Pocketful of Pearls

When I was a little girl, I was hurt.

I was hurt enough to become bitter, untrusting, and self-reliant.

I knew there was something precious in me, but I hid it deep, and I vowed only the one who fought hard enough would find it in me. I really thought someone would try.

“Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” – Jesus
Matthew 7:6

My plan really backfired. My whole life, I made it far too easy for people to give up on that quest, and to settle for less than that precious part of my heart. Somehow, I failed to realize that instead of guarding those pearls, I had begun flinging them at anyone who dared to enter my pen.

For almost three years now, I have experienced healing and freedom in every area of my life – relationally, emotionally, financially, physically, sexually, spiritually (that covers everything, right?). I met the one who MADE all that is precious in me – he has known it all from the beginning and is helping ME find it. I now see that verse on a spiritual level, not just the physical. I’ve been gathering these precious pieces back to my heart and, well, starting over.

Do you know what my pearls are now? They are little peeks into the crazy big love God has for us. For me, they come in the form of words, either from a friend or straight to my spirit from his. They are revelation, encouragement, wisdom. They are priceless treasures! My collection is growing exponentially – I can barely write it down fast enough.

Jesus wasn’t telling us to hoard our pearls, to keep them to ourselves. It’s also not a game to see who will earn one today. His warning actually points more toward how we treat the pearls we’ve been given. Are we throwing them on the ground in front of those unable to see value in them? Dogs and pigs are hungry for something different.

There is a lot packed into that little verse and I’m still unpacking! But I am thankful for my pocketful of pearls, and for the radical shift in mindset. I am excited to share them appropriately – at the right time, to the right ear, and using only his words. They are so full of life!

Face Forward

Something this week made me stop in my tracks and read about the armor of God.

Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth,
having put on the breastplate of righteousness,
and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace;
above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.
And take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;
praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—
Ephesians 6:10-18

God has been trying hard to teach me some very simple things this year. First of all, the fact that we are instructed to put on spiritual armor in order to stand means we need it. We really are in a battle, and we are not invincible.

I am guilty of ignoring this passage too often. Maybe because I’m so familiar with it, having heard about it my whole life. Or maybe, just maybe, it has more to do with fear than I’d like to admit. The thought of spiritual battle and of what we are arming ourselves against has always been a little scary for me. It’s just more comfortable to focus on other things!

I think a lot of us fall (or jump!) into that mindset at times. This week, I was not allowed to, and I have gained a new insight.

I re-read the passage, and the phrase “the whole armor” jumped out at me. This armor, which essentially protects our hearts (chest), minds (head), and actions (feet), is all we need. God has instructed us to intentionally and diligently protect ourselves with the body armor he has provided…armor that happens to leave our backs exposed.

Why??

Because we don’t need armor there.

We are not intended to retreat. We win by standing strong and facing forward.

We are equipped with a sword and a shield, and are taught to fight offensively (with love), not defensively (out of fear).

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love.
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

We are not fighting for victory, but FROM victory (The Supernatural Ways of Royalty, Kris Vallotton). Do you realize how much power and peace there is in that knowledge?

“In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” – Jesus
John 16:33

I know this is just scratching the surface of a much larger truth, and I’m looking forward to more revelation!

The Beauty in Us All

Today I spent time with my spiritual mentor. Those two hours are what I most look forward to each week because, among other things, she encourages me, challenges me, listens to me, and shares with me. She actually loves me! I am so thankful for her and I love her so much!!

Have you ever been so bothered by a situation, and then someone shares a story that opens your eyes to a whole new perspective? That happens every time I meet with her, and today’s eye-opener was a big one for me!

I have become increasingly aware of how awkward too many of us (especially in the church) are with each other. I keep seeing two types: the ones who only feel comfortable making a superficial connection with people they don’t know, and the ones who only feel comfortable with their little circle of acquaintances.

Now, I am both an introvert and a fairly new (and radically transformed) believer. Believe me when I say I have felt the urges to do a little bit of everything: isolate, avoid, and cower. I know those urges originate from one of two things: thinking I am better than other people (pride), or being afraid others will think I think I am better than other people (false humility). Those are both equally hurtful to myself and to others around me.

Friends, we have got to take our eyes off ourselves and what others think. We have got to get serious about this time we have.

If you are reading this, this applies to you! If someone, ANYONE, is in your sphere, look them in the eye and love them. No one is too good for, or undeserving of, our attention. They may think they are – love them anyway! Shoot, even if they really could be one or the other, do you feel qualified to make that call? They are good enough. YOU are good enough.

I learned that those people we keep avoiding out of insecurity or pride are most often the very ones who either hold the key to our next breakthrough, or need a key we are holding for theirs.

Do you believe that someone needs what you have to offer?

Do you understand that you need what others have to offer?

I honestly don’t know which of those is harder for me to accept, because I’ve really struggled with both angles. I have discovered, though, that most of the people I’m tempted to avoid are the ones I really need to engage. I found a passage that pulls it all together for me.

In this way we are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around… Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body. But as a chopped-off finger or cut-off toe we wouldn’t amount to much, would we? So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.

If you preach, just preach God’s Message, nothing else; if you help, just help, don’t take over; if you teach, stick to your teaching; if you give encouraging guidance, be careful that you don’t get bossy; if you’re put in charge, don’t manipulate; if you’re called to give aid to people in distress, keep your eyes open and be quick to respond; if you work with the disadvantaged, don’t let yourself get irritated with them or depressed by them. Keep a smile on your face.

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
Romans 12:4-19 (The Message version, emphasis added to my favorite parts today)

These words rejuvenate me! He is so patient as I grow in understanding and grace, towards myself and others! I keep learning that those pet peeves almost always point back at something lurking in my own behavior, and present another growth opportunity. Lord, help me love well and genuinely. Continue to show me the beauty you see in us and our circumstances – there is so much power in that revelation!

Into the Deep

As this year began, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something big was on its way. I knew this would be a powerful year of pressing in. A deepening in my relationship with the Lord.

Now, what I have known so tenderly and intimately the past two and a half years is something I’ve seen a lot of people struggle with – his absolute love. That seems to be the truth he made easiest for me to walk in. I am flabbergasted by it, but yet there it is. I don’t argue with him about it, and man am I grateful for it. Operating from that understanding is a prerequisite to walking in true relationship with him.

We love him, because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

So at the first of the year, this drawing to go deeper was exciting for me. What could be more wonderful than burrowing deeper into that cocoon of grace, peace, and love that I knew so well? When I asked him to reveal more of himself to me, I naturally expected to experience more of those aspects I knew and was so comfortable with.

There’s that word again: comfort. I’ve noticed there are very few comfortable, lazy seasons in this walk!

Do you know there is more to God than his grace, peace, and love?

It’s actually turned into a pretty uncomfortable year for me as he has been faithful to answer my (seriously naïve) prayer.

“You do not know what you ask.” – Jesus
Matthew 20:22

He has certainly shown me more than I bargained for! Not just more of what I knew and already loved, but some of those other, harder-to-swallow attributes. There is a justice and a wrath that I am starting to understand on a different level.

I have such a tremendous reverence for this King of kings who calls me his daughter, his darling, his beloved! Such respect for this judge who declared me righteous and set me free. Such devotion to this creator of all things who knows my DNA, my name, my gifts, my heart. Such a love for this mightiest warrior who laid down his life for me.

I’m so enraptured by him! I am overwhelmed by how big he is! There are days it is hard to reconcile that the God of infinite, incomprehensible vastness is the same God who whispers truth to me. How brilliant to have grounded me so firmly in his love before revealing more of himself to me!

There are times that fear of the unknown (or newly discovered) threatens to rise up in me. There are just so many things I don’t understand. In those moments, he wraps me up in his divine hug – yes, in his grace, his peace, his love. There he is, my Father, friend, and comforter, reminding me he is constant. He is Faithful and True.

“For I am the Lord, I do not change.” Malachi 3:6
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8

11 Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. 13 He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. 15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written:

KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Revelation 19:11-16