My friends and I gathered at our favorite coffee shop this morning to unpack the week and life in general. Each of us bring Christ in us everywhere we go, but we have all been shaped or influenced differently. I thought today as I drove away, how freeing it is to let people just be themselves. No agenda, but to listen and speak when it seems right. We laugh or cry sometimes, but we speak honestly and relax in safety.
Another thought crossed my mind, as tensions swirl in our country, how grateful I am for friends that just let you be you. I also know the importance of letting others be themselves too, but that has not always been the case. Maybe I am finally getting comfortable in my own skin and who God uniquely made me to be. Peace settles in and so many insecurities fall away. We cannot give what we do not have now can we? We could all use some peace these days and a place to be ourselves. May we all be people of peace in the days ahead in whatever way the Lord leads. May we also be courageous enough to listen well and be ourselves. Seems to me the world could use some original thinkers, who authentically show up just the way He has made you to be.
“Don’t settle for having an opinion when you can be an example.” – Maria Goff , Love Lives Here
I am reading this book again and came across this powerful sentence last night. Is that not incredible? What a great motto for us, especially today. Opinions can be used to divide us, but being an example can bring us together. Which do you think we need more of? Another question would be, what do you want to be remembered for, your opinions or your example?
When I think about my mom, it is not her opinions that come to mind. She tended to be more quiet. What has stayed with me is her example in so many things. She loved Jesus in her own unique way and seemed to always be working things out with Him. I am thankful they are face to face now. She gave incredible, thoughtful gifts and knew how to celebrate well. When it came to aging, she said we would grow old gracefully and did just that until she died. When you are beautiful you just are.
So today I am thinking about what matters and what will last. Maybe we can all be a bit more quiet with our opinions and more thoughtful in our examples. Besides, opinions change like Texas weather and can be just as stifling. An example can bless generations to come, long after we are gone. Perhaps we must all decide if we will settle or be.
One of our girls and I were talking about her playing soccer. I was reminded of her short lived soccer career when she was little. She sure looked cute and had the most colorful uniform. When we signed up and then got assigned to a team, the coach got my email address wrong. Somehow we found out about the practice and game, but we missed important details. The coach was a bit frustrated with me, but I did not know what we were suppose to know. How can you know if you have not been told or shown? I only did what I knew and fell terribly short of what was expected.
Doesn’t this make you think of people who have never heard about God or known someone who is a believer? They are only doing what they know, living from what they know or have been shown. Why do we get so frustrated when people, who are lost, actually speak and live lost? As believers, we can ask God to show us who to talk to, give us the words He wants us to say, begin a relationship and maybe even get to invite others into the Kingdom. It is not a team to be on, but an eternal relationship that will make all the difference. I hear the “uniforms” are pretty incredible too.
Our kids love to play outside. It is pretty common for one of them to come inside because they got hurt. When there is not any visible sign of injury, my first question is “Where does it hurt?”. Sometimes someone else caused the injury and other times it just happened because of playing. The result is the same, they hurt. This made me think of us. What if we started asking a different question when we sin or someone sins against us? What if we asked this to those who are living a lie? I know when I think over the many, many times I separate from God and go my own way in anger, selfishness, etc, there is something I am hurting over. This could change our homes don’t you think?
“I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:2
Do you ever have those moments when you are anticipating something and then out of nowhere, the unexpected happens and cancels hope? I had misplaced my hope and I think that made the situation that much harder. We have all experienced this I know and with each disappointment, the recovery seems to come faster. It is just frustrating to still be in this training process. The truth of who God is remains the same and I can trust Him sinks deeper each time. He is a safe place to place my trust. I do not have to understand and I know He has the whole picture in mind, not just today. My vision is so limited.
Turns out He was protecting our family in what appeared to be a cancellation. He was shielding us when I did not even know we needed it. What an incredible Father we have!
“Earth’s surface is a field for grain, but its depths are a forge firing sapphires from stones and chiseling gold from rocks.” Job 28 (MSG)
I got a picture once of being in a dark well and waiting for others to drop blessings down in a small bucket. And then as if someone dropped down a headlamp, I began to see the hidden things that would have been missed if I did not have the much needed light. I began to dig out treasures of truth, far more valuable than any worldly riches. Sometimes I was able to send these treasures back up and bless those waiting on the surface. It became more of an adventure and excitement. Everything changed with this new perspective.
Maybe you too find yourself in a season of darkness. Can I just say that the awareness of His constant presence will provide the light you desperately need. A good place I found to start is by telling Him the truth about the darkness you feel. Hand it to Him and watch and see what He gives you in exchange. The trade does not seem at all fair, but then neither does grace.
“The LORD is near to all who call on him, toall who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18
Maybe it was because I misunderstood the love of God for so long that made being completely honest with him so hard. I cannot tell you when the switch happened, but I can tell you it is freedom. It reminds me of our kids and several stories come to mind. When they say they are sorry, I consider that a good place to start. What we are after is the truth. Actions and words have a source. Unraveling takes a bit of time, but is always worth it. My prayer is as they grow older, they will not hesitate to tell God the truth and know he is near. To walk through life free is truly being alive.
Do you ever think that even the most seemingly insignificant things, daily tasks actually, can be transformed into more? It is not done to be seen, but rather more of taking advantage of the time given. When the moments come less, you appreciate them more. That happened this morning, when one of the girls asked me to braid her hair. I might have taken a bit longer than necessary, just to have more time doing what use to be routine. Words were exchanged, but goodness I felt the need to pray blessings upon this child. She was totally unaware, but God was not. It is the ordinary that gives us so many moments that can make an eternal difference, don’t you think?
“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.” James 3:16-17ESV
These verses bring such clarity to what is happening in our world. The choice is what will be the source of our wisdom? Does it come from our own reasoning or from God? We get to decide to use the gift of the Holy Spirit or rely on ourselves. When I look at the fruit of our choice, it makes the decision evident. God offers us a much better way, closer to our original design, but there is still a struggle because self is incredibly strong. The verse that comes to mind is, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I that lives, but Christ lives in me.” (Galatians 2:20). Maybe if I tattooed that on my hand, I would remember it is no longer me that lives, but Him. I have the option of allowing the Holy Spirit to be in charge and not me. You know, maybe I will forgo the tattoo and just look at the scar on my hand instead. A gentle reminder of the One who also has scars because of my choosing self and the price He paid on the cross.
Threadbare is the word that kept running through my mind this morning. I looked up the definition and agreed, this is how I was feeling. I told the Lord the truth, asked Him to show me the word in scripture and He did. “And the Master, God, stays right there and helps me, so I’m not disgraced. Therefore I set my face like flint, confident that I’ll never regret this. My champion is right here. Let’s take our stand together! Who dares bring suit against me? Let him try! Look, the Master, God, is right here. Who would dare call me guilty? Look! My accusers are a clothes bin of threadbare socks and shirts, fodder for moths!” (Isaiah 50:5-9MSG). Interesting how I so easily believed a lie. However, I did have to laugh when I went to put my socks on and one had two holes in it.
The lesson continued throughout the day and it reminded me of how much God loves us. He cares about how we feel and welcomes the truth. My heart needed the reminder and my day was changed. He truly is our champion, who can even rescue us from ourselves and replace a lie with truth.