The God Who Sees Me…

“You are the God who sees me…” __ Hagar

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I’ve always felt a kinship with Hagar.  Hagar was the maidservant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

This is her story:

Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was barren.  None-the-less, God had promised  that through their children would come the nation of Israel.  Abraham and Sarah had tried to have children for many years, but now they were old, and Sarah finally gives up hope.  One day, she tells her husband…  “The Lord has kept me from having children.  Go sleep with my maidservant (Hagar); perhaps I can build a family through her.”

[SCRRRREEEEEECH…]

[Pardon the interruption…it’s just my wheels coming to a halt!  Okay, if I had been the writer of this Genesis’ story, I would have written it, more to this effect,

“…go sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her,” said, no woman ever! 

Call it a hunch, but, I have a sneaky suspicion this idea was more Abraham’s than Sarah’s.]

[…now…back to the story]

So, Abraham, “obeyed” his wife, and slept with Hagar, and Hagar, became pregnant.  Of course, tension mounts between the two women, until one day, all hell breaks loose within the camp.  Sarah, in a jealous rage, mistreats Hagar.  Scripture gives no detail as to how, but it was bad enough for Hagar to run away, and hide, from her mistress, in the dessert.  Scared and alone, Hagar finally finds a spring of water and pauses  to drink.   God sees her at the spring, and begins a conversation with her.  It goes something like this: 

God:  Hagar, what has happened and where are you going?”

Hagar:  “I’m running away…”

God: “Go back… face the problem, and I will be with you.”

Hagar: “You are the God who sees me…”

And so, Hagar returns.  The problem doesn’t go away, but God is true to his word, and helps her every step of the way.  Eventually, she is blessed with a son, she names Ishmael, and through Ismael’s descendants the Arab nation is born. 

 

In my life, I have endured many “Hagar moments,” and I bet you have too.

How often I’ve felt…

  • …alone
  • …misunderstood
  • …unloved
  • …without hope
  • …a victim of circumstances, beyond my control
  • …an outcast
  • …ready to give up

 

When I read God’s words to Hagar, I read them as if they were written just for me.  He tells me, “Go back, my child, and I will be with you.  Don’t give up, I have a good plan for you.”

I’m so thankful, He is the God who sees me.

***

Daily Prompt: Measure

Everything we need is give through His good measure.

 

 

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Accepting Bridges, Instead of Walls

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God has called us to build bridges and not walls.  The whole story of Christ’s life, testifies to this.  During his ministry, Jesus broke down many walls of separation.

For example:

  • Jesus was a Judean Refugee living in Egypt.  (What if Egypt had built a wall?)
  • Jesus had many women disciples. (Gender Wall)
  • Jesus praised the Samaritans, whom the Jews considered dogs. (Race Wall)
  • Jesus spent his time with sinners, instead of the religious. (Religion Wall)
  • Jesus admonishes the poor, instead of the rich. (Status Wall)
  • Jesus proclaimed Grace instead of Law. (Rule/Regulation Wall)

Jesus leveled the playing field, where all are equal, and He calls us to do the same.

For He is our peace.  He has made us both one body, and has broken down the hostile, dividing wall between us.  Ephesians 2:14

 

Daily Prompt: Acceptance

 

My Soul To Take

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Painting by Florence Kroger

 

Oh, that God would mold this clay,

nothing but dust, dirt and decay!

And yet, in me, He saw some worth;

He sent his Son, from Heaven to Earth.

To lay down his life, upon the cross,

to thirst, and bleed, and suffer loss.

And so for me, His Glory awaits;

one day I’ll walk, through pearly gates.

So nothing to fear, because I am free;

His rod and His staff, they comfort me.

The shadow of death, there is no escape,

But God’s in the valley, my soul, to take.

***

As a tiny girl, often, my mom and I, prayed the prayer, “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.”  I was always comforted by this bedtime ritual.  As an adult, when I think on the memory, I find I am blessed just as much now, as I was then; perhaps even more.  Thus was the inspiration for this poem.

“Mama, thank you for the foundations of strength you’ve given me.  I am a better woman because of you.”

now i lay me down

(Daily prompt: Luck)

Luck has nothing to do with my spiritual life.  It is orchestrated by the hand of God.

 

God’s Abstract Love

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There are some things we will never understand, and God’s love is one of them.  Maybe there are times, we think, we comprehend its depth, only to have the knowledge drift away, like a cloud in the sky.

If it were possible to put God’s love to canvas, you can be sure, it would be abstract art.  I truly enjoy abstract paintings, because every time I view it, I learn something new; and for me, that is exciting!

Such is God’s love, dear friends.  It is multifaceted with many doors, but, behind each door stands Jesus.  He tells us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in.”

Jesus knocks at our door, but sometimes it is required of us to knock. In the book of  Matthew, Jesus speaks, “Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Sometimes we hear, see and feel his love, but often we do not.  When we walk the latter, we walk in God’s abstract love; but don’t despair; for it’s during these times, our faith is strengthened, and our eyes are opened to something new.

Jesus is whispering, “Seek, and you shall find.”

***

Daily Prompt: Abstract

 

The Lord is my Shepherd

When, blessings like a river, swarm.

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“The Lord is my shepherd.”  And thus begins Psalm 23.

King David is the author of Psalm 23; however, as much as we Christians would like to believe, David was not the first to pen the idea of God as shepherd.

History tells us, this metaphor, of comparing god to shepherd, was common place within the Eastern world.  For example:

  • There was a song written about Marduk, patron deity of the city of Babylon, during the early 18th Century BC, describing his care for the weak like a “benevolent shepherd.”  
  • Another song written of Shamash, Mesopotamian sun-god, proclaims, “You shepherd all living creatures, together, you are the herdsman, above and below.”
  • Hammurabi (c.1750 BC) claimed kingship by providing “the people with pastures and watering places, having settled them in peaceful abodes.”
  • A phrase, which closely parallels Psalm 23, was found inscribed upon ancient Samaritan text and it reads,  “A man’s personal god is a shepherd who finds pasturage for him.  Let him lead him like sheep to the grass they can eat.”

Some Christians, learning of this, may feel it weakens David’s writing, but I feel quite the opposite.  I’m sure David, a learned man, was aware of such comparisons; therefore, when he chose to liken his God to that of a shepherd, he, in essence, was elevating his God, Yahweh, above all other gods.

David spent many of his younger years, tending his father’s sheep.  The book of II Samuel, speaks of two incidents where David had to kill a lion and a bear in order to protect the fold.  David understood the lambs were vulnerable, and without his protection, they would most likely die.  Knowing this fact, when he wrote Psalm 23, he visions himself to a lamb, that is dependent upon the shepherd, and for David, this shepherd could only be Yahweh.  David humbled himself, and placed his entire well-being, within the hands of God.

I love how David makes Psalm 23 personal.  He could have written, “The Lord is a shepherd” and that would have been true, but instead he writes “The Lord is ‘my’ Shepherd.”  By that simple two letter word, David sheds light upon his close relationship to God.

I believe when we read Psalm 23, God desires of us, to make it personal.  He wants each of us to slip our identity within this passage, and when we do, this ancient scripture becomes alive.  We like, David, can proclaim a personal relationship with God, and when we are able to do that, God Himself walks with us.

Oh, what peace and joy this brings!

My Daily Prayer:

Lord, you are my Shepherd.  You care about everything in my life, even unto the minutest detail.  Help me today to ponder this thought.

When I’m tired, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will feel rest.  When I’m afraid, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your protection.  When I am lonely, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your presence.  When I am guilty, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your forgiveness.  When I’m down upon myself, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know I’m enough.  When I feel unloved, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” so I will know your love.  And in that time, when I face death, help me to remember, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” and I will know comfort and peace.

Lord, thank you for this day, you have made for me.  Help me to live it, with my hand in yours.  Help me, to be a blessing, to those you bring to my path.

In the name of Jesus, my savior, I make these requests.  Amen

***

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”  — Jesus

When blessings, like a river, swarm

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(Information about comparisons of gods to shepherd was taken from the NIV Study Bible)

 

 

 

 

 

Never Hesitate To Prove Your Love

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Some two thousand years ago Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”  Not once, but three times Jesus asked this of Peter, and three times Peter replied, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

One may question, why did Jesus ask this three times?

Why wasn’t one “yes” enough for Jesus?

Was Jesus so insecure that he needed to hear Peter, say it three times?

Of course not.  Jesus was trying to  teach Peter a valuable lesson about true love.

This account is found in John chapter 21.  When reading the story, we notice after each “yes” from Peter, Jesus says, “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” and lastly “Feed my sheep.”  In doing this, I believe Jesus is trying to convey to Peter that, true love is not how you feel, or what you say, but rather, true love is what you do.  True love is action. 

I think it probable, Jesus asks us the same question, many times a day, and it’s not an answer he seeks, but rather a response.

We prove our love for Jesus, when we take care of his people.

My Daily Prayer:  Lord, as I go through this day, help me to hear your question, “Do you love me?”  May I hear it when I see the hungry, the poor, the lonely, and may I love you, by loving them.  Jesus, fill me, that I may be you, to all those around me. In your beautiful name I ask, Amen.

***

Never hesitate to prove your love.

 

 

 

More Than a Conqueror

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photo from: http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/5-easy-ways-to-build-your-inner-strength/

For the past week I’ve lived a defeated life.  I’ve lived as though my fears had come to fruition, and those things I dreaded the most, had arrived and taken their abode in my life.

In truth, I had surrendered, even before the battle had begun.

Yesterday, a friend sent this text, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ.”  It touched and warmed my heart, but still I continued my day as a lamb headed toward its fate.

This morning, I got out of bed with the same mindset.  Like a zombie I dragged toward the coffee maker, and set it in motion.  As my coffee brewed, I mindlessly began to fill three bowls with kibble and hefty dollops of beef stew from a can.  Three wagging tails increased pace as I set the bowls on the floor.

Coffee in hand, I sat to read my morning devotion that was slated for this second day in February.  (I have the app “Power Thoughts” on my phone and try to read it everyday)  The words I read, roused me from slumber…

“The Bible states that we are more than conquerors, and we are to reign as kings in life, through Jesus Christ.” 

There it was again, “…we are more than conquerors…”

Coincidence?  Some may say, “yes,” but for me, it was a gentle shake of my shoulders, waking me to reality.  I am the child of a King, and my Father wants me to live as such.

Come what may, poverty, loneliness or any other trouble, still I am more than a conqueror through Christ.

In this life, He lives within me, and in the next I’ll live with Him, forever.

***

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  Romans 8: 35;37

Cleanse your mind of negative thoughts, one at a time.

 

You Are A Gift

We are uniquely created for reckless abandonment to our Creator. 

We crave Him,  and long for His sound and scent.

We yearn to share His story:  For God so loved the world.

 And no one else can tell the story quite like you. 

You are a gift to the world.

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How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You. (Psalms 139:17-18)

(Daily Prompt: Scent)

Hey America, You Get What You Vote For!

“90 Percent of Teachers Say Trump’s Win Has Had a Negative Effect in Classrooms.”

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Children cheer at Trump campaign event.

Hello friends, I read an article while having a morning cup of coffee, and I have to say my gut did the death roll.  The article, written by Claire Landsbaum of NYMAG.com, spells out the ugly truth, of just how Trump’s win, has negatively impacted America’s children.

Landsbaum writes, “More than 10,000 teachers, counselors, and administrators from K–12 schools across the country were surveyed, and 90 percent say their school’s climate has been negatively impacted by Trump’s election.”

Negatively impacted?  How?

Read on, friends…

In Indiana, one middle school teacher reports, and I quote:

“Since the election, every single secondary school in our district has had issues with racist, xenophobic or misogynistic comments cropping up. In the week since the election, I have personally had to deal with the following issues: 1) Boys inappropriately grabbing and touching girls, even after they said no (this never happened until after the election); 2) White students telling their friends who are Hispanic or of color that their parents are going to be deported and that they would be thrown out of school; 3) White students going up to students of color who are total strangers and hurling racial remarks at them, such as, ‘Trump is going [to] throw you back over the wall, you know?’ or ‘We can’t wait until you and the other brownies are gone’; 4) The use of the n-word by white students in my class and in the hallway. Never directed towards a student of color (that I’ve been told yet), but still being casually used in conversation.”

Hey Trump voters…if you can read those words and not feel a pang of guilt, shame on you!

To Trump voters:

This man, our new President-Elect, didn’t even try to hide his nasty character and still you voted for him.  He publically mocked a disabled reporter who has arthrogryposis, and still you voted for him.  He openly degraded women and laughed about inappropriately grabbing them, and still you voted for him.  Dear Trumpeters, the list goes on and on, and still you voted for this man.

In conclusion…

Well, America, what did you expect to happen?  While you glossed over, turned your heads, and ignored the abominable actions of this man…guess what…your children were watching.  

Why wouldn’t your kids feel they could imitate the most powerful person in the world?  After all, it was mom and dad who put him there!

I’m terrified at the thought of what our America will look like in four years.

May God have mercy on us. 

***

To read the article from Clair Landsbraum visit here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grace is Found in Hues of Gray

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Recently, I had a family member express concern for my soul.  Their reason?  I’m a lesbian.

Now, first of all, I realize their concern is an expression of love, but I also know, they fear if they fail to warn me, then my blood will stain their hands, at the great white throne of God’s judgement.  I know this because, I too, once held to such belief.  I am aware of the almost unbearable pain this causes, and it makes me sad.

After a lifetime of being taught this, it ceases to be an opinion, and becomes a way of life, which is extremely hard to escape.  Everything in life, is governed by the philosophy of black and white, cut and dry, leaving no room for debate. There are no hues of grays, it’s either wrong or right, irregardless of what modern technology or science proves different.

For example, I Corinthians 6:9-10 names a long list of characters who have no hope of heaven.  Listed among these, of course, are homosexuals, but also listed are people who covet, adulterers, thieves and drunkards.  There’s a significantly longer list, found in Romans chapter 1, and it contains, people who envy, people who gossip, people who are proud, and even people who are disobedient to their parents.

May I be so bold as to say, everyone in the world, falls somewhere within these categories.  So, if taken literally, no one, it seems, should ever make it to the pearly gates, but that, my friends, is the point; and this point, is often missed because the reader becomes side tracked by the mention of the “sin” of homosexuality.

The point is, no one, absolutely no one, is worthy of Gods Kingdom.  To stress this, Paul in the same book writes, “There is no one righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned…”

Thankfully, the book of Romans doesn’t end upon this dire note, but instead it points the reader to one person:  Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, and what he means to all of mankind, is the sole emphasis of the whole book of Romans.  If you read the whole book, instead of picking scripture here and there, the conclusion is made that we are all “… justified freely by God’s grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deed of the law.”

Now, having written all of the above, I am aware there are arguments to be made.  My fundamental and evangelical friends pose some valid questions about homosexuality and sin in general.  I truly want to address these; however, that is another blog for another time.  To be honest, more than a blog post…a series.

In closing, I just want to say, as a gay-christian, (no oxymoron) I choose to live by grace.  Grace is a world of unanswered questions; a world full of wonder that drives us to seek answers. We become scrappy Christians, who wrestle and grapple to find answers, but at the end of the day, we still have to say, “I don’t know” and because of grace, that is okay.  Grace is, not knowing the answers while resting in peace.

In the past, the accusations, from well-meaning Christians-family and friends-would anger me and set me on the defensive.  I would think, “How dare they judge my relationship with God?”  That’s not, so much, my reaction anymore, instead, I am saddened by the fear, I know they feel.  I wish, there were a way, to draw back the curtains of my soul, so all concerned, could witness my relationship with God.  This, I know, is the only thing that would lay such fears to rest.