. It doesn’t take an elaborate prayer, and it’s certainly not magic. Simply admit your need, ask Him for revelation, and keep your eyes and ears open.
“He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals the deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells within him.” Daniel 2:21-22 (CSB)
I recently celebrated my birthday. My family signed up with me to do the Savage Race, a 6 mile course over uneven terrain with 26 obstacles. Yes, we paid to do this. This race is no joke. It was harder than we thought, messier than we liked, and took longer than we planned.
I was telling some friends about it afterward and one said, “This sounds like your life—a Savage Race.” We laughed, but when I thought about it, I started to think she was not far off. My life has been harder than I hoped , it has been far far messier than I would have liked, and the obstacles have taken me longer to get through than I planned. Partly because I didn’t plan most of the obstacles I have encountered in my life. They just happened, and I had to decide how I was going to deal with them.
I thought when I signed up that the name “Savage Race” was a description of the race. But now I believe it is a description of who is running the race. A synonym for savage is fierce.
We need to be fierce to finish. I don’t believe we are to be brutal, cruel, or hard-hearted, but we do have to be fierce.
We have to look at the obstacles this life throws at us and say, I don’t know why this is here, or how I’m going to get past it, but I do know this—it will not defeat me or define me. We must have a fierceness in how we look at the things the enemy uses to destroy us.
Because as much as the enemy means to harm us, God means good for us.
And I am putting my faith in God’s ability to use whatever this obstacle is for my good more than I am the in enemy’s ability to harm me.
At one point in the race, I was swinging 10 feet above a muddy pool of water hanging from monkey bars wondering how I got there and how I was going to get down. Somehow I made it the rest of the way across without falling. All of a sudden I had done something I didn’t know I was capable of—an obstacle with the potential to stop me instead revealed something about me I didn’t know.
There were other obstacles I tried and failed. I fell. But even in the falling, I knew I had tried. I knew I had attempted something rather than being defeated by the idea of it.
Life throws us things we didn’t anticipate or prepare for, and we aren’t given a step-by-step guide on how to get through them.
But we have The Guide. The Teacher.
And when we fall down, because we will, we have The Comforter. And in these moments of falling or flying, we will find out things about ourselves we would never have known. If we invite Jesus into our process, into our daily life, into our obstacles then we will stop letting fear tell us what we can and cannot do.
We will learn to stop letting the fear of failure and pain keep us from loving and daring and hoping. We will find our hearts, and we will come fully alive. Because that is what this race is really all about.
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV)
Jesus, show me the fierceness You have placed in me to be an overcomer. Show Me what You want to do in me and through me with the obstacles that lie before me — the ones I know about and the ones yet to come. Replace dread and fear and fill me with a sense of excitement and anticipation for the adventure that lies ahead of me with You. You are good. You are faithful. I trust my life and my future to You.
Author: Brooke Kireta