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Posts Tagged ‘God’

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Twenty years.  That’s how long Mr. Rodeheaver and I have loved each other.  Today is our 17 year wedding anniversary and I could not be more in love.

There were many years where I could not have imagined our marriage being what it is today.  I can say with all honesty and without exaggeration that it is better now than ever before.  This is the result of a faithful God and a faithful husband.

I spent the past week cleaning the house.  School is out – homeschool, that is, where mom is always home but never able to get anything done – and cheer season is over.  Finally, I had time to do all those jobs I never get around to.  Cleaning out drawers, closets and bookshelves, scrubbing floors, baseboards, and walls, and, my personal favorite, throwing away everything that isn’t nailed down.

House cleaning is not my favorite job.  There are only two reasons I clean: 1. I can no longer function due to the chaos happening around me 2. My husband told me to.  If it was not for Mr. Rodeheaver’s consistent reminders about doing “my job” I honestly might be featured on the next episode of “Hoarders.”

It is because of my husband’s unwillingness to overlook or ignore sin in my life that I have grown in the areas that are most difficult for me to find success in.  Because he neither fears telling me the truth nor accepts any nonsensical excuses I make that keep me from being better, I have no choice but to grow.  He understands my potential and he accepts nothing less than my best.

Twenty years is a long time to be learning something.  Most would have given up instructing and encouraging me a long time ago.  Love never fails, though.  Tim’s faithfulness to me extends far beyond dinners out and depositing paychecks.  Tim’s faithfulness to me is often found in his consistent correction in the things I figure out how to continuously fail at.  Housecleaning is just one example.  We can also add cooking, planning, spending, and eating, just to name a few.

If I am honest I would have to say I fail a lot in almost every area of my life in some way.  We all do.  Fortunately life is not a competition against anyone besides ourselves.  If I am better today than I was yesterday, that is progress.  It is a reason to celebrate.  It does not mean I won’t regress and fail again tomorrow.  It means I have victory today and I have a faithful voice to correct me again tomorrow, if need be.  I can think of no greater blessing.  Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.

If any one of those elements is missing, I would be hard-pressed to call it faithful love with any amount of confidence.  Things I would call it may be idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  These are what love is not.

Idolatry.  Idolatry worships.  When we make someone an idol, we only encourage and forgive.  Idolatry lacks the ability to instruct and correct appropriately.

Selfishness.  Selfish relationships only do what is best for self – not the other.  They may instruct, encourage, correct, or forgive, but all things are done only in one’s own interests depending on which manipulative action will give them – not the other – the most satisfaction.

Fear.  Fear is not found in true love.  The Bible says,  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” One who fears in a relationship will never correct or instruct appropriately.  They may not encourage or forgive, either, depending on what kind of fear they are entertaining.

Resentment.  Resentment is when a person only corrects and instructs but never encourages or forgives.  Resentment is not a characteristic of true love.

Faithful love instructs, encourages, corrects, and forgives.  Love is not idolatry, selfishness, fear, or resentment.  If I am honest, I would have to say that over the course of our marriage, I have fallen prey to all of these things which are not love at one time or another.  Thankfully, true love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things.  Thankfully, I have a husband who sent this message to me first thing this morning:

text

Love covers a multitude of sins.  We fail but love never does.  Keep loving no matter what else happens.  I will leave you with a few verses from the song we chose as ours in May, 1997 and has been true of our lives:

Better than I was
More than I am
And all of this happened
By taking your hand
And who I am now
Is who I wanted to be
And now that we’re together
I’m stronger than ever, I’m happy and free

Oh, it’s a beautiful thing
Don’t think I can keep it all in
And if you ask me why I’ve changed
All I gotta do is say your sweet name

It’s your love
It just does something to me
It sends a shock right through me
I can’t get enough
And if you wonder
About the spell I’m under
Oh it’s your love

~Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, It’s Your Love, May, 1997

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brat

My one year-old has begun to learn how to test her limits.  As she turns quickly into a full-fledged, card-carrying toddler, she has decided she wants to see just how much she can get away with and just how far she can go without suffering punishment or unfavorable consequences.

All babies do this.  All toddlers, children, and teenagers do this.  Young adults do this.  Even elderly people do this and many do it for the duration of their lives in relation to God.  It is not usually a good sign, but it can be a good indication of where a person is in maturity.

“Sonny, no, no!” I say firmly as she pulls my earring.

We’ve had this interaction before, many times.  I have taken out my earrings and showed her.  I have given language lessons on how to pronounce the word, “ear-ring.”  I have emphatically told her with as much clarity as humanly possible the word, “NO” on many occasions when her little fingers have purposely found these friends who take up residence in my ears.  Still, there is just something irresistible about giving a good yank and feeling the success and satisfaction of holding the shiny piece of metal in her tiny hand once she’s pulled it completely out of my ear.

Yesterday was no different.  All was well in the world of baby blanket peek-a-boo and near naptime nummies until Sonny saw the silver booty sparkling like a new stairwell to climb.  The promise of victory was simply too tempting.  How could she be expected to obey?

She pulled down and I, once again, calmly, but sternly, corrected.

“No, no, Sonny!  That is ouchy.”

She waited.  She played more blanket-boo.  Then, she decided she would see if anything bad really would happen if she deliberately disobeyed again.

This time she pulled much harder and it really was ouchy.  After my yelp of pain, I smacked her fingers and said, “No, no, Sonny!  That is bad!”

At that, she buried her face in the pillow.  She did not cry.  She hid.  She knew what she had done.  She knew better.  She was either ashamed or she was upset that she’d not gotten away with it this time.  She was embarrassed that she’d been harshly corrected because harsh correction, though sometimes very necessary, is never pleasant.  Nevertheless, when injury to another or potential injury to another or self is imminent and one has been repeatedly told and corrected calmly, there is no choice but to correct in a more severe way.  The goal is caution.  The purpose is to arrest repeated bad behavior lest it cause more severe injury and more severe punishment.

No one particularly likes to discipline their children.  It is not pleasant because the love we have for them causes us pain when they are hurt or upset, too.  Yet, we must be faithful to correct disobedience in order to protect and save them from future harm.

It is one thing when we correct our children.  It is quite another when someone else corrects them.

If I do not do my job in properly training, correcting, and disciplining my children – sometimes even if I do – others will find it necessary – other parents, other teachers, other law enforcement agents eventually.  If it is not pleasant for me to do so, consider how unpleasant it will be for me when someone else does it.  Now, not only is my child suffering for disobedience, I am as well, and both of us at the correction of a stranger.

We have all seen it.  A mother or a father pays no mind to the poor behavior of his or her child and then someone comes along and corrects that child for causing injury or chaos on the playground.  This is an unusually awkward situation.  Little Susie (AKA Captain Destructo) is under parental jurisdiction but the parent is AWOL.  It leaves no choice for the more mature and attentive parents in the vicinity of Captain Destructo Susie to step up and intervene before (or after!) their children become hurt or victimized by her bad behavior.

Often, this results in Susie’s parent becoming angry.  The reason Suzie’s parent is mad is the issue of pride.  They did not do their job so someone else had to.  They either thought Susie more valuable and important than all the other children she was hurting or they thought themselves more important than even their own child.  It is likely a little – or a lot – of both.  These things were proven true by their choosing to ignore her bad behavior and selfishly avoid conflict with the child and also failing to take personal responsibility for the correction and discipline of their own family member.

A humble parent, on the other hand, will be thankful and appreciative when their child is corrected by another concerned authority.  The reason is because we know that obedience to authority is protection for our beloved children and a training ground for God’s authority in their lives.  This is doubtless the reason the Word of God instructs us – His children – to exhort one another daily.  Daily!  Every.  Single.  Day.

Consider that next time someone exhorts you or a member of your family for pulling down and pain-making in someone else’s life.  It is not just children who need corrected.  It is not just children who repeatedly test limits, hurt others, and fail to listen to repeated warnings.  There is a time for alarm, caution, and increasing corrective severity when important warnings are not heeded.

Pride is angry when corrected.  Humility is thankful.

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gloves

Preteen + preteen + peacemaker AKA tattletale + one year old = it’s spring but if we dare open our windows someone may call the law.  And I might need them to.

After much begging, pleading, and coercing from tomboy mom, I think my girls have finally chosen a sport they want to practice.  My girls – especially the older two – seem to have adopted a new way of life.  It is hard to describe, but if it had a name it might be called, “Four Girl Fight Club.”

Apparently they have come to believe that the only solution to their ridiculously difficult life is to fight with one another over everything.  Sometimes, the decibels are so high in this compound that it takes a conversation with a hard of hearing mom, a machine washing clothes, a screaming baby, a running lawn mower, a phone alarm ringing to remind me that today’s the last day to pay that bill before I have a 32 thousand dollar late fee, and the noise of a 25 year-old refrigerator to successfully ignore the bouts of unmitigated rage.

Oops.  Did I say ignore?  I mean avoid.  Er.  Um.  No.  I mean, I would never ignore or avoid my own children.  That’s ridiculous.  Clearly I’m busy with all the above mentioned, conveniently noisy tasks.  I would really prefer to be ringside.  Who doesn’t love a good fight, right?  That’s why, even being the free range parent that I am, I always make sure I rush in to see the good parts.  Anytime I am in the middle of 17 other things and I hear someone getting pummelled with pretend accusations, I run right in!

Yesterday was one of those days.

By the time I came to see what was the matter, one fighter was already crying and drawing an emo self-portrait complete with tears and monster sister hovering over her in the sketch, and the other was smugly smarting off about her rightness in the matter.

Now.  I always like to get the facts straight from both sides before I go trying to sub out for the referee, but, with all the commotion I didn’t hear that phone alarm and it just so happened that the ref’s paycheck was the bill I forgot to pay.  So, unfortunately, I had to jump right in quick before someone lost a tooth, or, in my case, their own flippin’ mind.

“What on the earth is going on in here, girls?!”

“Addie made an app and she made rules for the game she created but she isn’t following HER OWN RULES that SHE made!”

“That’s not true!  I made it so I am allowed to make the rules!!”

When I got down to the bottom of it all, it seems that my very technically inclined daughter made up a game and made a rule for her fellow gamers that she was not following herself.  This reality ignited the call to use every justice bone in my other daughter’s body.

“You can’t do that!!!  You can’t just change the rules for yourself!  You can’t just make other people follow them and not follow them yourself!”

“I made it!!!  I am the owner!  I can do whatever I want!”

“AAAAAAAAHHHHHH!” said the referee.

“Ok.  Let’s see here.  You are both right – in a way.  Addie is right that if she created it, as the administrator she is ABLE to do things in whatever fashion she chooses.  If she sets it up with an exception for herself, she can because she owns and created the game.  However, as a matter of good business and fairness, Mia is right.  No one likes leaders who expect others to follow the rules that they made but do not follow the rules themselves.  That’s why everyone gets mad at the government.  They have the authority to make the rules and laws because we have entrusted it to them – given it to them – but they are so unjust that they apply them to everyone but themselves.  They also change the rules whenever it is personally advantageous.  That is called injustice.  We do not want to be unjust to others.

So, I understand why everyone is upset but, while both of you are right, you are also both wrong. Think about your other two sisters, girls.  Maylee is upset.  Sonny is screaming.  You are scaring them.  I understand why you both feel justified, but the truth is that neither of you are.  Look how you’re treating each other.  This is not acceptable.

Next time, listen to each other.  Stop yelling over top of one another to get your ideas heard by the person you clearly disagree with.  Talk about it.  Don’t get upset when someone challenges your decisions.  Instead, answer them.  Know why you’re doing something and be able to explain it clearly when asked.  If you are the one asking, don’t be condescending.  When you have a different perspective, respect for the authority goes a long way – especially if you are older than they are.  Lastly, never forget to consider others who hear your disagreements.  Namely – your sisters.  But the windows are open for goodness sake! Everything we do affects other people.  Remember that.

And in that four girl fight club, I believe the Lord truly showed up with wisdom like unto Solomon’s for me.  My own heart was revealed as fighter number five and my own foolishness was found out.  Like the mechanic always says, they only know what you teach ’em.  God did none other than prove Himself faithful once again.

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quote

The three “R’s” used to be readin’, ‘wrightin, and ‘rithmetic, right?  In home school, at least at my house, we have a different set of “R’s.” They are respect, reasoning, righteousness, and responsibility.  If I succeed at teaching them those things, I have zero doubt that my kids will succeed in whatever it is they choose to do in life.  Even if their paths and choices lead to failure, they will succeed in character, integrity, and wisdom if just these four things are instilled in them.

“Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan!’ For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.'” ~Matthew 4:10

“What?!  Why would he say that?!” exclaims my indignant nine year-old.

“What?”

“Why would Jesus tell the devil to worship God?!  He will never do it!!”

“Just because we know someone is not going to listen does not mean God does not want us to tell them the truth.  Truth has two purposes.  One is grace for those who will listen and change by it.  The other is condemnation for those who will refuse it.

In other words, Jesus’ faithfulness in telling the truth of the scriptures to those who do not listen is actually what he will point to when he judges them.  It is not just sin that will condemn people, it will be also the saving grace God gave that was refused.

 The only sin listed in the Bible as unforgivable is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.  What that means is that when God shows up to teach us and offers His truth to us by grace and we disbelieve, dismiss, and ignore it, we cannot be forgiven because we have pulled the rug out from under the means by which he saves.  If we refuse the Spirit of God when it speaks plain truth to us, we stiff arm God’s grace and we remain in stubborn, willful darkness.

We must learn to love the truth, girls.  No matter how uncomfortable, difficult, or painful it may be for us to accept, we must always embrace truth.  Never refuse or put off the truth of God when you learn it.  The Bible says, “Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.  For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.  Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now its the day of salvation.” ~2 Corinthians 6:1-2

There is a particular urgency to the truth.  Today is the day.  Don’t put it off.  Don’t wait one more second.  Take the truth to heart, now!  Today!  Do what is right, right away!  That is how we are to react when met with the truth.  Jesus is the Truth and he is the Way.  If we are following him, we must obey the truth, and obey it quickly.

The next day Bible class resumes.  We read Revelation chapter 16.

“Then I heard the angel of the waters say to God: ‘Holy One, you are the One who is and who was.  You are right to decide to punish these evil people.  They have spilled the blood of your holy people and your prophets.  Now you have given them blood to drink as they deserve.’  And I heard the altar say: ‘Yes, Lord God All-Powerful, the way you punish evil people is right and fair.'” ~Revelation 16:5-7

This time my seven year-old protests.

“Doesn’t God say ‘Don’t do bad things back to people when they do bad to you?!’ Why is he doing bad to the bad people?  He is disobeying himself!!!”

“God tells us not to take revenge.  The reason we are not allowed to take revenge is because he is going to.  He tells us not to repay evil with evil because if we do, we will be judged, too.  God has to punish evil and he will punish evil because he is just and fair.  He punished Jesus for our sins but those who do not love and obey Jesus will get their own punishment.”

“Education was, in fact, so important to the Puritans that it was required.  By 1642, parents were required to teach their young children to read so they could know the Scriptures…The purpose of teaching was to learn the Word of God and defeat Satan, who was the deluder.  So the law to teach was called the ‘Old Deluder Satan Act.'” ~Linda Lacour Hobar, Mystery of History, Vol. III

My lessons for the week are very clear.

1. Tell the truth even when your hearers refuse to listen.

2.Trust God to judge evil.

3.Remember that it is parents who are responsible for their children’s education.

4. The ultimate goal of educating children is knowing and understanding the Scriptures.

AMEN.

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moses-on-the-mountain-01w-10x7

It was the third day.  The people had prepared themselves for the coming of God.  They had been given very strict instructions – lines not to cross lest they die.  In Exodus 19:16, we find the people of God awaiting his coming.

Come he did, along with thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, and very loud trumpet blasts.  Can you even imagine standing there?

There have been times in my life when the Lord has called me to do things that were very intimidating; uncomfortable; even scary.  As I went full of fear, in that moment before I saw him, I remember how I felt.  Although afraid, every second guess of why I should just forget it was silenced by two things: 1. knowing with absolute certainty his voice and 2. knowing I was prepared.

Knowing we have spiritually prepared ourselves before facing a spiritual event gives us confidence when we are afraid and do not understand what God is doing.

Have I prayed?  Have I heard from God beforehand?  Have I fasted?  Have I waited for his instructions?  Have I obeyed in as much as I already know?  Am I continuously listening for Him?

If these answers are yes, that go time moment is far less dreadful.

Here, even the mountain was trembling.  The trumpet was becoming increasingly loud.  It was then that Moses spoke and God answered.  He answered in thunder.  The Lord came down onto the mountain and Moses alone went up to him.

Matthew Henry notes, “Now, at length, comes that memorable day, that terrible day of the Lord, that day of judgment, in which Israel heard the voice of the Lord God speaking to them out of the midst of the fire, and lived…Now it was that the earth trembled at the presence of the Lord, and the mountains skipped like rams, that Sinai itself, though rough and rocky, melted from before the Lord God of Israel.  Now it was that the mountains saw him, and trembled, and were witnesses against a hard-hearted unmoved people, whom nothing would influence.” 

All this preparation, all this warning, all this waiting, all this fearful pre-meeting, and what does God tell Moses when he finally gets to the top of the mountain?

Hey, Moses!  How are you old buddy?  Let’s do lunch?!

No!  God tells Moses to go back down and tell the people the very same things he has already thoroughly told them and warned them about.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the Lord to look and may of them perish.’ “ ~Exodus 19:21

Moses is still huffing and puffing from climbing the mountain.  He has to be like, um, God.  You already told them that stuff.  You made me draw lines and limits around the mountain before I came up, remember?  We prepared our garments.  We did not go near our wives.  Remember, God?  We already did that.

Now.  We can infer a couple things here.  One, God was very serious about his instructions.  Two, God doesn’t mind sending us back to do the same things over and over if they are imperative.  And three, God cares a whole lot about people.  He does not want to see them needlessly die because they are disobedient.  God is willing to run his messengers up and down mountains in order to save His people from sin.

“And the Lord said to him, ‘Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you.  But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the Lord, lest he break out against them.’ “ ~Exodus 19:24

God does not even answer when Moses makes the point that what he is instructing has already been done.  In fact, he says it a third time.  God tells Moses to go get Aaron and bring him up, and, oh, by the way, Moses, don’t let the people near here or I will kill them.

God is pretty serious.  God has a way of doing things.  He has an order.  He has specific methods and he expects obedience.  If there is anything we learn from this passage, it is that God wants things done His way and he wants us to be involved.

God could have told Moses to bring Aaron with him before Moses got to the top of the mountain.  That is not the way God wanted this thing done.  This is God’s way.  If I were Moses, I would probably be thinking, “Wow.  I just climbed up this mountain in obedience and now I have to go right back down and get Aaron and say what I already said and come right back up…why didn’t God just tell me in the first place.  I don’t understand this.”

Sounds just like something a Dad would do, doesn’t it?  God’s ways are not our ways.  But isn’t it just like him to test us; to test our obedience and our faith; to meet us only to send us away to get others who need to come to Him as well?  These are the kinds of things God does while we are standing around scratching our heads trying to understand why he chose to do them in the unusual ways he so often does.

“So Moses went down to the people and told them.” ~Exodus 19:25

Moses obeyed.  Moses did not argue with God.  He told God he had obeyed and God said, obey again.  So he did, and this, for the sake of everyone else and their extremely important adherence to God’s very particular instructions here.

God’s methods are often hard to understand.  His ways are not our ways.  He uses these kind of things to test our faith, to test our obedience, to see if we’re listening, to know if we’re faithful.

And he already knows those answers.  It is we who need to know for ourselves how faithful or faithless we really are.

Do not be discouraged if you spend a considerable amount of time preparing to do exactly what God commands and when you get there he sends you back down the mountain to do the same things you just got done doing.  He may want someone else to come meet him along with you.  He wants everyone to obey.  It is in these times that he is using you, just like he was using Moses.  Moses is about to see the glory of God.  He would not have seen it apart from his amazing obedience to God’s specific instructions.

“Note, in divine things we must not covet to know more than God would have us know; and he has allowed us as much as is good for us.  A desire of forbidden knowledge was the ruin of our first parents.  Those that would be wise above what is written, and intrude into those things which they have not seen, need this admonition, that they break not through to gaze.” ~Matthew Henry

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perfection

God has just sent his people into a brand new wilderness.  He has told them two very important instructions: to remember his extreme grace and mercy toward them, and to obey Him.  He has promised that if they would but listen to Him, that he is ready and waiting to make them a kingdom of priests; a holy nation; his very own treasured possession.  Talk about making a deal they can’t refuse!  Of course, they agreed.

The next step in this “process of becoming” as we will call it, it for the prophet to instruct the people on how to prepare themselves for the coming of God Himself.

 And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”

When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord, 10 the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments 11 and be ready for the third day. For on the third day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 And you shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Take care not to go up into the mountain or touch the edge of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall be put to death. 13 No hand shall touch him, but he shall be stoned or shot;[a] whether beast or man, he shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they shall come up to the mountain.” 14 So Moses went down from the mountain to the people and consecrated the people; and they washed their garments. 15 And he said to the people, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman.” ~Exodus 19:9-15

God said that these people were to be consecrated.  The way in which God instructs this to be accomplished is that they:

1. Wash their garments.  Matthew Henry notes, “When we are to attend upon God in solemn ordinances it concerns us to sanctify ourselves, and to get ready beforehand.  Wandering thoughts must be gathered in, impure affections abandoned, disquieting passions suppressed, nay, and all cares about secular business, for the present, dismissed and laid by, that our hearts may be engaged to approach unto God…It becomes us to appear in clean clothes when we wait upon great men; so clean hearts are required in our attendance on the great God, who sees them as plainly as men see our clothes.  This is absolutely necessary to our acceptably worshiping God.”

2. Have established limits set.  They must be told with an extreme amount of clarity that these are the lines we do not cross lest we receive the severest of consequences.  No compromises will be made past these lines.  No blind eyes will be turned when any person – even any animal!!!- crosses.  No grace whatsoever will be given if there is injustice done to these unbreakable rules.  The message God was conveying here through the work of his prophet’s line drawing?  YOU DO NOT PRESUME UPON GOD’S MERCY – EVER. You want stoned?  Shot?  If you cross these lines that’s exactly what is going to happen.  Try me.

3.  Do not go near a woman.  This was a matter of purity of mind and heart.  Henry says, “In token of their devoting themselves entirely to religious exercises, upon this occasion, they must abstain even from lawful enjoyments during these three days, and not come at their wives.”

This was how they were to prepare for the coming of God.  These were the things necessary to truly “be ready” to meet him.  Here, before the law was given, God came down on the third day.  In the future, before grace was given, God was raised on the third day.  In the former, God came down to tell us what he expects of us – absolute perfection.  In the latter, God is raised up to tell us what we can expect from Him – unmitigated grace.

You simply cannot get the magnitude of that without falling down to worship Him.  WOW!!!  There are no words to aptly describe what a beautiful God we serve!

Hey world!!!  Look at HIM!!!  How awesome!  How amazing!  How merciful!  How good and great and strong and wise!  That’s MY Dad!!!

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unhappy-valentine-s-day-t-shirts

We’re having a party!  You’re invited!  Come!  It’s all about love.  Bring your empty box!  Decorate it pretty so we can share love notes with you!

Valentine’s Day never seemed so exciting.  We shopped and we crafted.  We wrote out love notes and we waited in happy expectation.  But somehow, somewhere between Mommy’s phone ringing, baby’s fall breaking, and passing out our love notes to one another, something went terribly wrong.

My 3 older kids were alone in the party room.  I was standing just outside talking about my own desperate need for prayer.  Something happened that I did not witness personally.

Enter: Irate mom.  Irate mom interrupted my tears brimming, baby rocking, broken heart on my sleeve conversation by yelling at me about how terrible my children are and how her precious snowflake was crying because of my monsters.

So I did what any reasonable person would do.  I apologized.  I asked what had happened.  I made them apologize.  I explained to both mom and daughter that it seems my girls may have just wanted to be her friend and didn’t know how to introduce themselves appropriately. My girls sat crying for a long time while their accuser showed no evidence of any personal pain.

When we came home we talked about the love gone wrong party.  I do not presume to know exactly what actually happened.  What I do know very well is my own children.  I know exactly who they are and who they are not.  They sin just like me.  They hurt just like me.  They love just like me.  And they tell me the truth when it really matters.

So what happens when a bully calls you a bully and cries fake tears to get you in trouble?  What happens when that bully has an authority (bully mom) who does the same?  When bully mom singles you out and yells in your pint size face in full view of all your friends?  When bully mom goes on a tirade among all the other authorities yelling about how despicable you and best friend (sister) really are?  What happens then?

Well.  You stand by your apology.  Perhaps you did cause some small injury unintentionally.  Perhaps you did.  And then you sit back and you realize that sincere apologies do not matter to bullies.  You realize that forgiveness will never be extended no matter what you say or do because the animosity is not coming from a place of honest offense.  It is coming from a place of hatred and jealousy; malice and deceit; pride and envy.

 Then you cry.  You sit at the party you so looked forward to and you cry about how you’ve been treated.  You take quite some time to listen to the one who loves you most when she says it is going to be OK because her love never depended on your behavior.  You finally get the courage to wipe your tears and go back to playing with the other kids but when the day is done you go home and you appeal to the one who loves you again.  You realize that there is no place for the likes of you at the next love party because you have learned that there is no love at those kind of parties after all.  You wait, hoping love comes back and loves you, apologizes to you, sits next to you, embraces you, and rights the wrongs it did, or, at the very least, shows you how you have wronged it.

You realize that the truth is, love does.  Love will.  Love reconciles.  Love forgives.  Love lives on after our preferences, our pettiness, and all our imperfections.  Love does and will do all of those things and so, so much more if it is, indeed, love after all.  If not, well, then I need to be more wise and discerning the next time I’m invited to a party labeled “love” to that fact that it may have nothing whatsoever to do with what I know love actually is all about.  I have no interest in fake love parties.  Those aren’t for me and they certainly aren’t for my children.

Love is not something we can celebrate if we are looking for a self-centered pity party over our every whim and want.  Love is messy, painful, sacrificial, and other-serving.  You cannot accuse, fail to forgive, hold in contempt, and wait with binoculars and your detective hat for the next offense just hold onto the upper hand; the control; the selfish benefits of being the boss without the selfless service of being the leader.

Everyone likes to be invited.  Everyone wants to celebrate love because love is the greatest of all things we have been given on the entire earth.  But we cannot invite others to love parties that do not both display and convey true love accurately and appropriately.  If we do, we should not wonder why they won’t ever come back once they figure out how this thing works.  You can’t bait and switch and expect the bait to keep fooling the fish.  Our Lord only gave us two commands.  Two.

1. Love ME (God)

2.Love each other

If we cannot do that, we have nothing to celebrate, nothing to share, and nothing worth inviting anyone to come and be a part of.

And you know, God has his ways.  He always shows up just when we need Him most.  It just so happened that we were invited to anther love party.  It was last minute and unexpected.  It was hosted by one who had nothing prepared save her heart.  She wanted to love.  She sought to serve.  She gave the little she had to me and my daughters freely without even knowing how hurt we’d been by the last party labeled “love.”  What grace He gives in our time of need.  What a good, good God we serve.

With that, I leave you the words of a wild thing and a king:

” Judith: Psst. Psst. (signals for Max to come over)  What were you doing with Carol just now?

Max: Just talking.

Judith: Oh, a secret, huh?  Let me ask you something.  How does it work around here?  Are we all the same or are some of us better than others or – ?  You like to play favorites, huh, king?

Max: No, I like all you guys equally.

Judith: Don’t give me that.  I can see how it is.  The king has favorites.  That’s really cute.  Do you have a favorite color?  Hey, can I be your favorite color? (laughs)

Max: (imitates her laugh)

Judith: (does it back)

Max: (does it again, with more effort)

Judith: Ahahahaha

Max: Har har har!

Judith: Ahahahahahaha

Max: HAR HAR HAR

Judith: You know what? You can’t do that back to me.  If we’re upset, your job is not to get upset back at us.  Our job is to be upset.  If I get mad and want eat you, then you have to say, “Oh, okay, you can eat me.  I love you.  Whatever makes you happy, Judith.”  That’s what you’re supposed to do!”

~Where the Wild Things Are, 2009, Jonze and Dave Eggers

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