Gwen Smith is quick to say that more is not always better. More may include setbacks, more may include being misunderstood and discouraged, and more may include suffering. But more also means knowing God more deeply, even in the midst of pain. The deepest question behind this search for more from God is this: Do I trust Jesus? Gwen helps us explore this question in light of disappointment and unmet expectations in life. It’s an absolute grace to welcome my friend, Gwen Smith, to the farm’s front porch today…
My friend Dave gives great advice.
He isn’t just a friend; he’s a mentor, and he helps me grow both professionally and personally.
Years ago Dave taught me to pay attention to what moves me emotionally.
To hang out there awhile.
To be present and in the moment.
To consider what it is that triggers me toward a response.
He says that this awareness leads us to create honest, compelling, and meaningful art.
One of the church anthems of today that moves me every time is a song by Hillsong United called “Oceans.”
The allure of this song is not just melodic, although the melody is exquisite. Depth of beauty is found in the lyrics because of their complexity and raw vulnerability.
To sing it from the heart is dangerous because it requires that a worshipper surrender the scariest, darkest places of her life to God. It compels her to trust without borders, with no limits. To take a free fall of faith.
The presence of God is powerful when we face intimidating circumstances. In Isaiah 43, the Lord spoke to His chosen ones, the Israelites, of His commitment to be their rescue:
This is what the LORD says—
He who created you, Jacob,
He who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (vv. 1–3)
God says, “Do not fear.”
Grace calls out to us by name.
We wane in the heat of firestorms.
Love shields us from the flames.
We struggle in the streams and are swayed by the currents.
God reaches for shaky hands, grips us with comfort, and assures us that we are not alone.
He holds on tight and keeps our heads above the water.
I know this in my heart. I know this is true. I know His presence is real and His rescues are promised, but when the waves keep crashing on the shore one after another, I find myself exhausted from the strain … and I wonder if God might have taken a day off.
Like maybe He went to Cabo and is sipping an umbrella drink on a beach resort somewhere. It’s not as if He doesn’t deserve a break, you know! He does so much for so many.
But no! I know better.
God doesn’t even take naps. Only my faith does.
Wake up, sleepy soul. Wake up!
In order to have a faith so strong it can withstand whatever life brings our way—the hurricanes, cancer treatments, eating disorders, hard conversations with hardened hearts, joblessness, broken relationships, doubts that seek to drown us—our hands must raise in surrender to the things He allows. And our eyes must constantly search for His.
While a life purposed for Christ is chock-full of blessings—many of which are completely incredible and comfortable—each surrendered life is also filled with struggles that God uses to help us become mature and complete.
The Bible doesn’t sugarcoat this. It says that we are promised challenges and trials.
That when we choose to follow Christ, some things will actually get worse or become more difficult.
That the world is fallen—broken—and it will hate us as it hated Christ.
That we have to take up our crosses and follow Him.
Love as He loves.
Be holy as He is holy.
Forgive as He forgives.
Endure as He endures.
If we really want it all—all that God has for us—we must search for the blessings in the blisterings as well as in the bliss.
The good news is that there are always blessings in the blisterings. We just need to look for them.
When our eyes are open to seeing the beauty in our brokenness, blessings flow, even in the bloodiest of blisters.
Because trials are trials with all their pain and ache, but hidden in the dark corner of every challenge is an intimate, intensely personal invitation for us to meet face-to-face, heart to heart,
with our Comforter,
our Head Lifter,
our Tear Catcher,
If I want all the faith God has for me, I have to want all the depth, all the growth, all the profundity that comes from knowing Jesus.
I need to want maturity and intimacy with Him more than I want comfort.
And when God calls me out into the deep waters of a trial, I want to be a woman who doesn’t run.
Yes. I want to grow in faith, and if one way to do that is to go through trials and challenges, then bring them on.
I want it all.
Gwen’s goal is to help women think big thoughts about God and be inspired to live out the grace and truth of Jesus. She unapologetically urges her readers to want more. “You and I were born for greatness,” Smith writes. “Not for the world’s greatness, but for eternal greatness: to know God and showcase God.” Gwen’s new book, I Want It All: Exchanging Your Average Life for Deeper Faith, Greater Power, and More Impact, will ignite a fire in your heart to experience more faith, more power, and more impact. More of Jesus. All of Jesus. Everything that God has for you. Could not put this one down.
[ Our humble thanks to David C. Cook publishers for their partnership in today’s devotion ]