An understanding friend in God

“Yet as human friends who understood this pain (barrenness) diminished, I found an understanding friend in God, the kind of friend who made me want deeper friendship.  More reaching.   I wanted to be a friend to God.”- Sara Hagerty

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what His master is doing: but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”- John 15:15 (NKJV)

In Chapter 13 (“The Hidden Way: Becoming a Friend of God”), the concluding chapter of Unseen, Sara Hagerty emphasizes God wants to be our friend.   However, God wants a friendship consisting of more than sharing high-fives and occasional help.  God, Sara notes, wants to share hearts, stories, and inner lives.

Therefore, the nodding expressions and encouragements of others aren’t as significant as God’s heartbeat for us.  God shares that heartbeat with us when, through the Holy Spirit’s power, we turn our eyes upon Him.   Thus, God sees us when no one’s looking.  In response, we search Him.

Furthermore, Ms. Hagerty states, friendship with God means hearing.  When we listen for God’s heart and His soft whisper in His Word, we become God’s friend.

As a result, author Jon Bloom observes in Things Not Seen, Mary’s pouring out her perfume created a windfall, not a waste:

“A poured-out life of love for Jesus that counts worldly gain as loss displays how precious he really is.  It preaches to a bewildered, disdainful world that Christ is gain and the real waste is gaining the world’s perfume while losing one’s soul.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you find an understanding friend in God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: the Thanksgiving Short Meditation, “An inverted sense of measurement”

Lean into hiddenness with God

“The ones who lean into hiddenness begin to see that conversation with God has more to do with a growing connectedness to His heart and less to do with getting the answer we want.”- Sara Hagerty

Sara Hagerty concludes Chapter 12 of Unseen as she talks about what true growth in God requires.  Ms. Hagerty states:

“Yet true growth in God requires that our perspective of Him grow with us.  Progressively, prayer becomes less about relating to Him as we’re certain He must be and more about seeing His bigness in the light of how small and limited we are. . . . It’s in this growth that we gladly exchange familiarity with God for the unknown and its surprises.”

Wrinkles and gray hair reflect physical maturity.  And they occur without our own effort.  However, Sara underscores, our hearts won’t mature deep into God by default.  Therefore, we must desire more and more of God.

Hence, the author notes, prayer (conversation with God):

  • is how we sink our roots into what is real and everlasting
  • fights against the vaporlike quality of a life rooted solely in what others see
  • laces our hearts to the unseen, mysterious God
  • tethers us to the truest, never-changing reality – God’s

In conclusion, Sara voices her desire to prayer her way through God’s nature – not simply read about it in the Bible.  As a result, prayer positioned her to notice the wink of God:

“The wink of God.  It comes when we believe He is capable of reaching tenderly and knowingly into our story.  It comes when we believe He wants to intertwined His story with ours and tell our story back to us.  His way.”

Furthermore, God stays right there in the secret, hidden places with us.  It’s there where we grow, deep.

Today’s question: How do you lean into hiddenness with God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “An understanding friend in God”

The key that unlocks the deepest joy

“I started talking to God when I was hidden and hungry, and found the key that unlocks the deepest joy of any life: secret prayer.  Whispers with God.”- Sara Hagerty

Sara Hagerty begins Chapter 12 (“Holy Whispers: Embracing the Mysteries of God”) of Unseen as she states her faith hinges upon prayer.  Through the Holy Spirit, God’s Word becomes her dialogue with God.  Unless God directly informs the gospel, it fails to spread from our heart to our hands.

However, Ms. Hagerty concludes, anyone who wants to fall in love with God faces a great threat.  That greatest threat?- familiarity.    Thus, familiarity puts us at risk of missing Jesus or failing to see who He really is.  That’s because attach our thoughts to the safe things we think we already understand about Jesus.

Writing in Answering God (1989), Pastor Eugene Peterson states the following.  Left to our own devices, we’ll pray to some god who tells us what we want to hear.  Or, we’ll pray to a part of God we manage to understand.  Sara explains it this way:

“We allow ourselves to be lulled into a dull familiarity with the parts of Jesus we’ve experienced, the passages in His Word we’ve studied the most, the truths about Him we can explain and understand.  Then, we string all of these familiar things together and call them God. . . . instead of being alert for how the truth of how He really is will likely expand our human understanding, we end up watching for confirmation of what we already know.”

As a result, prayer becomes stale.  But God walks us back to prayer’s simple accessibility.  With prayer as the hinge of our relationship with Him, He invites us to pray like wide-eyed children.

Today’s question: What prayers unlock the deepest joy in you?  Please share.

Coming Monday: the latest Short Meditation, “An inverted sense of measurement”

Tomorrow’s blog: “Lean into hiddenness with God”

When our wounds meet the Healer

“When our wounds meet the Healer, we begin to live from new places of restoration instead of just working to avoid these old aches.”- Sara Hagerty

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners.”- Isaiah 61:1 (NIV)

In Chapter 11 (“God Is For Us: Healing in the Hiding”) of Unseen, Sara Hagerty stresses we must remember and acknowledge our pain.  For that pain creates space and emptiness as well as looks to God for healing.

Most noteworthy, Ms. Hagerty expresses surprise that, when she lifts all her hurts, big and small, to God, God shows up to heal everything.  Thus, even our little aches or obstinate quirks we accept about ourselves are places God can heal.  In addition, God brings His fresh perspective.  But, we need to acknowledge old wounds before God speaks a healing word over them.

Therefore, we must trust God more than we believe our fears.  We start as we see ourselves in need of healing.  So, as Sara explains, God hides us:

“He takes us into a place where the opinions of others fail us.  Where we can’t see through our fears.  That’s where He speaks to us.  And the longing that comes from being hidden makes us more aware of our brokenness, more receptive to His healing, than we’d ever be in the light of the world’s applause.

In conclusion, Ms. Hagerty emphasizes, our broken pieces feel lighter when we see God as healer.  We desire more of the nearness we feel when we break before Him.  Sara comments on our broken parts:

“When we acknowledge the parts of us that are broken we have significant growth spurts in God. . . . The long-broken parts of me don’t disqualify me from His love.  Instead, the catch His eye.  He heals us – from the inside out.”

Today’s question: How do you live from new places of restoration as your wounds meet the Healer?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The key that unlocks the deepest joy”

Press into these thirsty moments

“God calls us to resist succumbing to readily available distractions and instead to press into these thirsty moments, our weakest seasons.  Thirst is our ally.  We want to be thirsty for God.”- Sara Hagerty

“For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground.”- Isaiah 44:3 (NIV)

Sara Hagerty concludes Chapter 10 of Unseen as she observes this conundrum.  Although we drink the water Jesus gives us and never thirst, we still feel parched for Him.  And before our completeness in heaven and the end of lack, we rest in our thirst, our longing for God.  Ms. Hagerty explains:

“When our thirst for more of God deepens our awareness of how much we need Him, our capacity for Him grows.  We not only see Him as the spring of water, but we develop a continued and ever-growing thirst for that water.  Our thirst is how God allures us.  The thirsty don’t just find God, they thrive in God.  They drink with deep satisfaction.”

Therefore, we want to have a tender brush with God.  For God didn’t just come to reset the bones of our brokenness.  He came to make our broken hearts sing.  However, in order for this to happen, we must feel the hurt, feel the longing for something more.  Thus, we miss the infilling of God if we constantly try to avoid how spiritually parched we feel.

Most of all, in whatever desert we inhabit, Jesus promises to speak tenderly,  Sara concludes:

“What feels like a wilderness, a desert — the hidden seasons and the hidden places throughout the day that expose now dry we are on the inside — cannot thwart the maker of rain.  These are the times our roots forge deeper through the earth to find the water source.  It’s the only way to survive drought.”

Today’s question: What Bible verses help you press into these thirsty moments?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “When our wounds meet the Healer”

Desperate thirst – an indicator of present and coming growth

“What if this desperate thirst is the scene the psalmist (Psalm 42:1) had in mind?  A soul full of such longing for God that nothing else matters.  And a thirst that is actually a good thing, an indicator of present and coming growth?”- Sara Hagerty

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water.”- Psalm 143:6 (NIV)

As Sara Hagerty continues Chapter 10 of Unseen, she notes that places where God seems absent provide the places for the most personal growth.  Thus, the longer we stay in our weakness and need, tolerating our thirst, the more we’ll find of God.

Furthermore, we must allow for thirst.  As a result, we’ll hear God when, Sara observes, we slow down to evaluate, not just imbibe, our thoughts and fears.  Hence, we lean into our weaknesses rather than slaking our thirst with temporary fixes.  Distractions present a danger because they try to woo our attention away from the uncomfortable void within our souls.

Therefore, Ms. Hagerty stresses, in desperate situations you need the freedom to say, “I’m empty.  It’s okay to be empty and stay empty for a little while.”  In other words, you allow yourself to feel the dryness of your thirst without attempting to self-correct the situation.

In going through this process, Sara:

  • realized her thirst increased her reach for God and surfaced an eagerness in her
  • read His Word
  • prayed with greater expectation
  • waited with eyes open
  • noticed God in places she hadn’t seen Him before and in ways she hadn’t allowed Him to come to her before

Today’s question: What Bible verses slake your desperate thirst?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Press into these thirsty moments”

Allow weakness to become thirst for more of God

“The degree to which I allow weakness to become thirst for more of God, and the degree to which I allow myself to lean into that thirst rather than run from it, is the degree to which I am becoming my best self.”- Sara Hagerty

“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.”- Psalm 42:1 (NIV)

In Chapter 10 (“Thirsty Seasons:  Learning to Long for God’s Presence”) of Unseen, Sara Hagerty asserts we benefit when we start to lean into, not run from, our weaknesses.  When we unravel our hearts at the feet of Jesus, we being to realize the brokenhearted aren’t those we pity from our comfort zone.  We are the brokenhearted!

Furthermore, Sara notes, it’s not present adversity that ruins us.  Our ruination occurred long before.  However, adversity shows us the true extent of our weakness.  And when we clearly see our ruined state, we see how much we need God.

As a result, what others call our end or ruin potentially brings us closer to God than any one of our strongest days.  Yet, Ms. Hagerty adds, we’ll do anything to feel strong again.  Even if that strength is but a mere shadow of God’s strength.  Thus, we find what we’ve been thirsting for when we die to our created illusion of strength.  For God created us to:

  • want more of Him
  • thirst for Him
  • need Him – even when we only desire to need ourselves

Today’s question: How do you allow weakness to become thirst for more of God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Desperate thirst – an indicator of present and coming growth”

A road to conversation with God

“My emotions — the ones that a full schedule and an outwardly productive life can prevent me from feeling — are a road to conversation with God.  The hidden places of my heart get exposed and He responds.”- Sara Hagerty

Sara Hagerty concludes Chapter 9 of Unseen as she notes that the hidden places help us realize the Word of God wields a powerful weapon.  It reaches into our inner thoughts and intentions.  Therefore, Sara wryly observes, God’s Word functions as more than aa cross-stitched wall hanging or as generally helpful advice.

Thus, Ms. Hagerty offers a battle plan for dealing with accusing voices:

  1. jot down the self-defeating thoughts you entertain – and often agree with
  2. repeat for the times you’ve agreed with those thoughts not in alignment with God’s Word
  3. even though your fears speak otherwise, lean into God’s power to work in you

Author and pastor Timothy Keller, writing in The Songs of Jesus (2015), notes the psalms’ versatility to meet our needs:

“We are not simply to read the Psalms; we are to be immersed in them so they profoundly shape how we relate to God . . .[They] are the divinely ordained way to learn devotion to our God.”  In addition, Pastor Keller adds that we must pray, recite, and sing the psalms.  Consequently, we need to actively use them, not merely read them.

In conclusion, Sara reminds us that no void exists in God.  As a result, we lean into God, asking Him to speak into the void of our hiddenness.  For the Word of God pierces through to our souls, Sara underscores.  Even the parts of us we’ve hidden from ourselves.

Today’s question: What Bible verses, hymns, or Christian songs pave the road for conversation with God?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “Allow weakness to become thirst for more of God”

The white space of the day

“The white space of the day is God’s gift to us.  Discovering the white space of our minds on which He can write is what we’re invited to find, there.”- Sara Hagerty

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against . . . the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”- Ephesians 6:12 (NIV)

Sara Hagerty continues Chapter 9 of Unseen as she observes the external, as well as internal, nature of accusations and criticisms.  When our inner voices accuse and criticize, we can’t simply acknowledge that influence and move on.  Therefore, we need to challenge it.  We must put up a fight.

Since your mind easily fills with all sorts of things that keep you from hearing god, every single thought matters.  Thoughts refusing to bow down to God give permission to another god.  In addition, Ms. Hagerty notes, a barreling life leaves little room for:

  • evaluating your unfettered thoughts
  • letting God’s rest and His peace seep in
  • allowing His truth to invade the cacophony in your mind

Thus, our racing minds leave no space to consider which of our thoughts align with God’s Word.  Consequently, we allow noise to take charge of certain parts of us.  Often, we scarcely notice.

As a result, we need to treasure the white space in our day.  Sara explains:

“The white space of the day is God’s gift to us,  Discovering the white space of our minds on which He can write is what we’re invited to find, there. . . . It’s one thing to get rid of the noise.  It’s another thing to know how to invite Him into the white space.”

Today’s question: What Scriptures help you, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to invite God into the white space of your mind?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “A road to conversation with God”

Our best efforts at Christian living

“We read these words (Matthew 5:11-12)  and yet too often still experience surprise when our best efforts at Christian living result in something other than Christian applauding.”- Sara Hagerty

“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for my sake.  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven . . . “- Matthew 5:11-12 (NKJV)

As Sara Hagerty continues Chapter 9 of Unseen, she underscores our need to reframe our view of, and response to, mistreatment.  Consequently, mistreatment takes on new significance when we see it as a form of hiding in God.

However, we’re often surprised when people fail to see and celebrate our ministry efforts.  Thus, Ms. Hagerty explains the need for a proper perspective:

“We want our work to be known and our impact to be memorialized.  And it will be, but by God alone.  No human can give us the accolades that will satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts.  We search vainly from others for the acclaim that only God can give.”

Therefore, Sara ponders what Mary thought others might say when she undid her hair and wasted her inheritance at Jesus’ feet.  Perhaps Mary:

  • needed to overcome her days of fear
  • so focused on adoring Jesus she never considered what other voices might say
  • found thoughts of doubt her biggest enemy
  • experienced an impulsive rush of devotion totally over shadowing the thought of onlooker’s opinions

The harsh comments of the onlookers emerged from the weakest parts of themselves.  And their words lodged in the weakest parts of Mary.  But, Mary nurtured the habit of valuing Jesus’ voice most.  She’d come for Him alone.

Today’s question: How have you sought Christian applauding in response to your best efforts at Christian living?  Please share.

tomorrow’s blog: “The white space of the day”