// You are the well that never runs dry. //

On Thursday night, Liberty started a new thing: The Well.

The Well is a college women’s ministry event that happens once a month, in which a thousand or so (1,600 the other night) Liberty girls come together in the Concert Hall on campus to worship, open the Word, and discuss issues that are so, so relevant to our lives and this season we’re in.

If you had asked me beforehand, I really couldn’t tell you why I felt so compelled to go; I truly believe it was simply the Lord saying, “Trust me. Obey me and go. You need to be there tonight.”

So throughout the day, I tried to find someone among my friends who was planning on going to this event. One thing you should know about me: I do NOT like walking into new potentially-social events alone. Especially the kind of events where you know you’ll be surrounded by a bunch of girls who are all there with their friends. (#introvertproblems)

I almost backed out because I couldn’t find anyone to go with. The anxiety was real.

But my wonderful mom reminded me that one of my goals for the semester was to get more involved with the on-campus events and ministries that Liberty offers, and that this could even lead to me making a new friend or two, and that it’s when we step out of our comfort zones that God often speaks to and changes us the most.

So I went, meeting new and lovely people to walk to the music hall with, but leaving them once we got there as I didn’t want to intrude on their group when they were trying to find others from their hall. I took off on my own, and found a seat between two groups of girls in the balcony.

Was it awkward? Yes. Did I feel uncomfortable and out-of-place and alone? Yes.

But almost as soon as the event got started, during the first worship song, the Lord began to speak to my heart.

Because I was sitting by myself in that concert hall, yes, but I most definitely wasn’t alone. Here I was again, doing that same old song and dance in which I looked to humans to fulfill a need that the Lord has never once failed me on. In that moment, as we sang about His presence in this place and with us, I knew He was with me, just patiently waiting for me to remember Him, to realize that I should’ve been seeking Him first instead of worrying over and lamenting my lack of human social support in this situation. As we sang, I closed my eyes and asked Him to forgive me for briefly forgetting His promise to be with me always, and as we continued to worship I felt such a peace in knowing that I wasn’t alone, far from it, and that His presence was so much more than enough.

The conviction that night started early on, and honestly, lasted throughout the whole event.

We talked about and wrote down the things that we cling to instead of Jesus.

Relationships with friends and family.

Accomplishments and the desire for success.

Social media.

Even fiction, at least for me.

All these things and more, while not at all inherently bad– quite the opposite, they can be used for so much good and beauty, and a big part of who we are– have the dangerous potential to be idols, the subjects of our worship even when we don’t realize it. We dare to think that Christ alone doesn’t fully satisfy us, so we look to all these things in addition to Him for satisfaction, and thus we begin to worship them.

We were challenged to ask ourselves these questions: What holds our affections? What drives/motivates me? Where do I get my worth from?

We all know what we should say, what we desperately want to say: In Christ alone.

But if I’m honest with myself– if we’re all honest with ourselves, I think– I know that I’m not living my daily life as if that’s really true for me. It’s so, so easy to say– and even honestly believe– that my worth and affection and satisfaction is in only Christ, but then if I truly examine my life I find that I’m still looking towards these other things rather than Him for fulfillment. “The stuff of earth competes for the allegiance I owe only to the Giver of all good things” (Rich Mullins)– and there are times when it wins in my heart, in my choices and lifestyle. I don’t much like admitting that, but it’s true.

There’s this quote by Francis Chan that’s been coming to mind quite often this month, and again Thursday night: “Never let your public passion exceed your private devotion.”

That’s always been a struggle of mine, even after coming to know Christ as a preteen, and that’s really what Thursday night’s message came down to.

We looked at how Paul’s letters have a recurring theme of emphasis on the mind– “set your minds on things above” (or “affections“, in the KJV) in Colossians 3:1-2, “take every thought captive to obey Christ” in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, and “but we have the mind of Christ” in 1 Corinthians 2:16 [emphasis mine].

That private devotion that Francis Chan spoke of, that looking to Christ alone for satisfaction– it’s an effort of the mind, and it starts with our thought life, with the constant monologue happening within us from the moment we wake up to the moment we fall asleep at night.

A quote I wrote down from Thursday night: “How wholesome, faith-driven, and Christ-centered is the conversation that you have with yourself every day?”

Yikes. I don’t know about you, but I know what my own answer is: Not nearly as much as it should be– in any of the three categories.

Now obviously, we’re humans and we’re broken and we’re sinful, so it’s impossible for us to make every single one of our thoughts holy all the time. But we do get to choose which kinds of thought we dwell on— those that glorify God, or those that don’t.

Another thing I learned that night: that quote by Augustine, the lovely one that says “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee”?

It’s so obvious– I can’t believe I’d been living so blindly to it lately– but our hearts are restless until they rest in Him, not in what we’re doing for His kingdom.

For awhile now, since the beginning of this past summer, I’ve been so restless and weary in feeling like I’m not doing enough for the kingdom of God. I’ve been looking around my life at home and my life at school and asking myself despairingly, What am I even doing of eternal significance here? What am I doing here other than schoolwork and self-care and having fun alone and with friends (all good and important things, yes, but still)? Why am I not doing anything like ___________ [insert the names of at least a dozen people whom I’m unwisely comparing myself to here] is doing? What’s wrong with me? Why am I not taking action?

I’ve been trying to seek the Lord for guidance and peace in this area, and He has graciously given me peace about certain things even when I was only seeking him half-heartedly, even when I was looking to advice from family and friends before listening to His voice.

But– how silly and utterly blind of me!– I had forgotten that when my satisfaction is truly in Christ alone, when I am genuinely seeking and spending time in His presence every single day, that’s when He will give me joy and peace.

And maybe, just maybe, before He wants me to do anything, He just wants me to be— to be still in His presence, to rest in Him and spend time with Him and grow in Him to the point where I can say that my satisfaction is “in Christ alone” and my life actually reflects that.

(Sound familiar? That’s because I wrote on much the same thing over the summer. I’m a fallible human who forgets important lessons sometimes, but is graciously and emphatically reminded of them at just the right time. Also, Philippians 3:12-14. xD)

No, I’m not going to magically transform into a girl who never struggles with placing her affections and worship in the wrong places. My thought life is not magically going to be cleared of all the messy, broken, human stuff. I know myself, and humanity, far too well to hold myself to that impossible standard on this side of heaven.

But my mindset has changed, and my heart has changed, and I can’t help but feel that this is the beginning of something beautiful– not only in me and my own walk with the Lord, but in each of the girls who attended The Well and heard that message. (And maybe, just maybe, in you too– because we all need to hear this every now and then.)

So, so thankful that Liberty is beginning this thing called The Well– and that we are all beginning to realize that Christ truly is the well that never runs dry, and that He is so much more than enough for us, abundant and overflowing and satisfying every need, if only we let Him.

Praying that if you don’t already believe this, that you will begin to. It truly changes everything.

{Love always, Em}

// ’cause we’re dreaming with our eyes wide open. //

(Or, the one where I use a lyric from The Greatest Showman as a title when the blog post is actually about an incredible book I’ve just finished that has absolutely nothing to do with P.T. Barnum or the circus.)


“The woman who derives her principles from the Bible, and her amusements from intellectual sources, from the beauties of nature, and from active employment and exercise, will not pant for beholders. She is no clamorous beggar for the extorted alms of admiration. She lives on her own stock. She possesses the truest independence. She does not wait for the opinion of the world, to know if she is right; nor for the applause of the world, to know if she is happy.”
–Hannah More, Collected Works (quote included in Fierce Convictions)

In early 2017 (or perhaps late 2016), a book on a shelf at my campus’s Barnes & Noble caught my eye; the cover was beautiful, and the title drew my interest immediately.


Fierce Convictions. Isn’t that wonderful?

At the time, I couldn’t get the book, because 1.) It cost money, and 2.) I didn’t have time to read it. (Such is the life of a college student.)

Fast forward to this past week, when I decided that the first new book I wanted to read on my new kindle fire would be this biography of a woman whom I’d never heard of but, if the title “poet, reformer, and abolitionist” was any indication, I would come to admire. (And then when this decision was further confirmed by the fact that its author, Karen Swallow Prior, will be the professor of a literature class I’ll be beginning in a week and a half.)

IMG_0155(I had to include a picture of my kindle. Because it is lovely.)

This was one of my best book-related decisions, I’ve found, because Hannah More, though little-known today, is actually an incredibly epic and influential historical figure, and I now want to live out my faith and my calling in much the same way that she did.

Because that’s what she did: she took up her pen, stood steadfastly upon her faith in Christ and the ensuing principles she believed in, and in doing so was able to impact her world at all levels of society. She advocated tirelessly for the education of women and of the poor, the abolition of slavery, and the need for Christianity to be taken seriously by those in her society who called themselves Christians but did not take up their crosses. Her writing reached so many people, and changed quite a few lives– and as she moved into a higher position in society than what she was born into, she used that position to be an influence and light to the many talented and powerful friends she made, rather than squandering it on self-interests as so many others would be inclined to do. So, so much respect for this lady right here.

Interestingly enough, she has written quite a few things which have great relevance even today, over two centuries later.

On women’s rights:

She sought to advance female education in order to fulfill women as women, not to make them like men. “On the whole,” she posed in her 1777 treatise Essays on Various Subjects, Principally Designed for Young Ladies, “is it not better to succeed as women, than to fail as men?… to be good originals, rather than bad imitators?”
–Karen Swallow Prior, Fierce Convictions

On politics and morality:

“It should be held as an eternal truth, that what is morally wrong can never be politically right.”
–Hannah More, Collected Works

(CAN I GET AN AMEN??? New favorite quote.)

On young Christians growing up in the faith, but leaving it in adulthood:

“In order to allure” young people to Christianity, she cautioned, “they exhibit false, or faint, or inadequate views of Christianity; and while they represent it, as it really is, as a life of superior happiness and advantage, they conceal its difficulties.” The results might ultimately result in abandonment of the faith: “May it not be partly owing to the want of a due introduction to the knowledge of the real nature and spirit of religion, that so many young Christians, who set out in a fair and flourishing way, decline and wither when they come to perceive the requisitions of experimental Christianity? requisitions which they had not suspected of making any part of the plan; and from which, when they afterwards discover them, they shrink back, as not prepared and hardened for the unexpected contest.”
–Karen Swallow Prior, Fierce Convictions

Oh– and she was a creative, too. She wrote poetry and fiction, in addition to the treatises and pamphlets she became so well-known for in her time. Two particularly lovely poems of hers were included in this biography– the first, about a plot of land from her youth that she loved:

Around no noxious plant or flow’ret grows;
But the first daffodil, and earliest rose:
The snow-drop spreads its whitest bosom here,
And golden cowslips grace the vernal year:
Here the pale primrose takes a fairer hue,
And ev’ry violet boasts a brighter blue.
Here builds the wood-lark, here the faithful dove
Laments his lost, or woos his living love.
Secure from harm is ev’ry hallow’d nest,
The spot is sacred where true lovers rest.
To guard the Rock from each malignant sprite,
A troop of guardian spirits watch by night;
Aloft in air each takes his little stand,
The neighb’ring hill is hence call’d Fairy Land.
–Hannah More, Collected Works

And then another, an excerpt from a poem that started as a lighthearted joke with a friend but included a wise (and familiar to us now) caution:

From hence, ye beauties, undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne’er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wandering eyes
And heedless hearts, is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters, gold.
–Hannah More, “Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes” (I told y’all it was a joke xD), Collected Works

All of this to say: Hannah More is a kindred spirit in every sense of the word, from the steadfastness and conviction of her faith, the joy and merriment she found in life as she grew more and more in Christ, her power with her pen and great love of reading and beauty, and her desire to use her voice and influence to stand up for what is right and impart change upon the world.

If you want to learn about an extraordinary woman in history who nobody talks about anymore– if you think you can relate to her in any way– if you want to be challenged and inspired and (forgive the pun) convicted– please read this book. I wholeheartedly recommend it, and so would Hannah More herself (probably).