God and People

Luke 18:1-14

Confession…I’ve been reading this passage my whole life and I missed two important details in this passage.

He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought.

1. This part of the story is about a man who neither feared God nor cared about what people thought.

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable:

2. This part of the story is about people who saw no need for God and looked down on everyone else.

When I’ve read this passage I’ve focused on the widow who bravely pesters the first man for justice. I’ve also focused on the second portion and felt compassion for the man who is being judged by the righteous man with fancy prayers. But today, as I read through this passage, I realized I’ve been the woman who neither fears God nor cares what people thought. I’ve been the woman who sees no need for God to bring righteousness to my life and in the process cast a judgmental look on those who did not met my level of righteousness. Yes, this story is about the widow and the tax collector, but it’s also about us hard-hearted folks, who do not value God’s authority in our lives and find little value in people.

Lately, I’m learning that it’s about the people. God loves people. If I call myself His kid, I’ve got to love them too. If it wasn’t for someone showing me love, how would I have experienced it? It’s food for thought.

Until another confession…

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The Allegory

Let me tell you a story about a piece of pottery. It had heard the Potter speak about how useful and stunning it was. It was destined to be important. It longed for the day it would realize its dreams of greatness. However, as the days melted into weeks, the weeks moved to months. Then slowly the months became years. Of course the piece began to feel betrayed. Wasn’t it meant for more than this shelf? Wasn’t it meant to be used for something important? Wasn’t it meant to be on display? It was dark here and difficult to see.

“I don’t like this place!” shouted the piece. “Surely, I am destined to be more. Instead, I am on a shelf, abandoned and forgotten.”

In the first days, it had repeatedly cried out and complained. As its voice grew hoarse, it began to create schemes to get off the shelf. Surely, there was someplace better. The piece would find that place and be there. The piece was never quite successful at this attempt. It could go nowhere, without the Potters hands. So on the shelf it sat.  A beautiful piece of pottery, wasted; on the shelf; in the dark; abandoned and forgotten.

I interrupt this allegory to bring a mirror to the scene, much like God has interrupted my week to bring a mirror to my life scene. As I gazed into this mirror, I realized, I am not a beautiful piece of pottery. I am a lump of clay, in the dark, waiting to be molded.

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The past few years have been difficult. I’ve been frustrated at the thought of being on the shelf and abandoned. I’ve been wounded, each time a cut has come to my heart. I’ve been humbled as my pride has been assaulted. In my arrogance, I have believed myself to be a completed piece of beautiful pottery left on a shelf to waste away. When in reality, I am a lump of clay being kneaded, wedged, and cut in preparation for the creation the great Potter has in mind. I am stiff, stubborn, and have air bubbles of pride and arrogance that needed to be worked out of my heart before God can do anything with me. I am a lump of clay. It brings a strange excitement to my heart. I am not yet, what I am supposed to be, but surely I am not, what I once was.

What has made my heart full is the thought that while we are stills lump of clay, God sees in us what He will accomplish and how He will gain the glory from His work in our hearts. He does not see the cold, dark, formless shape that we are. He sees beyond that, to what He has in mind for us. He sees us as beautiful. So, you realize, I cannot finish the allegory yet, because it has just started. We are in the process of being wedged, cut, and debubbled and soon  will be ready for molding.

No More Waiting

My life ambition is to inspire people to run head long into the love of God and allow that love to transform their lives and regenerate their hearts.

I want to motivate people to believe that life can be different. I want to inspire people to dream of a life free of fear and insecurity. I want to challenge people to pursue the love of God in a life changing way. I keep waiting for a platform to arrive so I can start speaking to these issues. I keep waiting for someone to give me permission to speak, encourage, and write words of hope and truth. I keep making excuses why I need to wait to pursue my ambitions. I need to stop waiting.

This is a short post but it needs to be here so that the posts that follow will make sense. The waiting needs to stop right now and I’m a firm believer in taking steps when they are in front of you. This is a step in front of me right now that just can’t wait any longer.

You need to know that your life matters. Your seemingly small and insignificant life matters. Without you, our world would be different. I don’t know how it would be different. I honestly don’t know, but I do know that God put you here for a reason. You are on purpose. You are no accident. You are on purpose. God made you on purpose and with intention. Make a choice to believe that truth and let it change your perspective.

Until another confession…

What I Feel vs What I Believe

 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God ~Philippians 4:6

Honestly, I’ve been guilty of living the exact opposite of this verse. If I were to speak my truth on this piece it would read more like this:

Be anxious about everything, and in every situation, with worrying, scheming, and grumbling, whine to everyone who will listen.

Really, it’s gotten bad. So bad that, I don’t even like to hear myself talk anymore. I realize God is trying to teach me something in this season, but I feel like this lesson is long and impossible to master. I feel like I don’t have the capacity to understand the lesson. I feel like quitting. I feel like I can’t do this. I feel like I don’t want to do this. And there is my problem. I am depending on how I feel to get through this lesson.

Here’s the thing I’m learning folks: When my feelings don’t match what I believe, then maybe it’s time to stop working from my feelings and start working from what I believe.

What I believe is that God doesn’t make mistakes. I believe that the Holy Spirit helps me in my weakness. I believe is that the Holy Spirit can help me even when I don’t know what kind of help I need. What I believe is that God is working all things for good of those who love Him. I KNOW I love Him. If I don’t know anything else, I know I love God and I want my life to be an evidence of what His love can do in one little person like me.

Until another confession…

Too Much…Too Little

Confession…sometimes being a woman of faith means I go to work with a good attitude on my day off.

This thought struck me a few weeks ago, as I traveled to work on a Sunday, which is typically my day to attend church with my friends in faith. I vividly remember the anger that settled in my heart on that drive. I was livid. I had even purposed to be angry all day to prove to my superiors how dedicated I was to my faith and God. Yeah, as I say read that now I realize what a ridiculous statement that is, but I really meant it at the time. Do you ever do that? Do you ever get angry with the people around you? The very same people that maybe God has called you to love on. The same people you wish would hurry up and find God so He could fix their lives. What a way to point them to Him….by being distant and cold.

I’ve learned an important lesson over the past few months. If I claim to be a woman of faith, all I do and say then become a reflection of those associated with faith. I am sad to say that I haven’t been reflecting well. I’ve been angry, withdrawn, sad, and passively hostile. God’s been talking to me about that. It’s wrong. I have many excuses, but none are good enough to make me right. I have been challenged to see those around me as people who are loved by God. It’s changing the way I behave at work. Our Pastorman challenged us with the following statement with regard to our workplace: “You’re a light that wasn’t there before”. This made me sad, because I realized the quality of light that I bring is tainted.

We, as Christians, spend too much time talking about what we don’t do and what we don’t tolerate and we spend too little time loving on those around us. We spend too little time praying for our peers. We spend too little time being interested in their lives without trying to solve all their problems. We spend too much time trying to have all the answers. We spend too much time trying to change them. We spend too little time accepting them as they are. We spend too little time remembering that we are also in need of the saving love of God which makes us all in need of a hero. We have got to remember that they are loved by God just as we are. Maybe then, we can be effective lights in our world. It’s God’s love they need, not our judgement. God invites us to be tangible examples of that life changing love to them. Are you up for the challenge?

Until another confession…

This

It’s my 40th birthday. I’ve been pretty worked up about it. I’m 40 and what have I done? What do I have to show for my 40 years? It’s been a tussle and I haven’t known how to get through it. Then, my kids walked into the room with my husband last night to do night time prayers. It hit me. I knew it all along, but something in me wouldn’t let me give it full value. I took their faces in my hands (which I’m amazed they allowed me to do) and I looked at my husband and said “This. This is what I have spent my life doing.”

I spent my first 20 years, being wounded deeply. I spent time working hard to allow God to prepare my heart to love again. I spent time learning how to be a good wife and mother despite the deep wounds that typically predicted my failure at both roles. I spent the next 20 years working hard to put into practice those things God has taught me. God gave me a good man with a good heart for Him. God gave us a strong young man and woman with whom we are honored to walk this faith journey. We have the awesome privilege to be the historians of their lives. I’ve poured my life into this family. Some days I poured willingly, some days I poured begrudgingly. Some days there was good quality to pour, some days there was nothing of value. However, I poured to the best of my ability and God continues to cover it all.

Forty years have been a gift. They have been hard, beautiful, painful, wonderful, devastating, and pure joy. God has been good. God has been faithful. God has never let me down, even though there have been moments I have allowed myself to believe He had. As I look back on all the dark moments of my life I can see where God’s love shone through, like a sole beam of light in a pitch black room, His love was there to guide me and keep me moving forward. I am nothing without Him.

I’m looking forward to the next season and what God has in store for me.

Until another confession…

What Do You Say?

Confession…it’s not easy to know what to do when someone around you gets hit hard by life. I mean, what do you say to someone who has just suffered incredible devastation? How do you console their hearts when you know there are no words to say that will help? You don’t really have to say anything. Sometimes it helps if you don’t say anything. If you feel the need to say something, you can say “I’m sorry”. That’s really all you need to say.

Years ago, we lost our first pregnancy and I was devastated. I was angry. I was confused. I blamed God. I blamed myself. I blamed my husband. I was a mess. Well meaning people tried to make me feel better. I’m sure they hated to see me cry. I’m sure they wanted to remove my pain. I was just such a mess, and I know their instinct was to rescue and soothe the pain. Instead, they said well meaning things that came across as insensitive and cruel. I know they didn’t mean to be, but my frame of mind was so off kilter that I was hearing EVERYTHING through broken ears.

Of course I knew that God was in control, but I was mad at Him for taking my baby. Of course I knew that I could try again, but I couldn’t replace one baby with another. Of course I knew that God has a reason for my pain, but He didn’t clue me in and that made me even more angry. As I said before, I know they were trying to help me make sense of an incredibly senseless situation. I love that they tried so hard to reach my wounded heart. I was just processing through the pain and I had to have a moment to just be sad and angry. There’s no way to avoid those emotions when life hits you hard. It’s important not to get stuck there, and sometimes it takes a while to move past those emotions. However, it’s important to go through those emotions so one can move forward.

I suppose my point is, when you see someone going through something incredibly painful, you don’t have to help them make sense of it, but it would help if you love on them. You don’t need to say anything. You don’t need to fix anything. Just be there. Let them cry without trying to stop the tears. Most importantly, pray. Pray for them in an honest and real way. Pray that God would help you to minister to them according to His desire. Pray that He would comfort them. Pray.

Until another confession…