Sweet Smell of Rain

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My oldest daughter just started taking Bible studies at school with a few of her classmates. On our way  to school one rainy morning, we were discussing what she was learning and why. She shared a few verses and we talked about why it’s so important to know the Word of God. This led to a conversation about how God and the devil both speak to us and how it takes scriptural knowledge to be able to tell the difference. If we don’t know and cherish God’s Word in our hearts, we will very likely listen and live by the lies satan persistently and repetitively speaks to us. We need to know God’s truth to distinguish His voice.

As we were discussing this, my youngest daughter pipes in with “Mommy, Jesus is like the rain on our windshield and satan is like the wipers trying to wipe it away.” Brilliant! She’s four years old and gets it clear as a bell. I was so blessed by her words. She recognizes that Satan’s big plan is to wipe Jesus and His love for us off the map of our minds and hearts. Truly out of the mouths of babes. Oh, to have the faith and understanding of a loving, receptive, trusting child.

Satan can “wipe” as much as he wants, as fast as he wants, but he can’t stop the Rain. He wipes by telling us we’re not loved enough or good enough. He wipes with condemnation and guilt. He wipes by convincing us that what we did was unforgiveable or that we’ll never get it right, so what’s the use in trying? He wipes by distracting and enticing us to look elsewhere for comfort and popularity. He wipes by validating our revenge on those who have hurt us. He wipes by getting us to compare and compete with each causing jealousy and mayhem. He wipes.

Jesus rains. He rains down love and speaks to us through His Word. His Word is always there like a beacon in the fog. Look, listen, and feel. If we don’t read and learn, we won’t know who we’re hearing. In my personal experience, the devil speaks louder, so it’s taken a lot of prayer and seeking to hear God’s voice. So, I pray to hear Him. I read to hear Him. I strain to hear Him. He’s all I want to hear.

Leaning on Jesus for our past, present, future is the only way to get it “right”. Only through Him and by Him can we get “right” with our Father in Heaven. As much chaos and pain as Satan causes in our lives by trying to “wipe” Him away, Jesus’s love overcomes. He loves us and the devil hates it, therefore he wipes…..incessantly. It’s all he can do.

So, let him “wipe”. Let him discourage. Let him confuse and berate. Jesus brings clarity, love, peace, victory.

Let’s consider the blessing that rain is to us and how badly we need it when our ground is parched. Let’s consider the oceans and lakes we enjoy the sites and experiences of so much. Let’s consider the sweet smell of rain on a hot summer day. Let’s consider the powerlessness we feel when our plans are rained out or made better because of it. Rain comes when the rains come. There’s nothing we can say or do to predict when it will come or how long it will stay. No amount of disappointment will change the rain. Let us also consider a childlike faith and innocence when it rains and dance in it like children do. Thank you, Lord, for the rain. You do truly reign.

I say: “You keep wiping Satan, all that will accomplish is very tired arms on your part, because you can’t stop the Rain (Love of Jesus for me).”

Because….

 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.  No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39 (NLT)

 

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Get Real!

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I’m inspired by a recent conversation with a friend about how we so desperately want to just get real. We crave getting real with each other and with God. There is such a stigma about admitting what we struggle with….

I was raised in the Seventh-day Adventist church. This was a blessing. But, I was missing a major ingredient to the Christian journey until my early 30s. I went through the motions and was taught to obey a certain set of rules that my brain was told to understand, but my heart was clueless as to why??

I’m thankful for the foundation that was set for me as a child and I don’t blame anyone for my misunderstanding. But, I am eternally grateful that God answered my cries for more as an adult. I had religion and wasn’t overly sold. Something was missing and my heart was aching for more. Turns out, I was missing the relationship part. Relationship is where it gets personal and real. Relationship changes everything.

I visited other churches in hopes that I could find what I was missing. I was willing to change churches just to find it. Thankfully, through a Twelve Steps for Spiritual Healing class offered at our church, I found exactly what I was looking for. Women who struggled like me. A small group of women willing to get real about their issues. We had issues with the church, issues at home, issues at work, issues with ourselves, issues with God. Issues that needed somewhere to go. It was through this group of women, that God started His healing and I opened up to a whole new experience with Him. I believe He led me to this group. I also believe this is why I have a strong passion for women’s ministry now.

As an adult with daughters of my own to raise, I still don’t understand some of the rules we were raised with. There are some I don’t follow anymore. I understand the importance of obedience. I understand the value in seeking the truth. I understand the gift of the Sabbath. But, I had never fully grasped the grace and unfailing love that Jesus has for me. It’s still hard to comprehend. I can only attempt to dish it out as quickly as He pours it in. There is POWER in the Holy Spirit. There is WISDOM in His word. And, there is unfailing LOVE in His sacrifice.

Going to church strictly out of routine can turn into as much of a crutch as not going at all. I didn’t go for years. It felt like more rules to me….I was missing the love factor. The acceptance factor. The grace factor. The “why” factor. Feeling God’s presence in my life and getting to know Him personally has changed everything. Now, I crave going to church because I get to surround myself with people who struggle (like me) and are seeking (like me) and long to worship (like me). That is such a blessing!

Last week I was sitting in my youngest daughter’s Sabbath School class and they were reciting their weekly memory verse. It was John 14:15 “If you love me, keep my commandments”. In high school, my head would have translated that verse as “oh no, another verse about following more rules that I don’t understand in order to be loved”. Now, I see how His commands are there BECAUSE He loves me and wants what’s best for me. I want my daughter to desire to obey Him because she is certain of His love for her, not because it’s the only way He will love her. Huge difference!

Thank you, Jesus, for wanting us to get real with You! What a relief and joy it is….

Meekness is Not Weakness

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Matthew 5:5 says: Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. The definition of meek is “quiet, gentle, and easily imposed on; submissive.”  These are all wonderful and endearing character traits. As wives, we are called to be a gentle quiet spirit and submissive to our husbands. This makes it very hard to know when and HOW to stand up for ourselves properly and respectfully in a God pleasing way.

2 Timothy 1:7 says For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. Amen! This tells me that the Holy Spirit will speak to us and give us the words and strength to stand up, speak up, and make necessary changes. He has done this for me and I pray He continues to. Do not mistake meekness, kindness, or humility for weakness. It takes a lot more strength to respond with these virtues in certain situations than it does to retaliate in anger and hostility. We are not called to be doormats, but we are called to demonstrate self control. It’s a delicate balance.

When we do stand up, the relationship may end. We may get rejected. We may even get blamed. But, when we wonder what decisions to make, it helps immensely to ask ourselves what decision we would want our children to make if they were in the same situation.  We would never want them to be walked on, disrespected, or used. They are much too valuable! They deserve better! Well, so do we. God sees us the same way, we are His children. His spirit WILL give us the wisdom, power, and words to stand up when necessary and there are times when it IS necessary.