Wounded By Words

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 118:5-6

“You can really hurt someone by the words you speak,” I told my son. Knowing he had felt the sting of criticism in the past, and I reminded him to choose his words carefully.

As I was getting ready for bed later that evening, I realized how much I allow the words of others to influence my mood or opinion of myself. Just that day, I had been feeling discouraged about the critical words and tone with which someone else spoke to me. As much as I wished it had, their comment didn’t just roll off me. It stuck like a glob of glue in my heart and it didn’t feel good.

Then, I came across Psalm 118:5-6. True to God’s nature of perfect timing, He reminded me that His opinion is what matters most. I had been pressed into a state of gloom, allowing another’s statements to steal my joy. But being reminded of God’s love for me, my heart danced off the goo and was free of bondage to the approval of man. What can mere mortals do to me when I have the affections of the God of the universe?

Perhaps you, too, allow the words and actions of others to influence the way you view yourself or the world. It’s hard not to sometimes, especially when those people are close friends or family. We value their opinion.

But if what they’re saying is critical, condescending or simply maligned from the Word of God, then we need to proceed with caution. Taking a moment to pause and reflect may be just what we need to redirect negative thoughts to the truth.

Is what they’re saying true? What is their spirit communicating? Two simple questions point us to clarity and confidence.

If what they’re saying isn’t true, we can stop there and rebuke Satan’s efforts the convince us otherwise. If what they’re saying is true, whether we want to hear it to not, then we need to listen. God may be using them to speak to us.

If their spirit communicates tenderness, we should be grateful God has given us a special friend who speaks the truth in love. But if their aim is to tear us down or build themselves up, then let’s see that for what it is. God is gentle and kind; He never speaks with condescending tones. He may want to get out attention, but He will not do so with criticism. Ridicule is the language of Satan; let’s claim victory over him in those moments.

God wants us to live under His affections, under His supernatural acceptance. His intentions are not for us to seek the approval of man or try to please others. He desires we look only to Him for our true identity and reliance.

We’ll never control what comes out of others’ mouths, but we can control what we say. As I encouraged my son to do, may we not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.
(Ephesians 4:29)

Is Self-Care Self-ish?

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else.
Galatians 6:4

My role as a mom and wife is dearly rewarding but often leaves me depleted with little time for myself. The coming new year marks time of reflection and one theme keep recurring in my mind – self-care.

I’ve often thought of self-care as somewhat self-ish, believing it meant neglecting care for others in order to do what I wanted to do. But is that really true?

In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season I spent more time baking, volunteering, and cleaning than exercising, reading my bible, and resting – all essential acts to maintain my health. And I felt it. I couldn’t run around with my kids, I struggled to get out of bed in the mornings, and my pants were too tight!

I started realizing that self-care is not selfish, it’s actually a necessary part of giving of ourselves to others. I won’t be my best mom-and-wife-self if I’m not healthy physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Galatians 6:4 reminds me of three important things relevant to self-care:

1. Self-care is my responsibility. Each one should test their own actions... Testing my actions means assessing my efforts to nurture my soul. Am I spending enough time with God? Am I eating healthy? Am I exercising? No one can take care of me as well as I can nor should I expect someone else to.

2. Self-care leads to confidence. Then they can take pride in themselves alone... When we tend to our personal needs, we feel better about ourselves. We can take pride in the choices we make knowing it honors God to respect the body and heart He has given us.

3. Self-care is personal. Without comparing themselves to someone else. I have many friends who do not understand how getting up an hour early to read my Bible couldn’t be anything but exhausting, but for me it’s just what I need. Other friends don’t struggle with a love of carbs; they don’t have to restrict their diet. It’s important to avoid comparing the ways we differ in methods of self-care. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. What matters is that we make self-care a priority because doing so allows us to give our best to others.

Taking better care of myself is my New Years resolution for 2020 – what’s yours?

Childlike Forgiveness

Have you ever seen children peacefully playing together, sharing, and taking turns? Perhaps for a short time, but more commonly, they snatch, bicker, and frequently yell, “mine!” Sharing may not be a child’s strong suit, but they seem to do pretty well with forgiveness. They could be fighting and biting one minute, then hugging and holding hands as they trot back to the sand box as if nothing ever happened.

What makes it so difficult for adults to forgive in the same way? Often, our first instinct is to hold a grudge against someone who has offended us. We are quick to judge their motives and protect ourselves from being mistreated or embarrassed. We forget that just this morning we needed to ask forgiveness from someone else.

As we age, the experiences of life create wounds and as a result, we develop insecurities or push down unwanted negative emotions. We acquire sensitive areas representing these wounds in various stages of healing. When we are hurt by someone else’s words or actions, these sensitive areas are pressed and it doesn’t feel good. We react in defense rather than respond with forgiveness.

Children, however, haven’t accumulated a bank of negative experiences and live under the bliss of short term memory loss. They are wired to live in the moment, quickly moving between emotional responses. They have the ability to forgive and forget.

Childlike forgiveness is what God offers to us and how He desires we forgive others. In fact, it is such an integral part of our walk with Him that He included it in the Lord’s prayer: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)

The greek word used for forgive is aphiémi which means to send away, let go, release. Imagine our sins to be like a balloon filled with helium. As we confess them to God, we are letting go and He simply watches them float by. He does not snatch them up, adding them to the millions of balloons we’ve confessed over the years. No, He sends them away. He remembers them no more. (Hebrews 8:12)

So why, then, do we hold on to the sins of others against us? When we do, we position ourselves above God as judge, deeming it our responsibility to keep track of their balloons. Inevitably, our balloons mingle with theirs making it nearly impossible to tell the difference between the two. We cannot expect to openly receive forgiveness from God with our hands tightly gripping a bundle of balloon strings.

But who are the debtors we need to forgive? A debtor is someone who sins against us or withholds the love and respect owed to us. We often view forgiveness as a willingness to accept the sin itself. This is difficult because we want heinous offenses to be unforgivable. We want our pain validated.

Alternatively, what if we could shift our focus from the act of sin to the lack of respect or love we have received as a result? Choosing to forgive what we have been deprived of rather than the offense itself can revolutionize how we forgive. Because our ultimate need for love and respect comes from Christ and not from other humans, we experience the freedom to let go of what has been done to us and receive healing from God.

We are not responsible for how we are treated, but we are responsible for how we respond. We need the forgiveness of God as Matthew 6:14-15 says For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Forgiving frees us from the bondage of grudges and clears our slate with God.

Are you clinging to a handful of balloons? Whether they are your unconfessed sins or the sins of others against you, open your hands and release them all. Consider forgiveness through the lens of a child. To truly forgive means to truly forget, as if the offense never happened.

At the Intersection of Chaos and Calm

“My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Exodus 33:14 (NIV)

 

Do you ever have trouble sleeping?

This is unusual for me as I am chronically fatigued from the mental and physical demand of raising three young, energetic boys. Our days are filled with curiosity, conflict, and craziness. Needless to say, bedtime is an event I look forward to daily. 

I typically fall asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow. But recently, I cant seem to get my brain to turn off. I think about all the mistakes I made that day, all the conversations I could have handled better. I wonder if Im following Gods plan for my life. Insecurity about my mothering skills, anxiety about the future, and feelings of loneliness steal my peaceful dreaming. 

If only I could calm the chaos and get some rest, I think as the moments tick by. Have you ever felt that way?

The network of our minds is similar to that of a carefully designed map of a large, heavily populated city. Thoughts travel the highways and byways like lightning fast race cars, and if we let them, they will overtake our ability to live a healthy life. The overwhelming thoughts I was having were an indication I had gone too far without a break. Rather than heeding the caution of yellow stop lights, Id rush through the intersection full speed ahead. But taking breaks are crucial to our well-being and we have Jesus example as proof.

In Luke 5, we find Jesus beginning His ministry. He has been baptized by John, tempted by Satan, and called the disciples. Now, He is performing miracles. While in one of the towns, a man with leprosy approaches Jesus, asking for healing. Jesus heals the man and orders him, Dont tell anyone, but go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them. 

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. (Luke 5:14-15 NIV)

Can you imagine? Crowds of people came to hear Jesus preach and ask for healing. Hundreds, sometimes thousands of people followed after Him. I think its Jesus can relate to feeling overwhelmed. He understands what it feels like to be in high demand. And He knows what it takes to maintain calm amidst the chaos as the next verse explains. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. (Luke 5:16 NIV)

From the beginning, Jesus carefully and diligently set aside the duties of ministry to commune with the Lord. I dont know about you, but I have a tendency to recognize my need for rest well after I am exhausted. For Jesus, solitary moments with His Heavenly Father were a necessity. They provided the energy needed to continue preaching and healing. In those moments, Jesus was refueled and recharged. 

We are unable to control the amount of chaos we face, but we can control how we respond. At the intersection of chaos and calm, we find Jesus. There, the craziness of life meets order. Anxiety meets peace. Fear meets courage. Insecurity meets confidence. Jesus is waiting for our daily visit and as our key verse mentions, His presence will go with us, and He will give us rest. 

If youre feeling overrun by your thoughts today, find hope in the promise of peace Christ offers – From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. (Psalm 61:2 NKJV)

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your peace that passes all understanding. May we be mindful of our tendency to press through fatigue as You teach us to purposefully pursue time with You as Jesus did. Restore our hearts, minds, and souls, equipping us to be used by You.

Amen

Enduring Friction

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!
I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

Is it really possible to prevent our hearts from hurting?

Being rejected is a difficult pill to swallow. In most cases, it leaves that weird sensation of having something stuck in our throat. Each time we swallow, it’s there, reminding us of the sting only rejection leaves.

Truthfully, I’m new to this whole rejection thing. Not that I haven’t had my share, but in the past I would bend over backwards to avoid offending others and would jump at the opportunity to make it right. I simply couldn’t just sit in the muck of unresolved conflict. But in the past few years, the Lord is teaching me that a little friction here and there can be healthy, although it certainly isn’t pleasant.

Thankfully, we have a Father who understands what it feels like. Isaiah 53:3 says, He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. And yet, it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer. (v.10) 

The rejection Jesus faced wasn’t pleasant either. I’m sure He’d much rather have been welcomed with open arms into every city He went. He would have enjoyed the Pharisees recognizing Him for the long awaited Messiah He was. It would have felt good to be accepted as King of the Jews.

But if that had been the case, how well would He relate to us? Not very much, I’m afraid. His suffering by rejection served a purpose – to empathize with the hurt we feel at times. We know He can identify with our suffering. He’s familiar with the dull ache hitting the pit of our stomach when we hear…

…you’re not good enough.

…you’re a failure.

…you’re nothing special.

He understands what it’s like to reject those lies by replacing them with the truth of God’s Word:

I am worthy. (Psalm 139:13-15)

I am valuable. (Matthew 6:26)

I am precious. (Isaiah 43:4)

Jesus silenced the critics with scripture. He knew that conflict was par for the course in His journey, and it is for ours as well. John 16:33 says, In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. We can expect to experience rejection, pain, and difficulties. But we call also expect to be loved, accepted, and comforted by the God of the Universe. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

The answer to the question above is no – it’s not possible to prevent hurting hearts. Relationships will go through rough spots, harsh words will be said, and poor choices will be made. But the good news is, just like ointment relieves rug burns, God’s love is a soothing balm for the heart enduring friction.

Lord, thank you for Your Word that reminds me that I will have trouble in this world from time to time but that You have overcome it all. I can find peace in knowing You understand what it feels like to endure hardships and will give me the strength to do the same.

Remember Who You Are

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
Isaiah 43:1

In the entertaining Disney movie, Moana, a young girl voyages to save her people from famine and the darkness threatening to destroy her island. Her quest is to find the demigod, Maui, who has stolen the heart of the goddess Te Fiti and convince him to return it to her, thus restoring life.

Based on ancient Polynesian mythology, the story includes adventure, drama, and infectious musicals. Moana and Maui eventually reach Te Fiti, an angry, volcanic dragon-like immortal.

Te Fiti symbolizes the state of many who have been hurt or had something personal stolen from them. She embodies the pain that can gradually consume even the most well-intentioned individual. Te Fiti misunderstands why Moana and Maui have come and wants nothing to do with the visitors. Wounded hearts are often unwilling to let others get close, fearful of further injury.

Moana and Maui’s first  approach of Te Fiti ends in chaotic miscommunication and Maui bails. Moana is left to decide if she will pursue Te Fiti on her own or give up and go home.

Alone on her raft at sea, Moana feels like a failure. She believes she is unequipped to perform the task at hand. She wants to throw in the towel.

But after a visit from her grandmother’s ghost, she remembers who she is, where she comes from, and the mission she is driven to accomplish.

Moana skillfully navigates her raft and boldly confronts Te Fiti face to face. She is confident in her ability to remind the goddess who she is as well. She sings,

I have crossed the horizon to find you
I know your name
They have stolen the heart from inside you
But this does not define you
This is not who you are
You know who you are

Her sweet words soften the goddess enough for Moana to return the heart to it’s rightful home. Te Fiti transforms from a smoldering lava monster into a lush, green, and flourishing island. Moana reminded Te Fiti who she was before her heart was stolen, allowing her to heal from a painful past. She may now rest peacefully, grateful to the courageous young lady who saved her.

For those who can identify with Te Fiti, there is a Savior for you, too. His name is Jesus. He searches for you. He knows your name. He knows who you are. Have you let Him get close enough to heal your hurting heart?

Who we are is not defined by what we’ve done nor by what has happened to us. We are defined by who God says we are. So when you feel rejected, remember He says you are loved

I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. (Jeremiah 31:3)

When you feel lonely, remember He says you are known

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations. (Jeremiah 1:5)

When you feel unworthy, remember He says you are His delight

He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

When you feel worthless, remember He says you are priceless

You are priceless to me. I love you and honor you. (Isaiah 43:4 (NIRV))

Let Isaiah 43:1 be a reminder of your identity as a child of our Heavenly Father. He has summoned you by name, you are His. No amount of harmful experiences, insecurities, or failures will diminish His affections for you.

It’s Yours for the Taking

Old habits are hard to break.

They’re like a well worn path we’ve taken a million times. It’s familiar. Predictable. And despite the fact that it may not be the most direct route, it’s the way we choose to go.

My well worn path was lined with negative self-talk. I’m a failure. I’m unlovable. I’m worthless. Day in and day out I believed the lies and did nothing to refute them.

I was like the man lying on his mat at the pool of Bethesda. Bethesda Pool was believed to be a healing pool where “a great number of disabled people used to lie – the blind, the lame, the paralyzed.” They waited for an angel to stir the waters, healing whoever entered first thereafter. (John 5:3-4)

Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years.” (John 5:5) Thirty-eight years. That is a long time to be lying on a mat, waiting to be healed. It begs the question if he truly wanted to get better. His position at the pool was familiar, predictable. His mat was comfortable. Changing his life now would take an act of God.

Enter Jesus.

“When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, ‘Do you want to be made well?'” (v. 6)

God knows our habits. Our sin. The struggle we have with negative self-talk; with gossip; with sexual temptation; with addiction. We don’t need to tell Him – He already knows. And yet, He asks, “do you want to be made well?”

Jesus wants this man to acknowledge his motivation to be healed. How badly does he want to be made well? He replies, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” (v. 7)

Am I the only one who perceives this response as an excuse? When asked if he wants to be made well, he explains why it hasn’t happened yet. He probably feels a bit discouraged after thirty-eight years of failing to be the first one into the pool. He may doubt healing will ever happen for him.

Do you feel discouraged by your lack of healing? Perhaps you’ve prayed for change, for the ability to stop doing the same things you’ve always done. You’ve been stuck on your mat for years and the idea of doing what it takes to get up and walk feels impossible. So you’ve grow accustomed to your position and can readily give reasons why you’re still there. I spent years waiting for others to validate my worth rather than doing to the work to retrain my mind to believe the truths of God’s Word.

“Jesus said to him, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk.'” (v. 8)

The healing Christ offers is ours for the taking – but we must take it. God will give us the ability to make changes, but we must do the work it takes to break old habits. We must get up off the mat.

“And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.” (v. 9)

Jesus commanded the sick man to get up and walk. This time, he didn’t make excuses or give reasons as to why he was not physically capable of doing so. He made a choice to believe he could be healed. He put his faith into action by simply lifting himself off the mat. The unpredictability of the future was now more appealing than the consistency of his pain. He was ready to move on. And note that Jesus did not help him up. He didn’t ask anyone to help him either. Jesus didn’t wait for an angel to stir the waters and quickly help the sick man in. He healed him right then and there.

God can heal us at anytime as well. All He needs is our willingness to put faith into action and move. One step at a time.

On many occasions, the Lord has prompted me to witness to others, some I do not know. In the past, this terrified me, paralyzed me on the mat of fear. I had to take action in order to experience change in my life. Jesus stood there asking me if I wanted to be made well. He has always been available to free me from the bondage of fear, but He requires I take ownership of it, confess my need for His help, and pursue a life of change.

Do you find yourself stuck on a mat of old habits, longing to make changes but not knowing how? Are ready to get up and be made well? Hebrews 4:16 says, Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Whatever healing you’re in need of today, be encouraged by the power of God to fully restore thirty-eight years of crippling disability. The same can be true for you! Simply acknowledge your weakness and ask the Lord to give you the strength and courage to leave your comfortable, predictable mat and embark on a journey of extraordinary freedom.

Lord, thank you for the numerous miracles documented in the Bible to give of hope of healing and restoration in our lives. May we desire to be made well and willing to do the work of getting up from our mats. Amen

For When You Feel Like Job

“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”
Job 1:8

It was back.

The sound of wind blowing in my ear. No, I wasn’t driving in the car, windows down. I wasn’t at the beach. I was at home and the sound was eerily familiar.

If you read my post Worship in the Waiting just two weeks ago, I told of an experience I had of loosing the hearing in my ear. I took treatment and, thankfully, I recovered (that wasn’t included in the post). Yes, God healed me. For more than a year and a half, I had no issues.

Until five days ago.

To me, this is more than coincidence or even irony – to write an article about something from 18 months prior only to have it recur less than two weeks later.

Initially, I was confused. And a little scared. Why was this happening again? Remembering the peace I experienced the first time, I’d calm down, knowing God was in control.

But what if it didn’t go away this time?

God knew what He was doing.

My thoughts played ping pong the rest of the day, back and forth from the fear of the flesh to the peace of God. If God was in control, He must be allowing this to happen to me.

I couldn’t help but think of Job and the permission God gave Satan to take away his family, housing, and livestock in one fell swoop. God gave permission. Satan had the power to do nothing more than God allowed him to do.

I imagined Satan reading my blog post and going to God, saying, “She wrote that post only because You healed her. Let it happen again and see how she reacts.”

“Go ahead, Satan.”

Have you ever felt like that? Like Satan is just out to get you? He wants nothing more than to ruin your faith in the One who is most worthy of our trust? Perhaps one difficult situation is followed by another and you can’t seem to catch a break.

Job 1:8 says God was actually the One who suggested Job to Satan.

“Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?”

He knew Job’s dedication to the Lord and that no tragedy would alter his faith. Nothing Satan tortures Job with caused him to curse God – even in the uncertainty, the questioning, and the immense loss he experienced.

Job’s suffering provides encouragement when we face difficulties. I believe God gives us the same opportunity as Job to remain rooted in the confidence that He is with us, has everything under control, and knows the outcome. He can be trusted in the most devastating circumstances regardless of our understanding.

I take comfort in know the challenges and trials of life are not accidents nor happenstance. The Author of Life allows them to be woven in and out of the story He has written, developing character among His people along the way.

It has not been easy going through this again, but I will say my faith has been strengthened because of it. Knowing God allowed my hearing loss does not change His sovereignty nor His affections for me. I’m pray for recovery again, but will choose to worship in the waiting.

Lord, thank you for the trials of life that bring us closer to You, deepening our faith and trust in You. May we seek You for comfort and peace. Amen

What Are You Afraid Of?

For I am the Lord Your God who takes hold
of your right hand and says to you,
Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13

My alarm went off. Ready or not, the day was here. I knew it was coming, I just didn’t think it would get here this fast. Nor that I would feel the way I did – anxious, overwhelmed, and ill-prepared for what this day would be like. Would they do okay? Would they feel scared, timid, worried about fitting in?

I wasn’t ready for this flood of emotion. I didn’t want to get out of bed, but knew I had to. I was sending my firstborn twins to their first day of kindergarten and felt blindsided by the unexpected response my heart took as I dressed and walked to the kitchen to make coffee.

The house was still dark as I began sifting through my feelings. I realized they were all rooted in fear – fear of the unknown. Feeling uneasy about not knowing what to expect is one of my biggest struggles. The uneasiness turns into physiologic anxiety – my heart beats fast, my chest feels tight, my hands a bit shaky. At times, it’s difficult for me to trust the Lord when I am unfamiliar with my circumstances. I simply prefer to be prepared appropriately and I can’t prepare without knowing in advance what will be happening. Have you ever felt that way?

I sat quietly sipping my coffee. The stillness of the morning brought peace to my flustered heart as I was reminded of Isaiah 41:13 – For I am the Lord Your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.

I had been allowing my circumstances to dictate my emotions; when I stopped to absorb the truth of God’s Word, my soul began to believe it. Even when my circumstances, emotions, and life change, God is with me, helping me.

God is not surprised by my desire to know what’s around the next corner on the path of life. In fact, He expects it and yet commands: Do Not Fear.

It’s not a suggestion. He doesn’t say, “I know life is scary sometimes, but try your best to not be afraid”. That’s like me telling my child, “When you cross the street, try your best to not get hit by a car”. That’s nonsense – I take my child by the hand, stay with him, and walk him safely across the street. He doesn’t fear being hit because I am with him – he trusts me.

God wants me to trust Him the same way because the truth is, He is holding my hand, staying with me, and walking me across the street of life. I don’t have anything to fear – not the unknown, not what the day will bring, not feeling ill-prepared for whatever life brings.

Fearlessness is found by fastening our faith to Jesus.

We all have fears. Perhaps you can relate to mine; maybe you fear rejection, feeling like a failure, letting others down, being fully known, being vulnerable, being loved. Think about it – what are you afraid of? What holds you back from allowing the Lord to take your hand and help you?

As I sent my boys off to school that day, I grabbed ahold of the Lord’s hand and gave it a squeeze, thankful for His presence. After all, it’s ok to have emotional responses to the events of life – I have nothing to be afraid of!

Dear Heavenly Father,
When my hands are clinched around my need for control, help me to open them to You, accepting Your help to release my fears. May Your promises seep deeply into my soul, saturating my heart with peace and comfort amidst the changing life circumstances threatening my security. Teach me to hear the voice of Your Holy Spirit over my doubts each and every day.
Amen

Hiding is Not An Option

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
Psalm 139:8

My cell phone screen lit up, alerting me to a new message. It was a friend asking to meet for lunch. Although I enjoy spending time with her, I didn’t want to go. I wanted to stay home. By myself.

What’s the problem?, you might ask.

There’s no problem if I simply needed to rest, accomplish other tasks, or run errands. There’s no problem if I had previous obligations, financial restraints, or transportation issues. There’s no problem if I didn’t want to go for any other reason than the reason I didn’t want to go – avoidance.

Going to lunch meant I would have to talk about how things were going, which meant admitting they were not going as well as I would like, which meant I couldn’t pretend everything was fine anymore. Going to lunch meant crawling out of my hiding place.

I thought of my son who loves to play hide-and-seek. Loves, loves, loves. He would play it every single day if we let him. However, our home is small and there are only four or five good hiding places – total. Therefore, it doesn’t take long for my son to find me because he knows where to look.

The same is true for the Lord. He knows where to look; there is no hiding from Him.

David describes his experience beautifully in Psalm 139:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. (v 7-8) 

If I say, “surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day for darkness is as light to you. (v 11-12)

These verses reminded me of Lord’s presence in my life. He brought light into the darkness of my life and I had lost sight of that. I wandered from the path of freedom, heading into the shadows of fear. Hiding had become an outward expression of an inward digression.

Have you ever felt like hiding would quiet the voices of fear and insecurity? Perhaps they would go away if left alone long enough? Just as my son eagerly searches for me during hide and seek, the Lord searches for us. He knows where we hide and lovingly awaits our willingness to be found. Because to Him, hiding is not an option.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for pursuing us, even when we want to hide. Your radiant light is brighter than any darkness we could experience in life; thank you for loving us enough to play hide-and-seek and knowing exactly where to find us.

Amen