Isabelle Ingalls

About Isabelle Ingalls

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Isabelle Ingalls is a lover of music, dancing, color, laughter, kids, filming, words, and books; but most of all Jesus. She is an author living in West Texas, sharing her musings on the Gospel, faith, and Christian living at her blog

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Your Work Is Worth It

Your Work Is Worth It by Isabelle Ingalls

Do you know one of the hardest questions for those of us who have grown up in church? Not “Why do you dress like that?” or “That’s how you’re doing relationships? Really?” or “Why do you believe that?” No, the real, true, dreaded, impossible question.

“What’s your favorite Bible verse?”

Ok, perhaps I’m being a bit tongue-in-cheek. But this is still always a difficult question. How do you expect me to pick just one verse out of the entire Word? How can I love just one sentence of God’s story more than the others? It depends on my struggles at the moment. It depends on what I’m studying. It depends on what He’s teaching me. It depends on the month, the day, or the hour. Which is a blessing in a sense, proof that His Word is living and active, continuing to teach us throughout all of life. But that doesn’t make answering the question any easier.

However, there has been one passage this last year that has stayed very near the top of my list. (Notice, I said passage, rather than verse, so technically I’m still evading the question.)

“Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” – 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Because honestly, this last year has been exhausting. All of us have experienced this. We have basketball practices to make and get-togethers to schedule and papers to finish and doctors to call and finals to take — and we’re tired. We’ll soldier on through our weeks, but still inside of us we cry “How long?”

We know it shouldn’t be this hard. We know we shouldn’t have to struggle against so many sins and situations. We groan, just like the rest of Creation, waiting for everything to be made new. We look about us at this corruption, and long for the Something Better that is coming. All these attacks, fears, and hatred — we know it can’t go on like this. Our world is restless for restoration. All our own selfishness, weakness, and impatience — we know it can’t go on like this. We’re eager for the day when we will be made new.

At the moment, we feel surrounded by the darkness, punctuated only by the slow red-and-white flash of ambulance lights. Lost on these tilting plates, the world seems sliding faster and faster into chaos.

But it won’t always be this way.

So we’re waiting. We’re peeking ahead. Like a child standing on his tiptoes, we crane our necks and search with our eyes to catch the glimmer. Because we know it’s coming soon.

He promised.

And when it does, all our work, all this pain, all this hurt; it will have been worth it. We’ll dance in exultation, we’ll sing throughout eternity. Our wounds will be washed away. Our hurts will be healed. The long years of loneliness, the dark nights of sorrow, the hours of anguish; in that moment light will tear through the shroud, and all darkness will flee as the Son bursts forth in brilliance.

Death has been de-fanged. The grave has been robbed. What power does evil have? What rule has the darkness? God has given us the victory, in the most absurdly beautiful of ways — through His death. We know how the story of everything ends.

And because we know the end, we know how to respond now. We don’t have to fear the darkness. There’s no need to cave to the chaos. We know what we are fighting for, and what we are waiting for. An earth made new. The return of a King. An everlasting kingdom.

So, my brothers and sisters, be strong. Be brave. Don’t be swayed. Through the darkness, through the hurt, through the pain, always serve Him. Be a light, proclaiming His truth, and His hope. Because your work will be worth it.

“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”

2018-01-08T13:34:47+00:00 By |

This Isn’t Safe

This Isn't Safe by Isabelle Ingalls

This Isn’t Safe by Isabelle Ingalls

“Don’t you know who is the King of the Beasts? Aslan is a lion — the lion, the great lion.”

“Ooh!” said Susan… “Is he – quite safe?”

“Safe?”said Mr. Beaver… “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” – The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

I think often we echo Susan, asking if our God is harmless. Because we would like a Coke-Machine God. We can insert our prayers and good deeds, and ding! He spits out a comfy 9-to-5 job, a comfy white-picket house, and even a comfy Mercedes-Benz if we’re really spiritual. We want a talisman Jesus. We can sit Him up on our car dashboard for when we want a favor or a free parking spot, and aha! He lays out a road of good fortune. We want a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Lord. We can walk along our own merry way, but if we happen upon some hard times, someone’s sick, or a job is lost; we can pay attention to Him and whoosh! He shoos away all our troubles, just like the ending of all those Hallmark movies.

We’d like just a nice, beneficial God. He’s comfortable, easy, and safe.

But a God who decimates our comfort zones, who desecrates our personal idols, who demands our entire being? No. Thank. You.

Now, perhaps my appraisal sounds harsh or caricaturing, but is it really so untrue? We structure our lives, wishing and acting like God is just another thing we can schedule in. We’ll choose our friends based on similar viewpoints. We’ll choose our reading-list based on the bestseller list. We’ll choose our college based on numbers. We’ll choose our careers based on projected income. We’ll choose our churches based on music. But God has no place in our normal lives, except perhaps in throwing a few bills into the offering plate, because that’s the bit that we’ve assigned to Him.

If we’re not careful, we relegate God, we relegate our faith, to Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. He’s safe there, in His house. But if we brought Him home, brought Him back into our houses — who knows what would happen? Lions and kings stay in their own places, and please stay out of ours.

Because deep down we know He isn’t, He can’t be the comfortable, easy God we’d like. We’ve heard what He’s said. Deny it all. Forsake it all. Take up your cross. Lay down your life. And we’re not sure if we’re quite on board.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.” – C. S. Lewis

Miriam-Webster defines safe as “free from harm or risk.” And perhaps that describes the Jesus of the American Dream, the Jesus of our comfortable world and fantasies. But not the real one.

The real Jesus tells people to obey Him alone; and they get thrown into fiery furnaces and lions’ dens. The real Jesus tells people, “Follow Me,” and they lose friends and family and gain the hatred of their whole nation. The real Jesus tells people, “Go,” and they are lashed five times, shipwrecked three, and stoned once. (2 Cor. 11:24-25)

But He’s also worth it.

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Rom. 8:18) “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” (Phil. 3:8)

A small, submissive Jesus, who only ever does what we want — He’s no higher than us. He’s a genie, not God. A Jesus who only ever rewards us for good behavior — He’s no greater than us. He’s Santa Claus, not God. A Jesus who only ever has a place in our lives during calamities — He’s not loving to us. He’s a life vest, not God.

That is not the God I know. That is not the God that exists.

Jesus doesn’t always do what I want – because His ways are so much higher than mine. He is God. Jesus doesn’t ignore sin – instead, fully knowing the terrible cost, He took my sin, that I might have the righteousness of God through Him. He is God. Jesus doesn’t pop into my life only when I need a big miracle – He has claimed all of me as His own, and my life is now His. He is God.

This Christian life isn’t safe. But nothing worthwhile ever is. Yes, we might be more secure in our comfort zones, in these fences we’ve built. But a security that keeps us from the life God is calling us to — it’s a prison. A ship is safest in the harbor, but that’s not what ships are made for. When we step out in obedience to His Word, regardless of how safe the world might consider it, that’s when life truly begins.

He is the King of King and Lord of Lords who makes the mountains to tremble. (Rev. 19:16, Psa. 18:7) All things were created by Him, and for Him. (Col. 1:16) He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. (Rev. 22:13) Before Him every knee will bow, and every tongue will declare that He is Lord. (Phil 2:10-11) He alone is the One worth serving. He alone is the One worth following.

Even when it’s not safe.

He is Good. And He is the King.

2018-01-09T12:47:04+00:00 By |

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