I Clawed My Way To You

I Clawed My Way To You

You can learn a lot about yourself by re-reading old high school journals. I recently found some of mine and was reminded of all of my favorite quotes, song lyrics, books, and movies. Between things I had written myself and things I had copied down from other sources, I could also clearly see the opinion I had of God. One of my favorite songs was “On Distant Shores” by Five Iron Frenzy.

First, a disclaimer: this song is amazing and I still love it. However, the lyrics that I wrote down in my journal didn’t capture the full picture of what the song was saying. Instead, I pulled out the ones that I thought I related to:

With resilience unsurpassed, I clawed my way to you at last.

I identified with those words so strongly, because that’s how it felt to me—like I was constantly exhausting myself trying to get to God. Like I was clawing my way to the cross. I think I believed that after Jesus died on the cross, His pursuit of me stopped there. He had done His part, and it was time to do mine. I felt like I had to be perfect to get to Jesus, and that when I missed the mark, I had to fight my way back to Him.

The enemy used to go before God to accuse us. In Job, scripture says that satan came before God, with the angels, and accused Job of only loving God because of His provision. But satan no longer has that option. He can’t come before the Father to accuse us, because Jesus is seated at the Father’s right-hand and serves, not as our accuser, but as our advocate and our mediator. He speaks in our defense and He fights for us. When we miss the mark, Jesus is there to remind the Father that His sacrifice has already covered us.

“If anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” – 1 John 2:1

Since the enemy can no longer go before the throne to accuse us, he instead comes to us and tries to convince us of his lies. He wants us to believe that we are unworthy. He wants us to believe that we are far away from God and can never get close because we don’t deserve to. He wants us to believe that the veil is still up and that we can’t come before God unless we are holy and perfect.

But God tore the veil for us (Mark 15:38). He chases after us (Psalm 139:7-8). He fights for us (Josh. 23:10). He never stops pursuing us (Luke 15:4-6).

Jesus went to the cross while we were yet sinners. That means that as unrepentant sinners, Jesus fought for us. If He fought for us then, how much more is He going to fight for us now that we are His? If He fought for us when we were dead in our sin, how much more is He going to fight for us now that we’re alive in Him? As a parent, as much as you would fight for any child, how much more would you fight for your own son or daughter?

If we use all of our time and energy trying to meet a standard of perfection that was never meant for us, we won’t have any room left to pursue our calling.

We don’t have to strive to prove our worth and we don’t have to fight to get to Jesus—His love is fighting for us! The lyrics I wrote in my journal today are the ones I am embracing as my truth:

When I was Your foe, still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, The overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God

It chases me down, fights ’til I’m found
Leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it and I don’t deserve it
Still you give yourself away

Oh, The overwhelming, never-ending reckless love of God

There’s no shadow You won’t light up, mountain You won’t climb up
Coming after me
There’s no wall You won’t kick down, lie You won’t tear down
Coming after me

More Than We Can Handle

More Than We Can Handle

“God won’t give you more than you can handle” is a popular phrase that I’ve heard a lot in Christian circles. Sometimes it’s almost used as a joke. “God won’t give me more than I can handle, but He sure does trust me a lot.”

The truth is, that’s not what scripture says, and it can actually give a false sense of God and His character.

What scripture does say is that God will not allow us to be tempted more than we can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). It doesn’t say that God gives us temptations, but that He won’t let the temptations become too much for us. There’s a large difference between God giving us something and God protecting us from something. James 1:13 is very clear on this subject: “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and He Himself tempts no one.”

Going back to the phrase “God won’t give us more than we can handle”, the idea that hard times are given to us by God can be damaging and makes it sound like He is the one who is causing our pain and our grief. It’s easy to look at Job in scripture and see someone who was given more than any one man should be able to handle, but it is also clear that God was not the one who gave him those tests and trials. Instead, when satan came against Job, God limited satan in what he was allowed to do (Job 1:12). Today, we have even more of God’s protection. The enemy can no longer come before God and accuse us because Jesus Himself is our advocate. 1 John 5:8 says that because Jesus holds us securely, the evil one cannot touch us.

Additionally, the idea of “more than we can handle” points to an unfair and unjust system, which is the opposite of God’s character (Job 34:12). Why should Person A be given more hardships just for being stronger than Person B?

Ultimately, it’s not about what we can handle. In fact, I would say we are often given more than we can handle. No parent should ever have to go through the pain of losing their child. No child should ever bear the weight of abuse. No person should ever feel the need to contemplate whether or not their existence matters.

In 2 Corinthians 2:8-9, Paul wrote to the church, “For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.” Those are certainly not the words of someone who felt like they had a handle on the things happening around them. He continued, “But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

We were not built or equipped to handle everything the world throws at us; that’s why we needed a Savior. It’s not about what we can handle, but what He can handle.

A more accurate phrase for Christians to use is, “We can never be given more than He can handle.” There is no burden too large or too small for our God. There is nothing the enemy can attack us with that we can’t surrender to the one who is abundant in power and love for us.

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Even When It Makes No Sense

Even When It Makes No Sense

We have always had a need to make sense of the world we live in—through science, through mathematics, through geography—so that we are able to explain and justify our experiences. However, God’s ways don’t always make sense.

As an analytical person who works every single day in spreadsheets and numbers, it makes logical sense to me when the world says, “We don’t need prayers; we need action.” I have to remind myself that prayer is the most important action we could take.

In the New Testament, there are more verses about Jesus praying than there are about Him performing miracles. When giving advice to the disciples in Luke 18, He tells them that they should always pray and not give up. Philippians 4:6 tells us that in every situation, we are to present our requests to God through prayer.

Prayer is the most powerful weapon that God has given us because it allows us to directly petition him in our time of need. From there, He can tell us what to do. If we pray, and God tells us to move, then we need to move. If He tells us to hold still and wait, then we need to hold still and wait, knowing that He will bless our obedience. It’s much more important to seek wisdom and discernment than to jump headfirst into a battle you don’t know how to win.

I want to look at two examples in scripture where the action plans from God were definitely not the logical plans His people would have come up with if they had not first come before Him in prayer.

The first is Jericho. There is absolutely no way that Joshua would have had a strategy meeting and told his army to simply march around the city once each day for six days, while priests carried the ark and blew trumpets, if that direction hadn’t come from God. This battle plan made no sense, but on the seventh day, the army marched around the city seven times and gave a shout, and the walls of Jericho fell down flat.

The second example is Jehoshaphat and the battle he never had to fight. Instead of spending his time preparing for a war, Jehoshaphat spent his time before God in prayer and the Spirit of the Lord said, “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” When Jehoshaphat sent his army down the next day, he appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him and sent them to the head of the army. His front-line was made up of men singing praises to the Lord!

Can you imagine if our generals came before us and told us that their plan was to have the armies march around blowing trumpets or to send singers to the front of the line? Can you picture the outrage, the condemnation, and the disbelief that would follow?

Before taking action, it is vital that we first come before God in prayer, asking Him to show us what steps, if any, we need to take. That time of worship and petition should always be our front line. Maybe God will tell us to stand up and march, or maybe His answer will be to hold still and trust Him to fight the battle for us. Either way, when we take the time to first hear from God, and we have complete confidence in what He has called us to do, then the world’s opinion doesn’t matter.

God never fails, and He will always follow through on His promises when we are obedient to His direction.

Created For His Glory

Created For His Glory

“Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory” – Isaiah 43:7

What does it mean to be created for God’s glory? Scripture tells us that we were all created for His glory, but sometimes people tend to get the wrong impression from that statement. We are taught to be humble, and not to boast in our own works, yet here we see God literally creating things that will exalt Him. To understand what it means to be created for God’s glory, we have to first understand what His glory is.

In Exodus 33:18-19, Moses asks God to show him His glory, and God responds by saying, “I will make all my goodness pass before you.”

God’s glory is His holiness, His character, and His attributes on display. When we bring God glory, it means we are physically manifesting His hope, peace, love, joy, kindness, goodness, and gentleness.

Scripture tells us in Ephesians 2:10 that we are God’s masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. God has not only prepared ways for us to display His character, He has also equipped us to do so by giving us His power through the Holy Spirit and His righteousness through Jesus Christ.

However, He also gives us a choice. Moses could have chosen to drop the staff. David could have chosen to drop the slingshot. Joshua could have chosen to drop the trumpet.

God knows the plans He has for us, but at any point, we have the option to walk away from the victory He wants for us. That doesn’t mean God won’t fight for us (looking at you, Jonah), but that He ultimately gives us the free will to do as we choose.

Because Moses didn’t drop the staff, he was able to deliver His people from slavery. Because David didn’t drop the slingshot, he was able to turn the tide of battle. Because Joshua didn’t drop the trumpet, he was able to win the city of Jericho.

When we choose to embrace our calling and surrender to God, we are able to walk in the power and victory He wants for us, and bring His love and joy and goodness to a fallen world filled with sickness, death, and pain.

In Scripture, when we read that the Lord has created everything to proclaim His glory, it means that He has created everything to bring revelation of His love to those who are desperately searching for it.

Here I Am To Worship

Here I Am To Worship

When I think of the word worship, I usually visualize someone with their hands in the air, maybe on their knees, singing or crying out to God. For believers, worship is a time where our minds can be transformed and our hearts can be renewed – but for that to happen, worship can’t just be external. It has to be internal as well.

I grew up in church, and I’ve attended Sunday morning worship all of my life, but I can’t count the number of times when I was singing the words with nothing happening in my heart. In Matthew 15:8-9, Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; they worship me in vain.”

There is a difference between being moved by worship songs, and being moved through the act of worshiping. It’s possible for your mind to be moved by the lyrics in a song, or the beautiful voice of a singer, without your heart being engaged. Maybe you think the lyrics are beautiful, but you don’t connect to the Savior behind the words.

True worship has to be internal. It’s not just about singing the words. In Hebrew, “worship” means to bow down and submit, or to offer. It means to internally surrender to the one whom you are worshiping. It’s this act of surrender that allows God to move in and through us. It connects our heart and spirit to the truth we are proclaiming with our mouths.

It’s when we are in that state of worship that God can easily speak to us, or impress something on our hearts. One of the most vivid memories I have of God speaking to me through worship was right after my father-in-law passed. A week after the funeral, I found out I was pregnant. I was overwhelmed with conflicting emotions – thrilled that we were going to have our miracle baby; devastated at the timing of everything; nervous about telling the family – but I knew God had been faithful to answer our prayers and that I needed to trust Him with the timing as well.

That Sunday, my husband led worship. I held my hands protectively over my non-existent baby bump and prayed that God would give me courage. The song my husband sang was “God of This City”. My head knew the lyrics, but it was like my heart heard them for the first time.

You’re the light in this darkness
You’re the hope to the hopeless
You’re the peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this city

For greater things have yet to come. There is pain now, but joy comes in the morning. Blessed are those who die in the Lord. Do not grieve, like those who have no hope. I have a new song for you to sing. And greater things are still to be done. I know the plans I have for you. Do not fear, for I am with you. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. This child is My handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which I have prepared in advance.

God spoke words of love, encouragement, and provision straight to me because my heart was open to receive them. This doesn’t mean you have to receive revelation to be worshiping. Worship doesn’t have to follow a specific formula. You don’t have to be singing, or kneeling, or crying. It’s not about a body position, but a heart position. In your heart, does Jesus come first? When you’re singing or speaking, are you talking about God, or to Him?

Your pretty words mean nothing if your heart doesn’t echo them. Your raised hands mean nothing if they are not seeking Him. Your bended knees mean nothing if you are refusing to surrender. Worship is meant to declare God’s glory, but it means nothing if your heart doesn’t believe He deserves it.

If you want to connect deeper to the Savior behind the songs, you only have to surrender, for He is worthy to receive all of the glory and all of the honor. He alone is God, and He is worthy to be praised.

The Curse Was Reversed

The Curse Was Reversed

In Leviticus, one of the main themes was the idea of clean vs unclean. Leviticus 11-15 used to overwhelm me with all of the lists of clean and unclean animals, illnesses, and discharges. For the most part, in this context, being clean or unclean directly related to holiness, and it was often something that was determined by priests. To be unclean meant that you had no access to God. No one could approach God in an unclean state. God is and was holy, so anything that came into His presence also needed to be holy.

In the Old Testament, if you were considered unclean, not only were you separated from God, but you were also separated from other people. You had to live “outside the camp” so you would not defile it. People couldn’t come near you, or they would also become unclean. Touching something unclean made you unclean.

“The leprous person who has the disease shall wear torn clothes and let the hair of his head hang loose, and he shall cover his upper lip and cry out, “Unclean, unclean.” He shall remain unclean as long as he has the disease. He is unclean. He shall live alone. His dwelling shall be outside the camp.” – Leviticus 13:45-46

Someone who was unclean was completely isolated under the curse that came with the fall of man.

But Jesus reversed the curse.

Those who were unclean could not go into the presence of God, so God came to them. Before Jesus, anyone who touched someone unclean became defiled. When Jesus showed up on the scene, for the first time, someone could touch the unclean and it was the righteousness that was passed on.

When the woman who had the issue of blood touched even the hem of His garment, she was immediately cleansed. Can you imagine the thoughts that would have gone through the Pharisees’ minds? They knew the scriptures and knew that those who touched someone who was unclean would become unclean.

Yet Jesus touched those who were demon-possessed, those who had seizures, those who were paralyzed, those who were leprous, and even those who were dead. He repeatedly touched people who would have defiled Him according to the Leviticus laws—and instead, He made them clean. The dead became alive, the sick became well, and the unclean became clean because of His holiness.

What a picture of the cross! Jesus washed us from our iniquity and cleansed us from all of our sins. He made us white as snow. We are clean now because of His finished work.

In the Old Testament, God’s people were stuck at the bottom of Mt. Sinai because they couldn’t come close to Him. But now, because we have Jesus’ righteousness, scripture tells us that believers can come boldly before the throne of God.

“Let us, therefore, come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” – Hebrews 4:16

Foundation of Grace

Foundation of Grace

Reading through the Old Testament several years ago, I remember being so confused by what felt like a bipolar God. In Exodus, He responded to the Israelites grumblings in the wilderness with grace over and over again. Then suddenly in Numbers, He responded to the exact same grumblings with curses and serpents. Did He just run out of patience with them? Did He decide after the golden calf that they weren’t good enough for His grace anymore? Did His grace for me also have limits? It left me with an impression that was incompatible with what I knew to be true about God.

Finally, a few years later, my husband and his parents led me through a study on the various covenants in the Old Testament and I was able to reconcile my view of the Old Testament God with the Heavenly Father I had fallen in love with. I was also able to create a solid foundation for my understanding of grace and God’s love.

To fully understand the foundation of grace, and what it means to live under grace, it’s important to look at a few of the covenants in the Old and New Testaments: specifically, the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, and the New Covenant.


Covenant:  cov·e·nant  \ ˈkəv-nənt ,  a formal, solemn, and binding agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties, especially for the performance of some action.

The Abrahamic Covenant was established in Genesis 12: 1-3 and was cut by a blood sacrifice in Genesis 15. When establishing a blood covenant, it was typical for both parties to pass between the halved animals to signify the commitments each of them were making. In Genesis 15:17, only God passed through the center, while Abraham was in a deep sleep. This shows us that the covenant was unilateral, meaning its fulfillment was dependent on God and His sovereignty alone, not on Abraham.

Abraham and his descendants had only to believe and it was counted as righteous. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, this was the covenant they were under. It was a covenant of grace, as we see in Exodus. While traveling to Mt. Sinai, the Israelites doubted Him on the shores of the Red Sea and God delivered them (Exodus 14:12). They complained about the water at Marah and God provided for them (Exodus 15:24). They grumbled about hunger in the desert and God supplied them with abundant bread and meat (Exodus 16:2-3). This is what a covenant of grace looks like – its fulfillment is not based on the works or obedience of the people, but on God’s faithfulness alone.

However, at Sinai, everything changed. Under the first covenant, Israel became prideful, believing their salvation came from simply being God’s people and that they were wholly capable of doing everything He asked of them. They saw themselves as equal partners in God’s covenant, so they signed up for a new, law-based covenant where God’s blessings now hinged on their faithfulness. (Exodus 19:1-8). When the people responded to God that they could do everything He asked, they were saying, “Judge us based on our obedience instead of Your goodness.”


The Ten Commandments, along with the other laws, were given to the Israelites in Exodus 20. While the Abrahamic covenant was a unilateral covenant, the Mosaic Covenant was a bilateral covenant. Though its ultimate fulfillment was still dependent on God, there was now also an agreement that had to be fulfilled by the Israelites in order to experience the blessings. When establishing the covenant, the sacrificial blood was thrown both on the altar and also on the people (Exodus 24:6-8).

The law was good and holy, but the covenant was weak because it was dependent on human ability and not God’s ability. Hebrews 8:7-8 says the covenant was not faultless, but the fault was with the people, not the actual covenant. The Israelites couldn’t live up to the promise they had made to God. They immediately broke their end of the covenant when they created the golden calf, and it was only Moses’ prayer and God’s grace that kept them from being consumed by God’s wrath. Instead, scripture says that God plagued the people because of what they did with the calf (Exodus 32:35).

After this exchange, note how God reacted to the same sins of the Israelites. In Numbers 21:4-6, the people spoke against God and against Moses, and the Lord sent fiery serpents among them. Rather than the grace and provision they had seen before, their sin brought punishment upon them.

So what was the purpose of the law?

  • To set a standard of righteousness.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. – Psalm 19:7-9 (ESV)

  • To reveal sin and knowledge of sin.

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. – Romans 3:19-20 (ESV)

  • To show that Christ was the only means of obtaining righteousness.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. – Romans 3:21-24 (ESV)

It’s important to note that this covenant did not nullify the Lord’s covenant with Abraham. He still planned to create an everlasting covenant, through Abraham’s offspring. Hebrews 8:8 shows that the Lord knew a new covenant was coming – one that would be perfect and faultless. “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”


In the Old Testament, in order for someone to be cleansed of their sins, they were required to bring in a lamb that was without blemish. The sinner then laid their hands on the lamb’s head before it was killed, transferring his sins to the lamb. The lamb’s innocence was then transferred to the sinner making him righteous.

The New Covenant was established on the cross, when the Lamb of God took on all our sins: past, present, and future. The Cross brought us back to a permanent state of grace, giving us Christ’s righteousness. Jesus was the only one in the flesh who could perfectly satisfy the covenant God had created, nailing the law to the cross, and fulfilling it on our behalf. It is because of Christ’s finished work that believers now stand as forgiven, righteous, and blessed children of God.

Colossians 2:13-14 says, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.” (ESV)

Believers now live in the New Covenant, under the power of God’s grace by the Spirit. It doesn’t mean we have no moral law or standard, but that we are able to live righteously through a new source of life.

“For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” – Romans 8:2-4