Why We Should Choose To Show Up
I've been trying to figure out what to write for this blog post for weeks. It's my last one, my final set of words written in this space and I want them to be good.
But you should know that I am typing this out on the floor of a LA Fitness in Houston, Texas, with absolutely no clue what to say. I'm here with my church on a mission trip to help with flood relief. The gym was kind enough to offer us their showers after our work days, and it's the only time I've had to write since getting here.
You should also know that these words are being written literally the day before they are due. Not on purpose, like I said, I tried to write weeks ago. But I just didn't have any words. None. Zip. Zero.
So here's the deal: I'm ditching my plan for these words to be good. I've decided I don't need them to be pretty and put together, and instead I'm just going to go for honest. The honest truth about what God has been teaching me for the past six months. It can all be summed up into two little words: show up.
I've never been the best at showing up to my own life, to my own faith and relationship with the Lord. I'm a girl with a lot of fear in regards to those things. If I had it my way, I'd love God and His people from a distance. I'd just play it safe and stay hidden from view. Avoid the risk, and keep to quietly cheering on other people from the sideline of my comfort zone.
But somewhere along -- what l now recognize as the Holy Spirit's stirring -- I started asking God to use me. I have pages and pages of prayers in old journals filled my illegible scrawl asking Him to make me brave enough to be seen, heard, and able to be used for His glory. I felt a desire to become His hands and feet in a way I had never really experienced before -- actively, tangibly, recklessly.
I've been thinking about those prayers lately, the way He hears and answers us in His perfect time, and I think He had been waiting for the day my timid heart finally whispered, "Okay, I'm ready. What's the next step in this thing called faith?"
It felt like taking 10 steps backwards and forwards all at once.
Backwards because of the fear, the doubt, the worry, and the second guessing. Ask God to lead you deeper in faith, and be prepared to be thrown head first into a lesson on truly trusting. Like Peter walking on water, without that trust in Him you're going to sink. That was me. At the beginning of summer internships and writing and the chance to be apart of His kingdom in a new way, I felt like I was Peter thinking he was going to drown. I remember calling my best friend a few days before everything was about to begin to ask her to help me come up with a way to get out of it all. I wanted to quit before I even began. I wanted to runaway and go back into the comfort of my hiding. My fear was absolutely overwhelming.
It was discouraging to realize my lack of faith, what little trust I had in Him who was calling me out. Thankfully, my friend reminded me how that story ends. Jesus reaches out to save Peter, and asks him why he doubted in the first place. Jesus's exact words before Peter even took a step were, "Take courage. It is I! Do not be afraid." Those are words we can and should trust. I had to go back to the basics of faith and remember that. I had to get real honest with the Lord about how inadequate I felt to show up to the places I felt Him moving me to. I had to sit and remember that at the end of the day I wasn't going to reach the standard I had set in my mind for people worthy of being fully apart of the Kingdom--I was fully apart of it because I was fully His. I was enough because He was more than enough. Only then was I able to take a couple steps on the water.
Those words, and the truth about who He is and who He says I am, are the only reason I can say I interned at my church this summer. They are the only reason I'm here writing. They are what have carried me back to a college I don't really love, but feel called to be at. And they what have equipped me, encouraged me, and pushed me forward, past all my fears and questions about my identity, for the past six months of my life. They've taught me to show up. I know they will continue to.
I know that He will.
I still have so much to learn, but He keeps leading me into places I feel in no way, shape, or form prepared to walk into despite that. I think that's the point. Our God has a history of using the most unlikely people for His cause, the ones who had what seemed like nothing to offer. We are usually the ones who count ourselves out too quickly. We are the ones who create longs lists of all the things we cannot and should not do. He is the one who then rips that list into pieces, tells us we are His loved and cherished and chosen children, and calls us to Himself for His good purpose anyway.
Because it's never going to be about what we can do. It's always, always about Him.
So I'm trying to show up, to my own life and to the lives of the people around me. I want to have the trust and faith to go whenever and wherever He wills. I want to also be the one speaking Jesus's words into other timid hearts when they start taking steps out onto the water in their own lives. I think being the hands and feet of Jesus means doing both, being willing to do the work yourself when called and be a cheerleader for those around us as well.
I don't want to miss out on the ways the Kingdom is breaking though in the here and now. Because it is breaking through, everyday. Did you know that? And He wants you to be apart of that. Do you truly believe that? He wants you to show up to this life you've been given, to the air in your lungs and the steady beat of your heart. He wants you to show up and be present in the awe and wonder that comes from a life lived with eyes on nothing but Him.
Let me tell you about the awe and wonder -- it's real. It's everywhere. Open your eyes and ears. Reach out your hands to touch. Taste the goodness of the Lord. It all has me excited very for this life I have been given to live. I hope you're excited for your life too.
While we struggle to learn what it means and how to actually show up, He is already the master of it. He is with us during every single moment. He never leaves us. He never stops showing up for us. That means if you find yourself on the floor of a LA Fitness, He will meet you there. And the awe and wonder says that unlikely place might just be where He decides to give you the words you've been waiting on. Maybe you think that sounds silly, but I certainly don't. It sounds like my God. All these words are His. Every word I will ever write that is remotely close to being worth reading will be His. Who knows where He will bring them to me next? I better show up everywhere just in case.
Well, this is it. These are my final words for you, the things I hope you wake up and choose to do: show up. Everyday. Even when you don't feel like it. Show up and love, both God and His people. Show up and be seen and heard and known as someone eager and excited about the work of the Lord. Show up to your passions, your talents, your dreams. Show up ready to be used, to be taught, to be moved. Show up to the unknown. To the uncomfortable, to the hard and painful spaces knowing that even in those places you have nothing to fear. Show up to your life, the whole of it. Not your past ways or the future worries, but to the Kingdom unfolding right before your very eyes, the awe and wonder of Him. Don't hide from it. Don't run from it. Don't miss out on it. Don't forget the One who is orchestrating all of it, the One who wants you to be an active part of it. He is working night and day to make His glory be more and more revealed. And guess what? Today He may want to use you. Show up and let Him. Show up knowing He is already there, hand extended, waiting for you to walk out onto the waters of faith and trust with Him. Go to Him now, do not be afraid, and choose to show up.
Jacqueline Winstead // @jacquelinewinstead