I am Forgiven

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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.

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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

http://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=He+is+with+us&FORM=VIRE1#view=detail&mid=F129ADE72250D5534FCEF129ADE72250D5534FCE

Less is more.

I did something tonight. I trashed two blog drafts. There are still two more drafts that may be trashed. I’m on the fence about those two, because I still feel somewhat impassioned by what was written. I want to tell you why I trashed two drafts, and may trash two more. I think… no, I’m sure… that having four drafts sitting there ready for posting is evidence of a severe lack of faith on my part. Because I began a blog for one purpose only… I was certain God wanted me to. But, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to blog on a consistent basis. Thus, I wanted to have drafts ready… a security blanket, so to speak. So that if I am not inspired one day, there’s something there ready. But what does that say about my faith in God? He has inspired me again and again over the last two and a half years. I have ten full journals. Why now, would I be worried about a shortage of words? Can’t I trust God to inspire me daily, and to write from my heart when I am so moved? Apparently not, because I’ve stored up some words for the times when I’m dry.

And, oh, but I drive myself crazy! Here are some things you may not know about me. I am a bit obsessive. I am detail oriented… almost to a fault. And I love order. I want things to make sense. So, I began a blog… for God. But I wanted it to move along in a way that made sense to me. I wanted it to be chronological and easy to follow. But, God threw a few curve balls at me. First, He had me begin reviewing my old journals. And I ended up camping out on the first three pages for weeks. Then, He led me to something I was not ready for. He moved me to write about my past… the things I kept hidden. I didn’t anticipate writing about that for a long, long time (if ever). Well, that’s thrown off all my drafts. After what I wrote about this past Friday, the four drafts I have ready don’t even make sense! They’re not even fit for posting. I didn’t even want to read them… and they’re about God & me!! And so here I am, at a loss. What next, I ask.

I’ve been trying to write ahead (not trusting God to supply me with words) because I have somehow decided I should write five days a week. Orderly and consistent, right? But why do I feel the need to write every single day? Did God tell me to do that? So basically, I have taken it upon myself to set the minimum (five a week). Not only that… I want to post the blogs in the morning. And do you know what I’ve done? I’ve created pressure. I’ve created a deadline that I don’t think God intended me to have. Because a deadline causes me to force something that may not be ready for posting. It leaves no room for the Holy Spirit’s leading. I don’t think God cares how many days a week I post, or what time of day it goes out. See, quality is far better than quantity. And you know what? Sometimes, less is more.

So here’s what I’m going to do… I will not post a blog for the sake of posting it simply to fill a five day quota. Because if it’s not led by God, well, it’s just not worth posting. I will do my best not to write ahead. Because that doesn’t work. More of those writings end up in the trash than posted, anyway. And more importantly, writing ahead is not trusting God.

I will aim to post a blog only when I am moved or impassioned by the subject. I will not write fluff. And I will always tell the truth. Because the truth about God & me may very well be the truth about you & God.

And, this will be hard for me… I will try my best to write less, but with more significance. Because more often than not, less is more.

P.S. Some of you will get a kick out of this. Immediately after proof reading this blog, I changed the very first sentence to say “Last night” instead of “Tonight.” Because I had every intension of posting this in the morning. I actually went back and forth a couple of times before realizing what I needed to do. Because didn’t I just say I would not write ahead? Didn’t I just say I would post something when I was moved, and there may not be a post every day, and blogs may not go in the morning. I just said this, right? What is wrong with me?? So this goes against everything within me… after I type this sentence, I will publish this blog. At 10:00 at night! And there may not be one tomorrow!! This was so not the plan 🙂

Can I trust you with my heart?

Yesterday was one of my favorite postings. Because I feel like the past few years (or longer) has been nothing but a giant struggle. But you know, I don’t dare place my struggle on the same plane as some of those I know. I know people who have struggled, or are struggling, mightily. My step-mother-in-law just had her second kidney removed. She is struggling. I have two aunts who lost their children. They’re struggling. I have a friend and both of her sons have a disease. She’s struggling. I have an aunt who is estranged from her sons. She’s struggling. This aunt also happens to be having a cardiac catheterization this week, and she said something intriguing. In thinking about her procedure, she said, “The bible verse “trust in the Lord with all your heart” is taking on a new connotation for me.” Yes, I am surrounded by a myriad of hurting people who have fought tangible battles, and who are still fighting. And there are so many more.

My struggles are different. Because when I contemplate my time on earth, I have had no major upheavals to overcome. When I look at the course of my life, it seems to have gone along quite smoothly. Outwardly, everything looks just fine. But inwardly, that’s another story. Inward is where my struggles lie, and my heart and mind are the battlefield. I’ll give you an example through a child’s movie. We had a snow day on Wednesday, so my family watched Finding Nemo. The first scene is really quite something. The dad, Marlin, and his wife, Coral, are looking over their new home. Their babies (eggs) are nearby, and everything looks just great. But then a barracuda arrives on the scene. The parents look on in fear, and Marlin orders Coral into the house. But she just stares at that threatening fish, and then she fights for the lives of her children. She swims for them… but, she doesn’t make it. And none of her babies make it… except one. And I have to say, in all the times I’ve seen Finding Nemo, the movie never got to me as much as it did this time. Because I realized… I am both Coral and Marlin.

I have a son who is six and a half years old. And I just have to say that I’ve lived in fear most of his existence. It began immediately after he was born. I could barely sleep at night for fear he would stop breathing. Several times a night, I would place my hand on his chest to feel it rise and fall, and I still do this now, just before I go to bed. After the breathing, came eating. I feared every bite would choke him to death. And that little dickens knew somehow. He was about two and a half when he filled his mouth to capacity, and then looked over to me, opening his mouth wide as he could for me to see inside! See, fear must have been oozing from my pores because even at that tender age, my son knew I was scared. And there are other fears, losing him in the grocery store, him getting hit by a car, and on and on and on. I have been living in fear from the day my son was born. Do you know what God says about that? “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18. Quite clearly, I have not been perfected in God’s love.

Finding Nemo was eye opening. I could see myself in Marlin. He was terrified of everything after the tragic death of his wife and children. And because of his fear, he smothered his one remaining son. He didn’t want to let Nemo do anything. He didn’t trust Nemo, or anyone else for that matter. And that’s me! I am just like Marlin. And I can see myself in Coral, too. See, she fought for her children… to death. Any mother would. We love them so much, we would do anything for them. Our children are tied to our hearts… why, they are our hearts. We feel everything they do. When they cry, we cry. When they laugh, we laugh (usually). I love my son so much, and the thought of losing him nearly incapacitates me. And because of fear, I barely live. And through that fear, I’ve hindered my child.

Everything came to a head this past January. It all began in July. My son developed a skin condition (they say it’s Psoriasis). He still has this. Among other sicknesses, he had some sort of allergic reaction in December that lasted three days. Not sure what that was. Through this time period, my son got to where he couldn’t hear us. Thus, an ensuing ENT visit, which led to ear tubes, both of which blew out because his infection was so bad. Now, I know these are all minor issues. But not to me. Because I lived in fear from the day my son was born, these issues just heightened my fear. And this past winter, fear grew exponentially. The morning of my son’s ear procedure, I despaired. I honestly believed that God was going to take him from me. I know, irrational thinking, but this is what I thought. I cried the whole time I was in the shower, and I cried as I saw them put my son to sleep. Despite the fear that held me captive, my son came out just fine. It was the day after the procedure that the tubes blew out. By that point, I was undone. Eventually the infection went away, but the fear remained. And so, it was this past February when God & me had a moment.

On February 9th, my son developed a pretty high fever. After my husband went to bed, I gave my son Tylenol, but about 45 minutes later his temperature began to rise again. When it hit 103.5, I broke. I knelt before my bed and cried out to God. He already knew my fear, for He knows my heart. But I never wanted to voice it before (superstitious?). But that night, I talked to God about my fear. I prayed for that little boy and his fever… for healing. And not just for the fever, but for everything else that plagued his body. It was a night I surrendered to God, and wept before Him. I knew only God could heal my boy, and me. Because although my son is the one who had all sickness, I believe the battle over his body was actually being fought within my very heart.

I’d like to say that after that night, fear left me forever. But it hasn’t completely. See, this is one of my struggles and it’s an ongoing battle. Two-steps forward and one-step back with each skirmish. But you know, last night a new thought struck me. I think it must have stemmed from my aunt’s remark about trusting God with her heart. See, my son is my heart. How could he not be? And it was within this past year that my husband and I had a ceremony at our home, consecrating ourselves to God. We did this last Spring, and from sincere hearts gave all of ourselves to God. And that included our son. Last night, I remembered 2 Timothy 1:12, but rather than thinking about me, I heard it in light of my son… “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that day.” Yes… my son! I committed him to the Lord not that long ago. God is fully able to keep him. Whatever takes place with my son (good or bad) is in God’s hands! He will allow nothing to happen to my son outside His will. And so, I think that truth finally sunk in last night.

There’s an older country song I love. It’s Travis Tritt who sings out, “Can I trust you with my heart?” Well, my son is my heart, and God knows this about me. Last night, when I reflected on 2 Timothy 1:12, it was as if God were asking me, “Can you trust Me with your heart?” Yes, I believe I can.