I hear the word covered in my head and think of insurance, or God being described as having wings, or someone picking up the check. (Note: I never claimed to be sane and I have a LOT of thoughts…many times simultaneously.) I woke up at 3:30 this morning praying in my sleep. And as I came to some form of consciousness, the thought occurred that I never ever want to be the judge. Only God would be able to determine what He won’t forgive.
So if we find ourselves in a position of arrogance, I’m challenging you, and myself as well, to place ourselves lower, at His feet. Maybe it’s time to show our love for Jesus humbly, recalling everything the Creator Himself has set us free of. People with tattoos and piercings of all kinds can serve God too. The elderly woman diagnosed with dementia still has a plan for her life. That pastor who messed up big is not unforgivable. We are not the judge, nor should we want to be. Jesus chose to be on the cross for all. We don’t get to decide what or who’s covered by His blood and God’s wings.
I sit here reflecting on what an amazing thing family is. Simple. People helping other people. Knowing full-well who you can count on. The individuals that would never hurt you if they could keep from it. Hugs. Smiles. Peace. Encouragement. I have all of this in my family, whether they’re in the same house or living in a different state. God has blessed me with role models, really great, strong ones who never surrender, even though there are days they want to. With tears in their eyes, they say “I’m doin’ ok” when you ask and you believe it, because we have a prayer-answering Father. And even though you may see some of their hurt, or that flicker of pain in their eyes, you have faith that they are ok. And on those days they want to quit, you’re able to remind them of that flame, that flicker of strength they possess, that can’t be extinguished, no matter the battle. No matter the odds or statistics. Diagnoses, injuries, heartbreak, and aches that most will never know about, will one day be erased. God is Alpha and Omega and those who call Him family can rely on His strength. We get tired, frustrated, offended, and discouraged, but with Him as our Father, we don’t lose. We get to look on His face one day and as every single individual’s knee bows, we will get it. We will finally comprehend what all of this has been for. And all the stress and anxieties of this short life will be a distant notion we can’t seem to recall. So if you don’t have the kind of family I do, be family for someone else. Hug freely. Smile incessantly. Sit beside someone and just be there in the moment. Breathe. And if you don’t know what a real relationship is like with the Creator of this place we call home for awhile, chase after it. Boldly ask God to open your eyes to that love that is like no other.
Luke 14:11 states: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” I can’t help but think of all the “duck lips” and selfies and derrieres I’ve seen within the past couple weeks or maybe years. People are proud. Proud of what? Their face? Their booty? A certain amount of self-confidence and a healthy dose of self-esteem is appropriate, sure. But I have to wonder: What are we constantly seeking? Approval? Compliments? Someone to notice how worthy we are of attention? As a whole, I think we are placing priority not on the God Who made us, but us.
I don’t want to exalt those who shouldn’t be, namely me. Anything I do is only because God allows me to do it. I have no talents that He hasn’t given me and until I have prayed about a situation, my ideas are limited at best. It’s not easy to live in this world and be set apart from it simultaneously. We were called to be renewed and transformed by the Word of God and some (I dare not say “most” for fear of my stomach turning) don’t even know what it says because the only time they open their Bible is on Sunday mornings, if they didn’t forget it at home. Ouch. That one stung me just a little bit, too.
It’s for that reason that for the next 30 days, I will be carrying a Bible with me. Anywhere I go, the Word of God will be readily available and at my fingertips, much like the smartphone I’m tired of eyeballing. I’ve come to a place where I need more God. More peace. More wisdom. More of anything He’s offering. “God30” begins tomorrow and I look forward to the insights I expect to receive. My priorities must shift. Instead of studying the “art of myself” and how to take the perfect selfie with ideal lighting in the greatest of angles, I’ll study anything the Creator Himself wants to point out each day. I can practice my Daffy Duck mouth another day.
I’ve had one of those days or maybe not so much days, but weeks. One of those days when everything I throw at the trash can (think full coffee filter. Why do I throw those things?) doesn’t actually go inside the trash can and one of those days when you look up to the sky to try to get a handle on things and breathe, but a weird worm from a nearby tree drops onto your upper lip. (Ok, that didn’t really happen, but I did visualize it happening as I looked skyward that day. I have a very active imagination that can be a pro or a con at any given time.) So as I’m walking along, wondering about weird worms, I realize so much about our day is perspective and where we place our focus. My thoughts after I missed the trash can were, “Geeeeez, isn’t anything gonna go right today??” In that moment, I felt a much gentler thought almost audibly whisper, “There are many things that have gone right today.” That whisper, I believe, is the Holy Spirit. There’s no describing it, but I’ve heard it with my heart before many times. (“You don’t have to do this.” Is one of my favorite statements the Comforter has ever made to me. That was when I thought I had to drink. A lot. That’s a previous blog post.)
When I was gently corrected and reminded of the many blessings God had poured out on my ungrateful head that day, I realized that there are only moments of discouragement. Not “bad days.” It’s unlikely that every minute of a 24-hour period could be bad. It’s only moments we, in our fleshy ways, try to make out to be worse than they truly are by focusing on those instead of the good ones.
When Jesus left this earth after being raised from the dead, He said, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14:26 (NIV) I know I need an Advocate. Somebody who’s gonna help me out by reminding me that every little thing’s gonna be alright (some of you now have a Marley song stuck in your head now. You’re welcome.) Even on one o’ those days I throw the banana away and start to eat the peel.
Persecution by Facebook? Weird. The post quite simply stated: “God>Buddha.” This is my belief. Wholeheartedly. The Living Creator of the universe and also my living, breathing, being wins against a mere mortal, especially one who is no longer with us, any day. But I digress. The following, lest anyone think I could post something such as this without thought, is a brief overview of what went through my head regarding the topic for nearly a week after.
Day 1: It’s my page and I’ll post what I want.
Day 2: I did stand for what I believe since I posted 2 names (One was the Creator of the Universe and the other, a man the first, also known as Alpha, created, who had amazing principles for life… as does the Creator’s Son, ironically)
Day 3: I’ll supply the reason behind the post. I believe many are looking for something, yet don’t know what or who. I understand that because I’ve been there. I’ve been in that place where you need more and grow exhausted due to not finding it. And the answer certainly isn’t in mere individuals because they are just that, individual humans searching for truth themselves. The Buddhist principles offer peace, a beautiful serenity that so many crave in this world. But true peace is found in the One Who created Buddha. I believe we serve a living God and I’ve seen miracles in this country and another as well that cannot be explained away.
Day 4: Simply because one doesn’t believe in God doesn’t make Him any less real.
Day 5: It’s weird that my Buddhist friends aren’t offended…
Each of these days, I have prayed for those who haven’t experienced God the way I have. It is my opinion and also a fact that God is greater because the creation does not supersede the Creator Himself. This is what I believe.
I am so blessed and lemme tell you why. There was a time when I couldn’t imagine being married. Now, not only am I married, but I’m married to a Godly, praying man who not only recognizes when I need prayer, but follows through with it. I think all of us know how difficult that can be. So, I am happily spoiled in a way that I never thought I could or would appreciate. And I could almost write it off as being a not-so-blessed, but-more-of-a-typical happening, but as soon as I begin to take it for granted, I feel another hand. A smaller, 5-year-old hand gently touches my back. There are no words spoken because I know she is listening to her daddy pray. She not only hears the power that those words hold, but sees them as I miraculously (yes, I said miraculously) regain strength and energy into my body. Maybe to some it wouldn’t mean much. Maybe you picture Benny Hinn yelling and people dropping to the floor. I don’t know what you think about miracles. And I’ll be really honest, I don’t care. (Yup, said that too.) I know that I literally go from being too weary to walk or lift my head because my muscles give out to being able to continue on, whether that continuation leads to putting breakfast on the table (ok, it’s the coffee table—the kids eat in front of the TV sometimes. Ok, a lot. I’m letting it go.) or heading to work to do what I love. That’s real. That’s true. That’s what I choose to think on today. And that’s why I’m blessed beyond measure.
The holiday season has me all nostalgic and lethargic at the same time. I’m exhausted. I try to slow down, but when everyone else is running at full speed, if I break pace, then I might as well drop out of the race. I’ve done that before. I’m not a fan. I was out of the game for longer than I want to think about, unable to work or do too much of anything for myself. I’m thankful for each day, but it’s very difficult to learn the speed at which I can go versus still staying in the race.
What race is it? I sit here and wonder. Am I in a competition? With who? The Joneses? I don’t even know them. Family? They typically want what’s best for me. Co-workers? Eh, I think they have their own issues. So who’s the instigator? A collective whole? Maybe. The enemy who wants to see us discouraged and feeling like failures at everything we do? Most likely. After all, there is an enemy and he doesn’t exactly want to see us happy, content, and successful. (that’s not what enemies do.)
So I find myself very reflective on what makes the holidays amazingly successful. I think back to the music, live nativity scenes, the caroling, the cheer and chill in the air, visiting relatives and laughing, running with cousins, playing games only we knew the rules to, being a part of something special, and then the gifts. Not necessarily in that order, but the gifts, who remembers the gifts? I don’t. Sure, there are a few. But if it were all about stuff, wouldn’t we recall more than a few? That feeling of contentment that went deeper than a full belly after a meal shared with family was a much better gift than any truck or stereo or teddy bear.
Are the traditions that began so long ago still traditions if not carried on through us? What is important this season? Hot chocolate and time spent comes to mind. Not mowing people down and throwing elbows to get to the latest toy craze. (No, I don’t know where you can find a Hatchimal.) I say JOY instead of fatigue this year! Cheers (it’s coffee) to getting your rest and focusing on what’s truly important this year—let’s not run ourselves ragged so that our kids only remember how grouchy the holidays made us.