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Conviction

Let me just start by praying:

Lord God, You are Holy and Almighty.  You are Sovereign over my life and there is no one I desire above You.  You created me and You know my deepest, most heartfelt desires.  You have planned a life for me that I can live to the full, if only I obey Your Word and follow Your will.  You have given me talents and abilities that I am to use for Your glorification, not my own.  You have granted me grace, mercy, love, and favor that I do not deserve and have done nothing worthy of earning; yet, You bestow it all upon me simply because You love me and I am Your child.  Thank You, Father God, for Your abundant love and for Your plan for my life.  Because You are sovereignly in control, I don’t have to worry or fret about what I am to do next, where I am to go, or what I am to do when I get there.  Thank You, Lord, that You know all things and that You hold me within Your hands, guarding me against anything that You have not allowed to enter my life.  Thank You for molding me and shaping me into the woman that I have become, but thank You even more, Holy Father, that You continue to chip away my pride and negativity, ever perfecting and ever transforming me.  Thank You for the plans You have for me and for the ways in which You are preparing me for Your plans.  Thank You for walking with me through the refiner’s fire, the darkest valley, and the steepest mountain.  You are so Good.  You continue to amaze and astound me, Lord!  Thank You for Your trials and for the ways in which You teach me to be a better follower after Your heart and lover of Your people.  May You never cease to work in, through, and all around me.  May Your name be proclaimed by every thought, word, and action that spills forth from me.  May Your will be done, Your way, in Your timing, and for Your glorification.

Lord, allow the people who read this to hear Your voice, not mine.  Let them know Your Words, not my own.  Use me here to write honestly and humbly.  Lord, I ask that You would speak to each one as You see fit.  Thank You, Holy Father, for speaking to each of us differently and for convicting us all differently.  Help us not to judge one another simply because we have different struggles than another or perhaps someone else is at a different place in their walk with You and You have not yet revealed to them the things that You have revealed to us.  Help us all to put aside our prejudices and feelings of entitlement.  Help us to listen only to You and to praise Your Name when You speak to us and when You are silent.  May Your will be accomplished.  May Your voice be heard.  May Your people grow and return Your blessings with praise.  Thank You, Lord God, for all of the incredible things You allow us to experience each and every day.  You are Holy and we praise Your name.  Amen.

The Lord has recently been showing me my ugly side…  It isn’t super fun when He does that, but it is definitely something I need Him to do so that I don’t continue living in my sin or continue living a lie.

Now, let me preface all of this by saying that this is how the Lord has convicted ME about MY feelings and attitudes about MY wedding.  There is a high possibility that absolutely nothing that I write will have much meaning to you because you are not me.

First, let’s talk about a word I’m about to use a lot: convict (other forms include- convicts, convicted, conviction, convicting, etc).  When I use this term, I’m talking about the way the Lord points out something in your life that you are doing wrong, or that you aren’t doing and should be doing, and He brings it to your attention in a way that you know that something needs to change.  For instance: ‘the Lord convicted me of my sin’ means that God showed me that something I was doing was sinful and I needed to stop it and be obedient to Him instead of continuing to sin.

The Lord speaks to each of us differently and He will convict each of us of different things at different times.  That is one very important reason why you can’t go around life expecting that everyone else in the world has been convicted of the exact same things that you have.  In fact, they probably haven’t because their walk with Christ is completely different than yours.  Other people have other stumbling blocks and other sins that the Lord has to work out with them.  That means that the Lord may convict them of some things that He never convicts you of because He has already worked that out in You.  We all need God to speak to us in specific ways so that we can better understand Him.  We all require different levels of support.  And praise be to God, He knows what we need and He will meet us there!

Recently the Lord met me on my couch, as I was praying about my wedding coming up in May.  It’s getting very close now, so all of the little things are starting to sneak up on me.  I thought everything was going just fine and I had everything under control.  But that was my biggest problem…

I had gotten to a place in my wedding planning where I believed that I had everything under control.  Did you read that right?  I was in control.  Not the Lord.  I was.

And that was my pride-driven downfall.

I thought I could handle planning a wedding and doing a full time externship and working and packing up and planning to move and getting things ready for an apartment and all of the expenses that come along with all of those things stacked on top of things I would describe as “my normal life” stuff.  I thought I could do it all on my own…

I actually did for a hot second…

Then I started drowning.  All of the things I thought I had under control were suddenly far too much for me to grasp.  My grip failed.  I started sinking beneath the weight of everything I knew I could never handle on my own…

Then the Lord reached down to me, just as He did to Peter when he tried to walk on the water, and said “Oh you of little faith. Why did you doubt?” (Mat. 14:31)

Everything that was overwhelming me and pulling me under had been in perfect order when I had given it all to the Lord and relinquished control to Him.  God gracefully holds every single one of my burdens far better than I could ever dream to, and yet I pridefully thought that I could do it all myself…

You’d think that by now I would know better, but I am apparently a prideful person.  I hate admitting that because I desire so much to be humble.  I want to be a humble servant and a servant leader, but I have this pride within me that rises up and takes over if I am not diligent in prayerfully crushing it back down and relinquishing all praise to the Lord.

So the Lord convicted me of that pride.  He convicted me of a lot of pride I didn’t realize I had let settle into my heart and overflow into my actions.  He showed me how entitled I was and I hated it!  I hated to see myself through the truth that He was giving me…

I felt entitled to have a perfect wedding.  Everyone is, right!?  Or at least that’s what everyone says!  Even before I got engaged, I had people telling me, “it’s YOUR day YOU do whatever YOU want.”

Yeah, sure, it may partly be my day, but it’s also my husband’s day.  It’s also a day to say thank you to all of the people who helped us get to where we are now.

From the beginning, I wanted my wedding to be a celebration with the people that have supported us and helped us get to where we are now.  I wanted it to be a huge thank you to everyone who came and to those who couldn’t.  Yes, I want to celebrate my love with Brandon and the long awaited conclusion of long distance and separation.  I want to celebrate the journey that God has led us on and walked us through.  I want to celebrate the unity and holy matrimony that Brandon and I will finally be able to be a part of.  But I also want to celebrate and thank those people around us that the Lord has used to help us become who we are today.

I lost sight of that.

All I could see was how imperfect my wedding was going to be when compared to the other weddings I’ve been to or those that are being planned.  All I could see was how unfair it was that everyone else got to have a perfect day but I couldn’t because of this, that, and the other.  All I could see was the anger that I had toward myself mostly because I wasn’t good enough or organized enough or pretty enough or friendly enough or *insert any other negative comment here*.

That was it.  All I noticed was the negative.

And the Lord called me out on it.

I had been blessed with more than countless others; how prideful and arrogant I was to pity myself and feel entitled to even more.  I had been surrounded by so many praises and blessings; how blind and foolish I was to only focus on the very few negative things.

Now let me just tell you, when the Lord convicted me of those two big things (pride and negativity), it was not a pretty sight.  It was like being pushed out into the freezing cold with shorts and a tank-top on.  It was a shock to my system to realize that I had been living a lie and had so easily allowed myself to be tricked into believing it.  It was painful when the Lord ripped off my blinders and shone the truth right in my eyes.  It was uncomfortable.  Honestly, it still is.

Being convicted is like being brought into the light or being told the truth.  You can’t just go back to living like you were.  I mean, you can, but it’s terrible because now you know the truth and it will eat you alive to know that you are living a lie constantly.  You have to change something.  You have to consciously and actively decide to make a change and act on the truth that you now know.

I now know that I was being far too prideful (about many things, not just my wedding) and overly negative (again, about many things, not just my wedding).  Now I have to decide what my next step is going to be.  Do I continue living in sin and lies?  Or do I ask for forgiveness, change my attitude, and allow the Lord to help me live a humble, positive life?

I’m personally choosing the latter of the two.

Now, am I good at this?  No.  Not at all.  But the Lord is working on me through it and I have faith that He will help me get where He wants me to be so that I can do the good works He has already prepared for me to do there.

It will be a long, tiring journey and Satan will do his best to throw me off and cast me back into pride and negativity.  But I know Who holds my future and I know Who holds me.  The Lord will walk with me through each and every step of this journey toward humility and positivity in every aspect of my life.  And I know for certain that He won’t let me down.

The question is: when the Lord convicts you, what will your choice be?  Will you continue to live in the darkness or the lie, even though you know the truth?  Or will you step into the light to let the Lord wash you clean and help you live in the truth?

The choice is coming, but the choice is yours.  Choose wisely, my friend.

Gentry Bass

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Broken

You know how sometimes you just break?

You’re sitting there in life, minding your own business, and then out of nowhere everything is suddenly crashing down all around you.  It’s crazy!

If you had asked me thirty minutes ago how I was, I would have said, “I’m okay.”  I’m not great right now if I’m being honest; I have a ton of stuff going on, but I’m still okay.  Nothing is wrong.  I am not overwhelmed.  I am simply okay and content where I am.

Or at least I was…

Literally not even ten minutes ago I broke…

Today hasn’t been an overly stressful day or anything, it’s just that so many different things have been brought up throughout the day that the combination of thinking of all of it at the same time overwhelmed me to the point of a breakdown.  Yes.  A sobbing, uncontrollable breakdown.  Complete will mascara streams and snot bubbles.

Why the heck did I decide to go from “okay” to “broken”?  Well, my friend, it wasn’t my decision.  It just happened.

Throughout the day, many things have been brought to my immediate attention.  Not in a way that lends itself to expressing a thought or idea and then dismissing it and moving on.  It’s one of those things where as soon as you say it, you realize how real that thing is and you start to think on it even more.  Here are some of the things that have been brought to my immediate attention just within the past 14 hours:

  1. My fiancé still lives four hours away and we still have a 5 week break between our trips in March.
  2. My wedding is only 94 days away.  (So far, right?  Wrong!  IT’S SO CLOSE!! AAAAHHHHH!!!!)
  3. I still have a lot to pay for in different areas for my wedding (and I’m trusting the Lord to work all of that out for me, because otherwise I don’t got this…)
  4. I graduate in 72 days. (Hallelujah!)
  5. I still have a lot of stuff to do just to be ready to graduate (such as paperwork, a potential teaching certificate, documentation in order, reviews and surveys completed, and so many other things my mind just doesn’t even want to consider right now).
  6. I still don’t have a job…. (some of you may think, “That’s completely normal, you won’t graduate until May and everything will change by then.  There’s plenty of time.”  ………… May I just say to you, that I completely agreed with you until 15 minutes ago….  And now all of a sudden I’m freaking out over something that is still months away…  Lord, help me!)
  7. Because I’m getting married, that also means that I am moving.  Four hours away.
  8. There are no openings for jobs in the area I am looking.  As in none.  Not a single pediatric setting.  At all….
  9. That means that everywhere I am applying to is foreign to me since I don’t have any connections in that area. (I know people do this all the time, but this is new to me)
  10. This also means that my fiancé and I are looking at apartments/homes.  (if that isn’t enough to stress someone out to the max on it’s own, I don’t know what is)

And do you know what just tops it all off?  Finances.  It’s always the finances!  If I don’t have a job secured before I graduate and get married, then we won’t have any way of knowing where we need to live or how much we can/need to spend on a home.  If I don’t have a job, what in the world am I going to do with my days?  If we don’t have my income, how are we going to pay all of the bills?  I mean, I have a full-time job right now and all, but that is going to end the week before my wedding because I am moving four hours away and I won’t be able to make that kind of commute every day….

All of these things, and many others as well, have been brought to the forefront today.  Yes, they have been living in the back of my mind for a long time now and it’s not like any of this stuff is new, but it was like it all decided to jump me at the exact same time and I just couldn’t handle it!  So I broke.

Thirty minutes ago, all of these things were still there.  Nothing about my circumstances changed.  What changed was my perspective of them.

You see, thirty minutes ago the Lord was holding everything in His Almighty, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Capable, Sovereign Hands and I was contentedly trusting Him to handle each of my issues.  Ten minutes ago, I decided to try to hold all of that in my minuscule, incapable, weak hands.  My perspective changed from “I have a lot that needs to happen and I have too much for me to worry about, so I am going to continually give it to the Lord and allow Him to direct my steps and lead me where I need to be, when I need to be there” to “Holy crap I can’t do all of this stuff!  There’s no time!  I don’t make enough money!  I’ll never get a job!  How in the world am I going to do all of this stuff with life still happening all around me?”

Like I said, nothing about my circumstances changed.  What changed was my perspective.

That shift in how I perceived my circumstances took me from being peacefully content and relying on the Lord to take care of each of those things, to me worrying about stuff I could never change or impact at all by letting it overwhelm me.

I broke.

My sanity and peace were gone for 10 whole minutes.  My worry shot through the roof and my anxiety skyrocketed.  My peace disappeared and my assurance melted away in an instant.  My contentedness flew out the window and waved goodbye as my faith alone sat rooted to the foundation of my being.

That’s when I found it.

In the middle of the chaos and turmoil within my spirit, I cried out to the Lord for help.  “I believe!  Help me with my unbelief!  Please!  Help me!  Help me with my unbelief!  Help me believe again!  Give me a home.  Give me a job.  Please!  Help my unbelief.”

In the middle of that storm of emotions that shook my very being, faith remained rooted to the firm foundation of God’s Spirit within me and the Lord used that faith to draw me back to Him.  Even with everything raging out of control, that prayer was heard: “Help me with my unbelief.”  Because even in that turmoil, I believed.  Even though I couldn’t quite find that peace that surpassed all understanding, I knew it would be there on the other side.  Even in the midst of every anxious thought and fearful dread, I had that faith.  I knew that the Lord was still there and all I had to do was surrender the insanity to the Lord and He would turn it into a journey with Him that would teach me wisdom, build my character, help me persevere/endure, and strengthen my faith.

I let my shield of faith fall for a moment, but the Lord helped me tighten my armor and pull my shield back up.  He helped me surrender my cares and worries and dreams and desires into His hands so that He can orchestrate them in a way that glorifies Him and grows me.  He took my scattered, broken pieces and put me back together again in a matter of minutes.

If you asked me thirty minutes ago how I was, I would have said “I’m okay.”

If you would have asked me ten minutes ago how I was, I would have said, “I’m broken.”

If you were to ask me now how I am, I would say, “I am blessed and content.”  Still broken.  But blessed and content just the same.

So tell me, friend, how are you?

Gentry Bass

Your Wiser Self

At the beginning of my time as a graduate student, one of my professors had us write a letter to ourselves and seal it in an envelope.  This was done so that we could read our letters one day. When things were tough and we couldn’t remember the joy we had at the beginning of it all.  When the insanity that surrounded us never ceased and rest was no where to be found.

Today was that day.

Life is tough as is.  Throw in graduate level classes, clinic schedules, enough homework to drown the most studious of individuals, financial struggles, and work responsibilities…  Well, you get the picture.  Basically life is crazy and we’re swamped.  I mean, I’m sure there are some phenomenal women in my cohort who are thriving and pushing through this insanity with grace and ease.  Sadly, I am not one of them.  Not even close.

Today my professor brought our letters into class and I opened mine.

I pulled out the envelope to see that I had written quotes on the outside of my letter:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Philippians 4:13

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified or discouraged for the Lord Your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

“Who by worrying can add a single day to his life” -Matthew 6:27

“Cast your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” -1 Peter 5:7

“________ is a big problem, BUT GOD IS BIGGER!”

The one that caught my eye was the last one.  It is something I came up with for a lesson on David and Goliath and one day I want a plaque with those words to hang in my home at the height of Goliath.  I made each child a laminated bookmark so they could write and rewrite their problems on the line and then realize that although it was a big problem, our God is bigger.  God is even bigger than the insanity of the Speech Pathology graduate school program!

Once I opened the first part of the letter, I realized I had written even more things on the next flap of paper before I was able to read my letter.  These grabbed my attention even more than the first verses and quotes because they are all things that God has said to me.  Whether through a time of prayer, a song, or a Bible study, each of the following has been the voice of the Lord in my life speaking directly to me.  (If you need the Lord to speak to you, maybe He can use these!)

“It’s gonna be worth it all.”

“Seek Me and be still.”

“Quit worrying.  I’ve got this.  Now, let Me got this.”

“I will provide.”

“Don’t give up.  I AM here and I always will be.”

“Be [I AM] still.”

“I will give you rest.” (PRAISE JESUS FOR THIS PROMISE!!)

“Circle, then shout, Gentry.  Then I’m going to bring the walls down.  This battle will not be won with muscle, mighty warrior.  This battle will be won by faith.” (this refers to the battle of Jericho when the Israelites circled the city in prayer and then shouted in victory)

And the real kicker:

“I’ve gotten you this far.  Do you really think I’m going to give up on you now?”

I don’t know about you, but that one just slapped me in the face.  Duh!  Of course God won’t give up on me.  He’s been faithful and gotten me through every hardship up until this point and I firmly believe that He will get me through this insanity.

If you would like to know what my full letter of encouragement said, please feel free to continue reading.  I hope these words can help even one person remember that God truly is in control and He has a purpose and a plan for everything that is happening in your life.  Don’t give up.  He’s got you.

Take a deep breath.  You’re fine.  The Lord’s got you in the palm of His hand, remember?  Everything that you are going through has a purpose and He will reveal that purpose to you when you are ready for it.  Don’t forget about all of the other times that He’s been there for you and literally walked you through.

Remember when you sat in a quiet room with your family and two doctors seated around a big table.  Remember how it felt when you heard the doctor say, “you tested positive for Vascular Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.”  Remember the days and weeks after that appointment when you realized that your mom and brother had VEDS too, that you would probably never have your own children, that life with Brandon would forever change, and that your life would forever be marked by a bracelet with a label on it.  Remember that feeling of being completely overwhelmed?

Now, do you remember how the Lord got you through all of that?  How He walked with you through every question and every valley of darkness.  How He sent people to pray for you and help you through it.  Remember that?  If He got you through every part of that valley, don’t you think He will get you through these two years of grad school?

“You will get through this.  It won’t be painless.  It won’t be quick.  But God can use this mess for good.  In the meantime, don’t be foolish or naive, but don’t despair either.  With God’s help, you will get through this.” –You’ll Get Through This, Max Lucado

Calm down, be still, and seek the Lord.  All you have to do is ask Him and He will give you what you are lacking.  So ask.  But make sure that you aren’t too far away to hear Yhwh speak.  This graduate program is only two years of your life, but your relationship with God is eternal, so make sure you are putting Him and keeping Him first.  “Seek first His kingdom and all of His righteousness and all of these things will be aded unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

You’ve got this because He’s got you.  Don’t worry.  It won’t help anything.  Instead, pray like the overcoming warrior that you are.

-Your Wiser Self

Gentry Bass

P.S.

In case you were wondering why I spelled Yahweh without the vowels, it was purposeful.  Try to pronounce it without the vowels.  It’s a whisper!  Yhwh is a holy name of God that is literally only a breath.  The thing is, you can’t hear Yhwh if you’re not close enough to hear His whisper.  So get close and listen up!

Just a little food for thought.  It’s one of my favorites.

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