Reflecting Jesus and His Love

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(Photo taken by my son Glen)

Andy loved to talk about Jesus and asked tons of questions about Him, probably more than most children do. Then at 5 years old he was stricken with encephalitis and was disabled for life. He couldn’t walk, talk, or hear, but his parents could still sometimes understand him through his eyes or motions. Whenever he saw a picture of Jesus or was taken to church, his countenance brightened. “Jesus” was a name he could write other than his parents’ names. His favorite cap read “Jesus Is My Boss.”

I have never met Andy, but my sister knew him and recently went to his funeral. He was 43. Throughout his life he had breathing problems and endured lots of surgeries. After one particular surgery, his mom stood on edge as she waited for him to breathe on his own again. He did breathe again, and his mom turned to the window and cried. She prayed, “O God, I can’t take this anymore.” When she turned back around, Andy held his hands up and formed a cross. She said, “Yes, Andy, I know you are telling me Jesus is with us.”

The day I first heard of Andy, I was unable to do much and was beating myself up for not getting much done. I was so impacted by his story. Here was a man with all these disabilities and yet he still shined for Jesus.

He had a relationship with Jesus, and that’s what counts. If we are close to Jesus, no matter what situation we are in life, we will naturally impact others around us. Many people could see there was something in his countenance that was different. I think he probably had a deeper relationship with Jesus than many.

Too often I worry I’m not “doing” enough with just writing these posts and trying to encourage others. I get caught up in the insecure, condemning voices Satan just loves to throw at me. Or I compare myself to others who can write a post every day and yet always have something new to write. Those who always have the right words to say in comments. And that sign pops up in my brain again – “Not enough!” I too easily forget to “just be” who God intended me to be in whichever situation He plants me with whatever He gives me.

I also get it all wrong when I think how much I “do” for others will determine how much God will love me. But I have it all mixed up. His love is unconditional. His grace is free. Not one good thing we do is going to buy us more of it. It’s already there in full measure for us to receive with an open heart. All we have to “do” is believe in Jesus who loves us so much that He has bought grace for us with His own blood.

“For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith—and this is not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—
not by works, so that no one can boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

Jesus wants us to have a personal relationship. To rest in His grace. To listen to where He leads us. Without Him we are empty vessels. Without His living waters, we cannot pour out His love to others.

If all my energy is directed to wanting to be more like others or trying to gain approval of others, what energy do I have left for nurturing my relationship with Jesus? If I let others, including Satan and myself, affect my thoughts and actions, I separate myself from nourishment in Christ Jesus. If I don’t plant myself next to the Living Waters, I will bear no fruit and will wither away.

“But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings]
he [habitually] meditates day and night.
And he will be like a tree firmly planted
[and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers
[and comes to maturity].”
Psalm 1:2-3 AMP

 Andy was not busy “doing.” He was “being” who God wanted him to be. He was planted in Jesus, so he naturally reflected Jesus and His love. That’s what we need. It’s not about doing, it’s about being who we are in Christ and letting His love shine in us, spilling out towards others.

“As all of us reflect the glory
of the Lord with unveiled faces,
we are becoming more like Him with
ever-increasing glory by the Lord’s Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 3:18

A Child's Trust

“Do They See Jesus In Me?”
by Joy Williams
“Do they see Jesus in me
Do they recognize Your face
Do I communicate Your love
And Your grace
Do I reflect who You are
In the way I choose to be
Do they see Jesus, Jesus in me?”

Dearest Lord Jesus, please help us
to deepen our relationship with You.
Please make us shining lights for You.

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Linking up with: 

Holley – Coffee For Your Heart 

Jennifer – Tell His Story 

Kelly – Cheerleaders of Faith

Barbie – Weekend Whispers

My People-Pleasing Addiction: I Want It to Stop

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I beg God about what to write, but when He says, “Just be real and don’t hide what you’re struggling with,” I don’t want to accept His answer.

I sit here stuck because I know what He wants me to write, but I don’t have a clue how to say it. Ok, I’ll try…

I’m a people-pleasing addict and I have a daily struggle with it. My life is too much about trying to please others and to control things that are out of my power instead of about being real, being who I am and who God created me to be, accepting who I am and what God has placed upon me.

I stress myself out far too much about hurting and disappointing people and it’s taking its toll on me. I will stretch myself beyond my limitations just to please someone else with no regard to my own health. I worry. I don’t want them to think I don’t care and that they’re not important to me. But the truth is I’m also worried they might love me less, and I drive myself crazy with it. I further terrorize myself with guilt that I’m not trusting their love enough.

“Something has to change,” I tell my husband for the umpteenth time when I again got sick. “I don’t want anyone to feel hurt, disappointed, or unhappy because of me. I’m always trying to please others.”

“But not yourself…” he replies.

But my mind reasons that I should think of others above myself. But I have that all mixed up. I would be thinking more of others if I took care of myself. When I don’t take care of myself, I’m disregarding the feelings of my loved ones who are pained when I get sick. It tears my heart out when any of them suffer, so I should remember how they must feel when I suffer.

My need to please others results in my becoming a bully of myself, and I know in my heart that God does not want that. But I don’t know how to stop it sometimes. Maybe that’s the problem. I keep trying to stop it instead of admitting I can’t stop it myself. I’m always spinning my wheels and getting nowhere. Sliding back into that addiction again and again. I need help from a Higher Power, but I’m afraid to release my own power.

As I lay sick again, God whispered, “Just rest, My child, just rest.” Rest physically for my body but also rest in my spirit. Giving all things into His hands. Relinquishing my power to Him. Free-falling over the cliff into fear and uncertainty, trusting He’ll catch me and carry me on.

We all have an addiction in one way or another that punishes ourselves and detrimentally affects our loved ones who care so much. No matter who we are, we can all learn from AA’s Twelve Steps. Based on these steps, let’s search our hearts:

  1. Do we admit we are powerless in ourselves over _____ addiction? Do we admit our lives are unmanageable?
  2. Do we believe a Power greater than ourselves can restore us?
  3. Do we make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him?
  4. Will we search our hearts and do a fearless moral inventory of ourselves?
  5. Do we admit to God, ourselves, and another human being the exact nature of our wrongs?
  6. Are we entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character? (Jesus says in John 5 – “Do you want to get well?”)
  7. Do we humbly ask God to remove our shortcomings?
  8. Do we make a list of all persons we have harmed and become willing to make amends to them all?
  9. Do we make direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others? (Amend means to change and make improvements, not just to say I’m sorry.)
  10. Do we continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admit it?
  11. Do we seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understand Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out?
  12. As we have a spiritual awakening as a result of these steps, do we try to carry this message to other _____ addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs?

It’s time for us to take care of ourselves as God wants us to. God is for us, but we can be our worst enemy when we’re wrapped up in our addictions. Let’s let go of our own self-sufficiency and fear to trust anyone else and fall into the hands of a God who loves and has our best interests at heart.

“For I know the plans I have for you,”
declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,
plans to give you hope and a future.”
~ Jeremiah 29:11

Victorious-Gods-Heart-for-You-Embracing-Your-True-Worth-as-a-Woman-by-Holley-Gerth

May we relinquish our control to God
Who has the power of love and grace in His hands!
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21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

Seeking Approval from People Will Never Make Us Happy

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“Are you happy?”

A man who was following his heart asked this of a woman who was success-driven in her career. A woman who was always striving for perfectionistic performance to please her mother, never stopping to think what will make HER happy. (Movie: Stranded in Paradise)

Striving to please. Sound familiar? Do you long for success? Do you think it will make you feel happier or more approved by the people around you?

I sometimes slip into questioning the impact I make as a writer. I start thinking of numbers. Number of followers, likes, or comments. I start needing validation again or approval. I start thinking I’m not a success as a writer if I don’t write a book.

Unmet expectations, some I heap on myself and some pressures from society, make me feel I’m a failure in making a difference in this world. I think I should be making a bigger splash, like some book writers do. I start feeling pressured to write a book. But then I have to ask myself… Is this a guilt thing or a God direction? Am I just afraid writing at my blog does not make enough of a difference? Am I just seeking for approval and validation from people?

In The Art and Craft of Writing Christian Fiction, Jeff Gerke shares how his “lifelong addiction to the approval and validation of others was nothing but false thinking.” Jesus freed him to “begin writing – and living – simply for Him.”

I sometimes lose sight of that. Sometimes I think I have recovered from approval addiction, but then it floods in and consumes my thoughts again. Even though I am happy when I write, a discontent stirs in me that I’m not enough of a writer if I don’t write a book. Or my inner critic starts beating me up and telling me I’m not doing enough. I’m not making a big enough splash. But what I should be focusing on is writing and living simply for Jesus.

“Success” is never going to make us happy. And if we want to make a bigger splash in making a difference in this world just for the sake of more pats on the back, we are serving from the wrong motive. What matters is living simply for Jesus in whatever we do.

Seeking approval from people will never make us happy. Their accolades will never be enough to fill us up. What matters is our approval from God, and we have more than enough of that. He not only approves and qualifies us. He even favors us and delights in us. What more do we need?

We don’t have to even be concerned with whether we make a ripple or a splash. Happiness is to follow Jesus no matter what and to ask His Spirit of power to fill us to overflowing with His love, approval, and acceptance. Then automatically, that love will brim over into other people’s lives, and the need for success, performance, and approval from people will be forgotten.

Jesus first, no matter what we do, and we will be happy. No, it won’t always be a rose-petaled road here on earth. There are going to be bumps, potholes, and deep valleys of darkness and pain, but He’ll get us through it, and in the end it will be out-of-this-world, eternal bliss.

“Now am I trying to win the favor of men, or of God?
Do I seek to please men?
If I were still seeking popularity with men,
I should not be a bond servant of Christ (the Messiah).”
Galations 1:10 AMP

Praying we will remember Jesus loves us,
has pre-approved us, and accepts us no matter what!
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21 Days of Rest: Finding Spiritual Whitespace

A Soft Gentle Voice