If you decide to get hooked on any song this fall, let this be it.
Jehovah Go’el – Lord My Redeemer
Please let me preface this by being as clear as possible: I acknowledge that there are far more difficult situations for the Lord to call us into and there have been, are, and will be more painful things that people experience. This is simply my account of a new journey that Abba Father is leading me through and using to teach me more of his goodness and kindness and love. He teaches us all differently and is incredibly creative in the various ways he chooses to do so.
He spoke to us in the late, rainy hours of the last days of summer. Abba asked us to end our dating relationship. We obeyed. There was no reluctance, no anger, no fighting, and no distrust. We know our Father is good. We know his love is perfect and fulfilling and that his word is entirely reliable and trustworthy. We are loved by a good and perfect Dad. Anything he asks of us is for our good, for the good of others, and for his glory. So, we listened.
Here’s where the human aspect comes into play. Although we know how trustworthy the Lord is, that does not mean that what he asks of us is not difficult, scary, or painful. Sometimes what he wants most from us and for us is the most difficult, the scariest, and very painful. He does not desire us to be overwhelmed with a situation, filled with fear, or writhe in our pain. But, he does want us to trust him to lead us and purify us and draw us close to him through hard experiences, times of fear, and moments of pain. He creates a path through the difficulty that didn’t exist before. He comforts and brings overwhelming peace in the face of fear. And he soothes, mends, and heals the pain.
Rob is facing a phase in life that requires him to be completely Father’s. Anything more than that has the potential to be devastating to him and others. (That situation is his story to tell, but it is a beautiful one soon to be filled with victory and massive amounts of glorious healing.) Knowing this, we listened when Father asked us to step away. That moment of telling Abba, “Yes” together was tear-filled. Neither one of us saw it coming in the weeks prior.
Usually in the ending of a relationship, something has gone wrong. Someone has been betrayed. People have grown apart, become too different to manage. Or the relationship was toxic and not healthy for either partner. This was not our case. We were continually growing closer together, closer to our friends, and closer to Father through dating each other.
So how did we process ending an already beautiful and wonderful and loving relationship that seemed endless? We had our most romantic and lovely night together. Ever. We shared our favorite wine. We danced in the kitchen by candlelight. We sat in his empty cottage on a blanket and shared our feelings, our thoughts. We recanted our favorite moments together. We prayed over each other. We cried and we laughed. Then, we parted ways.
It was the most romantic experience of my life.
This brings me to the beautiful lesson that Abba Daddy taught me in that moment: he loves to redeem every thing in our lives. Throughout our relationship, Rob and I experienced so many moments of the Lord redeeming our past by using our relationship to heal us. (Those moments are for another entry.) In my past, I had only experienced painful, dramatic, and scarring break-ups filled with screaming, name-calling, and eventually cold-hearted abuse. But this time, this break-up, the moment was filled with so much goodness. So much grace and mercy. So much healing. So much honesty and kindness. The Lord loves to fully redeem and heal every part of our lives and our hearts. And if going through this relationship was only to learn what a beautiful break-up is like, it was all worth it. That piece of my past and heart was mended, healed, and redeemed. It was given hope.
I want you to know that relationships do not have to leave you broken and shattered if they end. They can leave you more whole than you were in the beginning. They can leave you more loving, more compassionate, and more yourself than you’ve ever been. The Lord is so faithful to his promises. He is so freeing and filled with joy.
I don’t know what the future looks like. What I expected it to be has been completely turned on it’s head now… But I know it’s going to be much more than I could ever ask for or imagine because my Father, my Abba, my Daddy is already there. He’s the Alpha and the Omega. The Beginning and the End. And he is already at the end, waiting for me.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand. – Isaiah 41:10
Bring me your weakness, and receive My Peace. Accept yourself and your circumstances just as they are, remembering that I am sovereign over everything. Do not wear yourself out with analyzing and planning. Instead, let thankfulness and trust be your guides through this day; they will keep you close to Me. As you live in the radiance of My Presence, My Peace shines upon you. You will cease to notice how weak or strong you feel because you will be focusing on Me. The best way to get through this day is step by step with Me. Continue this intimate journey, trusting that the path you are following is headed for heaven.
'The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace.' – Psalm 29:11
'The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.' – Numbers 6:24-26
'But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.' – Psalm 13:5
— Jesus Calling (February 4)
You have to let the roots grow deep, and stop worrying about the leaves. In due season they will be made new.
He Remains Faithful
Back in late September, an old demon that I thought I had conquered came back to haunt me: the feeling that I was too far gone for God’s grace to reach me.
Hah. How ridiculous is that?! I had just written a blog about his grace. I had been through months of trials, tribulations, and victories that proved his grace abounded. I had watched him work in me and through me just moments after my screw-ups. I should have had the grace thing down, right? I guess old habits do die hard.
So, I decided to try to remedy this with good, old fashioned prayer (hey guys, it seriously works wonders). I spent a night face down on my bedroom floor begging the God of the Universe to calm my heart; to open my eyes to his goodness and grace. I went to bed unresolved. Calmer heart and drained emotions, but still unresolved.
The next day, I decided to take a nap during my lunch break at home and sleep off the restlessness I was still feeling. When I woke up, the lie was still there. The lie that I was somehow too far gone for God to eternally love me. The lie that, at any moment, he would completely give up on me. The lie that he didn’t love me as fully as he said he did. I was fed up. I was fed up with being told this lie, and I was fed up with believing it. God had a beautiful track-record of loving me, not only in his Word, but in my life too. He had proven himself faithful over and over and over. He had shown me that he was my eternal redeemer.
So, at the end of my rope, I begged God to speak to me. I wanted to hear directly from him that it was finished long ago; that my heart has been sealed to his for eternity. At the end of my prayer, I hadn’t heard anything, so I gathered my things and started the short drive back to work.
As I was about to pull up to a stop sign in the parking lot outside of our offices, God clearly and concisely declared his everlasting love for me. I quickly parked my car and made a dash to my desk to grab my notebook and jot down the exact words he said so that I would never forget them. My God didn’t just speak a word, or even a sentence, of truth to me… he spoke an entire paragraph. The God that created the heavens, and the earth, and the oceans, and animals, and abundantly more saw fit to notice my hurt and confusion and speak directly to my heart.
Since then, those words have been such a comfort when my fragile, fleshly heart begins to believe lies again. Because they have been such a help for me, I want to share them with you, in hopes that they bring light into your darkness and speak truth to combat the lies.
"God loved us in our most unlovable state. So much so that he saw fit to live with us, as one of us. To live in the most humble way imaginable, just to be near us. Then, he took every punishment we ever deserved. He died for us, while we were still sinners. Then, he took the keys of hell from Satan, rose again on the third, and lived another forty days with us. If God would do all of that before I knew him, how could I ever imagine he would disown me or stop loving me now that I love him back. You see, our salvation and right-standing with him isn’t based on who I am or what I do, but on who he is and what he has done. He began loving me and pursuing me 2,000 years before I was born… and nothing under the sun will stop him from loving me now.”
Dear friends, “If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)
I want you to know
You know how this is:
if I look
at the crystal moon, at the red branch
of the slow autumn at my window,
if I touch
near the fire
the impalpable ash
or the wrinkled body of the log,
everything carries me to you,
as if everything that exists,
aromas, light, metals,
were little boats
toward those isles of yours that wait for me.
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.
you forget me
do not look for me,
for I shall already have forgotten you.
If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.
if each day,
you feel that you are destined for me
with implacable sweetness,
if each day a flower
climbs up to your lips to seek me,
ah my love, ah my own,
in me all that fire is repeated,
in me nothing is extinguished or forgotten,
my love feeds on your love, beloved,
and as long as you live it will be in your arms
without leaving mine.
— Pablo Neruda, If You Forget Me
I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.
— Dawna Markova
When this posts (on October 18, 2012 at midnight), I will have lived with this amazing woman for a full two months. Lauri is such a blessing from Jesus. I have learned so much through her walk with Christ these past couple of months. I have learned about kindness, honesty, discipline, and love. I am consistently pushed to be a better friend and believer. So, here’s to you, Lauri. I’m so thankful that you were my answered prayer for a roommate in this new city.
Side note: Our amazing friend, Chris Hall, generously shot these super candid photos for us two weeks ago. Thanks for doing such a great job, friend!
i think i threw up a little.
Tune My Heart to Sing Thy Grace
"Prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love. Here’s my heart. Oh, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above."
Vulnerability can be a scary thing. But, let’s all be vulnerable for a moment and admit that these lines are truer than true. Loving Jesus, making that difficult decision to follow him, wasn’t a one-time decision. It is a decision we, I, have to make every single morning. Sometimes I even have to remind myself of my decision throughout the day. I know, I know, “good” Christians love Jesus aaaaaall the time. And, I do. But I don’t always act like it. And, sometimes, throwing in the towel seems more appealing. But what is so beautiful about my Jesus is that, on those days when I feel like I just can’t hold onto him anymore, he reminds me that he’s the one holding onto me, not the other way around. This walk isn’t based in my strength, but in my weakness. It isn’t based in my knowledge, but in my continual pursuit of his truth and goodness. Honestly, that truth is the most freeing thing ever. It’s not up to me. That’s the beauty of his grace: it isn’t up to me.
That’s what I’m learning most in Orlando right now: the beauty of his grace. I have learned about his grace so many times before, but learning about how extensive it is, how it permeates every fiber of our beings, that it is freely and lavishly given to me constantly and consistently… that is a lesson that is a little harder to learn. At least, for me it is. That is something Jesus is freeing me from lately: thinking that I am somehow too low, too messed up, to deserve his grace. The thing is, it’s true! We are too messed up to deserve it, that’s why we need it most. Jesus is gently teaching me that he is not afraid of my mess ups and screw ups, and that he is not angry with me when I fail. Here is a beautiful illustration of grace a dear friend once shared with me:
Picture this: You are five years old again. Your dad is teaching you how to ride a bike. Because he knows you’re ready for the next step, he’s taken the training wheels off of your bike. You’re scared and excited all at the same time. You know that you can’t ride a bike without training wheels yet, but you know that your daddy knows exactly how to teach you. You push off of the ground, with your daddy holding onto the seat of your bike to steady you. He runs alongside you as you pedal faster and faster. Once you build momentum, he lets go. You make it about two feet before you eat the pavement. It hurts. You skin your knee and shed a few tears. Your daddy takes you inside, sits you on the counter, tends to your wounds, calms your tears, and holds you. You feel better, but you feel defeated. You’ve fallen 99 times now. You want to throw in the towel. You are tired of failing and you feel like you will never be able to do this. But, your daddy knows that on the 100th try, you’ve got this. You’re going to fly down hills and cut curves like a pro. He gently encourages you to try again. And when you do, you finally get it.
This is what our God, our Daddy, is like. He’s not angry when we fall while we’re trying to learn. He knows we’re going to. A father doesn’t yell at his young child for falling while learning to walk… he rejoices when his baby makes it just two steps! And cheers us on when we finally make it three steps! He knows this is all new territory for us, so he cheers us on, dusts us off when we fall, puts us back on our feet, and encourages and supports us. It’s beautiful. It’s grace.
This grace that Jesus is so sweetly astonishing me with has been something I have had to daily choose to accept. Some days, I don’t want it. I don’t feel good enough and I want to do things my way. Then he gently whispers that his grace even covers that. His grace washes over me even when I don’t want to accept it, even when I don’t choose him.
I am prone to wander. And, Jesus, boy do I feel it. But… here’s my heart. Continually seal it. Seal it for your courts above.