Jennie Lusko is a new author who was actually reluctant to write a book. She didn’t even think it was something that was possible let alone something she would ever want to do. Having only graduated from high school and with a little bit of Bible college, she felt inadequate in putting any words together. But she was seeing God open the doors and she started walking forward really unsure but trusting that God knew what He was doing. Her husband Levi wrote an endorsement for her book, and he mentioned that Jennie wrote this book as she was living out the very things she was encouraging the reader with. It was hard, like tempting-to-quit-hard, but she kept showing up and kept trusting God and kept doing the hard things, and her heart is to remind the reader that they are capable of walking in the flourishing life they were meant to walk out in their daily life as they trust God, do what’s hard, and fight forward even in the midst of pain, loss, and uncertainty. It’s a grace to welcome Jennie to the farm’s front porch today…
Does flourishing in this life seem out of reach? It often feels like that to me.
I often feel an underlying sense of guilt because I’m not measuring up and I’m not where I thought I would be.
If only there wasn’t such a struggle in my soul. The great news, though, is that we are actually in the process of flourishing right now, whether we feel it or not.
A seed is destined to become a mature plant, but it requires the right soil, water, air, light, and temperature.
I want to help you understand that a fight “breaks out” (parach) when the seed hits the soil. It’s not just go time; it’s grow time. And that means it’s time to fight.
I suspect that you can understand the reality of the fight through the filter of your own story.
I love what 1 Timothy 6:12 tells us: “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (niv).
This word fight in the Greek language (in which the New Testament was written) is agonizomai, and it means “to fight, to contend, to strive as in a contest for a prize.”
We see a tension here between faith, receiving the gift of salvation given by God, and the action of fighting and taking hold of the life we were born to live.
We receive freely, and we also act vigorously.
The author gives us a real-life picture of fighting the good fight of faith with everything we’ve got, to strain to obtain the prize.
This resonates in my heart because two of my favorite things are boxing and spin class. Do I love punishment? No, but if I need to stay healthy by exercising, then I want to at least have some fun while doing it.
These workouts show me what I have in me. I can do more than I think I can. I can push myself a little more than it may seem.
I can work really hard, and then see the results—getting stronger and gaining endurance. I realize not everyone loves to exercise, but if you stick with me, I want to show you some of the truths I’ve extracted from pushing myself physically.
I hope to help you see that you indeed have grit. And that you can grow it. You also have the stamina and endurance to grow stronger in whatever you are facing right now, good or bad. I want you to see that you can fight, that you can grow, that you can be fruitful, and that you can flourish.
You may feel as though you’re not flourishing because of the fight, because of the struggle.
But it’s the embracing of the fight that will create the space to flourish. A fight for honor. A fight for a sweet spirit. A fight to choose to get uncomfortable. A fight to keep fighting.
Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Jesus doesn’t mention overcoming the trouble; He tells us He has overcome the world.
We want Him to take away the trial, but He’s taking care of the even bigger picture: the world our trouble is in.
I once went out on a limb and started a garden. Keep in mind, it was a tiny one, about two feet by four feet. I envisioned the kids picking strawberries for their yogurt and granola every morning, and me collecting tiny leaves of parsley and mint to flavor sauce and salads.
From my backyard to my table—that was my dream.
It was a good little garden, for a brief moment. Things grew—and then they didn’t. Or they died before they could thrive. Bless the little garden’s heart; it barely provided the things I wanted most. The strawberries were tiny and the herbs were few. It had grown, but it had not flourished.
God doesn’t want us to barely peek through the hard soil of life like a tiny weed or a puny bunch of strawberries.
He wants us to shoot through the dirt and grow into a tree with deep roots, a thick trunk, strong branches, and most of all, fruit. He wants us to grow luxuriantly.
How do I know this? He told us clearly in Psalm 92: 12-15
The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
The progression of action in this psalm could be wrapped up like this:
and we flourish.
Jennie Lusko serves alongside her husband, Levi, leading Fresh Life Church in Montana, Utah, Oregon, and Wyoming, as well as across the world online. They have five children: Alivia, Daisy, Clover, Lennox, and Lenya, who is waiting for them in heaven. The Lusko family lives in Montana and enjoys bike rides, walks, lake days, late-night hot tub and cold plunge parties, movies, and family breakfast. Jennie is also a hugger, so beware if you meet her.
The Fight to Flourish is for those of us who feel the tension and the pull of this life. To be the person we were designed to be, full of purpose and impact and light, and at the very same time walk through the heartache and struggle of everyday life and of the great loss we experience. You were meant to bring beauty and light and life right here, right now, in the middle of the fight, and it’s here that we can flourish.
In The Fight to Flourish, Jennie draws on her experiences after the loss of her five-year-old daughter, Lenya, to show you that the ingredients for a fresh and thriving life are right in front of you. Discover how to live a life of joy and fullness, even in the midst of disappointment and broken dreams.
[ Our humble thanks to Thomas Nelson for their partnership in today’s devotion ]