Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Fabric of My Life

An adorable little blonde girl sat contentedly on her father's lap eating her doughnut, not a care in the world. As I looked down at her small feet slipped inside her white sandals memories of years gone by flooded into my mind. Wasn't it just yesterday that my own girls wore cute little sandals much like hers?

God's timing is so impeccable at times that it overwhelms me.

I had just been having a conversation with Him about my children and the years that had passed. When my children were the age of that little girl I didn't know much about grace. I wish I had. My life's path as a mother would have taken a much different turn. I would not have been so focused on modifying their behavior. I would have spent my time telling them who God saw them to be and what Christ's death really meant for them. I would tell them that they didn't have to get it all right, because that's what Jesus came to do. I would tell them that their sins will never define them, that God defines them. I would speak of His delight in them, telling them that He would never, ever, ever be ashamed of them for their mistakes. I would invite them to live in their reality, Jesus in them is their life. He wants to live from the inside out in them.

But I came into grace too late for their early years. I couldn't give them what I didn't have. Sometimes it feels like too much water has passed under the bridge.

How does one reconcile the years gone by? What does one do with the tangle of threads they've woven into the life of another, especially when it is their child? How would one untangle such a mess? As I contemplate it all, feeling the overwhelm, I am reminded of when my grandmother taught me how to cross stitch.

She started off showing me how to look at the pattern and count each square, placing the thread right where it needed to go. Once my lessen was finished I was sent home to work on my own. When I returned for my next instruction she turned the fabric over to look at the back. She immediately saw that I had been carrying threads across the fabric instead of taking the time to cut them close. The result was a chaotic mess. Patiently, Grandmother took the tangled threads out and wove them in neatly right where they needed to go. By the end of my first project the back of my tapestry was as neat as the front. Each and every mess had been resolved.

It's what I imagine Papa God does with the threads that I've woven into my life, and the lives of those I love. Somehow, someway He takes those threads and intertwines them into the fabric of each life weaving His story of redemption.

In some unfathomable way there is never too much water under the bridge for any life. God is the God of my yesterdays, my todays and my tomorrows. He weaves His story of restoration in ways my mind cannot comprehend. As He does with me, so He will do with my children. It's that which gives me hope.

Nothing I do will ever fix a thing in my life. I cannot make who I was better. Jesus died so that I might have a fresh, new start each and every day. He fixed everything and now offers to live His perfect life through me. I get to step into what He has done for me. He makes all things new.

One by one He's taking the threads of my life, unraveling them, cutting them close while weaving them into a unique tapestry. It is the story that tells of how He came for one stuck in sin and shame and brought them out. As my children watch they are given a picture for their own lives. He is the God who makes all things good.

I live to tell, for I am His story of redemption.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Confessions of a Child©

When I read about the disciples I don't feel so abnormal. They walked with Jesus for 3 years in the flesh, yet sometimes they were really clueless. One day they were debating who was the greatest among them. Jesus' response is classic. "Unless you become like a little child you cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven." His words take me back to the early years of my children.

My children wanted protection and guidance. They took my extended hand when it was offered.
They knew they didn't have all the answers. They were inquisitive. They wanted to be taught.

They didn't have their own provision. They came to us to be taken care of.

They didn't try to figure out their lives. They needed guidance to tell them where to go, what to do. They trusted the one who guided them.

When they were in pain, in need, in fear, afraid of the dark, they cried out. They were humble.

They weren't ashamed to come as they were to climb up my lap. They didn't question whether I wanted them near, they just came. They loved to be loved. They loved to love.

They wore no masks. They played no roles, they simply were who they were. They knew their place with me.

They believed. They trusted.

I see it so clearly now that I've lived it so wrongly. It's not just about salvation. It's about my identity. Unless I become like a child, I will never fully enter into the kingdom of Christ which now dwells in me.

At 23, I walked through the door of salvation, with the heart of a child. Immediately I began to live as an adult. I took care of myself. I didn't have a clue how to need. I leaned on my own understanding. The "shoulds" of the law captured my heart and life became about me and what I had to do to be right and pleasing to him. I began to try and sanctify myself by trying to make my "old man" better. I lived from the outside in.

I put on my masks to cover my shame. I played my roles, the ones that gave me some sense of value and fulfilled expectations. I protected myself. I trusted myself. Before I knew it I had forgotten what it looked like to enter in as a child. I quenched the very kingdom of heaven that made it's home in me, yet I didn't have a clue.

At 52 years of age, Jesus is bringing me back around. I am learning how to become a child again.

I continue to come back to this thought. Jesus said He had to leave in order for something better to come. He ascended into heaven. His Holy Spirit descended upon the earth. No longer would I have to experience Him from the outside, He would come to my inside. He would tell me who He knows me to be. He would teach me, counsel me, guide me into truth, leading me through the paths of life. After all He said He leads the blind on the unfamiliar path.

To inherit the kingdom is to live Christ in me. To live Christ in me, warrants the heart of a child that trusts out of a desire to be loved. He beckons me to come out from underneath my masks and be real before Him and others. He invites me to learn how to need again as He waits to take care of me.

Trust is the key that opens that door. Without it I will never believe. Jesus is the way, the truth, the life. He is the way that leads me into the truth that gives me life.

I'm coming back around now to where I once started. I'm learning to trust, really trust. I long to be loved. I long to give love. I have no resources of my own. I need and I need desperately. I have no role to play, no ministry to fulfill. I don't need them anymore. I am learning how to be who I am in the moments of each day with a Spirit who inhabits me.

He has made me new. I am learning what that looks like, living from the inside out with the One who knows the path of life. In this magical place I am rediscovering the kingdom of heaven, Christ in me, is the hope of glory.
©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Cries of the Heart©

Before I had children I often heard women speak of the different cries their children had and how they knew what each one meant. I couldn’t fathom how one would know the difference. Then I became a mother and I understood.

There were different cries for different needs. I knew them all. Even when they could not speak a word I knew from the sound of their tears what they were crying out for. Their need warranted my coming for them. I didn’t wait for them to express what was going on correctly. As their cries resounded, immediately I ran to gather them up.

I remember the day like it was yesterday, yet more than 6 years have passed. Times were tough and life was hard. I could feel the effects of the storms we found ourselves in the midst of. On this particular day I had reached the end. I felt the tears waiting just behind my eyes. As bedtime approached I started the water in the tub. I needed a place to escape and let loose. Once I stepped in, the dam of emotions broke loose sending it's rivulets down my cheeks.

It didn't take long for the sobs hidden someplace deep to find their way up and out. As I soaked my body, my soul released the longings of my heart. There were no words to speak. I was void of them. Where was God? I didn't have the energy to pray as I had been taught to do. Truth is I couldn't even breathe the word, "help". Wasn’t I supposed to cry out for help in order for God to come? What would happen to me now? I was about to find out.

I didn't do one thing, I didn’t utter one word, yet Jesus came.

It was the beginning to an end for me. All these years I’d been trying to do and say all the things I was supposed to so that He could show up for me. Yet when I couldn’t do any of them He came in the most beautiful way.

I was totally and completely bereft of words, actions, godly attitudes and choices, yet God came near to me and lifted me up into His arms' embrace. I didn’t do one thing and still He came. It was in that moment I began to see something new and fresh. It's not about what I do that makes the difference, it's about who I am to Him.

I couldn’t get over it. I still can’t.

Tears are the language of the heart. Jesus knows what they mean. He reads them and rides on the heavens to save me. I don’t have to say the right words or have the right posture. I simply need. It is my need that warrants His rescue.

As a mother comforts her child, so He comforts me. His great love stands ready, listening for my deep need to be made known. It's absolutely mind blowing when I think about it, just as I heard the needs of my children in their tears, He hears the cries of my heart.

"There is no one like the God of Jeshurun, who rides on the heavens to help

you and on the clouds in his majesty. The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” Deut. 33:26-27b

©copyrighted: 2010; Julie L. Todd