Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Covering Wounds

This won't be much of a blog. I just wanted to get out some thoughts I was having and maybe offer them to you, hopefully to encourage you, even if its just one person. There is something so sweet about walking through a hard place with our faces down and loneliness creeping up on our hearts, only to realize the sound of someone else walking beside us, through a very similar season. It makes the burden half as heavy.

"He who covers a transgression seeks love, but he who repeats a matter separates close friends." Proverbs 17:9

I was thinking about this verse this morning, and marvelling at my own inability to do what it says. It's always a good sign that I need to invite the Holy Spirit to work on my heart when I read something like this and my first thought is, "Well, that can't possibly apply to this situation."

As I was wrestling through this in my mind, I remembered something I'd heard once, I can't remember where, about the Lord. Our Lord never asks us to do something for others that He hasn't already done, in some form, for us.

When someone says something, with or without intention, that hurts my feelings or hurts my heart,I react by trying to cover that wounded place in my heart. I immediately retract inside of myself to make sure I'm okay, to lick my proverbial wounds. But what if instead of reacting to cover that place in me that was hurt, I try to cover that person in my mind? What if I stopped analyzing the size and gravity of my wound, and just started speaking out a blessing on the person who inflicted it? What if I had faith for other people's lives, and believed in the very best of who they were? Because behind every offense, isn't the deepest pain the disappointment we feel that someone isn't what we thought they were? That someone we believed was our friend and confidant has suddenly become distant and maybe even mean-spirited?

I think God's heart is for us to give grace to the people around us. To look at them and see what the Lord sees...someone with divine purpose, eternal standing before the Throne, and a place in God's heart. Someone of so much value and worth that our Father was willing to sacrifice everything to win them a place in Heaven. Someone worthy of our love, hope, and forgiveness.

It's easier, probably, to do this with someone who didn't actually intend to offend us, or hurt our feelings. It's harder to do it we know someone meant to snub us, or exclude us, or ruffle our feathers. But that's when it becomes even more necessary. It goes along with the saying, "Hurt people hurt people". And that person might be one word of encouragement, one word of affirmation away from being lifted out of the pit they are stuck in. And how much more powerful would the encouragement be if it came from someone they'd just hurt?

When Chad and I fight, it basically is me fighting and Chad sitting back and listening, or laughing...depending on how ridiculous I'm being. Truly. But there isn't anything better for my heart then when I come back after ranting about something and calling him names that I don't really mean, to find that he still loves me. And not only that he loves me, but he still sees the woman he fell in love with and married and he's got the guts to forgive me and we get to start again. Sometimes its in those moments just after a fight that I feel closest to him. It's amazing what it does for my heart just to know that one person, perhaps the person whose opinion matters most, believes in the woman I am becoming rather than the woman I am.

Isn't that what Jesus does for us every single day?

Revelation 12:10 describes the enemy as "the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night". He's constantly bringing up my sins, even in the court of God, trying to get God to give up hope in my life. But 1 John 2:1 says: "If anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous." That word advocate is parakletos: summoned, called to one's side, especially called to one's aid, one who pleads another's cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate, one who pleads another's cause with one, an intercessor; of Christ in his exaltation at God's right hand, pleading with God the Father for the pardon of our sins,in the widest sense, a helper, succourer, aider, assistant.

When I was little and I'd get in trouble, I would burst into tears and start apologising. I guess I hated relational tension, even at a really young age. I can vividly remember a few times like that, where I just couldn't handle my mom being disappointed me. And she was the best about letting me know it was okay, and she still loved me. I've not really grown out of that. If I do something that I know dishonors the Lord, I gotta go to Him. I have to make sure He doesn't hate me. And despite the millions of times I've failed Him, He's never once given me the cold shoulder or told me to come back later when the wound wasn't so fresh. He just lets me right back in, and we pick up where we left off. He doesn't start rearranging my future because now He really knows who I am, and He's not so confident I will ever get to where He's planned for me to. He's not begrudging. He's got the most endless patience of anyone I know. And He wants us to forgive like He does. To handle offense like He does.

So the next time someone offends me, steals my joy, hurts my feelings, I want to show them the same grace Jesus shows me. To believe in my heart the best about them, to see the person they are truly, and to offer them immediate forgiveness, whether they've asked for it or not. It's going to take so much emotional effort to do those things I won't possibly have time to analyze how bad I'm hurt. And that's just fine, because I'll probably just bring infection if I start to try and fix it myself; the Lord is the shepherd and overseer of my soul, and He is my Good Physician.

*Disclaimer: Since posting this, I've had a few precious friends start asking if they offended me or if I am offended...and I feel awful! I wrote this during a quiet time, when I was reading that verse and with no particular time in mind. I just was thinking about how the Lord wants me to handle offense, and how I've failed in the past at it. As a general rule, I never want to blog out of venting or pointed at anyone person or time or event!! Please forgive me if I caused any confusion! It was unintended, and I'm so sorry!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Why I Love Friday the 13th

You know what I love about the Lord? He likes to turn bad things good. He loves doing a gigantic flip. He loves redemption. It was His idea to create us, to give us the option of obedience or wandering, to become like us so He could redeem us- buy us back, give His life for us, change the first Adam's curse into the second Adam's blessing of eternal life and redemption. This is the kind of stuff that burns my heart, and gives me a caffeine high-- no caffeine necessary. Personally, I think He has a flare for the dramatic. He has the best ideas. I mean, think of all the creative wonderful people in the world, and then think that everybody is made in the image of the Creator. That means He is the most adventurous, most hilarious, most kind, most inventive, most talented person/God/Spirit/thing. Job 26:14 says, "And these are but the outerfringe of His works; how faint the whisper we hear of Him." And Job was a man who its safe to say knew God....but he says all he knew was just the faint whisper of who God was-- and from what I know of God, all I see is goodness, kindness, gentleness, joy. I already think He is immeasurably these things, but I can't imagine what the true God looks like if the outerfringe and faint whisper is already this poignant. Selah, right?

So that's why I have to blog about loving Friday the thirteenth. Seriously, I always kind of get tickled when its a Friday the thirteenth. I heard this morning that this year, 2012, we will have three Friday the 13ths and that they are each 13 weeks apart. Someone was going on about how creepy it is, and how that's got to mean something. I'd like to tell you what that means: we oughta get excited. Want to know what happens when the enemy tries to stir up fear and superstition in things like this? God shows up. And He turns things on their head. Because Satan is already eternally damned. The gig's up. The end is written. God wins.

I was listening to a sermon the other day about how sometimes we adopt our cultural truths as Biblical truths...and we don't even realize that what our world says is valid might be totally against what God says. I think superstition is one of those. No, I know superstition is one of those things. I grew up in a house where we weren't aloud to say "good luck". We weren't allowed to talk about luck. Luck, Mom said, was inconsistent with faith. So we would say, "God bless you" or something like that. I never found a penny, picked it up and all day long I had good luck. On the flip side, I've broken a mirror, walked underneath a few ladders, seen some black cats, and lived through some Friday the 13ths. And I don't live in fear. Because I've been brought into the safezone. Like when you play tag at recess and the one place that leaves you immune to whoever is chasing you, that's what the Lord is for us. He is an umbrella of peace, a covering, a Rock that is set on high, and He enables us to stand on the heights, to run to Him for refuge. No weapon formed against us prospers, and

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty...He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge, His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart...a thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you.If you make the Most High your dwelling--even the LORD, who is my refuge then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent.For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways;they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone." Psalm 91

I love Ephesians 6, and the armor of God. One reason I may love it is because my little brother used to have a BibleMan costume-- yes, that's right, Bibleman-- complete with all of the armor mentioned in the aforesaid chapter. When my sister Lindsay was home from college, she could get nasty if you woke her up and were yourself defenseless, so we'd send in Josh decked out in his Bibleman gear. Sometimes he came away unscathed. Sometimes. But the point is, in that awesome chapter, we learn what kind of weapons we have, what kind of armor we have, and this particular point is relevant for this post:
"In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one."
I like the guarantee of success here: if you have faith you CAN (the greek verb is dynamai, which means 1) to be able, have power whether by virtue of one's own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom; 2) to be able to do something;3) to be capable, strong and powerful) extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one. I don't know why but I've always thought flaming arrows are thoughts, especially thoughts of fear. If you let one hit you, it can pretty much consume everything. Fear can be so paralyzing. But faith trumps fear. Faith shields our hearts. And for this year, I have faith that this despite the number of 13s involved, it's God's year. And in Him we live and move and find our being, and we're safe.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Resolutions

I like to think that I’ve developed a strong stomach since Eden was born. I’ve been dealing with all sorts of nasty situations for the past 17 months, including and not limited to: her vomit in my mouth, her dried poop lodged on my hands, ankles, etc., her half-chewed food spread all through my hair, and naturally, her saliva and snot constantly fighting for a home somewhere on my person. I draw the line, however, at backwash. Call me a bad mom, but I just can’t bear it. I remember the first couple of weeks that Eden was learning to drink from a straw, and how Chad and I, in our enthusiasm, would share with her whatever we were drinking. It only took a few times for me to realize that just as surely as she was drinking from my cup, she was also leaving a portion of whatever was in her mouth floating in the bottom of my drink. So now I have a rule: no drink-sharing when Eden is eating. It makes my life, and my beverages, that much more enjoyable.
I got back from a wonderful thirteen days of Texas yesterday, and I spent New Year’s Eve and Day trying to soak up my last minutes with my precious family. So, today, January 3rd, 2012, is technically my New Year’s. I’ve been making my list of resolutions, and it’s long enough to keep me busy for the next few months. Of course, there are the kind of resolutions that I am gleefully writing down— the ones I can’t wait to get started on. Then there are the resolutions that I keep avoiding. Like this one: No more trashy TV (aka The Bachelor). I have been ignoring that one all day but I finally realized it’s a nonnegotiable.
Nothing is more annoying then when people try and plant their convictions in your heart without your consent or desire…so take this with a grain of salt. This has just been the thought on my mind today. I keep thinking of excuses for why I can “handle” certain trash…whether its TV, movies, music, or books. Call me fragile, but I’ve been realizing lately that I really can’t handle certain songs, certain scenes, etc. I get disturbed easily. I get distracted easily. And I get discouraged easily. It doesn’t take much to throw me off. So I’ve been trying to learn how to stay the course, so to speak, with the Lord. How to avoid pitfalls, and how to guard my heart and my mind so that I don’t get bogged down.
One of my constant excuses about things like this with the Lord is that TV shows, movies, songs don’t really affect me that much. I get over it. Sometimes I don’t even think about it. Sometimes. But I felt like the Lord reminded me today of Eden drinking out of my drinks. I would have this delicious, tall glass of sweet tea sitting in front of me and I could be so excited to drink it, but after Eden had a sip, it was filled with nasty floating food particles, and basically it ruined my joy. Because I believe in Jesus, I have the mind of Christ. It’s a brand spanking new mind—like that cup of sweet tea, perfectly brewed, with just the right amount of sugar-water and ice cubes—but if I choose to start watching stuff or listening to stuff or reading stuff that isn’t approved by God, I can really quickly start filling it with junk. And I felt like the Lord answered my predicament about reality TV and the like…whether it affects me or not, there will be floaties in my drink.