Friday, April 24, 2009

Keep The Picture

    How does life get so out of balance?  What happens that brings it to this place?  I’m walking along the path I know when suddenly something seems amiss.   I thought I was following Him.  Did I get off on my own path?  

      I see a destination, a place I know He is asking me to go.  I start out needing Him.  I don’t know how to get to there.  I’m clueless at what this road looks like.  I look to Him, moment by moment.  But somewhere along the way I become comfortable in what I “know” to do.  Things go south, quickly.  “What’s going on here, Jesus?”  “How did I get here?”

      “Balance, Jewel, balance.”

      “Is that a word even in my vocabulary?”

      “Yes, but you’ve looked to the wrong source.”  “I am the Balancer.” “You get a revelation on something.”  “You start out realizing that you have no clue what to do so you come to me.”  “But when it all starts to click you begin to lean on your own understanding.”

      I lived a self-reliant life for too many years.  The roots emerge from time to time from the seeds sown in my life.  Each time it devastates me. How did I get back here again?  Will I ever really learn and understand dependence? 

     “Jesus, how did You live a life that was totally dependent on Your Abba?”  

     I knew the work was in Abba.”  “Without Him directing my every step it would become about Me.” “I left the picture with Him.”

     “I was a man, Jewel, just like you.  I knew I didn’t have the picture.  I knew I must follow.”

      “But I start there, Jesus.  I think that I’m there.  I believe that I am following you.  How does it get turned around?”

      “You’re still trying to be the best at what you do.  You want so desperately to learn that you forget to wait, to seek, to knock.”

      “Remember the picture of the oxen I gave you?”  “Remember what you read?”  “A young inexperienced ox was was yoked with an experienced ox.”  “The experienced ox would keep the young ox from going his own way.”

     “You’ve not been fully yoked to me, Jewel.”  “The only way you will live a reliant life on Abba is if you are yoked to Me, fully yoked.”  “You can’t come and go once things start working.”  “All things must be done under that yoke.”  “I am the experienced ox that will keep you from going your own way.”

      I so desperately want to get this.  I feel the weight of it all.  I feel the emptiness of self-reliance.  I see the cost it brings to me and others in my life.  Expectations become the reality.


      “But for the grace of Abba, Jewel, you will go there.”  “Your very life is dependent on Him coming through for you in every situation.”  “He knew you would never be able to come through.”  “He made a way for you.”

      For once I have no picture.  I like having pictures.  I often ask Papa God to give me them so I can see clearly.   If I can see it, then I can “get it”.  I see now, the picture has become my demise.    

     He leads the blind along the unfamiliar paths.  He speaks to them, do not turn to the right or the left.  Here’s the way, walk in it.     

      Left to myself I know I will move towards the path of finding my way.  It’s a “too familiar” path.  It will awaken my flesh and my flesh will always bring death.  It is a necessity of my life to be led by Him alone.   I don’t want to figure it out anymore.  It’s too costly.

      As Jesus speaks to me my prayer changes.    I only want to see You.   I trust You with the picture.  You will be my eyes.  Your arms will steady me, Your feet will direct me.  Keep the picture Papa.  For my sake, keep the picture.”

     Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.  Proverbs 3:5-6  

©copyrighted:  2009  Julie L. Todd

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Story of Love

     Once upon a time there was a beautiful love story. You were the delightful daughter. He was the loving Father. A villain entered the story and kidnapped you away. The villain told you lies about who you were. He tried to distort your beautiful love story, yet your face never left the Father’s gaze. He never stopped pursuing you. He sent a Rescuer who rescued you back. Now you are His.

     In the beginning, in the shadow of the Trinity, you were created for love. You were created in love. You were brought here to be loved. At the very core of your existence you are the object of His great affection. Your life is a manifestation of the greatest love story ever told.

     God had you in mind when He formed the earth. He made it for you. The beauty of the mountains, the depths of the sea, the blue skies that never end, sunrises and sunsets are gifts from His heart to yours. But you, dear one, you are His masterpiece. It is for you that Jesus came. All He has ever wanted was to love you. He relentlessly pursued you to bring you into His embrace. He dances over you. He sings over you. He is enthralled with your beauty

     How does the mind grasp it all? How does one move forward to receive that gift that seems so costly? Shouldn’t there be some way to pay Him back? Shouldn’t it cost something? His love is a gift, free to all who will accept. He invites you into His life to be loved in ways beyond your comprehension. In the stillness of His embrace, you discover His life. It indwells you waiting to be offered through you, showing you the things that matter.

     God is all about relationship. Relationship is about response. He has no expectations on you. His expectations were fulfilled by Christ. Because He has no expectations, you are never a disappointment to Him.

     You have been lied to. Things have been stolen from you. But the Rescuer has come to restore all that was lost. Your sins have been forgiven, past, present and future. You will never be punished for them again. The Rescuer took the punishment of your sins upon HImself. He paid the price, your penalty is forgiven. With mercy and grace He takes you to the cross where forgiveness awaits. He reveals your sins to you to rescue you from them so that you will no longer bear their weight. He bore the weight so that you wouldn't have to. He reveals to restore. He yearns to free you from your captivity.

     It is finished. Jesus came to restore all that has been lost. He came to show you the love of His Father. He wants you to believe and see yourself as He does. You are His Beloved.

     You are not who you thought you were. You are so much more. He came to heal your broken heart and bind up your wounds. He will exchange your ashes for beauty. You are His treasured possession. He wants you to know.

     He loved you first. You are here on this earth because He loves you. It was love that formed you and brought you here. He will move heaven and earth to come to you personally, individually, by name.

     He has known you for a lifetime. He has loved you for all eternity. Your picture is engraved on His palms. You are His and He is Yours. Your life is His great love story. It is for you that He came.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing." Zephaniah 3:17
©copyrighted:  2009 Julie L. Todd

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Yoke of God

      As my daughter made her way into the house it was apparent that she carried a heavy load in her backpack.  “Lots of homework,” I asked?  “No, not really,” she replied.  “Then why the loaded backpack?”  I didn’t want to go to my locker, she said.”  I shrugged the conversation off,  not realizing that God would speak to me about it all a few days later.

     “Your life is like Hannah’s backpack, Jewel”   “You placed burdens on yourself that I have not given you to carry.”  “The loads you’ve put on yourself are choking out life.” 

      “My burden is easy, my yoke is light.”  “The heavy yoke you feel is not from me.”  “It is self-imposed.”  “Let me teach you the way of My yoke”.

      The children of Israel were given instructions much like these.  They were told to gather a portion of manna for each day.  The instructions were very specific and in accordance with the number in the family.   Some listened, some did not.

     Some feared they would not have enough for the next day so they gathered too much.  They didn’t trust God for their next day’s provision. They discovered what happens when you gather apart from God.  Their excess manna became filled with maggots and began to rot. Things around them began to stink.

     On the day before the Sabbath they were told to gather a double portion. This time the double portion stayed fresh, just as God had promised.  

      It was day to day dependence.   It required trust, not in themselves and what they carried, but in God and His promise to take care of them.

      We put so many yokes on ourselves.  Whether it’s our jobs, mothering,  obligations with God, or financial burdens, we yoke ourselves with things He did never placed on us.  We become weary, heavy laden, unable to rest. Life becomes encumbered with self-imposed loads we insist we are responsible to carry.  

    I can go there easily.  It was a natural place of my old man flesh.  I went there again a few days ago.   I want to do all that I can to give my daughter the wedding of her dreams, but the finances are lacking.  I began to feel the responsibility come up with a way to have enough money.   It was heavy and burdensome.  I could feel the pressure pulling me down.

     Jesus broke through my thoughts, “It’s not your responsibility to provide, Jewel, it’s mine.” "It's not your wedding." “Give it to me, it’s mine.   "I've got it."  “Trust me with it all.”    “I am the provision.”  “You are off the hook.”  “Rest in me.”  “The good news is,  I love weddings.”  

      He reminds me of the widow with the flour and oil.  She had only enough to make cakes that would feed herself and her son their last meal.  Elijah showed up at just the right time looking for food.  The widow followed the Word of God, spoken by Elijah and made a meal.  Each and every day she fed them and as promised the oil and flour never ran out.

      It’s true.  I remember.  David was working 2 jobs and the hours were killing him.  He needed to cut back one of his nights but we needed every penny to survive.  We believed God, we trusted, David cut his hours.  To our amazement we never missed the money.  The money never ran out.

      I burden myself with things He never asks me to take.  I can easily manage my life.  I can think it’s up to me.  LIfe begins to feel weighty and burdensome.  LIfe begins to stink, sometimes I feel the maggots devouring everything around me.  

        “Come unto me, He says.” “It’s not up to you, it’s up to ME.”  “I am your sustenance.”   “There is grace and provision sufficient for the day.”  “If you look to yourself to carry the loads, then I won’t be necessary.” “Life will begin to rot and stink.”   “You will be weighed down.” “Trust me with those things that weigh heavy on you.”  “I’m big enough to carry them.”  “I’m big enough to carry you.”

       It’s all about trust.  It was for the children of Israel, it is for me.  Will I trust Him with the cares of tomorrow?    Will I lay down the self-imposed yokes and wear His yoke alone?  He  invites me to rest in the knowledge that He is the one responsible for my needs.   I can rest, He's got it. As I release my load and trust my God, He places His yoke on me.  It's then I feel His sweet release for His yoke is easy, and His burden light.  

©copyrighted:  2009,  Julie L. Todd