coming to Him

As I sit here typing, I’m holding my son. The Lord created my little boy and grew him in my womb for approximately 40 weeks and 5 days before I met him and his sister face-to-face. This little black boy is crying in my arms and holding tightly to me because he is in need of comfort. I have been his mama since I found out that he was growing inside of me. I’ve been his mama since before I knew he was a boy or that he was a twin. He knows that I am here for him and that I will be here when he needs anything. I’m sure that when his sister is having a difficulty, he tells her in their special toddler twin talk, “go to mama.”

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Fear is currently consuming our nation. Fear and hurt and anger. People don’t know what to do, so they do what they think is best – whether that’s silence, sharing on facebook, or marching the streets.

It seems that each time a black person is killed…

I’m going to pause here for a moment.

Fear. The racial tension sparks fear. But this post is not about who did what or who is to blame or the justice system. This is not about the facts of one particular situation, but the problem as a whole. This is not the time to debate whether or not this one person did this or that or the other. This is not the time to debate whether or not justice is being served. This is about the hurt and uncertainty and fear that comes as we hear the narrative play out again and again and again.

Now I’ll continue…

It seems that each time a black person is killed by police and the media takes hold of it, the citizens turn on each other. A dialogue is necessary, but what is the topic of that dialogue? Too often the conversation is one that either defends – without any real consideration for the hurt – the actions of the officer without any details of the situation. Or it’s about how racism – even though we can’t read the hearts of individuals because we are not God – is the driving force in every situation before having the details. I’m going to say that both of those responses goes too far.

We as believers have hope – even in the midst of hatred, racial tension, and death – that is greater than anything the world can offer. When these situations arise – and they will again – we have an opportunity to share that hope with hurting and confused and afraid and angry people. Our response should not look exactly like those who have not been bought with the precious blood of Jesus, but instead we should be like my son, telling others, “go to Papa.”

Peter lays out the truth of the gospel. Then he says, “Coming to Him…” (1 Peter 2:4a). He goes on to talk about what is being done in the lives of believers who have come to Jesus. But I just stopped on those three words. Why? Because that is what we should be doing and bringing others to do when they are hurting.

A governmental system overhaul will not fix the problem of racism, the feeling of being misunderstood, or the tension that continues to rise, cause more incidents, and incite riots. Sitting idly by won’t make it better. Other humans can’t turn hearts of stone into hearts of flesh. Only the God who created each of us in His image can heal people. Only God who is with us – even in this – can bring hope to the hurting. Let’s not dismiss the pain of other human beings because we don’t understand it. May we not defend the actions of those who are in sin on either “side” of the conversation. Instead, brothers and sisters, let’s bring those hurting to Jesus so that they may be saved and find everlasting hope.

Lord, I confess that I don’t always respond rightly. I become afraid and it feels consuming. But Lord I pray that you would use me and this situation for your glory. I pray that your church would know how to call people to repentance and not fear the responses they may receive. Thank you for your great grace and eternal hope. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

pure spiritual milk.

I breastfed twins. Let’s just put that out there in the open so that we know what we’re dealing with right now. I was responsible for keeping two babies alive with milk that came from my breasts. It was an exciting and exhausting experience. Because I didn’t stay home with them, I was often pumping so that they were well fed when I wasn’t around. When at work I would stand in the bathroom and use the baby changing station as a table to pump and watch Netflix (that was my favorite part about pumping at work). I’m not sure if you know what an electric breast pump sounds like, but let’s just say you do for the sake of the rest of this story.

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One day when I’m in the restroom pumping, a little boy walks in with his grandmother. They’re talking and she’s trying to encourage him to hurry, but he keeps asking, “what’s that sound? Grandma, what’s that sound?” She tells him over and over that she doesn’t know and to just hurry up. Then he exclaims – because he’s totally figured it out, “it sounds like a cow!” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud in the restroom that day. His grandma said, “Ah! I just figured out what it is.” And I made a comment about how that was a really close guess. They flushed, washed hands, and left the restroom. I still crack up thinking about this day.

Peter, after telling us who we are now that we have been made new in Christ is telling us to live like it. He says to rid ourselves of malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander then makes reference to my very situation: breastfeeding. “Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that you may grow by it for your salvation, since you tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:2). What?! He just said that just like little babies who live off and long for and desire the milk from their mama’s breasts, we should desire pure spiritual milk. We should live off of and long for and desire the Lord’s Word and His leading in our lives. We don’t stay in this infant stage always. Instead, the pure spiritual milk grows us in our salvation. We aren’t left as babies. We mature. Why? We tasted the pure spiritual milk and saw that the Lord is good. He is good. He is the one who holds onto us. He fills us. He matures us in Himself. It’s not something that we do, but something that happens because we are in Him and trusting in Him for our salvation.

Christ sacrifices for us. We live as people who depend fully on His sacrifice and long for what He provides.

rid yourselves.

My twin foxes have begun crying, screaming, reaching out, and hanging on to me when I drop them off with their sitter. It breaks my mama heart. Every time I want to pick them back up and promise to never leave. But I have to work. So, I leave. I know those teary eyes will dry shortly after I go and they find something fun in the toy bin. My sitter will send me beautiful pictures of them playing at the park or in the sand and I will miss their sweet faces for the hours that I am at work. When my stay-at-home-mom friends share stories about their days – good or bad – I get a ping of jealousy. Not always enough that it affects my mood, but at least enough that I notice it.

rid-yourself

Then…Peter. He spends a whole chapter preaching the gospel – Christ died for our sins. Chapter 2 begins firmly with “so” or “therefore” depending on your English translation. Since you know that Christ has died for your sins “rid yourselves of all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1). That pretty much covers each of us in the sin category. Honestly, malice covers us all. Peter tells us to stop desiring to do evil. Just stop. Why?! Because of the gospel. It should affect your life – intentions, emotions, beliefs. Later in this letter he tells us to set Christ apart as Lord of our hearts. If Christ is Lord, it naturally follows that our intentions are for holiness and righteousness, not evil.

What else? Rid yourselves of all deceit. When was the last time you told a “little white lie”just to avoid an awkward conversation? Or to make yourself look a little better? Then there’s this: hypocrisy. I know this one is everyone. I’m not even going to talk about it. Then there’s me, envy. Jealous of people who love me and whom I love because they have something that I want but can’t have. Although in my situation envy doesn’t lead to slander, I get caught up in the bad talking of others more than I want to admit.

We fail so hard. But here’s the truth: this is why we need the gospel. Our new lives in Christ enable us to live free of these sins. Our position in Christ, covered by the blood He shed on the cross is how we know that we are forgiven and don’t live in the guilt of these sins when we fail.

I pray that as you, my friend, read this you are simultaneously encouraged – to know that you can turn to the Lord in repentance and He will forgive your sins completely – and hateful – of the sin that continues to linger as you learn to live with Christ as ruler over your life.

like a flower.

I need to be constantly reminded of the truth. The gospel of Christ anchors my soul. How do I function when life is crazy? How do I keep from losing my sanity? How do I not live in the guilt of every failure? Jesus. Knowing that He has paid the cost of my sin has changed everything.

Growing up in church, I was a typical good girl until college. When I learned what Christ had done for me even as an adult, I struggled. My thought was that I wasn’t forgivable any longer; if I had known the truth and walked away from it, then it was too late. That was the lie that I believed. What I didn’t know is that Jesus’ work was not dependent on or limited by me. On the contrary, I was dependent on Him. I thought that I was independently living the life that I’d chosen, but now I know the truth.

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“For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like a flower of the grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever. And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you” (1 Peter 1:24-25).

Grass and flowers are not permanent. They don’t last through a full year – sometimes even a full season. We do not change our everlasting God. His word endures forever. Christ endures forever. There will never be and there never was a time that He will not or did not exist. Your sin is not too big or your rebellion too far for Him to save.

None of it is dependent on us. The gospel preached to us of imperishable seed through the living word of God that endures forever is this: Jesus did what we could never do. He lived a perfect life. He took the penalty for our sins. And He rose again so that we may live through Him.

Don’t miss this: Jesus did what we could never do. Rest in Him.

sincere love.

Do you ever have a perfect moments? Not a perfect life, because no one has one of those, but just a moment. A moment rocking on the front porch with your spouse talking about whatever is on your minds? A moment when it wasn’t about money or difficulties? It wasn’t about the children or logistics for navigating life with only one car? It was just enjoyable? I had one.

Two people who are one as husband and wife sitting on the front porch, rocking and talking and laughing – enjoying each other’s company. It was a moment when the birds chirped, cars “vroomed” by and the crickets made whatever sound they make together in a beautiful chorus as the background music to my perfect moment. It was in that moment that I admitted this was how I’d imagined our lives together: babies asleep, us rocking and talking while I sipped a delicious red blend.

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I often long for these moments. Unfortunately, they happen less frequently than they should. My sin gets in the way. We have such a clear calling. Peter commands us, “By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again – not of perishable but imperishable – through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:22-23). I realize this is not a verse specifically about marriage, but my husband is my brother in Christ. That makes some of you wiggle a little in your seats, but just hang with me for a moment. We are one family in the Lord and Christ is our head, the Cornerstone. Peter gets into the order of marriage in chapter three, so right now let’s just talk about what he says here.

Called to obedience to the truth – doing what the Lord calls good – can be overwhelming. But Peter tells us specifically how to do that here: have sincere love for the brothers from a pure heart. Sincerely – genuinely, honestly – love your spouse. In this small moment on my porch, we loved each other purely and sincerely. The pure hearts that we were able to love each other from were gifted to us by our Father in heaven. He removed our hearts of stone and gave us hearts of flesh. We were graciously redeemed by the blood of the Lord so that we can live in obedience to Him. So, in this small moment, rocking and listening to the music that our good Father allowed us to enjoy on the front porch, we loved each other well.

How have you seen love flow from your pure heart in small moments?

my former ignorance

When I moved to North Carolina ten years ago I had no idea what was in store for me. I knew there was a cute boy that I’d be spending my time with. I knew that I would be in college. I knew that I would be working somewhere. Other than that, I was completely clueless. The life that slowly developed was one full of shallow friendships, late nights at work and in bars, and tears of missing home. My temporary friends and I would work until midnight then go out drinking and brag about who could consume the most. It was an empty cycle.

My boyfriend (who would later become my husband but that’s a story for another day) at the time tried to get me to go to church a few times, but I was adamant about not going. I had been “that” girl and I had lived “that” life already, and I was not interested in going back to church. I was addicted to my sin cycle and I didn’t want to give it up.

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The night that boyfriend and I were arguing on a bridge in a park that ultimately led us back to church is one that I will not soon forget. The years since then have been learning what I believe and how to trust the Lord who saved me. I understand what my purpose is, so each day is only a matter of learning what that purpose looks like lived out. This life is much more fulfilling than the empty cycle that I was on before. However, I still look back sometimes; in those moments I believe the lie that life was easier and I was more free. Peter spoke to this situation:

“Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:13-16).

When I look back at my old life – the one before God burst open the doors of heart and I focused solely and proudly on myself – I sometimes long for it. Any enjoyment I had was selfish and temporary. That is not where I am supposed to focus. I am told to be an obedient child. My Father in heaven has given me direction and real freedom. I need to obey Him and not long for my former life. Nothing there is what I need or want.

Lord, I pray that I would be content in the life that you’ve given me, not looking back at what you saved me from as if it is better than what you have for me now. All to Your glory.

rejoice.

I imagine that turning 30 hasn’t gotten easier as the years have passed. In our twenties we tend to have big plans and visions for our futures. Some people have those visions pan out exactly as they had planned. Most of us don’t. We finish school, begin our careers/families, travel, stay where we are, or whatever, but it never quite looks how we planned.

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For me it looked like seeing one of my biggest fears coming alive so closely it felt like a train was racing toward me and I couldn’t move off the track. Fear is paralyzing at times. That’s why I dove into 1 Peter. I needed to know what to do with it. I wondered what the purpose of the fear was for me. Well, Peter was not afraid to let me know,

“You rejoice in this, though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith – more valuable than gold which perishes though refined by the fire – may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

Let me just tell you that my first (nor second nor third) reaction was to rejoice. My first reaction was to cry. And not cry out to the Lord for help. Just cry. Ugly cry. Then a good friend cried with me and prayed; the church is there to carry one another’s burdens. During that time, I remembered true things. I wanted to trust and glorify God in my response. I didn’t want to be controlled by my fear or my situation. But you know what? Even saying those true things aloud was painful.

A few weeks later I read this passage from 1 Peter. Writing it out I saw that genuine faith – the kind that exists even when life isn’t beautiful – is what God was producing in me. Life is messy. So messy that I won’t be sharing a photo of the inside of my house, but God is working. He’s not just sitting back and looking at our mess and our pain and thinking, “what a waste.” Instead, He will be glorified! Even in this. So we praise, we glory, we honor Christ.

“I have learned to kiss the wave that slams me into the Rock of Ages.” -Charles Spurgeon