Posted on August 7, 2019
When I’m tempted to wallow in the “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen” soundtrack of a suffered season …Psalms. Because the first thing I don’t feel like doing when I’m sad, angry or anxious isn’t what these profound words of wisdom instruct me to do. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD,” Psalm 92:1 says, “to sing praises to the Most High.” (NLT)
Flipping through a rolodex of the last month’s gut punches, I don’t want to sing. I’m thankful for the obligatory things …my home, health, family, talents, children, friends and God’s provision. There’s nothing earth shattering falling out of the bottom of my life. But occasionally a million little aggravations collide into a big burst of soul-stripping tears. Still, Psalm 7:17 instructs: “I will thank the LORD because he is just; I will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” (NLT)
“After Jesus was baptized by John,” a pastor at our church faithfully reminded me the day I was baptized, “Jesus was tempted in the desert for forty days.”
“Crap,” was my first thought. CRAP. Over the next few weeks I started to feel like Psalm 3:7 …“Arise, O LORD! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked!” (NLT)
And then God asked me if I was willing to put reconciliation in His hands. Not just any reconciliation. One that had already rocked me, and my entire family, to the core. My answer was a resounding, “NO.” I didn’t want to. I’m down with heartfelt apologies. Reach as far back as you want to, God. And forgiveness? Forgiveness is a given. No apology needed. I got that memo. It’s an automatic process every Christian is wise to begin immediately after any hurt or heartbreak to prevent the root of bitterness from having babies all over our souls.
But reconciliation? Nope. No. There are some people we can love from a far and leave behind the lines of our boundaries …right? RIGHT? No. Psalm 5:11 says, “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy.” NLT
God is the one protecting and providing refuge. So, if He says we are free to come out of hiding, we should. If He prompts us to reach out one more time in an effort to build a bridge, we should obediently take the chance. What’s the worst thing that could happen when the best thing that could happen is peace?
Let’s just say …the worst thing happened. I opened up a wound that hurt worse than before. It leveled me. It surely made me ask “why …” a lot. But I kept reading through the Psalms …because coincidentally the devotional app I faithfully open every day has been in that book. (not a coincidence.) I kept praising God, through thick and heavy tears. He’s right, of course, but let’s face it …some moments make us doubt ourselves, everyone around us, all the decisions we’ve made, and the faith we stand on. Cry it all out. He can handle it.
As we continue to breathe air He will pull things out of the thin of it for us to give to Him. Not everything we go through in life is all about us. We’re called to leave the door wide open for reconciliation while God works on all of the hearts. If it’s possible …we want it. It’s OK to leave our boundaries in the protective hands of our Defender. God doesn’t owe us an explanation for our obedience. He just says, “obey.” Trust and obey.
We have to let go, so we can receive all He has for us. All we can’t see, doesn’t make sense, and makes it hard to leap in faith when He asks us to stretch past our flexibility. He knows what we need in breaking moments. Life is hard, and God knows it. He is our good Father, and so waits for us to open His book and fall into His capable arms. Every time, He will pick us up, stretch us out, and set us back on the path He’s prepared for us. He promises. And He’s good for it. Don’t let fear rob freedom.
Posted on July 17, 2019
“To really understand and love our neighbor, we must be willing to tread into common ground.” -Alexandra Kuykendall, “Loving My Actual Neighbor.”
Many of us are familiar with God’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves, but actually living it out in our everyday lives is difficult. “Loving My Actual Neighbor,” is a simple and practical approach to loving the people God places in our lives. In seven simple and quick-to-read chapters, Kuykendall gives her readers real life experience to connect with. Each chapter wraps up with three sections to help us retain the over-arching message: “A Call to Saturday Living,” “Questions for Reflection,” and “Scripture to Digest.”
“Saturday Living,” as the author cleverly coined, frames the natural ebb and flow of life’s down-time, and challenges us to look around and leverage that time to honor God’s command to “love our neighbor.” “Questions for Reflection” push readers to dig into this rich command God has given us and challenge our hearts to grow into it a little more. “Scripture to Digest” offers poignant verses to pray over our lives as we learn more about what it means to love our neighbors.
This book is enlightening and encouraging. It meets readers in the midst of busy schedules and provides practical ways to love each other better. Personally, it pushed me out of my limited understanding of how much time I think I have, and convicted me to pray for specific moments to love the people that border my life better. I highly recommend this book to anyone looking to learn more about God’s love, and our place in His plan to become channels of it.
“We likely aren’t going to find many people (or any, for that matter) who agree with us on every detail of every issue, so maybe it’s time to let go of that expectation.” -Alexandra Kuykendall, “Loving My Actual Neighbor.”