When God Asks You to Give Up // Lindsey

Obedience. What a hard word for me. As I think back on my childhood, I vividly remember the times I got in trouble- not because they were often, but because I got in trouble most of the time for not doing something. You see, obedience has always been something I have struggled with. I always thought it was because my parents raised me to be an independent person and come up with thoughts and ways to fix things on my own. But when I started to walk with the Lord in middle school I noticed some tension in the way I handled situations. I often felt bothered or angry when someone would tell me to do something that I didn’t want to do. It wasn’t that I was trying to be completely disrespectful; I just wanted to do things my own way because I thought I knew what was best for me.

As I continue to look at major moments in my life over the past few years, I can see the Lord trying to pry my white knuckles off of control. I started to see this trend when I was making the transition from high school to college. I thought the best thing I could do after college was move 14 hours away from home and start a new life in a small, southern town. Thank God for praying parents that were full of wisdom and helped me to understand that moving to another state for college was not what the Lord was calling me to. I was devastated at first, but I knew that moving wasn’t what the Lord was asking me to do. When I finally let go of the idea of moving to Mississippi and obeyed the Lord with staying in Virginia, I began to see his blessings even clearer in my life.

A few of these blessings included growing closer to my family. You see, I always loved my parents and appreciated them as people (they were cool people, but they were my parents. Hello!) In high school I spent time with my family, but I was involved in classes, extracurricular activities, and spent most of my free time with my church youth group. But after high school ended and all of my friends left for college, my parents were really the only constant people in my life. I grew to love my parents so much more. I’m getting teary-eyed thinking about how amazing they are as I type this right now. My mom is just the sweetest, sassy woman who knows how to do everything (it seems) and gives my sisters and me majority of her time, talent and energy every day. My dad is my best friend to put it simply. He has taught me how to do things on my own and always knows when something is wrong with me, even when I’m t rying not to show that something is wrong. He’s smart, that man! Every blessing has come from the Lord, and these two are top blessings for me. ‘Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Another blessing was being able to have one more year at home with my sisters. Man! I would give my life for those two. Madison is my middle sister. She was my little sidekick for twelve years. Madison is the peacekeeper. She is quiet, yet loves well and really cares about her family and friends. Then the Lord blessed our family with the sassiest child I have ever met, Natalie. Natalie was born a year after my family lost a close relative and she was the sunshine that we needed at that time. Since then, she is the little girl that makes me laugh hard and loves me even when I’m selfish and not the best sister. I’ll cherish the times I had that year still at home with them. I wouldn’t trade anything for the nights we all laid in my room together talking or watching movies. Or the times we spend praying together when life got tough. God has taught me so much by watching the two of them grow. I’m so glad that he gave me those times just because I was obedient and didn’t go away to Mississippi. *Sidenote- I want to point out that it is not a bad thing to go away for college. But, I knew that moving away was an opportunity for me to be defiant and selfish. Two qualities I didn’t need to grow in, but what I did need to grow in at that time was obedience. Let’s be real- I always need to grow in that. But my college decision was a perfect time for the Lord to exemplify his power and control over my life; and a perfect time for Him to show me how he guides us when we are obedient.

I completed my first semester of college at a community college in my hometown, but got into a horrible car accident 5 days before my second semester. I ended up with torn ligaments in my shoulder, an AC separation, a concussion, whiplash and amnesia for the next 9 months. Therefore, what I remember about that time is limited and mostly based on what I have been told or have seen based on pictures. Yet, I know my faith grew during that time. Somehow, during those 9 months that I don’t remember, I decided to transfer to Christopher Newport University. I wish I could say I loved it there right from the start, but I would be lying to you. You see, I was homesick, I felt lonely and left out. But I prayed hard that the Lord would bless me with peace and friendships. He answered those prayers, and gave me so much more than I could have ever dreamed about.

I don’t know why I am surprised as I look back on those three years and think about how gracious the Lord was to me because that’s what He desires to give all of us that are walking with Him. Psalm 145:8-9 says, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.”

The most recent blessing I have seen was when I was obedient to God’s calling for my life after college. If you are close to me or know anything about me, you probably are aware that I studied Political Science in college and I have a strong passion for law. My senior year I did not go to Fall Retreat because I took my LSATs that same weekend. I spent most of my “free time” senior year studying books about Logic, Reading Comprehension, etc. so that I could do well on my LSATs. My dream was to attend University of Richmond’s Law School. In late-March I was accepted to that school as well as Charleston School of Law. But around that same time, I drove to ODU on a whim. I thought I was going to meet up with a friend, but she ended up having choir practice that night so I went to Cru’s ODU Bible Study: Gather. I enjoyed my night and left the campus not thinking much about the school or their Cru movement. As I got onto 64, the Lord said, “Lindsey, you should dedicate a year to Cru here.” I immediately thought, homeboy you are cray ! Didn’t He know I didn’t like living in Hampton Roads? Didn’t He know I wanted to be near my family again? Didn’t He know I wanted to go to law school… specifically my top choice that I had just been accepted into?

Yes, the Lord knew all of these things. He is all-knowing. And my desires were good desires, but for me to really grow He knew that I needed to dedicate a year (at least) of my life to working for Cru. It was not a super easy choice deep inside of my heart to reject my acceptances. You see acceptance has always been something I have strived for, but this time God said no. It was so hard. But He has been so gracious to me. He has loved me when it has been hard to love me. He knows that He gave me a passion for law and to become a lawyer, but a lawyer is not what Lindsey Allen’s identity is, even if it is what I become one day. Lindsey Allen’s identity is that she is a child of God. Sometimes He changes our plans, because His are so much greater for our lives. He had to wreck my plans because He knows sinful Lindsey is stubborn and wants to advance her own plans. But He just wants for me to grow more into the woman that He created me to be from the beginning of time.

Around this time of great transition and obedience growth, I was reading through Luke 5. If you’re not familiar with the story, this is when Jesus got into Simon’s boat so he could speak to the crowds of people that were surrounding Him. While Jesus spoke to the crowd, Simon washed his net. When Jesus was done, He said to Simon that he should put the net out into deep water. This was Simon’s response in Luke 5:5- “Master, we’ve worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets.” What is it that the Lord is telling you to do? Maybe it’s not putting your freshly washed net back into the ocean’s deep water, but I am sure of this… He is calling you to something. Let Him lead you and speak to you. It is hard to give up control and to be obedient, but I promise it is worth it. My life will never be the same because of Jesus, and I am so thankful.

I hope this blesses you in some way. Xo-
Lindsey

 

Hey y’all! My name is Lindsey. I recently graduated Christopher Newport University and am now on staff as an intern at CNU and ODU. A few things about me: my favorite people to be with are my family and pup-Harrison, I love watching football (Go Pack Go!), Fall is my favorite season, coffee is my drink of choice and if I could pick one kind of food to eat for the rest of my life it
would be Mexican. *insert heart eyes emoji* I love meeting people and creating friendships with as many people as humanly possible so please introduce yourself to me if we get the chance to cross paths. Xoxo.
@liindsloo

For the Times God Says No // Melissa

I’ve heard a saying that, when we pray God’s answers are: yes, not yet, or no. He never leaves prayers unanswered. The “yes” answers are great aren’t they? That thing we have been dreaming of finally happens. We can see God’s blessings and feel his glorious presence and the joy that happens when our will aligns with His! The “not yet” answers are less exciting, but we still hope and pray over the situations at hand. Even when the not yet season has been your entire life, we can cling to the hope that the time will come soon. However, the hardest is the “no.”

It is not a word that anyone likes to hear, especially when it comes from God. When that prayer you prayed more fervently than any doesn’t come to fruition, it can almost feel like God is rejecting you. You may even feel like God is apathetic or doesn’t care.

I know that’s how I felt.

On November 1, 2014 my mom called me to say that my cousin had a drug overdose and was on life support. Over the next few days I prayed more passionately, honestly, and frequently than ever before. I knew God was capable of miracles. I knew he could fully heal my cousin, and let this overdose be a life-changing event that could bring glory to the Lord. There are stories of people who were near death, miraculously healed, and now walking intimately with Jesus. The question in my heart and prayers was not if God could, but if he would perform this miracle.

About a week and a half later, I was walking out of a Cru large group and my mom called to tell me that they were taking him off life support that night. The next day he died. God had said no to my prayer.

It can be so easy to start believing lies from Satan in those moments.
Did I not pray hard enough?
Was there something I should have done?
Why did God reject me?
There was nothing selfish in that prayer, so is God really good?
Does God really care?
From those lies it is so very easy, sometimes even unnoticed, to let that experience affect our prayer life and how we view God.

God was not rejecting me, and he is not rejecting you. During that week and a half God’s love comforted me in the midst of the “no.” The Sunday before my cousin died, the pastor at church preached on holding our loved ones with an open hand. Understand that ultimately they are God’s creation, and it will hurt a whole lot less if we trust them to God. Otherwise we will experience more sorrow when God pries open our clinched fists. An hour before I found out they took him off life support, the Cru worship leader prayed that we would welcome suffering in our lives. It was a (seemingly) random thing to pray for, considering none of the songs or the speaker that night discussed suffering. Yet, I knew in that moment, that God was not going to heal my cousin. While that prayer seemed random, it granted me a peace that can only come from the Lord in knowing that he heard me. He heard my pleas, he saw my suffering, he knew my heart, and he was grieving too.

Fast-forward to 2017.

In the spring I realized that my prayer life and view of God were seriously altered after my cousin died. It wasn’t that I stopped praying, but I stopped trusting God with the big stuff in my own life out of fear that he would say no, and I would be left hurt and disappointed. The few times I would pray over big things, I did not have an expectant heart (I did not think or believe that God would move in that area or care about my prayer).  I would start and end my prayers with passive wimpy phrases like, “God, it would be really cool if…” or “I mean only if it is in your will, I guess…” I believed the lie that God did not care about my prayers, nor would he bother to respond. The only way to combat those lies, is to replace them with truth. Psalm 66 illustrates beautiful truths about God’s character and prayer:

“I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my prayer. Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me.”

(Psalm 66:17-20)

Sometimes we may never know why God says no, and that’s okay. I still don’t know, and probably never will, why God said no when I prayed over my cousin’s life. I still don’t know why God says no to other prayers. BUT I still know and cling to truths about God.  God is good. God hears us. God loves us and is for us. I highly recommend reading Psalm 66 and Romans 8 to be reminded of God’s fierce love for you. He is fighting for you, not against you.

It’s okay if you are in the midst of struggling to understand God’s goodness in the presence of a no. It is okay to be confused and upset and grieve. It is okay to tell God that you’re confused, upset, and hurting.  He knows, he cares, he sees you, and he wants you to bring this sorrow to him.

Now I don’t have a magical do-this-and-everything-will-be-better prayer or song, but I would love to share some practical suggestions that helped to comfort me and replace the lies with truth.

First, and I would argue most important, go to the Bible. Read through Lamentations or some Psalms. Lament literally means “a passionate expression of grief or sorrow,” and the Psalms truly express both joy and sorrow. In Psalm 88 the Psalmist ends with “you have taken from me friend and neighbor—darkness is my closest friend.”

Another thing that is helpful is to spend time talking with a trusted friend or mentor who is grounded in their faith. Sometimes having an older woman look you dead in the eye and say “that is a lie from the devil” is a lot more powerful than telling yourself that.

Finally, another suggestion is to read a faith-based book. This past summer I read, Too Busy Not to Pray by Bill Hybels. It was refreshing and encouraging to be reminded of the truth that God wants to hear my prayers, wants us to trust him with big things, and wants to give us good gifts. 

God does say yes sometimes, and to big things. He is a God of miracles. So let’s not focus on the no so much that we miss the yes. In the midst of it all, no, yes, and not yet, we need to remember that Jesus already gave us every yes we need this side of heaven and the next when He said “it is finished.” He freed us from all of our sin and the chains that bind us in shame. We have so much to look forward to, despite the answers we aren’t thrilled about.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

(Revelation 21:3-4)

 

Hello friends! My name is Melissa, but you can call me Mel I am interning with TidewaterRVA Cru this year at CNU and William and Mary. I graduated in May from CNU with a degree in History. I am so excited to do life with the women of the Tidewater area, challenging each other to take bold steps in our faith and love Jesus and others fiercely.  A few of my favorites: a good book (now and forever taking recommendations), Harry Potter, coffee, and road trips! I’m looking forward to getting to know this community more. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to reach out to me!

@meldurrer

“God Loves You Too Much to Leave You Where You Are…” : A Letter to My Freshman Self // Sarah

“Girlfriend, God loves you too much to leave you where you are. If you surrender to Him, you’ll see grace in His character and in His care for you, and because of that, you’ll see more of who He is and who you are in the process.”

That’s just a little snippet of what I would love to go back and tell my freshman year of college self. Little Sarah and I would have a lovely chat, let me tell ya… ((cookies would for SURE be present for this chat too, no doubt)).

To give some background, I really began to walk with Jesus during my freshman year, meaning I actually started to read and study scripture like forreal. I poured out my very lonely heart to Him quite frequently. Because of that, His presence became real, He drew near to me and I tasted and saw how good the Lord was in the first year of my college career. The gospel came alive to me for the first time after years of just walking through the motions. Through each semester thereafter, I anticipated (and sometimes cringed) knowing God was going to continue to stretch me, prune me and teach me in each stage even more so than the last.

Coming into college, I had a vision of what my life would look like over the course of my four years at VCU. I was under the impression that I would find my best Christian, college girlfriends within the first week of class, have the best time of my life, get married right after graduation and have a family who is the perfect little picture of “Christian success.” It seemed as though following Jesus was some time of cake walk, read the Bible semiregularly, do the right things and obey Him and life will be good. Safe, semi-comfortable, steady and sure.

Haaaaaaaa….. Reality check nah, nope, nada.

Life looks completely different than I ever anticipated and that, I have learned, is g o o d thing and I praise God for it. Why is that, you may ask? As I have reflected in these summer months “post-college”, I have seen a themeGod loves me too much to leave me where I am in my sin, in my circumstances, in my selfdependency, and in my brokenness to not intervene. That means, He shakes things up, He convicts me, He allows my heart to be confused, to break, and to search for Him. Through each year, He draws me to Himself, showing me more of my lack and more of His goodness. He meets me here in my brokenness. And it’s in this place I have also learned how wicked and deceitful my heart is, even on its best day. I have learned that what I have planned pales in comparison to God’s ways and God’s will. I have learned that safe, semi-comfortable, steady and sure is not where I would want to be on my own, because only in Him am I safe, in Him can I be sure and only He is steady.

I am not the only one who He loves too much to leave to their own devices and comfort. He has been loving people “too much” since the beginning of time. Let me explain…I have been studying straight through the Old Testament in the last few months. I am currently makin’ my way through Numbers. ((I can hear you cringe lots of words and lists but so much goodness and God’s grace)). To give a highlight recap for where we are stepping into:

Genesis= God calls a people group (Israel) to be His holy people, via the lineage of Abraham and his descendants. He calls them to go from their home (their comfort) and their land (their safety) and follow wherever God was to lead them. They struggle and wrestle yet God kept His covenant to be faithful to them.

Genesis 12:1-2 “Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”

Exodus= God continues to leads His holy people, this time out from under the rule of Pharaoh and they begin their wandering excursion around the dessert for quite a bit of time. During this time, they start to regret following Moses and trusting God through the uncertainty and through their discomfort. The struggle continues as they get hangry and cranky, and yet again God remains faithful.

Exodus 29:45 “I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God.  And they shall know that I am the Lord their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the Lord their God.”

Leviticus= God gives His people the law for sacrifice and holy conduct. He gives very specific law, not ‘cause He just likes a good barbeque sacrifice, but because a holy and perfect God longs to meet with sinners in the Holiest of Holies. God draws them near. He desires to meet with them. The Lord wants to dwell among them.

Leviticus 22:31-33 “So you shall keep my commandments and do them: I am the Lord. And you shall not profane my holy name, that I may be sanctified among the people of Israel. I am the Lord who sanctifies you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord.”

Numbers= God has promised His people a land called The Promised Land, sometimes referred to as Canaan. Because of their wandering and idolatry of self and pagan gods, Israel continues to doubt God’s goodness and leading. They complained, rebelled and rejected God’s guidance. They forgot again how the Lord had delivered them, provided for them and lead them into a place where they didn’t anticipate. The Israelites started to wish to be in captivity again, in their safe and enslaved homes. Because of that, God withholds a good thing He promised and graciously disciplines His people.

Numbers 14:18 “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgressions…”

And that’s where I found myself this morning…

I saw myself in the shoes (or sandals?) of the Israelites. As I continued reading, I started making the connection to my heart and their hearts, their situations and mine. In the last four years, I have seen God lead me into circumstances and situations that didn’t always feel great, often times through tears and confusion. And like the Israelites, I have asked God questions and doubted His goodness. My comfort and certainty has been stripped away over and over as I have followed Jesus. And guess what….God has met me there, time and time again. For that I am so stinkin’ thankful.

So to conclude my talk with little freshmen Sarah and to other sisters in Christ, I would share this…

“I am thankful that God loves us too much to let us stay where were are, comfortable and complacent, Queens of our own Castle of Self. Instead, He leads us into season after season of walking by faith, in a total lack of control but gentle surrender to His leading. God’s word and His law have been a place of refuge in each of these seasons, reminding us of Who He is, who I am and to Whom I belong to now because of Christ.”

Praise God that He loves us too much!

Hi there! I am Sarah &  I am on staff as an intern with Cru in RVA! I am fresh-off-the-stage VCU alumni and now I get serve on my fav campus, along with J. Sarge! God has me in a place I never thought I’d be in but am SO grateful to be. Cookie dough is my ultimate weakness, running is my therapy and Jesus is continuing to teach me that He is always better. Thanks for reading!
@babyhouch