Yes, He Does

**Originally Published on Encourage 365, December 2012**

 

Yes, He Does

“[Jesus] became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” John 1:14 (MSG)

It was God who made the first move, not me, not you, not mankind. Just like He did in the Garden of Eden as God Himself walked through the thick brush of foliage to find His children. “Where are you, my son, Adam? Where are you my daughter, Eve?” God made the first move to seek out His beloved while at the same time His beloved were running the other way.

Jesus became flesh, He became human not only to save the world from sin, but to show us that He does care, He does understand, He does empathize.

Imagine being the King of all kings and coming down to this sinful planet, all the riches of the world at your disposal and yet you are essentially homeless. You choose a life of servant humility so no one can say you don’t understand. Of course He understands. He felt loneliness, injustice, persecution, rejection, loss, and grief. He knows, He hears, He cares, and He understands. Yes, He does. He lived it, walked it, breathed it, and yet persevered without doubt. He knew His heavenly Father was always moving toward Him and us. He demonstrated that truth through His life, by coming to us as flesh and blood, walking among us, serving us, and loving us, and finally, dying for us.

“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality. He’s been through weakness and testing, experienced it all—all but the sin. So let’s walk right up to Him and get what he is so ready to give. Take the mercy, accept the help.” Hebrews 4:15-16 (MSG)

Hunched over the toilet, tears streaming down my face, uncontrollable wretching—probably the worst physical reaction I have ever had to stress. I found myself on my knees in the bathroom asking God if he really understood. “Really, God? Really? You’re up there, you can do whatever you want, and yet you allow this…this nonsense. Do you even know what I’m going through?”

In one day I had lost a beloved pet of nearly twelve years, quite unexpectedly. My five-year old wept, unable to comprehend why her beloved kitty was not coming home–how she was fine one day and just—gone—the next. And just moments before finding out about my cat, we received notice of a lawsuit against us; a dispute with a previous landlord that had been ongoing for over a year. They had summoned us to court by sending the order to a previous address (an action that is legal in my state), despite having our new address, so we were unaware of the order to appear in court. They sued us for damages well documented on our move-in sheet (in other words, the damages were there before we moved in). This lawsuit, barring a miracle, will ruin us financially (not that we were doing that well to begin with!)  Just when our family was beginning to recover from a financially difficult year, a bombshell blows. Unable to find work, the burden rests on my unbelieving husband. He asks me why my God would allow such unfairness to continue in our lives and I had no good answers.

But then…

As the pastor preached on John 1, he prayed that our eyes would be newly opened to truth despite the familiarity of the passage. Surely God moved toward me in that moment and revealed Himself again. He didn’t change my circumstances, but He did allow me to accept them rather than fight them.

Something awaits me in this mess. I don’t know what, exactly, but I know God is not sitting “up there” with His arms crossed, laughing His head off at our plight. Probably a thousand different reasons could be drawn up as to why this is all happening once again around Christmas (which seems to be a theme in my family—December disasters is how my husband refers to it.) But one thing was certain to me as I listened to my pastor, God is here, He is moving toward me. Toward me? I am overwhelmed with mercy and grace. All of a sudden I don’t need to know the why, how, or what. God ordains my steps, and now I ask Him, “Where do I go now? What is my next move? Give me wisdom to know and faith to believe you’re in control.”

He doesn’t want us to toss aside our pain as if it doesn’t compare to what He did for us, He is not trying to give us some divine guilt trip. Instead, He offers His presence among us to comfort and heal us. We learn faith as we experience these things. It hurts and that is ok. He knows and He pursues us in our grief. I can almost hear Him saying the same thing to me as He did to Adam and Eve, “Child, where are you? I am here, I want to help you. Come to Me; rest in Me; find peace in Me. I understand, yes, I do.”

 

Advertisements

Tools of the Trade–Mirrors or Hammers?

On the heels of an amazingly extravagant weekend celebrating my daughter’s 5th birthday came blowing in the whirlwind of rejection. Don’t get me wrong—our weekend in Disneyland and California was fantastic; wonderful memories were created and I’m sure my daughter will remember it for the rest of her life–as will I. But the joy was tainted by a letter of “rejection” received just a few moments ago. And while I knew this was a possibility, and it’s not the first “rejection” I’ve received, it stings nonetheless.

Satan uses one rejection to bring up memories of others—people rejection, publisher rejection, performance rejection…etc. Feelings of rejection began early in my childhood. I was a heavy kid with bad acne so the attention I got was not the kind I wanted. I learned how to be a people pleaser very early so I could receive at least some positive reinforcement. Everyone likes to be happy, right? So I went out of my way to help the people around me be happy. It’s what I wished someone would have done for me.

All weekend long I had been thinking about a recent “people-rejection” situation in my life. I prayed over it continually and asked God to help me move past it. Just as I was getting “over it” I received a letter of rejection from a publishing company. Another gut blow.

Satan uses people and circumstances in our lives to assault us with a common “theme”. The theme assaulting me throughout my life is “you are rejected” and “you are not loved”. Even though I do my best to “live peaceably with all men”, trying  to recognize and acknowledge my faults, apologizing, trying to make amends, and continuing to encourage others, I find I am still misunderstood more often than not. My intentions are questioned and my motives are doubted. Through all of this is the same message, “you’re not good enough and nothing you do or say ever will be good enough”.  Over the years these feelings catapulted me into severe depression, physical self-abuse, and even attempted suicides.

I have since learned to ask God to show me how to deal with these feelings biblically (What can I learn? How can I allow God to change me through this situation?). I also ask God to prevent me from being used as an instrument of negativity in someone else’s life, because we are all being assaulted with a message from our Enemy. I do not want to be used by Satan to deliver a message to someone that they are not good enough, loved or appreciated, or whatever the message may be. I realize that many times I have been this “tool” and I continually ask God to open my eyes and eliminate these occurrences from my life.

Perhaps God is calling you to the same area of self-examination. You see an individual  or think of them and immediately have unpleasant thoughts. Maybe you think they’re out to get you, out to hurt you, or that they’ve rejected you. If you feel this way you may be dealing with un-forgiveness. Ask God to help you deal with these people as He would have; treating them as you wish they would treat you (Matthew 5-7).

And if you are battling rejection either relationally or circumstantially, ask God to help you deal with those feelings biblically. It may be tempting to retaliate against such people—wanting them to feel the way they make you feel by ignoring them, sending hate mail, “unfriending” them from social media and the like, but there is a reason God has allowed it and you will never grow spiritually in that area if you pretend like it isn’t a problem. When we fail to see people (or circumstances) through the eyes of Jesus, we will likely face similar situations again and again until we learn to deal with them appropriately. God never gives up on us or teaching us His ways, and I am thankful for that even if it hurts!

Whatever you are feeling today, whatever messages your Enemy has tried to send you or use you to send others, God wants to help you recognize and combat them with His word of truth. If no one else ever understands or accepts you, God does. He will never leave you, forsake you, reject you, misunderstand you, or ignore you.

So, the next time you’re tempted to react a certain way, ask God if you’re being His tool, or a tool of the Enemy in that situation or person’s life. What messages are you delivering with your words and actions? I recently read something and it’s a good thought to end on:

“If my life was the only source of God someone was introduced to, what conclusions would that person make of God’s character based on my reflection of Him?”

In other words, is my God a God who rejects, withholds love, criticizes, assumes the worst, and condemns, or is my God a God who forgives unconditionally, displays compassion, and gives grace? Am I a hammer or a mirror?

“The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.” Psalm 116:5

“In the same way, let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

 

Validation

“You are truly one of God’s special ones…You are part of a rare breed, Rebecca, and I am thrilled to work with you,” my instructor recently wrote me, someone with a bachelor and master’s degrees in education and writing.

There’s been a consistent theme in my ministry of writing; I never seem to get validation from the people closest to me including family. In fact, most of them never read anything I write. I’m not sure why, but I think my past has something to do with it. Sometimes when you know a person well and the things they’ve done, it’s hard to see them in any other light then the failures they’ve mastered.

God has used these circumstances to do two things. One, he has shown me my own heart. I’m made aware of how I care what people think when only God’s voice matters. Two, he uses other people, people I don’t know personally, to confirm my ministry. In other words, he works in ways I don’t expect. Isn’t that how He usually does things? You’d think I’d have figured that out by now.

Right when I’m feeling bluesy that no one in my life seems to care, God gives me the gift of validation. Yes, abiding in his will is enough confirmation for me, but He knows how I have longed for the approval of loved ones and have rarely gotten it. Instead, he gives me little gifts like comments from my teacher or praises from my editor. He reminds me that these compliments are gifts from Him and he chooses to speak my love language out of his great compassion for me.

Reminded of his grace, my flame ignites hot to press on and continue my education as well as pursuing my God-given goals. He’s there encouraging me every step. He only gives me enough to chew on for the moment, though, and reminds me to continually seek Him in humility and gratitude.

This morning I’m about to leave for church and I eagerly pursue my opportunity to sing praises to the Lover of my soul, the ultimate Validator.

“The Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation. Let the saints rejoice in honor and sing for joy in their beds.” Psalm 149:4-5