God is Weak?

“God is weak. And for this reason I love Him.”

I stared at my friend. Blinked a couple of times. Maybe his English was failing him because I had certainly never thought of God as being weak. “What exactly do you mean?” I pressed.

With a little further explanation I came to realize that he meant exactly what he said. God is weak. He is weak because His love makes Him vulnerable.  He is weak because His creation is capable of breaking His heart. And for this reason I love Him.

I’d never really considered it a weakness, but I’m familiar with the depths of God’s sacrificial love. I know that nothing else would compel Him to endure the cross for me. And I know it didn’t stop at the cross.

God cares so deeply about every little detail of my life that He grieves when I grieve. When Lazarus died and the family was in mourning, what did Jesus do? He wept. He cried right along with those who were hurting. And I’m fully convinced that He was hurting too.

I grew up knowing that Jesus loves me – that He catches every fallen tear and knows the number of hairs on my head. I was raised with a God who loves. The god my friend once served was quite different. It was because of his experience with a god who lords his power over his creation that my friend found himself attracted to God’s vulnerability. This is why he could look me in the eye and say, “God is weak. And for this reason I love Him.”

I serve a God who concerns Himself with sparrows just so He can say that I’m worth much more than them. I serve a God who loves with such fierce passion that He is moved to tears. I serve a God who would give His life as a ransom for many, even knowing that the majority would reject Him in the end. For this reason, He may be considered weak; but it is for this reason I love Him.

Who is Jesus to You?

“This is not a church; it’s a hospital.”

This is what I was told by a missionary friend last night. When you don’t feel good, you take a pill. We go to church every Sunday to get our “Jesus fix”, but most of us don’t even know who Jesus truly is.

To the world, Jesus is a fad – a name that Kesha wears on her necklace even though the Jesus I know doesn’t fit into the singer’s “sick and sexy-fied” lifestyle. But how can we expect the world to know the character of Jesus when even our Christians often don’t understand Him? 

45-year-old woman who had been raised in church was asked to disciple a new believer, she claimed she didn’t know how. When my friend encouraged her to simply talk about her lover, the woman responded, “Jesus loves me?”

And I wonder… How does a woman spend 45 years in church and not know that Jesus loves her? How does a person spend every Sunday morning listening to the greatest fairytale of all time and not be moved by it? How do we get it in our minds that we can go to church and get just enough of Jesus to help us make it through the week?

God shouldn’t be a drug; He should be the very air we breathe. We need Him. We need the relationship for which we were created.

Did you know that Jesus loves you, or is that simply a song you learned in Sunday school? Did you know that God rejoices over you with singing as a mother sings over her child? Did you know that God is jealous for you as a lover is jealous for his beloved? Do you know these things, or have you simply allowed them to go in one ear and out the other?

Is Jesus just a necklace to complete your “sick and sexy-fied” outfit, or is He the lover who holds your hand and walks with you through all of life’s ups and downs? Who is Jesus to you?

Confident Humility

“Those who are sure of themselves are humble.”

The words that my newest missionary friend shared with me seemed almost contradictory, and yet that statement was the most accurate explanation I’d ever heard of humility. Those who are sure of themselves are humble.

When we think of one who is sure of himself, we automatically think cocky, but a cocky person isn’t truly confident in his abilities. If he was, he wouldn’t find the need to perform.

Those who are sure of themselves are humble because they’ve no need to one-up another person. They find no purpose in exalting themselves over others. Insecurity is what rears its ugly head at the sign of competition, but those who are sure of themselves are humble.

I think most people have a skewed vision of humility. We’ve somehow gotten the idea that being humble is doubting our abilities, but it’s really quite the opposite. True humility is expressed when we are confident and secure in the way God has gifted us, knowing that we have no need to impress anyone.

Check out the following passage from John 13:

“Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” (vs. 3-5)

As my friend pointed out to me the other night, Jesus knew that He had all the power in the universe. This passage doesn’t say, “Even though Jesus knew, He did this.” It doesn’t even say “Jesus knew, but He still chose to wash the feet of His disciples.” No. It says, “Jesus knew…so.” He washed their feet because He knew that all power was His under God. So you see, those who are sure of themselves are humble.

God wants you to embrace the talents He has given to you. He wants you to be confident of your ability in Him. And He wants you to walk in the humility that only comes when you are secure in the person He created you to be.

A Work Unfinished

I wrote a post the other day for the missions organization I work with. It was a beautiful story of how God touched the heart of a broken child in Ukraine, but what resonates most deeply in my heart were Valerija’s final words: “God never leaves a work unfinished.”

Wow. It’s almost enough to leave me speechless.

My thoughts instantly turned to a passage in Philippians: “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 1:4-6

God will complete the good work He began in you. He never leaves a work unfinished. Right now, the canvas of your life may not look too impressive, but the Master Artist has not yet finished painting. The Carpenter is not yet done carving, the Potter is still shaping.

Yes, I am a work unfinished, but I won’t always be that way. I cling to the promise of beauty from these ashes. I am a masterpiece waiting to emerge from the clay. It may be awhile before the refining process is complete, but it will happen. After all, God never leaves a work unfinished.

“…in the hands of a master carpenter, no piece of wood is safe from becoming a masterpiece.” -Steven James

With a Writer’s Passion

It always hits me in the mornings. I cannot even count the number of times my cappuccino has grown cold as my pen dances across the page, or how many times I’ve scrambled to make it to work on time after being held spellbound by a scene that unfolds in my mind.

Every writer lives with a handful of characters that scream at her like pesky children – waking her up at night, interrupting her quiet times, and grabbing her by the shirt tail at the most inconvenient opportunities. But she cannot deny them for, unlike a child, they will not remember what it was that they wanted after an hour has passed. She must capture the moment when it comes or risk losing it forever.

But then I think… Shouldn’t every moment of my life be just like those inspired writing moments? Shouldn’t I embrace life with such intensity that I cannot imagine the passing of time as each scene plays out before my eyes?

Most days I rush through life, constantly glancing at the clock, counting the seconds until one event or another.  I forget that life is not made up of great events, but of little moments. And each tick of the clock is a moment I’ve wasted being caught up in the busyness of life.

Oh, but for the heart of a child – to embrace each moment with such passion and wonder. To allow the simple things to stir my heart and bring a smile to my face. Oh, but that I would embrace each moment of my life with my writer’s passion. This is my reminder today to live the journey. Live.

Why Does God Allow Evil?

“If God is so good, why is there so much evil in the world?”

It’s a common question between believers and non-believers alike. Believers want to know why God allows suffering, while the non-believers challenge that our world is proof that there is no loving God.

Until just now, I didn’t have a good answer to that question. I simply figured that God was God, and He had reasons beyond which we could wrap our finite human minds. While that  still remains true, I’ve found a little more clarity regarding God’s seeming inactivity as I  read the Parable of the Weeds in Matthew 13.

In this story, a man sowed good seed in a field, but when everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and scattered weeds among the crop. When the plants began to grow, it was quite obvious that there had been foul play, but when the servants asked if they should pull the weeds, the farmer said no. He explained that, in purging the evil, they might accidentally uproot the good. The farmer wouldn’t risk that, so the weeds remained until harvest.

So there it is. Straight from the mouth of Jesus. The reason there is evil in our world. Satan sowed his seed among God’s own, and God won’t risk harming His children in order to rid this world of evil. Only when the time for harvest comes will He separate the wheat from the weeds.

It’s pretty bizarre to think that God allows evil for our sakes. It doesn’t make much sense to my logical human mind, but God seems to think that it’s best for me that way. For now, I’m content to  simply cling to the promise of the harvest and know that God is going to purge all the evil from this world someday.

You are Enough

Identity. That word is such a huge deal in our culture. It seems that everyone is out to “find themselves” nowadays. I’m not entirely sure what that statement fully means, but I do understand the delicate dance of trying to find your place in the world. But when it comes to identity, I think we place too much value in who other people say we are or say we should be.

In the movie What a Girl Wants, seventeen-year-old Daphne Reynolds dreams of meeting the father she has never known. She tells her mother, “I feel like a part of me is missing, and without the other half, how am I supposed to know who I really am?” Ironically, in Daphne’s desperate quest to “find herself”, she nearly loses herself as she squelches her wild, carefree personality in order to fit in with her dad’s traditional world. My heart always cheers her on as she looks her father in the eye and says, “You know what I miss now? I miss being me. I’ve finally realized that that is enough.”

Being the person you are is all you have to be. It’s enough. Even when people tell you that you’ll never amount to anything. Even when you’ve failed for the hundredth time. You don’t have to adopt the dreams the world tries to shove down your throat; all you have to do is pursue the dreams God has given you.

God is the only One whose opinion really matters because He’s the One who holds firm your true identity. Isaiah 49:16 says, “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” He bears the scars of a man who was crucified because it reminds Him of you and the sacrifice He had to pay in order to restore you to Himself.  If you want to know who you are, you don’t have to fly halfway across the world. All you have to do is look up into the eyes of the One who calls you His beloved. Let Him tell you who you truly are. He’ll tell you that you are you. Exactly as He created you to be. And that, my friend, is enough.

You’ve written my name on the palm of Your hand, but until you revealed it to me, I had no idea it so closely resembled a nail-shaped scar…


Yet I will rejoice

“I went to sleep with gum in my mouth and now there’s gum in my hair and when I got out of bed this morning I tripped on the skateboard and by mistake I dropped my sweater in the sink while the water was running and I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.”

So begins the popular children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. When I read that book, I’m inclined to laugh at the “tragic” events that occur throughout Alexander’s day, but I find it more difficult to smile when I’m having one of those days myself. The past couple days have been so crazy that I feel like I could write a book entitled Rebekah and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week.

And, as He often does on days like these, God turned my mind to Habakkuk 3:17-18. “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. Yet, as in, even though nothing is going my way, even though all I want to do is scream, even though I don’t feel an ounce of joy in this heart of mine, even though I simply want to move to Australia. Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. Even when I’m having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day (which is certainly what the Israelites were having when God delivered this word to them).

I know this isn’t something I can accomplish on my own. So I’ll take a deep breath and ask God to please put some joy back into my heart. Now I’ve nothing to do but prayerfully wait for his peace to saturate my being. In the meantime…

Okay, so maybe I’ll forget that last bit and listen to some worship music instead.

“The One”

I couldn’t help but sigh as I read my friend’s status update: 1 month! <3

Ironically enough, that same friend’s status read 18 months only a couple months ago. And so continues the search for “the one”. Boyfriend after boyfriend after boyfriend, she still hasn’t found him, but manages to convince herself that the next guy will be different. And, yes, he will be different as not one human is the same as another. But different isn’t necessarily right.

It’s probably pretty easy for me to judge because I’ve never actually dated anyone (GASP!), but sometimes I feel like those counting statuses are almost like a twisted little game. Let’s see how long I can keep this one. Yes, 14 months! A new record! That probably sounds callous because I know that’s not the intention. There’s a joy and excitement behind those status updates that I’ve yet to experience, but I’ve also seen the pain and disappointment that comes when a person falls short of that 19- month marker. For awhile, she really thought he would be the one… but he wasn’t.

Ever heard that quote, “My knight in shining armor turned out to be a loser in tinfoil.”? Isn’t it strange how close his disguise resembled shining armor until the breakup? I guess I’m just sick of hearing, “Oh, he’s so wonderful,” only to learn that, “He’s such a jerk,” a few months later. What happened? I don’t believe that someone can go from being Mr. Wonderful to Mr. Scum-of-the-Earth in a split-second. I’m not inclined to believe he was ever either of those things. But it hurts me to think that two people can become so set against one another simply because a relationship failed to play out the way they imagined it would.

So, ladies, cut the guys a break. Don’t pretend he’s more than he is, and don’t gripe about him being any less either. If he’s not the one, take a deep breath and walk away. Because one day, you will find the one. And if you will only wait for him, he could be even more than you imagined. Just try not to get too caught up in your fantasies, and allow God to guide your steps. He’ll take care of the rest.

And just for fun, check out this humorous song from Superchick about waiting for Prince Charming.


Waiting…

The three children bounced on the trampoline, shouting at the ground beneath them. “You can’t hurt us, Satan! God is going to beat you up!”

The youngest of them chimed in. “He would right now, but He’s busy.”

“No, He’s not busy,” her older counterpart corrected. “He’s just waiting.”

Waiting. God is waiting. I wonder what it is He’s waiting for. Why doesn’t He intervene when evil triumphs in our world? Why doesn’t He put an end to the suffering in our midst? Why doesn’t He hurry to vanquish Satan forever? Why does He wait? And why does He insist on making me wait with Him?

I think that’s our biggest problem with God’s periods of waiting. We’re so anxious to rush into things that it bothers us to wait with God. We start to think that if God called us to something, things should start happening now. But still, God waits.

Do you ever think that perhaps God is waiting for you? Do you ever wonder if the reason nothing is happening might be because you haven’t taken the steps to make it happen? I could say that whatever God waits for is really none of my concern… unless He is waiting for me.

Nothing happens on its own. God usually doesn’t drop things into our laps unless we are actively pursuing His will. Once you start moving in the right direction, God no longer has to wait. But if He waits for you and you wait for Him, your dreams will wait along with you.

For this reason, I choose to move Beyond Waiting. I choose to step out into the unknown, believing that God will clear a path before me.

He’s just waiting… But not for long.