I Am Free From Condemnation

I am forever free from condemnation.  These are my fighting words.

I am free from condemnation

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved.  Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud.  A new power is in operation.  The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death.  -Romans 8:1-2

 

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I am Complete in Christ

I am complete in Christ.  These are my fighting words.

I am complete in Christ

You don’t need a telescope, a microscope, or a horoscope to realize the fullness of Christ, and the emptiness of the universe without him.  When you come to him, that fullness comes together for you, too.  His power extends over everything.

-Colossians 2:10

Comparison will get you nowhere.  It’s the thief of joy.  I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that quote on Pinterest or Instagram.  Unfortunately, I’ve allowed it to steal my joy more times than I care to admit.

“Why haven’t I been able to have biological children like _____ has?”

“Why isn’t my business as successful as hers?”

“She seems to have it all together…why don’t I?”

“What about me?”

Another word for comparison is envy.  I want what someone else has and feel like my life is incomplete without it (whatever it is).  And envy is a worm that will eat me alive if I let it.  Pretty soon, instead of enjoying the gift of my right-now life, I’m stewing internally over all the things that I don’t have…that will of course make my life so much better.

But will they?

What would happen if I opened up my fists and released those things?  Released my overwhelming desire for them?  The irony of holding so tightly to something that’s not even mine to begin with it not completely lost on me.

Here’s what I’ve found.  The release of tightness in my chest testifies to the truth that was there all along – what I thought would bring me satisfaction all along actually had a death-grip on me.  Comparison and envy were squeezing the enjoyment right out of my life.

The truth is that I’m actually loved and accepted just the way I am right now – no improvements needed.  I’m not less than in God’s eyes because I’m not a mother of biological children.  God’s not comparing my business to hers.  He doesn’t expect me to get my act together before He calls me His.

That, my friends, is grace.  And it’s something I’ll never fully understand.  But I’m so hungry for it, to receive and to give it – however imperfectly.

It’s one thing to know something as the truth; it’s another to believe it down in the marrow of your soul.

Let’s believe in the truth of grace…fiercely.

I am Redeemed and Forgiven

I am redeemed and forgiven – completely.  These are my fighting words.

I am redeemed and forgiven

He’s set us up in the kingdom of the Son he loves so much, the Son who got us out of the pit we were in, got rid of the sins we were doomed to keep repeating.  – Colossians 1:14

It was something stupid, really.  Incredibly minor in the grand scheme of things.  A case of technology not doing what I wanted it to do (why is it that technology can push my buttons faster than just about anything?  Anyone else?)  And yet, my frustration spilled out and over onto my husband who was in the car with me…and who really had nothing to do with it.

We passed several minutes in strained silence.  He was understandably frustrated with my frustration.  It was a vicious circle.  And slowly, the thoughts started forming in my mind.

“You did it again.”

Why can’t you just stop reacting that way?”  

“You’ll never be any different you know.  You’ll always be the weak one in the relationship.”

And as I listened, I gradually sunk deeper and deeper into the pit of self-pity and self-loathing.

The enemy never stops whispering, never quits trying to drag us down.

I remember during a season of counseling, realizing for the first time that life truly was a battle for the soul, and that the enemy had woven his schemes deeper into my life than I realized.  I asked my pastor at the time, “I realize that we’re in a war, but does it always have to feel like a dang battle?”

The truth is that life IS a battle.  We may feel the effects of the battle more at some times than at others.  Our enemy won’t quit.

But the truth also is that he won’t win.  We have already won because Christ has already reached down into that pit that the enemy wants to drag us into.  He has reached down and lifted us out.  Those frustrations and anger and generational habits that we think we are destined to repeat?  He’s broken those chains and lifted us up.

The truth is that we are redeemed and forgiven.  We are free.

 

I Have Open Access to God

I have wide-open access to God.  These are my fighting words.

I have open access to God

Through him (Christ) we both share the same Spirit and have equal access to the Father.  – Ephesians 2:18

My husband likes to tell the story of the first time he knew that I might actually be interested in him…

Lauren and I were introduced on Facebook by a mutual friend – her college roommate in fact.  Did I mention she was in China at the time?  Oh well, different story for another time.

In a lot of ways, our relationship mirrored our method of communication.  While she was in China, we talked occasionally over Facebook. When I say occasionally, I mean about once after we were introduced (I can’t help it that a tornado came through and took out my sole method of accessing the internet for a month or so).

When she moved back to Florida, we actually met in person and I realized that relationships don’t happen without some level of intentionality, so I started to email her.  From there, it morphed into texting about classes that we were both taking, but crossing into the realm of actual phone calls seemed to be a difficult step for me.  At the time, I was traveling back and forth to my parents’ house fairly frequently (about an hour and a half drive).  To pass the time, I would generally call whichever of my friends from college that I hadn’t heard from in a while to keep in touch.

So this particular Sunday evening, I was traveling back to my house around 10:00 p.m.  I suddenly had the inspiration to call Lauren and talk to her for a while.  Did I mention she was in Florida?  That meant it was around 11:00 p.m her time…the night before she had to get up early to start her Monday morning teaching routine. Doubt began to creep in.  Is it appropriate to call someone you’re not actually dating at that hour?  Needless to say, I bailed on the idea and settled for driving back home without conversation.

At some point in the next week or so, we were talking and I mentioned that I had thought about calling her but wasn’t sure if she was still up.  Her reply was the not-so-subtle, “I was probably in bed but I still would have picked up. You can call me whenever.”

Now we men aren’t famous for reading between the lines, but in this particular situation, I had the realization that she might be interested in me.  Needless to say, that simple conversation boosted my confidence for future phone conversations, and the rest is simply history.

Call me crazy, but even though I hadn’t had many relationships before J, I had gathered enough intel to realize that subtlety on my part might not get us very far.  Hence, my not-so-subtle comment.  I knew I liked him, and I wanted him to know that when it came to communication between us, he had open access as far as I was concerned.

Because of Christ, I have open access to God.  So do you.

Our enemy would like nothing more than to make us think that we’ve messed up one-too-many times.  That because of our past, God would never listen to us, or that we can only have access to Him if we pray the right prayer or do all the right things.

Lies.  All lies.

We have the same access to God that Jesus Christ does.  Amazing.  That’s throne-room-level kind of access, y’all.  God is more than just interested in us; He is wild about us.  Christ’s sacrifice on the cross was His not-so-subtle way of flinging wide the doors to heaven and letting us know that we can have access to Him anytime.

The lines of communication are always open.  He’s pretty crazy about us.

I Am Adopted Into God’s Family

I am adopted into God’s family.  THESE are my fighting words.

I am adopted into God's family

Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!)  -Ephesians 1:5

Y’all.  I don’t even know where to start with this one.  To say that these are my fighting words is about the understatement of the year.

It’s been two years this week since we started the process and the word ‘adoption’ always elicits a gut-response – fear, numbness, wonder, excitement, hurt, and a million other feelings.  How can two years go by so fast?  And how can you feel like you’ve come so far and yet made no progress all at the same time?

In some ways, even though adoption has been a new chapter that God is writing with our lives, it feels like I’m still nowhere near understanding the heart of adoption.  Honestly, if we were to play the word-association game and you said “adoption,” the word “paperwork” would probably fly out of my mouth first.

I wish it were different.  I wish I could say “healing,” or “hope,” or “God’s heart,” or something more profound and warm and fuzzy.  And while all those words are also true about adoption, time has a way of wearing you down until all you see is what is immediately in front of you.  And for the past two years, for us, that has mostly been paperwork.

But what if we pushed back the lens of time just a bit, crawled up in God’s lap, and asked to view adoption through His eyes?  What if we played word-association with Him?  What would fly out of His mouth?

‘Planning.

Pleasure!

Joy.

Can’t WAIT.

Home.

Purpose.

Gift.

Family.

You need more?  Because there’s more where that came from,’ He grins.

‘It will be worth it.  Just wait and see.  You can’t imagine the things I have planned for you.  Because I am a planner, and I lovingly crafted you, planned all along to bring you, into my family.  You had no family, but now you’re MINE.

Just wait and see.  It WILL be worth it.  #adoptionishard #butworthit