He Loves Me

I like daisies; they remind me of being a child. I would lie in the grass and pull off each petal one at a time alternating with the words, “he loves me…he loves me not…he loves me…he loves me not…” always hoping that with the last petal the words would be – “he loves me”. There was never a specific ‘he’ in my mind, it was just the hope that somebody somewhere did love me.

As an abandoned child dealing with the emotional effects of rejection; I always struggled with believing that someone could actually love me because if my own mother who had given me birth could walk away from me, why would anyone else want or love me.

So, now you may be wondering why I like daisies if it seems they would remind me of a ‘sadness’, but, the reason is because I now know without a doubt, that no matter how many petals I pluck or what words I may end with – I AM Loved. God loves me – always and unconditionally.

It’s taken a lifetime for me to know it AND believe it, but once I stopped looking to people in an effort to try and know or understand love and instead let Him in all the way, choosing to trust Him no matter what, I have experienced Love and acceptance that has changed the way I see others, and He has taught me to confidently love others the way He loves me, and I no longer fear rejection.

And it’s this confidence of His love for me that keeps me trusting, or in some situations, brings me back to trusting Him because I know that He wants what is best for me. It always comes back to KNOWING God, and Trusting Him no matter what.

Desert Streams's photo.
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A Simple Bike Ride

There have been many moments in life when I found myself asking, “What was I thinking?!” or “What have I gotten myself into?” Five minutes into my bike ride on a sunny Saturday morning, and I found myself asking those questions again.
As I encountered the first incline, I began talking to myself, “What were you thinking, Jonah? you know there’s no such thing as a simple bike ride here in Fort Worth; it’s up, down, then back up again…everywhere you go.” I laughed at myself, and despite my already ‘burning thigh muscles’, I pressed on.  As I rounded the corner and saw a continual climb up another small incline, I hesitated and for a brief moment found myself thinking, “OK. No. I’m not up for this..” –but thanks to two of my character traits, tenacity and determination, I pressed on convincing myself it would be worth it.

Unfortunately, I can also be impulsive at times, you know…not thinking things through all the way; I had made the choice to NOT wear my glasses, reasoning that I really didn’t need them to ride my bike. During my first decline, I was trying to get used to the brakes and going a little faster than I should have been.  My front tire hit something in the road, which I wasn’t able to see clearly without my glasses, and the tire wobbled, the brakes slid, my hands gripped the handlebars tightly, my heart skipped a few beats, and then I realized just how quickly that could have turned out very ugly. Again, I questioned myself, “What was I thinking?! I can’t really see small rocks and other debris as I’m moving quickly down the street! oh well, guess I better be careful!” And, the bike ride continued.

My ‘self-chatter’ slowly turned into talking to God:
“Ok God, I’m second guessing my decision and starting to think that where I’m headed is further than I thought, and I’m wondering what I’ve gotten myself into.” As soon as I heard those words spoken out loud I immediately said, “You know…I feel like that is the underlying theme of my life story, with You always saying to me, “Well, here’s another fine mess you’ve gotten yourself into”.”
I laughed at that thought, and then sincerely prayed, “but, here I am so I want to make the most of it. Use this time to teach me something good, speak to my heart whatever I need to hear; give me another ‘life lesson’ please.”

Within a few minutes of silence and consistent pedaling, the lesson began:

“Just relax and enjoy the ride, slow down, don’t try so hard, just remain consistent and enjoy the time that you have.”

hmmm…I began to wonder if that was what He had been trying to teach me with the whole ‘Be still and wait on the Lord’ theme that had been going on…for years! hahaha!

So… I slowed down, relaxed, and found a comfortable pace. I started looking around and enjoying my bike ride. Before I knew it, I had reached my destination and with pleasant surprise I declared, “whatdoyouknow! that wasn’t so bad after all!”

After completing my errand, I returned to my bike and was getting back on when I heard a heavily accented voice from behind me ask, “Vand to trade?” I turned to see an older gentleman walking toward his electrical scooter. I glanced at him, then at his scooter, and then replied with a smile, “No thanks. I need the workout.” He looked at me and responded with a confused look on his face and questioned, “Vy?!” Without hesitation, I shouted back over my shoulder as I rode off…”It’s what keeps me strong!”
A small voice ‘inside my head’ replied, “Exactly!”

As I continued my pedaling, I pondered the meaning of the ‘exactly!’ and my thoughts immediately returned to the confused ‘why?’ that came from the stranger…and it occurred to me that I had been asking God “why?” a lot lately in all of my confusion about life’s little trials, struggles, and disappointments.

There it was, my “ah-ha! moment”.
I had answered my own “whys?” with my response to the confused man-“It’s what keeps me strong!” And God’s response to me was “Exactly!” I wondered if He wanted to add, “you’re FINALLY gettin it!”

Just as muscles don’t gain strength without ‘stress’ being put on them, our faith does not strengthen without being put ‘under pressure’ and ‘tested’ now and then.

I rode on with anticipation of more learning from the best life-teacher ever! I love the way He meets us where we are and speaks to us in a way that we’ll hear him- IF we’re listening.

As I came upon the steepest and most intense part of my return ride, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to make it all the way, but I was going to give it my best effort. As I felt my pace slowing and my muscles aching and burning, I decided to recite truths that I knew, “The Lord gives strength to the weary”, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”, etc.. and as I was pushing myself to persevere through my huffing and puffing….this thought came to me:

“It’s okay to get off and walk when you need to, as long as you keep moving; Do what you can do and keep moving toward the goal. Don’t focus on how hard it is; think about how good it’s going to feel when you finally get home knowing you completed what you set out to do. Give yourself grace when you need to, relax, but keep moving forward.

I stopped, got off my bike and started walking. As I began walking my legs were feeling a bit wobbly as if they were about to give out. However, I felt a sense of accomplishment as I thought about the reward I would receive for pushing myself beyond what I thought I could do. As I reached the top, and the way plateaued, I saw a young, healthy-looking man on the opposite side of the street…walking his bike. Then I heard this,

“It doesn’t matter how ‘strong’ you are, sometimes all you may be able to do is walk.”

I smiled as I thought about the much needed ‘life lessons’ I just received, at ‘just the right time’ from a simple bike ride. I had set out that morning with the purpose to build strength in my body, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy the process at the same time. Likewise, every trial and every struggle can be used by God to strengthen our faith and build our perseverance, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy our ‘journey of faith’ along the way.

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Truth, Life and Love

As I look out into the world,
I see souls wandering in their lostness,
and wounding each other in their brokenness;
all on the same quest to find the ONE thing,
that thing that will give them purpose, satisfy their heart,
and heal their deepest wounds.
Searching for Truth, Life and Love…
Sadly, most do not recognize it when they see it or experience it.
Perhaps it’s because they are too focused on their soul scars,
maybe the bitterness of unforgiveness has them blinded,
or unfortunately, and most likely,
they have been deceived by the enemy of their soul,
to accept a counterfeit of everything that is Good and Right and True.
In our confusion, we keep running from the One thing that we are looking for.

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Expect Troubles

A few years back, I was going through struggles and trials of every kind; I described it as “getting spiritually and emotionally stoned” with one little annoying pebble after another, and at times with baseball sized stones. After a horrible, no-good, very bad weekend at work, and then a random incident that left me wondering what was going to happen next…I tried to hold it together, but to no avail. I cracked! I lost it… again…feeling sorry for poor little me, and ranting and complaining to God that He must not care, and had given up on us. But, with a little help from some friends, and a whole lot of their praying, I calmed down for a while and then I “happened” across this appropriate article:

GOD, Where are You?
by David Wilkerson:

“One night Jacob sat in an open field and had it out (wrestled) with the Lord: “God, how did I end up in this mess? You made such great promises to me. You told me You would guide me, keep me, fulfill Your plans in me. How could any of this be Your leading? What kind of covenant walk is this? Lord, I simply have no future” (see Genesis 32:24-26).
Now, you may reason to yourself, “Maybe Jacob didn’t seek God about some of the choices he made. Maybe he acted out of his flesh.” Well, perhaps he did, but all that is beside the point. God could have intervened on Jacob’s behalf at any time but He did not.
The fact is, we can have a contrite spirit and still have problems. You and your spouse may be going through a terrible trial. You have prayed, “Lord, I don’t understand. I know my heart is right, and I’m walking with You, so why are You allowing this awful trial?”
Most of us think, as Jacob did, that contrite, praying Christians should not have to endure great sorrows. We should not have to face awful times or fearful conditions in which our very future is threatened. Yet, the reality is that humble, repentant, praying Christians still suffer great peril and sorrows.
Nowhere in the Bible does God promise to keep us from problems. Never does He promise us a smooth ride in our job or career. Nor does He promise us exemption from affliction. In fact, He says: “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivereth him out of them all” (Psalm 34:19). This verse does not say God delivers us from afflictions, but out of them.
Paul speaks of knowing the heights and depths of God’s love for him. Yet the Lord didn’t keep Paul’s ship from sinking. In fact, He allowed the apostle to be stoned, beaten and disgraced. Paul says he was exposed to perils on land and on sea, from robbers and from his own countrymen.
At times we may weep, wondering, “God, where are You? Why haven’t You taken me out of this?” But even though the Lord allows us to go through things that try our souls, in one way or another He delivers us out of them all, just as He did Jacob and Paul.”

This helped me to see that I was simply suffering from momentary, spiritual memory loss; I forgot He never promised this to be an “easy life”. However, He did promise to be with me always. I suppose if I would shut up long enough to “be still, and know that he is God”, I’d freak out less often.
At the time of this “spiritual lesson”, I was working retail, and He kinda showed me what I was like, by drawing my attention to a little kid in the store who was pitchin’ a fit because he didn’t understand why his mother wasn’t “doing what he wanted” or “giving him what he wanted”.
I was humbled.

12 sym

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