your personal summer reset

She’s a farmer’s wife & we keep dreaming about getting both of Farmer’s together to talk tractors. She and I keep notes on weather and crops and words in each other’s parts of the world. I reached across a table once and grabbed Jennifer Dukes Lee‘s hand and I told her I believed in God’s gifts in her and I prayed for His words through her to keep coming. She’s a pure-hearted, soul-encouraging woman after God’s own heart and reading her always makes me read more of Christ everywhere. Humbling grace to invite Jennifer  to the farm’s front porch… 

guest post and photos by Jennifer Dukes Lee

The car was a blur of red when it veered into my lane.

We crashed at highway speeds, nearly head-on. Metal bended over metal — the haunting crunch of steel, the sound of a death kneel.

The airbag slapped my face.

Glass shattered, spider-webbing across my windshield. My van plunged into the ditch. I was trapped inside.

Moments earlier, I was singing a worship song called Exalted on a CD by Chris Tomlin. The chorus affirms who God is: “Yahweh, Holy is Your name!”

In one skinny minute, the song went silent. Life came to a hard stop.

I became keenly aware of my own fragility. My body ached. I heard my own voice, now begging for the mercy of Yahweh.

Soon, rescue workers were on the scene, trying to figure out the safest way to get me out of a busted-up van.

Because of the sound of my own voice, I knew I hadn’t died.

In fact, I ended up more alive than I had been before.

Brushes with death do that. Funerals do that. Every week, the latest tragedies dominating our newsfeeds shake us awake to what really matters.

“Hug your kids tight,” urge the mamas who bury their own children.

And we do, because we’re made stark-aware of the fragility of everything here.

These are hallowed moments – the moments that change us because they shatter our self-reliance.

They remind us we are human, fleeting, all of us dying. The hushed reality of our own mortality turns us back to our only hope — and the truth that eternity is closer than we know.

That morning, while the red lights of an ambulance spun outside my windshield, never once did I think about all the stuff that occupies far too much of my everyday thought life:

What if I fail today?

Do people care what I have to say?

Why doesn’t she ever acknowledge me?

Why didn’t I get invited?

Why am I so mediocre?

Never once did I consider the latest squabble on Facebook.

I do remember looking in the back seat of my van after the crash.

My daughters’ empty booster seats had been tossed like toys into the back of my van. I wept, grateful that the girls weren’t in the van with me that day.

In that hallowed moment in a ditch, I didn’t measure the value of my life by cataloging accomplishments or failures.

I saw the value of a life in a parade of faces – real souls.

I was reawakened to this uncommonly good gift of being a person created with this purpose: to love God and enjoy Him forever.

Maybe you are like me. You know the truth about your mortality. You don’t really think you’re invincible, but at times, you live otherwise. You live like a machine, giving in to a very real pressure to perform, meet demands, make everyone happy, get it right.

 We forget that we are the imago dei – not the imago factory.

Each of us gets this one life; there’s a 100 percent chance of it endingA grand forever is coming, thanks be to Jesus.

But will we have lived in the fullness of our salvation during our time on earth? Or will we have merely passed through, missing the joy of keeping company with God?

Will we have lived as if we were made of gears and pulleys? Or will we have loved as ones with flesh and blood?

When I lose a bit of my way in this life, I return to the accident, because it reorients me. I have to re-feel that awful day on the highway.

I touch the scar on my leg, the perfect shape of a Y, the initial of Yahweh. The scar reminds me of the song that – I pray – I will always sing, come what may: “Yahweh, Holy is Your name.” I cherish my Yahweh scar.

Maybe we all need to feel along for our scars, to find the cherished mark of Yahweh upon our fragile personhood?

Maybe we need to remember that though we were wounded, we have been healed, and our scars are proof of a God redeeming all the broken things.

Maybe we need to return to the simple wonder of our own breathing – to remember that we were created by a God who sees a big soul inside the small skin.

Maybe you needed to know this today —

You are a person.

You are not a machine, a spreadsheet, an agenda, or a resume.

You are a person. You have a heartbeat, skin, scars, and soul.

Your worth isn’t calculated in efficiencies, boxes checked, or ladders climbed.

You aren’t the sum of your accomplishments — or the sum of your mistakes.

You aren’t your ambition, your energy level, your approval rating, or your mass appeal.

You aren’t a stage or a platform or a gold star.

You are not an A+, a C-, or an F.

You are not a mess or a miscalculation.

You are a miracle. Because you are a person.

Be a person today. Be all you. Resist the urge to believe that you’ve got to fight for your piece; God says there’s more than enough to go around.

Consider saying “no” to the big invitation. Dare to “miss out,” and find out what you really would have missed, had you said “yes.”

Don’t pull God into your agenda. Follow Him into His.

Live free. Love well. Stand tall on the inside, even if you’re feeling weak on the outside.

You are a person, a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Live there, Kingdom Child — live where there is always enough, where there is abundant love, where there is unending grace for you.

And should we lose our way, let’s re-feel the scars, to remember what we’ve been saved from,

and what we’ve been saved for,

to live fully and freely in who we really are

the imago dei.

 

 

Jennifer Dukes Lee is one amazing storyteller and a grace dweller from Iowa.

She’s the author of Love Idol, an unforgettable book that is freeing women from their need for people’s approval. She is a former award-winning news reporter who now chases after the Good News story of Jesus Christ. Jennifer writes for Dayspring’s (in)incourage and her blog.

Through her latest work, Love Idol, women are rediscovering how they don’t have to earn anyone’s approval. They are already approved — preapproved! — through Christ. Women have begun to change their hearts, by changing the words they use. Instead of believing they have somethingto prove, they are reminding themselves that they have nothing to prove. They are affirming their preapproved status in Christ.

That endless, exhausting crusade for approve that leaves you exhausted? Ends in the highly recommended pages of: Love Idol.