For some reason, when reading back over this post, it hit me that I needed to add a small preface in case anyone mistook my tone below as representing that I have it all figured out! I did not write this post from the position of easy answers or claiming to have my doubts, fears and hurts immediately disappear. This is my processing of the daily cycle I live as I oscillate from protecting myself based on who others say I am versus living openly in love for others according to who I really am as defined by Jesus Christ. And He is faithful each day as I come to Him with my brokenness. He renews and refreshes with His grace and hope. This is a marathon, a long and winding journey where I fall and get back up not just daily, but minute by minute. And I pray that my words encourage you and remind you that He does go before you and make the crooked places straight even as you struggle in the moment to even take that next step.
Slowly, I am realizing that this broken, sin-filled life in which we all participate makes it really difficult for me to remain open-hearted. I am usually able to accept difficult circumstances and consequences in life resulting from my own choices or even from the choices of others who may affect my life although they are not people with whom I have close relationships. But as I seek to know God more, I am more deeply aware of my own sin and struggles--one of the chief of which is not being able to keep my heart and life open to the world around me when I feel as if it is crushed by hurtful words and actions of people to whom I extended and opened myself, my life, and my family.
God has called us Christ-followers to GO, not to stay in our comfortable, safe circles of support and selfishly grasp on to His goodness while people all around us are hurting and need to know the truth of who He is and why we all need Him. And the business of going is messy. Often, I think of going in terms of the orphan, the poor, the downtrodden, the "least of these" according to the world. And we must go to them. But we must also go to our neighbor down the street who might not be easy to get along with, we must go to the person at our workplace who seems to thrive on causing dissension, we must go to the mom on our child's sports team who disagrees with us at every turn, to the people in our daily lives--going to show His face, to love as He would, and to proclaim the gospel where we may be laughed at, rejected, or even verbally attacked. And when a new relationship does not go well, or even ends in a way that could never have been foreseen, we carry those hurts and scars with us. When those kind of hurts happen, I tend to hold onto those scars and without even realizing it, and withdraw part of myself from the world. Love is messy. Being real about who you are in Christ and trying to live a life of surrender is not easy, and it is often misunderstood. Reaching out and loving people where they are is tough and often ends in disappointment.
BUT, herein lies my hope and here is what God whispers to my heart as I pray and seek and read and live. Jesus carried our sin and our scars. He hurt and was rejected as God and man as he walked on this earth. He became sin for us and bore in himself the wrath and rejection of a holy God who cannot tolerate sin. And it is He who sustains and strengthens and sends me into this world. My hope is built on Him alone, and my love for others comes from His love. So in Him, I can go and love until it hurts. He opens my heart to love and life again, as He invites me to live in the hope of resurrection.
So I cling to Him as I praise God that He is making all things new. He is redeeming the years that the locusts are eating. He is bringing life from death, beauty from ashes, and restoration from brokenness. This shadowland shows glimpses of His life, His beauty, and His resurrection amid the ashes of sin and suffering. And we can go and love with these glimpses of His glory as we keep our hearts and minds fixed upon our God.
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
8 The precepts of the LORD are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the LORD are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
9 The fear of the LORD is pure,
The decrees of the LORD are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
10 They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
11 By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12 But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then I will be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.
Psalm 19:7-14 (NIV)
Loving and Learning,
- I love Jesus Christ, am a seeker of beauty, and am a grateful child of God who would be lost and hopeless were it not for His grace. I am learning to walk in love, see interruptions as divine appointments, and value people and relationships above agendas and results. I pray my life is grace-filled, and brings joy and encouragement to everyone I know and meet. We are a family of 6, built by God through love, birth, and adoption, living in the beauty and the struggle that accompanies parenting kids from hard places. Got questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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