In this together

 We are heirs with Christ.
We are invited by the Father to be children and heirs with Jesus, of everything the Good Father offers His children. We inherit eternal life and salvation as heirs. What a blessed gift!
Just as God normally does, though, He offers us so much more. We are heirs of all He has and does. We inherit His peace, we inherit His joy, His love, His gentleness. The fruits of the Spirit flow from us as an heir and receiver of the inheritance- a free gift of God.
We are not like the prodigal son, however. Our relationship with the Father stays complete through our brother and fellow heir, Christ Jesus. We do not have a brother who scorns us, and our weaknesses. We have a brother who strengthens and unites us in our relationship with the Father.
So when we suffer, we suffer together, as family, as one, fully united. How many of us have family or loved ones who let us down, who aren’t everything we need them to be at a given time? Even in our marriages and homes our spouse and children will let us down. Because of this we often see our relationships with God, even if only subconsciously, with the same expectations. We wait for God to let us down, we even look for it and blame God when life seems to spin out of control. But these verses speak truth- “we suffer with Him that we may also be glorified with Him.”
We are in it together.
God is the perfect loving Father and Christ, the perfect loving brother. We are united through Christ’s precious body and blood and life giving water. Sometimes it’s helpful to know that someone is holding us up, there for support, in the sorrow and the joy of life. God has sent you real people in your life to show you His loving kindness and care. We can be that to one another. The family then is that mirror of God’s perfect and holy family, for others to see and then also know Him.

But even when the road is difficult and we feel intensely alone, know that our Father and our Brother are with us. We never need take on the day alone. We are family.


Defying Shame

Shame.

It’s often described as a blanket. It kind of wraps around you. The devil fools you thinking it’s comfortable, it’s where you belong.

We experience shame in any number of things. Our past haunts us, our marriages feel like they’re failing, we never measure up. Sometimes we put shame on ourselves. The guilt sits long enough and we don’t even notice it’s there. The devil tricks us into believing that it’s part of who we are, what we deserve. That it may be, what we deserve. But that’s not grace and it’s not the way we were intended to live.

Shame is all around us. It’s so much a part of our culture that we normalize it. We judge ourselves in accordance with what the person next to us is doing. We’re either “not as bad as all that” or “I’ll never measure up to that.” We turn on the tv and judge our bodies based on false images, and feel the shame creep in. We hide our whole selves, only letting pieces out, because we know that judgement eventually looms with each person we meet.

Shame is at its worst when it comes from a brother. How often do we give someone the benefit of the doubt? How often do we fail to see the story behind the pain? People everywhere are afraid to walk into churches (including Jesus-loving, church girls…even pastor’s wives), because shame waits.

Half of it is a lie of the devil, and half of it is a lie of our culture.

Church isn’t for looking a certain way or getting it together so we can meet with God. Church is for the abused and the abuser. Church is for the faith-filled and the faithless. Church is for the hurting and those who have hurt.

It’s time to throw off the shame.

It’s time to defy it.

As a person, as a church, as a culture.

As a woman, I have particular battles with shame I can name and by naming, I can begin to take some power from it. I don’t feel beautiful enough, smart enough, good enough, or just plain enough. So, I get up each morning and defy shame. You are not a part of me, shame. You are not invited to this party. Christ promises me in John 8 and Romans 8 that he doesn’t condemn me and who else should? No one. I’m throwing off the blanket and letting my whole self out. I’ll mess up, as I have in the past. I’ll say words that should have been more careful, but relationships will be healed because I will be real. I’m not enough, but Christ in me is.

He looks on me and I am radiant. He tells me I will never be in shame.

I’m going to believe His promises, place them on repeat and believe them again.

Those who look to Him are radiant; and their faces are never covered in shame. Psalm 34:5

* This is my good friend, Erin. Who lovingly reminds me everyday that shame has no place in my life. We all need an Erin.

God of even this…A God Who Sees

This last week has been pretty miserable. Like anyone in crisis, I feel like most of what I do is wait. Wait for an answer, wait for help, wait for things to get better…and…nothing.

Well, not nothing, but struggle can feel like a void of unchanging hopelessness. I know some of you have been there. I also know that some of you are standing on the other side. Some of you have shared your stories with me, of God working, of moving from hopeless to hopeful, of trust in God and Jesus’s time, healing the deep places of your heart. Our stories keep one another going on this journey, bringing the truth of light at the end of a tunnel and the reality of the other side.

Here, the middle of hopelessness, we meet Hagar. She seems like a pawn in someone else’s game. She is sent away with a skin of water and a loaf of bread. She sits away from the bush, unwilling to watch her son die. Here is hopelessness at its best.

But El Roi answers.

“The God who sees…”

He sees her pain. He sees her struggle. He sees her hunger. He sees her aching heart. I need to know that. I need to know that God sees me.

And so He shows me.

I had a friend cry with me yesterday. Cry. Audibly.

I have rarely felt so loved.

I had a friend tell me that he finally understood what Paul meant when he said he was suffering for another person. He felt my pain, our pain, as his own.

My sisters have told me countless times that they would lift my burden if there was any possible way they could.

I am not just given a loaf of bread and a skin of water, but meals come, food is served, and sometimes I don’t even know where it came from.

There are prayers said, sometimes in the wee hours of night, on our behalf.

This is one reason why God created the Church. This is the visible Church lifting up our arms, when we ourselves can not. This is the visible Church, wrapping their arms around me and letting me cry. This is the visible Church seeing through the compassionate lens of a Savior who came to redeem our crisises and heal our broken hearts.

This is a God who sees me, through you.

He sees each of us. It is His name. And He can not deny who He is. Whatever our pain, whatever our joy, whatever our struggle.

El Roi…He sees me. He sees my husband, my kids, my people. He sees, and that is my Hope each day.

He sees.