Beck Wattier

Footprints In The Sand

Dec
27

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We’ve all seen or heard the ‘Footprints’ story, haven’t we? There is one pair of footprints along a stretch of beach, and to make the story short- the man asks God why He left him alone and God responds ‘those are my footprints, I’ve been carrying you.’

The moral of this story is supposed to be that when we feel most alone, that’s when God is most with us. He carries us through our rough times.

Most of us would agree with these statements on most days. I would confidently encourage you with these words on most days. But I can’t write about them like that today.

We say that even on the days when we can’t see God at work or feel His hands on us, they’re still there.

We say that even when it seems like our world is falling apart, He is still totally in control.

We say that every detail has to go through His hands first, so every detail must have a purpose in His plan.

We say we can find comfort in that.

Today I don’t.

Today I don’t see Him.
Today I don’t feel Him.
Today I don’t want to.
Today, the thought that all of my circumstances have passed through His hands and He didn’t stop one of them makes me very angry.
Today there is fear in my heart that I have trusted too much.
Today there is hurt. I simply do not understand. The one person who can bring me comfort seems to be the one allowing the pain.

I debated over these words for a long time because the bigger this platform of mine gets and the more people who have begun to tune in to my words, the more responsibility I feel to make sure my words are worth tuning in to. I don’t want to lead anyone into doubt. In fact, I hope that my words will help doubting people find answers. I’ve been thinking a lot on how to do that. I want to point people towards the truth. But can I be real? I don’t always know what the truth is. Can I be realer? Sometimes life gets me so down that I don’t even care to try to figure it out.

I’m not giving up, I’m not walking away, but things are not okay.

This life is still His to do whatever He wants with, but today I am struggling to feel love for Him.

More than my desire to help people find answers, is my desire to create a safe place for people to wrestle with their doubts. The answers always come, but the wrestling can be brutal.

I’ve been wrestling this week, and it’s been brutal. No one should wrestle alone.

I can’t point you anywhere today, because I’m stuck myself and I don’t know which way is up. But I can tell you you’re probably not alone, even though I myself am having a hard time feeling not alone. I can’t in good conscience share the high points and not share some of the lows. It’s way too easy to create an online presence that is everything I wish I was and not enough of real life. This is a part of my real life. Some days are full of fear and doubt. Some days I just don’t know.

Can you relate?

“Emmanuel”

Dec
20

Victoria’s Secret and the Proverbs 31 Woman

Dec
11

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Last night was the annual Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. I don’t have to explain the controversy surrounding this event every year, or even go into detail about the strong points from different arguments. Most of us have heard all the same opinions debated over and over. 9.3 million viewers tuned into the show last year, and between the 18-49 age bracket, twice as many women were watching as men. (I wanted to post links to these stats but every article also contains numerous pictures of women in their underwear). I found this particularly interesting as many people paint Victoria’s Secret, and this annual fashion show in particular, as a sex-crazed parade out to capture young men’s attention. Obviously, there are plenty of guys giving it their attention, but in the big picture, it’s the ladies that are tuning in. Why?

We like it.

A lot could be said here about how our culture promotes a false sense of beauty, and how we market superficial values to young girls who end up having body image and self-worth issues. Again, we’ve all read those articles, we get it. Most of us know the false messages our culture promotes. We know the whole spill about fashion and photography…how pictures get edited and super models never get to eat, how it’s not real life and we shouldn’t judge ourselves by that standard. We can judge the guys for being attracted to those things, but at the end of the day, we are too (in a different way). We may not continually put ourselves down, or think less of ourselves when we wake up in the morning and do not look like a super model (hah), but we sure do feel better and think higher of ourselves on the days we look and feel great. It’s like ‘Yeah, that’s a stupid standard for beauty that no real people can reach…until I get a step or two closer to reaching it and then I’ll silently pat myself on the back.’ We may not openly strive for this high standard of exterior beauty, but we sure feel insecure in showing our true selves don’t we? In our Christian circles especially, girls will talk all day long about modesty and how true beauty lies inside, but we still have those situations that make us feel a little too ‘real’, the times we feel we need to give an excuse for why we look as ‘rough’ as we do. We say we don’t care about our outward appearance but have someone give you a compliment and your heart does this little leap of joy thing. We know what we’ve all agreed to be true- beauty has nothing to do with our outward appearance, but inside of us is still this notion that we are more valuable when we are closer to the standard that has been set.

In response to the airing of the fashion show last night, social media was full of posts saying things such as ‘I’d rather be a Proverbs 31 woman than a supermodel’ or ‘I’d rather marry a Proverbs 31 woman than a Victoria’s Secret super model.’ (I’m writing a whole separate post on how the actions of Christian guys really shows what they really mean- they would rather marry a Victoria’s Secret super model that loves Jesus, hah). There are entire ministries around the notorious Proverbs 31 woman, encouraging ‘true’ womanhood…inner beauty, godly characteristics, a love for family and children, a servant’s heart. I did a quick podcast search on iTunes and there are a ton of sermons and messages on how to be the Proverbs 31 woman, how to not fall into the standard the world sets but to cling to what scripture says, and on and on and on.

I’m going to share some thoughts that you may be uneasy with, and I’m very open for discussion on any points that I may be wrong on. BUT- the “Proverbs 31 woman” isn’t a real woman, and the Proverbs 31 chapter wasn’t written to women.

If we look at the context of scripture, and honestly, if we just read the first line in this chapter, we see that this was ‘an oracle’ (a wise saying or answer) given to King Lemeul, ‘taught to him by his mother’. This was written by a woman (the Queen) to her son (a single, younger, guy). The first several verses are used to warn him against misuse of sex and alcohol. She urges him to care for the poor. THEN she starts listing qualities he should look for when choosing a wife. It’s almost like she’s saying, ‘Don’t mess around with these women that will lure you into doing what they want, spend time caring for the poor and spend time with women who do these kind of things.’ It is also an acrostic, meaning each new line is started with a succeeding letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Acrostics were used as an easy way to teach things because they were easier to memorize. Almost like an extended nursery rhyme, or the ABC song-put a little tune behind an acrostic and you’ve got a lengthy concept in an easy to recall form. Some modern writers have suggested that this particular acrostic may have been memorized by men and recited to praise women who were worthy of honor. Somehow, somewhere down the line, we took these words that were meant to direct single guys away from dangerous women and made them a standard for good-hearted women to work towards. Somehow we took this piece of literary praise meant to celebrate honorable women, and turned it into a list that women in the church need to reach in order to be honorable.

What gets me the most is this- We are so quick to call out the world’s standard of beauty as giving us a false sense of reality but in its place, we in the church suggest an equally unreal standard. We say ‘A person’s self-worth cannot be measured by ___________, now let’s look at scripture and see a list of things we can look at to measure our self worth!’ We don’t say it like that of course, but that’s the underlying feeling. Just as we don’t outright hate ourselves for waking up a little less than super-modelish but love our selves a little more when we look extra good, we don’t hate ourselves for not succeeding in all the characteristics of the perfect Christian woman, but we sure take a little pride when we seem to be getting most of the list down. It’s the same concept-“Of course I’m not perfect, of course my value is found solely in Christ, but if I can just work a little harder and do a little better at this list of things I’ll feel better.” When we say “I’d rather be a Proverbs 31 woman than a super model”, what we’re in essence saying is “I may not be physically perfect, but I can be spiritually perfect and that’s better anyway.” Both miss the point. 

Here is what the Victoria’s Secret super model and the Proverbs 31 woman have in common- they both need Jesus. You can excel in physical ‘beauty’, you can excel in inner ‘beauty’, both are worthless without being found in Christ. You can nail the physical beauty steps list, and you can nail the spiritually healthy activities list, both will stand as filthy rags according to scripture. Our standing in Christ does not depend on anything except for the work that Christ did on our behalf. We say this, we know this, but there is still this underlying feeling that we can achieve better or do better or somehow earn favor or disapproval based on how we’re measuring up. We’re so prone to the comparison game, whether physically or spiritually. We judge ourselves based on the people who we’re surrounded by, and we judge ourselves by these false standards that we are bombarded with all the time.

What if we start reminding ourselves that we are loved and cherished because we are created in the image of our Creator and we have been ransomed and redeemed? What if instead of substituting one list that we deem as ‘worldly’ with another list we deem as ‘spiritual’, we pull away from the lists altogether and get back to locking eyes with our Savior. What if we stop telling the world that they are following the wrong list and instead point them towards life and community where there are no lists because our King has set us free. As women of the church, we are a part of a Kingdom where we are free. We are warriors with our brothers and sisters in this great task of declaring the Kingdom of God. How can we focus on the task at hand if we’re looking around comparing armor and weaponry? We need to drop the masks and stop the comparisons- the ones inside of the church. We need to stop holding each other (and ourselves) to a list and a standard that is anything other than love for Christ. We need to take our eyes off of each other, we need to help each other take our eyes off of ourselves, and we need to gaze on our King.

The Lamb We Couldn’t Afford

Dec
06

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A few years back I had the opportunity to write a ladies bible study for my church. We took three to four weeks and studied the lives of different women in scripture. One of these was Anna, found in Luke chapter two. While studying to write on Anna’s story, I came across a small detail in the story of Christ that I hadn’t seen before. After researching a little further, I was (and still am) deeply moved and humbled.

Luke 2:22-24  (This is after the birth of Christ and Mary and Joseph are going to present him at the temple.) “And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, ‘Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord’) and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.'”

Growing up, I heard this story of Joseph and Mary bringing Jesus to the temple many times. It was always kind of tacked on to the end of the birth story and then you kept going further on to the life of Christ. I assumed they simply wanted to go show off their new baby at church and have him prayed over. You know- like the baby dedication services we have these days. But there was a lot more going on here.They were going to honor the covenant that God had made with their people by dedicating their first-born to the Lord, as well as bringing a sacrifice for Mary so she could be atoned for and once again considered clean and righteous.

Stick with me through some little details:

In Exodus 13:1-2 God gives a command concerning the first-borns of the nation of Israel, “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.'”

In Leviticus 12, we are given the Old Testament law pertaining to purification of a woman after childbirth. After a woman gave birth she was considered unclean for a certain amount of days depending on if the child was male or female. At the end of that set amount of days, the woman had to bring a sacrifice to the temple and the priest would offer it on her behalf, to atone for her uncleanness and make her clean again. In verse six we are given more details about this, “And when the days of her purifying are completed, whether for a son or for a daughter, she shall bring to the priest at the entrance of the tent of meeting a lamb a year old for a burnt offering, and a pigeon or a turtledove for a sin offering, and he shall offer it before the Lord and make atonement for her.” Keep reading through verse 8 and we find,  “And if she cannot afford a lamb, then she shall take two turtledoves or two pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. And the priest shall make atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” (Keep all this in mind as we keep trekking forward.)

In the passage in Luke we are told that they came “according to what is said in the Law of the Lord, ‘a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons”. Putting this information alongside the passage from Leviticus, we can conclude that they must not have been able to afford a lamb.

Don’t miss this. Mary could not afford a lamb for her atonement, so she brought two turtledoves or two pigeons as an offering instead.

Mary could not afford a lamb to offer as payment so she could be considered clean and pure in God’s sight….yet in her arms was the lamb of God, who would eventually offer himself as payment for not only her sins, but the sins of all God’s people. Christ entered into this system where people tried their best to atone for their sins, their uncleanness, but would never succeed. In this world where his own mother was required to make a sacrifice that she could not pay, he didn’t do away with the law, but he fulfilled it, and in doing so made the final payment for all people to be made right with God.

With all of our religious systems and all of the ways we have structured to ‘be right with God’, we will never be able to afford the proper sacrifice. Being good people, loving, forgiving, reading our bibles, going to church, prayer, missions, even sacrificing our own lives….Nothing we can do or say will be enough to atone for our sins. But the great news is, just like Mary, we don’t have to afford a lamb. Our lamb has been provided, and his sacrifice was enough for all of us. Our hope is in his righteousness-that we get to partake in his right standing with God.

These thoughts are heavy on my mind as we enter into this time of year. This is Christmas. God made man. Emmanuel-God with us. The lamb that came to be slain. The lamb we couldn’t afford.

I Don’t Know, But I Know I Need You

Dec
04

TMertonStudyThomas Merton (1915-1968) has become widely recognized as an important 20th century thinker.

He was a Catholic priest, a mystic, a poet, heavily involved in social activism, and a Trapist Monk. He authored over seventy books before his death and wrote on spirituality, social justice, peace, and the practices of prayer and solitude. I hope to post in the future with more details of his life and the things I have gleaned from him. His thoughts and words have influenced me greatly, because of that, I wanted to share this prayer he journaled. It has brought me great peace when I have found myself doubting and has (on more than one occasion) given me the words I needed to say what I didn’t know how to express.

“My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going, I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But, I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. I know that if I do this, you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore, I will trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadows of death. I will not fear. For you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.”

I think we often wait until we have the perfect words to approach God with our problems, thoughts, and feelings. We almost want to have it figured out and have a plan in place, eventually presenting it to God as an update to what we are doing with our life instead of a seeking after His guidance. I think it is okay, and even beneficial, to go to God and simply say ‘I don’t know, but I know I need you.’

He is always waiting and faithful to hear.