Jennifer Camp, co-founder of Gather Ministries, and author of Loop, grew up in the middle of an almond orchard in Northern California and now lives in the busy Bay Area with her husband and three kids. A former high school English teacher, she loves to write, but she especially loves to encourage people to seek and live out the truth of their story, their identity in Christ. You can find her writing at her blog, Jennifer J. Camp .You can connect with Jennifer on both Facebook and Twitter. She would love to have you join her there.
Ten Things to Do To Get Yourself Closer to God
I spend the morning doing the usual last minute things you do when you and your husband are on your way out of town for the week and your mom is coming to keep the kids alive. Well it’s not the kids you’re worried about. They’re now old enough so that, hypothetically, not too many things should go wrong.
It’s the dog. He’s a big baby. To be more specific: he’s yourbig baby. He is super attached to you. When you leave he refuses to eat and he pretends he has go out to relieve himself only to hide under the neighbor’s bush and refuse to come out until you come home.
So, yeah, it was a morning throwing out the old food from the refrigerator and doing last minute laundry folding and trying to shove that last jacket in case it rains into a too-full/too-small duffle bag. (I’m asking for a rolling carry-on for my birthday.)
And then the dog.
There was a lot of worry about the dog. Can my awesome father-in-law come and hang out with him until my mom comes? Will he take him for a walk to cheer him up? Can he give him a massage? Can I get the dog to understand what I say when I tell him I will, indeed, not be gone forever? Please eat. I will come back.
I love him.
But, now we are on the plane, and I can think straight, and I have been assured by my mom that the dog, really, is fine. So, I am finally writing what is on my heart to say to you. What is actually not lame but important:
You are the beloved. You are adored. You are worth fighting for.
Even if the opposite of this feels most real.
Even if you don’t know how to take the first step to believing this.
Even if you don’t know how to get close to God.
Last month (how did time go by so fast?) I promised I would share with you what practical things I do to fight for my own heart when God feels oh, so far away. It has been a season of hard things—and a season of blessing.
There is so much more to say. But for now, let’s start with a simple list.
Are you ready?
Ten Things To Do To Get Closer To God
We need to keep the eyes of our heart on God. His abundance. His presence. Right here. Right now. So, be bold—and, even if you don’t feel like it, praise Him for His goodness. Praise Him for His love. Name His attributes and look up verses that remind us of who He is. Speak them aloud. Write them down. Declare their truth over yourself.
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91: 1-4).
“Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts,
And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalm 139: 23-24).
Just say what is on your mind. Trust your heart. The Holy Spirit will guide you toward Him.
This is a prayer He loves to answer.
There are certain songs I turn to when I am lonely, when I am far away from my Father and I am desperate for Him to pull me close. They are songs that help my heart be receptive to the Holy Spirit. They usher Him in. They open up heart and mind and spirit to receive more of Him—more of all He has. Check out this playlist I pulled together, for you.
Get on your knees. Or stand up. Lie down. Or raise your hands. Dance. Or run. Walk. Or be still. Concentrate your whole self on thinking about who He is, how He loves you, how He is with you, how He never leaves.
What does He look like? What is He doing? What are you doing? Where are you with Him? How do you feel? Stay there as long as you can. Stay. Let him show you what it is He sees when He looks at you. Let Him love you. Let Him come.
Break the agreements you have made with the enemy about who you are, and who God is. Then you will hear Him and see Him and move with Him more easily. You can read more about this here. Go.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
The plane is about to land soon. And the whole time I am writing I am listening to this album on repeat. God is close, sisters. He is in us. We, the beloved. We, the ones who are loved.
Let’s fight for our own hearts now. He gives us the tools. He will guide us deeper into Him. We are not alone in this fight.
Father, let us step toward you now. Let us see You. Let us hear You. Remind us how we are Yours. Let us live this day believing You are right here.
Sister, what are your thoughts about this list? What would you add? What practical steps do you take to get yourself in the presence of God? I can’t wait to learn from you and hear.
Playlist for when I am stuck
“Here Now (Madness)” by Hillsong
“Inheritance” by Jonathan David Helser and Graham Cooke
. . .” by United Pursuit, featuring Andrea MarieSave
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com
He had me close my eyes and walk into the bedroom. “I have a gift for you. Keep your eyes closed.” I feel my way into the room, fingers extended, and then sit up on the edge of the bed.
“Keep your eyes closed. Listen to me describe it first. This is what I want to tell you.”
“Hear. Write. Speak. The book press is a reminder of the writing work you do together with God–and the importance of it, in His mind. He made you to write–to make physical books and digital goods. And He wants you to know how proud He is of your writing and how happy it makes Him to work alongside you.”
My chest tightens, tears filling my closed eyes.
“Now open them.”
Before me is a book press–black iron, heavy plates. Copies of Breathing Eden pressed in between. These are the words God and I wrote together. The stories He showed me. My attempt to write down the pictures I saw in my mind.
Of this woman. And this woman. Their faces, their hands. Their voices, their prayers.
I did my best, one word at a time, to describe what I saw, to transcribe what I heard them say.
The conversations, though, are just the jumping off place for us, the readers. The conversations are the beginning of our invitation. I pray the conversations in between these women and God make us hungry for light, fresh air, and new things in our own lives.
We know there are conversations God wants to have with us, right now.
Isn’t that awesome?
The birthday celebration prizes.
This Tuesday, it will be six months since the release of Breathing Eden: Conversations with God on Light, Fresh Air, and New Things. (Did you see the new page that tells all about it?) And I want to celebrate this with you! So, I have teamed up with the beautiful and amazing Katie, the founder and artist of Hosanna Revival. Just for us, she created a beautiful, hand-painted journaling Bible, personalized for a Breathing Eden sister.
Isn’t the Bible designed by Hosanna Revival gorgeous?
I am so excited to give away this Bible, along with other prizes–autographed copies of Breathing Eden (to keep or give away!), and two eight by ten canvases designed by the stunning Portland artist, Rachel Jacobson.
So how do you win these awesome prizes? Well, here is the scoop:
In celebration of light and fresh air and new things, we are having a coloring page contest where you get to show off your beautiful designs over on Instagram! To enter the contest is simple. Here is what you need to do:
To participate in the contest, participants must do the following:
Post and share extra photos of your page(s) on Facebook for additional entries. (You can decorate more than one page and enter more than once!) Just be sure to use the hashtag #iamBreathingEden each time so I will see it!
The winner(s) will be chosen randomly, at midnight, April 6, PST and announced on my blog and on social media on Thursday morning, April 7. Tell your friends!
And here are the prizes!
So, what are you waiting for? Download your page and get started! Have fun! I can’t wait to see what you post!
I love how we get to breathe Eden together.
*This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Instagram. Also, make sure to not inaccurately tag content.
“You are not the forgotten one.”
I hear it–a statement, simple enough, from a Father who pursues. He wants this truth to sink in deep this time. He wants me to believe it: Achievement does not make any person more worthy of love.
“You are not the forgotten one. You are the chosen one.”
Oh, Father. Take this heart that doubts your truth. Kill it in me. Give me a new heart. Help me deny the temptations of this world.
Yes, something in us has to die to make room for God’s truth.
The fire in the hearth blazes. I sit with blanket pulled across my chest, turquoise plaid wool tucked under my feet. The house sleeps, but I know, God, You’re here. Early morning comes like a new beginning, a chance to awake, once more, to truth. A chance to put to death, once more, these lies.
Believing truth is a battle hard-fought and won. Other messages–the dark ones, the desperate ones–the eager pokes and prods to our heart that cause anxiety, doubt, insecurity–are so much easier, sometimes, to believe.
My head, so rational (usually) knows my value is not determined by the world’s definition of success: numbers, on a platform or a scale; beauty, from youth or wealth. My head knows this. My head recognizes the voice of the Father, the voice that has saved my life, given me hope when there was shame, new life when despair reigned.
But yet I still struggle to believe it. My heart rebels against my mind. My mind struggles to convince my heart.
There is such good for us, we daughters of God–such a beautiful life, right here, right now. But rather than energized, we feel exhausted. Rather than free, we feel stuck. We are not made to feel overwhelmed, lost, depleted. And when we do? That’s how we know, in our spirit, that it is time to die again. It is time to break agreements we have made with the enemy about our worth. It is time to receive more of our King’s real life.
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25).
Over and over, I must give Jesus my heart. Over and over, I must discern what agreements I have made with the enemy and then immediately break them. Over and over, I must die to myself. There was a significant dying in me once before. It has helped me see the value of not delaying in doing it again.
A ROCK HARD HEART
Once upon a time, God, in his tenderness, saw his daughter cowering, a rock upon her chest, dragged down by deceit and pride and shame. And he lifted the rock off of her. He asked her if she wanted to keep her unchanged heart–a heart conditioned to lie and to pretend and to work to create an image that is anything but true. And for a while, she rejected Him. She could not imagine facing her sin. She could not imagine confessing and opening her heart. So she said no. She was fine. And He let her stay, just like that, for two decades, a secret kept, a heart locked up, a rock upon her chest.
Not only from friends and family, but from my own self, I kept the secret of my abortion. I pushed it down, refused to think about it. I convinced myself that deception was a much better way to live than showing the world my scars. If I could hide my bad choices, my regrets, why wouldn’t I? Why reveal what I had done, who I really am, what I am capable of?
I kept the truth about me a secret, and, in doing so, I convinced myself, for two decades, that if no one knew what I did–what I am still capable of doing–I would be okay. The world was my idol. Keeping up an appearance in which everything looked beautiful, put together, polished and tidy and good made me feel that I was beautiful, put together, polished and tidy and good. I wanted to be these things. And convincing the world that I was these things was easy–easier, at least, than admitting it was actually a lie. All of it.
But there was a cost.
The cost of the lie was my heart. I made an agreement with the enemy that I am only loved because of what I do. I made an agreement that if I, in my sin, am capable of so much deceit, of treachery, of murder, then surely I am no good. And I wasn’t ready to deal with that reality. So, rather than surrender my heart, my pain–confess my sin–I buried it.
Those decades of hiding my heart from God were some of the loneliest of my life.
“You are not the forgotten one.”
Old wounds healed. But new agreements made.
I feel myself wrestling to lay down my life again.
It is time.
EVEN THOUGH IT FEELS TOO GOOD TO BELIEVE
We are loved. We are loved despite of our sin. We are loved despite are weaknesses. And even though it feels too good to believe, even though, of course, we do not deserve it, this is the only path to Life. We must lay down our life; we must break agreements with the enemy; we must waste no more time in pretending to be strong, insisting on being stubborn.
We can’t do this life on our own, right here, right now. We are desperate for God. Beautifully desperate. And that is more–so much more–than okay.
This desperation for God is why I listened for God’s voice and I created Loop. This desperation for God is why I listened for God’s voice and I created Breathing Eden. This desperation for God is why I listen and I spend hours each morning creating a new project I am so eager to share with you soon.
And this is why, in whatever I write now, I endeavor to do it with vulnerability. For it is my vulnerability, my weakness, that is my strength. It is a lie from the enemy that tries to convince me that the opposite of this is true.
I am tired of believing lies.
SO, WHAT NOW?
How do we take steps, each day, to surrender?
How do we take steps, each day, to pick up our cross, be confident in our weaknesses, let God be our rock, our stronghold, our warrior, our King, our strength?
Let me know if you’d like me to share with you what I do. In the meantime, here is the truth I cling to: we are so beautifully desperate for God. And that’s a good thing.
What practical thing do you do in response to your desperation for God?
This post appeared originally at jenniferjcamp.com