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Sabrina Gauer

Faith, Life & The Journey

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Salvation

All the Feels

“Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.” – Ephesians 6:13

Our 21st-century life is filled with hashtags for everything. We #life, #adulting, #blessed, #neverstopexploring our every photo, every post, and every moment. It’s a way of tagging ourselves into a community of millions of people who all want to be heard, viewed, and appreciated. And sometimes, when we are in a beautiful place, or experiencing something beyond words, we feel #allthefeels.

All the feels. Not always easy in a spiritual sense.

Feelings are so unpredictable. Sometimes, I can easily pinpoint a trigger or a reason, and other times, feelings and emotions hit me out of nowhere and I need a second (or an hour…or a month…) to process what my emotions are saying to me. Many times, they aren’t even TRUE feelings – rather, they are a product of overthinking, fatigue, hunger, discontentment, and distraction or losing focus.

Thank God that salvation and grace is not based on how I feel in the moment. Maybe you don’t see immediate results of following hard after Christ…sometimes the feeling isn’t what you thought it would be. God is true to all of His promises, but we doubt, we struggle, and we fight our emotions. Yet, we know that one day, we will stand before the Lord and He will reward us for our perseverance through all the craziness of life, through the heartbreak, through sickness, through broken relationships, through all the disappointment and unknown times when it was all you could do to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. 32317_Trail_Hike_6

This idea of putting on the whole armor of God is so powerful in guarding our hearts, minds, and spirit in Christ Jesus. Helmet of Truth– where the thoughts begin and end. Breastplate of Righteousness– protecting our hearts from the lies of Enemy. Sword of the Spirit– because we are in a constant battle for our souls that cannot be taken lightly. Circumstances shift and change in this life. But His Truth never wavers. Knowing where we stand in Christ when the nights are long and the journey is weary is what keeps us pressing on instead of falling away and turning our back on God.

And all of those feelings that come and go only serve to distract us from the greater purpose of our lives on this earth; serving Christ wholeheartedly, knowing that someday soon, we will be with Him in Eternity. What emotions and distractions are you allowing to sneak into your heart? Where are you losing ground spiritually because you rely on a feeling? Ask God to show you when those feelings are TRUE and when they are completely misleading. He gives us the discernment when we ask for it. Philippians 4:7 says it plainly: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

I’m taking a spiritual step back from “all the feels” today. I want to hear from God. And I want to press on through the battle; to be living in Truth.

Stop Speaking For God

“It was for God’s glory…”

When I was first diagnosed with cancer, I was approached by a couple of people who had taken it upon themselves to inform me that my sickness was due to bitterness and unforgiveness in my heart. And that in order for any healing prayers to be heard about my situation, I needed to repent.

When my dad was very sick and battling pulmonary fibrosis, we heard the same things from “well-meaning” people who just thought they knew what the solution was; “You have unconfessed sin! God can’t heal you until you repent!”

Sadly, I have heard this same story more than once from others who have been beaten down with these words instead of loved on and supported by people who should have known better. And needless to say, that callous, judgmental, unbiblical and self-righteous attitude doesn’t really fly in my book.

It’s funny how we try to speak for God.

A few days ago, I was reading John chapter 9:1-3. One of Jesus’s many miracles was healing the blind- physically and figuratively. But the people around Him asked, “Hey, Jesus! So, who’s to blame here for this guy’s handicap? Who sinned- this guy or his parents?” (Because of course we also have those who LOVE to latch onto the “generational curse” theology…)

Jesus replied, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”

Did those words settle into your heart like they did mine?

We are always grasping in our humanness to find an answer for the pain. “If this, then that.” But  what if the answer to why you’re facing your uphill battle this very moment has nothing to do with some past sin, but simply to glorify God through the outcome? What if the answer isn’t logical, orderly, and complete?

The truth is that we are all sinners. We were born with the innate ability to disobey, strive, and test the limits of consequences to our actions. But we serve a loving, caring God who is in the business of redemption. When we repent of our sins, “He is faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). If we are constantly feeling like we are dodging lightning bolts from the Great Punisher in the Sky, or telling others that the reason for their suffering is because they’re sinners…well, then we’re dangerously missing the whole point of TRUE Christianity.

Further along in the book of John, there’s the death of Lazarus- a dear friend of Jesus. Jesus knew that Lazarus was close to death, and yet…He waited before going to see him. In fact, it was 4 days after his death before Jesus headed to see Lazarus’s family. And Lazarus’s sisters both confronted Jesus with the same thing; “Lord, if you had only been here, our brother would still be alive.”

And Jesus wept. John 11:35 is the shortest verse in the Bible, and it frankly shows Jesus’s human emotions- His grief over losing a close friend to sickness and death. But then, He raises a very dead Lazarus back to life, and says what? That this was all to show God’s glory.

Because that’s who God is. That’s what He does. He is love and power. He is blessing and redemption of the broken things. And when we portray a false and hurtful version of who He is, I have to think that it hurts God too. When we wound someone who is already in pain because of life’s hardships through our self-righteous and works-driven theology, we are not only falsely showing them who Christ is, but also proving that we are so desperate for an answer that we are willing to make one up– and believe it so strongly that we force it upon others as well.

I do not claim that my cancer, surgery, and recovery hasn’t affected me deeply. But not for a second did I ever think that God was punishing me for something. And these verses were exactly what I needed to read in confirmation. God loves us so much, and we live in a very broken, messed up world. Jesus is our salvation, and we long for Eternity. But before we get there, we have to go through the broken, painful things to grow. To mature. To bless others in their faith through our trials. If we don’t go through the fire, we don’t experience refinement. And God is with us, through every single step, if we ask Him. If we give Jesus our lives and believe that never once do we ever walk alone.

Your trial isn’t about you. God is about to show the world His glory through it. So hang on to Him, let Him refine you and shape you through the fire. And ignore anyone who ever tries to make you doubt His limitless, unfailing love for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, Death- Where Is Your Victory?

Absolutely everything that has caused the most emotional and spiritual pain in my life has been preceded by Death.

Well now, that’s a pretty drastic and morbid statement…

But it’s the truth. Broken relationships, turmoil, feeling lost or confused, the agony of missing a loved one who is no longer on this earth (a parent, child, spouse, or dear friend), despair, discouragement, depression, grief, the tight-rope balancing act of the “new normal”…all of it a direct result of the literal Grave. Cemetery-gates

Over the past 3 years, I’ve learned a lot about Death and Its power to manipulate the living. Death is a force we cannot fight…it’s inevitable…it will come into your story whether you like it or not. There is no escape from it, there is no magic cure for it, and there is definitely no hiding from it.

I’ve watched Death change my family. I’ve watched Death change my friends. I’ve felt Death change me. You can never truly know the power of Death and Grief and all their emotional havoc-wreaking ways until you have walked in it yourself.

If you’ve grown up in the church, or have attended church for quite a while, you have heard phrases like “defeated the grave” when referring to Jesus being raised from the dead. And you’ve probably thought (as I did), “Wow, that’s awesome. Thanks, God, for Jesus, for doing that for us and giving us eternal life!”, but didn’t take it much further than that.

Well, a few Sundays ago, God took it further for me.

I have sang the song “One Thing Remains” for several years now, more times than I can count. The most repeated line says, “Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out on me.” And yes, that is so true, and important and life-giving! Thank You, Lord, for Your unfailing love, and may I never take it for granted!

But on that Sunday, as I led worship for our congregation, playing this particular song, the second line in the first verse lodged into my heart…and has stayed there for quite a while now:

“Stronger than the power of the grave.”

I always thought of that line in reference to the moment when Jesus rose…equating it with the Easter story and the Resurrection…but until now I never took that line so personally and so relevant to my life. That morning, I felt God saying to me, “Daughter, I know it’s been hard. I know what you’re facing. I know how difficult all these situations are and how they directly relate to Death. But My unfailing love is stronger than the power of the Grave. Yes there is power in Death! But My love is stronger. I defeated it. And I will give you Victory where Death has dragged you into doubt, and fear, and pain. You can’t do this on your own…but you are never alone. I Am Stronger.”

There is Hope through Christ alone. And even on the darkest days when I just can’t see…when nothing makes sense…when the pain is a result of something so much heavier than I can bear…I know my God is a God of Unfailing Love. He is Life, and gives me Life, so that I can be Life to others who need it too. 

The Grave is strong. But my Jesus is Stronger.

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