Sunday, May 15, 2016

The Heart of the Giver

Some things I've been learning lately:

A good, good Father gives the best gifts.
He does not give cheap gifts, even the things that seem small carry great value. His gifts are limitless and can't be put in a box. They are not limited to finances nor solely things that can be bought with money. They can come in the form of spiritual gifts, presents for special occasions, and even those little "just because" surprises. The Giver loves to give and the receiver loves to receive. The Giver delights in the delight of the receiver. There is great Joy in the gift exchange. The Giver expects nothing in return. The receiver is not expected to give or do anything but simply accept what's given. It's far more than the gift itself, it's an investment and stewardship of time: listening, caring, interceding, waiting, seeking, and finding. He relentlessly pursues His kids as well as what He chooses to give to them. The process of finding the best gifts is to never be rushed. Often the Giver is silent and may seem distant while He's preparing the gift. There is awe and wonder to be found in the mystery. God is the Creator of creativity, He is extremely detailed in everything He does. There are a ton of gifts out there, the beauty of the Lord is that He doesn't just give away any old gift...He hand picks the gift He has for you that best fits your personality, style, need, desire, and unique design. God does not give hand-me-downs, there are no favorites in the Kingdom. You are His first choice and His most prized possession as His child.

Sometimes His gifts are presented very beautifully, all packaged up and shiny. Other times, it can look like the furthest thing from what we typically perceive as a gift. the word tells us that even various trials are a gift. It may look like making big decisions for ourselves, learning to say no and the best yes to things in order to protect the freedom we have. Boundaries are a precious gift in themselves. It can look like dealing with things of the past that's coming to the surface so you can finally move on and heal. It can be yet another disappointment, let down, or shocking change in events. I can be _______(insert trial and view it as a blessing instead of a curse...) He does everything within the most divine timing. His thoughts are not our thoughts and ways are not our ways, they are higher (Isaiah 55:8-9). Though the revealing of each present may appear in parts, His gifts are always complete and whole. He doesn't do anything half way. All of His gifts are good and for the best.  Each gift is free to us because of that which wasn't free. On the cross, the ultimate price was paid which has made a way for us to fully receive today. Every gift is to reflect His heart and reveal more of His character. He's always after your heart. He outpours His perfect love and affection which can't be contained, causing an overflow. He's a good, good Father Who loves to lavish His gifts upon His sons and daughters.

Above all, He is the inexpressible gift and that's more than enough! He is all that we need both in abundance and lack.

“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” -James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭MSG‬‬

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” -2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

“Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light. There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures.” -James‬ ‭1:16-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Mother to the Motherless

No matter what category you may fall under concerning this Mother's Day, I think we can all be thankful that the Lord is not only "a father to the fatherless"-Psalm 68:5 but a mother to the motherless as well. Maybe you had a superwoman of a mom. One who always showed up, displayed love, and went through loops and hurdles to make your day brighter. Or maybe you had the mom who worked so many long and hard days trying her best to be present for events but always seemed to be too busy. Perhaps your dad was more like a mom to you packing your lunches, doing the laundry, and rocking the mini van. Maybe you had guardians instead such as an aunt or uncle that took you in as their own. Maybe you were raised in foster care or adopted. Maybe you had a grandmother who was more of a mother figure always letting you eat sweets, cutting off the edges of your grilled cheese sandwich, and exposing you to the daily beauty parlor gossip. Maybe you were your mother's mother setting her alarm clock and clothes out the night before so she could make it to work on time, hiding the bottles when she'd have too much to drink already, and loaning her money every time she's in a bind. Or maybe, just maybe, you had to be your own mother. You were the one who read the bedtime story and tucked yourself in at night. You were the one who taught yourself how to put on your clothes, tie your shoes, and fix your hair. You were the one who made sure you had all the school supplies you needed and had something, anything, to eat each day.

Even the best of moms are human and humans make mistakes. Humans will let each other down. All humans fall short. I think we can all relate to at least one point in time that we've longed for a mother's love in the moment of heartbreak, craved a mother's touch in the moment of despair, and wanted a mother's nurture when not feeling well. Regardless of what the word "mother" means to you, I'm here to tell you today that the Lord is the entire family unit. Have daddy issues? He's a good, good Father. Momma withdraws? He can rock you to sleep. Brother betrayal? He sticks closer than a brother. Sister absence? He is a the best listener.

To all you moms out there: bonus moms, step moms, spiritual moms, cat moms...
Know that the pressure is off. You can't be a mother until you've first been a daughter. Above all, you are His daughter and He is well pleased. Fully discovering your identity will help you see that even on those days when nothing goes right, everything wants to break, and you just can't seem to get your life together...He is still good and nothing you ever do or don't do will change His perfect love for you. 

God is described as a woman in labor (Isaiah 42:14) and as having given birth to His people (Deuteronomy 32:18). He is compared to a nursing mother (Isaiah 49:15), to a comforting mother (Isaiah 66:13; Psalm 131:2), and to a mother teaching her child to walk (Hosea 11:3). God is described as a mother bear whose cubs have been taken away, as a hungry lioness (Hosea 13:8), as a mother eagle caring for her young (Deuteronomy 32:11-12), and as a mother hen (Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34). David compared God to a woman (Psalm 123:2-3), and Jesus himself likened God to a woman cleaning her house to find a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10). God provided just enough healthy food for His people (Exodus 16:11-18), and He provides for us as well (Philippians 4:19). He urged His disciples to rest (Mark 6:31). He bandages our wounds (Psalm 147:3) and will wipe away our tears (Isaiah 25:8). He comforts us (Isaiah 51:12) and carries us close to His heart (Isaiah 40:11).

So here's to no longer putting God in a box. Anything you need, He not only gives it...He is it. He is love. He is peace. He is Joy. He always provides and protects. He works everything together for good. He makes all things new. He restores. He heals. He is a minister of reconciliation. Allow Him to show you His heart today whether He's the only mother you've ever truly had or you have a mother figure as an example here on earth. Either way we can celebrate motherhood the way He created it to be, beautiful and radiant.