Christ Traded HIS Freedom So That You Can Be Free From Your Burdens

When guilt, shame, or fear, try to entice you to come back, just say no! Click To Tweet

Freedom has set you free

To give the ultimate gift of freedom, Love laid down His life for the sake of another. This unselfish act of sacrifice allows freedom to reign so that others do not have to live in bondage.

What is it in my human nature that causes me to forget the “freedom from bondage” part on a daily basis?

In my human nature, I quickly forget that I am free. Guilt tells me I deserve the pain in which I live and shame reminds me of my story. They are the ball and chain I drag relentlessly. Guilt and shame are key ingredients for a recipe of disaster. Together, the two of them convince me that I deserve every ounce of my suffering. Nine times out of ten, I give in and believe them. I pick up my chains and follow, because it’s easier that way.

However, the cross is not easy. Maybe it is the blood, the guts, the gore of an actual human suffering unto death, but I don’t think the cry of Christ to His Father “Why have you forsaken me?” portrayed easy. The Savior of the world could have removed Himself from the suffering situation in which He found Himself. He could have used the excuse, “It’s just easier this way.”

It is for the freedom found in living free that Christ died. He gave me a choice to accept or deny.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”

Galatians 5:1

Freedom from my past

My past is an ugly place…

Journey to Chaoticlifeoflauren.com to read the rest!

Letting go is hard, but the price is paid. Set down your chains and back away slowly. Click To Tweet

 

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To Follow or not To Follow

There are days when life overwhelms me.

This journey I am on is not a trip to a far off place.  It’s the journey of being here and staying here, on this path that chose me.  Many days, I fight the desires of the flesh and stay the course when part of my life is not at all what I wish (honesty).  I’m here and cannot change that.

“But, it’s your life,” those who know me well say.

“No,” I reply emphatically to you, “it is not my life.”

I have given my life’s journey over to the one who made the sun, the moon, and the stars.  For better or worse, I vowed I would praise Him until I see Him face to face.  I intend to do just that.  He saved me.  I owe my rescuer my life, my heart, and my sincere gratitude for each breath I draw.  For each new sunrise, I offer Him thanks.

I owe my rescuer my life, my heart, and my sincere gratitude for each breath I draw. Click To Tweet

In John chapter 6, The crowd gathered, and Jesus is talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  (verse fifty-four).  As twenty-first century Christians, we understand what he was saying, this is not cannibalism.  The Jews in verse fifty-two, however, had a literal take on this.  “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  They just did not comprehend.  Consequently, we are told, “From this point, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”  (verse sixty-six)

Jesus asked the twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”  (verse sixty-seven through sixty-nine)  It was Peter who gave the most profound answer.  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe you and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  Matthew 4:19

Jesus asked the twelve just as He asks us today.

Where else would I go?

There are days I am tempted to click the “unfollow” button.  Some days I would rather choose to grumble, wallow in my mud pit, and sulk in self-pity because this is not the life I wanted.  Left to my desires, I would take the easy road.

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Frankly, desiring to be like Christ and sticking with it until the end is a tough choice.  Somedays, I want to “unfollow” Jesus.  Just for a bit, though, until the bumpy road levels out and I can see sunny days.  Then I will “follow” again.

Peter put it plainly, “Where else would we go, Lord?”

Where would I go?  Back to the previous path I traveled?  Granted it was fun and I had life at my fingertips, but to gain the world and lose my soul?  Is that worth it?

I don’t want to go back.

Jesus called the disciples, just like He calls me, to leave my old way of thinking, pick up my nets, and follow Him.  He calls me to let go of my easy life expectations and trust (in faith) that His plan for my life is good.

The “unfollow” button is just a click away.  I can give up and give in; take the easy road.

Jesus could have easily given up and given in.  He could have removed himself from the cross when the going was beyond tough.

He didn’t.

He saw His death, burial, and resurrection all the way through to the end.  Jesus knew that His father’s plan was perfect, challenging, but perfect.

He chose me. Where else would I go when my Savior gave all? Click To Tweet

Father, take my foolish pride and my expectations.  Grab my fear, my worry, my doubt.  Take my life and breathe on this heart that is now yours.  I want to follow you with every part of my world.  All my heart’s desires, I lay at your feet.  I trust the one who gave sight to the blind, made the broken whole, and walked out of a tomb.  To whom do I go, Lord?  You are the only Holy One of God.This Journey's yours

Who else do I give my praise when He gave the gift of eternal life? Click To Tweet

You can have it all Lord, this is your journey, and I follow you.

 

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Mercy Dawns

Mercy dawns
As each day new
Brings to light
Your saving grace

Grant me strength
For each hard task
For yours alone
Is all that lasts

Remove from me
All trust false
And hope that fails.
You alone is whom I seek

This earth fades
At each day’s dusk
All things go away
It is you that still remains

Be my source
Guide me on
Clean my heart
Of angry thorns

Reveal a beauty
Born of you
Your light, your love
My cornerstone

Clear the jungle
Of my mind
Bless these hands;
A brand new start

Good morning day!

Lamentations 3-22

It’s Not Over

Nothing special stood out about the day, it was simple, ordinary, and uneventful.  The sun rose and set exactly the same as every other day.  I knew it was Christmas from the date on my phone.  I would love to tell you my non-traditional Christmas had a traditional ending.  Thankfully, it did not!  There were no presents carefully wrapped under the tree to rip open in haste.  There was no family to rush and see with a million cakes, cookies, and pies.  No parties, no fanfare, the day was simply Himself and me cleaning out the basement with homemade enchiladas to follow.  Had my Christmas been traditional, only December 25th, you would find me sulking in a deep depression right now.  Had I not intentionally set out to see Christ in a new way this season, the most wonderful time of the year would be the worst.

When I intentionally, purposefully seek Him, He is easy to find; He is wonderful.  Our savior hides in plain sight.  When we look, He is right there.

when we seek, we find

Through exploring my non-traditional holiday life, I found a Christmas season, not just a day.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33  

Christmas is no different.  I wanted to find Him, and I did.  I journeyed into the heart of Bethlehem, made room in the inn of my heart, knelt before my King, and looked full into His wonderful face.  I saw the face of a God who loved me so much even though I’m flawed, broken, angry, and full of unforgiveness.  He loved me so much that He sent His only Son to ransom me from the bondage that keeps me from seeing Him in full glory.

“For God so loved the world (me) that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever (me) believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (me).  John 3:16 (emphasis mine)

I am set free!

I am free to be refined.

I am free to be whole.   

I am free from anger and fear.  

I am forgiven, and I am free to forgive.  

I am so loved, that He gave His only son.  

He came so I might live.  I owe Him all praise, all honor, and belief.  The belief that my chains are gone, and it’s time to walk in the freedom He came to bring.  

The Christmas season marks God breaking through, into my world.  “O come, O come, Immanuel and ransom captive Israel.”   I needed a Savior, and He came!

Christmas is the beginning of the year, not the end.  

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…The Word became flesh and made His dwelling with us.” John 1:1;14  

I have a beginning

Christmas is not the finish line.  Yes, it comes at the end of our calendar year when we, as humans, in our limited world, wrap-up loose ends.  He made all things new through His non-traditional birth.  He took our limits away that day; He broke through the barrier of tradition.  He broke the rules and regulations and began a non-traditional work in a traditional world.  Jesus was non-traditional long before me.

Let’s do a new thing this year, let’s begin again.  Let’s be non-traditional together!  After all, this is a journey.  Let’s journey into the limitless.

What do I do with the rest of the year?  

I intend to live perpetually with the Christmas season close at heart.  He invites me to peek into His world every day.  He calls me to see his face daily, not just at Christmas.  He beckons me to keep the room at the inn of my heart open for Him always.

Explore His love and freedom today and believe that God so loved the world…

What’s holding you back?  What chains do you know He has broken, yet you still walk in unbelief, tethered only to yourself?  In what box do you keep our non-traditional, unlimited savior?  I challenge you to keep your Christmas gift out all year long, don’t put Him back into the garage with all the other Christmas decorations.  Keep Christmas in your heart!

This is my story, this is my song, Praising my Savior all the day long!

What a perfect place to start!

**Share your journey into this non-traditional new year with me!!  Don’t walk alone.  Please feel free to contact me, if you would like, via email, thejourneyofamilionmiles@gmail.com.  Let’s walk together, there is strength in numbers!

My Christmas Gift

Welcome to the season we all have eagerly awaited, the Christmas season.  Christmas is the season of celebrating my freedom.  This season, the birth of He who bridged Heaven and earth, is the epicenter of my faith.  He came to feel my pain and offer me a new perspective on the outcome.  He came to make Himself a tangible entity, a God who humbled Himself to know me greater that I might love Him more.  No other God in history has offered Himself to those He loves such as the creator of the universe did for me.  He came to bring an end to my captivity, to set me free.  

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Lost and hiding in the dark, you found me.  Unsure if you looked for a while or if you knew my exact location, I suspected I outran you.  I did not expect you to come to hell to find me.  Deservedly scared and alone, my captor kept me shackled.  A fitting punishment.  I overheard you speaking with him about my ransom.  It was costly, but you agreed to give your only son in exchange for my life.  You said I was worth your sacrifice.  The chains fell.  I was free to leave.  

Why set me free?  Why give your only son after I took you for granted?  I ran away, hid, cursed your name, and turned my back on you.  I did not deserve freedom; I deserved the chains that bound me.  You agreed, but you loved me beyond what I could see.  You loved me immeasurably more than my angry stubbornness.  My broken heart cried as you showed me my hope and my future.

My ransom came in the form of a baby born in a stable, laid in a manger.  Surrounded by barnyard friends, the savior of my soul drew his first breath.  Hope came to life.  He shattered the dark, fulfilling promise and prophecy.  The light of the world came to take my place one cold December night in the most humbling way.

Silently I wept, as I watched the scene unfold.  How could you sacrifice that precious little boy for my cold, bitter heart?  So quiet and innocent; his hands and feet were tiny.  His eyes were so bright and unforgettable.  All of Heaven rejoiced shouting “Glory to God in the highest” for the King of Heaven and Earth was born.  And you gave him as my ransom.

How do I repay you?  You secured my freedom; I’m forever in your debt.  I have no silver, no gold; I have nothing to give.  You lifted my tear-stained face and looked directly into my eyes while you explained why you gave your son freely.  He was your gift to me, for me.  In return, you wanted my acceptance of your gift, your child as my ransom.  His life for my soul.  You asked that I believe with all my heart that my debt was paid and live freely always remembering your sacrifice.  I would never forget this baby in the straw, my forever Christmas gift.  For he is called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  I fell to my knees in adoration.  From the mountain tops, I would proclaim the story of how you paid my debt with your only son.  

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:21   

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

May this Christmas and every Christmas serve as a reminder of Hope.  The chains of my oppressor forever broken by the precious baby who paid my debt with his life, perfect love.

Welcome to the season!

To Whom Do You Write?

My Audience of One

A new community leads to new questions, questions that I have answered a million times over (if only in my head).  With every wee bit of new comes a bit of old.  

“Who are you?  What do you do?  Where do you come from?  Where do you live? What’s your story?”  And so the list goes.  I’m fairly adept at answering questions, to a point.  I prefer vague; it’s my specialty.  Writing my answers in story form my forte.  Audibly?  I have a tendency just to stare while I try to create a sentence and edit appropriately.  By the time words come to me, the conversation has reached an awkwardly silent point, and the initiator gives up.  I smile while thinking of ways to write this into my blog.  

Even questions about “TheJourneyofaMillionMiles” throw me for a loop. (**Blank stare, blinks eyes**)  I should hand out cards with the site address printed on them, I think it would suffice.  

My mind came to a complete halt when asked: “Who’s your audience?”

“My audience?” one eyebrow raised, puzzled, as I look around me.

“Yeah, your audience.  For whom are you writing?  What type of readers do you attract?”

“Ones that can read?” some days I am a bit smart.  Only I find this apt.  

“Seriously now, this is serious stuff here.  Who do you want reading your blog?”  

“Sinners,”  I answer emphatically, “Sinners.  Those who made a mockery out of life. The folks that blatantly turned their backs on the very same God that breathed life into their lungs.  The ones that have fallen flat and failed miserably then given up and quit.  The losers that lay face down on the carpet and sob for days wishing for death because they hurt so bad.  I’m writing for those already saved by grace, those desperately wanting salvation by grace, and those who just want joy.  Oh wait, that’s me!  I’m writing for me.”

I desire to give Jesus Christ credit for His saving grace! Click To Tweet

Eph 3-20

My intended audience is my God, although he already knows.  I think he likes it when I rearrange my random thoughts into words, scratch them onto paper, give them life, and release them into the wild.  He begs me to let go, to heal those hurts.  A blog just gave me direction and a platform to begin.  

I struggled for years wanting a place to belong in this world, acceptance, and a home here.  As a child, it led to many tear-filled nights and a journal with once soaked, now crispy, heart-wrenching pages.  

Even as a (wishful) wiser adult, I still struggle.  

When God said to me last year, “This is where I want you,” I knew to wholly follow Him and see what He has in store for me I must overcome the desire to fit in.   Always striving for perfection and wanting to make my home on this earth is not what He has asked of me.  

God, in His infinite wisdom, just wants me to be me, whom He made, with the personality He gave me.  I’m sure He did it for an excellent reason, odd as I am.  He desires me as He made me.

God, in His infinite wisdom, just wants me to be me, whom He made! Click To Tweet

I write so my head doesn’t rattle.  I want to make my Abba proud.  “Nice job there, Girl!” 

I want to release some hurt from my heart.  I desire to give Jesus Christ credit for His saving grace.  I once was lost, but He found me, cleaned me up, and gave me the dynamite to destroy the brick wall around my heart.  Granted, I’m using a toothpick to chip at it.  God is patient; I need to showcase His heart.  

I have an audience of one.  Plain and simple.

I come on my knees
To lay down before You
Bringing all that I am
Longing only to know You

Seeking Your face
And not only Your hand
I find You embracing me
Just as I am

And I lift these songs
To You and You alone
As I sing to You
In my praises make Your home

So what could I bring
To honor Your majesty
What song could I sing
That would move the heart of royalty

And all that I have
Is the life that You’ve given me
So Lord let me live for You
My song with humility

And Lord as the love song
Of my life is played
I have one desire
To bring glory to Your name

To my audience of one
You are Father, and You are Son
As Your spirit flows free
Let it find within me
A heart that beats to praise You

And now just to know You more
Has become my great reward
To see Your kingdom come
And Your will be done
I only desire to be Yours
Lord

And we lift these songs
To You and You alone
As we sing to You
In our praises make Your home

“Audience of One”  Big Daddy Weave

I’m Still Here

Even still, I am here, wanting to be there.  

As far back as I can remember, I have called Colorado home.  It is my place of birth.  As a little girl, we skied the Colorado mountains.  The early 80’s brought summers with the grandparents in my mountains.  In 1987 I set my watch to mountain time and declared that my home time zone.  Colorado has always been “home” to me; the land of my longing and my memories.

 

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Watching the sky begin to rain at over 13,000 ft.  This is home.

 

Since then, I have done everything in my power to get back home.  One such failed attempt saw me banished to southern Oklahoma for a season.  The next attempt landed me in Colorado for seven and a half years.  Circumstances would see me move to Wyoming, New Mexico, then Texas.  After one failed attempt to move from Texas, I fought harder to go home again and made it…for fifteen months.  Circumstances, once again, changed that.  So now, I am not there and I am homesick.

Fall tried to descend today.  It gave it’s best attempt, mid-fifties all day with a gray misty sky, while my mountains dusted with snow begin the countdown to opening day of ski season.

Here I sit as reality stares me silently in the face.  I wrestle.  Is this my stupidity or was God truly moving?  That matters.  Do I yell at God or myself?

I look to the Bible for comfort and find Hebrews 11 and the list of “faithy” ancients and the topic of faith.  Then verse 13 and a picture of Maroon Bells (one of my cherished places near Aspen).  “All these people were still living by faith when they died.  They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth”

I then realize, there is no going back.  And a hole in my heart will long for home for the rest of my life.  Verse 15 says “if they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have an opportunity to return.  Instead, they were longing for a better country–a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

And I wonder, perhaps I am not meant to be at “home” on this earth.  Perhaps I’m meant to be like Abraham here in Hebrews 11:9.  “By faith, he made his home in the promised land like a stranger (I am certainly a stranger here in my current area…I was never a stranger in Colorado) in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.  For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”

For me, is this the consequence of anger or the hand of providence?  I may never have answers to my questions.  I do know, this is not my home.  I am indeed a stranger in a foreign land.  Yet, I proceed in faith because there is a hope of a life in a place better than Colorado (not much could be better than being lost in the Rockies on a fall afternoon).  Like those who marched before me and believed in faith when nothing made sense, they abandoned all they felt was right to follow God and a promise.  Nothing tangible, just a promise, and some died before they saw any hope on this earth…they died still believing although they had not seen.  And God was not ashamed to be called their God.

 

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Nothing says fall like Aspen trees shimmering in the breeze.

 

While I’m homesick, I might as well not waste the pain.  May I never be at home here on earth.  May I always long for the city with foundations whose architect is God.  May God not be ashamed to be called my God.

The ancients, as the bible refers to them, had a promise and faith to believe that promise.

And Abraham, a stranger in that land, one star he saw had been lit for me.  I am that no less than he (Rich Mullins), a stranger in this land, a foreigner far from home.  All I have is a promise and faith to believe that promise.  One day, I will see home.

 

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I think this says it all, for me anyhow!  My heart hurts!

 

The Continuing Saga of my Friend

It’s been so long since my last writing about my friend.  If you need the refresher course, just dive in here A Visit with my Friend

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My phone rang today.  Not unusual; Himself calls frequently.  However, the sound coming from the phone was not the usual melody of Himself, it was unfamiliar.

“Huh-lo?”  I answered.

My friend’s voice on the other end replied, “I woke up today.  I’m coming over.”

For most, this would be a source of confusion.  For her, it meant she was trapped in the space between the surface and her cave, where life is rough.  It’s been awhile since she invited herself to my kitchen table.

I think, for a believer in all things Christ, depression is a struggle.  I hear so often that if you are truly “in-tune” with Christ, you don’t suffer such atrocities as depression.  I don’t believe that.  I think people fool themselves extensively.  She is definitely one I would consider “in-tune” with Christ.  She’s been my spiritual mentor and rock on many occasion, even through the depression.

It didn’t take her long to arrive.  This was certainly fine as I am always eager to hear what she has to say.  I’ve never known anyone to deliver Christ-filled messages in the midst of a depressive rant.  She does, and she did.

“I’m hiding,”  she said bursting through my barely opened door.  Helping herself to my iced tea and making herself completely at home without me uttering as much as “hello”.  She continued, noticing my kindergarten sharpie scribbles on my arm, “it’s not against flesh and blood and dude, I’m in duck and cover mode.  This blows.  I’ve got my shield over my head and I’m hiding behind Christ my rock.  I need a lunch break.”  (I try to quote her verbatim because it is odd when she speaks freely.)  At this point, I still have not uttered a syllable.  

“This attack will not stop and I am sick of this earth.  Can I just go now?  I mean, come on already, let’s rapture or something.  Once again, dude, I woke up on earth.  Ugh!”

“Hey, how ya doin?  How ya been?” I ask, ignored.

“I need a new plan, I need a new strategy.  I’ve set myself up for this by standing up and saying ‘hey God, use me big, I’m willing.’  Why can’t I keep my big mouth shut?  I don’t know what God is doing.  He doesn’t include me in His plans.  I mean, He does because they involve me, but…you know what I mean.  This is only the beginning, I can feel it.  I’m going to throw-up, not really, but something is up.  In the meantime, I’m going bat crazy.  I wanna be a back-row Christian, ya know, one that sneaks in and sneaks out under the radar.  Not one with a target on her forehead.  Ok, not really.  But you know what I mean.”  She only paused to suck down her tea (my tea) and refill.  I’m glad I had some perfectly made sun tea on hand.

“This world”, she continued, “is kicking my tail.  It’s got me longing to be done with earth, adios, so long, see ya later third rock peeps.”  Deep breath, more tea.

“Member Job?” she asks me.  I recall Job well as I actually read the book the other night.  Strange she should bring up Job.

“Satan is a jerk, ya know, a stupid jerk.  Wandering around back and forth on this earth.  He’s done in the end, I just gotta make it that far without losing my ever-loving sanity.  S-A-N-I-T-Y!  That’s why I’m in duck and cover mode–retreat, regroup and launch a new attack.  There’s strength in numbers!  Anyways, this Job dude.  Do you realize that God was utterly confident in Job?  Confident!  Secure.  Not a shadow of doubt in God’s mind about His servant Job.  Confident enough that He sent satan out to attack Job just to watch satan fail.  It kept satan occupied for a minute or two, I suppose.  While I’m hiding, I want God to be that confident in me.  Do you hear me?  C-O-N-F-I-D-E-N-T!  Confident that I am the one He can trust that will never, ever, fail Him.  You make great tea, by the way!”

“Thanks, I think?”  I watched her, tears streaming down her face, at her wit’s end.  I am wordless when I need to speak.  My mind was blank as I watched her begin to sob.  I did get her a towel, lest you think I’m rude.

Her past ate at her.  The enemy used it against her on daily basis.  He never missed a trick.  Mostly, he spoke through the voice of a loved one who reminded her verbally of the hell she had caused and that the suffering was because of her.  Evil, pure evil.  This loved one kept her twisted and on-edge minute by minute.  Sweet relief came at night when she slept.  Instead of waking up to new mercies, she woke up to a new hell every day.  She was wise enough to realize it wasn’t truly the loved one who caused the hell, it was the author of lies who wanted her voice silenced.  She lived God.  She breathed God.  She dreamed God when she slept.  God was her focus minute by minute, seriously.  The enemy is ruthless and will stop at nothing.  Yet, even at her lowest, she would not quit.

We sat in silence for a while, crying and listening to the words of my music, “Jesus’s name will break every stronghold–I will call upon the rock, for He is strong enough to save”.  I pictured my friend sitting cross-legged behind a giant rock outcropping, arrows zinging overhead, bombs exploding nearby, shield in one hand over her head, and eating a sandwich with the other, praying as the Spirit gave her utterance.

There it was; the lesson out of her depression.  In the middle of a fiery battle, she had enough peace within her and confidence in her “rock” and “shield of faith” to sit and eat a sandwich.  As well, God’s confidence in her was to be noted.  She wanted more, after her sandwich was finished, naturally.

“Well,” I said breaking the crying silence, “it’s a forever battle until the day it’s done.  Then it will be pretty glorious.  Worth it, definitely worth it.”

“Meh, just gotta get there, past here, to there and all is well.  This is good, you are always such a big help.  I gotta go to Walmart.  We’ll talk Sunday.”

Oh that God would have such great confidence in me to say, “Have you considered my servant?”

May I never falter.  May my faith grow until the day I meet Jesus face to face.  Have confidence in me, Lord.  

The Un-Reading of Books

I READ A BOOK!!!  Someone give me a cookie or a gold star (something, anything)!  This is a momentous occasion in my life and rarely happens.  This is cause to truly celebrate!  

Yes, I am an anomaly among those who write.  Most who put pen to paper are readers and have a fond desire of devouring words instantly.  The last book I read was 2009.  I struggle in this arena as I am not the well-read intellect.  In fact, when I took those “you must take these to get into college” tests my reading level was equal to fifth graders.  Yes, elementary school children could (probably still can) out read me.  Consequently, this is a milestone in my life that deserves celebrating.  (cookie)

Reading involves holding still, some silence, and a lot of focus. There are too many squirrels to focus.  Dog only had to help me a few times with some of the big words (She’s a whiz at so much and she loooves cookies!)

Books always bring back memories of my reading mother.  As a school teacher, she read countless books aloud to her students. Every day after recess (she taught 5th and 6th graders), to settle the children down she would read a chapter of a delightful classic.  The one that sticks out most in my head was Island of the Blue Dolphin.

At home, my mother read to us during long car trips (which was all of them).  I think the last book I remember my mother reading out loud to me was either Wuthering Heights or some pirate-y book of which I can’t remember the name.  I was a senior in high school.  Stop laughing.  It’s not nice to poke fun at the girl who doesn’t read.  Just give her a cookie and move on.

Back to the present and the book I read.  “Why I Stayed” by Gayle Haggard.  She and Ted were the leadership at New Life Church, in Colorado Springs, where I worshiped in my former life.  I always watched Gayle with curiosity.  This was a mega-church and she was married to the senior pastor.  They actually started the church in their basement.  She was normal, very down to earth, practical, polite, and plain (not in a bad way plain, not flashy and showy).  She loved God and loved people.  It was real.  She was real.  Then I read the book (all the words) and what I read in print was who she was.  Who she is.

Reading this brought to light struggle, sin, and falling off the face of the earth.  I’ve seen enough random personal tragedy in this life to last a lifetime and I’m only one-third of the way through (still planning to live to the year 2100.  Yes, I’ll be old, really old.  Maybe I’ll read another book by then).  I have a feeling I will see more random personal tragedy before that day.

We all sin.  Period.  Whether it be “big” sin or “little” sin.  Sin is sin in God’s eyes.  God doesn’t judge the vastness or intensity of sin.  The mass murderer or child molester receives the same grace as the gossip.  Could you imagine if God had to sort and categorize our sin?  Put us on a scale of one to ten.  If we had ten category one sins would that move us up to a category two sin?  We’d be so confused, God would still be in control, and we would gossip to our heart’s content (after all, it’s only a category one, not a five or eight).  Then, if God had to categorize our sins, He would have to categorize our grace.  “Only a few drops of Christ’s blood for you and your category one, I have several tens to contend with and have to make His blood go around”.  Pretty absurd, really.

Sin is sin and grace is given freely to all…the same because it’s a gift and the giver feels free to give as He desires, not as we deserve.  We all deserve death, the lot of us.

So, it all boils down to me and how I handle that personal tragedy.  How do I handle my sin?  How do I handle my mess up?  I know how I handled it in the past.  Frankly, I failed.  It was tragic.  My reactions sent me back to “remedial sin handling 001”, and landed me in the corner with God for a long while (He’s considering letting me out of time out).  I would like to think I would respond a bit differently now, but I really don’t want to put that plan into action.  I don’t want the opportunity to try.  Thanks, but no.  I have enough on my plate in which I am trying to steadfastly stand firm in the presence of Christ.

Back to the book, again.  I keep getting off topic, like reading and there’s a squirrel.  In the midst of public humiliation, Gayle clung to Christ for dear life.

My mother, in the midst of public humiliation, clung to Christ for dear life.  Walking through hell on either account, both clung to Christ for dear life.  In the end, God restores.  His name alone is Victory.

The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”  Satan answered, “From roaming throughout the earth, going back and forth on it.” Job 1:7

My struggle is not against flesh and blood (no, it’s not tattooed on my arm yet, I wrote it in with a sharpie.  Yes, I’m serious.), but my reaction is.  My reaction to the struggle speaks volume of my personal and spiritual depth.  Am I still shallow, words only?  The quickening in my spirit tells me my boots are soon to meet the ground.  God knows what I dread and He knows what I cannot handle apart from him.  He knows that place in my heart that is locked and sealed off.  Now is the time to draw near, cling to Christ for dear life.  In the end, God restores.  Why can’t I just have a normal life like all the complacent people around me?  Grrrr.

At the end of the book of Job (yup, read that book too last night!), God finally speaks.

Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm.  He said:  “Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?”  Job 38:1-2

Yes, God said that; to Job, to me.  I’m sure my mom heard it too.  Personal tragedy and sin covered by unmeasured grace…God is still the answer.  He did lay the foundation of this earth and he knows who makes the best cookies.  He is completely in control, yet He gives us free will to choose our reactions.

Now, back to the point of this post, I read a book!  Someone give me a cookie (peanut butter), please!

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Hear ye, Hear ye

It’s the light that pierces through you, to the darkest hidden place.  It knows your deepest secrets, but never looks away…

In the beginning God knew, before he separated light from dark, He knew…

Before we called Him Emmanuel, God with us, He knew.  Before we laid Him in a manger, God knew…

It’s the breath that’s breathing new life into what we thought was dead.  It’s the favor that takes orphans placing crowns upon their heads…

Before there was death, He knew.  Before there was resurrection, God knew.  Before there was one lost little lamb, God knew because He has every single hair on our heads numbered.  Before He formed us in our mother’s womb, he knew…

On September 21, 2016 my dear sweet friend Ana became my sister in Christ.  She proclaimed that Jesus Christ is her lord and her savior!  All the heavenly hosts rejoiced!

Through all her days, He watched.  He waited in anticipation and guided her every step as He called to her.  Before she drew her first breath, He knew her.  He knew that on this day she would accept His gift.  For such a time as this!

It’s the hope for our tomorrows.  It’s the rock on which we stand.  It’s a strong and mighty fortress that even hell can’t stand against…

Some may call it foolish and impossible.  But for every heart it rescues, it’s a miracle.  It’s nothing less than scandalous that Jesus took our place.  Just call it what it is…call it grace!

For it is by grace that Ana is saved, through faith.  It is a gift from her Father.  She (like me) was lost, but now she is found! It’s not anything she could be super cool and win.  It’s not a reward that she could earn for saying the right words.  It’s simply because her Father loved her so much that He sacrificed His only son to give her this gift!  And that is grace!

Join me in the celebration for she who was lost has now been found!  All the people said…AMEN!

(And a shout out to my sis for inviting Ana into her home to become part of the family while showing her to a new way to do life!  Yay God!)