Your True Selfie – the Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day Four

When I’m tired, stressed, hungry (or Lord forbid, a combination of all three) the road to crazy is a short one for me. I find myself becoming less patient, complaining more, and increasingly frustrated. Instead of seeing my life clearly and through a grateful, hope-filled lens, all I can see are the problems I’m facing and my insufficiency to solve them.

Perhaps this is what happened to the Israelites when we find them in Numbers 11?

Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the Lord… Numbers 11:1a

Life in the wilderness was hard. It was hot. They were tired. They missed their comfy bed and favorite food. They were thirsty. And why did God choose this guy, Moses, to be their leader anyway?

Now keep in mind, this was only THREE days into their march towards the Promised Land. THREE DAYS, PEOPLE!

In the year since the Israelites had left Egypt, the Israelites had seen and experienced God’s dramatic deliverance (Exodus 14). They had received his miraculous provision of manna (Exodus 16). God had given them water from a rock (Exodus 17), and if that wasn’t sufficient to bolster their faith, they witnessed his presence on a daily basis leading them in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Numbers 10).

Wasn’t that enough to keep the pep in their step and hope in their heart? Wasn’t their freedom enough to fuel their faith to find joy in their journey?

Apparently not.

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” Numbers 11:4-6

Did they forget what life was like for them in Egypt? It’s not like they were livin’ the easy life in their beach-front property, with a fully stocked fridge and a Starbucks on every corner!

Did they forget they were slaves in Egypt? Didn’t they remember how hard they worked laboring day and night? Did they fail to remember what their former leader, Pharaoh, was like? 

It’s easy to allow our perspective to become clouded, isn’t it? Like a dull film that settles my contact, I, too, find myself navigating with compromised vision, forgetting the many good things God has given me.

Maybe you can identify. My days are probably a lot like yours—working, taking care of my kids, making meals, cleaning house, doing laundry, helping kids with homework, driving back and forth between school and sporting events.

When this cycle repeats and continues for too long, I can easily lose sight of the bigger picture. Slowly, my energetic, faith-infused, hope-filled heart wanes and my outlook on life begins to seem so . . . blah.

Usually, about that point, I’ll go on Facebook or Instagram and all of my feelings are confirmed – I’m reminded of how ordinary my life is compared to everyone else’s.

And subtlety, I find myself spiraling into a cycle of complaining. Poor me.

I hate to admit it and I get really good at justifying it, making excuses for it, minimizing it. But look at how God responds to the Israelites complaining.

…and when he [the Lord] heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the Lord burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. Numbers 11:1b

Yikes. That’s pretty serious stuff.

God heard their complaints and He wasn’t very happy about it. In fact, this verse tells us that God was so angry that He sent fire among them that consumed some of them.

Isn’t that a little extreme? Or as my kids would say, “extra”?

But it’s worth considering that if God’s anger was aroused when the Israelites complained, how would he respond to me? To my grumbling, my complaining, my lack of gratitude?

You see, when we respond to God’s work in our life with a complaining attitude, we’re actually intimating that what God has given us is insufficient. His provision is not good enough.

Like a toddler throwing a tantrum, we demand something more, something different, something we feel we deserve and our whining and stomping calls into question God’s provision.

And God hates it.

What if we learned to pause more? To express gratitude? To show gratefulness. To thank God for creating me and making me just as I am. With all of my flaws and inconsistencies.

I believe that’s the path to experiencing the deep contentment and peace of God in my soul. That’s the first step for us to take to embrace our true selfie. 

When we learn to express gratitude for the little things, the little things don’t seem so ordinary anymore. They’re seen as gifts given to us by a good and gracious Father.

And then something even crazier begins to happen. Our heart begins to change. Our perspective begins to change. We walk lighter and freer because we’re not looking around at all of the things we wish we had or things want to change or the things we don’t like about ourselves.

We’re content.

Even in the hot, dry desert. Even when we’re tired. Even when our life doesn’t make sense and things are working out as we hoped or planned.

We’re content because our focus has shifted from inward at our lack, outward to the greatness and goodness of God.

Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God_s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5_16-18

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

While everything around us screams to get our “outside life” together. God desires to do a much deeper work – one that works from the inside out. And it starts by thanking God for making you just the way you are.

Take a moment to consider…

  • What is one thing you like about yourself?
  • How have you seen complaining negatively affect your life and cloud your perspective and your ability to be grateful?
  • How could focusing on God’s love and goodness speak life into your soul and recharge you?
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Your True Selfie – The Relentless Pursuit of Who God Created You to Be

Day One

Our family had just completed our cross-country move from Los Angeles, California to Nashville, Tennessee, driving through rain, sleet and snow with five children under ten years old, a packed minivan and pet bunny. Whew!

After one month on the road, eating way too much fast food and living out of various hotels, everyone in the family (including the bunny) had frazzled nerves, testy tempers and fragile emotions.

To escape the cramped quarters of our hotel room (yes, ALL seven of us were staying in ONE room), one night we thought we’d head out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants. Why we dared to venture to a semi-nice restaurant at this point of the trip, I have no idea – we were clearly borderline delirious.

Your family has probably never had this kind of experience, but at the risk of being vulnerable – my pain will now become your pain.

Our three boys conveniently chose to expend an entire month’s worth of energy during this one-hour restaurant break, making LOTS of noise, bouncing up and down in the restaurant booth, wrestling, arguing… you get the picture. As I was getting the “stink eye” from the other restaurant patrons, our one-year-old daughter conveniently chose to this moment to produce her own “stink” in the form of a toxic poopy diaper.

Yes, we were THAT family.

On the verge of tears, I ventured out to the bitter cold to scrounge the floor of our minivan hoping to find a diaper hidden amidst piles of toys, luggage, and fast-food trash. My husband, Gregg, in an exasperated tone, handed me the keys told me,

“If you don’t come back, I understand.”

We laugh about it now, but at the moment, we were second-guessing our decision to uproot our family from a comfortable house, stable job and close friends to venture into this unknown territory of big belt buckles and country music.

This wasn’t what we had signed up for. The picture didn’t look as glamorous as we thought it would. In fact, it didn’t look appealing at all.

It would have been easy to give up, turn around and go back to what was familiar.

This was difficult.

Tiring.

Painful.

Lonely.

Uncomfortable.

As a little girl, I remember having lofty aspirations and dreams of what I would someday become. I had big plans to change the world and high hopes for what God would someday use me to accomplish.

Yet, that stormy night, I unexpectedly found myself in the middle of a snowy parking lot in an unfamiliar town, searching through my incredibly messy minivan for a clean diaper while my other four kids wreaked havoc in a neighborhood restaurant.

Did God forget that I have a college education?

What happened to my plans to be different, my aspirations to make a difference? Where did the passion and determination that I could do or become anything go?” What happened to this wonderful plan God had for my life?

Perhaps you can relate. Have you ever felt sidelined, left out or overlooked by God, wondering what you have to contribute? Feeling stuck? Thinking maybe you missed your opportunity to make a difference? Or perhaps you feel your mistakes disqualified God from using you?

You’re not alone in your thoughts. In fact, throughout scriptures, we see many sincere God-followers ask the same questions. Read the love and tenderness God expresses to his children through the prophet Isaiah…

But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.” 15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me. Isaiah 49:14-16

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands... Isaiah 49_16

As God tenderly reassures the nation of Israel, God persistently affirms his love towards us, gently, continually reminding us of his care and faithfulness. Prodding us to look to him.

God has not forgotten you. He created you, knows you intimately and has a great plan for your life – one that will bring glory to his name. As you seek him and allow your life to be shaped by him in an increasingly greater way, He will lead you.

Things may not always turn out the way you expected, and you may find yourself trapped in a restaurant during a winter storm with energetic toddlers, but you can trust that He is good and He hasn’t forgotten you.

Take a moment…

  • When have you experienced a season when you felt a little empty on the inside? Feeling that you were made for more than you’re currently experiencing?
  • What does this verse say about God and your incredible value to Him? How can knowing and meditating on the fact that God loves you and never forgets you breathe hope into your weary soul?

The Advent App

Jessie, my youngest daughter, has an app that plays Christmas music while telling you how close it is to Christmas. As I write, Christmas is exactly 4 days, 17 hours, 17 minutes, 32 seconds and 543,790 heartbeats away. Oops, I mean, Christmas is 4 days, 17 hours, 16 minutes, 55 seconds and 543,735 heartbeats away. Wait, now it’s…well, you get the idea.

Jessica is anticipating the arrival of Christmas. Since before Thanksgiving, she has been planning, preparing, decorating and getting ready for the big day.

For Christians, we call this the season of Advent. The word advent actually means the arrival of a notable person, thing or event. When we talk about the season of Advent, we’re referring to the waiting, anticipation, longing – even yearning – for the arrival of Jesus.

During the season of Advent we acknowledge that a Savior is coming, but He isn’t here yet. Hope is on the way, but we haven’t experienced the joy of it yet. Advent acknowledges the integrity of a promise made that has yet to be fulfilled.

The Jewish people were well-acquainted with waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises. Four hundred years of slavery longing for God’s deliverance; four hundred years of silence waiting to hear a word from God. Centuries of enduring oppressive rule from polytheistic while anticipating the arrival of God’s Kingdom.

At Advent we’re allowed room to acknowledge the pain and longing that often accompanies the waiting. This is incredibly freeing because, for many people, Christmas can be a less-than-holiday-cheer-and-merriment time of year.

  • Many of us are living far away from people we love and not being able to them during the holiday makes Christmas a lonely time.
  • For some of us, Christmas can be a painful season. Someone who was with us last year isn’t here this year. That hurts. The pain is still fresh and real.
  • For others, Christmas is difficult season of year. Financial pressure, relational struggle make the celebration of Christmas seem forced. It’s tough to navigate the tension and put on a cheerful face.

Advent invites us to be honest with our grieving, disappointment, longing and loneliness. We acknowledge the world of deep darkness in which we live and desperately wait for and long for His light to shine upon us.

the-people-who-walked-in-darkness-have-seen-a-great-light-those-who-dwelt-in-a-land-of-deep-darkness-on-them-has-light-shone-isaiah-9_2

I don’t know what this year was like for you. This year may have been a great year. But perhaps this year, you have a greater understanding of the longing that accompanies advent. Perhaps you’ve experienced unexpected loss, pain, heartache or unimaginable disappointment.

Advent says, “It’s ok to feel that way.” You don’t have to fake happy, push through or prop yourself up. Advent acknowledges the longing in our soul, but contains the expectant hope that our story is still being written.

Advent is a hope-filled reminder that what is broken will someday be repaired; what is hurt will someday be healed.

The extravagant promise of Christmas – even though darkness may surround me, the light of Christ will shine upon me once again. A baby is coming. He’s not here yet, but hope is on the way.

She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). Matthew 1:21-23