make great efforts to achieve or obtain something
struggle or fight vigorously.
Striving is sweating, worrying, fussing, toiling and trying oh-so-hard. I’ve been there.
Strivers run a hamster wheel that never stops. They tend to be tired and annoyed at all God requires of them. They “make’ like they are waiting on God, but push forward like everything will combust if they actually do.
Some may call them “eager” or “over-achievers”. Underneath all of that, they often want to feel special, loved, and are afraid of failure.
Peter was a bit of a striver.
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (Jo. 18:10)
I’ll take care of this Jesus. . . I know what to do. . . I have the answer. . . I can defend the situation. . .
“Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” Jo. 18:11
Jesus doesn’t need our sword to execute His plan. He doesn’t need our ambition to see through His future. He, who sees the end from the beginning, knows how to take us to where He is going.
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. (Prov. 16:9)
We plan, God establishes.
We devise, God revises our way.
We see the great thing, God sees His greater thing through.
My latest question to God has been, “God when do you “do it” and when do you want to see me go — do it?”
His answer was, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.”
If everything is from Him and through Him, all for the purposes of — His glory, why would I ever want to do something through me, and steal His glory?
Striving steals God’s glory.
Prayer: God, you are God enough for me to wait on you. You are good enough for me to trust in you. Give me peace in the wait and joy in the process of seeing you move. Your ways are greater. May they come forth. Give me a heart to give you all glory. I love you, Jesus. Amen.
Because I expect God to answer. I’ve seen him answer countless prayers. I know He has show-up and show-off power so divine — it can change anything and everything, in a split-second. I rely on prayer like breakfast.
“And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” (Jo. 14:13)
Anyway, my husband and I have recently talked about how people — people we don’t even know — are likely praying for us. We just got the sense that God was putting us on people’s heart.
Today, I saw this come to reality. I clicked into my hidden Facebook messages (the ones I hardly ever check) and there were messages. Two said things like, “Kelly, you are on my heart. I am praying for you today.”
Bam! God knows. He sends workers out to help us harvest His fields. Often, we can’t even see them at work, we don’t even know what they are doing or how they are praying with us. You never know who has your back. Some faithful friend, I pray, has you covered.
Anyway, later, I saw another message come in my Facebook inbox. I anticipated that it was, once again, was God and more answered prayers. I immediately went to open it. No. It was not God. It was porn. In motion, playing right before my very eyes.
I clicked out of that thing as quick as my fingers could move and then I thought, “Isn’t this how the enemy works? What seed God is planting the enemy comes to steal with a message that disturbs the mind. That distracts. That pulls away what God is doing in order to replace it with shame.”
“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming!” (SOS 2:15)
What, in your life, is God blooming, where the enemy is working at stealing? What seed of prayer have you planted that the opposer wants to rip up through doubt?
Just because you see the image, hear the accusation, come under the attack, sit with the pain, feel the calling to sin, doesn’t mean you have to submit to it, to indulge in it or to give mind to it.
Greater is He who is in you, than He who is in the world. Shut down the attack. Move back to glory. Jesus is writing your story. The grapevines that ARE blossoming. Don’t pay due attention to what glory is not due to the enemy.
Prayer: God, thank you that you are greater than every obstacle. You are more powerful than any injury. You are more present than the people around us. You are alive and well, moving and healing, answering our prayer and then answering it once again. You ARE faithful. You WILL show up. For many people reading this blog, you will show up today, in awe-inspiring ways. Let them see you. Let them perceive you. Let them know you. Including me, God. Break into our lives, and break-out peace so divine it touches the world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Riding bikes, my 7-year old turned to me and said, “Mommy, I want to go knock on that person’s door and let them know, ‘God loves them.’
Now, I did not know “that person” or how they would react to my son knocking randomly on their door. As I am sure you all know, I’m all about sharing God, but being a door-to-door solicitor for Jesus seemed, well. . . a little beyond me.
All the same, my heart was struck by the thought: If I want Michael to get to know God personally, I have to permit him to personally move towards God. In this, He’ll get to see God show up.
So, I gave him permission. My son parked his bike and I circled in the cul-de-sac with my daughter, trailer-in-tow.
Heart-pumping – while wondering if my child was about to be abducted – I carefully watched from the street. Yet, the more I watched the more I couldn’t believe it – both my son and the lady who he was now talking to were smiling and laughing. Then, the lady handed my son – what?!!! – cash. Yes, money. Her son took out cash and passed it to my son too.
What is going on?
After introductions, the blonde lady with a son said, “You know, today at church it was amazing. Instead of taking a tithe, the pastor gave out cash – $10 to each person sitting in the aisles. He said, ‘Give it to someone who has impacted your relationship with God.’ I didn’t know what to do with the money. Earlier today, after church, I told my husband, ‘I have no idea who to give the money to.’ My husband told me, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll know.”
She went on, “And, here you are. You just showed up today. Right on time.”
We all laughed at the goodness of God. At how God sent Michael to this very house out of the dozens we’d bicycled by. . . At how God just “knows. . . ”
Her son said, “I don’t know, mom? This doesn’t really seem believable…”
And, so it is with God. When we submit to him, He does the unbelievable.
And, here, as I reflect back on this whole amazing set-up that God orchestrated, and my sons’ courage, I can’t help but think: It’s often risk-taking that lets us walk into God’s most amazing things. It is when we do things that are out-of-the-ordinary that we get to see God’s extraordinary moves. It is when we put ourselves “out there”, in love, that we feel God’s deep love making its way back into our hearts. It almost always feels comfortable.
I thank my little 7-year old for this “beyond-me” lesson on love.
With this, I wonder, how can you love extraordinarily today? How can you let someone know, “God loves them”, even if it makes you feel weird?
On Earth, you may never know the impact of your love, but I assure you, your love will never fail . . . ” (1 Cor. 3:18)
Kelly: “God, I feel angry at people. I can’t stop thinking of the past.”
God (what I believe He says to me): “Kelly, it is not about them. It never was about them. In actuality, they’re not the blockages to your goals, the answers to your cause, nor the life you are looking for. When you look at them, it is as if you stare at the gutter. Yet, if you want to strike the fullness of life – of me and all I have – you have to look down the lane. Don’t look left or right. Behold, the pins of my glory. Gaze on the beauty of what I am doing. See past the side-shows. Look straight into who I am, how I see you and what I am doing. Choose to see me. Know me and follow me.
Be led by my Spirit; I’ll take care of the rest.”
Kelly: “God I dismantle the lie that I am being taken advantage of. The truth is, God, you are taking care, defending and providing for me. God, I no longer want to dwell in discouragement. You have enough encouragement to set me free.”
God, you are my all-in-all, my friend, hope, cause, love, guide, strength, help, initiative, being, wholeness, Savior, love, life, wisdom, entirety, mission and surroundings. I trust you.”
Kelly: God, who am I to you?
God: “You are my love, my daughter, my special one, my prize, my sight, my friend, my seen one, my speaker, my joy, my reflection, my peace, my heart, my beginning of new things, my growing child, my blooming flower, my eager-beaver, my purpose, my cause, my listener, my prize, my delight, my boldness and, again, my love.”
Wow. Somehow understanding how God sees me changes everything. He wants me. He loves me. He helps me. He watches me. He knows me. I am not alone. I am not left behind. I am not forgotten. I don’t have to fend for myself. I don’t have to look to man to fix my problems. I am free in Christ.
So are you.
Who does God say you are – to Him?
Here’s a hint:
You are altogether beautiful, my love; (because of Christ) there is no flaw in you. (Song of Solomon 4:7)
Lord, your love searches me. It desires to know everything about me. It ministers to the depths that I hide from you. I can’t believe you desire to see me – to really know me. You want me. My thoughts are like an open book to you. You read me not to criticize me or to size me up, but to know me.
Who am I that you should think of me? But still, you do. Who am I that you should care about my little small and unseen ways? But still, you do. I can’t comprehend why you’re so good to me, but still, you are.
With all the millions and billions of people…when I think of all them – and when I think of you – I feel small. There are far too many daughters for you to care about – and to still consider me. But, you do. You are intimately aware of every thought I have, every movement I make, and every word about to come out of my mouth. How can you really love me like this?
I confess, God, that sometimes it is hard to believe that you really love me. I confess God, it is hard to believe that you really – day-in-day-out, want me. It is hard to believe you have the capacity to love this way. And, still, you do. My conception of you does not limit you. Even this, proves your greatness. You are amazing. Forgive me for my unbelief. Give me fresh faith to trust, rely and fall back on your love.
The reality is: it’s not my work that earns your love, but Jesus’ finished work that paid for it.
I can let go of the pressure to perform for you. Jesus gave it all, did it all and continually does it all for me.
I can let go of a mind that tries to figure out why you love me. Christ is in me. How could you not love your own son?
I can let go of thought I continually offend you. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus; you see His righteousness in me.
I can let go of the past that plagues my thoughts. If the tomb is empty of shame, guilt, and condemnation, shouldn’t also my mind be? You’ve fought for and secured resurrection life.
I can let go of the inkling that I have nothing to offer people. The Holy Spirit, a heavenly deposit of the fullness of God is in me. You can do far more than I even think I can.
I can let you in. I can let you know me. You aren’t coming to shame me, to hurt me, to criticize me, to embarrass me or to haunt me. You’re coming to love me. You’re coming to let me know how you care. You’re coming to make me aware of all you’ve done and the deep life-impacting significance of it all.
God, show me what I keep from you, so I can really know you. God, show me what keeps me far, so I can get closer to your ways. God, show me how I am terrified of intimacy so I can intimately and authentically seek you.
When I say I want you above all else, I really do.
She didn’t so much as say hi to me. In fact, even worse, she walked right past me, looking the other direction. She pretended I wasn’t there. Hmph!! After all I’ve done for her.After all I’ve given her. After how I’ve gone out of my way to love her.
Now I’m the one left looking like a crazed waving-at-the-air fool. Like – an idiot.
I humph at her husband along the way to my church seat. Silently, I critique her in my mind, She’s rude. Before not too long, I get side-tracked by own thoughts: Everyone always hurts me. Like that boy, I asked to dance in 4th grade. Like those girls who circled up to whisper about me in that damp locker room. Like the group of women who act like they’re far better than me.
I’m supposed to be listening in church, but who can listen, thinking about all this, all them!?
Here, I find myself, in the heat of a horrible battle. You can always tell if you’re in the heat-of-a-battle. Almost instantly, your soul-crushing problem magnifies 100x larger than your promise-keeping God. Suddenly, you’re standing weaponless, in all-out combat within your own mind. Hardly able to win.
Ever been there?
I’ve struggled through a lot – through massive health-scares, depression, an eating disorder, financial debt and relationship-severing dramas. Battles. Huge, hard-fought battles, loaded with momentary decisions of pain, struggle and uncertainty.
I remember the time:
1. The doctor returned to the room with the clipboard saying, “You really might have Mulitple Sclerosis.”
I thought: How do I keep my thoughts close to God with this kind of news?
2. My colicky newborn made me pace my hallways 24-7. Sleepless, hardly-thinking and powerless to change my health-situation, I didn’t know what to do.
I thought: How do I still love people when my whole life is unraveling?
3. A family member called me to say I really should get on setting up long-term care for myself.
I thought: How do I deal with the fact all my dreams will now look different than I thought?
Through all this, I realized, real wisdom is having a battle-plan.
Let’s talk about Christ-centered battle-plan preparedness. Begin by asking yourself: What am I currently facing?
Identifying your main struggles (resentment, regret, trauma, unforgiveness, bitterness, anger, fear) is to allow God to help you win your battle. For example, for me, underneath that issue with the girl, was an old war full of rejection, humiliation, and abandonment from years past. Underneath, were old battles I’d lost – because they were left unaddressed. Therefore, they left me with resentment towards God.
Seeing our battles for what they are, gives us a clear-cut strategy to fight – and win. It also removes all the pent-up offenses that, like plaque, cover our heart.
What about you? Do you emotionally respond to happenings set before you or do you wisely act based on God’s Word and promises?
Today, you can fight your battle a new way. Consider:
1. Asking God what feelings of fear, worry, anger, resentment, neglect and hurt He desires you give to him.
2. Giving those hurts to Jesus, by saying, “Jesus, I am not meant to carry these. Forgive me. They’ve hurt me for far too long. I know and believe you have peace, joy, life and freedom for me as I give you these things.”
3. Blessing any women who have hurt you.
4. Reframing your moments of hurt. (Example: when she passed by me quickly, she was probably was in a rush, she might have had something to do or she lost in thought)
5. Returning to a heart of love. (Example: Thank you God that you love me and I can love others. In fact, I can love the very person who hurt me by ___.)
This is the start of being Battle Ready. There truly are practical insights, wise biblical instructions and truths that can help you rise above the mayhem of trials and hardships. You can find the light of Christ and step into all God has for you.
The victory belongs to the Lord. Isn’t it time you began to make room for it?
About Battle Ready: Train Your Mind to Conquer Challenges, Defeat Doubt & Live Victoriously
“The best time to be strengthened against the Enemy’s tactics of doubt, disappointment, and devastation is before he makes his first move toward us. We all desperately need the biblical guidance and preparation found in Battle Ready!”
Lysa TerKeurst, New York Times bestselling author and president of Proverbs 31 Ministries
Battle Readyis a hands-on scriptural plan that teaches you twelve easy-to-implement, confidence-building mind-sets designed to transform your thoughts and, therefore, your life. You’ll gain practical wisdom, like how to
· make new habits stick in just five steps
· disarm the seven most common attacks that plague women
· exchange self-limiting thoughts for purpose-driven, love-releasing thoughts
· implement thirty-second mind-lifters that deliver peace
· create boundaries so you live life full of what matters
What if your power to move ahead, was in stepping back? What is not pressing ahead, but sitting out?
I recently heard a story that captured me. A group of All-star basketball players went to meet an elite coach. His instruction was that they step back; he wanted to re-structure their basketball shot. The mechanics and technique of their shooting arm needed to be entirely reworked to take them to the pro level. For this change to happen, they’d have to go back to the drawing board for 3 months. They’d need to essentially sit it out on the sidelines as they learned a new way.
The sad part was many of the players couldn’t, or wouldn’t do this. They wouldn’t listen to the coach. They didn’t want to lose thier all-star status.
Yet, what they didn’t realize was to compete on the next big stage, they needed this new skill. The coach knew: refinement was required.
A rich man essentially said to Jesus, “I’ve followed your commands. Now, Jesus, what do I still lack?”
Jesus replied, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Mt. 19:21)
To get ahead, we sometimes have to go back.
To follow, we sometimes have to give away.
To move forward, we must release.
To meet with God, we relinquish other important things even if it appears we will be set back, halted or we will lose out.
I don’t like moving backward. In fact, I believe so much in the message God wrote in the book, Battle Ready, these days, I want to keep working harder to make sure every person in need gets a copy. I believe in the transformation I am seeing happening in people’s lives. I see how mindsets are being renewed. I want to push, push, push…and get Jesus’ message out far and wide.
Yet, still, God whispers: Kelly, rest. Trust me (even if it feels like you are moving backward). Surrender.
To not strive, to not push, to not do anything….feels like I’ll lose what God is giving me. It feels like I’ll fail. It makes me feel nervous.
But, God never leaves us behind. Surrender never counts us “out.”
The truth is we only follow Jesus, when we follow him. We only can go where He is going, when we obey. It’s not easy to follow with the world on our shoulders. Nor can we follow when we clench our history and won’t let go of it. Following doesn’t look like demanding results.
Today, if it looks like you are moving backward, be encouraged. Christ did not bring you this far to drop you on your face, to leave you behind, to fail you, to discourage you or to hurt you. He brought you to this place to love you, to equip you, to ready you, to prepare you and to be with you.
Time spent reworking your life is not a waste. Time spent with kids is not idle. Time spent praying is not inconsequential. Time spent seeking answers is not useless. Time spent sitting at Jesus’ feet is not without merit.
Move backward and see Jesus change the trajectory of everything as you move forward. God is good and He truly does have goodness for you.
Women who are battle ready know this – and live it.
BLOGGERS, 4 Winners will receive (in order of votes):
1. A 15-minute Literary Agent Meeting with Amanda Luedeke from MacGregor Literary. (2 People)
2. A 15-minute Publishing Appointment with Baker Books editor, Rebekah Guzman. (1 Person)
3. A 15-minute blogging, writing, life-coaching or platform consultation with Kelly Balarie (1 Person)
For a large part of my life, I believed I’d simply been dealt a bad hand. I had thoughts like this: “Things work against me. No one is for me. The world will hurt me. People are out to get me. I can’t trust anybody. I am at risk of being continually injured or stranded. Bad circumstances find me.”
Struggling. To. Be. Okay.
Annoyed….Others. Have. It. Better.
Defined. By. My. History.
Have you, like me, allowed internal definitive statements to define your identity? Are you unsure how to climb out of the pit of injustice you’ve found yourself in?
Incredibly, God’s Word shows us the way. God has clear-cut, straightforward instruction for those who have been punched one too many times by the constant onslaught of the world. For those whose stomach feels like it is caving in and they’re about to give up.
Here it is…(notice the two main call-to-action points included within this statement):
“If you… 1.) listen to the commands of the Lord your God and 2.) carefully obey them, (then) the Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you will always have the upper hand.” Deut. 28:13
If you listen and obey…
Then you’ll have – not the bad hand – but always, the upper hand.
You won’t be the tail that gets stomped all over, but the head that is wise, smart and full of God’s truth.
Jesus, as the head, will get in your head and change the world of hurts you’ve been living in. Give Him a shot. Listen, obey and find yourself ahead.
Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike with you on a major highway.”
Me: “Hmm… No.”
Him: “Mom, I want to ride my bike to a far-off neighborhood I’ve never been to before. I want to go far and get somewhere.”
Me: “You know, son? I care far less about our destination and far more about just being with you.”
As soon as I said it, the words hit me like self-reversing bullets at brute force speed. God cares far less about my destination than He does about just being with me.
I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “Come and sit at my feet. Be not worried about many things.”
I say: “God, I want to do things for you.”
He says: “It appears being first is the right way, but sit with me and you’ll find being last is your true joy.”
I say: “God, I don’t know if I’m doing enough for you.”
He says: “People look at the outward appearance, but (I) look at the heart.” (1 Sam. 16:7)
In all my going, am I missing the fullness of God? In pushing fast, am I really pushing God away?
God is the driver; I am the passenger. God knows where I’m going; I stay near to Him. God has the heavenly GPS; I pay attention to where He wants me to go.
Can a passenger ever go anywhere if she isn’t seated next to the driver? If she’s off in her own land, trying to drive her own pretend car to her own Never Neverland…can she ever arrive?
Surrender is to allow God to be the driver. It means you become a sitter at the feet of Jesus. It means allowing your heart to become in awe of Him and His every word. It is to humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, knowing at the proper time: He’ll do the exalting. (1 Pet. 5:6) It is peace. It is joy. It is our portion. It is our calling. It is our ultimate destination.
Why? Because the destination that is Jesus always leads to a destination of vision. We find out who we are in the boundless nature of His love. Here, He reveals the “go” we always wanted to find.
On a steamy track, the coach ran after my heels screaming with her timer, “Go, go, go!” No one talked. It didn’t matter how we felt. Sprints gave way to more sprints. Tiredness ended up sprinting. So did exhaustion. Near-death feelings were supposed to somehow push us harder.
With that little glint of belief in her eye, the coach non-verbally pressured us that there was “more in us”. So we somehow found it and kept going.
During tryouts the coaches hovered over me, trying to figure out where I fit in on the track field. Would I be a long distance runner? A shot-putter? A sprinter? A hurdle-runner?
As she assigned everyone to his or her spot, I imagined all the potential of one person: me. I imagined myself running fast and with intensity along with all these other pre-Olympian superstars. But when she looked at me with beads of sweat on her face and in her hair, she said, “You’re my race-walker.”
The loser. The one who looks all weird with her hips swaggering from side to side?
I wanted to quit. While everyone else was something, I was nothing. The embarrassment.
Have you ever felt like the things you dream of are blocked? Like you can’t access what you’re supposed to be?
That day, I stood on that field shell-shocked. Then, I started walking. I walked so hard and fast, a year or so later, I made it to the Junior Olympics and got a bronze medal. Oddly, this moment is one of the greatest joys and the greatest gifts of my life. That track team had heart and taught me heart. I learned it is not what you think you should do that matters, but what God has for you that fills your heart.
What if what you’re made for looks different than you think? Will you accept His best in belief that it will one day become yours?