God was there in the beginning and God is Love, but I wasn’t there in the beginning…and I don’t feel that love right now. There are days when it’s hard to love others, but God says that those are the most important days to do just that. I stand with this reality in front of me on those days, and it’s difficult to say yes to a love that I do not see in action in others. I do not exist seeing the fullness of time knowing the eternal insignificance of my anger and the importance of love. I don’t want to see the fullness of time because the momentary affliction is too strong for me to wrap around my mind.
It is not easy to be the one sitting on the inside trying to look out at these issues. When the ones that I am called to love are fighting me at every opportunity they get, how can I be expected to love then? Sometimes I sit and wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to not love at all. I wonder if I could exist in a world of solitude knowing that I don’t have to be hurt when my brother in Christ turns to me and looks me in the eye and lies. I wonder if it’s easier to exist in a world without commitment and accountability when he takes that advice I give him and spits it in my face. I wonder if it’s easier to love without covenant when my loved ones and I fight to the point where it gets too personal and too direct. When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
What exactly am I expected to do? I turn to the books and I re-read them, but what I’m reading has lost its meaning long ago. I flip through the pages of my bible looking for the answer but the Spirit sends me back only with the commandment to, “love as I loved first.” These words sting in my ears because they are the very reality I am fighting against. Love. What a word to come from someone I have cursed out in my prayers and yet He stays there. Am I expected to understand the depths of love from Someone who knew my every action while sitting on the outside of time and said yes? How can I stand in between the pain of my brother and the ones I love with this knowledge in my brain and say nothing?
I come back to the depths of my mind and ask, “Where am I to go?” God sends me back to the beginning and asks me where I am. I look into the depths of Him and see myself there. In the beginning of time. When God was love, and I was on His mind. He loved me first, and I chose to fight Him every opportunity I got. He loved me first, and I looked Him in His all-seeing eyes and I lied. He loved me first when I cursed His Spirit as He called my life and made it personal and direct. He loved me first when the resistance got so strong and I said no to the forgiveness of His Son, and yet He still called me back with those three words. Love Me first.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you” – Isaiah 43:2
This verse has resonated with me a great deal recently. I feel like the Lord just kept saying it to me over and over again this past week as my anxiety crept up in the way it usually does. This anxiety is not necessarily due to any one certain thing, but everything–the small and the big. I like to be in control of all aspects of my life, and when I realize I’m not, it can feel so immensely halting. The unknown can feel truly crippling at times. I’ve struggled to give this control over to God for so long. For too long I’ve fought this battle by myself, not letting anyone else take control. Especially not the One who wants to take it all from me. I am only so strong.
And as I let this verse from Isaiah settle in my mind and in my heart, I realized I don’t need to be afraid anymore. I’ve struggled with this burden for as long as I can remember and I don’t want to fight this battle alone. I don’t need to fight this alone. I can keep trying my plan…or I can yield to God. His grace abounds in deepest waters and I feel God’s grace most when He settles the storms inside me. I know He can use these struggles to draw us closer to Him and this includes the anxiety we may feel in life.
Admitting I struggle with anxiety has been such a rough battle in itself. Anxiety at it’s depths is ugly, and I didn’t want to burden others with my struggles. But that’s where I’m learning about community as well. I’m slowly growing a community around myself that encourages me to draw closer to God when I feel weak. He will never abandon me when I’m afraid. He knows my struggles and fears, and He holds me anyway.
C. S. Lewis said, “No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.” This truth has been reinforced to me in recent days. During a battle with my 11-year-old son, I wondered what Jesus would do in my situation. The words of Philippians 2:5-8 came to mind: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who…humbled Himself.”
The mind of Christ is not a natural fit for me, and each time I embrace meekness, my flesh exalts itself with thoughts of what I “deserve.” In my quest for humility, I am finding out just how prideful I really am. Discouraging as that can be, the lessons I am learning through these
struggles are rich. Thankfully, changed thinking is the first step toward changed behavior! Here are five things I am learning that help me let go of my “rights” and meet my son where he is: Continue reading “Cultivating The Mind Of Jesus”
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” – Colossians 3:13
Forgive. It’s such a small word that packs big a punch. When dealing with ourselves, we want forgiveness to be offered to us freely. When dealing with others, it’s not something we quickly jump to or even want in moments of hurt.
For such a small word, Jesus has big thoughts on the matter. This year, He has taught me just what it means to forgive. Not the passive, “I want to move past this conversation and get over this awkwardness,” forgiveness. But the kind that brings you to love the person, to see them as Christ sees them, and ultimately hope for their good. So, below are just a few things God has revealed to me on the topic of forgiving others and letting His love heal those dark and hurting places. Continue reading “3 Important Lessons on Forgiveness”
I said the words without thinking, but as soon as they were out of my mouth I wanted to take them back. Worse were the seconds after, watching her face fall and the hurt flash in the eyes of my friend from those thoughtless words. I could practically hear the thud as they landed heavy and hard against her heart.
My apology came out quickly and oh how I meant it! But the damage was already written all over my friend. She graciously accepted my apology, but we both knew my words were still stinging.
Saying our goodbyes for the evening I offered another sincere apology, as if by saying the word “sorry” enough times I could erase the words from earlier, but I parted my friend’s company that night with a heaviness in my own heart.
Continue reading “Receiving Forgiveness”
“Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
“Let it go.”
I hear these words turning around in my head. I know they are from the Lord, but I feel like I can’t do what He is requesting.
The older I get, the more I realize how weak I really am. I see all the things Christ has brought me through and given me strength to accomplish, and sometimes I just forget.
Continue reading “Bitterness and Surrender”
My closest friends will tell you I’m loyal to a fault. A wrong against one of them is a wrong against me. And boy, can I hold a grudge. Sometimes I can actually feel my heels digging into the ground.
I’ve been in church long enough to see plenty of good people, good friends in fact, be wronged by the church. It’s even happened to me a few times, and each time I want to protest in outrage. I want to hurl some insults and point a few fingers. I want to walk away from church entirely.
Because church is messy, community is hard and people get hurt. Continue reading “Radiance”
Being the analytical sort, I have always figured that Heaven will surely be way overcrowded!! I mean, think of the world population today and then throw in all the previous generations! Even if Christians are the only ones going there—based on John 14:6 which says “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’”—there are still loads of folks called Christians who have died over the centuries! So I always thought it sounded like standing room only in Heaven! Continue reading “Maybe Heaven Won’t Be That Crowded!”