Jesus didn’t have a senior superlative

…Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:24

It’s cyclical with me. Spring is my season of rejection and I feel it acutely. Piercingly. A sense of loneliness and abandonment fueled by underlying feelings of unwantedness. And underneath it all, there’s a hint of betrayal. Invariably, these notions plague me when flowers begin to bloom and trees begin to leaf.

At Springtime.

This year, the feelings began circling towards the end of March. And by the first of April, the darkest of thoughts eclipsed all sound judgment and mind.

Quite aptly, it was April Fool’s Day and no doubt, I was a real April fool.

The unwanted feelings peaked as I unpacked umpteen boxes that had been stored for nearly two years. That’s when I unearthed a journal dated 1989. I was sixteen and what struck me is my present-day mindset uncannily echoed that of the younger me. At least it did that particular day…

As I said, these feelings are cyclical. Seasonal.

And Spring happens to be my time…

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So from now on we regard no one from a human point of view (according to worldly standards and values). 2 Corinthians 5:16

Words penned thirty-one years ago were full of self-loathing. And strangely, despite how far God has brought me, a similar refrain thrummed through my heart and mind last week. The unending chorus wore me down…

“You’re not wise, you’re foolish. Not strong, weak. You’re dull and boring. You’re insignificant, overlooked, and less than everyone else. Second choice by far, unloved, and nothing at all.”

Believe me. I know how silly this is. And immature. And in the throes of Corona Virus, I debated sharing at all. How petty compared to the worldwide crisis. And yet, perhaps my faulty thinking was a by-product of this shelter-in-place. At home with nowhere to go, inward eyes and too much self-focus can be a slippery slope.

I’m too embarrassed to mention what led to last week’s line of thinking. However, that’s where I ended up on April 1, 2020. A full-blown pity party for one all because I allowed myself to entertain a sixteen-year-old mindset. The same outlook (and inlook) I housed a number of Springs in which my heart sustained directed hurts I never really forgot.

As I said, the balmy months are my time. 

And because I wallowed in cyclical feelings of lowness, I wasn’t inspired to make dinner. Instead, I asked Jason to bring home take-out and I’m so glad I did. Because God used a Chinese fortune to snap me out of my momentary lapse of reason.

And by the time April 2 dawned, I was ready to shut down the self-pitying thoughts I’d nursed the day before.

The very good news is this year, my “season” lasted the shortest of whiles. And with each passing year, I find there’s more progress. Better yet, I suspect in a year or two, these seasonal feelings of mine may pass me by altogether.

In fact, I’m sure of it.

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Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise.  For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. 1 Corinthians 3:18-19

If Spring is a season of sadness, what I know now is March is my time of “coming out.” Multiple occasions this past decade, I sensed God’s leading to sit still or come out of activity (and out of view) during the third month.

And I’ve tried. Halted my doings for a short while only to go back to what I’d been doing before, and all the more. But I really thought this year would be different. Believed I’d learned all my lessons and that there would be no stopping me in 2020.

But then COVID-19 happened. And is happening.

And because this virus has shut down nearly everyone and everything, I find I’m obeying God’s cyclical command to “come out” in March without meaning to. In a sense, my hand’s been forced…

to stop.

Like many, I’m shut-in and life has drastically changed. No doubt, this sickness terrorizing the land has interrupted many a plan, including mine. But you know, I’m thankful for the pause. No, not thankful for the disease, mind you. I wish it had never come. But in the midst of madness, I find gratitude for the delay has changed my focus.

See, I was on a set course in February, eyes locked onto one thing. And with schools closing, that one thing went out the window. Way out. But then it was like a lightbulb came on. Illumination allowed me to recall the very few goals I set at the New Year. One or two things well, most specifically, my children.

Yet, in the midst of my plan, I had forgotten they were the plan. My kids. But COVID-19 helped me remember. How could I not because they were looking to me every, single day for guidance.

Thus, I formed a daily schedule. In setting up morning time for God and prayer, I remembered a binder I put together months before. It contains focus words for Levi, one per month.

Needless to say, none had been contemplated. Not one. Instead, the notebook sat dusty on a shelf. But the new shut-in itinerary compelled me to resurrect it from the ashes and I thought we’d go in order. However, in a roundabout way, we landed half-way through the book. Wisdom is where God planted us…

I thought it was all about my son. Alas, due to recent childish actions, I quickly understood God’s word choice had more to do with me than Levi. And that’s why the Chinese fortune resonated.

Because it speaks of wisdom. Or lack thereof. And that little piece of paper brought to mind one of the most comforting passages of Scripture I ever read. One I tucked away in my heart many years back.

Through it, God soothed my soul anew. But mostly, He snapped me out of my foolishness.

Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead, God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful. God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important. As a result, no one can ever boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29

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I studied Genesis 3 yesterday morning. I contemplated how the serpent deceived Eve when he told her, “You will be like God.” This statement caused the first woman to look harder at a tree she’d been commanded not to partake of. And because she realized the fruit could make her wise, she gave in to the temptation and scarfed it down.

In studying, I found a nugget of truth hidden within the definition of God. The devil said she could be like Him, so the word means just that – the Supreme God. But also, it can mean rulers, judges, divine ones, gods, and goddesses. Perhaps this was part of the temptation.

But most intriguing, I find this particular word can be used as a superlative, passages describing things to be great, mighty or exceeding.

Superlative stood out because in recent unpacking, I came across my keepsake box. Letters and pictures and yearbooks and such. I thought about how I didn’t receive a senior superlative. Oh, I’m not the only one and I know it’s not important. Not really. But at eighteen, it sure felt that way. Especially because our graduating class was so small. 63, I think.

Anyway, superlative means the highest quality or degree. It means surpassing all others. And perhaps that’s what stung so when I was young. I didn’t surpass anyone in anything. At least not in anyone’s eyes. And maybe that’s what can sting a bit now…

I can’t help but wonder if this was the first true temptation for the first true woman. And surely it’s tempted millions and millions who’ve followed her. I know it’s what tempts me…

Yes, I’m convinced the devil deluded Eve by enticing her to be more. That fruit could make her great and mighty and exceeding, surpassing all others. And when you get down to the meat of it, the implication is that you should be more than you are. That’s what the devil was really saying…

In a sense, he proclaimed Eve to be less than in telling her she could be more than. It was a lie used in the garden, a deception that’s endured through the ages, and what he continues to use today.

The fruit still dangles.

“You should be more,” he whispers. However, today’s tempting fruit doesn’t promise wisdom. Quite the opposite, really. And this particular temptation made me an April Fool last week. 

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We do not have the audacity to put ourselves in the same class or compare ourselves with some who (supply testimonials to) commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they lack wisdom and behave like fools. 2 Corinthians 10:12

I fell for it last week. The serpent beguiled me. Fooled me into the comparison trap. And like Eve who covered up her nakedness, I felt like doing the same. Wanted to cover up everything I disdained about me…

But that’s when I remembered the most beautiful lesson from Genesis 3. See, Adam and Eve hid away after sampling forbidden fruit. They didn’t want God to see them. And though they were ultimately banished from the garden, there’s tenderness in God’s question…

He asked, “Who told you you were naked?”

You know, I think He asks the same today. We can fill in the blank. “Who told you you were __________.” We all have a word we can put in there, my list consisting of everything I mentioned at the beginning of this post.

As to who told me? Well, it was the world. The world told me all the days of my life I wasn’t enough. And if I let it, it still speaks loudly.

It began when I was small. “So and so can do that but you can’t.” Or, “Just because your best friends are popular that doesn’t mean you are.” I can still see her little eyes boring into mine.

That’s where it began. The world entered and I heard every shout. “Pam can’t and Pam’s not.” Negative statement layered upon negative statement. And there were good things, too. Only, the bad far outweighed anything good I ever heard.

Five years back, this all came to the surface. Back then, I didn’t even know it was in me. But March came about and it was like Jesus said, “Come out!” I heard Him in a dream. The only problem is I misunderstood. He meant to come out of everything (activity, view, my head, the world), but I went all the way in. And within months, everything inside came spewing out. A journal entry said it all…

“I hate me.”

And I did. Oh, I despised me. It was July 2015. When I told my mother-in-law, she said I should ask forgiveness. At the time, I didn’t understand. But today, I do. I get it now. Because in hating me, I hated God’s creation. In rejecting me, I rejected His plan for me.

But more, what I’ve come to comprehend in recent days is that hating me is no different than hating Jesus. Because everything I ever disliked about me happens to be some of His qualities…

What I hated about me, and what I’m still tempted to hate, is what the world hated in Him first.

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For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written: “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

1 Corinthians 1:18-19

I already gave you my list.  I always felt second. Less than my peers. But when all those feelings are stripped away, I find the very way God crafted me contributes to those lowly feelings.

Because I’m quiet by nature. Deep down, I’m really quite reserved. Submissive and mild mannered. That’s the real me. But most of my adult life, I tried to be other than that. More than how God designed me.

See, the world just doesn’t seem to admire reserved. And meek people often come across as weak people, going unnoticed. This is what I hated about me for so many years.

Today, though, I know the disdained attributes are those that make me most like Christ. And if I hate them in me, that means I hate them in Him. In rejecting what I dislike about me, I end up rejecting Him,  making the words of Isaiah ring true in my life today.

And for this, I ask forgiveness…

He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
    nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
    a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
    he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Isaiah 53:2-3

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God comforts me with 1 Corinthians 1:26-29. And within, I find the similarity to Isaiah 53:2-3. Most particularly, I note that God chooses things despised by the world. Things considered worthless. Because that’s exactly what Jesus was deemed.

And though He was God in human form, the devil came to Jesus just like he appeared to Eve. Yes, Jesus was tempted just as we are.

I can’t help but wonder if it was Spring with Him, too. And I speculate about Jesus’ fill in the blank list, if He had one. Because the world told Him He was a liar. It accused Him of having a demon, of being a foreigner, a drunkard and crazy. The world said, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”

No doubt, the world had a low opinion of this Man who was God’s chosen. And I can’t help but think if Nazareth High had a Senior Superlative page, Jesus wouldn’t have made it to the list. He just wasn’t all that impressive. Not to the world, He wasn’t.

Because this God-Man was humble and submissive, gentle and mild. He came to serve and not be served and the world hated Him for it. Because the world esteems otherwise. The world looks up to rulers and leaders and gods and goddesses. The formula’s just different.

At the heart of it, the world seeks to be God-like, not Christ-like. This is the tempation the devil dangled before Eve, before Jesus and what He still puts before our eyes.

I know this to be true because it tempts me. I want to have a superlative ascribed to me, too. Deep down, I want to be surpassing and great and mighty. Because the world loves all that…

Thus, Jesus cautions. He warns us. He tells us that if the world hates us, and it does, to remember it hated Him first.

But who in the world wants to be hated.

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You didn’t choose me. I chose you. John 15:16

On the mount of transfiguration, God had something to say about the One the world rejected. He said, “This is My Son whom I have chosen. Listen to Him!”

And that’s what I’m really trying to do. Because for too long, I listened to the wrong people. The ones who spoke loudest and usually, it was the world. But Jesus is different. He doesn’t raise His voice and isn’t pushy. He won’t force Himself on us.

And so last week, I had to decide which voices I’d allow into my shut-in state. And I think I chose wisely because I chose to shut up the world. More, I also shut me up and finally, I could hear what Jesus had to say.

The first had to do with being hated. The definition means to “love less,” and oh, how that causes an inward groan. Because this is the deepest of wounds, feeling less loved. Loveless…

Unloved.

But Jesus also had something to say about love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Greater means stronger or more and this is what He’s been trying to tell me for so long.

This is the reason He’s been calling me out and calling me out, March after March. For my protection. He knew April and May loomed and He knew my vulnerability. Thus, He wanted me to know how He feels about me…

Indeed, I’ve suffered some hurts and rejections. And I may sustain a few more before my days are done. However, when those times come, from here on out I can stand on truth. His.

And I can remember this particular Spring, a season in which His voice overrode all others. A time comprehension dawned and I just knew…

See, the world may love me less, but Jesus loves me more.

And if there were a yearbook for forty-seven-year olds, you’d find me on the superlative page. Yes, you’d find my name beside, “most likely to be loved.”

Because that’s what I am.

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“It is finished.” John 19:30

This Spring’s been pretty significant. We finished our basement project, unloaded a building full of boxes, and this past Saturday, our final home improvement project was completed.

It was finished…

This coincided with my season, the balmy months being my time. A cyclical sadness. But you know, it doesn’t have to be that way anymore. Because cycles are made to be broken. And I’m optimistic this year’s different…

Deep in my core, I believe it. And I think the morel mushrooms my hubby found this past weekend are symbolic of April 2020.

See, Spring is also the time of Easter. A cyclical time for miracles and I believe one happened this year. The shelter-in-place lended itself to the process and because of it, I see the meaning of the day then, and the significance of it now. 

He faced such accusations before the cross. The world said Jesus did this and that… He was this and wasn’t that. And after dying on a cross, He was placed in an inky tomb. But what transpired was miraculous. The tomb became a womb, giving way to resurrected life. He came out fully alive.

Being shut in at home can be like that for me, too. I went in one way but can come out different on the other side. And I think I will. God help me, when all this is over, to be wiser.

Because I went in foolishly. I listened to the accusations and believed them. Pam can’t and isn’t. And if I chose to live worldly, those statements just might be true.

In following Jesus’ pattern, though, I decide to live other-worldly. I despise the shame, paying little attention to cyclical thoughts. Instead, I bury them in the blackness of my tomb.

Oh, death, where is thy sting?

By putting a sixteen-year-old mindset and worldly thoughts to death, I find the tomb gives way to a womb-like environment. And here, I find such tenderness. Such love. And within, I come fully alive. Resurrected life.

It’s why He gave His Son to begin with. For God so loved the world, He provided a cross, and whosoever shall believe will have everlasting life. New life…

Yes, at the cross, I know I am loved. Thus, at a cross which is foolishness to the world, I become a fool for Him. Because I chose to no longer believe as the world does. Instead, I believe like Him.

And I know the danger. The world may hate me and think me a fool. But you know, this is the kind of April Fool I want to be.

And that makes me so wise…

We are fools for Christ… 1 Corinthians 4:10

Helped

I have to go there. To the petty. Because all to often, I find myself residing there. In a place called pettiness. My husband can attest to that fact, too. He even voiced it a few days back, “Pam, it was petty then and it’s still petty.”

And he was right. I was in a stew over something trivial and it assuredly was not worth the space it occupied in my brain.

And so, I’m letting that one go…

But other things are not so easy to release. Other issues can be so deeply ingrained, they become a part of who you are. It’s what happened with me long, long ago. And it’s the thing my God is helping me overcome even now. As I type out these words…

He helps me.

He comforts and encourages me.

When I find myself unable to comfort and help myself, He does what I cannot.

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7

Susan (my mother-in-law) said the above was her prayer for me. I didn’t like it. I wanted her to pray something else… like for God to give me the desires of my heart. Something along those lines. Instead, these were the words she lifted up to God.

For me.

When I asked her why, she couldn’t say. Today, though, I know exactly why the Spirit prompted her in that direction. Because this verse depicted me. In truth, I did not trust God. In Pam I trust could have been my motto for I trusted in what I considered my strengths (which is what horses and chariots represented). I depended on what I could bring to the table and the people that surrounded me.

These are the things that made me feel secure. These are the things in which I stood.

Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help,
    who rely on horses,
who trust in the multitude of their chariots
    and in the great strength of their horsemen,
but do not look to the Holy One of Israel,
    or seek help from the Lord. Isaiah 31:1

I’m going to get really honest here. It’ll show whoever chooses to read this just how petty I can be. But in order to get to the good part, I have to go here first. To the heart of my pettiness. Here goes…

I hate Facebook. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. Because it has the power to bring me as low as I can be. That’s because I’m a weak woman. As weak as weak can be. And truth is, I have lived most of my adult life in a state of insecurity. When I first began writing and opened Facebook, I didn’t know that. But as time wore on, it became increasingly clear.

See, what I know today is that stats and comments and likes and loves have served as my horses and chariots. Numbers were the source of my strength. They made me feel secure. And when I first began writing and Facebooking, things were pretty good. All the numbers were good. High. I felt the love, thus I was secure in my standing.

But over time, numbers began to fall. Likes and comments ebbed and when they did, my security waned. Throw in a few pictures of some of your pals hanging out (sans you) and you’ll really stumble.

And so, this has been my experience with Facebook. For some, it’s a great tool. A wonderful way to reach out and connect. For me, it can cause me great angst and loneliness.

I told you… it was petty.

Oh, I am petty.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Funny thing, God placed a desire inside me. Seems I want to help women. I want to go deep and connect spiritually. I crave community and friendship and long talks about things other than the weather. It’s what I set out to do when I came back home.

I became so busy trying to “help” women.

All the while, the pettiness was just below the surface. It was there the whole time I facilitated Bible studies and wrote stories and hosted an event or two. And it was there this past Summer when I planned to do “Helped,” an event for women.

But that’s when God finally got my attention. It was through the above verses, which happened to be the inspiration for helped. I seriously asked myself, “How has God comforted me?” Because I wanted to use that in helping others.

My revelation?

I hadn’t been helped. Not in the way I needed to be. And that’s when God said “STOP!” Everything. No more studies, no more activities, no more empty works. Not until I was still enough to receive the help He wanted to provide.

While we were still helpless [powerless to provide for our salvation], at the right time Christ died [as a substitute] for the ungodly. Romans 5:6

I realized I possessed a broken heart. It had been broken for most of my life, actually. And it was this broken heart that colored everything I did. It was the cause of my insecurity. It’s the thing that made me to be uncertain in my standing with people.

After much looking back, I know there are many factors that went into the breaking. However, one incident in particular was really piercing. It happened when I was seventeen.

My boyfriend had just dumped me. And that hurt. But what really hurt was my best friend left me home alone that weekend. The one who was supposed to love me the most did not show me love when I needed it. Instead, she spent the whole weekend with her previous best friend who’d come to visit. My friend didn’t even call to check on me. And though we had a standing “date,” spending ever single weekend together, this particular time, we did not.

It was her choice, not mine.

The message I received? I was not preferred. I was not wanted. I was second choice. I was not fun. I had nothing to bring to the table. Even my very best friend wanted to spend time with someone other than me.

Petty? Maybe. But I was devastated and suffered my first real depression that year. Weeks and weeks of lowness because I felt so undesirable.

And it’s this sense of rejection that has spurred me on at times. It’s driven me to do more and be more because maybe if I were fun enough, or funny enough, or smart enough, or deep enough, someone would prefer me. I’d be someone’s first choice.

Then, there’s Facebook. And if anything can open an unhealed wound like a broken heart, it can. It’s what it did to me…

Then the Lord said, “Behold, there is a place beside Me, and you shall stand there on the rock… Exodus 33:21

I mentioned God is helping me. This past month has been quite amazing, actually. Started when I had a dream one night. Over and over, I heard Him calling me: “Draw near. Draw near. Draw near.” I’d wake and go back to sleep, each time hearing those words.

Later, circumstances revealed to me God was pulling me in for an embrace. My Lord was hugging me.

And then, when I was reminded of my wound of rejection, He brought me back to 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. The inspiration for helped. I learned that the word “comfort” means to call near, to invite, to call for, desire. And to my soul, I know God was comforting me.

See, the world may not draw me near. And Facebook (at times) may paint a picture that says I’m not wanted or received. And I may feel slighted or ignored a time or two by someone I prefer. Loneliness may pervade my spirit. But God tells me through these verses I am desired. And He invites me into His world. And though I may not get a phone call from someone I want to hear from, He calls for me.

He calls me near.

Let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. Hebrews 10:22

I love to read different versions of Scripture. Some read, “let us approach,” and others, “let us draw near.” Whatever version you choose, though, it’s all the same. We are all welcome in His presence. We are all able to draw near to God. He invites us to.

This is what God has done for me this past month. It’s how He’s helping me. He assures me I can boldly approach Him whenever I want. And I never have to wonder if He wants me around because He does. Moreover, my standing is secure with Him.

I am secure in Him.

Exodus 33:21 assures me of my security. Though that verse has always been meaningful to me in passing years, this week I realized there’s a treasure in that word place. Because it means “a standing.” And this is where I’ve stumbled so often.

I’ve never, ever been secure in my standing with people. It’s that old wound that causes me to doubt myself and others. It goes all the way back to the time I was seventeen…

Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Romans 5:2

You know, today is Good Friday. Today is the day we remember how our Jesus entered the tomb. And in remembering that, let us go back to why He had to do it.

It kind of goes to that trust issue… trusting in horses and chariots. Because before the Messiah came, people trusted in the law. They trusted in the tabernacle and then the temple. They trusted in their works and what they could bring to the table. This is what made their standing in God secure.

Adherence to the law.

Even then, only a select few could approach Him. There was an ark in the Holy of Holies hidden by a veil. Only the priests could draw near to the ark where the presence of God was.

But then, Jesus died on a cross. And when it was finished, the veil in the temple was ripped asunder. The picture? We have full access to the throne of God. Because of Jesus, we can draw near to God. Boldness to approach…

And we are secure in our standing with God because we stand on a rock. The Rock. We trust in what He did. Simply, we trust in Him.

And there’s nothing petty about that.

As to the petty, though, the place I often reside…

God calls me to leave that locale behind. The land of insecurity and doubt and broken-heartedness is no place for His daughter. He calls to me and says, “Leave it, child, and come.” He says, “Here is a place near me. Stand beside me.”

And this is not just for me. He calls out the same to each of us.

And I can attest to the truth. In standing there, beside Him, I find the help I’ve been seeking and striving for. I find the security I’ve been hoping to find through Facebook and activities.

So rather than trusting in chariots and horses a/k/a stats, comments, and likes from here on out, instead, I choose to trust Him.

I trust in the name of the Lord my God.

And this is how I am helped…

This is how God helps me.

 

Like a Lamb

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My son, do not take the Lord’s discipline lightly, or faint when you are reproved by Him; for the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and punishes every son whom He receives. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. Hebrews 12:5-6,11

I had a dream the other night. It was as if I could hear God say, “Come out!” And I’ve been mulling over that command… come out. What could He mean? Of course writing is the first thing that comes to mind because I decided to put it aside a mere twenty-two days ago. Oh, I had good reasons. The blog became too big for me. All consuming. Everything else was taking a back-seat. Namely, my household responsibilities. And more importantly, the issue of disciplining my child. Or shall I say lack of discipline. My firstborn. That’s when I felt a bit of discipline myself at the hand of my Heavenly Father. My journal proof of the errant child I was by my jotting down, “I feel grounded.” And perhaps that’s just what He did. Grounded me. God put me in time-out. A little sit down till I could regain perspective. And so, maybe, just maybe… my time is at hand. Because I heard Him clearly the other night. My Father said, “Come out!”

Be Sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Nature and timing provide the perfect backdrop to this season of my life. See, the last thing I wrote aligned with Daylight Saving Time. Afterward, I thought I was poised to spring forward along with my clock. And yet, here I sit. Stalled. Stilled. And delayed. Instead of moving forward, I find myself in a period of discipline and change. But today I know why. It has to do with the month all things. Because I’ve heard it said that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. And the imagery of March illuminates this wayward daughter’s actions.

Yes, March and all its elements come in like a roaring lion, seeking what it can devour. March is loud in its entrance of blustery winds and frigid temperatures. Ice and pelting sleet. Storms. March’s extreme weather seems to have conquered all leaving behind only bleak land. However, quiet miracles take place underneath. For overnight, yellow jonquils defy the odds jutting through frozen earth anyway. And by the time the end of the month rolls around, once bare branches are adorned with lime green and brilliant red. And oh, the blessed sound of peeping peepers and chirping birds. Before we know it, Winter has transitioned to Spring. Cold turns to warm and barren turns to flowering. Blustery winds replaced by mild and balmy. What once seemed dead comes alive with color and sound.

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And so today, I gain perspective. I see clearly for March is a picture of me. Because at the onset of this writing venture, I came in like a lion. Loud. Forceful. Unyielding and rigid. Cold and hard. And prideful. A lion’s pride… I am woman, hear me roar! Thus, my time-out. My grounding. My stillness. See, just as Spring undergoes the miracle of transformation, God expects no less of me. His child. But the change has to happen on the inside first. Before beauty and color is seen on the outside, a quiet miracle must take place deep down.

You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. 1 Peter 3:4

When I came home four and a half years ago, I was a big mouth. I had an opinion about everything and was eager to share it. Because in my mind, I was right. I even developed a terrible habit of talking right over people. See, for the first time I had something to say. I thought I had something to offer. Such a change from the young girl who left at nineteen. The one who had nothing to say.

As time progressed, I became loud. Dare I say shouting? Yes, shouting. At home. When I completely lost my cool, I’d raise my voice. Time constraint is what brought on the pressure. And it was my little boy who endured the brunt of my loudness. You know what jolted me awake? Isaiah 42:2-3. It says Christ did not cry out or shout or make His voice heard in the streets. He did not break a bruised reed or put out a smoldering wick. It was this passage that helped me comprehend how utterly anti-Christ I’ve been in this manner. The total opposite of Him, who was quiet and gentle.

He was oppressed and afflicted, and yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth. Isaiah 53:7

And so, I was put in time-out. He wanted me to be still so I could see clearly. And so that inner things could happen. And in the quiet, I find my life begins to mirror the Spring that occurs outside my windows. My inside transforms alongside the outdoors. I came in like a lion. But loudness and forcefulness are transitioning to quietness. Pride is replaced by humility. And an unyielding spirit morphs to a malleable one… all this happening as Winter submits to Spring. As I submit to Him.

And God is impeccable in His timing. For today is the last day of March. Easter will be here in just a few days. And I think for the first time in my whole life, Easter will really rise in my heart this time. Because I can’t help but have this feeling I’m on the cusp of something big. Something new. For Easter will usher in a new age for me. It will be the era of the Lamb.

Behold, the lamb of God… John 1:29

Funny thing about my recent time-out. I thought it commenced on March 9 when I put this blog aside. But today, I realize it goes back further. In fact, to the very beginnings of this writing venture. It has to do with my actions just before. And something I said. I even know the date… February 10, 2013. That’s when I dared utter something so haughtily. So arrogantly. So forcefully. And loud. “I can’t just sit here for two years…” No, in my mind I had too much self-import. But today, just over two years later, I know the truth about God. And me. Only in hindsight is it crystal clear. It’s almost like He said, “Yes you will, little girl. If I say you’ll sit in time-out for two years, that’s exactly what you’ll do.” And it appears I did.

But see, I have hope. For today is March 31. The month is pretty much over. Oh, it came in like a lion. Just like me. But it proves to be going out like a lamb. And me? Well, I’m pretty sure I heard my Father say, “Come out!” I think my chastening is over. At least for now. The real test, though, will be how I exit my time-out. Will I leave the same way I entered, like a lion? Or will I come out changed? Like a lamb…

Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion of the tribe of Judah, the root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll or even to look at it.” Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb… Revelation 5:5-6

A Corpse Bride

Will the fast I choose be like this:
A day for a person to deny himself,
to bow his head like a reed,
and to spread out sackcloth and ashes?
Will you call this a fast
and a day acceptable to the Lord? Isaiah 58:5

I just couldn’t sell it… the thousands of words that poured forth from my heart and soul in the Fall of 2011. No, something wasn’t quite right. So I revised the whole thing in the Summer of 2012. I gave it a new title… My True Deliverance. However, the story remained the same. And the truth is the title was a lie. Because my story was a lie. For at that point in my life, I hadn’t been delivered. From anything. The words put forth were false… only what I wanted to be true.

However, my eyes were opened in September of 2012. The frank words of my husband jolted me. “Can you do me a favor? Can you go just one day without telling a lie? Because when you say you’re fine and you’re not, it’s a lie.” This came on the heels of his flowery description of me. An animated corpse. Oh, don’t think too harshly of him. He was just concerned. He wanted his wife back. The one from earlier days. And had he not spoken truth, perhaps I wouldn’t be where I am today. Perhaps I’d still be his corpse bride.

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After this lovely conversation with my husband, my eyes were opened wider within days. For I heard a Bible teacher speak. She said He wants us to have our own story. With Him. She talked of riding other people’s coattails. And though I didn’t realize it then, today I know that’s just what I had been doing. Riding the coattails of other people’s faith. Living off other people’s stories. Trying to breathe the breath of resurrected lives all around me. Having no spiritual breath of my own.

Funny thing is I just knew that book was going to get published. The untrue one. It seemed to be His will. Like the very hand of God directed me to write it. And I believe He did. However, I know it to be a stepping stone today. Because the story written over three years ago was the wrong one. It was the story of a good girl who worked hard. And because she did all the right things, something good happened. For God gave her what she desired most… her homeland. The promised land. But the reality is God didn’t bring me home as a reward. No, He brought me home to die. And that first book, my story, proved to lead to my fall.

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13

I’ve been pondering the story lately. For months actually and just in general. And in watching a few great movies, I realize the best part is the fall. Because if there isn’t a fall, the hero or heroine can’t rise from the ashes. And isn’t that the most hopeful part of someone’s story? Don’t we find resurrected lives to be inspirational? I do. And so, it’s with awe that I find myself on the cusp of Easter today. In this season of my life, as I ponder the story, I find we’re about to celebrate the greatest story. The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

In a nutshell, this is what my story lacked for so long. My life was missing Easter. My life was missing Him. Thus, my life contained no life. I was a corpse bride. Just as my husband described. And every single day, I died a little more. For I was chasing a dream. Holding to my life. My rights. My glory. I just didn’t know what was causing my death. See, when I came home I thought it to be my triumphant entry. I rode in on my high horse and came back ready to overcome the world. And when I began to write, I just knew it was going to give me the life I so desired. My passion burned within. In truth, it consumed me till there was nothing left. Life snuffed out. Thus, I walked around in sackcloth and ashes not comprehending that’s what I was doing. My demeanor was my mourning robe. A dim spirit shrouded me. Ashes on the ground.

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But Jesus? When He made His triumphant entry, He rode into town on a donkey. And He knew what He came to do. For He came to die. He came as a living sacrifice for us. But He knew the truth. That before He could be resurrected into glory, His death was required. Because only by His death, and life, can we hope for the same. This is Easter. This is the greatest story ever told. And until this becomes reality in our own hearts, we remain dead in our tracks. Lifeless. Animated corpses.

Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. John 12:23-25

God never, ever ceases to amaze me. Over four years ago I thought He was rewarding me for good behavior. That He brought me home as a pat on the back. That was my story. But today I know truth. See, He brought me home to die. Here is where my self-awareness was birthed, and here is where my self-seeking must die. For self-seeking brought nothing but heartache. And spiritual death. It caused me to fall. Hard. Nothing left of me but a heap of ashes on the ground. But today, I choose sacrifice instead. I willingly give my life for the lives of my children. So they may have abundant life. And this act revives me. For I find I’m able to rise from the ashes. Because His word is true… in losing your life, you’ll find it. This is the very thing God brought me home for. Easter becomes real in my heart.

Isn’t the fast I choose:
To break the chains of wickedness,
to untie the ropes of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free,
and to tear off every yoke? Isaiah 58:6

Last week was a week of epiphanies. One having to do with me losing my life in order to gain my life. It had to do with putting my dream on the back-burner while I tended to what’s most important… my children. My family. And I’m good with that. I really am. I realized my need to sacrifice something I greatly desire so that I could be a better mother to them. And a better wife to my husband. Because this dream of mine burns me up. When I hold to it, it causes me to die. A little bit each day. Before I know it, I’m like the walking dead. No life within me. A corpse bride. So, I release it. At least for now. I give it up…

Funny thing is, I find this act coincides with Lent. And Ash Wednesday. Though I’ve never practiced these traditions knowingly, I find I am this year. Unwittingly. This is where God has led me. Through my limited knowledge, I understand Lent to be a time when God’s people sacrifice something for a number of days. Me? I’m led to sacrifice my life. The revelation is heightened by Ash Wednesday… a time when ashes are ceremonially placed on heads of Christians usually accompanied by the words, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Me? From experience I’ve surely known what it’s like to have ashes in my life. But not just on my head, all over. The whole of me being burned up by overwhelming desire of something greater. But this will prove to be the best part of my story. For from the ashes, I rise. Resurrected life. Easter in my heart. A replica of the greatest story ever told. His. A corpse bride rises from the grave…

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He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives
and freedom to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,
and the day of our God’s vengeance;
to comfort all who mourn,
to provide for those who mourn in Zion;
to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
festive oil instead of mourning,
and splendid clothes instead of despair. Isaiah 61:1-3

Funny how God works. Amazing how He puts it all together. See, I began writing my story in 2011. Thing is, my words simply weren’t true. I wrote what I wanted to be. My True Deliverance. But now… deliverance is mine. He delivered me from my tomb. And most recently, He delivers me from myself. For it was my heart that held me captive. And my flesh has been my prison. But He led me to lay down my life. And thus, I find life. And as Easter rises in my heart, I find that I do, too. And in truth, this is the part of my story that’s truly great. Christ. In me. Finally, I don’t have to ride another’s coattails. For I have my own story. In Him. And to me, this is the essence of Easter. From death to life. And till death do us part. A corpse bride no more.

Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. Genesis 2:7

There were some men…

There were some men… fisherman by trade. Simon called Peter, and his brother Andrew were casting their nets when Jesus called out to them. He said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Immediately, the brothers left their nets and  followed. There were two more men in a boat with their father. When Jesus called, James and John immediately followed. There was a man named Matthew sitting in a tax office. Jesus said to Him, “Follow Me,” and he arose and did so. One day, Jesus went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. He appointed the twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out…

There were some men and their names were Simon, to whom He gave the name Peter, James and John, Andrew, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James the son of Alphaeus, Thadaeus, Simon the Cananite, and Judas Iscariot. These were Christ’s apostles… and where He went, they went. These men saw the wonders of Jesus. A sea was stilled, demons were cast out, the sick healed, and sight, speech and life restored. As Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching and preaching, these men went, too. They sat under His teaching, hearing firsthand the Beatitudes and parables that we study so closely today. And when Jesus was moved with compassion for the multitudes, He sent the men out to serve. And when they returned to Him, He cared for them, and said, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”

There were some men, the disciples who were with Jesus, and they witnessed everything. They saw when His own family rejected Him, and when the religious leaders of the day questioned His every word and action. One of the men, Simon called Peter, knew just how special Jesus really was. Because God the Father revealed to him that Jesus was in fact the Christ, the Son of the living God. It was three of the disciples who witnessed the glory of Christ on top of a high mountain… His face shone like the sun and His clothes became as white as the light. All twelve of the disciples were told beforehand that Jesus would suffer, and be crucified. But did they understand what He meant when He said He would rise on the third day? They traveled to Jerusalem with Jesus. They witnessed a triumphant entry into the city as there was a great multitude crying out “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest!” Afterward, they witnessed His righteous anger as He overturned the tables of those who bought and sold inside the temple. See, God’s house is a house of prayer, but the people conducted unfair business trade instead. Not long after, conflict arose. The religious leaders didn’t agree with what Jesus was doing and with what He was saying, and they wanted to stop Him. They became jealous, and so they devised a plot. It was one of His own followers that agreed to betray Jesus for a price.

There were some men, His closest companions, and they celebrated an intimate meal with Him. It was their last supper, but did they know it? Could they fully understand what would happen just hours later? Jesus said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” And He said, “Drink… for this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. Jesus told them of what was to come. He told these men that they would all stumble because of Him. Peter boldly proclaimed, “I will never be made to stumble… Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples. They came to the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus told some to sit, but He took Peter and John and James with Him. He said, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful… stay here and watch with Me.” Jesus went a little farther and fell on His face asking for God the Father to let this cup pass from Him, but nevertheless, not His will, but as God willed. That’s when He found His followers asleep. He singled out Peter, “Could you not watch with Me one hour?” Two times more Jesus went a little further to pray, telling them to “Watch and pray.” But they could not. They slept until the last moment when Jesus’ betrayer was at hand.

There were some men who witnessed the arrest of Jesus. They saw a multitude arrive with clubs and swords, and one of their own kissed Jesus on His cheek to give Him away. Peter pulled out his sword to fight, but Jesus said not to. And so, they laid hands on Jesus, and all the apostles forsook Him. They fled. Although Peter ran away, he did continue to follow Jesus for a while. But at a distance. And when people accused him of being a one of Jesus’ followers, he vehemently denied it… three times. Just as Jesus predicted. When he remembered what Jesus said, he went out and wept bitterly.

Jesus had six trials within a matter of hours. While it was dark, He went from the father-in-law of the high priest, to the high priest, and then as soon as it was day, to the Sanhedrin. He was mocked and beaten before He even made it to Pilate. The Jews accused Jesus falsely, but Pilate found no fault in Him. Pilate sent Him to Herod, but Jesus answered Herod nothing, and was sent back to Pilate. Pilate again said that Jesus had done nothing worthy of death. It was Passover, and Pilate’s custom was to release one prisoner. He left it up to the people… he could release Jesus, or he could release a murderer named Barabbas. And so Barabbas was freed, and as for Jesus, they cried out, “Crucify Him!” And that’s just what happened.

There were some men, followers of Jesus, who fled when He was arrested. But we know that two followed for at least a little while. Peter and another disciple followed Jesus to the first trial. But eventually Peter denied Christ, and then went out and wept. I don’t know when the other disciple left, or if he left at all. I wondered about where all followers were during the crucifixion. Did they rally to Jesus’ side, or did they stay away behind closed doors for fear of being next? I find references to women watching from a distance, and His “acquaintances.” Could these acquaintances be His followers? I wouldn’t think so, because the disciples knew Him. Why after being referred to as disciples and apostles would they later be called merely acquaintances? But who am I to know for certain. We do know that John, one of the first called followers, was there when Jesus died… along with certain women. But what about those certain men?

You may be wondering why I’m going on about this right now. Well, it’s because tonight I was cut to the heart in thinking about these men. At a special service at our church, I was broken over my condemnation of them. I judged them for not being present at the empty tomb, and for being behind closed doors in hiding. And these are the very men that Jesus called to Him that He Himself wanted. I have been judging His people… harshly. Tonight when I thought about these men, the original followers of Christ, I got an idea of what they must have gone through. See… oh, how they loved their Jesus. They left everything behind to follow Him when He said to. They walked with Him, and talked with Him, and ate with Him, and prayed with Him, and sang with Him. Jesus even washed their feet. He was their best friend, and they had to witness His arrest and His death. These men were mourning the loss of a loved one. They were heartbroken. I’m sure they didn’t know what to do with themselves, because although Jesus said He would rise after three days, I don’t think they understood.

Yes, there were some men. And after Jesus’ death, they stumbled and fell away. They hid out for a little while, and were disbelieving when Jesus did rise from the tomb. But you know, Jesus knew it would happen. Before He died, Jesus told Peter, “But when you return to Me, strengthen your brethren.” And oh, how He cared for Peter. When the women found that empty tomb, they were instructed, “But go and tell His disciples – and Peter – that He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him, as He said to you.” And Peter. Don’t you know Peter was reassured when he heard that. Because he messed up royally. Not only did he run, but he denied even knowing Jesus. But Peter was called by Jesus. And the mistakes he made did not render him useless. On the contrary, he was stronger for them. After Jesus arose from the grave, He appeared to Peter and asked three times, “Do you love Me?” Three times Peter said yes. And then Jesus said, “Follow Me.” And that’s what Peter did.

There were some men… and it wasn’t that they were really seeking Jesus. No, they were in the middle of their busy lives. But Jesus came to them. And something about Jesus drew them. And so, when He called out, “Follow Me,” they did so without hesitation. Jesus still calls out to us today… will we do the same?

“And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die. John 12:32, 33

Human Doings

Human Being: noun, a member of any of the races of Homo sapiens; person; man, woman, or child.

Being: noun, the state or fact of existing; existence

Doing: noun, performance of an act

Be: verb, to exist or live

Do: verb, 1. to perform (an act, duty, role, etc.) 2. to execute (a piece or amount of work) 3. to accomplish; finish; complete. 4. to put forth; exert: Do your best. 5. to be the cause of (good, harm, credit, etc.); bring about; effect.

Everyone knows these words, I’m sure, and understands their meaning. So why the grammar lesson here? Why should I take the time to type out definitions of words that everyone is familiar with? Well, quite simply, I was blown away after reading two separate blogs – two separate sources – and both referenced the same Scripture. I respect both writers, and I was immediately captured by their subject matter. Because although each style is totally different, and both blogs were about different circumstances, both writers essentially said the same thing to me. Their questions? “What do you love to do?” “If finances were not an issue, what would your dream be?” “If you fulfilled God’s command to love the LORD your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind, what would you look like at that moment?” Basically, what did God create you… to be.

Please don’t take offense, as I am definitely talking about myself here, but I think we completely miss what God wants for us most of the time. Because we’re human (noun, subject to or indicative of the weaknesses, imperfections, and fragility
associated with humans). We’re human, and so we’re subject to imperfection. One of our imperfections? I think we get caught up in the doing more so than the being. What does God’s word say… For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). This morning, I paused at “being,” and pondered just what does that mean for us. And it struck me that God in fact created human beings. We’re not called human doings. But I believe, most of us spend our lives existing as human doings… not as human beings, which is what God created us to be.

Which brings me back to the questions I read this morning… What do I love to do? What are my dreams? What do I look like when I am, in fact, completely wrapped up in Him? And these are questions for us all today. Because God created each one of us to be something… a being… for Him. Unfortunately, us humans are quick to act. We want to get busy… we want to do… because that’s what we’re supposed to do, right? Do you know what struck me about the definitions for “do” and “doing”? The word performance. Especially, “to perform and act, duty or role… and to execute an amount of work.” That’s it in a nutshell. So often we get caught up in the doing… we perform or act in a certain way that we feel is expected of us. By who? People! We perform for people, not for God! So often, the work we do is not God’s work… it is to be seen by men. And you know, Paul captured the essence of this in Galatians 1, “Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Speaking for myself here, I set out to be a servant for Christ, and yet, the work gets skewed. Because my human nature kicks in, and it becomes more about the people. They’re the ones who stand right in front of me, and so, I begin to “perform or execute,” for them!

So what does God want from us? See, He had a plan for each one of us from the very beginning. And by beginning, I’m talking about when the world began. Psalm 139:16 says, “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” God knows our substance. He formed us in our mothers’ wombs. He knew when He breathed us into being, just what He had in store for us. And then there’s Jesus the Christ. He is in fact the author and finisher of our faith. It was He who said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Get ready for another grammar lesson… I just had to look up “make.” Do you know, I found two parts to the definition (Blue Letter Bible). I found 1) to make and 2) to do. And what I see just blows my mind (again).

1. to make: a) to produce, construct, form, fashion, etc. b) to be the authors of, the cause. c) to make ready, to prepare. d) to produce, bear, shoot forth.

2. to do: a) to act rightly, do well. b) to carry out, to execute, and e) to perform: to a promise.

Do you see it? Let Him first make us. Let Him fashion us and to be the author of our lives. Let Him make us ready and prepare us. Because once we do this… and by do, I mean simply soak up Jesus and let Him make us… then our doing will naturally follow. As we truly follow Jesus, we will naturally become what He wants us to be. And then it will happen… the transformation. Because we follow Jesus, and because we let Him make us, we will act rightly and do well. There will be no performance or play acting on our part… no seeking to please men, because what we do will be real. It will be natural because it will be who we are. We will become “human doings,” because we first became “human beings.”

Last grammar lesson here… I just have to go back to one of the definitions. Do: verb, to accomplish; finish; complete. We try so hard in our limited capacity to do works for God. We strive to please Him. But we really don’t have to strive. Because ultimately, the work has been done… one time on a cross at Calvary so long ago. Jesus did it. He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. Bear with me as I share the meaning of “it is finished”:

1) to bring to a close, to finish, to end, and 2) to perform, execute, complete, fulfill.

Jesus did what we could not. He fulfilled His purpose when He died on that cross. And so, in honor of Him, and the work He accomplished on the cross, may we pause this week and give thanks. Because of Jesus, we don’t have to do a thing. As He said, “It is finished.”

A Passionate Fool

Being a child of God can be an emotional rollercoaster. Because the deeper you go with God, the more ups and downs you can have. I can only speak for myself here, but I would venture to say there are others who feel the same. Because when you go up a mountain with God, you eventually have to come down. With me, the decline began on Friday afternoon. It was then that I felt like God disciplined me. As Hebrews 12:11 says, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.” Since I had been taken down a notch, I wasn’t feeling so great by the time Saturday evening rolled around. And because my confidence level was at a low, I felt vulnerable. Thus, my over-analysis of the things I said that evening. I began to fret, and wondered what people thought of the words that came out of my mouth. That’s where I found myself Sunday morning… feeling uncertain, feeling misunderstood, and feeling foolish.

I’m pretty outspoken. It’s because when I care about something, I just can’t shut my mouth. So I guess that would mean I’m passionate. Not about everything, mind you, but I’m definitely passionate about a few things. I am passionate about food… I always have been. If I’m eating a good meal, there will be sound effects. And I’m passionate about music. I love to hear it… especially classic country. Man, can I belt out Johnny Cash and John Conlee. I’m passionate about my family… when they hurt, I hurt and I cry when they cry. But most importantly, I’m passionate about God. I love His word. Sometimes, I think about it off and on throughout the whole day. Truly. There are times when I think, “I don’t know how to be normal, anymore.” There are times I feel that I no longer know how to carry on with a “normal” conversation. Because now, I view everything in light of God. But it’s not always been like this. Mostly, my line of thinking has completely altered over the course of the last couple of years. God is transforming me, and the change is coming about because of His word… the very thing I’m most passionate about.

It was Saturday night when I used the word “passionate.” But a little while later, I began to feel foolish. I was embarrassed because not everyone talks like that. I felt like an oddball. I wasn’t sure if people felt the same as I did. And so, it was Sunday morning that I said out loud, “I feel like a fool!” My husband overheard me, and wanted to know why. I told him about using the word “passionate,” and that I just wasn’t sure if people understood me. But you know… God understood. And I think He wanted me to know that He heard me. Because He used my pastor to speak directly to me about this foolish word on Sunday morning. One of the first things I heard was that it’s Passion Week. The pastor went on to say that we should be passionate about what Jesus did. Not just once, but three times (if I counted properly), the pastor used the word I said the night before… passionate. It was like God gave me a little pat on the back. He heard me…

And so, a little confidence was restored. I felt a little better for being passionate about God’s word. And then came yesterday. I was absolutely crushed when I came across 1 Timothy 2:11-12, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.” What? It had just been established that I am passionate and outspoken about God’s word. I got a “pat on the back.” But then I saw, “be in silence.” I was confused… what did this mean? What was God trying to say to me? I felt so sad. Like I said, an emotional rollercoaster… up and down I go. But wait, I’m coming to the best part.

Because it’s Passion Week (Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday), I’ve been reading a couple of books about Christ and the crucifixion. And it’s through today’s reading that I was reminded of something so important… something I was completely impassioned by just over a month ago… but I forgot. And what I remembered is absolutely the best news for me. As a matter of fact, what I was reminded of this morning is the best news for any outspoken woman who is passionate about God and His word.

Yes, it’s true, Jesus died. They arrested Him, hung Him on a cross, and then buried Him in a tomb. But where were His disciples? As Jesus was arrested, one young follower took off so fast, he left his linen cloth behind and fled naked! One of His closest companions denied even knowing Him. And later, the disciples gathered behind closed doors and mourned and wept. But there were some women. It was the women who went to that tomb early Easter morning so many years ago. It was the women who were given the charge, “go and tell His disciples.” It was the women that Jesus first appeared to. And it was Mary Magdalene who Jesus first spoke to. Jesus Himself said, “Go and tell My brethren to go to Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

This is the Gospel… this is the good news. God sent His only begotten Son to die a torturous death as the perfect sacrifice for the sin of all mankind. Why? Because He loves us. They tried to kill Him, but death could not hold Him. God raised Him up from the dead, and the tomb was empty. After Jesus arose, He appeared to many people during the forty days He walked the earth. But, He first appeared to a woman. He first entrusted a woman with the good news. He said, “Go and tell…” And I’m thankful for that today.

I’m not sure why it happened the way it did. And I certainly don’t want to throw off on the disciples. Because although they fell away for a brief time, they rallied and were faithful till the end. I’m simply recounting just what I read in God’s word. And over 2000 years later, His word speaks deeply to this woman. See, He tells me He has great purpose for me. He’s created me to be just the way I am… passionate and outspoken about His word. And He gave me His good news… He gave it to all of us. He wants us all to be passionate and outspoken about His word. And you know, if we’re going to feel foolish anyway, we may as well be fools for Him! Because in the end, all that’s really going to matter is what we did with what He gave us. And He gave us His Son. He gave us His good news. So then… will we keep it all to ourselves? Or will we do what Jesus said to do? Will we go? Will we tell?

What we do here matters. It’ll soon be Easter. The tomb was, and is, empty. Let’s go and tell…

But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me… She has done what she could… Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the whole world, what this woman did will also be spoken of as a memorial to her.” (taken from Mark 14:6-9)