Month: April 2020

  • Unstoppable Love

    I had a quiet moment to myself last Saturday, which is a rare gift during these days of living in close quarters with my quaran-team. It was the day after Good Friday and the day before Easter Sunday. It was an “in-between” day that often gets lost in Easter egg hunts and grocery shopping for a big dinner the next day. 

    But this year, in the stillness of the world around me, Saturday tugged at my heart strings in a different way. I pondered how the disciples felt on that “in-between” Saturday so long ago. They had loved Jesus and left everything to follow Him. His crucifixion shook their confidence and understanding of God’s plan as they were surely overwhelmed by grief and disorienting uncertainty. In less than 24 hours their whole world had gone dark. And yet, on the other end of the story, we know the dawn is coming. The Son will rise again. But in between darkness and light, time seems to simultaneously stand still and pass before you like water through your fingers. 

    I can’t help but feel like we are also currently living in the “in-between” time right now. It’s been a few weeks since we had to start staying at home, but we’re not out of the woods yet. We’re hopeful and eagerly awaiting the time when we can all be together again, but we don’t know exactly when that will be. 

    We strain our ears for good news and try to cheer one another with memes and Zoom calls and e-hugs. Our hearts cling to the hope that this will soon be over and that God is near. 

    The story of Jesus’ life, death, burial and resurrection spurs on that hope. It helps us to trust that God is at work and that just as Jesus’ story did not end in the tomb, our story doesn’t end in our present circumstances either. 

    However, I see even more than hope for the future in the story of Jesus. I see a God who loves and pursues us in the here and now. A God who went to greater lengths than I could ever fathom, just to be near to us. A God whose ultimate priority was to make a way for us to be with Him, to right our wrongs and welcome us home like prodigal children. 

    Because of Jesus, our status as God’s beloved children is secure. It cannot be undone. There is nothing that will keep God from loving us. We are adopted into the Kingdom, co-heirs with Christ, a royal priesthood. Not from our own merit, but on the merit of Jesus Christ who redeemed us. 

    It is through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, that one of my favorite Bible verses gets it’s awe-inspiring power.

    I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    Romans 8:38-39 NLT

    Did you catch that? Nothing can separate us from the love of God! He gives us beautiful contrasting language to describe His love and it’s limitless tenacity. Neither angels nor demons, fears for today or worries for tomorrow, nothing in heaven or below–not even the coronavirus, economic strife or social isolation, can separate us from His love that is revealed in Christ Jesus! Jesus is living proof of God’s unstoppable love for us.

    In one single act on the cross, anything and everything that could have ever separated us from God was defeated. God saw us in our helplessness, in our striving and failing and knew He had to intervene on our behalf. He left His throne to become one of us, a helpless baby, dependent on his parents. He experienced everything we experience, He can relate to our joys and cares, better than anyone. He loves us so much that He willingly gave himself up to die and was raised to life again three days later. And the very same Holy Spirit empowers us to no longer live as victims of our circumstances, but as empowered citizens of God’s Kingdom. If God can do all of that-surely He is able to love us right where we are, in the middle of any mess. 

    The disciples had no idea on Saturday what was coming on Sunday. Just like we can’t see what’s on the other side of our present situation. But we have seen the power and might and goodness of God. We have God’s Word, His character revealed to us through His Son, and the power of The Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us. We have living proof of the lengths to which our Heavenly Father will go to love us. And we can set our watch by this truth: God loves us with a love that never ends and there is nothing that can separate us from His love. He loves us today, tomorrow, and every moment in-between. Sweet friend, rest in that truth, lean on His promises, and let His love wrap you up like a warm blanket. God loves you and He’s not going anywhere.

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  • Our Shepherd and Provider

    As I drove to the store today, nothing felt right. All I could think about was that this is not the way it’s supposed to be. There is an eerie feeling of stillness to the world and an unnatural way of moving about in the world right now. We have to walk and stand away from others as if they have cooties. We avoid speaking or sometimes even making eye contact as we encounter someone walking past us. It goes against everything we are, especially if you are an extrovert.

    As people, we need community to thrive, we need hugs and embraces. We need to shake hands in solidarity or feel a comforting arm around our shoulders. We are made for touch and for community, for meaningful conversation with others, for being together to celebrate a marriage or a birth or standing beside someone as they’re grieving.

    This unusual time we are enduring right now can leave us feeling anxious and in need of the things that are lacking. Whether it is the need of companionship, comfort from a friend, a steady paycheck, or simply a roll of toilet paper, we are longing for provision and peace.

    Many of us have heard Psalm 23 many times, usually as a consoling scripture, but I want us to see it with fresh eyes as we read the Contemporary English Version:

    You, Lord, are my shepherd. I will never be in need. You let me rest in fields of green grass. You lead me to streams of peaceful water, and you refresh my life. You are true to your name, and you lead me along the right paths. I may walk through valleys as dark as death, but I won’t be afraid. You are with me, and your shepherd’s staff makes me feel safe. You treat me to a feast, while my enemies watch. You honor me as your guest, and you fill my cup until it overflows. Your kindness and love will always be with me each day of my life, and I will live forever in your house, Lord.” Psalm 23 CEV

    In light of our current circumstances, I found a whole new depth to this Scripture. It reminded me that God is our Shepherd–He is the one who looks out for us, takes care of us, provides for us. Just like a shepherd with his sheep, God tenderly cares for us and meets our every need.

    When we picture sheep in a pasture, we often think of a huge field of bright green grass where they roam. But in Israel, the land was often quite rocky with occasional tufts of grass. When the sheep went to graze, they couldn’t see very far, just what was in front of them. But the shepherd could see the whole land and knew it well, he could lead the sheep to where the best grass was for their sustenance and nourishment.

    Sheep are creatures that live moment by moment, focused on what is in front of them. That sounds a lot like how we are having to live right now, taking each day moment by moment. To survive, the sheep had to trust the shepherd to lead them safely to the next tuft of grass and provide all that they need each day. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, does the very same thing for us.

    Right now, you might be feeling adrift. These are dark and difficult times we are facing together. It can feel like a dark valley that we are journeying. There are days that seem like we are just wandering about like sheep not knowing when this will end, feeling anxious and like there’s no end in sight. It’s hard to know what we are supposed to be doing other than staying away from one another.

    The best thing we can do right now is to listen for the voice of the Shepherd. He’s the one who sees the big picture, who knows what we need to nourish our body and our spirit, and will guide us and lead us through this dark valley. He knows where to find the peaceful streams in what feels like a desert. He knows exactly what we need and how to lead us to it.

    His guiding staff will protect us and keep us safe and on the right path. He will be our light when we can no longer see through the darkness. He’s walking us through this. Keep walking, He’s right beside you. He is faithful to provide exactly what you need, when you need it. Jesus, our loving Shepherd, provides in abundance as we place our trust in Him and gives us what we need to refresh our spirit through His ever-present kindness and love. He will lead you through the valley to fields of green and peaceful streams that will soothe your soul. Lean into Him, trust Him to guide you, comfort and protect you, and provide for all you need.

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