Archives for July 2012
art credit: Elijah in the Wilderness by Washington Allston
I always enjoy making new friends.
I’ve recently discovered that you can make new friends without actually ever meeting them! A couple of months ago, I got involved in an online writing group and have had a glorious time making new friends from all over the country (and in a few cases, outside of the States!).
This mid-week post is a result of one of those friendships. My new friend, Debi Stangeland, has asked me to write an essay for her blog today. Will you come on over? Explore her blog a little while you’re there. It’s good stuff!
If you’re here from Funki Planet, welcome! Please explore and make yourself at home. I’d love to get to know you better.
I am really tired of getting things wrong, of feeling ashamed of myself.
I didn’t speak when I should have spoken because I was afraid of someone’s opinion of me.
I spoke sarcastically to my husband in front of several friends.
I chose to read story books rather than to spend time with God.
I yelled at my babies. While we were praying!
I often have a really hard time loving myself. I feel frustrated with my inability to obey, to love, to be perfect. I often have a very low opinion of myself.
I am fairly certain that I am not the only one who feels like this.
I want to share a truth that was recently spoken to me: Your opinion of yourself doesn’t matter.
Does that sound hard? It is true.
I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself…it is the Lord who judges me. ~ I Corinthians 4.3
It doesn’t matter what you think of yourself, whether or not you approve of yourself. Only God’s opinion of you matters.
That’s worth saying again.
The only thing that matters is whether or not God approves of you.
This then is…how we set our hearts at rest in His presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts and He knows everything. ~ I John 3.19-20
And the best news of all? The news that fills up my heart and gives me peace?
If you are in Christ, God does approve of you!
Just read Romans 8:
vs 1: Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…
vs 33: Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? (Yes, this includes bringing charges against yourself!) It is God who justifies.
vs 38-39: For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (italics mine)
When I am playing a difficult piece on the piano, sometimes I play the wrong notes. When that happens, rather than getting upset, making horrid faces and just quitting, my mother taught me to simply improvise the wrong notes into the next bit of music. These wrong notes are then given a new name: passing notes – notes that don’t really fit but can become fitting.
For me, one of the most breathtaking things about being a Christian is that God can take our worst mistakes and turn them into His passing notes. That’s what God is promising to do for us in the end, and it can start now. And if you haven’t heard that before, it’s time you did. ~ Jeremy Begbie
So. Take a deep breath. Quit thinking about yourself and your mistakes.
Trust God’s approval of you in Christ. Allow Him to turn those mistakes into His beautiful passing notes that lead us to become who God intended for us to be.
Our family has been learning over the past few years as we experienced some truly ugly things. We’ve learned about who God is and what He asks of us even when we don’t understand or like what is happening.
My learning will never be complete (for which I am grateful…I’m one of those odd ones who loves to study and learn!) and I recently was struck by yet another lesson as our church studied through the book of Ruth.
As I studied Ruth and as I thought about this book as compared with other books in the Bible, I noticed that God seems to work in two very different ways.
God sometimes uses His visible hand of miracle to accomplish His purpose. Think about the parting of the Red Sea and the manna provided from heaven. Think about the healing of Jairus’ daughter and the feeding of the 5,000.
God also sometimes uses His invisible hand of Providence to accomplish His purpose. This is what happens in Ruth. Israel is in the period of the judges which means that they are bouncing around between brief periods of stability and long periods of rebellion, being conquered by foreign armies, and experiencing severe famines.
Here are Naomi and Ruth: they are widows, they are childless, they are in a foreign land, they are going home to Israel not knowing what they will find.
Naomi, especially, knew the traditions of her God. Perhaps Ruth had heard the stories. The miracle stories of Noah saved from the flood, of Israel rescued from Egypt. I imagine they may have wished for that visible hand of miracle.
Instead, they got hard work gleaning in a field, an owner of that field who just happened to stop by and act with kindness, the surprise of that very owner being a close relative, a desperate and courageous request from Ruth. The result? A marriage, a baby, perhaps a bit of stability. Several small blessings along the way, but certainly no miraculous raising of the dead.
From that marriage and that child came the greatest king that Israel would ever know, bringing wealth and stability and godliness to the nation.
From that marriage and that child came the greatest King that our world would ever know, bringing rescue and mercy and grace to all the nations.
My honest confession? I want the miracle. I don’t want the invisible hand of Providence. When Kristina was fighting for her life, we begged for miraculous healing. That’s not what we got.
Even though the miracle is what I wanted, I can still trust in God’s unseen hand. I can know that God is still working, even though we, like Naomi and Ruth, may not see the end of the story.
Even though I am now pleading for another miracle, I am so grateful to be assured that while I pray out my sadness, my anger, and my bitterness, God is right now at work healing hurts not even felt yet and creating answers to problems I haven’t even yet encountered.
Abba. Thank You.
(if you are viewing this via email/in a reader, click here to view this video)
art credit: Whither Thou Goest painting used with gracious permission by artist Sandy Freckleton Gagon