God took His love, and made the Infinite as small as a
...and wrapped it in flesh
(bruisable, betrayable flesh)
And lived His love among us
we ripped at the packaging and
tore open the gift...
only to find
and forgiveness inside.
He does not and will not take away
our will, in order to turn us into
but He gives us the freedom to choose...
and when we chose
He set Himself in the middle of our path,
bent on destruction
and willingly received the brunt of our choice of
canceling out all our hurts, and hurtings
("by his stripes...")
to present us with a new way ("I am the Way...")
With all our errors forgiven
and placed in our hands the
Freedom to do the same.
To give out of the abundance of what
we've been given
and not be black holes
To love with the same abandon
To be an oasis of safety
in a very
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9-10 Oh God. Help me to love like You do.
Even knowing the truth that it's all
about grace, that it's all about faith and NOT works, - the law had
crept back into my life.
I mean – it's about who I am, I know –
but what I DO matters too, right?
...I almost didn't notice
I was priding myself on seeking to
please God, and Not going easy on sin in my life – not a bad thing. Actually neither of those are bad things. But as has been pointed out to me
time and time again, it's not the bad thing in life that sets itself up against the
best – it's the good. The almost-best. That tricks us and tantalizes
us – Eve did not bite into a piece of ugly or rotten fruit.
A few days after a dear friend told me
that I was being too hard on myself – and I brushed them off with a
mental but self-righteous, “how could they understand?” – God
hit me. Very gently. Like He always does...
It started with another friend who had
just bought a book – and it looked good. So I borrowed it for two
days... 'cause-I-don't-really-have-time-to-read-it, but-I-could-skim-it... and I ended up keeping it for two more days and not being able
to put it down. One thing the author said JUMPED out at me:
the choice to please God or trust God, good girls become
conflicted,... [it is like] a fork in the road. The marker to the
left simply says Pleasing God. The one leading to the right reads
Trusting God. It is hard to choose one over the other, because both
roads have a good feel to them... it becomes obvious that we will not
be able to jump back and forth between the two paths. We must choose
one. Only one.”
“But isn't trusting God pleasing Him too?” you might ask... and rightfully so. I mean, that's
what I thought at first, so it must be ok... :) ... but what's your motivation?
Here's the problem:
What if you already were
pleasing to God?
What if He already delighted in you? I
mean, He made you – so might it not stand to reason that He actually likes
you? Then taking the path “Pleasing God” would be like trying to
buy something that you already had. Or taking a gift back to the
store and trying to pay for it again. Why would you ever want to do that?
God has been hounding me for the last
four years with the statement, “Crystal, you can't earn love. You
Can't do it.” And I halfway understand Him... but then try to do
just that, again. Please Him. Please others. Again.... And then I feel like
I'm failing. Again. And I try to run away. Or hide. Or pretend that
all is well... But... What if He already were pleased?... how
dang freeing would that be...? To just be loved by Him... and to love in
return... even if it were imperfectly? And then how much easier to
trust Him... if His love truly. is. unconditional?
I was reminded of a teaching about
Jesus that hit me hard once,
Before He did any miracles, before he
healed any sick, raised any dead, preached any sermons, restored sight to
any blind... before He walked on water and waaaay before He laid His
life down, God looked down from Heaven and said, “This is my
beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Before it all.
Before he did anything to
you say, but wasn't Jesus perfect? He didn't do anything bad
[Oh, Perfect. Something
that, alas, I never will be this side of Heaven...
praise God. I so want to be, it is an
Yes, He was. And because of that, I
am ok too... because He shielded me as I was in the path of a
righteous and holy and perfect God ... and all the imperfect things I ever did, am doing and will
ever do were nailed to that cross with Him – and they don't count
against me anymore. None of it. “For
our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we
might become the righteousness of God.”
Nada. Zilch. Nul. Nothing. The only thing that counts is the stuff
that's for me... that I'm His
daughter. And that He made me. And that He likes me. And that I can trust
think I am going to practice this. Waking up every day and saying
Thank You, Father for being pleased
with me and for loving me, just as I am. And tell Him that I really hope to hear Him and follow Him around, seeing what He does. 'Cause I know
He loves me. And He wants to be with me (Jesus said so!). And maybe by being with Him, He'll rub off on me... and people will feel safe around me - like sinners felt with Jesus - and loved - like I am learning to be.
the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory,
glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace
Merry Everything, friends.
ps. If you're the kind of person that wants a ton of scripture to back up stuff, GREAT. Hit me up and I'll send it all painstakingly detailed your way.
It started this morning; almost forty degrees outside and still the white flakes swirled about, an answer to an irrationally selfish prayer: "Just one more glimpse, please God..."
Then at Gram's doctor's appointment, a sliver of a gift, pie-size hope for an appointment of my own before going back to Peru... and budgetable as well.
On those heels followed the news that my afternoon AND evening plans were cancelled...
and a snow day was born at noon.
...with the same eager,
that I felt as a teacher with no pre-plans, just the ones spontaneous, and wonderfully made...
And why should it surprise me that it's less than two weeks before take-off
and there's still God-room for spontaneity?
And I got to grab coffee with S... while blowing silly kisses to K, who beautifies even the DunkinDs uniform,
and I am grateful for her heart of gold to lend me the book
she had just bought the day before.
And got to drive to Orland and snatch my favorite Grecian goddess from her turret and just wander with the two sisters in Bangor stores, semi-aimlessly among aisles and alleys, laughing over corny product names and smearing our upper lips with love...
that I can still smell when I walk outside...
And out came stories of the past and the present, slipping through the cracks of words spoken in sister-code and translated by eyes and faces
and my shameless questions.
And we stopped by Edge and H stumbled on "Pursuit of Happyness,"
a perfect way to end the evening,
- after they ate (I am so happy when they eat)
food that actually has vitamins and proteins in it,
not just flour and sugar,
and we laughed and ached and rejoiced with Chris Gardner and his son
until the movie was over.
and I have forever burned into my mind their two faces, side-by-side and blue-lit, smiling with genuine happiness, H peering over S's shoulder at the screen on her phone, hiding and seeking out their sister love again...
And the only part of the evening that was hard to thank the Father for was the drive home
and the drop-off
and the splinter of fear
that the next time I see them
their lives might be upside-down again.
but I am now listening... and entrusting...
and I thank God for wise women,
and for Himself, the Forger of paths and the mover of mountains
who sees the end of all things, yet is patient with my blindness and irrational insecurities...
Ok, so I really don't think I'm going
to end up in the belly of a big fish.
But Jonah is one character in
the Bible I identify with on so many different levels...
His ability to disagree with God...and
act on it.
He ran when God said “go,”
in the absolute opposite direction.
Sometimes I listen and then
choose to do precisely what God says not to.
His inertia NOT to get involved.
He was asleep in the bottom
of the boat when it was going down.
I too sometimes ignore
problems and hope they go away.
His sense of justice over mercy
(working on this)...
He preferred to see the
destruction of the wicked over their repentence...
I want to decide who is
worthy of hearing the gospel -
and who isn't, based on my
own personal standards.
His reluctant obedience.
It's not until he's faced with personal
destruction that Jonah finally caves...
Often I have to have my
hand burnt before I'll take it out of the fire.
When he saw God's goodness
to others and grace on the “undeserving,”
he just felt sorry for
And I confess that my
litany runs on too:
Why them and not me?
This is not what I wanted
in serving you
This was not the path I
would have chosen
And I gripe, and complain
And feel like I'm so abused
And I feel sorry for
(It's quite ok to laugh now
– the ridiculousness of it makes me chuckle too)
His ability to look for comfort in the
He was enraged that the
vine that God provided died,
you know... the one he didn't plant or
but that was providing him with shade,
instead of rejoicing in the
glory of the love and mercy of God
on an entire nation,
not understanding that God
loves people ridiculously more than anything else
that He does NOT delight in
the destruction of even the wicked
that in His heart is
redemption at any cost... even to Himself,
the foolishness of a crucified king.
And when I see this vine
that I call “home,”
this shelter for heart and
body being taken away from me
I mourn and rage,
even knowing beneath it all
that this is my Lover's heart
that because of His great
love for ALL – not just for me –
that my temporary
discomfort is a small price
to Him... and maybe even to
because my Shepherd did not
consider himself above me,
did not refuse to leave His
shade of Heaven
did not refuse us His time
so in this season, I remember and worship Jesus,
God with us - God who came.
very unorthodox and radical
image of the Father who loves
of us, the wonderfully undeserving. ...because we don't/can't earn God's love.
He would choose someone as
and unreliable as Jonah
share His message.
And He loves me still... this is what gives me the strength to stand.
"And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful......see that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord."
- Paul to the Colossians
I thank God for Jonah.
“But he answered them, An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”