Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

A letter to myself

Lose sight of perfection, and get lost in the journey. Be okay with falling, failing. Be okay with scars. Be okay with never being quite good enough. Be okay if the finish line moves with every step you take. As you improve so do the expectations placed on you. As you go high, anticipate harder falls. But when you fall, don’t stay down. Don’t stay defeated.

 

Don’t let sadness engulf you or misery define you. When people criticize you take whatever you can from it, but do not internalize it. Hear it, listen to it, learn from it, and let it go.

 

Don’t let the sadness of a previous day follow you for the rest of the week. Don’t hide yourself from hurt. Allow it to hit you like a wave, then wash it away. Wake up every day and try your best. Brush your teeth, take a shower, and be grateful for another day.

 

Let perspective find you, let joy lift you up. Find a shoulder to cry on, and if none appear, tell your troubles to Jesus. He has the kindest ear, the softest heart, the biggest smile, and a light that brings cheer.

 

You are okay, if not, you will be. The weight you carry will grow lighter as you become stronger. Believe in yourself the way you believe in others. Have faith, love, and hope. Be kind, and don’t forget to smile.

 

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Condemnation

 

Today I take the power away from you to tear me down with your words. To shake my confidence. To make me feel like I am a failure. I won’t let you or anyone else have that power. Not anymore.

 

Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” (John 8:10)

 

When you derive your sense of worth from anything outside of God, it can easily be taken away. The same people, person, institution that builds you up can tear your down in a single instance. With a single word. Even if you derive your worth from your sense of self, one day you will inevitably fall short even by your own standards.

 

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. (John 8:11)

 

You may not feel worthy, or deserving, or even good. But God doesn’t shun you in your brokenness. Jesus doesn’t kick us when we are down; He extends His hands to lift us up.

 

Be lifted up oh my soul. You are a child of the King.

 

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Running from pain

We are always running.

 

Okay, let me try this again.

 

trapped

 

I have spent most of my life running. Running from suffering. Avoiding loss. Trying not to get hurt. Afraid.

 

But Jesus wasn’t afraid of suffering. He embraced it on the cross for us. For me. He lived His entire life knowing how and when it would be over. He knew that He would be separated from all those dear to Him. That no one would fully understand Him, or His purpose. That though surrounded by disciples and the multitude, He would still be alone because they couldn’t fully understand His struggle. Only He knew that He was going somewhere they couldn’t follow.

 

I’ve been so afraid of losing that sometimes I held on to things more tightly than I should have. I lived trapped in a box of fear. Always afraid of getting a text, a phone call, a message that spelled doom for myself or my loved ones.

 

But to live in fear of suffering, loss, sickness, or death, is to prevent yourself from fully living. Negative circumstances and pain is unavoidable. But we don’t have to let hurt change and cripple us. All we can do is pray for strength.

 

Recently I went to go watch a movie that displayed the relationship Jesus has with those of His children who are suffering. In this movie the protagonist not only got to meet Jesus but he got to meet God as well. He began to accuse God of leaving Jesus when He (God) let Him (Jesus) die on the cross. But then God showed the protagonist of this story, His (God’s) own nail-pressed hands. God too was wounded by Jesus’ sacrifice. God told him (the protagonist) that He (God) never left Jesus. Just like He (God) never leaves us.

 

Yes you will face overwhelming circumstances, but God will never leave you. Jesus will never turn His face from you. There is no one better to have on your team. God is more than a mother or a father; he is also a brother, a sister, and a friend. He has your back. He will carry you when you are weak. When you forget Him He will still remember you. I have turned away from God. I felt like He had deserted me. But even as I turned from Him: He kept me, protected me, and He drew me back to His side.

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Sleep

I am encased by this deep fear.
Night after night sleep evades me.
I seek peace but I cannot reach it.
An enemy chases me that I cannot see.

I call out to my Father, but I don’t know if He hears me.
I am wandering this dark forest alone with no one to guide me.
I ask for direction and all I hear is silence.
I seek love and help from those who dwell on this earth with me,
but their aid is lost just as quickly as it was found.

The journey overwhelms me. I fall, and there is no one to catch me.

I call to my Father in hope that He help me.
That He heed my plight.

I want to give up on hearing His voice.
To claim that He isn’t there,
that He doesn’t care.

But I know He is there.
Standing quietly,
looking on lovingly.
Telling me that the night doesn’t last forever.
That light and relief come with the morning.

So I bide my time and wait.
When I can no longer form words,
and a cry is on my lips,
I just call His name,
Jesus, Jesus,
and I find the peace I need to sleep.

To be condemned…

I sat in church. Second row from the front. Different week, same routine.
But I desperately wanted to leave. The tiredness of everything the week had brought hit me at that very moment, and I was so tempted to just get up and walk away. I had a ride to church, but at that moment I seriously contemplated walking the 30mins back home. But somehow.. I decided to stay.

I’ve started realizing that the moments when I most want to get up and leave the presence of God are the times that I need to sit and stay the most.

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The preacher started speaking. His general topic: “the attitude of gratitude.” ‘Cute,’ I thought to myself. I settled in for the long haul, but my ears picked up as he slowly focused in on his point.

My eyes followed him as he spoke. He had a deformed hand, so whenever he spoke I always made a conscious effort to focus in on him and not his hand. The first time I had heard him speak, I couldn’t hear his words. I was staring. His deformity was all I could see. But I no longer let myself see him by what he was outwardly lacking. That day he spoke about how he lost so many fingers. I realized people around me began to stare at what was left of his hand. But my eyes never left his face. He talked and talked. At this point he had stepped down from the pulpit. He paced back and forth in front of the church, and then he reached out and touched me, with his hand that wasn’t whole, and I didn’t flinch. I only smiled and looked straight into his eyes.

Then he turned to me and said. “God is not going to bless you because you are good.” I almost cried. That was it. Those were the words. That was the message.

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As I grew in my Christian walk, it became less about how much time I spent with God, and more about how much I could do for Him. But the more I did, and the more I grew. The more I felt the weight of my sin.

I sought to be good. But word after word, action after action, thought after thought, condemned me. I recognized my self as a sinner, not a saint. I was so aware of my shortcomings, failures and burdens. I was consumed the knowledge that not only was I disappointing God, I was also disappointing myself. I was called to a higher standard. But it seemed like I could never reach it. Should I just give up? Should I accept defeat? Was it even possible to reach that perfection?

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Precept after precept, law after law. The bible. It condemned me. Shouldn’t I be struck down? Why would God even bless me?

I realized over time that I could never accept God’s forgiveness, if I couldn’t also subsequently forgive myself.

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His banner over me is love.

The law has seen me fall short time and time again, but his love always seems to lift me up.  Yes. It is indeed discouraging to fail in your walk with God, but never even trying to live God’s purpose for your life is akin to slavery. You become a slave to your every whim, want, and desire. No higher calling. No greater mission. No moral compass. You become consumed with pleasing yourself, and soon realize that self is never satiated.

The most amazing thing is that the people around you, those who proclaim to have an intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, will judge you, condemn you, and rebuke you. But Jesus speaks in love, and tells you to go and sin no more.

I often wonder at the magnitude of the sin of the woman at the well. What a burden she must have felt to never sin again. How hard was it for her to leave her current husband, one that she probably loved, though she had no legal claim to him? How did she support herself without a male companion? Did her whole lifestyle change overnight, or was it a gradual process? Did she wake up the next day, a saint? Perfect in all her ways?

Somehow I know in my heart that after Jesus told her to go and sin no more, it was just the beginning of her transformation. That though she daily found new sin in her life, she daily went back to the source that not only convicted her, but continually cleansed her. The battle is not for the faint of heart. But how comforting to know that the battle is not ours, but the Lord’s.

Wake Up


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“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” -Romans 5:3-5

I sit silently. Here in the pouring rain. Happy at last.

I’ve found it.
Or maybe it found me.

A true covering for this pain.

Now I cry, and the world cries with me.

It seems fitting.

On this long journey I searched for one thing. Validation. Proof that I was intelligent, worthy, capable, valued. For years I was stumbling in the dark for words of praise I never found. My efforts were in vain—my cries were in vain. My self-induced misery was for naught. I was beside myself with grief. Yet, I myself, created the hell I lived in.

My hope hardened. It resigned itself to a mere existence of should-of, would-of, could-of… but didn’t. I lost myself in despair, until to despair itself was the norm. But one day, I woke up. The nightmare was self-perpetuating, and I realized that I, myself, was not powerless. Sleep could only hold me for as long as I let it. So, I woke up.

But still that thing I longed for was beyond reach.

I scrambled for crumbs.

I stood idly by like the woman in the bible. Nameless.

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Jesus withdrew to Tyre.
A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out,
“Lord, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

Jesus answered her not a word.

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”
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Misery is no respecter of persons. Jesus came first to the Jews, and she a Gentile, sought Jesus at an inopportune time in an inconvenient place. There were people with greater burdens than her own. Her issue—not insignificant, but at such a time—impertinent.

Yet, like Jacob wrestling with the Angel, she fought with Jesus. She cried out to him in a loud voice. In her distress, strength filled her voice. It was her daughter. And as a mother, the pain could not have been greater than if it was she herself.

Yet Jesus answered not a word.

We are so fond of thinking of God as unhearing and unfeeling. But His silence speaks louder than words. What is He trying to tell you?

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“…Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”
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Even she, a Gentile. Unworthy, sinful, desperate. Yet she knew of her condition. She did not bow down in shame. She did not seek the validation of the Jews. But she came to the one person who could look past all outward appearances and conditions to examine her heart. Jesus read her need. He saw her struggle. He saw her faith. And when no one else would validate her—Jesus did.

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Jesus’ disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
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Jesus spoke to her, “Woman. You have great faith! Your request is granted.”

And at that moment, her daughter was healed.
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Despite her struggles, pain and burdens, In Him she found her help.

She found relief.

Wake up. Your help is here. He is here.

Am I… beyond saving?

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There are times when we feel we are beyond saving. We messed up, then we messed up again, and then we messed up again. We responded to altar call after altar call and despite our best intentions we are still surrounded by the mess we made of our life. At this point we no longer blame a person, an event, or even Satan. We simply blame ourselves. There is a time when our prayers to God seem more like cries to someone who is far away and unhearing. We are lost in our pain and our sorrow, and our only options seem to be: give up, give in, and stop trying. We hear sermons saying God gives second chances, but we leave dejected anyways because we are on our 6th chance.

 

When sin controls your life it destroys your relationships with those around you, and it destroys your relationship with God. The amazing thing is as we draw further away from Christ, it is we who decide to leave Him. He does not shut us out, but rather we close the door on any chance of a relationship with Him. As we lose ourselves in the world, we chose to remain prisoner to our sins, our past mistakes, and to our regrets. We are too sinful for church, and we are definitely too sinful for God—or so we tell ourselves. It’s okay for us to believe Jesus died for those people in church, but that wasn’t for us. We have fallen too far and for too long. He gave us another chance and we messed it up. We see Christianity and all we see is condemnation.

 

Let me tell you a story. You have heard it all before, but just humor me one more time. One day Jesus was very thirsty when He came upon a woman at a well. The woman was a Samaritan, and Jesus, a Jew. In those days the Jews felt that the Samaritans were not worthy enough to even converse with them. Yet Jesus asks this Samaritan woman for a drink of water. And how does she reply? The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” The Samaritan woman knew that in the eyes of Jesus she was considered unworthy, even ‘dirty.’ Why would He lower himself to even talk to her?

 

Truth is; why does God even lower himself to talk to us? We cannot fathom why, and so we presume that He doesn’t. We presume that our prayers if spoken would only fall on deaf ears. We presume that God doesn’t care about the individual details of our lives. But in 1 Peter 5:7 God tells us to cast all our worries and cares upon Him, because He cares for us. He cares for you! Wicked, sinful, faulty though you may be, He cares for you.

 

Okay, back to the story. We are at the part where Jesus mentions that He can offer the woman fresh living water. He tells her that if she drinks from the water He has to offer, she will never thirst again. Wait a minute!! You know that struggle that you keep wrestling with? Or that sin you keep falling into? Stop fighting it with your own strength! You will drink, but thirst again. You will overcome, but you will fall again. Psalms 16:2 tells us, that apart from God we can do no good thing. When you try on your own and you fail. It’s not cause God left you (and here is the crux), it is cause that’s how it will always be when you are working apart from God. Look, the water the woman was drinking was “holy.” Think about this. In John 4:12 the bible says Jacob, a holy man of God gave the people the well of water. But yet, one drink was never enough to satisfy the people. The same way when we go to church, and we hear the gospel preached, that ‘second-hand’ water is not enough to save us from our sins. We need to go straight to the source. We need to go to Christ. When we seek His living water, it is then we will have the power to overcome our sins.

 

Lastly, after this woman was convicted of her need for God, Christ took a look at her past. He saw that she could not fully serve Him, when she was still holding on to all her past baggage, all her sins. So Jesus told her to call her husband. And you know what? God didn’t just forgive her of the fact that she was living with a man who was not her husband. Neither did he forgive her of the fact that she had married twice, three times, or four times, but rather five times! In the Jewish tradition it was adultery to divorce and marry again. But this woman had been around the block and back again!

 

Look, Yes, you have sinned, and yes you have fallen short, but when God forgives you He doesn’t forgive the lightest of your sins. He forgives them all. The burden, the sorrow, and the weight you have been carrying? Know that right now, at this very moment! If you want to open your heart to God. No matter how sinful and defiled it is. God will take your sin, all of it, and nail it to the cross. God says in Luke 7:47, “I tell you, her sins–and they are many–have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” The love you have for Christ in your sinful state can never compare to the love of one who has never sinned.

 

You alone know how low you have gone, and God alone knows how high He can lift you up! So the next time you feel unworthy of Christ’s grace, remember that yes, you are. Yet He bestows it anyway. Yes you don’t deserve His love, but He gives it anyway. Yes, you don’t pray, but God has cared for you anyways.