What is our deepest longing, as people? I would suggest that it is to be loved. I have listened to numerous testimonies by people who at one time lived lives that made it appear as though they gave absolutely no thought to the need to be loved, when in reality, they were yearning for it on the inside. They wanted someone to love them enough to show them a better way of living…someone who had their best interests at heart. Someone who would be a compassionate listener when they needed to vent their deepest frustrations, allowing them to be as honest and flawed as they truly are, and yet still offer love and acceptance. Someone who would allow them to put the weight of their discouragement, fear, anxiety, abandoned hopes, feelings of worthlessness, and all of their other struggles onto them and give them the wisdom to navigate through them. Someone to hold them when they were feeling…done…tired…burnt out…shame…at the end of their rope…and who would whisper, “I love you,”…”I…love…you.” We all long for this, and this is the kind of relationship God offers us through His Son, Jesus.
Will You Find Me Here?
It’s hard to put it into words
the inadequacy I feel
I’ve accomplished so little
with so much time
and being here makes it more real
If there is something I’m good at
it’s saying “no,” or not finishing things
It’s losing interest, assuming defeat
or sitting on my wings
It’s fear that consumes me now
it’s fear that consumed me then
And self-pity makes it easier somehow
I can call feeling sorry, my friend
But I’m not ready to be the problem
or accept blame for falling short
For not impressing family or friend
or for staying in my port
I’ve heard some say that accepting yourself
and what has come of yet
is the secret to living life peacefully
instead of with regret
Did I ever want?
What did I desire?
To step onto another’s path
and make their flame my fire?
To hop onto another’s back
while they walked through the mire?
I don’t deserve the things I have
the blessings He is giving
The comforts or the kind of love
that make a life, good living
But I would never argue this
the gratitude I owe
To the God Who brought me here
and helps me as I grow
And when I pray for just one thing
to feel I can be proud of
Something followed through to end
and had no single doubt of
I hope it counts as brand new seed
that sprouts within my heart
In soil that is watered well
from which efforts don’t part
Though maybe you will find me here
once again, in gloom
Where tears they fall from cheek to chin
as I watch others bloom
“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.” – Psalm 138:8
When someone is good to you, you want to share it with others. When they are kind, patient, understanding and self-sacrificing on your behalf, you want to give back somehow. When someone has extended mercy and forgiveness to you and has pursued you even though you felt you were not worth pursuing, you want to express thanks. And my way of thanking God is to tell others about Him. To share with others that He is good, patient, forgiving, humble, and a seeker after them. When Jesus left this earth to go back to His Father, He told his disciples to tell others about Him. To let others know that they could come to Him if they wanted to have a life with He and the Father. Both here and now, and forever. When I think about Christmas, I think of all of the fun things that our culture does to celebrate the season – the lights, the Christmas trees, the gift giving, but there’s this quiet voice in my heart that keeps reminding me that Jesus was the greatest gift ever given, and that Christmas is about Him being all we need when entering a relationship with God. We don’t need to make special sacrifices (Jesus did that), we don’t need to put on special garments (Jesus is that), and we don’t need to be perfect (Jesus was that). All we need to do is invite Jesus into our hearts and lives. I was lost before He became a part of my life. I was searching, but I didn’t realize I was searching. And even though I wasn’t looking in His direction, He gently knocked on the door of my heart and drew me to Him. There is nothing I can do to repay God for what He has done, but I can tell others that God is hope, and He can fill your heart with it. That’s not to say that life will be perfect, Jesus told us that life would not be without struggles, but He will never abandon us in those struggles. It is a Merry Christmas, and it’s all because of Jesus.
“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:8-14
Something I have been thinking about a lot lately is how God in the Old Testament (OT) sometimes seems different from the God Jesus came to make known. I know that He is not different because God does not change…“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). The Bible also reveals that Jesus is God…“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation” (Colossians 1:15), and that He is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). So why does it seem like God was more stern in the OT, whereas Jesus makes familiar a God of love, patience, mercy, and forgiveness? First, I need to say that the OT is not without examples of the love and forgiveness of God…I just get more insight into the gentleness of God, in Jesus. So this is a question I will continue to ask God about. But one thing I do know. I know that God is love…“God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16). And I have experienced His love first hand, when at times I have acted less than loving toward Him and He has made it known to me, whether it was through something I read, something someone said, or just a reassuring thought, that He was still there and was present with me. Through Jesus, God forgives us our shortcomings and not only that, but like the prodigal son, He sees us from a “long way off” and is “filled with compassion” (Luke 15:20).
Sometimes my view of this world is a little bleak. I look at what is happening around me and it can be difficult to make sense of it all. And I don’t like seeing God’s creation suffer. So my thoughts turn to what heaven will be like, and it chokes me up a bit. Because I know that not only will it mean time in God’s presence, but “there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). There are many near-death accounts where people speak of having visited heaven. I don’t know that I have experienced exactly that, but many years ago something happened to me that made me wonder if I had been given a glimpse of heaven. I fainted in a college class. When I woke up, my professor told me that I had hit my head and that my heart had stopped beating. While unconscious I remember opening my eyes and seeing a man in a sash reaching his hand down toward me. I grabbed it and we began to walk up a winding path. I do not remember any words being spoken, but I do remember a feeling of being “filled up.” I felt joyful and complete, as if I was lacking nothing. I also remember thinking about the people I knew who were back here, and although I loved them, I knew things would be ok. I did not feel a longing to go back. The next thing I remember is opening my eyes and seeing the worried look on my professor’s face. At the time, I was disappointed that I was back. I cannot say for sure what I experienced that day, but I wonder sometimes if I was given a preview into what heaven might be like. I am so grateful for the life that I have and that God has given me the opportunity to learn more about Him as time has passed. At the time of the incident, I believed that God existed, but I didn’t give much more thought to it than that. Whether or not that experience was a peek into what heaven is like, there is something in my heart now that can’t help but think that the “filled up” feeling I felt during those moments was an indication of what it will be like to be in God’s presence; there will be a sense of lacking nothing.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.” – Psalm 23:1
EVERY SINGLE TEAR
She says God wasn’t there during the difficult times,
and I didn’t live hers, so it throws me
I look beyond, around, behind
to lock hearts with the One who grows me
I know other souls in tragic times
saw Jesus standing there
When in dark places, where no light shined,
they felt Him ever near
It was the sparkle on the water,
the eyes where scales fell
the near death and, “I saw Him!”
a lit up prison cell
So why did she not see You
It troubles me to hear
I know that with her, You were
cupped every single tear
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.” – Psalm 34:18
When I read the Bible and questions come up for me, I sometimes take them to God, or I seek a friend’s counsel. But what I’ve realized is that there are some questions that may not be answered in this lifetime; perhaps they will never be answered. And maybe that’s okay. Because maybe once I move beyond this life, knowing the answers to those questions will no longer be important to me. But in reading the Bible verse below I am reminded of a question that has come up for me often. I have wondered how we can apply verses like this to our lives…because we all experience difficulties. I’m sure there are a variety of different opinions on the matter, but something someone said to me once rings true. He said that ultimately, if we have given our lives to God, then in the end, we will be with Him, and nothing can prevent that. So, in the end, He will have kept us from evil, He will have kept our going out and our coming in, and He will have kept our life, just as the verse says.
“The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” – Psalm 121:7-8
Sometimes, when I have felt anger, I have believed it was creating a divide between God and me. But, when I think about it, if every time I experience negative emotions, God turns away, it doesn’t give us a chance to build a real relationship. How many people in your life do you consider true friends with whom you only share the more pleasant aspects of your personality; only your best and cheeriest self? The people I consider my closest friends have seen me at my worst, and loved me anyway. I think the key to dealing with anger and other unpleasant emotions is to take them to God and to be completely honest with Him about what we’re feeling. It means talking to Him about even the things we feel almost too ashamed to say out loud. It means spilling our guts so that He can begin to fill us with something new.
“For he loves us with unfailing love; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!” – Psalm 117:2
“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.” – Romans 3:22
I can very much identify with the man who said to Jesus, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24) One thing I desire is to believe God; to believe all He tells me in the Bible. I am not advocating trying to hide our questions from Him, or pretending that we don’t have doubts at times, but in my experience there comes a point where a decision needs to be made — to either believe that what we are reading is God’s message to us, or it isn’t. I would hope that all would be on the side of believing, but with that said, even those who say they believe sometimes struggle with allowing God’s words to penetrate their heart. I did (do). But I also know what it’s like to believe Him, and the latter is much better. When I believe Him, there’s a feeling of freedom that goes along with it.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17
“Search high and low, scan skies and land, you’ll find nothing and no one quite like God.” – Psalm 89:6
There is no one like You, God. When I look around and see what the world has to offer, I know that none of it will last and that one day I will be face to face with You, my Maker. I am reminded of a time in my life that brought me to a place of wondering about my future, and at that time it hit me that at the end of my life it would come down to just You and me. The people I love, and those who love me – they do not know my deepest fears. Only You know all of my thoughts. One of the things I struggle with is the fact that we all need to say goodbye, at least for a time, to the people we love. There isn’t any getting around it. When that happens, You will be the One taking my hand. No one else can do that. When I go home, it will be You I am going home to.
“I’m an open book to you; even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking. You know when I leave and when I get back; I’m never out of your sight. You know everything I’m going to say before I start the first sentence. I look behind me and you’re there, then up ahead and you’re there, too – your reassuring presence, coming and going.” – Psalm 139:1-5