Whatever It Takes

IMG_1718I’ve become a late-night person…through no design of my own.

I desperately need more hours in the day…more days in the week…and more sleep in my bed.

Last night as I lay my head down on my crazy configuration of multiple fluffy pillows, I began to pray for friends and family, for my children and myself.

I want my people to know the Lord.

I’ve been praying “whatever it takes” off and on for someone.  Actually a few someones.

I began to utter that prayer again and the thought crossed my mind, “Gosh, I hope someone isn’t praying that prayer for me!”

I stopped praying.

Then I thought, “Wow. How you have changed Sue.”

What happened that I fear that prayer now?

Is it that I think God is a father who would say, “Ok, I accept that challenge!  Let’s see what it takes.”

That is not my Father…He is not willing to play with my faith or my life.  He loves me too much.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore, I have continued my faithfulness to you.  Jeremiah 31:3

Or is it that I know myself better today than 7 years ago when I was willing to pray that prayer for myself and anyone else I loved.

Back then I was the “righteous one” – I was the victim of someone else’s sin – or so I felt about myself.

Today, I am just me and my own sin…my own failures and fears….my own faithlessness.

God’s been opening my eyes to things in my life…I feel it’s just layers and layers and layers of stuff.

It is painful and difficult.

I’m tired of painful and difficult.

I think that might be why I’m struggling to pray that prayer.  I think I don’t want to go through anything else…I’m tired of doing hard things.

Living hard.

I’m tired of others struggling with hard too.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.

In this world you will have trouble.  But fear not, for I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Well, that confirms what I already knew…Jesus is a man of His word.  I got trouble.

But if I do…God has to have a reason for allowing it.

God doesn’t mess with me.  He sometimes allows messy but not messing.

Lately, as God has been showing me my layers and layers of issues and sins, honestly, I’ve had some moments of despair.  I’ve felt that I must be the most hopeless case ever.

But then….God.

(There is that “But God” thing…)

Then God reminds me that as big as my sin is…the cross is so much bigger.

The gospel.

Sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I live at the foot of the cross rather than the door to the empty tomb.

Sometimes I forget that although my sins put Him there, His love took me from the cross to the throne of grace.

There is a place for self-reflection…for a moment.  A place for recognizing that I still need my Savior.  A place for seeing my sin and its effects, but my eyes aren’t supposed to be fixed there.

My eyes focus intensely on Christ.

The Author and Perfecter of my faith.

Sometimes I think that my faith is all about me…It’s my job to protect it, strengthen it, reveal it, and nurture it.

I was never given that job…my job is to have it.

Have faith.

Trust that God can bring me safely to my inheritance.

Trust that God knows me better than I know myself, and, amazingly, He still promises to never leave me nor forsake me.

Trust that God doesn’t play games with my life.

Trust that God knows what He is doing…and it is good.

He can’t do bad.

Sometimes I just need to remind myself of that…God can’t do wrong.

And if He can’t, then I can pray that prayer…even if I have flocks of butterflies in my stomach and bats in my chest while I utter the words, “Whatever it takes…”

Whatever it takes to strengthen my faith.

Whatever it takes to make me the mom my children need.

Whatever it takes to keep me walking with You.

Whatever it takes to grow me into the woman after Your own heart I so want to be.

Whatever it takes to have a life that You can use for your glory.

Hard prayers…and yet, not.

If I trust Him, I can pray for those things and know He loves me and whatever it takes is worth it.

I can’t say that I’m joyful or even excited about some prayers I feel called to pray, but I can say that I feel loved and peaceful in the care of my Father.

And maybe it doesn’t really matter if I pray those prayers or not…God is going to do what is best in my life…whatever brings me closest to Him…whatever it takes.

 

Am I Lovable?

ImageI’ve caught the spring cleaning bug…unfortunately at the moment I’ve always actually caught some other bug so I don’t have the energy to do all that I planned to do today. L

But I did have enough energy to organize some shelves in my bedroom.  I found a journal from a while back and read through much of it.  I found something that I thought I’d share:

                Tonight I realized that I really don’t believe anyone REALLY loves me.  That’s a problem.  A big problem.  No wonder I struggle with anything negative that happens – I’m not at all secure in being loved.  I suppose that means I’m probably not that secure in God’s love either.  Everything…EVERYTHING…in my life speaks to the reality of that love and yet I question it?  What’s wrong with me?  Seriously.

                I can’t keep going back to the past to define myself – I’ve got to define myself by the present.  Is that right though?  The present?  Or is it more than that?  Defining myself as a Daughter of the King who is faithfully and constantly loved by Him.

                I know God’s love is completely unconditional.  But it has seemed like everyone else’s is so conditional.  Some of those feelings and fears are irrational…some are based in fact, but is it THE fact I want to base my life on?  No!  I want to base my life on the real and true fact that Jesus loves me without condition.  I’m lovable because He loves me. 

                Maybe I need to believe that better…that I’m lovable…that someone might possibly love me just for me…just as I am.  God has shown that to be true…He loves me just as I am.  That reminds me of that beautiful hymn…I used to sing it for my kids at bedtime.  Maybe I should start again. 

“Just as I am without a plea, but that thy blood was shed for me.  And that thou bidst me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come…I come.”  I bet I would love others better if I grasped how loved I truly am.

That was over a year ago and I believe that God has worked mightily in my life regarding this, but I still struggle at times.  Still want to be assured that I’m worth the whole “love you” thing.  I suppose it is kind of understandable based on my ex-husband’s actions, but certainly not a place I want to remain.  And I definitely think God doesn’t want me there either.  And probably everyone else in my life would prefer I leave this place as well.

When I think of love, one of the first verses that pops into my mind is:

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the great and first commandment.  And a second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  Matthew 22:37-39

That’s a whole lot of lovin’!  Loving God, loving others, loving myself.  Isn’t it interesting that it sometimes is most difficult to love ourselves….to believe we are worth loving.

And love…it isn’t something I do because I feel like it.  I love because I choose to, because God made me to love.

When I found out about my husband’s adultery, I had to make a deliberate and crazy choice to love the man anyway.  I now understand choosing to love someone.  I know the sacrifice and challenges of that decision.  I believe in this case it was a God-honoring decision and He most definitely gave me the grace to do it.  Absolutely not in my own strength, but God’s!

The love I was able to offer my husband was because God’s love was spilling out of me.  I was not the source of it…it did not come from me.   I love because there is love in my life because I have Him.

After all, love is never apart from God.  How can it be when God is love?

…God is love, and whoever abides in love, abides in God, and God abides in him.  1 John 4:16

So if I have God in my life…if I abide in Him and He abides in me…how can I not be lovable?  And loving.

It isn’t about how someone loves me or doesn’t love me…although that certainly can make me feel wonderfully great or tragically awful.  I have certainly felt both ends of the spectrum. But I know…

Love is about God.  It really is.

Any and all the love in the world is only because of God. And amazingly He is loving and gracious enough to offer that same love to us without condition.

God’s love is ours simply because He loves us.

For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.  I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you.  Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.   Isaiah 43:3-4

 I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.   Again I will build you, and you shall be built.  Jeremiah 31:3

We are the objects of His affection.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.  1 John 3:1

We are lovable because we are loved deeply by God.

In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.  1 John 4:10

We are lovable because we were made to love and be loved.

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

We are lovable because God says so.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  John 15:9

I believe God loves me…He has proven it.  How can I doubt my ability to be loved…lovable?

No matter what someone says or does to me that feeds my fear of being unlovable, God says nothing at all can separate me from His love.  Nothing.  That means nothing I do or say or think or have or don’t have, nothing anyone else does or thinks or says…nothing is going to impact the Father’s love for me.  It’s true.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:38-39

Some of us have been through a very difficult experience – and even that seems like an understatement.

Being betrayed and left by the one who promised to live life with you – the person who promised to love you no matter what life threw your way…that is a difficult thing to get over.  Things you never thought would change did.  The love you thought was a definite wasn’t…but God’s love stays the same because God stays the same.  He doesn’t ever stop loving and He doesn’t ever leave or forsake.  He will faithfully love us for eternity.

We can totally, completely, and confidently rest in the fact that we are loved.

We are indeed loveable.