Category Archives: Love

Belonging

Who are You?” they asked.

“Just what I have been telling you from the beginning,” Jesus replied. I have much to say about you and much to judge. But the One who sent Me is truthful, and what I have heard from Him, I tell the world.”

They did not understand that He was telling them about the Father.  So Jesus said, When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and that I do nothing on My own, but speak exactly what the Father has taught Me. He who sent Me is with Me. He has not left Me alone, because I always do what pleases Him.”

As Jesus spoke these things, many believed in Him.  (John 8:25-30)

This coming weekend, we have a special family get together planned. All of my children and their significant others, and my grandchildren will be together.

It’s something I look forward to more than anything else.  I miss my children keenly.  I love my current life, and it’s deeply fulfilling.  Yet my heart longs for that time when the children were at home, and we were a solid unit.  There was a very deep sense of identity, that we were a family together then.

Now, we ‘re scattered. And we’re still a family.  But that cohesive identity of us as a unit isn’t the same.  We each have our own lives.  I miss being one with my children, and it feels like an arm or leg has been cut off.

Some of it has to do with a sense of belonging.  Our family is who we are.  It’s where we belong.

And that’s what I’m thinking about as I read today’s red letter passage.  Jesus had a very strong sense of belonging with his Father.  His overarching identity was as his Father’s son.  He did nothing without his Father.  He spoke nothing but what his Father taught him  He was completely connected with God.

Do we have this very strong sense of belonging with God?  Is that our identity?

We have to realize that we don’t belong to the world.  Trying to fit into it will only leave us frazzled and empty.

We don’t belong to others.  Trying to please them is a never ending treadmill.

We don’t even belong to ourselves.  I tell you, I can be a hard master.  I can tell myself that I’m never good enough.

The only place we really belong is with God.

“Once you were like sheep who wandered away. But now you have turned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.”  (I Peter 2:25)

That’s what Jesus felt.  He only wanted to please God. God was his Father.  He didn’t obey him just for the sake of obedience.  He loved his father with all of his heart, and was completely devoted to him.

I really want to understand this better.  Because I can’t just feel comfortable and safe with God sometimes.  Surely he isn’t pleased with me.  Surely I should be doing more, doing better.

Brene Brown wrote, “True belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

How can I increase my self acceptance?  The best way has to be by believing that God accepts me.

There’s a really touching children’s book by Max Lucado called “You Are Special.”  It’s about small wood people called Wemmicks,  carved by a wood carver named Eli.   At one point Eli reassures one of the wood people, Punchinello, who sees himself as flawed because that’s how others see him, “What they think doesn’t matter.  All that matters is what I think.  And I think you are pretty special.”

Punchinello asks, “Why do I matter to you?”  And Eli replies, “Because you’re mine.  That’s why you matter to me.”

The book illustrates what God feels about us.  God reassures us, “You’re special.  You’re mine.  That’s why you matter to me.”

We are His, wonderfully created.  And so we can accept ourselves.

We don’t belong because we do all of the right things.  We do the right things because we belong.

So as I spend time with my family this weekend, may that wonderful feeling of belonging that I have with them remind me of the feeling I can have with I’m with God.  He is home.

I’m going to be honest.  I’m not there yet all of the time.  But I want to get there more.

Here are a few practical ways to see God more as the place we belong:

  1. Study out the story of the Prodigal Son. (Luke 15:11-32)
  2. Meditate on Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
  3. Pray the Lord’s prayer, remembering that it starts with calling God, “Father,” or more literally, “Daddy.”
  4. Pray that the Spirit will teach us. “Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” (Gal 4:6. Also Romans 8:15)
  5. Repent daily of belonging to the world, to others, or to ourselves.
  6. Stay connected to God and Jesus.  Remain in him.  Walk in the Spirit.
  7. Practice the Greatest Commandment.  Love God with all of your heart, soul, strength and mind.

It’s this last one that I want to focus on in closing.  I’ve realized that I am not going to feel like I belong to God, unless my heart belongs to him.  I know that should be a no brainer, but there are so many times I try to convince myself that he loves me and accepts me, like these are the requirements for me to then believe in him and love him. When I just blindly pour myself out in love to him, it all comes together.

This devotion is what Jesus had.  The context of today’s red letter passage is that Jesus was teaching in the temple courts, and the Pharisees were challenging him.  He made the claim that he was the light of the world, and they tried to undermine his testimony.  Yet, what’s so cool is that, even with the Pharisees throwing up a screen, many of the people believed in Jesus as he spoke.

Why did they believe in him? I believe it’s because he was single-minded.  He was so visibly all about God.

Jesus projected a pure heart towards God.  His identity was like a flood light.  It attracted others to him.

The more we belong to God, the more we will be the same way.

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Filed under John, Love, Red Letter

When We Feel Lonely

I’m so missing being with loved ones, talking with them, hugging them.  And all of my friends are loved ones!  Yesterday I was in a Zoom meeting with a couple of friends, and it was totally wonderful to be with them virtually!  The day before, we had a conference call with church members, and it did my heart a world of good, simply to hear their voices. Isn’t it crazy, the things we take for granted — just being able to be with people?

So, at this time when we are missing connections, it’s super encouraging to think of what Christ did to forge an epic connection with us.  Here is today’s red-letter passage:

“For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me, and I in him. Just as the living Father sent Me and I live because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your fathers, who ate the manna and died, the one who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:55-58)

While many of Jesus’s followers freaked out at the thought of eating his flesh and drinking his blood, what Jesus was saying was actually one of the most heart-warming things ever.  He was talking about having an unprecedented connection with man, a special fellowship with him.  And this fellowship included what would come to be known as communion.

Here’s how Jesus later described communion, as he gave his disciples bread and wine at the Last Supper, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me. . . This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this in remembrance of me as often as you drink it.”  (I Cor 11)  Jesus made it plain that the bread and wine were a reminder that he was giving his body and blood for them.  It was also the symbol of a new covenant.  It wasn’t supposed to be cannibalism.  It was meant to be a depiction of his utter devotion.  It was like the traditional wedding vows: “I take you to have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.” Jesus was pledging all of himself, as a bride and groom do to one another.

And just like a bride and groom pledge to one another, in today’s passage, Jesus made it clear that the giving wouldn’t be one sided.  He expected commitment from his disciples.  They were to “eat his flesh.”  They didn’t know yet what that entailed, but it obviously meant that they would have to get engaged at a whole new level.

It’s a reciprocal model.  Those who fed on him would receive the benefit of remaining in him, as he, in turn, remained in them.  Those who fed on him would receive eternal life.   There is a relationship implied, a close and caring one.

When we look at the specific wording of today’s red-letter passage, we see more clues that Jesus was offering devotion, and asking for the same.

First, Jesus stressed that his body and blood is the true food and drink. This reminds me of how Jesus would later say that he is the good shepherd, not a bogus hired hand who abandons the sheep. (John 10)  He takes care of his followers and puts himself out there to supply them with the absolute best; what they need most.  And what they need most is true food  — that which sustains a them for eternity, not just until their next meal.  

Second, Jesus used the word, remain.  In future days, Jesus would elaborate, “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. . . If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. . . As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Remain in My love.” (John 15)  Remain is a word that communicates an ongoing connection, evidenced by a love that is faithful and doting.  Note that it is practiced by both parties.

So, as we’re feeling lonely, and missing our loved ones, let’s appreciate the true friend we have in Jesus.  He gives us the best, what we really need.  He’s committed and totally faithful.  He’ll never let us down.  He’s always with us.  He wants a deep connection with us, not a shallow one.  He wants our relationship to last forever.

What a wonderful communion we can have, at any time, as we remember what he has done for us; as we are loved by him, and love him in return!  Maybe it’s good to have a time of  isolation, so we can experience this.

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Filed under John, Love, Red Letter, Relationship with God

When You Feel Inadequate and Lost

Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me.

For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but to do the will of Him who sent Me. And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day. (John 6:38-39)

Have you struggled with feelings of inadequacy?   I know I have.

I’ve struggled with feelings of inadequacy at times when I didn’t fit in.  When I was in junior high, I really wanted to hang out with the popular girls.  I spent a lot of time around them.  But I always felt like an outsider.  It was like I didn’t have some kind of “it” factor.  I felt inferior. 

It seems silly, but this impacted me for much of my life.  And it was reinforced by other times when I didn’t feel like I had the “it” factor. When my children were young, I joined a play group.  The other moms were wealthier than I was and it always seemed like I didn’t quite belong.  Years ago, in church, there was a clique of women that I tried to be close to, but never felt a part of their circle.

Now I’m much more confident in who I am.   But I love that today’s red-letter passage speaks to all of us who have struggled with feelings of inadequacy.  

Jesus starts by talking about the people who come to him.  And he makes it clear that they don’t just come to him on their own.  God is involved.  As Jesus says later in the same discussion, “No one can come to me unless the Father draws him.”  (John 6:44)  

I think all of us who are Christians have felt drawn to Jesus at some point in our life.  That’s why we started going to church or reading the Bible.  We can look at our journey and find a time when our soul was thirsting.  Life had let us down, and it wasn’t meeting our needs.  And Jesus appeared at just the right moment.  We need to see that God was at work behind the scenes, orchestrating our hearts to be moved, and our lives to be in the right place to respond.

And when we’re drawn to Jesus, it isn’t just lip service.  In the verse that leads into today’s passage, Jesus said, I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in Me will never thirst.”  (John 6:35)  Coming and believing are equivalent to Jesus.  It’s about discipleship. It’s about having the faith to put the weight of our life behind following Jesus.

And it’s hard to have this kind of faith.  What’s so encouraging about this passage is that Jesus totally bolsters up those who come to him.  He assures them that their belief in him will not be in vain. He tells them they will never hunger or thirst.  

Then, he goes on to give even better assurance by saying, “The one who comes to me I will never drive away.”

The Greek word translated as “drive away” literally means “to cast out.” It’s the same word used when demons are cast out of people. It’s also used to describe taking the plank out of your eye before you take the speck out of someone else’s eye. It can communicate rejection, and getting rid of something undesirable.

Jesus is saying that he’ll never get rid of those who come to him and believe in him.  He’s promising, “I’ll never consider you inadequate, inferior or undesirable, and reject you.” (This doesn’t mean we can’t fall away, which happens because we reject Jesus, not the other way around.)

Isn’t that amazing?  Isn’t it a deep relief? Jesus isn’t cliquey or judgy, as people are.

And then Jesus continues, “And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that I shall lose none of those He has given Me, but raise them up at the last day.”  Jesus follows God’s powerful will that that not a single person who comes to him will be lost.

We’ve all been lost at some time or another, and it’s miserable.  When we’re lost, we feel powerless and discouraged.  Sometimes we even feel abandoned.  Like if someone cared about us, they would have given us better directions, or stayed with us to guide us. 

At Christmas time I went to the Dicken’s Faire at a huge convention center in San Francisco.  It was like a labyrinth in there. At one point, my husband vanished. I think he wanted to find a bathroom.  I was with a group of family members, and we wound our way deeper through dimly lit passages decorated to look like Victorian England.  I tried to call my husband, but didn’t reach him. I missed him and wanted him with us, so I thought I would go and find him, and bring him to the group.  I ended up not finding my husband, and not finding my way back to the group.  I wandered around the alleyways, looking at an unhelpful map, and feeling close to tears.  I was upset, and wanted so much for someone to take care of me and lead me through the maze to my husband and family.

Me at the Dicken’s Faire

Jesus says that he’ll always take care of us and lead us through the maze.  He says we matter.  He never takes his eyes off of us.  He won’t let us slip through the cracks.  Here are two great verses that describe this.

  • “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”  Isa 49:15
  • If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle by the farthest sea, even there Your hand will guide me; Your right hand will hold me fast. Ps 139:9

This is especially encouraging to me right now, because our church is going through some changes.  Deep inside, there’s a part of me that feels like I’ve failed.  And that makes me feel lost, somehow. It’s deeply comforting to realize that Jesus is as close to me as he’s always been. He’s still right there, guiding me. 

But I’ need even more assurance.  And as I’ve been meditating, I’ve begun to see the arc of God’s committed love throughout the Bible.  It’s expressed in Deuteronomy when God expressed, “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.” (Deut 7:9)  Isaiah foretold an age when it would come to the greatest fruition.  “And they will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of The LORD; and you will be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.” (Isa 62:11)

I’ve come to a greater understanding of the relationship that I have with Jesus.  He’s committed to me so firmly.  That’s what he was describing when he said that he would never drive away or lose those who come to him.  

So as this sunk into my heart, I went to the place where I have old jewelry stored, and I found a thin gold band.  I put this ring on my finger to remind me that I am married to Jesus, and his faithfulness to me is dependable and unending.  

One more thing.  I did find all of my family members, and had a wonderful time at the Dicken’s Faire!  We made such good memories.

Some day, all of us who have come to Jesus and believed in him will be reunited on the other side. And like it was wonderful to be together with my family, it will be tremendously wonderful to be with loved ones, and our loving Savior, in a place where we will always remain together.

That’s what Jesus said God’s will is — that no one who comes to him will be lost, but will be resurrected at the last day.  God draws us to his son.  He asks that we believe, and put the weight of our life behind that belief.  He knows it will be hard.  So through Jesus, he gives us assurance after assurance that we are not inadequate, and that we will not be cast aside or overlooked.  The depth of his commitment is so vast.

May we all have a better understanding of this that will sustain us and inspire us.

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Filed under John, Love, Red Letter

The Beauty of Sitting Down

One of His disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, “Here is a boy with five barley loaves and two small fish. But what difference will these make among so many?”

“Have the people sit down,” Jesus said. Now there was plenty of grass in that place, so the men sat down, about five thousand of them.

Then Jesus took the loaves and the fish, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. (John 6:8-11)

Did you ever wonder why Jesus had the 5,000 men sit down? Surely it made it easier for the disciples to hand out the bread and fish.  But I love thinking about what it would have felt like to be one of those people following Jesus that day. They were foot-weary, and so famished that it was hard to ignore the gnawing in their bellies.  Yet they were totally excited about Jesus.  They’d seen him do miracles.  His words fed their spiritual hunger.  He made them feel hope, something they hadn’t experienced in a long time.

They probably would have been glad to do something to help produce the bread.  If there were resources, and Jesus had said, “Some of you go pick the wheat, and some of you grind the grain, and some make it into loaves, and some can make a fire and cook it,” they would have gotten right to work.  Or, in their current situation, they would have been happy to help hand out the bread. 

But Jesus told them to sit down.  He was like, “Be still.  Let me do the miracle.  Let me take care of you.”  He didn’t even tell them what he was going to do.  He just got them in a quiet position.

This is a good thing for me to think about, because I would have been looking around for ways to help fix the situation.  Even just a few moments ago, I caught myself trying to micromanage, seeing what might be needed here, making a suggestion there. “But I want to help God move his plan along,” I tell myself.

And, of course, God needs me to be active for him.  But sometimes, he wants me to be still.

So, when Jesus said, “Have them sit down,”  I think he was saying, “You’ve been walking everywhere, following me to this remote place.  You’ve been listening all day to my teaching.  Now it’s time to stop.”

You know, if the men had been standing up, they would have been pressing close to the disciples, trying to be first in line, worrying that the bread might run out.  In sitting down, they had to wait and trust. 

Stop. Wait. Trust. Doesn’t that speak to all of us?

The account of the feeding of the 5,000 is one of the few stories that’s in all four gospels.  It’s widely known.  One thing that makes it so compelling is the way the seekers are described.  We see men with a deep hunger in their souls, making a reckless decision to run after someone into the wilderness.  There’s a sense of desperation, like all their lives they’ve chased after one thing or another, and they’ve finally found what they’re looking for. 

And Jesus has compassion on them and says, “You don’t have to run anymore.  Stop.  Sit down.  I’ll feed you.”  The scope of what Jesus provides is so huge.  The contrast is so dramatic. They go from desperation, to more than enough.   

And we can relate to what those people must have been thinking as they sat on the ground, resting their aching feet, and watched the bread and fish being passed.  They took a portion, ate it and felt some better.  But then more was circulated, and they had another helping.  Now they were feeling good.  But the food kept coming.  So they allowed themselves the luxury of having as much as they wanted.  Ah, their bellies were tight.  They were stuffed.  What loveliness.   It was like being at a king’s table, a feast!

This past Thanksgiving was a first for me.  Usually I cook and entertain.  This year, my son and daughter in law had us over to their house, and they did all of the cooking.  I kept asking my son, “What can I bring?”  And he’d say, “You don’t have to bring anything, Mom.”  He finally let me bring a pie.

It felt like my son was communicating that I’d served him and the family all their lives, and now he wanted to serve me.  It felt like an expression of his love. 

I think that was part of what was going on when Jesus was feeding the 5,000.  It wasn’t just an effort to meet their needs.  It was an expression of love.  If heaven will be like a banquet (Rev. 19:9), then this was a foretaste.  Surely Jesus’s heart swelled when he looked around and saw all of those who were following him.  I think he said to himself, just as he said in Luke 8:21, “These are my brothers, this is my family.”

No wonder he wanted them to sit down and enjoy a feast. That’s what you do with those you love.   

How can today’s red letter verse inspire us?  Let’s be like the 5,000 men, and expend ourselves greatly to follow Jesus.  But then, let’s sit down, and let him take care of us, and do what we can’t.

Here’s one final thought.  It’s in the sitting down that we are able to be present with God.  When I stop for a minute, and connect to God, I picture him like the father in the story of the prodigal son, wrapping his arms around me, so delighted to meet me. 

Now I have an image to add to this — Jesus being ready to feed me.  I’ve been listening to BEMA podcasts on the Old Testament, and one thing I’ve learned is how the Old Testament characters displayed an extravagant generosity, reflecting middle eastern standards of hospitality.   When the angels come to Abraham’s tent, he ran to prepare a huge meal for them, slaughtering a young calf and having Sarah make an estimated 30+ loaves of bread. (Gen. 18)  When Rebekkah offered to draw water for Abraham’s servant’s camels, she ran back to the well as many as 100 times.  (Camels are thirsty!) (Gen. 24)

This is the heritage of extravagant generosity that Jesus lived out with the loaves and the fishes.  He was so eager to give abundantly then.  He still is.  

There’s beauty in sitting down.  It allows us to be still, look to Christ, experience his love and heart for us, and learn to trust. 

It allows us to be filled, inside and out.

Give us today our daily bread.  (Matt 6:11)

He makes me lie down in green pastures.  (Ps 23:2a)

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Filed under Beauty of God, Compassion, John, Love, Peace, Prayer, Red Letter

John 3:16: The Unexpected and Amazing

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that everyone who believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.  Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (John 3:16-17)

Here it is.  The red letter passage that everyone sees everywhere.

So I want to try something different in studying it.  I’m going to tie it in with what we know about God from the first part of Bible history.

Let me give you a synopsis of what happened.  God made the earth, and mankind, and pronounced that it was good.  As the years went on, his heart was grieved because man was so wicked.  So the Lord destroyed the world in a flood.  Yet, God wasn’t giving up on man. He found a reason for hope in Noah.  God preserved this righteous man, along with his family.

Then came Abraham.  Once again, God found a righteous man who could be the focus of his love and purpose.  God promised that Abraham’s descendants would be as numerous as stars, and that all nations would be blessed through them.  He also promised to give them a land of their own.

But how would this take place?  The crazy thing is that it would be a very long time until God gave Abraham’s descendants this land.  God told Abraham, “After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction.” (Gen 15:16)  Abraham would father Isaac, and Isaac would father Jacob.  Jacob would father 12 sons, including Joseph.  All of Jacob’s progeny would go to Egypt, and end up in bondage for 400 years.

Then, Moses would lead them out of Egypt, back to the land God promised them.  In the process, Egypt would experience consequences for how they had treated the Israelites.  All of their first born sons would die.  Their army would be wiped out as they tried to cross the Red Sea.

Even after all of that, the Hebrews who came out of Egypt would not receive the Promise Land until they were ready to believe that God was with them and they could conquer the inhabitants of the land.  It was actually their children, led by Joshua, who battled and drove the tribes out of Canaan and made that their home. They carried out the destruction of the Amorites that God promised in Genesis 15.

So here are some themes in these stories that we can also see in John 3:16 and 17.  First, that God loves the people he created.  It breaks his heart when the world is wicked.  He wants to find a way to save people.  In Genesis he saves them by preserving Noah and his family.  In Exodus he saves them by bringing them out of Egypt.  In John 3, he saves them by giving them Jesus.

Second, that God wants to bless all people.  In Genesis, he promises to bless all people through Abraham.  In John 3, he promises to bless all people with heaven. (If they believe in Jesus.)

Third, that God looks for righteous people.  In Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses and Joshua, God found individuals who would do his will.  In John 3, God seeks individuals who will do his will by believing in his son.

Fourth, that there is judgement for those who are not righteous.  God destroyed the wicked in a flood.  He wiped out many of the Egyptians through the plagues and the crossing of the Red Sea.  He helped the Hebrews defeat and drive out the inhabitants of the Promise Land.  In John 3, he declared that all who do not believe in his son will be condemned.

In conclusion, John 3:16 is thought of as the ultimate warm, fuzzy passage.   But it’s so much more.  It’s the culmination of who God has been throughout the ages. From the beginning, he showed how he loved the world.  Although it broke his heart, there were also times that he brought about judgement on the world.

When God sent his son, it was the same song, with different verse.  And what a powerful verse!

What’s really cool to realize is that we are a part of that verse.  We are a part of God’s plan to bless all nations.  It wasn’t just that the Jews of the time could believe in Jesus and have eternal life.  John 3:16 says, everyone who believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

How will everyone know about Jesus, so they can receive their blessing?  Through us. That’s our purpose.

How can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  Romans 10:14b NLT

John 3:16 has probably impacted more people than any other Bible verse.  But the initial reaction to it is just the tip of the iceberg.  With the understanding of all that has gone before, and all that will come to be, comes the realization that this is completely and utterly epic.

Let this thrill our hearts!  We’re the fruition of what God set in motion through the ages.  We’re the blessing bringers!  We reflect God’s love and goodness.

And then let us find one way that we will live differently today because of it.

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Filed under Abundance/Greatness of God, John, Love, Red Letter

When We’re “Running Out”

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and His disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, Jesus’ mother said to Him, “They have no more wine.”

“Woman, why does this concern us?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.”  (John 2:1-4)

I can relate to this wedding dilemna! For my son’s rehearsal dinner, we put a lot of effort into making it really nice.  We held it at an upscale restaurant.  There were special decorations.  I created a video.  We planned activities.

The price of catering included wine for a certain period of time.  As the event went overtime, the maitre d’ came to my husband and whispered that if anyone wanted another drink, it would incur an extra charge.  It was a moment of counting the cost, because we were already spending a good deal of money.  But my husband was feeling joyful and magnanimous.  He said, “Sure, let them have more if they would like.”  It turned out that everyone had had enough, so it all worked out.

But the point is that we wanted the rehearsal dinner to be super special.  I’m sure the people in charge of the wedding at Cana felt the same.  For them, running out of wine in the middle of the celebration would have been a huge downer.

So it’s no wonder that Jesus’s mom stepped in to try and alleviate the situation.  She knew and cared about the young couple and their families.  She didn’t want them to experience this discouraging failure at the time that should be the biggest celebration of their life.

Mary didn’t think twice about going to Jesus and asking him for help.  And Jesus let her know that this request was uncool.  It was putting him out. It wasn’t his time to do miracles yet.

Yet, if we continue to read the story, we see that Jesus didn’t hold back.  He honored his mother’s request.  He used his powers and saved the day.

This story really helps my heart.   Sometimes I feel like I’m asking Jesus for something that is inappropriate.  I mean, he’s the Son of God.  My request is surely small next to the needs of the world.  It isn’t a salvation issue.  I’m not asking him to alleviate something grave like world hunger.   How can I bother Jesus with my little matter?  He has to have more important things on his agenda.

But this passage reminds me that Jesus cares about the day-to-day things going on in my life.  His heart was moved to help his mother.  I’m loved by him, and his heart can be moved to help me as well.

And in the story, Jesus didn’t just tell them how much he cared, or help in a token way.  He helped in a huge way.  He totally fixed it.

He performed a miracle. I’ve heard it so many times, that I forget how utterly amazing it is that Jesus changed water to wine.    I have a Brita pitcher of water on my kitchen counter right now.  If someone waved their hand over it and then poured me a cup of Burgundy, I would be astounded.  My heart would be racing.

That’s the kind of Savior we go to with our concerns.  We pray to God in his name.  He cares, and he has the power to fix them, no matter how impossible they seem.

So what are you running out of?  Okay, maybe it’s not wine.  But it could be money, or a another resource.  It could be time.   I confess that, lately, I’ve been running out of hope.

Several months ago, I put a situation on my prayer list that had been stuck for years.  For awhile, it got even more stuck.  But then one event occurred that was exactly what was needed to shake things up.  This led to more actions that really got the situation turned around. It has been amazing. The changes are still in progress, but, I’m telling you, it’s a true miracle!

Don’t think twice about taking your depleted situation to Jesus.  He loves you deeply!  You can ask, and his heart will be moved.  You won’t be inconveniencing him.  It’s not too small a request.  And if it’s in the scheme of God’s good will, Jesus won’t hold back. He’ll totally fix it.

Last night at our midweek house church, we ate fresh peach cobbler with ice cream, made from peaches I picked from my tree.  We didn’t study the Bible this time.  We just sat, and were close  and shared our lives with one another.  I felt such an atmosphere of love.

And I knew that this was a thumbnail of the warmth that Jesus has towards us — such a deep, encompassing, nurturing love.

When I think of it like that, I’m like, this is how we’re walking around in life.  We’re cushioned by love.  It’s natural to share our heart and requests with Jesus, and know that they will resonate with him and be honored.

Mary knew that was her reality.  Let’s remember that it’s ours as well.

 

 

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“Momfuddled” — What Works in Parenting?

momfuddled

Parenting is one of the hardest things ever.

Before you had children you pictured being swept away in the bliss of motherhood.  Aaaaah.

Well, sometimes you find that.

But now you also find that bringing up children is exhausting, confusing, demanding, gut wrenching, unending, and frightening.  You expend yourself until you’re worn to the nub.  You agonize, and worry, and feel inadequate.

I am a far from perfect parent.  When I was bringing up my children, I struggled. Sometimes I felt like I was the worst mom.

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But that’s why I want to write this blog.  I want all of the mothers out there who are struggling to have something to hold to that is true and solid.  In this world of a thousand different messages on how to raise your children, I want to give you the confidence of a few things that work.

In short, what works is reflecting the characteristics of God in your parenting.   God is loving and gracious.  He is also righteous. When you make these things the foundation of how you raise your children, you will feel like you have done the best you could do.

But what does this look like in practical terms?

Let’s start with the good stuff — LOVE.  Effective parenting involves loving your children the way that God loves you.  It’s the daily battle to remember that you are incredibly valued, and then pass this onto your kids.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  John 13:34

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What is the biggest expression of God’s love?  It’s that Jesus laid down his life.  Our love for our children must also be sacrificial.

Yay!  This is something we moms are good at!  It feels natural to sacrifice for our kids.

But there’s easy sacrifice, and there’s hard sacrifice.  Love is sacrificing for your children in ways that are uncomfortable, and take extra effort.   It’s getting on the floor and playing baby dolls, racecars, Barbies, Legos, Peppa Pig, etc. with them.  It’s doing that thing with them that they love, even though you’ve done it a thousand times before.

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It’s carving out time to read Bible stories with them and have family devotionals.  It’s praying with them at bedtime, and then listening to them talk about their day, even though you’re bone weary.  It’s swimming with them when it’s freezing cold because they love it so much.  It’s singing with them in the car.  It’s taking them on “dates.”   It’s having the talks with them that take forethought and intentionality.

I do want to mention that the goal of this is not to teach your children that the world revolves around them.  You can still set boundaries, so that they are considerate, and so you have some time for yourself.

But here’s the thing, moms.  You’re exhausted, and yet you’re also brimming over with all kinds of plans and dreams.  You want to do something cool, make a difference, change the world, be successful.  You want to fix up your house.  You want to involve your children in all kinds of activities.

It’s going to take a conscious, determined effort to make the important sacrifices, and not let everything else sap away all of your available energy.

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God’s love is also incredibly appreciative of our individual worth.  Jesus saw the leper, the sinful woman, the Samaritan woman, the tax collector.  Each of these was an important person in his eyes.  To him, the whole sum of the law and the prophets was, “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.”  (Matt 7:12)

Jesus was consideration personified.  He calls us to be the same.

This can be a challenge for us.  We just need our children to behave!

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And obedience is important.  I’ll talk about that in the next blog.  But if we’re going to love like God, we have to seek to listen and understand.  “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  (James 1:19b)

When I surveyed my mom friends, they were vocal that respect is a crucial element of parenting.

  • “Instead of ignoring my daughter because her behavior is undesirable to me, I try to empathize with how she must feel in those moments.”
  • “Take the time to listen. When they are in preschool years ask them to tell you about the picture they brought home.  Talk to them like you’d want to be talked to!  When my son was an older teen he would come in to my side of the bed and talk to me every night when he’d get home.  I can’t help but believe that it’s because I always tried to listen to him.”
  • One empty nester friend told me how she expected her daughter to obey without discussion. She had a “just do it” approach, and didn’t allow her daughter to express what she was feeling. This led to a lot of conflict, and pushed her daughter away.
  • Another friend related how she and her husband treated their youngest child as they did their older ones, without realizing that he was different and needed a different approach. This proved to be very detrimental.

I will caution you, though, that even at 3 or 4 years old, your kid can do a better sales job on you than a used car dealer! Don’t let your child talk you out of what you know is right.  Be sure they know you are listening and that you care.  And then be firm.

The last thing I want to mention about God’s love is that it is positive.  It is so encouraging to me that Jesus named Peter the “Rock.”  He called Nathaniel a “true Israelite in whom there is nothing false.”  Jesus saw the best in people and believed in them.  He reflected the truth that, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Cor 13:7)

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We reflect God’s love for our children by believing in them and having hope for them.  We see the good in them and praise it.

If I could do it over again, I would work harder at being positive with my children.  As moms, we feel the burden of making sure our children turn out right.  We see the terrible consequences of a character flaw. The thing they need to change can become bigger to us than all of the things that are wonderful about them.  That was my tendency.

So we have to be intentional about praising our children.  We have to look for the things we can commend.  Moms, praise your children often! More than you correct them.  It will be as good for your heart as it will for theirs.

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In conclusion, the goal of love is that they will love. 

We love because he first loved us.”  I John 4:19

If there is one thing we can instill in our children, let it be a crazy love for God!  We do want our children to do the right thing.  But even more, we want them to do the right thing because their heart is so filled with inspiration that the obedience comes out of the overflow.

outdoor Nyla

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Crazy love has to be caught as much as it is taught.  They have to see it in you.

But this is good news, because this is something you can do.  You can have a great time falling more in love with God!  Start a gratitude journal. Find the love stories in the Bible.  Work on the doubt, bitterness and fear that hold you back.  Pray to know how much you are adored.

I pray that you would be able to comprehend, along with all the saints, how wide and long and high and deep his love is.” (Eph 3:18)

And then tell your children often how awesome you think the Lord is, and how amazing it is that he loves us.  Help them see him, and his faithfulness.

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As our children grow up, they will find that life is hard.  There will be so many assaults to their self-esteem.  There will be so many times when something goes wrong and they will wonder if God cares.

Teach him that God DOES care, and cares deeply.  Teach them to pray and reach out to the Lord when they are hurting.  Teach them the magical scriptures that are salve to the heart.  Teach them the ways that God has worked in their lives already.

Sister moms, I know, I know.  Parenting is intense.  And everyone keeps telling you something different to do.

But hold to this truth through the craziness: If you’re seeking to love as God loves, you are on the right track.

Love never fails.” (I Cor 13:8a)

Love covers over a multitude of sins.”  (I Peter 4:8)

(Stay tuned for Part II of “Momfuddled,” coming soon!)

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Loving our Neighbors

“I will come to judge you. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers, lying witnesses, and those who cheat workers out of their wages and oppress widows and orphans. I will also testify against those who deprive foreigners of their rights. None of them fear me,” says the LORD of Armies.  Mal 3:5

It’s  scary to think of being on trial before the Almighty God.  At this trial, God himself testifies against people. Yikes!  And he does it without delay, without continuances, like we can push for in the court system today.

What does God bear witness against?  Largely against mistreating others.

And while none of us may have stuck it to a widow or an immigrant lately, this verse makes it apparent that how we treat one another is uber serious to God.

Because what God is looking for is those who revere him enough to see that they have an obligation towards their fellow man.  As God is committed to us, he wants us to be committed to one another.

Here is how Biblical scholars define righteousness:  “God’s righteousness can be understood as God’s faithfulness to his people, where he fulfills his obligations to them. . . righteousness is also understood as God’s faithfulness to fulfill His obligations to human beings and His creation because as creator He has a relationship with them.”  (Rupen Das)

God sees himself as having a responsibility towards people.  As children of this same God, surely we should see that we also have a responsibility to our fellow human beings.

Look how God spelled this out from olden times:

 ”When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest.  Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the foreigner. I am the Lord your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10)

Leviticus 19 goes on to relate a whole slew of things not to do.  I’m abridging the passage here:

DO NOT: steal, lie, deceive one another, defraud or rob your neighbor, hold back the wages of a hired worker overnight,  curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind, pervert justice, show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great, go about spreading slander among your people, do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life, hate a fellow Israelite in your heart, seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

“Love your neighbor as yourself. That’s the bottom line.  It always has been.

“But who is my neighbor?” we want to ask, just as the experts in the law inquired of Jesus in Luke 10.  We’re surrounded and overwhelmed by more needs than we could ever address.

Ken and I watched a movie over the weekend, “Of Mind and Music.”  It was about a neurologist in New Orleans who took some time off to grieve the loss of his mother.  As he walked through the city, he came across a female street musician/singer who was starting to exhibit signs of Alzheimer’s.  The neurologist ended up taking this woman in his own house to care for her, and then finding an assisted living placement for her.  When someone asked him why he was doing this for a random person on the streets, he answered, “Because I can.”

Instead of being overwhelmed, let’s ask, who CAN we help?  Who is in our path at this moment?

Ken and I went to a funeral on Sunday for the great aunt of our daughter in law.  We heard different people share about this special woman.  One was her neighbor, who talked about how much their relationship had meant to her over the years.  They were like family.  The neighbor’s children were always over at the woman’s house, and always came home with cookies or pieces of cornbread.  As the neighbor sat at her friend’s deathbed, she told her over and over again how grateful she was for her.

All of us have people “next door.”  They’re not all going to become our best buds, but some of them could become a blessing to us. And we could become a blessing to them.  I know this has been true for me.  My Latin neighbor down the street, Dee, is a great example.  We get together for coffee, visit when we’re outside, and chat on the phone.  Several times she’s brought her husband over to help with issues with our house.  I had a yard sale, and she came and sat next to me and supported me.  She has told me several times that she is thankful for our friendship.

But even though I know this, I still I get tired and busy, and I stop reaching out.

One thing that has helped me as I’ve been thinking about this is to remember that I have the Spirit, an actual piece of God, in me as I walk around.  It was incredible that God became flesh.  It’s just as incredible that God dwells in us.  When I interact with people, I bring God in contact with others.  The Spirit wants to talk with people.  The Spirit wants to love them through me.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.  I John 4:12

The other thing I am learning is the importance of humility.  I really think one of the things that separates us as human beings is our pride.  We can’t help thinking we are more important than that other person.  We don’t realize that we all exist by God’s mercy.

“He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” 

I think the story of the unmerciful servant reflects the way God has always thought:

“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to.  Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’”  Matt 18:32-33.

God’s given us mercy.  That’s why we treat others well.

I have so much growing yet to do in this.  One recommendation I want to make, is that you listen to super convicting lesson by Chuck Pike on helping the poor.  It has really stirred up my thinking.  He says the biggest obstacle to helping the poor isn’t the lack of resources, it’s the lack of motivation.  We’re too tied up in our love of money, pleasure, and self.

We need to look at the scriptures anew, and take a hard look at ourselves.  Because it’s just as true for us as it was at the time of Malachi.  We will be judged by how we treat others.

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’  Matt 25:41-43

You know, Mother’s Day is coming up.  I’ve been asked to share something a little something at church.  I’ve been thinking about my mother, and the good things she taught me.  One thing my mother really believed, and lived by, is that people are important.  She genuinely cared about people, that was very evident in the way she gave her whole focus to someone when she was with them, and how they were on her heart when she wasn’t with them.

My mom loved deeply, and was always videoing the people she loved.

My mom loved deeply, and was always videoing people.

In the end, that’s what God wants from us as well, for people to be important to us.

And I’m finding that it’s easy to say, “Yeah, let’s care about people more,” but really hard to put into practice.  Because it’s heart growth that needs to happen, and heart growth takes time.

So let’s seek to grow in this.  Let’s take a fresh look at the scriptures.  Let’s look at examples of giving we admire, and seek to imitate that.  And let’s pray.  We can’t help with every need, but we can wake up every morning and pray, “Who is my neighbor today, Lord?  Please show me, and help me to love them as I would want to be loved.”

But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? I John 3:17

If there is a poor man with you, one of your brothers, in any of your towns in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother;  Deut 15:7

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Keeping Us Out of the Wasteland

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“I have loved you,” says the Lord.

“But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ 

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” declares the Lord. “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his hill country into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackalsEdom may say, ‘Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins.’

But this is what the Lord Almighty says: “They may build, but I will demolish. They will be called the Wicked Land, a people always under the wrath of the Lord.  You will see it with your own eyes and say, ‘Great is the Lord—even beyond the borders of Israel!’”  Mal 1:1-5

For the past couple of years, I have been reading through the prophets in chronological order.  I took a break from this for awhile, but thought now would be a good time for me to finish the series.  I only have two books left — Malachi and Joel.  I’m reading Malachi.

Malachi was written after the Israelites came back to Jerusalem following the Babylonian and Persian captivities. You would think that the Jews would have been properly chastened after being in exile for 70 years.  But they still fell into much sin, once they came back to Jerusalem.  According to Nehemiah 13, the Jews were intermarrying with foreign people, not keeping the temple holy, and not keeping the Sabbath.

So in comes Malachi, the last prophet until the time of John the Baptist 400 years later.  The last words of God to His people.  The last warnings to them about how they should live.  (Some say Joel was written later, but Malachi’s words are still among the last prophesies.)

God starts by saying, “I have loved you,” to the Jews, and they ask, “How have you loved us?”

Isn’t that what we do too?  God tells us plainly in His word that He loves us.  Yet we are always saying, “How?”  We always see the things that are going wrong, and think that makes us unloved.

God’s answer is to remind the Jews about Edom.  “If you want to know what it looks like to be unloved, look at Edom!”   Because Edom was desolated.  More than that, Edom would NEVER come back to ascendancy.

Contrast this with the Jewish nation, which, although they went into captivity for 70 years, was brought out of captivity.  As we love to read In Jeremiah 29:11, God says to the Jews, “I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.”  This was not true of Edom.

A side note about Edom here.  Edom was a country made up of the descendants of Esau.  Although they originally settled elsewhere, they ended up in a land that was southeast of Judah, where present day Jordan is.  During the time of King David, King Solomon, and many of the kings after them, Edom was a vassal state of Israel.  But then when Jerusalem was conquered, the Edomites joined in the destruction and pillage of the city.  For this reason, God said that he would never allow them to rebuild.

And it is interesting to look at the country of Jordan today.  Much of the country is inhabited by Bedouins, who, according to one source I read, are “desert dwellers” who “endure the desert and have learned to survive its unforgiving climate.”  The land of Edom is still a wasteland.

Bedouin Dwelling

Bedouin Dwelling

But anyway, what I would like to focus on in this passage in Malachi is the contrast between those who have God’s grace and favor, and those who do not.

One of the main ways God showed his favor to the Jews was by giving them the law.  He showed them the right way to live.

I’ve been reading “The Guilty Soul’s Guide to Grace” by Sam Laing lately, because I tend to feel guilty when I think of the “law” — all of the things in the Bible I SHOULD be doing.  When I remember the law, I start feeling like a failure.

But it recently occurred to me that God gave us the law to KEEP us from being a failure, to set us upon a good path for our lives.  (I’m not going to discuss here that, of course, we are under grace, not the law.  The law still points the way to right and wrong.)

It is as Solomon wrote in Proverbs 6:23: “For this command is a lamp, this teaching is a light, and correction and instruction are the way to life.”  And Ps 19:8 says, “The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.”

Those who don’t follow God don’t have the benefit of knowing the right way.  So with the Edomites, on one hand, they were doomed to destruction because it was their consequence from God for their actions.  But on the other hand, they were not going to thrive because they did not walk according to God’s statutes.

And it really strikes me lately how much the same is true today.  It is like Ps 73:18 says of those who don’t follow God, “Surely you place them on slippery ground.”  People who go their own way so often trip up, or end up in a mess.  Haven’t you seen it?  I think of friends and loved ones I’ve watched go downhill, being battered and bruised, with one bad thing happening to them after another.  It’s hard to watch, and they often won’t listen to advice.

So the last words of prophesy to the Jews would be that God loved them, and gave them a good path.  He also in love gave them strong warnings against straying from the path, and showed them what happened to those who lived apart from it.

Today, all over the world, we see the wasteland of those who do not follow God.  We see wars and atrocities, people rising and then falling.  Will this be a motivation to us to follow God?  Will we see that God loves us and has given everything to help us walk in the right way?  That we should walk in this way not out of compulsion, but in appreciation for having the ingredients for an abundant life?

It is as Ps 119:32 says, “I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free.”

This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.”  Isa 48:17-18

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Taking Time for the Important

People were bringing little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them.  Mark 10:13-16

The disciples thought that Jesus had more important things to do than minister to snot nosed kids.  After all, they’re so juvenile.  They don’t merit the attention of an important teacher .

Holding child

Here’s a picture that’s gone viral this week.  It’s a professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem who picked up a baby who was crying during his class, and kept on teaching.  People LOVE that this professor would care for the child, instead of sending the little one out of class so he could continue his lecture.  The professor had a different set of priorities.  The child was important.

What is important to us?  Are we like the disciples?  Are some people more important than others?

As Ken and I were praying this morning, he remembered in prayer that it was not the rich influential impressive people Jesus reached out to.  It was the common man.  Ken prayed this because we had just had a challenging night of service to someone whose life is a bit messy.  We had to remind ourselves that this is the kind of person Jesus ministered to — those who have one hardship after another, those we would look at and say, “They need to get their life together!”

We get so self important.  We get so tied up in our busy lives that we can forget what is really important.

I have been reading “Big Little Lies” by Liane Moriarty.   I thought this paragraph from the book was such a great description of people today —

“Mothers took their mothering so seriously now.  Their frantic little faces.  Their busy little bottoms strutting into the school in the tight gym gear.  Ponytails swinging.  Eyes fixed on the mobile phones held in the palms of their hands like compasses.”

In the book, when someone would ask one of the mothers how they were, they would always reply, “Busy.  Frantic!

Our lives are slammed with things we think are essential to do.

By contrast, I drove through the neighborhood yesterday afternoon and saw a group of children playing on a long stretch of lawn.  It looked idyllic.  They weren’t consumed with all they had to do.  They were focused on the now.

children playing

We need to be more like children.

I was with my grandchildren this past weekend on Mother’s Day.  At the end of our time, I told my grandson, barely three, that it was time for us to go.

“I don’t want you to go,” he said.

Then I told my five year old granddaughter goodbye.  She said the same thing.  “But I don’t want you to go.”

Grandkids playing in bubbles on Mother's Day.

Grandkids playing in bubbles on Mother’s Day.

Kids don’t care about schedules or things that need to get done.  They care about relationships.  They want to be with their friends, their loved ones.

Is that the way I am?

Last night at house church we talked about how we need to love one another as Jesus did.  And it occurred to me — Jesus was only able to love a few people well.  To show what love is, he focused on 12 disciples, and a few others, like Martha, Mary and Lazarus.

And I thought, I can do that.  I can focus on loving a few people well.

I let myself get so busy.  I spread myself so thin.  But when I realize that Jesus focused his time on a handful of individuals, it makes me see that I CAN make people the priority.  It’s not overwhelming.

We need to make time for one another.

But what about God?  Do we have time for Him?

Because God has things He would like to tell us, if we would slow down and listen.

I love to watch birds at my birdbath.  I fill it every day, so they have a fresh supply of water.

Bluebirds-bathing

It gives me such pleasure to see the birds perch on the edge and take a long drink, or jump in and wriggle and ruffle their features in blissful enjoyment.

God has water for us, wisdom ready for the taking.  It makes Him happy when we come to him, when we listen.

Listen in the quietness of prayer, not besieging Him with petitions, but waiting for His voice.

Listen for His will, His agenda, not our own.

Listen to pick up what He is teaching us through life.

Listen to hear what is really important.

It’s strange.  We have to block out all the things that seem important to be able to hear the things that are really important.

And somehow a child knows what’s important.  Somehow as we become adults, we forget it.

How is it that growing up has made us more selfish rather than less?

Today  I went and visited an elderly lady who’s in hospice.  It felt meaningful.  It felt important.  As I left, I took her hand in mine and prayed with her.  “Thank you, you’re so sweet,” she said.

She wasn’t a child, but it’s the same thing Jesus was talking about.  The elderly are often demoted.

Let’s take the “children” in our arms and bless them.  Let’s take time for the stranger, for the casual acquaintance.

And those who are close to us, may we love them really well.

 

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