Tag Archives: hope

You Gain Strength…

Glen Cairn, South Africa | Photo by J. Bethany Anderson ©2009

In January of 2018, I was traveling back from serving with refugees in Athens, Greece when the plane I was on flew directly over Brandon, Canada. I was currently discerning a job offer and my would-be boss was named Brandon so it caught my attention like a shimmery light on the horizon.

Let me pause here and insert a small caveat: I love words. I love their double, triple layers and believe that meaning can be found anywhere that we take time and space to dig deep. I believe this not because of some weird, airy-fairy thing, but because one of the deepest convictions of my heart is that God is ALWAYS speaking. We just have to train ourselves to shut out the noise – the non-stop thoughts about our to-do list, how to wisely navigate that relationship, what to eat, what to wear to that event, when to make that decision, etc. – and STILL our hearts long enough to wonder.

So when that shimmery light of a word, “Brandon,” caught my attention, curiosity struck. So I researched that blip on the map and stumbled across some important words. The city’s motto is from the Latin: VIRES AQUIRIT EUNDO –> It gains strength by going as it goes.  

Fast-forward to January of this year [2019] and as I was reflecting on what God might have for me this year, He kept whispering the same phrase into my spirit: It gains strength by going as it goes.  

2018 was a whirlwind, in regards to my work. I took that job as an event coordinator for an action sports ministry [ROYAL] and spent my entire summer in West Virginia working with young athletes, published my first book [Kiss My Fish: Tales of Chasing God Around the World] as well as my first e-devotional [Give My Heart], and completed a 6-piece commissioned art project for a friend. Those twelve months flew by!

I was geared up and ready to hit the ground running in 2019. I had days marked on the calendar for goal-planning and dream sessions. I had a list of to-dos longer than my forearm and I was motivated to take it all on with the focus of a horse with blinders on.

And then, it happened. I woke up on December 26th with a full-blown cold/sinus/headache/allergy thing that knocked the wind, energy, and all my motivation sideways. For two weeks straight, I fought that monster. I tried to hit my to-do list. I tried to sit down and plan my goals. But I could never get past the throbbing headache or debilitating fatigue.

I could feel myself rapidly spiraling downwards into a dark hole. I had been in places like that before and I wanted to do everything in my power to thwart being thrown completely off-track at the start of a new year.

Eventually, my body healed, but the feeling that I was already way behind lingered on repeat in my mind. In the middle of that fast-paced descent downwards, God came alongside me with gentleness. He said over and over again to me, “It gains strength by going as it goes.” I wasn’t sure exactly what that meant, but it gave me enough oomph to do the next right thing.

And so, I did. The next right thing was taking it a day at a time, breathing in-between, and continually asking Him, “What’s on Your heart today, Father?”

And now, here it is – the end of February, which I deemed as my “official” [re]start of 2019. And I’m excited to announce that exactly one week from today [on March 5th!] I will be launching my podcast – The Hope Adventure, a place for us to explore the beautiful truth that “The Greatest Adventure is His Presence.”

One thing I know for certain is that in those moments when I felt zero motivation and was stuck in analysis-paralysis due to clouded thinking, confusion about which option to pursue, and an overall pause to my momentum, I kept the mantra in front of me and personalized it.

I gain strength by going as I go.

I gain strength by going as I go.

I gain strength by going as I go.

And I figured for that to be true, I just needed to keep going. And maybe you do, too…

x Bethany

www.jbethanyanderson.com

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Beacon of Light in the Night Sky.

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After calling Europe home for so many years, I often get a little riled-up when people make blanket generalizations about the spiritual state of such a diverse & complex region of the world.

I’m no stranger to these all-too-often words rattling off the lips of well-meaning Christians: “Oh, Europe is a VERY dark place spiritually.”

The reason this lights a fire in me (pun intended as you’ll see if you keep reading…) is because actually Europe is a place of dark AND light. Just like America.

But from my own experience working in a breadth of denominationally different churches across varying regions of Europe, I find the difference between European & American spirituality to be subtle, nuanced.

America is like one giant beam of light & color… so much so that oftentimes the bigger picture of the gospel & true Christianity gets distorted into one mega light which at a distance can actually seem faded, colorless, & bland. Sometimes from afar it even seems grey.

But in Europe, the light places shine out as beacons in a dark sky. Where there is light, it is very light. There is a huge & dynamic contrast of dark & light, as opposed to a numbing palette of grey.

So my passion in mobilizing people to serve & build God’s Kingdom in Europe is not from an angle of “Oh, Europe is a very dark place spiritually.” My aim is to gather more people in the light places to diffuse light in greater ways. The more we empower those light places (churches that are thriving, alive, & well), the more ground the light covers because the beacon becomes a stronger, more intense wash of light in a night sky.

“The light shines in the darkness, & the darkness has not overcome it.” ~ John 1:5

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He Is & Always Will Be: Thoughts from the Spring ‘Fire’ of 2013

ImageMany of you know that I went through a difficult & challenging season in the Spring of 2013, where I experienced a deceptive & dangerous ‘gospel’ first-hand as a staff member of a mega-church.

I don’t believe in bad-mouthing institutions (I use that word intentionally because this was one of those ‘church run as a business/institution’ not as a church kind of situations).

I DO believe in speaking the truth… & the following is what I felt God was saying to me through my experience there. It’s a strong reminder that the Church is about HIM & must always come back to JESUS.

 
“WARNING! Do not align your hearts to the deceptive culture…
that says wealth is your reward for serving Me…
that says comfort is the means to life…
that says Jesus is the way but requires loyalty to a leader…
that says we support orphans but we stay in luxury hotels because dirt under our fingertips ruins our manicured nails…
that says ‘Spirit, come’ & then the clock runs out…
that says we see God but we don’t bow our heads to pray for even 3 minutes in a 3 hour meeting…
that says take a step towards Him, but make sure you are wearing the right shoes… 
that says we welcome you, but only special people can come in & sit at the front…
that says we are the church, but you can only be a part if you do it our way…
that says be a part of us, but first sign your name & serve our leader…
that says Jesus’ words bring life, but we quote our leader more than the Jesus because he’s quippy & creative…
that says we’re here to build the Kingdom but the only empire to be seen is the one that stands empty 5 days a week & shines with the glitz and glamour of high-dollar…
that says it’s all about ‘the reach’ but only to fill empty front-row seats to present a good ‘look’ for the TV cameras… 
YOU SEE, THE CHURCH IS ABOUT ME. I WILL NOT TOLERATE A MAN-MADE EMPIRE THAT ROBS MY GLORY, THAT DISTORTS THE TRUTH IN A GREY JOYLESS VEIL, MAKING ROBOTS OUT OF MEN. JESUS IS MY GLORY. WE ARE & ALWAYS WILL BE. THE SANDS OF TIME BLOW AWAY, BUT WE REMAIN. WE ARE THE BRIGHT MORNING STAR, SHINING OUR GLORY FROM AGE TO AGE. WE REQUIRE SOLD-OUT HEARTS & LIVES, NOT EMPTY WORDS. EMPTY WORDS BRING DESTRUCTION; ONLY OUR WORDS BRING WORDS OF TRUE LIFE.
Reflecting on 2013 today, I find myself utterly grateful for God’s grace & redemption this year…
That despite the fires & trials of life, He is & always will be. 
That through the storms of life, He is & always will be. 
That through the deceptions (though well-intentioned), He is & always will be. 
That when I feel lost & floating, He is & always will be. 
That when I have no idea what’s around the corner, He is & always will be. 
That when life looks different that what I imagined, He is & always will be. 
That above ALL ELSE, He is & always will be. 
That God always speaks truth because He is & always will be. 
I am ever grateful for His truth, His guiding, His providence. Praise be to God & may His Church glorify HIM and no one else.
“Leave the Irreparable Past in His hands & step out into the Irresistible Future with Him.” ~ Oswald Chambers
Here’s to an Irresistible Future with Him in 2014! Be blessed.
Bethany x
 
 
 
 

  

Another World Is Possible.

Last week I found myself amidst the culturally labeled riff and raff. I ended up in the middle of a tent village just outside St. Paul’s cathedral in London, where I was enamored with the vibe and beat of a raw passion forging revolution.

As I circled the area, amongst the hand-made cardboard signs and poster drawings promoting “people over economy,” I came across a lengthy hot pink strip of tape that read in repetition: “Another World is Possible.”

I was struck by this thought: not only Christians realize the world is broken.

Really? Jesus followers aren’t the only ones who believe the world needs to change?

It might sound obvious to you, but I was caught in a stream of thought… the world is so broken that everyone sees it… 

This is massively important, because I believe that only out of the realization of our brokenness can we realize our need for redemption and wholeness. And it is from that place which Jesus, the perfect revolutionary, steps in and takes our broken pieces and glues them back together, fusing them with holiness.

Another world IS possible.

Just Wait.

Oswald Chambers once said, “When God gives you a vision and darkness follows, wait.” I remember being totally staggered by this quote, and it’s one ever since that has been a must-cling-to truth in several seasons of my life.

It’s that moment of potential that seems to fester with impatience; like you know something is coming… you just aren’t sure when or where or even what… but jittery nerves overtake your common sense, and you just want to lean as far forward as you can, contemplating a leap that hasn’t presented itself as an opportunity yet.

I’m definitely in one of those seasons; where I am holding the vision like a trophy, not setting it down, not letting it go, only sharing it as wisdom discerns… and yet… I’m told to wait.

Why is waiting so difficult? Why does impatience infect my every thought? Why does it linger when unwanted and unwelcome?

My tendency is to always ‘do,’ so that’s why I’m sure. Because in WAITING, I must drop the trophy, I must sit and reflect, without entertainment, without movement or momentum… just waiting. Stillness. Waiting. Solitude. Waiting. Calm. Waiting. Peace. Waiting.

But I laugh to myself, because I know that in the waiting, my soul is cleansed, my thoughts realigned, my hope restored…

Because on the other side of waiting is God out working the blessing. And that is ALWAYS worth the wait.

 

Splatter-Paint Writing.

I’ve decided that writing is like splatter-painting. There’s a mildly desperate attempt to line the paint splats up in some semblance of order, in hopes that someone can make sense of the movement of the color blobs.

I love splatter-painting, and prefer the messy, chaotic, spontaneous, colorful form of this expression.

And I’ve decided that on one hand, writing is the same; it is chaotic and messy, and trying to bring order to the splats of color in my mind is nerve-wrenching. But on the other hand, there is beauty in all of this: words organically fizz off my finger-tips, and even if they don’t make sense, it’s about the act of spontaneously throwing them out there… with hopes that somewhere, somehow, someone will catch them.

So, I’d like to make a toast: here’s to those moments of spontaneously splatter-painted words, in hopes that they mean something to you.

Bethany