Tag Archive | redemption

“I’m where?”

So, back to Yosemite. I’m sitting on a rock resting, contemplating what my next step will be. It felt good to sit down. I decided to change my socks for the hike down trail. After about 30 minutes, I was feeling a little better. I text K to tell him that I would start down trail. That is the last thing I remember: Wednesday, September 16, 2015 around noon (California time). I woke up with a white-coated doctor asking me “Do you know where you are?” I knew I was in a hospital, but not the city or state. That was sometime on Saturday, September 19, 2015. My room was full of familiar faces: B and my kids; K and J, and my sister R just outside the door. I was quite confused and couldn’t remember everyone’s name. My hands were restrained to keep me from pulling out the various IV’s in my arms (and the intubation tubing when it was in). Apparently, I had been combative while in my medically induced coma. As I became more lucid, the doctor asked more questions: Doctor: “Do you remember what happened?” Me: “No.” Doctor: “what year is it?” Me: “2001”. Doctor: “Do you know who this is?” Me: “I know I should know the name, but I can’t remember it.” B had to fill in some of the gaps for me. Since he was right there with me, I thought we had been vacationing together. He explained that I was vacationing without him, and I began to remember seeing my sister R and BFF J before going to Yosemite. I asked him, “Am I really this sick?” He said, “Yes.” I could tell he was thanking God I was alive, awake and speaking. I looked down at my bound arms. I think there were 5 IV’s in my arms at that point. (I was told there were 7 IV’s with 9 bags of drugs when I arrived at the ER.) Both my arms were bruised from shoulder to wrist. Not little bump bruises, but deep “that’s gotta hurt” colorful bruises. No wonder I wanted to yank out the IV’s! I promised not to pull out the tubes, and my daughter told the nurse that the family would keep me calm. The nurse removed the restraints. I was still unsure of how I got to the hospital, why I needed to be in the Neuro Critical Care Unit, or why I couldn’t have anything to drink. I had many questions swarming my brain, but my body wanted to sleep.

lg

imageimageimage

Advertisements

My confession – I am stubborn! (don’t tell my husband!)

IMG_2111

I am stubborn. (Some of you are going “duh!”) Often, I think of how stubborn the Israelites were: they didn’t want to leave Egypt (even though slaves – they were in a comfort zone), they didn’t want to trust God would provide food, shelter, land, etc. They wanted to do things their own way. When reading the stories of their travels and trials, I think to myself “they just wouldn’t learn! Time and time again, they wouldn’t trust God.” Then, a gentle voice whispers, “look at your own stubbornness.” I think I am at least as stubborn as they were.

Things I have in common with the Israelites:

  • I like my comfort zone – the Israelites knew what to expect in Egypt, not necessarily comfort, but a certainty of food and shelter.

  • I want things in my time and my way – the Israelites wanted food and water when they first felt hunger and thirst, not waiting for God’s timing. Lack of trusting that God won’t let me down.

  • I fool myself into thinking my ways work, when they don’t. The Israelites created a false god. That certainly didn’t work out well!

  • I give everything to God, but keep holding on with one hand. The Israelites kept after Aaron (in Moses’ absence) for the back-up plan.

 I’m not a good passenger. I like the control of being the driver. I know when I will brake and turn and accelerate.  As a passenger, I am left guessing. In case you didn’t notice, it’s all about “me”! “I” this, “I” that. That’s part of my stubbornness: I want to be in the center of everything and the one in control.  Even though God’s ways are higher, I still take over; sometimes I don’t’ even realize I have!

All that being said, I WANT God to be my pilot! Not the co-pilot or navigator! In the perspective of a parent to an adult child, I can see how God knows things I am unable to see. I watch my adult children and want to advise them and help them avoid the pitfalls. But it has to be their choice, not my choice. That’s how God is with us. He is Abba Father. We have free will. We must willing hold on to Him as He is holding us!

Romans 2:4, “God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” (MSG)

John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (ESV)

 

lg

The Answer is…

Keep your eyes on Jesus!

The question? In last week’s post, you will find it. The world can be distracting and I take my eyes off Jesus letting the circumstances around me dominate my mind.

Matthew 14:28-31

Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand.

Peter was distracted by the wind and waves. He took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink. So many questions have the same answer: Jesus! It seems quite simple, but my earthly flesh rebels. I intend to read His word every day. Then, I oversleep, the dog gets sick, or some other bump in life misdirects me. It seems that’s the first thing dumped off the “TO DO” list. I have told myself, “I will read this afternoon,” and when afternoon arrives there are other bumps in my road. I have put Bible apps on my phone and tablet. Now I can read on my break time. Or just make time wherever I happen to be. I have to choose to do it, to focus on Jesus.

Luke 9:23 

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

The key is to follow Jesus DAILY- 24/7/365. I am still a work in-progress, diamond-in-the-rough. God has redeemed me and given me grace which is all-sufficient! Hallelujah! I hope some of you can relate to this…

lg

Rahab’s Refrain — My Song of Redemption

The story of Rahab’s protection of the spies who came to Jericho has always touched my heart.  In order to risk her life to protect these strangers, she must have sensed a profound presence of God upon them.  Had her duplicity been discovered by the government officials, she could have been incarcerated or even put to death for her crime.  I have always admired her discernment and her courage.  However, more recently, I have come to realize that I actually identify with her in her life of prostitution.

In a spiritual sense, all of us have been harlots to some degree.  We struggle to consistently honor Jesus first in our hearts and reject the innumerable distractions of our busy lives.  Sometimes we inadvertently allow other people and other concerns to shove Him off the throne of our hearts.  We are easily consumed by the pace and intensity of our responsibilities and routines, only to temporarily forget the One Who is the Giver and Arbiter of true peace in our soul.  Mercifully, He stands always ready to receive us back to Himself when we acknowledge our missteps and repent.

However, only recently have I realized that, but for His unfathomable and boundless mercy, I could easily have led the life of a real prostitute.  As it was, God blessed me with parents who emphasized the importance of education and even paid for me to earn a university degree.   They taught me that I had value and abilities waiting to be tapped.   They taught me to set my goals high and to have confidence in the dreams of my heart.  They also taught me to love Jesus.  After college, I married my husband, who has proven to be a generous man with a strong work ethic and a heart for God.  He has loved me, encouraged me, listened to me, and believed in me.  He has been a wonderful father to our five children.  The fact is, however, that I am increasingly aware of the blessings I have always enjoyed but never deserved.  Had I been born to a family rife with incest, addictions, ignorance, and indolence, I would not have been equipped for the very basic demands of life.  If no one had taught me to value what God put in me, no amount of intelligence or talent could have pulled me out of the mire of generations of torpor.  In fact, I shudder to think what I would have been willing to do to put food on the table for my children in the absence of a loving husband and without the advantages of higher education.  I must confess that I would doubtless have been willing to steal, lie, and even prostitute myself for the sake of my children.  That is the truth.

Therein lies the key to compassion — not simply getting a taste of someone else’s sorrow and feeling sad about it (“Those poor people!”), but actually identifying with them and understanding that you or I could quite easily have been in that person’s situation, given a simple shift of circumstances or opportunities.  I could readily make the same wrong choices anyone else has made.   Without Jesus, I am fully capable of all manner of wrongdoing, bad choices, and wickedness.   The fact is, even WITH Him residing in me, I have made some not-so-stellar choices, and He has been faithful to cover me and heal me!

Compassion that identifies with the one who is the object of compassion is the essence of the Gospel.   Jesus didn’t just feel sorry or sad for our sin and cooperate with His Father’s instructions to save us.  Instead, He actually BECAME sin for us; He identified with us sinners and paid in full for our sins with His own blood. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

As a result, I realize that Rahab’s story of redemption and inclusion in the line of the Messiah is actually my story as well.   She responded to truth, and God was ready to make room for her.   Her name in Hebrew actually means “road,”  “path,”  or “room,”  as in “making room for.”   God made room for the harlot in His royal line, and He thereby made room for me as well.    As I recognize myself in her, I confess my own potential for waywardness and realize God has had mercy on and redeemed the Rahab in me.  I look forward to meeting the Rahab who hid the spies in person one day, for her song of redemption is mine — our merciful God has made room for me, and His banner over me is love!

Sinners’ Liberation?

God recently shocked me (surprise!) by revealing to me that I often fail to understand what it means to belong to Him, to be a part of His family.  He has adopted me as His very own:  “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoptions as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘ Abba, Father!’  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”  (Galatians 4:4-6) Perhaps people who have been raised in royal circles understand what it means to inherit a kingdom, but most of us have no concept of that kind of life. 

As I watched the wedding last week of Prince William and his beautiful bride, a commoner, the Holy Spirit began to show me that Jesus, the King of kings, has married me, the commoner, an inveterate sinner, and received me as heir and co-heir with Him of the Father’s Kingdom!  Although I understand that Jesus’ relationship to His Bride, the Church, reflects the redemption He provided for us on the cross and His intent for the Church, the Bride of Christ, to partner with Him in His Kingdom work, somehow the impact of  that allegorical royal wedding didn’t sink in until I watched a royal wedding of two very real people.  The tiara worn by the bride served not only as a glistening adornment for her head, but also as a powerful symbol of her position as princess — and future queen — of an earthly kingdom.  On her wedding day, Kate Middleton became a legal member of the House of Windsor and heir to a throne.

The prophet Isaiah also speaks of a tiara, a bride, a bridegroom, a new name, and an inheritance.  “You shall be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord will name.  You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord and a royal diadem [aka tiara] in the hand of your God.  You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah [my delight is in her], and your land Beulah [married]; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. (Isaiah 62:2b-4)  When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, the Father literally changes our name, just as brides all over the earth traditionally receive the family name of their new husbands.  We are legally a part of His family.  We are no longer desolate, rejected, forsaken, alone, pathetic, and sinful.  Instead, we are the object of our heavenly Bridegroom’s delight, partners with Him in the heavenly Kingdom.  His Name speaks of ALL He is, His attributes, His DNA, the GREAT “I AM” who made all things.   The married land signifies our inheritance in Him, for it truly is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom — HIS Kingdom (see Luke 12:32)!

God is asking me to STOP taking my “maiden name” back and acting as if I belong to my old spiritual family:  the family of rejection, desolation, destruction, spiritual poverty, abandonment, sin, and sorrow.  I need to remember WHOSE I am and realize that the Father, by His Spirit, has planted His own DNA in me (see 2 Cor. 3:18), holy DNA that has the power to transform my very nature.  He has granted me His Name and lavished His royal gifts on me (every spiritual blessing — Eph. 1:3!).  He takes great DELIGHT in me!

Ask Him for revelation on this point as you navigate the sea of life’s circumstances.  Receive the tiara the Lover of your soul has purchased for you with His Blood!  You are the object of His delight!  Forget your people and your father’s house (your old spiritual blueprint of sin and iniquity, your former heritage).  The King of Kings desires your beauty (see Psalm 45:10-11).  He has set His heart on you!