Tossing More Spiritual Gumption in the Game

It’s time to put a little more skin in the game. Scared or not it’s time. Time to stop pitching a fit over fruit that isn’t growing based on seeds I’ve buried without watering. This ministry, this calling handed to me from the Lord many sleepless nights ago to equip multiple generations to grow in their affection and understanding of God’s Word hasn’t gotten my best effort.

Why? Why, you ask?

Because it scares the stink out of me. I’m scared to death to get tar and feathered over what I do NOT know long before I ever get the opportunity to point out Who I DO know.

I am not an exceptional theologian. I am not full of indispensable wisdom. I do not have ideas that are perpetually on the cutting edge of creative ministry. I do not know how to keep my house consistently cleaned while raising three active kids. I do not know how to handle every conflict/resolution with zero lingering collateral damages. I am not old enough. I am not young enough. I do not know how to make a really great Thanksgiving turkey like my grandmother and mother. I do not know how to eliminate the piles of papers assaulting my kitchen counter. I do not know how to balance and actively engage in every elementary school or activity parent group known to man. I do not know how to carry out all the 347,298 ideas I have floating around on Pinterest boards. I do not know how to sleep during nights where you ache so deep with a broken heart that you spend an entire night wrestling with your pillow. I do not know how to get myself pulled together enough to send Merry Christmas cards that turned into Happy New Year cards before they subsequently turn into Happy Valentine Day cards on time. I do not know how to get my kids from the nursery to world launch without somewhere in there having some life experience of theirs that ends up broken on a counselors’ couch. I do not know how to navigate being a public figure without it looking sloppy and messy and extremely awkward. I do not know how to maintain an audience or build a platform without a fair amount of failing. I do not know how to consistently maintain balance in my calendar or relationships. I do not have twelve easy steps to make this shindig called life work.

I got caught in a conversation with my daughter the other day that has kept me shaken up and I keep regurgitating the exchange. The question I asked was “Who does God say that you are when He looks at you?” Without so much as blinking she immediately started to list off what she DOES for God. I immediately swooped in with karate chop action to sear that line of thinking right off the mat. “Baby girl, when God looks at you He doesn’t start by seeing what you DO or how much you KNOW, He starts by seeing who you ARE. Brilliant. Creative. Servant-hearted. Tender. Loving. And your giggle…with that sweet snaggle tooth smile….hmmm…melts His heart.”

Let’s be real. Most women suffer through life attempting to live up to God’s love based on what we DO, not who we ARE. We need to stop it. All those things that I don’t know or what I do or don’t do “right” are bullying the spiritual gumption right outta me. I think they are bullying you out of who you are uniquely called to be too. I mean, for me personally, to toss my name in the ring with a thick line-up of already existing incredible Christian writers, speakers and Bible teachers?! Geez. Heaven knows I’m just a small town girl with an Apparel Design degree that stuck her nose in the Bible because she didn’t have answers to life’s laundry list and hasn’t come up for air since. I’m certainly not qualified to say I’m a certified writer, speaker or Bible teacher. Bible teaching is God’s job, but it certainly is my job to facilitate a whole heck of a lot more opportunities to learn more about the words that birth abundant life and to lay those out so we can learn together. Yet, doubts are bullying me around the spiritual playground and keeping me from the one thing I do know…the one PERSON I am passionately obsessed with KNOWING.

I am obsessed with knowing more of Jesus. So much less of my DOING and so much more of Jesus KNOWING.

Not the Jesus on those watercolor pictures somewhere deep in the basement of a main street Sunday School classroom. No, the One that knows how to unlock the secrets to life is the Jesus that is looking back from a wild beach laughing with his hair blowing free in the wind as salt, air, and the wafts of both fresh and stale fish swirl through your nose and inadvertently make you giggle. Not because your life got all figured out by looking at a tropical Jesus screen saver, but because it’s not figured out {even down to making that mean Thanksgiving turkey your mother and grandmother make..} but somehow looking at Him makes you laugh because you know He’s gonna figure it all out. What you do NOT know fades in to the background of the real show of Redeeming Love bursting from His joy filled eyes. Your job is just to get to the table He has prepared for you on that wild beach as the waves crash haphazardly with every unknown splash of salt water. That patch of sand with that Wild Man on the beach eating the fish He has prepared for me and keeping dialogue with a language of learning as my guide….that’s where the answers come into play.

That’s why it’s time to toss a little more skin in the game. Risk doing it wrong to reach some real learning. Risk getting hurt to reach real healing. Time to let it fly and forget what lies behind. There are going to be some changes around here and a lot more consistency because I have this unquenchable desire that we lean so hard and heavy not on what we don’t know, but Who we DO KNOW! I spent the last 6 months reading through old journals and I’ve successfully escaped back through the wardrobe where God has reminded me why on earth I said “YES!” so enthusiastically all those years ago when I simply overheard a conversation…”Who will go for Us?” and I naively said “Me. Send me, I’ll go.”

So, more ministry is coming. More learning, so much more learning is coming because I don’t want to stay stuck in what I don’t know, but grow to understand and live out more of a deeper knowledge and understanding of who Jesus is and what He knows. More devotionals. More Video studies. More speaking across multiple landscapes and to a variety of demographics. Deeper content. More consistency. And greater belief. Not so that we have more DOING, but greater BEING in Jesus. More of Breaking wide the Bread of Life and letting the crusty messy crumbs fly all over our beach blanket.

Here’s the catch though: I can’t go at it alone. I just can’t. Will you toss a little more spiritual gumption in the game with me?

“For what it’s worth…it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start all over again.”
{F. Scott Fitzgerald}

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” {Hebrews 12:1-2}

#hashtag

“I’ve had a hard time wearing my name tag to church.  Our church recently had formal, real-deal, magnet-backed name tags made for every member.  It was done in an effort to increase comfort as our church family grows, and we need to know more names.  It’s just nice not to have to say, “Hey…..you,” so much.  I haven’t worn mine but once.  Name tags make me feel funny.  I’m so proud of my given name.  No problem with Cari Lyn Trotter….nothing at all wrong with that name.  The problem is that the life behind it seems to mess it up on the regular.  I have all sorts of labels and roles posted on my forehead.  If you could see me from the inside out, I might look more like a sticky not mummy rather than a 5’3” blond with blue eyes.  I’m afraid of the name tag, because the lies of the Enemy tell me others will read more than my name; they will read every sharp thorn I have ever grown, even those I have trimmed back and cleared up after moving forward healed and whole.  I nervously anticipate they will rise above who I am becoming.  As I put my name tag on, there is always this looming fear that a new introduction will read a label, make a fast judgment, define and dismiss me, read my label, and not my name.

With the whole world dropping Twitter bombs from the sky, hash tagging seems to be the newest pastime.  They usually involve the emotion from the most recent circumstance or experience.  It is a quick #getoutofgrammarjailfree card run on sentence of how the tagger feels about the moment.  It’s a way to label moments and, at times, people.  When I think about labels, it is such a great way to understand how, we as women; we have actually been doing hash tagging in our heads for years.  Now we just have an outlet for it.  For me, when I think about wearing the “name tag” that reads more like the longest hash tag ever, it’s a little disturbing how many labels I can put on myself.

#momthatgetsmaxedoutmorethanshelikestoadmit

#wifethatisntalwaysavailableforherhusband

#emotionalrollercoaster

#sadaboutbrokenrelationshipsIdlovemendedbutinsistonstayingbroken

#acceptanceaddictworkingontrustissues

#compulsiveworrier

#doubtingThomas

#insistentprocrastinator

#highlyinsecureatanygivenmoment

The press of negative labels can threaten to belittle the power of your name and your position as a daughter of God.  Life labels can threaten to “kill, steal and destroy” (John 10:10) the beauty of Christ.  Fixating so much on what I can’t be, what I’m not, or what my life is not instead of believing and agreeing with all that God says I am in Him is dangerous terrain.  If I give those labels too many inches, they will take more than a mile of heart territory.  In an effort to become all glorious within, we have to first pronounce our name and give it the proper authority and place in our lives.  We are daughters of God.  Everything should flow from that place, from that name, from that position.

God cares about your name.  He cares that you understand the importance of your position as His daughter.  The genealogies of the Bible can be a chronological beat down to read through.  At times, you can feel you need a PhD in Hebrew languages to have any hope of pronouncing them properly.  You end up just opting for a first initial naming, especially if you are called on to read a set of genealogy scriptures aloud in Bible study.  At other times, you could be tempted to skip over that name mess recognize.  What about Ruth?  Ruth had to overcome the negative connotation labeling her whole life.  Hash tag it out:  #looserfromNotownMoab.  She was from a bad town that did so many things wrong the entire citizenry was labeled “bad news.”  “No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 23:3)

Her only hope was to marry out of the mess of her people.  She did that.  “And they took for themselves Moabite women as wives; the name of the one was Orpah and the name of the other Ruth.  And they lived there about ten years, and both Mahlon and Chilion died.” (Ruth 1:4-5)  Then he died.  She was married ten years and then he died.  She was alone and labeled again.  She was a widow: #tooyoungtobeawidow.

In the wake of so much grief, one would completely understand going back to what seemed comfortable, even if it was messed up.  Her mother-in-law, Naomi, gave her the blessing to leave and go back to Moab and their gods almost out of pity.  She wanted Ruth to be comfortable and maybe find rest.  But Ruth refused to go back.  “But Ruth said, ‘Do not urge me to leave you to turn back from following you; for where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge.  Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God’” (Ruth 1:16).  Ruth stayed to serve.  Now she was a widow living with her mother-in-law:  #helpingoutasadmotherinlaw, #ihavenolife.

Ruth longed to be loved again.  She still believed and lived beyond every label circumstance threw her way.  She served, loved, and gave.  And she found her kinsman redeemer.  She found Boaz.  “Moreover, I have acquired Ruth the Moabites, the widow of Mahlon, to be my wife in order to raise up the name of the deceased on his inheritance, so that the name of the deceased may not be cut off from his brothers of from the court of his birth place; you are witnesses today” (Ruth 4:10). : #overcomingeverylabeltoleavealegacy.

Ruth left a legacy.   God cared about Ruth’s name.  He cared about it so much that He decided to rewrite Levitical law and list her name in His genealogy list of ancestors:  “and to Salmon was born Boaz by Rahab; and to Boaz was born Obed by Ruth….Therefore all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David to the deportation to Babylon fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the time of Christ fourteen generations” (Matthew 1:17).

There were generations after generations of people before Jesus’ soft cries were heard in that Bethlehem stable, and yes Ruth’s name got a mention.  Ruth’s name was remembered.  Not Ruth the widow or Ruth the Moab.  Not her label.  What was remembered was her name, written out to signify her position in the family of God.

Life will happen, and labels will shoot out and splatter all over you like an out of control paint gun if you are not clothed in the protective nature of your position in Christ. When the war starts, you don’t want to be a nameless citizen caught in the crossfire of a life of unredeemed labels.  You want to be the intentionally protected, rightly labeled, and perfectly positioned daughter of the Most High King.”

-Excerpt from the book, A Glorious Becoming by Cari Trotter