Enough

Her mug says, “You are enough”.
But the Truth is, I am not enough.

I am not smart enough.
I am not strong enough.
I am not wise enough.
I am not enough.

There are holes in my life.
In my thinking.
In my finances.
In my work.
In my relationships.
In the lives of those I love.

And if I believe that I am enough, that I have it within me to fix all of that, to even begin to deal with all of it, then I am in trouble.
Serious trouble.

Because it just isn’t True.
And it is A LOT of pressure.

Always have the right answer.
Always make the right choice.
Always do the right thing.
Always be the right person.

I am not enough.
And never will be enough.

No matter how much education I get, I will still not know everything.
No matter how long I live, I will still not have sufficient wisdom.
No matter how much money I have, it will never fix it all. Supply it all. Change what needs to be changed. Grow what needs to be grown.
No matter how much I exercise and eat right, this body will still wear out.
No matter how much I laugh, I cannot cure the ills of body and soul.
No matter how much I care, people around me will still hurt.

I am not enough.

And that is a beautiful thing.
A blessing!

These very things – the cracks in my armor, the flaws in me, the failures of my life, the pain that God allows – these are the things that show me clearly and without question that I have a great need.
That I am not enough.
And never will be.

But, while I am not enough, there is something I most definitely am.
I am loved.
By the Great I AM, I am loved.
By the Great I AM, I am favored.
By the Great I AM, I am redeemed.
By the Great I AM, I am forgiven.
By the Great I AM, I am strengthened.
Empowered.
Given wisdom.
Supplied with all I need.
Because He is THE Enough.

And I am loved, not because I am enough.
Because clearly, I am not.
But I am also not loved because I am not enough, like some great pity-motivated project God has taken on.
I am loved simply because HE is enough.
He IS love.
And He chooses love.
He loves me even as He hates my sin.
He loves me when I excel.
And He loves me when I fail.
He loves me when I make Him look good.
And He loves me when I steal His glory for myself.
He loves me when I understand what He is doing and thank Him for it.
And He loves me when I rail against Him with questions, hurts and even accusations.

And that is what is, indeed, enough.
His love is enough.
While I was still a sinner, Christ died.
Before I was born, He knew me.
Before time began, He made a plan for my life.
He called me out of darkness and into the Kingdom of His dear Son.
He calls me Beloved.
Daughter.
And Friend.

He is Enough.
His Grace is Enough.
His Power is Enough.
His Mercies, new every morning, are Enough.
Because He is the Great Enough.

The “I AM” of my life.
My present circumstances.
My future concerns.
The number of my days.
And what fills them.
He is Enough.
Sufficient.
Fulfilling.
Ample.
The God who is able to do – and who, in essence is – “exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all I can ask or think”. (Ephesians 3)

I am not enough.
But thanks be to God!
He Is.

On Fugitives, Lenses, and God…

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He was a fugitive.
Not because he had done anything wrong.
But because the government was run by a madman.
Paranoid, delusional at times, and full of self-importance, the ruler of the land had put a price on his head.
And so he ran.
Desperately, he ran.
First to a neighboring country, an enemy territory.
Things got so shaky there that he pretended to be insane so that they wouldn’t also put a price on his head.
But eventually he convinced them to trust him – and then he steadily and subtly worked against the enemy government, even though he truly was a man without a country.

Word got out about his activities and slowly but surely, other men trickled in.
They were the malcontents.
Unhappy with their lives, they were drawn to him.
And together, they established a rough and tumble life in a foreign land.

Eventually, this band of brothers grew to be 600 men – plus their wives and kids.
They took over a small town.
And continued to pretend to be loyal to the foreign land in which they lived, all the while working against that regime.

Until the day it all fell apart.
While these guerillas were out raiding one enemy, a different enemy found them.
Found their small town.
And destroyed it.
Kidnapped their wives and children.
Took all their possessions.
So that when they returned home, exhausted after their own battles, they faced devastation.
Loss.
Grief.

And the men did what was natural.
They turned on their leader.
They blamed him.
This band of rough and tumble militants suddenly found a new enemy – their leader – and things were about to get ugly.

Their commander could have gotten defensive.
He could have pointed out that he never asked them to join him.
He could have gotten angry and delineated the ways they had failed him.

But he didn’t.
Instead, he turned to the One who had sustained him thus far. The One he trusted completely. He “strengthened himself in the Lord his God”.

I am sure he wondered at God’s plan.
I am sure he doubted along the way.
I am sure he thought he had gotten it all wrong.

Because, after all, he had been chosen to be the next King of Israel when he was just a teenager.
Too young to shave.
The least of the least in his family.
So low on the totem pole that his Dad didn’t even call him in from the fields when the prophet showed up and asked to see his sons.

But that day, Samuel, the last Judge of Israel and God’s spokesman, had chosen David over his older, smarter, more handsome brothers. Said he would be the next King.

And David had seen God do amazing things in the years in between.
Goliath
People singing his praises.
A beautiful wife, the daughter of King Saul.
Life was good.

Until it wasn’t.
King Saul tried to kill him. Repeated over and over again that that was his plan. Sent soldiers to his house to execute him.
And so David ran.
Ran from Saul.
From his army.
Hiding in caves in the wilderness.
Running from his life, for his life.

And then this.
The devastation of his home, the village of Ziklag.
His family kidnapped.
And the only friends he had left turning on him, ready to kill him.

“But David found strength in the Lord his God.” (I Samuel 30)
He focused on God instead of his circumstances.
He consulted the Lord.
And God directed him to his enemies’ location.
David and his men rescued their families.
Took back all their stuff.
And won the day.

David chose.
He chose to not allow his circumstances to define his view of God.
Instead, he flipped that around.
He chose to view his circumstances through the Truth of who God is.
Who He says He is in His Word.

Through the lens of circumstances, David was foolish to trust God.
The promise God had given, that he would be King, seemed to be a pipe dream at best.
But through the lens of God’s Word, His Truth, David rested with confidence in the knowledge that God was in control. Able. And would be his help in time of need. Even as years passed between the promise and the fulfillment.

We know the end of the story.
So it is easy to forget the struggle in the middle.
And that is true of every story in the Bible.
We see the big picture in their lives, the completed tale.
And so it is easy to forget how human they were. How much pain they felt. How scared they were.
Because we know how God came through.
The completed stories of their earthly lives.

But we are in the middle of our stories.
Perhaps in the wilderness.
Falsely accused.
Or facing the loneliest times of our lives.
Failing bodies.
Or failing relationships.
The middle of the crisis, the center of the storm.

And there we have a choice, just as David did.
We can view God through the lens of our circumstances.
Or we can view our circumstances through the lens of God’s Word.
Knowing that the story is not over.
This life is not all there is.
And one day we will see the completed tale.
How will it end? How will we end?
Will we end well?

We can. But only if we choose daily, in every situation, no matter what, to “Trust in and rely confidently on the Lord with all our hearts, not relying our own insight or understanding but instead, in all our ways, knowing and acknowledging Him, trusting Him to make our paths straight and smooth, removing obstacles that block our way.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, AMP)

Which lens will you use today?

A Tale of Three Dads

From left: Carole, Ginger, Jack, Kathy

William Purves.

A hard man.
Forged in a school of hard knocks.
Without Christ.
And with an infinity for getting lost in a bottle. Or a glass.
Glass after glass. Bottle after bottle.

His wife longed for a child.
So he grudgingly gave in.
And she went to the orphanage and asked for the child no one else wanted.
But he made sure that that little boy knew that “Blood is thicker than water.”

Neither William nor his beloved wife, Marley, knew God personally then.
But it was the 40’s.
So a child must be sent to church.

And there, at church, that child, little Jackie, met a heavenly Father.
In sharp contrast to his earthly Dad, this Father wanted him.
Loved him.
Had a plan for his life.
Thought he was worth dying for.

Accepting the love of the Heavenly Father changed the trajectory of the life of my earthly Father, the little boy Jackie, who grew into the man I call Daddy.

And I am so grateful.
Grateful for my earthly Dad who introduced me from birth to my Heavenly Dad.
My imperfect Father who consistently pointed me and my sister to my perfect Father in Heaven.
A man who broke the heritage of addiction and bestowed the legacy of a godly home.

I know I am blessed.
And I know that many of you do not have your earthly Dad.
He left.
He died.
He treated you badly.
Or you never knew him.

So it is hard for you to understand how your Father in heaven feels about you.
It is difficult to accept His unconditional love.
Unfathomable to think that He “rejoices over you with singing” and “daily carries you in His arms.”

But when you cannot imagine that, remember this:
The love you have for the person nearest to your heart is microscopic compared to the love your Heavenly Father has for you.
Take what you feel and multiply it by the largest number you can imagine.
And know that that is your Heavenly Father’s heart for you.

How do I know?
Because that Father sacrificed His Son so that He could have a relationship with you.
He put His beloved child in your place, as a substitute to bear the consequences of your sin.
And then He caused that same child to rise from the dead so that you never have to be alone.
You never have to fear death.
You never have wonder about the extent of His power.
And you never have to guess about His heart for you.

Shortly before he died, William accepted the gift of eternal life offered by His heavenly Father.
I believe he was able to choose that, able to believe that, able to trust that because of the way my Dad treated him.
Where Jackie was offered rejection, he chose to extend love.  Where he was bestowed condemnation, he chose to lavish grace. Where he could have followed William’s lead, he chose instead to follow Yaweh’s instead.

And my life is just one of the results.

Father God, thank You for my earthly Dad. Thank You for the ways he has pointed me to You. And thank You for Your work in his life, your hand on him from birth, through the orphanage and into his difficult home. Thank You for the church that made a difference by sharing Your Word and Your love with that boy. And thank You that my Father is not at all like my Grandfather.

For my friends who are hurting this Father’s Day because of their earthly dads, may You be extraordinarily real to them to day. Close. Comforting. May they know Your presence and Your peace. And may they love as You have loved them. Break the chains in their hearts that were forged by their earthly Dads. And replace them with the healing that only You can bring.

In the name of Jesus, the One who pointed us to You,
Amen

On Dots and Lines…

Image result for point on a line

“Are you living for the dot or the line?”

I first heard that question from my friend Brent. And it challenges me still.

Put on your high school geometry hat for just a moment. The “dot” on a graph or a number line stands for a discrete point. One small blip on the line or the plane. But a line – well, a line is actually infinite. We can’t draw it that way, of course. But one of the things that makes a line a line is that it could stretch on forever and ever.

So in this case, the “dot” is actually a set of dates – the ones that will appear on your epitaph. Born this date, died this date. Our lives are a blip on the screen, a dot on a line, a small piece of a much larger timeline.

And, of course, the “line” is eternity. Infinite. Never-ending. Eternal.

The Bible is very clear that humans, unlike any other part of earth’s creation, are infinite beings. We will all live forever. It is part of what it means to be created in the image of God. Obviously, this body will wear out and eventually disintegrate into dust. But there is a part of every person, what the Bible would call the soul, which will live on into infinity.

The Bible is also very clear that your eternal life will take place in one of two places – or, more accurately, one of two relational positions. Eternal life for the person who says, “I am a sinner in need of a Savior; I believe Jesus died in my place and I want to live for Him” is life with God. Life without pain. Without tears. Without sickness. Without sin. But eternal life for the person who says, “No thanks God, I am putting my trust in (fill in the blank)” is life without God. Eternal separation. Eternal darkness. Eternal pain. Weeping, wailing, teeth-grinding isolation.

So we are all eternal beings. But, for the eternal being who has accepted Christ’s work on the cross, there are still choices to be made in this life. And those choices can be categorized in these two ways: A choice to live for the dot. The here and now. Pleasure. Popularity. People’s opinions. Profit. Political correctness. Or a choice to live for the line. The now AND the not yet. The certainty that the end of this life is the beginning of real life. And the desire to hear God say, “Well done, good and faithful servant” when this body fails and the soul is in His presence.

Living for the dot. Or living for the line.

All this God-stuff is great in theory. But it isn’t until the rubber meets the road on life’s highways that it gets really real. Breaking it down…

Living for the Dot: My Dad’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s, my friend living with MS and my other friend battling cancer are all losers. They have lost out in the great gamble of who gets good health and who doesn’t. Their lives are defined by their diagnoses. The great cosmic question of “fair” vs. “unfair” runs the emotions and in some ways, the entire show. God is bad, unfair, just plain mean. They must desperately grasp all that they can, as quickly as they can, from doctors, technology, and this world.

Living for the Line: They live realizing that those diagnoses are the result of a sinful, fallen world. Each one was sifted through the hand of God before being allowed to touch their lives. In the bad that God has allowed, He is working amazing good in their lives. Using their pain to comfort others. Growing their faith. Making them living testimonies. Knowing and truly believing that this life is not all there is. One day, my Dad will walk beside Jesus, enjoying a whole, healthy body free of tremors, pain and slow deterioration. One day, my friend will not need her scooter, her medication or her doctors. And my other friend will never have to think about another chemo treatment or what the future may hold. All that will be resolved. All that will be healed. All will be made right. And because each of them know that, they radiate hope even as they wrestle with their bodies. They gratefully use the tools God has given to fight the diseases. They ask Him for healing in the here and now. But they put their hope firmly in the “then” and the “not yet”. Living for the line means living with hope even in the midst of the worst circumstances.

Another example:

Living for the Dot: Some of us don’t face life-threatening diseases. Instead, we deal with the physical failings of the body that won’t kill us – they just make us completely miserable. Migraines. Arthritis. Fibromyalgia. Celiac disease and other food sensitivities. The slow and weary grind of chronic pain. If I am living for the dot, these things cause a severe depression. Again, I am a loser in this life. I have three of the four listed above. Pain is my friend. And eating out is always a game of Russian roulette. Nothing in the restaurant will kill me – but most of the menu will make me miserable. So, if I am living the dot, that makes me grumpy at best and seriously depressed at worst.

Living for the Line: If I am living with heaven in mind, then there is hope. Again, this is not the end. One day I will be able to eat that crusty bread dipped in olive oil. One day, I will have an ooey, gooey cinnamon roll with a cup of hot coffee that has real cream in it. Or those things just won’t matter. But one day for sure, I will be able to bend over without pain. One day my knees and my feet won’t betray me. And that day is coming rapidly. Because this life really is a dot! So for now, I will choose health over pleasure. I will choose to treat this failing temple that is my body as well as I possibly can so that I am not derailed from serving. But I will also allow each pain to point me to eternity. To the day when the real, eternal me will be face to face with Jesus – and, as Teresa of Avila said, “In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”

There are so many more examples I could give!

Living for the dot, I will marry the person who makes my body flush with desire, regardless of the state of his soul.
Living for the line, I will marry the man who draws me closer to the One we both love, the man with whom I can best serve. And I will remain single – and pure – until God brings him my way.

Living for the dot, I will be consumed with what I have, the possessions I own, or the state of my accounts.
Living for the line, I will be consumed with the economy of heaven, storing my treasures there by investing my earthly wealth in heavenly things.

Living for the dot, I will allow the craziness of politics, media, and how I feel about all of that to drive my conversations, my social media postings, and my feelings about you.
Living for the line, I will pray for the President and every other leader, regardless of my feelings. I will be obedient to the Word and will respect my leaders simply because God allowed them to be in charge.

And it goes on and on.
Poverty.
How I dress.
What I read.
What I watch.
What I listen to.
World missions.
Who I care about.
How I express that care.
How I spend my time.
How I treat my enemies.

Each day is a choice.
Each moment, really.

My perspective or His?
My word or His Word?
My emotions or His heart?

Dot? Or line?

 

What’s a Girl to Do?

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What’s a girl to do?

Lord, this world is a mess.
Terrorist attacks.
World leaders who cannot agree.
Nuclear threats.
Egos that run the show – from Pennsylvania Avenue. From Hollywood. From Wall Street.
People who are fully devoted followers of anything and anyone but You.

Those who practice Humanism. “We’ve got this. We can do it. We are in control.”
And those who are devoted to Islam. “Allah’s got this. He can take over the world. Death to all who are not his.”
Or perhaps Universalism. “The Universe has this. We have no control because there is none. We are just cogs bumping along without pattern or form. You believe what you believe. I’ll believe what I believe. We’re both right – even when we contradict each other.”
Those who worship nature. The earth. The rocks, trees, water, sky.
And those who worship themselves. My bootstraps. My effort. My world. My kingdom.
Those who claim to not worship anything at all – and end up worshipping something or someone to fill the void in their hearts.

This world is a mess.
They need You.

And yet, those who follow You in other countries are paying the ultimate price for it.
Beheadings.
Jail.
Torture.
Crucifixion.
Rape.
Murder.
Because they choose You.

A world that is lost, dying, and going to hell.

What’s a girl to do?

I can’t change the world.
I am not strong enough.
I am not smart enough.
I do not have enough resources.

So I am inclined to shut down.
Do nothing.
Except shake my head.
And talk about it with my friends.
Offer platitudes.
Or an appropriate meme or two.

What’s a girl to do?

All I can do.
Which is the next thing.
Whatever it is that God puts at hand.
I can be obedient.

I can abide.
Stay connected to The Vine.
In prayer.
In Bible reading.
In studying.
And then in applying what I have learned.

I can live out what I read on those pages.
“Love your enemy.”
“Pray for those who curse you.”
“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
“Love your neighbor as yourself.”
“Forgive as you have been forgiven.”
“Fear God – hold Him in awe and give Him the respect He is due.”
“Guard your heart – and your mouth.”
“Pray.”
“Give thanks in all things.”
“Study to show yourself to be an approved workman for God.”
“Gather together to worship.”
“Pray for those in authority over you.”
“Seek first the Kingdom.”

What’s a girl to do?

The next thing that God puts in my hand to do.
Which could be “big”.
Touching many lives.
Making what the world would call a large impact.

But it could be “small”.
Touching only one life.
Doing something that no one else sees – except the Father.

Like packing a lunch for a little boy, giving him five small barley loaves and two small fish for his meal.
And teaching him to share.
So that, when the followers of the Master ask, “Who here has any food?” it can be offered with willing hands and a willing heart.
And then it can be multiplied in the hands of the Master. Feeding 5,000 men plus the women and children.
A small thing.
The “next thing” on the list for the day of that busy Momma.
“Gave Judah his lunch – check. Now on to bigger, more important things.”
Not realizing that a lunch, faithfully packed by loving hands, can change the world.

What’s a girl to do? What’s a guy to do?
About London.
About poverty.
About abortion.
About ministry needs at my church.
About the homeless.
About racism.
About the hatred that seems to be growing exponentially.
About reaching my neighbor for Jesus.
About reaching the world for Jesus.

What’s a girl – or guy – to do?

Do the next thing.
Whatever it is that God is calling you to do – whether it is “large” or “small” – simply do it.
Do it well.
Do it cheerfully.
Do it as an act of worship.

Because little becomes much in the hands of the Master. And not just in the account of the feeding of the 5,000 in Matthew 14. But in the widow’s oil that got multiplied in 2 Kings 4. Or in David’s slingshot against Goliath in I Samuel 17. In Tabitha’s sewing in Acts 9 that blessed so many. And throughout the Word of God, the principle is the same. Take the little you have. The little you can do. Surrender it to the Master. Apply what you know about Him to your day-to-day life. Be obedient in even the tiniest things – and watch what He can do.

Little becomes much in the hands of the Master.

So Master, this girl doesn’t know what to do about the big stuff out there. And there’s A LOT of big stuff out there.
But I can do the next thing. By Your grace. In Your strength. I will cheerfully do whatever it is You put in my hand to do. Knowing that YOU can change the world. Even with what little I bring.

And THAT’s what a girl – or guy – can do!

 

Live Like You’re Loved

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It keeps following me.

Everywhere I go, it seems to be there.

Out of nowhere, it will start.  Over and over again.

It’s a song.  By a group called “Hawk Nelson” called “Live Like You’re Loved”.  And for months, it has played at random moments from various sources, popping into my day quite unexpectedly.

I have learned that there are no coincidences in the Kingdom of God.  So He has obviously put this song on my repeat on my personal playlist for a reason.   As a result, I have been chewing on this question:

What does it look like to “live like you’re loved”?

I am loved. But let’s be clear what “love” means in this context.  The Greeks had four words for love – the love of family members for each other, the love of friends, sexual or erotic love and the love of God.  That fourth one is the focus for all that follows here. The others are great – but that fourth one, the one the Greeks called “agape” is the game-changer in my life and in yours.  Agape love is who God is – and how He loves.  Me.  You.  It is how He defines love – and Himself – in His Word.  We are His creation, bearing His image.  We are designed to be in relationship with Him.  We have the option of surrendering our lives to His keeping or going our own way.  We have the choice to be saved from our sin and its eternal consequences by trusting that Jesus died in our place on the cross or to say, “No thanks, God, I’ll save myself from myself.”  From this point on, I am speaking only to those who have chosen to be followers of Christ, trusting Him for salvation because they believe He died for them.  These are the only ones among us who can truly “live loved” because they have accepted the gift of that love from arms outstretched and nailed to a cross.

So, with all that in mind, if I am going to “live like I am loved” by God, what will that look like?  Here’s what I have come up with so far:

I am going to walk in confidence, not fear. Not arrogance.  Not pride of self.  But confidence in who I am, as defined by God.  I am a beloved daughter of the King of Kings.  I am not perfect – but I am perfectly loved because that love is not based on my performance, for good of for bad.  God will not love me more today than He did yesterday and He will not love me less if when I do something that hurts His heart.  I will not fear being fully known by Him and I will not (attempt to) hide from Him.  I will not fear offending my Beloved because  I will not fear retribution, retaliation, manipulation or vindictiveness. I will choose to do my best to not offend Him simply because I am His and He is mine.

I am going to believe what the Beloved says about me – for good or bad.  I will believe and act on the Truth that there is now no condemnation for me because I am in Christ Jesus.  I will listen when guilt comes from God – and I will know it is His voice because it will be about my choices, not about me.  God’s voice says, “I love you.  And because I love you, I want what is best for you.  That choice you made (and He will be very specific) was wrong and you need to make it right.”  The voice of the enemy, the “accuser of the brethren” says, “You are defined by that sin.  You are that sin.  You are shameful and need to be ashamed.  You need to hide that past act from others and pull yourself together so you can be loved.” There is a powerful difference between guilt from God and guilt from Satan.  The first needs to be heeded, dealt with and then it will be done – gone as far as the east is from the west.  The second is a noose, a dead-weight, an anchor for my soul, never going away because it is the voice of a liar and the father of lies.

I am going to strive to please the one who loves me, not out of obligation or some hope of attaining more love, but simply because when one is loved well, one loves well in return. I am going to seek the things that make my Beloved happy and choose to do those things, simply because I want to honor His love for me and demonstrate mine in return.  I am going to learn His likes and dislikes by getting to know Him better.  And when I am not sure of what action I should or should not take, I am going to ask Him what He thinks.  I am going to value His opinion over that of any other simply because I am so lavishly loved by Him.

I am going to trust that His motivation behind whatever happens is good and not bad, for me and not against me. Whatever the circumstance is, I am going to trust that He is still in control, still the King of the World, still on His throne.  And even if the event is something the enemy sends and God allows, I am still going to believe His promise to work it together for good in my life.  I am going to choose to trust His heart over what my eyes can see every time. I will not listen to the voice of His enemies or even my own doubts when He is silent.  Instead, I will keep my face turned His way, believing the best about Him, seeking Him and knowing that He will show me sooner or later whatever it is He wants for me out of even these difficult circumstances.

I am going to savor every message, every gift, every reminder that my Beloved is thinking about me. I will take time to read His love letter to me, learning from it and allowing it to correct my thinking, my worldview and my ways.  I am going to see His hand in the beauty around me and not miss the love notes and little gifts that are strewn across every day.  The three cranes I saw flying together on Sunday.  The flowers blooming in my garden.  The hug from a small child.  And laughter with a friend.  Just a few of His good gifts.  I am going to give Him the credit for every “good and perfect gift that comes from the Father of Light.”

I am going to consult my Beloved in everything, leaning into Him at all times, for all things.  The tiny things as well as the huge.  The choices that seem life-changing and the ones that seem meaningless.  I am going to allow Him to make the plan for my day and I will sign off on it before I even know what’s in it.  I am going to view my life with Him as an adventure, no matter where it takes me or what inconveniences happen along the way.  I am going to ask for His help with everything from opening a jar to getting through traffic to giving me the words to say when I write this blog, pick up that phone or teach that lesson.

I am going to shine.  His love is going to rub off on me and leak onto you.  It is going to pour through the conduit of my life and splash out into the lives of others.  It is going to show up in how I treat the waiter, how I wait in a long line at the store, how I drive in traffic, what I post on social media, how I speak about elected officials, what I do about social issues and what I say when we disagree.  It is going to cause me to consider my bank account and all my possessions with eyes seeking to share rather than hoard.  It is going to remind me that I cannot do any of this in and of myself but that I have the same power that raised Jesus from the dead at work in me.  And it is going to cause me to actually believe I have everything I need for life and godliness.   If I will live like I am loved, I am going to shine. With words and without them.  I am going to be loving others until they ask me why.  And I will then be ready to give them the answer for the hope that is in me when they ask.

As the song says,

“So go ahead and live like you’re loved!

It’s okay to act like you’ve been set free

His love has made you more than enough

So go ahead and be who He made you to be

Live like you’re loved!”

And just in case you want to hear the whole thing, here is the link to their official YouTube version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q_r47Xhkf20

Hello! I’m…

Image result for name tag

Let’s say we’ve never met.

How would I introduce myself to you?  Hmmm…

Well, as a functioning member of polite society, I would probably leave it at, “Hi, I’m Kathy.  Nice to meet you.”

But what if someone gave me some sort of societal truth serum?  What if I had to give you descriptors right there in the introduction?  And what if I had no choice but to tell you what I honestly thought at that very moment?

There are days when it would go something like this:

“Hi, I’m Kathy, an overweight 46 (almost 47)-year old spinster with two cats who talks too much and is very loud.”

Other days you might get this:

“Hi, I’m Kathy, Director of Children’s Ministries at South Potomac Church, where I am in charge of all things kid from birth to 5th grade.  I struggle with having enough volunteers, knowing how to handle conflict in a godly way and a feeling of always coming up short in some way.”

Yet another day it may be:

“Hi, I’m Kathy.  I am the youngest of two girls who grew up right here in Maryland in a Christian home.  I have three beautiful nieces, a wonderful older sister, a godly brother-in-law and a Mom and Dad who love God, each other and me.”

Or,

“Hi, I’m Kathy, Ginger’s little sister, who, in contrast to her, has always been the not-quite-as-smart one.  I am no dummy, but my sister is brilliant.  Her vocabulary makes mine look like I am in preschool and her skills in creating things also can’t be beat.  She has a solid marriage and amazing parenting skills.  I want to be just like her when I grow up.”

Defining myself.

Looking in the mirror or at my life, at my roles, my tasks, my responsibilities, my circumstances.

My foibles, flaws and failures.

My struggles.

Perhaps by the words others have said to me. About me.  Behind my back. Or to my face.

Or possibly by my health at the moment. The illnesses I have – and the days that they have me.

Perhaps even my sin. My past mistakes. The consequences of them.

At the very least, my comparison of myself to others.

So, the questions:

Am I more than how I look?  My job?  My relationships?  My history?  My weaknesses?  Even my strengths?

Am I more than the difference between what culture says I should be and what I am?

Are you?

The world answers with a resounding “NO”.  It says, “You are defined by those things.  Your roles, titles, degrees.  Your salary, bank account and investment portfolio.  Your jean’s size and your gene’s outcomes.  Your last review by your boss and the opinion of significant other’s in your life.  How many toys you have and what labels you can afford.  Your pre-existing conditions.  These are the things that make you, you.”

And in that case, I am an utter failure.  Held up to the measuring stick of culture in America today, I fail miserably.  Only one degree.  No husband. No children.  A BMI that is too high and a bank account that is too low.  A dead-end job with no chance of going any higher in the company.  A miserable sinner.

But, oh, thank God!  That is NOT what defines me.  That is NOT where my worth comes from and it is not the Truth of who I am!  No matter how I feel.  No matter what the magazine says.  No matter how someone else chooses to evaluate me or my life.  They are not my Creator, nor are they the King of the World.  Therefore, they do NOT get to define who I am.

Because God, who is my Creator and the King of the World, gets to write the definition.  And here is His version of my most real self-introduction:

“Hi, I’m Kathy, the beloved daughter of the King of the World.  He adopted me into His family after paying an incredibly high ransom for me – the exchange of His Son’s life for mine.  I did nothing to deserve my adoption and am completely flawed in deep and disturbing ways.  Although I am a pauper by birth, I am a Princess now with all the love and power of the King of Kings as my resume.  I am forgiven of every sin, past, present and future.  My Father delights in spending time with me, listening to me as I talk and whispering reassurances of His love to me in a thousand ways every day.  He has designed the perfect tasks for me to do in His Kingdom and has not only prepared them for me to do, but has gone before me to make sure everything is good.  He protects me from my enemies, lifts me up when I am sad, holds me close when I am hurting and rejoices over me with singing all the time.  He loves me just as I am but He also loves me too much to leave me as I am.  Instead, in love He prepares challenges for me to face and obstacles that He will help me overcome.  And even when I face those challenges, He is right beside me, giving me strength and cheering me on.  He is mine; I am His.  And although I am one of billions that He has adopted, He treats me as if I am the only one.  He hears me every time I call.  He comforts me every time I ask.  He fills my life with good things and renews me every day.  I cannot offend Him to the point where He will leave me and I cannot earn His love for me because it is already at its highest capacity.  I am His and He is mine.  Always.”

You know, when that is the True self-introduction of my life, everything else fades away.  All of my comparisons, circumstances and short-comings become very dim in the light of Who He is and who I am in Him.  And no one can separate me from Him. From His love.  And from the Truth of who I really am in Him.

So, here you go:

“Hi. I’m Kathy, daughter of the King of Kings.  Have you met Him?  If not, can I take you to meet Him?  He’s awesome!”