Have you ever just been cruising along in life at a comfortable speed and the bottom falls out in the middle of your journey? Every turn to correct your course is wrong and you soon discover you’ve lost control? So often I will work to take back control of my situation only to discover God is in the midst of the chaos and has a purpose for the course change. I’ve come to realize God will be using me and my situation or someone in my life and their situation in the future.
I look at the large footprints ahead of me, thinking to myself, I know who they belong to. “Big shoes to fill, too big for you.” The enemy’s voice is telling me my own shoes will never fill the impressions before me. more “The Path”
It hit me as I was reading my devotion that fasting is a gift I give myself. When I put something earthly I enjoy aside to spend more time with God, such as playing games on my phone, I spend more time in the Word and cumulatively feed my soul instead of draining the battery on my phone!
Sometimes my devotions go in one ear and out the other and I move into my day not even remembering what I read or the message for the day. The time spent with Jesus while I fast helps me focus on what He wants to say to my heart. As silly as it sounds, I see it as choosing to eat a bowl of vegetables instead of a bowl of pudding. I know the vegetables will do my body so much more good than the pudding, but the pudding tastes better!
If I really feel like my soul is in need of nourishment, I know setting aside the things I enjoy to spend extra time in the Word will fill me up! God never fails to have just the words I need for whatever mess I find myself in and always assures me He is there to help me through it.
God raised us from death to life with Christ Jesus, and he has given us a place beside Christ in heaven. God did this so that in the future world he could show how truly good and kind he is to us because of what Christ Jesus has done. You were saved by faith in God, who treats us much better than we deserve. This is God’s gift to you and not anything you have done on your own. It isn’t something you have earned, so there is nothing you can brag about. God planned for us to do good things and to live as he has always wanted us to live. That’s why he sent Christ to make us what we are.
-Ephesians 2:6-10 (CEV)
Blessings as we keep fasting!
Lay down your shame; let no one judge your worth.
For I have loved you always, even before the moment of your birth.
You remain my child and in me you will find peace.
Come boldly to my throne room, for grace and forgiveness are here at the Mercy Seat.
As a teenager growing up before texting and email, we communicated through ‘snail mail’. We held ‘Come As You Are’ parties. The concept: when opening the invitation, whatever you were wearing at the time you unsealed the envelope was what you wore to the party and it was based on the honor system. If you came all dressed up and properly ‘primped,’ it was very suspect.
I feel the concept fits well with the way God invited me to come to Him. He didn’t want me to come to Him dressed in my finest clothes once I felt I’d done enough good or felt worthy. Who would ever come? The honor system has no meaning to Him because He already knows me as I really am, dressed in what I was wearing when I opened the gift of being His child.
Can I truly say to another person ,“Come as you are, I will love you no matter your faults?” I hope so but being human I really only understand conditional love: I will love you IF you are nice to me, IF you believe what I believe, or IF you don’t look at me the wrong way. Another part of this conditional relationship is the fact I don’t extend the invitation of love to everyone I meet. I know I typically approach those who I’m confident will accept me. This way I avoid the sting of rejection. How amazing is it then that our Lord makes this offer so many times in the Word to ALL OF US!
‘So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it,’ Hebrews 4:16 (NTL).
‘Let us go right into the presence of God, with true hearts fully trusting him. For our evil consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean and our bodies have been washed with pure water,’ Hebrews 10:22 (NLT).
The phrase ‘Come as you are’ tells me God knows my faults and does not expect me to be perfect in His eyes. He understands my brokenness and loves me in spite of myself. It’s a waste of energy to present myself to God wearing a mask. He sees me always and there is nowhere for me to hide from Him. With this understanding I am free to be His creation and know I am loved and cherished.
My past, present, and future will continue to contain sin and yet God says to me, “Come as you are, I’ve always wanted you to come to me, knowing only I can love you unconditionally. I’ve made a path for you to come and sit at my feet. Let me look upon you and adore you for who you are. “
We come to Him out of tremendous need or during a crisis larger than ourselves. Who else would take us back over and over again? How many times did the Lord rescue Israel? COME AS YOU ARE to the Lord knowing his love is vaster than any problem you have.
‘You have come to the assembly of God’s first born children, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God himself, who is the judge of all people. And you have come to the spirits of the redeemed in heaven who have now been made perfect. You have come to Jesus, the one who mediates the new covenant between God and people, and the sprinkled blood, which graciously forgives instead of crying out for vengeance as the blood of Abel did,’ Hebrews 12:23-24 (NTL).
Graciously Forgiven, Come As You Are!
Bending, he picks up a Starfish, tossing it back to the waves and moves down the shore repeating the task.“With many miles of beach, can you make a difference?” his companion stops to ask. Together they move down the sand continuing the process of returning the Starfish to the sea. The man carries on as he turns to respond to his friend “If I were this Starfish, it would make a difference to me.”
I was ready to submit my post by the deadline, when something happened a few weeks ago that really gave meaning to the poem above. We lost a very special pastor in our lives to cancer. Most of you reading this will know whom I speak of. More important, most of you will understand the motivation for dedicating this poem to Jerry.
Jerry epitomizes the man bending to pick up the Starfish. I know I am one of Jerry’s Starfish! Jerry had a quiet wisdom and was one of the most approachable men of God I knew. Every question asked was important and he took time to answer each inquiry with patience. One of Jerry’s many gifts was storytelling and the Bible came alive in his messages. He was able to break down the Word into understandable, relatable events. The time he invested in this Starfish made a difference.
Hebrews 10:23-25 (ESV) says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
I believe Jerry is sitting in a comfortable chair next to our Lord in heaven and is looking out over the ocean of Starfish he tossed back into the waves. Thank you, Lord, for Jerry, the man who bent down to toss this Starfish lovingly back into your waves.
1 Peter 4:8-10 (ESV) says, “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”
We have all been given gifts required to make a difference in someone’s life. The investment in others is what we are called to do. Each of us is given the capacity through Jesus Christ to relate to others around us and seek out a need we can help fill. Most of the people who have made a difference in my life may not know the influence they had on my walk with Jesus until we meet in heaven and I have the opportunity to thank them. With Jerry’s passing, not only have I become aware of the need to make a difference in the lives of those around me, but I have also understood that I must let the people who have affected my life know how much I love them for the time invested in me.