From Start to Finish, a Review

I really suck at goals y’all. No, scratch that. I am awesome at making goals when they pertain to work or my health. What I suck at is finishing the one goal that has been before me for years.

After getting a pre-release copy of Jon Acuff’s new book, Finish (out on September 12th) that is all about to change. This guy taught me how to quit, how to start, but now he’s focused in on how to finish what you’ve started.

Goals you refuse to chase don’t disappear, they become ghosts that haunt you.

He does it succinctly and practically. Guiding you through assessing your current goal, where you are in it, and what might need to be dialed in differently in order to get you to your goal of finish. And finish you shall.

I honestly didn’t want to finish the book, because then it would mean I was perfectly armed to face down that goal of writing a book that I have wanted to do for so long. But it’s a lot nobler to point to the outline and the chapters that lay unfinished as I take on new tasks, new distractions, more excuses. To say if it’s not perfect, it won’t be finished.

Jon tears through all that to point out how we self-sabotage our own goals before we even get started because we like to ruin it ahead of time. Those New Year’s goals? How ya doing on those here in September? Interlaced with humor that Acuff does so well amidst the practical steps of addressing your failure to finish, his newest book will get you to the same it did him-finishing.

If you pre-order Finish before midnight September 11th there’s over $200 worth of freebies to lay claim to, including a video series with Jon that’s a HUGE value. Pre-order here. And then fill out this form.

Saul, Pride and The Wait

A while ago, the exact date I cannot recall, I remember praying for deliverance from a situation. It was a situation that I had wrestled, fought against, and made myself low in simply to find the means to get through it and into a new season. I kept finding myself back there, back in the situation that brought hurt, frustration and humiliation to some degree. As I asked God for deliverance, I defined how it should come forth. How He should provide it and what it should look like. I gave Him the story of deliverance to bless it, even in my most broken and convicted state.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of  the situation long enough to see how He was going to deliver me. I wanted the situation shuttled away, the person that was at the core of the frustration removed, all the while He was using me to refine and grow.

As I read through 1 Samuel this morning on the anointing of Israel’s first prince (Saul) and his reign over the course of five chapters I couldn’t help but see some of situation play out. What struck me was in the waiting on God to go before him in battle, Saul decided to take matters into his own hands. Specifically, he manipulated godly offering to justify his own inadequacies and fears. Moments after doing so, the promised arrival of the prophet and priest Samuel comes to fruition, laying bare Saul’s foolhardiness and prideful disobedience.

Years later, looking back on that season of life, I see that I was trying to manipulate my offering to God. Yes, you can have the situation and circumstances but only if you bless this specific outcome. Yes, I give this over to you, but only in this way and only if you deliver me in the way I have laid out for you. 

And I can honestly say I have done it since then, but not in such a large and bold manner. Not with such prideful disobedience to say that I would take the very thing God has given and use it for my own gain. It’s the evidence of a heart that still battles the sinful nature, a heart that desires control and knowledge beyond understanding. It’s the heart that tries to put itself on equal footing with God, when in fact it should be bowing in reverence, fear, and praise to Him.

When we define how God should work in our life, putting parameters and our limited thinking over His sovereignty we tell Him (and those around us) that we know better. We box Him into this far off God who does not care about the lives of His children instead of the truth that He does care, He does hear, and He does actively work in our lives for the good of all of us. That good doesn’t get defined by us in one moment/season/stage. We would choose the lie of our heart’s prideful disobedience rather than Truth which has redeemed us, carried us, and led us for far longer.

Maybe you haven’t dealt with this, or maybe you are smack dab in the middle of praying your way through a situation but giving God the directions as if He needed them. Instead of diagrams and manipulations of His will, today let’s release ourselves from the pride, the disobedience, the control and with open hands give God the entire situation as we wait. Waiting in obedience for Him to work as He deems good, and not how we define it for ourselves.

With Open Hands

I felt ridiculous. Sitting hands upturned, arms stretched out, as I sat in the quiet of my own home. The whispers of, “You don’t have time for this. You are already running late. Seriously, if anyone saw you they’d think you were looney.”

And yet I sat. In the stillness, just as I do now with only the hum from the kitchen, and my thoughts.

I bowed with open hands, turned up to God. A reverent heart asking, pleading, begging. A heart realizing that these hands hadn’t been open before. In fact they had been clenched in anger, gripping tightly the regrets and wishes, the plans and heartaches. They were balled tight to hold in the dreams and keep out the ones wishing to snatch them from my grasp.

Photo provided by colourbox.com
Photo provided by colourbox.com

I had grown used to the ache of the clinched fist, of grasping too tightly at my life…a life that was not mine solely. In the very still quiet moment, when I turned my hands up and stretched my fingers outward I felt it all release.

The bad I wanted to let go of and the good I was scared to let loose. Realizing that the harder I grasp at it all, the quicker it slips through my fingers much like sand. All I was left with were grains of memories, remnants of hopes and fears.

I had been living too much in my past and keeping tight too much of my future to live in any sort of present. While looking ridiculous, I felt God meet me in that moment. A sigh from Him washing over me, and the gentle whisper, “I had been waiting for this, for you in this place.”

So had I. For this very moment of open hands and an open heart. It astounds me how much I want to share this moment and yet, keep it private. I realize that we often have to be told it’s okay to be open with God. To be vulnerable and get to a place of open hands. To find our moment of letting go and holding on. To release all of it and find ourselves at a moment of peace.

Peace in letting go of the ugly and the beauty. Finding that God was there, waiting in that moment for you can be a scary and exhilarating emotion. Yet I find I cannot dwell in it, I cannot attach to it once more and revisit it…because that would mean hands closed around it. Instead it’s a life of open hands…a life with open hands, turned up in praise, in gratitude, in release.