I think of the crushing weight that pressed on His beautiful soul. The beauty He held, I can never fully grasp. I try to comprehend. I close my eyes and picture the cross. I picture the events leading up, as well. My mind is too weak. I skim over the hard parts. My body clenches at the very thought of trying to endure even one lashing. The driven nails are pulled out by my selfish need to fend off pain before it ever really begins.
The purpose of His dying was so I could be free from the yoke. Yet, there are times I forfeit the lightness that was so freely given to me. Why do I trample on my clean soul? Why do I worry, I fear, and I forget? I hold a beautiful opened gift and I sometimes wrap it back up and tuck it away for a rainy day. Maybe not always, maybe not as much as I used to, maybe not as much as others…but enough to feel the chains that bind.
Now here’s the thing that gets me every time. I do not need to shed any blood or endure any of what He did. I do not need to earn His love or His approval. All I need is faith. He sees me as me. Not as the world portrays me to be…not what I portray me to be either. He…loves…me.
Whenever I tuck this thing called grace away he gently helps me unwrap it. He reminds me of my worth. He places His finger under my chin and lifts my head up like no other. It is because of this I am led through the Holy Spirit’s power to never stop striving to love as He loves me.
I want to start out by saying I am no sheep expert. Not even close. The most I know about sheep is what I have read in the bible, been taught in Sunday School as a child, or have heard in sermons. They have no sense of direction. They don’t like being alone. If they fall and get in a certain position they can’t get out of it. We’ve heard the stories of sheep wandering, not being able to find water, or whatever else. We are told they are not the most intelligent animals. Then, we are compared to these animals right after we are told how dumb they are.
Hmmm, I don’t think God sees us as dumb or wants us to look at ourselves as such.
I mean I get it. We are sinners. We screw up. We can do dumb things. We are human. There is a certain sense of humility admitting these things. So, naturally we say we are dumb like sheep. Maybe we are wrong to say this. Maybe calling sheep dumb stems from worldly thinking. What the world sees as wise and strong is not the same as what the bible tells us is such. Maybe sheep aren’t so dumb after all.
Think about this:
- Sheep know and follow their shepherds voice. They know it is better to follow their shepherd than to be in control of their own life. Don’t we all struggle with submitting to His will?
- Sheep know it is better to stay with their flock. Yes, sometimes they get lost (don’t we all.) The point being is wandering away from the church, the body of believers, usually doesn’t turn out so well. This isn’t saying we shouldn’t be around people who don’t have faith. We need to love all people.
- Sheep have four stomachs. Totally unrelated but crazy, huh?
- Sheep know their weaknesses. Come on, if we all admitted our weaknesses and allowed God and others to lead us in places where we falter…whoa…we could accomplish so much more.
See where I am going with this? It takes a wise person to know following our Shepherd is the best way to live. Without a doubt, the wisest people I have known in my life were the ones who followed Him faithfully. Times when they got lost, they allowed our Shepherd to carry them on His shoulder to go back to the flock. Ultimately they knew how dumb they were being when they lost their sheeplike (humble) attitude. I don’t know about you, but I see sheep a little differently now. What a blessing it is to be a sheep. Baa baa booyah!
As I looked up through the fog I saw it. The geese were flying in a perfect v-formation. I wish I could have snapped a picture. I don’t know, there was something about the fog that made it more beautiful. Don’t laugh, but it kind of felt like a scene from a movie. I know, I know, my imagination gets the best of me.
I always have so much running through my mind and it is in those moments that it all comes together for me. I should clarify. I don’t always have movie scene moments. I promise my life is not that enchanting.
Anyway, I was sitting in my chair and thinking of the v-formation and the significance of it. When geese fly together each goose is just as important as the next. They all matter. The lead goose moves to the back to rest and another takes over. No one goose is expected to expend the most energy all the time.
It is together they reduce air resistance. They fly further and with less energy than they can alone.
Like the v-formation, the church (the body of believers) is there to reduce resistance of this world. We are called to. When we fall out of formation, we are not as strong. We can’t fly as far alone. We just can’t.
So yeah, we have a thing or two to learn from the life of geese. Who would have thought?
Not long ago, I came across this. Although it is geared toward Lutherans, it can be used for any. It may not be the entire answer, but to me it is a start. People who have left the church, or who are scared to start going to church need to hear these things.
Unbeknown to her, God spoke to me through her words. It never fails to amaze me how powerful and humbling it is when this happens.
It was Sunday afternoon and the speaker had finished. Everyone else at our table had left. I was putting my coat on and getting ready to leave. I was thinking of all I needed to do for the upcoming week and how I needed to hurry to get home. She simply started speaking. I looked in her eyes and knew she felt compelled to tell me a part of her story. So, I sat back down and gave her my full attention. Her eyes moved around the room in amazement as she told me how wonderful it was to see the Family Life Center at our church. She remembered when it was built. She remembered when our church did not have its own building.
She continued on from the beginning. Her and her husband moved to our area in their thirties and they had small children. She spoke of the church they came from. Our connection began. My husband and I (both in our thirties) moved out here a couple years ago with our two small children. We just so happened to come from the same church as her and her husband as well.
“Would this church ever grow? Would it ever have its own building? Was it worth the trouble?” Many times shaking her head, she went on with our church’s journey. There were good times and not so good times. There were stories of disagreements, doubts, and having to rush in the borrowed building to pick up cigarette butts before the service began. Her attention to detail had me fully engaged. By the end of her story we both were wiping a few tears from our face. “By God’s grace we are where we are today,” were the words she ended with.
It was and still is through the grace of God, with the unity we have in Christ, that we can always continue to build the church and share our stories.
Love. It boils down to love. Sadly, I think our definition of love has shifted. I think we need to start shifting it back. I think it is our responsibility as Christians to do so.
I believe all people crave the type of love defined in the bible. We are not giving it as fully as we should. We’d bring a lot more people to Christ if we did. There is no one beyond saving. I fully believe that. We need to stop worrying about what others may think. There is nothing to be ashamed about.
What do you think is worse? Downplaying our beliefs or being so passionate about our beliefs that we cannot contain them? I think many are afraid to act “too Christian”. As if that is going to push people away. This laissez-faire attitude does nothing for someone who is struggling. If I am on the fence on something and I see someone jumping for joy over a cause…they get my attention. Not the person who whispers, “I am a Christian. But don’t worry, I won’t bother you with my beliefs.” They should be looking at us and thinking, “What are they so excited about?”
Where do we start? With love, of course. With real love. The kind of love we receive from Christ. Love is supposed to be selfless, not selfish. Yet, we are not doing all we can to share it with others.
We need to remember we are all sinners. We all fall short. Christians have the gift of salvation. So, if we are given this gift (that we did nothing to earn) we need to be thankful for it. We shouldn’t be selfish with it. We should want everyone to have this gift. Since we are not God, who are we to decide who should hear about it and who should not? Our job is to love and share the gospel with everyone.
Love has given us forgiveness of our past, present, and future sins. That is something to be excited about every single day. The blood He shed for us–I will never deserve. But yet, I can be certain of my hope. I will be in heaven one day because of what He did for me. We all need to remember this. Love will never be easy for us this side of heaven, but we should never stop trying to love as He loves us.
It was a Saturday and the kids at church were practicing their parts for the Christmas program. I watched as they became more comfortable. I watched my own son speak his words and I felt the Spirit working in my church. The following day was the program and it was beautiful. I wasn’t much in the Christmas spirit but those kids gave it to me. The joy I felt…the joy I feel anytime I am helping with the kids is indescribable.
In a sense, I usually feel more myself around kids than I do most adults. Even through the chaos, I love it. Now being a stay at home mom, I was able to teach during Vacation Bible School this year (by far, it was the best week of my year). Actually, when I look back through my year, my best memories involve kids…and church. 2015 has been a great year full of blessings. I didn’t think it was going to be.
A year ago today my grandma passed away. I thank God for carrying me through it. I thank Him for urging me to go to His word for strength. I picked up my bible and ended up (without intending to) reading all of it in about seven months. Now, it is a daily habit I intend to keep.
Today will not be an easy day for me and my family as some will mourn all over for my grandma. Three days before Christmas is not an ideal time to lose a loved one. But then, she will forever be the most godly woman I have ever known. So I guess every year, three days before Christmas, I will always be reminded of her and her love for Christ.
As I do all the last minute things to get ready for Christmas and feel the urge to get stressed, I will think of the Christmas program…I will think of my grandma…I will think of the greatest gift of all–Christ.