For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:11-12
God loves you.
Maybe it doesn’t feel that way right now, but God loves you.
How do I know this? Because the Bible tells me so.
Are you humming a tune right now?
The song learned long ago in childhood: “Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so” may sound trite and cliché, but it is Truth.
This past year and a half have been a hard emotional time for me: betrayal, disappointment, hurt feelings, and stress have all weighed heavily on my heart and soul tipping me close to the edge of burnout.
The emotional stuff I have been sorting through has become a heavy load for me to carry. The weight of it all has left me feeling overwhelmed. My prayers for relief and change seem to go unheard and unanswered.
You may be carrying heavy stuff too.
We could sit around comparing stuff; one-upping each other as to whose stuff was worse, like the scene in the movie Jaws where the men sit below deck comparing shark-encountered scars, but it really doesn’t matter. We all struggle. We all have things that make us ask: Why me? Where are you God? Do you still love me?
My feelings about God’s love for me have wobbled over the last year and a half. My circumstances made it appear to me as if He had forgotten me. I felt overlooked, unseen. It was as if I wasn’t that important to Him anymore-- like He managed to find someone better.
Even though I may have wobbled in my feelings about God’s love for me, the truth of His love never faltered. He loves me. Period.
The steadfast love of the Lord is repeatedly stated in scripture leaving me with the choice to continue to wobble and worry about how God felt about me or to trust and take Him at His word.
As far as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him. Psalm 103:11
Steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end. Lamentations 3:22
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me. Your steadfast love O Lord endures forever. Psalm 138:8
Feelings are fleeting when held up to the light of Truth. With this in mind, I am working on letting scripture stabilize my heart. I am leaning on the truth that God’s love is steadfast. No matter how I feel, God loves me. He gave Jesus for me and that alone should be enough to settle my heart issue of God’s love.
The apostle Paul settled the issue of God’s love for him and came to this conclusion in Romans 8:38-39:
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I don’t know what you are feeling right now. Maybe you feel betrayed. Let down. Abandoned. Alone. Hurt. Disappointed. Tired. Stressed. Worn out. You may be asking: Why me? Where are you God? Do you still love me?
If questions of doubt are crashing around you, take a page from the playbook of Psalms and look up to the heavens. As the sky is above and all around, so is God’s love. He loves you more than you can ever know or imagine. David knew it. Paul knew. We can know it too.
Because the Bible tells us so.
So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. I John 4:16.
When we moved into our house over twenty years ago, there were two live oak trees growing in our backyard. Now, there is only one. Within the first few years, one of the trees stopped thriving. It slowly turned into a stalk of bare branches. Dried shriveled leaves dropped to the ground. On the other hand, a few feet away, its brother tree grew taller and wider each year.
Same yard. Two similar trees. Two different outcomes. What’s the difference?
Simply put, the roots.
The skinny trunked tree yielded easily to pressure. It uprooted easily. A slight push tipped it over revealing a nestled circle of untangled tendrils. The tree’s roots had never branched out, grown wider, deeper or stronger. They had stayed in a small, malnourished, weak ball. By not unfolding and reaching out, the tree had failed to thrive. It died. It’s as if the tree decided to keep to itself and try to grow on its own without yielding to the soil around it. Instead of reaching out for nutrients, it stayed closed off and isolated. It was planted, but not rooted. By not digging deep into the soil around it, it starved itself to death.
The same is true for me. Many times in my life I have refused the nourishing work of the Lord in my life. I have deemed circumstances around me too hard and therefore too difficult reach into and use for my good. Like my stubborn tree, instead of unfurling my spiritual roots I stay wadded up and closed off muttering, “Why me? Why now?” I have allowed my circumstances to keep me from trusting God’s love weakening me spiritually like a tree slowly drying up from lack of nourishment.
However, the other tree in my yard is tall and wide with a thick trunk and expansive branches. In spite of being struck by lightning and ripped open by a hurricane, it has thrived. Firmly planted in our backyard, it has become a massive oak tree. It’s as if this tree decided to abide in the yard. It reached out its roots and found the nutrients it needed in the soil around it. The second tree went beyond planting and became rooted. By opening itself up to the surrounding water and soil, it chose to live abundantly.
I am grateful for a God who doesn’t give up on me. He doesn’t allow me to stay in a root ball like my tree. He is a good gardener. Unlike me, He would have known my tree needed to have its roots unwound and released from its tight tangle. You see, God gently takes the hard circumstances of my life and uses them to make me spiritually stronger over time. Gradually, the oak tree that was struck by lightning and shaken by a hurricane has grown into an amazing tree with low thick branches and thin high expansive ones creating a home to birds and squirrels and welcomed shade for our yard.
So, what about us? What kind of tree are we? Are we abiding in the soil of God’s love and His word, or are we trying to make it on our own? Have we reached out for the life-giving source of God through His word or are we staying too far away to receive the nourishment we need to face the struggles life brings us? Are we letting our roots of faith grow deep so we are resilient when the storms of life swirl around us? Or, will we topple over when we feel pressure because we haven’t untangled our roots and grounded ourselves in truth? Are we convinced of God’s love for us no matter what?
I John 4:13-16 emphasizes our need to abide in God. Like trees immersing their roots deep into the soil, we need to immerse ourselves in God’s love through the truth of His word. The deeper we bury ourselves in the love of our Savior the stronger we become. The apostle Paul knew this truth when he stated in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor power, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separated us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
My friends, don’t let yourselves remain tangled up in life’s worries like my skinny tree. Open your heart wide to the love of God. Reach out and dig deep into the truth of His unfailing love. Abide in that truth. Stay there even in hard circumstances. Let the truth of His love nourish your soul helping you grow strong in faith and love like the massive oak tree in my yard.
God’s Sleep Solutions Don’t Come in Jars
Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
I Peter 5:6-7
Recent conversations floated in and out of my mind as I walked the vitamin aisle of my favorite store.
“I haven’t been sleeping well. I woke up again at 3 o’clock. I’ve got so much on my mind; I just can’t sleep.”
As I looked around, words of worry stood tangibly in front of me as multiple containers of natural sleep aids sat in rows on shelves and end-caps. Clearly, I was not alone. Sleep issues were plaguing many of us.
So, why can’t we sleep? What is keeping us awake?
If I were to guess, I would say the thing that keeps us awake at night is not a monster under the bed, but anxiety. We’re worried, stressed and overwhelmed, and we can’t turn it off.
Maybe you are like me and melatonin gummies may help you sleep in the moment, but they do not produce a long lasting solution to the true problem: anxiety. My anxiety rises and my mind kicks into overdrive when I get stressed and start worrying about things. Feeling overwhelmed and emotionally weighed down by all my responsibilities create burdens that rob me of the ability to sleep. I’m tired and want more than a short-term solution to my stress.
Thank goodness, I Peter 5:6-7 offers us more than a Band-Aid for sleep from a jar.
How does it work?
I see two steps to finding rest from our worries in these verses. First we submit ourselves to God. We have to humbling admit we need Him (vs. 6). Next, we have to we have to put our “working to solve it” aside and let Him do His work within us by casting our cares on Him (vs. 7).
Picture a dandelion being blown off its stem by the wind. The pieces are carried off and blown away when the dandelion is exposed to a breeze. In other words, in order for the dandelion’s seeds to be blown away, it has to allow itself to be exposed to a gust of wind.
In the same way, in order for us to “cast our burdens” we must first allow ourselves to be exposed to the wind of God like a dandelion outside. We must become vulnerable, or humble, before God and allow Him to blow, or carry our burdens away. The dandelion doesn’t pick the seeds off. It stands outside allowing the wind to do its work. In the same way, we need to set ourselves out in the open before God and allow Him do to his work within us instead of “picking at” the burdens that stress our minds.
Next, once the dandelion is exposed to the wind, the wind carries the seeds away. Like the dandelion, our job is to set our burdens down before God. The dandelion doesn’t take its seeds off before being exposed to the wind. It stands in the open just as it is, full of seeds waiting to be freed. God says He will carry our burdens for us, but in order for Him to do that we have to stop carrying them ourselves. We have to repeatedly lay down our need to “do it all” and yield our burdens to God instead.
For me that means, I need to stop stressing and start submitting. I need to continually turn my worries over to the Lord. I need to tell Him all of my anxieties. I need to stop maneuvering to solve my problems and start releasing the results to Him in order to truly rest. I need to look for His presence in the midst of my circumstances as if I am a dandelion feeling the wind.
So, next time you reach for the melatonin, pray about the thing that is burdening you. Ask God to expose the deeper issue that is at work keeping you awake. Then, ask Him to carry that burden away like a dandelion seed exposed to a wind. Do it again and again as long as you need to until the “peace of God that surpasses all understanding” infiltrates your heart allowing you to stand as an empty stem free from what has been keeping you awake at night.
“All things are lawful”, but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.
I Corinthians 10:23-24
As we begin to transition from staying at home, social distancing and mask wearing to going out with friends, eating at restaurants and attending indoor events, we need to take a minute and think about what that looks and feels like: not just for us, but for our friends as well.
This past year has brought many changes to life as we normally live it. For many of us staying close to home with less human interaction has been a sweet respite for our introverted souls. For others, being isolated from humans left our extroverted personalities revved up like quarter horses waiting for the starting gate to open. Besides these two personality traits, some of us struggle with anxiety, OCD, or even depression.
I don’t know about you, but for me navigating the nuances of a new world is a little nerve-racking. I want to be with my friends. I want to go out to eat with them or to get coffee, but not all of my friends are ready for unrestricted life. Not everyone is vaccinated: not everyone can be nor wants to be. Not everyone is free of health concerns for themselves or family members. Not everyone is ready to embrace being indoors in the crowded pool of humanity. And all of us are a little rusty with our social skills.
In I Corinthians 10:23-24, I see the perfect guidelines for navigating relationships where not everyone is on the same emotional, social, intellectual, or physical page. Twice Paul states that “All things are lawful.” In other words, post-COVID I am free to do the things as long as it is not against the law or state health guidelines. I can go out to eat in a restaurant, I can go without a mask in public (at least we can here in Florida), and being fully vaccinated I can hug my friends. Before we get too excited about the freedom we are given, Paul balances his “you are free to do anything” with a “but” statement. Simply put, just because I can, doesn’t mean I should.
Let’s take a closer look. Each time Paul states that it is okay to do something, he follows it up with an only if statement. The only if statements provide us with the guidelines we need for navigating our interactions with the humans in our life. Luckily, there are only two: Is it helpful and does it build people up?
It’s often easy to get tangled up in the “should I do something” when all I really need to do is ask myself: is what I am doing helpful to those around me and does it build them up? If I am asserting my right to do something at the expense of someone else’s well-being, I need to rethink my assertion. If my words and actions guilt my friends into moving at a re-entry speed faster than they are ready, I need to slow down. If time together leaves us feeling more burdened than before we got together, then I need to re-think how I interact with my friends.
As we begin re-entering our world by reconnecting physically with our friends, let’s remember it’s not about us. Paul caps his “it is okay to, but” statements with these final words: “Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor.” I am learning the easiest way to do this is to ask. Before gathering with friends, ask them what they are comfortable doing. Then do what the least comfortable person is comfortable with at the time. It may mean getting coffee and sitting outside at a park instead of going inside the coffee shop. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have an intentional moment of awkwardness than unintentionally wound a friend because I was doing what was right for me and not for them.
For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1: 17
For what does scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness. Romans 4:3
I clean up pretty well (my person, not my house). My stinky post-running body is quickly transformed by a hot shower, fragrant soap, expensive shampoo, a little make-up and a nice dress.
In under an hour, all the remnants of my hot stinky mess of a self are gone.
I wish it just as easy to clean up the hot stinky mess of my heart.
I went through a season of my life where my life was a fraud. From the outside I looked put together: Bible teacher, minister’s wife, stay-at-home mom, the apperance of a growing godly woman. On the inside I was a hot mess: hard hearted, judgmental, works driven, spiritually barren. I was living a life based on external righteousness. I had let my faith become works. I had traded my faith in God for working for Him.
It’s easy to get caught up in the trappings of works based righteousness. We want to please God, so we begin to do the things we think will make Him happy. We join Bible studies, we serve in church, we volunteer in the community, we give up curse words, we avoid worldly things, and we begin to build a resume of righteousness. The problem is instead of allowing righteousness to emerge from the inside out, we fight to force it to emerge from the outside in.
In Romans, the apostle Paul paints a different picture of righteousness. The word he uses for righteousness is better translated rightwiseness. The righteousness of Romans 1:16-17 and 4:3-5, is an inside-out phenomenon. It flows from the very essence of God’s character. Righteousness is an attribute of God which is linked to His nature, tied to His promises, and interwoven with His faithfulness and truthfulness.
We can’t make ourselves righteous: not obedience, being good, abstaining from bad things, or church attendance. Righteousness is given to us by God. He imparts His righteousness to us through our faith. When we accept salvation by faith in Christ, we sign up to walk by that faith for the rest of our lives. Abraham’s faith was counted as righteousness because he continually walked in faith following God.
Righteousness emerges in us when we surrender ourselves to God.
My life gets stinky not because of what is outside of it, but because of what is inside of it. In the same way, my life may look good on the outside, but that doesn’t mean it’s righteous on the inside. You see, when my life is squeezed what is deep inside of me comes out. My circumstances don’t make me righteousness or unrighteous; my circumstances reveal the depth of God’s rightwiseness within me.
God’s goal for me is not look good on the outside. God’s goal is for me to be conformed to the image of His Son, Jesus.
Just like a shower can clean up my outsides, God has been scrubbing away at my self-righteousness. Layer by layer He has gently chipped away the harden varnish built up around my faith through my self-righteous works. He is softening my heart bringing me to the end of myself and making me dependent upon Him. In the process, I have begun exchanging striving for righteousness for resting in faith relying on Him to transform my faith into something authentic and true.
One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I see after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4
If you could have one wish, what would it be? Cure cancer? Establish world peace? Have children? Get married? Be debt free? Eat ice cream every day and never gain weight? Maybe you are the practical type and would just ask for more wishes.
We all have wishes: things we’d like to change about ourselves, our circumstances, or our world. King David had a lifelong wish as well. In Psalm 27:1-4, David outlines the ultimate desire of his heart. Since David was known to be a man after God’s own heart, it’s worth looking at his heart’s wish.
Before we can look inside David’s heart, we have to look at where he has placed his heart. In Psalm 27:1-3, David establishes that his life is held secure in God’s hands. David has firmly placed his trust in God. He trusts God to lead, save, and protect him. David is so sure of God’s protection that he is not afraid. He does not worry about enemies or adversaries. Even when he is under siege, he is not afraid.
When I feel overwhelmed, anxious and afraid, I need to stop and ask myself: “Where have I placed my heart? Have I placed it in my job? My friendships? My bank account? My health? My children?” I need to get truthful with myself and look to see where I have placed my heart. Fear is a clue for me that something is wrong with my heart. It can be a sign that I have stopped trusting God with the details of my life.
David is confident he’s going to be okay no matter what because he has placed his life in God’s hands. To David’s heart, God’s protection is greater than any fear he will face. He doesn’t need to wish for protection or salvation from what he fears, because he knows he is safe. If I am going to follow David’s example, I need to do the same thing and entrust my heart to God’s hands.
By placing the control of his life in God’s hands, David is free to pursue his heart’s desire. So, what is David’s wish? What does he ask for? What does he seek? Let’s look what is inside David’s heart and find his one wish.
In Psalm 27:4, David articulates his wish. His one wish is to simply be with the Lord. David’s biggest desire in life is to hang out with God every day. He wants to sit with God, listen to Him, and talk to Him. He wants to know God and be known by Him. He wants an intimate relationship with God. David wants God to be his best friend.
If I am honest with myself, spending time with God is not always my top priority. I often seek a clean sink or folded laundry before a moment with my Lord. I’ll choose to listen to an audiobook while on a run instead of engaging in a conversation with my God. I’ll text a friend before I kneel in prayer. In not seeking God’s presence first, I let fears and worries creep into my unguarded heart.
I don’t know about you, but I struggle. Fear causes me to worry about all kinds of things and circumstances. Because my life is not firmly planted in the hands of my Lord, I am trying to control it instead of relinquishing it. The desire of my heart is not for a deeper relationship with God, but with being free from the hard circumstances surrounding me. Desiring to be free from my fears leads me to wish for the wrong things.
But, what if I changed my wish? What if I stopped wishing to be free from my fears and wished instead that God would use my fears to draw me closer to Him? What if I took my worries and sat down with Him and shared them, as if He was my closest confidante? What if every day I spent more time with Him than without Him? What if I just took a moment each day and gazed around me and saw Him? What if I incorporated conversation with Him throughout the routine of my day?
Maybe, just maybe, then like David I too can say with confidence: “the Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid...one thing have I asked of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life…” (Psalm 21:1-4). I don’t know about you, but I want to make my wishes count.
Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:19
I struggle with change. Change produces a churning of uneasiness in my stomach as if I am swaying on suspension bridge strung high across a vast expanse.
As an introvert, change requires groundwork for me. My reactions to new things are directly correlated to the amount of preparation I am given. In other words I don’t do spontaneous well. Once I am grounded in my surroundings, like a well planted tree, I am not easily moved. Change, whether it is good or bad, expected or unexpected, throws me for a loop. The unknown of change is like a wilderness.
Needless to say, the past ten months have brought rapid unnerving change into my life. Maybe you too have felt toppled by changes this past year. These new changing landscapes require navigation on a steep learning curve.
In the same way, the Israelites were no strangers to change. When the book of Isaiah was written, they were crying out for freedom from the bondage of Babylon. They were far from home. Captive. They were desperate for change. They could not see a way out of their dark situation and they were losing hope. Their faith in God was slipping away.
In the midst of this desperate emotional and physical landscape, the prophet Isaiah reminds Israel of God’s past faithful deliverance. The images presented in verses 17 and 18 would not have been lost on them. The story of the miraculous parting of the Red Sea and ultimate destruction of the mighty Egyptian army was embedded deep in their collective memory. God was calling the people to remember how He had rescued them before. In the same way, God calls us to remember His past faithfulness in our lives.
But, the message doesn’t stop there. It continues with words of hope. No matter how well our minds know that God is faithful, our hearts need something to hold on to when we are in dark places. Verse 19 offers us hope, if we will stop and look for it. Through the prophet, God tells his people: remember my faithfulness, then pause for a moment. Stop and look. Look and See it. See it and perceive it. Perceive it and notice it. I am doing new things. I am making something new and wonderful out of what you are going through. If you will take a moment and look around you will see it. Things may look dry and bleak right now, but I, your God, am making a river in the desert.
So often this past year has felt dry and bleak, but in the midst of this quarantine, isolate, shelter at home, keep your distance wilderness I have seen God. When I stop and look I can catch glimpses of the rivers He has been building: restored intimacy in relationships, prayer warriors raised up, priorities shifted, and a dependency on Him built.
When we find ourselves lost in a wilderness of change or uncertainty, desperate for a way out, seeking direction, let’s remember how God delivered us in the past. Let’s look for what He is currently doing, tune into His presence, and trust Him to lead us from the past, through the wilderness safely home. He never leaves us. We just need to look.
"You're Kimberly, right?" he asked.
"My daughter, right?" He nodded in a half statement, half question.
"Right." I smiled.
He patted my knee and looked at me. "You know I was married before."
"I know." A little chuckle rippling through my response, "to my mother." (My parents divorced and my dad remarried over 30 years ago.)
We sat in silence side by side on the sofa like strangers on a park bench. I longed to find the question that would connect us back together again. I silently search my mind for one memory we could share.
Talking to my dad is like a waltz these days as wisps of memory dance in and out of our conversations. Timing is everything. Mornings are better than evenings. In person is better than phone calls. Sharing his childhood memories are better than mine. A question answer cadence is repeated over and over-1-2-3, 1-2-3.
God is teaching me many things through my dad's journey with dementia.
My dad can no longer join me in the world in which I live. The present day is missing for him. He often struggles with knowing if it is morning or evening, or even if he is married or not. When I go visit him, I can't expect to have a conversation with him as I have had in the past. He doesn't really know who I am. To him, I have become "that nice young person who came to visit."
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As each of you has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace. I Peter 4:10
Can I tell you a secret?
I really don’t like to cook.
When I see on Facebook or get a text that someone has started a meal train for a friend in need, I start to sweat. Simultaneously feelings of guilt and shame begin to bead-up on my forehead. In my world of church ministry, not cooking for others brings a form of judgment. I often feel less than because cooking meals for others simply isn't me.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love my friends and care deeply about them; I just don’t like to cook. I feed my family, I make great game-day appetizers and snack food, but I am not a meat and casserole, Pinterest meal-maker.
It’s not my gift, nor my passion.
I Peter 4:10-11 tells us that we have all received a gift. A gift grounded in God’s grace. A gift given to provide grace-filled service to others. A God glory glowing gift.
Our gifts are unique. Our gifts are varied. Our gifts are precious. Our gifts are to be valued.
When the meal-train text comes around, I can begin to feel “less than” because I don’t want to ride that train. But, God wants me to realize I wasn’t gifted to ride the meal train. I was gifted in a different way. I was meant to ride a different train.
Need prayer? Ask me. I’m good at talking with God. Prayer doesn’t make me sweat; it makes my heart soar. Need encouragement? A strong hug? A good book recommendation? I’m your girl. My gifts use words to encourage hearts and souls, not meals.
I may never make you a meal, but I might meet you for coffee or bring you Chick-Fil-A for dinner. I’ll sit with you, talk with you, weep with you, or maybe even make you laugh. These are my gifts. These are the physical manifestations of God’s grace I can offer you.
In the same way, God has uniquely gifted you. He has placed within you passions, talents and desires that are uniquely yours. The gifts you have been given are meant to be used in service to Him. Your gifts matter. You matter. You can touch others in ways that I cannot. I am grateful for my friends who think about meals, but I am also grateful for my friends who send me random texts of encouragement. Each one is using her gift to serve her God to meet a need in my life.
I’m learning to embrace my gifts. I’m learning to lean into God’s spirit to notice the moments He’s nudging me to use my gifts to offer grace to those around me. How about you? What gift do you need to embrace today? Ask God to show you how He wants to use your gifts today to offer grace to someone who needs it. It could mean making a casserole for the next meal train, but it might not.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
I struggle with not feeling good enough. I continually prop myself up against the wall of comparison and make a little mark. When I step back and look, I can see other marks higher than mine. My mind instantly begins comparing. Almost. Not quite. No matter how hard I try, I’m below the line I want to achieve.
I grew up believing that if I was the good girl who did everything right I would be accepted and my life would be rewarded. I believed that if I didn’t create conflict and was easy to get along with I was doing things right. Man, just give me the rules and I will follow them. As a child, being submissive, quiet, and hard- working paid off for me. I made good grades in school. I didn’t cause conflict at home. I was faithful to church. I was the poster child of a good girl and in many ways my efforts were rewarded. The trouble was when things didn’t work out, someone was upset, or I made a mistake. Immediately, feelings of worthlessness would wash over me and I would feel guilty. My self-worth was based on my performance and at some point in time I would fall short.
The apostle Paul struggled with meeting expectations as well. In Romans chapter 7 he shares his inner conflict of wanting to do what is right, but not being able to do it. No matter how hard he tried he could never measure up to the standard of perfection. He wrestled with how guilty he felt because he couldn’t get it right. His mind swirled with all the things he was doing wrong. He wanted nothing more than to be free. Constantly struggling to do everything right was exhausting. He was following the rules, but the rules just kept get harder to keep. He loved God, but his thoughts and actions didn’t always reflect it.
So, what do we do when no matter how hard we try, isn’t good enough? What do we do when in our minds we love God, want to do what is right, but fall short in our daily lives?
Paul gives us the answer in the first two verses of Romans chapter 8. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Bottom line, we have to stop trying. We have to stop trying to earn the approval of God. We have stop trying to be accepted by our good behavior. We have to stop thinking we can do it.
Trying to live a life good enough is like trying to live under the Law. The Law only reminds us of what we are doing wrong. It sets a standard we can never achieve. The Law was never designed to save us. It was designed to reveal to us how we fall short of God’s standard. God didn’t create me to be a good girl. He created me knowing that I would need to be a redeemed girl. The truth is Jesus completely and permanently accepts me, no matter what. He unconditionally loves me. He took all my shortcomings, sins, and failures and made them His own. In exchange, He gave me His righteousness. A righteousness that God cannot reject no matter what. My redemption is complete.
So, the next time my inner critic begins to chirp at me about not being good enough, I am going to stop, breath, and tell it to be quiet because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ.
I am enough because He is enough.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.