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Dear Friend,


My kids and I like to play “hide-and-seek” outside. It’s not your normal lil’ kid game anymore. It’s played over numerous acres, and our hiding abilities have been honed through the years. I no longer catch them by listening for giggles, and they no longer peek their head out and say, “I’m over here, Mommy.” They have gotten much better at hiding. (My hiding isn’t too bad - there was that one time I nearly got stuck…) It’s a good time - by the end, my heart is racing from adrenaline and running from hiding place to hiding place. (It’s at that point I realize how out of shape I am.) Some of us play this game in our real life, too.


I’m guessing a lot of us have places we would rather not go, people we would rather not run into, and questions we fear we will be asked. We avoid the places and people, deny things when asked, and live allowing an undercurrent of fear to exist in our Souls’ depths. I have played this game. Yes, it gets the ole heart racing, too, but it’s no good time. Just as my kids improved in their hiding skills, we too, sharpen our hiding skills, learning ways to camouflage things we don’t want discovered.


As believers, we go back into hiding when we allow our past unrighteous identity to dominate our mind’s perspective. We don’t live out of our new identity and freedom established in Christ. It’s when this past identity is in control that we walk in shame, condemnation, and humiliation, retreating into nooks and crannies.


There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. Romans 8:1-2 ESV

There is no condemnation for us, no prison sentence hanging over our head, no reason to hide from the “law.” We have been set free from the law and sin through Christ. He took the punishment for everything we so desperately want to forget about. “But you don’t know what I’ve done, Candace.” God does, and this is what He has to say about it:


And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. I Corinthians 6:11 ESV

God doesn’t dance around our sin or ignore it. He takes care of it. PERIOD. We need to keep that old identity quiet under the victorious foot of Christ. But, I get it. We fear being recognized by our past mistakes. I have avoided people, places, and conversations. I have wanted to steer clear of the truth. I have hid. But I finally realized something important - God can’t receive the glory for a victory when we deny the battle ever took place. What’s to be celebrated when we can’t declare we’ve won, been changed, or been set free?


Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south. Psalm 107:2-3 ESV

Do we shout from the rooftop our every sin? Thankfully, no. (Some of us get nervous in high places.) Do we place ourselves in compromising or tempting areas to show we overcame? No again. What we need to do is be ready to give an answer for the hope we have. We need to be prepared to tell people about who rescued us - JESUS. When we come across someone struggling, we can encourage them towards their victory in Christ by sharing ours.


...but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,... I Peter 3:15 ESV

When faced with our mistakes, let’s not run and hide. Might we boldly proclaim our redemption through Christ. If someone asks, “Yeah, wasn’t it you that….?” Instead of stepping back into the shadows and responding, “You must be thinking about someone else,” can we work towards saying, “Yes, that was me, but can I tell you about who I am now? Can I tell you about my Jesus? Can I tell you what He can do with a mess?”



Through the years, I noticed others hiding, too. It seems like there are 3 main groups hanging out in those darkened areas - those who like the darkness and want to pursue evil, those who are lost and haven’t been found yet, and believers who have been found but are scared to walk around in the open. Can I remind the believers - when we came to Christ, not only did Jesus wash us clean, but He placed His light within us (John 8:12) - we became His light carriers, no longer meant to hide or be able to.


What good is a light that is hidden? It goes against it’s very purpose, essence, and power. Light is meant to reveal, illuminate, and aid in the growth of life. Light makes hiding difficult, doesn’t it? Who wants to hide with the guy who’s like, “This is a great spot. I’m just going to keep my flashlight on while we wait.” Lights and hiding don’t mix.


You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 ESV

When we are confronted with elements of our past we would rather ignore, God can give us courage to face them. He can take our reasons for wanting to disappear and give them a new spin or a happy ending. But if we don’t allow Him to have our shameful things, they remain what they are. Jesus can redeem things - He gives them a purpose, a usefulness.


And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV

Is everything we go through good? NO! Is this verse true for everyone? Sadly, no. This is for those who love God, granting Him access and permission to do His redeeming work in their lives. He rolls up His sleeves and reworks our messes into something good. I don’t know how He does such an amazing work, but He does. This is one thing we should be willing to share - God’s mighty redeeming work in our lives.


So for those who’ve already been found in Christ - don’t return to the place you were rescued from. It doesn’t make sense to continue hiding once we’ve been found. My kids would think I lost it if I remained hiding after they had discovered me!


If you’re not sure if you have ever been “found,” know that it doesn’t matter how you have failed, what you have struggled with, or how many times you have fallen. It doesn’t matter where you now find yourself. Do you want to be found by Jesus? Be brave and reach up your hand and say, “I’m over here, Jesus.” He’ll be there before you have your arm fully extended. (He’s always known exactly where you were. There is no hiding spot He’s not aware of or can’t get to. He’s just been waiting for you to WANT to be found.)


For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 ESV

For those who want to stay in the dark places - may we pray that their hearts would be softened to Jesus, their eyes might be opened, the lies they have embraced would be loosened, and that they would encounter “light bearers” who would plant seeds, love on them, and draw them one step closer to Jesus.


So we have a choice to make - are we going to deny and avoid OR are we going to proclaim our victory? We can’t do both. We can’t hide and walk around freely. In our hiding we are saying our sin is more powerful than our redemption in Christ. What do you want to say with your life?


Once we take hold of our victory, might we realize it is our turn to “seek.” We join Jesus in finding the lost, the hiding, and the ones that have made their home in the shadows. One reason we were made to be a light was to be able to see those who are residing in darkness. Let them know it is good to be found.


Step into the light.


Out of the shadows,

Candace




Dear Friend,


My sisters are some of my dearest friends. They are all humble women. This past year I was talking to one of their daughters, an athletic pretty teenager. She had been razzing my sister, so I decided to introduce her to a part of her mom she didn’t know about. I told her about my sister’s accomplishments, awards, college scholarships, and anything else I could think of that my sister would be too humble to tell her.


My niece stood there and listened, her eyes widening with each new piece of information. There was so much she didn’t realize about this woman she only knew as her mom. She didn’t know of the “lists” her mom was on. She walked away seeing her mom a little differently. This isn’t uncommon - the assumption that we know someone from the one perspective we hold.


I experienced something similar: I thought I had a grasp on someone, had them all figured out. Then I saw her name on a “list” that I hadn’t expected to see it on, and I began to see her in a different light. Recently, this woman has been on my heart again, so I’d like to share what I learned.


Sarah is the one I’m referring to. Abraham’s Sarah. Years ago I thought I had her pegged. Generally speaking, I was frustrated with her for giving her Egyptian slave, Hagar, to her husband to conceive a child with, then behaving badly towards her when she was pregnant, and finally sending Hagar and her son away. When I came across the following verse, I knew I had to give her another chance, or maybe I needed to try seeing her from a different perspective.


By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Hebrews 11:11 ESV

Sarah is listed in what is referred to as the “Faith Chapter” - Hebrews 11. Anyone else surprised to see her here? I was at first, but I took another look, and I began seeing things I had missed initially. (Her story can be found throughout Genesis chapters 11-23.)


The first time we catch sight of her is in Genesis 11:29-31. Here her name is Sarai. God eventually changes her name to Sarah. I’m going to refer to her as Sarah to keep it simple for me. Ha!


Now Sarai was barren; she had no child. Genesis 11:30 ESV

Nice introduction, right? Hello, my name is ______ and (insert here your biggest struggle/battle/disappointment that you haven’t experienced victory in yet). I have to think this overshadowed her whole existence - having children was so important to a woman’s worth back then.


Barrenness. That lack. That wanting. As I’m contemplating her again, I can relate. Can you? What names and adjectives have we wanted to shake? What burdens? In what areas have we wanted to produce life, and it hasn’t shown up as we watched others grow it so easily?


She carried that burden with her as she followed alongside her husband, obedient to God’s direction. It is a reminder that we can still follow God with unsettled issues. He can still lead the struggling ones, the empty ones, the ones who still feel so broken. Just because Sarah hadn’t experienced victory in her area of barrenness (YET!) didn’t mean she wasn’t being obedient in what God was asking of her that day.


God tells her husband of the land and descendents He wants to give him. As we saw in Hebrews, Sarah believed God and His promises. She didn’t doubt He would do everything He said He would - that’s faith. But did she question her role in this promise or feel she might be a problem in this plan?



It seems she didn’t realize how big God was, what He was capable of doing, and His plans for this barren woman. So she “helps” God. Never done that before. (Sarcasm.) Can you think of a hope you’ve had, something you believe God Himself planted within you, and you took things into your own hands, thinking you were helping move things along? I understand what it is like to have a dream and not be able to see how it could happen without giving it a big shove. (Wish we had more time together - I could tell you stories.)


So Sarah suggests an option that was humanly possible, as she probably didn’t see any other way. We humans know all the possibilities, don’t we? (No, I don’t know why I am rather sarcastic today.) Eventually comes the part that I don’t like - Sarah’s plan involving Hagar. Sarah no doubt knew of and believed God’s plan to bring forth a great people from Abraham, but she disqualified herself in her own mind from being an intimate part of it based on her limited knowledge. I was frustrated with Sarah and her husband as they went ahead with this. But I forgot I knew something they didn’t - their story’s ending. They didn’t know that the door that seemed so firmly bolted shut would eventually be thrown open.


Well, Hagar conceives. Was Sarah as pleased with her “success” as she originally thought she would be? It definitely didn’t bring out the best in her. She made quite the mess of things if we are honest. (Doesn’t that ring familiar?!!) But her husband had a son. Did she think that took care of things and God’s promises could continue on with her watching from the sideline?


In time God talked to her husband once again. In that conversation, God spoke specifically about her. Her own husband laughed when he heard what God had to say (Gen. 17:15-21). In Genesis 18:9-15 Sarah hears these things with her own ears, and she also laughs.



And God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Genesis 17:15-16 ESV

God said these things AFTER her miserable attempts to bring about His will. He changed her name AFTER she made a mess of so many things affecting numerous people. God searched her out AFTER she had resigned herself to the way things were. God spoke life over her when others, including herself, laughed to hear about it. God said He was going to bring kings out of her barrenness. KINGS. Kings were going to walk out of her emptiness, her impossibility. THE King.



“Is anything too hard for the Lord?” Genesis 18:14a ESV

It wasn’t about Sarah living perfectly - we can’t on this side of heaven. She did what we all need to do - she placed her faith in Him. It was about God’s grace, His faithfulness, His glory. God challenged Sarah’s faith. He challenged her messy faith to dream bigger. Dream the impossible. He was able. That being said, did she let her hope rise with His words or did she keep it muffled, because she couldn’t be disappointed one more time? Was she scared to hope?


Then at the appointed time, she conceived and brought forth a son. Isaac. (Gen. 21:1-7) Oh Sarah, how I want to laugh with you and hug you. My faith resembles yours so much. It’s not very pretty so often. I question my role in God’s big plan. I get excited when I see Him moving and I want to jump in and be part of what He’s doing - I fear being left out. And when I fail miserably, I want to resign myself to my station and contain my dreams within what is humanly possible. Oh, Sarah...


I found you on that “list”. You whose faith was less than perfect. And when I found you there I found myself there, too. You are there because you knew to take that broken faith to the Faithful One. He was the secure place where you kept your faith. God is the One who was able to see your faith through the mess. It was Him who placed you in the “Faith Chapter”.


A woman trying to be obedient to God’s calling. A woman making mistakes, not fully understanding the greatness of her God or the vastness of His plans for her. A woman walking by faith, an imperfect but growing faith, firmly established in the Faithful One. A woman acknowledged by God, her faith recognized by the Holy One. I’m not talking about Sarah anymore. I’m describing you.


Keep that faith firmly planted in Jesus. Let Him name you. Let Him challenge you to believe He is bigger than you know. Let Him swing open the doors that seem locked. Let Him fill your emptiness and bring out of it His Presence. Know He sees your faith in Him in the midst of your mishaps and shortcomings. He sees you, you of faith secured.


If you have anchored your faith in Jesus, I have a “list” for you. If I might take liberty for a moment:



And what more shall I say? For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, and of (insert your name) - who through faith (insert your story). Hebrews 11:32-33 ESV; italics - my additions

Blessings to you.


Messy Faith Secured,

Candace


P.S. Jesus is not only a secure and safe place for us to fasten our faith, but also our hope, dreams, concerns, fears, value, and future. May we not have faith in our faith, trying to stir it up when problems arise, but might we seek a deeper relationship with Jesus, the author, founder, and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).


“Mary Did You Know?” is one of my favorite Christmas songs. It brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it, because I think there was no possible way Mary could have ever known what was going to become of her life when she said yes to God. Mary, acting out of pure obedience, said, “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38 NKJV). These were powerful words from the mouth of a young girl in the presence of God’s messenger.



Mary, a gal from a small town. Mary, a teen, familiar with God’s word. Mary, a girl who went to the synagogue. Mary, ready to begin her life with her betrothed. Mary, with dreams ahead of her. Mary, not much different from you and me, right? Like Mary, we want to humbly serve God and be obedient to the things He calls us to do. Because of God’s grace, she “found favor with God” (Luke 1:30) and was chosen to carry the promised Messiah. How I pray that God looks at me and finds favor with me. I pray that in knowing my heart for Him, He knows that when He asks me something, that I will immediately say YES. Lord, help me to respond in obedience with a yes.


But even in Mary’s immediate yes, she had no idea what that would look like down the road. She had no idea she would give birth in an animal’s stable (Luke 2:7), not exactly ideal, even in 3 AD. She didn’t know that she would be fleeing to Egypt to save her son’s life (Matt. 2:13-14). She didn’t realize her yes would mean division in her family (Mark 3:21). She didn’t know her yes would mean watching the seemingly premature death of her first son (Luke 23:46). She didn’t know. But isn’t that the way with us?


When we say yes to God, we don’t know the implications down the road. We don’t know the “hard” coming. But neither do we know the indescribable joy that is ahead!

Mary’s yes brought her the perfect child (Luke 2: 40, 52)! (Whoa, don’t we all want that?) Her yes allowed her to witness Jesus’ first miracle where He saved the reputation of her friends, turning the water into wine (John 2:1-12). Her yes brought her the knowledge of understanding that “For with God nothing will be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Often we don’t know what our yes will bring, but we can be sure that God will walk with us in it. We know that He will be glorified in our YES. Finally, we can be confident that we will grow deeper in our relationship with God when we act in obedience to God.


So as I ponder the birth of my Savior, my mind stops and rests on Mary, the mother of my King. The mother of my Redeemer. The mother of my Salvation. And I hope to be like her, saying yes when called upon, not sitting and calculating the risk, but instead knowing and depending on my God with whom nothing is impossible, and responding with a heartfelt yes. “Let it be to me according to your word.” Amen.


Camie lives in Chesterfield, Va with her husband of 20 years. They have three children who are 18, 16, and 14 years old who she has had the privilege of homeschooling. She grew up in the church and at 33 decided to walk in obedience by getting baptized. She loves the Lord and is always seeking to grow closer to Him.

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