Escape. Retreat. Refuge. We all long for some type of relief at some point in our lives. For some it’s tragedy, health scares, or just the mundane everyday-ness of life. And sometimes, in one day, we can be at the top of the world and in the depths of the. Our emotions run rampant and we feel ecstatic one moment and ticked off the next. Why is that?
Emotions are fickle, unreliable little tyrants who have far too much control in our life. Circumstances are those things that drive the emotions so if emotions are tyrants and circumstances are conductors, then what do we do with what we feel? How can we process our emotions and feelings and frustrations in the midst of controlling circumstances?
By living in refuge.
Refuge is defined as a shelter, protection, aid or relief. God is all of that. He shelters us. We find comfort in his love. He protects us by defending us. He offers us aid if we will accept it. And sometimes, he just plain offers us relief for a brief moment when we meet him in the secret place.
Living this life is a both/and kind of experience. We live in this world where we experience all the good and bad the world has to offer. We also live in God’s kingdom where we find peace and comfort that makes no sense when we consider our circumstances.
But back to those emotions. Process your emotions in the refuge that God provides. Show him your hurts. Scream your pain. Unfold your hands from your shame.He welcomes you with open arms. He pulls on threads that don’t belong and replaces them with vibrancy that makes your life nuanced with depth and color.
“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:9-10.
Seek him. Seek him for relief from life. It’s easy to self-medicate ourselves with food, chocolate, coffee, alcohol, drugs, tv, pleasure, or hobbies. True relief comes when we bring ourselves, our messed up selves, to God and say: “Here I am. I can’t keep going. Help.” And he does.
He gently wipes your tears. You’re kindly pointed in the right direction, and he walks with you. He won’t forsake you if you seek him.
Seek him and find him.
Grab a 3×5 card and write down the main controlling emotion you struggle with.
Head to Bible Gateway and type in that emotion in the search box.
Choose a verse that speaks to your need and write it under the emotion on the 3×5 card.
Tape the 3×5 card in a place where you see it regularly.
I recorded a special video greeting detailing the one thing that I always come back to every December. It has helped me face the difficult Decembers, it has helped settle me when the busyness threatens to overwhelm, and it has helped keep me focused through it all.
God is so gracious and so good; He truly is Emmanuel!
Many years ago, I was Women’s Ministry President, Children’s Ministry Director, and a Youth Sponsor—all at the same time. It was exhausting and in the midst of the busyness I realized I had forgotten how to sit at Jesus’ feet and just be.
So I finished out my term as Women’s Ministries president and declined reelection. I found a replacement for the Children’s Ministry and informed the youth pastor I could no longer be a sponsor.
I thought this “learning to be” would be easy, but it was not. I had looked to my roles and the spotlight as indicators of my significance, and with nothing to do, my heart panicked.
Identity is so much more than my roles, reputations, accomplishments, past, present, or future. Through faith I’m believing that I’m accepted and secure in Christ. Although there’s still an internal wrestling, especially on days when I’d rather give up and move to the wilds of Alaska, except for the snow thing and the dark days.
But this significance thing? I still don’t have it figured out. Significance and pride are so interwoven in my heart that it takes the grace of God to unwind. I’m writing and living from that tangled place.
The desire for significance is not an ungodly desire, but I make it ungodly when I chase after success in my roles, approval ratings, and reputation. Only God can fulfill my desire for significance and it’s only when I began exploring God’s definition of significance that I discovered three areas that, when combined together, make significance simple to understand.
Part 1 of significance is tied to our purpose and it’s only when we embrace our purpose— as defined by God— that we can grasp part 2 of our significance, which is our position:
Ephesians 2:6, “And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” NIV
1 Corinthians 3:16, “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit lives in you?” NIV
2 Corinthians 5:17-21, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” NIV
I am God’s temple, but it’s not about me.
After I die to my own sins, God raises me up and seats me with Christ, not so I can lord it over people, but to serve.
God makes me a new creation and pours his grace over my life, not so I can be blessed, but so that I can effectively be his minister of reconciliation to a lost and dying world.
My purpose is tied to my position. I am not in this world for my own pleasure and happiness, although I have a great deal of things that make me happy and bring me pleasure, like sharing song and words and beauty, but ultimately I have been given a position that needs good fruit.
Our position as God’s ministers is to make him known and to reconcile the world to him. But we can’t do this if we don’t know him or understand our identity in him.
This is where I can scare myself into inaction because the gravity and responsibility of this position is weighty. It also explains why I sometimes flat out refuse to take the next steps in growth in my Christian walk.
All those years ago, God was calling me to let go of my positions so that I could sit at his feet and begin to understand the significance that he calls me to, but I was scared to obey. I liked being in charge and having “important” things to do. I wrestled with giving up my positions in the church because I was afraid of losing significance. What I gained out of the perceived loss of significance was the beginning of the journey to truly embracing my identity in Christ.
As I took the time to be in his presence rather than be busy in his church, my definition of significance was replaced with his. Bearing fruit and serving others through the ministry of reconciliation is a gift.
It’s a weighty gift because I know how hard it is to stay grafted to the vine and engaged with culture. I know that if I reject the position God has called me to be as his temple and as his minister, that the purpose of bearing good fruit is pointless.
There will be times when we’re tempted to find our significance in other things, we’ll misrepresent God to the world, and we’ll do and say things that are opposed to his holy righteousness. Our purpose and position can feel impossible to accomplish. But it is possible and we find the key to success in the final area of significance.
When we combine the three aspects of significance we will find that fulfilling our purpose and position is accomplishable. Till next time.