It’s strange how sometimes everything ties into a theme of what I’m learning–what Jesus is teaching me. It’s like a thousand little messages soaring into my heart and they are all saying the same things–reminders, of what I need to know in this moment.
For the kids school, we are reading a book called “The Tanglewood’s Secret”. I remember reading this to my kids about 5 years ago, when my girls were little. Every time I read it, I am reminded of the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for me. It is a message I need to hear over and over, but as things change, it means something different to me than it did 5 years ago. It means more.
In the book, Ruth asks the shepherd Mr. Tandy how he hears God’s voice. She says that she tries and tries to hear it, but she hears nothing. Mr. Tandy calls his sheep but tells Ruth to look at the ones by the hedge. He calls the sheep and all but the ones by the hedge come to him. The ones by the hedge were new to the fold and were once shepherded by another. So Mr. Tandy says this:
They’ve only joined my flock two days ago. But let them walk in the pastures with me for a week or two, and let me put them in my fold and let me put my hands on their heads and feed them, and they’ll soon come to know my voice…Now, there are many voices speaking to your heart, Ruth…
And this is where I am learning too. There are many voices and which one do I listen to most? I’m not a new Christian, but in many ways, I feel like I have just only scratched the surface of the Christian life. I am learning to listen to that still, small voice and to say “no” to ungodliness. It’s amazing what I thought I knew about God, when I knew so little. He’s a wonderful mystery just waiting to be heard and if I open my eyes and ears to Him, what will He say?
I’m reading another book to my older girls entitled, “What Do You Think of Me? Why Do I Care?” by Ed Welch. It’s written for teens, but goodness–it speaks volumes to me. In it, Welch talks about how life comes down to three questions: Who is God? Who am I? Who are these other people?
We all want to think the best of ourselves, but when it comes down to it, I find myself blaming God, using others, and thinking way too highly of myself. In the book, he talks about prayers we might pray like “Lord, please let me be normal”. But he continues, “Lord, please don’t let me be normal”. This has been my prayer. My reason is that everyone “normal” is hurtful. I don’t want to be like them. He goes on, “If I can’t fit in, then I’ll be a vampire.” That might sound strange to some people, but to me–it sounded about right. I’d rather be this ugly person who no one likes and make myself mean and spiteful than be “normal” and abused and walked all over. I’d rather have an ugly heart than let someone screw me over. That’s where I have been at in the past 4 years of my life.
Lately, that has been changing. I find unlovable people more lovable. I don’t hate myself so much. I have grace for my kids and family (not always, but that is the goal). I can take a deep breath and let God’s words soothe me. I stood outside today on my deck thinking, “I don’t belong here” but then closed my eyes and remembered I do because God put me here. He gives me peace in storms. The other night we had a disheartening incident occur and I simply closed my eyes and asked God to help me. It would be easy for me to just fall apart. I did end up feeling sad about it all, but I just kept asking God to help me. It’s his voice that I want to hear.
The world lies to me every chance it gets. It tells me I deserve something I don’t. It puffs up my pride. It makes me think less of humanity and more of myself. Meanwhile, it tells me to think so little of God. It turns my feelings, my pain, my own self into an idol. But while doing that, I become a stone. My heart can’t love. I wallow in my feelings. I am useless as a person. I can’t help those around me. I can’t be anything to anyone. This is why I need God so much. This is why He is so beautiful to me. That was me. But that isn’t me. Rather, that’s not who He intended me to be.
I have so far to go in this Christian life, but when I sit back and think of how God can take someone like me and make them beautiful, lovely, and a blessing to other people despite all of what I have experienced and all of what my sin has done to me, I am thankful. And now my prayer is, “Lord, make me more like you.” And I know He will.
At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone. Titus 3:3-8 (NIV)