May I tell you something vitally important to your faith life?
Jesus is not casting stones at you.
“Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stoneat her.” Jo. 8:7
Jesus picks up no rock to sling at your face. Sure, He sees what you do and what you have done. But He grabs nothing to pummel you, like you do to yourself. He does not rip your insides. He does not call you, “Idiot” or “Stupid.” Or say, “Oh, look, she did it again.” He launches no accusatory words at you, like you may do to yourself. Jesus doesn’t hurt his daughters.
He approaches them, arms open, ready to receive them again. And he fights off the violent voices rising against them. He lets not condemnation speak any longer.
“Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Jo. 8:10
“No one, sir,” she said.
The violent stone throwers were no longer there. Why? Because of Jesus. Because of the voice of simple and authentic love. Love that spoke over condemnation to bring love-filled, sin-shattering consolation.
What if you were to let Jesus’ voice of consolation, rise above the stone-slinging voices of condemnation? What freedom might you seize? What life would you be able to return to?
“Then neither do I condemn you,’”Jesus declared. ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’” Jo. 8:1
It is easy to leave sin when you’re confronted with authentic, soul-seeing and heart-changing love.
Why not let the one and only Jesus lead you into deeper, life-freeing love? The perfect consoler waits, not with a stone, but with a heart to care for your deep wounds and pain.
There is this real pressure to look right before man.
TV constantly implies, “Don’t be one of them.”
Clothing stores convey, “You better look as good as the music we’re playing.”
Past encounters remind us, “Be likable, or people will reject or leave you.”
Because of this, it is easy to find an identity, tweak it, and fit it to man.
Ever done that? Molded, morphed or changed color to look like others? To fit in? To be liked? Loved? Accepted? To not be seen as off?
If you’re human, the answer likely is yes.
We like to look like everyone else, so as to not stand out. To not be set apart. To be one of the many. To not feel like we are “too much” or “not enough.” Keeping ourselves from being “set apart” makes us feel safe. It prevents us from being that one… the weirdo!
Yet Jesus tells us, being set apart is this: Holy.
“We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all.” Heb. 10:10-12
Why do we fight it? Why do we fight the idea that Jesus picked us up and set us apart? Why do we fight his identity that provides the only identity we’ll ever feel good about: Chosen and set aside for his purposes. Why do we fight him, in us? Everyday, he’s our only saving chance.
As daughters, our identity is Jesus. He will never be loved by the world. But he will always be set apart as the victorious, high and mighty King of Kings. Why would we ever want to settle for the world’s second best when we have the kingdom’s first and only?
What God-given qualities have you stifled because of your fear of man? How have you held back who God created you to be? Where may God be calling you to step up and step out into his purposes, right now? Even if you are set apart?
“Believe,” she said. “You just have to believe. And don’t settle. See belief all the way through.”
It sounded like a very good and faithful thing to do. It sounded like what I really should do. But as we all know, faith in practicality lives much more painfully than it does through words. You think things like: If God doesn’t come through on this, I am toast. If I don’t find my way, I’ll never be happy. If I don’t get this done, I’ll be left behind.
Belief wavers after that first jolt of confidence and fizzles out like day-old soda. It gets flat sometimes.
So, when looking for a house and walking through one that was “a definite possibility,” her words came back to me. “Don’t settle.” She had gone on to say, “If it is an orange light from God, don’t go, but it if it is a green light, only then proceed.”
I liked the layout. It was open. I liked the paint color. It was grey. I didn’t like the door frames that looked like water had gone up their side. I also didn’t like the musty smell. Internally, I debated if the place had mold.
I wanted to overlook the bad, so I could move forward and be done with this frustrating process of finding a new place.
I went home and told my husband, “I think I found a place that looks pretty good. We probably should move on it.”
He remembered the words of our friend, “Kelly, is it a green light or an orange light?”
How often do we push into something God hasn’t called us to because we are over things? Because it is easier not to contend with that issue anymore? Because faith is hard?
When I saw the reality of it, that place was orangey-red.
“See belief all the way through.”
Where do you need to see belief all the way through?
“Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’” Jo. 2:29
After talking with my husband, I redirected my thoughts, my heart and my will to believe. I committed to see things through. And I did. I write now from the comfort of a green light home without mold. Our family loves it.
Often, it can be hard to love others authentically. Ever noticed that?
It can be hard to drop TV and take a meal to a sick friend’s house. It can be hard to make a phone call when you had a horrid day. It can be hard to write another blog post when you’re struggling to get by yourself.
But then you think about love. You think about who He is. Jesus.
You think of how he went out there, carrying what was back-breaking, burdensome and unbelievable. . . and he kept going. With us on his mind. With our sin on his back. With our pain that became his pain.
Jesus doesn’t give up on love. I am compelled not to either.
With this, I’ve been observing it…Love-in-action. Others have loved me a lot lately: They’ve taken me into their home when I almost had no home. They’ve made me food when I didn’t have much to offer. They’ve texted me even though I haven’t talked to them in years. They’ve just done stuff in the face of this post-Irma trial.
And in their actions I can see love is what it is all about. It’s about me, and not giving up. It is about me, and enduring. It’s about me, and believing God can, and will.
It is also about you. It’s about you and acting anyway. It is about you, and reaching out. It is about you, and responding kindly. It is about you, and giving to the person with nothing left to give. It is about continuing to speak authentically when the trials of life leave you breathlessly out of words.
I was thinking of all this today. And then a friend wrote me and said her life was changed because of my breathless writing. It wasn’t in a big way or even a big deal. But that’s how the responses to love usually appear – small, little, inconsequential. But somehow, I figure they’re not. The small thank yous? They all add up to something monumental and massive over all the years in the sight of God.
The bottom line to today’s post is this: We don’t know how much all our small breathless acts of love change — everything.
Don’t. Don’t give up on the kid who won’t listen.
Don’t give up on a dream you’ve never accomplished.
Don’t give up on a hope that seems hopeless.
Don’t give up on the spouse that you think is too far gone for you to ever love.
Don’t give up searching out that great friend you’ve always longed for.
God sees all that you’re enduring. He knows the desires of your heart. He cares for each and every one of them.
And God loves you. I fear this sounds contrite, like wasted words and that somehow, like my daughter, you’ll respond: I know this already. Tell me something I don’t know. . .
But do you really know?
Jesus loving you and dying for you is the equivalent of him jumping in between you and an assault, pushing you out of harm’s way so he can take the blow, and entering a war that feels like a huge loss, all so that you can be lifted above it.
It is like him jumping into the scene of your life to fix it, permanently and eternally.
If he cared for you that much, doesn’t he still care for you that much — today?
Don’t give up: on Him, on you or on those around you.
To not give up means to keep going. It means to you can feel kind of icky, tired, or weary and worn, but you keep at it. Not working hard, or doing more, or pressing ahead, or sweating it out, but simply pursuing him with all your heart. It’s keeping your time intact with him who is love. It’s not letting life encroach on his territory.
This is not giving up.
Getting his love gives hearts new air to breathe, room to move, and a helping hand up.
Our high aim and our lifting hand always is Him.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shine like the dawn.” (Ps. 37:4-6)
Jesus is your victory. Your victory and your destiny. You are secure.
Because it is: Won and done. (Let these words take root in your mind when you forget)
Jesus won, is winning and will win. Period. Always. Forever. And on and on…for always.
If everything is against you, Jesus wins. Won and done. If you see death to cancer. Won and done. One day, you’ll be healed on earth or in heaven as your every tear is wiped away.
If your husband left you. Won and done. Jesus will be right next to you, never leaving your side, while leading you to his best thing.
If you get every door slammed in your face. Won and done.God will be your defender and restorer. Nothing gets by him.
If you can’t see out of depression. Won and done. In God’s presence there is fullness of joy.
If you are hated. Won and done. Jesus loves you and will fill the deep desires of your heart.
If pain overwhelms you. Won and done. Greater is God’s love than the substance of anything in this world.
Always, Jesus wins. Won and done. Always. Always. Always. Honor God by returning to this truth, in every case, at all times, in every way. Don’t delay.
He won for you and his victory is done.
“For those who honor me, I will honor.” 1 Sam 2:30
There is a homeless lady my kids love. She sits on the side of the road in a makeshift tent made out of trash bags, tarps and cardboard. Everyday, when we pass her on the way home from school, my kids scream out the window, “Hi, have a great day,” as we pass by.
They know her name because one day, my daughter thought we should bring her food. She thought carrots would be nice. My son thought flowers would be a good idea too. So, we bought carrots and flowers and delivered them to her. It was then we learned she had a name.
Linda. I can’t stop thinking of Linda right now. She had to leave the streets…probably by force. I hope she didn’t protest. Somehow, I imagine her not wanting to desert her carts of personal belongings. I imagine her crying because that block is where she’s always lived. But if Linda didn’t leave, she might be dead. Hurricane Irma planned to hit her, hard.
Linda likely perceived her stuff more valuable than her safety. And she probably didn’t think about how there was a better place for her.
We’re like Linda, too. We don’t want to leave “our heart stuff” behind for God’s soul-calming safety.
We don’t want to cling to the safety of what we know, forgetting the calm that God brings. We don’t want to stay in a marginal place, missing the greater place of growth God is calling us to. This is even riskier than staying where we are. To stay on our corner, clinging to the past, our faults, insecurities or worries, hurts not only ourselves but others.
We must leave our baggage behind to pick up God’s easier yoke. There is a transaction involved in this. There is a sacrifice.
I’ve certainly learned this. I could easily go through life paying no attention to what God is prompting. Or the greater love he is calling me to, the mission he’s set ahead, or the unneeded garbage he is calling me to leave behind. But I would lose so much. Everything, almost.
Left to the whimsies of Kelly Balarie, I’d be a woman in a storm who felt like she had no home. I’d be tossed to and fro, feeling powerless.
The letting go and going where God goes is safety and power. It is a powerful Christian life that permits God to decrease self, while increasing the Spirit. This woman realizes more and more she’s in love with her daddy. She sees his best beyond her worst. She uncovers his faithfulness.
What is better than that? What is a more worthy pursuit? A more honorable goal?
Every time God teaches us something and inches us in a new direction, it’s not because we are doing bad, but because we are doing good and because he loves us that much. He wants our full heart within the safe place of his arms, where no harm can touch us, because — when we let go of everything, we find him fully.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.” Mt. 5:5
Where is God calling you to step more fully out of your comfort zone and into his love? What if you were to believe he truly did have your best intentions in mind?
“See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Ps. 139:24
Have you ever done something you didn’t want to, and then regretted it?
I regret being a woman who desperately wanted men to like her. I regret not standing up for who I was. I regret not standing firm when people tried to tell me what to do.
Because I think all this produced a thick heart. Skin that is like cow hide.
And now I tend to not trust people easily, believe what they say, accept things without considering the strings attached or believe people will like me – for me.
I consider ulterior motives. I consider God’s ulterior motives.
As if he says to me:
If you aren’t good, I won’t be good to you.
If I don’t think you are serving me well enough, I’ll be distant from you.
If you don’t spend time with me, I am angry at you.
If you don’t give enough to me, I am over you.
If you don’t have something to offer the world, I’ll pass you over.
I am being frank with you today.
I am also convicted that hearts covered with protective skin are not God’s best working ground. He loves a supple heart that lays in his hands. One that, when he presses on it with just the slightest amount of loving pressure, responds.
So, I’ve forgiven those who never asked for forgiveness. I’ve asked God asked to soften my heart. And I’ve requested to hear his voice. God speaks to us today, something like this:
I won’t hurt you.
I don’t need anything back from you to love you.
I’ll love you as a good, pure and holy Father, forever.
I know where I am taking you. It is not to a place of harm or ridicule.
I don’t have plans to help and then hurt you.
It’s not what you do for me. It is what Jesus did for you.
If you take off what covers your heart, I’ll reach in and heal it.
I’ll grow you because I love you.
I care for hearts, including yours, with care.
You can trust me.
“Mama, the monsters are coming at me,” my son said.
He stood by the bed with his face inches from mine, hands animated. My mid-REM cycle brain lingered between sleep and reality.
“What?” I asked. I saw that my son was disturbed by something. After realizing I was going to have to get out of bed, I stumbled to his room. I gave the bunk a full examination before telling him to get back in.
Five minutes later, he reappeared. The monsters were still there.
For some reason, the miracle of a flashlight never occurred to me. Thank God for my husband who came to the rescue with not just a flashlight, but a headlamp. Under the pillow it went.
Sweet, uninterrupted sleep followed. The next morning, I realized this tool I took for granted revealed the truth: the “monsters” were in fact shadows. There were no creepy things waiting to grab him in the night. He was safe.
It’s amazing what a little light can do.
Even in the darkest place, a flicker of it can go a long way.
Recently, I needed some light of my own. But for months, I didn’t tell anyone. I went through a dark season where I listened to one lie after another. Lies telling me I wasn’t enough. Lies telling me I should do better as a mother, wife, writer and friend. Lies telling me I wasn’t going to make it.
I thought, “If I can just make it through today, things will get better.”
Good days came and went and when the darkness hit again, I thought, “I’m just having a bad day.”
Somehow, bringing my struggle out into the open seemed threatening. I convinced myself if I could carry it a little longer, it would go away. I thought telling someone would make it my reality.
But in truth, it already was.
One day I sat in church operating the media projector while the worship band played Healing Is Here by The Deluge. My eyes were wet with tears as I mouthed the words.
Sickness can’t stay any longer
Your perfect love is casting out fear
You are the God of all power
And it is your will that my life is healed
Did I believe that? Did I believe God wanted me to be whole, complete, and fully secure in his love?
As I sat there asking myself this question, a miracle took place. The pastor called a sister forward to pray over the offering, but the Spirit had something else for us that day. A rescue. A release.
“There’s someone here who’s suffering from depression,” she stated without hesitation. She said God wanted that person to know his healing power was for her.
The tears ran freely down my cheeks. But still, my butt remained glue to my seat. In the next half hour, our church literally became what Jesus referred to in Matthew as “A House of Prayer.” Service stopped. The sermon was postponed.
This woman’s husband stood up and extended a second invitation, and I knew I had to go forward. And as a stood there at the front of the sanctuary with my head bowed, her hand reached through the crowd and grabbed mine.
Music played in the background while this sister prayed over me, naming lie after lie that I’d listened to for months. It was a God-ordained moment.
And what I realized was this: Even when no one else saw my pain, God did.
“…for your Father knows what you need before you even ask him.” Matthew 6:8b NIV
I finally understood that hiding our struggles does not diminish their power. It increases it.
But when I gave my problem a name, I was able to take the first step toward healing. I said, “I’m not going to let this rule me anymore.”
When we bring our darkness into his Light, he shows us truth.
Like my son with his headlamp, we can see the shadows aren’t able to defeat us. Though they lurk, they can never stand a chance against his perfect love.
Friend, no matter what you’re going through today, know this: God sees. Bring your fears, your problems and your sickness into his Light today. Tell someone you trust. Take a step forward.
His healing power begins when we reach for his hand.
Abby McDonald is the mom of three, a wife and writer whose hope is show readers their identity is found in Christ alone, not the noise of the world. When she’s not chasing their two boys or cuddling their newest sweet girl, you can find her drinking copious amounts of coffee while writing about her adventures on her blog. Abby would love to connect with you on her blog and her growing Facebook community.
Right before a recent move, someone told me, “I hate __ city. I hate everything about it. It is busy. It has mean people. It is a bad environment for living.” I had to pray for God to remove that from my mind so I wouldn’t allow their declaration to become my reality.
Another person essentially told me, “Kelly, you’re not a good enough writer.” I also had to erase that from my memory, so I could do what God wanted me to do without letting their words take life and speak over me day in and day out. But even now, I remember them.
Someone else told me, “All boys with the name __, act a certain way. You never want to name your kid that or they’ll be …” Again, I had to recognize this was something I could be prone to believe. I had to seek God’s truth and his ways, rather than to let those words take root in me.
What have people spoken over you lately? What have you permitted to become a part of you? What words might not be from God?
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
What ruler, authority or dark agency has spoken within you? Does it sound like love? Or does it sound like…
An Authority Saying, You’re Ruined: There is no time. There are no people behind you. You will fail. You don’t have enough __. You are always without ___. God is far.
An Agency Stating, Take Care of Yourself, Only: There is not enough to go around. Protect yourself first. Give later. The world has limited resources. Take first, give later.
A Hard-Driving Ruler demanding,Perform! Perform! Perform! Work, strive and push yourself harder: Imperfection is not allowable. It’s an all or nothing lifestyle. It’s black or white thinking. It’s thrive or die. People are liabilities and injuries just waiting to happen. If they don’t help you, hurt them. That’s what you say.
An Authority proclaiming, You’re Incapable: You’ve always done bad in life. Why change now? You know you are unlikable, but there is no use trying to be different. Your past has marked you. The world, the hurters, owe you. You’re a victim. You don’t really have what it takes, anyway.
God is not a Father who enslaves you to a chamber of fear.
He is a daddy who loves you. He gives us… A Daughter mentality: He loves me, oh, he loves me. Every day, he loves me.
His voice sounds like this:
I choose her. I want her to feel my love. I want her to dwell in it and to feel the fullness of my presence around her. I want her to know I am both behind her, in her and working out through her. I rejoice over her with singing, I write her name on my hand, I prepare a room for her, I have good works ready for her to walk in, and I want to give her all my riches. I want to pour out my glorious inheritance (shout out to Jesus Christ) all over her. I want her to walk knowing she has the biggest, baddest and strongest security behind her at all moments. I want her to see she can do anything through me. I want her to know her faith can part seas and make her walk to lands unimaginable. I want her to hear my words of truth before she relies on her perceptions, because then she’ll know my love.
I want her to know I’m always cheering for her, leading her, loving her and ready to help her.