It’s just not about us.

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that you may have life and have it in abundance.” – John 10:10 HCSB

“Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have also obtained access through Him by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope. This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.” – Romans 5:1-5

Hey Friends!! I hope you had a great 4th of July celebration! I had an amazing time of eating way too much and enjoying time with sweet friends and their kiddos through all things summer – fireworks, water slides in the back yard, kick ball, even a little flag twirling to the sounds of LeAnn Rimes rendition of “God Bless America” and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA”. (Seriously, if you’re not following me on snap chat, you’re missing out!)

As we celebrated, the theme “freedom” came up a lot and that is my word for this new season in my life. I found myself reading recently in John 10 and I had this moment where I thought about this idea of abundant life that is promised in this passage of scripture and how that relates to the freedom we have in Christ.

I’m going to get real transparent with you here: I may be alone in this but after you’ve read a verse in the bible 100 times, do you ever find yourself kind of skimming over it and having a brief “Christiany” overview of it’s meaning? (This has convicted me to my core of how many more pieces of scripture I just skim over with a very general thought of it’s meaning while missing so much truth that God wants me to take to heart, yet I just pass it over!!) Well, sadly yet honestly that’s how John 10:10 has evolved for me over time: this verse pretty much gives us hope that basically, Jesus will give us a better life and we should follow Him instead of following the ways of the world. I’m getting this all wrong!!

I mean, it’s true in a sense – Having trust in God gives us a peace that is only by faith placed in Christ BUT… the way in which we experience a more abundant life as we see promised here in scripture is really through a change in perspective through faith in Christ and in his power by recognizing this life is not about us at all.

Story time: June 1, 2007, I was 20 years old and was dropped off at the airport by my mom and dad with two large pieces of luggage (with about 10 pairs of shoes, I’m sure!), a full backpack and, without a doubt, a Vera Bradley bag to spend two months in Scarborough, Maine along with 9 other college students working with churches in Southern Maine. We said our goodbyes, my mom with her huge coach bag hiding tears with her large sunglasses while my dad in his traditional garb of Wranglers, boots and a cowboy hat, did a excited shout and a legitimate heel click as he exited the airport in an attempt to embarrass me – it didn’t in the slightest.

We flew into Boston to meet other students spending their summers working with churches across all of New England. We had a couple of days of sight seeing, had orientation and then we were loaded up and headed north. We were in a large van making the couple hour trip to Scarborough {just south of Portland}. I recall sitting toward the back of the van as we crossed the state line and it was pouring down rain, perhaps even hailing, as we passed the big blue Maine state sign that reads, “Maine – The Way Life Should Be.” In that moment, through the rain and hail I felt a peace come over me and I thought to myself, “I’m going to love it here. My whole life is going to change here.” And I was absolutely right.

Marilyn was my supervisor. Picture a literal firecracker in a small, mid-50’s, 5’2” ish petite frame. She is still one of my favorite people on the planet! One day early that summer, I’m sure in a moment of pure selfishness on my part – the details are fuzzy but I can imagine I was requesting a stop at Dunkin Donuts for coffee – Marilyn looked at me right in the eyes, with her glasses sliding down her nose, “Casey, this is not about you!” Ouch, right? 🙂 I spent the next 8 weeks pondering those words and learning more and more ways that I make situations, and this life in general, all about me. Throughout that summer, I realized how God had used her words to teach me of my purpose in this life, in light of my summer in Maine – this summer is not about you, Casey. It’s about all that I {God} am going to do in drawing people to myself through the love I’m going to pour out of you onto these people. It’s not about you and your comfort or your preferences, you just happen to be the instrument I’ve chosen to use for this season in this place for this task.

Now 9 years later, I’m still repeating these 5 words to myself and it dawned on me recently that I don’t believe we, as a Christian community, have taken that same message to heart. When we think of a life more abundant we think of all of the blessings we will receive by following Jesus because without even realizing it, we think it is all about us when really it is and has always been about God’s glory shown through our faith to the world.

When we walk through valleys and are faced with hardships, it’s easy to ask “God, why is this happening to me?” or even, “God, what is it that you’re trying to teach me?” We slap a Christian cliché on our heavy burden backpack of how God will never give us more than we can handle when it was never a burden for us to carry on our own in the first place. {The grief of losing a loved one is not placed on you because you are strong enough to carry it, the pain of infertility is not placed on you because you are strong enough to bear it, I could go on and on. Insert struggle here.} The road to following Jesus was never promised to be an easy one but how much lighter of a load might it be if we realized that this life is not about us and our perspective was shifted in light of God’s ultimate control and sovereignty. What if instead we called out, “God, I know you’re in control and you are working all things for my good. This burden is heavy. Will you show me how my life can bring you glory in the midst of this trial?”

The problem with that ever popular tag line is that it puts us at the focus and how strong we must be or God wouldn’t have allowed “that” to happen – NO! God is not in the business of putting us on a pedestal for our strength! No, God is in the business of standing firm on the pedestal that HE rightly deserves because it’s when we deflect all attention from ourselves and cast it back on Him that He is Glorified and HIS Strength is made known around the world and people are drawn to HIM. That is His ultimate goal – for people around the world to come to faith in Christ and worship HIM as the one true God and until we, as a Christian community, realize that it is not about us we are not truly doing our job in fulfilling the Great Commission as directed in scripture. The Gospel of Jesus Christ was not meant to be placed on a shelf, it was meant to transform you daily and  for others to recognize God’s power through that transformation. But we can’t be fully transformed if we think this life is all about us.

It’s just not about us! Not one bit of it! We are simply instruments that God has chosen to use because let’s face it – He didn’t have to. This is the God who created the earth and the sky and everything around us. He does not need us at all but the abundant life that we’ve been promised comes from having faith in Christ, trusting in His control, rejoicing in our suffering and giving all honor and praise to Him and allowing Him to use our hardships and circumstances in spreading His fame around the world and seeing others come to that same faith in Jesus Christ. That is abundant life, my friends, and the sooner that we realize that it’s not about us and all that God is going to give us in our earthly life yet it’s all about trusting Him in this life because our ultimate destination is WITH Him in the after life, the sooner we will be able to bask in the freedom we have available through the grace of Jesus Christ.

I feel like I’ve unloaded a lot of information today but this message has been stirring in me and I feel it’s too important not to share. We walk around carrying heavy burdens, we carry shame and we carry fear and I’m here to tell you (from loads of experience) that we can not live freely as we’re called until we lay them down at the feet of Jesus and acknowledge His goodness and His sovereignty! As always, I would LOVE the opportunity to connect with you and encourage you no matter where you are along this road to growth in your faith journey. Feel free to comment below with your email address and I would be honored to walk beside you through prayer.

❤ C

Bailey likes my “window seat” too!

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