“Yet the LORD chose your ancestors as the objects of his love. And he chose you,” Deuteronomy 10:15
Tomorrow evening, Hurricane Matthew will strike our state. On many levels, it’s stressful; and if you’ve ever been through a hurricane, laden with “what if’s.” For me, it presents a simple spiritual test with one question on the paper:
Heather, do you trust me? Circle one: yes no
The bible tells us, “The LORD is my strength and my defense,” “Come to me…my burden is light,” and “I am with you always.” Although I believe God can give us more than we can handle, I don’t think He leaves us hanging with it. I believe that when/if He gives us more than we can handle, WITH Him, we can handle it. Back in 2005, when Hurricane Wilma hit, I was a mom of a baby and a toddler. Raul was out of town. I had my blind mother-in-law and my little brother. I also had no provisions, no electricity, and no water. So if God called prior to Wilma coming, and itemized all the stress I’d endure, I woulda said, “Find someone else, this chic’s not capable.” But that’s why I’m not God. And that’s hurricane relief! We don’t have to measure out how much we can handle. We don’t have to worry about leaning on our own strength. We might think we can’t handle anymore…but that (thankfully!) isn’t our call. In every crisis, when WE think we can’t handle anymore, we just need to rest in God and let Him make the calls. I will never look forward to hurricanes, but this time, I look forward to resting in God. He’s in charge of my life, and the hurricanes. He’s in charge of the beginning and ending of every storm. He knows what lessons we need to learn in them. His hand is upon our lives and His handprint is upon our hearts. Trust Him in the hurricane.
On many famous accounts, God displayed his love in big things: parting a sea in half, ingesting a human in a whale, raising Jesus from a tomb. But is God’s love in small things? Yes. God’s love is often in insignificantly-small people: a deaf man, a paralyzed man, a girl in adultery, a virgin carrying His son. Have we ever realized the insignificance of these people? Rather, do we realize their significance to God? He didn’t pick Hollywood celebrities to perform these mighty miracles. He didn’t pick the ones with the most “likes” and “follows.” Out of 22 miracles Jesus performed, 20 came from insignificant backgrounds. In the world, we often have to be “somebody.” But in Christ, we already are EVERY. THING. You don’t need to beef up, clean up or puff up. You show up. And God loves you from there. I was never popular as a kid. I don’t know what it’s like to be “most likely to succeed” or nominated to prom court. But I do know what it’s like to be recklessly, unconditionally, emphatically loved by God. You may feel small in your corner of the world, but to God? You’re an heir He’s proud to show you off. If you were the only small, insignificant one on Earth, you would have been worth dying on the cross for. You may feel small in your eyes, but you are the biggest focus of His. I hope this encourages someone today.
We’ve all heard the bible story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. I’ve heard it many times, too, so I thought I knew it well. Until I heard a teacher highlight this one part: Daniel 3: 26-27, “So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, and [they] crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.” The part I learned was that we can walk through the fire (OF pain FROM others) but NOT let the world smell the smoke (of their burns) ON us. You and I have had our share of burns from others, haven’t we? Yet, in this story, these guys were in the fire–but when they came THRU it, they didn’t have the smell of smoke on them. I wanna be like that. First of all, I wanna be a girl who gets THRU the fire. Even if it takes everything I got–I wanna be a “comeback girl” from the pain others cause me. Secondly, I will not go through the rest of my life smelling like smoke from the ones who burn me. They don’t deserve that much impact. And it is a poor representation of God, if everywhere I go, I leave a trail of smoke instead of a trail of light. I hope this encourages someone today!
Theatrically speaking, our marriage is a mystery-thriller-comedy. So I thought it might be fun to invite you into our bed for some theater-convo. Over the years, Raul and I have been misunderstood, and we get that. We are not normal. OK, I am not normal. So how have we made it seventeen years? Contrary to the ole’ adage, it’s actually not our opposites that attract–-but our ONE similarity: God. You see, we don’t have the luxury of having similarities. We don’t have the same I.Q., childhood experiences, strengths or weaknesses. We don’t handle conflict the same. We don’t have the same love language. We don’t lead the same, we don’t follow the same. So when alllllllllllllllll these differences are challenged, we HAVE to have something that holds us together. Thank God we have God. For some, opposites may attract, but for us, God is the attraction. For seventeen years, we’ve both loved God; sought Him and hope to one day hear him say, “Well done.” Without our common denomination of God–-our differences would rip us apart. So what will keep Raul and Heather, under one roof, in one bed, for years to come? One God! Thanks for joining us on our bed, we hope this encouraged you.
There are many comforting bible verses that help us with fear. One that’s grown on me is Luke 12:32, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” This fear-verse speaks to me because of two insignificant words in it: “little,” and “kingdom.” First, “little.” God knows I feel little when I am afraid or anxious. The big fear outgrows my littleness. It becomes so big, that the fear moves from a thought in my mind, to a manifestation in my body (i.e., heartburn, headache, insomnia) and this should not be. God knows we feel little when we’re afraid. But God is not little. God is big. God is bigger than your fear, the enemy causing it and you! So tell the devil where to go, and tell your mind what I tell mine: “fear, you are not my master because Jesus is my Savior!” The second word is “kingdom.” We’re afraid? Shouldn’t we be condemned for this? Shouldn’t God discipline us for our lack-o-faith? This verse tells me that God doesn’t take from us, He GIVES! And not only is He gonna give me something if I keep going in spite of my fears–He’s gonna give me something BIG: a kingdom! So if you feel afraid, and your fear is making you feel little, take heart. God’s got you, and He’s gonna GIVE you something BIG. So hang on, hold on, don’t give up. You’ve got a kingdom waiting for you!
Several years ago, I went through a dark time. I cried a lot. I can’t recall ever crying as much as I did then. It was comforting to know that despite the pain causing the tears…God was holding onto every one of them (Psalm 56). There’s an adage, “Don’t cry over spilt milk.” It means, “don’t waste your time worrying about things you cannot change.” Admittedly, during that dark time, I had made some mistakes to cause those tears, but other people were responsible as well. I learned that sometimes, we DO have to cry over spilt milk. It’s literally a physiological reaction when there is pain. To suppress the crying that the body is generating is just as preposterous as spilling a glass of milk and acting like you didn’t. So if it hurts, if you regret it–as you work through it–it’s ok to cry. But if you would indulge me, based on what I went through, I’d like to add one line to this adage. I’d add, “but also clean up what was spilled.” At some point, we have to clean up the milk. And at some point, we have to stop crying and begin the clean-up of our pain. Trust me, neither one is fun. But both are necessary. And the God who was with you before the milk spilled, is the God who is with you as you cry over it, is the God who is with you to help clean it up. I hope this encourages someone today.
Is there one day you wish you could live over? You know what I’m saying? You look back on it and your mind starts flashing images of the day, and your memory starts flipping through questions as if they’re flash cards. I used to have that “one day.” I did something really stupid in college. Although I eventually got it to the back of my mind, it would eventually manage to make its way to the front and begin the image-flashing and question-asking. What are we supposed to do with that? I don’t know the psychologically-based, theologically-laden, intellectually-stimulating answer, but I can tell you what I did. One, I asked God to forgive me. I needed Him to forgive me for what I did, because in his forgiveness, I would find freedom from the chronic mental-replaying. Jesus came to set the captives free- and sometimes, those captives are our thoughts. But like James 4:2 says, “You do not have because you do not ask God.” ASK Jesus to forgive you for that “one day.” The next thing I did was I forgave myself. You see, Jesus forgives AND forgets. The bible says “as far as the east is from the west, that is how far He removes the guilt.” Guess what? The East and the West NEVER meet, so they are endless in contact, just like his guilt-remover with our sins. SO, if JESUS can move on, what’s my excuse? Listen, guilt beats up, conviction wakes up. I’m glad I was convicted about that “one day.” But I’ll be danged if I’m gonna walk around with guilt for something Jesus already died, rose and forgot. It’s actually almost sacrilegious to not forgive ourselves, because it’s like saying, “Jesus, you didn’t pay enough for this, so I’ll make myself pay for it.” The other thing I did was put to memory a verse that helped me create a tangible “action” to attack this memory when it tried to bring itself up. I learned, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5). So when that regrettable “one day” memory tries to push its way to the front of my mind, I’ll put my hand to my head, take that thought captive into my hand and MAKE it obey Christ. To make that thought obey Christ means to make it SHUT UP. It has no right to my thought-life! And I’m the boss…not my thoughts. I don’t know if these steps will help you, but I DO pray that if you struggle with that “one regrettable day,” that you will consider what I’ve shared here. And walk into a new day…without it.