Seriously. Ever felt like calling it quit, throwing in the towel, placing all your cards on the table? However you describe it, this race called life can make even the most seasoned of runners tired. Falling down. Not wanting to get back up again. Panting for water. Sitting roadside, alone.
I got tired today. Not for any good reason. Something just came over me and where I once had energy, I felt must go to bed. And where I had clarity, I felt fuzz. And where I am normally eager, I crawled like a slow turtle. Finally, when I went to my room to sleep, a tear slipped out.
Any one of us could land there any day, couldn’t we?
This race is tiring. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Frankly, we can make our own tomb and lie in it if we aren’t careful. We can pull the shades down, dim the lights and lay our self down for days, letting those slimy lurky dirty feelings hang all around us – if we aren’t careful.
But, in actuality, feelings never save us from tombs. Only the power of God does.
Consider this: 3 days and Jesus rose.
He bust out: He was in darkness, but moved to light. He was down, but never – out.
Now, through Christ we can rise up from what wants to keep us down too.
No one can hold the power of God down. No one can restrain what the Lord is sending out. No one’s emotions are too strong for God’s resurrection.
I don’t care what the liar and accuser tells you…
Open your eyes to faith.
It is what gets you out of bed.
It is what helps you take the next step.
It is what makes you say that prayer yet again.
It is what moves mountains.
Press against the very thing that came to hold you down: If tiredness hits you, it is by faith you go outside and run. If the idea you’ll never find the man of your dreams, it is by faith you go to that church singles event. If it is your financial debt that sends you into the dumps, it is by generosity towards your neighbor you find freedom.
Resiliency in Christ Jesus bounces you beyond the very thing the enemy is orchestrating.
You step out of your tomb and see verdant pastures. You see life. Hope. Brilliance. God’s more.
Do you want the spring in your step restored?
Step in. Step out. Go out. Give out. Press into what is pressing into you – and you’ll get somewhere.
I was more than a tad frustrated. But even though I was ticked off, I felt my words were kind and made my point. Impulsive but clever nonetheless.
I was more than a tad frustrated. But even though I was ticked off, I felt my words were kind and made my point. Impulsive but clever nonetheless.
Well said, I thought.
I went to hit the send button but stopped short. Something felt vaguely familiar about this scene.
I heard a whisper in my heart, Don’t send it.
Hmm, I thought to myself, I haven’t talked to God about this yet have I?
I shut my laptop, pushed it aside and prayed over the email I was about to launch.
You know the saying, sleep on it—give it fresh eyes in the morning. Good advice.
Before I shut my eyes, I asked God, Is this what you would have me send?
There have been times when I’ve heard God whisper and ignored it. The still small voice—the warning. Some might say, “Oh it’s just our conscience talking” but I’ve learned the difference…the hard way.
I’ve brushed off this heart whisper enough times to know when I do, it can prove painful. One such experience is still branded in my memory like the scar left from a run in with fiery stove.
It concerned another email from years ago. It was innocent really. At least I rationalized it was.
Scripture says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:9
And isn’t that what the heart does? It deceives us by telling us lies we believe.
My heart is no different.
There had been a long thread of correspondence within a group I leading. People had been adding to it for days. There was one decision maker with whom I was to consult with and then let the group know the results.
Without thinking, I added my comment to the consultant at the bottom of the ongoing thread instead of starting a new one. My remark was harmless enough, although selfish in nature and could have misconstrued if seen by the wrong eyes. I knew this to be true but again I rationalized, I was getting my point across. I thought, what’s the harm?
Then I heard it. The moment before I hit send, a whisper ever so softly, gently.
A voice of reason calling out to me to think twice. Don’t send it.
I brushed aside the delicate call to stop and pushed the button sending my pixellated words into cyberspace permanency.
Sure enough, a certain person in the group who was the curious type scrolled through the multiple threads of conversation and landed on mine. She read through my innocent motive straight to the self-seeking one. She exposed the inner workings of a fallacious heart. And then proceeded to unleash a furry of epic porportion all over the information superhighway.
I was done for. Humiliated. Embarrassed. Scarred for life.
Yes, that about covers it—all the emotional daggers that could impaled me, did.
I hadn’t paid attention to the tension of God’s warning.
Pain however does get our attention. And sometimes God allows it. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Friends, God doesn’t speak to hear His own voice. No, He lovingly will use whatever it takes to protect us from our own undoing.
His voice is not only one of correction but a voice of protection.
God could have kept this person from exposing me but because she did, I learned to listen. Getting burned on a stove a few times might hurt but it serves to save you from the real fire later.
After praying over my most recent email situation and putting it to a good night’s sleep, I woke afresh with a new attitude knowing what I was to do.
I opened my laptop, looked at the blinking cursor, highlighted the majority of the piece and pushed delete.
I thought, God will take care of it from here.
There have been multiple, “Don’t do its” in between these two experiences and through them I’ve learned to discern His voice better but moreover I’m remembering to ask for it.
Call to me and I will answer you and tell you unsearchable things you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3
Listen and obey. Simple as that.
And when it comes to emails, letters or talk I ask myself daily…
Am I using my words to make a point, or am I using my words to point to Christ?
Looking forward, pressing on and seeking God in every bump ad twist in the road.
Christy a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, and brand new grandma! Her passion is to help women find their joy by experiencing God at work for them in their all their circumstances.
Our youngest vandal son came into our room early this morning for a cuddle.
He climbed in the bed and whispered, “Good mowning mommy.”
He smelled of warm sleep and I was happy to have a moment alone with him before the chaos of the day erupted with the rising sun.
I tickled his back and stroked his blonde hair. And then, I noticed a terrible scratch on his neck.
“What happened Charlie?” I inquired.
Charlie elaborated. “I spent da night in da jungle wif my fwend Ashwee. A big wion scrwatched me. Ashwee killed da wion five times!”
I tried not to giggle, “Oh my, I think that was a dream baby!”
Charlie’s brow furrowed, “Den how comes I gots dis scrwatch?”
It wasn’t long and the day imploded… as suspected. It got bad fast. A horrible argument ensued with a semi-adult-baby, a checking debacle, a missed opportunity, a leaking trash bag, a blown-out diaper, and a stalled-out vehicle… I checked my watch, it was only 9:45 am.
I wanted to crawl back in the bed and pretend with Charlie.
Frankly, being chased by a lion seemed like more fun than the day unfolding before me.
My fairy godmother, AKA, my mommy helper Bobbi took over the three littles and I escaped to my office.
I stared at my screen.
I drank four cups of coffee.
Nothing. Well, heartburn and the jitters.
Again, it would be nice, some days to be an author of fiction. Fantasy, where my mind might escape the non-fiction reality of sticky floors, parking tickets, and the pursuit of some form of normalcy.
What that would look like I do not know. I wandered to the bathroom to blow my runny nose and blot my sodden eyes. It was then I noticed the toilet lid partially shut.
I opened the closure.
The toilet was packed full of toys; a stuffed purple bunny, a roller skate, 10 blocks, 44 Legos, a Jedi, a dump truck and a baby doll.
I shut the lid and climbed back into bed.
I willed my eyes closed and pictured a lion chasing me through the jungle. It was a relief.
Perhaps a creative mind is more burdensome, alas sometimes it is my greatest reprieve.
Make that, most times.
My brain, fingertips, and caffeine charged imagination couldn’t resist and I climbed out from my sheets to face what was left of my day.
The unbelievable is my inspiration, the death and resurrection of a hero. A hero who died for me, saving me from the bondage of my folly. Setting my feet on the pure path of righteousness… glass slippers. Despite all the ick, I delight in the yoke of He who saved me. A yoke that is easy, whose burden is light. A protective lion, gentle as a lamb. He lies with me in the high grass.
I stare at mystical clouds that make shapes, shapes I imagine are visions of peace, hope, joy, love, and I delight in this future with Him by my side. I tug at a piece of cool grass, with my head nestled closely to his course fur I feel the rise and fall of His mighty breath and I hear the rumble of His word, a purr.
He stretches and yawns, proving His majestic ability to rest in the work already accomplished. At His movement, as if on cue, butterflies erupt in the breeze and I am swamped… with peace.
I have no proof.
No resolve to the toilet calamity still soaking in the commode in the master suite.
Yet, I am okay.
It is well.
My mind is free from the burden of worry. He knows every hair on my head. This is the place where He calls me to rest. This is the promise He made, “come you who are weary.”
Indeed this is me.
You may inquire, “I think that’s a dream… a fantasy you created.”
And I have only one question for you, “Then how comes I got all this peace?”
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7
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Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.
I thought Christianity was supposed to be a “you’ve arrived kind of thing.” Whoever sold it to me that way, I want a refund. You lied.
Truth is: I am crippled and Jesus is my crutch. I lean on him.
He relieves the pressure. He does the pushing. I do the moving ahead. It’s hard. It’s uphill at times. It’s tiring. It’s a battle, no doubt.
But, I see the battle is good.
It makes us warriors.
Being a warrior makes us aware there is a war.
Being aware of war makes us think twice about how much we need our God.
Being aware of how much we need our God makes us want him more.
Us wanting him more makes us draw near to him.
Drawing near to him makes him draw near to us.
With God, no matter how it looks, we are always winning. I am okay with the battle.
The truth is Christianity is not about arriving, it is about journeying into holy. It is about grabbing hold of the hem of Jesus, as if it is the only life-preserver in the center of a raging ocean. It is about grabbing it and letting it take you where it will. Riding the waves of his truth, until the wave no longer looks like a giant killer-wave that is about to sink you, but a much smaller stretch of water that has been worked out by his love.
All your agony turns into testimony. People draw near and they say, “Wow, look at what God did with you.”
It is a miracle, when you get truthful.
This is what it is about – this thing called faith. Someone sold it to us like a bag of tricks:
You’ll get rich.
You’ll be happy.
You’ll feel good.
You’ll be delivered to everything you wanted.
You’ll find trials, but trials rise into his love.
You’ll find pain, but pain is consoled by his love.
You’ll find heartache, but you will relate to Christ’s heart of ache as it slowly dwindled on the cross.
You’ll find persecution, but you will find peace that your true love is your true love when you are willing to outlast it.
You’ll find shame, but you will wave at it and say, “God promised the world would hate me.”
You’ll find guilt, but you’ll find an advocate, in the Spirit, as you place it like a present before the filth of Jesus’ feet.
Faith it is what dreams are made of and it is what trials deliver you to. It is what will take you home.
Renewing your mind isn’t a one time ticket to delivered, it is a continual commute to holy. Being not conformed to this world is not a quick command you give yourself, but it is a diligent war that must be fought minute-by-minute.
This is a battle. We are in the center of it. Don’t give up fight. It all counts. It is all worth it. God sees. The party will begin the second the curtain closes, and it all will be worth it.
It’s the last thing you want to do on a day where you need to do everything, and hardly want to do that. But, there I found myself, at the drug store posing half-heartedly in front of a white pull-down curtain. I needed a passport photo.
Mugshot. Mugshot- was what ran through my head he clicked. That – and the idea that I really should have put my hair down and tried to improve myself a bit, like most moms do. Most moms throw on the lipgloss. Most moms might adjust their hair rather than keeping it in this weird outdated bun look. Most moms might try to smile a little bigger.
Not me. I was tired. Daughter woke at 3 AM with a wet bed. My eye is still not done with pink eye (what are you supposed to do – throw out every last inch of makeup?). Husband is gone all week and I am womaning the house. So, yes, when the “click” happened, well, my face? It didn’t really happen that much.
I just stood there.
He finished the job.
I looked at the photo.
And saw what I am fully convinced must be the worst mug shot ever of me. It was as bad as those pre-jail photos – you all know what I am talking about. It’s the one we all see on TV – “And…today, a mom went rogue in CVS”. The image shoots up on screen. We all know it. The light is bad, the face looks horrible, the smile is gone and the woman looks like death just visited her.
This was me. Bags under eyes. Eye red. Smile gone. And, to add to all this, an outshoot of hair wanted to show off right above my ear. How does this even happen, anyway?
The picture is not cute, not cute at all, I thought as I stood outside the drug store contemplating whether to go back in and hassle the photo guy until he made me beautiful, photo-shopped, wrinkle-less, perfect and all that I ever dreamed of being 8:00 am on a Wednesday morning.
But, I didn’t. I just stood there. Why? Because on my heart was this weird inclination of revelation. Like God wanted to do something with me and this photo. So, although I almost walked back in the store 4 times, I didn’t.
If I’ve learned anything in my short life it is this: You don’t want to turn down God, when He’s working on something.
Frankly, I can’t even begin to imagine if Jesus turned down his role. “Change of plans, I’m not dying on the cross.”
Nope. Not good.
With this in mind, I try to stay on God’s path and when I hop off, I fight with all my might to get back on. So, I just stood there on the sidewalk – a freak with a photo – and stared at it. Two steps to the door, two steps back.
Come on, God….any time now.
Friend, maybe, like me, the ugly thing you can’t get through, God is trying to speak through…
And finally, it came to my heart: Kelly, on your worst day, on your ugly days, on your tired days, on your worn days, on your pain-stricken days, on your unsure days, on your bad hair days, on your I-don’t-have-a-smile-days – still, Kelly, I love you.
I love that picture. I love your realness. I love your wrinkles. I love you. You don’t need to be more for me. I don’t love you less when you look less or appear less. I choose you – just like that – eye bags, red-eye, smileless and all…
When you see that image, imagine me, wanting you – in all your ugly-, frumpy- and grumpy-ness.
So, I took that square photo, tucked it into my bag and walked to the car. I’d lie if I didn’t tell you I gasped at it one more time on my way home. I did. But, I also let that passport stand for what it really was – a reminder: No matter where I go, I always am in God’s love.
I’ll look at this image again. And again. And, my prayer – for when I do – is this: God, let us always remember our worst images, are made beautiful because you simply love us as we are. And, in that, we can rest. We don’t need to work up your love. Help us to remember your goodness, your kindness and your unconditional love towards us, God. Amen.
The sun shone bright in the kitchen the day I realized I had no one I could call. Standing at the counter, slicing a pear into bite-sized pieces for my 10-month-old firstborn, I’d instead sliced my finger. I stood silent at the sink, letting water wash over the wound and watching blood swirl in the basin. After bandaging my finger, I reached down for my son, placed him in his highchair, spread the pears on his tray, and in what seemed the very next moment, I woke up underneath the kitchen table. I had fainted, and it felt as if my brain was rebooting after being switched off. My body felt clammy and weak, and as I lay there, immobile, my initial panic subsided as I heard the happy gurgles of my boy, safe with his pears.
It was then that the thought intruded: Who will I call to come help me? I did not have an answer, because I did not have a friend. The knife had opened my finger, but it seemed to have opened a far greater wound, a wound I’d tried desperately to ignore, hide, and resist–the wound of loneliness.
At that time, I was a young pastor’s wife, a young mother, and young in my understanding of God’s grace. When I picture myself in those years, I think of myself in two places: in my home and all tangled up in my own head.
After college, I’d waited for friends to appear, as they’d appeared in every other era of my life–through youth group and band and softball teams and housemates. And they, in fact, hadn’t appeared. I felt as if I’d forgotten how to do friendship and wondered if I was no longer friend-able. In my insecurity, I remained isolated, both in my home and in my head.
I remember hoping another mother would invite me out after morning Bible study. I remember desiring one of the older pastor’s wives to take me under her wing. After my pear-eating boy received a devastating diagnosis, I remember wishing others would intentionally step into my shoes and walk with me, tell me what to do, or care for me in some way.
I was lonely for a friend.
Many women are, I know this now. Many feel forever on the outside. Many have been hurt by other women, so they intentionally stay on the outside so as not to be hurt again. And many feel their genuine attempts at friendship have produced little fruit.
Friendship is not as simple as we’ve been led to believe. But here’s something else I now know: loneliness isn’t always as complex as we’ve been led to believe either.
Sometimes Loneliness is a Gift from God.
Whether we’re new to a neighborhood or a church, whether a good friend has moved away or died, or whether a once close friendship has shifted, any type of change or separation can arouse a sense of loneliness and longing in our hearts. When we have them, we long for healthy relationships and happy life circumstances to remain static. We long for deep community and a sense of belonging. We long for the good old days when friendships came easy and we could enjoy those friends without all the adult responsibilities and burdens mixed in.
Longing is not a misplaced desire. In fact, the longing for friendship is a good one. How we pursue or respond to that longing, however, is important. We must remember that perfect relationships and perfect community and perfect circumstances do not exist on this side of eternity. Knowing that life and friendship will always be imperfect helps us embrace what we do have as grace and gift, even if the current gift is aloneness.
Our aloneness is a gift because it teaches us to turn our desires to the Lord in prayer and swells our hearts with a hope and eagerness for our true home with Jesus. Sometimes God may love us best by calling us to aloneness, precisely so that He can meet us intimately in a time when He has our full attention. We can be at peace with our aloneness, knowing that we have access to God and can cast all our cares and desires upon Him. Because all is gift and grace, we can wait in aloneness with eager expectation of how God might also give us the gift and grace of togetherness.
Sometimes Loneliness is Self-Imposed
Curiously, many of us seem to be standing beside one another, holding identical longings for friendship yet resolutely believing we’re alone in them. The truth is we aren’t actually wandering alone; we’re practically tripping over each other as we grasp at our dreams of friendship that is perfect and easy. These ideal dreams of friendship are often created and watered in our loneliness, and these dreams produce bitterness as we begin demanding from others and from God according to our exacting standards.
I certainly speak from experience. As I look back at my twenties, I see a lonely girl with a stubborn wish-dream. I see a lonely girl because of the stubborn wish-dream. A friend, according to my dream, would have been in her twenties (like me), been married and had children (like me), and understood what ministry entailed (like me). At the same time, I was afraid to ask for help, afraid to initiate, and deathly afraid of being vulnerable. I wanted the gift, but I was unwilling to do anything to receive or unwrap it.
I did pray, and I did cry. And all throughout that time, God was answering. He was good to me in my aloneness; He was the friend who was constantly present. But He was also answering with real people, imperfect people (like me), who lived beside me and went to church with me and who were a few steps ahead and behind me. I see this now, but at the time I couldn’t see past my wish-dream, my standards, and all my bitter longings. If I’d just looked around and if I’d just have been willing to take a few risks of vulnerability and initiation, I would have experienced the answer God was trying to give me.
That’s what I learned that day when the knife cut my finger and opened my heart. It wasn’t that I didn’t have anyone I could call; it was that I was afraid to call. It was that I would have rather drowned in self-sufficiency and isolation than risk reaching out or admitting my loneliness.
Are you lonely for a friend? Loneliness is nothing to be ashamed of; turn to God with your deepest desires and needs. While His love is steady and sure, know that nothing is constant about our relationships with one another–there will be times of abundance as well as times of aloneness. Cultivate a heart posture that receives both aloneness and togetherness as gift and grace. Perhaps this will give you fresh eyes for the women there all around you.
Christine Hoover is a pastor’s wife, mom to three boys, a speaker, and the author of several books, including From Good to Grace, and her latest, Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships.
When Christine and her family moved from Texas to Charlottesville, Virginia in 2008 to plant a church, she got a much-needed re-do on making and deepening friendships. She now loves to help other women discover the surprising reasons friendship often eludes them, and she also loves helping them find the community they crave.
But, that was precisely the problem. I couldn’t be still. My heart was racing a hundred miles an hour like a race car ready to crash. Ever been there? Where the face of your problems > loving face of your God? Where it is hard to know if God can/will fix what you’re doing, done or are about to do?
“Your child has been exposed to Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease.”
I gave them the blank stare. I didn’t know what this entailed, but I did know by nature of the name it sounded – horrific. Anything with the word “disease” in it is about enough to send mom’s stomach flip-flopping and reeling in anxiety. Add visions of pussing, oozing and painful sores – and mom was already identifying imaginary red spots.
“Were they exposed to the sick kid a lot – or a little?”
“Oh, a lot and it is very contagious.”
Thanks, lady. Thanks a lot. Oh, and thanks a lot, God. Don’t you know?
Now, I’d just come off the stomach flu that built into a cold that seemed to never end that morphed into a bad illness with a mean attack from the inside-out. I won’t go into details here. Needless to say, I’d been run ragged. Now this?
Now, I was sure, dear daughter was deeply ill. I could see it happening, and none of my prayers could stop this unforeseen visitor from coming. God wouldn’t help me. I was all alone on this one.
Where do you feel all alone?
Where have you opened the gate to worry and found not only it walked in, but doubt too?
This may sound simplistic, but: Shut the gate.
Doubt disassembles the goodness of God.
It wrecks the benefits of love.
It becomes cancerous over time.
It corrodes dependence on God.
It is the devil’s gambit.
“But, how, Kelly, how?” You ask me.
We fight with the 5 A’s – that’s how! We:
Acknowledge the lies and God’s corresponding truth.
Ask for forgiveness.
Admire the power, height, and love of God.
Abandon our own will.
Affirm God’s goodness through thanksgiving and prayer.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Phil. 4:8
Filter the bad out of the good, and you’re left with good. And, if we’re left with good, we’re left with God. We want this.
Prayer Against Destructive Doubt:
God, you are in everything. You are above everything. You know everything. You are orchestrating everything. All control is yours. All vision is yours. All power is yours. You move the handle on my life. Thank you that you want to take care of me. Thank you that you love me. You withhold no good thing from me. Thank you that I can trust you. Not with half my heart, but with my whole heart. Thank you that you know my way, even when it looks not like “my way.” Grant me greater faith to trust you by faith. Stand closer to me so I can dwell in your love. Help keep my mind steadfast on things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. If I move with you, I won’t depart from you. Teach me God in all your ways. I am open and willing to what you want to do in me. I need you, God. Amen.
She owes me something.
She’s responsible now to figure out how to console me.
Her actions need to shift for me to ever love her.
Everything needs to change before I can be happy.
I win, as a better person, because she’s always losing.
What shocks me about my above brutally-honest list is – when I look at it, I could have striked all those words and just written: me, me, me! I could have summarized it all up: “You stink, lady, you are not good enough and you better improve or I’ll always live hurt.”
Who made her God? And who made me so reliant she rules my emotions, pride, joy and peace?
When people rule us, we aren’t being ruled by God. It’s a give in. God’s gone – gone.
But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly,to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. (Heb. 11:22-24)
We have come to Jesus.
Not to a woman who lets us down.
Not to a job we detest.
Not to a boss who favors others.
Not to a child who is completely and utterly defiant.
Not to questions that rule over us.
Not to a spouse who speaks meanly.
Not to a situation that is ruling us.
We have come to God, the Judge, the one who makes us righteous, perfect, to the mediator, to the one who sprinkled grace over our head and declared us as his own.
Man will let us down, God won’t. He’s already lifted us up to seat us with Christ (Eph. 2:6) and, even better, He’s declared the deed, the position for us final by saying, “It is finished. (Jo. 19:30)” And, guess what? It is.
So, who can tie us up to the back of the car and drag us through the gravel? No one.
Who can rip out our voice and tell us it’s worthless? No one.
Who can hurt us time and time again, thereby ruining our soul? No one.
Humbly, we rest under him. Jesus. The one crushed, so we emotionally aren’t. The one beaten so we could beat relational pain through Him. The one mocked, so when we are, we remember He understands, knows and cares for us. The one broken, so we could be healed. The one victorious, who marks us that name alike.
We aren’t the product of a person’s action. Or, maybe we are. We are the product of Jesus’ actions. And, by Him, we are saved from the things that want to take us down.
God, please teach me not to judge. Please. Teach. Me. Not. To. Judge.
Not…to judge the mom at the coffee store who is looking at her phone
when all her toddler wants is her undivided attention. I do that myself.
Not my husband who is tired when he walks through the door and is looking for rest. I always want what he requests, but I am terrified to admit it.
Not the driver who nearly side-swiped me last week and then gave me a dirty look. I nearly drove a car off the road and into shoulder this morning.
Not the woman I consider self-indulgent, self-seeking and far too self-interested. Many a day, I’ve tried to dress so well, so right, to look perfect. I want to be seen.
Not the family member who is always letting me down, getting under my skin. God, you really do know, my timely, ordered ways could drive anyone nuts.
Not the person who believes, politically, things far more different and strange than I. I’ve never walked a day in their shoes.
Not the person I look nothing like. Just because they don’t reflect me,Jesus, doesn’t mean they don’t reflect you.
Not the person making every single wrong decision in the book. I made so many bad decisions, I nearly killed myself way back when, but still, hope was never lost.
Not the one who offends me and continually tries to drive me nuts. Before I run forward with insults, I should remember they likely have a background of pain.
Not me, and all the hundreds of ways I’m offensive. I let you down all the time, but immediately, Jesus, you toss my offenses on the flip-side of this world when I say, “Sorry.”
Just as much as they are developing, I am too… We are too…
Our stories are complex. Our growth is slow. Our faith is increasing. You’ve planned it this way, God. It takes trust, piles of it. And, space, room to make allowance for others and ourselves.
Yet, when we run to cast labels, decisions, verdicts and opinions on people, we steal this space. We steal the space you’ve given us to observe. Don’t let me steal the wonder of your works. You are working something. You are moving as you will. As I give leeway, you give way to the wonderful work you’ve always intended to do.
When I fill it that space with negativity, captivity, critiques and prognoses, I steal peace, growth, hope and new life. I don’t want my mind, heart and soul filled with these degrading and base motives. What a waste! What a rip-off for them and me!
Stop me from doing that.
God, give me patience to lift others, rather than to hate them.
God, give me eyes to see your beauty in them; it is always there.
God, give me a mouth that affirms differences, not one that pushes them aside.
God, make me into a peace-maker, not a finger-pointer.
God, make me aware of my faults, so I don’t ever believe I’m too good for your calling.
God, make me need others, so I never stand above them.
God, strengthen humility, erase my pride.
God, show me the low road, so I can lift others high.
God, soften my impulses and slow down my need to decide.
God, open a door so I can walk much-needed love inside.
God, soften my heart so I can bridge great divides.
God, remove my tough skin, so you can sink inside.
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:18-19
I have a dream.
Ever had one of those? A ridiculous thing? A hope? A wish? A prayer? Something you want, but feels impossible to have? Something that if it came true, you’d feel like – you made it, you lived out what you were created for?
I have this dream, much of it revolves around Ephesians 3:18-19:
That we, as American women, would stand like tall oaks, unwavering, because we are rooted in God’s love.
That we, together, would be planted, with power to mobilize, migrate and make a difference.
That we would extend love that surpasses – knowledge.
That we would be filled with the full measure of God, thereby never being the same again.
I don’t know how this all looks, but something in me sees something uprising and I’m just going to walk by faith. I believe if I plant my seed into fertile soil, God will sink the beginnings of roots right into his love. Love grows things.
So, here I’ll stand. Holding my seed, waiting. Trusting, his love. Believing, He’ll grow it. I expect to return back to this post, smiling. I expect to have remembered the start of a big dream. I expect to encounter trials of many varieties, but I also expect to encounter a triumphant God who always wins. I expect to press on and to press in. I expect to come out different, with new light, His light.
This is faith, I’m learning.
What faith do you need to execute your dream?
Let me tell you what you don’t need: You don’t need people to act a certain way. You don’t need to handle all those excuses. You don’t need more strength. You don’t need to lose that job. You don’t need to wipe clean your errors of the past. You don’t need to know “how”. You don’t need to know “when”. You don’t need people to “get it”. You don’t need new resources. You don’t need more qualifications. Nope.
God, nearly every time, uses the least exemplary of these to do the most extraordinary things. Moses. Noah. David. Mary.
Dream a little dream, friend.
And go easy on it, for a dream is just a vapor. You hold it up to God. He breathes on it. It forms, grows limbs, moves, speaks and then guides.
All you need is Him. The pressure is off you. All you need is faith. Faith activates great.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory…forever and ever! (Eph. 3:20-21)
We don’t need to know, He does.
We need only pray, He’ll have his way.
We need only trust, He’s bigger than us.
We need a giant belief He’ll pull through.
We need a bit of grace to take us.
We need eyes for everlasting glory, not our own fleeting glory.
We need reliance on Jesus Christ.
We need praise, worship and thanks.
We need to return all glory to our maker.
We need to make it all about love.
We need wild faith.