I think so many of us are working overtime to hold it all together for ourselves and our families. We desperately want to be enough, and wonder if we are. All the while, we have our own needs to tend to, and all too often, they are put on the back burner.
My newest Bible study, Grounded in Hope, comes out in January, and I've written this study for the women I know who are ready to let go of the “try hard” life and figure out how to run this marathon with grit and grace. These are the women who want to know Christ in a deeper way and are ready to grow. It's based on the book of Hebrews which contains some of my favorite passages in the whole Bible. It was a privilege to write it for you.
Hebrews contains some of the most beautiful passages you'll find in Scripture. It will comfort you and challenge you. Every word of it has a treasure to mine, and those who are willing to make the effort will be richly rewarded.
Never have I been more convinced of the importance of women being grounded in hope. There is much in the world that discourages us, but frankly, there are just as many things within our families that wreck our hearts. Most of us are doing the best we can to love, serve, and take care of the people close to us, but heartache and despair still steal in through a crack in the door. I don't know about you, but I can get pretty tired from the effort to hold things together.
Hebrews reminds us that it isn't all up to us. Yes, we have our part to play, but ultimately, God has got a grip on those things that feel out of control. I know this, you know this, but this study of Hebrews will give us a bigger view of God that will help us believe it. Hope springs up when we see that all the threads are being woven together by the master artist. We are not disintegrating. We are being built.
We need to be grounded in truth as well. Our postmodern culture works like carbon monoxide; we don't notice that we're breathing it in, yet it's slowly but surely killing us.
We all look at life through a certain lens. This is our “worldview”- the lens through which we see the world. It's the set of assumptions that we hold, consciously or subconsciously. Depending on the glasses that we are wearing, we're going to have a very distinct way of approaching the big questions of life. Currently, one of the most pervasive worldviews is postmodernism. Because this is such a popular worldview right now, seeing life through this lens is appealing, acceptable, and won't cause you to stand out.
What are the distinctives of the postmodern worldview? These are some of its main aspects:
An alternative lens is the Christian worldview. The same issues and questions come into play, but the answers are very different. The Christian perspective says:
Here's the problem. Just because a certain worldview is the most pervasive way at looking at things today - just because these lenses look good to the general public- doesn't mean that we are seeing things as they really are. And if we get it wrong on these main issues, we get the whole thing wrong. We get what matters most, wrong.
We need to put on the oxygen mask of God's Word to keep our head straight in the midst of total confusion. We need to know our story. When the postmodern culture tells us that “there is no grand narrative.” something in us should make us pause and say, “No. That's not right. There IS a narrative that actually makes sense out of all the crazy things that go on in our world. There IS a story - there IS an eternal plan.” And we have a key role to play in this epic tale, if we are willing.
So let's dive into this rich and dense book in the new year and see what God has to say. We will not be disappointed.
Grateful to be running beside you,
Founder and chief purpose officer
Walking with Purpose
Dear reader: We have updated one of our favorite blog posts, originally published this time last year. We hope it provides you with a sense of peace and contentment with your place in His plan.
“May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”
St. Thérèse of Lisieux
I've noticed something interesting about what gets me on and what gets me off of social media. Boredom gets me on, and I can lose track of time as I scroll mindlessly. What gets me off is discontentment. I see something or someone that makes me feel badly, less than, or inadequate, so I turn it off. I think I could be spending my time a little better than this.
I'm reminded by Theodore Roosevelt that “comparison is the thief of joy.” I'm tired of allowing my happiness to be robbed by something so preventable. Are you? We all know that everything presented on social media is the curated and filtered version. So why do we get caught in the trap of comparing “my worst with her best?” Because who really knows what's behind that perfect picture on Facebook? My cover photo shows my family happily smiling on my daughter's wedding day. What it doesn't show is my worries that the reception is going to not turn out as planned, my sadness over my daughter moving so far away, my deep desire to turn back the clock and re-do every moment that I missed because I was too busy. Photos don't show the whole story.
Underlying our discontent is the sense that there is something better out there, and the belief that if we had it, we'd be happier. But if you look back on your life, isn't it true that as soon as you get that one thing you've been dreaming of, a new desire takes its place? The appetite for more is never satisfied.
There is a different way to live. God created you as a one-of-a-kind, creative, difference-making masterpiece. Yes you. You are not the exception to the rule. Don't equate that description with success in your career, breathtaking Instagram feeds, or accolades. Being a world-changer simply means that you take seriously the call to run YOUR race without looking to the left or right and comparing yourself to others. It means trusting God that you are exactly where you are meant to be, and being faithful right there.
You are a part of a grand narrative, and if you do not take your place in God's story, the world will miss out on the unique gifts you bring to the table. The writer of Hebrews doesn't want you to miss the specific course that God has mapped out for you, so he describes the race that you are to run:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…fixing our eyes on Jesus.” Hebrews 12:1-2
The book of Hebrews was written to people who felt beaten down and discouraged. They feel ready to give up, and are asking the question, “If God loves me so much, why is following Him so insanely hard?” My guess would be that they were probably looking to the left and the right, and wondering why life is easier for other people.
So the author seeks to change their perspective on their circumstances. They are asked to picture a race within an arena, with a track for the athletes to compete on, and spectators to witness it all.
The word race comes from the Greek word “Agon” (ag-one'). We get the word agony from this root word, and the word race could also be translated conflict, struggle or fight. What the author of Hebrews wants us to get is that life is a race- and the race is one of agonizing struggle. It isn't a short sprint- it's a marathon.
We need patience, endurance, and the willingness to persevere in order to run this race. We need to throw off comparison, because it hinders us like nobody's business. I love what N.T. Wright has to say about the race:
This race is a long haul, and you need patience. There are always some runners who really prefer a short sprint; some of them, faced with a ten-mile run, will go far too fast at the start and then be exhausted after two or three miles. Sadly, many of us will know Christians like that too: keen and eager in their early days, they run out of steam by the time they reach mature adulthood…Give me the person, any day, who starts a bit more slowly but who is still there, patiently running the next mile and the next and the next, all those years later.
I think it's great news that this race isn't only for sprinters! There is an honored place for plodders- for those who are steady at the wheel when the race is exciting, and when it's boring, and when it's sucking the breath out of you. This is the woman who is less concerned about her personal passions, gifts, and platform than she is about the fact that in the Christian life, someone has to be willing to take out the garbage. If you are one of those women, and if you feel that most of what you do goes unseen and uncelebrated, I salute you. Give me someone like you any day over charisma, sparkle and shine.
This woman's Facebook feed might look insignificant, but don't let that fool you. She's is too busy running her race to photograph it all beautifully.
Last Monday was the feast day of a woman who ran her race beautifully- St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the patron saint of Walking with Purpose. Instead of comparing herself to others, she trusted that God had her exactly where she was meant to be. She flourished in that place, despite its limitations and suffering. May you cultivate a content heart like hers, trusting God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.