More Grace.

I am so good at convincing myself that this is the last time.

This is the last time that I will engage in this sin. This is the last day I will skip my Quiet time (speaking of, I forgot this morning–I’m a sinner–and still have to do that today). This is the last time I will talk to someone like that. This is the last time I will avoid sharing the Gospel. This is the last time.

It’s an art that we learn from the time we are tiny. As toddlers, our parents tell us that we have to go home to go to bed. We yell out “this is the last time! I promise” and go down the slide even though they told us not to. We justify our missed curfew with “this is the last time. I will leave earlier next time, I promise.”

Eventually, we are telling God, this is the last time. I promise. 

We blanket our confession with the promise of next time rather than fixing what is wrong this time. We do it and we do it again and we do it again.

I have a very gracious husband who is going to allow me to use him as an example. For those of you who follow this little project of mine, you know my story. For those of you who don’t, I would love for you to jump into the archives of me and read it. But my man. My man has a sweet, sweet testimony.

He grew up in the church. He knew what was acceptable in “Christendom.” He knew what to say. He knew about sin.

However, in his immaturity, he had a funny view of God’s grace. Though he would never have said this, he thought that since grace covered all, his sin did not matter much. It wouldn’t affect much in the long run.

So he sinned. He lived in sin. He enjoyed the sin. He sought the sin. He “trusted God’s LAlifestyle_0059WEBgrace” to cover him.

He had a lot of “this is the last time” moments.

The funny thing about my husband’s story is that I have the same one, and so do many of you. The details may be different, but this is how we justify sin. This is how we let our flesh take over our actions. This is how we silence the Spirit. This is not the grace we should be on our knees in worship for. This is how we cheapen God’s grace, how we reduce it to our “get out of hell free card” and not the means by which we commune with the Father.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

(James 4:6-10 ESV)

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Grace when we don’t resist the devil.

I love the way this passage begins. He gives more grace. James is not only speaking out of knowledge; he is speaking out of experience.

If you are not familiar with James’ story, he is the brother of Jesus. Meaning he knew Jesus like none of the disciples knew Him. He grew up sleeping next to Him. He wondered why Jesus never seemed to mess up. He likely longed to be as well-versed in the scriptures so that the world might look away from his brother and to him. He probably hated the way that he got in trouble, but this brother, this brother that annoyed him, was not punished for His wrongdoing–did He even have one to punish? James didn’t buy it. He did not trust Jesus. He knew Him better than anyone. He knew that He didn’t sin, yet He didn’t want to believe in who He said He was.

James was human; therefore, he didn’t resist the devil and he was a sinner. Yet God, in only His mercy, allowed James to eventually see Jesus for who He was. It was after He came off the cross, was placed in the grave, and overcame it. James was given more grace than he could imagine–infinitely more than He deserved.

Listen. The Devil wants nothing more than for us to draw near to him. He wants us to be lured by the world. He wants us to love the temporary. To be more concerned with what we look like rather than who Jesus is. He wants us to walk away from grace. Or worse. To believe that if we prayed a mindless prayer at five years old, we have accepted abounding grace and can do whatever we want.

Paul says it best in Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

My friends, we will fail at resisting the devil. We will fall into his traps. But for those of us who have given our lives over to Him, who have His Spirit living within our beings, we have been given the grace to put forth our effort. We can resist the devil. We will fail at times. There is grace to repent. To turn. To hate our sin. To resist going back.

He gives us grace to cleanse our hands, to purify our hearts, and to mourn sin.

The moment we entered the world–the moment we were conceived–we were affected by the throws of sin. Meaning, we are sinners. We have no power to resist it until Jesus. We cannot see it for what it is without His illumination.

Being born is having dirty hands.

Being alive is having an unpure heart.

Sinning without repentance is laughing in the face of transgression.

These things, these qualities are not things we take on when we mess up or live in a pattern of disobedience. They are the qualities we possess. They are the qualities that only Jesus’s blood can cover. This is the epitome of God’s grace:

Isaiah 59:2 reminds us, “but your iniquities have made a separation between you andScreen Shot 2017-05-16 at 2.26.17 PM.png your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.”

We were sinners beyond recovery. Our birth into sin made us irredeemable by our own means. It doesn’t matter how good or bad of a person we are. It doesn’t matter how much we serve or how many orphans we feed or windows we take in. Our sin separated us permanently from the love of God.

But Jesus.

Grace is because Jesus did.

Jesus who had the purest of hands allowed dirty nails to be driven through them. Jesus whose heart is that of God let men stop it for their own satisfaction. He took our punishment. He cleansed His children.

He broke the barrier. He paid the price! And He gave us the only gift we can possibly need in this world: the ability to overcome it.

You see, His grace is His Holy Spirit.

I make this final point with tears in my eyes and a lump welling in my throat: Jesus’s grace is so much more than getting into heaven. It is the superhuman power to overcome our own flesh.

It is the ability to even try to cleanse our hands.

It is the possibility of having a heart that is anything close to pure.

It is looking at sin with such sorrow that turning from it is not a problem at all; it is a necessity.

It was the grace of the Holy Spirit that Austin’s “it’s the last time,” became THE last time. And sister, it is His grace that will pull you out of this pit of sin and let you look back on your last time.

I have chased after sin for most of my life. I have pursued it because of its promises. It promised to make me feel good. It promised to make me look good. It promised me a husband, popularity, success, you name it.

God’s initial grace saved me. It is what makes God look upon me and see His Son despite my dirty flesh. But God’s continued grace allows me to mourn when I sin now. It allows me to hate the sinful flesh that coats the Holy Spirit living within my being.

Jesus, guys. Jesus. 

That’s always where I end up at the end of these things. I pray that never changes. He is the beginning and end of everything.

Know this, beloved. Jesus is where grace comes from. It pours out of Him, not because we are good, but because He is better. We lost the privilege of being called good when we sinned. He gives the ability to fight for that back.

So this is my rant about grace.

Grace is my hope. It is my passion. It has taken these dirty rags hung them on a bloody cross. When God looks down on me, when He looks down on my husband, he knows our past. He knows that we have a habit of “this is the last time.”

But He sees His Son instead.

If you don’t know Jesus, there is grace. If you are caught in the stronghold of sin, there is grace. You cannot take it for yourself, no. We were saved by grace alone through faith alone that no one may boast. But we can allow Him to pour it out onto us. We can fall onto our faces and praise Him that this grace is even an option. We can tell the world about this grace.

Let’s all rant about grace. Let’s shout it from the rooftops. Let’s not forget that there is Grace! More grace! He is abounding in grace. He is steadfast in grace. He is unmoving in grace. It is endless because of His blood.

Beloved, let’s not take His grace for granted. Let’s not cheapen it with our sin. Let’s cleanse our hands because we can. Let’s purify our hearts because it’s an option. Let’s fall into Him because He fell down on us. Grace, my friends. More grace.

 

The Power of the Mouth

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” we heard over and over again as children.

Yet they always seemed to be the thing that sent little girls crying to the teacher and little boys from asking to never have to go back to school. We bury the words said to us deep inside when we become teenagers and let them play out in the privacy of our own homes. As adults, the words affect how we play out our lives. Words about body image cause us to crash diet. Words about success lead us to spend nights away from our family to get more. The list goes on and on.

There was one set of words that stuck with me and changed the course of my life.

I was 10.

As I walked to recess in line with my friends, the little boy behind me whispered in my ear, “you need to go run laps around the field. You look like a whale.” I made a snarky comment back and kept on walking—unwilling to show him that he hurt me, but unable to speak for the lump in my throat.

At first, the only time I remembered those words was when I got dressed in the morning. Then they started to haunt me during the school day, then every time I ate, and so on for about three years. Finally, something had to give. And so my obsession began.

For the first three years of my teenage life, I counted every calorie I put in my mouth. I ran up and down my street, not for health, but for nice legs. I weighed 100 pounds and thought I was giant. I had a completely warped view of not only myself but everyone around me.

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 4.22.20 PMTo be clear, I do not harbor a grudge against the boy who called me a whale in third grade. He was just a kid who said something dumb. But that dumb thing that boy said became the voice Satan used to tell me over and over again that my focus needed to be on my appearance. That dumb thing set a fire in my life. A fire that only Jesus has been able to put out.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

So also the tongue is a small member, yet it boasts of great things. How great a forest is set ablaze by such a small fire! And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell…but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. With it we bless our Lord and Father and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, this ought not to be so.

James 3:5-10 ESV

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Church, we have a major problem with our tongues. For some reason, the “freedom of speech” has infiltrated our souls. It tells us that it doesn’t matter what we say or how we say it because we are free to do so.

Bull.

For those of us who call ourselves children of God, we have got to start recognizing that the only freedom we should ever be seeking is that which is given by Jesus. Through Him, we have the freedom to live lives that glorify Him and serve the world. I want to take the next few minutes to address our lack of tongue taming we have so vigorously glorified in our culture. Brothers and sisters, this is so important. Our tongue is the tool we use to share the Gospel. It is the means by which we sing praises to Him. It is a gift. It can be a blessing. Let’s stop using it to curse.

We use our tongue to make ourselves feel better.

One of the most obvious ways we tend to use our mouths for evil is when we gossip about another to make ourselves look better. During my own fight with body image, I had a nasty habit of looking down on other people. When a girl would lose the weight I longed to lose, I whispered, “I bet she is anorexic.” And when the opposite was occurring, I28-school-girl-phone-bw.w529.h352.jpg might say, “I wonder what is going on with her.” The truth of the matter was that I didn’t care. I just didn’t want anyone looking at me. I wanted people to notice someone else because I thought I was overweight. Give them something else to talk about, I thought.

Friends, gossip has got to go. We use it for so much more than body image. We use it to judge whether or not someone is actually saved. We use it to show how hard of workers we are. We use it to distract ourselves of all the junk we have going on in our own lives.

It is nothing less than a tool the enemy uses to get us talking about things other than Jesus and taint our witnesses in the process.

We use our tongues to curse our fellow brothers and sisters.

Though this may seem dramatic, it is the very thing—the most important thing—James warns against. With the heaviest of hearts, we have to call out this issue in our own church culture today. A few months ago, I stood up in worship with a group of women from my own community for If:Gathering. We sang praises to God with our whole hearts. We raised our hands and sat down with tight throats after a long worship session. Just then, we watched a group of woman walk onto the stage. Before anyone opened their mouths, we knew what the conversation would entail. We knew because it was women of color from every corner of the world. We knew we would soon be convicted.

S77A1162-1024x683.jpgOver the next few minutes, we were basically told to stop talking and listen. We were told that our tendency to input our own opinions about how someone else should be feeling in this climate is pushing aside the Spirit of God and replacing it with what we perceive as the American Spirit.

Sisters and brothers, let’s stop using our tongue to curse those who say, “Black lives matter.” Let’s start by responding, yes they do. They absolutely matter. Let’s stop screaming to close the borders and use this opportunity as a gospel-sharing mission. Let’s stop talking over people who already feel silenced.

Our tongues are powerful. They have the power to make a little girl question her worth. They have the power to tell a woman she is not worthy because her body won’t let her produce kids. They have the power to destroy relationships. They have been exercising the power to marginalize people with a different color of skin for years.

I think it is about time we stop taking advantage of our freedom of speech and start taking away the enemy’s freedom over our words. He is using our lack of self-control as leverage. Oh, Beloved, he wants nothing more than to make us seem less credible. He wants to ensure that if we ever do get control over our mouths, no one will take us seriously because they won’t trust what we say. He wants the mouths that worship Jesus to be tainted with lies and hypocrisy.

What if we took a few days and simply stopped talking. What if we asked Jesus to fill our mouths. What if we rebuked the name of Satan aloud. What if our goal each Sunday or Wednesday or anytime we got up to worship King Jesus was to do so with a pure mouth.

One boy said fourteen words. He said fourteen words that were not true. Those words set a wildfire in my life. I have to fight those words every day. Jesus has to rip my focus away from the mirror every day.

But the worst thing about that whole situation is not the thing that the boy said. It was all the dumb things I said after that. It was the way I let Satan have power over me. It was the way my witness was tainted because I thought I had an excuse to do it to others.

Here’s the thing: James makes it very clear that we cannot tame our own tongue. We are not capable because we are encased in sin and flesh. Yesterday, Austin and I were navigating our new city, and I let my frustration with traffic explode into the way I talked to him. A week ago, I caught myself getting ready to gossip about someone made in the image of God. I have had to continually fight against telling a white lie about what I am going to do after college. Over and over again I am made aware that wanting to tame the tongue is simply not enough.

My prayer is this. That we would stop trying to tame our own tongues. It is that many Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 4.27.50 PMwould read these verses in James and recognize that there is far more power from the pit of hell than we have as humans. But praise God that the power in heaven trumps the fires of hell every day! My prayer is that we would stop trying to use our own human power and rely on the power of the King. His mouth is the only one that has ever breathed life, and it is through His breath that we can do the same.

 

Choose Family. Choose the Church.

Nothing quite connects a family like going through great change with one another. In the last year of my life, I have arguably gotten as close to my family as I ever have been because of all the emotions we have traveled through with one another.

My sister and I are both preparing for graduation: high school and college.

I got married.Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 12.53.23 PM.png

Our only dog we have ever had died.

My grandfather passed away.

Great joy. Great sorrow. And some serious teary eyes for our puppy.

Let me begin by recognizing that families are messy. They are often filled with people who we love but have a lot of baggage. Many have been deeply wounded by the decisions of their families. Some are estranged from families–my husband and I are well aware of what this is like.

But through my sweet parents and sister, we have been shown what it is to love well in the last year. We have seen what sacrifice looks like. We have held one another tight when we didn’t even want to be touched. When a group of people gets the word “family” right–no matter what it looks like–there is nothing quite like it.

Christian, dig deep into the closest thing you know to be family. It could be parents. It could be siblings. It could be husbands or wives or children or grandparents. For some, it is a group of close friends.

I have a fear. I fear that Christians in our culture do not place their bodies of believers within that description of family. I fear that our mommas and daddies are refined to our homes. They do not travel into the spiritual realm. I fear that we are forgetting that the Church of God is the only family that is everlasting, that it will fiercely break barriers of time and space to last for all of eternity.

Friends, the love we have for our families should reflect the love we harbor for the Church.

There is a huge misconception in Cultural American Christiandom. It says that you don’t need to be involved with a church as long as you are following Jesus. You know? Praying and reading enough. It’s only about a personal relationship with God.

I fear that those who genuinely believe Church is unnecessary are not actually conversating with God. I fear these individuals are not reading Scripture at all. All while believing that they are getting it right. If that is you, if you are reading this as your daily or even weekly dose of Jesus, please hear me say: This is not enough. The surface level devotions we read in the mornings are not enough. It may be good by the world’s standards, but nothing other than what Jesus commands is good by His standards–the only standards that matter at all.

Screen Shot 2017-05-02 at 12.54.44 PM.pngSisters and brothers (I call you this because we are indeed family according to God), the New Testament is the opening act of the Church! It is written to and about the Church. It is commanding us to be actively immersed in the Body of believers. Over and over, we see that being part of the Church is exactly how God refines people. It is how they are built to be mighty warriors of the King. Please hear me out. Please hear what Scripture has to say about being part of the Family of Jesus. It is messy. It is frustrating sometimes. But, oh, is it worth it. It is rewarding and renewing. Stop trying to do this on your own. You don’t have to. This is why.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.

(James 2:8-10 ESV)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Loving the Church is Loving our Neighbors.

This command that originates from early Old Testament became one of the defining features of the early church. The word neighbor refers to several things throughout scripture. It refers to the church’s enemies. It refers to people who looked and believed different from the Christians of the time. Yet its first meaning, and what it is always referring to in some extent, is the Church.

There is a hilarious video floating the internet right now. It shows a little brother and download.jpgsister made to get really close and slow dance every time they argue. They are mad about it. They clearly do not want to be there. But in their parents’ authority, they are made to demonstrate an act of love though they disagreed. Why? Because they are family. Because they are stuck with one another whether they like it or not.

If Jesus’s Spirit lives within each of us, we will be spending eternity with one another. We will be living in a world void of sin. We will love one another with everything in us one day soon because the sinful act of anger and frustration will not be an option.

Sisters and brothers, we cannot love the Church by ignoring it. It will make us mad. It is filled with sinners. Guess what? We are those sinners. By being part of the church, we will be bringing in our brokenness. But it is better for it! It reflects Jesus’ mercy more. That’s how He intended for it to be. Consider this. Am I better off with a broken arm? or no arm at all? Of course, with a broken arm. It will heal. It is not a permanent loss. The same goes for the Body of Christ. When we enter the Holy House of God, that is the gathering of His children, we enter a broken place and bring our own baggage alongside. Yet just as my bones cannot heal without my shoulder holding it to my body and my brain subconsciously telling it to restore itself, we have been given one another to promote healing through Christ. Loving myself is not cutting my arm off. Loving my neighbors is not cutting my Church out.

Dismissing the Church is Showing Partiality

In this passage, James warns against the Church showing partiality based on someone’s socioeconomic status or their past. Yes, he is warning a body of believers against cutting off an individual. But can it not work backward?

I have a friend that has struggled with this a lot in the past year. After seeing a very sinful side of the leadership in her church, she wanted to stop. She wanted to leave and tell everyone about what had happened. Of course, it had nothing to do with a socioeconomic status, but she did feel scared. She feared the difference that would follow her as she continued to attend worship with these people.

Then the Lord convicted her.

He reminded her that she was, too, responsible for the hurt that had ensued. He showed her that she was showing partiality. She was getting ready to create a divide.

I get it. The church does not perfectly reflect Jesus.

Beloved, it will not. Not until we enter eternity. Even then, we will spend our forever worshiping Jesus. We are not supposed to look perfect, and expecting that only places false assumptions over brothers and ourselves. We say to ourselves and all those to whom we justify our actions, I am better than that. I can do it by myself because I don’t sin like they do. I don’t judge like they do. 

The Stakes are High

Oh, Christian, God does not like it when we place ourselves on a higher playing field by showing partiality. He condemns it. He hates it when one child belittles another child.

I am going to get real for a minute. I am going to share a personal experience. Please read to the end. It matters.

When Austin and I first began dating, we were actively attending my own church. If you have ever walked into my church, you know that (like many churches across the US) it is filled with pretty much one race.

I have been a member at my church since I accepted Christ as a little one. I have attended always. Then I brought someone who had never been there and who had very few people who were like him to walk with Him. We heard people say some things that were hard to hear. There was prejudice, though they did not know they were being prejudiced. I was prejudice in some situations.

He had every opportunity to walk out. And who could blame Him given the history of the American church when it comes to racism.

Screen Shot 2017-05-03 at 2.05.06 PMBut I watched Him handle that situation with more grace than I have ever seen in my life. He listened to hurtful things people said and responded with gentle correction. He dug into scripture with people who did not know why what they were saying was hurtful. He recognized that his sin was not less than that of another. He used that to be a vessel for Jesus.

I believe with everything in me that my church is a better place because of the conversations that my husband has had with people there. People listened. They began to understand. They began to respond. He brought a new understanding into the walls of that building, but more importantly into the hearts of individuals.

Christian, it is when we enter a broken place with an understanding of our own brokenness that the Church can prosper. It is when we stop picking out what we like and don’t like about a group of people that we see healing happen. We are reconciled by being uncomfortable. We are made new and are used as vessels by God to make others new.

A few days ago, Austin and I attended our last Sunday morning worship at that church. We stood around people who love us deeply and who we love deeply. We have surrounded my more diversity than I have ever seen at my church before. We sang songs of praise to Jesus who binds us despite our different statuses and experiences. We have been loved by our neighbors. We have been loved by our family.

We must get involved with a body of believers if we are not already. It will be hard at times, but there is so much reward attached. We can in no way imagine how God will work in and through us when we are surrounded by His children. We cannot pass through this world on our own. We were not created for individual growth in Jesus. We were created for communal growth toward Jesus. For familial bonds with Jesus.

The Good Gift of Transition

Like many of you, I am sure, my last few weeks have been surreal.

For those who do not know me, I have competed in speech and debate (just speech for me though) since middle school. I have poured my heart and soul into weekends traveling to high schools and colleges to speak my heart and be judged based on it.

I have also always lived in one place. I was born about two miles from the seat I occupy right now. I was brought to a church within my first month of being alive that I still attend today. I have lived–at most–ten minutes away from my parents.

Last weekend, I attended my last national speech competition, and now I am preparing18034284_10208943561763189_1663803132431346457_n to move out of my hometown next week.

Transitions.

They are part of the rhythm of life. However, I believe I am currently residing in the greatest transition I have yet to endure. The one that stings a little but promises great joy. In light of resting in a God who transcends my transitions, let’s dive into the book of James. It is a book that encapsulates the early Church’s transition period post-Messiah and pre-second coming. James tells us how the Spirit should lead us to live. He encourages us in the midst of change. He reminds us that how we handle the hand that is dealt exemplifies our hearts in relation to Jesus.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will, he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

(James 1:16-18 ESV)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

A good gift brings Him glory.

Good gift. My mind immediately goes to my husband, my marriage. A good gift. A gift that I will argue over and over that I do not deserve–not now. Yet we see in the context of scripture that a good gift goes further than a list of our favorite things.

It transcends family. It exceeds friendship.

A good gift is anything that uses us to bring God glory.

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!” Psalm 115:1

Oh, Christians! Good gifts often sting. They look scary. After all, when the Israelites stood between the endless red sea and the red anger of the Egyptians, they thought their lives encapsulated everything except good gifts. They thought they were being punished. Little did they know that their worlds were about to be changed as the sea part at the hand of God and their oppressors were drowned by His name.

Our transitions are just that. They are often dusty or soggy roads between two realities that God is utilizing for the spread of His Gospel, and therefore, salvation to the world.

There is no shadow because He is perfectly above it.

James continues by explaining that no shadow appears in the midst of God’s good gift.

In my own period of transition, I feel the Lord all over it. He is in my apartment now and in my new home. He is over the team I am leaving behind and the individuals who will carry His name into the next speech round that I am not in.

Yet there are so manyScreen Shot 2017-04-25 at 6.23.44 PM.png transitions in which seeing Him seems difficult. A move that pulls families apart. The loss of a loved one. Being let go from a job.

When the sun sits overhead at noon, shadows cease to exist because it rests perfectly above us. By 12:01, it has moved. A shadow appears. It has moved because it is a sun that exists in the realm of the universe. Not The Son. He doesn’t change though our lives are ever-transforming. While we move around, He stands over all our comings and goings.

He is beautifully transforming us in the process.

The best part of these transition moments is the transformation that comes from them when we allow Him. Everything that has brought us to this place we stand, every person who has stood before us, every spiritual parent or friendship or Gospel sharing moment, every test we have taken, every challenge from the Spirit, and every hardship and trial this season has brought us had been used by God to pull us deeper into His being.

But Christians. Let us not forget that we do have a degree of choice in the matter. We have the option of hiding away our faith. We have the ability to misrepresent Him with our tongues. If we are in transition moments, we are in vulnerable moments. We are meeting more people. We are being watched more closely. We have the opportunity to glorify Him greatly! We also have the opportunity to taint our own witness and lose the trust of those we stand before.

He is above us, holding out the fruits of the Spirit He wants to instill into us. He is giving us a beautiful opportunity to use the change surrounding us. Maybe your transition seems small. Maybe it is your baby walking for the first time. Maybe it is entering a different grade in school. Maybe it is a promotion.

Then again, maybe you are like me and–good or bad–you have a big transition coming up. You are graduating college and entering the workforce. You are preparing for marriage. You are helping a loved one through their last days on earth. No matter how our lives are evolving, He remains. He is good. His gifts are perfect.

So as I reflect on my time in speech and pack my life into boxes, as I enter a new place, make new friends, and begin a new chapter, Jesus will be residing above me. Though darkness surrounds, where He resides, there will be no shadow because He is the epitome of light.

Reflect on His promises, Beloved. Hold fast onto His never-changing Word. He is the only one that has never transitioned. He is constant. Let’s allow Him to be the constant good gift in the midst of our changing good gifts.