The Gift

16 05 2012

I opened the door to the grinning face of my teenaged son. There, wrapped in a black trash bag stood my boy, a picture of a big red bow taped to his head. He beamed with the delight of his own creativity as he hugged me and told me that he was my gift for the day.

This boy has always been a gift. His presence in my life reminds me daily to laugh more, love deeper, and let the sweetness of grace roll across my worries. But today it wasn’t the goofy grin, the crazy costume, or the dramatic flavor of the moment that pierced my heart. It was the gift of himself. It was the way that he captured the essence of Jesus outside my door that holds my soul in its grip.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

Open the door to your heart. Do you see Him? God in baby clothes lying in a food trough. A gift. God in little boy shoes, standing in the temple asking and answering divine questions. A gift. God walking into a muddy river to be baptized. God walking through a barren desert to be tempted. A gift. God touching the dirty, the wounded, the hurting, the unwanted – touching me. A gift. God wrapped in nothing but love, stretched out on a cross, red ribbons of agony covering His body. A gift.

Everyday Jesus stands just outside of the door of our hearts and waits. He offers Himself as a gift. Sometimes He is wrapped in blessings, answered prayers, or joy. I greedily grab at the wrapping, and miss the Gift. Other times, He is wrapped in burdens, struggles, questions, or pain. Tools He can use to teach me and usher me deeper into grace. I don’t want these wrappings, and I push the Gift away.

My Jesus Resolution today is to embrace my Gift. He will come today, just as He does every day, to offer me the gift of Himself. He will knock, and I will have a choice about how I answer the moment. I don’t want to miss the gift of His presence. I want to be changed by the fullness of grace that He brings to my door.





The Editor

14 05 2012

It was a funny conversation. I was walking into a convention with a woman who was telling me about her dreams. She wants to write a book, and she was describing her efforts to put her thoughts down on paper. I was trying to be encouraging, answering her questions and sharing a little bit of the process I have learned along the way.

I told her that I thought she could do a great job and to keep on writing. She looked at me in horror and explained how messy her manuscripts are. Covered in cross-outs, sectioned by scribbles, and red-lined with bad grammar, she told me that her pages would never be like the clean, flowing writing she reads in my books. I almost started laughing right there.

It takes a whole team of people to put a book together. There are people who check the grammar, who look at the wording, who examine the punctuation, and who make everything look pretty. On my own, I am a mess. One of the most profound lessons I have learned as a writer is that everybody needs an editor.

What is true in the writing world is also true for my soul. On my own, I am a mess. Mistakes cover the pages of my life’s story. Errors, raw places, mismatched choices, and messed up motives misshape my heart. Sin, shame, guilt, and remorse dictate a restless rhythm for my steps.

Everybody needs an Editor. Someone to take out the bad and reshape the good. Someone to filter the focus and clean up the mess. Someone to take our stories and give them a happy ending.

My Jesus Resolution today is to listen to my Editor. Too often, I try to handle it on my own. The plot fails and the storyline comes to a twisted dead end. Thank God for Jesus. He uses His blood to scrub away the messes and mistakes. He applies His love to make the words of my story flow with His light and truth. He works in grace, asks for surrender, and covers the pages with Himself. When I listen to my Editor, others can see something in my story that would never be there if left up to me.





Mothers

11 05 2012

“My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual and physical education I received from her.” – George Washington

Mothers are special people. They hold us when we are small and help us reach our potential. They hold our hands and let us go. They teach us how to spell our names and shape the core of our identities. Mothers touch our hearts and help us learn how to look at the world. Mothers live with their hearts outside of their bodies and teach it how to fly, dream, and reach upward.

A mother’s love is powerful. It has the ability to protect, shelter, discipline, spoil, nurture, teach, giggle, play, and guide. It is sacrificial. It delights in dandelions, rejoices in reading the same book one hundred thirty seven days in a row, and smiles at smudges on the window. It is a mirror of the love God has for His children.

Being a mother is an investment in the deep purposes of God. Each day is an opportunity to point our children to Jesus, to ensure they can see His hand on their lives, and to live out the adventure of walking with God with them and for them.

Having a mother means that you can trace the fingerprints of God on your life. God uses mothers to open our eyes to His presence, teach us about His heart, and show us what it means to live in love.

Celebrate mothers today – having one, being one, loving one, knowing one. If your mother isn’t present in your life, choose someone who has helped you see God and shows you what it means to look like Jesus. Be deliberate about praying for mothers today. Be thankful for the difference mothers make and how they impact lives far beyond themselves.

My Jesus Resolution today is to count all the Mom blessings. I am going to pay attention to all the ways that my mom touches my life, has shaped how I see, and influenced how I walk. I am going to look for her fingerprints on my life, knowing that when I see them, I can trace the handprint of God. Thanks Mom!!





Hanging On

9 05 2012

What does it mean to hang on to something? When we say that we are hanging on to something it indicates an unwillingness to let it go. We are determined to hold it and cling to it. We protect it, guard it, and fight to keep it in our grasp. Hanging on is a picture of tenaciousness. It reveals what our hearts value and hold most dear.

What do you hang on to?

“And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on to his words.” – Luke19:47-48

The actions of the people at the temple with Jesus literally jumped off the page at me. This is who I want to be. I want to be someone who hangs on to His words. I don’t just want to listen and walk away untouched and unmoved. I want to let His words attach themselves to my heart. I want to hold them, cling to them, and make them stick to my soul.

I tend to hang on to junk. Stuff that doesn’t matter. Stuff that means nothing. Stuff that speaks more to my pride, selfishness, ingratitude, and misaligned priorities. I hang onto my questions, my doubts, my timing, and my way of doing things. I hang onto my desire for comfort and my need for control.

I love the impact that hanging on to Jesus’ words had on the authorities seeking Jesus’ life. They couldn’t get to Him, they couldn’t attack Him, they couldn’t get a foothold because the people were hanging on to the Word. The same is true in our own lives. When I hang on to God’s Word, the evil around me is less likely to find a way to attack, pull down, or destroy me. His Word rescues me, protects me, and shields me as I tenaciously cling to it.

My Jesus Resolution today is to hang on. I am going to hang on to His Word. It is the sweet voice of God in my ear. I am going to cling to His grace. I can’t survive without His mercy. I am going to hold on to His hand, stick to His side, and embrace His character. His love is my lifeline and His faithfulness is my shield. I am going to let go of the stuff that needs to go and be one of those people who hangs on His every word.





The Cost

7 05 2012

I honked my horn. I would like to tell you that I did it because of my concern for the safety and well-being of the other driver, but it wasn’t like that. I was in a hurry. I was rushing from one deadline to another appointment, and was impatient. The light turned green and the other driver didn’t move. I waited for a moment and still no forward motion. Finally, I honked my horn. The look she gave me wasn’t one of thankful appreciation.

I shrugged my shoulders and set my sights on reaching my destination. Still in front of me, the other driver matched the turns I was planning on taking. We seemed to be heading in the same direction. With big eyes, I watched her turn into the parking lot of my destination. All of the sudden, I felt a little ashamed.

I got out of my car, and so did she. We both walked into the shop. She wouldn’t even look my direction. No chance for a pleasant conversation. No opportunity to offer a blessing or extend grace. My impatience had closed a door that I didn’t even realize might be open.

Too many times, I forget that little moves can have a big impact. Small kindnesses can reveal deep love. A whispered word can shout compassion. An extended hand can point to open arms. The opposite is true as well. A moment of complaining feeds a discontent spirit. A thoughtless word punctures someone’s fragile hope. A second of impatience closes the door to someone’s heart.

My Jesus Resolution today is to count the cost. There is a cost in choosing to look like Jesus. It may require obedience, surrender, sacrifice, or setting down my own desires. But there is also a cost in choosing not to look like Jesus. My soul loses the opportunity to walk in His steps and catch a deeper glimpse of His heart. Another may see my behavior and not see Jesus at all.





Identity

4 05 2012

Today is Star Wars Day. It is a play on the date May 4th – May the Force be with you. We love Star Wars at our house. The classic movies tell the story of Luke Skywalker and his travels into another world. It is a world filled with adventure, unusual characters, challenges, struggles, and friendship. In this galaxy far, far away, Luke’s story mirrors the journey we all take to discover who we are and our place in the universe.

In many ways, Star Wars is a story about discovering and choosing your identity. Luke Skywalker is ripped from the home he has always known and confronted with the truth that there is more to his life than he could imagine. From the beginning, Star Wars is a movie about becoming and the choices that we make to get there. Every step of the way, Luke has to decide whether to take the easy path or the right path, to follow the way of the Force or the Dark Side.

One of the climatic moments in Star Wars happens when Luke discovers that the evil Darth Vader is really his father. In that revelation, Luke has a choice – follow in his father’s steps or choose his own destiny. Luke chooses light over darkness, saves the galaxy, and learns that good does triumph over evil.

Our stories will never be played out on the big screen, but the choices we make are even more dramatic. Like Luke, life gives us a choice about identity. Who do we want to be? The world calls us into the shadows, encouraging us to choose our own paths, to live within the confines it sets up for us, to make life what we can make of it. God calls us to live a life grounded in His reality. It is a bigger, more daring, more adventurous life than we could ever dream of for ourselves. It requires a leap of faith, surrender of all we are, and the willingness to be more than we could imagine on our own.

My Jesus Resolution today is to be who God wants me to be. He is willing to work in me to shape my identity and make me His own. I want to make the right choice. I want to live His adventure. I am willing to leave what is comfortable in order to be conformed into His likeness. Who do you want to be? The choice is yours. May the Lord be with you.





The Baby

2 05 2012

It was the sweetest sound. I knew her family would be fretting about the little noises the baby was making, but it was perfect. They were seated on the row behind us during worship. It was time for the Lord’s Supper. Quiet settled over the room as hearts prepared to meet Jesus around His table. That is when I heard her.

She is just a few weeks old. Snuggled in loving arms, I wish that I could have seen her sweet face, but all I heard was the sound of little lips on the bottle. Taking my own nourishment from the Bread of Life, I closed my eyes and listened. Her dependence, her trust, and her contentment to be held in the arms of love all spoke a powerful message to my heart.

I want to be just like her.

Her innocence calls me to the purity and holiness of a sinless Savior. Her utter reliance on those around her challenges me to let go of the pieces of my heart I still try to control. I want to be as thirsty for the Living Water as she is for her bottle. I long to drink deeply, satisfying my soul on the nourishment that comes straight from His grace. Nestled in the strong, protective arms of her family, her sweet gurgles of contentment make me examine where I find refreshment. I want to rest in arms that long to hold me close.

“Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:4)

My Jesus Resolution today is to follow her example. This little one taught me a lesson. Only a few weeks old and she is pointing the way to Jesus. Too often, families worry about bringing their children into worship, but children have the ability to light the way to the cross. Even in their wiggles, whispers, giggles, and stubborn moments. They are physical pictures of my growing faith. They show me who I am, what I can be, and how to be more like Jesus by becoming more childlike.