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all the true things

all the true things: choosing truth when adoption is hard \\ sarahsandel.com

Today I am choosing the true things, because my brain and body are all wiggetywack.
Yes, a word. Maybe. I don’t know. DO REAL WORDS REALLY MATTER RIGHT NOW?!

I am recovering from anxiety and depression. I’ve talked about this a little bit from time to time. I say “recovering” because God continues to reveal His sufficiency when I am anxious. The whole “sometimes He calms the storm, sometimes He calms His child” idea. I go long stretches with no symptoms, then perhaps a season of requiring so much attention and grace as my body responds anxiously to life transitions and changes. But let me explain what’s going on these days. Because we have all the upheaval going on in our home and all the hope and waiting. And the combination of this, plus that whole BEING BOUND TO TIME thing is making for interesting days. Hard days. But faith days.

For years, my emotions have responded a particular way to crisis, frustration, anxiety, delay, fatigue…allthethings. My brain is so used to this response, that it starts to gear up (or maybe it amps up) by sending a swirling array of thoughts to the forefront. It’s like wearing anxiety goggles, because when this happens, my vision is blurry and I can’t hear very well. It’s hard to shake out of the whirlwind of words and thoughts which, on a good day, are fairly nonstop. I am a thinker. This is a gift from God. But I am a thinker. And what God intended for good, the enemy will work to distort.

all the true things: choosing truth when adoption is hard \\ sarahsandel.com

Something differently is happening this time, however, and it’s taken some help and a step back to truly see the work of God in me. The whirlwind of thoughts is beginning to look distant…like not a part of me. When the thoughts begin to suggest that I may not be safe…that all this work is foolish…that God will inevitably let me down…that I don’t want to do hard work…it is beginning to look like the bullcrap it is.

I know. Super profound.

My body and brain are so used to responding a certain way to conflict and difficulty, that they begin this response process…and a still, small voice in my mind has started whispering, Hey…you know that’s not true. It’s not condemning or angry-sounding. It’s a gentle suggestion. And I hear it and my body is all BUT THIS IS HOW WE ALWAYS RESPOND TO CRISIS WE FREAK OUT AND THINK ALL THE THINGS.

And there, in the mind of Christ in me, the small voice responds, Yeah, but we don’t have to anymore. Remember? Remember Whose we are? Remember the Life indwelling us? I think we have another option.

all the true things: choosing truth when adoption is hard \\ sarahsandel.com

So, with a lot of help from very patient friends and a really tender husband, I am grasping for the other option: true thinking and faithful being.

Those thoughts swirl around up there and instead of thrashing around trying to solve them (which is my biggest deterrent to truth, y’all – trying to solve the thoughts with the power of my intellect *eyeroll but really*), I get to take a deep breath and let them wash over me like a wave.

True thinking is not letting those thoughts have the final say. They start to swell and I steady myself with what I know is real: God doesn’t leave me. His plans are purposeful. God is kind. This isn’t just a physical battle – this is spiritual. I have everything I need to respond to my circumstances. He is a good Father; He is not a tricky, manipulative one.

Faithful being is not letting those thoughts determine my choices. I have a lot of options available to me. I have availed myself of a variety of fruitless alternatives to faith in the past. But I believe that God has been carving out an endurance in me that compels me to draw from a deeper place. I don’t have to draw from “cry and text all my friends in between bites of chocolate”, when there is available to me, “Tell my soul who is boss and do the thing”.

We all have a lot going on. Each of us has a list of completely valid reasons to just lay on the couch eating popcorn and watching Friends (not that I speak from experience, *ahem*) or have total meltdowns before breakfast (again). Sometimes we have to do the melting down and the tv-watching to get to the real part: Jesus is still enough.

Sometimes I do anxiety before I do faith, and I bet a lot of us are like that. It’s okay for us to feel the feelings. But then we get to discard them and get on with the faithful thing, choosing to override what anxiety or fear offers us.

all the true things: choosing truth when adoption is hard \\ sarahsandel.com

This will take practice.

I will keep needing my patient friends and my tender husband and I will probably keep messing it up and having those pre-breakfast meltdowns. But God is redeeming my emotions and I can get back up, wipe my tears, take a deep breath, and get on with true and faithful living.

Because Jesus is enough.

 

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the mystery of His power

Each day this week, I’ve posted expanded content from my contribution to our church’s weekly follow-up devotions. You may recall that the focus passage is Colossians 1:24-29, so although each day zeroes in on one or two verses, you may want to read the entire passage each day, for context and clarity.

See end of post for full series content links.

***

I’ve been challenged to consider this week that the mysteries of God are not dependent on my agreement, my praise, my affirmation, or even my feelings to be true and at work. I serve at the pleasure of the King and His life in me is mysterious. When my four year old was asking me questions today about heaven and Jesus and how come she can’t see Him or touch Him, I just said, “Baby – here are the things I know. But I will tell you now – I do not know everything. God is amazing and mysterious and we get to choose to trust Him.”

Read Colossians 1:29, 2 Peter 1:3-4

The final thought for this week supplies the “how” for the previous days’ thoughts: we strive “according to HIS power”.

How do we rejoice even in suffering? By the power of God.
How do we encounter the mystery of Christ in us, the hope of glory? By the power of God.
How can we believe that God will complete the work He has begun in us who belong to Him? By His own power.

This is cause for relief and rejoicing – we do not need to conjure up our own hope and help, we get to rely on the One who Himself is our great hope!

He has granted to us everything we need for life and godliness.

The struggle with this, for me, is that every day I do not wake up feeling as though I am equipped for life. I wake up in various states, ranging from grumpy to energetic. But if I am truthful, my first thoughts are not towards the life of Christ in me, His power at work in me to respond to absolutely everything I will encounter. A friend quipped today, “I wish that the truth I know about Christ in me would make me FEEL better about things right now.” She voice my very thoughts!

The power of Christ in me is a confidant reality – but it does not alleviate the earthly toil I am subjected to. The power of Christ in me does not exempt me from my body’s physical response to exhaustion, or my heart’s emotional response to change or distress, nor does it exempt me from mental weariness as I work to solve problems and handle challenges. And though at times this frustrates me, this does not lessen His power at work in me.

If a mental, physical, or emotional state effected a change in status of the eternal, righteous Life indwelling believers – we are to be pitied above all men! If I wait until my mind, body, and soul align all properly and in a timely manner with the truth of the power of Christ in me – I will walk in frustration or despair. The mystery of the power of Christ in me does not require my intellectual ascent. Thank God!

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

To Consider: In prayer today, commit your work to the Lord. Confess (again!) that His life is the only strength for living today, for embracing a holy perspective on suffering, for celebrating Christ in you, the hope of glory!

*****

the mystery [intro]

[day 1] the mystery of rejoicing in suffering

[day 2] the mystery of a life for others

[day 3] the mystery of the hope of glory

[day 4] the mystery of a completed work

[day 5] the mystery of His power

*****
Disclaimer: Everything I write about on SarahSandel.com reflects my personal experiences, opinions, and beliefs. I do not write here on behalf of our church or anyone else. 🙂

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July 15, 2016 - 5:51 pm

Kelley Splitter - Sarah,
Oh my what a great article, I just saw you blog address at the bottom of one of your emails. It is obvious you love to write and share your passion for writing. We have emailed a few times, I am with Classical Conversations and we are developing a new community in the Apopka area. I would like to know if you would love to share your passion of writing with our group. Please give me a call or email.
Enjoying your passion and encouraging words
Kelley Splitter
Support Rep
Classical Conversations.

the mystery of a completed work

Each day this week, I’m posting expanded content from my contribution to our church’s weekly follow-up devotions. You may recall that the focus passage is Colossians 1:24-29, so although each day zeroes in on one or two verses, you may want to read the entire passage each day, for context and clarity.

See end of post for full series content links.

*****

Read: Colossians 1:28, Philippians 1:6

the mystery series || colossians 1:24-29 || sarahsandel.com

When I am not sure of a certain thing, I research. I am a BIG researcher. I am certain that somewhere out there, there is a right and best answer for just about any quandary. Is this reality? Probably not. Do I keep researching? Usually.

The quandary presented here, of course, is a seemingly impossible task. Proclaiming God is perhaps a more welcome and familiar work, but the subsequent admonishment, “teach every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ”? This seems much larger than ourselves. I am certain that I do not have the sort of wisdom required for such a task. My job should certainly end with encouraging the saints, sharing the hope I have in Christ with those separated from Him. What is this bit about presenting every man complete?

Thankfully, the full counsel of Scripture supplements and answers for us: IT IS GOD. It is the work of God! Paul’s confidence in the letter to the Philippians can be our confidence, too. It is HE, God, who began the good work and it is HE who will perfect it. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3). There is no amount of research we can do or wisdom we can attain to qualify ourselves to proclaim the Good News. So we rest in the work He began in those who belong to Him and we rejoice that He alone will complete that work. It is by grace we have been saved – through faith – and this is not from ourselves (Eph 2:8-9).

Of course, we are mistaken if we believe that Christ’s reconciled life in us absolves of any responsibility to live the Christian life. The work of salvation has been completed, and yet there is plenty to do as reconciled, holy, and blameless children of God! According to Peter, God’s divine power has been given to us to accomplish everything pertaining to life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). So we commit our ways to the God who has reconciled us and we “continue in the faith”, becoming stable and steadfast.

I find there is such a fine balance and tension here…working as unto the Lord, yet resting in the completed work.
Work unto the Lord. Continue in the faith.
Rest in the completed work.

the mystery of the completed work || colossians 1:24-29 || sarahsandel.com

For Further Reflection: Is there any work you have been trying to complete on your own? Ask the Lord to illuminate any area in which you can rest in HIS work on your behalf.

Other Resources:
Tim Keller, “Work and Rest” [audio]
Elisabeth Elliot, “Gain What You Can Never Lose” [audio]
Dr. Jeff Robinson, on the completed work [article]
Eugene Peterson, “The Jesus Way” [book]

*****

the mystery [intro]

[day 1] the mystery of rejoicing in suffering

[day 2] the mystery of a life for others

[day 3] the mystery of the hope of glory

[day 4] the mystery of a completed work

[day 5] the mystery of His power

*****
Disclaimer: Everything I write about on SarahSandel.com reflects my personal experiences, opinions, and beliefs. I do not write here on behalf of our church or anyone else. 🙂

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June 17, 2016 - 8:35 am

the mystery of His power » sarah writes - […] the mystery of a completed work […]

the mystery of the hope of glory

Each day this week, I’m posting expanded content from my contribution to our church’s weekly follow-up devotions. You may recall that the focus passage is Colossians 1:24-29, so although each day zeroes in on one or two verses, you may want to read the entire passage each day, for context and clarity.

See end of post for full series content links.

*****

Read: Colossians 1:25-27, Romans 11:36, Ephesians 1:9-12

the mystery series || colossians 1:24-29 || sarahsandel.com

Most people love a good mystery. Not me. I want to love a mystery. But not knowing how a thing will turn out frustrates me to no end. I get nervous and anxious at every plot twist. No mysteries, no surprise parties, no “I’ll give you three guesses!” for me, thank you very much.

This mystery, however? THIS is a good mystery. The Greek text uses the word mystērion here, to describe a hidden thing, something not obvious to the understanding. But this is something God no longer withholds from those who belong to Him – this mystery is revealed in Christ Jesus and is revealed in us, His children! Christ in us – the very hope of glory! What was once a secret is now our precious treasure.

The hope that is being worked out in us through suffering and perseverance yields a glory we cannot contrive. It is only the working of Holy God, through His Spirit. Paul was made a steward by God (v25) and it was God’s will that the riches of this glorious mystery be revealed (v27). The revelation of this mystery happens by God and for God and His glory.

Hope is mysterious of itself, is it not? Paul writes again in Ephesians of this mysterious revelation…”we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory”. The hope he speaks of here is an eager expectation – something in which believers can have confidence. This is a hard concept for me, truly.

I have long wrestled with this idea of hope – an eager expectation – a desire or desired outcome. I imagine we all have wrestled with this in different ways over the years. My struggle is simple: I have inadvertently begun to view Jesus Christ not as Hope itself, Hope Incarnate, Christ in me, the Hope of glory — but as the facilitator of my little hopes, my expectations. It is difficult to lay those down. There is a tension in relinquishing my hopes to settle into the hope of glory. My life is no longer about getting all the things I hope for, the things I hope will result in a beautiful -even spiritual- life. My life is about the indwelling Christ and the resulting glory of the Father.

I am finding that the blessed hope of surrender to Christ Jesus is, indeed, a mysterious tension of loss and joy.

And you? Are you in the tension of that mystery? The precious treasure is being revealed and it often requires so much laying down. But the life of Christ in us, for us – what a gift!

the mystery of the hope of glory || colossians 1:24-29 || sarahsandel.com

 For Further Reflection: What do you hope for, temporally speaking? Have you allowed your hopes to become a wishlist you submit to God? Consider your view of God in light of this mystery: He allows us to be indwelled by His spirit. Our lives have become less about getting and more about abiding. Use your prayer time to praise God for this revelation and ask Him to make “Christ in you, the hope of glory” a richer and dearer “mystery” to you.

Other Resources:
C.S. Lewis – The Great Divorce [book]
Matthew Henry – Colossians 1 [commentary]
Sara Hagerty, on practicing hope [article]

*****

the mystery [intro]

[day 1] the mystery of rejoicing in suffering

[day 2] the mystery of a life for others

[day 3] the mystery of the hope of glory

[day 4] the mystery of a completed work

[day 5] the mystery of His power

*****
Disclaimer: Everything I write about on SarahSandel.com reflects my personal experiences, opinions, and beliefs. I do not write here on behalf of our church or anyone else. 🙂

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June 16, 2016 - 3:12 pm

the mystery [intro] » sarah writes - […] the mystery of the hope of glory […]

the mystery of a life for others

Each day this week, I’m posting expanded content from my contribution to our church’s weekly follow-up devotions. You may recall that the focus passage is Colossians 1:24-29, so although each day zeroes in on one or two verses, you may want to read the entire passage each day, for context and clarity.

To read the [intro] or [day 1: the mystery of rejoicing in suffering] – click the links!
See end of post for full series content links.

***

Read: Colossians 1:24, Galatians 2:20

Paul chose to rejoice in his sufferings because he saw them as an identifying marker of the life of Christ. He, Paul, was willing to take on suffering “for your sake” – for the sake of the body of Christ. It is a hard thing to consider suffering for the sake of someone else. Paying the price that someone else may go free? This kind of tribulation is rarely one we sign up for willingly!

We see an imperfect example here in Paul, pointing to a perfect example in Jesus. The Son of God, who is rich in mercy and loves us with a great and holy love (Eph. 2:4), laid down his life for us while we were still sinners. The perfect dying for the imperfect. Jesus, suffering for our sake, that we could be reconciled to God. And this life – this dying for others, living for others, pouring out for others life – belongs now to believers (Gal. 2:20). This is the power of Christ, which enlivens and strengthens us to lay down our lives for one another (1 Jn 3:16).

In a culture hyper-focused on self (in the name of authenticity, of course), it is difficult to imagine a daily dying to self for the sake of others. We are busy structuring our days around the things that benefit us and our business and families. Caring for our souls and loved ones is not inherently evil, by any stretch. But we often overlook ways we may submit ourselves to one another.  We rise to the occasion when challenged or reviled, looking for ways to defend our reputations, rather than “trusting the One who judges justly” (1Peter 2:23).

This life for others that Christ lived now lives on in us, those who belong to Him and are indwelt by His Spirit. We get to participate in a redemptive sort of suffering – dying little deaths to self daily – because Jesus Himself suffered for us. The apostle Peter challenges us directly here, giving the example and motivation of the perfect One:

“For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, nor was any deceit found in His mouth and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

1 Peter 2:21-25

I’m praying this week that I will be eyes-wide-open for ways my life can be about others…my kid, my husband, my friends, and co-workers. Not in some fake-humility way, but in a way that genuinely “looks out for the interests of others” (Phil 2:3).

Will you join me in suffering for the sake of the body, by living a life that is for others?

the mystery of a life for others || colossians 1:24-29 || sarahsandel.com

For Further Reflection: We don’t often look for ways we can be poured out for others – we are often “looking out for number one”. There is something counter-cultural to the idea of a life that is FOR others. Pray today, asking God to make you aware of big or small ways you might lay down your life – or preferences or comfort or rights – for another, believing that this is the power of Christ in you.

Other Resources:
By author Bill Gillham, on the Christ-in-you life –
Lifetime Guarantee [book]
What God Wishes Christians Knew About Christianity [book]

Pastor Steve Pettit, Centerpoint Christian Fellowship –
on the life for others [article and article]
Passion for Self-Expenditure [sermon and outline]

 

*****

the mystery [intro]

[day 1] the mystery of rejoicing in suffering

[day 2] the mystery of a life for others

[day 3] the mystery of the hope of glory

[day 4] the mystery of a completed work

[day 5] the mystery of His power

*****
Disclaimer: Everything I write about on SarahSandel.com reflects my personal experiences, opinions, and beliefs. I do not write here on behalf of our church or anyone else. :

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