Twice this morning the story Jesus told about the Good Samaritan was in my readings. In the Message translation, the text that stood out to me said, “When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him.” (Luke 10:33-35). A man had been beaten, robbed and left on the side of the road. Three men passed him by, but only one stopped to help. Why did this man’s heart go out to him and not the others? Why do some today have compassion and some do not? While the origin behind the characters Jesus used is unknown to me, only who they represented, I can relate to the one receiving care. All of us can relate to the one in need, for we all have hurts this side of heaven. The beautiful part is when we allow the Lord to do what only He can do, we are healed and begin to look for others in need of roadside assistance. Who better to come alongside hurting ones than those who know pain and the tender care needed during the healing process? We belong to the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Amazing how He works!
The older I get, the more convinced I am about what is true. Experience is an excellent teacher, for it puts what we have learned to the test. Will what we have read from God’s word, confessed to believe, actually stand true? Jesus said He would be with us, but would that be enough? What would that look like? Comfort and remaining in what we have done for quite sometime is tempting. Actually going into the unknown guarantees change, but is that necessary? Are we enough? Having had experience in stepping into some new things this year, this is what I know to be true. He is better than I thought and He means what He has said in His written word. A new opportunity does not add or take away from who He says we are, but it can sure give Him a chance to show that supernatural change has certainly taken place. Amazing!!
*art by Vivian
Sitting here watching the younger kids play in the pool and thinking about these lives that have been entrusted to me. The preciousness of each one brings tears to my eyes. Each one is unique and comes with their own set of struggles. They can make you cry from laughing so hard or frustration in the same day. Being mindful of what pressures they are facing requires time spent listening. Finding ways to serve them seems to lighten the pressure just a bit. What communicates love to one is not the same to another. Mindful of opportunities and details keeps you sharp. Time passes much to quickly and makes these all the more important. Rules and high expectations without grace crushes a young one. Second chances are needed more on my side than theirs. Saying yes is one of my favorite things to do, but wisdom answers with a no at times. Fear will tangle your responses. At the end of each day, I pray that they know that I love them unconditionally and trust them. And they also know that this mom depends on the Holy Spirit living in me. Without the Helper, I am not who He made me to be and they would suffer the most. Each of them are worth my true self. His word sustains me and gives me something to offer them. It is not called the “bread of life” for nothing. Prayer is what keeps me calm and when I forget and let my thoughts spin, it shows.
Today is a wonderful reminder of what keeps me dependent and for that I am thankful!
Happy Mother’s Day!
After we let the authority of Jesus sink deep, we may wonder now what? The Message translation says it beautifully. “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20). We have a purpose and each one of us has been given different gifts to carry it out. It might take some time to brush off the insecurities that can bury these gifts as we get older, but let’s be courageous enough to be authentic. Also, I know it can be frustrating when the process of learning, growing and using our gifts is slow. I can say for me, the Lord knew I had some healing to do. A girl that loves to write, but has unhealed wounds, can serve some ugly words without even knowing it. Please forgive me if you have read any words of mine that hurt.
So, now that we know what we are to do and by whose authority we have been commissioned, what will we do to share Jesus with others? I have found it best to ask Him. And then may we never forget an important piece, He is with us at all times. Amazing!
We have been to the cross of Jesus, waited by the tomb and experienced His resurrection. And now we come to the end of the book of Matthew. As I read this verse, it hit me in a powerful way this time around. “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Matthew 28:18). Since Jesus is the one with all authority, why would I believe the lies of the enemy who whispers doubts and fears? The enemy has no authority or legal right to me. I do not belong to him and neither do you, if you have confessed the truth. So, today I am reminding myself that when the enemy comes, I will claim again to whom I belong and that he has no authority to speak to this beloved child.
Outside the tomb of Jesus, we find Mary Magdalene weeping because the tomb is empty and she cannot find Him. She turns and He is actually standing there, but He is unrecognizable to her. Grief does that to us. He asks her why she is crying and she is honest with Him. Then it happens. “Jesus said, ‘Mary.” (John 20:15). It was only when He said her name that she saw Him.
I have been by a grave and you probably have too. We see people we love die, dreams and ideas turn out completely different and many more losses that cause deep grief and we weep. Our tears flow and we finally speak honestly with our Savior. Maybe it is here that we become humble enough to receive our true identity that comes from the One who made us. Where else can we go for such a gift? Then it happens in an instant and our weeping turns to joy. We hear our name spoken by the One who calls us His beloved. We see Him in a new light, want to get to know Him and we find Jesus to be far better than we ever imagined. From there we begin to truly live, only answering and responding to who we were created to be. What an exciting way to live!
Since I am still studying the book of Matthew with some precious women, you get to join along. And this week in our study, we are standing at the foot of the cross and then beside the guarded tomb. I find myself at both places, answering a question Jesus asked Peter some chapters ago. He asks Peter, “And how about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15). We join Peter in his response, “You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” (vs.16). Jesus blesses Peter and tells him that it was God that revealed His identity to him. He does the same for each of us too. Looking at His crucified body, how can we deny who He is?
Then something else amazing happens. Jesus then tells Peter, “And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are.” (vs.17). Jesus speaks words of life, identity and purpose over Peter. The same man who would later deny Him, but was also restored. Once we answer the most important question we will ever be asked, how can we doubt that God will not also reveal our unique identity, purpose and restore us each and every time? Today it seems crazy to doubt, but I know my heart and how fear helps me forget. So, I will stand here as long as I need to let this great cost sink deep.
I am still moving slow through studying the events leading up to the cross. Something so costly and eternal deserves time. Jesus says these words, “Are you still still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!” (Matthew 26:46-47). I hear authority, determination and control in His words. There is also the invitation to rise and go with Him all the way to the cross. We stand here and decide, not looking away, will be betray or accept? Either way, He moves ahead and pays the price with His life. Who does that? Who could love us that much? Jesus.
Walking through the days leading up to Easter and reading the scriptures slow, I noticed a verse for the first time. Jesus was before Pilate, the governor, who was giving the people a choice. He had in his power the ability to release one prisoner and a criminal went free that day. However, Pilate knew something I had missed all these years. “For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up.” (Matthew 27:18). This was so convicting, for how many times have I been envious of another? And we can read in Mark 7:22 that envy comes out of our heart and is not love. It is a bit tricky because envy can remain hidden, thoughts that cross our mind and go unseen by others. And if we do not confess, tell God the truth, about these thoughts, look how far it can go. With this realization, I was all the more thankful for the cross and my release from the death my sin deserves. I smile as another thought crosses my mind, “therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much.” (Luke 7:47). What a gracious Savior!
On the first Sunday of the month, our church takes communion together. These days we are given a cup, with the elements sealed tight, as we walk into the sanctuary. This time I held the cup in my hands until it was time. I do not know what it was that made this observance different than all the other times, but it hit me afresh the cost and pain of what I was holding in my hands. Again I wondered if I was worth such a sacrifice. The answer was yes and I was overwhelmed with love and gratefulness. Having been forgiven so much how can I not respond?