I had planned to act a certain way and then I did the exact opposite in the moment.
Has this ever happened to you?
It’s frustrating, irritating – and it kind of feels demoralizing. I want to act better, do better and be better. But I try, and fail.
Sometimes I look at myself and start to say, “Get it together girl. You aren’t doing anything right.”
But, as I see my reflection, I start to see a different reflection – the reflection of the image of Christ. A reflection of a girl that he proclaims is fearfully and wonderfully made.
I see one who he created just as he wanted her to be. I see me.
And, I realize that when he looks at me, he doesn’t think about me the way I do. He doesn’t say the things I say to myself.
He does not look down on me and say, “Get it together, girl.”
He doesn’t say, “There you go – messing up again.”
He doesn’t say, “You’re always dropping the ball.”
He doesn’t say, “You can’t do anything right…”
This is not the heart of Jesus.
Instead, his heart says:
“Seek me and I will handle the rest.”
“Trust me, I have a plan.”
“When you are weak, I am strong.”
“I use sinners to accomplish my plans.”
“I don’t call the perfect, I call the imperfect to go in my perfect way.”
“You are more than a conqueror through me.”
“Today you are weak, but it is exactly your weakness that will grow you.”
“I knew your weaknesses when I called you and I still wanted you.”
“I see your failings and I still love you.”
“You are only one ‘I’m sorry’ away from my forgiveness.”
“Shame may read on the last line, but the book is closed upon my forgiveness.”
“Nothing you do can separate you from my love.”
God doesn’t see the reflection of a bad girl who can’t do right;
he sees the reflection of his love.
A love he is prepared to send forth through an imperfect broken vessel. Because, it is through the broken pieces that we seek him and need him to put us back together again. In this pursuit, we find his glory, his majesty and his sanctifying power.
Our weaknesses don’t hold back his work.
The bottom line is I am loved. I am always in his love. I will mess up, but Jesus has risen up so that I can rise up with him as I lay it all down for him.
so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power. (1 Cor. 2:5)
I can lay down my shame, my regret, my fears, my condemnation. I don’t need those things with Jesus. He paid for those things already.
I praise his glorious name! I give him all glory. Let us bow down to the one who has high and lifted as the greatest sacrifice – in the name of love. He effectively casts out all fear.
My weaknesses simply become points where his glory may be radiantly displayed – as he transforms me. In that, I can walk proud.
…I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. (2 Cor. 12:5)
It makes my heart pump.
My fists clench.
My pulse quicken.
It makes my eyes squeeze and my head shake.
It makes me frustrated and irritated.
Just when I think I have been healed from this plague, it shows up again. It doesn’t seem to care that I am tired of it.
It doesn’t seem to care that it burdens me. It comes and tells me that I will be stuck with it forever. That others will always be better off than me. That God doesn’t really have anything for me.
This condition is jealousy.
Just the other day, I visited a big, prominent and influential author’s blog. I looked at it. I critiqued it. I analyzed it for flaws. I reviewed it for strengths. I judged its colors, its words, its layout, its stories and its (fill in the blank). I considered how unfair it is that she has so much, but I have so little.
…and you can see where this was leading me. What was meant to be a time of learning from this person, became a playground for judgement and envy to run wild.
My mind was reading, but my heart was sliding right away from God.
My pride swung high,
only to swing low the next as I considered the reality of my sin.
Foot by foot, I climbed a ladder of inabilities,
where I perceived my inabilities from new heights.
Playgrounds of jealousy are not blacktops full of smiles, laughter and encouragement. Rather, these playgrounds, plain and simple, are dark, isolating and hurtful playgrounds – playgrounds where envy and discontentment hold hands and where the evil lurks.
Truly, dear friend, let me tell you a little secret: these playgrounds are places where the devil leads children of God astray. He entices them and grabs their hand only to lead them away from God’s loving purposes. He takes them and focuses their hearts on prideful, conceited and worldly intentions. He pulls them right away from their loving Father and distracts them with a candy that never pleases.
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Pet. 5:8)
Let’s join hands, scream out to our Father, and run the other way.
Because it’s impossible to be loving and giving when you are judging and critiquing.
It’s impossible to be trusting when you are coveting.
It’s impossible to be witnessing all God wants to do for you, when you are only witnessing all you don’t have.
The bottom line, my friends, is that when we covet another’s gifts, we end up ungrateful for our ours. We negate our all-loving, all-powerful and all-giving Father, who has a unique plan – that he created beforehand just for us.
Instead, we look at him and say, “I think your plan for that person is better.”
Do you notice the pride here?
We debate and act irate.
The sad thing is that we never win when we compare our average with another’s “amazing”; it rips us apart.
The truth is – God is not done with us yet. He has his own plans for us. He is the only one who knows how our story ends – and in his perfection, he has crafted it – from beginning to end.
“What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him… (1 Cor. 2:9)
No two people have the same path.
No two people are prepared in the same way.
No two people are given the same insights.
No two people does God uniquely answer the same way.
No two people will be led down the same extraordinary roads.
But, both people will be led down amazing roads – if they love God.
It is not a game of one gets and the other doesn’t. Our God can – and will – give uniquely to both.
So why do we look at each other and want to be the same – and get the same?
Why do we think he gives to one – but he will leave us with none?
When we do this, we look to them and see all they have, but not all they are dealing with.
We look at their apparent gifts and trash ours.
We look to the light of their glory and hate our story.
We look to them as objects, and miss their pain.
When the disciples questioned who among them would be the greatest, Jesus answered “But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.” (Luke 22:26)
Jesus pulls us near, he draws us close to whisper:
It is not about greatness.
It is not about goals.
It is not about progress.
Position – or lack thereof.
Who has what.
It is solely about Jesus Christ.
It is solely about his glory.
It is solely about his story.
It is all about his will.
Not our skill.
It is all for him, through him and by him that we are where we are today.
He’s the only way. In him, we can rest and stay. He will guide us day by day.
It is always been about least of these.
Jesus runs to the weary. He lifts the weak. He comforts the heartbroken. He gives power to the powerless. He exalts the humble. May we always realize our status as “least of these”.
May we reside in the place of humble adoration and humble exaltation of others.
We are lowly, he is lifted.
We are small, he is high.
We are servants, he is master.
We are created, he is Creator.
All things pale in comparison to him.
And the more we see him, the more we see life – meaningful life. We see the one who provides us all things according to his glorious riches. We have no need to look elsewhere because all we need is alive in us.
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On one hand I feel tired, worn and overwhelmed. On the other, I feel excited and raring to go.
God has called me to something and I want to see it through. It is hard work. It is depleting. It is a lot, but it is amazing.
In this, I no longer have to live purposeless, passionless and powerless. I no longer have to live driving from thing to thing, hoping to pass joy along the road – because joy is now the fuel to my drive.
To the cross I aim, to exalt his name is my claim and, in this, I will never be left the same.
I have never felt more joy – and more power – in Him.
So, I’ve adopted a go, go, go mentality
with push, push, push tenacity.
And, it is here where my mental battle begins. I start to wonder, “Is this right to do?”
Is God calling me to rest? Or, is he calling me to abide in him as I work hard by faith?
Because people say:
“God’s load is light. You shouldn’t feel tired.” “If it is wearing on you, you are taking on a load that God has not called you to take.” “If it is beyond your strength, or abilities, then it is too much and not where God wants you to be.” “If your strength is not 100% then you are doing it by your own might.”
I see where they are coming from, but I am not so sure I agree.
Yes, Christ does say this, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)
But, there is also this to contend with:
And let us not grow weary of doing good,
for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. (Gal. 6:9)
And as for you, brothers and sisters,
never tire of doing what is good. (2 Thess. 3:13)
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied. (Prov. 13:4)
Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread,
but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense. (Prov. 12:11)
Do not be slothful in zeal,
be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (Romans 12:11)
My mind may lays conflicted, but Christ’s love is never restricted. So, he draws my heart close and extends his love to a weary heart.
He simply says,
“Power down your mind and power up in me.
Behold me, perceive me and wait on my leading.
I will not misguide you or hide from you; instead I will come alongside you.
I will renew your strength.”
Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. (Ps. 27:14)
We don’t have to walk by fate, because we can walk by faith.
Faith means we stop to see what the Lord has for us to do. It means we wait for his leading. Then, our heart is renewed, revived and restored in strength – because we have heard from God. What is more restorative than that?
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. (Is. 40:31)
It is hope that carries our heart forward.
Hope almost grows little legs on our heart so that all we want to do is run into the world to heal, help and harvest souls.
In this, we are not called to back down, we are called to fuel up with his hope.
Because, when we see hope,
we see how vital it is that we carry his cross far and wide.
When we see the hope of eternal glory and rewards,
we gain the strength to go unforeseen distances.
When we believe the hope of his promises,
we know all we do is secure in Him because He is for us.
There is no backing down – no slowing up.
Hope doesn’t come to make us pause in God, it comes to give us legs to bring God to all.
In a sense, hope comes right up against us like a bumper car and pushes us lengths we never intended to go . We can’t help but move.
And, the more we hope, the more we run towards him and towards others.
Our joy becomes unceasing – our lives transformed. There is no fear because the perfect love of Jesus Christ extinguishes any fear. We stand in line with the maker, and he makes a way for us.
For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.” (Is. 41:13)
So, what does this mean for me? It means, I know where to gas up on strength. I know who to go to for renewal.
God readily supplies a never-ending outpouring of hope – and it is this never-ending supply that will drive me to new lengths – and new heights- in Christ Jesus.
He will renew my strength.
He will instruct my spirit.
He will guide my ways.
Lead me in truth.
Help me in my weakness.
Offer me new mercies every morning.
And, he will do that for you too.
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As a preschooler, I learned I had a sin problem and needed Jesus to save me from it. When I asked Him to be my rescue, I became dead to sin and alive to God. I learned the old had gone, and the new had come. But I was also encouraged to put off sin and put on Christ.
Just one little problem. How exactly do you put Christ on? That was a hard idea to wrap my head around.
Then I grew up a bit and realized–I really don’t feel so dead to sin.
So I managed my sin by trying to hide it, trying to look the way I was supposed to, or pretending it wasn’t there. Back then, there was a Sin Rating System floating around, and for the most part, my sins stayed off the really naughty list.
To be honest, sin didn’t grieve me. I didn’t think holiness was possible, for me or anyone else. And so I occasionally asked God to forgive me of “all my sins”–without owning any of them.
When I grew closer to the Lord as an adult, I started to care more about holiness. I didn’t want sin to control me, to be my master, in any way. I wanted to live in victory, and began striving for it. But that didn’t work out so well.
Victory over sin begins with belief. Not only belief in Jesus as the Resurrection and the Life. But also belief in our new identity in Christ.
Romans 6 says,
Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
To count yourself means to accept it as true, believe it, and act as if it were true.
Once we call out to Jesus for salvation, we are IN Christ. We identify with Him. This is our position—our status before God: dead to sin.
We have been baptized with Christ. We have died with Christ and been raised with Him to a new way of life. Sin no longer controls us. It has no power over us.
Now we can LIVE FROM a place of victory, instead of trying to attain victory.
But our position often does not match our practice. The Bible says we have been made new (positionally), but we are being made new (practically). For the rest of our lives, the way we live should grow closer and closer to our position IN Christ.
I struggled to believe my position, my new identity in Christ, because I knew what was in me. I lived out of that reality, which I could see and measure—more than I lived by faith out of my position in Christ.
Even as new creations, sin deceives us. We get entangled in it sometimes. We forget who we are, and we need to remember our identity in Christ.
IN Christ, we are dead to sin and ALIVE to God.
We are new, but we are also in the process of being made new.
So put on Christ and learn to see yourself this way. Offer yourself to God day after day, and He will enable you to live the life you were meant for.
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
What do you do when you do “that thing” that you promised yourself you would
absolutely – under no circumstances – do?
What do you do when you feel crushed inside that you did it?
Much like Paul, I know what I need to do, but then I do the opposite. I do the exact thing I didn’t want to do – and then I feel like pulling my hair out because I did it.
So, my question to God is, “How do you change when your heart says yes but your actions seem to say no?”
Because just the other day I promised myself I WOULD NOT give my husband advice – only to stand outside and instruct him on precisely the right way to remove a buried car from the snow.
In the end, the only thing left buried was – me, myself and I. Under the weight, my actions and my emotions weighed over me, making me feel like I could never escape. They made me uncertain about where to go from here and how to dig myself out from the shame, guilt and regret piled above.
I prayed for a new behavior and looked to the Savior. I sought a new way, but old tricks seemed here to stay. I wanted to be Christ-like, but ended up as one to dislike.
I desired to be holy, but was left feeling wholly inadequate.
As I looked at that car, still buried in the snow, despite my best efforts, I felt like a fraud. I felt like a woman who says she wants more of Jesus, but then, can’t act accordingly. I felt like a hypocritical scumbag loaded up with a bag of empty promises to God.
Because I knew what I didn’t want to do – and then I did it.
But God, the God who is so amazing – he comes to my rescue. He shows up on my doorstep eager to set me free. He stands, ready with a huge shovel in hand, hoping that I will allow him to uncover me from the mess I have found myself under.
And I let him.
Step-by-step, scoop-by-scoop he unburies me.
He removes my load.
1st Scoop: I know what you did and I see beyond your actions to your heart.
But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)
2nd Scoop: I am doing something. I hear your call. I know your desire to change. I am doing something new in you. You can’t see it, but trust it. Trust my hand upon you. My work takes time.
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Is. 43:19)
3rd Scoop: Don’t dwell on the past. The past is the past. I am worried about the present. I am more concerned with what I am doing today. We have somewhere to go and if you are always looking in the rear view mirror, you won’t be able to drive anywhere with me.
“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past.” (Is. 43:18)
4th Scoop: You don’t see what I am doing. You can’t see from the beginning to the end, like I can. I am making everything beautiful. Don’t get discouraged. Don’t get dismayed. It will be beautiful – in my proper timing.
“GOD has made everything beautiful for its own time. HE has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of GOD’S work from beginning to end.” (Ec. 3:11)
5th Scoop: Every moment I am working a new thing. All the time, I am at work. Nothing is ever left unchanged with me. You mess up and I start working something new again. You desire change and I offer new thing after new thing after new thing. One day, we will celebrate – because a day will come where all my work is unveiled.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” (Is. 42:9)
6th Scoop: Re-new means to make new over and over again. All the time I am making new your mind. This is a process. We are working together, so you don’t have to get down. You will fall and I will help you back up to transform your mind- bit by bit – again and again.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Ro. 12:2)
7th Scoop: Don’t lose heart. You are growing, changing and transforming. My change is so delicate that you almost can’t feel it. It is so loving that it is tender. It is so gentle that it’s like a the gentle first washing of a newborn.
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor. 4:16)
Scoop-by-scoop the Lord’s truth unburies me so that I can stand in front of him not as a cold frozen girl who is shamed by her inabilities, but as a girl who is loved, encouraged and empowered to trust God in his process of sanctification.
God is at work in us and through us, even if we can’t see it.
Let’s trust his process. Let’s rest in his ways.
We can, therefore, step out and uncover our hearts to true life change. We don’t have to fear the process or the master worker, because his ways are gentle. He will bring us to completion.
He will do this – despite how buried we are in the process.
“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)
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When I was in 3rd grade, I was so self-conscious. I don’t know what it was. Maybe it just the weird stage between girl and woman. Maybe it was because my frizzy hair was too big to go unnoticed. Maybe it was because my reading skills were lackluster.
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact reason.
But, what I do know is that I sat at a very vulnerable place of life – a place where the prick of another’s words had the power to wound deeply.
Today, I can’t remember the majority of the words that hit those dark places but, I do remember the feelings and my actions.
I remember that I felt less than, not as good as everyone else, hurt by degrading words, unappreciated, left out because I wasn’t as smart, scared to go to school, made fun of, punished and angry.
I remember those things.
I remember sitting on the side of sidewalk alone while others jumped rope. I remember wandering around my yard wondering if God saw me. I remember faking sick to get attention. I remember others laughing at my big nose. I remember lying to gain approval of my classmates. I remember the fear of another school day.
Those things I remember.
The thing about the past is – it lasts.
Somehow as a child, we are under the delusion that when we grow up, we grow out of these feelings. But, what happens is these things grow up with us – and then they grow inside of us. They grow bigger and bigger in our mind as we replay events, words and circumstances that hurt us.
Often, the things spoken – to us – have a way of becoming attached – to us. They define what we think about ourselves.
They grow like living giants in our mind.
They power over truth to tell us that we are too small to conquer them,
too weak to win
and too powerless to do anything about whom they claim us to be.
So, we allow our minds to marinate on words and situations of decades past – how they made us feel. How they pierced us. How they damaged us. How we are beyond repair.
We have all been damaged, haven’t we? We have all lost a sense of ourselves due to the words of another.
Often we shove our pain into the closet of our mind. There, it sits and, like mold, it grows in the dark. It may be unseen but make no mistake, it is still there. Left unchecked, it wreaks havoc in our lives. It expands way beyond our closet doors.
It shows up in the little aspects of our lives – our responses, our fears and our inadequacies.
I am not sure what pain you carry today – it could be words of a parent, it could be a time of abuse, it could be the actions of a spouse, fighting parents, mean kids or sins past.
Whatever it is, promise yourself to take the risk to acknowledge
the power these events hold over you right now.
Because words and actions from decades past
have a way of taking residence in our hearts.
They move in – and move God out.
Unknowingly, we offer these well-acquainted houseguests space to rule our life.
We become familiar with their same old stories of fear, doubt, shame and regret. So much so that we let them impact our relationships with God and others. Fear and negative feelings push others away.
Our unwelcome guests, our living giants, won’t back down unless we step up.
The choice is ours – we can live in denial, and pretend they don’t exist, or we can live in truth and resist.
Because giants don’t have to walk around with a ball and a chain to chain us down. They hold power.
Trapping power. Life squeezing power. Demotivating power. Power to depress us.
But, there is good news. Just because we have lived with these giants for so long, doesn’t mean that we have to keep them around.
Why? Because, we have one who sees us just as we are.
He sees the hurting girl on the sidewalk,
he sees the fake cries for attention,
and he sees the tears shed from the words of another.
However, when this One looks at us, he doesn’t chide us.
He doesn’t laugh at our pain.
He simply loves us.
His heart beats for ours.
He desires to grab hold of our empty hand to lead us right up to the foot of the cross – where healing is always found.
Here, we can see ourselves for who we are. Here, we can see ourselves as greater than our past.
We can see beyond the pains that have held us.
Here, we are overcomers of our circumstances – because one stands above any circumstance, higher than any situation and more powerful than any word.
Here, we can let him into the deepest recesses of our heart
and let him push out the unwelcome guests that have overstayed their welcome.
Jesus looks at us and sees our inadequacies – yet, he embraces them.
He sees our failings – and he holds them.
He witnesses our shortcomings – and he forgives them.
He is greater. He is stronger. And, he is bigger.
He looks at us and smiles.
Because, he is our Abba Daddy. Our ultimate daddy.
He looks at us, pleased, and he says:
I love you. (John 3:16)
I accept you. (John 6:37)
I care for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
I have not forgotten you. (Psalm 139:7-10)
I see you. (Psalm 33:13)
I know you. (John 10:3)
I will provide for you. (Matthew 6:31-32)
I will not abandon you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I will not abuse you. (John 3:16)
I will not forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:8)
I will help you. (Isaiah 41:13)
I will take residence in your heart, as you trust me. (1 Corinthians 3:16)
I will transform you. (2 Corinthians 5:17)
I will get you past your past. (Colossians 3:9-10)
I will heal your pains. (Psalm 147:3)
I will love your soul. (Psalm 86:15)
I will hold your hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
I will restore you. (2 Peter 1:4)
I will redeem you. (1 Peter 2:24)
Your daddy stands, arms open, longing, eager to embrace you. He expectantly waits, hoping you run to him with all that you are, so you can receive all of who He is.
Unveiling your past pains before the great healer, allows your past pain to become healed pain. The Spirit of the sovereign Lord more and more takes residence in your heart and he pushes out all looming creepy giants.
There simply is no room for both.
God is the master giant slayer. He never changes. He helps the weak and makes us strong – in Him. We can tackle these giants by the strength of our Lord. And by his strength, we become free.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17)
Freedom from chains. Freedom from fears. Freedom from abuse. Freedom from shame. Freedom from regret. Freedom from the past.
Christ can overcome it all. The question is – will we let him? Or will we let the dark stay the dark and pretend it’s not there?
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I try, I fail.
I parent, I don’t do a good enough job.
I try to do right with my husband, but I take the wrong approach.
I reverse my car and slam it into my babysitter’s.
I serve another and get anxious in frustration.
I pray to be patient, but I’m impatient with the never-ending tears.
I want to be a good daughter, but feel like I have no time.
I say more of you God, but get distracted by life.
All the time, I feel not good enough, not together enough and not smart enough to do things right.
All the time, I drop the ball in one way or another.
But, under the surface of all my failings, below the layer of trials that lay on me, I have a choice to make.
Under the muck that seeks to keep me stuck in little lies that could lead to my demise, yes, this choice still remains:
Will I believe what God says about me?
Or will I believe what I feel about me?
Because the truth is, my feelings will sink me deeper and deeper into guilt, shame and a feeling of hopelessness, while God’s truth will lift me higher and higher into peace, power and a sense of fullness.
The truth is: God will keep me.
He will keep me in the palm of his hand.
He will keep me from harm.
He will keep his presence in front of me, behind me, above me and below me.
He will keep me in the beauty he displays through the sun, the wind and the waves.
He will keep my foot from slipping.
He will walk me in truth.
He will show me another way when the enemy comes to tempt.
He will guide me by the Spirit.
He will pray for me when I don’t even know how.
He will forgive and throw out every stone of sin I have confessed.
He will never let me go.
He will never forget me.
He will always keep me.
He will prepare a room in heaven for me.
He will comfort me in the meantime.
He will listen to my every prayer.
He will work all things together for good for me, because I love him and am called according to his purpose.
He will always be for me.
He will always advocate for me.
He will help me in my moments of distress.
He will give to me as a father gives to a beloved daughter.
He will be by my side.
He will always know my heart.
He will always know my thoughts.
He will always provide me his truth.
And, he will never pluck me from his hand.
He will never say goodbye to me based on my actions.
He will never ever no-way, no-how, stop loving me.
This is how good my God is!
His words speak like a permanent love letter to my heart.
Because God is who He is. He is the great I AM. If you just ARE, you can never change.
I can change, but he can’t.
I can do a bad thing and feel plucked from his hand, or fall and feel less than or I sin and feel unforgivable, but his character can’t be altered.
I can change how I act, but he is always the same. He is always one ready to forgive, standing right beside me, hand on my shoulder – willing to love.
The question is, “Will I believe it?”
Doesn’t it really come down to faith?
Will I believe he will keep me?
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Ps. 139.13-14)
Did you notice this line – “I know that full well”?
Do you know it full well that you are always his, eternally adored and always accepted because you are a child of the living King?
Let’s go from believing by the power of our mind to believing by the depths of our soul.
It will make all the difference in the world – to know full well.
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I remember when Valentine’s Day was a big deal. You either loved the question, What are you doing for Valentine’s Day? because you had ultra-romantic plans. Or you dreaded the question because you had no plans.
Now, Valentine’s Day is really more of an annoyance than anything else. Since neither Luke nor I possess gift giving as a love language we like to say every day is Valentine’s Day, thereby relieving each other of any and all romance-based sweets or surprises. It works for us.
Even so, the day still remains and lots of people spend lots of money to show their love.
Last year I started wondering, though.
Why is the heart this day’s cover girl?
Buy a girl a pack of M&Ms on V-Day and you’re likely to get a roll of the eyes, or worse, in return. But give a girl chocolate in a heart-shaped box and Voila! You made a smile. Kids cut out hearts or make them with macaroni noodles. Stuffed bears hold them. Little girls wear them.
Our baby girl, Leah, wears these pajamas with little hearts all about.
The boys love them because it reminds them of a cow. They’re super cute, but I’m looking at these hearts and thinking, Is that right? Does a heart really paint the picture of love?
This year, I think if I want to show my love I’ll fashion a picture of my life … laid down.
Because that’s what Jesus did. And that’s what He said.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13 (KJV)
Or maybe I’ll draw a bunch of little brains.
Brains deciding to smile instead of scream.
Or teach instead of tear down.
Or offer mercy instead of judgement.
Or simply be quiet instead of spilling all of my opinions.
No way that image looks as cute as the cow-print hearts, but I think that’s more realistic.
Because isn’t real love a little gritty sometimes? Isn’t it practical more often than poetic?
But, somehow the real-life love is more romantic than the, “Katy, will you accept this rose?” kind.
Like that night …..
In a rental home in Jacksonville, Florida, Luke and I shared a small room with two big dogs, a newborn baby girl and a knee machine. Two months earlier Luke tore a ligament in his knee. Surgery fixed him. Rehab strengthened him. But rehab came with a machine – in the bed, all night – bending and straightening Luke’s knee. We figured we got the 1920’s version of said machine, since it squeaked and creaked with every extension.
Add the newborn to the mix and an occasional re-positioning of the giant dogs in the corner, and we weren’t sleeping much. Cherry on top: the boys got a stomach bug, and we found out about it in the middle of the night.
While Luke helped Jonah into the shower I scrubbed the carpet. The rest is a blur. Except for one moment.
The next day, after dogs and knee machines and newborns and throw-up, Luke came home from work. I expected him to fall into the nearest chair and snore, but he didn’t.
Instead, he found me. With a smile he bent over to kiss my forehead and said,
“There’s no one else in the world I’d rather clean up puke with at 3 a.m. than you. I love doing life with you.”
You’ll likely never find those words etched on a Hallmark card, but they are etched on my heart forever. Not because they came in a pretty package. Not because I felt all warm and fuzzy inside. But because real love met real life, and it bloomed.
That memory – that awful memory – makes me smile today. And, you know, I think Jesus might say the same.
“Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 (ESV)
Have you ever seen real love in real life? Will you share it with me here?Leave a Comment! Let’s celebrate when real love meets real life and blooms!
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I am more in love with my husband then ever. I admire his strength, his intelligence and his passion. I admire his intellect, his words and his heart. He challenges me to be greater than myself, stronger than my weaknesses and courageous when I feel scared. He is my all-in-all.
And, that’s my problem.
You see, day’s come where everything in my husband’s life doesn’t go as planned. There are unforeseen days when unexpected storms roll through.
Days when he needs space. When he needs to process. When he needs to think. When he needs direction.
And, it’s these days – the days of waiting, uncertainty, or struggle – when I want to fix things for him. I want to work things out. I want to problem solve.
I put on my captain’s hat, stand up against the swirling winds and breathe in the air of his every emotion – then, I set a course. Clearly, I feel I command his destiny; I can direct his future.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Phil. 2:3-4)
I wrongly think I can mend his feelings.
Then, I feel bad, because he feels bad. I feel worried, because he feels worried. I feel impatient because he feels impatient. I feel whatever he is feeling and then I feel I have to find a way to throw the feelings overboard. Why? Because they are uncomfortable.
– Rescue him
– Give advice
– Explain my fears
– Fix him
– Downplay the situation
– Amplify the predicament
– Get defensive
– Cut him off mid-sentence
– Develop an action plan
– Explain what he did wrong so he can fix it
– Get angry
You can guess how this goes over.
While I try to help him set sail, I miserably fail.
The only thing I succeed in doing is being unproductive and arrogant.
Why do I think I can “fix him”?
Who am I to think I can tie all his ropes up into perfect little knots?
Who am I to think that I am the anchor of his life?
If I, at best, do a wonderful job of listening and reflecting – even then, I still can’t provide him a refuge, a calm sea, or a way out of the storm. I have no control over that.
If I, unwittingly, allow the sum of all his emotions to blow right into me, I will never have the capability to minister to him as God has designed me to.
If I am one being tossed from left to right and back again, how can I help him stand straight?
It’s impossible. Because we are in the same sinful condition. Sure we are one flesh (Gen. 2:24), but God never said to be one emotion.
Because God knows, if we were, we couldn’t fully love, serve, equip, help and submit to God – or each other.
How can you take care of another when you lay injured, immobile and incapacitated yourself?
Instead, God calls us to stay calm, stay collected and to be a lighthouse on a dark night. He calls us to shine so bright that we light the night. He calls us to hold ourselves to his righteous standard (not take on the other’s feelings) – and to trust him with the rest.
Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God. (Ephesians 5:2)
It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him. (Daniel 2:22)
The Lord never intended for us to be captains of the sea, because He is the one who sees.
He sees in darkness.
He sees the hidden barriers.
He sees the obstacles that stand before us.
He sees what needs to happen.
He sees my husband’s future.
God comes with a perfect course redirect – and it is much better than my not-so-well-laid-plan.
I don’t want to steal God’s glory, and make it about my story.
If I can wait, and rest, I can trust God will take care of the rest.
If I can abide in him, by faith, won’t God be faithful?
It is in this place of faith where we can stop being captains of distraction – and move towards compassion.
It is in the land of trust, where God helps us to act the right way, instead of going the wrong way.
In this, he brings us on a voyage of authenticity, as we trust him to be who we are, no matter how rocky the boat my get.
And, what we get at the end of the day, is love.
We get a pure love that doesn’t manipulate, doesn’t demand – and that is effective.
God loves love. It is the basis of everything.
I have this sneaky feeling that if I can just stay in this place – of love – God will take care of the rest. I have a feeling that it’s not about how you fix your spouse, but it’s about how you love them.
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