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.


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.


I Forgive You

“…Mercy triumphs over judgment.” – James 2:13b

Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ ” – Matthew 18:21-22

“For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” – Hosea 6:6

Three tiny words. They are easy to speak with our tongue – often hard to live with our heart, but its at the heart-level that it is vital. Forgiving those who’ve sinned against us is vital for our very lives. Each and every one of us are not without some sin, but God who is fully, completely, and perfectly without sin has forgiven us. James 2 reminds us that if we break only one law (it doesn’t matter which one!) we become “lawbreakers”. And so since we have all broken at least one of God’s laws, we’re all lawbreakers. And if we’re honest, we’ve all broken more than just one and each of the laws we’ve broken, we’ve broken more than once. I certainly have.

But even though we have continually sinned against God, His mercy has been shown to us and it is His mercy that has won us and won the victory for us. God has not won our hearts nor the battle against sin by condemning us to what we deserve for sinning. Our Savior won our hearts because of His great love for us. He won our hearts because of His mercy. And also, in reverse, it is not a sacrifice that we made, nor anything we’ve done to triumph over our own sin or justify ourselves (remember – the first law we broke, we were done for) – it is the mercy and forgiveness of God that has saved, rescued, triumphed, redeemed, and is restoring us.


So, if God has shown mercy and given us forgiveness that we didn’t earn and certainly don’t deserve (we have given more grief to God than we ever get from one another), then we have no business withholding mercy and forgiveness from someone who has mistreated, hurt, or in any way sinned against us. Jesus makes this very clear in Matthew 18 when He explains that if we fail to forgive and show mercy to one another, we will no longer be recipients of God’s mercy and forgiveness.

Yikes. Does that motivate your heart? It does mine.

One of the things I astronomically appreciate about God and my relationship with Him is that He has shown me great, completely unmerited mercy! There is no way I want to give that up, especially not because of some human being that was unkind to me and holds nothing on my eternal life with The Father. I don’t want to throw away the mercy and forgiveness of God for me because of someone who is not my Heavenly Father, is not the Creator of the Universe, and has no ability to adopt me as the daughter of an Eternal King.

When I hold the light of God’s mercy for me on the things that have happened and the ways that I’ve been hurt, my heart is softened so much more. I was ready to forgive before, but now, considering my great need for His mercy, I’m so much more ready! In fact, my heart is heavier and more saddened as I think about the difficulty their sin has caused for their own lives and I’m thankful on their behalf that God has the same mercy and forgiveness for them as He has had for me.

To the one who left: I wholeheartedly forgive you for being driven toward your own agenda instead of listening to wise counsel around you. And I am sorry that you are having to learn the hard way that comes from pride and your own self-determination to get things done the way you think they should be done instead of in the greater blessing that comes from humbly waiting on God to develop that leadership and influence in you. I forgive you for driving yourself away from all of us by acting like Jacob when he stole Esau’s birthright due to a prophecy and then had to run away to save his skin. I am sorry that you are having to walk through more waiting and uncertainty as you learn the lessons God is walking you through. I forgive you for making the leadership mistake Solomon’s son made in not accepting the counsel of wiser and older people around you over the opinions of younger and more inexperienced people and I pray that instead of great demise like what happened to Rehoboam, that you will understand the benefit of humility and learning from the ones God has placed with wisdom around you. I pray that you would have a greater leadership impact like Jesus who did not consider equality with God to be His for the taking yet had the biggest, most lasting impact on the world of any man who had come before or has been since.

To the one who has struggled with depression and self-image: I wholeheartedly forgive you for being so consumed with what has happened to you that you have succumbed to your own weaknesses and done wrong to those who’ve held you in high regard. I forgive you for running away in the face of conflict and I pray that you will grow stronger as the people around you who love you help you to stand firm. I forgive you for taking credit for all those years for the things that others did behind the scenes that made you look good in the spotlight. I forgive you for taking your queues from poor, prideful, and controlling leadership that came before you instead of investing your strength and efforts into bettering yourself and your leadership potential to pour back into the people you have led. I pray that you will surround yourself with people who you will allow to be honest with you, even if it feels uncomfortable and confrontational. I pray that you will have great courage to listen to their loving wisdom and do the things that they suggest weighed against the wisdom of God. And I pray that you will give more credit to those that God has blessed with gifts different from those he has blessed you with. That as you stand in the spotlight, you will increasingly, more and more pull out your mirror to reflect that light back on the glory of God and His hand at work in the people around you.

To the one who lied: I wholeheartedly forgive you for the deep wounds you have caused so many who put such great, deep trust in you. I am sorry that you allowed yourself to be separated from true accountability and that the Enemy dragged you off by yourself for so long that you began to believe all the lies were actually truth and that you continued in them as a result. I forgive you for betraying our trust that was almost child-like as one has for their parent. I forgive you for starting so many good things that we now loose because of the consequences of your sin. I am thankful on your behalf that the truth finally came to light because I can’t imagine what more mire and muck you were headed for in that dark blackness of lies all alone. I am sorry that so many have been hurt so deeply, in life altering ways because of your dishonesty and I pray that each one is able to come to forgive you from their heart as well. I pray that as God already had blessing, healing, and freedom planned ever since the garden and all the way through the Old Testament, that God would speak also directly to you His specific mercy, freedom, healing, and blessing waiting for you. I am sorry that you have to live with the weight of all of this but I am thankful that you do and pray that it will bring you truthfully deeper and closer to God and that the next time we hear from you, it will be nothing but truth and all to the glory of God, humbly accepting nothing other than our love and forgiveness for you.