Abide Vs. Strive

I picked this verse. During this series called “Brave,” we were challenged at one point to first choose a verse that stuck out to us from among a handful, then memorize it. Additionally, we were challenged to take a “brave new step” towards something called our heading (i.e. where we feel God is calling us to be brave/grow/etc). 

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So, I picked this verse. My method of memorizing it was to swirlify the letters and words and doodle all around them, forcing me to face each word with whole-hearted attention.

And it actually worked! This isn’t the first time I’ve done that. It’s actually one big reason I started my shop. Because if I need the Word to have pockets all over my house and my life, then maybe someone else does, too. “Out of sight, out of mind” is a very real thing for me, friends. (You can see it on Etsy, here if you need this print for yourself.)

Over the past few months, the Lord has persistently laid this word “abide” before me, along with Jesus’ words in John 15. I realized it’s because I was running on the fumes of other things, rather than the fuel of the Spirit’s love and abundance.

What does it actually look and feel like when God fills you with all joy and peace? Or when you overflow with hope by the power of the Spirit?

I desire to know and experience those things for myself. And sometimes, I’ve wrestled with feeling like I couldn’t fill up with God’s joy and peace on my own. Which I then realized is absolutely right.

We can’t do that on our own.

And I gained hope again, because there’s a key phrase in the middle of all those swirls: as you trust in him.

The only way I can fill with joy and peace instead of my own striving is to trust in the Lord. I guess it’s part of the whole relationship thing. But I forget that Jesus desires a relationship, not a checklist.

I’ve been reading 1 Samuel, quite frankly because my mentor was reading it and kept telling me how she was wowed by seeing the difference between David’s heart and Saul’s heart, and how David’s exemplifies a heart that is seeking (emphasis on the “ing”- it’s a continuous process) God.

The crazy thing? It goes completely with this whole abiding vs. striving thing. (Also, the reason I named the shop “Ebenezer Designs” is because of 1 Samuel 7:12)

I’m desperate to learn what a truly abiding heart- like David’s- looks like, and though I’ve read it before, it’s almost as if I hadn’t really. Remember this verse?

 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” -1 Samuel 16:7

It hit me hard this time around. Because it turns out that a war of Appearance rages in me. More often than not, I overflow with appearance-driven striving instead of hope.

It is- quite literally- a look-alike hope. A counterfeit abundance that leaves me with mountains of not-enough. A joy-stealing wreck.

Saul knew this struggle well, I think. He was a striver. Constantly, exhaustingly, indomitably striving, his white-knuckled reign fostered a nation filled with fear; his leadership- though often performing the outward actions of worship- in reality sacrificed all on the altar of Saul.

David was a shepherd, a true leader filled with bold humility (most of the time), a psalm-singer, a friend, who- instead of chasing after his throne (he was anointed king after all)- chased after God. He was still human, of course, and made some pretty big boo-boos (that whole Bath-Sheba debacle for one), but his heart was always the most important part of him. Even after he sins, he repents, he returns, he remembers who is truly King, and finds God can redeem and sustain him still.

Reading through 1 Samuel has revealed multiple instances where it talks about David finding his strength in (trusting in, putting hope in) God. He didn’t just strive for joy, peace, hope. He couldn’t manufacture them. He trusted in God first.

So this week, I’ve begun to navigate a little more slowly, more intentionally in the things I do, in the people I’m with, in moments God gives.

I’m letting myself abide.


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I pray this prayer for you- that God will fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

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Day 7: Enjoying Surrender.

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As Communications & Events Director for If Then Movement, I have had the privilege of attending and helping with a few ITM events since I took on the job almost a year and a half ago. (I usually just say Communications Director… but the official title sounds schmancy right?) Each one I go to speaks to me differently, as I see God working in both my life and the lives of those who attend.

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(Their decor was ON POINT, people. It was a fabulous fall explosion. But in a good way. Though, come to think of it, I can’t really imagine how fall could explode in a bad way…)

This weekend’s was no exception. It probably held greater depth for me in part because it took place at the church where I grew up, watching my parents minister on staff. I love that place!

And I love seeing what God does through our retreat called “So Be It: Brave Surrender to God’s Call Every Day”.

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This is my favorite retreat that we do. Because it gives women a chance to dig deep and let their hearts open up to the truth that surrender is how we experience the goodness God intends for us.

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Sometimes I have a hard time yielding to that process. Sometimes, all I can do is put one foot in front of the other, rejoice in simple things like autumn wreaths, incredible things like God’s grace, and continuously surrender moment by moment. And sometimes, surrendering is putting pieces of a necklace together that function as a small, beautiful, brave stake in the ground for the kingdom of God.

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That’s what attendees got to do together this weekend. My dear friend chose this necklace, and I confess that the phrase is one of my favorites. (I have a necklace with this same artwork in it… because we’re the same person. We even wore matching colors.)

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What you don’t see in the picture is the small piece of paper that gets buried behind the artwork and the glass tile; that piece of paper serves as a place to write something you feel God laying on your heart to surrender to Him, or a verse He’s leading you to cling to, or a person you need to keep praying for, etc. I love that it’s a tactile, tangible representation of the message.

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The other thing that gets buried in this necklace is a tiny seed, which represents the fact that in order to bear fruit, the seed itself must die. This stands out to me especially, because God has been reminding me that even if I’m afraid of losing or surrendering something to him, doing just that is what bears fruit.

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(This is a candy bar. Get it?)

For someone who professes to be a creative person, I can be really uncreative when it comes to looking past what I think is good and instead trusting that God’s best is better. (Or best… or something.)

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Later in this series, I plan to dig up what God says about enjoyment, but for today, I end with this verse:
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
                        – Psalm 36:7-8