I have a tendency to run ahead of God. I’ll sense a call to action and a surge of His Spirit within, then race ahead, without divine clarity on the how. Do you ever do that? Do you ever assume that first nudge is all you need, only to discover, once you’ve landed in a mess of your own making, that you were missing a few crucial pieces? Details and insight God would’ve provided, had you had the patience, humility, and self-control to wait?

One Sunday, I came to church super frustrated regarding a particularly confusing and exhausting situation. I’d given of myself sacrificially and persistently, for months, only to encounter ugliness in return. Though I knew, intellectually, the treatment I received had little to do with me, it still stung, and in my hurt, I wanted to retreat. To self-protect and give up. To be done with that particular “assignment” and invest my time, energy, and heart elsewhere. 

But then, in the middle of church service, God spoke life and encouragement into my weary and bruised soul and helped me see things more clearly. Through the story of a life changed, He reminded me of the power and persistence of His love and grace. 

He reminded me of the cross. 

As soon as service concluded, I rushed out–and rushed ahead. The result? I fell out of step with God. And I was reminded that it’s not enough to start well, or even to leap forward on the best intentions. If I truly want to honor Christ, to live as His life-giving ambassador, I must allow Him to direct my every step. 

Woman gazing ahead.

That requires patience, a fierce commitment to surrender, and remaining alert to the unceasing battle within. I know I’m not alone in my relentless fight against myself. In this inner tug-of-war that has me pinging between love and compassion and grace one moment and pride and selfishness the next. Because, apart from Christ, nothing good dwells within me.  (Romans 7:18).

Not a drop or a moment. 

My only hope? To remain vitally connected and surrendered to Christ. This means I’ll have to learn to slow down. To do more listening than speaking, more praying than running.

And a whole lot more seeking and receiving than doing. 

In Galatians 5, the apostle Paul phrased it this way: “But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (v. 16, NIV). 

I’m reminded of a battle the Israelites faced in Exodus 17. Scripture tells us the Amelekites launched a surprise attack on the nation. In response, Moses sent Joshua and some of their men out to fight while he stood on top of a hill with the “staff of God” in his hands. According to verse 11, “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amelekites were winning” (v. 11, NIV). Not because his staff held any supernatural power. Rather, through Moses’s raised hands, God was teaching the Israelites an important lesson, one you and I must master as well. Victory comes through our continual, moment by moment, reliance on God. 

The moment we think we’ve got everything figured out, the moment we take our eyes off Him, in essence, lowering our staffs, we fail. We experience victory through our surrender–when we raise our arms and keep them raised, so to speak, toward heaven. 

When is it most challenging for you to remain surrendered to the Holy Spirit? What are some ways ways you can remain more consistently surrendered to Him during those challenging circumstances? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, and connect with Jennifer on Facebook and Instagram.

The Courage to Love Those Who Are Hard to Love (Pt 1) – Ep. 81 Faith Over Fear

Loving like Jesus commands is challenging, in the best situations. Trying to love those who are a bit rougher around the edges, who respond with defensiveness, or perhaps even reject our attempts can become frustrating and even painful. Often, such experiences trigger our fears and insecurities. What if their ugly behavior triggers ugliness within us? In this episode, which is part one of a two-part conversation, Matt Maciera, the Executive Director of Be Bold Street Ministries, shares how God has given Him the courage, wisdom, and grace to reach out to those enslaved to darkness. Find Matt’s Ministry: https://www.beboldstreetministries.org https://www.facebook.com/BeBoldStreetMinistry https://www.instagram.com/beboldstreetministry/ Find Jennifer: https://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com https://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte https://www.instagram.com/slatteryjennifer/ Find Wholly Loved, at: https://www.WhollyLoved.com Join the private Faith Over Fear Group Here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/442736966614671 Sign up to receive her 30-Day Fighting Fear emails here: https://bit.ly/3l1eAYs Group Discussion Questions: 1. What resonated with you most in today’s episode? 2. Consider someone in your circle whom you find hard to love. What about them or their behavior do you find most challenging? 3. In what ways does that individual trigger feelings of insecurity? 4. How much of your difficulty, in regard to loving the person referenced in question two stems from your own fears and insecurities? 5. Why is prayer so important in our effort to live and love like Jesus? 6. Why is it important to recognize our propensity to misread situations when we are engaging those who are hard to love? 7. What role does prayer play in your interactions with the person referenced in question 2? 8. How might viewing your interactions as a personal learning experience help decrease your anxiety and increase your courage in relation to loving those who are hard to love? 9. Who is one person God wants you to reach out to this week? 10. What is one specific way you can show God’s love to the individual referenced in question 9? Episode Image Credit: Getty/Tetiana Lazunova
  1. The Courage to Love Those Who Are Hard to Love (Pt 1) – Ep. 81
  2. The Love That Casts Out Fear – Ep. 80
  3. Anchored in Christ When the Storms of Life Hit – Ep. 79
  4. The Courage to Grieve – Ep. 78
  5. Fighting Fear with God’s Promises – Ep. 77