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So much of life is waiting. . .

As a Christian, I am waiting for a lot--for God to do His refining work in me, for Jesus to return, for me to GET how much God loves me and for me to see what He is doing . . .

What to do in the meantime? I have learned much about what the Lord is trying to teach me, tell me and show me through the discipline of daily time spent reading the Bible. So often we make this time harder than it has to be.

This blog was born out of wanting to share what God is showing me and wanting to be an example that daily time with God is not a deep or mysterious thing (well, every once in a while it can be), but simply a time to read scripture and note what jumps out at you that day. We don't have to be scholars or super-holy or ministry leaders to do this. Some days I hit the jackpot and others I come up empty--but only by persevering do I give God the space in which to speak and myself the stillness in which to hear and obey.

As of June of 2017, I've now decided to include parts of our adoption journey, which is, so far, yet another chapter of waiting.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Come Out, Come Out Wherever You Are

We are all really good at hiding. Mostly, we hide behind images and phrases hand-selected to make us look good. Facebook. Instagram. Twitter. We hide behind banal conversation: 'Hi, how are you?" "Good, thanks, you?" "Fine." Sometimes we pretend we aren't hiding, offering a prayer request that seems like we're being open but it's not the real thing we are worried about or scared of or need. I'm particularly good at this one, because it can include blogging about thoughts I have, but not really going deep enough to address the real issue.

Why do we hide? There are probably lots of reasons, but for me, it comes down to one pervasive reason: Fear of rejection. If I show my true self and you don't like it, then that will hurt and maybe I will find out that I'm not worthy of attention or friendship or love. So, I present to you my good self, mostly, and hope that it's enough.

There is an account in the Bible, in Luke 8 (and Matthew 9 and Mark 5) about a woman who really wanted to hide. She had been bleeding for 12 years and no one could help her. Bleeding for twelve years straight would be miserable enough. In those days, however, it wasn't just inconvenient and exhausting, but isolating. She would have been, according to Jewish law, considered unclean and been excluded from many societal and relational activities. Somehow, this woman hears about Jesus and how He has healed people. According to Matthew, she saids to herself, "If I only touch his garment, I will be made well." (Matthew 9:21). She touches Jesus' robe and immediately the bleeding stops and she is healed. Her plan, apparently, was just to blend back into the crowd and go home. However, Jesus has a different plan:

But Jesus said, “Someone touched me, for I perceive that power has gone out from me.” And when the woman saw that she was not hidden, she came trembling, and falling down before him declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.” (Luke 8:46-47)

Why did the woman come back to Jesus and show herself? Because she realized that she was not hidden.  Jesus saw her, knew her, and was calling her to come to Him. The first part of the process of following Christ is to come to Him, and one of the ways that Jesus draws us to Him is that He knows us completely and still wants us to come.

A definitive moment for me with God was when I (rule-following, straight-A, never-been-drunk, never-did-drugs, never-smoked-a-cigarette good girl that I was) realized that God knew all the hidden sin in my heart. He knew every critical thought, every mean impulse, every self-righteous judgement, and He still loved and called me.  When I stopped hiding my true self from God (as if I could)  I recognized and received the grace He was offering me.

The text above says that the woman told all the people what she had touched Jesus and how she was healed. It would be embarrassing enough in this day to stand up in a crowd of both men and women and share how you had been bleeding for twelve years. Imagine it in Bible times, when women weren't even allowed to mix with men during their period. Yet, once realizing that she was no longer hidden and was seen and wanted by Jesus, the woman does just that. Though still trembling, she comes out of hiding.

I believe that one purpose for marriage is to show us a picture of God and how He relates to people. When I read this story, it was on the heels of me being very crabby and not-very-nice to my husband. He gets to see the worst of me. If I am pursuing intimacy at all levels in my marriage, there is not a lot of hiding. Simply living with someone else eliminates subterfuge as well. We see the worst of one another, and yet we forgive and accept one another anyway.

I have also had moments of community in which the people involved have been able to stop hiding and be their true selves, sin and all. I think it is what God calls us to. He wants us to stop hiding from ourselves, from each other, and most of all, from Him.

How do we stop? ("How" is always my biggest question). What I see in this story is that I stop hiding when I trust and believe that Jesus sees me, knows me, and accepts me. If I know this truth and stay connected to Christ, I don't need to hide any longer.  When I stop hiding, like this woman did, my faith increases, there is healing, and I can live my life in peace rather than in the stress of pretending.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

That Whole Judging Thing

"What right do you have to judge me?" This phrase is often spoken (many times shouted) in the hopes of ending an argument. Pages and pages of text could be written discussing the different types of judgement Jesus speaks about in the Bible. A few days ago, I read an account in Luke 7:36-50 in which my own sometimes judgmental heart was exposed.

In summary, Jesus accepts an invitation to the home of a Pharisee, Simon. While Jesus was there, a woman of the village who was a known sinner (maybe a prostitute) anoints Jesus' feet with oil and wipes His feet with her hair. Simon is scandalized and thinks to himself, "If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner." (Luke 7:39b) Jesus points out to Simon that this woman loves Jesus because she is, indeed, a sinner and has been forgiven much by Jesus. She has honored Jesus much more than Simon, who has not even fulfilled the rules of good etiquette for the time (given water to wash with, anointed Jesus' head with oil). Jesus commends the woman's faith and tells her to go in peace.

I have always before seen the Pharisee, Simon, as judging the woman and trying to provoke Jesus, and I think he is, indeed, doing that. However, what I noticed this time was that Simon was judging Jesus. He was looking at Jesus with the sole purpose of noticing what He was doing wrong and calling Him out on it. Simon, in essence, was seeing only Jesus' "sins". In contrast, when Jesus looked at the woman, He focused on her heart. He saw her heart of love and worship and welcomed her. Jesus knew she was a sinner. He was aware of her sin. But that was not what He chose to notice.

Often I am like the Pharisee. I notice all the things that someone is doing wrong. Sometimes what I notice is truly sin. Sometimes it's just not the way I would do things. Regardless, when I focus only on a person's sinful actions, I don't see their heart. I don't see the love or friendship they may be offering, or the brokenness that has brought them to that place.

The second point I noticed was far more chilling to me. Simon, in focusing only on the sins of Jesus and the woman completely missed not just the heart of the woman, but Jesus Himself. Simon wasn't seeing Jesus as He was. Simon was only finding fault to support his own opinion. I never want to be so focused on fault-finding that I miss Jesus. I want to see Him as clearly as possible, and, instead of judging much, to love much.