Mini Bites 43.0

In hope he believed against hope...
Romans 4:18

Abraham had no child of his own when God said that he'll be the father of many nations.

It didn't make sense to Abraham because he and his wife were past the child-bearing age.

There was no hope in his circumstances, and he was resigned to the fact because he considered his servant as his heir.

In the natural, to hope for a child at the age of seventy-five did not make sense. Yet, in the certainty of that bleak space, God spoke into Abraham's reality and said, "I will make you into a father of many nations."

In that dark place, a promise glowed.


His circumstances didn't change; God's word made no sense. They were still the oldest couple around the block. The clock didn't turn back. When Hagar gave birth to Ishmael, Abraham's first son, God said no. The promise will be fulfilled through Sarah, his wife as He planned it, knowing full well about the situation of Sarah's out-of-work womb.

His circumstances didn't line up with what God said, so Abraham did the only thing he could do.

He rested inside the promise. He rested in what God said.

He planted himself in the only place that made sense: God's word.

That's what you have to do. When the world says no, but God says yes, you plant and cover yourself in His "Yes."

You hold on to His word when nothing else agrees because His word will come back, and it will come back fulfilled.

When your hope (the likely hope, the possible hope) in the natural runs out, this is when the impossible hope rises up to fill you.

The hope that stands against all sensibility.
The hope that opposes the facts.
The hope that says yes to the impossible.

When it shows up, hold on to the hope that is found in God's word.

Mini Bites 42.0


There's the sensible kind of hope:
the hope that is most likely to win,
the hope that stands a chance,
the hope that makes a whole lotta sense.
This is the hope that you and everyone 
around you can see.

Then there's the impossible hope.
The hope that rises up as the other kind is
buried beneath the odds,
The hope that has no type of sense
That has you snatching up all your marbles
Otherwise you'll be left feeling crazy,
and you don't want to be crazy.
No, you want to be like everyone else.
Sensible and attainable.
You want nothing to do with the hope that sees
beyond- beyond all the dwindling chances
and still hopes.
Because that kind of hope holds some serious standards,
and you cannot settle.
It won't let you settle; it won't set you down.
It waits, and you
You wait with it.
You two will wait.

Until the answer comes.

Required

Jeremiah 29:11  “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

As I end one semester and begin the next, the word requirement echoes in my mind. I currently teach Freshman Composition, a class required for students who are unable to opt out of it by testing. And as expected, some were somewhat reluctant to sit in a class that they felt was unnecessary in the overall arc of their future career.
And I don’t blame them. I was once a student, and even now as a teacher, I find myself hesitant to be in the classroom because I was not supposed to be here. I had plans but those plans have changed quite a bit since sitting at a student desk myself.
Some days, I would rather be anywhere else— but here I am, the shy, quiet girl teaching other people to write, which places me in a very uncomfortable position outside of my comfort zone: leading people in a skill that I’m not too confident in.
And the word requirement echoes in my mind: I may not know why, but I need to be here.
Although I don’t see how teaching fits into my vision for my life, I have to trust that it does fit into God’s. I have to trust that teaching isn’t a dreaded detour but an essential piece of the good plan that God has over my life.
And with that trust and with that faith, I can dig deep in the unexpected, uncomfortable place and receive all that God has for me here, now.
Where do you find yourself in this season? Does it seem out of step of where you envisioned yourself to be? Does it seem to be outside what you’re comfortable with?
Wherever you find yourself, remember that God is with you in this moment, and He won’t waste it. He will make this moment good like He promises in His word.
Whatever required season you are in, whether it’s a season of waiting or a season of challenges, God is with you, building something beautiful for the next one.
So do your best, dig deep and step out. God will make it good.​​

Throwback

This past semester, I've felt like an impostor. I stood in front of four classes and I felt exposed; I couldn't hide anymore: I was the teacher.
When I was younger, I was a performer (I danced and I sang), and I don't remember how or why, but I cocooned myself into this identity of shyness and of passiveness and of fear. Every part of me wishes to pinpoint the reason why I am the way I am now. But here I am, at the end of my first semester, feeling the rawness of disappointment, of relief, of expectation.
This wasn't part of my plan. God and I have wrestled with where He has placed me. He knows me- because He made me- He knows I want to hide.
And He laughs- I know He finds me humorous- because here I am with no place to blend in, to disappear, to go unnoticed. Being a black woman did not help either.
I stood in front of four classes and felt like an impostor. I am a writer (every time I say that, I cringe- it sounds so self-indulgent and egotistic), my background is in science and some standard had ingrained itself within me, claiming I'm still not enough.
But I had to stand. I had to stand in insecurity, in perceived lack, in frustration, in this struggle of who I am and who I thought I had to be. I had to stand because I gave my word and standing paid the bills.
I had to stand and fight the learned instinct to run. And I ran- because I am good at that- but I came back and stood.
Next year, I'll stand again because this is where He has me: here, now. I am here now.
Will you stand? Will you stand in this chatterbox of a world and speak what you see? Will you stand against your instinct to stay quiet and hidden and speak the truth the world desperately needs? Will you stand against the odds, against the majority, against yourself and usher in the change that can set the captives free? Will you stand? And if you ran, will you come back and stand in the here, in the now?
It's easy to convince yourself that you are an imposter, that you don't know anything, that you have nothing to contribute. SO EASY. I've been doing it for most of my life. But the pain of staying quiet is greater than the pain of stepping out.
Do not stay quiet. I need your voice. We all need your voice.
And it's ok if it's a little unconfident whisper. It's ok if you're still learning: you were never meant to arrive as a complete, unburdened package. You are a process. You're a universe, expanding and evolving. Honor that: there is no shame with growing.
"Shame off you."
Come back, come stand and please, come speak.

There's A Cost. Count It.

But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
Philippians 3:7

The personhood of Jesus is offensive if you think about it. Like truly offensive. I mean that's why nearly all the teachers and Pharisees plotted to kill Him. 

Jesus threatened their very livelihood with the Good News.

Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And He chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.
1 Corinthians 1:27

The cross to this day- two millennia later- still gets people defensive and up in arms. You can't add or subtract from what the cross did-what it represents for all time.

When you look at the cross, you realize that there's a cost in seeing the bloodied wood. There's a cost in seeing the offending tree on which Jesus hung. 

The cost hits you square in the face, and before you can even soothe the bruise of its truth that somehow pierced your heart, it asks you- it has the audacity to ask you- will you consider it? Will you count its cost in your life? Will you change your life in light of its cost?

Will you admit that you're in need of the Savior?
Will you admit that despite your best efforts all you can produce are filthy rags of righteousness?
Will you admit your desperate need of the Lord?
Will you admit that you really don't have the slightest clue as to how to run your own life?
Will you admit that the cross was for you?

Not many want to admit that. Even some Christians have trouble and stumble when dealing with the cross.

No one wants to admit that they do not have all the answers, that they're a highly functioning mess on their good days. THEIR GOOD DAYS!

No one wants to disclose their insecurities, their doubts, their- gasp- sins because I mean who wants to be vulnerable, to be honest, to be humble enough to accept a gift as great as the cross?

Because it's true. Everything- all that you've worked for, all those goals, all the things you've chased because the world taught you that they were valuable- it all has to be counted as a loss in order to gain the cross.

Everything, not just some thing(s), but all of it, all of you has to change in light of the cross.

Can you grasp its severity? Do you want to?

In Acts 9, Saul had every reason to be confident in life. There was a standard, and he met every one of its benchmarks.
  • Circumcised ✔
  • Israelite, Hebrew, from the tribe of Benjamin ✔✔ ✔
  • Pharisee ✔✔
  • Persecutor of the newfound church of Jesus Christ ✔✔✔✔✔
  • Righteous and blameless by law ✔✔✔✔
Like many during his time, Saul knew the law intimately and based his life on its precepts. He was ruthless in his pursuit of the Church because he was convinced that these followers were dangerously led astray.

Would we do any less when Someone comes in and says that all we have built- the monuments, the empires- all the accolades we have collected were worthless?

Saul knew that this Church didn't reflect the God who gave Moses the law- the law that he upheld- so he took up the mantle to persecute those who followed the Way of Jesus.

And he was on the way to bind some in Damascus in order to ship them back to Jerusalem, when Jesus Himself intercepted the persistent Pharisee.

Jesus Himself, the One to which the law and the prophets point, interrupted Saul on his mission, and Saul had no idea who He was.

Remember, Saul spent his life earning one notch after another on his belt. He was high on his horse- on his way to arrest some Christians- thinking he was doing the Lord's work, thinking he knew God's heart on the matter when all of a sudden, in a flash of light, Saul meets God's Heart and realizes that he didn't know Him at all.

Jesus walked in and rebuked Saul for his actions, giving him more than a glimpse of what confidence in the flesh got him: utter, terrifying darkness.

The next three days, in that darkness, Saul saw clearly what living by society's standard and by the tradition of men got him: empires full of sandcastles and notoriety for towers of Babel. 

Within one breath, Jesus wrenched apart Saul's world and left him reeling in the wreckage caused by the cross.

And all that was left at the end were the same questions that the cross asks of us all.

Will we continue with business as usual?
Will we remain mute and blind to the hurting around us?
Will we settle in this comfort the world gives us or will we take His in?
Will we pretend that the worship, the services, the traditions done by our strength alone brings us closer to God?

Two thousand years ago, the cross told us- the "self-sufficient" beings- that we could never bridge the gap to God on our own. We need help: a Savior. There is no blueprint, no law, no tradition that we can take up on our own to fix ourselves.

We need help.

So in the shadow of the cross, there's a choice. With Jesus, there will always be a choice.

Will we turn our backs on the cross and toil in vain?
Or will we embrace the cross with all its implications?