The Jar in the Suitcase

the jar

This is a continuation from my last post, Unlocking the Past. If you’re going through this too, please know I’m praying for you.

I pulled that heavy and musty suitcase (the one I was trying to bury that held all those things from my past) from the back of my spiritual closet and laid it on its side. I prayed to God, asking Him to unlock it for me, and begged Him to stay with me as I slumped on the floor.

The Holy Spirit strengthened me as we opened it together.

I braced myself, expecting to see a lot of painful things, ugly reminders of how I let so many people down.

But do you know what I saw?

A jar.

I sat there for a moment while the Holy Spirit reminded me:

Years ago, I’d gotten in over my head and God told me to step down from some things. But I WAITED to obey Him, not wanting to disappoint a number of people. I found myself crying out to Him so many times as I was lying in bed at night, just sobbing and trying not to wake my husband. I begged God to rescue me, knowing I was in serious trouble.

I knew I had disobeyed God, and it was crushing me. I’d never felt so overwhelmed, so defeated, and so alone in all my life.

And I failed. (Of course I did, I was disobeying God!) And yes, I failed a lot of people who were counting on me. But the worst part: I failed God.

But God didn’t help me to unlock my suitcase, so I could sit there on the floor and beat myself up again. I’d asked for forgiveness years ago, and I know God is faithful to forgive me when I ask. (If you’re still beating yourself up, this is for you too!)

So let’s go back to the jar I found in the suitcase…

The Holy Spirit reminded me of Elijah and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17: 7-16). Her jar of flour was not used up during the drought. She didn’t die like she thought. She and her son survived.

God provided what she needed in that jar.

This glass jar I found in my suitcase, God’s provision for me, is FULL of His mercies and His never ending love; it never runs low or runs out. His mercy helped me to survive a terribly difficult time in my life, and His love rescued me.

And the jar is still full today, helping me to heal and move on.

My dear friend, if God has led you to pull out the suitcase from your past, and you’re opening it with Him, get a hold of that jar. (You’ve got one, too.)

God’s mercy and His love are for all of us. He will be with you right there on the floor, His Holy Spirit comforting you and speaking truth to you about your situation (leading you to ask for forgiveness if you haven’t already) and holding you close to remind you that YOU ARE FORGIVEN and YOU ARE LOVED.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to put my jar in a place where I can see it every day to remember my Heavenly Father’s love NEVER ends, and He is faithful beyond what I can even comprehend.

And I’m going to cry out to Him with songs of praise.

“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!” (Lamentations 3:22-23 MSG.)

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV.)

 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!” (Psalms 95: 1-2 ESV.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stop Beating Yourself Up

beating

Stop beating yourself up.

That’s right.  Stop being so hard on yourself for that mistake you made in the past; the one you can’t go back and change and really, do you even want to?  That mistake has made you stronger, better, and maybe it’s even shaken you awake to how much God loves you.  Maybe that was the lesson you needed so you’d realize, “I just really goofed and God is still hanging around.  Wow.  He must really love me.”

Yes He does.  He loves you in all your “imperfections.”  He loves the color of your hair as it begins to gray and has each one numbered.  He smiles when you snore in your sleep, even keeping the dog awake.  He loves how your eyes get that look somewhere between shock and sparkle when He answers your prayer and you “get it” that it’s Him. You’re welcome, He whispers.  And He loves to hear you laugh when you’re running in the rain or playing in the snow.  Yes, He loves every bit of you.

But when you hurt over your mistakes, really taking them in and holding onto them like you can never let go or never be forgiven, it’s like you’re telling God He’s not compassionate enough to understand, not loving enough to forgive, and not wise enough to help you through it.

You and I need to stop doing this.

Mistakes are just that. Mistakes. And trying to avoid all mistakes by tiptoeing through life, trying to be perfect, will only set you up for another round of disappointment on your way to crazy town while your family and friends ride in the back.

The only way to live at peace with your mistakes is to take them to God.  Seriously.  Oh sure, you can try to trick your mind into forgetting by venturing off into a bottle for some mind-altering escape, but eventually you’ll come back.  Or you can run away, treat the mistake like a grizzly bear following you in the woods.  But eventually you’ll get tired of running and that bear will catch up after he’s hibernated.  And you’ve probably heard how hungry a bear is after a long nap.

So grab onto that mistake with both hands, stare it down and admit what it is, what you’ve done, and lift it up to God.  Tell Him you’re sorry, confess what you’ve done and ask Him to forgive you, ask others to forgive you if you’ve hurt them, and then MOVE ON.

You see, God wants your mistakes.  He wants to take them off your hands because He has more important things for you, better things for you to do than wallow in your guilt like a pig in slop.  Of course this is where the enemy wants you to stay, and he will lie and tell you that’s where you belong.  But your Heavenly Father is the One who loves you, who wants to clean you up, and He is the One you need to listen to.  And He has so much more for you than a filthy pigpen full of lies.

Stop listening to the lies.  Right now.

And start believing in the truth:  You ARE worthy of the blessings God has for you.

Not because you are perfect, without mistakes, but because Jesus Christ is perfection and He loves you perfectly.  He’s got you covered.

So get out of His way, already.  Let Him bless you.  Stop trying to sabotage it all because you’re afraid; afraid you’ll somehow mess it all up.  God will be there in the midst of the blessing to help you.  He’s promised He will never leave you, right?

Then trust Him.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NIV.)

 

Be Christmas

be-christmas

I’m surrounded by papers, address books, labels, and writing deadlines tugging at my pant leg and asking me why I’ve abandoned them like a glove in a pile of hats and scarves. I hear the call of Christmas cookie ingredients begging to jump into a bowl, to become something delectable so they can sit alongside their friends:  the ten dozen or so I baked yesterday that are sitting on the kitchen table in tinfoil and tins, patiently waiting to be delivered. And I hear the laundry spinning from the basement as my head spins louder…

I’ve missed something. I knew things would get crazy.  It always does.  But I thought I was ready.  I thought I knew what to expect and how to handle it all so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed and sucked into the rush of doing Christmas instead of being Christmas.  Wait a minute.  Where’d that come from and what in the world does that mean? Being Christmas??

Hmmm. “Doing” is action.  Bake, mail Christmas cards, write a Christmas story, shop etc.  (And do the laundry and cook dinner of course.)

“Being” has to do with our very existence. In other words, it cuts through the stuff of what we do to get to the heart of who we are.  Interesting.

So being Christmas would mean something like be loving and forgiving like Jesus, the One  whose birth it represents.

Anyone popping into your head that you can be more loving toward or someone you can forgive?  What a great time to do it.  The sounds of “I love you,” and “I forgive you” sound a lot better than the timer for the cookies, the buzzing of the dryer, and all the songs playing at the mall combined.

I dare you. I dare you to be Christmas this year.

And I dare me too.