I See Greatness In You

I asked God to speak to me today. In prayer, out loud – I said, “Lord, I want to hear your voice – to feel your presence and to know that you are for me.” And I waited on the Lord; I waited for Him to come. And He didn’t…Not right away, anyways.

But somehow, going through the motions of the day, Allie and I began to open up – sharing deeper and deeper longings and dreams in our hearts and taking the time to intentionally ask questions and seek out more intimate truths. Walking further into the caverns of each other and finding precious rubies in each others hearts.

Vulnerable moments. The kind that make you hesitate before you share. The impulse comes and you begin to speak but doubt clouds your judgment and stills your tongue – wait a couple moments longer and you’ll be silenced – and then again the words come to your lips, you take a leap of faith and let them escape, exposing yourself to the other’s impact.

In that moment, you’ve chosen to be known.

And insecure fear can race into your mind, forcing you to wonder whether or not you should have shared that intimate part of yourself.

And in those moments today, we both found Jesus looking back at us – the other listened, asked questions, and went to the King as their mediator, gently refusing to pass judgment or throw the first stone.

“I see greatness in you.”

“I see greatness in you,” my wife said as we paused and reflected on the wonderful day of sharing that we had experienced together. “It’s the moments you’ve taken in your life to be vulnerable with others and listened to their counsel that have led to your greatness today, and more greatness to come.” (Slightly paraphrasing. But the message was clear, straight from the Lord. Two separate messages. First – a playful, “I heard your prayer and answered it. Didn’t I?” Because He spoke to me, clearly, plainly, and beautifully – just in a different way than I had expected. The second message became clearer the more I meditated on the words my wife had spoken. “I’m proud of you, son.”)

“I’m proud of you, son.”

Unashamed. The Lord, my King and Father, is unashamed of me. He isn’t passing judgement on my weight or lack of income recently due to poor sales or my insecure worrying and constant pleas for others to pray for me, because of my disbelief in the effectiveness of my own prayers. He isn’t saying, “Go read one more chapter of the Bible and then I’ll pour out my love and affection upon you.”

The story of the prodigal son is true. It’s my story and it can be yours true. A ragamuffin, troubled by the thorn in Paul’s side, recovering from addiction to counterfeit affections by God’s grace. Every memory of hurt and torment, every word of abuse, every fragile friendship that experienced abandonment, Jesus has offered to take those from me and to replace them with His love. All I had to do was let Him in. Never once after letting Him in has He cursed me with residency in my past, dooming me to a life of shame. Rather, He’s freed me from my shackles and shown me His powerful mercy and grace. To the point that my beautiful, outstanding, strong, faithful, kind, merciful, Christ-like wife said, “I see greatness in you.”

Words that melted my heart, softened me to His Love. Tonight, I’m Embracing God’s Grace. I’m accepting myself because He accepts me – not as an acquaintance and not even as a distance friend, but as a son – a son that He is proud of.


Answered Prayer

“Be the friend you are to me to yourself,” said a long-lost friend from college as we wrapped up our conversation about how God had dramatically changed her life overseas and mentioned that I may have been one of the seeds that brought her to faith.

God’s been doing something weird lately – he’s been answering my prayers. It’s kind of scaring me actually. Like I mentioned in my blog a couple weeks ago, the supernatural confuses and scares us away. But I’m leaning in.

I had been praying for words of encouragement as my tank was running empty and I thought I hadn’t made much of an impact with my life that’s likely already a third of the way over. And then my coworker said something was different; that I had this inner joy about me and my eyes had that fierceness back. I said it was Jesus and that I was in love.

Over the last month or two, I’ve had at least a handful of colleagues or friends ask me why I’m not a pastor. Something along the lines of “it’s not my time yet” was my answer. (Also this guy’s got loans to pay off. But maybe I should be praying about those too?) I said, “But I want to be a New York Times Bestselling author someday,” and they said, “You will be.”

Chills. Absolute chills. I had been feeling abandoned by my inner-circle for a while. (I wasn’t. They’re all super busy chasing their own dreams and making things happen in their marriages and I’m super grateful and proud of them.) But I received texts/letters back and set dates to grab beers. And I’m just like, “Thank you, Lord. Thank you. Thank you, sweet Jesus.”

Allie and I have this journal where we’ve started writing letters back and forth to each other in. And I lost it. It was terrible. Anyways, I’ve been looking for about a week for it around the house, in my car, stopping by my hangout spots like Starbucks and Johnny’s and leaving my number with them in case I left it there on accident. Nothing. It was nowhere. Then I prayed. “Lord, would you help me find that journal? I really don’t want to have to rewrite all of those letters…” was my honest, goofy prayer. I got home, parked my car, looked down to my right and there it was. Tucked right in between my drivers-seat and the middle console of my Camry. It hadn’t been light enough for me to notice it when I looked frantically the night before. But I prayed and he opened my eyes.

I opened it up and read the most recent letter (it had been her turn to write me and I hadn’t even had a chance to read it yet). A smile came over my face and my heart skipped a beat or two. That woman loves me.

God answers prayers. So start praying. I have and it’s awesome. He may leave a few unanswered and you may wrestle with bitterness, but be honest with Him then. “God, I’m immensely frustrated that such-and-such isn’t happening yet, but would you please calm my heart and ease the stormy seas of my thoughts so I can sleep tonight?”

As my friend discovered in France. When you engage with God and allow the Holy Spirit to enter your life, you become that much more aware of the spiritual. Darkness and Light can seem like overwhelming forces. But as my pastor said this last Sunday. “Just remember the devil today is much different than the devil before Christ. Now he’s the A.D. devil. The Already. Defeated. devil. He’s only got as much power as you let him.” Light casts him out. And perfect Love (Jesus) casts out all fear.

Back to the quote that opened up the blog. What my friend was saying is, “You’re enough.” The exact message that Jesus and Allie have been speaking into my heart. But I prayed and asked for outside sources, a gentle answer, a kind word, a story of fruit, a glimpse of light. So God sent coworkers, old friends, dreams, and then he helped me find a journal I thought had been lost forever.

If the God of the Universe has enough time to listen to my achy, anxious, sometimes needy heart – then surely He’s got enough time for yours.

answered prayers