I am often saddened by unkindness in Christians as we attempt to correct the (mis)behavior of brothers and sisters. I feel like we miss some key principles in how Scripture tells us to go about it. “Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal 6:1-2). I think there are a few important points to take from this.

1) We are to restore other believers not cram Christian morality down the throats of non-believers. Nowhere in Scripture are we given instructions to try to change the behavior of non-believers. Why are we so offended when non-believers act like… non-believers? The raising from spiritual death to spiritual life is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit, not by painting the dead to look alive.
2) We are to be gentle in our approach. In my estimation, we struggle the most with this point. It looks more like casting stones in most online, written, and even spoken rebukes I have ever seen or heard. I can’t imagine the grief in the heart of God as he watches his children massacre one another in front of an unbelieving world that can hardly see any difference between us and anyone else.
3) Restoring a brother carries personal risk of falling into sin as well. I would say that the most common sins that we fall into in this process is pride as we begin to compare ourselves with our sinning brother. A spiritual superiority complex is easy to attain when we play the comparison game.
4) We are to carry one another’s burdens. If you feel compelled to correct a fellow believer struggling with sin, be sure you are equally willing to walk through the process of restoration with him or her first. If you are not willing to carry the burden of brokenness as well, you have no place to rebuke. Rebuke within the community of believers MUST be accompanied by the hope of restoration which is designed to be done in humble fellowship with one another as we carry each other in times of weakness.

burden

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to speak to a class of freshman Intercultural Studies students at my alma mater. During the break a student approached me to talk about some of the things in my story that I had shared. With tears in her eyes, she wanted to know if God would ever feel close again.

I knew exactly what she meant. In fact, I could see my reflection from ten years ago staring back at me in her eyes. I struggled to respond to her question because, really, there isn’t a good answer. Yes, after we walk through the fire with God, after we experience a season in the darkness and loneliness of the desert, God eventually reveals Himself again. But no, we will never again encounter the God that we knew before we entered the wilderness because the whole point of the desert experience is to burn away the idol that we made Him into and reveal this wild, unsafe, uncontrollable, awesome God who actually IS. And there is grief in that death that is very, very real.

In the end, all I could do was share the experience of my own dark night of the soul. I told her of the pain that was so severe that I can still recall exactly what it felt like. I remember very well the days of feeling like I was grabbing God by the collar and screaming, “I am not going to let you go no matter how much you ignore me! I am in this no matter what you do to me!” I remember stumbling through the darkness with my arms outstretched having only hope – but very little expectation – that when I fell, I would be caught. The lessons of that long season are many, but maybe the greatest was realizing that God cannot be contained by my human mind or my human hands. I do not own Him. I cannot command Him. I honestly cannot even understand Him.

Perhaps this experience is why I am particularly fond of the story of when Jacob wrestled with God for one long night (Genesis 32:22-32). “I will not let you go unless you bless me!” Jacob was blessed… but he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. I firmly believe that when we get close enough to God to wrestle with Him, we will be permanently marked. There is simply no way to get near His holiness without being scorched by His glory.

A better question might be, “Is it worth it?” Is it worth wrestling with God when there is no joy in doing so? Is it worth exchanging a safe, comfortable faith for one that is dominated by questions and uncertainty? Is it worth giving up wholeness for a wounding after an encounter with the Creator?

Again, I can only speak to my own experience. For me, the answer is an easy “yes,” but not a yes without tears of remembrance. I’ve left behind places of confidence and safety to run after my wild God who takes me to completely unexpected places. What is different now than before is that in the moments that I cannot see Him and have no idea what He is doing or why He is doing it, I have complete confidence that He is there. I know now that at those moments when I was screaming at Him that I would not let Him go, He was marking my heart as His eternal possession. I am deeply confident that every experience of pain has purpose. Even the deepest pain of the death cry, “Father, why have you abandoned me?” gives birth to Easter morning.

Hillsong United “Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)”

This song is incredible in every way. I feel like it is the rhythm and lyrics of my life in this season – confidence of a life with a history with God and a longing forthe greater depths that I can see ahead of me.

A month ago, I had a parenting win. It was exhilarating! We had observed how our son, Jacob, had spiraled into a pattern of arrogant obedience at the expense of his brothers. Daily, he would say something along the lines of, “I obeyed you, but my brothers didn’t. Aren’t you proud of me?” We struggled with the tension of wanting to praise his obedience without condoning his pride. How do you teach a 5-year-old that obedience is more than just actions?

After a lot of prayer, I felt like God was leading me to bring up the topic in a certain way, so I approached him one afternoon. I told him about my own struggles with spiritual pride and how sometimes I look down on others who are not obeying God the way I am. I told him how God showed me through Scripture that my heart was sinful even while I was doing what I was supposed to do. I told him sometimes I was really tempted to push other people down through my attitude and words so that I could look better in comparison instead of working to help them grow and learn alongside me. I asked him what he thought about that, if he had any experience in that area, and if he had any advice.

It was a gorgeous response. Better than anything I had hoped for. He admitted without my prying that he did that with his brothers. He told me about his own struggles and how he also got a buzz out of being “the good one.” Then he told me that he thought we should both pray about it. Before I could say anything, he went to the corner of the room and started praying – out loud so I could thankfully eavesdrop. He prayed that God would forgive him and help him to want his brothers to be good and obey because that was the best thing for them. It was mature and precious and absolutely perfect. And his Pharisaical tendencies were dramatically reduced almost overnight. But…

Soon after this, Jake began showing some wild mood swings. It started slowly, and has since picked up speed. In the last two weeks, he has become an often-angry, very defensive, grudge-holding, boundary tester. Coming from my used-to-be rule follower, we are unsure how to even deal with him. We’ve sat down with him three times over the last two weeks to ask him what is going on in his heart. Did something happen that is causing him to act out? Is he under some sort of emotional stress that we are unaware of? He doesn’t have a clue and talking to him has been like talking to a brick wall.

Yesterday morning, he had an epic meltdown that ended in an angry hole in his bedroom wall. We kept him home from school for part of the morning so we could talk to and pray for him. When I finally took him to school, nothing was resolved, and I was even more confused about how to handle him. In the afternoon, Dan and I took some time to pray for wisdom and talk about him and what we had observed in the last few weeks.

One of the things that came to mind was the things he has recently said about his favorite action hero, The Incredible Hulk. Several times he has made comments about how the Hulk is not the most popular Avenger, how there is not as much stuff featuring the Hulk as there is featuring the other Avengers like Spiderman and Captain America (Moses and Ben’s hero alter-egos). As I thought about these comments I began to wonder if this was not just an astute observation.  I wondered if it was how Jacob feels about himself.

I know that his brothers are more naturally outgoing and charismatic. They are clowns and love to show off in a way that Jacob won’t because he doesn’t like to be embarrassed.  I wonder if he feels lost in their shadows or like just a lesser known appendage of his twin’s. For a while, he held the identity of “the good one” until I took that away with the explanation that even his good works don’t cut it if his heart is unkind and arrogant. I wonder if my 5-year-old is struggling to find his identity and wants to know if he is unique and valuable and wanted in and of himself.

As I thought about this, I began to weep (and still find myself tearing up as I think about it). How could he not know how much we love him? How have I failed to show that he is my world, that I don’t think of him as a part of the package of my children or just one of the twins, but as my unique, irreplaceable Jacob who is infinitely valuable to me? As I cried out to God for my son’s sake, I felt Him whisper, “I know exactly how you feel. I weep for my sons and daughters too.” Sometimes it is excruciating to experience just a little of God’s heart.

I thought about how best to communicate my heart to Jacob, and I realized that I have really blown it in the area of speaking to him through my gifts. We don’t buy our kids much stuff, and when we do, we often end up getting them the same things at the same time. Because Jake is a twin, I don’t think there has been a time that he has ever received a gift that his brother didn’t receive a similar or identical item. I wonder if that has contributed to his feeling like nothing special. For whatever reason, I kept thinking about those goofy best friends necklaces that junior high girls wear, the silver ones that are a broken heart with “best” written on one half and “friend” written on the other. I wanted to get Jake something like that, but I didn’t want it to be girly. I found some matching green dinosaurs, but I really wanted it to be a heart because I wanted to give it to him with the explanation that he IS part of my heart. That we are forever and always linked, and when he is hurt or sad, I am as well. I want him to know that I do not exist apart from him.

Finally I found the right necklaces. They are each a Lego piece that when attached form the shape of a heart, but apart just look like a single Lego. My plan is to wrap them beautifully and take him on a walk somewhere so that I can give him the gift and tell him how unique and wonderful I think he is, how much I love him, and how much he is a part of me.  I don’t know that this is the answer that Dan and I have been searching for. I don’t know if this is truly what is bothering my son and causing him to be so melancholy and angry, or if it is just my projections and fears running amuck. Either way, I am pressing forward after this boy of mine so that he can know my heart and so that he can know the heart of his Father who loves him with greater passion and more tender care than even I can fathom.

necklaces

Do you know Him?

Do you know that He is intentional and precise? Do you know that the power of creation in His hands is used to work every detail to equip you for your greatest fulfillment and joy?

Do you know that He is tender and gentle? Do you know that there is a purpose for every tear and every cry of frustration? Do you know that every moment searching for why and how does it all fit together, He sees and whispers, “Hold on. The answer is around the corner”?

Do you know that He is intimate and kindhearted? Do you know that He knows our sinful hearts, but He is never content to allow us to wallow in our despair? Do you know that He never disciplines us in anger or disappointment but that all He does ends in our joy?

Do you know Him?

Do you know that He saw you before the stars were spread through the sky? Do you know that He made you for a purpose, that He named you, that He delights in blessing you? Do you know that you were made to bear much fruit and that in so doing, you will find your significance – not in what you have done, but in knowing that the Creator and Savior prepared all of creation for the impact of your life?

Do you know that the Maker well knows that all you have to offer Him is sand falling through open fingers, yet He laughs with delight and receives it with pleasure? Do you know that the longings in your heart He put there Himself for the very purpose of fulfilling them to show His great love and mercy toward His beloved?

Do you know that His burden is light even as He calls you to take up your cross? Do you know that in chasing Jesus and Jesus alone, you will encounter a Father who rushes to you and shows you the contentment that is hidden in obedience? Do you know that in your constant submission, the Creator bows near to His creation and freely shares His heart?

Do you know Him?

Do you know how great, how wide, long, and high is the depth of His love toward you?

Do you know the intentionality with which He is drawing the portrait of your life?

Do you know that every time that you feel you are drowning, He is setting you up for resurrection?

Do you know that in God’s economy ashes turn to beauty, darkness dies to the dawn, and captivity gives way to freedom? Always.

Eleazar. He is not someone who typically shows up in Sunday School lessons nor would the average church goer be able to tell you who he was or what he did that earned him five verses of biblical recognition. Yet, he was and represents the kind of person that I long to be – a person of courage when many others run away, a person who will fight long after it makes sense to give up, and a person on the front lines who is privileged to see the Lord bring about a great victory.

Both 2 Samuel 23: 8-9 and 2 Chronicles 11:12-14 record the golden moment of Eleazar’s life. Dubbed one of King David’s “Mighty Men,” Eleazar stood against the Philistines when the rest of Israel ran away in fear. 2 Samuel says, “But he stood his ground [with David] and struck down the Philistines until his hand grew tired and froze to his sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day.”

In my own life, I feel like God has been drawing me to a work that is very lonely, messy, and misunderstood. As I’ve begun sharing what it is that God has placed on my heart with other believers, most of the reaction I’ve received is neutral, “Oh, that’s nice. I’m glad someone is doing something about that.” Some reaction has been sadly negative, “I could never do that.” or worse, “I wouldn’t want to endanger my reputation by being involved with that kind of ministry.” I’ve waffled between joyful hope that God would use me to make a difference in a dirty reality and frustration over the feelings of isolation my pursuit has brought me to.

Then I think of Eleazar who saw the Lord bring about a great victory despite the fact that only he and David remained to fight the enemy that day. It was a victory won by God, but it required every bit of endurance, every bit of strength, and every bit of courage that Eleazar had. He must have believed that it was a victory worth dying for, and he stood against the enemy like a man fighting to the death.

Through what must have been an incomprehensible battle, Eleazar became exhausted, but still he swung his weapon against the enemy of his God. His sword froze to his hand. At the end of the battle, I imagine that King David literally had to pry Eleazar’s fatigued fingers one by one off of the sword. Oh to have the fortitude of a man like Eleazar! To be weary and continue fighting. To be deserted by the rest of the army and stand my ground with only one other who shares my heart. To trust that the battle belongs to my God who can bring about great victory with something as insignificant as two swords against an entire army.

This week in the middle of a bout of fear and doubt – fear that I am not enough and doubt that what I have to offer to the battle is even worth offering – God spoke to me through Eleazar’s story. I realized that it doesn’t matter that I am not enough, and it doesn’t matter that my sword is insignificantly small against an enemy that holds 27 million people captive. The thing is, my God already died to bring freedom and hope to those 27 million and is in process of ushering in His kingdom where the captive is set free and the years that enemy has stolen are redeemed with a bloody block of wood. Because my God is already victorious, I choose to face this battle fighting until someone has to pry my sword out of my hand.

There are small moments that become defining markers in life. You rarely anticipate them and often don’t realize what they are until much later. It was only days into my first international experience. I was eleven, and my parents had moved us to Central America where they were to work as church planters. We were riding in the car of fellow missionaries who were helping us get adjusted to our new country. As the car pulled us to a red light, a couple of raggedy kids about my own age ran to the driver’s window with their hands outstretched in an obvious plea for money. Having never seen such a thing back home, I was horrified and waited for one of the four adults in the car to do something to help these kids desperate enough to dodge city traffic for the chance of a few coins.

“Get a job!” My mouth dropped open at the words harshly spoken as the light turned green and we sped away. My parents’ co-worker spent the next ten minutes talking about the street kids in the city and warned us against giving them handouts because that “only contributed to the problem.” He had a point, but I could barely see it past the big, black eyes full of hunger and disappointment backing away from our car to wait out another green light before trying again.

That night my dad approached me and asked if I was okay, I had been unusually quiet. I burst into tears. With sobs, I asked him why the kids had been given disdain instead of compassion. My dad could only tell me, “Sometimes, when we stare at pain day after day, we become numb to it. It hurts too much to care, so we stop caring.” I didn’t know how prophetic those words would be in my life.

For the next six years, I lived among the poorest of the poor who were exploited by an elite upper class and abused by the powerful. Honduras was a particularly dreadful place to be if you were female, and I saw friend after friend given away as adolescents to men who beat them, raped them, and disregarded them while the community nodded their heads in acceptance. What’s a 15-year-old to do when she is powerless to stop the violence, and the adults around her do nothing or, worse, tell her “that’s just our way”? She stops caring and starts seeing the victims as the problem. Those girls should have protected themselves. They should have known better and gotten an education or a job instead of looking for a man to take care of them. Surely they had seen a million times how it always ended in that country.

When I left for college, I took pride in my reputation as a mature, tough, independent young woman. It was a reputation that grew for the next several years. Nothing fazed me, and I could handle any messy situation with detached intellectualism. Say what you want, do what you want. It can’t affect me.

I recall sitting in a class during my senior year of college and talking about the Compassion International sponsorship program with a classmate. She was in tears just thinking about children living in poverty around the world; I was unperturbed… and that bothered me. I remembered my first experience with the least of these, and I realized that I too had cared so much over the following years that I had finally stopped. I prayed that God would awaken that compassion in me again. A short time later, I heard about another Honduran friend, one who had actually stood up for herself. She was hacked to death in front of her toddler by the street gangs she had spoken out against. I couldn’t even cry.

For the next couple of years, God chipped away the brick wall I had constructed around my heart. There were a lot of layers to go through, and sometimes I wanted to quit feeling because I wasn’t so sure that it wouldn’t break me. For the first time, I wept for my Honduran friends, the ones beaten, starved, raped, and murdered, and tried to forgive myself for not being able to do anything about what had happened to them. I tried to forgive myself for ultimately refusing to care about it. I was still a tough woman able to bear a heavy load, but I could actually feel the load of grief I was holding.

Looking back now, I can see that my dad was so right when he said that so many people cope with tragedy by refusing to care about it any longer. I wonder if that is what has happened to the Church. We are blasted all day, every day through various media about the pain inflicted on humanity by nature and hatred. We see visual images of starving children, dead war victims, hopeless slaves, and suffering refugees, and our hearts die as well. We stop caring because it hurts too much to keep caring. Another brick goes on the wall.

Yet our Savior doesn’t give us that right. In Scripture, over 2000 times we hear the cry of God’s heart for the exploited, the poor, and the marginalized. He made it clear that His Bride is compassionate and spends herself on behalf of the needy, even to the point of being terrifyingly vulnerable. The church that doesn’t look like that is not His Bride, only goats masquerading as sheep.

I’ve wondered why God would give such an excruciating task to His beloved when surely He could have found an alternative plan. I think it’s because only the Bride has the arms of her Beloved to comfort her as she weeps for the pain around her. His comfort becomes her only source of strength to give food to the hungry, to seek justice for the exploited, to heal the sick, and to wage war against those who would dare to call unworthy what Christ’s blood was shed for. Situated in His arms, we spend ourselves to be His hands.

 

Isaiah 58:5-10

Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.

“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The Lord will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

A few days ago, Dan decided that he wanted to take the big boys on a road trip a few hours away to a waterfall he has been wanting to go to. This weekend also happens to be the wedding weekend of our oil camp friend, Fernando, in a city near the waterfall, so it wasn’t a hard sell for me. I really wanted Dan to be able to say goodbye to Fernando, and I also liked the idea of having the kids out of my hair while I prepared for and ran our rummage sale tomorrow morning.

 

As I finished getting everything set up tonight, I looked around my overflowing kitchen/dining room. My eyes settled on 3 dirty Tonka trucks in the middle of a bigger pile of toys, and I began to cry. All of a sudden I was so much more thankful that the boys are gone this weekend. My boys got to choose a lot of toys to take back to the USA – probably more than is reasonable – but there are some things that just couldn’t go. Bikes, heavy Tonka trucks, a T-ball set… You know, the stuff of boyhood. I am so glad that they don’t have to be here tomorrow to watch it go. God knew long before I did that their hearts would need to be protected this weekend.

 

I realize that it’s just stuff and has very little real value, but those Tonka trucks, brought to Peru by my parents a couple of years ago, represent so much to me. They represent the love of our family and friends that do crazy things like pay for an entire piece of luggage with only 3 May-boy-proof trucks inside. They represent the joy of play that I watch and hear every day until it will eventually give way to quieter, more mature activities. They represent sacrifice.

 

Not my sacrifice. They represent the sacrifice that my boys don’t even know they are making for their parents to pursue the call of Christ. I want to tell them how proud I am of them, how much I honor them, how sorry I am for what this life we’ve chosen for them sometimes requires. I know that there is an equal amount (or more) of good and benefit about growing up overseas, but that is not what I see tonight. Tonight I see those Tonka trucks settled in the middle of my kitchen floor, and all I can do is trust that God will give back to these amazing, resilient, brave little men so much more than they are giving up.IMG_4351

I read something in a blog post this morning that gave me the perspective I needed. “There is no healing in hiding.” Yes. Amen. While I am very nearly the last person to hide much of anything, I’ve tucked myself away the past couple of months, avoiding phone calls and not writing much of anything. Because I am grieving.

It’s a strange grief because in many ways it has nothing to do with me, and it is accompanied by a sense of great hope, expectation, and joy. It’s bizarre. But it’s real, and it has brought with it physical fatigue, tears, and a heaviness of spirit that is nearly crushing.

As Dan and I move our family into this transition, we really don’t have a clear picture of what we will be doing next. There are several wide open doors, and, unfortunately, all of them hold great appeal. What will we do with ourselves next? What will we spend our lives on? As I’ve thought about these questions, possibilities come to my mind, and all of a sudden I feel like I am living in these places, loving these people, and feeling the pain that I would have if I really were.

There are so many stories that draw tears from my Father, and they are now causing me to weep as well. I read about the 200 million girls aborted or murdered in India and China simply because they are less valuable than boys, and I cry. I get an update about the 20+ year conflict in Eastern Africa where children are abducted, forced to murder their own parents, and coerced into service as soldiers, and I wonder how the world sleeps at night with this knowledge. I find out that in my own town, there is a girl with a face and a name, who has lost her rights as a human being and is living as a domestic slave, and I know she isn’t the only one. Not by far. I think about so many children in America, as precious as my own, that desperately need a foster family willing to live an inconvenient and sacrificial lifestyle, and I want to open my arms and my home to every one of them. The Third World church is ready to carry out the Great Commission in their own nations and are asking for biblical training for their leaders, and I want to be a part of that. The abortion epidemic. The growing sex trafficking industry. Urban poverty.

I fully realize that God does not need my help, but has invited me to join with Him in seeing His kingdom come to earth. I realize that I won’t be able to do much with my life, but I cannot let that stop me from doing something. What is the something that I am to do? And, more importantly, how can I help others see that this grieving is good and necessary and the beginning of living a life that matters for something other than the American dream?

There is a global shift when it comes to world missions. It is evident in current missiological literature, and it is evident in conversations taking place daily around the world. The place that the Western church has traditionally held in missions, namely being on the front lines, is quickly becoming a thing of the past. The Third World church has its own leaders and is raising up and sending out missionaries to minister to its own people. The role of the Western church is becoming one of encouraging and equipping, but not necessarily of being on the front-lines of ministry.

 

At the same moment, there has been a shift of thinking in the younger generation just now entering the mission field. The incoming generation, my generation, is deeply aware of the world’s need of justice and mercy as well as eternal security, and we are convinced that Great Commission encompasses both. We are also savvier about our limitations and petrified of paternalism. Our worldview holds a much broader world than that of older generations, and our lives are, in many ways, transient.

 

These things impact how we approach a career on the mission field. There is so much to be done, so many people with need, that we can scarcely see ourselves picking a spot on the map and spending the rest our lives in that place. No, we go with a defined mission for a defined time, and then it is time to move on.

 

While some bemoan this change in perspective and label it as a fear of commitment or an unhealthy sense of “easy come, easy go,” I believe it is a beautiful and timely shift just perfect for the nature of current global missions. While the Third World is pushing Western leadership out of their spheres, they will find more and more of those coming to them not only amenable to a backseat role, but thrilled to be there. Incoming missionaries no longer see missions as life; we see it as a goal. We aren’t interested in leading; we want to make leaders. In many ways, we are more interested in going, but far less interested in staying. We insist on partnership in place of paternalism. We want to serve, equip, train, and develop the national church, but we no longer want to do their job for them.

 

The Western church is in the position of re-defining what it means to be a career missionary. The positions that we once held are quickly being filled by others more suited to the task. Let us not insist on the same old skins for these new wines flowing to every corner of the globe, but instead celebrate this new era in missions as a sign that our Commission is another step closer to fulfillment.

I held it together until about two minutes after the boys went to bed. Then I lost it. Dan found me sobbing in the hammock and sat with me while the tears poured out. The wounding hurts, but the calling hurts worse.

The tears were a result of a short e-mail exchange that I had with a family member. Without going into details, this family member very precisely stated their opinion about me, and it was not complimentary. It was neither fair nor true. The worst of it was that it was out of nowhere. All of our interactions in the last year have been healthy and friendly. I was blindsided.

As I sat crying in the hammock, I told God how angry I was. How hurt I was. How frustrated I was that all the bridges I had been intentionally building in this relationship were of no value. Again, again, and again my offers of friendship have been rejected. This was not the first time, and unless I turn my back on this relationship, I highly doubt it will be the last time that my intentions will be grossly misread and my character assassinated.

What I was hoping for in my prayers was a reminder of the Proverbs about associating with the wrong kind of people. I was hoping for permission to walk away. What God reminded me of was how often I have rejected His advances and offers of friendship and how often I have walked away from Him in my heart and in my actions. Every time, without fail, He runs after me. He puts Himself out there for my sake, even knowing that I will hurt Him again.

I thought of the woman who washed Christ’s feet. She loved so much because she was forgiven much. The Lord whispered to me, “Have you been forgiven much?”

“So much!”

“Then you CAN love much.”

“Please don’t make me do this. Don’t make me vulnerable to this person. I don’t want to get hurt again.”

For a long time I have prayed that God would let me see this person through His eyes, and last night, I think I did. It wasn’t that a great love welled in me toward this person, but I saw clearly how He felt about them. I cannot call unlovable and unworthy those whom my Beloved chose to die for. No matter the cost.

Today there was a surprise text message. An apology and an expression of hopefulness that we can rebuild. Again.