I am Invited to Live, Uncategorized

Pressing into Life

“Come, let us return to the LORD. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us. He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, that we may live before Him. So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; and He will come to us like the rain, like the spring rain watering the earth.” ~Hosea 6:1-3, NKJV

I don’t feel very much alive today. I feel shriveled, like a tender seedling in the hot, dry July sun. Ironic, isn’t it? This week, my week to choose a topic–and I chose life–is the week that I crash. Huh. What should I make of that?

Reading in Hosea today, I find myself in a mix of angles. Discipline is never pleasant–and honestly, I’m not rightly sure of the reason for this particular drought–but I see in scripture that God always has an intent. It isn’t random.

I used the word shriveled–because that describes perfectly how I feel today, and yesterday, and the day before–and that isn’t fun. But as I look at this call from Hosea, an image comes to mind. My husband just got a new toy for our landscape. I call it the flame-thrower. It’s a propane fueled torch used to keep the weeds at bay in our driveway and among my many flower beds. You don’t actually burn the weeds, though. You torch them, and they wither.

There are a lot of withered weeds in my yard right now.

Perhaps there are a lot of withering weeds in my heart right now.

Good things grow best when there aren’t weeds competing for life. Things like patience and perseverance and kindness and encouragement, rather than frustration and discouragement and envy and negativity. Perhaps the shriveling I feel is the death of those weeds.

Which means that life will follow. Good life, producing good things.

I am Invited to Live

Peeking at the End

“They will come and shout for joy on the height of Zion,
And they will be radiant over the bounty of the LORD—
Over the grain and the new wine and the oil,
And over the young of the flock and the herd;
And their life will be like a watered garden,
And they will never languish again.” ~ Jeremiah 31:12

Jeremiah is a bit like a roller coaster–a really, really scary roller coaster. Deep valleys are penned in his prophesies. Promises of gloom–discipline met out to a stubborn and adulterous people. Captivity, destruction and despair is coming. Be warned, he writes, know that God sees your life, has taken note that you refuse to live for Him, and will deal severely with His rebellious son.

And then we come across these precious promises, such as 31:12. “Their life will be like a The conclusion of the story comes to life.watered garden, and they will never languish again.”

I must confess that I cheat when I read a book–it drives my husband nuts. I have a habit of reading the first few pages and then flipping to the end. I know, it’s just wrong, but I don’t want to waste my time with something that doesn’t end well. I have to know that the conclusion will be satisfying before I’m willing to commit to the ups and downs of an unfolding plot.

Which makes me super thankful for the Word of God when it comes to the unravelling story of life.

Destruction isn’t the end. Discipline isn’t the final chapter. The conclusion of the story comes to life.

This is profound. Our living and doing looks a bit like that roller coaster. Life twists and turns, takes us high and dunks us into deep lows. Sometimes it feels random. Sometimes it feels yucky. But Jesus told His disciples that he has come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

He has come that I may have life. Abundantly. Does anyone else need to hear that today?

I am God's Daughter

A Daughter’s Discipline

And you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons: My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom he receives. Endure it as discipline: God is dealing with you as sons. For what son is there whom a father does not discipline?  But if you are without discipline – which all receive – then you are illegitimate children and not sons.  Furthermore, we had natural fathers discipline us, and we respected the.  Shouldn’t we submit even more to the Father of spirits and live?  For they disciplined us for a short time based on what seemed good to them, but He does it for our benefit, so that we can share His holiness.  No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:4-11

“If I didn’t love you, I wouldn’t care how you acted and I wouldn’t punish you,” I told my son.  He glared at me with hot eyes, shaking his head in bewilderment. But even as I said the words, I didn’t really expect him to understand them.  Not yet.  Not until he is a daddy himself, with the task of raising his own son into a godly man.  Then he’ll get it.  Then he’ll understand that rules are given not to steal pleasure, but to protect from harm.  Then he’ll realize that punishment is doled out to shape a child into a better person, not to beat him down.  But not just yet.

This week, I’ve been on the receiving end of some discipline from God.  It has not been fun.  I really don’t like facing the sin he’s shown me, and I really don’t like dealing with the consequences of that sin. I’ve found myself acting out my son’s role in this drama, glaring at God and feeling like he was just really mean.

But no.  I am his beloved daughter. And he is disciplining me because he loves me and has better plans for me than I have for myself.  He knows I need some shaping, a bit of pruning, and a good work out to become the woman I need to be to accomplish them.

God is not vindictive.  He is my loving father.  Right now, I am going through a painful time.  Indeed, “no discipline seems enjoyable.”  But, if I am an attentive daughter, if I will repent, change my ways, see it as a training time, then later I will see the “fruit of peace and righteousness” in my life.

I’ve seen it before on other issues.  I’ll see it this time, too.

Because God loves me.  I am, after all, his cherished daughter. 

I am forgiven

Forgiven by My Father

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,
So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;

As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

As a father pities his children,
So the LORD pities those who fear Him. ~ Psalms 103:10-13, NKJV

This is my favorite passage. Let me show you why . . .

Several years ago we caught one of our sweet children doing something wrong—and it was a pretty big deal. It was long and convoluted, and the whole of it played out in dramatic fashion (little girls are knitted with drama, right?). After the worst of the confession and discipline played out, she sobbed heavily. It was the kind of crying that comes from the soul, from a heart that is broken, not from a sneak that is simply mad at having been caught (I have three daughters, so I’ve become pretty good at recognizing the difference). I looked to my husband and we exchanged one of those puzzled ‘now what?’ glances. Disappointed by and now concerned for this rebuked, distraught little darlin’,  we gathered her little trembling frame close.

EscapeShe pushed us away.

“Why?” We asked.

“Because you don’t love me.” She cracked between labored breaths.

I began to cry with her. “You really think I don’t love you?”

She took the tiniest peek at me, and then turned away. “No.” She broke again. “No, but you shouldn’t love me.”

Oh, that killer moment. It still makes me tear up.

I love my little girl. I wish we had different words for love, because saying I love her the same way I say I love my coffee doesn’t do any kind of justice to how I really feel for her. I. LOVE. Her.

Years past that moment, though I can remember the poignant emotion of that day, I honestly don’t know exactly what she had done. Because it was forgiven. It’s gone.

I’ve felt her ache, though. In moments when I realize how utterly wretched I am, how desperately broken, ugly, and wrong my heart is, I weep before God. “Why do you love me? You shouldn’t.”

And then He takes me close, and I’m pretty sure there are tears in His inaudible voice as He whispers, “I love you. As far as the east is from the west, I have removed your sin.”

And it’s gone.