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Posts Tagged ‘unconditional love.’

I cry to you, O Lord- I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.

We’d attended the quaint, family-oriented church for years. I’d joined Bible study groups, attended morning meetings for young mamas, and participated in Sunday school. Still, loneliness gnawed at my insides. Somehow, I just didn’t fit. One day after the traditional morning greeting, I once again watched as the women flitted from one pew to the other laughing and hugging each other while I stood awkwardly waving and smiling. I felt like the gangly little girl I’d once been-the last one to be chosen to play on the kickball or softball teams.


That afternoon, I spoke with my husband about looking for a different church. It’s terrible to feel invisible when you’re surrounded by people.


King David also experienced isolation. Having been handpicked by God, he’d slain a giant, married royalty, and had a meteoric rise to fame. Unfortunately, Saul was bent on murder. In an effort to escape, David found refuge in the cave of Abdullum along with 400 desperate men who followed him there. (1 Samuel 22)

Still, David felt alone. Unseen. Unnoticed. Was he? Was I? Are you?

The Secrets of the Cave

I’d been living in a cave. Unlike David, my cave was imperceptible. Its walls weren’t made of limestone or located in a barren desert, but they were real. My cave was called Anxiety and Depression.

My cave was called Anxiety and Depression. Click To Tweet


Some of you may have a cave, as well. Perhaps yours is named Trial, Difficulty, Sorrow, or Illness. It could be Divorce, Trauma, or Loss. We all find ourselves stumbling into desert caves at some point. While residing in the cave often feels uncomfortable, there are some secrets we can learn from David and his time in the cave of Adullam.

While residing in the cave often feels uncomfortable, there are some secrets we can learn from David.. Click To Tweet


• Caves Make Us Better Prayer Warriors
A musician and poet, David penned Psalm 142 as well as other poems and prayers during his time in the cave. He learned to “pour out”, or spill, his heart before God and set an example for future believers. While God already knows our needs, anxieties, and troubles, he longs to communicate intimately with us.


• Caves Help Us Realize Our Condition
David was surrounded by the enemy with Saul on one side and the Philistines on the other. He saw no way of escape. But God provided a route of victory. Even when we’re confused or uncertain of our future, God clearly sees the way. He is never unsure of His plans for us.

Caves remind us that God is constant. Click To Tweet

• Caves Remind Us That God is Constant
While David felt as though nobody cared for Him, the maker of heaven and earth heard his prayers. Isn’t that incredible? God hears every cry that spills from our hearts. Oh, what blessing to be known and loved that intimately.

Caves aren't our home. Click To Tweet


• Caves Aren’t Our Home
Something comes after the cave. When God brought David out of the cave, he’d prepared him for battles, victory, and then kingship. Perhaps you, too, are being prepared for a battle. Or, perhaps your cave is the battle and afterward, you’ll experience victory. Whatever the case, the Lord will bring you out the cave with purpose, fully prepared that “[you] might give thanks to [His] name”.


Peace and grace,
Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and Michele, Kingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,best-of-the-weekend

 

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Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few- therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Whether traversing the streets or worshipping in the synagogue; commanding demons to depart or speaking words of healing over broken lives, He created scandal. At His name, creatures from the pit shuddered in terror while men captured by jealousy and the self-satisfying rites of religion plotted murder.

Friend to the desperate and downtrodden, rescuer of the helpless and abandoned, and miracle-worker in the lives of those considered less than worthy. The untouchables. The unregenerate. The unrighteous. Jesus and scandal were one and the same. (more…)

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give yourself permission to allow the beauty of self to shine through (4)

I was such a people pleaser and in trying to be everything to everyone else, I have little idea of who I am.

 Her words, full of regret and confusion, describe me only a few years ago. At times—even after years of seeking wise counsel and prayer—I still struggle with desiring approval.

If you’ve ever felt the pull to be someone you weren’t designed to be; ever buried your thoughts beneath the false assumption that your feelings are inconsequential…irrelevant…immaterial; ever heard yes spill from your mouth when you intended to say no; then you understand.

It was only in beginning to understand authentic, unconditional love that I found release from the terrible, demanding tyrant of seeking always to please others at the cost of genuine personhood.

The ingrained habits of childhood followed me into marriage and, as a newlywed, I “protected” myself from being fully known by remaining meek and agreeable whether or not I agreed with my husband.

The dusty blue and white striped couch is a perfect example.

As my husband and I meandered around the Sears furniture department, we compared several different chairs, couches, and kitchen tables. Pointing out a particular set sofa within our price range, Dave asked for my opinion. I like it. Which…I did, but I preferred a different piece. The traditional one a few steps to the right. I remained silent.

I chose pleasing my husband to sharing myself and was reminded of it each day for the five years that cute little sofa graced our home.

Time has taught me that to be truly loved by others, I must be known as I am—not as others might wish me to be. Not as I imagine I should be. Just the woman God created me to be.

If people pleasing has been your struggle, would you give yourself permission to allow the beauty of self to shine through in your thoughts and actions? Allow Him to reveal the woman He designed you to be—fully known and loved.

Blessings,

Tammy

 

P.S. I always share my opinion when buying sofas now and my husband still loves me. J

 

Ideas that might help as you discover You-

If you, like my friend, feel uncertain about who you are, consider starting small.

  1. Decide on an untried genre of book that sounds interesting or explore a hobby that intrigues you.
  2. Read and memorize scripture that combats doubt about self by affirming your identity in Christ. These are some of my favorites: 1 Thessalonians. 1:4, Psalm 139:14, Ephesians. 1:5
  3. Journal your thoughts, feelings, and discoveries.
  4. Ask a friend, spouse, or mentor to pray for your specific needs as the Lord guides you toward a greater understanding of your identity.

Linking up with:

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Adjusting the volume, I pressed the black button on the panel’s surface.  The tremor in the woman’s voice struck a chord as words filled the lonely space in the car.  “I always thought I had to prove myself–to convince Him that I took my faith seriously.”

A series of images played in my mind–family members, friends, church acquaintances–and I wondered.  How many women are striving to earn God’s stamp of approval?  Attempting to love God by doing more…serving more…being more.

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If you are that women, dear one, please hear the heartbeat of God in these words.

God loves you–just as you are.  Nothing you do will convince Love that He made a mistake in choosing you as Daughter.  No action on your part can separate you from His life-giving, freedom-imparting, grace-conferring love gift.

Eliminate the mental checklist of do’s and don’ts.  Discard the heavy baggage of comparison.  Step into the throne room of Agape and embrace the liberty of a love large enough to see the true you.  You created in Hs image.  You dressed in Jesus’ innocence.  You loosed to live as a woman in relationship–not rules–with the Lover of your soul.

 

Scripture for Reflection:  

I’m absolutely convinced that nothing—nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable—absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.  (Romans 8:28-29)

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From department stores to neighborhood markets, aisles are overrun with fluffy stuffed animals, heart-shaped boxes, and sentimental cards embellished with adorable, naked babies adorned by wings. Movie theaters roll out the newest round of romantic comedies while well-placed commercials promise “a diamond kind of love”–if only your dear one would realize the worth of giving his girl a shiny bit of bling.

heart-660377_1920Now, I’m not one of those women who dislike Valentine’s Day and I’m afraid I rather enjoy sentimental love letters. And, the chocolate? Well…studies have shown that the delightful sweet increases feel-good hormones in women.

But, none of these Valentine day pleasures truly capture the essence of love. Instead? They point out our need…our yearning…our deep desire for someone to love us. The sort of love that disregards color or size. The kind of devotion unrelated to beauty, status, or age. That beautiful, unvarnished version of being treasured by someone despite the awareness of our inner faults and outward shortcomings. Oh, to know such love!

The call of your heart to be loved unconditionally? The wish-upon-a-star dream for true love you’ve had for years? The longing to be affirmed since the cancer treatments began and the image you see isn’t one you like? I want to remind you of an incredible truth, friend. There is an answer and His name is Jesus.

Haven’t you heard? He—the only God—formed you by His hands. Tenderly and gently breathing life into your soul. He—the God who is love—gave up His son that you might belong to Him. Adopted. Chosen. Embraced. He—the Holy, Unchanging One—loves you with an everlasting love. In Him, my friend, you will discover the birthplace of love that was once-and-for-all expressed in the deliberate act of choosing death on the cross in exchange for the eternal joy of living with His children.

In this season of commercialized adulation and unmet expectations, I pray that we’ll remember the words of Scripture,

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, [k] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

LIVEFREETHURSDAY

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“If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are.”                                   —Mother Theresa

The woman behind the register noticed my quick glance at her company shirt.  Smiling broadly, she indicated the colorful badges and stickers decorating the gray polyester around her plastic-enclosed name tag.  “I earned each one of these,” Mary announced proudly.  “No one else in the store has earned as many!  I might have to work over the holidays, but I know I’ll have more than anybody.  Here…fill out the survey at the bottom of the receipt and I can get another one.”

Nodding, I wished Mary a pleasant evening, clutched the brown plastic bag in my hands, and passed through the automatic doors–wondering at the woman’s obvious need for validation.

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If she had only known of the One who provides Holy validation.  And, oh, if only we as Christians lived free, wide-open lives just as if we understood God’s acceptance of His beloved ones.

But instead–even from a young age–we fall into the trap of seeking validation from parents, teachers, coaches.  The opposite sex, co-workers, and church members.  Words of praise…trophies, medals, and blue ribbons…longing looks from young men noticing a teenage girl’s plunging shirt…VIP parking places.  Temporary rewards at best, these types of man-designed approval are narrowly accepting and limited to the few who deserve them–society’s choice of winners, achievers, and beauties.

But, in God’s kingdom, there exists an eternal approval offered to all.  Unlike human acceptance which increases or dwindles with a change of circumstance or emotion–this is a full and complete validation that has nothing to do with how much we have or have not achieved,  how much money we do or do not earn, or whether or not we have been “good enough”.  Even more incredible?  Our approval from Him rests not us, but on “the finished work of Jesus Christ” (John17:4).  God’s limitless, eternal approval for you and me died on the cross and rose again with the resurrection of the Lamb.

If the woman at Walgreen’s had understood…if we understand…then the approval of others no longer matters.

Scripture for Reflection

For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. (Galatians 1:10)

But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. (1 Thes. 2:4)

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. (Proverbs 29:25)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.  (Col. 3:23)

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She stood near the street corner not far from a Kwik-Way gas pump–a crude cardboard sign in her hands.  Please help. Money needed.  The hastily written words left no space for pretense.  The young brunette with disheveled hair and frightened eyes was hurting.

Feeling the tug of a mother’s heart, I stopped to speak with the girl-woman.  Not  much older than my teenaged son, I wondered what circumstances could have led her here…to this place…and in this condition.  Ridges of bone stood out sharply against thin, peaked skin while dirt-smudged fingers pulled self-conciously at stained, rumpled clothing.

“Here,” I said, “please take this.  I don’t have much with me, but I thought you could use some lunch.”  And I handed her a bag smelling of French fries and grilled burgers.

“I work at that church,” I pointed encouragingly.  “If you stop by later today, someone will help you.”

“Sure,” the girl-woman said.  I never saw her again.  Since then, I’ve often  wondered. How desperately in need must we be before accepting help?  

Like this dear one, I have known what it is to be poor.  I’ve experienced hunger with nothing more than a six-pack of Pepsi in the refrigerator and a few cans of green beans in the pantry…but, I really mean a poverty of spirit.

The impoverished have few resources.  They are neither powerful nor influential and must rely on others for survival.  Those who are spiritually poor realize their similar condition.

All false-hood is torn away to reveal raw, human need.  And to the woman who weeps with loneliness?  He hears your heart repeating its muffled chorus…love me, love me.  To the little boy who yearns to be like other children?  He quietly whispers….I am enough.  To the cancer-riddled mother, He promises…I know the plans I have for you; plans to give you a hope and a future.

Are you like me, dear friend?  Are you in need?  Does your impoverished soul ache for relief?  Then embrace Christ today.  Admit your need.  Accept his offer of mercy.  He extends wounded hands in promise of an eternal tomorrow overflowing with the richness of His boundless love.

Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.  

(Matthew 5:3) 

  

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