For all of those who knew us when…

We are often embarrassed by our stories. We feel awkward or ashamed around the ones who witnessed our children going astray, our marriages falling apart, our personal sins being discovered, our car getting repossessed, or our caving to that addiction once again. When we find ourselves removed from those situations, we don’t always want to be around the ones who knew us “when.”

This leads us to the story of Lazarus. It’s a well-known story and a favorite of many. Who doesn’t love a good man-raised-from-the-dead story? You can just sense the drama as Jesus stands before the tomb and instructs Martha to remove the stone (John 11:39.) Jesus calls Lazarus’ name and the dead man came walking out. There’s no doubt that the crowd was amazed by this miracle, but what did Lazarus think about it all?

We’re usually okay with folks knowing our success stories, but how do we feel about the ones who witness our failures? We are happy to emerge from the wreckage to the cheers of the crowd, but how do we feel around the ones who watched us crash and burn? We want the pomp of the resurrection without the pain of the death. The problem with that is that it’s all part of our story. We minimize the grace we’ve received when we don’t acknowledge the grave from which we were raised.

We see a similarity between Lazarus’ story and the story of the woman with the issue of blood. Her story didn’t end with her healing and his story didn’t end with his resurrection. John 11 tells us all about Lazarus’ illness, death, and return to life. The really good part, however, comes in chapter 12.

Some time after the raising of Lazarus, Jesus returns to Bethany to visit him and his sisters again. Scripture tells us that, when people heard that Jesus was going to be there, huge crowds showed up to see Him and the dead man who came back to life. This angered the chief priests (John 12:10.) Why were they so upset?

Because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. John 12:11 ESV

People were placing their faith in Jesus because of Lazarus’ story and guess who was spreading the word. It wasn’t the people who only knew the present, healed and resurrected Lazarus. It wasn’t the ones who could never imagine him being weak, frail and desperate. No, Lazarus’ story was being told by the ones who knew him “when.”

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. John 12:17 ESV

Do you see who continued to bear witness to what Jesus had done in Lazarus’ life? It was the ones who had seen Jesus call him out of the grave and into grace. People followed Jesus because these individuals shared the story of Lazarus stepping into the daylight with the stench of death still lingering.

Lazarus’ story didn’t end when he walked out of the grave. It continues even today because people who knew his story shared what they had seen God do in his life.

It’s one thing to deal with a person who knew a former version of us but also knows the person we have become. They’re aware of our past but they also accept our present. But what about the people who only know part of our story? This is the situation the woman in Luke 7 found herself.

And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment. Luke 7:37-38 ESV

The Pharisee knew this woman. Likely, everyone in town knew this woman. I can almost hear the gasps and see the shocked faces as she walked into the home and approached Jesus. The man of the house was quick to point out that Jesus must not have known this woman’s story or he would never have allowed her to touch him.

For she is a sinner. Luke 7:39

Have you ever had someone attempt to reduce your entire life story down to one sentence?

She had an affair.

He’s an alcoholic.

She had a baby out of wedlock.

He spent time in prison.

Often, people want our sin and our shame to be our story. The Pharisee looked at this woman and said, “She is a sinner.” He said this is what she is, present tense, end of story. Except it wasn’t! Just like the woman with the issue of blood, this woman’s story was her history plus her healing. In this passage, Luke sets it up and Jesus wraps it up.

And behold, a woman of the city who was a sinner… Luke 7:37

Do you see how Luke described this woman? She was a sinner. Past tense. This is her history but, by itself, it is not her story.

Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven… Luke 7:47 ESV

Luke says she was a sinner and Jesus says that she is forgiven. She loved much because she had been forgiven much. I believe this woman was a Christ follower when she walked in the door. Her love was in response to the healing that she had experienced. When she heard that Jesus was reclining in that home, she came prepared with her ointment to honor Him. Her tears were not of shame but of sheer joy.

From sinful woman to forgiven woman. History plus healing. The Pharisee knew her history but he was ignorant regarding her story.

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Even Now

The locusts were sent by God as a judgment on an unfaithful people. They had turned their backs on Him. They had forsaken the One who had brought them so far. Then, there are two of the sweetest words in Scripture…

“Even now…”

After all that you’ve done – even now you can return to me.

After all the places you have been – even now there is a place for you here with me.

No matter how far we have fallen. No matter how many times it has happened. No matter what lies the enemy whispers. God says to us, “Even now, come back to me.”

And He calls us back, not to a place of shame, but of restoration. (Joel 2:25)

He promised to restore what the locusts had eaten. The locusts that were sent by Him in response to their sin. Think about that! He offers to restore to them the very things that their own unfaithfulness had cost them.

That’s grace.

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Open Our Eyes, Lord

Back in March, I was in a pretty scary car accident. It shook me up badly enough that I never posted on social media about it. I didn’t take a selfie with the paramedics, police officers and firemen who all showed up. There were no passive aggressive tweets about people using their phones and running red lights. I was just thankful that all five of my children who were in the car with me came home that day. I have lived long enough to know that is not always how these things turn out.

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For quite a few weeks, I was really angry with the other person. I could still hear the sound of her hitting me at 45 mph and the screams of my children as our car was knocked sideways. I was furious that I was suddenly fearful every time I got in my car. But that isn’t the feeling that lingered.

I also felt extremely grateful that a witness stopped and waited for an officer to arrive. She confirmed that I had not done anything wrong. I knew, otherwise, it would be a he said / she said situation and those are never fun. Even that feeling, however, faded.

Then, as the days went by, I was anxious all the time. It suddenly occurred to me that I could do everything right… Now, I’m not speaking of moral perfection or anything of the sort. Only that I could do everything I was supposed to do at that moment. I could obey the traffic signals, stay in my own lane, be completely undistracted. Yet, even then, in the blink of an eye, things could go terribly wrong. Thankfully, the anxiety has also lessened.

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What I’m left with, ten weeks later, is the memory of one particular individual. And it’s not the person who hit me or the witness who lingered to help.

As I sat there, in the middle of a major intersection trying to get my wrecked vehicle out of the way with a crying 3-year-old and other scared children and trying to put the pieces together and figure out what exactly happened, someone sped past me and blew his horn. He blew his horn at me and waved his hands in frustration because I was in his way.

Because I was in. his. way.

As if, friends, I was lingering in the middle of the intersection and blocking oncoming traffic for fun. As if that was how I envisioned my day going.

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I couldn’t stop thinking about him and wondering, “How often do I do that?” How often do I come across someone who has experienced trauma and all I can see is how it may inconvenience me. Do I see people in bad situations and think they must want to be there?

That man did not see women and children who had just been in an accident and who were in shock. He saw a random car blocking his entrance into Starbucks and it annoyed him. He didn’t see the situation for what it truly was.

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In 2 Kings 6:16-20, there is a battle taking place. On two separate occasions, Elisha prays that the Lord would open the eyes of the people involved so that they may see the situation as it truly was.

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” 2 Kings 6:17

Elisha said, “O Lord, open the eyes of these men…” 2 Kings 6:20

This has been my prayer in recent days – that the Lord would open my eyes to the hurts and needs around me. That I would truly see the people.

That person who stops to talk to you as you’re leaving the church? Just maybe they’re more important than being first to the buffet.

The lady sitting alone at that group event? Perhaps, you should take your introverted self over and sit with her.

That guy who has found himself in the pit again? He’s not there for fun.

Open our eyes, Lord. Forgive me for the times I have passed someone in pain and threw my hands up in annoyance because I was more concerned with my latte than with loving my neighbor.

You are loved. ❤

 

 

 

30 Days With the God Who Breathes (Day 5): God’s Word

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV

God didn’t stop breathing on His people once creation was complete. All of Scripture was breathed out by our God and is, therefore, also filled with life, inspiration, wisdom, and spirit. The author of Hebrews describes the Word of God as living, active and able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrews 4:12.)

Whether it’s a living being or the living Word, we see that the breath of God always brings life. In Psalm 119, a chapter entirely devoted to God’s Word, the psalmist connects Scripture with life fourteen times! God’s breath is in His Word and His Word brings life to those who breathe it in.

As God’s people, we are able to open His Word, breathe deeply of it, and have our spirits refreshed, repaired, and restored. The psalmist boldly asks God to give him life as is promised in Scripture (Psalm 119:154.) The word translated as life is the word chayah and it means so much more than existing. It means to revive, nourish, preserve, recover, restore, to be made whole, etc.

Do you ever get tired of just existing? Of just going through the motions? Open your Bible and inhale because those pages are filled with the breath of God. According to Psalm 119, meditating on Scripture brings protection (verse 11), delight (verse 14), understanding (verse 27), strength (verse 28), hope (verse 43), comfort (verse 50), obedience (verse 60), good judgement (verse 66), and LIFE (verses 17, 25, 40, 50, 77, 88, 93, 116, 144, 149, 154, 156, 159, and 175.)

You don’t have to go through your days just trying to get by. Call on God; He will, not simply answer, but will breathe life anew into your spirit.

Inhale (Meditation): Give me a hunger for Your Word, Lord. May it satisfy me more than the richest of foods (Psalm 63:5.)

Exhale (Application): Just like the Snickers commercial (You’re not yourself when you’re hungry,) I am not myself when I neglect God’s Word. Do my actions and attitudes show that I have dined on the Word today?

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Day 1: God Breath

Day 2: Choose Life

Day 3: When You Need a Miracle

Day 4: A Breath The Renews

Prone to Wander Phone Cases (Review and Giveaway)

I had the opportunity to review these lovely phone cases from Prone to Wander LA. The packaging was so lovely!

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I instantly put the “You are Loved” case on because I have signed my blog posts with that phrase for years.

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This one feels like there is no case at all on my phone which may or may not appeal to you. It fits nicely into my pocket but, in my opinion, it just wasn’t substantial enough. However, that’s because I like the feel of case. My daughter actually preferred this one because it felt like there wasn’t a case at all. So, totally a preference thing.

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Then, I tried this beautiful wood grain cover and I loved it! It’s got a little weight to it so I liked the feel of it and it’s just plain pretty!

Finally, I tried the Faith Hope Love clear rubber cover and it’s been on my phone ever since. Honestly, I thought it would be my least favorite but, when I put it on my phone, the colors popped! I also really like the feel of it and it still fits nicely in my pocket.

All in all, you couldn’t go wrong with any of these. They are pretty, well made and comfortable to hold. You should probably hop on over to this giveaway and maybe you’ll win one!!

PRONE TO WANDER PHONE CASE GIVEAWAY!