Do you ever have a not-so-pretty day? One where you think to yourself, 'Wow, if the world saw me right now I don't think they'd like me!"' I have those days. I want to share a specific day like this from 2014. I was up on a Saturday night several times with our little one-year old Winston. I'd been sick for over a week and was feeling very worn out. I missed church and it was going to be the one Sunday out of the year I could sit with my husband (who is a minister) because a guest speaker was preaching.
I found myself at home alone with Winston, who was very unhappy and not feeling well. Our two foster children were with their parents and I have to admit...I just felt so lonely. Darin came home from church for about thirty minutes and then had to leave again. What was supposed to be an hour turned into three hours and I began to fume. I hadn't been able to take a shower. Winston wouldn't nap. I felt tired and just wished to have somebody there to help. I tried calling Darin, (He'd left his phone in the van) but I couldn't get a hold of him. I was done. Just done. I sat in our recliner chair with Winston who was inconsolable and began to cry myself. Around 5 P.M. Darin pulled up and he quickly became the target of my unhappiness. He walked through the door. I handed Winston off to him, barely looking him in the eye, and said not very nicely, "I'm going for a drive."
I went for a drive in the country and when I thought I'd calmed down I came home, but still Darin was the target of my unhappiness. If you don't know me I am a feeler and a very expressive person. When I get overwhelmed it often comes out through my emotions. To sum up this not-so-pretty-day: it ended in me locking the bedroom door on Darin, crawling into bed, curling up in the covers, and crying. Very adult I know. I longed for my husband and his strength, but instead I was pushing him away because that's what I do when I feel not-so-pretty. I want love, yet I resist it. My pride stands in the way.
Do you know how my husband responded? I'll tell you. After I unlocked the door he came in and crawled up next to me. "Hey babe, I made you some burgers. I love you so much." I was baffled. "Darin, you're supposed to be angry!" I exclaimed. "Not make me burgers and tell me you love me! I just locked the door on you." He laughed and said, "Well I do love you." He didn't blame me, he didn't go off on me for my immaturity, he didn't even act irritated. "I'm sorry you've had such a rough day," he ended with. To be honest, there was a part of me that didn't want him to respond in love because I was having a hard time loving myself.
This scenario is not secluded to yesterday. My husband has often been a display of God's grace to me. In these not-so-pretty moments he has often helped me feel God's love through his grace. He acted toward me the same way Christ acts towards us. Christ takes us right where we're at. He takes all of the ugly, the selfish, the sinful, ALL of it and looks beyond to the hidden beauty. He knows it's there because he was there when his Father created it within us!
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." ~John 1:1-5
Many people have the misconception that in order to be a follower of Jesus they must get beautiful first. They must first make themselves lovable. If you take one thing away from this blog, hear this. Because God loves you, you are lovable! You can't earn His love. You can't get rid of your sins on your own! He takes your filthy rags and covers you in Fine Linen, bright and clean. As a follower of Christ for several years I am still very imperfect. I am still selfish. I still act ugly at times. I still get distracted by the things of this world and take my focus off of Jesus. And Jesus still climbs up next to me and says, "Hey pretty girl, I made you some burgers. I love you so much!" His love is unconditional. His love is perfect. There is no one. NO ONE that is beyond His loving. You just have to open the door to your heart and say, "Come in, you are welcome here. I give you the full rights to this life you gave me." Jesus gave everything. The question is: Will you let him love your everything? The good and the bad. The beautiful and the ugly? Stop trying to earn His love. It's already yours if you are willing to surrender.
"I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. "Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne."
~Revelation 3: 19-21
I come to The Potter, a broken pot
There are cracks everywhere I look
I’m in need of His humbling help today
I’m empty and need to be filled
See, He’s placed in me healing water
It’s water to give to the weak
But the strain of their problems crack me
And my water begins to leak
Time after time I return to Him
The Fixer of all hard things
He takes me into His loving hands
And slowly begins to breathe
Amazing enough, it never fails
My cracks begin to seal
And once again He entrusts to me
Water that’s meant to heal
I’ll never be an uncracked pot
That’s just the weight of this world
But I’ll keep giving His water to the very last drop
Because my Master always refills
If you’re a weary, tired, dry pot
And the enemy says, “Just quit!”
Remember that we’re all broken pots
Just trying to do God’s will
We sometimes fail and feel distraught
But there’s forgiveness each new day
And thank the Lord it’s not OUR works
It’s the unnatural gift of HIS grace!
Take your broken self to the Lord
And let Him fill you up
He’ll breathe in you and seal you up
He always has and He always will.
This title is one that's been very real to me lately: what is my purpose in Christ? As a follower of Jesus Christ if I don't get this right then everything I do is meaningless. I must put my purpose where it matters. I've been trying to separate my cultural identity as an American from my Christ-identity as a Christian. It's amazing to me how much value I place in the things of this world. I like my comfort: my coffee in the mornings, my nice clean and soft sheets, my hot showers, my nice clothes. I like to be seen as a respectful woman who others think well of. Who doesn't? The problem is when these things begin to rule one's life. One's decisions become based off of what he or she will receive from doing something, rather than how will this please my Savior? And then what happens when these things are removed? If people no longer think well of us? If we go bankrupt? If we remain infertile when we desperately want a child? If someone we love dies? If a friend betrays? If life comes crashing down on us? We find ourselves faced with the stark reality that life is very hard and often disappoints.
Perhaps I've been pondering this much more lately because of the news. So many Christians around the world are being slaughtered in the name of Christ. They live in uncertainty, often vagabonds without a home. They are people like us, but living in a very different context. Because of our comfortable living we often do everything we can to remain Christians AND remain comfortable. We say, "I follow Jesus", but don't once stop to ask him, "Lord, what would You have me do?" As I read through the gospel of John I am convicted and saddened at my own selfish heart. Too many times I throw a pity party when life gets hard, instead of living in thankfulness that I have a Savior who chose me. A Savior who promises to walk with me through the mountains. A Savior who promises he will NEVER leave me or forsake me...no matter how bad things get. He sees my tears and he understands. His love for me is unconditional, and it's because of his love that I want to get uncomfortable. I want to learn how to serve him more. It's because of his love that when I sin I don't remain in it. I get up knowing that I am forgiven. Sometimes I find myself stuck in sin, but the Holy Spirit reaches in my heart and tugs at it until I finally let go and find freedom once again.
The biggest misconception of Christianity in the United States, I believe is this: It's about going to church every Sunday, being a nice person, and trying as best we can to keep to the Christian checklist while looking fantastic doing it--a checklist that is often man-made. It was this check list that Jesus preached so passionately against! The Pharisees were so angry when he healed a man on their Sabbath (Mark 3:1-6). They cared nothing for compassion, but for rules! They didn't associate with the 'sinners.' They were too good for that. I am saddened at the sight of this in our own churches today. They are mostly middle class. We don't even try to relate to those different than us. The love of Christ is often missing in place of high expectations-just waiting for someone to mess up so we can pounce on them. What happened to grace? "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." Ephesians 2:8
The church has become too churchy today. How many of us are going out onto the battlefield of dying sinners? Have we forgotten that we were once bloodied, dying in the trenches when Jesus came, knelt down, and said "Follow me? And I will make you a fisher of men!" He did not say,"Follow me, and I will make you well so that you can forget about all of these other bloodied people and become a nice, comfortable Christian.
Harriet Tubman makes me think of this picture: of someone who finds freedom, AND cares enough to help others also find it. She escaped slavery September 17th of 1849 and would subsequently make 13 trips back to rescue over 70 other slaves, risking her life and new-found freedom. Harriet Tubman was also a Christian.
Do you have a feel-good faith or a faith that has the scars to prove it? Following Jesus is not easy. He requires all of us. Not perfection, but a whole-hearted devotion. Maybe you have high morals and have done well in your personal achievements, but have you gone to the battlefield and held the hand of dying sinners? Or have you beat them over the head with your stick of moral expectations? Do you study the Scriptures with others so that they too can understand your hope in Christ? Do you go to the bars, the AA meetings, the prisons, the hospitals, the nursing homes, the foster children, the parents of foster children, the battlefields and reach down in love and compassion? Do you care enough? Jesus preached not against those without faith, he preached against the religious. Those who had faith, but failed to live it out in love. Are you religious or are you a follower of Jesus?
I write these things because it is the burden of my heart lately. I've looked in the mirror and I don't like what I see. If I am not sharing the inspired word of God with people weekly I need to ask why? It's not about being a Bible scholar. It's about sharing what Scriptures you do know, and seeking to grow each day in your knowledge of God and His truth found in the Bible. That takes place often not in church, but in your home, in places of darkness, with those who might be too afraid to step into a church building for fear of condemnation! The church is not becoming stronger because people are relying on the church as an organization to reach people, rather than becoming an active part of the body of Jesus Christ! I love going to church and finding fellowship, but if that's all I do then I need to question why. If I'm not willing to share my belief in God with ANYONE, If I'm not willing to love people where they are at, if I say NO to the trenches, if I care more about having my kids involved in a hundred different things than making Christ the priority, if my career takes precedence over where God might want me to go: it is meaningless...and one must ask:
HOW REAL IS MY FAITH IN JESUS?
Faith is not to be a comfortable one. It's to be a well-worn one, and if it is-you will have the scars to prove it.
You will be okay with the fact that it will hurt at times.
You won't be afraid to walk into the darkness and shine, even through all your broken shards of glass--Christ will still shine through you if you let him.
Read through Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John and you cannot deny what Jesus asks of you if you have said,
"Yes, I will follow you."
Father, please bless this reader and place in them a renewed faith if they have fallen away or forgotten what it means to live for You. If they need more grace for themselves and others, please fill them with Yours. If they are living in sin, chained and hopeless, please give them the strength to get out and the courage to accept Your freedom--though it might mean losing many earthly things and pleasures. We give YOU the honor, glory, and thanks for anything good You do through us. Thank you Lord!
is a rural Missouri preacher's wife who stays at home with her son Winston and 4 foster sons whom she and her husband are in the process of adopting! (Looking forward to the day I can put their names on here!)