Well, today is the last day of our “Clearing the Stage” blog posts. Jimmy’s record releases tomorrow and we are so thrilled! And what a better way to usher in a new record than by Jimmy and I actually seeking to live out the message of this record. I hope that you have been challenged to do some stage-clearing and idol-crushing in your own life. I also hope you will get yourself a copy of Jimmy’s new record tomorrow, either on iTunes, jimmyneedham.com, or at your local Christian bookstore. I really believe that this record will minister to you, encourage you, challenge you, and give you something fun to dance around the house to.
I have recently been studying through the Psalms and noticed the recurring phrase of “wait on the Lord.” There are many promises for those who wait on the Lord and many psalmists who promise to be people who wait on Him. I’ve written about waiting before (see my blog, “What are you waiting on?”), and am always amazed at how little I wait on God. I usually find that I am waiting on many other circumstances in my life: waiting to graduate from college, waiting to be able to have a healthy baby, waiting to get to a more “financial stable” place, waiting for Jimmy to get home, waiting, waiting, waiting. It seems that I’m rarely content in my current circumstances.
I hope you have all had the opportunity to read Jimmy’s “Clearing the Stage” blogs this week on his facebook page. They have been phenomenal and full of truth and wisdom. He has mentioned a quote from Tim Keller defining idolatry as “turning good things into ultimate things.” I love this definition because it reminds us that it isn’t always something inherently evil that takes God’s place; often times it is something good.
I began praying this morning that God would reveal more things that push Him out center stage in my life. As I wrote down things that came to mind, none of them were bad things: my desire to be a good wife and mom, my desire for a clean and orderly house, to be a good friend, just to name a few. All of these things are good and righteous desires, but often they are the very things that keep me from God. When my desire to be a good wife, mom, friend, or homemaker compete with my desire to know God more, it’s my time with God that usually gets cut. I justify this by telling myself, “I can spend time with God any time I want to, but right now I need to (fill in the blank).” I am have become so quick to cut out my Jesus time because “I can fit Him in anywhere.” But usually, the end of those days come sooner than I realize, and I find I haven’t thought twice about my God.
Take a break from all the plans that you have made
And sit at home alone and wait for God to whisper
Beg Him please to open up His mouth and speak
And pray for real upon your knees until they blister
Shine the light on every corner of your life
Until the pride and lust and lies are in the open
Then read the Word and put to test the things you’ve heard
Until your heart and soul are stirred and rocked and broken
-Lyrics from “Clear the Stage”
Oh how I love the lyrics to this song. And yet the dangerous thing is that while the Spirit inside me testifies to how good it is to sit and wait on God, this rarely turns into action. I am often so bent on being productive (as I wrote about in yesterday’s post), that I forget what it means to sit still and wait on God to speak. I tend to fill every second of my day with something in hopes to make the most of my time. But if I were to look at my time with spiritual eyes, the reality would be that I am filling my day with so much noise that there is very little room for God to speak.
I am a hopeless “Martha.” If you are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10, you will remember that Martha was the sister who was constantly serving and all the while forsaking the most important thing: simply sitting at the feet of Jesus. This is the story of my life. I love to accomplish things. I love to do. It makes me feel good about myself and gives me a way to quantify the successfulness of my day. Consequently, it is extremely hard for me to just sit. In fact, this is the main reason that I hate napping. What a wasted few hours! When I end the day without having accomplished anything on my to-do list, I feel like I wasted my day.
Of course, there is nothing inherently wrong with getting things done and having a strong work ethic. It is when I can’t stop doing those things or thinking about them that they become a problem. Since our daughter Lively still takes a morning nap, that has become my “Jesus time.” I spend that time enjoying who God is through the Bible and prayer for as long as her nap lasts. But heaven forbid that she sleep longer than her normal hour and a half. I can’t lose that precious time to get to the important things I want to accomplish!
So if you weren’t aware, my awesome husband Jimmy is releasing a new record called “Clear The Stage” in 5 days! This record is unbelievable musically and lyrically and is all I have been listening to lately. The album title comes from a song on the record also called Clear the Stage that was written by a friend of ours, Ross King (Check out his music here. And please buy his album “And All the Decorations Too.” It is phenomenal lyrically.). This song has had a powerful effect on both of our lives and is one we regularly listen to as a way to check our hearts for idols. To give you an idea of the message of the song and this record, let me share a portion of the lyrics:
Anything I put before my God is an idol.
Anything I want with all my heart is an idol.
Anything I can’t stop thinking of is an idol.
Anything that I give all my love is an idol.
We must not worship something that’s not even worth it.
Clear the stage and make some space for the one who deserves it.
In anticipation of this record, Jimmy and I will be doing some “stage-clearing” in our own lives and will be blogging about it for the next five days until the record releases. We invite you to join us in this with hopes that we can give God the rightful place in our lives: center stage.
Well it’s been 4 months since my last blog post! And as I expected, God had a lot to teach me in this hiatus from writing and none of it has been what I expected. For those of you who have prayed for me and sent encouraging messages: Thank you!!
Just before this break from writing, I had been asking God to grant me humility. I am very aware of my struggle with pride and I feel that it is a stronghold in my life. Pride is very subtle and can take many different forms that we can’t see right away, so I felt very helpless in the battle against this sin and had been regularly asking for God to bring a new level of liberation from it. It was soon after I began praying for this that I began to sense I needed to take a break from writing.
As I mentioned in my last post, I also felt that this season would be full of temptation as well. And sure enough it was. There were numerous occasions where I was presented with a clear choice to walk in the Spirit or walk in the flesh. For example, there had been a miscommunication between Jimmy and I and it genuinely inconvenienced me. But I knew it was a complete accident and unintentional. He had been so sweet throughout our conversation about it and was headed home. I remember hanging up the phone and thinking, “I can respond in grace to my husband and be forgiving or respond in entitlement to what I feel like I deserve.” And without feeling like I could do any differently, I chose the way of entitlement.
“The mind of man plans his way, But the LORD directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
It has been my intention to write a series of blogs that I listed in my post “The Influence of a Woman.” Well, as you can tell if you follow my blog, that hasn’t happened. I have posted 2 of the 6 that were listed and I started writing the third on living an evangelistic lifestyle. But because I felt God wasn’t giving me words and that at times my motive for writing was wrong, I still haven’t finished it.
Honestly, I feel as though God is redirecting my steps and has put my writing on hold. I love writing and have sat down a few times to write my thoughts down, but nothing comes. And interestingly enough, I feel like I have never had more to say and been more passionate about writing than now. But instead of writing, I am sensing that I am in a season of preparation, though I’m not sure what for. And I think this preparation will consist of many temptations and testings that will reveal the true condition of my heart and also prepare me for revival. I also believe one result of this time will be a fresh revelation of what He wants me to write. I have felt many things churning in my heart that I am longing to share, but feel as though God has more to say to me on those topics.
Today was a perfect example of how being married to Jimmy makes my life weird.
We showed up at Panera bread this afternoon to meet with a pastor in our area for the very first time. We had just sat down when a stranger walked up and asked, “Excuse me, but are you Jimmy Needham?” After Jimmy signed a sheet of notebook paper for her, we exchanged a few cordial introductions then returned to our conversation. I am very grateful for that girl today and her support of Jimmy and his music but again, these are the things just make our life… weird.
Most of you reading this are probably already familiar with my husband and his music. For those of you who have no idea who he is and wonder why you should, I am glad you are here! Honestly, he is just a normal guy like any other. But to most people he is Jimmy Needham. He is a Christian singer/songwriter and recording artist with Inpop records. He is played on radio stations across the country and in many other countries as well!
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely adore my husband and I am thrilled to be married to him and absolutely love supporting him in his calling as a singer/songwriter/recording artist. But the truth is, that because of what he does, our life is different.
Jimmy’s growing fame was originally a source of great insecurity and frustration for me. When we got married, all our friends and family knew me for me: my personality, my strengths and weakness, my love for Jesus. But when we were on the road, people only knew me for one thing: I was married to Jimmy.
My first encounter with God was in a pew at church when I was 8 years old. Every sunday, our pastor would end the service by inviting people to come to the front of the sanctuary to pray to receive salvation. And inevitably, every sunday I would tell myself I was going to go down to the front. I didn’t know what salvation meant or what would happen when I got there, I just knew that I needed to go down. I needed something that they were offering down there, whatever it was. But even as an 8 year old, I was afraid of what people, including my parents, would think. After much debating within myself, I never went.
A couple years later I found myself at our church’s “Preteen Camp.” As I began to meet other church kids, I started to learn the “spiritual language” better. I realized that the cool thing to do was to “get saved.” And one “got saved” by walking down the aisle at the end of the service and praying a prayer with a counselor. (The prayer only worked if you cried while you prayed it though.) So naturally, I decided I would get saved while I was at preteen camp. My new bunkmate Allison was going to get saved too since we were the only ones in our cabin who weren’t saved yet.
That night, we walked down the aisle as planned and found ourselves sitting with a camp counselor. Everything was going smoothly until we started praying. I couldn’t get myself to cry! I began thinking about my dog dying and other sad things to try and muster up a few tears without much luck. But I was reassured by my counselor that now I was saved and I should call my parents to share the good news! I was a different person now, she assured me. Funny, I didn’t feel any different.