jesus, my friend.

The feelings that the name of Jesus can conjure from a crowd are endless.  Indifference.  Simmering discontent.  Outright objection.  Love.

“Jesus, who freely gave forgiveness.  Confounding all who witnessed, that he should show such boldness.”

That he was enigmatic, people have no doubt.  They say he was a pot stirrer, a moral cornerstone, a conniving manipulator.

But, Oh the feeling when I hear the name of Jesus.  Fortitude, peace, the feeling that comes from sitting with a dear friend reminiscing on a front porch.  The knowledge of being known and not turned away.  A surge of grace, waves of mercy.

And how fervently I want everyone to know what He has done.  How he has made me feel.  Do you know?

Me.  Kaley.  Let me tell you about myself.  I’m selfish to the point of distraction.  Indulgent.  Prone to fits of melancholy, sayer of mean things and thoughtless.  I refuse to let people get to know me, I put up walls.  The most deadly weapon in my arsenal is that of humor.  Drop a joke.  Run away.  Craft a rabbit trail.  Hide yo’self.  I would be, if left to my own devices, the worst.

Jesus.

Simply seeing Jesus on a float in the Rose Parade bolsters me.  His face is a beacon of hope.  I can not reconcile myself to God, so God came to Earth to reconcile for me.  He came down with us.  He healed everyone who asked.  One day he’ll make all things right.  He loves me.  ME!  And I dropped an f-bomb today.

There is nothing, nothing, nothing and no one, no one, no one who can separate me from Jesus.

I know what you might feel when you hear the name of Jesus.  You might feel he betrayed you, snookered you, or worse.  This rips me apart.

What you could have friend, is deep joy.  Peace.  A God who is strong enough to stand up against your doubts and your anger.  A God who can empower you to forgive and let go.  A God who is a friend, a true friend.  Who will listen to the deepest desires of your heart and grant you the wisdom to understand his great love story.

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Butt prints in the sand.  

buttprints

This weekend, I attended a beach retreat.  As one is wont to do on such an occasion I was drawn outside to the ocean front to have some sort of soulful encounter with the Lord.  The problem was it was crazy windy.  As I hastily beat a retreat back to the beach house I noticed my footprints.

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Most of us are familiar with the Footprints in the Sand poem.

“The Lord replied, ‘The years when you have seen only one set of footprints, my child, is when I carried you.'”

I don’t quite agree with this picture.  The Jesus I know isn’t going to carry me. I don’t think I would see one set of prints on the beach,  rather two sets of buttprints.

I imagine that when life gets too burdensome to keep on going I sit down, weighed down too heavily to move.  My head would be buried in the sand and I would hide my face.  I would be consumed with thoughts of bitterness and stew over the injustices dealt to me.  If I can only lift up my face, I would see Jesus sitting quietly next to me, waiting to talk.

We would get up, start walking away, and then I would make some sort of awkward comment about our butt prints in the sand, me and Jesus.  (And of course Jesus would be really gracious, he wouldn’t mind if I pointed out that he has the perfect body mass index.  Just enough to make everyone feel comfortable and unintimidated.)

It can be easy to hope that he will carry us in times of struggle, deep weariness and strife.  That He would lift us up to conquer! Or pull us out of our current situation.  We would be magnificent in our striving and righteousness would shine out of our you know wheres.

Jesus has not come to bring us glory.  We’re here to glorify him.  And just like the world’s best friend, in times of need he’s sitting right there with us, on call.

John Piper says “God is never content to give us the protection of his fire; he will give us the pleasure of his presence.”

We can run screaming from his sovereign throne, but when we fall on our faces and turn over, he’ll be right there next to us.  Strong and trustworthy is our God.  Full of love and great at showing up.

grace.

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I spent some time with a new mom over the weekend.  She looked at me and pointedly said, “I just feel like I’m making a million little wrong decisions everyday.” And then I just laughed because my friend, a mom of a few weeks, had succinctly expressed the very essence of motherhood in that one little phrase.  What is the right way?  Should I have put her to sleep then?  Is she napping enough or too much?  Maybe I should have put her on solid food earlier.  Or later.  Or maybe I should be making my baby food.  Shoot- her diaper was poopy.  How’d I miss that??  DON’T YELL AT YOUR BROTHER!!! (probably shouldn’t have yelled that)

All these little decisions come back to haunt us as we lay in bed for the night, waiting to be woken up by the little people we surely failed during the daylight hours.  Our worries start with the most basic of “keeping aliveness” and then segue into the emotional work of parenting.  Oh woe to us, in the information age, where we can google amber teething necklaces or find a study based out of Botswana to support why we’re supposed to be baby wearing or using lye soap.  I mean, if the cave men did it, it’s good enough for me!  And dammit, why can’t you share?!  But what lies at the heart of our struggle?

EmilyLey_StandardOfGrace

This quote is nestled in a friend’s kitchen and I’ve always loved it.  It’s alarming to realize how similar a toddler resisting a parent’s instruction looks like me resisting God’s instruction.  Do I run and hide?  Scream?  Ignore and go about my day without making eye contact?  All the while God chases us, just like we would pursue our own children.  Are we willing to give our children grace?  Are we willing to give ourselves grace?  Consider this quote by Edward Welch:

“People are our cherished idols.  We worship them, hoping they will take care of us, hoping they will give us what we feel we need.  What we really need are biblical shapes and identities for other people.  Then, instead of needing people to fill our desires, we can love people for the sake of God’s glory and fulfill the purpose for which we were created.”

After all, isn’t the chief end of man to glorify God?  On the regular I twist that to try to use my children to bring me glory.  Their sin sends me into a guilt spiral.  This week let’s all revel in the freedom Christ offers.  To parent for his glory, doing our best job, not for us but for Him.