The Mirror

31 12 2010

Children grow up quickly – at least in the eyes of their parents. The years fly by as they take their first steps, get on the school bus, master multiplication, and learn their first locker combination. Before we know it, graduation announcements are in the mail and college applications are stacked on the dining room table.

In the day to day, it is often hard to see growth. The image in the mirror looks much the same as it did yesterday. The same thing is true in our spiritual walk. We want to look more and more like Jesus, but so often the image in the mirror doesn’t seem to change. But God is working a transformation deep inside our hearts. In the day to day, we may not see much change, but it is there and taking the time to look in the mirror and measure our growth is essential to our spiritual health.

God provides us with growth markers that can help us see how His work is taking shape in our lives. As we head into a new year, take a moment to look in His mirror and see how the likeness of Jesus is taking shape in your life.

  1. Am I more aware of the presence of God in my day than I was a year ago?
  2. Am I more loving, more patient, and more joyful than I used to be?
  3. Am I spending more time with God in prayer and study?
  4. What have I surrendered to His will and movement in the last year?
  5. Can others see Jesus more clearly in me?

My Jesus Resolution today is look in the mirror. I am going to ask God to show me His movement and give me a glimpse of the transformation He is unfolding in me. I am going to be honest about where I need to give myself in deeper surrender. I am going to praise Him for the places where I can see growth. Take a minute to look in the mirror with me. Don’t be surprised when you see Jesus mirrored in your face.





Paying Bills

29 12 2010

They sit in a stack on the desk. Taking a deep breath, the bill paying process begins. Pen in hand, checks are written, on-line bill paying instructions given, calculator keys punched, and the grand total is recorded. Stamps are licked and envelopes sealed. Finally, the bills are paid. For a brief moment, everything is paid in full.

Even in the moment when the balance says “paid in full”, we can look around and know that we will face this task again soon. We are using electricity even as we pay the electric bill. The dishwasher hums, using water for which we will receive a bill next month. Even as we pay our bills, the debts accrue. Paid in full is a temporary state.

Paying bills gives me an insight into the depth of what Jesus has done for me. Paying bills is similar to the sacrifices offered month after month, year after year by the Israelites. Necessary to meet the moment, but incapable of ever making us debt free. Hebrews 10:1 says, “For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifice repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” No matter how many times they paid, there was always more that was owed.

Jesus changed everything. He paid the bill. He bore the cost for my debt. He settled the account. Going to the cross took care of my debt in a way I could never do for myself. My debt is gone. The past is paid for. The present is redeemed. The future is clear and unencumbered. The weight of sin has been lifted off my heart. “Paid in full” is my reality in Christ.

“But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God. …By one sacrifice He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” – Hebrews 10:12, 14

His one perfect sacrifice paid a lifetime of debts. His journey to the cross covered a bill that had chained my heart to death. No more worrying about how to make ends meet. No more fear or shame upon realizing that this month just put me more in the hole. My future is defined by God’s dreams rather than my debt.

My Jesus Resolution today is to look at my bills differently. Every time I write a check, I am going to stop and thank Jesus for paying my debt. Every bill is going to remind me of what I owe and focus my attention on the One who paid it all. Today when I get a bill in the mail, I am going to smile as I rejoice in the truth that Jesus wrote “paid in full” across my heart.





Trust the Weatherman

27 12 2010

It was cold in the house. I was bundled up in a sweatshirt and still feeling chilled. As I got ready to leave the house, I checked the weather. Warmer, it said. You won’t need a jacket.

I stood in front of my mirror trying to decide. Bring the jacket or trust the weatherman? I was really cold. It was hard to believe that it would be warm enough outside for me to be comfortable without a coat. I decided the trust the weatherman. I left the jacket behind and headed outdoors.

He was right.

As I walked through the neighborhood, I marveled at how warm it was. The weather report was accurate. The sun warmed the air, sharing its glow with the blue sky. I am glad I listened. That’s when it hit me. How many times am I willing to trust the weatherman, but second guess God?

When God gives an instruction, my first response is often to be skeptical. “Are you sure? But I feel like… That doesn’t seem smart to me. But I can only see…”  Too many times I take my jacket with me because I trust my own point-of-view, rather than surrendering to the wisdom of the One who made all things.

My Jesus Resolution today is to trust more and second guess less. God has more than proven Himself worthy of my trust. He has shown me unwavering faithfulness, indescribable love, and constant mercy. He has never let me down or left my side. When He calls, I will answer. Where He sends, I will go. What He wants me to do, I will do. No arguing, no complaining, and no second guessing. If I can trust the weatherman who I do not know, surely I can trust God who has given me His heart.





Little Words

24 12 2010

Little words can make a big difference. They can change the flow of a sentence, redirect ideas, and restructure basic meanings and definitions. Little words like “and” and “or” have tremendous power. My favorite little word in the Bible, however, is “but.”

God uses this little word to redefine us. We once lived in darkness, but in Him we are light. We were once slaves to sin, but now we are servants of righteousness. We were once defined by death, but now we have life and peace through the Spirit. “But” is a flag that God is on the move. It signals a moment when He steps into our lives and changes our reality. On our own, we are stuck, set, and stubborn. Living within this little word opens up possibilities beyond our imagination.

In Romans 8:5-15, this little word is used seven times. It is an amazing passage that describes our new life in Christ. No longer are we yoked to the sinful nature. Our new nature is permeated with holiness while being shaped into the image of Jesus. Fear, hostility, and misdeeds no longer define our hearts. We live under a banner which declares that we belong to God. With that little three-letter word, God transforms everything.

My Jesus Resolution today is celebrate little words. The world can try to convince me that this is all there is, that there is no hope for escape, and that my problems are too big, too strong, and too overwhelming to live any other way. Today I am going to hold God’s hand, trust His heart and celebrate when God steps in and says, “But…”





A New Home

22 12 2010

My friends are buying a new house. It is a blessing for their family and we have been excited to join them in waiting, watching, and preparing for the day to arrive when they can finally call it their own.

It has been interesting to walk with them as they prepare for “closing day.” As the moment draws nearer, the place where they are living now starts to be a little less “home.” Pictures come off the walls, boxes are packed, stuff is sorted and junk thrown out. Every day they long a little more for their new home and put a little bit of heart distance between them and they place in which they are now living.

Their anticipation has sparked my thinking. I love my home. It is filled with the people I love and things that bring me comfort and joy. This home, however, is never supposed to be more than a resting place. It is a temporary stop on my journey. Everything about this home I dwell in now should be designed to point me to what is truly home. Every plate should remind me of His provision. Every picture should point me to His beauty. Every quilt should enfold me in His comfort. I should live here, but anticipate there.

“Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

My Jesus Resolution is to look at my house differently. I want each room to teach me how to dwell with Him. I want the furniture to be places where I sit at His feet and rest in His presence. I want to remember that the stuff is just stuff and set my heart more fully on delighting in the richness of His love. Closing day is coming sooner or later. Am I ready to move?

 





Ninety-Three

20 12 2010

The end of the semester was quickly approaching and she was fretting. One class had been particularly tough. She read the textbook, took notes, did extra credit, went to study groups, and pored over charts, definitions, and protocols. Still, it was all going to come down to one final test. If she did well enough, she would move on. If not, she would have to go back to the starting line.

She added up her scores, measured how far she needed to go, and calculated the distance to her goal. “I need an 83, Mom,” she said. “If I can just get an 83, everything will be okay.” I did some encouraging and cheerleading, promising to pray every step of the way.

Relating our conversation to my husband later that evening, her dad listened and said, “We are going to pray for a 93, not an 83.” Right then, we started praying for a 93.

During our next phone visit, I told my daughter that we were praying for a 93. “But I only need an 83,” she said. “I know, but we are going to ask for more.”

For days we prayed for a 93. For days she sweated getting an 83. Finally the moment arrived. As she checked her grades, her eyes got wide. A big grin stretched across her face as she rejoiced in crossing the finish line. Then I watched her eyes fill up with tears. “I got a 93 on the final, Mom. I got a 93.”

She studied hard for her test, but I am the one who learned a lesson. How many times do I settle for merely enough when God wants to pour out immeasurably more? Too often, I am satisfied with getting by when God wants to fill me to overflowing. I long to sneak across the finish line when God offers grace and a victor’s crown.

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” – John 10:10b

My Jesus Resolution today is to pray bigger. I am going to let God’s power and the riches of His mercy define the boundaries of my dreams. I want to let His will stretch my imagination. I am not going to settle for just barely enough. I don’t want to just get by. I want to live in His fullness, rejoice in His richness, and praise Him for His abundance. Next time I face a test, I am going to ask for a 93.





Golden Streets

17 12 2010

It sparkled in the sunlight. I was walking through my neighborhood and the dazzle of gold caught my attention. There, in the middle of the street, was a patch of gold. It turned out to be just a candy wrapper that had been pressed into the pavement by passing cars. But for just a moment, it had captured my imagination. God used it to remind me of heaven.

“The great street of the city was of pure gold, like transparent glass.” – Revelation 21:21

We sing about streets of gold, but have you ever really stopped to imagine what that is going to look like? All of the grays of our streets will give way to pathways on fire with the light of God. It will sparkle and shimmer with the radiance of His glory. Darkness will have no place even in the paving material on the streets. The roadway will be dazzling, serving to draw our eyes and hearts to the throne of our King.

As we search for His fingerprints on our days, He is preparing our eyes for the amazing reality that will one day be ours. We will see His face. The roads in heaven all lead into His presence. A place by His side is at the heart of every promise that He makes. His glory will make gold pale in comparison. The riches of this earth will look like tar and asphalt in the light of His majesty and beauty.

My Jesus Resolution today is dream about heaven. I am going to let pictures of golden streets and pearly gates redefine how I see beauty. Today I will walk on concrete, but remember that my feet are meant to walk on streets of gold. I will let the promise of His presence open my eyes to the light of His glory. When I see something sparkle, I will let it remind me of home.