Day 18. Wow. We’re really here.
And my editing deadline is almost here. So, per my new routine, I’m up early with my coffee and baby monitor. Ansley just woke up like she sometimes does around 5. We have a microphone function on our monitor where Brian or I can speak to her on. So on these early mornings, we’ll say things like “Hi Ansley, Mommy and Daddy are in our room. It’s still night-night time, can you lay back down and go night-night? It’s okay to go back to bed. We love you.” No joke, 90% of the time—that works. She just needs to hear from us, and to know that everything is okay.
Don’t we sometimes just need an affirming word from our Father? Don’t we wake up in the middle of the night sometimes wondering about things, wanting a song in our ear or a kiss on the head?
Like Ansley, we must trust the words and voice of God in the dark of night. When a loving parent says ‘it’s not time yet,’ we must trust that out of love, Father God needs us to patiently lay it back down, and obey.
The good news is that we have the good news! We have the ultimate resource, and the most powerful love story of all times, in the Bible. The Bible contains many love stories, but the over-arching story is God’s love for His people. Upon salvation—we are his people. We are daughters of Sarah and sisters in Christ to Rahab, Naomi and Ruth. He has sought us out, sent his son to die a gruesome death as a part of that love and pursuit of us. Upon salvation, however long ago it was or however young you were at the time, our hearts are claimed, and we can be changed.
Authors Timothy Lane and Paul Tripp write “We do not have to give in to sin. We can live in new ways amid the same old situations… Our hearts, once under the domination of sin, now are the dwelling place of Christ, the ultimate source of righteousness, wisdom, grace, power and love. Our hearts can respond to life in brand new ways because we are no longer dominated by sin, but we are liberated by the gracious rule of Christ.”
Pure metals are only made more precious in the setting of intense heat. There are a few different ways to purify gold—but they all embrace the need of high temperatures in order to separate out the impurities from the precious metal. Much like our ‘burn window’ the elements of gold purification must be set in place to produce a metal meant to be worth something.
Ladies, we are meant to be worth something. We were worth the cross, are we not also worth refining?
I want to count my blessings instead of scars, and my hopes instead of heartaches. 1 Peter 5:10 says this, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” God himself. God himself will restore you, because God himself cares. When we can hold on to this promise with every fiber of our being—we can become weightless. We can relinquish the hurt and disappointment, and know that God himself has not forgotten us, and that He will personally restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish us.
A Wild and Free Woman, as described by Jess Connely and Haley Morgan is: “A woman who is free is unchained from her past and unafraid of her future, and because of this she can laugh at the days to come. She’s got an assured confidence; she doesn’t let her circumstances shake her; she loves people but doesn’t live to please them. She is content with what she has, never striving to conjure up something more.” When we are living out the weightlessness of prayerful petitions instead of packages, we are open to move freely. We are open to receive the gifts that Christ has for us.
We’ve acknowledged our packages, addressed our triggers, offered up our packages as prayerful petitions. Now, light it on fire. Walk forward in faith, and declare freedom from it in God’s name.
Once the burn is over, the image I see is not endless black soot, but a clean space, ready to be re-made. Only God can do that.
On day two of our study, I mentioned different locations we often ‘store’ our packages: the fireplace mantel, hall closet, and attic. Do you remember where you thought you were keeping yours?
What I want you to think about now is the empty space you’ve acquired.
Nikki Koriarz says this about fire: “When life and dreams feel like they are set on fire, they may be. But there’s still something there for us when the fire cools down.”
New memories, new friendships, new seasons and experiences will emerge, all in due time, ‘when the fire cools down.’ Because fire brings light, controlled burns help us see things for what they really are. Friendships, goals, positions of leadership and recognition—once they are put to the test of controlled fire, the fake will burn away, and we will be left looking at the bare bones of who or what we really are.
I want to share one more personal anecdote with you before we close. It’s been a very sweet, sentimental surprise that God has given me the most precious gift for my birthday this year.
A long time ago, like a looooong time ago—I had this dream I’d write a book before 30. Probably not that uncommon for anyone who likes to write—but it was a fun idea. I can tell you that it was certainly a part of the ‘escapism/I need to prove myself to be more than what I’ve been labeled’ list. Well, I absolutely lost the idea of this dream coming true among the early years of “Whoa, this is adulting?? It’s SO hard.”
The invitation to write a Bible study dropped in my lap about 4 months ago. And, well, here we are. Whether or not Unopened ever gets published, or read, commented on or shared—by my 30th birthday on November 26th, I will have written my first book. A Bible study.
Only God could have done this for me. Only God. It is the dearest gift, that He has given back to me, to unwrap on my 30th birthday. He has used it as a tool to push me, teach me, and love on me. We can be sure it looks very different from the way I imagined it at 14, 17, and 21. But right now, I can’t imagine it any other way, or any more meaningful.
What was a schoolgirl package, pushed far back into the attic, has been presented to me in God’s perfect packaging, and in God’s perfect timing.
Priscilla Shirer wrote about peace in her study, The Armor of God. In it, she says this: “Shalom… Hebrew for Peace… does not refer to the absence of chaos, but rather to an overall, deeply entrenched sense of harmony, health, and wholeness in the midst of chaos. In fact, the peace is best detected and measured against the backdrop of commotion and confusion—when instability abounds, yet you remain steadfast, when disappointment and confusion are near, yet you’re still capable of walking with Spirit-infused confidence, stability, and steadiness.”
I think that’s what burned packages are to me: peace. Peace when it doesn’t make sense. Peace when the world tells you to be resentful and angry. Peace when you may still be grieving, but the grief doesn’t own you. Peace like that explained in Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God’s peace shapes our responses, words, tone, and the trajectory of our life.
Sarah, Rahab, Naomi and Ruth had lives that were set to turn out one way—but absolutely did not turn out like what they might’ve planned. But aren’t we glad they didn’t? Because we might not know of them had their lives gone according to plan. Our four women’s topsy turvy lives created trajectory shifts that lead to spiritual legacies beyond anything they could have ever imagined.
I’m sure we can all easily think up a list of the people in our life we’d like to leave a spiritual legacy for. We want to leave this earth knowing that we’ve set an example, not of perfection, but of humble, loyal, bold love for Christ. It’s important that our loved ones can know that we did hard, holy things in the name of Jesus Christ. Burning unopened packages in the name of healing, self-care, and service to God is a hard and holy thing. In our own process, we are creating a legacy of love and healthy self-control.
As a final, ‘please do this for me because I love you’ request, I want you to carve out some time today, or maybe tomorrow—but as soon as possible, I want you to write a letter.
Address it to yourself. Maybe write it to the 17-year-old who wanted to travel to all seven continents before 40, or the 23-year-old who thought playing house with her dream guy could never feel imperfect and shaken. Write to the lonely 14-year-old who didn’t have anyone to go to the dance with.
Find that version of yourself where you can now look back and see packages beginning to get wrapped.
Write to her.
Tell her what you’ve learned. Tell her that she won’t ever be forgotten by her Father in Heaven. Tell her It was God working in Joshua to send the spies directly to Rahab, saving her from death and destruction. It was God who sent plagues to the Pharaoh and a dream to King Abimelech, rescuing Sarah. It was God who brought Naomi and Ruth together, to help each other survive. It was God, working through Naomi that brought Boaz and Ruth together, and it was God working through Boaz, to create a beautiful union.
Tell her that it will be God that gets us to the other side of whatever hurt comes along.
Tell her what you needed to hear all those years ago.
Will you do that for me? For yourself? I just know that if we can ‘go there’ emotionally, make the time, get quiet for even 10 more minutes—I believe God will meet us there.
The very last thing I will ask of you is simple, but very symbolic. I want you to put the letter in the place where you’ve been keeping your list of unopened packages. Next, I want you to light your lists of unopened packages and triggers on fire. You’ve been holding onto it for nearly six weeks, and holding onto your packages and triggers for much longer than that.
Burn the lists, give them up to the Lord, and move forward in the life that God has called only you to live.
Get humble. Stay loyal. Be bold.
Thank you so much for coming along. I’m so grateful for you. Whether we see each other dropping kids off at school, in the church hallways, or across Ross Clark Circle on the way to work, we’ll know each other by our authenticity, and weightless freedom in Christ. We’ll be ‘holy rebels’ on the loose, sharing the light of Christ without embarrassment or fear of rejection from a culture that so desperately needs to hear the truth.
And if we never meet on earth, let’s make sure we set coffee dates with Sarah, Rahab, Naomi and Ruth.
God Bless you.
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