Standing on the Word

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The waves of doubt come crashing in, surrounding me and encasing me in fear. Yes, fear. That thing we dread and we pretend doesn’t happen to us – the uncertainty we can battle each and every moment. Yearning to answer the question – do we really believe? No, let’s get real.

Do I really believe?

Jesus, the Eternal One, the Most High God, my Savior – do I believe, in You? Not just your words, your story, the parables, the miracles and the victory. But YOU. If you asked me to share a Scripture, I could probably quote it. If you asked me to serve on a committee, I may just be able to lead it. But if you asked me to trust you – I would doubt. Oh, I would doubt.

Doubt your love, doubt your care – doubt the truth that you are really there. I look for signs scattered about, of your love and your compassion. It’s like a treasure I seek, a yearning to be filled – that shall never satisfy me.

Ah.

The water rises higher, I gasp to get my breath but I sense the truth you want to eradicate from the depths of my being. You see – it’s me. Me. I am the one who sinks into doubt. No. One. But. Me. No pointing fingers for the reasons for my doubt, only the realization that fear starts – with me.

Will my soul ever be comforted? My heart cease it’s taunting? I crave intimacy I can only find – in You. I have searched for it in relationships – with family and friends, expected it from people who just couldn’t give it, desired it in ways I regret. Yet, with each failed hope and lost opportunity – the waters rose and waves began to lap at my very soul. Experiences became etched together like a tapestry in my mind. My lack of faith kept me still. Not a stillness as in being still with God, oh no. Still – in not knowing what to do – where to turn or how to go. That stillness that immobilizes you, is fear.

My doubt was drowning out His voice.

“Don’t panic. I’m with you.
There’s no need to fear for I’m your God.
I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you.
I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” – Isaiah 41:10

It’s Him I need to fill me.

To complete me. To hold me steady. To keep a firm grip on me. It’s Jesus. Him. He wants to redirect the waves and let them gently drift over me. He can allow them to rise, and to fall – cascading and flowing, yet never drowning. You see these waves, they redirect our focus. Sometimes we get overwhelmed by their pull and fight the undercurrent. Other times we are crushed to the ground as the waves pound our backs. As we tread water to survive, we look for places to rest our feet.

On His Word.

Trust. I must trust. I must engulf myself with His presence, His love, His Spirit and His truth. To trust you more Jesus, I need to love me – less. I need to let go of my fear, my doubt and the voices which assail me. That tapestry in my mind may be unwoven, yet it does not have to suffocate me.

Do not panic. Do. Not. Panic. Do not.

I’m with you.

It’s time, He’s calling me and perhaps He’s calling you too. To trust Him and only Him. To let go. Let. Go. GO.  Knowing that He will help. He will give strength. He will hold me and hold you steady. Steady. Not tossed back and forth like the waves. Steady. Firm. Constant.

Stand on the Word and it will lift you above the water. Gasp for breath as you need to. Dive into the waters when you slip. When you are ready, let Him guide you back up to stand with Him. Right back on His Word and into a deeper relationship with Him.

Keep your eyes above the waves. and focus.

On Him.

When it hurts

Bodie Ghost Town Storm

What do you do – when it hurts?

When the fear has gripped you, the pain no longer protects you and all you want to do is run? You know the feeling don’t you? The uncertainty, the unfamiliarity and in fact, sometimes the insanity! You just want to quit, give in, move on and not look back. Anything, just anything to get rid of the pain you posses and the pain that possesses you.

Like that storm that looms over the horizon is the weight of the world upon your shoulders. You often can see the clouds descend and move in as the sky shifts from the beautiful hues of blue to foreboding clouds of grey.  There is a storm a comin’ and there is nothing you can do to stop it!

Allow me to share a story with you – perhaps you know it – soak it in again….

“There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’

 “So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.

 “That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father.

“When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’

 “But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.

 “All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’

 “The older brother stalked off in an angry sulk and refused to join in. His father came out and tried to talk to him, but he wouldn’t listen. The son said, ‘Look how many years I’ve stayed here serving you, never giving you one moment of grief, but have you ever thrown a party for me and my friends? Then this son of yours who has thrown away your money on whores shows up and you go all out with a feast!’

 “His father said, ‘Son, you don’t understand. You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

There is so much to share from this parable of the Lost Son, so much!

Consider the son – he approached his father requesting his inheritance. I don’t know about you, but I suspect that wasn’t an easy task. Maybe he did it full of pride, maybe not, Scripture doesn’t tell us. But he knew where to go, the Father! Then off he goes with the money – yes, all of it. He squanders it, wastes it and it dries right up. Do you think the Father knew his son would behave this way and lose this inheritance? Well of course He did – yet freely the Father gave to his son!

Verse  14 says, “After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt.” The son who had so much now had nothing at all. He was in need, he was hurting and fear had began to grip his heart. Scripture says he longed to feed on the pods and the slop left over from the pigs. Can you imagine? Being at a place of such hunger that you long to eat the scraps off the table? There he was hunger panged, destitute and weary – wanting relief. Empty.

Finally, the beautiful words…..he came to his senses!

Sigh. Why is it when we are overcome with pain, our senses get skewed? Our motivation, zapped. Our hope, dashed. It took the son to lose everything he ever possessed and trusted in to learn to let go. To release himself and realize he is not the one in control in the first place. The same Father he sought out for the inheritance in the first place, he can seek out again – not for a gift, no. For  restitution, for repentance and forgiveness.

I love the Father’s response!

The Father is watching, waiting and searching for the return of His son. This is not some idle Father ticking off the days on the calendar waiting for his son to do the right thing . Oh no! This is an active Father seeking and longing for His son. In fact, Scripture says when he sees his son, he runs to him and embraces him.  Wait, what? Runs and embraces – the first response of the Father is to hold his son! Before a word is spoken, the arms of the Father wrap around him in his shame, his guilt and his humiliation – and love him. No pointing finger, no shaking of the head or “I told you so’s.” Love.

As the son confesses he uttered harsh words revealing his despair “I am no longer worthy…” eeks out from the depths of his being. What does the Father do? So divine. He hears his son and immediately says, “but” –  it’s almost like, “never mind that!” You think you aren’t worthy? Let me show you how worthy you are!  The Father was so overcome with joy that the time had come to celebrate. Did you catch that? He didn’t focus on the just the words, but the sons heart. He didn’t ask for him to grovel to redeem himself, the Father gave again – and forgave! This forgiveness must have tasted so much richer to the son than the inheritance, don’t ya think?

How marvelous the Father’s love! Will we ever fully comprehend His love?

What happened when his brother came home from working in the fields and heard the celebration? He was overcome with anger and even refused to participate in the celebration. He had been faithful and honored his Father. It seems he has a reason to be upset, perhaps even justified in his anger. Yet, focus on the Father’s response. He reassures his son of the joy in being in relationship with him, but insists – we had to celebrate –  “This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!’”

Good news!

Such good news, this Father’s love. This waiting, searching, redeeming, forgiving love. This love that’s not looking at the blessings I have squandered, the wealth I have lost, the time I have mismanaged  – the brokenness in relationships, the pain I hold onto to. For the Father searches for me in the same way He searched for his son. He rejoices in communion with me and he assures me of the sovereignty of his grace and embraces me as I return to Him, again and again.

For you see, I am a prodigal.

You may be like me and allow the storms of life to overtake you. Hear the wind whip up and find yourself cowering. You may yearn for the pods that at cast upon the floor as unmentionables. You might be tempted to reject the Father’s love, refuse to celebrate with joy as we witness His grace poured out for others.

Beloved. Focus on the Father’s love and not one thing more.

Not the inheritance lost, but the one gained! Feel the arms of the Father envelope you as you walk into His embrace for He’s been searching for you all along. Are  you a prodigal? It’s okay! Come to your senses my friend.

Choose Him.

I Am Accepted

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Today, I go deep. It’s time to really share.

I started this blog for a specific purpose, to discuss and process through my lens of life the daily journey of what it is like to live with life threatening health issues, chronic pain and the doubts and fears that can arise from such a struggle.

This is no small feat and nothing that will change in one blog post, or with a new day upon me. It’s a true struggle as you wrestle in your life to regain control and find a new normal and just live, once again.

There’s no wisdom present, no answers quickly given, just raw, honest truth. Since I am a person of faith, I use that filter to sift through my thoughts, the fears and the journey. I am glad you are here to walk with me. So, where do we start?

The hardest place.

The most difficult thing to face living with health problems is probably not too much different than what I suspect others face in their own circumstances.  The hardest thing to deal with is quite frankly, the person staring back at you in the mirror –  me. No, not the weight you need to lose or the wrinkles that continue to emerge on your face.  It’s what’s going on inside your mind, inside my mind. These unexpected circumstances add daily challenges to everyday life. You just can’t live in denial – you must face the facts, whatever they are, including the weight to lose. But, what if the answer didn’t lie in the scale, or in the food, but in your head?

In our thoughts.

The only experience I have is my own, and it’s that voice in which I speak. I am a survivor. I have survived 3 pulmonary embolisms and 5 DVT’s. (blood clots) While I am eternally grateful for the blessings of a new day, I still had to accept that my life would not and could not be the same again. There is a very high probability that I will have another clot someday and when I do, I may not survive this time. I don’t say this to be dramatic, no. I say it because statistically speaking, it’s true.  So, how I choose to live from this moment forward drives me. Each day I awake with a fervent desire to live life to the fullest and be walking in truth. So in the morning when I see myself in that mirror I can have peace knowing I am being who I was created to be.

I want to live an authentic life.

I am in the process right now about rediscovering what this means.  I’ve spent way too much time trying to prove myself or find worth in what I did, rather than in the person I already am. There is nothing like the harsh reality of the short time span we all have on this earth to reawaken the deepest truths and fears within us. Life is short, and frankly, I want to live it.

Once I began to finally accept my limitations imposed upon me by all the clots and the damage they did to my lungs and my legs – it was time to reexamine how I was currently living. With more challenges looming ahead, this is what I learned. You have to realign your thinking, change the expectations you place upon yourself and let go of your life as you once lived it.  Sometimes this is a drastic elimination of commitments, a temporary setback or  you can chose to keep on living the way you had all along and eventually, it will catch up to you. Been there, done that!

To some of you reading this may seem like nothing new at all, it’s how you approach life. But for a co-dependent, fear filled woman who allowed others to chart her way through life and masked it all under the guise of Christianity and servanthood – these continual, consistent health problems were my wake up call and my greatest blessing.

You see, I based my identity on what I did, how I measured up, what others thought of me. I have battled it my entire life, but none so much as when I was living in circles of a faith community which for me and in my interpretation, reinforced my dysfunction. This is not to say the faith is dysfunctional, no, just the interpreter. I was the problem. I lived the life of a victim, and I lived it well.

Life circumstances being what they were, it’s how I coped.

So, this health crisis I’ve undergone, it’s been totally worth it. The constant doctor visits, lab work, medical tests and years of ongoing medical care. Worth each and every penny. Not because I can afford it, no, but because I can’t afford to continue to function and live my live the way I had been living. It took this crisis in my body to bring me to a crisis in my heart. It challenged me to seek Jesus on a deeper level and in doing so, I not only found Him, but I found me.

“Just ask and it will be given to you; seek after it and you will find. Continue to knock and the door will be opened for you.  All who ask receive. Those who seek, find what they seek. And he who knocks, will have the door opened.” Matthew 7:7-8

For over 30 years I’ve been knocking on the door, continuing to knock, for the opening that Jesus says will come. I am sure He’s been opening doors for me before and I have been just too blind to see it.  Some doors I remember seeing clearly and I cowered in fear to walk through them. Others, I sprang forth and lept through!

What are your doors?

Maybe you can’t even find the doorknob, never mind the door. Perhaps you are searching for the key to unlock it yourself. Jesus say to continue to knock. Can you hear Him? Don’t give up! Find a way to form that fist and pound if you have to. Keep on knocking, use all the strength you can muster and gently knock.

Trust Him.

When the time is right, He will usher you. The Risen One Himself will reach out with Hands of glory to embrace you. When He does it won’t matter if you have your physical health, or your emotional health – all He concerns Himself with is your spiritual self. Jesus accepts you.

My first door has been learning to accept myself. If Jesus could accept me, why couldn’t I?

Finding myself, my true self, not the one I presented to the world has been a hard journey so far. It’s like digging for treasure. Sometimes you dig and dig and hit something and you think it’s a chest full of gold, but really it’s just another boulder in the way to the real treasure lying somewhere. Hand Him the shovel, let Him dig, watch Him sweat. He already has the map to my heart anyway, invite Him to chisel away and just let go.

Allow Him to chip off the fears, the insecurities, the doubts about who you are. Invite Him to recreate and renew your heart and accept with gratitude who you are and who He is. He is God. I am not.

I am accepted – and I am finding my way in Him.

If you are struggling with a current health crisis, know this, you aren’t alone. If you are wrestling to accept who you were created to be, know this, you can find a way. There is hope, HOPE.

Just stand at the door – knock.

Living in truth?

Denial

While all this was going on, Peter was down in the courtyard. One of the Chief Priest’s servant girls came in and, seeing Peter warming himself there, looked hard at him and said, “You were with the Nazarene, Jesus.”

He denied it: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He went out on the porch. A rooster crowed.

 The girl spotted him and began telling the people standing around, “He’s one of them.” He denied it again.

After a little while, the bystanders brought it up again. “You’ve got to be one of them. You’ve got ‘Galilean’ written all over you.”

Now Peter got really nervous and swore, “I never laid eyes on this man you’re talking about.” Just then the rooster crowed a second time. Peter remembered how Jesus had said, “Before a rooster crows twice, you’ll deny me three times.” He collapsed in tears.” Mark 14:66-72

Denial.

Flat out, straight from our heart – nope, I didn’t know it, didn’t do it, didn’t say it and even didn’t think it! Denial, refusal, rejection – ways in which we deflect ourselves from dealing with the reality of the situation before us.

In this story from Scripture, Peter was faced with the ongoing questions about his relationship and his commitment to Jesus the Nazarene., “I never laid eyes on this man you’re talking about.” Here Peter denied knowing Jesus, the Christ, three times before the rooster crowed. His denial was not a one time occurrence, oh no! He refused, again and again, to acknowledge his relationship, his experience and his love for Jesus.

Wow.

Just drink it in. The man Peter who did so much for His Lord Jesus, had this moment where he couldn’t accept the truth that knowing Jesus would hurt. Admitting He knew Jesus at the moment left him open for accusation, shame, distrust and mockery. Peter didn’t want to feel it, experience it or go through this public disapproval. I believe he feared it. Jesus was before the Sanhedrin that very moment, standing silent against their false testimony about Him. (Mark 14:61) And Peter, in his denial of His Lord, spoke volumes.

Denial, it does that.

It starts with one refusal of the truth  and next thing you know it is planting and growing seeds of mistrust and disunity wherever it lands. We all could confess to some denial in our lives, don’t you think?  We often refuse to admit the truth of who we are in our very inner being. We share part of ourselves with the world, to the communities and even to our families. Perhaps our marriages are a mess, or maybe we harbor an addiction we try to keep under wraps. It could be we just don’t want to face the pain of our past so we just keep looking forward thinking that will “fix” it. We focus everywhere we can, pointing fingers of blame elsewhere, rather to face the truth we find in the mirror.

We are afraid.

Fear is the bedrock of denial. We fear what others think. We fear what might happen to us. We fear our reputations to be amiss, our family life to be torn asunder and our belief in who we are, rejected. Rather than speak truth and shine authenticity into the world around us, we deny the power of truth.

It is when we choose to speak the truth that invites transforming power and hope of God to a life filled with denial. Fingers may continue to point your way, self rejection and shame may consume you and make you want to flee. You do have a choice.

Choose truth.

Let the warped sense of reality that denial brings fall away.  Invite Jesus into this place and let the power of God’s Spirit  speak into a dark, dry place. This place in our hearts which yearns for hope, craves acceptance and desires freedom. I encourage you today, from someone who is a Peter. I’ve lived in denial and shown only part of who I am to those around me. There is freedom in being you. Don’t deny being the person God intended you to be.

Face your fear, and live!

Peterson, Eugene H. The Message. Bible Gateway. Web. 15 Jan. 2014.

Happy New Year?

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It’s a few days past from all the Happy New Year wishes, the resolutions, the goals being set and the reality of the true new year sets it.

It’s just another day isn’t it? Any step along the road you trod. A walk along the journey of your life where you are privileged to be – you. With each new year there is this sense of a new beginning, a fresh start, a chance to be made new. Dreams are remembered and hopes are set before you once again as you try to prioritize and discern the essence of who you are and where you are headed.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could just plan it all out and it would fall into place?

Yeah – right! I know, I know, but please just stick with me for a minute. For years I lived my life thinking I could organize this shelf, pick up that room, move the clutter about and somehow it would dethrone the anxiety off the seat of my heart. If things had a system,  if I could manage paperwork, errands, shopping – oh the list could go on and on! Mine certainly could, how about yours? With the start of a new year, there is this yearning within me to gather my thoughts together and order them on paper. Somehow stream them into a nice, neat and orderly list. I can write to-do lists, organize clutter in closets, clean out things not worn in over a year. It may take some time as the things have stacked up, but sure, I can do that.

But the heart, just how do you gather that?

It’s like somehow believing you could heal yourself as you reflect upon broken lives, unfulfilled promises and shattered dreams. How do you reign in and order, chaos? It’s not with lists written on paper with pen and ink that transform our thinking. It’s not with resolutions that we muster strength for obtaining goals in our lives. It’s not with unfailing strength that we fortify ourselves against painful experiences.

No.

That would be trusting in yourself. While it’s true, there is beauty and freedom in finding who you truly are and have been created to be. There is a sense of purpose and of dignity as you gain hope not in lists or in items scratched off. No. There is freedom in releasing yourself from the expectation of measuring who you are against such a list. Each moment you strive to better yourself or to unlearn a behavior you are in fact, accepting that perhaps the way you have handled it all along may not have the best. But handle it you did.

It’s with our mistakes, it’s in our brokenness and with these unfulfilled lives that we become seekers. Searching out purpose and meaning. It’s these moments in our lives that we find ourselves asking questions we didn’t even know we wanted the answers for, that we begin to see light in the darkness.

We see, even when we didn’t know it was dark.

As you begin your new year and the resolutions you penned in ink are dry, yet they are ablaze within your heart. They kindle like a burning ember reaching down to deepest part of who you are. I encourage you today, this moment, to seek out and not depend on your own understanding, oh no.

“Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
Run to God! Run from evil!” Proverbs 3:4-5

God is real. He is true. He will be there for you. You can trust Him.

There is peace in not figuring it all out on your own. There is hope in knowing you can trust that if the dreams do shatter  – God can pick up that shard and graft it into piece of art taking away the sharp painful edges and make you a new creation. He is a transformational, renewing and redeeming God.

In this new year, let Him make YOU new.

Reclaim The Captive

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What do you see when you look at me?

Go ahead, rattle them off, say what you think, what you believe, I won’t stop you. In fact, I can’t hear a word you will say, so go ahead – speak. Utter the words that you see as true, in me.  And you know what? I can’t change one thing you think or believe. Not one bit. But man, have I spent years trying!

I’ve invested time into trying to change, rebuild, transform something deep within me. Something I can’t even put my finger on. Yet it’s something I continue to hide, to run from and to fight with every ounce of my being.

I’ve been held captive to the expectations and the thoughts of what others think of me for way too long. Thoughts of how I look, how I act, what I choose, what I don’t choose – on and on the list goes – endless, it seems. Sometimes it’s the list others expect of me, but often it’s the list I churn out for myself. Constantly seeing just one more thing, adding to the stack already piled all over my heart and my mind.

Well I ever measure up?

The very first moment Jesus stood up to read from the Scriptures to announce His ministry, He spoke these words as the bedrock and foundation.

 The Spirit of God, the Master, is on me
because God anointed me.
He sent me to preach good news to the poor,
heal the heartbroken,
Announce freedom to all captives,
pardon all prisoners.” Isa 61: 1-2

You see, what you might see in me or not see in me – will never be  what I see. I look in the mirror and what is reflected back to me are the thoughts that swirl hidden beneath the surface of my reality. The doubts that creep in, the fears which begin to assail me and I wonder -how did I get here? With all my God has done for me, why do I choose to live here?

I am a captive.

I have bound my head and my heart by living to the expectations that I place upon myself and accepting what others think as a truth to be lived by. You don’t need to tie up my hands, or clasp my feet, I did so for you. I’ve made it so simple to live a defeated life. I never saw a way out, even as I fought and rebelled against the oppression, I quietly and sometimes not so quietly, yielded, and lived a self defeated life. A lie.

When Jesus says in Isaiah 61 that He came to release the captives, the Hebrews most often rendition of being a captive means to be “carried off.” While engaged in battle, the Hebrews often carried off their plunder. As they raged war on the land, they surveyed the things of value and sought out the most precious things of all and captured them. To be a captive, a slave, was not considered a good, or a healthy thing. Often you had no choice, it was life – or death.

Isn’t that the way it goes? Sometimes in your life you have no choice.

Things happen that are out of your control. And in an instant, you are taken captive to the experience, the situation and the fear that often surrounds it. Trauma takes center stage, abuse, neglect, an accident, a sudden loss of a loved one, an illness, financial ruin. Whatever the situation, you move from being a victim – to be bound and captive to it in your life.

Your experiences shape who you are, who you see yourself to be and somewhere along the way you give them permission to define you. And it’s in those moments, the shackles go on. You clamp them around your wrists and your feet. You may not hear it at the time, yet their grip is secure.

We give control away.

There we are – a captive. Being led from the land you once knew – to a new place filled with fear, questions and uncertainties.

Long ago, I accepted that one’s life is constrained and defined not only by personal experiences, but by the power of the living God. It was here I began, in the pages of Isaiah 61 to meet Jesus, the Christ. Who came to announce the freedom in which we already stand because of who Jesus is and release those who are held captive.

Announce and release – just like that. So simple, so divine, such good news!

Yet, as a fellow captive to another, not so easy, is it? Perhaps you are not captive yourself, that’s okay. I admit I am personally bound up so tightly in the grips of the past and my own experiences, that I am not fully free and released to live in the freedom in which I now firmly stand. Somehow I throw the shackles back on, I pick them up, I revert to what seems the easiest at the time.

You see, what we know, how we have always handled things in the past – is often easy, comfortable and “normal”. However, is it always best for us?

The way of Jesus is hard.

There is a cost in following Jesus – forgiveness, reconciliation and restoration come through His sacrifice and life. He’s done this for us on the cross at Calvary and He wants us to do the same for others. To forgive, reconcile and restore relationships in our lives. It’s hard, but not impossible!

You see, we do have a choice – we can let go and release the shackles we place upon ourselves. Release ourselves from the expectations that we place upon ourselves and the ones others try to impose upon us. We can let go.

We might have been carried off in battle and held captive, but Jesus Christ can carry you now as you release yourself to Him and rest. Give yourself over, to rest. Rest in the arms of Jesus and be free.

Reclaim the captive!

A Wandering Sheep

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A sheep, that’s all I am.

My needs? To be fed, to be tended to, cleaned up once in a while.  Just like any other animal, that’s all there is. Basic necessities of life. If I am hurt, care for me. If I am wandering, find me. If I am broken, let me heal.

A sheep, that’s me.

“I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own sheep and my own sheep know me.” John 10:14

Jesus Christ calls Himself the Good Shepard. Not just the shepard, but the good shepard. The One who tends to the sheep, the One who looks after the flock and the One who searches for scattered sheep.

Jesus promises to provide these basic necessities of life. If you are hurting, the shepard cares for you. If you are wandering, the shepard will come find you. If you are broken, he helps heal you and waits patiently as you do.

Sometimes, I scatter.

I run. I turn my back on the shepard, on the flock I am foraging with and the insistent nudges of the staff guiding my way. I just go. I get scared. I feel overwhelmed. I don’t understand the road I am traveling on. It doesn’t make any sense to this sheep. So, I run.

What does a shepard do with a sheep that has once again left the fold? How does Jesus, my Shepard respond? He searches for them. He leaves the flock and looks high and low, to reclaim that sheep. Not giving up until it’s found. I love that part. Jesus searches, looks, and doesn’t stop, until I am found.

Ah, comforting, isn’t it?

How does a shepard get the sheep back to the flock? He lifts them up from right where they are, no matter what condition they are in, He wraps His arms around them and carries them. Yes, Jesus accepts you just as you are, and lifts you up and carries you! It’s here, in this moment, I abandon myself to His arms and let Him carry me. I allow Jesus access to my heart to take my hurts, my brokenness and care for me. Heal me.

Do you want to be healed?

It’s a curious thing about how the shepard brings that sheep home, lifted high upon his shoulders with a firm grip on their feet. See that? Jesus Christ, our good shepard,  carries us and then He makes sure we stay right there on His capable shoulders. I suspect the shepard needs to keep that sheep in it’s place, secure and safe. Otherwise it might try to scurry off. I know I would.

You see, the closer I get to the destination that the Shepard is bringing me towards, the more I fight Him and want to run. I seek His comfort, yes. But I may not like where we are walking. Do you know what I mean? Walking down the road, not liking the sights you see, but knowing you have to take another step, move through one more thing, to get where He’s bringing you.

You ask yourself, do I really want to go?

Jesus is the Good Shepard, He knows me. He is leading me along the way, He is nudging me forward, He is picking me up helping me walk and going after me when I run. How blessed am I to have such a shepard?

You may not like the road you are walking down, or the ways in which you get there. But fear not, you have a Good Shepard leading you, guiding you, protecting you, carrying you and healing you. All you have to do, is walk.

Trust the Good Shepard of your soul. Abandon yourself to Him today. Release yourself from figuring out the journey. Let Him fight for you.

Just take one more step.

Uncovered

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Walking along the beach I often am overcome by the beauty of it all. The sound of the surf as it gently moves in and out, the ocean that stretches out as far as the eye can see and the soft sand under my feet. There is just so much to be captivated by at the beach, I get caught up in the mystery and wonder of it all.

Do you do that too?

Walk along gazing out upon the grand schemes of your life and find yourself, overcome? Perhaps it’s not an overcome with the beauty of it all feeling, oh no, maybe you just feel overcome by moments of regret – dreams unfulfilled, longings unmet and hopes dashed.

You mean it’s not just me?

Often the sand of my life that I walk upon, it’s not so soft upon my feet. It’s full of broken shells, rocks and bits of sand that just irritate me as I go. I need to stop and shake the dust off, perhaps grab a pebble or two and remove the things which stop me from taking another step.

Regrets.

That’s what stops me from taking another step. We do need to keep on walking, taking another step, so that we can marvel at the beauty around us. Sometimes the ocean that stretches out for miles might look like a river to us rather than the grand expanse that it truly is. Or the sound of the surf and the oceans roar might deafen our ears to the gentle lap of the waves on our feet. We have to force ourselves – to see.

Take a moment and think right now. What is scattered across the beach in your heart? Broken relationships. Health problems. Jobs denied. Uncertainty, instability, insecurity. It’s not a very pretty sight, is it? We want to run from it, deny it – we fear it.

“There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment.” 1John 4:18 Good News Translation

Fear. Regrets. They go hand in hand. Interlocking their fingers and holding us captive to the worries and doubts of life. If we fear, we don’t fully grasp love. God says there is no fear in love. None! When we live in love, experience love, focus on love – we see. Love can uncover the fears nestled in the sandbars of our heart and release them. Deep within our hearts are the things which we regret – the relationships we mourn, the innocence lost, the hopes left unfulfilled – hidden.

We must be brave. Let God uncover you.

Face your fears, search your heart- these are not acts of defeat or a life of regret. No – far from it! These are ways in which we love ourselves and  love our God.  Don’t remain buried any longer. Live your life.

Uncovered.

Encaged…

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It’s just some sticks, some wood. Nothing, really.  I pick them up and use them to make a fence, a wall.

Piece by piece.

Sometimes we encircle our hearts thinking we are protecting ourselves. We try to ease our pain and calm our fears. We build these walls stick by stick, tying them together with fishing line, or rubber bands that snap, as we desperately piece them together. We do it as quick as we can – thinking perhaps the faster they go up, the less pain we might feel.

Uh huh.

We erect them to keep out painful memories, hurtful times, difficult moments. All the while we build thinking we are helping ourselves, when we are in fact encaging our very own heart. It’s not a fence or a wall, it’s a cage. Isn’t that what it feels like?

It does to me.

We sit inside these boundary walls which are meant to help as we peer out at the world. We gaze across meadows, pastures, see the sun rise and fall, squirreled away in our nests along the fence. For a while we look inside and tend to the garden of our hearts. We weed what’s inside, we plant new seed, we till the soil. Yet, we remain, trapped inside. The very thing that was meant to protect us, made us a prisoner.

It’s time we choose to set ourselves free.

See, we can point the finger and talk about what others have done to us. We can examine our circumstances and ignite sympathy and compassion. We can seek comfort in the arms of those we love. But the only one who can release us from the cage, is us. We built it, we must demolish it. Funny thing is, as we try to do so, we find the cage  door has rusted shut, the key has been lost, the way out isn’t the way you thought was out. See, you don’t have control after all.

When Jesus Christ first stood up in the Temple and read from the scrolls of God’s Word, these are the words he spoke.

“The Spirit of the Lord, the Eternal, is on me.
The Lord has appointed me for a special purpose.
He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to repair broken hearts,
And to declare to those who are held captive and bound in prison,
“Be free from your imprisonment!”” Isa 61:1 The Voice

As much as I try to pry open the door, it is Christ I need. As often as I think I can handle it myself, it is Christ I need. As I pound on the doors of my cage trying to rip it open, it is Christ I need. He says to me, “be still.” For He is the gatekeeper. He’s been appointed for a special purpose, for just this time. He’s here to release you, release me, and declare freedom for those enslaved. He’s been doing it since the very 1st century, and He wants to do it now, today, for you.

So those sticks you picked up and thought you could master. Those walls you built to protect your precious heart. That cage you now sit in. Stop rattling the walls, stop pounding on the door, stop fighting it, stop – just stop. For there is good news! Jesus has the key.

Let Him open the door of your heart and release you.

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