Truly Grateful

Today is the day after Wes’ Gotcha Day. It was 10 years ago that Wes became an official Jackson. Matt and I both know that he was born a Jackson, but it’s been officially on paper since August 8, 2006.

As I looked back at pictures from tha1936413_1187888378175_7614033_nt awesome day, I can’t help but see God’s goodness and faithfulness through the whole process. Looking back, I also see that His goodness and faithfulness didn’t just start there. He began His good and perfect plan way before that day. And while I’m sure He’s still fully invested in this good and perfect plan, there are times when I’m certain He’s forgotten me.

I don’t have time to go into all of the details, but I’ve been struggling with some health issues for a while. It has kept me from driving and has forced me to rearrange my life. Matt has become the grocery shopper, chauffeur for both myself and the kids and housekeeper. I’ve had days where I feel like this thing is gone and before I get back into the swing of things, it comes back.

I’ve been struggling in a land of doubt for quite a while now, and my hopes in fixes for this problem have been smashed one by one. Today seems closer to an answer and an end than any other time, but it has been one crazy ride. I’ve begged God for relief and healing. His answer?…”Not yet.”

I’ve literally screamed out “Not yet?!” over and over again. With your standard “Why me?” and a bunch of other expletives I won’t mention. My walk, faith, security, value and identity have all come into question. I’ve asked Him the hard things like; “Do you hear me?”, “Are you really good?”, “Why won’t you talk to me?”, and “Why have you left me?”. I’ve come to really appreciate the writings of King David in the Psalms. I am just like him! In love with God one minute, and feeling completely angry and abandoned the next.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I’ve received revelation or answers to all of my questions above, but I have realized, once again, He’s all I have. I no longer question his real-ness. Now I’m walking through His love for me and learning how to see it and receive it…even when it feels like He’s turned His back on me.

This morning as I was praying the Holy Spirit kept pulling my attention away from my words to God and lead me to some old pictures instead. As I was looking through them, my heart got smacked with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. And there it was…God’s faithfulness and love for me. It’s been there the whole time. Since before I could ever walk or talk. He’s been at work on my behalf even when I couldn’t see it. Even when I had Wes and didn’t know how things were going to work out. He had a plan when I thought He abandoned me. And just like He had a plan then, He has a plan now. I am sure that in another 10 years, I will be looking back at pictures from this time in my life and see how His plan was in the works.

I wouldn’t’ be totally honest with you if I didn’t share the thought that crept into my mind not even a split second after the flood of gratitude. Fear…fear that at any moment all of the things I am grateful for could be snatched away or fear of what my life would’ve been without Him. Satan seems to be pretty quick with his attacks these days.

That fear stopped me dead in my tracks and I began to recognize the attack from the enemy.  True gratefulness doesn’t come from the knowledge of what we could lose or what could’ve been. True gratefulness comes from the revelation of our Father’s love for us and receiving His grace. No, I don’t deserve what He has given me. I don’t deserve His good and perfect plan, but He loves me enough to give it to me. To work things out for me on my behalf. And it could have, but didn’t stop with a Ticket to Heaven. His plan was salvation AND some. Jesus so I could be with Him for eternity in Heaven, but also Jesus so I could have a relationship with Him and have a full and abundant life here on this Earth.

Today I pray that you experience true gratitude. I pray you aren’t grateful because of what could’ve been, or because of what you could someday lose, but simply because of what He has chosen to give you. And the fact that has been His plan all along. To love you and provide for you your whole life. Receive that!  Yes, it’s true things would be and could be so much worse without Him, but that’s not the point. He loves you, and that’s what I’m choosing to be grateful for.

And if you’re in the same place as me…flip flopping back and forth between remembering His goodness and feeling alone, I pray He reminds you of His faithfulness for your whole life, like He did for me this morning. I pray you are able to see past your current circumstances and stand firm on His goodness and faithfulness from before. Pray for me as I continue to walk this out and I will continue to pray for you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You Are Not a Robot

 

I was bathing my then 4 year old daughter one evening after dinner. Earlier that day she had been to preschool at our church where they were rehearsing some songs for the end of the year program. As she slid all over the bathtub, she belted out from the top of her lungs a song they were teaching her.

She sang “I am a friend of God, I am a friend of GOOOOOOOD…I am a friend of GOOOOD…He calls me NAMES!”

She kept singing, totally oblivious to the fact she had messed up the lyrics. The real lyrics are “I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God. I am a friend of God He calls me friend.” Not only did she add an extra UMPH to the word God, but she also said He calls her names. I tried not to hurt her feeling by bursting out loud with laughter, but it was too hard to keep it in.

She heard me laugh and said “Mommy, what’s so funny?”

“Nothing baby.” I replied with a big ole’ smile on my face. “I like the way you sing that song.”

The song in it’s original form reminded me of a prayer I had prayed to God earlier that same year. I attended my very first Bible study and for the first time I heard the video teacher say we can be friends with God. Friends with God? That was a weird and uncomfortable statement for me, but there it was in plain view. Right there in the Bible, James 2:23 “And the scripture was fulfilled that says “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend”

Wait, what? God as a friend? Up until that point, it had never even crossed my mind that God could be a friend. I always thought He was too big, too powerful, too boss/master like to be a friend. But I thought I’d ask Him if we could be friends anyway.  

Fast forward to now. My sweet little preschool baby girl is now in middle school and I am now fully receiving my friendship status with God.

A few months ago I wrote a post on depression. (Feelings Vs. Truth) I was in a pretty nasty slump and found myself sleeping all day, eating tons of junk food and getting little to no exercise.

I told him “Father, you’ve got to help me out of this. I have no structure in my life now that I’m not working. I need you to tell me what time I need to get up, what to eat and when, when to exercise. I need you to function. I don’t want to just sleep my days away anymore. I need rules to be a better me!”

protocol-robot-ms294-2He replied “You are not a robot and I am not your programmer.”

I instantly got it. Our relationship is much more personal than that! He’s not my boss, he’s my friend.  Over the years, we’ve grown into friendship with each other. My prayer had been answered and I didn’t even know it.

I realized how our relationship has progressed from the beginning to where we are today. I went from slave, to servant, to friend. A sermon from Bethel Church (God on Mute) illustrates this beautifully. I’ll try to paraphrase – “As a slave, we receive a list of to-do’s from our master. As a servant, we spend some time with the master and maybe even go into his house, but we still carry out the to-do’s. As friends…we hang out together, eat meals together. We dream up new things together, tell each other secrets and share a personal intimacy. There are still things to be done, but now we are co-laborers and we do it together. ”  

Friends don’t set rules for each other. Friends dream together. Friends plan for their future together. Friends become like each other.

Don’t get me wrong. God is still fully God. Still the creator of the universe, and I do submit to his authority, but our relationship has reached a whole new level. We dream together now. There are things I’ve wanted to do for a very long time with him that align with who he is. In fact, right now, in this very moment of our relationship, we’re dreaming up something HUGE together and I can’t wait to share it! It’s too early still, but when the time is right, you bet I’ll be shouting it from the rooftops! 

I dream and create with God because he is more than a master, he is my friend.

I realize he didn’t give me a list of rules on how to be a better me like I wanted him to, not because he was being cold or distant, but because he trusts me in our relationship. He knows I’ll listen to him if I’m getting off track. He knows I’ll come to him if I need help or guidance. He’s equipped me to make decisions and because we are in constant contact, my decisions will be influenced by him because we are friends.

I pray that you too receive your identity as a friend of God. I pray that you live in the freedom of knowing you’re a son or a daughter of not only the best Father in the world, but the best Friend in the world too. I pray you walk in confidence, a confidence that can only come from God. I pray you know he is your biggest fan and he will never leave you. I pray you dream BIG dreams with him! Dreams that impact your world and the people you know and love forever. I pray you spend lots of time at his table hanging out, remembering how he’s always been a faithful friend. I pray the two of you talk about your future and most importantly, grow in your friendship.