Do you know what I just love? I love authenticity. I love it when what you see is exactly what you get. I'm not a fan of false pretenses or underlying meaning. I don't really like fake. I like to be able to take things at face value and trust that something or someone is who they claim to be. I kind of just like people to be real.
Because of this love for all things genuine, I just adore Jen Hatmaker right now. To be honest, I wasn't really familiar with her until last week when a friend mentioned that they were reading her new book and loved it. The friend quoted some of her work on a Facebook post, and I was immediately hooked. I could tell that she was the real deal!
I bought her book, For The Love, and I just LOVE it. Jen is hilarious! I actually woke up my son the other night because I was reading her book in the living room and was just laughing so hard. Not only is she just really funny, she has a way of boldly and unashamedly getting to the heart of a matter. Her manner is bold and brave but she is also very transparent and therefore very vulnerable. She is a straight shooter and I very much appreciate that!
I think I love that quality so much because God is such a straight shooter in His word. He pretty much just tells it like it is. He gives us some clear direction and clear commands in His word. There are things that He leaves mysterious because we cannot understand His ways, but when it is time to lay out expectations, He takes most of the guesswork out.
Not only is He clear, He is repetitive. He knows that we need to hear things over and over for them to really sink in. I've been reading through the Psalms over the last week and God keeps hammering in one clear message to me. He used Jen Hatmaker's book to reinforce that message. Like I said, he like repetition. He's good like that. He likes to give us the old one-two to really be sure we are getting what He has for us.
He repeatedly showed me this week that He wants to use US to deliver HIS message to OTHERS. He calls US to sing His praise, to declare His goodness, to speak of His might, and tell of His works. He calls US to think on Him and share our thoughts with our children and our families and our communities so that we can make Him known.
He calls US to extol Him. I had to look that word up. It appears in the book of Psalms a ton and I wasn't really sure what it meant. It means to lift something up and praise it highly. All throughout the Psalms, we are called to praise and extol Him.
I don't think that God is calling us to a passive thing. I believe He is calling us to take bold action. He is calling us to stand for Him and tell the truth of what He has done for us. He wants us to use our story to show Him to others. He has given us each a specific story to share. We get to be the connection for people! Wow! That's just plain crazy! We have the privilege to introduce others to Him by sharing what He's done for us.
Psalm 145: 4-7, 10-12 "One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They tell of the power of your awesome works—and I will proclaim your great deeds. They celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. All your works praise you, Lord; your faithful people extol you. They tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, so that all people may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom."
That's kind of a big deal. And it's not a responsibility that we should take too lightly. It is a privilege and an honor. Can I be honest? It's also a little intimidating. If I'm going to introduce people to Jesus, then I want the introduction to be a good one. I want to share my story in a way that compels people. I want to show other's how much Jesus has done for me. I want to share His goodness, love, mercy, and grace. I want others to be drawn to His saving power like I was. But, that requires a lot of bravery and a lot of courage. It requires me to be authentic and real and vulnerable.
I can't really tell you of His grace and mercy without telling you what He's done for me. I can't show you how He unconditionally loves me if I'm unwilling to show you how often I've failed Him and how often He extends love to me in the midst of that. I can't really show you the power of His redemption unless you see how far He has brought me. And I can't really show His strength until I show you my utter dependence on Him.
To follow that call to praise Him and extol Him and declare His works, we must be uncommonly brave and bold. We have to be willing to share. And it's scary because being vulnerable is hard. It's hard to just put ourselves out there for the world to see because the world can sometimes be a harsh and judgmental place. But there is also a lot of love and grace and mercy there. And there is freedom in the sharing because our boldness not only gives glory to God, it breaks down our own walls and it gives courage to others.
My favorite quote from Jen Hatmaker's book addresses this specific thing. She talks about telling our truth to the world regardless of our hesitations. She says, "Just tell the truth because it sets us free. This first domino unleashes a chain reaction of liberation. If we tell the truth in the small things, our honesty is well-practiced when stuff gets dire. This creates a sincere community for which the earth is starving. In a world full of the fake, artificial, pretend, and superficial, we have the sustenance to nourish starving hearts. I promise to be gentle with your truth-telling, and you've already demonstrated tenderness with mine. And as we witness this beautiful community, we aren't just observing vulnerability but rather chains breaking, darkness receding, victory rising. We are watching the light win truth by truth, and when enough bright places are created, the dark has no where else to hide. Show up. Be seen. Tell the truth. Be free."
I seriously love that! What a bold deceleration of our responsibility to share our story and to be the ones pointing others to Jesus! This morning I prayed for a renewed boldness and strength to stand for Him. I prayed that He would give me the courage to be authentic and to share. I'm praying that for you too. I'm praying that we all will take Jen's challenge To Show Up. To Be Seen. To Tell The Truth. And To Be Free. After all, I think God calls us to the same thing. Let's Extol Him. Praise Him. And Declare His Greatness.
Love and blessings,