Rejection Is Protection

     I opened the letter with trembling hands, at once recognizing the illustrious university logo on the front of the envelope. I had applied to their graduate program two months ago and had been reassured that all of my paperwork was in order. Why would they send me another letter? Perhaps to once again pacify my mind that they had indeed received every piece of my application? Were they inviting me to another on-campus event?

     I unfolded the letter -- to find it suprisingly short. Reading it through, I understood why.

     I had been rejected to their Master of Fine Arts program.

     After reading their brief "thanks but no thanks" note in regards to my qualification to their establishment, I should have cried. I should have torn the letter in pieces or pounded the table with my fist. Any person would have just claim to do so. After all, in certain terms, I was a reject! But what did I do?

     I skipped through the house giggling and began to cry tears of joy!

     Okay, so it helped that I had just come home from church and was on a Holy Spirit high; thank God for that! But why such an unusual reaction to a seemingly upsetting piece of news ? Because I knew that I was that much closer to discovering God's great plan for my future! He had closed this door -- He had helped narrow down my options for me. And I know, eventually, He isn't just gonna open a window -- He is going to lower the drawbridge to a massive castle gate to His perfect will!    

     In case it was not clear, yes, I was intending to attend the MFA program at a university not too far from my house -- a private, renowned university I always ride my bike past or walk through. I wanted it so bad. I knew God had shut the door on other options I had been considering, so I figured he would want me to at least take a shot at applying for this program. So I did. I spent the $60. I spent painstaking hours collecting and refining 20 pages of poetry to create a portfolio. I wrote a lengthy essay of intent and asked a few of my professors for letters of recommendation. And God gave me such a peace through the entire ordeal. It was kind of exciting, actually.

     Two months later, I have found myself $60 dollars short, my pride slightly wounded (if I'm really honest with myself), and nowhere close to having a finalized plan for my future. But though I might have every cause to feel "rejection," through it all, I have realized yet another cool reality about God:

     Our rejection is often evidence of His protection.

     When I reach for a chocolate chip cookie at a social gathering and my friend swats my hand away (reminding me that I am vegan and I might regret indulging in that delicious disaster), I shouldn't feel rejected -- she's trying to protect me from pain.

     Or when I fell into an emotional relationship with a guy a year and a half ago, whom I was "rejected" by when he realized, after leading me on and hinting at a future relationship, that he had disobeyed the Lord by doing so -- I began to see (after wiping away the weeks of tears that had blurred my eyes) that God was indeed protecting me. Only after I came to my senses did I realize that he was not at all compatible with me, that he was not the spiritual leader I need in a relationship leading to marriage. God has someone better in mind, a far better fit for me than he was.

     God, like a loving Father, will brush away our hand when we are about to touch something dangerous. He will shield us from engaging in something that will not benefit us, that is not in accordance with the perfect plan He has for us. When we endure such trying circumstances in life, we may feel tempted to call ourselves rejects. But the truth is, we are very much the opposite -- as children of God, we are blessed with belonging to a gracious Father whose desire is for our edification, our joy, our blessing -- our protection.
     What a wonderful God!

     I may want to feel like a failure to myself and others for not having a specific plan for the future. I may have been rejected by something stable, something that could have given me security. But this earthly rejection only drives me deeper into His heavenly protection. I now have (literally) nowhere else to go but straight into His arms. And I am, with all of my heart, so grateful for that.

     After all, this is not my home. Praise God for the assurance of heaven! 

     Brothers and sisters in Christ, may our security and protection be found in Him and Him alone, who has great plans in store for us, earthly and heavenly -- the latter of so much greater importance!


     Some verses that got me through:

     "'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
     Jeremiah 29:11

     "If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten?"
     Hebrews 12:7

     "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them."
     Ephesians 2:10

     " ... being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ."
     Philippians 1:6

     "For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come."
     Hebrews 13:14


Worship II

Hope you don't mind more on the topic of worship leading. Every time I lead worship, God is so faithful to teach me something. He is amazing and so gentle in His teaching. I love it.

~~ * ~~

Tuesday night, I came home utterly exhausted, close to tears, and battered by the enemy's attacks. I was supposed to lead worship at my church the following evening, but I felt so discouraged, I was already telling myself I wouldn't go, that I would just bow out.

But I knew deep down that if I didn't go, I would miss out on something awesome.

So, I kept telling myself that I would, no matter how crummy I felt. Come Wednesday, thank God, He totally covered me throughout the entire day, restoring my strength despite the four hours of sleep I got the night before, granting me peace through my midterms, and providing me with the courage I needed to go up on stage that night. I know His presence was following me each and every moment.

I read through the set list my worship leader sent through an email -- he wanted me to lead the song, "The Greatness of Our God" from Hillsong United. Funny aside -- every time my leader asks me to lead on a song, the song always recapitulates a message God has been teaching me. Every time. Laugh out loud. God is too much! Sure enough, this song reverberates all that God has been showing me in my life lately, that He is far greater than I could ever imagine, that none of my doubts could ever restrain Him, that I have barely scratched the surface to knowing all of His character, and that He is walking close beside me. As I have been crying out to Him, "Take what I have known / and break it all apart" (part of the lyrics to the song), He is answering my prayer.

The chorus just says it all. Chew on these lyrics a bit:

And no sky contains,
No doubt restrains all You are,
The greatness of our God
I spend my life to know,
And I'm far from close to all You are,
The greatness of our God

Once again, God gave me the indescribable privilege of leading His people into deeper exploration of who He is, His greatness, His love, His mystery. Amazing.

There was just one problem: the key I was asked to sing it in was way too low for my vocal range. But the key my leader chose flowed with the rest of the songs in the set, so there was no hope that the band could transpose it to a different key for me. I started to panic a little bit. But, in the best obedient spirit that I could muster, I gave it to God and waited expectantly for Him to take over my voice and empower it with strength, finesse, and volume.

But something much better happened.

For those of you who don't know, I am a notorious perfectionist, something I have been praying for God to gradually pull from my personality (especially since I know it stems from pride -- yuck!). So every time I sound check and get ready to practice the worship set, I can get a little too carried away with the technical aspect, making sure my voice sounds absolutely perfect, that I belt every note, that my timbre is smooth, flawless. Every time I sing in a lower key, however, all kinds of bad stuff happens. I end up singing with my throat, not my diaphragm, my voice gets kind of squeaky, and it definitely does not sound like my best -- but my leader keeps giving me songs to lead in lower keys anyways. Can't help but chuckle; gotta love how God stretches us.

When the time came for me to lead on my song, God all of a sudden flooded me with an uncanny peace. My throat was already burning from practice, but I knew I just needed to worship. Throughout the song, a singer's nightmare happened: my voice went off pitch and cracked multiple times, I sounded more like I was croaking than singing, and I ended up whispering some of the words because they were far below my range. But through it all, to my surprise, I was so filled with joy! I was more happy than I have ever been leading a song! Because of my flaws, the pressure of being perfect was off my shoulders -- I could simply worship my God. Every instance my voice cracked, I was somehow drawn deeper into His presence -- so good! And I had such a joy in helping others see Him (hopefully), and I could not help but hope that my squeaky voice gave them the confidence to sing out even stronger.

A small and insignificant anecdote, I know, but it's the little things God shows me that tickle me all over.

I am full of faults, but He is faithful. I may fail, but He fixes me. I am far from close to knowing all He is, but I do know He is my Father. I am still grasping that truth day after day. He is greater still. One day, my little heart is gonna explode from all His greatness! So glad I'm getting a new body in heaven that can actually withstand His glory ...  

... That you may know ... what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead ....

Ephesians 1:18-20


A Tidbit of Hebrew

Ever since taking a semester of Hebrew in college (which I highly recommend), I have loved reading bits of the Bible in its original language (of course, I need a little help with a dictionary--but it's exciting nonetheless!). My favorite website, http://www.blueletterbible.org , really comes in handy for studying the Old Testament texts in the original Hebrew.  The Hebrew translations are pretty fantastic. And a bit ridiculous (in a mind-blowing way).  

I was looking up one of my favorite verses, Isaiah 44:5 (the inspiration for a tentative tattoo ... we shall see), which says,

Some will proudly claim, "I am the LORD's";
Others will call themselves by the name of Jacob;
Still others will write on their hand, "The LORD's,"
And will take the name Israel.
*NIV, italics mine

So, a lot of times (practically every day now), after I share an intimate time with God through His Word, or prayer (or quite honestly, on some days, an episode of crying in my car, not wanting to brave another day of classes and whatnot ... pathetic, I know), I find myself repeating the phrase aloud,

I am the Lord's. I am the Lord's. I am the Lord's.

Lord knows I could use the reminder. And sometimes, that's all we need, right? Just to be reminded. The fact that we are always His doesn't change (and Hallelujah for that!). It's just that we forget sometimes -- and I get so upset at myself for doing so.

Anyways, after reminding myself verbally that I am still the Lord's, I write it on my wrist visibly. It is a comfort to look down at my wrist throughout the day at those little Hebrew characters and know I am His. And He is mine. He has claimed me. He has chosen me. I picture Him beaming a laughing, confident smile and saying, "Yup, she's Mine. That's my girl." (It works for guys, too.) How is He so good?!

In the Hebrew text, to write "The LORD's" would look something like this:
Literally translated, it reads, "unto Jehovah." Funny thing about the actual name, "Jehovah," or יהוה : In the Strong's dictionary (via Blue Letter Bible), it says this name is "the proper name of the one true God." They say this name might not have even been pronounced, possibly due to its supreme holiness (whoah). These are the same characters used to spell "Yahweh," another sacred, unutterable name (Can you believe that this unutterable God is our intimate Father? Incredible ...)

Cool thing is that the original root for this word/name (most Hebrew words derive from a root of three characters) is a "primitive" root, according to Strong's, which has the definitions (to name a few):

to be, to become, to appear, to exist, to be established, etc.

I don't know about you, but after reading these definitions (after a geek-out moment of how amazing God is) I immediately thought of how God is the great I AM. Okay, so maybe I geeked out after the fact. Jehovah, Yahweh -- I AM. Boom. That says it all. He is established of old (Psalm 93:2). He is everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2; 1 Chronicles 16:36). He is the beginning and the end (Revelation 22:13)! He is immovable, unshakeable, unchangeable, a firm foundation. No wonder why He is called our Rock, our Refuge (Psalm 46)!

God has been begging me to take His words to heart, His precious promises, to allow them to penetrate my very core, to shake my existence, however unsettling or uncomfortable that may be. I encourage you to do the same. It is all too easy to glaze over familiar passages of Scripture -- words we know well, words we have hidden in our hearts. But how amazing it is to really sit with them, even a simple phrase like, "I am the Lord's." There is so much weight to that! God speaks to us all the time, through His Word, through His Spirit, sometimes through audible voice. Are we listening? Really listening?

I also encourage you, at least once -- on a good day, great day, or not-so-great day -- to write a reminder on your hand (in English or Hebrew!):

I am the Lord's.


He loves you with the dearest passion ever known. He is steadfast, firm, fixed. He is your Rock and foundation.
What does that mean for you?

*Disclaimer: I am no authority whatsoever on Hebrew. I just pick up bits and pieces. Feel free to do some research yourself!