As an avid reader and someone who loves words (yes, I know I am a nerd), I am constantly on the search for a good book. My Nana sent me a link about a week ago to a video series, Rhythms of Grace, by Rebekah Lyons. The videos were all about learning how to be ok and willing to accept a season of rest from God, and I absolutely needed to hear that. It left me wanting more, so I decided to order one of her books, You Are Free.
I had no idea in that this book I ordered will literally shake my soul down to the core. Every page of this book felt like this woman knew my life more than anyone and that God was constantly speaking and teaching me. I am trying to learn how to be more vulnerable with what God shows me in my life, so I wanted to share a little of what God put on my heart as I read this book. Each section is a different chapter in the book. So if you are reading this (aka hi mom and nana), be willing to open up your own heart to see what God might be trying to tell you.
“To Be Free”
It is human nature to feel the desire to be needed. Who does not want to feel like they are needed? Whether that be from family members, friends, coworkers, the church and sometimes even God.
“From the beginning of time, all God ever wanted was our union with him. He didn’t create Adam and Eve because he wanted help cultivating the earth of naming the animals. Believe me, God is capable of this all by himself.” Rebekah Lyons
Well here is the reality, God does not need me. He can do more than fine all on his own when it comes to any matter imaginable. But that brings up a point that makes that raw truth bearable, God does not need me, but he wants me. The God that needs literally nobody, wants me. Crazy, right?
That idea that God wants me pushes me to keep on pushing forward. I want to keep up with being the best person that I can be, but that feeling started to feel like a burden to me.
“We weren’t made to keep up. We were made to be free. To be who we already are.” Lyons
I have never really thought about the desire of ‘keeping up’ as a sin. I love to ‘keep up’ even if it drains me physically and mentally. That is just who I am and who I have always been. It caught me a little off guard when I realized this mentality that I have is the exact opposite of what God wants for me. God does not need me to ‘keep up,’ but instead, he needs me to just keep going. He wants me to keep going in the pursuit of total freedom in Christ Jesus.
“We cannot prioritize our doing before being, our assignment before healing, our service before freedom.” Lyons
This sentence forced me to stop and reread it over and over again until it really sunk in. Before anything else, I need to prioritize three things. I need to be a child of God, let God heal my heart and soul and free myself in the presence of God.
“Free To Be Rescued”
I am not one that feels like I ever need to be rescued. I take pride in putting on a face to the world that seems like I have everything completely under control, but boy is that the opposite of the truth.
One thing I struggle with more than anything is asking God for healing. As a junior in high school, I hit one of my biggest breaking points. I got on my knees with tears streaming down my face while I begged God to heal one of my dearest friends of cancer. I had many sleepless nights where I just prayed over and over and over again. My world was shattered when my friend passed away that same year because I felt that God did not listen to me. After that, I never wanted to ask God for any type of rescue ever again.
“He’d found me in my deepest, darkest moment, in the desperation of my complete and utter surrender.” Lyons
No matter how low I got on the hardest days of dealing with my anxiety and struggling with my self-worth, I could not surrender that to God. My fear of rejection outweighed all else. Then, God revealed the truth to me. My friend that had cancer had faith that could move mountains. That girl was something special. She trusted God more than anything or anyone, so she had no fear of what was to come. I do not have the answers to why bad things happen in this world, but I do know that God got to use my sweet friend in incredible ways on this earth because of her mighty faith in Him.
I can slowly, but surely feel God starting to recuse me from this pit I have fallen in. I am not completely out yet, but I trust that God will rescue me.
“Free To Be Called”
If I am going to be honest with you, I am a complete control freak. I have (attempted to at least) had my whole life planned out from the moment I could write my thoughts down. But there has always been one thing I have never been quite sure of, what is my calling? The thought of not knowing stresses me out more than you even know.
“Chasing meaning, I tripped over surrender, the place of releasing total control. Meaning follows surrender.” Lyons
Something I continually struggle with is giving up control, even when it comes to God. Finally, God made me ask myself: How can you expect God to show you your purpose if you will not give him the reigns?
From the moment God created me uniquely in my mom’s womb, he has known what would happen and will happen in my life. He already knows the whole life of Sierra from the moment I was formed to the moment I will one day join him in Heaven. If he already knows, why stress about my meaning?
“God was inviting me to use the gifts that made me come alive, to redeem the things that broke my heart.” Lyons
God is going to use me and the things He put on my heart to glorify His Kingdom. I might not know exactly how God is going to use me yet, but I know he has big plans for me to glorify Him.
“Free To Confess”
Sometimes, you just have to be honest with yourself and then, you have to be honest with God. It is a little scary to admit your faults, but the thing is, God already knows.
“Those who keep score in life just want to know that they count. When you work for an audience of One, you always know that you count.” Ann Voskamp
Wow, how freeing is that? I tend to care so much about what others think of me. I care about the number of likes I get on my Instagram posts, how much feedback I get on my blog posts, etc. When in reality, the one person’s opinion that actually matters calls me his masterpiece. So, why even bother to try and get approval from the world?
“Confession is the gateway to healing, the route to freedom. Confession, whether it be a confession of repentance or a declaration of truth, begets freedom. There is no shortcut or strategy.” Lyons
I honestly did not realize how much I bottle inside and do not even admit to God, even though he already knows. If I cannot confess my struggles and the things that make me a human of the world, how can I expect to get full freedom? Especially when Jesus Christ already died on the cross for my sins. It is so freeing to just talk to God one and one about the things that keep me up at night. It is so freeing.
“Free To Thirst”
“We often insist our setting must change before we can live fully, but perhaps it won’t change until we live fully.” Lyons
Although I am not a huge fan of change, there are certain aspects of my life that I think could use some changing. Sometimes those thoughts consume me and in between, I miss out on so much of the life that is happening right in front of me. I forget about my meaning and I do not just live, but it frustrates me when life is not moving. How do I expect it to change when I am not living?
“She wanted what she could see. He wanted what she couldn’t see.” Lyons
When I read this, I literally laughed out loud because this is the story of my life. I want what I want for my life and I freak out when it does not go my way, but God sees what I do not see: those moments in life that he made just for me.
“When we thirst for what Jesus offers, he shows us what he wants to set free.” Lyons
It is ok to thirst for Jesus, actually, it is more than ok. He wants us to thirst for Him so that He can show us the plan he has created for our lives. The best part? He is there to walk with us on that plan every step of the way.
“Free To Ask”
One of my least favorite things in the whole wide world is putting myself in a position where I have the possibility of being vulnerable. What is one of the main places where I have to be vulnerable? When I ask for something.
“We aren’t responsible for the healing (or whatever seemingly impossible thing we are asking for); we’re only responsible for the asking.” Lyons
Asking for something takes a whole lot of vulnerability, even when it comes to God. God has got it under control when it comes to answering whatever question I might have for Him, but in order for Him to answer, I have to ask.
“For starters, asking often requires an admission and confession of need, an acknowledgment that all is not well. Asking also requires us to do something, to participate in whatever God wants to do. Finally, asking requires us to entrust what is beyond our control do the One who controls all.” Lyons
That is exactly why asking God for something makes me feel so vulnerable, it is because I first have to come to terms with the fact that something is not ok. Sometimes, it is even hard for me to admit to myself that things are not ok, which is why the wounds just grow bigger and deeper.
In those moments, I have to trust God more than ever. He already knows what is going on in my life, but I have to ask him for help, guidance, peace, etc. I have to trust that even if God does not answer my question the way I think I want it to be answered, does not mean he is ignoring me. He will answer it how he deems right.
“Being free to ask God for anything means trusting him the way a child trusts — openly and unreservedly and expectantly. It means not holding back. And isn’t that the crux of our faith?” Lyons
“Free To Begin Again”
The struggle of being a junior in college is the great question: where are you going to go once you graduate? Oh, trust me, I wish I could tell you. The thought of deciding where I want to live after graduation literally kills me because I honestly have no idea and I hate not knowing. The thought of leaving my home where my family is at is terrifying, but the thought of being stuck in Oklahoma forever is equally terrifying.
“Home is wherever God is. And God is ever with me.” Lyons
These two simple sentences have given me such a peace of mind when I think about the future. It does not matter where in the world I might be in two years when I graduate or in twenty years when I have my own family because home is wherever my God is.
“Free To Wait”
“All I saw was scarcity, because I was not seeing the transition, the waiting as gifts from God. But his promise is clear — as we wait on him, we discover we are enriched. The waiting is for our salvation, for our good.” Lyons
As someone who is patient with people, but not as patient with life in general, I can tell you that I absolutely hate to wait. I want to constantly be on the go, moving on to whatever needs to be done. Something I have learned through the years though is that those moments of waiting bring moments of clarity. God purposely sets out a season of waiting, so that when our time comes, we will be prepared. No time is wasted in God’s kingdom.
“Free To Rest”
Along with not being a fan of waiting, I am not usually a fan of rest. Do not get me wrong, I love a good nap as much as the next person. Because I am such a type A kind of person, it is hard for me to accept that it is okay for me to take time to rest.
“Sometimes it takes a stripping away of what we know in order for us to be willing to stop and learn.” Lyons
Sometimes I just have to tell myself to stop. Stop worrying. Stop thinking about tomorrow. Stop planning. Just stop for a minute. Stop, and let God teach you something while you rest. Like I said before, God does not waste time. If he puts you in a season of rest, it is for a reason. He is constantly working to teach us to prepare us for what He has in store for our future plans that will glorify His kingdom.
One thing that I absolutely love that Rebekah did, is put her name in a bible verse that God put on her heart.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me, [Sierra]. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it.” Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
God is talking directly to each and every one of us in that verse. He wants us to come to Him. God wants me to take a rest in order to replenish my soul. During that time of rest, is when God works the most in our lives, even if we do not realize it. He puts importance in a season of rest, so that we can focus on being in His presence.
“God cares more about our presence than our performance.” Lyons
God wants me. God wants you. God wants us. He wants a real and authentic relationship with us, which can only happen when we spend time in His presence. What is a better time to do that than in a season of rest? Jesus is saying, let me draw you in my daughter or son. The best thing to do in that situation is to pray, overcome me with your presence Lord.
“Free To Grieve”
Grieving is one of those things that is just hard to talk about. All people grieve differently and for different reasons. It is hard to explain to people sometimes how I can still have so much faith in God even when bad things happen.
“Isn’t that what faith is all about — trusting God is working something beautiful and beyond our wildest imagination? Jesus, in the flesh, joined our sufferings in life and death. But the third morning after his death, at dawn, he gave us an example of exceeding abundance. A promise of hope for all who believe.” Lyons
I might not always know why things happen, but I know who God is and I know his promises are true. All I can do is have faith, and that faith is what helps me to keep going when I grieve.
“Every time we express grief, we allow Jesus to absorb our pain. When we live out the freedom we have been given to grieve, Jesus takes our grief upon himself and replaces it with comfort. What a precious gift.” Lyons
Jesus did not die on the cross for nothing. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, so that we could live eternally in Heaven and have a relationship with Him. That kind of love does not just leave someone when they are dealing with pain and grief. Jesus wants us to come to Him when we are in the middle of however we experience our grief. He wraps His arms around us and comforts us, because He takes on our pain.
“Free To Be Weak”
I am not one that likes to admit my weaknesses. I try my best to push through the hard moments all on my own, but why do I do that when I have a God who is ready to be my strength?
“What if we’re called to admit our weakness and declare that only God’s strength is sufficient? God wants us to reveal our weakness — to recognize what traumatizes and exhausts us. He wants us to confess our wounds, our sources of pain and stress, and bring them into the light so he can redeem and transform them with his strength. Have you confessed to him your exhaustion, your fear, your stress? Have you confessed that God wants to display his strength in your weakness?” Lyons
God’s strength is bigger than….(insert: fears, weaknesses, flaws, etc.). He is bigger than all of the things that bring you down. God is ready to take over in your life and conquer all of the obstacles that may come in your path.
“Free To Celebrate”
With God on our side, we have everything to celebrate! God wants us to succeed. God wants us to be happy. God wants us to have joy, but that all only happens when we put our trust in Him.
“Joy is not the absence of darkness. Joy is confidence that the darkness will lift.” Lyons
When you trust God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, you will be certain that the darkness that surrounds you will not last. That is the true joy. That is why we are free to celebrate.
God is so good!
“Free To Be Brave”
Even though I try my best to put on a brave face, I am really not brave when I only lean on myself.
“Bravery is moving scared. Bravery requires stepping out. The key is to never stop. Nothing may change about our circumstances, but we make a decision. To move. To trust. To be brave.” Lyons
It can be pretty hard for me to trust, which makes it hard for me to be brave. The thing is, it is not about trusting myself at all. It is all about trusting God.
“If he is the one who sets this thing in motion, he is the one who completes it.” Lyons
With God, I have all the power to be brave. He already knows what is going to happen, so why not trust that He will get me through all things? God will never take me somewhere where I cannot make it through. He is always ready to do whatever He can to get us to the other side of the problem or fear.
“Free To Love”
As someone who is extremely critical of myself, it is hard for me to believe that I deserve to love or be loved. The idea of love 100 percent completely and utterly freaks me out because I do not feel deserving or I am afraid of messing things up. Luckily, God has shown me that my fears are not true at all.
“Jesus’ love will hunt you down until you land on your knees. It knows no bounds; it cannot stop, in spite of all our kicking and screaming. It will lift your heard and cradle your heart. It will remind you who you were before all the running. His love will bring you back to life. Jesus set you free to receive his love, and you are free to love others with the same ferocity. Walk in that freedom.” Lyons
If it were not for Jesus’ everlasting and unending love that I cannot escape, I would never be able to experience authentic love on this Earth. It took me a while to realize that love is way more than being married to that “perfect guy.” Love is the smile on my face I get when I hear my cousin Kaden laugh. Love is when my heart melts every time I see my sweet Blakelee smile. Love is getting to be a part of an organization that cares so much about kiddos who are sick and their families in Oklahoma. Love is my family that would do anything and everything in this world for me. Love is my best friend who knows exactly what to say to me when I need it. Love is so much more than the picture perfect world we see on movies.
“Free To Set Free”
“These things I know:
Freedom begets freedom.
Freedom is contagious.
Freedom helps us set others free.” Lyons
When we become free, God uses us to help others realize that they need to be set free. One thing to remember though, is that is always a God thing, not a ‘me’ thing.
“We are nothing without him. We are everything in him.” Lyons
If you made it to the end of this blog post, props to you! I hope showing you a little glimpse into what God is doing in my life through this book can help you out in some way, shape, or form. This new sense of freedom has completely transformed my life, and I hope it can do the same for you.
10/10 would recommend checking out: You Are Free by Rebekah Lyons.