You are currently browsing the monthly archive for April 2012.

As I open my Bible this morning, my thoughts are swirling.  Thinking about many needs in my life, needs in the lives of those I love, some desires I have.

I lay out my needs before Him, writing down on paper the list that has filled my mind for days.

When I am anxious, I am forgetting His goodness and grace to me.  I am forgetting His past kindness and His promises of a good future.

He asks me to cast my cares upon Him, and I finally obey.

In God’s kindness, He breaks open the Word and feeds my anxious heart.

Once again, the Gospel is the foundation for the peace He promises.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
(Romans 8:32 ESV)

In the Gospel, I see the lavish love and care of the Father.  My worry and anxiety over today and tomorrow (and tomorrow’s tomorrow) cannot stand in light of this perfect provision for what was my greatest need, the salvation of my soul.

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
(Matthew 7:11 ESV)

Our Father delights in answering the prayers of His children.  He loves to give us good things.

But what if it seems as though what He has given today is not good?  An empty checking account, a disobedient child, a derailed schedule?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV)

Because of His promises, because of the incredible proof of Love He has given us in the Gospel, we can accept with glad hearts and open hands whatever He brings our way.  Any circumstance we may find ourselves in today is His grace to us, His showing us His love and care, His power and sufficiency.

Because all is grace, in both the things we like and the things we would rather avoid , we can say, “Thank you, Father, for this providence.”  We can agree with the Psalmist, who declared, “The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. (Psalm 16:6 ESV)”

Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. Psalm 66:16

God has given you a story to tell. He is writing a story of your life, to bring Himself glory, to point others to His strength and sovereign love.

Tell your story.  And tell The Story, the old One, of Jesus and His Love.  Tell how He saved you.  How He has kept and is still keeping you through trials. How He has forgiven your sins and redeemed your life from the pit.

If you are like me, this is incredibly scary, this opening up about past mistakes and disappointments.  We don’t want to be defined by the difficult, failing moments, do we?  Maybe you have been betrayed by a close friend, and your own words have been used against you.

Of course, that can happen again. We have no guarantees of safety, when we are in relationships with each other, fellow sinners.

We will let each other down, yes?

But if we are going to move from fear to friendship, maybe we should go ahead and admit this, and enter into our relationships with the open disclaimer, “I will let you down.  You will let me down. But can we extend grace to each other?  Please, will you still be my friend?”

There is only one perfect Friend who never betrays us… the Betrayed One who knows our pain, shares our sorrows, and yet still invites us to make ourselves vulnerable to each other in order that we may lift up His name.

In Him we put our trust, our hope.  In Him we rest our joy.

When we rest in Him, we can open our hearts to each other.  We can speak of what He has done for us.  We can tell about who we were and who He is making us, we can speak of His faithfulness.

Tell your story. Not in an airing-your-dirty-laundry kind of way, but in a way that points Up, to Him.

I woke up late, head throbbing dull.  My heart hurt as well because I knew I had missed time with Him.  Time I had so looked forward to, wanting to remember this special Friday, to remember the Day He bore my sin.

The morning continued in the same disappointing way.  Late breakfast, difficult parenting moments.

I remembered with regret the Easter activities I had failed to accomplish. The special cookies I had failed to bake.  The mini tomb I had failed to make.

As my day wore on, my mood did not improve.

I was washing pollen and dirt off windows, feeling the weight of my failure.  My thinking went something like this, “I have really missed the mark this Easter.  I have not done enough with my kids to make this a memorable time with them.  I have not spent enough time alone with Him to set apart this day in my heart.  Is Sunday even going to feel special to me, when I have messed Friday up so badly?”

And then, as the dust came off the windows, allowing the light to shine through the once murky panes, right there in the midst of my self centered thinking, the Truth shone through into my heart.

Good Friday isn’t good because of what I do to remember it well.  It is not a day set apart to remember how good I can be.  Christ’s death is not more effective- I am not more forgiven- when I perfectly observe this special day.  It is not about me at all.

It is about a Perfect One, taking on the sins of the many.  It is about the Son atoning for the sins of His people, once for all time.  It is about the Lamb of God, crying out, “It is finished,” as He breathed His last.

In my desire to commemorate His death, I was instead trying to add to it, seeking to do my own good deeds to make myself feel good.  And when I failed, or headaches or schedules got in the way of my plans, my emotions caved.  I felt despondent. The more I focused on my sin and failure, the less I thought about the Cross.

As good as traditions can be to help me remember, only the Cross can reconcile me to God.  Only the Cross.  

And at the Cross, He bids me to come, here today, just as I am.  Because He has done all the work, I can rest from mine.

These thoughts still seem a bit scandalous to my works-loving heart.  As my earlier sadness revealed, I am still far too dependent on what I think I can do, instead of what He has done.

And tonight, as my husband read the Gospel account to us, and even my 4 year old proclaimed, “Jesus died to take our sins!”, my heart was able to rejoice in what He has done.  My day can end much sweeter than it began, because my focus has shifted away from my works and now my heart can rest in His finished work.  And Sunday seems sweeter than ever.

She looks at me, sweet.  Shy.

She asks me softly.  “Mommy, do you think everyone will look at me?”

And I give her the reassurance that I need to hear myself.  Words about how much He loves her, how she can trust Him and then seek out others, instead of thinking only about how she feels.  She walks away from me, into the room with a nervous smile.

And later I talk to other girls, the grown up kind who still feel like my little one.

We still get scared to walk in a room.

Even more scared to share our hearts and lives with each other.

And so we are tempted to shut ourselves in.  Stay home.  Or stay quiet.  Safe.

But this safety we create is really no safety at all.  Our safety is in Him.  Only in Him.

When we keep ourselves closed off to each other, we are left to bear our own burdens.

Left to our own imaginations (I don’t think she likes me… her home/marriage/life is perfect…. she does everything better than I do).

Left alone in our pride (I can handle life on my own, I’m just fine over here in my corner).

Left alone in our fear (what will she think if she really knew me?)

His Word is sure and deep, and He bids us to come and lay ourselves bare in order that we may bear each other’s burdens, encourage each other, and a whole host of other ‘one anothers’ (just for fun, go to esvbible.org and search ‘one another’…wow!).

All the way back in the Garden, He made man and saw that he needed relationship. To be connected to someone else.

And so it is with us.

We can’t obey one single of those ‘one anothers’ if we are too busy, too scared, or too full of ourselves (fear and insecurity force us to focus only on our own needs, instead of the precious sisters around us) to actually connect with each other.

So like I encouraged my little girl, let’s ask Him for grace to turn away from our fears and self consciousness. To put our hope in Him.  Let’s put away our pride and our comfort.  Let’s hope in Him, so that we are free to truly love one another.

%d bloggers like this: