May we SEE Your invitation

“[Jesus] said to the man with the withered hand, ‘Come here.’” Mark 3:3

I love when God allows us to “see” Him through His own words. After writing a curriculum lesson on Mark chapter three, where Jesus healed a man with a withered and deformed hand, I found myself thinking all week about the words Jesus spoke to the man. This man had most likely experienced nothing but painful rejection and isolation throughout his entire life. People would have walked away from him, avoided eye contact and treated him as if he were invisible, and yet Jesus beckoned the man to come to Him.

I wonder what the man must have felt as the eyes of the Messiah were lovingly turned toward him. What must that man have thought as the Son of God beckoned him to come? Did he feel a magnetic pull toward his Creator? Did his heart quicken with every step? As he stood by the Savior of the world when Jesus asked the crowd if it was “lawful to do good or harm, to save life or to kill on the Sabbath”, could he take his eyes off Jesus? What did the man do when Jesus became angry at the calloused, self-righteousness of the Pharisee’s lack of response? And then, as Jesus told the man to “stretch out your hand” and He healed his withered ineffective hand, did the man shout and leap for joy or was he completely incapable of speech at the total restoration and healing touch of the Savior?

“Come here.” Such precious words from our Lord.

I can hear our Savior’s gentle voice saying:

Broken child, come here.

Lost lamb, come here.

Hurting daughter, come here.

Striving son, come here.

Wounded spirit, come here.

Withered heart, come here.

Come to the only One who can truly heal and truly restore. Do not give into the the lie that you must strive to follow man made rules in order to find acceptance and value. Instead, “come to Me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Let the love of Jesus heal what is withered and ineffective. Let the One who came to save, heal your heart and soul.

“Come here”

“Lord, may we see Your precious invitation to “come here” and may we trust You to heal our brokenness.”

May we SEE You as the Lifter of our heads

“But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3

My son wouldn’t look at me. Frustrated, exhausted tears streamed down his eleven year old cheeks, and he didn’t want me to see him cry. He is in his first year of middle school and it is proving much harder than he thought it would be.  He has worked harder this week than any other in his life, and was upset over a test that did not go well.

My little boy is growing up and taking on more responsibility. He is learning time management, how to set priorities, self-motivation and natural consequences. But learning is hard, growing pains hurt, and as little boy fights with emerging teenager, the stress begins to take its toll. He is tired, frustrated, grumpy, excited, silly, sweet, opinionated, defeated, and triumphant all within a span of five minutes sometimes! 🙂

I was having my own internal war as I watched him cry. The mama bear in me wanted to scream at the teachers for giving him too much work, the perfectionist in me wanted to interrogate my son to see what he was doing wrong and fix it, the counselor in me wanted to work on coping strategies and self-talk. Thankfully, the Holy Spirit in me brought Psalm 3 to mind which silenced all the other voices in my head.

As I looked at my sweet boy hiding his face in the sofa cushions, I knelt down beside him and asked him to look at me. He sat up, but would not meet my eyes. I gently lifted his head and looked into his watery blue eyes. At that moment, I thought about all the times God has lifted my head: all the times I knew I had blown it, the trials that felt too hard, the times when shame kept me from running to Him, the times I had tried to do things my own way and messed everything up. During those times, I felt unlovable and unworthy and yet, my King gently took my head in His loving, powerful hands and lifted my eyes to meet His.

I told my son, through my own tears, that I loved him no matter what. I explained that my love does not depend on his performance or a number written on a test paper. I am proud of him for trying his best and for doing it without much complaining. I wanted him to see my face and my eyes as I told him I will always love him and we will figure this middle school thing out together.

My words were the same ones I have spoken before, but his reaction to them was different. He really seemed to believe me this time. He hugged me and walked away lighter. The defeated vibe was gone, replaced by hope. As I sat there pondering his reaction, I realized that he saw in my eyes I really meant what I was saying.

However, while I do mean those words, my love is not perfect and I will mess up. But God’s love is perfect and He never messes up. When God lifts our heads, He desires that we see Him for who He truly is: our perfect Creator, King and Redeemer. It is overwhelming to think that God loves me; just as I am in this very moment. I don’t have to perform well for God to love me. I don’t have to get myself together for God to love me. I don’t have to feel lovable for God to love me. He just does! God is love and He loves me. That is a mind blowing truth.

Today, if you are feeling unlovable and unworthy I urge you to ask God to lift up your head and lead you to His word, so you may SEE just how much He loves you.

“Lord, I thank you for being the lifter of my head. Please help me rest in the warmth and truth of Your love today.”

May we SEE You as the One who loves us

“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord….” John 21:7

I used to read the disciple John’s description of himself, like the one in the verse above, and think that he was a little prideful.  Was he implying that Jesus loved him more than the other disciples, or that he was somehow better than they were? It wasn’t until I started studying the Gospel of John in order to write our curriculum lessons, that I saw John’s description for what it really was: his identity.

John could have chosen many different adjectives to describe himself; the young disciple, the brother of James, the handsome one, the fisherman etc…  However, John chose to describe himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.”

John’s identity was not wrapped up in his earthly attributes, his family connections or his profession. His identity was completely rooted in the person of Jesus, and in how beloved he was by Him. I now read the words, “the disciple whom Jesus loved”, and see not a heart of pride, but a humble heart overwhelmed by the fact the King of the universe died for him. John seems awestruck with the truth that he was a sinner, and yet he was loved by his perfect Savior.

John’s entire world had been changed by Jesus. John left everything he had known to follow this simple man from Nazareth. As John watched Jesus day after day, studied Him, learned from Him, ate with Him, walked with Him, what must he have seen in His Savior’s eyes?  Can you imagine the depth of love and holiness that would have dwelled in Jesus’ eyes?

John seemed to realize that the only description of himself that truly mattered was that he was loved by Jesus. He was a sinner, whose sins had been forgiven and then was clothed in Jesus’ own righteousness. Nothing else in John’s life could compare with that truth.

If I was to write about myself in the third person, how would I describe myself to others? She’s a wife and mother, she’s a writer, she’s the quiet one, she’s the one who tries to be all things to all people…. Or, would I write, she’s the one whom Jesus loves!

Without Jesus, I have nothing and am nothing.  He has forgiven my sin, and saved me from a life of separation from God.  I am His and He is mine.  I pray that my identify, like John’s, will be completely rooted in Jesus.

Lord, may I SEE You as the One who loves me. May my identity be found in You. Thank You for knowing me and yet loving me for who I am. I love You, Jesus!

May we SEE You in the words of a song

“Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” Psalm 100:2

Some of the times I have felt closest to God are when I am in the car by myself with my radio blasting out worship songs. Completely immersing myself in the words of a worship song centers my thoughts on God. I love to sing along loudly and without any concern for what others think. I am shy and very introverted, but when a worship song touches my soul I can’t help but sing my heart out. When I worship God in song and focus my thoughts on Him, I feel as though I see Him much more clearly. Music can serve as a wonderful conduit into His presence. I truly believe God created music to draw us to Himself. David had a heart for music and used it often to praise God when mere words were not enough. Musicians would go into battles in Old Testament times reminding those around them whose power they were fighting in. All of nature seems to sing to its Creator. Worship music points us to God, offers praises to God and causes us to ponder God.

Today I heard two newer worship songs on the radio and as I really listened to the words I felt my heart longing for Jesus in such a strong way. Tears rolled down my cheeks at the truth of who He is and what He has done for me. I am so thankful for the gift of music and the roll it has played in my life. As such a shy child who could barely speak to adults, it came as quite a surprise that I would be asked to sing a small solo in church. By what I know now was nothing less than God’s hand in my life, I agreed, and was never the same because of it. As I sang the words to my very first solo as a nine year old little girl, I relied on Jesus in a way I never had before. I also experienced His presence in a way that I would grow to crave over and over again. I feel like I “saw” a glimpse of Jesus that day and I have loved worship music ever since. May we all SEE Jesus as we worship Him with total abandon.

“Lord, may we SEE You in the words of a song.  Thank you so very much for the gift of music. May we saturate our souls with songs that proclaim Your Name and focus our thoughts on You.”

May we SEE You in the process

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6

Recently God used my frustrations at the slow pace of our house renovations to allow me to SEE how He is renovating my heart. I love my house, but I would also love for my house to look exactly how I see it in my mind. My husband is very handy and we are very cheap (I mean frugal), so he does 99% of all of our house projects. This is great for saving money, but not so great for speed and efficiency. We are going room by room, and sometimes corner by corner as we make our house “our” house. However, to be honest, I wish so much that it could all be done…like yesterday. The project list is overwhelmingly long and includes every room and the entire yard. I know we will get there, but I find myself getting very impatient. I often compare our house to other’s houses, I tend to see only what is wrong and still needs to be fixed instead of focusing on how much we have already done.

One day as I was walking out the door after lamenting the paint color we have yet to change, it felt like God stopped me in my tracks and showed me a vital truth: I am like our house! I am a total work in progress. God has rescued me from sin (justification) and I am totally His, but now He is at work renovating my heart so that I begin to look more like Jesus (sanctification). The big difference is that, praise God, He doesn’t get frustrated with the amount of work He has to do in my heart. I am a mess, but He loves me just as I am, while lovingly (and sometimes painfully) growing me to look more like His Son. He goes slowly from area to area in my heart, cleaning out the old and making me new. The process is slow and long and will last until I see Him face to face, but He is hard at work in me.

Thankfully, He does not compare my heart to anyone else’s. He is only concerned with making me into who He desires me to be. He doesn’t want to throw His hands up in despair because it is taking too long. He patiently addresses an issue with me and often times has to readdress it again and again. The truth that God loves me just as much right now as He will when I look even more like Him is AMAZING. I think that I will like our house more once it looks like the picture in my mind. But God loves me, mess and all, just as I am at this moment. And yet, He loves me too much to let me stay just as I am at this moment. Because He loves me, He wants me to grow to look more like Jesus. I’ll admit that our house renovations seem very easy compared to the massive amount of work God has to do in my heart, but praise God He is a patient and loving “heart renovator” and willing to take on even the hardest of projects 🙂

“Lord, we want to SEE You in the process of renovating our hearts. Thank you for loving me, mess and all. I ask You to renovate my heart so that I can look more like Your precious Son, Jesus.”

May We SEE You with childlike faith

Matthew 21:16, “Do you hear what these children are saying?” they asked him. “Yes,” replied Jesus, “have you never read, “‘From the lips of children and infants you, Lord, have called forth your praise’?”

We were driving to school this morning and I’ll be honest, I was caffeine deprived and grumpy.  The kids and I say prayers every morning in the car, but this morning I suggested maybe I just say the prayer while they pray in their quiet little hearts along with me (all so I could get to my coffee more quickly).  Both kids protest and say they want to pray too.  Begrudging mommy who is now feeling guilty agrees.  I pray, my son prays, then my girl prays.  Here is her prayer (which I have committed to memory):

“Thank you God for this day.  Please help me do my spelling words right.  Please help my brother to like school today.  Please help mommy get all her work done and daddy too.  Thank you for making dolphins.  Thank you for my friends.  Jesus, today when my friends get home from school if they don’t know you came to die for their sins, please whisper Your Name in their ears so they will know you love them and they will ask you to live in their hearts.  Oh and please help mommy to have made me a good lunch.  In Jesus’ Name, amen.”

Um…wow!  To think I almost missed that because of my craving for caffeine.  I so wonder whose ears Jesus will whisper His Name into today….

“Father, thank you for allowing me to SEE You in my daughter’s prayer this morning.  May nothing, not even coffee, ever be more important to me than You.  I pray with my sweet girl that You would whisper Your Name in many ears today as you draw people to Yourself.”

May we SEE You in the stillness

Psalm 46:10 “Be still and know that I am God….”

I love the early morning hours of summer.  The house is still quiet, the coffee is still hot and the hummingbirds are in action.  I love to watch these adorably tiny yet incredibly powerful birds as they play, eat and hover outside my kitchen window.  These little creatures amaze me.  Their wings move so fast that they appear invisible.  Their wings move even while they eat.  Hummingbirds are always on the go.  They zoom around our yard as if being chased.  They swoop and dive and flutter like tiny little helicopters.  I have grown so accustomed to their flying antics that it completely caught me by surprise the morning I sat down with my coffee and saw a humming bird sitting perfectly still in a plant on my deck.

Mesmerized I watch this normally hyperactive bird as she simply sat there.  Her wings were still and at her side.  Her head was tilted ever so slightly as she sat for two minutes.  She was not in her nest.  She was not stopped to take care of her young.  She was not stopped because she was injured.  She was just sitting there.  The hummingbird was soon off again engaging in her flying acrobatics.  But it made me think: if the hummingbird, who was designed for motion and speed, takes time to just be still, shouldn’t I?

As I looked away from my window and back towards my favorite coffee mug, I saw my Bible lying on the table.  It hit me then that oftentimes I am the hummingbird.  I fly around taking care of the kids.  I swoop around the house cleaning up.  I flutter through all my errands.  I dive into work.  I am constantly on the move from one activity to the next.  And like the hummingbird, I need times where I stop moving and am still. I am sure the hummingbird has other times throughout the day when she stops, but as I watched her sit in the early morning hours it made me realize how important my morning quiet time is with the Lord.  Before my “wings” get moving to fast, I need to simply sit before Him.  When I sit at His feet and sit under His Word I am given the strength to flutter throughout my day.  My “wings” will fail in my own power.  My “wings” are not strong enough to sustain me through all of the days demands.  But His wings are my shelter.  His wings are my refuge.  His wings enable me to soar for Him. (see Psalm 91:4)

In this fast pace world we live in, it is vitally important to make the time to simply sit before the Lord and allow Him to fill you with Himself.

“Lord, I long to SEE You in the stillness. May I be still before You and sit at Your feet today, eagerly anticipating a word from You.”