God is so good. He meets me where I am and he’s my safe place to pour out my heart when I’m feeling rejected. I know this sounds silly, but sometimes I wake up and feel like all my friends don’t like me anymore. By the end of the day I have myself convinced that I am friendless and un-likeable and rejection lurks.
I run to God, and I pour out my heart to him and tell him my fears and within his refuge he reminds me of myself. He reminds me that I am a child of God, that I’m redeemed, and that I’m secure in Him.
He reminds me that in him I am loved. He reminds me that my thoughts need to be brought captive and by thinking that all my friends hate me because of some imaginary thing I did is pretty inward focused. He gently redirects my heart to what is true: I have friends. They like me. I like them. I’m going to disappoint them. They will disappoint me. But that’s what forgiveness is for. I can forgive myself when I fail my personal friendship standards. And I can ask forgiveness when I fail theirs. God also reminds me that my battles with insecurity don’t make me weak, they make me strong because I run to him for strength and help.
Do you ever feel like your heart is about to vomit all over the place? That there’s so much inside and some of it’s great, but some of it’s really ugly and like mold it spreads and takes over the good stuff?
There’s some word vomiting happening around us. Too often someone speaks before they think and in the process spews dissension and hate all over the place. Too often we hid behind screens and keyboards failing to consider the consequences of our words. Social media is not our personal journal. Not everything we feel or every opinion we have needs to be aired in public.
Yet, we need a place for these ugly feelings and thoughts to go. Some of us have trusted friends that we can share the “uglies” and they will point us to Christ and his word for direction. Sometimes, though, we choose someone else to spew our uglies at and it becomes even messier than before because we’ve created a super-cell super-destructive storm of emotions.
Somewhere along the way we’ve lost the relatability of God. In the midst of our awareness of his awesomeness and majesty, we forget that he is also supremely interested in us. In all of us–the good stuff and the bad.
“Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.” Psalm 62:8
Our trust in God is related to how open open our hearts are to him. I don’t think God wants our sanitized hearts. Our sanitized hearts look a lot like the produce drawers in my fridge: clean on one side and nasty on the other.
In our world divisiveness rages. People hate on one another, turn their backs on their fellow man, use words to kill and destroy, declare tolerance in the name of hate. Our hearts fill with rage or disgust and so we speak. And sometimes in the speaking, we wound.
We wound because we haven’t taken the pain in our hearts to God and let him sanitize our pain so our words become life-giving instead of life-taking.
At times, our hearts have a difficult time separating righteous anger from regular anger, gossip from a prayer request, or conditional love from unconditional love. We need God to sift through the feelings and purify the things that don’t please him so that our hearts honor him with everything we say and do.
Pouring out our hearts to God can become the single most important thing we can do in our personal walk with him. He is the first to receive our confusion, our frustration, our questions, fears and anger. Only then, once our hearts are empty can he fill us up.
He fills us up with his peace, wisdom, guidance, joy and love. He becomes our refuge–where we’re kept safe and held close to his heart–so that we can know his heart. And when our hearts are filled with his heart, we can share words that give life and pour love onto the weary hearts around us.
Run to him first with all your care and concerns. Find solace in his word. Find power in the Holy Spirit. Live in his wisdom not your own and remember that your poured out empty heart has room for him to fill you.
The best stories make you cry, laugh till you cry, scare you, anger you, and then make you glad again. These are the stories I return to over and over again. I crack the cover, knowing the ending, but wanting to savor the middle.
My life is a story. Your life is a story. I know how my story will end, but I don’t know the details of the middle. Your middle is a muddle too. Sometimes it’s hard and beautiful and ugly and impressive. Even the parts of life that make us sad and mad have a place in our life. If we want to live life well, we must learn to embrace the beautiful hard.
Sometimes I want to be the hero and sometimes I want to be rescued. Recently, however, I wasn’t the hero or the rescuer nor an observant bystander, but I had an opportunity to love the “least of these.” The “least of these” are those children whose parent’s are unable to care for their children and it’s the children whose hearts have known too much pain and known burdens they shouldn’t bear.
Last week, God intersected my heart with two other hearts. My heart shattered into pieces and in the shattering I saw grace in action. I saw the power of love. I saw the power of time. I saw that despite the pain in this world, God is still with us.
For five days, I poured life and love into the dry parched places of their hearts. Their eyes lost the wary look and gained laughter for a few days. We splashed in a lake, made tu-tu’s, played dress up and participated in a jungle safari including snakes, bearded dragons, and turtles. And yes, these snakes hugged necks and crawled up arms and elicited squeals and giggles.
My heart broke into a thousand pieces as I watched these two little girls laugh with abandon and then in the next instance pull the curtain down over their heart.
Trust: It doesn’t come easy once it’s been broken.
Hope: It flickers and sputters.
Joy: It’s foreign and fleeting.
But for one week out of the summer, these children–the ignored, the forgotten, the hurt– experience safe relationships with safe adults. For some of these, the memories made at camp will be their only good memories from their childhood. For one week, these children were told they were special and worthy of time and attention. This one week of love and laughter and carefree living changes lives for the better. It breaks cycles and starts new ones.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. James 1:27
It’s far too easy to reduce religion to where we spend our Sundays and how we worship. It’s easy because running smack dab into the hard awakens us to pain. And we’re a society of pain-avoiders. But Jesus ran toward pain for you and me. He suffered so that we might know joy, and hope, and trust. If he can do this for us, how can we not do this for others?
Yes, I was uncomfortable. I was hot. And the lake was green and smelly. I wondered if I made a difference in these girls’ lives. I remembered things I’d rather forget. I grew reacquainted with tears. I felt inept, ineffective, and ingrown. But God called me to love. He called me to reach the children’s hearts and so I ran toward the suffering of the hurting and wrapped my arms and heart wide around them.
We can reach out to the kid next door whose mom is working three jobs to put food on the table or we can volunteer in children’s ministry in our local church. Often there are children who feel orphaned because of the lack of involvement of their parent’s in their lives and a kind word is like a cup of cold water to a dry heart.
God gives us opportunities to plant seeds of hope, love, and trust in children’s lives and then he takes the seeds we’ve planted and he waters them and makes them grow. I had to say goodbye to my campers and I don’t know their tomorrows, but I know who holds all of our tomorrows and he’s amazing at his job.
This statement arrested and accused me. I do dream small. I dream small because I’m afraid of disappointment, danger and daring to fail.
But in the dreaming small I lose pieces of my heart until all that’s left is a shriveled core struggling for it’s next breath, and it’s next beat. I become the walking dead, curiously satisfied with mediocrity, apathetic towards the status quo. Every once in a while a what if, a why not, or a what could be stirs to life and my heart beats a little louder, a little faster until I have to listen. I have to pay attention to it.
The dream longs to be heard, to be brought back to life and to have a say.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:19-20 NIV
Today, I will…
dream the dreams that frighten me.
dream the dreams that seem impossible.
And I will know that my dreams that seem so big are nothing compared to what God is capable of doing in my life. I will dream my frightening, out of this world kind of dream because God’s dreams are bigger than I can imagine. I will dream and then I will trust.
I will trust God to take my dreams that seem big to me, but are so small in his hands, and let him sift the ones that are for my glory and keep the ones that are for his.
What is my glory compared to my Father’s? What is my ability compared to his? I will let him have those dreams and discard those dreams that are all about me wrapped in the guise of all about him. I will let go of my legacy and embrace his. I will take hold of him and never let him go.
My heart takes courage and I dream big because I know I’m safe in my Father’s hands. I know that he is for me. I know that he means not to harm me. I believe that he is with me, guiding me, leading me, and shepherding me. And that includes those dreams I’m afraid to whisper in the dark.
Small dreams keep us tied to our own strength, our own glory. Dreaming small reduces our faith to something we can hold and understand whereas faith is mystery that we shouldn’t understand because if we really understood it, do we have any at all?
Your dreams. They’re gifts from a loving God. Your dreams aren’t meant to frighten you, freeze you, or fill you. Your dreams are meant to point you to God and his capabilities, and to open your heart to just how great his thoughts are towards you.
He thinks good things of you. He dreams big for you. He woos you to himself so that he might lift you up and hold you high and declare: “This is my girl and I’m proud of her. See what I do for her? I shower her with my goodness in the land of the living and I cherish her.”
Dream big. Dream of God. And let his light fill you and lift you as he does immeasurably more than you could ask for or imagine. He is good and he is for you.