Monthly Archives: October 2013

Loving with no strings attached…

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love never failsA few years ago, we attended a different church on Sunday mornings because we were drawn there by the music, the openness of the people, the lack of pretenses and the aesthetic environment of the services.  This church had as it’s focus loving others with no expectations, no limits, and no strings attached….being Christ to those with whom they came into contact.  My husband and I loved this because we have grown to live this way as a result of realizing that this is the way God loves us.

The older I get, the more settled I am, peaceful, in living my day-to-day life in the reality of being embraced freely by God’s love for me through His Son and the Spirit within me.  I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about what others are thinking or feeling because I am simply trying to let Christ live through me and make me who He wants me to be, and His opinion of me is all that matters.

Yes, I sometimes fail Him; I sometimes miss the mark in my love and expressions of love for others.  However, I am open about my shortcomings and am drawn to those who accept me regardless of them.  On the flip side, I try to give others the grace and mercy that has been shown to me and love them without boundaries and without expectations, knowing that it is actually Christ in me doing His work to love others the way He would love them.

I’ve been sad to learn that not everyone, not even every Christian, loves in this way.  I can understand the drama in friendships that occurs in the lives of my teens, but as a 45 year old adult, I just don’t get that drama happening among adults.  So, I find myself learning some life lessons over these last couple of years, here in the middle part of my life, and adding new pieces to my life puzzle…or maybe just beginning to see definition to some pieces that were already in place.

God uses everything in our lives to mold and shape us into the people He desired us to be from the start.  I’m not saying He makes events occur or makes people treat us in certain ways, but that He uses it all in our lives.  I appreciate the words of Kelly Clarkson’s song, Stronger:

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller…
What doesn’t kill you makes you fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Read more: Kelly Clarkson – Stronger Lyrics | MetroLyrics

I know the song isn’t totally scriptural, but it gets the point across that even the toughest stuff we face God can use to build our lives to be stronger.  He can also use trials to strengthen the Body of Christ as a whole.

In one of my daily devotionals recently, Henri Nouwen was writing about the Body and said, “As long as we think about the body of believers as a group of people who share a common faith in Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus remains an inspirational historical figure.  But when we realize that the body Jesus fashions in the Eucharist(Holy Communion) is his body, we can start to see what real presence is.  Jesus, who is present in the gifts of his Body and Blood, becomes present in the body of believers that is formed by these gifts.  We who receive the Body of Christ become the living Christ.”  We are knitted together by His presence that we receive through baptism and communion and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and when one part of the Body is hurt, the entire Body suffers, but when one part is strengthened, so the whole Body is.

“The church is the Body of people who know Someone who exist beyond themselves, who know that Person to be the Holy Spirit.  It is a wonderful thing to understand that a world exists beyond my grasp even though I cannot see, touch, measure, or control it.  In fact, I was made for it to control me.  The marvelous reality is that the Ruler of that other world cares more about you and about me than He does about Himself, and if we open ourselves to His presence, He can transform our routine daily existence so that it becomes a window looking into Heaven.” (Dennis Kinlaw)

Therefore, to apply all this to the behavior of adults, we cannot expect those who are not a part of the Body to act in the same fashion as those who are a part of the Body.  We must remain light to those who are still walking in darkness, remaining gracious and kind in the midst of challenging relationships.  Yet, those adults who are part of the Body and come into conflict with one another, are called to allow God’s Spirit to work towards healing of the Body so that the entire Body can then be strengthened.  Jesus prayed to his Father:  “May they all be one, just as, Father, you are in me and I am in you, so that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me” (John 17:21).

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How do you begin to work a puzzle?

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Several years ago, I was blessed to enjoy a retreat with my Mom, sisters, aunt, and a cousin.  That was my first time, ever, to be away from my husband and children for a full week.  It was also the first time we women had been together, as adults, for any length of time without having to care for others (our kids or husbands).  The week was remarkable. 

Of course, my oldest sister brought puzzles for us to work.  We had already worked 2 – 100 piece puzzles by the first morning, and we had been here less than 24 hours.  It goes without saying that my sister quickly completed hers, with a little help from Mom, then she helped my aunt and I finish ours.  She’s always been a whiz at working puzzles, unlike myself. 

When I started pulling together the pieces of my life back in my high school psychology class, I realized there was more to my life than met the eye, and much of it I didn’t understand.  I was no longer content to just live on the surface level of things, so I began to journey inward to make sense of it, and all the while more pieces were being added to my life puzzle.  This quest, pulling together these pieces, has been, and continues to be, an adventure that has taken me exploring through the lives of my family and friends, questioning the gifts and blessings in my life, reopening the wounds of my life and seeking healing of them, and reliving my life’s experiences, with God as the beginning and ending of it all. 

Have you ever thought about your life that way?  The first step in looking for the pieces of my life was recognizing that there were pieces to discover, that there was a puzzle, a bigger picture to my life.  When I became aware of this, my quest to pull those pieces together began.  Where would your quest to find the pieces of your life take you?  What pieces of your life need to be pulled together?   What are God’s intentions with all these pieces?  Can you trust Him with them? 

These are the questions I’ve sought to answer in my life.  I’ve prayed for God’s direction in this journey, to guide me to find all the pieces and to put them together for me.  My guess is, if you’d do the same, that you would find that your pieces come from similar areas of life such as mine.  We have all been affected by family (or the lack thereof).  Besides God, they were the first to influence our lives.  Friends and acquaintances usually formed the next pieces in our lives, interwoven with blessings and wounds experienced in the events and relationships of life.  God, of course, is the beginning and ending of it all, the One who gave life to us and the One who will be there when this life is over.

 

 

Aside

In the late 80’s, Petra, a Christian rock band, shared the following song with us:

We are pilgrims in a strange land
We are so far from our homeland
With each passing day it seems so clear
This world will never want us here
We’re not welcome in this world of wrong
We are foreigners who don’t belong

We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world

We are envoys, we must tarry
With this message we must carry
There’s so much to do before we leave
With so many more who may believe
Our mission here can never fail
And the gates of hell will not prevail

We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world

We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world

Jesus told us men would hate us
But we must be of good cheer
He has overcome this world of darkness
Soon we will depart from here

We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world

We are strangers, we are aliens
We are not of this world

Songwriters
Bob Hartman

The older I get, the more I realize what it is to be an alien in this world.  I watch TV and movies, listen to songs that my teens like, and read stories about celebrities, but I always think it’s all pretty much “un-reality”, that no one really lives like that.  Then, I have a conversation with an old friend who doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus and has never really had a Bible background, and it becomes reality to me.  People do live life like it is portrayed in TV shows and songs on the radio….and that blows my mind.  

Suddenly, the so-called “bubble” in which I’m accused of living becomes apparent.  My eyes are opened and I see more clearly this world that actually isn’t home to me.  It saddens me for those that don’t know there is another world that is our true home; a place that was made for us and for which we were made.  It thrills me to know there is a place where I will finally find rest and feel whole, but I want everyone to know that Truth so that all of the hopeless searching to fill the emptiness inside can end, so we can all see that we will never be filled in this world because we don’t belong here.  I just can’t make that happen, though…..and God has told us in His Word that even He won’t make that happen.

It’s up to each individual to choose to know the Truth and be set free by that knowledge.  We, as humans, get so caught up in all our little details of day-to-dayness that we usually fail to step back and look at the big picture of life, of humanity, of history, past, present, and future.  Like a Monet painting, when you are standing up close to one, you see all the amazing brush strokes, the details, and maybe even a few flaws, and it looks blurry and incomplete.  Step back across the room and you can see the whole painting, then the beauty comes into focus and it all makes sense.  Seeing the whole of this world, this life, looking at all of time fit together, brings into focus a bigger plan than just trying to fill our emptiness.

As people in relationship with Jesus, we will always feel out of place in this world, and this world will always try to draw us into it’s reality, to try to make us fit into it’s puzzle.  God’s plan for us is to fit into the puzzle He is making, into this beautiful tapestry that He has been piecing together throughout all of time.

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