God’s got a plan for ya! (Thank you and Fuck you.)

The last thing a person wading through waiting wants to hear is, “God’s got a plan for ya!” “Thank you so much for sweeping right over my present emotional state and desperate cry for help by reflecting some Sunday school truth that only makes YOU feel better! Thank you so much for smacking me in the face with a block of promise that makes God feel disappointing, slow to work and absent. Thank you for ignoring the human in front of you for the desire to be some sort of faithful sounding hero. Thank you so much! Thank you.”

I’m not frustrated by your pithy saying because I don’t believe it. I’m angry and sad because I do believe it so fully while feel like a scared desperate child. Yes and yes. I know God has plan for me. I have to believe that or why bother going on in this world that feels on the verge of a global explosion. I’m angry and sad because when you say, “God’s got a plan for ya,” I am reminded of my inability to control the future, my exhaustion from trying to predict the future and my need for a god who does have a mighty magical plan for me. I am sad and scared and I have great faith that things will pan out. I am angry and tired and hopeful that being present right now leads to the next right thing.

Humans spoon out trash sayings and advice. However if we allow it, egos aside and our radar for best intentions on, even that can become treasure. God has a plan for me. Right now I am feeling eh and expectant in the plan.

The Effort of Living

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

Ephesians 4:1-3

A life worthy of God’s calling requires humility, gentleness, patience and effort to keep the unity by living though the bond of peace. This takes effort. This takes work and heavy lifting. Sometimes who you have to bear in love feels heavier than you have the strength to take on. To live a calling is to choose it in every moment, in every relationship and every circumstance. Within that choice are moments when you choose otherwise; that does not remove your blessing or calling. Each moment and choice is a reminder that there is always a way worthy of your calling, and God encourages you to step in the direction of that bigness.

A word on peace. Peace is not hushing injustice. Rather it is taking action against injustice that seeks to disturb our bond of unity and alignment with God. Peace is not passive. It is a constant recalibration to God’s heart that all of humanity is honored and have access to God. Peace is not smiles and empty sayings. Peace is not the absence of conflict; conflict is a reflection of where we need to come back into alignment with God. Peace is here and not yet. We are constantly living in that tension because this world is not always living up to the calling its been called to exist within.

I pray that we are peace creators and upholders, and when that means we need to step into areas of conflict, dissonance and disturbance, we do that with humility, gentleness and patience. Our hearts desire peace, and if we want a genuine lasting kind that permeates our space and our body, we need to address what is not right and not simply ignore and pretend everything is fine.

Living like it’s a Gift of Grace

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.

Ephesians 3:7-12

No matter how high and powerful you are, wherever you are, you serve something or someone. What philosophy, priority or perspective do you live by? Who do you seek to please? Where or from whom do you derive your power and purpose? What do you get to do which feels like a gift of grace?

I take many aspects of my life for granted, from being able to live in my city to pursue my dream career to being able to laugh fully. The former takes a grasp of hopes and dreams and the latter derives from exercising my diaphragm muscle. These things are not givens for everyone — the mindset of pursuing something that is brave and fulfilling, and the space and ability to enjoy, play and be silly. These are gifts I have received by grace because of my ancestors’ hard work and because of God’s divine provisions. I also don’t think there is a final arrival for these gifts; I will get to expand and grow until the end of my days.

I encourage you to press into the thing that you get to do that expands you, that reminds you of God’s freedom and confidence in you. I encourage you to serve the good news of freedom, unity and wholeness and see where it takes you, who it leads you to and how it manifests. I encourage you to lead by serving a purpose greater than yourself. I pray that you can live into the thing that makes you think in each moment, wow! woah! this is all a gift!

Alignment & Integrity

And God placed all things under [Christ’s] feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

Ephesians 1:22-23

You ever turn your heard one way and leave your body facing another? There is strain not only in the neck; if you listen and quiet down enough, you’ll feel the tension and battle ripple through from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. There is a sense of integrity that holds us up from the top of our spine which is at the center of our head to the bottom of our sits bones to the bottom of our feet. When we stand in that, our whole body relaxes into peace and purpose.

There is a vulnerability and attention required to face our bodies in the direction of our head & eyes. There is a surrender of areas our eyes and head are not facing and a trust that what we see in front and in our periphery are what we are supposed to be aware of right now. However if you stay attuned, your back isn’t just exposed and vulnerable — it too can sense and focus on a different level.

Jesus was human and the limitation of that is he could only be at one place a time, however he could have a constant ambient care for the world at large. But in each moment, he needed to honor what was in front of him and act accordingly. That was what was most useful for his audience in each given moment. That was what was most useful for the writers to string together his journey in the gospel: a step at a time, in the direction that was led by his head, God. The task for us is to have that same focus and faith to the things right in front of us, while holding ever so softly all the things that are happening around us. We do not exist in a vacuum. We are interdependent and constantly affecting each other. Can you find the integrity and alignment in your body so that it aligns with God’s kingdom and purpose that includes all of humanity?

Be a Witness of Hope

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, ‘Sit here while I go over there and pray.’ He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.’ Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’ When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!’

Matthew 26:36-46

The truth is always something that is told, not something that is known. If there were no speaking or writing, there would be no truth about anything. There would only be what is.

Susan Sontag

Jesus’ time at Gethsemane might be ‘the calm before the storm,’ the ‘storm’ being his torture & execution. While I think what is to come is horrible, this moment before is equally scary, maybe even more devastating. In this moment, Jesus is at the edge of a cliff, knowing he needs to jump but cannot even see the bottom. Jesus feels the depth of sorrow. Jesus feels the loneliness with his friends asleep. This task is for uniquely for him, and only he can fulfill it.

The gap between knowing what needs to be done and doing the thing reveals our fears and our faith. How do we get from our ego to a kind of living that thinks beyond ourselves which incorporates God’s will? How do we arrive at a place where our will aligns with God’s will, not out of obligation, but out of love and purpose? How can we act from a place of surrender & sorrow? How can we act from a place of service when what we witness breaks our hearts? How can we become witnesses of surrender & a will greater than ourselves?

Bring your defeats, your doubts and fears to God. Be radically honest. I pray God honors your honesty with radical trust. Live out of that radical trust that you have a great purpose. When you can sense and see the sorrow of this world, yet choose to go on, you are a witness of hope.


And [Hannah] made a vow, saying, ‘Lord Almighty, if you will only look at your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.’

1 Samuel 1:11

Why would Hannah want something so much only to give it back to God? What’s this immense desire coupled with outrageous promise of surrender? How can one want so much and also keep that want connected to the larger picture?

There is a faith, love and trust required to hold something you love loosely. Each moment is precious. Each moment is meaningful. Because every moment might be the last moment of holding this thing so close. Hannah knew that whatever she received was from God and therefore belonged to God’s purposes. Hannah didn’t just want a son; she wanted a son who’s life was going to be magnificent. She wanted her dreams fulfilled while the world was also impacted by her blessing. She knew that her blessing was to exist to be shared.

So what if it’s not that our desires and wants are too big, but actually not big enough? What if we dream so big it is inevitable that it would require faith and love to endure? What do you want that is so big that it will not only impact you but call into power and presence the purposes of God? Can we dream so so so out of this world that it would feel like God made it happen? Can we dream so big that it would require our priorities and focus to shift towards faith?

The Gospel

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed — a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: ‘The righteous will live by faith.’

Romans 1:16-17

Now more than ever, I find it so hard to answer the question, are you a Christian? There is so much baggage and preconceived notions wrapped up in the identification. There’s also a kind of flexing that might result from identifying as such. How often do you see people who identify as Christians spew the most hate, live the most selfishly and taint the beauty of God? They claim a holy Biblical standard that they don’t adhere to or doesn’t allow to penetrate into any relevance or impact on this side of heaven.

Then I used to say, well…yeah…I love Jesus, this more heart-centered way to express how and for who I live my life. But then it gets kind of wooo wooo and I feel myself throwing out disclaimers and trying to fluff up what I mean by that.

That is why I’m so moved by the simplicity in this passage. I believe in the gospel. I am not ashamed of the gospel. I am built up and led by the gospel. I believe that God loves the world, loves us so much and wants our wholeness and holiness felt fully. God demonstrates his love and hope through Jesus Christ, who lived a life full of purpose, forgiveness, radical love and miracles. We get to believe this dude was for real because if he was that means we too can have access to lives of deep purpose, forgiveness, radical love and miracles. And I believe the gospel because I believe God is ALWAYS with me. The Holy Spirit lives in me and reminds me of my worth & sense of home. So I believe in the gospel. I believe that hope has the final say and that transformation is inevitable. This is what I believe and I am not ashamed of it.

YOLO guarded by the Spirit

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. he has saved us and called us to a holy life – not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. And of this gospel I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher. That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know when I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you — guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.

2 Timothy 1:6-14

What gets me is the see-saw I experience in life. One moment I am determined to live my life to the fullest, have a DGAF attitude and live in my power by doing things where after I can say, No one can judge me, but God. The next I’m reading this Word and there’s another kind of power that makes my life moments dim and the purposes of God so bold. Here Paul makes living for the gospel, living a holy life so worthwhile, so much bigger than us. And aren’t we all at least a bit drawn to living a life that exceeds beyond our little life?

It’s the marrying of these two moments — the DGAF, only God can judge me energy of being in this world WITH the big purpose, living for the gospel hope that makes every interaction, every word, every action meaningful. How does this play out in our daily thoughts, relationships, pursuits and paths?

In church, they always encourage us to measure all life by the Scriptures, but instead of leaning into a one way street where the Word of God sometimes halts all our behaviors and actions, make it more of a conversation. Yes, before acting and speaking let it filter through the bigness & goodness of the Word of God. But you have to come back to this world, too. What does it look like to still pursue those actions and honor those desires but with the refreshed & renewed sense of bigness, goodness and power of God? It doesn’t always have to mean, don’t do it anymore, give up your hopes. It could mean, boundaries, coming back to your immutable worth and not doing things just to please others and the world, or realizing that the standards the church has used to tried to shame you into a “holy life” may actually not align with the Word of God. Live a YOLO kind of life that honors the gospel.

The Focus in Faith

Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, ‘Lord, who is going to betray you.’ When Peter saw him, he asked, ‘Lord, what about him?’ Jesus answered, ‘If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’

John 21:20-22

Peter was literally brought back into the fold of Jesus, the most intimate and vulnerable of recommitments, before he quickly turned his focus to the other disciple John. Peter was ready to be called into deep responsibility — to feed the sheep — yet when he got word of how he was going to die, he needed to turn his focus elsewhere and get away from whatever feelings he was having in the moment. Fear? Insecurity? Unworthiness?

We may be down for Jesus’ purpose in our lives until we experience the depths of intimacy and specificity it has on each of us. It is so exposing and vulnerable, that it can push us to quickly turn the focus away from our hearts. It can sound so intense and unreal that we need to hear what it’s going to be like for others, to simply not feel alone in our fears or inadequacies.

When do you catch yourself thinking, what about them? When do you fall prey to comparison and getting wrapped up in where others will end up? When something feels unfair and overwhelming, how do you cope? Do you address those feelings or do you look out and point the finger at things/people that are not even part of your issue?

I pray you know that God has a special and particular calling for your life. If you know this, then you might be scared. You might have all kinds of feelings. Come back to the intimacy of God, to his gentleness and continual mercies. Focus on your beautiful journey. Don’t let the devil make you feel small or bitter for having a purpose and place that is hard and uncomfortable. That place is where you require the most faith and focus.

Faith led you to the Desolate

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, ‘I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.’ And the disciples said to him, ‘Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ They said, ‘Seven and a few small fish.’ And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over.

Matthew 15:32-37

I find myself at this story every time I’m in a resource bind or a mindset of lack. Today I was listening to a Brene Brown podcast with Dr. Sonenshein about the concept of “stretching,” being resourceful and creative with what you already have. Stretching requires scrappiness, a clear focus on purpose/goals and a heart check on what really makes you joyful and full. Dr. Sonenshein touched on meditating on a time when you were stretchy. What were you feeling then? Who were you with? Can that power that is possible come flowing back now?

The disciples might have been too tired to think outside of the box. They might have lacked stretchy-ness because they were focused on their circumstances and their limitations. They might have been worried about Jesus’ well-being. When their guard is down and they blurt their truth, Jesus always makes room for a teaching moment. Jesus followed through with his compassion for the people. His feelings flowed into faithful action.

But what I rarely think about is the crowd. They have been with Jesus for three days. They are tired, hungry, surrounded, stranded, yet still there. They followed without knowing when their next meal would come. They were stranded in a desolate place with so many strangers. Yet here they are. They followed. They had faith. And they did get fed.

I don’t know where your plans and where life have taken you. You might feel stranded in some desolate place when you felt that you were following God, or what was the right thing to do. You’re surrounded by unfamiliar faces. Maybe worst, you feel alone, even though you seem to be surrounded by voices. God is preparing a feast for you. You are part of their miracle. You are not forgotten and your faith has indeed taken you to places no human mind could conjure up.