Tag Archives: love

fear no evil

Last night, I went to a worship concert with several friends. It was an amazing time, worshiping with friends and singing some of my favorite worship songs. One of these songs was Oceans, by Hillsong United. While this song has been a bit overplayed in the last year, its words were just as meaningful last night as the first time I heard them.

Until last night, the last time I had seen Hillsong live was in Cape Town. They came to South Africa as part of their Zion tour and that was the first time I heard “Oceans.” It had incredible meaning for me then, because I had been in this foreign country less than a month, and there were still a lot of unknown things. I had to trust God a whole lot more than usual because I was way out of my comfort zone. I wrote another post about this last year (you can read it here), so clearly it was a significant memory for me.

Hearing the song last night was a bit surreal…which may seem strange because I’ve heard it countless times in between. But the presence of God was so heavy, and when I closed my eyes it was as if the thousands of people disappeared and I was alone with Jesus.

I was reminded of a moment last month at the beach with my family. Anyone who knows me knows that the beach is my absolute favorite place to be. One of the days I was out in the water with my sister and cousin. The water was perfect; fairly calm spells followed by HUGE waves which were perfect for riding. We were floating along enjoying the swells, when I tried to stand up and check to make sure we hadn’t floated too far down the beach. But I couldn’t touch the bottom. A mild wave of panic briefly fluttered through my head as I calmly told the girls to swim inland a little bit. We had simply allowed the swells to carry us out past where we could touch. This wouldn’t have been that big of a deal, but with all the shark attacks happening this year it was a little scary being out that far.

As we got to the bridge of the song, I understood why God had brought this memory to my mind:

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders,
let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander,
and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”

Deeper than my feet could ever wander. Hmm. Do I tend to panic when I get too far out and forget to trust in God’s sovereignty? Do I really believe those words, asking Him to take me deeper? I am much more comfortable where I can touch the bottom. That’s where I am in control. I can direct my movements, I can stand on solid ground. I feel safe. But these words I was singing…I was asking Him to take me deeper than my feet can go – that requires trust. And surrender.

If I am afraid, I will never get to the place where I fully trust Him, where I can most be used by Him. If I am in control, that means He is not. It’s time to pick up my feet and let Him move me.

This is not an easy thing to do – there are so many unknowns. Which way will the current flow? What if there is a storm? But I hear Him say, “Trust, my love. I will never let you drown.” He owns the ocean, He formed it’s every wave. Who better to trust with my life than the One who gave me breath? Fear may try to creep in, but His love is stronger.

I will admit, the crazy amount of shark attacks in North Carolina this summer has been quite unnerving, but that still didn’t keep me out of the water. My love for the ocean is stronger than the fear of something bad happening. The same is true for any risk I take for the Kingdom. Of course there is fear that I will fail. But His love covers me. I am accepted, loved, and chosen by the King of Kings. Yes, there is evil in the world. There are sharks in the water. There always will be. But that shouldn’t keep us from diving in. I don’t want to be afraid to go where He asks me to go, and do what He asks me to do. I think a lot of times I keep my feet planted firmly on the ground so long that I forget what it feels like to float freely along. I can no longer hear Him calling me out into the waves. Fear is faith’s greatest enemy. And often the things that take the most faith result in the greatest reward.

If Jesus can walk on water and calm the storm, He can surely keep my head above the waves. With a new season ahead of me, where I will most likely feel as though I am drowning in reading and homework – I will fix my eyes on my life preserver, the One who saved my soul and continues to do so. He alone is worthy of my trust, my love, and my life. It is in His presence where I am safest – even if my feet cannot touch the ground.

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the apple of His eye

“He found her in a desert land,
    and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled her, he cared for her,
    he kept her as the apple of his eye.” Deuteronomy 32:10

Today, Jesus asked me to take a walk with Him. I was sitting in a stable at a horseback riding lesson for the little girl I babysit. I was going to sit and read my book like I usually do, but I felt the Lord ask me to take a walk with Him instead. I knew He had something to show me, but I was reluctant. I sat there for a minute still trying to read…but it was literally like Jesus was standing in front of me with His hand extended, waiting for me to take it. So I did.

I walked out of the barn and began to head up the gravel road, along the fence of the pasture where some horses were grazing. I got close to the fence, and two horses trotted over to me, thinking I had something yummy for them. I patted them each on the nose, apologizing for my lack of treats. Once they realized I had nothing to offer, they moved back to grazing. I kept walking, just enjoying the breeze in the trees and the clouds and the perfect temperature. I followed the road as it curved up the hill and took a path between two more pastures where there were more horses. There were about four horses standing under a tree right by the fence. I petted each of their velvet noses and talked to them softly. Then I met the eyes of one of the beautiful brown creatures and time seemed to stop. His eyes were huge, and he held my gaze for a surprising amount of time. I saw my reflection in his shiny pupil and then I knew why the Lord had invited me to take this walk.

I heard Him say, “Beloved daughter, you are the apple of my eye. I see you. I never take my eyes off of you because I love you and I am so proud of you.” Just like a shepherd keeping watch over his sheep, He never lets me out of His sight. He sees the deepest parts of my heart, my dreams and my desires.

I realized I was surrounded by horses. They had all come up over the fence, sniffing for any treats I might have hidden in my pockets. One of the horses turned around and nipped at another one, sending him galloping off to the other side. Just minutes ago I was looking into very gentle eyes, but I was quickly reminded that horses are incredibly strong, wild creatures. To me this was a picture of my Father’s love. It is fierce and wild, but it is also gentle and strong. He comes swiftly to surround me with His love, and He will turn and snap at anything that tries to hurt me. His love encircles and protects me.

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I am glad that I listened to the Lord’s prompting and let my heart listen to what He had to tell me. I needed to be reminded of His strong, unfailing love for me. He is constant and faithful, and so powerful.

“Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings.” Psalm 17:8

no matter what

Ever since I can remember, my dad has always told me “I love you, no matter what.” Most people hear the words “I love you” pretty often – whether it’s from a spouse, a best friend, a sibling, or a significant other. But the three little words tagged on the end – “no matter what” – are not always there, and they make all the difference.

You see, this world says that love is conditional. That we have to earn each other’s approval, and do what pleases them. That we have to make ourselves “loveable.” We have to somehow prove ourselves worthy of being loved. But that’s not what God says. He says, I love you, no matter what you’ve done, or how worthy you feel of love. No matter who has told you that you’re not good enough, or what you feel you deserve. You see, God’s love – it’s unconditional.

I love you…no matter what.

When I would get in trouble as a child – for doing something dumb most likely (for example, trying to run away from school in 1st grade…) my parents would usually sit me down and talk to me about it. They made sure I understood what I did wrong, but they also always made sure I knew they still loved me – no matter what.

In Luke 15, the story of the prodigal son – we see a son who has left his father, spent all his money, and returned home empty-handed. He is broken, and has nothing left. He says, “I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your servants.” But the father has such compassion that when he sees his son coming, he goes running towards him to embrace him. He is beyond thrilled to have his son back, and it doesn’t matter what he did or what kind of choices he made – because his father loves him – no matter what.

I have always been incredibly thankful for my parents. I know I am extremely blessed to have parents who love each other and fight for each other, and who raised my sister and I to do the same. But I am only just recently realizing how much they taught me about the love of Christ – and I am the most thankful for that. Of course no parent is 100% perfect, but they chose to set an example for me that showed me the way God loves me, and helped me to understand that I never had to do anything to earn His love, or theirs.

I have always been the kid who has to do everything right – I got the straight A’s, first chair in band, and all that. But even though my parents have always been proud of me – I know that my successes (and failures) do not change their love for me. It is the same with God. Nothing I do, or fail to do, will make Him love me any more, or any less. He just loves us. Period.

That has always been a hard concept to grasp. But being shown this unconditional love firsthand has given me a beautiful picture of what it’s supposed to look like, and has allowed me to show unconditional love to others in my life. Most people are taken by surprise when you do something for them “just because” or when you immediately forgive them if they hurt you. Because the world doesn’t do that. But it’s because it’s not about me, or you, but it’s about Jesus and how He showed His love for us by dying on a cross so that we could have a relationship with Him. That is the power of love. And because I know that God loves me, I know I can trust Him. The same goes for my mom and dad. I love calling my dad and asking for his help or advice about something, or talking to my mom about my future and her opinion on this or that. I trust my parents, and I value what they have to say because I know they love me. And I know that they always will, no matter what.

Thank you Mama and Daddy for the way you love me and Sar, and the way you love each other. I am so thankful for both of you and I can’t get over how blessed I am to have you as parents!

middle-class heart

what is love?
  The world is really good at telling us how to love. And what to love. As a matter of fact, much of our culture is based upon what we “love.” The things we idolize and pour our time into – that’s what love has been reduced to. We live in an age of instant gratification, and when one thing no longer satisfies us, we move on to something else.
We are wired to love. We desire to be known and loved, and we also desire to know and love others. There are different types of love, of course, but I am disgusted at the ways our world has begun to dilute love’s purity and humility.
 
Love is not a trend. It is not something you can instagram or tweet about. It can’t be captured in a profile picture or blog post. It’s not going to dinner with your husband and then posting about it on facebook so you can hide the fact that you’re fighting behind closed doors. It’s not going on a mission trip to Africa and talking about how many kids you held, yet ignoring the fact that they are still starving and they don’t know Jesus. It’s not going to church and plastering on a smile as you hug everyone you know, while asking the obligatory “how are you?” when you actually don’t care. It is not standing on a street corner passing out Bibles and telling people they are going to hell. Love is not sleeping with your boyfriend because it feels right and you know you are meant for each other. It’s not wearing sexy clothes or lots of makeup so you get looks and compliments to convince yourself you’re beautiful.
 
Love is not something we can create. It is something we were created FOR.
 
God is teaching me about unconditional love. We can’t fully understand the concept of unconditional love, in all it’s power and purity. Everything in our world is conditional. We are so quick to judge, so quick to assume, and we make up excuses just to make ourselves feel better when loving someone is hard. Of course loving is hard. That’s why Jesus had to die for us. That is tough love. God IS love. What better example do we have to follow?
 
Love is intimate. It is vulnerable. Love is an interdependence that allows people to meet each other’s needs without asking anything in return.We can’t live with middle-class hearts. It’s not okay to live with a “whatever” attitude of God will either show up or He won’t, or trusting that He’ll take care of the poor and hungry and lost.* That’s is not what love is! God is not a hands off, figure it out yourself kind of Father. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love because He first loved us.” If we are truly compelled by the love Christ poured out in His death and resurrection, then WE are the ones who will feed, clothe, heal, and hold this lost and dying world. We love, because He FIRST loved US.
 
Love is not always going to Africa and holding orphans or feeding the poor. But sometimes, it is. Sometimes love is walking miles in the sun to bring food to people who have never heard of Jesus. Sometimes it is a little girl giving up one of her only dresses to another girl who has never worn one. Sometimes, love is a family driving over to help get their grandpa upstairs to bed. Sometimes, love is walking through a garbage dump to talk to people, hug them, and pray for them. Sometimes, love is hugging and kissing a small child even when they pee and spit up on you. Sometimes, it is letting 36 toddlers climb on you because they desperately want someone to hold them. Or letting little boys fight over your lap because they’ve never had a mom. Sometimes, it is quietly sitting for hours while someone pours out their heart because no one has ever taken time to listen. Sometimes, it is a newly married groom who leaves his bride for a moment to dance with the girl who has no one to dance with. Sometimes, it is driving for hours to be with family who needs you. Love is an innocent man dying to save a dying world.
 
Sometimes love doesn’t always look the same, but always, love is. 
 
Love always exists and is always there. Love never forgets and never leaves out. Love is not lukewarm – it’s not middle-class, apathetic, or halfhearted. Love is not comfortable. But love is perfect. And the One who teaches us to love, who IS love, He is perfect, and always loves. I live for that love. 
 
It’s time to love this world back to life.
 
Your love is so much sweeter, 
Than anything I’ve tasted
I want to know Your heart,
I want to know Your heart
 
*currently reading Compelled By Love by Heidi Baker, which is where the phrase “middle-class heart” came from