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One in Six

He meant well.  They shouldn’t spend much time together.  She has a disorder–bipolar.  I winced when I heard the words because he didn’t know about us.  We understand the stigma…the struggle…the pain swelling on the inside–but still unseen.

Church….Christian…Pastor–there is already shame poured hot like coal on the one who suffers from the burden of festering pain.  And the one in six people in your midst clutches her own secret close to her chest–afraid to let you see her brokenness.  Or, perhaps, she fears revealing the truth about a husband or a child.  If she did would you whisper, “He’s depressed. Maybe your daughter shouldn’t spend time with him.”  Would you judge her?  If she believed more…prayed more…trusted more then God would heal the wound.

So when a friend condemns anti-depressants as a crutch but implores the Hurting to pray for faith, there is a problem in the Body because the Jesus I know came to heal the sick.  The Jesus I know came to remove the burden of a fallen world from the shoulders of those bent beneath its weight.  And the Jesus I know understands that mental illness is like any other–You, dear one, didn’t cause it.

There is no guilt in your struggle, dear one, just as there is no guilt with the one who has cancer.  Church, the one in six ask you to be Jesus today.

Speak truth.  The Church is the place for the suffering.

Love like Christ.  It’s not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 

Give grace.  The nails in the tree set us free from the wounds of this world.  Our Today’s are for His glory.

And it is by grace we are saved!

Standing on the outside, looking in…the screen joins bold color with life as sharp as glass.  I can’t bear the pain in the cries of women mourning over bleeding children as smoke from the rockets spreads across cities.  Still,  the truth of those lives…that reality…that brokenness cannot be hidden in the grey and black of destruction.

And then, I turn the channel.  My stomach recoils at the world’s mess and I wonder when He will make it right.

Standing on the outside, looking in…the familiar sound of her voice travels from one tower to another and I smile at her German practicality.  My dear auntie has cancer–again–and I feel heat and tears mingle as I glance into the corners of her life.  I can see them, though she has quietly swept them into a forgotten corner–fear of the unknown…a sense of aloneness…the looming question of  ‘Why’?

In a moment, there is only the hum of the dial tone and my heart aches for the trial she–and so many others–battle until they fade away.

Standing on the inside, looking out…I begin to feel the hard edges of the day tear at the tender places of hope, joy, and peace.  And  I am reminded that this world, this reality, and these trials are temporary.

Dear one, He is doing more than we can know or even imagine.  One glorious day, Christ will return and this world will know the true Peace Maker.

And even now, when we can no longer rely on our bodies for health or our loved ones for understanding, He is with us.  He never leaves us.  He always understands the ‘Why’.  And His strength remains forever..even as we fade.

If the hidden places in your life and mine are full of grief, emotional or physical pain, or misgivings about the shattered world around us then let them shout for His mercy and restoration in a “thirsty and weary land” that we might see His boundless glory displayed in our small lives.

 

Mother Holding Child's HandI always wanted to change the world.  When I was younger and more of an idealist, I considered the Peace Corp.  Then, I explored social work and psychology.  Maybe I’d make a difference if  I could rescue families from difficult circumstances or offer words of encouragement.

What was my God-assignment?  How could I make a difference in a world like this?

I realize now that my God-assignment can change from that of stay-at-home mom to preschool director to writer–and a I am always responsible for what God has assigned for me to do.  Nothing more; nothing less.

In my own strength, I am too small to take on every assignment.  But through His power and leading, I can impact someone’s life for the better.

What is your God-assignment?  What is He leading you to do today?

You could be the one person to console a hurting friend…offer a word of prayer for a wayward teen…provide a meal for a single parent.

What is your God -assignment?  I don’t know the details, but God does.

When each of us fulfills His work according to His will, then we make a difference–sometimes an eternal one.

 

Scripture for Reflection

“Dear brothers and sisters, what’s the use of saying you have faith if you don’t prove it by your actions?  That kind of faith can’t save anyone.  Suppose you see a brother or sister who needs food or clothing and you say, “Well, goodbye and God bless you; stay warm and eat well”–but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing.  What good does that do?  (James 2:14-16, NLT)

 

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.  (Ephesians 2:10, RSVP)

With You Always

It’s been a challenging, up-and-down, I-don’t-think-we-can-get-through-this sort of year.  As I read through my blog posts, notes, and emails my heart rate increases and a sense of apprehension settles over me.  remind myself–aloud–God has been with you through it all.

God was with me when I learned one child had been abused.

God was with me when another child was diagnosed with a life-long illness.

And before that?

God was with me when my husband was deployed in Afghanistan and I was raising four children at home.

God was with me when my daughter was born prematurely and then had to be resuscitated.

One heart wrenching, faith growing, I-don’t-like-this-plan-Lord sort of year.  Before that?  One year of struggle…another of joy.  Time kept moving, bringing with it moments of joy, celebration, grief, and sadness.  And through it all I was never alone.  

Maybe you are experiencing a challenging, up-and-down, I-don’t-think-I-can-get-through-this sort of year…or month…or moment.

Friend, remember!  “I (God) will never leave you nor forsake you, for (He) is with you always even unto the end of the age.  (Matthew 28:20)

 

Orate Mirror in the Corner of a Room

“For now we only see a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” 1 Cor. 13:12 MSG

Don’t we all long to be known and loved despite the knowing? That sort of love exists in the only God who is bigger than imagination…the God whose very thought of You and Me gave us life, form, breath.

Loved despite the knowing? Yes. That sort of love pointed up to heaven while rough shards of wood pressed into His back and words were uttered on behalf of those who were there and those who were yet to be…”Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Loved despite the knowing? Yes. That sort of love despite feelings of doubt…words spoken in anger …faith ebbing according to circumstance.

Loved despite the knowing? Yes. Regardless of Me–or You. He knows us fully, but loves Us ardently and completely–enough to be Our Savior…enough to be Our Soul Healer…enough to be raised triumphant that We might have hope that there is more than yesterday or today. There is Christ!

Identity in Him is more significant than identity of self.

Scripture for Reflection:

John 1:12 I am God’s child
John 15:15 I am God’s friend
Col. 3:3 I am hidden with Christ in God
Eph. 1:4 I am chosen
Eph. 1:9, 3:11 I have purpose
Eph. 3:13 I know there is a purpose in suffering
2 Cor. 5:17 I am a new creation
1 Cor. 6:19-20 I belong to God.

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.

Exodus 3:14

images

It took her by surprise–this identity crisis.

One day she knew who she was and the next lacked any sense of a cohesive selfOne day she walked purposefully…with direction; next there was only the feeling of wandering in the dark.  One day her faith blossomed–sharing its fragrance willingly with others; then it suddenly withered to a dingy, lifeless brown hovering somewhere between life and death.

The woman wondered how she would keep moving on when so much of today was caught up in the shattered dreams of the past.  She laughed at the absurdity of looking in the mirror and being unsure of the reflection…like an insecure teenager who hadn’t yet discovered what substance lay beneath the surface.  She wept at the tragedy of losing who she might have become to the early years of abuse.  She even shook her fist at the God who had grieved at the sight of a child’s soul being stripped of hope while her little form was stripped of modesty.  And…the woman missed God the most.

The identity crisis…a personal place of loneliness, trepidation, discovery.  The woman wanders in her spiritual desert–climbing a mountain of doubt and confusion.  She yearns to meet God there and thinks of Moses’.  He had been called by God to lead…to trust…to obey.  Moses’ response?  Who am I?  Moses was experiencing an identity crisis.

“I am who I Am.”  The Lord didn’t address Moses’ insecurities with platitudes or pep talks.  The focus wasn’t on Moses, but on God and what He would accomplish through his servant.  And the woman realizes that those are the words of truth to which she must cling.  “I am who I Am.”  And she keeps climbing.

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=youtube+christian+songs+i+am&FORM=VIRE5#view=detail&mid=38AAD37AE046FD4DEED638AAD37AE046FD4DEED6

 

 

 

eaglefly

The moment I heard the words filter through the radio of our crumb-sprinkled family car, my heart responded with a question?  Am I that woman?  The message resounded and I’ve been considering it for more than a week–long enough for me to admit that this is one of my day-by-day, moment-by-moment struggles.  It may be yours, too.

What is this self-imposed, self-focused, self-degrading habit we battle each day?  Perfectionism.

It afflicts co-workers, Bible study leaders, young mothers, old mothers, neighbors, and friends.  Always striving…she is the woman never quite satisfied with self.  And deep in her empty places she has somehow mistaken the desire for acceptance…approval…love for a twisted version of if-then. 

If I can just lose five more pounds then he’ll respect me.

If I earn this degree then I’ll finally believe I’m smart.

If I keep my house clean enough then I’ll know I’m a good housewife.

If  my children are at the top of their class then I can trust myself as a mother.

If I join one more church committee then God will know I’m a committed Christian.

 

But all of the if’s just end up as not enough.  There is always another goal…something else to prove…a feeling of not quite meeting the mark.

Why?  Because we’ve forgotten the mercy of His love, acceptance, and approval.   With Christ, there is an abundance of all our heart seeks.   The one who is Perfection has released us from the need to prove our goodness or worth.

We can stop striving, dear Friend.  Just belonging to Perfection is enough.

 

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.  (Col. 3:23-24)

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