You Alone

In You
And You alone
I live
And move
And have my being

When I rise
When I fall
When I succeed
When I fail
I live unto You
And You alone

When the way is clear
When I’m confused and lost
When I’m filled with faith
When I’m paralyzed by fear
I trust in You
And You alone

When others agree
When they don’t understand
When I’m accepted and loved
When I’m rejected and scorned
I follow You
And You alone

When my joy overflows
When my heart is broken
When I’m in awe of Your presence
When I’m weary and worn
I bow before You
And You alone

In every season
In every situation
In every mood
In every moment

In You
And You alone
I live
And move
And have my being

Thank You, Lord, for the reality of my life in You. Thank You for the simple truth of my identity in You, and for the simple joy of being Yours–and Yours alone.

From His Heart to Yours: September 2, 2014

The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
 –1 Sam.16:7

Beloved, hold your head high. You’ve done well. As always, you did what you could. You gave Me your best and you gave Me your all. The fragrance of your sacrifice is sweet and pleasing to Me. Don’t compare your best to anyone else’s best. Don’t compare your best to your own desires or expectations. You’re looking at the outside–I’m looking at your heart. Yes, there will always be minor exterior blemishes in even your very best efforts, but all of your imperfection and weakness is swallowed up in My perfection and strength. Your imperfection is made perfect in My presence. I never release the light of My presence to expose your imperfection, but rather to expose the areas of your heart that have not yet been made perfect in the knowledge of My love. It is My perfect love that covers your every imperfection. It is My perfect love that casts away all of your fears–even your fears of rejection and failure. Because My love never fails. Where you see failure and imperfection, I see the flawless beauty of a heart after my own. Rest secure in my acceptance. Rest secure in my love.

♥♥♥

I don’t think I will ever truly get used to the unfathomable kindness and absolute, unconditional acceptance of God. It shouldn’t surprise me anymore that He doesn’t look at things the way I do–but it still does! Often I’m incredibly disappointed with the results of even my very best efforts, but He never is. He never looks at the imperfection in anything I offer Him, but He does look with great delight upon the motive and intentions of my heart. And when it gets right down to it, my heart is really all He wants anyway. There is no way to offer extravagance to the One who is worthy of more than we can ever hope to give, so instead do what you can … give Him your heart. When you do, it  brings Him greater pleasure than you will likely ever fathom.

Thank You Lord for seeing beyond the imperfections of my outward efforts. Let me rest in the reality of Your delight in a heart that simply seeks after Your own.

************

NOTE: Part of this post was adapted from an earlier post: Imperfect!

“Love Letters” are simple messages from His heart to yours, posted at the beginning of each month. To read others, click here

Where I’m at …

X marks the spot

Have you ever …

Had so much to say that you feel like you have nothing to say?

Had so many emotions churning around in your soul that you’re not sure you’re really feeling anything at all?

Been unshakeably confident and woefully insecure all at the same time?

Been overwhelmed by pain yet joyfully hopeful?

Been righteously driven to do yet contentedly compelled to wait?

Been so fired up and passionate about something that you’re almost immobilized by the intensity of it?

Almost …

Only almost

Have you ever been not okay at all

and yet …

completely

totally

100 percent

amazingly

wonderfully

more than okay?

Or is it just me?

Becaust this is exactly where I’m at.

And I’m learning to be okay with it.

I’m learning to sit in the messiness of it …

In the unknowing

In the waiting

In the tension and perplexity that exists between urgency and the timing (the real timing not the made-up-making-excuses-for-laziness-and-unbelief-timing) of God.

The need is now.

The need is urgent.

The need is real.

But if He doesn’t go …

I’m not going.

And that’s all there is to it.

So I’ll wait.

I’m not giving up.

I’m not giving in.

When He moves …

I will move with Him

Until then …

I’ll rest

I’ll watch and pray

And I’ll do what I can

where I am …

Because this is where I’m at.

Holding Hands

Just like a child
Holding on to her daddy’s hand
I hold on to You
Knowing that really
It’s You holding on to me
Through the brightest of days
Through the darkest of nights
Through every season of life
We walk
Hand in hand
Of all the things I love about You
…the power of Your presence
…the patient persistence of Your love
…the goodness of Your grace
…even the greatness of Your glory
I think my very favorite
Is that always
You hold my hand

Seeking First His Kingdom

 

“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” –6:33

I might as well have it tattooed on my heart. These words. These simple but profound, and oh so precious, words of Jesus in Matthew chapter six. Seek first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness. Do this one thing first and every other thing will fall into place. This is my life verse. This is one of the main principles by which I desire to live my life. And yet sometimes …

I forget.

I get frustrated.

I get confused.

Recently, I forgot again. And sure enough, I was beginning to get a little frustrated. A bit confused …

As I found myself seeking my own solutions rather than His Kingdom.

Not too long ago, He turned my heart inside-out over the issue of human trafficking. In some ways I’ve shared His heart in this most heinous of injustices for many years now. I’ve prayed regularly. I’ve given to organizations and individuals on the frontlines in this battle. At times, especially in recent months, I’ve attempted to raise awareness by writing about the issue. I’ve even been involved first-hand myself now and again. But it was always part of a bigger picture for me. It was never my sustained primary focus.

Until now.

Until I saw things I couldn’t ignore. Until I heard and felt things I’ll never forget. Until I realized this issue is so much deeper, so much broader, so much uglier, so much darker and more desperate than I ever could have imagined.

Until I looked deep into their eyes and “heard” their silent pleas for help.

Since then I’ve known that I MUST do more. The problem is I haven’t known exactly what “more” looked like. I’ve had ideas–lots of them. But I never want to react from a place of raw emotion–and believe me, I’ve had plenty of raw emotion to cope with–I want to respond to His voice.

But He hasn’t been saying what I thought He might be saying. He hasn’t been opening the doors I hoped He would open. He hasn’t been giving me the specific direction I thought I needed.

As a result, I’ve felt more than a little stuck. Since I’ve also been dealing with the very real sense of urgency that comes from having your eyes opened and heart broken over this rampant and pervasive injustice–stuck isn’t such a great place to be.

But one thing I’ve learned hanging out with Jesus over the years–He’s always in a good place. So if where I’m at isn’t good–chances are I’ve taken a step or two away from Him.

Thanks to His mercy, this week I turned around. This week I looked up. This week I joined Him sitting on His throne to view the issue (again) from His perspective.

This week I chose (again) to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

This week I remembered (again)–that it’s not about me.

It’s not even about ending human trafficking. Freedom for the captives is incredibly important to His heart and I have gladly given Him the rest of my life to pour out as He chooses in this battle. But the real point, the real aim …

Is to see Jesus glorified on the earth.

It’s to see His kingdom come and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

When that happens, there will be no such thing as slavery. There will be no more oppression. There will be no more darkness. He is the truth. And where Truth is present, so is freedom.

I heard the most simple yet profound thing this week that put it all back into perspective: The greatest injustice on the earth right now isn’t human trafficking …

It’s that Jesus isn’t loved and worshiped by all the people of earth.

The One who gave all–for all to be free–is still waiting to receive the full reward of His suffering.

If He’s still waiting, then I’ll gladly wait with Him.

So does this mean I’m backing down or giving up in the battle to abolish modern-day slavery? Heavens no! If anything, I signed up all over again. It’s only my approach that has changed …

I’m seeking first His Kingdom and His righteousness. I’m seeking for His Kingdom to come amongst the oppressed and for His righteousness to be revealed in some of the darkest places on the planet. Whatever role I do or do not play in how He accomplishes that is fairly irrelevant to the equation. I’m willing. He knows that. This is His dream, His desire–I’m simply joining Him. I’m focusing on what I do know and what I can do, rather than on what I don’t know and can’t do. And, as I seek first His Kingdom, I know that whatever I need to accomplish my part will be added.

By the grace of God, human trafficking will end. If I didn’t know and believe that in my heart, I couldn’t face this profound, yet profoundly temporary, darkness for even a moment. While there’s breath in me I’ll do everything I’m able to do to shine His light onto and into this hideous work of darkness. But even more than that, I’ll continue to seek first His Kingdom …

Because His Kingdom will never, ever, end.

From His Heart to Yours: August 4, 2014

Let patience have its perfect work that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.
–James 1:4

Beloved, please remember that My love is patient and My love is kind. My love is patient and kind toward you … always. When I ask you to allow patience to have its perfect work in you, I’m not asking you to try to squeeze patience out of yourself in areas and situations where it is clear you have none. What I am asking is that you allow My patient, kind love to have its perfect work in you. When My patient love overcomes your fears, you will find patience flowing from you in every situation as a naturally supernatural result of My life flowing through your own. You’ll never become more patient by trying harder—that hasn’t worked out so well for you so far, has it? Instead, remember and acknowledge the reality of your life hidden in Mine. Lean into My peace. Lean into My joy. And especially, lean into the patient, kind love that is there for you—always.

♥♥♥

Aren’t you glad God never asks you to “fake it til you make it”? He knows our abilities—and especially our inabilities—better than we know them ourselves. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to this thing called patience—especially patience with things in my life that need some, um, attention—I need a lot of help. Fortunately He doesn’t just help, He takes over! The things I can never do on my own are already accomplished in Him. And when I learn to lean into the joy and peace I have in Him in every situation, I’ve often found patience taking over without even thinking about it.

Thank You Jesus, for Your patient and kind love. Let patience have its perfect work in me!

************

“Love Letters” are simple messages from His heart to yours, posted at the beginning of each month. To read others, click here.

 

A few things I’ve learned, pt 3 – Running TO Him

“I’ve learned to run to Him in my brokenness, failures, frustrations and disappointments, rather than away from Him in shame, regret, confusion or anger.”

It goes all the way back to the beginning of man. Adam and Eve walked in unbroken fellowship with God. But then they sinned. After they sinned they did something that ought to sound really familiar …

They hid.

We’ve been hiding from God in various ways ever since.

But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” –Genesis 3:9

But God. Don’t you just love those words? One simple phrase that changes everything. But the LORD God called to the man….

And He’s continued to call out to us ever since.

Because He is always calling out to us, that should tell us something about His heart. It should tell us something about His desire. It should tell us something about how He feels about us.

When we mess up, nearly everything in us wants to run in the opposite direction of a holy, righteous God. The only problem is … that’s not what God wants.

It’s also not what we need.

God wants us to learn run to Him–even in the midst of all our brokenness and failures–and not away from Him. This was my second point on my recent list of things I’ve managed to learn along the way. When people have asked me how I’ve kept moving forward with God through the years (one of the few things I have managed to consistently do in my life), I’ve often mentioned this as one of the keys.

The reason I’ve learned to run to Him in all my raw and inglorious messiness is actually pretty simple … I’ve come to know and trust His heart toward me.

I think it helps to understand from God’s perspective. This was (and is) a big deal to Him. He enjoyed the open, unashamed communion He shared with Adam and Eve before the fall.

He still enjoys our company.

So when sin entered the picture and corrupted the purity of our relationship with Him, He went to the most extreme lengths imaginable to restore our unity with Him. At the cross, He broke the power of sin and death once and for all. As I mentioned in the second part of this series, there is no longer any separation from His perspective. None. Ever. Regardless of we have or have not done. He cleared the way (He actually became the way) for us to access His presence–and His heart–forever. Since He did–imagine this–He wants us to take Him up on it!

I’ve often heard believers talk about how our screw-ups break His heart. There is some truth to that in the sense that He never enjoys seeing us in pain. And a lot of our choices do ultimately cause pain–for ourselves and for others. But often we take it much further and believe we cannot find our way back to His arms until we get our act together and/or pay some sort of penance. Shame clouds our judgment and we begin to distance ourselves from the One who longs to love and restore us.

But if nothing we ever do is a surprise to Him–and “while we were yet sinners Christ died for us”–how can anything we do ever change His heart toward us?

Answer? It can’t.

So turn around. Don’t punish yourself–or Him–another minute. Run to Him, not away from Him. Leap into His arms–they’re open wide for you. He’s waiting. He’s longing. He’s even aching for you to run toward Him. He’ll catch you. He’ll receive you. I promise. Turn around and find rest and restoration in the arms of the One who loves you more than life. It’s not only the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself …

It’s also the greatest gift you can give Him

.

A few things I’ve learned, pt 2 – Intimacy with God

“Intimacy with God is never, ever, based on performance. Never. Ever.”

This was my first, and probably the most important, point on a list I posted earlier in the week of a few things I’ve managed to learn on my journey of faith.

I believe in the truth of this statement with all of my heart. If I didn’t–I probably would have given up a long time ago. Because, well, my “performance” isn’t always all that great.

Before going further, it would probably be good to define what I mean by “intimacy with God.” What is it? Is it something to be desired?

The dictionary defines intimacy as: close familiarity or friendship; closeness. One catchy definition I’ve often heard is “in-to-me-see.” Intimacy is a place of vulnerability and authenticity. It’s a place where there are no pretenses; a place where you know and are fully known—without shame. In a very real sense, intimacy with God is a return to the freedom and innocence of the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve walked with God (and each other) “naked and unashamed.”

Sadly today we’re a long way from the freedom and innocence of Eden. Our senses are continually assaulted with a million and one disctractions luring us away from the beauty and simplicity of intimate fellowship with our Creator–the very thing we were created to know.

Yet His desire has never changed. He still yearns for intimate communion with His children. He still longs to walk with us in the cool of the day. Although He already “knows” everything about us, He wants us to invite Him into the deepest places of our hearts–just as He wants to share His own heart with us. He longs for the present tense experience of our presence– just as He wants us to experience His.

He longs for intimacy.

He longs for us to be with Him where He is. So He invites us to come boldly to His throne of grace. He invites us to abide in Him and He promises to abide in us. He invites us to come to Him–even in our weariness and brokenness–to find rest. He promises that nothing will separate us from His love …

Nothing. Ever. Not here, not in ages to come. Because not one of these promises is based upon our “performance.” Not one.

But wait a minute! Didn’t Jesus Himself say “If you love Me, keep My commandments”?

Yep, He did. But which commandments did He refer to? How obedient is obedient enough? How many commandments do we have to keep before we can run into His arms? The Ten Commandments? The 613 laws of Moses?

How good is good enough?

How many commandments do you have to keep to …

~Lean your head on His chest like John did?

~Wash His feet with your tears like Mary did?

~Pour out your heart to Him like David did?

~See His glory like Moses did?

~Be His friend like Abraham was?

Want my answer?

None. Zero. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

When Jesus said if you love Me keep my commandments, He’d been talking to His disciples about faith–about doing greater things than Him and challenging them to believe–to ask for anything in His name.

Given that context, and the subsequent verses about sending the Holy Spirit, I tend think Jesus’ words were more of an invitation. This is my own personal (completely un-authorized) paraphrase of John 14:15 “If you love Me, you’ll learn to love like Me and you’ll do the things I do. “

Remember that Jesus also said the greatest commandment was to love Him–and the second was to love others. He said all of the law was summarized in these two commandments. So from Jesus’ perspective, it seems like the main thing is the commandment to love. Which, in my mind, makes the most important question this …

How do we learn to love?

I think the answer is incredibly simple:

By being loved.

~By running into His arms, right here, right now–just as you are.

~By climbing up into His lap secure in the knowledge you are wanted and accepted–just as you are.

~By resting in the knowledge that He’s not frustrated or disappointed in you. He’s not impatiently waiting for you to get your act together. He already saw every fear, every failure, every broken promise, and even every time you’d push Him away, but He still chose you–just as you are.

Because intimacy with God is never, ever, based on performance. Never. Ever.

It’s not based on performance, but that doesn’t mean our choices don’t matter. They do matter–a lot. And in this area of intimacy there is one very important choice that matters more than anything …

We must choose to believe.

~To believe we love Him because He first loved us

~To believe it is finished–past, present and future–all our sin is covered. We are beloved and accepted before the throne of grace, always.

~To believe there is a door standing open in heaven–that no man can shut.

Through that open door, access has been granted. Now and forever. Period. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. He’s already there waiting. There is NO separation on His end. None. Because intimacy with God is never, ever, based on performance. Never. Ever.

I am so very very glad this is one of the things I have learned along the way.

***************

For a great post on understanding more of the scriptural basis for what I’m attempting to express in this post, check out Mel Wild’s post “What interpretive lens are you looking through?”

Also, a little over a year ago, I wrote this post with a different approach on the same subject.

Blessings and joy to you as you draw near to His heart with confidence!

A few things I’ve learned along the way …

Like anyone, I have my ups and downs. There are (a few) things I’m good at, and a lot of things I’m not-so-good at. Since I’m usually harder on myself than I am on anyone else, I’ve realized that I often focus on the many areas I feel I need improvement rather than on the areas where I’ve actually done well.

For a while now, Jesus has been trying to convince me to be a bit kinder to myself. As a result, I’ve been trying to identify and think about things that are good about me. When I consider the things I like best about me, the very, very, very best thing is the richness and ease of my relationship with the Lord.

There was a Christian country song (yes there is such a thing) some years back that had a line in it that profoundly resonated in my heart. I don’t remember the song itself, or even who sang, it but I do remember this one line:

“You’re the one thing I do right.”

The “one thing” the singer was referring to was his relationship with the Lord. It stuck because I’ve always felt the same way. I’ve often joked that I don’t “do life” particularly well, but through the years, somehow, I have managed to stay the course–to keep moving onward and upward spiritually. Somehow I’ve managed to fall more in love with Him year after year. Somehow–despite some huge discouragements, disappointments, and losses–I’ve come to believe more, not less, through the years. Somehow His grace has always been sufficient for me.

Somehow, no matter how often I fail–His love never fails.

His love never fails me. I know this in a way that goes so far beyond words that it makes them seem pretty much useless at times. And because I do know this, somehow, I’ve always been able to press deeper into Him no matter the circumstances or seasons of life.

It sounds weird to put it this way, but I guess you could say this is one of the main things I’m “good at” in life. I struggle with many things, but my relationship with the Lord has never been one of them.

We’re all wired differently and I realize that just because this is true for me, it’s not true for everyone. That’s why I feel like He’s been challenging me to share some of the things I can put into words. Some of the things that have made a difference. Some of the things I’ve gotten right along the way. Some of the things I’ve learned on the journey. Here are a few …

1.I’ve learned that intimacy with God is never, ever, based on performance. Never. Ever.

2. (Because of #1) I’ve learned to run to Him in my brokenness, failures, frustrations and disappointments, rather than away from Him in shame, regret, confusion or anger.

3. I’ve learned that my feelings are valid and very important to Him, but my feelings sometimes lie.

4. I’ve learned to let go (again and again and again).

5. I’ve learned to embrace mystery–I will never come close to understanding it all and I’m okay with that.

6. I’ve learned to be content in all things, but not to be content with all things.

7. I’ve learned that in this world we will have tribulation, but in the end … Love wins.

There are others, of course, but these are the things that come to mind as being the things that have made the biggest difference in my personal journey of faith. You could probably write a book on each of these concepts. I was going to at least fill in a bit of detail under each one, but I didn’t get very far before I realized this post could get really long, really quickly.

Instead, I think I’ve stumbled upon a bit of a series. Over the next several weeks, I’ll plan to write a short post elaborating–just a bit–on each of these seven principles. They’re all interrelated, but I’ll do my best to make some sense out of each one as a stand alone.

In the meantime I plan to keep pressing into His heart …incredibly grateful for what I have managed to learn along the way.

Because, thankfully, He’s still the one thing I do right.

In Secret

In secret
In the quiet stillness
Before the dawn of a new day
You work

Your hands
Those of a skilled Master Potter
Form
And transform
My heart

I couldn’t resist if I tried
Helpless without You
I surrender
To Your touch
And
To Your relentless love

I know You’re answering my prayers
I know Your work is always good
But I never expected it to look ~
Like this
Or to feel ~
Like this

So I let go
Of my expectations
My desires
My demands
Again and again
And again
I let go
Of everything …
Everything but You

And I rest
I rest in the stillness
I rest in the quiet
Most of all
I rest in You

In secret
I feel as though
I’m being born again …
Again
What was before
Will never be again
What was once clear and simple
Will never again make sense
But Your grace is sufficient
Always
Still
Forever
Your grace is sufficient
For me

I’ve often wondered how I came to this place
This place of uncertainty
This place of such pain
But then I remember …
I asked for this
I volunteered

I said yes

I asked You to open my eyes
And You did
To darkness beyond comprehension
To pain beyond imagination

I asked You to break my heart
With the things that break Your own
And You did
Into a million tiny pieces

So here I am
Here I am with You
You’ve hidden me
In the palm of Your hand
You’ve hidden me
Under the shadow of Your wings
And here
In secret
You’re putting me back together

It doesn’t look very pretty from the outside
I feel so weak
Yet somehow I’m stronger
My heart has been shattered
Yet somehow I’m more whole
I tremble before You
Sometimes immobilized by fear
Yet somehow braver than ever
And absolutely
Completely
Unflinchingly
Resolute in the knowledge
That darkness
Will never, ever
Win

So in secret
You work
My body is tired
My soul is weary
But my spirit is alive
Awake
Alert
And ready

Because I haven’t changed my mind
I won’t change my mind
And when You say it’s time
I’ll leave this cocoon
And once again …

I’ll go

Persevering … in rest

“Keep on asking and it will be given you; keep on seeking and you will find; keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.” – Matt. 7:7 (Amp)

“…men always ought to pray and not lose heart.” –Luke 18:1 (NKJV)

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” –James 5:16 (NKJV)

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. ” –Galatians 6:9 (NKJV)

” So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.” –Hebrews 10:36-36 (NLT)

Are you struggling to lay hold of the promises of God? Could it be that you’re focusing your energy on the wrong thing?

“This is the work of God, that you believe …” –John 6:29 (NKJV)

“For only those who believe can enter his rest.” –Hebrews 4:3 (NLT)

“For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world.  So let us do our best to enter that rest.” –Hebrews 4:10-11 (NLT)

In striving, we struggle and strain to lay hold of promises that are already ours. In rest, His promises lay hold of us.

And when that happens …

Quitting is never an option.

What If?

Note: I originally posted this about a year ago but a recent conversation with a friend brought it to mind. I think I needed to ask “What if?” again. Maybe you do too …


What if?

It’s a question we’ve all asked. It’s a question that taunts and torments many in the dark of night …

What if it doesn’t work out? What if the unthinkable happens? What if I don’t get that job? What if my marriage doesn’t survive? What if we lose the house? What if the test results confirm a bad diagnosis? What if the kids really aren’t okay? What if I never get through this overwhelming grief and disappointment? What if I end up alone? What if I never overcome this addiction?

What if things never change and this is as good as it gets?

And those are just a few of them. There are others. There are “what if’s” so deep — so dark — so scary — that we dare not give them words. We dare not speak them out. Haunting “what if’s” that lurk in the deep recesses of our hearts and minds, barely touching the surface of our consciousness.

But they’re there. They’re there waiting for the first sign of trouble to pop up and scream “I told you so!” They’re the hidden joy-killers. The silent peace-snatchers. The diabolical hope-destroyers.

What if … ?

The Lord has been confronting some of my “what if’s” lately. Some I didn’t know were there. Some I thought I’d dealt with. Or I thought I knew better than to think such things in the first place. But in the dark–in the quiet–the reality of a few lingering fears have surfaced. My heart has betrayed me–revealing secret places of unrest and bringing light to the very issue the One who sees all knew all along …

I still don’t trust him as completely as I’d like to think I do.

I still don’t trust him as much as I want to.

But he is eternally patient with me. He is unfathomably kind. And in his patience and kindness, he has been challenging my “what if’s” with a few of his own …

What if he really is as good as he says he is?

What if I’ve heard only the faintest whispers of his greatness and glimpsed only the tiniest glimmers of his glory?

What if my eyes have not seen, my ears have not heard, and my mind has not conceived what he has prepared for me–and for all those who love him?

What if his grace is sufficient and he wins with any hand?

What if he restores double for all my losses and brings something more beautiful than I can fathom out of the ashes of every disappointment and failure?

What if he opens the storehouses of heaven and pours out such blessing I really can’t contain it?

What if I really am as blessed and highly favored as he says I am?

What if the God of Angel Armies is always for me and with me–and nothing is too hard for him?

What if despite discouraging circumstances and apparent detours, all his promises are still yes and amen?

What if goodness and mercy really will follow me all the days of my life?

What if suddenly I see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living?

What if the “Master Potter” is fashioning me into a vessel of honor for the display of his glory?

What if the plans he has for me, and those I love, are always for good–to give us hope and a future?

What if he really will do immeasurably more than all I can hope or imagine?

What if his love really N.E.V.E.R (ever) fails?

What if … ?

Go ahead and ask. I dare you …

What if?

From His Heart to Yours: July 5, 2014

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted. –Ps. 34:18

Come sit with Me, beloved. Crawl up into My lap and rest Your weary head on my chest. Let me hold your hand—and your heart—and let’s just be still, together, for a moment. Cry with Me for a while. I don’t mind at all. In fact, I love sharing the deep places of your heart. It especially moves Me that so much of your pain comes from sharing the deep places in Mine. The intimacy of our shared heartbreak and longing means so much more to Me than you will ever fathom. I know you’ve long understood that I draw near to you in your own heartbreak, but I also long for those who dare to draw near to Me in Mine. No, it’s not easyyou know I never promised it would bebut I did promise I would be with you. And I am. I’m here for you, beloved—now and always. Thank You for also being here with Me. Let’s weep together for just a moment. I know it often looks like the darkness is winning, but this isn’t the end of the story. Weeping endures for a night, butI promise—joy will come in the morning. 

♥♥♥

I’m so grateful for the tender loving heart of our Father. He really does draw near to the brokenhearted. He understands in a way no one else can. It is always so tempting to escape our sorrows in a myriad of unhealthy ways—but nothing beats crawling up into His lap and actually sharing them with Him. What’s even better—and often much harder—is sharing in His own sorrows. There is a deep intimacy that comes from the authentic fellowship of shared suffering—and it flows both ways. So wherever you’re at right now, and whatever is heavy on your heart, share your struggles with Him. He is nearer than you think. And after you’ve shared your heart with Him—take a moment to ask Him what He wants to share with you.

Lord, thank You for allowing me to share the deepest parts of my heart–and thank You for trusting me with the deep places in Yours.

************

“Love Letters” are simple messages from His heart to yours, posted at the beginning of each month. To read others, click here.

The Discipline of Tears

I’ve been a mess lately.

An inside-out, gutted-open, blubbering mess. I haven’t spent this much time crying in a long time–a long, long, looong time. I’m not talking about a few tears here and there slowly and gently gliding ever-so-delicately down my cheeks. No, I’m talking about ugly crying–really ugly–as in slobbery, snotty wailing. Basically heaving my guts out until there just isn’t anything left to heave out.

It’s not been pretty. It’s definitely not been fun. And I can’t particularly say I’ve whole-heartedly embraced the process. But I am learning from it.

I’m learning the discipline of tears.

Crying as a discipline is a strange thought. But that’s exactly where I find myself in this season. The truth is most of the time I don’t feel like crying. So I’ve found myself avoiding it. Which really means I’ve found myself avoiding Him.

And that’s never a good thing.

So instead of avoidance, I’m learning the discipline of tears. I’m learning to confront the rampant injustices in this world rather than stuffing them or ignoring them. I’m learning to face what I feel deep inside rather than settling for the momentary relief of distraction or denial.

Really I’m learning to feel His heart at a much deeper level.

And that’s always a good thing.

It’s not easy. I’m still not doing such a great job embracing the process. I still run–for a moment or two anyway–but I can’t stay away for long. Because while this just might be the hardest thing I’ve ever done …

It’s also one of the very best.

A funny thing happens when I take the time to cry … I’m stronger. I’m healthier on the inside. I’m even happier–MUCH happier. In taking the time to weep with Him–in taking the time to acknowledge the things that are that never should be, and the things that aren’t that should be–I’m taking the time to feel what He feels. I’m taking the time to grieve over what He grieves over. I’m taking the time to love those He loves. Really, I’m increasing my own capacity to love without fear. Because being with Him and feeling His heart is what leads to true relief. It’s what leads to true revelation

  • revelation of His love
  • revelation of His faithfulness
  • revelation of His absolute goodness and sufficiency

Here’s the deal … He wins. In fact, He’s already won. It’s just taking a while to play out in certain areas. Those are the areas that break my heart–and His. But the losses–as real and devastating as they may be–are temporary. When I release the grief in my heart from the very real pain of this age and lean into His sufficiency, I begin to see (and feel) again from Heaven’s perspective. And I know, for real, that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

And then I cry again …

Because He’s good. He’s beautiful. He’s faithful. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt ..

Love wins.

Always. Forever. For all.

Love wins.

And the revelation of that knowledge is worth any amount of tears.

Today’s Choice

Today I choose …
to trust

to trust Him
to trust Him with all my heart
and to not lean on my own understanding

Today I choose …
to rest
to rest in Him
though weary and sometimes burdened
I come to Him and find rest for my soul

Today I choose …
to love
to love Him
and my neighbor as myself
because He first loved me

Today I choose …
to be
to be still
to be still and know
to be still and know He IS God

Today I choose …
LIFE

The Worthy One

This is one of those posts I already know I have little to no chance of truly expressing what’s in my heart.

But I’m writing it anyway. I’m writing it anyway because it is the thing that is burning within me. It is the one thing I can’t get out of my heart or mind. It’s the thing that brings me to tears and sends shivers of holy awe up and down my spine. It’s the thing that trumps lesser desires and has marked the course of my life.

It’s the thing that leaves me at a complete loss for words, but at the same time desperately determined to seek a way–any way–to express what I’ve experienced so deeply. This vivid reality. This sacred privilege. This blessed assurance. This holy communion that simply cannot be constrained to the limitations of human language.

How do you say thank you for life? For freedom?

How do express a love that so far transcends words that at times they seem utterly useless?

I don’t know how. I probably never will. But my heart aches to try. Because my heart longs to honor this One …

~this holy One

~this faithful One

~this magnificient One

~this beautiful One

This WORTHY One.

This One who loves me with everything –

Yet demands nothing.

And because He demands nothing -

I want to give Him everything.

I desperately desire to live a life worthy of this worthy One. I don’t always get it right, but I’m leaning into His heart. I’m listening for His voice. I’m pressing on to lay hold of that for which He laid hold of me. As I do, I will keep learning …

~by surrendering

~by trusting

~by believing

~by loving

And by following the Lamb wherever He goes.

Because the one thing I do know is this …

There is only ONE found worthy.

And this worthy One …

Is worthy of my all.

Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” - Rev 5:12-13

*******************

I took a little break from blogging to spend some time seeking God’s heart for this next season. I’ve mentioned before that I was going to be making some changes but wasn’t sure what they would look like. I ultimately decided to keep this blog as my personal place of expression (rather than the Deeper Waters blog) simply because this has been my personal blog for so many years, but I’ll be changing the name and look. In fact, it will probably end up looking a lot like the Deeper Waters blog does now, since I plan to stop posting to that one. I still plan to start another blog dealing specifically with social justice, but for a variety of reasons, it seemed best to start that one from scratch. Stay tuned :-)

Gazing

When I gaze into Your eyes
I see the love that died for me
The love that saved me
The love that called me
To Your side

When I gaze into Your eyes
I’m healed
I’m whole
I’m all You created me to be
When our eyes meet
Heaven and earth collide
Into an infinite symphony of love

When I gaze into Your eyes
I’m one with You
Intimately intertwined
Wholly known
Wholly accepted
Wholly loved
Complete
Perfect
In You

When I gaze into Your eyes
I enter eternity
Right here
Right now
Forever begins
When I gaze into Your

The Beauty of Simplicity? ( And the Beauty of Change)

Sunrise over the Galilee

“Living life and loving Jesus in the beauty of simplicity.”

That sounds good, doesn’t it? It used to be the tagline for this blog. I thought it sounded good when I first put it up and I still think it sounds good now.

Unfortunately, it is also a little hard to live up to.

The surprising thing is as I have intentionally simplified my life, I’ve simultaneously discovered just how “unsimple” parts of it still are. Not only that, over the years, things I thought were simple, have taken on new layers of complexity and depth.

But that’s okay. It’s all part of the journey. It’s all part of the paradox of life and faith.  And one of the major  paradoxes in my life right now is that life has never been more complicated …

Or more simple.

“Many things in life are complicated, but our faith doesn’t need to be one of them.”

Another quote from this blog (on the Why Simple Faith page). This is a truth I cling to like a lifeline. On one hand, I’ve learned to enjoy the simplicity and beauty of being present in God’s presence every day. (Just posted on this very topic over on the Live Brave blog a couple days ago.)  On the other hand, taking a bit of personal ownership and responsibility for some of the very complex and devastating issues currently facing humanity also weighs heavily upon my heart and soul.

For the record, I’m not talking about being weighed down by these issues, but I do feel the weight of his love and compassion over the injustices rampant in our world …

And I can’t ignore that fact.

So here I stand. A simple girl, with simple faith, in the midst of a complex world. A simple girl, with simple faith, compelled by the love of Christ to make a difference–somehow someway–in the complicated issues of our time.

A simple girl, with simple faith, who must shine the profound but simple truth of his love on–and into–the darkness.

I’m not entirely sure what that will mean for this blog. I’ve been chewing on this question for awhile. All I do know is I’ll be making some changes. I’ve hinted at that before. Hint is all I can do at this point because I haven’t completely landed. For now,  I will be focusing a bit more on my blog over at Deeper Waters .   I’ll be making a few tweaks  and using that blog as the primary place I focus on the simple beauty and pleasure of loving–and being loved by–God (which, for the record, will ALWAYS be my favorite topic).

As for Simple Faith? I’ll always need–and hopefully will always have–simple faith, but  I’m not sure I need a blog to share it anymore. In fact, that isn’t what I have been sharing most often on this blog in recent months. It’s run its course. Not sure when I’ll mix things up–could be weeks, could be months … who knows. But whenever and however I change things, I plan to leave all the existing content right where it is. I’ll just change the theme and focus whenever I’m ready to move forward.

This is bittersweet for me. There have been times I’ve needed this place to express myself. I’m SO grateful to those of you who have been regular readers. You have enriched my life greatly. Those of you who have encouraged me along this journey will forever be in my heart. I hope most of you will continue to stay in touch through Deeper Waters or, in the future, through whatever form this blog ultimately takes.  I sincerely hope that many of you have found encouragement here along the way–that has always been my desire and prayer.  And for all of us,  I pray we will ultimately learn to live life and love Jesus …

In the beauty of simplicity.

UPDATE June 13th, 2014 … as I’ve prayed this through, I’ve decided to keep this blog but rename it Deeper Waters. I will, instead be more or less shutting down my other blog which was already named Deeper Waters. Clear as mud–right?! Oh well, it actually does make sense in my cloudy little brain!

The Elevator Speech – a recap on my recent trip

“Hey, how was your vacation?”

I heard the question a dozen times a day the first week I returned from Thailand and Cambodia. Even though most people knew I wasn’t exactly going on vacation, that still seemed to be the word a lot of people used once I returned.

I wasn’t quite sure how to respond.

In truth, the trip was anything but a vacation. It was one of the most intense, exhausting, emotionally draining and spiritually provoking two week periods of my life.

But that wasn’t the answer most people were looking for—so I had a dilemma. How could I satisfy casual curiosity (or just plain social nicety) and still answer honestly?

Enter the elevator speech.

Anyone who has had any exposure to marketing is familiar with the concept of an elevator speech. An elevator speech is a quick, pre-rehearsed snippet designed to communicate information about your … (product, organization, service…or, er, vacation) in the approximately 30 seconds or so you would have in a random connection with someone on an elevator. The idea is to give an accurate and intriguing synopsis that will satisfy the merely polite while simultaneously identifying and drawing in the truly interested.

So here is my elevator speech:

This trip was an intense and impactful time of entering some of the darkest areas on the planet–areas where human trafficking and sex tourism are rampant–and discovering the priceless treasures hidden in the dark. My eyes were opened to see things I could never have fathomed and I was forever changed by the things I saw.  I believe God ordained this trip for a specific purpose and my challenge now is to determine how to best use my individual gifts and resources in a long-term way that will help bring these hidden treasures into the light.

So that’s my elevator speech. My three sentence recap on what the trip meant to me personally. Probably still more info than a completely casual inquirer really wants to hear, but at least it’s honest. If you want the Reader’s Digest condensed version–there it is.

Does this really tell the story? No. Not even close. I’m not sure I can tell the whole story at this point. Even though I’m home, much of the story that prompted this trip is still being written. There’s also a long back story that gives context. There are parts of the story that still need to be discovered. Other portions require more thought, more prayer before releasing details.

But this I do know–the One who is the Author and Finisher of my individual story, is also the Author and Finisher of this story–the story of these cities and these people. The story of these treasures hidden in darkeness. And he sees the whole picture. He sees far beyond elevator speeches and sanitized, condensed recaps. He sees the end from the beginning. He is the Light in the darkness, the Hope to the hopeless, the Voice for the voiceless, and the only One who can (and will) ultimately write a happy ending to the story.

Although there is much to unfold, I have glimpsed the final outcome. I know the end of the story and I know it’s good. But there is a lot right now that isn’t good. There is a lot of suffering. A lot of heartache–heartache so deep and desperate that a mere word can’t begin to convey the reality of the nightmare.  There is real evil and real depravity that has crept into many, many dark crevices of the story. There is an incredible amount of devastating pain and tragic loss.

But those details of my “vacation” are for another time. Maybe even for another place–I’m not sure yet. If you are amongst those who are intrigued and do want to hear more–I will definitely  share more info in some format at some point in the (hopefully) not-too-distant future.  But for right now, the  elevator speech will have to suffice. Because honestly …

It’s about all my heart can bear at the moment.

Still

As the deer pants for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. –Ps. 42:1

My heart longs for You
… still
More than my dreams
More than fulfilling my destiny
More than a clear purpose
More than fruitful ministry
I love You
I want You
I long for You
… still

So many years have come and gone
So much water under the bridge
So many times what I thought was clear
Becomes shrouded again in doubt
But no matter how many things change
You remain the same
And I love You
I want You
I long for You
… still

I’m no longer concerned with who I’ll become
Or what I’ll accomplish
Or even what I’ll leave behind
Because I know who I already am
… in You
… with You
… to You
And You love me
You want me
You long for me
…still