I read a verse this morning and later studied a passage in scripture with a group of ladies. Most of them are new to me, but we are connected by a desire to study scripture. Both times I was reminded that God looks at our hearts and this was such encouragement. Only the One that made our hearts truly knows how they work. He knows when they need to be revived, when they need to be refined and every need in between. We can offer the same prayer that King David penned, “May the words of my mouth and the mediation of my heart be pleasing to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14). After all, David was described as being a man after God’s own heart. Can you think of a better description or desire? May the Lord say the same for each one of us when He looks at our hearts.
One of the kids took this picture of us today. We have been celebrating my birthday and its been a good day. One of the things that came to mind, when I saw this photo, is that I am not the same. A year of growing in the same direction changes us. Another year to look back and continue to be amazed at the evidence of our good God. Perfection is not what He asked of me, but wholehearted devotion. He has my heart and fills it with love for this family of ours. I do not know what this forty eighth year holds, but I know the One who already has the story written before even a day is lived. I look forward to living each page.
When the Lord begins to open your eyes, it seems you go through a time of training. Suddenly everything is filtered through this lens and you are amazed that you did not make the connection sooner. I have recently been learning about boundaries. This is new territory in some areas, but heathy and good. As a daughter of the King, part of my identity is holy, set apart, and chosen. God sets clear boundaries of protection around that which belongs to Him. He sees my heart as worth protecting and gave me His Word to act as boundary lines that are not to be moved. The lines given in pure love, guard my heart from being divided. Fear, guilt and shame come up to the line and can tempt me to compromise, but inside the lines I remember what is true. This is a deliberate choice and not always easy, but peace is worth the fight.
Did you ever wonder why Jesus washed his disciples feet right before He was about to suffer? Only love Himself serves so humbly. This came to mind when I was reading the part where Jesus is telling his friends, “… if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or that town.” (Matthew 10:14). Who of us have not been received or listened to? Over time it can build up a layer of dust, that can weigh us down or hide our true identity. Only the one that offers living water can wash our feet, restoring them healed and whole. These feet of ours, which are described as being beautiful because they carry us to places where we can bring good news. And maybe the dust and water are used to nourish the soil of our hearts where love is grown, along with many other fruits. I have not known Him to waste anything.
We read a verse yesterday in church that reminded me of a makers mark. Jesus said we would be known for following Him by the way we love. Maybe you are like me and have felt your “mark” has gotten a bit tarnished. And then, as only our Maker can do, He takes a cloth of grace, maybe the end of His robe, wipes away our tears, bandages our wounds and cares for us as they heal. Somewhere in the process, He reminds us of how He has already washed away our sins and in all the shame we hide our true selves. He keeps working in His tender way until we realize we are restored and the evidence is in how we love. When others get close they see our Makers Mark, nothing to earn and nothing to perform, just loved.
Anytime we step into something new, we are given many opportunities to learn. Sometimes what you learn has nothing to do with the job. I recently learned that I have a huge fear of making a mistake and the consequences. Who knew? One simple statement brought this to the surface and needed more evaluating. A friend said something about there not being a mistake I could make at work that could not be fixed. A person who knows restoration speaks healing words as naturally as breathing.
Goodness, we need the gifts that other people have been given. This friend is an incredible restorer and I am tremendously blessed by her just being herself. Imagine what it would be like if all of us were living out our real selves and using the gifts our Creator has given us. This would not eliminate hard things, but I believe our homes, neighborhoods and businesses would function far better than they are now. Judgement often replaces kindness and we miss the gift of the unique human right in front of us. I think we can do better. You with me?
“The most beautiful and challenging thing in the world is to cry ‘Abba, Father’ from a full heart! And I would help everyone I could to call upon this Father.” -George MacDonald
I read this quote while in pick up line today and it caused me to ask a question. What is the best way to help others call upon our Father? Wouldn’t you say it is by loving them? How will they call on someone if they have never seen Him? How will they see Him if we do not show them? You call on someone you are in relationship with and trust they will answer. And it is in this loving relationship that your heart becomes full. Who wouldn’t want to be around someone whose heart is full? They begin to ask questions and we might get to introduce them to our Abba. What a way to truly live!
A storm is rolling into our area. The sky is rumbling dark and the temperature has dropped considerably. I like the sound, anticipate the rain and appreciate the warnings. We prepare by brining in all that could be damaged in order to protect. It makes me wonder if we could navigate the storms that are raging today by responding in a more loving manner? Could be people are in the midst of storms we know nothing about, acting the only way they know how and could use a safe place to weather it out? Maybe listening, not offering the harsh “I told you so” or how we navigated our own storm without help, would be the first step. Even offering to pray, joining our cries to our Father with theirs, is a beautiful gift. A simple note or text of encouragement, will feel like a few minutes of safety for the recipient. Perhaps the Lord might lead us to do more. This I know, any act of kindness is appreciated and a reminder that you are loved. Look around and see who needs sheltering and experience that part of God’s heart that offers refuge. Who knows how our actions may effect eternity.
Words are important and we will all know their power. So much potential for good or harm in every sentence. The words we say to others and the ones we say to ourselves are like seeds. They sink deep in the soil of our hearts and grow good or bad fruit. The fruit then feeds others. The seed that hurts my heart the most is the one we drop that communicates to our children or others that we wish they were different. Could be out of fear, maybe pride or some other blinding beliefs that cause our harmful words. We fail to see that there is so much unique beauty in each one of us and our words can help bring that out. I have to believe this will help uproot the bad seeds and encourage the good and true ones to grow.
It hurts to think about how I have planted many ugly seeds in my lifetime and that much more thankful for grace. My prayer is that a changed heart makes all things new, especially my words. Perhaps evidence of a changed heart is when we begin to look for the good in others, that part that reflects some nature of our Creator, instead of automatic judgement. Such sweet conversations can be had and the fruit will produce new seeds for generations to come. I just know it!
You never know who you are going to get to interact with in a day. For instance, a sweet lady was telling me about her upcoming trip. She was pretty excited, but a bit embarrassed about the appearance of her recent surgery. Skin cancer had been removed above her eye. I showed her my hand and the scar from the same. She had a hard time finding the mark that just so happens to be the same size as her scar. Sometimes it is encouraging to meet someone who knows and is now healed. A fresh wound, even if necessary, can look pretty terrible and is painful. At the time, it is hard to believe it won’t always be this way. Hope says to keep going, do what is beneficial for healing and be patient. And take time to be thankful for the daily gifts that are all around you, especially the ones that cross your path on an ordinary day.