She Believes

Zoe writing

“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1:45

My sister-in-law has a lot going on, as I think most women do. We’re just busy. So busy. We become hurried and rushed and before we know it, we’re covered up by a list of to-do’s that keep us distracted from the things that really matter. Like our kids. For me, it’s the dishes and the laundry and the work emails and the paperwork and the cat boxes and the appointments and the practices and so on and so forth. So much. I scurry here and there and before I know it, it’s bedtime. And that’s when guilt sets in. Because that’s when I have time to contemplate my day and realize I did nothing that I really wanted to do. Like pour myself into my child. Oh, I may have accomplished some things on my to-do list… but what about my child. Did I put any of myself into him before tucking him into his bed?

Rushing. It’s part of a mother’s life. For me… this leads to the wilderness mentality. Some of you may know what I’m talking about. God’s chosen people, the Israelites, wandered in the wilderness forty years. Basically, a desert land. And sadly, just about every one of them died in that desert land for they were unable to enter the land of promise. It was disbelief that kept them out. But two made it. There were who heard what God had to say. And they believed Him. Those two entered into God’s promises, for they believed.

Yep, the wilderness. Too often, this is where I find myself. Because my busyness leads me there. And when my to-do list is not finished by the end of the day, I feel upset. What Jesus said to Martha, He says to me, “Pam, Pam, you’re worried and upset about many things.” It’s no coincidence I read this passage of Scripture on Monday, for it’s a picture of me. No doubt, this week has been busy. So busy. I’ve been so distracted and have accomplished nothing that I really wanted to. You know, the things that really matter. Those items that end up at the bottom of an undone list. Like pouring myself into my child.

The funny thing about the wilderness is, I believe it’s a necessary destination for each of God’s children. The only difference is the duration of the stay. Some may remain there forty years, like God’s chosen people. Or perhaps, some are more spiritually grounded and wander only a short while, like Jesus. He was in the wilderness forty days and nights. Or what about John the Baptist? I can’t be certain, but I believe he was in the wilderness until he was about 29 years old. And it was this John who was chosen by God for a particular task. But he had to be ready. And it was during his wilderness stay that God prepared him for what he was created to do…

And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” Luke 1:76-79

You know, we’re no different than John the Baptist. Like John, God created each one of us for a specific purpose. While we were in our mothers’ womb, He knew what He had in mind for us. But through the course of life, we can become busy. We get off track from His course. And it’s those times we can feel like we’re roaming the wilderness. However, we can still be used by Him. Even when we have dry, parched seasons and we feel that we’re running and running but getting no where, even there… God can use us. Like John, we can be a voice of one crying out. Like John the Baptist, we too, can be heard.

A voice of one crying out: Prepare the way of the LORD in the wilderness; make a straight highway for our God in the desert. Isaiah 40:3

Yep, this week has been busy. My sister-in-law can attest to that. And I’m sure that through her busyness, she’s become dry. I bet she feels like she’s been running and running until she has nothing left to offer. I guarantee you by the end of her day, when all is quiet, she has regret. I’m sure she beats herself up, thinking, “I should have done this…” I know she wonders if she poured enough of herself into her children. And you know what? I think she has. I think God used her even while she trudged through a wilderness land. For she’s the voice of one crying out. Isaiah 53:1 says, “Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the LORD been revealed to?” And I think my niece. For she has heard her mother’s voice. And more importantly, she believes. For my niece’s heart overflowed onto her mirror sometime this past weekend…

Zoe 10-28-13

Oh, the belief of this child! Who has believed what she has heard? She has. And who has the arm of the LORD been revealed to? To her. For she proclaims, “O Lord, how powerful are you! For how beloved I am! My God O mighty is the only one that is on top of all of us! O how I love Him!” You know, Isaiah 40:22 declares, “God is enthroned above the circle of the earth.” The writing on the wall (or mirror) essentially proclaims the same. God’s word is in this child. She is a voice of one crying out. For the One who is worthy of all praise will be praised. If we don’t open our mouths to do so, even the stones will cry out (Luke 19:40). And if we don’t open our mouths, even the children will cry out, for “You have taught children and infants to tell of your strength…” (Psalm 8:2).

Yes, it’s true. Mothers can become overtaken by hectic schedules. And it’s true that we can end up in a desert land. It’s a fact that we sometimes wander through the wilderness because of our overstuffed days… but those times are necessary. It’s a season of preparation. For it’s then that we’re strengthened and we grow. And it’s through our wilderness roaming that we turn to Him.

You know, every day we have a choice. We can be a Martha or a Mary (Luke 10:38-42). And no doubt, we will be both of these women throughout our journey. However, when we find ourselves in the way of Martha, let’s not beat ourselves up. Let’s not wallow in guilt and regret, thinking, “If only I did this…” Because praise God, today’s a new day! Today, may we opt to be like Mary and choose that which is better. For His word won’t be taken from us. And let’s take that which is better, and pour it into our children.

And for those who find themselves in the wilderness today, take heart. He can still use you. Like John, be that one. Be the voice of one crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord…” I guarantee you, there will be someone to listen. And more importantly, there will be someone to believe. Like my niece. She believes.

And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel. Luke 1:80

I am Forgiven


This past weekend was lovely. I gathered with close to thirty women in His name. We laughed. We cried. We shared. We sang. We studied God’s word. And we prayed. Sunday morning we talked about Mary, the mother of Jesus. And as I meditated on her, and thought about Him, my heart was moved. Tears hovered on the edges of my lashes as I gazed at pictures of Him, and for once, I was without words. Afterward, we shared communion. Just us women. And I don’t think communion has ever meant more to me. And I believe that’s because for the very first time, I see myself as I really am. A sinner. And for the very first time, perhaps I really believe it… that I am forgiven.

It was the previous week that God provided a vivid picture of me through my son. He’s been going through a shaky patch, birthed when he began staying after school. And for some odd reason – his faith in me has been shaken. The school actually called one afternoon because my son was in tears, terrified that I would forget him. I was almost speechless. Where in the world did this come from? First, I tried to comfort him. Then, I grilled him. And later, I exhorted him.  But alas, my son remained weepy and attached for weeks. The only thing that consoled him was a note I had written and posted to the refrigerator in full view. It detailed the dates and times and the whens and wheres I would meet my son. This seemed to work.

Finally, when my son’s after school commitment was over, I tossed the note in the trash. I told him we don’t need it anymore. But to my dismay, his little face crumpled up, and tears spurted. He wanted that note back up. But I refused. I sat him on my kitchen counter and peered into his eyes. I cupped his cheek and said, “Don’t you know that your mama won’t forget you? Don’t you know that I’ll always be there to meet you? Don’t you trust me?” And mouth askew, he shook his little tear stained face back and forth to answer. No. And I was stunned for my son told me that he didn’t trust me. And as soon as I helped him off that counter, that little stinker proceeded on his own with paper and marker, and made his own chart for my use. See, my spoken words alone were not enough to boost his faith. He needed written words to give him comfort.


You know… one of the biggest questions that’s plagued me throughout my spiritual journey is, “Where is the love?” If I am really His girl, then why don’t I feel His unconditional love? And if I were truly His daughter, then why don’t I feel love towards every person I come into contact with? Furthermore, why have I held to a judgmental attitude all this time? And the answer to all these questions, I believe, is really quite simple. I think it has everything to do with what my little boy has been going through. For I’ve been lacking what he lacks. And it’s called trust. It’s called faith. Therein lies the real question, “Do I trust Him?”

Then one of the Pharisees invited Him to eat with him. He entered the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  And a woman in the town who was a sinner found out that Jesus was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house. She brought an alabaster jar of fragrant oil and stood behind Him at His feet, weeping, and began to wash His feet with her tears. She wiped His feet with the hair of her head, kissing them and anointing them with the fragrant oil. When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching Him—she’s a sinner!” Jesus replied to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” “Teacher,” he said, “say it.”  

“A creditor had two debtors. One owed 500 denarii, and the other 50. Since they could not pay it back, he graciously forgave them both. So, which of them will love him more?”  Simon answered, “I suppose the one he forgave more.” “You have judged correctly,” He told him. Turning to the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she, with her tears, has washed My feet and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss, but she hasn’t stopped kissing My feet since I came in. You didn’t anoint My head with olive oil, but she has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Those who were at the table with Him began to say among themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” Luke 7:36-50

In truth, I have always more readily identified with the Pharisee in this story. But today… today, I finally see a glimpse of me in this forgiven woman. See, I read something last week. Quite some time ago, I participated in a study called “Forgiven and Set Free,” but I had forgotten what was written… “Still don’t feel forgiven? Then believe it. Just believe it.” Ah. Belief. First comes belief. Simply take Him at His word and trust that I am forgiven. Then comes love… the love that seems to have escaped me. For Jesus said, “…her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much.” That literally means, “Her love shows that she has been forgiven.” Later, Jesus told the woman that her faith has saved her. Her faith. Her trust.

You know, I was horrified when my son told me that he doesn’t trust me. He didn’t have enough faith in me that I would be there to meet him. He thought I would forget him, and so, a few written words on a piece of paper gave him comfort. Those written words increased his faith in me. Just as with me, faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. And don’t you know that just as much as I comforted and grilled and exhorted my son, God does the same thing with me. Every bit as much as I want my son to believe in me, He wants me to believe in Him. He wants me to take His word for it, just as I expect my son to take me at mine.

Oh, what a picture. A sweet little boy sitting on a counter looking into his mama’s eyes. His little heart broken and shaken. He didn’t believe. And then, there’s me. A little girl sitting on a chair, looking into my Father’s eyes. My heart broken and shaken. I spoke words into my son’s heart, and God speaks the same into mine.  All this time, He’s been saying to me… “Don’t you know that I won’t forget you? Don’t you know that I’ll always be there to meet you? Don’t you trust me, Pam? Don’t you believe Me?” For so long, He must have seen me looking back at Him, mouth askew, shaking my tear stained face back and forth in answer. No, God. I don’t believe You.

But today… today, is different. I say, “Yes, Abba. Yes, Daddy, I believe you! I am forgiven.”

And His daughter will walk forth in love. For my love shows that I am forgiven.

“Ah!” His disciples said. “Now You’re speaking plainly and not using any figurative language. Now we know that You know everything and don’t need anyone to question You. By this we believe that You came from God.” Jesus responded to them, “Do you now believe?” John 16:29-31

Wayward Daughter


“All this,” said David, “the Lord made me understand in writing, by His hand upon me, all the works of these plans.”              1 Chronicles 28:19

We’re each one different and He speaks to us in individual ways that we can understand. For me, it’s writing. His hand upon me, opening my eyes to see His words etched out by my own hand. A placement of Scripture here in a notebook, and a timely word from someone there, blending together to produce an awakening in my mind. And then, the ah-ha moment. For I once was blind, but now I see. It’s not for them, it’s for me. I had to see all this. Three years to clarity. Beginning with a journal in the Spring of 2010. At first, sparsely made entries with a timid strokes graced the pages. But over time, blue and black ink markings became more deeply inscribed. Some passages underlined so vehemently, the markings can be felt through to the back of the page. Passion and emotion poured out onto paper.

Then came a blog. So much inside to be released lest I burst into flame! And thousands of words poured forth in such a short time. It’s been seven months now. And over the course of time, I began to ride high. Because God revealed Himself to me. To me. And I gained knowledge. And so, up I traversed. But then I’d fall. Only to get back up, and move onward and upward once again. I climbed higher and higher, and felt better and better about myself.

It was in August when a verse came to me. As I ascended the steps of my church, I thought, “A woman shall encompass a man.” It wasn’t even an hour later that we were directed to Jeremiah 31. The verse I had thought of just that morning stared right back at me from the pages of Scripture. And so, I chalked it up to a God moment. I reveled in the thought that God revealed Himself to me. To me. I felt elated and thought that perhaps He was sending me encouragement in that His eye was directly on me. He could see me. But, now, I don’t think it was encouragement. In fact, I think it was a bit of a chastening. Because had I taken the time to read the verse in its entirety, I would have seen what I should have…

“How long will you go here and there, O faithless daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth– A woman will encompass a man.” Jeremiah 31:22

A God moment, in deed, for He did see me. And He was, in fact, speaking to me. But in the Pharisaical manner I had adopted, I saw only the good. In my arrogant high, I thought God was encouraging me… not chastening me. Furthermore, I neglected to see that He was instructing me in the way I should go through the verse immediately preceding…

Set up road markers for yourself;
establish signposts!
Keep the highway in mind,
the way you have traveled. Jeremiah 31:21

No, Jeremiah 31:21 didn’t mean a thing to me then, for I thought I was going in the right direction. It wasn’t until everything came to a screeching halt that God’s word spoke to me. Because I had stalled out… I was stuck, so to speak and could not move forward despite my best efforts. And it was around this time that I heard in my mind, “Not another step.” But alas, I figured “not another step” simply meant that God was telling me to sit tight until He provided a way for me to move forward. But oddly, deliverance was delayed. And so, I eventually remembered what I was supposed to be doing. Months earlier I knew I was to go through all of my journals, using them to set up markers for myself. This was the way I had been traveling, but eager steps forward slowly halted to a standstill. No further progress had been made. Not until last week, that is. That’s when I finished what I had started so long ago.

And God tied it all together for me this weekend. His hand upon me, a verse on a piece of notebook paper, and a timely message provided for an ah-ha moment. Because as I read about King David’s great sin with Bathsheba, a light was switched on. See, David sinned… but then he seemed to have just carried on with his life. It was some time later that Nathan the prophet came for a visit and told David a vivid story. The story was about a rich man who took something from a poor man and it was the very picture of what David did with Bathsheba. However, David was blind to his part in the story. Instead, he was incensed. He burned with self-righteous anger as he proclaimed, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die!” David was indignant that a man would show no pity and do such a thing. And in the way of a Pharisee, David neglected to see himself in this story.

Do you think David was surprised when Nathan said, “You are the man!” I do. I think David was very surprised. I think that perhaps he had forgotten what he did. I believe that what took place with Bathsheba brought him low (his child died), and he was on his face before God while the child still lived. But then, his life carried on. I feel he may have traversed upward and onward, leaving the past behind. I think that perhaps his great sin diminished in his memory as days and weeks passed by. But, I wonder if David came to a stopping point. I wonder if he arrived at a point in which he could not seem to move forward with God… for how could he with all that lie deep within the recesses of his heart? And so, Nathan arrived with a timely message. Was it when he heard, “You are the man!” that his heart was pierced? Perhaps, this is when David penned Psalm 51… his heartfelt Psalm of confession. For when he saw a picture of himself, he was sorely grieved by his sin and had to confess.

You know, the last blog I typed up just before digging into my past was called “What Remains.” And I felt pretty good about it. I thought I was talking to other people about the divisiveness that stirs amongst God’s people. So high was I that I could not see myself in this piece. In the way of a Pharisee, I could not see that what was written was in itself divisive. Indignantly I sat, pointing a finger through every stroke of the key, judging another soul for a bumper sticker she chose to display. Smugly, I tapped out a message about remaining love, but failed to see that my message was not prompted by love. Instead, it was somewhat divisive and a bit self-righteous. I received a comment on that post, but didn’t approve if for a while. Frankly, I am just not as deep as the commenter, and for the life of me I didn’t know if I fully understood her meaning. I was troubled by it, though… was it an encouragement, or was it a chastening? Today, I lean more towards a kindly rebuke.

See… for me, it’s writing. He speaks to me, His wayward daughter, through His very words placed on notebook paper. A verse here, and a timely word from a person there. And then, the ah-ha moment. The blinders removed, I can see. And today, what I hear is, “You are the woman!” And so, not another step takes on a new meaning. Not another step means no moving forward till I get this one right. Because this one I’ve been carrying for way too long. My heavenly Father has spoken and He says not another step until I can leave this one behind. Once and for all. And with all my heart, I believe this time, I will.

For I believe I can hear Him calling. I think He’s telling me, “Carry on, My wayward daughter…”

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

Out, damned spot!


My husband came home with this bar of soap months ago and I was immediately captivated by what the label promises, for it’s a stain remover. According to the directions, you wet the bar, bring it to a lather, and then rub the soap directly on the stain. After washing, I imagine clothing will come out of the wash as white as snow… all traces of the dirt and the grime gone. And in contemplating this soap’s cleansing power, I’m not surprised that a play I watched (at least twenty-five years ago) surfaces to the forefront of my mind. The venue was Folger Theatre, the play was Shakespeare’s Macbeth, and the line that stuck with a fourteen year old girl… “Out, damned spot!”

Today, I have to wonder if Lady Macbeth would have profited from use of this bar’s cleansing agents. Do you remember her? She was the wife of Macbeth, a brave Scottish general. But unfortunately, Macbeth sought wisdom from three witches. They proclaimed that one day Macbeth would become King of Scotland. And so heady was the revelation, that Macbeth was overtaken by his ambition. His wife, Lady Macbeth, spurred him to action as she exhorted him to make it happen. And so, Macbeth killed King Duncan. He took the throne for himself. And so, naturally, both Macbeth and his wife were overwhelmed by a guilty conscience. Because trickery placed Macbeth in his kingly role, he ended up killing again and again so that he could keep his lofty position. And so, through this dark tragedy, we witness Macbeth and his Lady escalating to the heights of arrogance, falling into the depths of madness, and ultimately, their lives culminated in death.

Lady Macbeth’s sleepwalking scene was a powerful display. See, her guilty conscience plagued her even in sleep, causing her to roam about through the night. The defilement from deep within her bubbled forth as she cried out during slumber… “Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One; two: why, then, ’tis time to do ‘t. Hell is murky! Fie, my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeard? What need we fear who knows it, when none can call our power to account? Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him? The Thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now? What! Will these hands ne’er be clean? Here’s the smell of the blood still; all the perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand. Oh! Oh! Oh!”

No, I don’t believe a bar of soap would have helped Lady Macbeth. For it wasn’t simply the issue of blood on her hands. Because that blood, that damned remaining spot that clung to her, was just a tangible display of what lie deep within. The issue was her heart, for that’s where her demise began. A seed was planted. A seed that promised loftiness and headiness. And as ambition grew, the roots of self-seeking went deeper. And then there was fruit. Lady Macbeth thought her family deserved to be in that role. Her husband was meant to be king and she was meant to be queen. And she was willing to do whatever it took to get there. And roots deeply entrenched in her heart bore the fruit of arrogance. And self-seeking. And lies. And deceit. And trickery. And ultimately, murder, which was conceived in her heart, became her reality. And the guilt consumed her.

No, I am not surprised that Lady Macbeth was brought to mind this morning. Because in reality, my heart bears the image of hers. For hate, which has clung to the outer recesses of my heart is, in truth, no different than murder. In God’s eyes, murder and hate are one and the same. It’s the way of Cain and the way of Esau. It is sin.

Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. Matthew 23:27

Journals. I read through fifteen of them last week and everything is in there. Again, and again, and again I saw the plague of my own heart. And when faced with the evidence (the handwriting on the wall so to speak), I just have to say, “Out, damned spot!” When I see in truth that which has stuck with me for at least three years (and in reality, so much longer), I just have to cry out, “Out, damned spot!” But it’s not Purex soap that will remove that spot. For soap will only clean the outside, making for a pretty appearance. And it appears that I’ve been doing that for so long… cleaning up my outside, with a plastered on smile, but neglecting the weightier, internal matters. I’ve been like a whitewashed tomb, whiting myself. Just like the Pharisees. They washed their hands and their cups, but their insides were black as night. As dark as death. Whitewashed tombs.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Psalm 51:7-12

No more. For I am dog tired and bone weary of the way I have been for so long. And you know what… this time I have hope. Real hope. Because last week was cathartic. It was cleansing. It was purifying. Last week was a time for me to address the real issue. I got down to the heart of the matter, for it’s a matter of the heart. And this morning, I knelt broken before Him. For I know my sin… and I know what I am. I am a sinner. But the hope is… I know who He is. And it is only through Him that I can be made clean. Only through Jesus Christ can I be made as white as snow. Without the soap. Because for the deeper, internal cleansing, we need His blood. His blood washes our hearts. And because of it, we can say, “Out, damned spot!” And with full assurance, we can know that He’ll remove that stain.

“What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely charged.

Do breed unnatural troubles;

infected minds to their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets;

More needs she the divine than the physician.

God, god forgive us all!

Look after her; Remove from her the means of all annoyance, and still keep eyes upon her.”

                                    -Macbeth by William Shakespeare

A Holy Place


Who may ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may stand in His holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who has not set his mind on what is false, and who has not sworn deceitfully. Psalm 24:3-4

I went down South this weekend. There was a ladies’ retreat at Oak Island, NC, and I went there fully expecting to meet God. I had my Bible, pens and notebooks at the ready. One of the notebooks I carried with me is entitled, “God Moments.” The idea for this journal was birthed about eight months ago. The plan was to review every single journal (all 15 of them) looking for those times when God made His presence known in my life. Those times were to be recorded in a special journal, so they wouldn’t get lost amongst my many words. I hoped it to be a faith building exercise. And I can say in truth, that it was. Operation journal review was complete as of this past Thursday, and my God moments notebook has entry after entry. Evidence of an almighty God’s handiwork all along the way.

And so, this weekend I was expectant. I just knew that on the heels of completing this charge (and a charge it was, for I’m certain the idea of journal review came from God), that I would enter His presence in some way over the course of the weekend. And sure enough, He showed up. Friday evening, there was a God moment. And through Saturday, He spoke in other ways. And so, by Saturday evening, my fingers were itching to etch out what I had experienced already. With a little time to spare, I made my way to the water’s edge with all my “God supplies.” Bible – check. Pen – check. Journal – check. God Moments notebook – check. And I settled down on a not so comfortable bench. I buried my head in my notebook, and had the pen ready. But then, I was assaulted. By gnats. More than I could count. They were everywhere alighting on every surface of my exposed skin. I inhaled them as huffed in annoyance! Irritated beyond measure, I thought that I would write in my journal anyway. I was not going to be dissuaded from the task at hand because I was doing a God thing – getting ready to record God moments. I did my best, till a gnat bit my hand. My writing hand. And it stung. That’s when I relented, and gathered my stuff. That’s when I said out loud, “Are you kidding me???” And so, I decided to move on down to another bench.

But then as I walked… I saw. There was the sun. And suddenly, my plan and my written words didn’t seem so important. Because the sun beckoned me. I had witnessed its glorious appearance that morning. I reveled in its warmth upon my skin. But alas, I quickly forgot it was there. Because it’s always there. So regular is the sun’s appearance that I take it for granted. And so, when it appeared to me again that evening, I was somewhat taken aback. Because I saw it anew. I was captivated by its display and a holy hush settled upon me. As the sun slowly sank towards the clouds on the horizon, I felt drawn to it. So I bypassed the benches and looked to an inviting patch of grass. I took off my sandals and sank to the ground. And there, I quietly watched.

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called out to him from the bush, “Moses, Moses!” “Here I am,” he answered. “Do not come closer,” He said. “Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:4-5

I didn’t know it then, but the grass on which I was reclined was holy ground. Because not only was I in the presence of the sun, but I was also in the presence of the Lord. And He, like the sun, is always there. I go to Him in the morning, but then, I quickly forget Him. Because I take Him for granted. I get busy and set on my plans. I get engrossed in my words. But He’s there. He beckons me. He draws me. He vies for my attention. He waits for me to bypass the benches in life, and sit on a patch of earth with Him.


Saturday evening, God’s creation gave witness to His glory. As the sun sank lower and lower, it lit up the water brighter and brighter. Subtle peach turned to brilliant orange vividly contrasted against dark, murky waters. And then, the most astounding thing happened. The calm water began to move. At first, I didn’t know what it was. There was a crash that startled me. And then, water began to roll. Waters billowed and began to heap up faster and faster crashing onto the walls surrounding it. This calm body of water on the sound side of the peninsula moved ferociously, though I couldn’t find a reason for it. Not a boat was in sight, and yet, the waters rolled.

I almost missed it all. I had been on the other side of a house, sitting on a bench with my head down in a notebook. I was completely engrossed in what my plans were, and completely oblivious to what was taking place around me. So intent was I on journaling about God moments, that I almost missed a very real God moment. And so, when I roused from my stupor, my spirit echoed the words of Jacob… “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Genesis 28:16) For God moments abound. And God surrounds. The lesson I learned… open my eyes! Be still and look around. For creation magnifies the glory of the Lord. Had it not been for a swarming mass of gnats on Saturday evening, I would have missed the sunset. Had it not been for the gnats, I would have missed God!

As a side-note, I’d like to mention just before sunset was the only time I encountered gnats throughout the entire weekend. At first, I thought they were sent from the hounds of hell to distract me from my God stuff. But now I see. God sent them. For those pesky creatures moved me from where I sat. They prompted me to move further along and around a corner so I could see better. And when I finally lifted my eyes, I saw what He wanted me to see. I saw Him.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky proclaims the work of His hands. Day after day they pour out speech; night after night they communicate knowledge. There is no speech; there are no words; their voice is not heard. Their message has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens He has pitched a tent for the sun. It is like a groom coming from the bridal chamber; it rejoices like an athlete running a course. It rises from one end of the heavens and circles to their other end; nothing is hidden from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6

What remains?

bumper sticker

A few weeks ago, a couple of bumper stickers caught my attention. And I was disturbed. One, I didn’t agree with what was written. But more than that, I felt provoked. Because these were displayed on the window of the left side of the car. They were strategically placed so that when I turned to the right, there they were, staring right back at me. To me, it felt as if the driver was saying, “In your face!” And her messages… “Don’t believe in God? Join the club,” and “Good without God.” And so, as I sat there, I felt my anger rise. But not because of her belief – or unbelief – rather, because I felt attacked by the placement of those stickers. Because of their prominent position, I felt like the driver drew the line in the sand. To me, she came across as divisive and offensive. Simply put, I felt hate and not love. And when you stop and think about it, isn’t that what a lot of bumper stickers promote? Divisiveness and hate.

I have to admit, though, one sticker gave me cause to pause. The slogan Good without God settled on my heart for a week or two. Because in reality, there is good out there. And not just by Christians. Atheists and people of every religion do good things. So what about that, I wondered. That’s when I came across a letter written to the church of Sardis.

“I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God. Remember therefore what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent.”  Revelation 3:1-3

This is a letter written to Christians… believers in the message of the Gospel. And oddly enough, I believe they were practicing just what that bumper sticker proudly declared… Good without God. And so, today, I have to question myself and my actions. See, it’s a fact that I can do good things. And not just me, but every other being on the planet can do good things. However, personally, I just have to ask, “If God isn’t in it, then should I be doing it?” And what is God? God is love (1 John 4:8). In essence, if what I’m doing is not motivated by love (or God), then is it a God thing? If love (or God) isn’t driving me, then perhaps what I’m doing is no different than the empty works performed by the church of Sardis. Basically, if I find myself mindlessly doing things for God, but love is absent, then they’re incomplete.

Jesus said to “strengthen what remains,” and to “remember therefore what you have received.” And so, I remember… I received His word (James 1:21). And it’s the very words given to me that remain, for God says, “The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever!” Isaiah 40:8. God’s word remains. His word is what lasts. And what does His everlasting word tell me, but…

Love never ends.
But as for prophecies,
they will come to an end;
as for languages, they will cease;
as for knowledge, it will come to an end.
 For we know in part,
and we prophesy in part.
 But when the perfect comes,
the partial will come to an end. 1 Corinthians 13:8-10

Works without love are incomplete… fragmented… partial. Like a bumper sticker placed on a window to provoke rather than uplift. Works without love can so easily fall apart. But, love is the bond of perfection which holds these deeds together. Love is constant and never fails. And as I sit here and contemplate the truth about God & me, I think it’s pretty clear what I lack. I’m pretty sure love has been absent from my life as evidenced by the bad feelings I harbor towards a complete stranger who was simply exercising her freedom of speech. She’s the very one I should love. And on top of that, I see that some of the works I have accomplished in my own strength – devoid of love (or God) – are empty and incomplete in His eyes. These loveless works of mine will not remain.

You know… the church at Sardis had a reputation for being alive. From the outside, they looked good because they were doing good things. But Jesus said they were dead. Incomplete. And you know what I think? I think love was missing. I think that perhaps they were very busy people, but their works were futile. I think they were simply doing good without God. And I don’t want that. I want what I do here to matter… to remain. And so, clearly, love (or God) is what’s required to bring the work to completion. I believe there cannot be any lasting work… without God. There can be no true good that remains… without God.

As for me… I’m waiting for “the perfect to come.” And the good news is, He already has. His name was Jesus, and He was perfect. Through Him the law was fulfilled… completed. Because of Him, there’s really only one thing we need to do… love. We love God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might. How do we know we love Him? We follow His commands. And what is His command? That we love our neighbor as ourselves (John 13:34-35). That we serve one another through love (Galatians 5:13-14). That we exercise our faith through love (Galatians 5:6). That we walk in love (Ephesians 5:1-2).

Oh, yes. We’re to serve Him and to have faith in Him and to walk with Him. But in love and through love. For it’s love that completes and fulfills and remains. And God is love. And it’s the One who remains that tells us to love. And we can do so because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).

And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in Him. In this, love is perfected in us…” 1 John 4:16-17