Tuesday, May 31, 2011

One Answer

It's impossible to overstate how unqualified I am for the job of advising other people how to live their lives. Or how to deal with massive pain. Or how to recover from the unthinkable. And yet, quite often I am asked to lend an ear and an opinion on issues beyond my experience and knowledge.

Today, for instance, I had two meetings scheduled with different women who just wanted to share with me what they are going through. On one specific day, two different women had chosen me to confide in, to seek advice from, hoping I would have some insight for them.

When people make appointments like this -- I mean, when they actually call or email and get out calendars and schedule a meeting-- I feel like it's a big deal, and I know that I'm really going to need God to give me wisdom because I could easily say what they want to hear or what sounds good to me instead of what may be difficult but necessary. I also know how limited I am in my own understanding.

So I pray about meetings like this, and I let God know that I am listening for His leading. I ask Him to help me express His truth, His grace, His love, His forgiveness, His mercy.

Today, it turned out that both women needed the same message I need: to live loved.

Human nature is to try and earn God's love when we already have it! We set ourselves up for a never-ending race up the down escalator by thinking that our good behavior is what God is interested in. After all, isn't that what the 10 Commandments are about? Doesn't God hate our sin? If He hates it when I sin, then isn't He truly disgusted with me about 70% of the time? Doesn't He want me to get my act together so He can be proud of me? If I try harder, if I work on myself, if I break those bad habits, if I stick to the program... if I, if I, if I...

And when I fail, I'm so ashamed. And I do what we've done from the beginning: I hide. I retreat. I shake my head in disgust. And after awhile, it seems useless to try for the millionth time. Right? Are you feeling me??

What if our hearts could grasp the notion that we are already loved as fully and completely as any human being can be loved? What if we could transfer this "head knowledge" down deep into our souls? What if we reminded ourselves every morning that no matter what happens to us on this day, we are truly and deeply loved- that God is committed to loving us as much as He possibly can?

This is the TRUTH, friends! Instead of focusing on changing our behavior, let's allow Him to fill us up with the fact that He created us to LIVE LOVED! As we let the Truth of God's love deep down into our souls, our behavior will naturally change.

And we will serve God out of gratitude instead of fear.

And we will have what Jesus calls "abundant life- life to the full!"

Don't ignore sin in your life. Confess it. Renounce it. But don't make getting rid of sin the focus of what is supposed to be a love relationship with Jesus. Love beats sin every time.

Let's learn to live... loved.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It Started with a Glance

It started with a glance,
a knowing smile,
eyes that locked two seconds too long.


It ended with a family's lives shattered: a woman shaken to her core, children grieving their father's betrayal.

The latest news from the world of entertainment chronicles the story's development. The other woman a trusted employee. A secret love child. Years of deception.

Today at the grocery store, the checker greeted me with, "Hey, what do you think about Arnold?"

Wow. My overwhelming emotion as I hear more and more about this story is one of profound sadness. Because, you know what?

He didn't set out to lose his wife.
He didn't set out to cause his own children the deepest wound they'd yet received.
He didn't set out to become a joke.

It all started with just one glance. Because that's how sin is. It's attractive. It's alluring. It seems harmless enough. It makes promise after promise, and keeps stringing us along until suddenly we're trapped in a sticky web of lies and consequences. And then we owe a debt we can't pay. There's no way to retrace our steps, or find the "undo" button.

It's done. We're in.
And we can't get out.

So we hide. And we get by. And we almost forget from time to time until something happens months or years later to shake us awake. If and when we face the music, we realize that our secret decisions, our personal choices haven't just hurt us - they've hurt those we love the most. In our quest to build something just for ourselves, we have destroyed something infinitely more valuable.

We have every right to be disgusted with our former governor. His choices were despicable. His deeds, completely and utterly self-centered.

But let's also remember, it all started with a glance.

What have you been glancing at lately?