Rejection

Rejection is hard. Everyone has experienced it at one time or another. When someone rejects you, it feels like a dagger piercing into your gut. It’s painful and unbearable. You feel unimportant, unvalued, unaccepted and unloved.

But, for those who have experienced rejection, you’re in good company. Even the most significant biblical figures experienced rejection. Moses was rejected by his people, Esther was rejected by the king, and David was rejected by his own father, Jesse.

And the list goes on and on. All these people experienced rejection, felt unwanted and unvalued. They felt alone and lost in their rejection.

But, through their rejection, through their hurt, and frustration and loneliness; God was there. He met them where they were at and He spoke truth to them. This truth lead them to glorify the Lord.

Because, Moses lead the entire nation of Israel, Esther saved her people from genocide and David was anointed king of Israel by Samuel.

Sometimes, we have to go through the heartache of rejection in order for God to do an awesome work in us. We have to go through the pain and hurt to experience the joy and peace.

We experience healing from our former rejection. We find love for the person(s) who rejected us.

“Each hole left from rejection must become an opportunity to create more and more space for grace in my heart.” ~Lysa TerKeurst

So, how do we get to this point?

What I have been learning is that there is no validation from people to fill the hole of rejection in my heart. But, I have learned that my validation does not come from others, it comes from the truth of Christ. I am validated because of what He says if true for me.

God tears away the lies that rejection brings and shines truth in the darkness I feel within myself. He fills that aching hole in my heart. He tells me who I truly am to Him.

He doesn’t reject me, or tell me I am unwanted or unvalued. He tells me that I am His valued treasure, His bride, His daughter. He tells me that His love for me is beyond comprehension and that when He looks at me, there is nothing but delight, tenderness and joy.

So, when you experience rejection and you feel the whole world is against you, and the loneliness is unbearable; remember that the God of the universe loves you beyond words can express. He calls you wanted, He calls you His own.

“Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” ~Luke 12:7

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A Woman of Strength [“The Standard” Column]

Throughout Christian history, there have been many influential men and women who have inspired other followers of Christ to step out boldly in faith. They have inspired us greatly with their unwavering trust in the Lord and their God-given strength. One historical figure who has been influential with my Christian walk was that of Elisabeth Elliot. Her influence has been substantial to the point where she would be the poster-child when discussing women of strength.

Every strong, influential person has a beginning; and for Elisabeth, her beginning in life paved the way for what she would do for the rest of her life. Elliot was born into a missionary family on December 21, 1926 in Brussels, Belgium as Elisabeth Howard. When she was three months old, Elisabeth, along with her parents and five siblings, moved from Belgium to live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

She went on to attend Wheaton College, studying Classical Greek. It was there that the Lord called her to translate the New Testament into languages that did not have access to the Bible. The start of her college career encouraged me and many others to pursue difficult fields despite their social status or position in life. Despite the obstacles, she persevered and God used her to glorify Him.

It was also at Wheaton College where she met Jim Elliot, a man who was passionate about becoming a missionary in Ecuador. Their relationship was Christ-centered and as they grew closer to the Lord, they grew closer with each other.

Before marrying, Elisabeth and Jim served in separate areas of  Ecuador. I admire their commitment to the Lord before their commitment to each other. They made sure that their main focus was remaining obedient to the Lord. Elisabeth felt called to Ecuador because of their need to have a Bible in their own language, Quichua. She worked hard to learn the Quichua language in order to be able to communicate and translate the English Bible into their language.

Eventually, Elisabeth and Jim were married in 1953 in Quito, Ecuador. She continued her missionary work with Jim, until they were sent to a territory that had not yet been reached with the Gospel. The Aucas tribe was known for being fierce and dangerous.

All who tried to engage with the tribe were killed. Nonetheless in 1956, Jim Elliot and four other missionary men were determined to share the Gospel with the Aucas’ territory. They successfully made friendly contact with three tribes. However, while encountering the fourth tribe, the four men were brutally speared to death. One can only imagine the amount of despair that Elisabeth felt, knowing that her husband was not only killed, but murdered by the people he was trying to reach.

At this time, Elisabeth was not left alone with her 10-month-old daughter. Despite enduring great tragedy from the brutal murder of her husband, she continued to minister to another tribe, the Quichua tribe. The Lord had given her endurance and strength to push through the tragedy. Instead of turning away from the Lord or being angry, she held on to her faith that much tighter and served the Lord, faithfully. It was in that time that she met two Auca women and formed a strong relationship with them. They taught her their language and she went on to serve their tribe, this being the same tribe that killed her husband. During her missionary work to the Auca tribe, the people gave her the tribal Gikari, or “Woodpecker.” She had formed such a strong relationship with the people that they accepted her as one of their own.

The Lord gave her strength during this difficult time in her life to be able to minister to the tribe that had caused her so much pain. Through her growth in the Lord, she went on to write a book, Through Gates of Splendor, sharing the story of the men killed by the Auca tribe. She went on to write many other books about her life with Jim and her life among the Aucas after the death of her husband.

Through her tragedy, the Lord used that to grow her closer to Him and to be a light to a people living in darkness. The impact this experience had on Elisabeth and what God did through her led her to begin a successful career as a speaker and writer of 24 books.

Elisabeth Elliot is the most influential and inspirational women because she allowed the Lord to use her through hard circumstances. She remained steadfast in hardship and persevered through trial. She showed immeasurable God-given strength to be able to serve the people who took her husband from her. The result of such strength and faithfulness to the Lord was unfathomable. The Auca tribe came to know the Lord, and Elliot went on to minister to many more men, women, and children in need of a Savior.

A Calling [A Revised Version]

The Great Commission is something we are aware of in terms of what we are supposed to do as Christians. If you found yourself in Professor Cloutier’s Christian Missions class, you would be required to memorize such a verse. The passage is very clear: we are to go and “make disciples of all nations”. Well-known evangelists or my grandmother would argue with you that this is what we were solely created to do, it’s our calling. Specifically, we are called to go out and make disciples of Christ. Such a calling can be challenging and we all approach it differently.

“Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:16-20

When I would go out evangelizing, I would notice that my partner didn’t approach a person the same as me. I wanted to jump in and start conversation with them that would hopefully lead to the Gospel. But, my partner wanted to “scope out” our surroundings first and get an idea of what kind of person we would be talking to, then initiate. According to Romans 12:4-6, “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them…” Though we are all commanded to live out the Great Commission, we are given specific gifts in order to live it out differently from the next person. A person’s strength may not be evangelism, but they may be able to connect with people better through more intentional and intimate relationships, which can lead to discipleship.

Even though this is ideally how we should live as Christians, it doesn’t always happen that way. Sometimes, we want to live our own life or do just enough to get by in terms of spiritual well-being. Personally, I went my own way for a long time and it wasn’t until a little over a year ago did I finally decide to follow the calling the Lord had laid out for me. The thing that changed was that I saw the need, the need to share the truth of the Gospel with others. I realized that I was called to share the Gospel with others and “make disciples of all nations”. It was hard, because I had to go throw a lot of change. I had to transfer to a different college, endure personal tragedy, and indifference from family; but it was worth it.

According to Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Though it is hard to remain obedient to the call, don’t let that be your determining factor. We shouldn’t turn away from being the salt of the earth for the people around us. Just because something is hard and you feel incapable, doesn’t mean it won’t be fulfilling in the end. 2 Corinthians 12:10 puts it this way, “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” Ultimately, when we embrace the calling the Lord has for us, we not only grow in him, but we grow more in the awareness of who we are in comparison to Christ. We find that the life we live means nothing without Christ and continuing to reject the call only leads us to destruction.

A Calling

As Christians, we have a calling, something bigger than what we are. I know that sounds cliche, but it’s true. As we grow in our faith, we grow more in the knowledge of this calling. And the awesome thing about God’s calling for your life is that it is completely unique to you. Not everyone will have the same calling.

For example, not all Christians will be called to be missionaries in China or be ministers of troubled teens on the south side of Chicago. The Lord has made our calling unique to us. That is what makes the Church body so intricate, because we all function as different parts of the body to fulfill one call. God uses us in our brokenness and struggle, and uses it to glorify him. We all have the same call, the Great Commission, but we all approach it differently from the next person.

“For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” 1 Corinthians 12:12

It is by no means easy to remain faithful to the call the Lord has brought to you. It is challenging, and sometimes it feels impossible. One could even feel doubtful that this-so-called, “call” isn’t actually what the Lord is calling them to do. That is why it is so important to remain in fellowship with Christ and with the Church, in order to be filled constantly with the Spirit. We will remain fulfilled and obedient to the calling, versus feeling spiritually drained and doing life on your own.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 

Ultimately as Christians, our desire should be to grow in closer relationship with Jesus, to glorify him in all that we do. I have learned that this must be my greatest desire because it is the only desire that will not fade away. My earthly desires are not eternal and the only desire I need to focus on completely is my relationship with Christ to grow stronger.

Recently, the Lord really convicted of my desire to serve and grow in relationship with him. As I spoke with the Lord, I was convicted and honestly said, “Jesus, I would die for you.” But then the Lord asked, “But will you live for me?” This response made me wrestle with a lot. Death is quick and even temporary when you have a relationship with Christ. But to live day to day, choosing Jesus first before anything else seems to be so much harder.

After meditating over this response, I felt incapable, but wanted to pursue a life that lives for Christ. It won’t lack its set of struggles and challenges, but when I choose to live for Christ, remaining obedient to the call; I become more aware of the complete awe of Christ. And I realize, my life is nothing without him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”” Romans 8:28-31

Surrendering Desires

I often wonder why the Lord gives us desires that don’t always become reality. In fact, I have found that most of the desires I have had in the past become the complete opposite as time goes on. Desires can be good, sweet and full-hearted; but they can also become painful, hard, and down-right depressing.

I have recently come into a time where I have a strong desire, one that is exciting and terrifying all at the same time. A desire, if I should act on it, could either make or break me. I have debated whether or not if I should act on my feelings, my desire to just become known. I have had this desire for a while now, I have waited patiently, trusting the Lord and giving my desire over to Him every second of every day. But, the desire is becoming so strong, I want to simply “get it over with” in a way and make my desire known.

However, I am hesitant, hesitant because I want to remain obedient to the Lord. I want my love for Christ to be stronger than my desires. In fact, I want HIS desires to become MY desires.

It’s funny…there are so many people who want to act on their desires. But they also want their desires to become God’s desires. But, I realized that that’s not how God works. He has a bigger, better, more perfect plan than anything I could ever plan for myself. And the ultimate goal is to glorify Him, not me.

You see, I have to remember that just a short time ago my desire was to be a veterinarian. I wanted to pursue a career helping animals and one day having my own clinic. But, that all changed and though I still love animals, I came to love someone more…Christ.

He took my previous desires and transformed them into new desires. I went on to have the desire to pursue a career in ministry, to serve the Lord full-time. I never thought that my old desire would change, but it did and I gained a better desire.

Now, this new desire that I have, the one I want to act on, I have to surrender that to the Lord. I have to turn my focus from this desire to the Lord and my relationship with Him. It’s hard, oh trust me it’s so hard. But, through surrendering my desire to the Lord, trusting Him and making Him my focus, I know I will be okay.

His plan for my life is bigger than I can imagine. And I have learned that the Lord says “no” only so that He can give you something better. I pray that through this struggle of having this desire, I can remain obedient to the Lord in whatever way he has called me. I don’t know if there will be a time where I will act on my desire, but I know that if I do, it will be because I feel the Lord leading me to act on it. I won’t be bound to my feelings, acting on them whenever I see fit. I want to control my feelings and desires in a way that is God-honoring and in a way that a woman of spirit would act.

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love.” 1 John 4:16-18

Hope…

Hope…where is your hope found? Where do you place your complete hope and trust in? Or better yet, how do you have hope when you’re going through a hard time? How can you trust that things will work out when the situation seems hopeless?

I heard a sermon today on this very topic known as “hope.” As Christians, we claim that we put our hope in Christ because “that’s what Scripture says we should do.” But in reality, we tend to put our hope in materialistic things instead of the very One who made those materials.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” Colossians 3:2

As people, we tend to put our hope in things that are easily seen, something we can grasp on to and hold for dear life. We put our hope in people, our friends, family, relationships. We tend to put our hope in people of higher position; like presidents, celebrities, or politicians. We even put our hope in things like money, or jobs, or academics.

However, while these things are good, we should not place our hope in them. Eventually, all of it will wither to nothing and that thing we placed our hope in will cease to exist. Or life will get hard and the things you once placed your hope in will not help you.

BUT…

If we switched our focus to someone REAL, someone TRUE, someone who will never disappoint and never changes; our life changes. That someone is Jesus Christ. Even as Christians, we have a hard time placing our hope in the Lord. There are so many distractions, it almost seems like God is being drowned out by it all.

However, when we focus on putting our hope in the Lord, everything changes. Life still can be hard or it can be easy. But either way, you have your faith in Someone who you can fully put your hope in and He will never let you down. This is regardless of the circumstances you are experiencing.

“Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.” But you, Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high. I call out to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy mountain. I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the Lord sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.” Psalm 3:2-6

A thing that really stuck out in the sermon I heard was this: The struggles that we experience, the greater they are, the more joy you will have in them and coming through them. I find that to be so true because in the hardest of struggles, we are stripped away from everything we put our hope in until we are only left with Jesus. Through this, we lean on Him and put our trust and hope in Him. And when we do that, we are overcome with who He is and His glory. We are overcome with the joy that the Lord calls us to have and cannot help but live out a life centered around the Lord.

The bigger the struggle, the greater the joy and in Him we find hope.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9

 

Having Joy in Vulnerability

I struggle with being vulnerable…there I said it. Vulnerability is really hard, scary and unpredictable. I hated being vulnerable with people who were closest to me because I was afraid of being hurt. Now, this mentality is a valid reason for not being vulnerable, but it shouldn’t be the deciding factor.

I had many instances where I would be vulnerable, someone I trusted and they wouldn’t be encouraging about it. They would discourage, critique and even reprimand every word that was said.

My reaction…I felt hurt, betrayed even. The person I trusted to share something hard, didn’t give me the reaction I was expecting.

BUT…

This should not discourage you from being vulnerable. When you are vulnerable with the right people, close friends or family, your church or Christian community; it opens up so many opportunities for joy.

Yes…JOY

This word was pretty unknown to me for a while along with “vulnerable.” I struggled to find my way and I didn’t want to trust anyone. I had been beaten and battered by so many people I thought I could trust with some pretty deep stuff.

I put on a face, in a way, pretending that everything in my life was fine. I wasn’t good at it by any means, in fact, I pretty much show every emotion I am feeling on my face. But I definitely gave it my best shot. And when the pain was too much and shown through my words and actions, I played it off or would say something else was wrong contrary to the truth.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.” James 1:2

Even though I couldn’t be vulnerable with people, God saw straight through my act. He knew exactly what I was going through and didn’t give me a hard time or critique me. Instead, he brought me closer to him. He was showing me that vulnerability and having joy in being vulnerable was okay, accepted.

I found that the closer I became to Jesus, the more vulnerable and joyous I became to the people around me. It’s still difficult, but I have found there has to be a balance.

First and foremost, you have to bring whatever issues you’re going through to the Lord FIRST. He is the ultimate Healer, Comforter, Father and Friend. He is right beside you, holding your hand and listening to your struggles. Sometimes the Lord calls for giving some “tough love,” always using every situation and circumstance as an excuse for growth. He is teaching you and challenging you in being vulnerable.

Second, it is okay to be vulnerable with people. Being vulnerable isn’t about constantly bleeding your heart out to someone. In fact, that can be emotionally and spiritually draining after a while. But it is good to share your struggles with people you can trust like friends, family, people at church, your discipler. The people who know you well are the people you can be vulnerable with. Yes, sometimes they will disappoint you with their reaction, their words. But, don’t let that completely discourage you from being vulnerable.

The unfortunate reality is is that people are sinful, they were born with a sin nature. Even Christians aren’t perfect (trust me on that) and know that there will be times of disappointment.

Last, but certainly not least, you learn to be vulnerable with yourself. Sometimes, we tend to hide issues from ourselves because “we don’t want to deal with it.” But ignoring it is not necessarily a good idea. All ignoring does is allow the issue to fester and grow, until one day you’re absolutely debilitated because you ignored the problem. When you become vulnerable with yourself, you are more easily to be vulnerable with others.

The result of being truly vulnerable the way God designed you to be results in joy. Having joy is a choice and it is something as Christians we are called to practice.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

I have in no way mastered being vulnerable or having joy, just ask my parents or roommate when I wake up in the morning (there is no joy there). But I am learning that the more I trust the Lord and be vulnerable with him, the easier it is to have joy in being vulnerable with others.