So Lovely Together

People are so beautiful!

I am saying that with my eyes wide open in surprise because, believe me, that is not how I normally see people. I was driving this morning and marveling at them – mouths singing, hands gripping the wheel, eyes connecting. They were lovely. We are lovely. I really hope this perspective sticks – I am determined to see us the way God does.

For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

I had a dream recently that I had just arrived in heaven. There were hundreds of us in orientation, getting to know our teams and assignments. As the teams got more specialized, the numbers in each class shrunk, and eventually I was in a classroom with only three other people. They weren’t my favorites. In another room, I was getting something off a shelf and was a little disappointed that things weren’t organized perfectly (i.e. the way I would have done it). You know why…people did it.

I have known this on a secondary level, but it hit me in a new, really real way after that dream: We are going to be together. FOREVER. I didn’t like the dream at first, but boy did I need it.

See, it’s not going to be just my Father, Jesus, the angels, and me. And not just my best friends, or my church, or the ones who do things this way, or whatever group I think I could tolerate for a long period of time. Heaven is going to be full of joy, and populated with loads of people. Yay, I’m finally not cringing at that. He is changing my heart!

You have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless thousands of angels in a joyful gathering. You have come to the assembly of God’s firstborn children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge over all things. You have come to the spirits of the righteous ones in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks of forgiveness…
Hebrews 12:22-24

Think about it, when you think of heaven, don’t you picture it as being “perfect”? The concept of heaven’s perfection doesn’t mean the shelves will be organized to my standards…unless I get put on permanent sorting duty after writing this. We may have very different ideas about the details, and neither of us are wrong. Perfection has everything to do with who we will be there with, not what it will look like, although that will be glorious too:

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”
Revelation 21:3-4

I’m not saying that I saw into heaven the other day, but that dream truly changed my life. It revealed yet another area where I am seeing life from a ridiculously self-centered point of view. In fact, it’s sparked something bigger: An eagerness to see and even embrace the way you do things. There is a hunger in me not to just tolerate the people in my circles…but to want to be with them. It’s finally sinking in – how lovely we are together!

Thank you for making me [US!] so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
Psalm 139:14 [comments added]

Trading Gravel for Bread

I am such a thankful girl.

I know what it is like to be stuck in addictive and destructive cycles. To be wandering lost in the dark with no recognizable landmarks. To be desperately hungry for life, and finding only handfuls of gravel to eat. To be radically transformed, rescued, and fed life.

I lived almost 40 years of my life in various stages of rejecting false truths, searching for Truth, or just ignoring the whole issue altogether. I don’t know why 2010 was the magic year for faith to hit and for Jesus to suddenly make sense to me. I have no idea why something beyond natural reason became so obvious and clear for me that day in my kitchen. All I know for certain is that I wanted Truth, and I asked God to open my eyes to the Jesus story if it was true.

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed?
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Romans 10:14, 17

That day I realized that faith is a choice, born out of a desire. That day I began listening. That day he stepped in to my life and everything changed.

Last week I started reflecting on how different life would be if he had rescued me sooner. I even caught myself asking him why he didn’t! See, sometimes I forget that just as it was my own choice to accept him, it was my own choice NOT to for so many years.

He is so gracious, because sometimes I don’t let it go. I asked more – why didn’t I soften sooner? Why didn’t he help me soften sooner? Why, on that particular day in 2010, in one of the most thankful seasons of my life, did I finally turn to him? He showed me something new.

He knows every detail of our hearts. It’s like that was the exact moment that the scale tipped – the millisecond that I would be the most thankful for the gift of salvation. A few weeks sooner and I may have taken his living bread for granted. One second later there would be another serving of gravel in my system to get rid of.

And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.
John 6:35

This is going to sound weird, but I felt him saying he was perfectly happy with my timing. Because of it, I am whole-heartedly in love with him, I have zero doubts about my relationship with him, my gratitude is off the charts, and my joy is “overflowing its banks!” (John 16:24 MSG).

This may also sound weird, but I am so thankful that he didn’t reach in and pull me from my pit sooner. That he waited for me to come to him. I appreciate that he trusts us to make our own decisions.

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.”
Deuteronomy 30:19-20

My greatest hope is for everyone to experience the satisfaction, peace, and joy that even one bite of the bread of life brings!

Through Your Eyes

I really hope I find peace with this issue by the time I get to the end…

A while back I attended a women’s small group. One of the girls shared a lot about life with her husband, and I noticed that when she did there would be a chorus of positive words surrounding him from others who knew him. I had never seen him in person, but one night I spouted out, “I just love Mr. X!!”

The next week, Mrs. X came and told me that she shared my statement with him. Do you know what his response was? “What?? She doesn’t even know me!” They both seemed to think it was weird that I thought so highly of him. My first instinct, which I’m embarrassed to admit, was to smell insecurity (most likely my own!) and reject them both. I didn’t in the end…but that was my first instinct.

That was over a year ago, and the memory of it still comes back and bothers me at times. Did I turn into a creeper that night? Did I offend them? Was it weird for me to love him without meeting him in person? I want to learn from this so I can let it go.

You know why I loved him? I was given the gift of seeing a person through eyes that chose to love him. Whether he deserved it or not, these girls were calling out his excellence. They talked about his strengths, they saw the best in him, they bragged on him! I knew him through their eyes, without meeting him in person, and I loved him for being such an encouraging and supportive husband to my friend.

God is really working on me – trying to teach me how to see us and our circumstances through his eyes. To see an encouraging potential outcome, not just a problem. I want to see that way!!

For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, “Fear not, I am the one who helps you.”
Isaiah 41:13

Right now, I seem stuck in diagnostic mode. I can see when something is wrong or missing, and sometimes I can pinpoint what is hurting or broken. That is a gift, but it’s incomplete. My life-long tendency has been to focus on the problem, and that ends in rejection, separation, or despair. It has proven a hard habit to break.

Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.
Luke 6:31

God used those beautiful girls to show me that we choose what we see and speak over one another. I can speak TRUTH into those I love, and even those I don’t necessarily like, to encourage healing, freedom, restoration, and LIFE.

The fact is, he doesn’t love me any more today than he did the day before I fell in love with him. He loved me the same even at my ugliest, dirtiest, lowest point…and let me tell you, I was a train wreck. There is nothing I can do or not do to make him love me more. Or less. That is amazing!

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Why in the world does it offend me when I run into broken people? And why in the world do I behave as though broken people deserve less love?

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

I realized this morning that the way we see each other is contagious, and it made me wonder – how do people see the loved ones I talk about? Do I build them up, focusing on their strengths and excellence? Am I inspiring LOVE for them, or ensuring their rejection?

Give thanks to the God of heaven. His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:26

I’m sure this isn’t the last you’ll hear about me learning to love well; it’s been a recurring theme for over a year now. The difference today…I see it with new clarity, and I really want to move on. Lord, please teach me to love the way you do!!

The Precious Things

Blessed of the Lord is his land,
With the precious things of heaven, with the dew,
And the deep lying beneath,
With the precious fruits of the sun,
With the precious produce of the months,
With the best things of the ancient mountains,
With the precious things of the everlasting hills,
With the precious things of the earth and its fullness,
And the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush.
Deuteronomy 33:13-16

That is an amazing blessing right there, spoken by Moses to the line of Joseph, 400 years after Joseph’s life.

Sometimes you listen to a blessing or prophetic word and feel happy for the person receiving it. Sometimes that word jumps straight into your heart and you know it is meant for you as well. Tonight, I feel that word is spoken to our region, or pockets of it anyway.

There are lots of weird stories in the news lately, and lots of signs that even weirder things are on their way. I am burdened, but not afraid.

I love the story of Joseph – how he endured tremendous trials and passed several tests to fulfill his destiny. How he thrived in every circumstance, no matter what was thrown his way.

He was successful when he was sold into slavery:

The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man…Now his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand.
Genesis 39:2-3

He was successful when he was wrongfully accused and thrown into jail:

But the Lord was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.
Genesis 39:21

He KNEW God, and always gave him the glory for his successes. He learned somewhere along the way that heartbreaks, major setbacks, and even persecution were ultimately being used to benefit them all (Genesis 50:20). They positioned him to realize his dream.

I am praying for and believing in the Lord’s protection and provision, thankful for his words and blessings, and overjoyed at his companionship. What a different world it is when you are mindful of the precious things we are blessed with!