IN SYNC WITH I AM

Have you ever had those moments with your spouse or a best friend, when you’re so in tune, so in sync, that you finish each other’s sentences? Perhaps you text at the exact same moment? Or you have the very same thought at the same time and you give that knowing glance or nod and think, “WOW”? Or maybe you spend so much time with someone that you begin to realize you’re rubbing off on one another and acting the same? 

Now, would those scenarios describe you and God?! 

Does that seem impossible or crazy? Well it happened to me — and all I can say is, I’m awestruck!

 

WHAT WE THINK MATTERS

 

For the past 9 weeks, I’ve been a part of a Women’s Disciple-Making Curriculum (DC 101) here at church. Early in this course, I came across a quote from Dallas Willard that I loved and posted because it resonated with me. It was a picture of the Father that made me smile:

“It is a great and important task to come to terms with what we really think when we think of God… We should, to begin with, think that God leads a very interesting life, and that He is full of joy. Undoubtedly He is the most joyous being in the universe.” - Dallas Willard

As I read over this quote, what washed over me was God saying “I AM who I Am.” I posted it and hashtagged #gettingtoknowIAm, because that’s what a 53-year-old does to feel relevant and become a cool kid — throws a hashtag in front of a statement without spacing the words. HAHA! As I continued my lesson, I was directed to read the following passage from Exodus 3:14. As soon as I saw this reference, I literally thought “O.M.G.!” Could it be? No, no way! But yes, with anticipated excitement, I flipped the pages of my bible to the exact verse  — a verse that just minutes before had washed over my consciousness: 

“God said to Moses, I Am Who I Am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: I Am has sent me to you.” Ex. 3:14

 

IN SYNC

 

God was right there with me, filling up my thoughts and mind with more of Him. And just as my husband, Chris, and I feel when we share these little “in sync” moments, I got a burst of love for my Father, my Creator, because we were thinking of one another at the exact same time. Truthfully, I’m a little giddy right now as I relive this experience by sharing with you here. And I’m personally aware of how the Bridegroom is preparing His bride. I’ve never felt so strongly about that until now. I’m loved, I’m cherished, I’m adored, I’m delighted in. 

You want to know your purpose, your meaning, your value? Read His love letter to you! Go to a quiet place and let His words wash truth over your heart. I promise, you will be blown away!

THE CURE FOR ANXIETY

We live, and seemingly thrive, in a fast-paced, technological society. Historically, the development of technology was pursued as a means to make life more productive with less manpower, supposedly so that there was more time for man to enjoy his life outside of work. However, it seems that technology has only empowered us to produce more. Instead of using it to lessen our load, we have become obsessed with expanding it. This is presented as progress, but at its core, I fear that it is rooted more deeply in greed and even more so in pride. We have become gods of our worlds, creating and demanding and building materialistic empires for ourselves to dwell in and rule. We think we are humble, but we are plagued with drive and anxieties. We want, we own, we hoard until our storehouses are overflowing. It doesn’t matter if it is all meaningless junk; it declares to us of our own distorted value. 

 

“…THE ABSENCE OF HUMILITY”

 

Alistair Begg made a statement that has drastically changed my perspective. He said that “anxiety is the absence of humility”. Of course, my immediate reaction to this was to contend that my humility is enough and that my anxiety is not my fault! But in raw honesty, if I take one moment to inspect these responses, they are inundated with pride. Who do I think I am? What exactly do I think I deserve? That is a sobering self-confrontation! If my answer is anything other than death and eternal punishment, I have become too haughty to claim any sort of humility at all. 

When I am anxious, I am ultimately saying that I do not deserve the struggles that I am facing, even though any difficulty that I may encounter will be less than the eternal damnation that I deserve. My anxiety demands better for myself, it protests that I am owed something more than what I have. But I am not! Already, I have been saved from the death that my sin has earned! Already, I am mercifully showered with grace! That is beyond enough; in light of which, I only have room for humility and absolutely nothing else!

However, I forget my true standing and there are a plethora of worries that constantly violate my peace and confidence. Finances cause me anxiety, but to live outside of my means proves my pride (I deserve to have more than I can afford); or to fret over my needs reveals my pride (I should have everything provided for me without want, I deserve to lack nothing). The chaos of children causes me anxiety. My house is a mess; their demands cost me a lot! But here again, my pride rears its ugly head (I should be able to have everything I want without personal sacrifice. I deserve sleep. I deserve an uninterrupted shower. I deserve to drink hot coffee! I want, I need, I deserve…). Oh how prideful we are. We are so prideful, we do not even recognize our own pride. The world we live in promotes independence and self-care. While neither of those are necessarily bad in and of themselves, they are rooted in pride and it is a sneaky little poison that taints all of us far more deeply than we care to admit!

 

MERCY

 

So what do we do with ourselves? We cannot help our sin; it courses through our veins as automatically as our blood pulses. We cannot reduce our own pridefulness, and even to think that we have enough power to make ourselves do anything is also prideful! So, we are caught in a conundrum. We find ourselves again at the mercy of our Savior (which is honestly where we have been all along; it is just a matter of whether or not we recognize it and live accordingly, humbly). Jesus tells us the cure for anxiety in Matthew 6: 25-34. We have no grounds to worry, for even as God lavishly cares for the lowly beings, how much more will He obviously care for us, whom He has created in His very own image and to whom He has breathed in His very own breath. So all else aside, we must humbly “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness (v33)” and then far more than we could ever need or want will be granted to us as a merciful consequence! When we humble ourselves and put Jesus first, not just in the casual way we usually speed through understanding this familiar concept, but truly if we apply these things, there is no room left for anxiety. May the Lord grant us this perspective every day!

WHY DOES GOD HATE ME?

“Why Does God Hate Me?” Have you ever been asked a question like that?  Maybe from someone who is a skeptic about Jesus? Or what about, “So, are you one of these hyper religious people now?” How would you answer these questions?  

Just a week ago, I got hit over the head like a sledge hammer with these honest questions from an honest skeptic. This happened at a local Hardware store while trying to get an estimate on a remodeling project I am working on. The young lady who asked me these questions was someone I had known from my previous career in construction, and I had developed a friendly acquaintance with her.  Little did I know, Jesus had a whole other rebuilding in mind.   

 

LOOKING FOR ANSWERS

 

Before I get to her asking these questions, it would be helpful to know a little about her. I had known her since 2009 and she had been actively and vocally engaged in a homosexual relationship from day one. This is in part why I could tell by her overall tone of voice when she found out I had a career change to ministry that she is not a fan of people who are “hyper religious.” I could tell she seemed almost disappointed in me. She even went on to tell me how she knew when she moved to Kentucky, that this was a city of “hyper religious people” so she had to lie to people about her homosexual marriage in order to be “accepted.”

After a few minutes in our conversation, I soon realized we weren’t going to be talking about remodeling a house; and all 6 people waiting to meet with her were going to have to wait a while because this lady was wounded and looking for answers. I quickly realized by her openness that I may have been the first “religious” person to ever treat her with love and respect. She began to break down and share her story of hateful religious people, losing her family, being rejected, and feeling alone. She shared how her ex-wife left her, took away their adopted child and “found religion” to which her ex called her and told her God hated her and God doesn’t want her to have a relationship with their child.  She was hurt deeply.

 

COMMON GROUND

 

She then began asking me about my story and I shared my testimony. I shared how I also felt like I had to hide my sin and live a lie to the world, and how I lost many of my own “religious” friends because of my choices in the past and how I also had a child that I didn’t get to see for 13 years. She couldn’t believe that we had so much in common. This is when she looked at me with tears in her eyes and she said, “Why does God hate me?” She went on, “I thought this God they talk about is supposed to be a God of love, and yet I am told he hates me.”  

At this moment, what is the right response?  I am fully convinced that scripture is clear that actively engaging in homosexuality is a sin. I am also fully convinced that Jesus loves her and died for her and her partner. I know God hates the sin but loves the sinner. So, what do I share with her?  That is when these passages hit me.

 

THIRSTY FOR LIVING WATER

 

Matthew 13:44 says, 

"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”

The man in this parable didn’t sell everything he had until AFTER he found the treasure of Jesus. Once he realized what finding Jesus is worth, THEN he was joyfully willing to give up everything else that is holding him back.  

John 4:13 says,

Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Like the man in the field and the Samaritan woman, this young lady doesn’t realize that God not only doesn’t hate her, but wants to give her water that would make her no longer thirst again. No doubt she needed to stop sinning — but she needed to understand WHY he is worth it! Jesus is worth giving everything up for!  Jesus is worth the surrender! I think we can get so caught up with telling people to put their wasteful drink down instead of telling them why they should want to.

So instead of concentrating on the sin, God blessed me with 45 minutes to explain to her the evidence of God’s existence, His love for her, His plans for her, and His desire for her to come into a relationship with Him. It was an amazing conversation that led to her giving me a big hug and thanking me. I now pray that God leads her and her partner to my small group in the near future and eventually towards a surrendered relationship with Jesus. 

My challenge to you is simple: open your heart to sharing WHY Jesus is worth following even to those who seem like they don’t want to hear it. Deep down, they are all thirsty just like we are. They just don’t know there is an ocean in Jesus waiting for them.

 

ONE STEP AT A TIME

It’s easy to say “the grass is greener on the other side”, or any other words of encouragement to those going through a storm. But, it’s entirely different when you’re the one going through the storm. For those — like myself right now — who are in the middle of a storm that just doesn’t seem to have an end, let me share with you some advice a good friend of mine told me. “God is already at the other side.” Even though that seems like another cliche quote, it is the truth. But how can we stay confident in this truth? Get ready for another cliche: Read the Bible. 

 

BE IN THE WORD

 

Psalms 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to walk by, and a light to illuminate my path.” (NET) 

One of biggest obstacles during my storm is my desire to see the big picture. I know that He is on the other side of this storm, but I still selfishly want to be there with Him, knowing how this storm is going to influence my life; and, if I’m being honest, what the outcome is, and if it will fit in my plan. But when I came across this verse I began to realize something: God doesn’t work like that. But, if we stay in His Word, if we continually seek His Word, His Wisdom, and His Teachings; He will reveal something to us in the midst of our storm—our next step. 

 

HIS “WORD IS A LAMP TO WALK BY...”. 

 

Don’t try to rush the storm. As much as I know I want to right now, I also know that I will miss the lesson I’m being taught, or the relationships I’m supposed to make. We must walk through our storms, staying connected to our brothers and sisters in Christ, AND staying connected to God through His Word.

 

“...AND A LIGHT TO ILLUMINATE MY PATH”. 

 

This light is not meant to give us specific results of our specific trials. Rather, it’s meant to show us the way through. It’s not meant to give us the destination, but the path we must travel if we are going to stay true to God’s Will. Trust me, I know that’s hard to hear. It’s even harder to write, as I think about what that implies. I can’t see what’s coming up next in this storm. But I do know that if I stick to His Word, my path will be lit, one step at a time. 

I assume at this point your going “Yeah that’s great for you and all, but how do I get there, how do I stay there, how do I reply when my sinful heart yearns for the big picture?” Some big things I have learned to do are: 

  1. Read, even if it’s just one chapter a day, read. Even when you’ve missed your reading for a week or two (or longer) try. Put the effort in. 
  2. Get someone who will hold you to your goals, and keep you accountable. 
  3. Keep a Prayer Journal. Even if they are as simple as “Lord, let me make it to work on time.” And, write down the answers as they come. When you look back, you’ll be able to see how God really is on the other side of our storms. 

I’m not saying any of this is easy, or that you won’t fail. You’re going to; I’m going to. And as cliche as it may be, He’s already there, at the end of our storms, at the end of our lives, and at the end of this world, waiting for us with open arms.

A COPERNICAN SHIFT

In 1543, Copernicus challenged the prevailing view that Earth was the center of the solar system.  Instead, he believed and set out to prove that it was the Sun -- not the Earth -- that was the center. It was quite a jolt but one that eventually was accepted.

In the same way, man has -- and continues to want to -- be the center of it all. As much as I’d like to believe it, the world does not revolve around me.  When this reality takes hold, it can be quite a jolt to the ego, but none the less, a necessary one.

Max Lucado puts it this way: “Lesser orbs, that’s us. Appreciated, valued, loved dearly. But central? Essential? Pivotal? Nope. Contrary to the desire within us, the world does not revolve around us. Our comfort is not God’s priority. If it is, something’s gone awry. Could a Copernican shift be in order? Perhaps our place is not at the center of the universe. God does not exist to make a big deal about us. We exist to make a big deal about him.”

 

RADIANT

 

Think about the moon. In and of itself, it’s just a ball of great dust floating around in a circle.  But add in the sun, and the moon becomes radiant.  The moon never grumbles about it’s role.  So, what if we accepted our role as “Son” reflectors?  When we do this, life makes more sense.  The gift of pleasure and the purpose of problems are all for Him.

So how do we make the shift?  How do we move from “me” focused to “God” focused? It comes down to this: we must be pondering and promoting our great God.

 

PONDER AND PROMOTE

 

When we ponder God, we consider who he is. We stop focusing on lesser things, and start focusing on higher things. Our minds are caught up into the glory of God and His holiness. Then, things like loving our enemies, selling our possessions and giving to the poor, and using our gifts and talents for the Church start to make sense. Our vision gets a lot clearer instead of being blurred by self-centeredness.

The other thing necessary for a Copernican shift is to be promoting God. When His name is the name people hear and know first, and not ours, then we are promoting God; when we worship the name of Jesus and serve in the name of Jesus, we are promoting God; when we talk about Him with our neighbors and co-workers as the source of hope and life, we are promoting God.

Ultimately, we become more than just reflectors of God’s glory: we are transformed and made into is likeness. The blood of Christ washes and cleanses us of sin, and we put on His righteousness.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, “Beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, we are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the spirit of the Lord.”

A LITTLE FAITH GOES A LONG WAY

In Matthew 17:20, Jesus said, “… Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” 

Wow. Have you ever seen a mustard seed? They are tiny. If you need a frame of reference, they would be similar to a sesame seed, like you see on your hamburger buns. But, they’re round.

I can’t help but think if that’s all it takes to move a mountain, faith must be very powerful. I also have to wonder what size my faith is.

 

FAITH IS POWERFUL

 

An experience I had this summer illustrated this whole concept for me in an unexpected way.

On August 21, 2017, we had the opportunity to view something very rare in the United States—a total solar eclipse, if you were in the right place. I was in Louisville, KY, just off the “total” line by a small distance. 

I joined my co-workers outside that afternoon for an Eclipse Viewing. We had pinhole projectors for an indirect view and our special glasses so we could look directly at the sun as the moon passed in front of it.

Did you get to experience this? It was eerie as the light of day faded in the middle of the afternoon and began to look like dusk was near. 

I have to say, I was actually surprised that it didn’t get much darker at the peak of the eclipse for our area. There was just a tiny sliver of the sun visible; the air was noticeably cooler; and the light was dim. But, we were nowhere near being in the dark and no one needed to grab a coat to stay warm.

That’s when it hit me. We really take the sun for granted—its light and its warmth. How can just that tiny, little sliver of the sun give light and warmth from 93,000,000 miles away? That’s powerful.

No wonder people through the ages have worshipped the sun. But, our sun is only one star in this universe that is only a part of the creation of our God. How many stars are there? How big is the universe? How powerful the Creator is who gave us the sun. 

 

“By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” - Hebrews 1:3

 

YOUR FAITH MATTERS

 

That’s when I thought about the comparison to our faith. “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed…” you can do powerful things. Faith is powerful! Faith is life-changing, world-changing! 

If you compare faith to the solar eclipse, just a little teeny, tiny spit of faith can light up the world for millions of people. But you have to believe. 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” - Hebrews 11:1. 

Hebrews 11 is often referred to as the Hall of Faith because it commends the faith of many who have gone before us. Their faith should matter to us because without it we may not have had the opportunity to have faith.

Your faith matters to those in your life. It is powerful, no matter how small you think it is. It lights the way for others to follow and find the Savior.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” - Hebrews 12:1-3

WHY, GOD?

As I am writing this, the greatest mass shooting on US soil just happened a few hours ago in Las Vegas — killing over fifty and injuring more than four-hundred. In addition, monster hurricanes made landfall in the US a few weeks ago, devastating Florida and Texas. A different hurricane recently wiped out Puerto Rico, and an earthquake in Mexico killed more than two-hundred. During all this — love or hate him — I think we can all agree our President is one of the most controversial people to lead this country and our nation is continuing to divide at its seams. So what all do we do as a follower of Jesus who believes God is sovereign and just? We believe He is all powerful and all loving, right? So how are we to wrestle with all of this? Did God allow this all to happen? Maybe you read this today asking, “Why, God?”

 

SUFFERING

 

Let’s be honest: this sucks! I think we can all agree that each one of these disasters — natural or unnatural — are horrific in their own right. We all wrestle with this in one way or another. Personally, in wrestling with the problems of suffering and issues in the world this morning, I was spurred on by author and apologist Ravi Zacharias when he stated, “the problem of suffering in this world is in fact a problem if this life is all there is.” Believer in God or not, I think this is something we all can agree with. If this is it and this world is all that exists, then we can agree that this world is not just, or fair. For example, this past month I watched my mom be diagnosed with cancer and lose both of her parents all within a few weeks. So, this is real to me and not just some philosophical question.  

While wrestling with this, the lead minister of my church Bill Geiger shared a fantastic true story when he discussed a situation between two farmers who were neighbors and lived next to each other. He said that one farmer was an atheist and the other farmer was a Christian. The atheist farmer wrote the local paper explaining how he had the same amount of produce in October as the Christian farmer even though one was prayed for and the other was not. He then concluded that God did not exist.  The author of the paper simply replied, “Dear Atheist Farmer, your failure in this situation was that you assumed God settles his accounts in October and with produce.”  

 

TAKE HEART

 

Here on this broken planet, things are not fair. People who believe in God and people who don’t all can die or live by the same disaster. So yes, we may ask “Why, God?” but I think the better question is “When, God?”  We know all things will be made right because God is just. This means the only question that remains is “When?”  That day is coming. So, in the meantime, let me encourage you with these passages on how we are to live until that day comes:

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” - 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

TREASURE

“Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Your eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is filled with light. But when your eye is unhealthy, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is! No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and be enslaved to money.” - Matthew 6:19-24 NLT

I love the ‘National Treasure’ movies. 

Yes, the ones with Nicolas Cage. 

I’m drawn in and intrigued by the clever solving of mysteries, by the fun clues that spring up along the way, and of course, my man Nicolas Cage (I understand that one could go either way with ole Nic Cage, but I happen to love him).

What I love about Nic Cage’s character is that he and his team organize everything that they are and do around what they treasure — in the case of these films, that would be ancient, hidden treasure that is worth a fortune.

Jesus knows that we have a tendency to treasure things — even if we don't really know it, or explicitly call it “treasuring.”

 

WHAT DO WE TREASURE?

 

A simple self-examination of where our money goes most 

or what we do most with our spare time

or what we worry about the most

or what rules our thought energy most 

can quickly give us some insight into what our true masters are — or what we treasure most.

In the passage above, Jesus doesn't just say to not have two masters; He says, simply put, that you can't — like, it’s not possible. 

You will love one, and then hate one. 

One has your attention, one doesn’t. 

You treasure one, but forsake the other.

We can't treasure God, and at the same time be treasuring other things.

 

WHAT IF WE JUST AIMED TO TREASURE GOD MORE?

 

Why do we give in to the cultural lie that more is better? That bigger is better? That wealth equals success? Or that popularity, status, and wide-spread influence means we’ve finally made it? And that if you’re really a good citizen, or if you’re really good at whatever you do, you will then try and strive for these things at all costs?

Have we forgotten something?

Have we forgotten that in God’s upside-down, counter-cultural Kingdom — of which we’re invited to participate in — that “the last will be first, and the first will be last” (Matthew 20:16)?

Have we forgotten that the Son of Man had “nowhere to lay His head” (Matthew 8:20) ?

Don’t we know that material, wealth, “more and more”, and “bigger and better” will all fade away — will all be destroyed by “moths” and “rust” in the end?

If we’re honest with ourselves, conviction can rest upon us and reveal to us that it’s so easy to get caught up in the wrong things; in wanting the wrong things. Whether we know it or not, when we give into cultural lies such as these, our treasures are laying elsewhere — we’re serving other masters.

But what if we treasured God, and wanted nothing more than to be in His presence and to rest in His love for us? Wanted nothing more than simply Himself? 

What if we organized our lives around this want? 

 

TREASURING HIM

 

Jesus says that when we do, nothing can destroy it, and nothing can take it away. It’s pure and complete satisfaction — the kind that promises that we “will never be hungry again…”; that we “will never be thirsty” again (John 6:35) — all the way into eternity.

So, then, how do we treasure God more? How do we act on our desire to want to want Him more — more than anything else?

It starts and ends with having an unflinching gaze on Him alone. Jesus says that our “eye is like a lamp that provides light for your body.” So, then, if our eye is fixed on Him and His Kingdom, it is healthy and full of light. When this is true of us, then, when “your eye is healthy”, as Jesus says, “your whole body is filled with light.”

Everything we are, filled with light — filled with Him.

Treasuring.

Jesus says that whenever we treasure God and His Kingdom, then “there the desires of your heart will be also.”

The desires of our heart will naturally begin to align with Him, and His Kingdom — everything else will then fade away. We’ll count it all as loss if it’s not helping us to achieve our ultimate want, which is wanting Him — treasuring Him.

Which is why, then, we must organize our lives around this central want, or treasure: God.

 

AN INVITATION

 

We must ask ourselves daily if our actions — our purchases, our thoughts, our (fill in the blank) — is getting us more in tune with treasuring Him, or if it is taking us further away from that soul desire.

Everything we do or don't do is either making more room for God in every part of our life, or choking Him out. The more and more that we learn to treasure Him, the more and more that we will see Him and respond to Him in every moment of every day. Even in the so-called “ordinary” or “mundane” moments — which, we’ll find, were never really ordinary or mundane at all, as the presence of God is always reaching out to us. When we fix our eyes on Him — when we treasure Him — our eyes are opened to this reality more and more.

Pray that the Father — in His loving mercy and grace — will help you learn to treasure Him more; will help you learn to want to want Him more, above anything else. Then, ask that He would show you how to organize your life around this — around Him. 

Ask the Father where you should start. 

The Spirit is in the business of inviting us into a new way of living; not condemning us into one. So, may joy, peace, and grace be yours on this life-long adventure of treasuring God more and more everyday.

FLUID

It’s amazing how it sometimes takes a large majority of our lives to get to a point of actually understanding some of the simplest truths. One of those profoundly plain concepts has more recently carved a drastic new perspective through the process of my thoughts.

First, a little background to set the stage of understanding: I was raised with a strong influence of humble, farming grandparents who lived through the Great Depression.  You hold on to, reuse, and value every little thing. I have been into photography and journaling since I was barely able to read; I have this innate craving to hold on to every meaningful essence. I want to speak so that others can experience, I want to capture images so that others can feel. It can sometimes be an obsession that leads to endless worrying and incredible stress. What if I miss something? What if this all passes by and is forgotten? 

 

SO WHAT IF IT IS?

 

When my husband Mac and I first got married, two of our first major purchases were a vacuum cleaner and a recliner. It was painful to make the choice of which one to buy. They had to be perfect because, in my mind, they were going to be THE vacuum and THE recliner that would witness our entire lives though their basic service as items of use in our home. Wouldn’t you know, the vacuum broke within 3 years and though the recliner is still passionately abused in our living room, it is not going to make it past raising children! And you know what, that is going to have to be ok! And I don’t have to save a square of the recliner’s fabric before we toss it to, hopefully one-day, stitch into a quilt of our memories! It’s okay if it’s forgotten.

Money is another issue. We try to save it and store it up and hoard it. That doesn’t work for us anyway, not with four growing kids, but even if we stored it up to keep, it can’t be kept forever (Luke 12:13-21). One day, it will be worth nothing except the result in which we used it for Jesus. It is important to plan for the future, so I’m not advocating carelessness, but perhaps future preparation with a little less collection obsession.

Moments and memories, the millions of photographs that I’ve taken that include people I never knew to begin with or can barely remember after all this time, they do pass. I may look back one day and enjoy every one of the five hundred micro expressions from one of the kids’ birthday photo-shoots, but once I’m gone… once they are gone… who is left to care about those many repeated images? (Psalm 39:5)

 

CHANGE

 

As I’ve been pondering these things, it all summaries for me in this one word: Fluid. Everything is fluid. I constantly change, I’m not even the same person I was last year, life and circumstances have altered me. My children change, they grow and mature before my very eyes! The world changes, for good and bad. Our finances change, our social statuses change, our lives are relentlessly bending and moving and never resting. 

I grew up with the idea that I’d get my degree, get married, settle down, have kids… there is no settling down! Once we have survived one torrent, the river bends to reveal another. And so, in this manner, life continues.

 

WHAT’S TRULY IMPORTANT

 

My conclusion of the matter is also simple: in a world and a life that is fluid (sometimes a raging and destructive river of fluid), I also have to be fluid. I have to keep my mind and heart grounded in Truth, but open and flexible. The only things that last forever are God’s Word (1 Peter 1:25) and Man’s souls (1 John 5:13), so I need to alter my priorities accordingly. It’s ok if I never get the photo albums organized or make the boxes of mementos into scrapbooks. As long as I am doing what it takes to pass on the true essence of what makes those things important: God’s love, Truth, Family, Community, Intimacy, etc. the rest can come and go in peace.

 

LIKE A CHILD

“Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” - Luke 18:17

Usually, any reference to being a child or acting like one is not a great compliment.  It’s not often one’s goal to be thought of as a child or have childish behavior.  In fact, our education, jobs, and social upbringing all happen with the purpose of creating adults who will contribute to and better society.  And that’s what we want, isn’t it?  A society in which informed and experienced people lead the way to create a better tomorrow?  But is that what we’ve got?

One could make the argument that adults are the ones who have it all wrong.  Take stock and see what we’ve got, at least here in America.  A world of adults who continue to seek improvement in their lives by chasing after the next biggest and greatest.  A world full of grown up people who are out to get theirs and promote the idea of “self.”  A world full of “old” people more focused on themselves and getting what is “owed” to them.  Sure, there are a few good ones out there; a few who tend to put others before themselves more often than not.  I wish I could say that all of these people were found in the Church, but that’s not the case as often as it should be.  And this is where being a child comes in…

 

BEING A CHILD

 

If you were to ask the populace to describe what being a child looks like, you would most likely get a vast array of answers.  Annoying.  Needy.  Loud.  Attention seeking.  Always wants to get their way.  Dependent on others.  Whiny.

And while all of that may be true in describing children in an overarching way, I would posit that you can make the same generalizations of many adults.  But there are qualities about children that I think people have forgotten that are typically quite difficult to find in the average adult.

As I was thinking about this…the character qualities of children…I had to make myself really think about the positive characteristics that often get overlooked.  While children may have all the attributes listed above, I also think the following are present:

Trusting.  Joyful.  Creative.  Loving.  Honest.  Curious.

 

RECEIVE THE KINGDOM AS A CHILD WOULD

 

It’s these qualities I think Jesus had in mind when He said that whoever does not receive the kingdom of God in the way a child would, would have no part in it.  Jesus knew all the positive character traits that children have…He gave those traits to them!  Children possess such a purity when it comes to their approach to life.  And we’ve all seen it.

We’ve seen the trust that a child has in her parents.  They don’t question the intentions of the parents…they simply trust.  We’ve seen the way that a child has pure joy over the simplest things.  The curiosity of children is often unmatched as they figure out how to do things and continue to learn more about being a part of this world.  We’ve seen or heard the honesty of children, as brutal as it may be (“That dress makes your butt big,” “This food is disgusting,” or “You have whiskers like dad does, Mom.”)  And we’ve seen the devotion and love that a child can express with their favorite toy or stuffed animal.

 

WHAT IF?

 

What if we, the “adults,” starting acting more like children?  What if our approach to faith and service and our Lord was done in the same excitement and pureness of a child?  What if we trusted Jesus like a child trusts their parents?  What if we were as loving toward others as a child is with their toy?  What if we were as determined to share Jesus with people as a child is in getting their way?

Imagine, for a moment, a world full of people acting like children in the purity and honesty and loving way that God created them.

I, for one, need to start acting more like a child.