Sunday, February 28, 2010

Exposed. Now What?

I used to like poetry. I am sure I still would. It’s just that my plate is kind of full and I am doing all I can do read my Bible so maybe poetry will come back around again in my 40’s. But in my teens and early to mid twenties I really did love poetry and read it quite a bit. My favorite poem by far is probably one that would seem as cliché as Canon D does to a musician, but I don’t care. It’s my favorite :). It’s the Love Story of J Alfred Prufrock:

(a selection)
And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair--
[They will say: "How his hair is growing thin!"]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin--
[They will say: "But how his arms and legs are thin!"]
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:--
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all--
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

He’s got this great picture going on of being at a party and he can’t escape the eyes of his friends and strangers, which pin him to the wall and there he is for all to see and look upon. He describes exposure so memorably that though I have probably not picked up that poem in maybe ten years (to my dismay!), I still have an emotional, familiar response to his writing. It defines through mental picture the exact reason we can’t comprehend why exposure would be a good thing for us. Just like it wouldn’t be a good thing for our clothes to fall off in the middle of church. Yep. That’d be embarrassing.

Romans 12:1 says not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. 1 Corinthians 2:16 says that we have been given the mind of Christ. And just verses earlier it declares that we have been given the Spirit who is from God, so that we might understand the things freely given to us by God. So we can think differently because of Jesus. What might seem unsensible before becomes wise. What might seem foolish before, like the thought of exposing our hearts, becomes godly and good.

So what does the Lord say about exposure? I will jot down again the verse I used in my last post as I was talking about women exposing their hearts at our Mars Hill women’s retreat

Ephesians 5:7-14 “Therefore do not become partners with them (‘the sons of disobedience’); for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. ake no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but INSTEAD EXPOSE THEM. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O Sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”

At first it looks like that whole darkness thing is totally a past thing. You’re in the light. Don’t go hang out with those shameful people and don’t take part in all that sin. But then he gives US a direct word about dark deeds: EXPOSE THEM. So I can only assume the Lord is saying that we still, in our own ways and choices and thoughts and deeds take part in “unfruitful works of darkness.” In our identity, we are light. But somehow we’re still tempted by the darkness and we run back into it. James puts it this way, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” (James 1:14-15). We are lured and enticed by our own desires of the flesh. We do not do what we want to do. And out of no where we’ve eaten the apple all over again and it’s juice runs down our faces. So Ephesians is saying, Hey Christians! Sweet believers in the Light! Don’t hide those apples. Pull them out from behind your backs and throw them into the light, emptying your open hands to a Savior who wants to fill your cupped hands with good things from Him.

One of my favorite verses about exposure is Hebrews 4:13 because whether or not we want to be a part of that exposure, this verse states a reality about what is already true about you before the Lord, whether you’re into it or not, whether you fear it or not, whether you give in to it or not. “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Our current state = exposed. To whom? God. Every moment of our day. Every thought in our mind. Every work of our hands. Every intent, hope, daydream, conversation, and pursuit. Exposed already.

But although this should humble us, it should not devastate us. Because of Jesus. And only because of Him. 1 John 1:1 “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” The verses before that basically say – don’t be a liar and say that you have no sin. Don’t make God out to be a liar, because he says that we are sinners, so just confess that you are. And as you confess, there is not fear. The exposure is covered by Jesus’ blood. It’s in his blood that we can rest without shame, fear, intimidation, regret, comparison of sin, or with the tendency to downplay what we have done. We can expose what we have done in all it’s ugly because…

1. It’s already exposed anyway.
2. And it’s already been taken care of. We just have to cast our faith on that.

So that should be the tough part because we should care way more what God sees in us than what other Christians see in us. But we care a whole heck of a lot what other people see. So the rougher part ends up being confessing our sins before others. And there’s certainly a legitimate side to this. People are not Jesus so they do not respond in perfect holiness to our sin. Jesus is faithful to us and justifies us and cleanses us from our sin. And our brothers and sisters’ jobs are to point us to the cross, the truth in the Word of God, and to extend grace and restoration and counsel and encouragement and forgiveness – whatever is Biblically appropriate for that circumstance.

In my last post I talked about how women came on our church’s women’s retreat and at the end of the weekend there was an open mic and many, many women got up and shared things either that they had learned or very very specific sin struggles in their hearts. The speakers, too, shared not just their stories, but their e-n-t-i-r-e story. Women who have thrust their identities upon the blood of Christ can do this. They can show every corner of their lives and walk away from that dialogue free because it doesn’t matter what the other person’s response is.

Ideally we would all respond perfectly, giving glory to Christ for saving this person, for the goodness of his forgiveness, for the beauty of the freedom this person now walks in, and the wonder of the kind of gospel community God calls us to live in. This is ideal. This is what happens when we are all walking in the Spirit, listening with grace, and walking in grace in our own hearts.

But this is not what we are to to trust in. What we trust in is the convictions of the Holy Spirit. If the Lord compels me to be vulnerable with my heart or story or a confession, I cannot put my hope in a response. I respond to the Spirit and I rest in my identity in Jesus, with full knowledge that because we are all being renewed, I am not promised a Christlike response. I find that response from a Father in Heaven, who is pleased with me. And that is where I place my security.

I came to my accountability group a few months ago with a sin that I wasn’t at all proud of. I dreaded group and didn’t want to confess. What’s interesting is that these three ladies love Jesus very much and I knew that in word they would extend grace to me and that they would encourage me to walk in the freedom of forgiveness. I knew this. But I also know myself. And I know that even though my heart’s delight is in the GRACE of God, that at times I know I will think I am better. I will hear someone confess a sin and will sinfully respond in my heart with, “Wo. That’s crazy. Can’t believe she did that.” And within about a millisecond the good Holy Spirit will pierce my heart with conviction and, Lord willing in that moment, I will respond with “Forgive me Lord.” Because I know this judgement about myself, I can guess that others, because we are not Jesus and we have a flesh, will struggle to be Christlike in our response, even if that’s what we desire. We are not Jesus but he makes us more and more like him, thank goodness.

So on the way to my accountability group that day I remember hearing the Lord say, Even if they have even the littlest judgment in their hearts that you don’t even know about, I am going to free you from that. You are under no condemnation because of me. And I am going to give you the ability to confess without the need for perfection from them. What kind of freedom is that? It’s crazy beautiful.

Psalm 32 is one of my favorite pieces of Scripture about what confession is supposed to be about and so let’s end with verse 7 to be our encouragement on exposure. And notice the beautiful irony in that as we are laid bare before the Lord, we are hidden in Him and found in Him. And HE comes around us with SHOUTS of His deliverance. Amen.

“You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Giving in to Exposure

Ephesians 5:7-14 “Therefore do not become partners with them (‘the sons of disobedience’); for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but INSTEAD EXPOSE THEM. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O Sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’”

Sometimes being a Christian, like a real all out Christian, can make you feel a little bit like how you feel when you watch a scary movie. I actually don’t like scary movies at all so maybe this isn’t a good analogy and now I am kind of thinking I don’t want anyone to quote me on that one, but what I mean is that in a scary movie my biggest sensations are that I want to hide and I kind of don’t want to know what’s going to happen and it’s out of control. And I think maybe now that I think about it those are the only parallels I see, so I will just giggle that that was my first line of this. But anyhow, yes, being a Christian can be scary. Because things happen that you kind of don’t see coming and you wouldn’t have wished for and it’s not a fairytale like you thought it would be. Mainly because life, namely my life (and your life) turns out to be a lot more despicable than we thought. So being a Christian can be scary because…God is all about turning us inside out. Getting us to where what’s on the inside is…exposed. On the outside. This = a little scary.

I just got back from a weekend with two hundred women at a camp where we all listened to amazing talks, sang and worshipped together, ate together, spent free time together, sat by a lake together, held each other’s babies, slept in bunks together, shared showers together, dined together, discussed deep questions, and sipped lots and lots and maybe way to much coffee together. But we also said things women in coffee shops don’t normally say. And we confessed stuff that many women would just say “my past is my past” about. And we confided sometimes not for the purpose of benefiting ourselves but maybe so that the woman listening would be set free to confide her same junk.

This felt like the least fru fru, la de da, relaxed, rejuvenating retreat I’ve ever been on. I can’t blame the coordinators. Because I really thought the flowers and via coffee and adorable handmade cookies on the table in our room made me feel like I could sit for a while. And the room where we all gathered felt like a sanctuary I could sit in alone and just breathe. And the lake was still and welcoming and good company when I hoped it would be. And there were trees and grassy fields and lots of sun, just like my spirit needed there to be. And the dining hall felt just like all the camps I had missed over the years, with big round wooden tables and dining wear that I’d kind of like to have for myself on my more nostalgic days, to just gather friends wearing hats and sweats and to laugh and eat for a long time. No, I can’t blame the coordinators for the setting. Because it truly was just a sweet place.

I think I’d have to look to what happened in our hearts, in the spiritual world to understand why I felt like taking a four hour nap when I got home. It wasn’t a bad feeling. It wasn’t a bad thing that I was weary. I just look at what went on in the spirit. I look back on the scene of that retreat when we had the mic open for anyone to share and I see us peeling back the physical world and all of the distractions and all I see is a lot of hearts out from hiding and being held in the women’s hands, up for all of us to see and witness.

And it’s not like our hearts look like gerber daisies all cute in our fingertips. Um, no. What some of us held up looked like dark goey mess that had just been unearthed. Not all the pretty stuff that Jesus has already redeemed in us and looked like daisies again. For some of us, what we held up was the stuff that we had been pushing away deeper into the corners and recesses of our being and it had been growing mold and unmentionable junk all over it. Stuff unconfessed. Stuff dipped in shame and pride. And the women just drew it out in all its ugly to give it to Jesus. So that he would take it away. So that they would be free. So that in the exposure, Christ would shine on them.

And others of us have already begun the work of responding to the Spirit and letting him scoop the yuck out of us like a pumpkin. But maybe some of us have done it privately, or only with our closest friends. We experienced freedom and Jesus’ redemption in very particular sin areas of our lives but we thought that that was it. We were forgiven, we had experienced cleansing from our unrighteousness, and boom – the book is shut on all that mess. Yeah, but the Holy Spirit is never done. He exposes us initially for our freedom. He exposes our stories later for other people’s freedom. Understanding and believing that my story is not my story has absolutely transformed the testimony of my life. All of my smaller testimonies, my smaller stories, my sin issues, and my tendencies that all add up to “my story” are on the table whenever the Holy Spirit says to pick one up and give it away. So we had things to hold up in our hands too. Whatever the Holy Spirit said to. And it’s not just the goey mess it was when it was still unconfessed. The Lord has cleansed it and made it into something beautiful and we can show all of that and be free from shame because just because I’m holding it, it doesn’t have anything to do with my identity. It’s something God is using in my life for his glory.

I’ll tell you my favorite, favorite, favorite thing I heard some of my sisters in Christ saying. They talked about how before this weekend they only shared the sinful parts of their testimonies that were the more politically correct sins. You know, the common ones in testimonies like how they drank a lot or tried drugs or had sex before marriage. When you hear that it’s like, yep, we hear that one a lot. Tell it girl. Because it’s easy to accept or give grace for and we’ve given that grace and head nod a hundred times. There’s a kind of messed up thing going on where people are comparing sins and saying – see how we’re kind of equal and all messed up --- the same? Which in a sick way all makes us feel better, instead of feeling confident in the blood of Jesus. But there’s a whole ‘nother round of exposure when you look around and no one can identify with your struggles and sins your confessing and they even seem a little untouchable to people. That’s when the gospel is the gospel of grace or it’s not. When women start feeling WILLING to share about explicit sins that seem off the testimonial path you know this Jesus gospel has really FREED some women. Because this gospel, this forgiveness, this confidence in what has been accomplished for them can even draw out the sins that are unacceptable (as backwards as they actually is, since all sin alike against God).

So I come back exposed. I come back especially feeling other women’s exposure. And I feel heavy from the knowing, heavy from a greater understanding of the reality of sin in all of our pasts and struggles in all of our presents, but the exposure is actually glorious. It really just is. Because all of it points to the truth that though our condition apart from God is truly a mess, it’s also true that our condition in Christ is glory after glory. He has graced us with his righteousness (2 Co 5:21). And stepping quietly into the light, the loving light of Christ shines down on our faces so He’s all we can see. And in that, we are free.

I’m going to post a part 2 on exposure because coming back from the retreat Satan likes to attack with all kinds of lies, just like we talked about this weekend. And his favorites after such a good time of SHARING our inner realities is that he likes to shake our confidence in the blood of Christ freeing us from shame, and he likes us to analyze what we said and how it was received. He attacks our reputation. So I feel compelled next to write about how to live the hours and days after you’ve allowed Christ to expose your heart.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


I’ve had this sense lately that the stakes to my tent have been moved out a little.

For more than three years (gosh, that’s a long time) I have been in a very interesting season as far as not knowing how to steward every area of my life very well. I know that for the most part I did as well as I could. You can’t do much on hospital bedrest or with two newborns or pregnant with two toddlers or hardly even stop to take a breath with three under three. So in some senses, I did feel the Lord open up my hands and let me know it was okay to relinquish some things that were not top priority. In a lot of senses he did that. Sometimes I fought him and was determined to feel just as bad about my clothes on the floor as I did that I had not yet written a novel as I rocked a baby to sleep and then fall asleep before I even brushed my teeth at 9pm. But Jesus was even more determined to focus my affections on three little beings and the husband and father who helped me by holding all of us.

The things I let go of to instead wash my husband’s workout clothes or change the twelfth diaper that day or clean up my underweight daughter’s endless vomit were things that mattered to me though. A lot times those undone things mattered to me because those were the the little peacemakers in my life – certainly a clean kitchen and bathroom and car and a well written journal entry make you feel like you can kick your feet up at the end of the day. Even though they are nice things, I was grateful to still find that someone who appreciates cleanliness in order to have a quiet time in that same room could still find peaceful stillness because the Lord could order that for me. But of course I had moments they mattered because I didn’t like that they hung over me, pointing at me, saying YOU’RE LAZY. Sleepless and showerless and makeupless and with weary feet and back many days, I still did feel lazy and endlessly failing at all I wanted to do and be.

Thankfully that’s not what the Lord had to say to my heart. Only the lies were saying that to me. The Lord just kept saying that his grace was sufficient for me and that He himself was my strength. I needed nothing but Him. And my faithfulness to the bodies and hearts in my home were all that mattered for now. And he could order the disorder enough for us for now.

So now I’m surfacing. Even if just a little. But it’s a little more of a surfacing than I have felt in over three years. I’m feeling my tent being stretched a little and the Lord showing me little windows into freedoms to serve our family and community more than I have felt I could stretch before. This is simple, friends, and it still doesn’t really still look quite like “freedom” and “calling” and “accomplishment” like many would define it. My life still feels oh so humbly simple, yet don’t mistake me for thinking it’s not profound. Because no one knows more than me that this is extraordinary what the Lord has asked me to take part in. So I’m good with using my freedoms to serve. To put my hands to the things, good but simple things, that I have had to set aside to zero in on literally the basics of loving and giving myself away to my family.

I am sensing the freedom to serve my family with getting the laundry done. To serve my family with a straight linen closet. To serve my family with a picked up floor so Salem doesn’t choke on dustballs. To serve my husband with fresh towels just as much as to serve him by prayer walking over the details of his life in the mornings. To serve my cute little girls with the sweet gift of ponytails carefully swept up as well to take them through the potty process hourly. To serve my little boy with my energy at 6 something in the morning and help him practice walking. To serve my children with creativity in instructing them each day of the week into the things of the Lord and just the things of toddler life. To serve my God by stewarding this body to be healthy for his glory, taking time not just to work out but pour over ideas for putting healthy things into my body. To serve women in my life with the Word, with my mind, with my heart, my time my words and my gifts of discernment and teaching. To serve faithfully in the gift and love of writing. To serve people God has set in my sphere of influence, whether or not I desire relationship with them or not, because my life is not my own and I have been bought with a price to be used and “burned up” for God’s glory.

I have sensed the Lord stretch my tent a little bit and say to my Spirit…

See what I am doing new? I am enabling you for a bit more. You will walk in grace. I will give you grace upon grace upon grace and I AM your Strength. I have set your heart free, so now go and be FREE TO SERVE as I show you. Go no further than I show you or short of what I give you to steward and do. Be free in my graces.

Isn’t that sweet from him? There is no condemnation in Christ. He is patient with us. He calls us to holiness and to greatness in him, but he knows we are utterly weak. And so he strengthens us little by little and enables us for steps we didn’t think we could take. And all along the way, he does not ever call us to feel bad or guilt ourselves endlessly or weigh ourselves down with expectations. Certainly even repentance itself – the confession that we have done wrong continually and even specifically and that we see our need for forgiveness and the ability to change – even repentance is FREEDOM because it is a relief to see that He can do it in us and we need to let go. I just love the gospel. The more I get to know it in my day to day, the more I learn that accepting its truth into my every moment of every day is what Scripture means in Psalm 119 when it says,

“I will run in the path of your commands for you have set my heart free!”

I was talking with some other women at Mars Hill Bellevue about our heart for women in our church body and we were burdened for Titus 2 and what we see coming as far as teaching in the coming year. And for me personally I read over that list and see that the Lord is getting our hearts as women back to what is closest to our hearts – the things that we struggle with as women as well as the relationships in our nearest sphere of influence. We are to be inclining our hearts to understanding about…

Loving our husbands
Loving our children
Being self-controlled
Being pure
Working at home/managing our homes
Being kind
Being submissive to our own husbands

Look how close to home (our hearts) as well as home (our physical home and relationships within it) this list inclines our hearts towards. Jesus is turning us homeward. Homeward towards the things we struggle with most as women, as well as homeward to our daily living with our husbands and children and within our homes. These are the things heavy on the Lord’s heart for us as women to press our hearts towards. There are other things and people he will call us to as well, but he starts closest to our hearts where many women do not want to begin – in our home.

All of this feels overwhelming without the gentle leading and teaching of the Holy Spirit. It feels impossible to love our husbands well when X is bugging us, to love our children when X happens over and over. It feels impossible to have self-control over my anger and purity of mind as Satan creatively tempts us with all kinds of deception. It feels impossible to have a heart for our home when we have distracting daydreams apart from the Holy Spirit about small self-centered fantasies of getting out and breaking free from our shackles to go do what we really want to be doing. And even if we embrace our homeward calling, doesn’t it feel impossible at times to enjoy what we’re putting our hands to? And doesn’t it feel impossible to let God lead us into becoming homeward and using our freedoms to serve without also feeling guilty when we fail or don’t live up to our silly to do lists?

There is freedom with the Lord. It is not freedom from him. It is freedom in him and into the things of him. What this means to me in my exact spot in life is that though my calling is great, even to the point of God asking me to be HOLY in everything I do, he reminds me he found ME. He covered ME in the forgiving blood of Christ. He declared me holy positionally in his sight, even as he is practically making me holy in actuality. He enables ME. He makes my hands and feet and heart ready to honor Him. And he is freeing my being to be an instrument for HIS purposes. And even in the littlest, silliest, most minute-ist things in life like being able to have freedom to serve my family with a dinner or clean laundry or another bedtime routine – even in these things the Lord makes me able and most importantly the heart behind all of this is what is pleasing to His sight as I use my freedom to serve him.

And you know something? It is not in saving the world that I am finding a deep satisfying identity. I am finding a depth in my identity in Jesus, who is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, who upholds the universe by the word of his power”, by doing the tiniest details of my day to day. I never ever ever in my early life expected these kinds of truths about my deepest identity and fulfillment to come from scrubbing dried ketchup off my toddlers’ booster seat trays. But they are. And Jesus has more coming for me. I feel his hand on me to stay faithful. And he will keep entrusting things and life and people to me, but I’ve got to wait on him to stretch my tent. It’s small right now, and that is where my pleasure dwells. And when it doesn’t, I confess that, and he puts my pleasure back there, because that is what delights Him.

Let’s end on a good word, friends. Please listen to the Lord for YOUR heart. Surely it is for you as well as me:

“For YOU were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love SERVE ONE ANOTHER.”

My Spirit cries yes. Not just in agreement and reluctance. But because I rejoice over this goodness for all of us.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Your Affections for Us

Okay this post is not going to be very articulate in the least. It's past my "witching hour" for starters, and usually I stew on my writing for days before posting but alas this time I'm just going to get my idea out there.

My last quick post was on those chocolates my neighbor has creatively decided to make and sell to support the Red Cross' work in Haiti. I was about to email her tonight with the tally and was trying to think about who I would like to order one or more for. At first I was just going to order one for Jason or maybe just one for the girls to share but then I just felt the Spirit remind me of how cultural celebrations open wounds for many people, even those striving to trust Jesus in their uncertain circumstances and relational pain.

Valentines Day is coming up Sunday and whether or not you celebrate it, it's all around in our culture and for a lot of people it's kind of a rough day because even if you have someone in your life, they are hurting in their relationship or sad or expectations have failed them. Marriage can be a rough trial between two people and Valentines Day can be searing reminder of loss, of frustration, and of a seemingly fairytale ending for everyone around them. And for many others who are single and wish they were married, Valentines might be a difficult day to choose contentment, and to trust God that he has their best in mind with the gift of singleness he has given them in his perfect timing. The love of another person might be such a deep longing in their hearts that it may be nearly impossible to understand why the Lord might withhold that earthly pleasure from them. They may struggle daily with believing that Christ is enough. And this is even if they have the miraculous gracious gift of being saved at all.

So what started in my heart as a simple, shallow wondering about who to give a silly box of chocolates to so that I could write a check to the Red Cross has grown within literally minutes before my eyes to a real and true and sincere burden for both hurting marriages and struggling singles in my life. I am heavy in my heart for them tonight and know that it's not about handing them a box of chocolates with some sort of "that's too bad" or "i feel sorry for you and i'm glad it's not me" feeling attached to it. No, for goodness sakes.

I think my heart on that box is - I am crushed with you. The Lord is helping me to experience a touch of your battle with sorrow and your battle to trust that Jesus himself is enough for you. And I long to remind you of his powerful Word to you:

"Fear not, O Zion;
let not your hands grow weak.
The Lord God is in your midst,
a mighty one who will save;
he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing."

Zephaniah 3:17

"You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
and your land Married;
and your land shall be married.
For as a young man marries a young woman,
so shall your sons marry you,

Isaiah 62:3-5

The Lord Jesus himself delights in us. I love how Jason loves me and I treasure our marriage very much, yet time and time again I have had to learn that Jason is not equipped to love me like Jesus. We fail each other time and time again with how perfectly we are able to pursue and love and know each other's needs. There must be grace upon grace upon grace and we must acknowledge the evidences of grace to praise God for when we are able to love each other well. And in the midst of all of that, even though I am a Christian...who loves Jesus very much...who treasures me...and longs to be a man of God...STILL my greatest treasure in the deepest places of my heart must be that GOD HIMSELF DELIGHTS OVER ME. And if that love is the love that quiets my soul and if that love is the love that I allow to rejoice over me with loud singing, then I myself can enjoy my relationship with my husband, even in what is lacking.

And in the same way I pray tonight, thinking over faces and marriages and singles and friends and family in my life, that we would sit in God's delighting over us. That our hearts would be still and ask the Lord what his love for us is like, that we may experience him and his infinite gift of gracious, delighting, perfect pursuing love of us.

I just posted what I wrote but felt overcome in my spirit reading that Zeph verse again as the Lord reminded me that yes we experience God rejoicing over us here while we are still veiled from seeing him in full while on earth, but there will come a day when we will be at a wedding feast. The church, the body of Christ, is the bride, and Christ is the groom and it is a picture of a perfect love which we cannot experience here on earth and which we will celebrate and delight in forever! So whether single or married or widowed or any of those but hurting and suffering, in Christ we look forward to a new wedding. We will live with the Lord, who is perfect in his love and compassion and care for us and we will be known as we never have and he will rejoice over us. It is difficult to grasp but this longing that we have all carried in our hearts our whole lives for being pursued and loved and known will be brought to a beautiful completion. We often may wonder - how will we not get tired of heaven? But what excited bride on her wedding day, marrying a great guy, ever thinks - I wonder how long this will last? No, she is delighting in a love relationship. And so it will be with those who are in Christ when we are with Jesus forever. There will be no lacking in our hearts, no expectations not met, no crushing hurts. We will exist in perfect love and we will not wonder about when it might end. We will only rejoice in delighting and praise Him that it will never end.

"Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.
Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure"

I am reminded of my favorite song right now - David Crowder's Oh How He Loves Us. And I just weep everytime i hear it. Here are the lyrics and I'll let them close this out. Will you take a moment to listen his delighting over you?

"He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us oh
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He is jealous for me, Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden, I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.

And oh, how He loves us oh,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all

He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

And we are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If His grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
And heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets,
When I think about, the way…

That He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.
Yeah, He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Chocolates to support Red Cross in Haiti

My sweet neighbors Anya and Dorian are making chocolates in adorable brown boxes to sell for Valentines (and even after) for $7, with the proceeds going to Red Cross in Haiti. If you live near me and would like to buy one, they can be bought with cash or check (written out to Red Cross) and you can either pick them up at my home (with notice) or I can work out some kind of delivery. They are a great idea for a little love on Valentines for a spouse, friend, mother, daughter, Sunday school teacher, or just someone who needs a lift. Check out the pics and let me know if you'd like one! You don't have to order by Valentines, that was just an idea since tis the season. I think this is a great, creative idea and it reminds me of a muuuuch smaller scale of what Bono's RED concept is about: you're going to buy things anyway, so you might as well buy something where someone in need is also going to benefit from your purchase. Pretty amazing, practical concept. Contact me at for an order. Thanks!
Kelly Cowan