I Still Need Jesus

NYC 2014 088Teetering on the edge of falling full-force into the pit of condemnation, I poured my heart’s contents onto the pages of my journal that morning. I had failed . . . again. I thought I learned the lesson last time, expecting myself to handle things differently going forward. But it was the same as before. I was the same as before.

I had made natural adjustments since the last time, ones that should have made the difference. But they didn’t go to the heart of the matter. My bad attitude was still there. Realizing I had focused on the natural to be the difference maker only pushed me farther into the darkness enveloping me.

In the middle of the next guilt-ridden sentence, Holy Spirit broke in. It was like a gentle, but forceful, shaking – one meant to return my attention fully to Him. Without speaking the words, or anything that could be so construed by many, He conveyed His unconditional love for me.

That’s what I sensed so overwhelmingly as I was given a glimpse of the situation as He saw it. I still need Jesus! Hallelujah! I still need Jesus! I haven’t graduated beyond Him. Even though I acted in my own strength . . . again . . . He still wants to remind me of His grace and mercy for me.

Only Jesus Christ can make the permanent and necessary changes in me – ever. Somehow, I subconsciously thought I had learned from my past mistakes and could take it from here. I failed. Again. Miserably. Always will on my own. Only in Christ is any good found in me. How freeing!

What absolutely unconditional love enveloped me again where the darkness had pressed only moments before! Indeed, I still need Jesus – every moment and every day!

Merry Christmas to all who, like me, still need Jesus!

Of Dogs and Babies (not to be confused with Of Mice and Men)

The revelation of God’s amazing, unmerited, unconditional love just keeps coming, and in such different ways.  The latest one involves my great dog, Sandy, and my precious grandson, Colton.  (I wondered how I would ever work him into a post.) The two of them do no harm to one another; neither do they particularly appreciate the fact that the other exists.

After Colton spent the night with us recently, and had been returned to his parents, I resumed my normal morning quiet time routine in my comfortable chair.  Sandy joined me on his bed that is strategically placed next to my chair.  As I reached out to “love on” him, I explained to him how much I wish he understood our love for him.  I knew that if he did, he wouldn’t feel so insecure and in need of reassurance when Colton gets my attention.  That’s when it hit me that  Abba Daddy had just given another great illustration of His love for us.

1 John 4:18  NIV  There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

What does fear have to do with it?  Insecurity comes from fear in any number of forms.  In Sandy’s case, I can be around others (even dogs), but not giving them affection, and he is fine.  Throw attention and affection into the mix, and he doesn’t think we love him so much any more.  The fact is, I have more than enough love to spread around.  Even though I might not show it physically at that moment, my love for Sandy hasn’t decreased in the slightest.  The problem is, I’ve never been able to convince him of that fact.

Are we the same way with our heavenly Father?  Do we work and strive to do things that will impress Him, to “prove” to Him that we love Him, trying to gain assurance that He loves us?  Do we feel the need to remind Him that we’re still here?  If so, we really don’t understand how great and unending is His love for us.

Romans 8:37-39 NIV  37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The fact of the matter is this: God’s love is perfect toward you, as that wonderful passage in 1 Corinthians 13 explains.*  You are as loved as you can ever be, even if you don’t feel it.  When you are in Christ Jesus, be assured that you will never, ever, ever, ever be separated from Him and His love for you.  You can bank on it and you can rest in it – forever!

* 1 Corinthians 13 needs to be read as God’s love to us, instead of how we are “supposed to” love others.  Once we grasp His love in this way for us, it will work through us to others.

Happy Mother’s Day – a Year Later

Recently, as I transcribed my 2010 journal onto the computer, I came upon the long entry that led to this post last Mother’s Day.  When I read it this time, though, I realized the forever freedom Jesus lovingly brought me into through that unexpected journey with my journal.  I am not the same in many ways, all because of His grace, and no longer have upsetting dreams about my mother, either.  The past is really the past for me now, no longer affecting my present or my future.

For those of you who might have some unsettled mother issues, may you begin to find Jesus’ healing touch through my story.

————————-

It happened so unexpectedly.  On the way home from a pleasant gathering at a friend’s house for one of those in-home sales parties, I decided to listen to Focus on the Family as they aired a special Mother’s Day broadcast.  At the end of the show, Holy Spirit stirred me to write a letter to my mother for Mother’s Day – completely unexpected, since she’s been gone for more than 23 years.

As I listened to the broadcast, I tried to put my finger on some good and happy times from my early years, without success.  Though I know they were there, only the sad times stand out.  I expected this letter would be a way of drawing out those happy memories.  There again was the unexpected.  My Daddy knew what I needed could only happen as I faced those sad memories with His love guiding me every step of the way.

Chronologically, I addressed the specific memories that overshadow the others – all in letter form.  When I brought up the last memory, which happened during the last weeks of her too-short life, the tears flowed.  Though I had forgiven her through the years as each of these things surfaced, it took this difficult and painful task to help me see the whole, rather than the individual parts.  Only then could I get past my self-centered point of view.  At that point, I realized my mother couldn’t give what she didn’t have – what she had never received – though it was available to her.  I ached for the sadness in which she lived that could have been removed by knowing the unconditional love of her Father for her.

Daddy didn’t let me dwell there, though I had to get to that place of looking beyond my own pain to feel my mother’s pain, to have His compassion for her even now.  Holy Spirit then directed me to declare that I am not responsible for my mother’s sadness, nor was I responsible for her happiness.  It wasn’t that she expected me to make her happy or held me responsible for her sadness.  That’s part of the lie the devil has fed my mind repeatedly over the years, but it’s been exposed, and I’ve been freed!

This session of the unexpected was not quite over, however.  One more item to be dealt with, the thing that was really at the root of it all.  You see, a deceptive thread had been woven through my life, with ever-increasing “proof” with each successive memory-maker, that I was abandoned – even up to my mother’s dying days.  But God!  Because of God, I declare that I am not abandoned, never have been abandoned, and never will be abandoned.  Before He formed me in my mother’s womb, He knew me.  All the days ordained for me were written by Him before ever I was born.  Even if my father and mother forsook me, He never has and never will forsake me!1

Now the fruit of all this began to manifest.  I thanked my Father (from my heart) for giving me the mother He gave me, and for her loving and raising me the best she knew how.  Though the good memories haven’t yet returned (and may never), what is different now is the peace in my heart in the midst of the hurtful memories.  Never again can they darken my present or my future as they have in the past!  It’s as if I moved out of my flesh family more fully and moved more fully into my Daddy’s family – that one into which I’ve long-since been adopted through the blood of my Brother, Jesus Christ!

The unexpected interruption brought me through in an unexpected way to the expected end – greater freedom in Christ, greater compassion from Daddy’s heart for others, and greater awareness of His love.  Glory to God forevermore!!!

1Psalm 139: 13, 16;  Psalm 27:10  (Kay’s translation)

Happy Mother’s Day!

It happened so unexpectedly.  On the way home from a pleasant gathering at a friend’s house for one of those in-home sales parties, I decided to listen to Focus on the Family as they aired a special Mother’s Day broadcast.  At the end of the show, Holy Spirit stirred me to write a letter to my mother for Mother’s Day – completely unexpected since she’s been gone for more than 23 years.

As I listened to the broadcast, I tried to put my finger on some good and happy times from my early years, without success.  Though I know they were there, only the sad times stand out.  I expected this letter would be a way of drawing out those happy memories.  There again was the unexpected.  My Daddy knew what I needed could only happen as I faced those sad memories with His love guiding me every step of the way.

Chronologically, I addressed the specific memories that overshadow the others – all in letter form.  When I brought up the last memory, which happened during the last weeks of her too-short life, the tears flowed.  Though I had forgiven her through the years as each of these things surfaced, it took this difficult and painful task to help me see the whole, rather than the individual parts.  Only then could I get past my self-centered point of view.  At that point, I realized my mother couldn’t give what she didn’t have – what she had never received – though it was available to her.  I ached for the sadness in which she lived that could have been removed by knowing the unconditional love of her Father for her.

Daddy didn’t let me dwell there, though I had to get to that place of looking beyond my own pain to feel my mother’s pain, to have His compassion for her even now.  Holy Spirit then directed me to declare that I am not responsible for my mother’s sadness, nor was I responsible for her happiness.  It wasn’t that she expected me to make her happy or held me responsible for her sadness.  That’s part of the lie the devil has fed my mind repeatedly over the years, but it’s been exposed, and I’ve been freed!

This session of the unexpected was not quite over, however.  One more item to be dealt with, the thing that was really at the root of it all.  You see, a deceptive thread had been woven through my life, with ever-increasing “proof” with each successive memory-maker, that I was abandoned – even up to my mother’s dying days.  But God!  Because of God, I declare that I am not abandoned, never have been abandoned, and never will be abandoned.  Before He formed me in my mother’s womb, He knew me.  All the days ordained for me were written by Him before ever I was born.  Even if my father and mother forsook me, He never has and never will forsake me!1

Now the fruit of all this began to manifest.  I thanked my Father (from my heart) for giving me the mother He gave me, and for her loving and raising me the best she knew how.  Though the good memories haven’t yet returned (and may never), what is different now is the peace in my heart in the midst of the hurtful memories.  Never again can they darken my present or my future as they have in the past!  It’s as if I moved out of my flesh family more fully and moved more fully into my Daddy’s family – that one into which I’ve long-since been adopted through the blood of my Brother, Jesus Christ!

The unexpected interruption brought me through in an unexpected way to the expected end – greater freedom in Christ, greater compassion from Daddy’s heart for others, and greater awareness of His love.  Glory to God forevermore!!!

1Psalm 139: 13, 16;  Psalm 27:10  (Kay’s translation)

Love Never Fails

As I listened to a human message about agape love, that unconditional and perfect love of God, the Lord added His message to my heart.  The preacher encouraged us to love with agape love those people who are not yet saved, are not in right relationship with the Lord, or are even out of relationship with us.  If we live this love, we were promised, they will have to come around sometime, even if it’s in the distant future, because love never fails1.

I moved from there with Holy Spirit while He took me down a different path from the one on which I had just traveled.  Love never fails is the Word of God, so it is Truth2.  Not only is the Greek word for love in this reference agape, but in another reference, God is love3, the Greek word used is also agape.  God, Himself, is the agape love that never fails.  He doesn’t just have it, and He doesn’t just love with it.  He is this very love!

I then thought of many people who have never turned their lives around, as far as we know, nor have they been restored to family, despite friends and family members praying faithfully and loving them as best they could.  Did love fail?  Agape love never fails.  How, then, do we reconcile our experiences that appear contrary to the Truth of the Bible?

Since God is this agape love, He loves every person perfectly, regardless of their deeds or words.  He never messes up by saying or doing the wrong thing that moves them farther away, nor is He impatient with slow, or seemingly non-existent, progress.  Yet, even in His perfect love, people all over the world are not restored to family and friends, or end up in hell by refusing to repent and receive His love.  Has agape failed?  Has God failed?  Absolutely not!  Love will never fail!  What have failed are our man-made, man-determined, expectations.  If God loving perfectly (and patiently) doesn’t always bring about His desired change in others, our imperfect (and often impatient) efforts at living agape love for others certainly won’t.  How can we make sense of it all?

We need to understand the expectations we have had in these socalled failed cases.  We expected if we showed God’s love, we would get our will for someone else because we know it’s God’s will, too.  What we have failed to grasp is that, in His unlimited wisdom, plan, and perfect agape love, God created each of us with a free will, and He does not override those wills – ever –  even when those wills end up leading to eternal death in hell, forever separated from Him and His love.  Even in that outcome, love hasn’t failed.  Agape made the way for that person (and every other) to be reconciled to God’s love for all eternity, through Jesus Christ.  With His blood, Jesus paid the price so we could know this amazing love, even for those who would never accept it.  No, that love never fails.  It never has and it never will.

Where does this leave us, with regards to the wandering ones?  Since God so loves them, even as He so loves us, we continue allowing His love to grow in us and show through us so that all around us are exposed to His wonderful, perfect love.  The difference now is that we have removed our limiting human expectations about the outcome, for love never fails!

1 1 Corinthians 13:8

2 John 17:17

3 1 John 4:8 & 16