RelateHER

RelateHER: Soul Cleaning

Written By: Marieke Jacobi

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The other day I voluntarily cleaned someone else’s refrigerator. Yes, it was someone that I like and I was truly happy to help her clean before her move to a new home. The interesting thing was that as I cleaned, I became wrapped up in the imagery of Jesus’ love for us.  As I scrubbed, I stopped to pray over this home, the new neighbours who would be moving in soon and the family who was moving out. It was both a satisfying and inspiring experience. How often can you say that about cleaning?

When I opened the fridge, it didn’t look too bad; some crumbs, some small caked-on spills and a few leaves from forgotten vegetables. Removing all of the contents, throwing out anything that had been neglected or gone bad over time, I started to clean.  As I did, I noticed more spaces that needed cleaning; the back walls, edges, hard-to-reach corners and underneath the glass shelves. Some of the drawers of the fridge and the attached freezer could be taken out and the filth removed under the pressure of the sink or the bathtub.  Some of it was very stuck and required extra force to remove. It took about 2 hours and a whole lot of elbow grease to make this fridge sparkle and shine. It’s amazing what a difference a good scrub made!

Isn’t this just like us? Slowly sin creeps in to the edges and corners of our lives, and when we take a look inside nothing seems out of sorts. No need to clean up, right? Just close the door again. But if we open up the door of our souls and let him, God does a good spring clean.

What happens when I hold that door open and dig deep? Remove all distractions, throw out the rotten influences and take a look at the empty, dirty shelves? Are they ready for new and healthy habits like mercy, humility, justice, compassion and grace? Not really.

Jesus scolds the Pharisees in Matt. 23: 25,26 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside you are full of greed and self-indulgence. Blind Pharisee! First, clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.”

So, what does spiritual elbow grease look like? Cleaning out my spiritual cup, my heart, my soul, my eyes, my mind and my body requires a deep trust in the Holy Spirit. His cleansing fire will burn out the impurities and leave me clean, ready for a renewed spirit. I know I could definitely use that good spring clean to remove my rotten pride, my wilting faith, my past-due doubt and my moldy selfish heart. He’ll trash my pride and humble me. Scrub my faith and make it new, replacing my doubt. Polish my heart to make it shine for Him ridding it of the stains of unforgiveness and jealousy.  “[She] who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up her soul to an idol…will receive blessing from the Lord.” Ps.24:4,5

“Oh [woman], put your hope in God alone for with the Lord is unfailing love and in Him is full redemption. He himself will redeem [you] from all [your] sins.” Ps. 130:7,8. The Lord lovingly redeems us every day, if we let him.

A good soul cleaning is painful and unpleasant but necessary. It requires humility, repentance, accountability and sacrifice but He promises that it will be good. “He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:27, 28

And so, like the dirty fridge let’s trust God as the fire and water of the Holy Spirit restores us and renews us.


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RelateHER: "Yet Not As I Will..."

Written By: Shauna Cowden

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Have you ever struggled between praying for the things you want, and praying for God’s will?

We all know the verse that says “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (psalm 37:4). This verse isn’t telling us that if we delight in God he will give us all we want. Rather it speaks of delighting ourselves in the Lord and He will birth new desires in our hearts that line up with His will.

This sounds beautiful, but how do we know when we get there?

How do we know if our heart desires are God-given or just selfish?

And more importantly, how do we pray through this?

In Matthew 26:36-46, before Jesus was arrested and handed over to be crucified, there was Gethsemane. Jesus brought the disciples to this place and before he went away to pray, he turned to Peter and said “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death”. Jesus knew what was coming and he was beginning to feel the weight of what was before him. Jesus knew he had a divine mission to accomplish, he knew the will of the Father, but he was also struggling with his human desire to live.

As he went away, he fell to the ground and began to pray “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet, not as I will, but as you will.” There is so much we can learn from how Jesus prayed in these moment that we can implement in our own prayer lives.

1. JESUS WAS HONEST

Jesus was honest with God about how he was feeling and what he wanted, even if that desire was a selfish desire (“If it is possible, may this cup be taken from me”). Everything Jesus was feeling within him, he placed before the throne of God.

When we pray, we must be honest. We can bring our hurt, pain, and selfishness to Jesus. We must be willing to ask him for help and to do so, we need to get comfortable speaking openly and honestly with Him. We know that God can heal us, provide for us, rescue us, and therefore if we are willing to be honest, we are inviting him in to intervene on our behalf.

2. JESUS WENT BACK TO PRAY THREE TIMES

In Gethsemane, Jesus would leave the disciples to pray alone on three separate occasions. Knowing what was before him, he did not give up on his mission, but rather was splitting time between his followers and being alone with God.

Jesus teaches us that we must get in the habit of continual prayer. There may be prayers that God answers immediately, but then there are things that you need to have a continual conversation with God about.

3. JESUS TRUSTED HIS FATHER

The most beautiful part of Jesus' prayer was "Yet, not as I will, but as you will." Jesus did not just ask God to remove this cup of suffering from him, he restated his trust in his Father at the end of each prayer. Jesus did not discount his own wants and needs, he made sure to honestly voice them, but he ended his prayers with the very foundation of our faith, trusting in the One who has the bigger plan in the palm of his hands.

We can be honest, we can pray continually, but at the end of it all, we must be willing to let God be God. There is a chance that God is not delivering the very thing you are praying for because He has a better plan in mind. Can you imagine if God “took the cup of suffering” from Jesus as he was asking?

We wouldn’t’ have the cross.

What are some circumstances, desires, or dreams you need to be honest with God about in your life?

What are some things you need to be in continual conversation with God about?

What are you praying or hoping in God for?

Do you trust Him regardless of the outcome?

I pray together we are able to get into the posture of honest, continued prayer that says to God “yet, not as I will, but as you will.”

- Shauna


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RelateHER: Slapping Rejection

Written By: Shelly Calcagno

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Rejection has been following me around all my life. Waiting and watching for that chance to take me out. It knows my weak places; it knows where I am insecure and what makes my heart hurt. I'm conscious of its attempts on my life and if I'm not careful, it goes after who I am.

Stealth Attacker.
Trying to paralyze me with lies.

You're not good enough.
Your dreams are ridiculous.
You are unlovable.
You have no value.

Rejection can become the seed in your heart that starts small but soon has you so tangled in a mess of prickly weeds that you can't move forward. Those weeds trying to take root? You gotta yank those babies out. Weeds cut out the good things that try to grow, strangling the beauty until you can't see it anymore.

Almost every week, I come face to face with some type of rejection. Don't we all? It comes in varying sizes and shapes, different circumstances and situations.

But, I am done with it. I've concluded; I've made a decision. I'm being proactive.

When rejection slaps me in the face, I'm going to slap it back. 
When the seeds try to grow, I won't let them take root. 

When I'm told that my writing isn't good enough, I'm going to submit even more.
When I feel on the outside looking in, I'm going to love instead of resent.
When I feel uninvited, I'm going to reach out.
I won't let my heart get tangled in the weeds.

A tangled heart can't beat.

It gets suffocated with self-doubt that tries to take out all its light.

No more.
I'm over it.

I belong to my Beloved.
He is mine.
He has a banner over me that is love.

Not a little flag, or a small sign that whispers quietly.

A BANNER.
Of LOVE. 

It shouts and sways and declares over my life.

Greater than any seed of rejection trying to take root. 

When you feel rejected, look to the places where you are most accepted. Those are your havens. When you doubt who you have been created to be, know there is a plan and purpose for your life that is greater than any hurt down deep. When you heart is broken and crushed into a million little pieces, have hope. Don't let any weed seeds grow, no matter how hard as they try to take root.

Make a choice
Yank them out.
You'll get through the prickles.
Work through the pangs.

Look up to your banner.
Waving over you.
Shouting.
It's love.


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