Tag Archives: God’s love

Known (Psalm 139)

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit lonely lately, a bit invisible. Fall is approaching, schools are starting back, but nothing is the same. Nothing is normal. And this is the first entire season that I’m feeling it.

At the beginning of the year, we had a few months of mom bible studies and kid activities before everything shut down. The summer was a little isolating, but a lot of groups that meet during the year usually take summer off. So this will be the first full season that groups aren’t coming back to meet again.

And it feels isolating. So, I thought I would share some encouraging thoughts from King David in Psalms 139 to remind us that we aren’t invisible or alone.

You have searched me, Lord

and you know me.

You know when I sit and when I rise;

You perceive my thoughts from afar.

You discern my going out and my lying down;

You are familiar with all my ways.

Before a word is on my tongue

You, Lord, know it completely.

Psalm 139:1-4

The word “search” in versus one means to penetrate like in a mining operation, to examine intimately. God isn’t giving a cursory glance at who we are or what we are going through. He searches the dark recesses of our hearts, the nooks and crannies of our anxieties. Only he has the ability to search and know this deeply into who we are.

The phrase “from afar” in verse two means that God isn’t constrained by time or distance. God moves outside of those limits which allows him to be with us at all times. Even though we are social distancing right now, God isn’t. He is there beside you, holding your hand, catching your tears, wrapping you up in a hug, right here and right now, no matter where you are or what you are doing.

In verse three, David uses the two phrases – “my going out” and “my lying down.” Maybe “going out” isn’t quite applicable to us right now, but these phrases cover both our activity and our rest. He is with us in all the things we do, whether we are achieving our goals or we feel stagnate in them. Sometimes I feel like I need to be doing, need to be accomplishing, in order to feel the eye or favor of God. But even when we are sick or sleeping or feeling unmotivated, He is still with us, . He knows exactly what we are going through and doesn’t stop loving us.

And that final verse just rounds out his knowledge of who we are. We are so well known by the Creator God, that he knows what our reactions will be before we even make them. He doesn’t wince or walk away from them. He chooses to walk through those experiences with us, never giving up his love for us.

We have a God who is with us. But he isn’t just with us, isn’t just sitting in the room reading a magazine, or playing on a smart phone, as we go about our lives. He is actively engaged. He is loving us. He is seeing us. We are not alone, because in truth, we are known by a Creator God who wants to be in relationship with us.

Humanity – Romans 12

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

Romans 12: 14-16

I know that all we want is normal. And this year is far from normal on so many fronts. It’s easy to slip into the fear, to grasp onto the entitlement that we think or hope to deserve. Making ourselves the underdog hero of our story makes that triumph feel within our reach. And when it doesn’t happen, when chaos whips around us, it is really easy to lash out at the other side, make them the villain.

In movies, the villain used to be all bad. It was the thing or person that the hero conquered. But in more recent years, movies have presented the villains as misunderstood or misguided, even capable of being good or changing course. It gives more depth to the characters, more understanding in their own humanity. In Romans 12:14, this idea of blessing people who are persecuting you gives that same chance to keep other people’s humanity intact.

Removing their humanity requires us to remove a piece of our own humanity, to forget our flaws in the face of outrage.  To forget the grace we need when we are learning and growing.  We forget how long it sometimes takes for our hearts to soften, or how much pain or fear can blind us to what is going on around us. But in addition to keeping the humanity intact, or maybe in order to do so, there is also this thread through these verses to keep our entitlement in check as well. 

Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn requires a healthy dose of empathy.  The empathy removes entitlement.  I rejoice because I connect with those who are rejoicing.  I see their humanity, their need to rejoice because things are so hard.  Same with mourning.  I see their humanity, their need for space to mourn how they need to, not how I think they should.  I won’t push their pain or their joy under the rug when it is convenient to me.

I am willing to associate with people in a lower position. Or maybe even a different position. People who are not like me, who don’t think like me or read the same news outlets and articles that I do, who don’t have the same priorities that I do. It’s really easy to disassociate myself from others and make judgment calls and create labels to write off their humanity from my own echo chamber.

When we see each other as humans, as creations of God, it doesn’t matter what labels are given to the people around us. We are called to have the sober understanding that under God, we are all the same. These verses are really challenging me to put down the desire to be right and superior in that rightness.  Instead, we are called to love wholly with the love we receive from our holy God.

I don’t know when the chaos will stop. But judging from my past experiences with loss and disruption, I know that the day will come. I have real concern about the divisions in our country, our church, and our community. But I also know that God is in control, that he loves us completely in our own humanity. So, I can trust in God, and that frees me to humbly embrace others in their humanity and love as God first loved us.

Psalm 143:8-10


Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,
    for I hide myself in you.
1Teach me to do your will,
    for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
    lead me on level ground.

Psalm 143:8-10

Since we just celebrated Valentine’s Day, I wanted to do something that had to do with love this week. What better love story than the one between David and God. David pours his heart out in these Psalms. In some, he is angry and in others, he is praising the name of the Lord.

In this Psalm, David is being pursued by an enemy. I’m not sure when in his life he wrote this particular one. It could have been when Saul was after him, or when he was fighting in many of the wars during his reign, or when his own son was pursuing him. But he comes back to the Lord in this time of need.

I like that first stanza, “Let the morning bring word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.” I imagine David is going to sleep after a long, hard day of fighting or fleeing. He sets up camp and before he closes his eyes, these words are on his lips. This trust isn’t completely blind. David remembers the things God has done for him in the past. But it is a trust that walks out into the darkness without knowing what is there.

But even in that darkness of the unknown, David continues his song proclaiming that God is with him, showing him the way he should go and leading him on solid ground. That is faith. It’s knowing in the unknown that God is there.

I am so thankful for a God who walks with us in the low places, in the unknown parts, and even at times in the darkness. He is the light of unfailing love that will continue to show us the way home.

Sustaining: Enduring Love

For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.  – Psalm 100:5

I was reading this passage this week, and the word “endure” stuck out to me.  There are two definitions for the word.  The first is “to remain in existence; last” which I’m sure is the meaning that most people derive from this text.  But the other definition was to “suffer patiently”.

It makes me think about the verse in 2 Peter 3:9 that says:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead, he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

God wants a relationship with humankind, with you, with your children, with your children’s children’s children.  He wanted a relationship with your grandparents and your great-grandparents.  And he’s suffering patiently, enduring with great love to have that relationship.

My God is amazing in this way.  This love is too great for me to fully understand.  But what I do understand is pretty cool, so I hope you find it as encouraging as it was to me.

Summer Study: Ephesians 4

I’m studying the book of Ephesians this summer.  Click here for Chapter 1Chapter 2, and Chapter 3.

 

Ephesians4

I try not to get too political on my blog.  There are definitely things I feel strongly about when it comes to politics, but I also feel like in this climate, not much is heard clearly and too much is being said.

This chapter in Ephesians talked about unity, something we desperately need in the church, maybe even in our country, but I want to focus on the church because that’s what Paul is talking about.  Starting in verse 14, he says:

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.  Instead speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.

I’ve seen people talk about the truth without love, and I’ve seen people talk about love without truth.  It makes me realize that this is a time for discerning, not in some legalistic way, but in a way that speaks towards growing up in Christ.  If I’m not becoming like Christ more each day, then I’m just chasing after the latest blog or podcast that makes me feel something, letting my emotions guide me instead of the Spirit.

I’m not saying that you can’t be led by the Spirit through a blog article or a podcast, but I’m saying that even these good things can become an idol.

In this same line of thought, Paul talks about the things these Ephesians needed to let go of in order to be in Christ, to “be made new in the attitude of your minds.”

The two things that stood out to me the most were the “in your anger do not sin” and “do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.”  So I want to unpack that a bit.

He mentions anger twice in this chapter.  First, in verse 26 and 27 and then also in verse 31.  He doesn’t say that anger is a sin.  Anger is a response to injustice.  It is very much needed in our world.  But allowing anger to take hold of you, to root down deep and grow into bitterness, rage, even brawling and slander, that’s where it gets dangerous.

When I lost my daughters, I was never angry at God, but I was angry.  I have been angry at a society that doesn’t recognize the pain that pregnancy loss brings.  I have been angry at the thoughtlessness of other people’s comments or actions that heap coals on already suffering women.  And when I don’t let go of that anger, bitterness roots in deep and vomits out of my mouth in slews of judgment and pettiness.  It’s not pretty, folks.  And that kind of anger can divide.  I know why Paul mentions it twice.

Then he talked about the unwholesome talk, which I always thought was about profanity, but the second half of that verse talks about something different:

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

This isn’t about profanity.  This is about being critical without kindness, gossiping and venting to other people, talking without the expectation to listen.  It’s helping others according to their needs, not yours.  It’s a humble way of having a conversation. It isn’t about how right you are, it’s about helping a person who is already ready to listen. How many times have we seen on social media the back and forth vitriol that never seems to amount to anything more than an unfollow or unfriend?

And also, just as a side note, sharing the crazy to talk about how crazy it is to friends who already know that it’s crazy doesn’t seem to be helpful or building up anyone in particular.  It just seems to be meant to tear everyone down, and again, divide us into groups who are yelling into the ether with no real desire to listen to one another at all.

This chapter really convicted me this week, and for this week, I’m going to use the last verse as my mantra wherever I go.  I hope you will do this with me.  I have it in the picture below that you can print off and tape to your mirror, which is what I’m going to do.  Let’s be people of unity, kindness, compassion, and forgiveness this week so we can grow more into the image of our big brother, Jesus.

Ephesians432.jpg

Summer Study: Ephesians 3

I’m studying the book of Ephesians this summer.  Click here for Chapter 1 and Chapter 2.

Ephesians 3

I felt like this chapter was a transitional chapter.  Up to this point, Paul has been telling the church how rich God’s grace is.  In the first half of chapter 3, he continues this topic, but then ends the chapter with a prayer of unity for Ephesus, that they experience the riches of grace from God and the love of Christ within their church.

I can’t imagine what the Gentiles of the early church must have felt when they heard Paul say things like, “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”  That, “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.”

On one side, there were Jews telling them that they had a bunch of hoops to jump through, and on the other, the gods of the pagans were unreachable.  Here, Paul is telling them that they can have a closeness, an acceptance from a God through faith in a man who conquered death, without strings attached.  That this relationship was foretold by prophets and apostles.

They were being introduced to the love of God through the faith in Jesus Christ by the words of the apostle Paul. This love sparked a religious and cultural revolution, that spread to the far reaches of the earth, that eventually landed among my ancestors and was passed down from generation to generation through the church to the glory of Christ.  And Paul speaks into that at the end of this chapter.

Ephesians32021

And that’s just simply beautiful to me.

A Safe Place

Whenever we have a thunderstorm at night, our boxer mix, Loco, sits up on our bed, stares down at us and shakes until we wake up.  He doesn’t calm down until my husband takes him into our master closet, a room with no windows.  It’s his safe place.

6tag_250315-082134

We also have safe places that we want to go to when things get really stressful.  When I’m feeling stressed, I like to organize my house.  Just cleaning off my desk somehow makes me feel secure when I feel overwhelmed.

What’s funny about Loco being in the master closet is that the closet isn’t really that much safer than our bedroom.  But either way, we don’t leave him alone in his moment of fear.  Michael will lay on the floor with him in the closet for the rest of the night if he needs to.

In the same way, even when I’m looking for security in other things, God is standing beside me.  He doesn’t leave me alone in my moment of fear.  He waits with me, through every minute if he has to.

Sometimes I use that thing that I think will give me security to try to prevent storms.  I have turned to my schedules and plans to try to create outcomes that I have absolutely no control over.  Like trying to get pregnant, or trying to avoid making mistakes at work, or trying to have a perfect marriage.  I do every ritual I can think of to stop the storms from coming.  But they come anyway.

That’s when I realized that organization isn’t my safe place.  God is.  It’s not family, friends, husband, home, job or hobbies that can ultimately protect me from my pain and suffering.  Only God can fully heal my hurts.  Thankfully, he’s patient with me when I forget and long to be in control once again, using tools that will break on me every time.

But sometimes, when I finally remember that God’s love is my true safe place.  And I let him take the lead.  Something really amazing happens.  He doesn’t just walk with me in the storm, but together, we dance in the rain.

What is a safe place that you tend to go to when things get rough?