Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How You Love Me....

Lord, I'm amazed by You
Lord, I'm amazed by You
Lord, I'm amazed by You
How You love me.

How wide...
How deep...
How great...
Is Your love for me.

You may recognize these words; they are from a beautiful chorus that we sang in church yesterday morning. It got me to thinking....music does that, remember?

So much of the time we hear and sometimes believe that we are unworthy of God's love for us. No where that I am aware of does God's Word say that.  It does say that our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), but it also says that even in our sin, God still loved us (Romans 5:8). So at first as I began to think of these words, I wondered, "Why should we be amazed by His love for us?"

God is our Father; and as such He loves us. If you are a parent, do you not love your children? More importantly, do you only love them when they are well behaved? When they do just as you have asked them? As parents, we love our children....unconditionally. No matter what they do, they are still our children and we love them.

I began to think about Eve who had two sons, Cain and Abel. Considering the outcome of their relationship I think it's safe to assume that like most brothers, they fought. They most likely had a hard time sharing their toys. Perhaps just the differences in their personalities caused them to rub each other the wrong way. Abel may have been the compliant child...always ready to do the right thing, help with whatever needed to be done, polite and obedient. Perhaps Cain was the more challenging child of the two...wanting to pursue his own interests, less likely to obey the first time he is asked, perhaps a bit more verbal in his dislike of people and/or situations. Whatever their childhoods were like it is apparent that there was jealousy on the part of Cain as they became young men.

We don't generally dwell on how Adam and Eve felt after Cain killed Abel. We get caught up in the story as we consider the horrific idea that one brother would kill another. But put yourself in their place...one son is dead, and the other is the murderer. Can you even imagine the pain this mother felt? These were the boys she had carried for months in her womb; these were the boys she  had taught to walk and talk. These were the boys she had rocked to sleep and told stories. These were the boys that Adam had trained in the way to grow food from the ground; how to tend to the animals; how to protect the family. These were his sons....his pride and joy. And in a moment of time....both were gone. One to death and one to exile.

Did they still love Cain? After he had done this horrible thing, after in his anger and jealousy he had robbed them of their other son....could they love him?

I love my children....with all of my heart! They have not always done things that made me proud of them. They have not always done the right thing in all situations. They have disappointed me; they have hurt me. They haven't killed each other, but there were times when I thought they might! But no matter what they did or have done....I love them. 

How wide...
How deep...
How great...
Is Your love for me.

I am amazed by His love for me....but not because I am unworthy of His love. I am amazed at His love  because of HOW He loves me. 

How wide? 
"As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us". (Psalm 103:12) 

No matter what we've done, His redeeming blood has covered us and those sins are removed....moved from one place to another. My children have asked me what it means "as far as the east is from the west". It's kind of an abstract concept to wrap your mind around. If you start heading east you will never reach west because you are always going east. That's pretty far to have your sins removed....can't get much "wider" than that!

How deep? 
"Neither height north depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:39) 

God's love for us runs so deep, that even when we return to our old ways and disappoint Him we cannot be separated from His love. 

How great?
"Because of the Lords great love, we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail." (Lamentations 3:22). "For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens..." (Psalm 57:10a)

Because of the greatness, the hugeness of His love, we are not left to die in our sins. His compassion is so great that He made a way of redemption for us...through the death and resurrection of His son. Another infinite view of God's love. The picture of His love reaching to the heavens....an infinite length of time and space. There is no end to His great love.

I am amazed by how He loves me. Not because I don't deserve it, or I'm not worth it. Because of His grace and the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, I am a new creature. My "filthy" righteousness has been washed clean and replaced with His righteousness. I don't have to "earn" or "deserve" His love. He bestows it upon me freely. I am amazed by how He loves me because in spite of all the millions of people on the planet, He knows me ... intimately! 

the number of hairs on my head; 
the deepest, most secret desires of my heart; 
the hurts and disappointments that I tell no one.

I can't get lost in the crowd....
My name is permanently etched on His hand and is ever before His face! 

He cares about the most important things I face;
He cares about the most trivial things I face.

He not only provides for the basic needs of life, like a home for us to live in;
But He blesses me by providing one with a view of the water.

He rejoices with me when I am happy;
He holds me when I cry.

He encourages me when I am insecure;
He guides me when I don't know which way to turn.

He cheers me on when I step out in faith;
He lifts me up when I fall.

There is no way to explain it;
There is no way to measure it.

Lord, I'm amazed by You...
How You love me!

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge - that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
Ephesians 3:17-19

Thursday, September 15, 2011

As the World Turns....

"For everything there is a season, 
and a time for every matter under heaven"
Ecclesiastes 3:1 (ESV)

Back in the early 60's a group called "The Byrds" recorded a song written by Pete Seeger called Turn, Turn, Turn based on Ecclesiastes 3. Though that was considerably before my time (well, maybe not considerably), it is a song that has endured through the years, attesting to the fact that God's Word endures forever, even when it is used in a rock and roll song. 

That song has been turning around in my head (no pun intended) today because I've arrived at another season in my life. 

The Bible talks a lot about seasons. God created the moon to mark the seasons (Psalm 104:19); the animals know the seasons and when it is time to migrate (Jeremiah 8:7); God Himself changes the times and the seasons (Daniel 2:21). And Acts 1:7 says it's not for us to know the seasons that God has appointed by His own authority. 

they come and they go.

As the world turns on it's axis and in doing so creates the different weather patterns of our seasons, our lives often do the same. Sometimes we are the in the springtime of our lives where we make new plans and start new adventures. 

Birth of babies
New jobs
These are all new beginnings.

And after springtime comes summer when we begin to see the growth of the things we have planted. And after summer comes the harvest of those moments, ideas, adventures. And I think of the winter as a time to rest up and create new ideas for the spring to come. Okay....sounds kind of corny, but just be patient with me. I'm having a thought, here....

It has struck me that while each of us go through seasons in our lives, they don't always coincide with one another, nor do they follow the same time-lines. Let me explain....

My son, Mitchell is 19 years old. Last year he went away to college and while that was difficult for me to let him go, I new it was for a short "season" and he would be back in a few months. When he came home for the summer, he realized that he was moving into a different "season" in his life. This was no longer his home; no longer was this where he belonged. So after much thought, discussion and prayer, he came to the conclusion that God was calling him to move to Georgia. (NOTE: for any of you who are not aware, we live in Washington state.....that's a long way from Georgia!). 

Monday, I put Mitchell on a plane as he left behind his family and moved into a new phase, a new "season" of his life. This is his springtime where God is planting him in new soil and nurturing him so his roots will grow deep. 

However, this is my autumn...the time when I have to pull him out of his roots here at home and send him on his way. It's harvest time for me....and I'm proud of the young man he has become. I am proud of the hard work Mark and I have put into nurturing him. I am proud of the way Mitchell has allowed his roots to grow deep into God's Word and has listened to the voice of his Father. 

Mitchell's springtime
is my harvest. 

There was never any doubt in my mind that this was the right move for him. But still, when I hugged him goodbye, I put my hand on his heart and asked, "Mitchell, are you sure...right here?" And he said, "Yes, mom, this is what I have to do."

I'll be honest....it hurt. But no one ever said doing the right thing was going to be the easy thing to do. 

The next day after Mitchell got settled in to his new home in Georgia he posted as his status on Facebook...

"The Lord had said to Abram, 'Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.'"
Genesis 12:1-3

He knew with a calm assurance that he was where he belonged...where God had called him to bel. I will always be Mitchell's momma, and I will always miss him when he is not nearby. But I am so grateful that we serve a God who has promised to bless him.

And not only that, but He has promised to bless those who bless Mitchell. And so to the Payne family who has taken him in and promised to love him and guide him on his way I say this....

"I have not stopped giving thanks for you, 
remembering you in my prayers."
Ephesians 1:16

Seasons come and seasons go. Whatever circumstances you find yourself in today, rest assured God is fully aware of the season you are in, for he has set the times and seasons in motion. There is a time for every purpose under heaven. And we can rest in His love, grace, mercy and faithfulness!