Friday, July 25, 2008

Jesus Loves Me

Jesus loves me. This I know. For the Bible tells me so. Little ones to Him belong. They are weak but He is strong...

Jesus loves me. It is such a simple truth. Easy to understand. That is why we teach it to children after all. We put it into their songs and they happily sing it to themselves over and over. They understand God's love for them... and they enjoy it.

So when did the rest of us stop understanding? At what point did the simple truth become complicated? Is it just me or has the majority of the grown-up world, including the church, moved past the fact of God's love? Though not voiced aloud, many lives seem to communicate the view that we mastered that infantile concept years ago and have now moved on to more adult concerns of the faith. At what point did we shelve the reality of God's love? Was there a magical age? Was it when we became an adult? Or is there more to it than that?

Perhaps it was when our hearts first encountered trauma. Childlike innocence came face to face with nonsensical pain and circumstances no longer allowed for the luxury of God's love. So we set the fantasy aside to pull up our bootstraps and charge forward through the broken dream. Survival becomes our only concern. No matter that our hearts are shattered, our lives scattered in pieces for one reason or another. We press on, finding a routine to dull the ache, busyness to drowned out the emptiness, and addictions to numb the pain. We learn to cope. But we don't live. And we certainly don't love.

We say we do. We find cheaper, counterfeit versions of love to try to fool ourselves into believing we have obtained the long lost luxury. But deep down, we all know that something is not right. Because the ache and the emptiness and the pain are still there, throbbing beneath the surface.

We inside the church are often just as trapped as those outside when it comes to our perspective of God and His love. The world displays their desperation and anger and agony. We learn to play games and cover ours up while pretending that we have found the solution our soul wanted. We claim that we understand the concept of God's love once again. But we don't. Not many of us. And certainly none of us to the extent that we could. Though we do not voice it for fear of contradicting such an accepted, childlike fact, we do not believe that God is loving. Our minds may, but our hearts often scream to the contrary. Our circumstances scream to the contrary. Our pain screams to the contrary. There is no room for pain and love to mix within our war-torn hearts. We feel pain, so we assume that love is absent. Some of us give up trying altogether. Others of us begin to work and strive and sacrifice to try to somehow earn this favor from God. But either way, we are not being loved. Or so we feel. But is this true?

Jesus loves me... Children believe it in their innocence. Why shouldn't they? When the world steals that innocence, doubt steals their ability to feel loved. But they remain loved all the same. We remained loved. We cannot see it, we cannot feel it. But the reality is there all the same. We are loved. We just won't let our hearts receive it. I haven't let my heart receive it. But it has been there all the same.

This I know... the key is knowing that God loves us. Whether we know it or not, the fact still remains true. But it cannot provide healing and restoration to our wounded hearts until we know this fact. This isn't a matter of knowing in the mind, but knowing in the heart. Of letting God reach down into the most wounded places of our souls and bringing the reality of His love. If we really know this... not just know it... but really know it in the core of our being, then it will change the way we live, the way we see and the way we feel.

Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong... The love of God is not an adult matter. It is for children. Adults make there own way in the world. Children wait to be provided for. We cannot make our own way into the love of God. He must be allowed to provide one for us. Jesus once said to enter the kingdom of heaven one must become like a little child. We have to open up our hearts to receive, just like children. Children accept gifts. They don't try to earn them. What's more is they love them! When was the last time you experienced the joy of receiving a gift from your heavenly Father, just because He loves you? He does. And He is waiting to give us what we have strived to find for so long. He just wants us to stop striving and open our hands to receive it.

I have been learning this lesson. It has been a painful, awkward journey, but a beautiful and exhilarating process nonetheless. God has taken the last few months to prepare my heart to receive this simple truth: He loves me. Its simple, but its profound. Its elementary, but its foundational. It can be understood by children and yet missed by a world of adults. I don't want to miss it any more. I don't want you to miss it. I know God doesn't want any of us to miss it. He loves us! Can you see it? Yes! Jesus loves me! Can you feel it? Yes! Jesus loves me! Does it make you want to dance and shout and sit and be quiet for a really long time? My heart has never been so at rest. I feel like I have stopped striving for the first time in a very long time... maybe ever. I'm so content. I'm so valued. I'm so loved. I'm also still in pain. The world and its messiness are still there. That hasn't changed. But somehow, the tangible love of God in my life makes all the difference. Love and pain have found a way to coexist within my soul. Yes! He loves me! They may find a way to coexist inside of yours.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Every summer that I have come home from school, I drive seventeen hours in sleep-deprived conditions with a taxed brain and emotions in tow, while visions of rest and relaxation dance in my head. There is always a bit of purpose laced in with the relaxation, but primarily I love coming home to rest and feed my hungry heart by spending time with those I love. Now I will admit that my 'every summer' only consists of a total of two at this point, but to a college student... hey that is consistency in the making. So... back to the visions of rest... well, they realize themselves somewhere in the midst of the summer... although they hide themselves pretty well. If you piece together two days at Grandma Beth's in Lynch in May, scattered hours snatched here and there in the Davy's attic, and a series of dinners at the Taylor house in July they might add up to one amazing week of vacation. But, well... what can I say? I spread the love around and shared it over an entire summer. So much for vacation. No really. I'm not meaning to communicate that my summer has been exhausting... although there are days when it seems it has. It just interests me how God always has a bit different plan in mind for my time at home than I usually imagine. But it should be expected. What do I know? Man makes his plans... but the Lord directs His steps.

I made my plans... this summer and last. I wanted to see my family and rest and catch up on a few projects I never seem to have time for. But God saw this time as prime opportunity for growth... accelerated style! So we do a little prodding here... a little uncovering there. Toss in a heaping of conviction, a portion of pain, and a pinch of overwhelmed and... vwhala... a complete recipe for an undetermined amount of stretching. The seventeen hour drive is over. God says ready, set, go! I never even saw it coming.

My heart is so full right now. I feel like I am trying to process six things at once. Maybe that is because I am. This summer somehow feels like it has a year or two's worth of growth packed into a measly three months. Its been hard. But its been good. I don't see all of the goodness at the moment. Right now the overwhelmed bit is obstructing my view. But I remember this feeling last summer. And I also remember the fact that afterwards I wouldn't trade it for anything. I walked away with a deeper understanding of myself, the people I love and the God I serve (and I just may have spent a whole year trying to process it all). I know this summer will prove the same, although it might take me a while to sort it through to find the hidden treasures.

There is so much I could write about... but there is so much that I have struggled to pick any of it out of the muddle to focus on over the last few weeks. Hence the lack of posting. The best I can do at this point is summarize into a few words: pain, release, healing, refinement, and discipleship. The rest will have to wait until I find a bit of sleep, some time and the words to spit it out into cyberspace. You'll have to stay tuned.

Friday, July 4, 2008

I Pledge Allegiance to the King

I pledge allegiance to the King, who rules over all the nations of the earth. I pledge allegiance to His kingdom and everything for which it stands: grace, justice, redemption, deliverance, healing, hope, and the love of the King himself. His Kingdom is invincible, eternal, and pervasive. It lies within our grasp and yet will never be contained. It steals gently into our world and overpowers all other realities. It comforts our hearts with its presence. And it overwhelms us with the expanse of its power and dominion. The subjects of this kingdom learn to be loyal to the end, sacrificing their comforts, their days, all they hold dear and their very lives to further the cause of their King. They exchange the good for the better. The temporal for the eternal. The small for the great.

This Kingdom is invisible to all those who do not have eyes to see. At the surface it cannot be noticed. To look at our world, full of its evil and injustice, it can be hard to believe there is an all pervasive Kingdom of goodness and justice winning a war in our midst. But the day of victory is drawing nigh. Those with Kingdom senses can feel it pulsing beneath the surface of the earth. They smell the fragrance of its beauty. They hear its distant approach. They see its imminent arrival. They taste of its goodness. It is rising and approaching and gaining speed as the day draws near when not just the loyal citizens of this kingdom will pay their homage, but every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Happy Independence Day! The bondage of sin has been broken. We are free to love and live for the King of Kings! May His Kingdom quickly come!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

An Ordinary Day

Today was an ordinary day. My feet traversed over solid ground. I worked with my hands. Words came out of my mouth. My eyes watched and my ears heard.

But maybe today wasn't an ordinary day. Maybe my feet didn't really walk across solid ground. Oh, I know they did in the sense that this earth is real. I'm standing on it right now. But maybe they also didn't because there is a bigger reality that exists outside of what I touched and saw and heard in this ordinary day. Maybe I didn't traverse across pavement and carpet and floors. Perhaps I traversed across something more... without even knowing it.

Do you ever reach the end of day and feel that you have been existing in one set of parameters while a bigger reality has been waiting and existing all around you? The things around you were real, but there was something more real just beyond..... I don't know... what is it that keeps us from entering its sphere of existence? The existence of the more real. There is an infinitesimal part of my heart that is aware of this greater reality. But there is a larger part of my heart that stands oblivious to its presence. I miss it within so many moments. My hands sew, moving to oblige. My feet walk, traveling to finite destinations. My lips move and my ears hear, communicating and receiving miniscule information. Simultaneously the heavens are shaking and dancing and racing and pausing around me. Wars are being fought. Battles lost and won. Passion spent. Love expressed. God is whispering. There is something more.

I could be discouraged at the end of this ordinary day. I lived in the ordinary and I missed the other reality. Or I could be excited. In the midst of my ordinary, the extraordinary was living and thriving and swelling to draw me into it. I may not have seen it today, but it exists... and that is hope. It remains living and thriving and swelling. I sense it in this moment at a day's end. I am glad that my existence doesn't simply consist of a lot of work and meaningless chatter. I am glad that there is more... and its waiting for me.

It's just a thought at the end of an ordinary day. I looked around me and I saw, but I sensed that what I saw wasn't truly real. There was something beyond what I saw that was waiting to be seen. Ordinarily I might not have noticed... but today... at the end of this ordinary day I did. And I wanted you to notice too.