Unseen Study ~ Chapter 12

I can’t pretend to know how Mary felt as she anointed Jesus with the oil. It is a little overwhelming to think about me in her place and although I can’t “change places” with her I am called to live a life that is devoted, surrendered and saturated with Jesus, hidden in Him – a life poured out at His feet. I am just now learning this hiddenness thing or maybe just now beginning to understand it and I am sure that I never fully will but as I pray and seek Him, I will try to put away the distractions, rest in His presence and listen for His voice.

“Some things that I will ask of Him, no one will ever see or know or hear. ‘The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him,’ we read in the Psalms (Ps 25:14). Pouring out my thoughts to Him and carrying the thoughts of His heart toward me, and toward my family and the people in my world, is not merely a part of life in God. It is all of life in God.” – Sara H. (Pg 202)

I don’t want to miss Jesus…miss out on really knowing Him, who He is, what He is saying to me. I don’t want to live a safe life and wake up one day wondering where the years went. I want to live every day, every seemingly significant or insignificant moment in His presence. “We’ll mature without effort into wrinkles and gray hair, but our hearts won’t mature deep into God by default. We have to desire more and more of God. Paul prayed for such greater fullness in our experience of God. Sara H. (Pg 207)

“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19

Seek Him, talk to Him, pray.

“God told me what I already knew, but what I needed to hear again: the story of God and me is my most significant story. His eyes on me and into my life are the source from which I draw everything else. Whether I am folding laundry or speaking from a platform, my exchanges with God are always about His reach for me and my reach for Him in return, again and again. The rest of life is the overflow.” – Sara H. (Pg 212) I love this! I hope you are listening for His Holy whispers, I sure am trying to, to listen and abide.

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Unseen Study ~ Chapter 11

“He [God] loves to heal what has broken.” – Sara H. (Pg 190)

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Psalm 147:3

God loves to heal our broken hearts…and He is really good at it. I have been really sick this week and I was scheduled to lead worship at a Pastor and Leaders Conference today, I hated telling them I couldn’t come, I hated that I was not going to be able to network with other church pastors and leaders and I hated losing out on getting paid. But God gently reminded me that He is my provider, my comforter, my healer, my everything. And it’s gonna be okay.

So, as I was reading this week’s chapter I was reminded of God’s healing the broken, not only physically but spiritually, emotionally. We’ve been remodeling our house and our stairway is finally finished, I had picked up a large shadowbox and other things to display my dad’s uniform from Vietnam along with the flag folded at his funeral. My grandparents and aunts had allowed me to receive these precious items and I wanted to display them in honor of him. This project, along with reading this chapter wrecked me. My dad passed away in 2008 in a car accident, he was 58 years old. I had a hard time with my dad’s passing because of me…I loved him and didn’t tell him enough, I didn’t return phone calls in the months leading up to his death, I played his cheerful message left on my answering machine from my birthday over and over wishing I had one more chance to talk to him, to tell him I loved him and that Jesus loved him. Upon hearing of his death, the first words from my mouth were “I never told him about Jesus”, my mom reassured me that she had and my wonderful aunt told me about his faith in the first minutes I saw her when I arrived at the funeral home. God’s marvelous grace…poured out over me through my aunt. God knew what I needed and he began healing my broken heart over my own sin in not sharing the Gospel and not letting my dad know how much I loved him and that he was a good dad to me. I don’t know if I’ll ever get over myself but God continues to move and grow me through it. He has given me an urgency to share Him with the lost, with my family and strangers. I am thankful for His grace, His love for me and His continued healing in my brokenness.

“When we acknowledge the parts of us that are broken, we have significant growth spurts in God.” – Sara H. (Pg 198)

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Unseen Study ~ Chapter 10

Thirsty for Jesus…

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for You, O God.” Psalm 42:1

When I am at my weakest I thirst for more of Jesus. Sometimes as I am reaching for Him I feel restless, lonely, and miserable. But these are the times I remember being filled up, renewed, refreshed and propelled in my growth in Him.

A few years ago (2015) I battled a prideful and entitled spirit in myself, it was ugly and I had a hard time letting go and letting Him fill me with more of Him. “He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 30:30 I needed to surrender this part of myself to Him, I need to thirst more for Him and let Him be what fills my life…not this need to have my own way. When I finally relinquished control of this area of my life things started to change in my life. Grace filled my thoughts when things didn’t go my way and the doors God wanted to open for me began to fling open. I trust God, He has a much better plan for me than I do, He knows what’s best for me and will show me great and mighty things when I am dependent upon Him.

“What feels like a wilderness, a desert – the hidden seasons and the hidden spaces throughout our day that expose we are dry on the inside – cannot thwart the maker of rain. These are the times our roots forge deeper through the earth to find the water source…Our water is Him. This beautiful God. His eyes, they know us – all the parts of us. His arms, they’re strong and they hold us. His whisper speaks life and breathes dust off what’s old and needs reviving.” – Sara H. (Pg 183/184)

“I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.” Hosea 2:14

I am reminded of a song, “I Surrender” by Hillsong…”Drench my soul as mercy and grace unfold, I hunger and thirst, I hunger and thirst”

Unseen Study ~ Chapter 9

“We search vainly from others for the acclaim that only God can give.” – Sara H.

Finding our value in Him instead of other people, listening for His voice, His leading instead of our own or others or the enemy! Let’s tune out the noise but while we are tuning it out let us invite Him into the stillness.

Let’s face it, we want to be noticed by other people more than by our Creator. We want to be lifted up, made much of, and thought well of by the world…our flesh sure does and when we try and listen for God’s voice it gets pushed out by everything and everyone else. But why wouldn’t it, we fill our days, hours, minutes with constant noise; social media, television, music, and our incredulous thoughts. And then we wonder why we aren’t hearing from God. I’m sure if my time spent on other invaluable things was put up against how much time I spent soaking in the Word and thinking about, praying to and listening to my Savior I would not be surprised at how the noise invades so much space, so much of my mind!

“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood.” Ephesians 6:12

And the enemy wants to have our thoughts directed toward anything and anyone else than Jesus. Put on that armor and continually call out to Him to renew you, revive you, and cleanse you. I love how Sara prays the Psalms, what a truth, comfort, and renewal can come from them. That’s where many of my song lyrics have come from. “The Psalms are to be prayed, recited, and sung…to be done, not merely to be read. We are not simply to read the Psalms; we are to be immersed in them so that they profoundly shape how we relate to God… [They] are the divinely ordained way to learn devotion to our God.” – Tim Keller “The Psalms demonstrates that we can bring to God all of ourselves – with all of our emotions – and trust that He has the power to change us.” (Pg 169)

“My soul clings to the dust; give me life according to your word!” Psalm 119:25

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

Truth time – I am really trying to give this good portion to the Lord…my time, my mind, but it has been difficult. I find myself over and over thinking about that dreaded to-do list! BUT, at least now I am realizing that I’m thinking about it and trying to intentionally shift my mind to Jesus and not get caught up in what I didn’t get done and simply love the time I have spent with Him.

“Hear, O Lord, and be merciful to me! O Lord, be my helper!” Psalm 30:10

Unseen Study ~ Chapter 8

“All of us have the privilege of being called to be His servants. Jesus said that He Himself didn’t come to be served but to serve and to give [which we should hold] in the back of our hearts all the time. We haven’t been called to some big outward thing, to be written about or publicized; we’re called to serve Him. We serve Him because we love Him. Whatever we’re doing we’re doing for Jesus and doing for Him to be uplifted.” Helen Roseveare

Confession time…on my path of surrender, of anything God wants I thought I had to DO big things for Him to be fully surrendered. But I have learned that being hidden in Him, my time with Him, is what leads me to big or small or whatever kind of thing He wants to use me for. And as I was being obedient to His calling on my life I was forgetting to seek Him in the ordinary. I was putting all my efforts into big things that I failed to be on my face for every thing my heart ached for… I think this study is just for me but in leading it and doing it along with you it has allowed my eyes to be opened to these new truths. That God wants to be my friend, He wants an open, honest relationship with me, to know me on a deeper level and make Himself known to me more. And this happens when I spend time with Him, not just “time”….but devoted time with Him (not that check list time). “No longer do I call you servants,” Jesus said to his followers, “for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 “When I let friendship with God become my first priority – talking to Him, hearing from Him, letting His Word shape my thinking – I align myself with an agenda that does, in fact, help meet the needs of others. I move from being an efficient and productive worker to a friend who can touch and see and engage with God. I grow to love the things and the people He loves – with my actions, with my time, and with my presence.” (Pg 135-136)

I want unity with the Father. Jesus took time to be with His Father, what an example He is of how important this is! Take time to be with God, pray, read the Word, and speak His Word allowed to yourself. I have scripture posted around the house, the more I read them…the more I believe them and the more alive the truths become to me.

“He rescued me, because He delighted in me” Psalm 18:19

You are not forgotten, You are seen by Him and He delights in you. Serving our King, our Savior, begins with time alone with Him.

Unseen Study ~ Chapter 7

Wasting ourselves on God…

“God’s currency is communion – a relationship that grows, nearer still. A depth of relationship that feeds the recipient in the way that productivity and accomplishment just cannot. What a waste. What a beautiful waste.” – (Pg 125)

Sara in the airport, people watching and praying for strangers, wanting to encounter God and then heeding His voice and nudge when she heard it and felt it. This is how we need to live life – in an uncomfortable, heart pounding, “this person is gonna think I’m crazy” kind of way. Always ready to share Jesus in some kind of way. In 2012 I went on mission to New Orleans during Mardi Gras, it was quite the experience and I returned several more times to love on people there. But during this first trip my eyes were opened to the lostness of the world, I met people from around the globe who didn’t know Jesus, who didn’t have a relationship with Him. And the greatest gift I came home with was seeing lostness everywhere I turned, when I walked into the grocery store, put gas in my car, etc, etc. Looking at strangers as if they were on their way to hell changes your day to day. I don’t want to miss an opportunity to give someone hope, the Gospel. Some may know Him but need loved, a word of encouragement, a hand of friendship. We need to be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading, I have chastised myself when I have passed someone by and knew I should have said something because I know and have seen what God does when we obey. Sometimes it is something so simple, last year I saw a woman holding a cardboard sign and gas can by Wal-Mart in my hometown, she was overweight, a mess, and created in the image of God. I rolled down my window, gave her maybe $5 and told her Jesus loved her, she was beautiful. She said “thank you, I needed to hear that”. A few months ago I saw a family at a carwash with a minivan, the father had a sign that said something about needing gas/money to get home to California. I stopped and gave them $11, it was all I had in my wallet except for that secret place that you stash money for a special occasion 😉 I drove away and knew I needed to go back and give them that $100. I turned around and got out of my car to give them the money, I grabbed a couple CDs as well and as I handed them the goods explained why I needed to give them more. They began to cry, I asked them if they knew Jesus, they said yes. I prayed with them and hugged them and went on my way. This isn’t about giving money, I don’t always have any to give but I can share the hope I have in Christ and that is the greatest gift I can give. This is a result of Jesus’ work in my life and I gain this confidence because of hiddenness in Him. Wasting my time with Him grows me into the woman He wants me to be, a woman He can use when someone needs to hear from Him.

I heard a great sermon last weekend and the speaker talked about private prayer leaving no room for pride…we can’t show it off. Seeking the Lord is the most important thing we can “do”. Let’s love Him first and most!

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” Deuteronomy 6:5

Let’s embrace this time with Him.

“Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells.” Psalm 26:8

“The waste of extravagant love we pour at Jesus’ feet is never squandered. That love expands us, it doesn’t diminish us. We weren’t made to ration our love. We were made for extravagance.” (Pg 131)

Unseen Study ~ Chapter 6

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness'” Genesis 1:26

We are image bearers of God, pretty cool, huh? Yet time and time again I have to be reminded of that very thing. In my pursuit to be seen I try to look like everyone else, to fit in or make myself seem more important than I am. But the greatest truth is that what makes me important is being an image bearer of my Creator.

“If you want true beauty, look into the face of Jesus”, writes preacher Charles Spurgeon. Beauty is in the lines of His face, the humanity He wore for you and for me. But we tend to be a people of quick glances – even with God. Life at warp speed allows for little beholding. (Pg 106)

One of my favorite parts of chapter 6 is Sara’s “wonder hour”, I want to implement this into my days and of course that means not worrying about the productiveness of my to-do list and letting everything go. Why do we tell ourselves we can’t do this? Why do I tell myself I can’t do this? That it is not acceptable? If I turn my heart toward eternity, then most of my days should be looking in awe and wonder at the Savior, spending time with Him. “Internal stillness takes practice. It is the fruit of hiddenness – a life that’s lived looking at God, a life of wonder in Him – and it needs to be cultivated.” (Pg 111)

He wants my affections and attention not my doings, achievements, checked boxes. Lord, help me to have my eyes only on you while the world goes on without me.

Unseen Study ~ Chapter 5

“I was falling in love with God through pain, caring less and less what others thought of me” – Sara H. (pg 83)

I have battled through what other people thought of me, that people pleasing battle and self-image, that pride kept me from surrendering to Jesus for a long time. Boy am I selfish, my selfishness has tried to manipulate situations and people, my selfishness has put myself before my Savior. Lord, forgive me. I am thankful for His grace.

For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16

This chapter is all about being or becoming uncovered, embracing vulnerability. Talking of Mary (pg 85) “Hers was extravagant devotion. Adoration with God alone in mind. She chose to be vulnerable before the one who already knew her deepest longings. And Jesus called her vulnerability beautiful.”  This is tough, we don’t want to admit that we are hurting, that we are in need, that we sin. But it is in vulnerability that we grow closer to Jesus. I don’t want to be invulnerable, I want God to work in my life and I realize that when I don’t get real with Him that I get stuck. Our admission of sin and need for Him changes us, it opens our hearts up to His healing and mending, His strengthening and power.

Vulnerability requires both carefulness and prayer. Most of us have spent our lives avoiding the very thing that activates greater intimacy with God – this vulnerability before Him. Matthew 18:3 is a wise starting place for prayer. In it, Jesus says: “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.” Pray it out like this: Lord, help. Help me to be like a little child before You … and all over again. Bring me back to the beginning, with You. Where I am open and openly hungry to receive You. Invite God into your most inward places.

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart. Psalm 51:6

“Stop hiding from God. Come out, vulnerable and raw before Him with new strength. His strength. Sit at His feet and allow the warmth of His tender eyes to bore through you, to see what’s most vulnerable in you, and to respond to it.” (pg 98)

Unseen Study ~ Chapter 4

Our call to greatness, not all the BIG things we do (Mary’s good thing…that will be remembered…) loving Jesus, being with Him, paying attention to Him, putting Him first!

“My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret” Psalm 139:16

God has created each of us for greatness. Not the greatness of a stage or a title or a degree, though He may use those things in our lives. He may even let the applause of others encourage and help us grow. But the sweetest greatness starts with being rooted, being made and nurtured in secret, being seen by God alone. – Pg 67

Here are some key sentences, phrases that stood out to me in Chapter 4:

*I could also be great at two o’clock in the morning holding a sick baby or in stepping away from a leadership position at church so someone else could take the limelight

*that greatness comes in quietly serving a friend who would never thank me, leaving my task list unfinished to read to a child, that dormant seasons would not be unsuccessful seasons

*We become great when we genuinely, happily serve in unacknowledged ways and places because that is where we find the sustaining face of God, especially when no one else sees us or applauds us.

It’s in these times that our roots grow deep, partly because we are not striving for attention or recognition. “It is the work that happens beneath the surface, deep in the soil of our hearts, that in time produces a great harvest of fruit and growth.” Pg 71 It can be hard, just this week as I was reminded that God sees me, He sees my situations, and He has a plan to grow me and deepen my roots.

“As for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.” Matthew 13:23

When the world comes crashing down on us we need roots! Roots deeply planted in Him and in His Word because it is there that He reveals Himself more to us, it is there that He shows us who we are in Him, it is there He shows us that in this weakness that we despise His strength is made perfect. Embrace it, this weakness, it’s where we become more like Him.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Unseen Study ~ Chapter 3

“God was winterizing me. His intention wasn’t to leave me fruitless – God loves fruit. He hid me so that I would find Him in the hiddenness. So I would come back to my roots, so I would see His eyes on me in the hiding.” – Unseen pg. 55

Isn’t it amazing how God uses some of the most difficult things, moments, circumstances in our lives to draw us closer to Him? I can even look back and see how He prepared me for an upcoming hardship and led me through it with such care. It’s in these moments that we grow the most, that He reminds us again of who He is and who we are in Him. “God hides me to show me His kind eyes toward me – gentler than the taskmaster I am toward myself (we are hardest on ourselves). And He hides me to tell me my story – to remind me of Himself, the author. It is the greatest story my skin will ever know – God, in me, radiating through me, making glory for Him on the earth. – Unseen, pg 56

Mary was so in love with Jesus, she understood that He loved her and saw her like no one else did or would. He sees us, friends, in all of our mess and weakness and He desires to help us know Him and His precious love for us. He wants to deepen our roots in Him so we will rely on Him when the hard things come.

As I was studying the For Your Own Pursuit scriptures I found great comfort in John 11, it’s the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Two things I want to draw attention to, even though there are many things to glean here. Verse 4, “But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Everything points to the glory of God, all things, everything we go through, for His Glory! I think if we would keep that the forefront of our minds our perspective would change. God has a greater plan than we can ever imagine or comprehend. Next, Martha, verse 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” We are all striving to be a Mary, to love Jesus so extravagantly but face it…most, some, ok…me, I am usually a Martha in the context of working and doing but this verse tells me that He loves me so much even in spite of my doings. Now Jesus loved Martha, He loved her just as much as He did Mary and Lazarus. His love for us doesn’t change because of what we do, we cannot earn His love, we cannot work hard enough to gain His attention. What grace! One more thing about this passage and Martha, Martha’s faith – verse 22 “But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you” She had faith that Jesus was who He said He was even if she didn’t understand what all that would mean (raising her brother from the dead!)

At the end of the day, I long to be like a Mary, loving Jesus so beautifully, wastefully. But really, I just want to love Him like Christy…a Christy that would lay her life at His feet, would have strong faith in who He is, who would waste herself and everything she is just to be known, loved and hidden in Him. He has given each of us a story, and just as Mary’s story would be told through the ages because she so deeply loved Him, I desire my life would reflect who He is and that people would know I loved Jesus more than anything. But most of all that I would love and know Him more. “He hides me to tell me my story – to remind me of Himself, the Author.” – Sara H.