Monday, March 7, 2016

What Does Your Letter Read?

I sometimes wonder what people will remember me by when I'm gone.  My first thoughts or hopes are that people would remember my laughter, and the overall sense of a "good feeling" when they were with or around me.  I hope that I would have encouraged more than I critiqued, forgiven more than I condemned, understood more than I argued... and Loved more like Jesus loved.  Yet when I survey my efforts and lifestyle so far, I know that I'm not there yet. I'm way too selfish to love that much.  I'm  too self-absorbed to even notice.  Yeah, the truth is that if I died today, you are welcomed to tell it like it really is and tell about how inconsiderate I can be and how mean-spirited I have been.  You can tell it all.  But be sure to also include the fact that if it had not been for Christ, there would be nothing good to say about me.  Please be sure to include that God did amazing things in spite of my humanly tendencies.  Please share about how graceful and merciful God has been in my life. And how He has shown favor upon me and those dear to me.  Don't forget to tell about how much love God has for me.

When I was a little girl, I learned quickly through harsh discipline and punishment.  And I developed the misconception that God was ultimately an authoritarian who would discipline and punish me whenever I did wrong.  And so for a long time, I lived fearing God much more than loving God.  And trying to please God much more than abiding in God.  Thankfully, in recent years I've come to the realization that God loves me just as I am.  That He loved me always, and loves me now even though I'm still not all that nice.  He loves me although I don't always behave the way He intends for me to behave.  He loves that I am who I am.  He doesn't want me to change for Him.  He wants to change me.  And so as I go through my day to day, I long to please Him.  I really do.  It may not always look that way, but my heart longs to be close to Him, longs for Him, and longs to please Him.

So what does my life's letter read?  I say it comes with all of the ups and downs, ugly and appealing, easy and hard that any one's life can look like.  I'm only human.  My life's letter comes with lies I've spoken, betrayals I've committed, and sins, lots of sins.  I don't know if I ever told you, but I was once swayed into of all things, a fleeting, texting affair, filled with empty words that almost cost me my life as I know it now.  It was really about my need to be flattered and appreciated.  How egotistic and vain!  But my life's letter has been edited.  And all throughout, as you read it, you'll find big and bold red markings covering the many mistakes I've made. You'll read in bold caps, SHE IS LOVED BY ME, GOD.  I know it sounds kind of crazy that for someone who's known God her whole life, she is now finally truly understanding what it means to be loved by God.  But like I said, my life is one with many mistakes.  And the more I learn that I am truly and fully loved... with the good, bad, and ugly, the more I am able to come outside myself and make a difference in the lives of others.  The more I grasp God's mercy, grace and love, the more I am able to extend it to you.  The more I embrace His forgiveness, the more I am free to forgive you.  I guess I'm a work in progress.  But then again, aren't we all?

I've been having these types of conversations lately with my daughter.  This is an awkward and uncomfortable time for her, as she enters into middle-school years.  So much is changing for her.  And it's like an awakening for her; that all of a sudden her peers, actions, relationships, and choices actually matter.  And she's having to find her identity in the midst of lots of "social noise".  So as she shares about some of the interactions taking place and things that she's becoming aware of, I challenge her to be whom God has intended her to be.  Because ultimately, our life's letter should reflect what God is doing and who He is in us.  So I encouraged her to be the "light" that others may need to see.  I told her she doesn't have to do what others are doing just because.  But rather that she can be the one to give others the alternative to do what is right before God.  I pointed out that she's a game changer, and instead of following, she can lead.  There's so much inside of her to offer.  I see joy and light that comes from inside of her, with the specific purpose of touching others who are in need of a bit of that.  And I'm reminded that this is exactly how God sees us.

God sees all the potential there is in us because of what He can do through us.  And so He takes us in and begins to re-write our stories.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that whether we get it right all the time or not, our life's letter should reflect God's doing.  It should speak of His grace and mercy.  It should tell others about what forgiveness looks like and the hope we find in Him.  It should inspire joy and shed light on all that surrounds us.  And mostly, our letters should speaks volumes of God's love for us.

2 Corinthians 3:3, "You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tables of the human hearts."

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