Tuesday, April 5, 2016

How To Strengthen Wholehearted Foundations

I was too late. The bulldozers had already come. The walls which once held my life's memories had been shoved aside; now just an immense amount of rubble. It had been months since the fire, and still an oversized pile of ashes was all that was left of everything I once knew.

Rivers of tears flowed as I wrestled with the belief there was no where up from here. This valley was too low, the battles before us seemed too hard to take on. But God.

God’s story never ends with ashes.  Elisabeth Elliot


I was paralyzed by self-doubt, fear and worry. In that moment, I didn’t trust God was present. I couldn’t see Him through the soot-smudged lens of life, but deep below He was there, an unshakeable platform I’d uncover over the next five years. 

I may have been shaken, but He had not moved from my foundation. 

Life will have deep valleys. No person has a way out of struggle, but God stands ready as our strong foundation in every season. Five years in, I can tell you tales of God showing up in the dark, but when you're in the pit it's not always so easy to see the light. 

Wholehearted joy cannot be built on a shaky foundation, and God gives us opportunity in the hard seasons to rebuild on our Cornerstone, Jesus. Our hearts become equipped to rise with more joy when we take time to intentionally re-strengthen our foundation before framing up a new chapter.

So, how can we strengthen our foundation in Jesus?

Open the Bible. Our foundation is strengthened when we welcome God to dwell in us. It’s not just a Sunday thing. His word is an every day, every moment, every breathe kind of necessity. He calls us to abide in Him so that he may also abide in us. As much as I appreciate instant gratification, abiding is a discipline that takes intention. Open your Bible, see His character through His word, make a space for God to dwell in you. 

Partner with the Holy Spirit. It’s important to pray that goes without saying, right? God drives this home through scripture. But for us to strengthen our our foundation to see long-term support, I'd challenge us to take prayer one step further. Pray the Holy Spirit would awaken in your heart. God is comprised of the Trinity, and sometimes I feel like the Spirit gets the short stick. Despite his vital role, we bench him too often. Do not neglect the Holy Spirit in you! He’s our advocate and counselor. Scripture tells us the Spirit takes from Jesus and testifies directly to us. Who doesn’t want Jesus speaking straight to them through partnership with the Holy Spirit?! Amen?

Be vulnerable in community. When hard times hit, we like to retreat. We like to grab a pint of ice cream, binge watch Netflix and close out the world. Briefly, this may feel like sweet relief. But real, eternal, relief is found at the Cross. When we’ve opened our Bible and partnered with the Holy Spirit, the Cross is going to compel us to put down the ice cream, turn off the Netflix and take our mess out to our people and get vulnerable. Let’s be clear right now: vulnerability is not weakness, it is courage. Just as Jesus enters into our mess, we need a community of like-minded Christians to enter into our mess with us. You don’t have to share with the world, but seek trusted counsel and fellowship. God will grow you in your faith and foundation through fellowship.

When life looks like an oversized pile of ashes, we do not have to be afraid. Jesus is our cornerstone (Acts 4:11-12), and through Him we have the opportunity for abundant joy. 

Before you rebuild, strengthen your foundation, and prepare to see God make beauty from ashes.

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