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Category Archives: Like Jesus Does

Fear not

I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4

“I’m not sending the kids up, since you are asleep.”

This is what my husband had declared to me as he got the kids off to school. Part of the morning routine he has handled for several years.

This morning I was not getting up and getting ready to head to my own school. An on-line threat kept area schools closed. I was home for the day.

Now, letting me sleep in was a kind gesture. But I was up. I wasn’t going back to sleep, and as I lay there I had this thought for the very first time: “No. I have to get up and hug them, and tell them I love them. What if they don’t come home?”

For the first time, I feared that. That I would be at home. My kids would be at school. And I would not be able to reach them, keep them safe, or even get them home. And, my kids are Caucasian. Not even the intended “target.”

Fear.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7

Terror. Fear. Being scared. Anxious. These things come from the enemy. Constant worry and panic is an attack from the devil to keep our eyes away from the one who can conquer evil. It’s Satan’s tactic to keep us crippled so we can’t act. So we can’t move our hands and feet to show up where love needs to be seen. To show it. To give it.

You know what else comes from Satan? Let’s be honest: Hate. The kind that thinks it’s OK to instill fear in a group of people, simply because they don’t look, think, see things the same way we do.

Let’s call it what it is: Evil. Sin.

Nothing of this kind of act is born of love.

I can sit here in fear. Fear for my children. Fear for those that aren’t mine that I love and care for deeply.

Or I can do something to make sure that fear and terror, caused by the enemy does not take residence in my heart.

I choose to love and teach my kids to love all the same. If it makes us a target. So be it.

I choose to teach my children that hate language of any kind is not accepted. Not in our house. Not at school. Not in their community.

I choose to teach my kids to stand up and speak out against those who use unkindness and hate speech to intimidate and create fear in others. To call out the bully. The mean people. Let them know it’s not OK. It’s not just the “way they are.” Because we are called to be better.

I choose to teach my kids to love the outcast. To eat with the lonely. To love the unloveable. To break bread with everyone, even those that are far different. Because that’s how we learn from each other. That’s how we grow. That’s how we ensure that people are not feared.

I may be just one little white woman. I may not be able to change an entire world with my love. Or my kindness.

But I can be a living example for my white children. So they know hatred and bigotry of any kind is not accepted. That we will not fear the message of love that comes from Christ. That we will love, honor, respect, and walk with people from all walks of life.

Even if we don’t look like them.

Even if we don’t talk like them.

Even if we don’t believe like them.

We will not fear love.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2019 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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Father, forgive them…even the bullies

“Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34

I have spent a number of weeks both at home and in my “day job,” trying to teach compassion and kindness. Encouraging children to not point out differences as if they are an abomination. But learning to love and accept the differences we all have.

Many times I have failed. Thinking the bigger bully. The one with the loudest voice wins. At times I have been deeply discouraged. Feeling as if my effort to teach kindness and love is falling on deaf ears.

I have not been immune to bullies myself. Yes even adults are bullied. Even kindness warriors are treated unkindly. And in our home we have experienced what happens when a friendship goes sour, and a young girl becomes a target.

So despite the hatred, we seek to infuse our world with kindness. A love for all. To demonstrate and model these in the hopes that it will create a more kind, and less cruel world.

Love and kindness are both the way of Jesus.

But, so is prayer for those who are anything but kind.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27

But Jesus took the call to prayer even further. He didn’t just pray for those who were outcasts, or deemed unacceptable by society; he lived among them. And he was criticized and questioned each time he stood up or dwelled among the least of these.

While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law saw him eating with the sinners, they asked the disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but the sinners.” Mark 2:15-17

And it is what we should do. Call the sinners. Spend time healing the sick. Many times we focus on the victims, as we should. But what if we did something different…and prayed for that bully? Or the person we don’t like? The person who is mean and rude to us day after day?

Jesus was clear when he called us to minister to the “least of these” in Matthew 25:40. He was clear that we are to feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. Welcome the stranger. Stand up for the oppressed. Visit the prisoner. Love the unloveable.

Even the most unloveable bully.

This kind of love may make you an outcast. It may scare some folks who don’t embrace different. Praying for the bully is radically different. But we are called to be all these things. Because we are called to be like Jesus, and call the sinners.

So, next time you find yourself lamenting about the harsh words of another person. The actions of a bully. Or the cruel and hateful world. Speak the following in prayer instead:

Lord, I pray that you give them a new heart and put a new spirit in them. Lord remove their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26

Remember to pray for the least of these. Encourage the least of these. Build up that bully. Sit amongst those who are not like you. Who may make you cringe, or hurt you. Because you may be the only one who is praying for them. The only one who is praying for their heart to be changed.

And because it’s what Jesus would have done: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” 

 

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2019 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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I need what He’s got

Crowds. I never much liked them. As a kid, teen, and a young adult I always remember struggling to figure out my place in the crowd. Where exactly I fit in. It gave me anxiety. Made me nervous. Made me wonder who exactly I was. I would either be the loudest in the room.

Or the quietest. It all depended. My anxiety either meant I over compensated by becoming a social butterfly, flitting through the room lit up like a Christmas tree. Mingling and talking to anyone and everyone. And I do mean ANYONE. Or I was in a corner with my head in a book. Daring anyone to talk to me.

At times. I still go between the two.

But when it comes to being attractive to others. I want to be more like Jesus.

Whose mere presence in a room or crowd commanded attention. Who may have walked by many who were watching, waiting and looking just for him.

But his presence was quiet. Sure-footed. Humble. Purposeful. He was powerful. He drew crowds. He wasn’t intimated by them. He certainly knew his place in them.

As Jesus went with him, he was surrounded by the crowds. A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding, and she could find no cure. Coming up behind Jesus, she touched the fringe of his robe. Immediately, the bleeding stopped. “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. Everyone denied it, and Peter said, “Master, the whole crowd is pressing up against you.” But Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” Luke 8:42-46

Yet he still had time to stop for the one who sought him.

He didn’t need fanfare. He didn’t need to announce himself. He walked up in the place and peeps just knew!

I gots to get to Jesus!

I need what He’s got.

I need some of that in my life.

I want to be like that. Not the loudest. Not the one who commands attention by doing things to get noticed. Or the one who walks in, unsure of herself. Of her worth. Her place in that space.

I want my presence to light up a room. Sure. But only because it means I’ll be a noticer of a face in a crowd who needs a little love, and knows they will receive it. The one who will stop and help the fallen even if I’m busy. Even if a slew of other people and things need my attention. This one may need it, too.

I want to walk quietly, sure-footed, humbly, and purposeful. Knowing to whom I belong. Stopping to touch his garment at all times when I feel empty and discouraged.

Yep. I need what He’s got.

 
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Posted by on February 2, 2019 in Like Jesus Does

 

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When loving others makes you “Crazy”

Ever been called crazy? Reckless? Dangerous? Ever wondered why others don’t fight the way you do? Think the way you do? Feel the same anger at the same injustices you do? Even look at the “others” with the same love you do? Ever had something really important you know had to be said, only to feel no one was listening?

I have. Many times. And many more times, I have found myself asking God: Why?

But people who aren’t spiritual can’t receive these truths from God’s Spirit. It all sounds foolish to them and they can’t understand it, for only those who are spiritual can understand what the Spirit means. 1 Corinthian 2:14

Twice last week I heard this verse. Once in my quiet time with God, when I had asked him why He kept insisting I keep pursuing even though it was oh-so-hard, and again in a preaching class.

Yep. I must seem pretty crazy.

Or am I?

I spent a good amount of my weekend pondering why we so desperately long for love, yet are so unable to give it, express it, and show it, and knew then…His message is not all that outrageous. It just takes a lot of work. Work that is necessary. May cost something. May get us called a few names, and let’s be honest-work that some of us think not everyone deserves.

And, yes. Work that has deemed me crazy. Because it is what hurt the most, but it was also my greatest source of light. The only thing that kept me from moving out of a darkness that cast a shadow over a good part of a year.

Believe it or not. Love is in fact what often motivates us.

Francis Chan says this about love in his book, Crazy Love:

“When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love. You’ll drive hours to be together, even if it’s only for a short while. You don’t mind staying up late to talk. Walking in the rain is romantic, not annoying. You’ll willingly spend a small fortune on the one you are crazy about. When you are apart from each other; it’s painful, even miserable. He or she is all you think about; you jump at any chance to be together.”

What if we had this kind of love for God? For others? What if we were so crazy in love with our Lord we kept Jesus’ greatest commandments?

“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally as important” ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:37-39

So, how do we love like crazy? Love Him. Love others. Recklessly and outrageously pursue love for those that are not like us, even if it costs us something.

First, we love God.

What does it mean to “love God?” It does mean to follow His commandments, to live life a certain way. To be of a certain noble character. But, it’s also more than that.

I have two signs in my kitchen. They are on my wall as soon as you come in our house. The kitchen door is on the side of our house, but for those who come by frequently, they know you come in through this door…because someone is ALWAYS in the kitchen. Anyway…the first sign reads: “GOD BLESS THIS HOME.”

The second is below the first and reads: “FAMILY IS THE HEART OF THE HOME.”

God first. Family second. Everything else after.

It’s why my kids know “quiet time,” may extend past the scheduled 30 minutes, because Mommy is talking to God.

It’s why when the youngest asks “Are you always going to be on your computer working this school year at night?” during a breakfast conversation, that you realize you need to shift priorities.

God first. Family second. Everything else after.

Loving God means He is the center of my life. My ability to make decisions is no longer based on what I want. And, to some that is crazy talk.

When questions like, “Are you sure you can handle that?” are met with, “No, but God knows I can.” People look at you funny. Because, the worldly expectation is that you are bound by your strength and abilities, not the power of Him in you.

When you make a career move because it is wise, and healthy, and the response is, “Are you sure you want to make that move, with them?” And you respond with, “I don’t have a choice, God decided for me.” People don’t know what to say. Because the worldly expectation is that decisions are based on pros and cons lists, not answered prayers.

When you are asked over and over again how you can allow people to spit hateful and abusive words at you over and over, and continue to smile and forgive, and you respond with, “Because God asked me to,” you get labeled the crazy one. Because who loves like that?

People who love God. Parents who want their kids to love God. God-loving people who want others to know just how much God is crazy in love with them.

Because, when we love God, we also reject this idea that we need to fit in and be accepted by the world. We measure our worth by His standards, by how He sees us, even if today we are broken. Even if today we make a huge mistake. Even if today our hair is a mess, or our dress is wrinkled.

We know in the words of an 11 year old girl that I am slowly finding may be wiser than me in all her sassy ways: Who cares, because Jesus sure does not! He says to come as you are!

When we begin to love God, we also begin to love all the messy parts of ourselves. Because we know. We believe He is crazy in love with us.

And, when He is crazy in love with us, He gives us this love to share. His second greatest commandment. To love your neighbor as yourself. One that can often be the hardest.

Why? Because it means we have to love those who hurt us. Those with whom we tend to disagree. And, yes…those we don’t like. We have to love the messy.

I learned this truth myself in a moment of self-righteousness over the summer. Yes, I have these moments. Until someone reminds me…usually my kids-as was this case, that I need to practice what I preach.

During a talk with them about their constant fighting, I shared something with them I had only mentioned in passing. It was the story of a Post-it note I had stuck in my Bible, and the particular prayer, I prayed each morning and night over that Post-it.

I think we are all familiar with 1 Corinthians 13, the “infamous” Love Chapter. And, I say infamous, because it is often read at many a wedding…it was read at both of mine. That is right…even at my first one. Which is why over the years, I have read over, and pondered the true meaning of this passage, and wondered if we truly understand what is being asked of us in terms of “love.”

I explained to Hayley and Hunter that I had read or seen somewhere that we can measure our ability to truly understand Paul’s description of “love,” and whether we are displaying it by reading the chapter and inserting our own names. So, I read it, and inserted theirs.

Hunter/Hayley is patient and kind. Hunter/Hayley is not rude, does not demand his or her own way, and is not irritable.

“Have you been these things to each other lately? To me?”

Then I shared with them the reason that Post-it was in my Bible. I had been transparent with my daughter about my struggles over my year of hurt, only because it was apparent many afternoons when I arrived home, that I was not in a good place. I value honesty and transparency, and not only do I value them where I work, I do at home, and in all areas of my life. She knew that “love” had not always been welcomed in every place God had me assigned.

So, I explained why I had the sticky notes on my office door. That it was part of a self-esteem assignment. I explained that they were all supposed to be gone. All spread to different parts of the school to spread random “feel good” messages. How one was still stuck to the door when I returned. One that said, “Always be Kind.” I told them I didn’t think it was left by chance. I told them how I rolled my eyes at God that day, but took the note down anyway, and placed it right there in my Bible, where Paul had defined love. Each morning and night, I inserted that individual’s name, the one written on that Post-it. Prayed that God would show what love was supposed to look like. That this person would know how much God loved them. And, I wanted my kids to know that, too.

That He loved them even if they messed up. And, even if in that particular moment they didn’t like each other very much.

And, then it came. That moment of truth. When my own need to insert my own name in that Love Chapter was revealed.

When Hayley looked at me and said: “So, if you pray for that one, do you pray for the other person involved? The one who hurt you? Do you insert that name, too?”

OUCH!

No. No, I hadn’t. I didn’t like them very much. I was glad God had delivered me from that. And, honestly. I was still hurting a little.

So, when Jesus tells us to love our neighbors, he isn’t talking about the people we like. He is talking about everyone. And later when he recounts the story of the Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), he also explains what a loving neighbor does. He shows mercy, or “compassion and forgiveness toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”

See, showing mercy and praying over that sticky note was easy. Praying for those we are concerned for, for whom we care and love. That’s easy.

Loving those who hurt us. That stuff is hard. And it is downright crazy. But, that is the kind of love God calls us to.

And, that is where forgiveness comes in. Forgiveness is crazy love.

It looks kind of like this:

“But Joseph replied, “Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people. No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21

Here is what we know about Joseph. He was loved by his father more than his brothers. He was even given a special gift-a beautiful robe from his father, and the ability to interpret dreams. Because of this his brothers grew jealous and resentful of this love. They sold him into slavery, where Joseph was wrongly accused of crimes against Potiphar’s wife, and remained in prison for several years under Pharoah’s watch. Now, he was eventually freed and became ruler of Egypt. But, he didn’t dwell on his past. He was made victorious, and when confronted with his brothers, he offered forgiveness, and promised to look after their children.

That’s some crazy love, right?

While she may not be the epitome of Christian decorum, I do love this statement from Beyonce:

“Love is an endless act of forgiveness. Forgiveness is me giving up my right to hurt you for hurting me. Forgiveness is the final act of love.”

Now, while I am called to pray for those who intended to harm me as Hayley reminded me, I am not so sure I could open my home to and promise to look after their children like Joseph. While, I have been called crazy in the name of love, I am not sure I could do that for some who have hurt me. Thankfully, forgiveness didn’t say I had to do that in order to love. I don’t have to set myself up to be harmed again. God provided me my way out of that. But, it does mean there may come a time, this person is the Jew on the side of the road, and I am the neighbor being asked to show mercy.

My call from God is to be the despised Samaritan, and to “go and do the same” as Jesus commanded in Luke 10:37. To do as I would want done to me. To reach out and help. Even if I feel like it is undeserved. Offering the love God so freely offered me.

A love that offered its final act of forgiveness. Its final act of love on a cross. For me. For you. Even for those who harmed us.

So, to recap…what is crazy love?

It’s loving God so much that we will go to great lengths to do what He asks even if it does not make sense. We want more than just a five minute devotional time with Him during the day. We want hours of quiet time with Him.

It is loving our neighbors so much that helping is not an obligation, not a nuisance, but an honor. We jump at the chance to feed the hungry, to help the needy, to lend a hand to the hurting.

It is loving without conditions. Forgiving others faults because your Savior forgave you. It’s allowing others to come to you each day as a new person, because “love keeps no record of wrongs.”

It’s crazy to some. It’s reckless to others. And it is always pursuing. Never giving up on its mission to go after the one. But, God’s love is worth it. It is always worth it. It is not something to keep to yourself. It is something to be shared.

So, go ahead. Be crazy. Crazy in Love with God. Crazy in Love with your neighbor. Offering forgiveness like crazy.

Because crazy love wins. It always wins.

 
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Posted by on November 5, 2018 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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Your “good” name

A good name is to be chosen over great wealth. Proverbs 22:1

“Oh, you’re January!”

This could be a statement that fills you with a sense of dread. Hmmm…what did they mean by that?

Thankfully this time, the comment was made in the local Starbucks that I frequently visit many mornings. The one that knows me by name and drink. A new barista had greeted me this day. And, since I am usually all smiles and conversations when I come into this place (because, well…I am picking up my liquid courage), I knew I could rest easy.

She had heard about THAT January.

The one with the “good” name.

I am one who believes that reputations should not proceed people. One, you never know when someone speaks about a person whether it’s out of good intentions, or bitterness and ill-will. Two, sometimes even with “good” names, we all have “bad” days.

However, when we represent Christ, our names are not only ours, but His. The world is getting a chance to meet Jesus through our words and actions. Through our name. Do people light up when they hear or say our name? Or do they scowl, and grumble?

I think this passage from Job 29 represents what I want people to think when they hear mine:

“Men and women listened when I spoke, hung expectantly on my every word. After I spoke, they’d be quiet, taking it all in. They welcomed my counsel like spring rain, drinking it all in. When I smiled at them, they could hardly believe it; their faces lit up, their troubles took wing!” Job 29:21-24

When they hear or say my name I want them to think of Jesus. To think of mercy, compassion, and love.

I want them to remember my “good” name.

It’s never too late to make sure someone remembers yours!

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2018 in Like Jesus Does

 

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Let my words be sweet

“Because she is a crybaby. That’s why she is crying.”

Where did these words come from you ask? They were uttered from my youngest. The answer from the lips of my son after his sister had asked why tears had filled her mom’s eyes.

And, of course, after these words, I began to cry even more. Thinking…Where did he get that word from? Where did I go wrong? How did this word come from this one? The one who sees his mom love without limits and at all costs? Who forgives and forgets each time his anger turns to aggression? This is what he has learned?

We don’t call people “crybabies” in our house. We don’t use the “r” word. “Stupid” and “dumb” are banned. A curse word may fly every now and then, but hurtful words for the most part are not a part of our general conversation. We have taught our kids to use kind, gentle words when they speak to each other. To others. To use words to build up. Not to tear down.

But, I can’t always shield them from what they may hear in this world. I’ve seen the word “crybaby” used to describe anyone who dares to stand up to injustice. I’ve even been called one before this day when I’ve been caught crying after being hurt by people I care about.

So…would our children, my child learn something different, or learn to speak loving and kind words if we took time to use our words to build up while they watch?

Keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Psalm 34:13

I had been spending a lot of time over a number of days thinking about words. My children had spent a number of days passing harsh words back and forth amongst each other. I had contemplated the ways in which words had been used to hurt, deceive, and divide people over the course of a year. I had been hopeful that over that year mine had shown and spoken something different.

I had not anticipated to walk into Bible Study at all on Wednesday night. I am usually the one serving in some capacity. This night was supposed to be no different. But, as God often does, He had other plans. So, I walked into the room and heard this:

“People can hurt. They can frustrate. But, they are also our greatest treasure, and you and your words are very important to some other person.”

The Sovereign Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Isaiah 50:4

The world. Satan and his crafty adversaries. They had convinced me that my words were failing. That I had nothing of worth to say. That any wisdom God had given me to comfort had been useless.

He had put me in that room right where I needed to be on this night to prove otherwise.

Here’s the thing:

Words have infinite power. They can heal a wounded soul. Or inflict tremendous pain. The words spoken to self or to others have the power to breathe life into a heart, or break one. Words of love and forgiveness can build or repair something beautiful. While words of hate and contempt can destroy it. Once spoken, whether sweet or bitter…they cannot be taken back.

Choose wisely.

Choose words that build beauty.

Choose words that give life.

Choose words of love.

Choose the words of Christ.

Be compassionate and careful. Especially with those you care so much about. Choose words that if repeated back the only thing you would hear are sweet, loving words softly spoken back to you.

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2018 in Like Jesus Does, Loving Others

 

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Not a Stand-In Comforter

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If you look closely in the picture above. Beyond the curly-headed boy, focused intently on the puzzle sure to keep him busy for at least five minutes on a long car ride. You will see, peeking from his little lap-the blue, tattered, and worn face of his beloved puppy.  This puppy has been Hunter’s devoted mate since he was about 3 months old, and the joke around here, is that it will be with him when he graduates from high school, and if he ever actually decides to leave home.

He is unable to speak. However, he has been a constant. Steady. Devoted friend to the child who craves sameness, consistency, and routine.

And, although he doesn’t have a heart, can’t breath, or move; he has been the keeper of, and taken the brunt of my overloaded little boy’s emotions.

Puppy. (So aptly named because in Hunter thinking he shall be named what he is-a puppy) has soaked tears. Of loneliness. Despair. Sadness. Has been held onto as a lifeline during times of worry and anxiety. Has been clutched during screaming fits of frustration, confusion, and anger. He has helped calm the fears of the unknown, the new and different. Weathered sickness, shots, and long, exhausting car rides. He has soothed nightmares. Made bus rides with substitutes bearable, for both parents and child. He is depended upon for peace in the midst of chaos. Clarity in the face of confusion. Called on in the presence of fear. When the usual safety nets-mom and dad-are absent for a time, Puppy is the stand-in.

My little “monster” may need him for now.  He may still need him come graduation day. His object of security provides him with trust and faith as he navigates a world of which he often can’t make sense.

But, he doesn’t really need puppy at all.

His security lies in someone much more powerful than any stuffed dog.

And so does ours…

But, just like Hunter’s puppy, we cling to earthly security. We put our faith in the knowledge of people. Books. Possessions. Social media outlets. What the internet, or so and so down the street says. What our teachers tell us. Our friends. All those people we just “know” will come save us when we find ourselves in trouble. And God forbid we lose a WiFi connection, or have a bad day. When these worldly things fail that we turn to in times of stress, and we get in a tizzy, we may just turn to an unhealthy crutch to get us through it all. I know, because I do many of these things. Have coped with some unhealthy “puppies”, too.

Just as Hunter does not need that puppy to get him through the hard stuff. We don’t need those things either.

See, God provides all the things our objects of security and devotion seem to fulfill for us.

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. Psalm 46:1

We just reach for Him. Because, eventually when we reach for the chocolate, there will be none left. When we reach for the bottle, it will be empty. When we reach out to phone a friend, there will be no answer. And, stuffed childhood puppies, became tattered, torn, and worn. Eventually tossed away and forgotten, too.

But God doesn’t leave. His love doesn’t run dry. And He always answers.

As tears fall. When worries get big. When we scream in anger. When our hearts are broken. When we are just plain confused, and need some clarity. He’s a steady, devoted friend, even until graduation. Surely, all the way to the end.

“And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

 
 

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