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Posts Tagged ‘knowing Jesus’

Looking forward to a day enjoying the mid-summer beauty of Colorado, my parents and I chatted casually.  We spoke of aunts…uncles…jobs…and my two spirited, live-wire little boys.  As if their mention alerted me to the sudden quiet of the picnic area, my head banked almost involuntarily from left to right.  Ben? Check.  Connor?  Oh. My. Goodness.

When Connor was small, he was the gregarious, adventurous sort who required the oft-dismissed-as-a-diminutive-torture-device “safety leash” in airports.  (I know…I know–some of you are violently opposed to its use.  But, please, be merciful in your criticism. You can only understand if you, too, had a Connor.)

He was the toddler who bypassed every child safety toilet lid and managed to circumvent the double-locked, baby-proofed front entry door to cavort happily on the sidewalk in nothing but his itty-bitty birthday suit.

At the tender age of three, Connor managed to launch himself–and his trusty hobby horse, Cocoa, from our top flight of stairs.  Thankfully, no animals (or children) were harmed during the recording of the family video.  

Naturally, any time my sweet boy was quiet or escaped my view–well, I silently panicked. Inhale.  Exhale.  Inhale. Exhale.  (Who knew lamaze would prove useful after childbirth?)

Quickly assessing the situation, I rallied the troops. The family dispersed with each of us calling out for my nursery-school scamp.  Becoming more desperate with each passing moment, my mother’s heart rejoiced at the sound of Connor’s tiny voice answering mine. “I’m up here, mama!”

Surveying the row of cliffs in front of me, I finally noticed Connor mounted at the edge of a massive, sandstone rock.  There he stood–victorious and proud in a pair of 5T shorts and his favorite Elmo shirt–while I had to push past the fear lodged in my throat to speak.

“Connor.  Don’t move!  It’s very important that you don’t move!  Mommy will be up there right away.”

The next words Connor spoke have continued to define much of his life.                           “Don’t worry, mom.  I’m not afraid to die.”

On the other hand, I have nearly always lived my life–well, cautiously.  Some people fly airplanes or climb the highest peaks.  I religiously review the safety rules in the “front pocket of the seat back” any time I fly the friendly skies. I adore swimming in the ocean–if my husband is by my side–and while the idea of a Caribbean cruise is romantic, I’m afraid the bottle of Lysol in my hand (to ward off unwelcome stomach viruses) and the orange-vest-turned-accessory (Did you ever watch The Titanic?!) would dampen the mood.

You’re beginning to understand.  I. Am. Not. Brave.

And through the grace of God, I choose Jesus anyway.  What do I mean? Following Christ is not all sunshine and roses.  Jesus and the apostles were straightforward about the cost of walking the narrow path.  There was no nuance, hidden agenda, or carefully prepared marketing plan.

Good bye easy street; hello rocky road.

The scriptures are almost dire–

 “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

and

                      “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”               2  Timothy 3:12

So…why follow Jesus?  Because, dear Friend, there is something far greater than living for self or deflecting momentary judgement by a broken world.

This Christian journey may be filled with peril.  There will be an Adversary.  But, there is the guarantee–of knowing Christ more fully…of living life deeply…and of sharing Hope.  Even those of us who lack bravery can find courage in the beauty of such a promise.

Will you join me?

Scripture for Reflection

What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ… (Phillipians 3:8)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The eerie revelation to self that isolates one in the face of an sacred community. What is revealed is a moral inferiority that makes one vulnerable to irresistible forces. As a state of feeling, shame is fearful, chaotic, holistic and humbling. –Definition of shame (Jack Katz)

Liberating hope…those two words caught my attention; my eyes drawn to the speaker.  Jesus gives us liberating hope.  Hope from shame…from the deep sense that you are unacceptable because of something done by you, to you, or in association with you.  And my heart skipped a beat.  I knew I wasn’t the only woman shifting uneasily that morning…as if the pastor could peer into my heart and see the secrets I had buried there.

And he spoke of Mary Magdalene–the woman who had been hostess to seven demons.

Imagine her life…merely a lowly woman in that ancient culture, Mary would have been shunned; avoided; a topic of discussion but never compassion.   She was despised for the burden she carried within–the inescapable filth, fear, and fiendish vulnerability.  Mary understood deep, soul-searing shame.  Unacceptable…dirty…and filled to overflowing by the chaotic, controlling influence of her own personal demons.

And Jesus did something revolutionary.

 Instead of avoiding Mary, he invited her.  Rather than casting stones, he cast out demons.  Not willing to condemn with his words, Christ offered Mary a new name–“Daughter of the King”.  And in her newfound freedom a woman was re-born…transformed–from demoniac to disciple and unlovable to beloved.

Jesus gave Mary Magdalene liberating hope–true, lasting freedom from a past that might have destroyed her.  The road to freedom was a difficult one for Mary.  Her burdens were as real as yours.  Take just one step today, Dear Friend–one step toward the healing arms of Jesus.  Yes, sometimes this path that promises healing seems more like an insurmountable mountain, but Christ paved the way to wholeness with each step He made toward Golgotha.  Our freedom is a certainty because Jesus did something revolutionary for you and me–He died that we might be fully restored.

So today…take a step in faith toward the revolutionary Jesus.  Begin your walk to freedom by declaring–in all of your doubt, fear, or cynicism–that He is able to do a transformative work in your heart…your life…your ever-after.

Prayer for Today

Dear Lord,

I feel like a Mary–carrying my own personal demons around inside of me–and they haunt me as much as they did when I was a child.  Like Mary, I didn’t ask for these burdens.  They were thrust upon me by someone who should have loved and cared for me, but instead used me for personal satisfaction in ways that left me feeling isolated and ruled by fear.

But now, Lord, I’m calling out your name.  I’m desperate for deliverance…for a liberating freedom that breaks the chains of the past.  Give me a vision of the future where I have been transformed and made whole because I choose to believe and claim the power of your word which tells me “that God who began the good work within you will keep right on helping you grow in his grace until his task within you is finally finished on that day when Jesus Christ returns”.  (Phil. 1:6)

In the name of the revolutionary Jesus Christ,

Amen.

 Response

Was there something you read today that prompted you to think about the shame you carry?  What one step can you take on the road to healing today?

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