Conversations

Still Loved

So many nights I have sat here, curled up, confronted with darkness – a darkness I invited. Some days my to-do list is enough to keep my mind occupied and feelings of shame at bay, but only for a time. 

I work hard to remind myself of the truth over and over. Sometimes it works and feelings of condemnation are alleviated. At those times I am overwhelmed with gratitude as I  recall what The Father sacrificed for me. I am filled with awe considering His love for me… 

So why do I repeatedly feel distant from Him? Why does this theme of feeling unlovable continue its cruel cycle through my mind?

Life creeps in again. Things need to be tended to. Sleep is hard to leave each morning and easy to wander into. I don’t remember being this tired before. Here now, even sleep ends with the feeling that I’ve failed, failed to do more and see progress. Once again I welcome shame to the doorstep and usher it in… 

There must be something I am doing wrong… or something I messed up a while ago. If The Father has left me, I can understand why. I am a mess and I have let Him down so many times. 

Here I am again, face buried in my knees, quiet tears forming a ring around me as if to block me into the guilt I feel. The truth that I knew yesterday about His love and sacrifice for me seems distant and besides, surely I actually voided it long ago anyway. He is quiet and I am not worthy of His presence or affection. Some child of His I turned out to be. 

 

From my position on the floor I smell a sweet fragrance. Not an overpowering smell… rather, its a pleasing smell, almost relaxing. I’ve smelled this fragrance before… Before I lift my head to see where it’s coming from, I hear His tender voice.

 

My precious little one, I have never stopped loving you. I know you are hurting, thinking that I left you and that you drove me away, but that is not true. I desire to be with you more, not less. Don’t you know, I knew all of this was going to happen but I still made that sacrifice – for you. Because I love you. I have always loved you. Nothing you have done or will ever do will remove or cancel my love for you. Those things that you have done that you think have disappointed me enough to drive me away, those are the things that led me to such a great sacrifice for you. Yes, I hurt and weep for you but nothing you have done or experienced has separated you from my love. You love your own children regardless of what good or bad they have done – don’t you know it is even more so with my love for you? I want you to want to spend time with me. I have always been here, waiting for you to make time to speak with me. I am only quiet because you haven’t invited me to speak, you aren’t ready to listen. I am and have been at the door knocking, waiting for your attention and affection. I love you as I always have.

 

I am having a hard time lifting my head to look for The Father’s face as He speaks to me. A flood of gratitude – no, gratitude isn’t the right word… it is a tidal wave of love for The Father has overtaken me. My whole body shakes with tears of relief and joy and love. As He lays His strong and mighty hand gently on my back, I turn and fling my arms around His neck. I have known this fact of the truth of His love for me before, but now my heart has experienced it deeply and personally. 

 

Picking me up off of the floor easily (as my strong Daddy God does sometimes when He comforts me) He says, “Little one, remember that the sacrifice I made for you cannot and will not be undone. It is fully for you. Remember that I mean everything I say and my Word is worth trusting. When I said that you are redeemed and forgiven I mean it fully and completely, with no exceptions. I don’t love you in pieces and parts. I love you all the way, fully. What once millennia ago kept me from my beloved children, I long ago made certain it never would again. My love for you is stronger than anything you have ever done, right or wrong. I will never leave you. I am here. I am singing over you. I am healing your brokenness. I am your Father, your Strength, your Shield, your Forgiveness, your Redeemer, your Righteousness, your Source of Enduring Love.

 

I lay my head against The Father’s chest once again. My crying has been calmed by His tender mercies and the demonstration of His truthful and everlasting love and grace for me.

Conversations

More Than Stars

image by Dino Reichmuth

Come here and sit with me, Precious One.

I climb up on The Father’s lap, glad to rest there. I am always so comfortable sitting with The Father. I know I am safe in His strong arms. I can feel my body already begin to release the tension that has been building in me. These days have been tense. Difficult. But here on The Father’s lap, I have peace. Turning my face up towards His, I see Him staring into the night sky. 

Pick a star,” He says to me as if it were like selecting fruit from the produce section of the grocery store. “Any star,” He reiterates. 

I stare wide at the sky, looking for a star to catch my eye. I finally find one and point, wondering with so many stars, how The  Father will know which star I’m looking at. Without hesitation, He smiles and tells me that I picked a beautiful star and tells me it’s name. Like a proud Creator, He begins to tell me what is unique to that exact star I picked from the trillions in the sky! I am amazed at His greatness.

Then turning towards me, He smiles and asks if I know how many stars there are in the sky. This feels like a familiar conversation, like maybe Abraham had a similar conversation with The Father…

 

“I have no idea how many stars there are. I know I can’t count them all. It was hard just picking one.” 

The Father nods knowingly and asks another question, “Do you know that I know the name of every single star that I’ve ever created?

“Yes, Abba, I do know that. I know that you know the names of all the stars that are young, those that have died, and every star in every galaxy. Your greatness is amazing and overwhelming to me, too vast for me to comprehend!” 

Still smiling at wide-eyed me, The Father draws me closer to Himself and begins to tenderly tell me the reason for all this set-up: 

 

Do you know that you are even more valuable to me than all those multitudes of stars? I knew your name before you were born. I counted out the days for you before anyone ever thought about you. I see you and know you better than anyone ever has or ever will. I knew who you would be as I knit you together in your mother’s womb. I have seen every moment of your life. Even these tiring and difficult days, I have seen. I know all of it, but none of it is able to break My promises to you. I still have a wonderful plan for you. I still have victory for you, Precious One. Even in these hard and painful days, I see you and know you and what’s more, I know the great things still in store for you. 

You are amazed that I know the multitudes of stars, but do you not know that you are more precious and important to Me than all the stars in the sky? You know My greatness is even more than the stars can convey, know also that I Am able to always keep My promises to you. You are My child and nothing in all of creation can shake My love for you. Nothing can have victory over you because I am the One who fights for you. I will give the victory to you and bring you out of these hard days and those yet to come.

 

I snuggle up closer to Him and rest my head on His chest. Good tears gently run down my face. Peace floods my soul. The Father puts His strong arm around me as if to make His Words stick to me.

I know He is for me.

I know He is able to do anything.

I know He is great enough, strong enough, and all-of-enough for me.

I know that His love for me will never end and that is enough for any difficult day I face.

Conversations

Are You My Neighbor?

Sitting here in mud and filth, bloodied and bruised. All these people walking by. Do they see me? Do they see me broken and blood-stained? Does anyone see the pain and mess I’m in?

 

I see a doctor headed my direction; maybe he will see me and stop to help. … As he passes me by he lifts his phone up to his ear and moves to the other side of the street. …

 

A familiar face from the church in town is headed my direction. She is always doing good things for people: feeding the homeless, going on missions trips to foreign countries, attending prayer groups and Bible studies. She is well known for helping people. Surely she will see me and at least help me get up out of this mud!

“Are you ok? You really shouldn’t sit in such a muddy mess.” she says. 

I wonder why she is asking. Do I look like I might be ok? Before I can answer, she starts praying for me as if she figured out what I needed help with. 

“Amen.” she finishes praying and gives one last heartfelt comment while she walks away “I’ll be praying for you!” 

 

How can all these people just keep passing me by without helping? 

Maybe they see but don’t understand?

Perhaps they think it’s none of their business?

I suppose it’s possible they are afraid.

Maybe they don’t know what to do or say.

 

Wait. I know this person coming my direction. I see him every day. We aren’t close friends, but maybe he will recognize me. Almost as if embarrassed to know me, he cautiously approaches, looking around to check if anyone notices him coming toward me.

“What did you do to get yourself in this situation?” he says with a look of disapproval. “You probably could have avoided this. Maybe you should get yourself up out of that mud and cleaned up.”

Unbelievable. Even he seems to be heartless and blind to my helpless situation. 

 

Tears overflow and roll heavy down my face. I was trying to hold things together and be strong, but this almost hurts more than these bruises and gaping wounds. I try to get up. I don’t want to sit here anymore. I’m determined to get out of this mess on my own, but as I try to lift myself to my feet, my legs give way and I fall hard, back into the sloshing muck. My hands are too muddy now to even wipe the mud and tears from my eyes. I’m overwhelmed and wonder if its even worth it to try getting up any more. 

Looking around for something to lean up against and keep my head out of the muddy water, I think I see someone approaching. There is something different about him. He doesn’t act like all the others like I have a contagious disease. He carries himself confidently as he approaches me. He walks right up to me and kneels beside me in the mud! He lifts my good arm over his shoulder to start helping me up and says to me

 

“I’m here to help you. The Father sent me. He knew that you were in trouble and needed help so He asked me to come. I’m sorry this happened and that you are hurting. I’ll get you patched up and in a safe, comfortable place to sleep with good food. I will help you get back on your feet.”

Fresh tears, now of relief, flood my eyes.

I am so overwhelmed at this kindness. I thought surely no one would even help me get to my feet, but here this man is getting dirty to help me and what’s more, offering to pay for a night at a hotel!

“The Father knows about all His children. He sees every moment. His heart broke when He saw what happened to you. He wept for you as each person He sent to help you did nothing. He was in tears when I left to come find you. He told me that He had to send me because I know first-hand what you’re going through. So I came straight away.”

He lifts me almost effortlessly up out of the mud. Blood and filth are now soaking into his clothes and shoes. I hold on with my better arm as he carries me to the closest hotel. This kind and caring person checks me over for broken bones finding only a dislocated shoulder, sprained wrist, and some serious cuts and bruises. He tends to my less serious injuries and calls a doctor to come take care of the others. Generously, he pays for room and board until I’m restored to health. 

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and amazed how The Father sent such a kind and compassionate person to help me. He was familiar with my suffering. He was an image of The Father to me. He was my reminder that The Father knew my condition and as always, was still here, still taking care of me. I didn’t see The Father face-to-face this time, but I saw His reflection and recognized His love for me in the one He sent.

Conversations

Ouch!

I fell down and skinned my knee.
Sitting here in the dirt, crying, and bleeding.
It looks like just a small scrape. I didn’t break anything. I’m not in the hospital. Nothing fell off. I’m not dying.
So why does this hurt so much?

The Father kneels down to my level to examine the damage. He takes my bruised and bleeding knee in His hands while He speaks gently, with sympathy for my pain.

“It hurts, Daddy. It hurts a lot!”

“I know precious one. I’m here. I will help it heal. I will make it better.”

“I don’t want it to hurt more. This hurts so much. Can’t you just heal it with a wave of your hand and the command of your voice? Like you did when there Jairus’ daughter was raised back to life? Or when the Israelites needed to cross the Red Sea and you parted the waters? Or like the time you healed that guard’s ear after Peter cut it off? Can’t you just heal like that?”

With tears still flowing freely, I search the Father’s face for agreement with my plan for a miracle. Looking up at me, I see tears rolling down His cheeks as well.

“My precious daughter, I am weeping with you. I am hurting with you. I know this does not feel good and that you are worried about experiencing any more pain. My heart breaks for you because I don’t want you to be in pain at all but there may be a little more still as I clean this wound. It is necessary for proper healing. But I am here. I am with you. Hold tight to me. I promise I will be gentle as I clean this wound. I will pour my grace on it as a balm. I will bandage it up so you can heal. Even through all of this, I Am with you always. I Am right here. Hold on to my hand; squeeze it tight; cry. I know what is best for you, even when it hurts. You will see. In the end, it will be better than before.”  

When I was a child and had a scrape or a splinter, I didn’t want my mom or dad to use rubbing alcohol or even touch the site of my injury because I was afraid that it would hurt worse. But if they just left it alone, and didn’t clean it out it would have become infected and that certainly would have been worse. As good parents, they knew that the wound had to be cleaned and bandaged for the best outcome. So they would clean my wounds. Sometimes it would take both of them – one to calm me and one to do the work. When it was all over, I started feeling better. The only evidence of the pain before was a slowly scabbing wound. The Father does the same with the wounds no one can see…His healing work has only just begun.