To Become Like A Child©

Things have gotten pretty messed up in this world.  I see the effects of what this broken place does to us as I watch the ways of the children around me. I currently have two 5 year olds in my life.  One is my grand the other is a child I give MeMe care to.  I am touched as I watch them. They have a firm belief in who they are.  They are comfortable in their own skin which allows a life free of insecurities.  They don’t question whether they are loved and accepted.  They are confident they are.

It makes me stop to consider.  How do things go so wrong?

I have long believed that there are two stories written on our lives.  One is the story the broken world tries to tell us.  The other is the story God wrote a long time ago.  I started out in one and ended up in another.  It all started when I was the child with the different personality.  I didn’t learn the way the school system taught nor was I the typical easy going temperament.

The world around me became the supporting actors and actresses on my script.  It seemed that everyone and everything pointed the way to my new beliefs.  With each act, I became a bit more lost to who I had been made to be.

By the time I reached my late teens I was convinced that there was something wrong with me.  I was too much and not enough all at the same time.  The label found a place inside my being.  REJECTED.  One event after another confirmed it all.  There was no real acceptance here on this earth.  The child was gone, the broken adult became the voice in my head.

What happens in life that takes us from to such drastic changes?

We enter this world of sin, born into sin.  We really don’t even understand what all that means.  Years are added and along with them the shame and consequences of choices; ours and those around us. It doesn’t take long for the once, free caring, confident child to diminish.  We become products of the world we are born into.  We forget who we are.

This isn’t the world I was created for.  Back in the beginning of time, before the world existed God had a plan for me.  It was a life without shame where I could walk in the cool of the day with Him and others because love was whole and real.  It was a world where all was right in every sense of the word.  And then it all changed.

It’s not God’s perspective that gets tainted by sin. It’s mine.  The thoughts God has towards me have always been the same.  The problem comes when I believe a different story, a story that emanates from a world wrecked by sin.

I’ve come to realize something simple, yet so very profound.  No man, woman, or child, can give me the acceptance I so desperately have longed for.  No one can give me the seal of approval.  Every single person on this earth will let me down.  Many have.  People live out of their own broken stories.  How could they possibly give me truth for mine?

It makes me understand a little better what Jesus meant when He said “unless you are converted and become like a little child, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

As I finish my last year of my 50’s these beautiful words of Jesus take on new meaning. I do not believe that God is only telling me that in order to go to heaven I have to become like a child and believe.  I think He is trying to tell me that in order to live in the fullness of my life I must go back to the story I was comfortable in before the world came after me. It’s what I see in those 5 year olds in my care.  They are not weighed down by the programming of this broken world.  They are free to be who they simply are as ones who are loved.

In I Corinthians I learn that I am a new creation, that old things have passed away.  I have a new starting point.  God’s perspective of me is my new point of reference.  My identity was established by God before all times.  He looked at me, in those first moments on earth and said, “You are loved!”  Before I could love Him, He loved me.

My grown up world has been one plagued with rejection from man.  It doesn’t take much for me to feel it.  When those moments come, where the actions of another speak, I make my choice.  God is for me.  I am accepted, therefore no man can reject me.

Children don’t question their acceptance.  They just live in it.  To enter into all that He is and all that He has done I must go back to the belief of a child who lives in the simplicity of who they are and where they belong.

People can never tell me the story of who or what I am.  They didn’t write it.  God did.

@copyrighted:  Julie L. Todd 2016

 

The Unknown Waters of Trust©

“He calls me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail.” “And there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep my faith will stand.”

“Your grace abounds in deepest waters, Your Sovereign hand will be my guide”                       “Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me,  You’ve never failed, You won’t start now.”

“So I will call upon your name and keep my eyes above the waves”                                                “When oceans rise my soul will rest in your embrace, For I am yours and you are mine.”

“Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.  Let me walk upon the waters wherever you will call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.”   ©Hillsong United “Oceans”

What a year this has been with twists and turns I never anticipated.   Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined both my husband and I would be unemployed at the same time.  In June, David was left with no option but to leave his job due to an unethical situation.  In July God closed the door on mine.

David was given a job, 2 months into his unemployment, at a pay rate much less than was needed.  I started a company of my own that is financially unpredictable. When each month begins I have no idea what my income will be.

Never in my wildest dreams would I have seen myself starting this business.  It’s not like me to throw caution to the wind and step out in uncertain financial waters.  Yet there was a yearning deeply implanted in me that drove me forward.  He called me out upon the waters to find Him in the mystery of it all.

Money has always been one of my greatest struggles.  Having too much money is not what I battle, it’s the fear of how it will all work out when it doesn’t appear we will have enough. My mind starts the calculations of the bills versus the income and what it comes up with troubles me.  How can it possibly all work?  The fear takes over so easily and I begin to falter. I become like Peter who sank into the waters as the great wind and waves captured his attention.

So much of what we walk through in our lives is beyond our understanding and yet God knows exactly where we are.  He knows the good that will come out of the unchartered waters of this life.  He invites us out upon the waters where great unknowns dwell.  He knows we will find Him in the mystery.   In that mystery, we start to get a sense of our true belonging.  This is my story.

It’s been about 5 months since I stepped out.  Each month I wonder how it will all work out.  My feet falter and I get afraid.  But that’s the beauty of it all.  It’s in those moments of fear He surrounds me and I allows me to see this beautiful grace.

He picks me up and holds me close as He whispers, “Jewel, do you trust me?”

It’s much like the conversations I have with my sweet 5-year-old grand girl.  I find her worried and agitated about something.  I listen to her with the knowledge that it’s all going to be OK.  I can see the bigger picture that she is unable to see.  I reassure her that I will take care of her and this thing that scares her.    She sits unsettled until the moment when her choice has to be made.  “Aviah, will you trust me?”  “Do you believe MeMe will take care of you?” As she answers back “yes, MeMe, I trust you” the door is opened for her faith in me to grow. She begins to see that I am hers and she is mine.

So it is with me, and with you.

Jesus stands beside me, with His arm wrapped around me.  There sits the checkbook and the list of bills.  We pick it up and look at it all together as He whispers, “It’s OK, Jewel, I’ve got this” “will you trust me?” It’s the moment of choice that makes the difference. “Yes, Jesus, I can trust you.”  The door opens for my faith to be made stronger in the presence of my Savior.

As I am with Aviah, He is with me.  I am His and He is mine.

Every month I am amazed at what He does.  His grace abounds in deepest waters. His Sovereign hand will be my guide.  He’s never failed.  He won’t start now.

This is the promise of God to me, to you, to us all.

©copyrighted Julie L. Todd 2016

 

 

 

 

 

Rescued Again©

As I sit to write, fog blankets the mountain as rain waters the dry earth.  We’ve been in one of the longest droughts in the southeast in years.  Unusually high temperatures throughout the fall season have not helped.  Wildfires have been prevalent in these parts, something we are unaccustomed to.  There has been so much damage in East Tennessee through the hands of negligent people playing with fire.

You never know what a year will bring.

We began to wonder if rain would ever return to our state and today it has.  Though its chilling to the bone it’s a breath of fresh air to this dry, weary land.   There’s something peaceful that emanates out of the sound of the falling rain.  It brings a sense of soothing rest as the dry, cracked soil soaks up what’s been desperately needed.

I’m often amazed at how my life correlates with the world around me.  To say I have experienced a drought in my life would be an understatement.  Things have happened in this last couple of years that left me dry, weary and lost.   My response has been to do what I’m prone to do, pull myself up by my bootstraps and push forward.

I am reminded of a picture that illustrates the years of my religious life.  Imagine a climbing wall with its hand and foot holds.  Soon as the climber grasps one hold he is dependent on finding the next or he will fall to the ground.

Both of my sons enjoy rock climbing.  I once went and watched them in a competition. There were 3 walls that graduated with difficulty.  The climber would start at the bottom and work his way up.  The higher he climbed the more achieved he became.  I watched as my sons pushed forward, straining for that next hold. Sometimes they would reach it and other times they would pummel to the ground.  The higher they got the more difficult it became.

So it is with the ways of religion, something I’ve been accustomed to, something I’m being weaned of.  Religion puts the work on you.  That’s not the way of the gospel.  You see Jesus offers an elevator with a free ride.  He is, after all, the way.  There is no self climbing involved,  just a ride with Jesus.  I have often missed the ride.

I heard it said that to truly be safe in God’s love you have to realize how small you’ve made Him and experience Him in His endless power, strength and glory.  It’s part of what has transpired in this year of my drought.  I have come face to face with my small belief.

There is a story from a few years back that gives a window into what my world has been. One fall day in 1987, an 18 month old toddler fell into an abandoned well.  One hidden step and she was down in a cold, dark hole.  Her name was Jessica.  It took 58 hours of working day and night to rescue her.

That’s how traps are.  One hidden step and you are down.  It’s where these hard years had led me.  Where was God anyways?  Why wasn’t He doing something?  Somehow I had to survive this.  I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and grabbed for the hold to pull myself up.  I inadvertently forced myself back on that wall.  The climb was arduous.  I saw no elevator with Jesus waiting.  I was too focused on what was going on around me.

I had no clue what I was doing to myself until one day a song exposed me in my darkness.

“Through it all, through it all, my eyes are on you.  It is well”.   As I listened the tears welled up in my eyes.  For the first time in my life I could not say, “it is well” because I knew He had me.  I couldn’t say “God is good”..

Suddenly, much like baby Jessica, I became aware of the dark hole that had swallowed me. I was stuck.  By my own doing, I was trapped.

In that moment I experienced how small I had made God.   When God didn’t perform as I expected I lost sight of His goodness.  I took things upon myself.  I stopped riding the elevator.

When we expect God to prove our value in the midst of our circumstances we will be sorely disappointed.  It’s impossible, for the standard we use is man-made.  He failed me because I made up the rules.

I stopped believing and trusting that He was for me.  I fell down into the dark, cold well.  I made God small.  I inadvertently placed myself back on the rock wall of religious striving when I became dependent on myself and my bootstraps.

It’s been a few months now since my rescue.  Life has returned to these dry bones.  My circumstances haven’t changed much.  It’s still a very challenging time of life.  But I’ve put down my climbing shoes.  I’m riding in the elevator with Jesus.  He is the very breath of life that puts my feet in front of the other.

He is the life that swells within me.  He is my ride. He is my journey.

It is well with me.

@copyrighted Julie L. Todd