More is Better

I’m sure by now many of you have seen the AT&T commercial with the adorable children talking about how they want more, not less. AT&T prides itself on being one of the best wireless networks, promising “more” to its customers, but really, this campaign is heard all over the world today. Our society has taught us that it is okay to want more— that we deserve it. We live in an over-saturated, self-driven society that promotes material living and worldly success.

I was thinking about this recently as I considered how easy it has become to simply want it all. During Lent, my church members and I were encouraged to put on various spiritual disciplines instead of giving something up during the 40-day period. One week, we focused on simplicity. During that seven-day span, I purged items from my closet, gave away rarely used dishes, and committed not to buy anything unless absolutely necessary.

At first, I thought the experience would be relatively painless. I have never considered myself to be focused on the material. In many ways, my visual impairment has blessed me with the ability to set aside the “things” of this world simply because if they are unseen, I don’t feel like I need them. But I am finding that this is becoming less and less of a reality in my life. Recently, I have discovered the appeal of fancy shoes, headbands, and trendy clothes. For the first time in a long time, I feel like a woman— wanting to be outwardly beautiful— finding that it puts a spring in my step and provides me a bit of confidence.

As a result, I have found my closet has been transformed, leaving me many clothing articles that need new homes. Although I knew I would never wear certain pieces again, it was still difficult to give them away or even dispose of them. The ever-resourceful Dutch girl in me somehow thought that I might need these things some day— that it would be crazy to just let it all go.

But I had to relinquish the material things in order to find a deeper meaning in the midst of my closet. As I bagged up clothes, shoes, and household items, I found a great sense of release. I considered how none of these things was ever going to give me happiness. True, the new clothes and shoes made me feel girly and pretty, but I would never find true peace and joy in the stuff that cluttered my closet.

After a deep and meaningful conversation with a dear friend later that same week, I came to rediscover the overwhelming and passionate love of my Savior, not only for me but for friends and family who were hurting and grieving. (The story of this encounter is included in another post entitled “Restoration”). In that moment in time, I found a heightened passion for my Best Friend and I was overtaken by the reality of His sacrifice on my behalf. It was then that I wanted more— not another pair of shoes or a new cardigan to complete an outfit— but more of His love and presence in my life.

The things of this world will never measure up to the greatness of our God and the ultimate price His Son paid for us at Calvary. If a person wants more, he or she has only to look to the One who holds more than we could ever ask or imagine. Can we say with those kids from that AT&T commercial: “We want more”? Then we can understand that “it’s not complicated.”

The Headliner

Ten minutes to show time and we were still in a line. Somehow I knew we weren’t going to make it into the auditorium on time. My friend and I had booked tickets to a Chris Tomlin and Kari Jobe concert, and we had been so excited to attend. The weather had been questionable all day, but even so, we had made it to the venue with plenty of time to spare before the show. It was then that we found ourselves in a never-ending line, leading into the auditorium.

It was hard not to make my frustrations known. I had paid good money to see two artists that I enjoyed listening to and looked up to as worship leaders. To say that I was disappointed and impatient with the whole thing was an understatement. As the time moved closer to 7:00 p.m. (the start of the concert), I heard someone behind me make the comment: “We just got a text from Sarah; the concert just started.” Apparently, this fellow concert-goer had heard from a friend who was already inside the auditorium, and she was relaying that things had already begun.

“We’re missing it,” I said, turning to my friend.

My friend didn’t seem to miss a beat. “Who’s the headliner?” she asked.

“Chris Tomlin,” I answered, matter-of-factly, as if the answer should be obvious.

“Oh, really? Are you sure about that?” Even though I couldn’t see the expression on my friend’s face, I was almost certain she was rolling her eyes at me.

At that moment, I knew what my friend was trying to say. We were there to see Chris Tomlin and Kari Jobe, yes, but who were we really there to see? We were there to worship our Savior, and He would be the headliner of the show. Yes, we were missing the show and the performance of some of our favorite artists, but did that really matter in the scheme of things?

In a recent sermon, Pastor Tim talked about what it truly means to follow Jesus. He used the idea of being a Packer fan to illustrate the significance of this. He asked the congregation what he would need to do to be a true Packer fan. Could he wear a sign around his neck, proclaiming he was a Packer fan, or would he need to do more— like wearing a t-shirt, jersey, or hat? He identified that following Jesus, like being a Packer fan, is not on our terms. Packer fans can go to games and know all of the players’ names, just like Christians can go to church, pray and read their Bibles. But do these things really identify what it means to be a Packer fan, or even more importantly, a Christian? God asks us to follow Him on His terms. It has nothing to do with what we wear or how we identify ourselves; instead, we must commit to being “all in” for Him and not just a fan.

I think of how easy it is to look at Christianity through the lens of fandom. A person can follow the score and cheer on their team during a football game; that is being a fan. A person can also go to a concert to see the headliner and also be a fan— much like I had done at the Chris Tomlin concert. Deep in my heart, I knew I had come to the concert that night to worship, but even so, I still wanted to see Chris and Kari on stage; I was a fan. If my friend hadn’t said something, I probably would have gone through the rest of the evening disappointed that I had missed out on something as trivial as a performance.

Instead, I began to worship my Lord and Savior with everything that was in me; with tears streaming down my face, I sang at the top of my voice, forgetting about the people on stage completely. Obviously, the music was beautiful and Chris and Kari were very present in that auditorium, but it wasn’t about them at all. As my friend had pointed out, God was the headliner and we were there to worship him. We had missed a third of the concert, but that was okay, because in the end we were given a far greater gift. Overall, I learned a lesson in what it means to be a fan of something versus worshipping SOMEONE. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything.

Beautiful Ending

The book was so good, I didn’t want to put it down. I watched the pages click past on my e-reader, and I dreaded reaching the end. I had fallen in love with the story and characters and I wanted it to last forever. But with reluctance, I found myself navigating to the last page and setting my Tablet aside. It was over; I had reached the end.

I’m sure we’ve all heard that phrase, “all good things must come to an end,” and I believe this is true in many cases. I am thinking of those long summer days that draw to a close with a lingering sunset. The colors are beautiful, but eventually they fade into the night sky. I think of the last notes of a concert or a really beautiful song. The music swirls around the listener and lingers in the air, but it, too, must come to an end at some point.

I can recall being given a pre-paid phone card for my birthday as a child, and I made the decision to call my best friend who had moved to California. I distinctly remember dialing the numbers on the back of the card and my mother helping me make sure I had her phone number correct as well. I was so excited to talk to Kirsten that I just couldn’t wait another second! When she answered the phone we started talking, and I don’t think we were quiet for another twenty minutes. We knew we couldn’t stay on the phone that much longer; I didn’t have enough minutes on my card. I almost cried when I told her good-bye because I knew it would be a long time before I’d see her or talk to her again. Once more, this was something good, and it had to come to an end.

I thought about this idea of “ending” as I came home from church this past week. The lyrics to a popular song by BarlowGirl began playing through my head: “So tell me what is our ending? Will it be beautiful, so beautiful?” The song talks about tragedy and love lost because people forget who God is and what He has done for them. The members of BarlowGirl have shared that they wrote this song as a prayer that they would never be lost in what they sought to do as musicians, but that instead they would be found in Him above all else. The last lines of the song are almost a plea: “At the end of it all I want to be in Your arms.”

As the song draws to an end, they sing of His love being “beautiful, so beautiful.” I thought of my recent posts and the concepts I am continuing to hear through Pastor Tim’s sermons and my time in the Word. I have examined what it means to love others without barriers and no strings attached. Last week, I shared that it won’t always be easy. There might be times when it would be easier to just walk away and give up. But God has been encouraging me to step out and love others with the love that He has been demonstrating in my life recently.

I smile to think that my life in Christ won’t come to the ending that might be expected in earthly terms. Obviously, my life will come to an end one day, but I have been promised eternal life with the One who has loved me since the beginning of time. That to me speaks of a beautiful ending— something so breathtaking that words will not be enough to give it justice. No good book, sunset, conversation with a best friend, or beautiful song could ever compare to this promise of eternity. May we all seek to work toward that moment in time when we can stand before Jesus and find that we have finished well; instead of seeing a beautiful ending, we will find a new beginning as well— a forever-love for eternity.


For weeks now, a theme and concept has been running through my head, at times drawing me to pen and paper so I can scribble down potential song lyrics. This has been a time when I have been inspired rather often, and I consider it a blessing that He has given me words and lyrics to reflect what I am observing and learning in this season of my life.

I have found that the idea of restoration has sparked a new passion to pursue my work in music and ministry. For the past few months, my home church has been working through a book called The Story, which is a 31-week journey through the Bible. In his sermons each Sunday morning, Pastor Tim has made it clear that we as people are at the center of the story and the center of God’s creation. He has continued to make it known that God continues to pursue His creation (His people) even though we are sinful, broken, and weak to the core.

I was humbled to think of myself as one of God’s children this week as we celebrated the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. It all began on Easter morning when we celebrated both Christmas and the Resurrection in the context of one worship service. Pastor Tim stood under a large wooden cross and held a one-week-old baby. He asked the congregation if the crucified Christ and the baby Jesus could co-exist with each other. My immediate reaction was: YES! Christ came to earth willingly as a baby; He left His heavenly home to be with His people, and then He chose to die for the sins of the human race. He could have removed Himself from the inevitable and walked away, choosing not to save us… but He didn’t. He chose to restore the hurting, the broken, and those burdened by sin.

The situation is no different today; creation is still broken and sinfulness abounds. Marriages are falling apart, people are going hungry, anxiety and fear rule over one’s life, and others simply don’t realize how much they are in need of a savior. Even those who call themselves Christians are so far away from truly serving Him, and they/we go about life as if we can handle everything on our own. We pray hurried prayers each night as we fall asleep, giving God our obligatory five minutes in His presence. We wake up, already late for work or school, telling ourselves we’ll have time to read the Bible and pray later. We often “talk the talk” in front of our friends and peers, but do we ever really “walk the walk?”

Now, I use the words “we” and “our” here because I am just as guilty of these things as the next person. Over lunch this past week, I confessed to a dear friend that I longed for restoration in several relationships— for God to come in and work a miracle in our lives and in my friends’ relationships with Christ. I told her about a recent afternoon when I received word from one of these friends, thanking me for continuing to seek them out and offer love. I responded to this person the only way I knew how; I would continue to offer love and support without any barriers because it is what God calls me to do. I had the proverbial door slammed in my face on so many occasions, and I knew that the road ahead wouldn’t be easy, but I had no choice but to keep trying. As I typed out a reply to my friend’s message and later as the day continued, I was gripped with a sudden realization.

This is how God must feel when He continues to seek us out as a means of restoration and we continue to push Him away. He wants to have relationship with His people, and our half-hearted commitments must sadden Him time and time again. It gave me pause and made me consider what it might look like to show Him boundless love in return and allow Him to come in and restore me. As for my friends, I know I can continue to pursue them in love because Christ has shown me a true love beyond compare. If He welcomes me back into His arms despite my shortcomings, who am I to refuse to offer love to those who need it the most?

Love Looks Like

Ministry— the word comes with a weight of responsibility. But it’s not just for the pastors and church leaders; ministry is a calling for all who follow Jesus, and this has never been more clear to me than in the past few weeks. Although I am in a place of leadership at my church and facilitate several Bible studies, I sometimes balk when I hear the word “ministry.” I know others react to this word in a similar fashion, but the truth is, we are all ministers if we are followers of Christ.

As we prepared to lead worship at our Easter service this weekend, we prayed in a Sunday School room down the hall from the sanctuary. We prayed that our worship and offerings through music would be a testimony of His love within us and that we might be transparent witnesses that reflected Him above all else. We knew that there would be some individuals in the congregation that morning that did not attend church regularly and maybe did not yet call Jesus Christ their Savior. We were aware that the message that would be presented that morning carried great promise and a sense of responsibility on our part as worship leaders.

It was not about us up there on that platform; instead, we were ushering the congregation into God’s presence and showing them the way to the Savior. It made me think of how sometimes we may not be able to actually use words when witnessing to someone; maybe we do not have the necessary Scriptures or the plan of salvation to share with an open heart. But sometimes, it is our witness— our character— that can speak volumes to an unbeliever. I have heard it said that sometimes we will be the only Jesus someone may see in their lifetime; they can see our life lived out in faith and get a good taste of what it might look like to be a follower of Christ.

As I said earlier, in the past few weeks, I have gotten a taste of what it means to be in ministry— not necessarily preaching the Gospel or sharing the message outright— but simply portraying Christ’s love. So this week, I have compiled a list of what love looks like to me and what I have seen in others recently. Perhaps you can add to the list with your own perceptions, but this is what I have seen recently.

Love looks like:

• Sponsoring a child overseas even though money is tight and the rent payment is due
• Donating cupcakes to a good cause/ fundraiser
• Driving 7+ hours to provide transportation for someone who is unable to drive
• Spending hours volunteering one’s time without an obvious reward for the effort
• Giving someone a washer and driver just because you can and there’s no reason not to
• Auctioning off a valued collection to raise money for hungry people all over the world
• Giving away furniture or clothes to provide for the less fortunate
• Feeding and housing those who don’t have a place to stay
• Providing a safe place for teens and young adults to have fun after school and on weekends
• Choosing to tithe first in faith— before paying the rent or other necessary bills
• Offering someone a job who is in need of employment just because they showed up to work and are willing to get the job done

And the list could go on and on… What does love look like to you? How have you seen God at work through the ministry of others? I pray that you have seen love in maybe some of the most unlikely places. May we continue to give witness to His grace, love, and mercy in all that we do!