John 3:8

The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Prayer for Bringing Our Fears to Jesus

This prayer by Scotty Smith is vvery appropriate for the things I have been pondering recently. Tomorrow night, I will go before the students at my church and share my story. I will tell them about my experiences with dating, my fear of man, and how God brought me to the place I am today. As I read over old journal writings of mine and Bible studies that highlight times of my enlightenment during the past few years, my mind is on these things. How much more timely can you be, Scotty Smith??
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12
Gracious Lord Jesus, you confront us with the liberating command, “Do not be afraid”, at both your birth and your resurrection (Luke 2:10; Matt. 28:5). Like bookends of glory… the A to Z of grace… a morning and evening kiss. There is no savior as merciful and mighty as you.Ever since our first parents sinned, feared, and then hid, I’ve helped to keep the family tradition alive. At times fear has more power over my life than your love. Though I know I’m already clothed in your righteousness, I still reach into the closet for fresh fig leaves. So I join the shepherds today in coming to you, for you alone bring the good news of great joy for which my heart longs every day. You alone can charm my fears and grant me an ever greater freedom. Because the gospel is true, I can tell you everything that’s going on inside of me. As I come to you, you run to me. I am so thankful for your pursuing and welcoming heart.Lord Jesus, my fears aren’t all that noble. I’m not really afraid of angelic hosts. I’m not really afraid to die. I’m not even afraid of facing the final judgment, for I humbly cling to your cross as my Judgment Day. You have exhausted God’s judgment against all my sins—past, present, and future. Hallelujah… many times over!So what fears haunt me? For what fears do I need to obey the command “Do not be afraid”? I’ll start with the fear of man. Jesus, there are some people whose praise or disdain has more functional power over my heart than the gospel does. It hurts to say that, but it’s true. By the power of the gospel, continue to slay the “approval suck” inside of me. I also have moments when I fear painful things happening to members of my family. But I know, in my heart of hearts, that you love and care for my family much more than I do. They belong to you by creation and redemption. Grant me grace to trust you more.Then there’s the fear of disappearing into a fog bank of not mattering anymore—of getting older, being out of touch, becoming irrelevant. Jesus, even as I acknowledge this fear, I praise you for your non-condemning gaze. It’s not easy to confess such weakness. May the joy of being used by you never supersede the much greater joy of simply being known by you and loved by you.Jesus, I have other fears in line for gospel charming, and I bring them to you today with joy and confidence. For you’re no longer a baby wrapped in cloths lying in a manger; you’re a Savior outside an empty tomb, exalted to the right hand of the Father, ever living to advocate and pray for me, preparing a place and a banquet for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So very Amen I pray in your welcoming and liberating name.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Tears of This Saint

Two days ago, I saw God's fingerprints everywhere. He was like a sloppy Santa Claus who forgot to wear gloves, and left evidence of his presence (and presents?) everywhere he went.
Two days ago I was reminded of the importance of carving out time just to be with people I love and to have conversations that mean something. I was reminded what it's like to cry with them. I know that sounds odd, but crying is something I do pretty often, just because I am a person who feels a lot. I generally cry in movies that are touching or sad. I typically cry when my friends are hurting or really joyful. I typically cry when God moves in an awesome way; when I'm reminded of how incredible His love is for me; when I am having a rough week;when I am drained and wearied; when I feel lonely. All of these things could typically make me cry.
Yet this past month or so, almost all of those things had occurred but still I had not been able to cry.
At first I attributed it to the fact that I was really excited about certain things happening in my life right now, and thought I was, in a sense, "on an emotional high." But then it began to bother me. I felt really low for a couple days but felt as though I could not properly or fully process or deal with what was going on. I thought maybe if I cried, I would be able to feel the emotions more strongly and identify what was going on. So I began to pray that God would allow me to cry.
This whole thing had been going on for over a month and I thought, as a girl, that doesn't seem right. my cycle usually makes it easier for me to cry(pardon my frankness)--but not even that did anything this time. Not until I sat in the car with my best friend sharing her heart with me did my eyes even well up. It was then that I saw her frustration and sadness, and I began to break for her. tears came out of my eyes that very minute, trickling down.
I still don't understand fully why God withheld those tears from me for so long. But I know now more than before how beneficial my tears are to processing my emotions. Thank you Lord, for tears. May we never be ashamed to display our emotion, whether sadness or great joy.