“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song” (Pope John Paul II).
Once again, I raise my glass and drink to all of you outcasts and loners out there.
Here’s to all of you with perpetually plastered smiles on your faces whose cheery dispositions hide a world of pain that few know about. You may project eternal optimism, but inwardly you feel you’re in the middle of the deepest darkest valley.
Here’s to you who know all too well the meaning of being alone in a crowd. You’re always the one feeling left out in all the conversations and the one who never gets invited to group activities.
Here’s to you who never quite fit in anywhere and who always feel unwanted. Maybe you feel closer than ever to simply giving up on everything.
Here’s to you who feel invisible, rejected, undesirable, outcast, and alone. Jesus died for you. Jesus saw you in your darkest and at your worst and loved you enough to die for you, then and there.
You are no longer unworthy because Jesus considered you worth not a little or even a lot but all of His precious blood shed on that cross.
Here’s to all those nobodies whom God has called to turn the world upside down. You who were once far off and strangers to hope and desperately awkward and ashamed are now sons and daughters of the King and joint-heirs with Jesus to the Kingdom and– best of all– the beloved of your Abba.
Here’s to those who finally belong and who finally fit in and who finally are learning how to embrace all of who God made them to be and to find that in comforting to the image of Christ they become their very best and truest selves.
Here’s to you.
“look — we’re facing some pretty big things, Lord,
And You whisper: “Child, look — look at Me.
Now You’re facing the Best thing, who dwarfs all the other things.”
And we exhale.. and we get it, God, because that is the thing:
Prayer isn’t so much to remind our God of what all the problems are —
but to remind all the problems of who our God is.
And You cup us close tonight and tell us: No matter what you’re facing, look into My face — and know it, feel it: Your God is greater than what you’re trying to face, your God is bigger than what you’re trying to escape, your God is better than anything you’re trying to chase.
And our problems fade in the light of Your gentle face, Your tender embrace….” (Ann Voskamp).
That’s it. “Prayer isn’t so much to remind our God of what all the problems are– but to remind all the problems of who our God is.”
That sentence. For the win.
I got my health insurance premiums for 2016. Apparently, they’re going up over $150 a month. That’s a whole lot of moolah.
But no matter how big my insurance premium gets, God is bigger.
No matter how overwhelmed I’ve felt over the pressing issues facing me, God has been and will always be able.
That’s not a news flash, but it’s a good reminder out there to all the weary and heavy-laden hearts tonight who need to hear it one more time. It’s a great comfort to all those who feel like they’re less than adequate to meet all that life has thrown their way this past week.
No matter what, God will be enough.
Let that be your mantra for the days to come. Let it resound in your heart and mind when the lies come and try to drag you down into defeat.
No matter what, God will be enough.
I finished the work week and I am tired. I mean dog tired. Or better yet, cat tired, since cats seem to sleep more than dogs. At least my cat does.
I’m looking forward to turning off the alarm clock and sleeping in tomorrow. That will be lovely. No 5:40 wake-up call for me. No sirree.
It’s the good kind of tired. It’s the kind of tired where you feel like you’ve accomplished something productive and made a difference, albeit the tiniest, in people’s lives.
I’ve learned that sleep is God’s gift. Some nights, it doesn’t matter how tired I am. I simply can’t sleep. I also noticed that I do my best sleeping just before my alarm is set to go off. What’s up with that?
Sleep belongs to those who know it’s not up to them to figure it all out. Sleep belongs to those who understand not just intellectually but experientially that God is in control of every aspect of their lives.
It still amazes me how my cat can fall asleep at any moment in any place at any given time. Cats never have insomnia. I suppose they have a lot less on their little kitty minds to keep them awake at night.
In fact, my cat is asleep close to me as I write all this. I suppose when you’re as cute and cuddly as Lucy is, what better way to exhibit it than to sleep all the time. Plus, you get the added benefit of being your own blanket.
So here’s hoping and praying that you find not just sleep but rest. Here’s hoping and praying that you can rest in the knowledge that your Abba is very fond of you at this moment just as you are. And His love will lead you all the way to where you need to be.
Yeah, what he said.
You’d think I’d be a lot better at praying by now, considering how many tests I’ve taken in school and how many job interviews I’ve had over my lifetime. But as it turns out, I’m not. It would be fair to say that most of the time I really suck at prayer.
There have been times in my life where I simply couldn’t find the words to pray. Other times, I couldn’t focus long enough to string together two sentences in prayer.
Sometimes, I can only pray short prayers like “Lord, have mercy, Christ, have mercy” or “Abba Father, I belong to you.”
Sometimes, the words flow. It feels like they are coming from somewhere other than from me, like the Holy Spirit is the one praying in me. Or if you like, God in me praying to God.
I do agree that prayer changes me more than anything. It changes my perspective and gets me out of my own myopic, self-centered little world. Prayer helps me to see that this is not my story that I’m living, but God’s story that He’s invited me to be a part of.
Rick Warren was right. It’s not about me. It is completely and totally about God. Always has been, always will.
So that’s why I pray.
I’m reclining on the couch while typing this on my iPad. My lazy old cat Lucy is curled up in my lap, either asleep or catatonic. Get it? CAT-atonic. 😁
I can feel my blood pressure and my stress levels lowering as I write this. Not that either were very high today, but I am especially relaxed and at peace with the world at the moment.
I feel everyone should have a comforting furry little friend. If cats aren’t your thing, get a dog. Or a gerbil. Or a bunny. I knew a lady who had a pet rat. Whatever floats your boat.
Pets are great because they don’t judge you. They don’t walk out on you. They don’t hold grudges. They just love you and are always happy to see you. Well, Lucy’s glad to see me at least 50% of the time. When I haven’t woken her from one of her many naps.
I love how one of the names in the Bible for God is Abba. You could translate that as “Daddy.” You can take all the good associations from that word and place them on God.
Your Abba is very fond of you. You’re the apple of His eye and He does truly love you extravagantly. Remember that on those slow Mondays and even slower work weeks.
I just found this and it reminded me why Brennan Manning is one of my favorite writers of faith.
“In my first-ever experience of being loved for nothing I had done or could do, I moved back and forth between mild ecstasy, silent wonder, and hushed trembling. The aura might be best described as ‘bright darkness.’ The moment lingered on in a timeless now, until without warning I felt a hand grip my heart. It was abrupt and startling.
The awareness of being loved was no longer tender and comforting. The love of Christ, the crucified Son of God, took on the wild fury of a sudden spring storm. Like a dam bursting, a spasm of convulsive crying erupted from the depths of my soul. Jesus died on the cross for me.
Ten thousand things are already vying for my attention. Wait, actually make that ten thousand and one. Some of them are shallow — like what shoes I will wear today — but some of them are legitimate: lunch with a friend, a doctor’s appointment, responding to a letter. Still, they are all earthly things. So startle me, I pray. Burst into the compound of my senses and steal me away from the urgent tyrannies already seeking to keep my eyes fixed on things below. You died for me. For me. That is the one thing; nothing else compares.”
Two thoughts: 1) I must find out where I can get this book and 2) I hope Easter Sunday doesn’t arrive to find me comfortable or complacent, taking God’s love for me for granted. I want it to shake me to my very core and radically disrupt my life. I want to be stirred out of comfortable ruts and compelled into a deeper, wilder, more passionate love for Jesus who didn’t not negotiate percentages on the cross, but gave absolutely 100% of Himself for me.
Master of both the light and the darkness, send your Holy Spirit upon our preparations for Christmas.
We who have so much to do seek quiet spaces to hear your voice each day.
We who are anxious over many things look forward to your coming among us.
We who are blessed in so many ways long for the complete joy of your kingdom.
We whose hearts are heavy seek the joy of your presence.
We are your people, walking in darkness, yet seeking the light.
To you we say, ‘Come Lord Jesus!’
PS We who have felt abandonment, rejection, alienation, loneliness, and being forgotten yearn for Immanuel, God with us, to come among us and remind us of our worth in the eyes of our Abba and Heavenly Father.
Yeah, I saw Patty Griffin at the Ryman. That’s one thing I can cross off my bucket list. Yippee!
She was uh-mazing. Not just amazing. UH-MAZING.
I had a great seat in my favorite concert venue and a very lively and appreciative crowd around me. I say this will go down as one of my best Mondays ever.
I knew every song she sang. Not that I sang with her. That would have almost been sacriligeous.
But better than even this concert is the one my Abba gives me every single night. He sings me to sleep with songs of joy and peace. He dances around me with delight because He is still very much fond of me after all these years.
It’s a concert that’s free to me, but came at great cost. Just because salvation didn’t cost me anything doesn’t mean it’s not costly. God paid dearly for me. And all He asks in return is me.
So I’m going to bed with a grateful heart and a joyful spirit. I’ll lay my head on my pillow knowing I am blessed. I call that a great Monday, don’t you?
PS Thank you, Patty, for making my Monday so special. And thank you, God, for my life.
In case you’re wondering what 22 years is referring to, that’s how long it’s been since I went on an actual date. With an actual girl. To a place outside my imagination.
At first, that thought was horribly and mind-numbingly depressing, but later I saw it as a blessing. More on that later. Back to the sad me.
I’ve never kissed a girl. And no, I have not nor will I ever kiss a dude. Blech!
I’ve never even held hands with a girl outside of prayer groups. And yes, I was one of those guys who tried to strategically place myself next to the girl I liked right before the prayer started so I could hold her hand. Notice how I said “tried.” Key word there.
But you know what?
I’m still blessed.
I’m still living my miracle.
I have known nights where I didn’t think I could hold on until the sunrise. It was then I felt my Abba’s arms encircling me, holding me tight. There is not a moment when my hand has ever slipped out of the firm grip of my Father’s strong hand.
And yes, I have known the sweet kisses of grace and the embrace of mercy unfolding over and around me. I know what it is to be desired by the Great Lover and ravished by Sweet Words of Love. I know Jesus sings over me nightly because His delight is in me.
So I am as blessed (or more so) than people with far more impressive dating resumes who have found their dream-mate.
I know I was, am, and will always be the dream in God’s heart, the apple of His eye, the one He adores, and His beloved son in whom He is well pleased.
That is so much more than enough for me.
“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” (Henri Nouwen)
I’ve posted and blogged and mentioned multiple times before how the hardest person to forgive is often yourself. You know yourself too well and you know your own weaknesses because a certain adversary reminds you of them every single day.
I know I’ve blown it with a friend and the friendship won’t ever be the same again. We used to hang out and be good friends but now she won’t even sit on the same side of the room as me and we feel like really good acquaintances.
There are one or two (including that one at Starbucks) who have taken to actively disliking me and nothing I say or do will change that. For me, I have to remember that I can’t be friends with everyone and that it’s not my job to make every single person like me. It’s my job to be the best me possible.
But forgiveness isn’t optional. Not with others and especially not with ourselves. How dare I choose not to forgive myself when God (who incidentally knows me better than I do) has freely forgiven me? And why would I want to live under a cloud of condemnation when I don’t have to?
No one does relationships well. We mistrust each other. We read too much into silences and jests. We say the wrong things and fail to say the right things. Most of us have gotten used to the taste of shoe leather from sticking our feet in our mouths so often.
But real friendship between two believers is the Jesus in me communing with the Jesus in you. It’s practicing forgiveness and grace and blessing, giving these abundantly because we know our desperate need for all of the above.
You are not your past. Or your mistakes. You are not the names you’ve been called or that you’ve called yourself.
Child of God
To Die For
The One Your Abba Is Still Very Fond Of
May we speak not hurt but life, not wounds but blessings into each other. May we always look to see the best in ourselves and in others and call out the beautiful and glorious in each other. May we learn to love others and ourselves the way God has always loved us.