Parting Words: The Crucifixion

And when they came to the place that is called The Skull there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 

~Luke 23:33

Imagine the scene unfolding, the Pharisees had seized the opportunity they sought. Jesus was finally receiving the repercussions for his blasphemous statements– at least that is how they viewed it. His disciples initially scattered both scared and confused. Of those within his intimate sphere we find recorded in the gospel at the foot of the cross, only his mother, John, and the women that had followed him left to observe the murder of their Lord. Considering that there are four gospel recordings of the events at the crucifixion, I believe it is likely that there were other disciples who were eye witnesses of the events of that day, although those disciples are not named specifically within the gospel accounts.

The people that had listened to his teachings and followed the murmuring in the streets and temple most likely watched the events unfold, but center stage were the Pharisees, the Roman soldiers, and the religious rulers mocking, “if you are the Son of God, then save yourself!” Were these crowds of onlookers the same Jews who had feasted at the feeding of the five thousand?Or the miraculously healed?  If so, it would seem they had forgotten the Lord’s words and works as quickly as their stomachs had digested the fish and bread. Or, perhaps they stood as followers of Christ, helpless to save their Savior, and broken over the plight of their beloved teacher.

Parting Words: Jesus at the Crucifixion

Finally, envision the criminals on his right and his left. These men had the birds-eye-view of all that unfolded from the time the nails bore into Jesus’ flesh and the spear pierced His side. As Jesus stretched out His arms for the nails to be driven into his wrists, He could not escape the reality, nor can we, that He was dying for the sins of wretched, but dearly beloved people, separated from God by rebellious hearts.

As the Roman soldiers nailed him to the cross, Jesus said,

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do. (Luke 23:34)

Then the soldiers cast lots for his garments and proceeded, business as usual, unknowingly slaughtering the Son of God.

The minutes and hours tick by and Jesus next takes care of His mother leaving her in the care of John. Quintessentially posturing Mary at the foot of the cross for the rest of history (See hereJesus says to Mary:

“Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:26-27)

Next we see the dichotomy of man’s response to Jesus for the rest of temporal time. A mocking rejection of the Lord, and a proclamation of  Jesus as the sinless Son, Savior, and LORD:

“Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)

Following, we see a return to the ever present reality that Jesus was fully human and had physical needs even as He was divine. Additionally, we see the fulfilling of scripture as prophesied in Psalm 69:21,

After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.” A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” (John 19:28-30)

The hyssop branch is perhaps reminiscent of the blood dipped on hyssop to frame the door posts of the Israelites (Exodus 12:21-27) to preserve them from the wrath of God–from the destroyer that would kill those not covered by the blood of the sacrificial lambs. The final sacrifice for all who believe had been made, the final blood needed for the forgiveness of sins had been spilled and therefore, as recorded in three of the gospels, Jesus cried out with a loud voice:

“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” Which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:46)

This final act commenced an eternal reaction and a physical response from the earth and observers,

And the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 15:38-39)

The parting words of Jesus finalize the sacrifice needed for the forgiveness of our sins and remind us that it is through Christ alone that we find salvation. It is not fellow followers of Christ, his mother, nor any works that save us. His parting words remind us that it is in Christ alone we are forgiven. Amen and amen!

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Parting Words: Jesus to the Pharisees

Everyone leans in to  listen to a dying man’s voice.  His last words. His reflections and final thoughts.

Christ fully knew when His time had come. He calculated every word and deed to coincide with the exact day that His crucifiction would take place. Consider, close to the Passover, and before His murder, Christ spoke seven woes to the religious men of his day. The 7 Woes are  discussed in detail here.

The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you— but not what they do. 

The greatest among you shall be your servant.  Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

~Matthew 23:2, 11-12

As we approach Easter and consider the woes to the Pharisees and scribes, we should examine ourselves to see if Christ finds the same fault in us which He found in these self-professing God-followers. (For an overview of Pharisees and scribes click here   and here.)

While they would seem to be godly, they were neither sober nor righteous. We are really, what we are inwardly. Outward motives may keep the outside clean, while the inside is filthy; but if the heart and spirit be made new, there will be newness of life; here we must begin with ourselves. The righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees was like the ornaments of a grave, or dressing up a dead body, only for show. The deceitfulness of sinners’ hearts appears in that they go down the streams of the sins of their own day, while they fancy that they should have opposed the sins of former days. (Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary at Christnotes.org,emphasis mine)

Pharisees point the finger and put the focus on the external and temporal.

Scribes are tempted to neglect the spirit of the Law while upholding the letter.

Clashing symbols both, don’t you think?

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness.These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 

 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

Matthew 23:23,25-26

Jesus’ final words to the Pharisees, the religious people of His day, were stinging. As a lifetime member of a church and a Christian over two decades, I default to the pharisee and scribe status if I am not very intentional. Christ’s parting words to me, not only include His parting words to the disciples, but sadly to the Pharisees as well. Those who are Christian are by default religious, and therefore should heed the seven woes.

This Lenten Season, what does pursuing justice, mercy, and faithfulness look like in your life…in mine? What filth needs to be cleaned out of the inside of the cup before the decay spreads to the outer portion? How should we stoop in service to follow the example of Christ washing His disciples feet? 

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Parting Words: Jesus to Judas Iscariot

Parting Words: Jesus to Judas Iscariot

 

Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me; one who is eating with me. Mark 14:18

Friend, do what you came to do. Matthew 26:50

Judas was proactive in his betrayal of the Son of Man. (See Matthew 27:3-10)

The betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot reminds me that we will only be betrayed by someone in close proximity to us. We don’t call malice from an outsider betrayal; only that from someone close.

Jesus ate, slept, traveled, taught, and ministered beside Judas. Why would we think that couldn’t or wouldn’t happen to us? If it hasn’t happened to you, the probability is high that it will. If it has, then would you like to respond even more like Christ the next time? Me too. Additionally, I would like to see the warning signs earlier so that I don’t open myself up to as much hurt in the future as I have endured before. (See this great post here via iBelieve.com.)

For those of us without omniscience, which is all of us, we may have entertained the Judas unknowingly. That is, until the moment our betrayal was at hand. We may have postured for a Jonathon’s embrace only to be met with a Judas’ kiss. On the other hand, we may have simply been reluctant to see the warning signs and forged ahead with toxic relationships, that upon their end we wished we had never begun.

Christ knew that He would be betrayed by one of those closest to him. For him, it was only a matter of time. Yet, he chose to invest in Judas anyway. Why? What can we learn from that? What were his parting words to Judas?

  • Jesus parted without malice. We see no record or indication that Jesus slandered Judas or cast judgement on him. He warned him, however, that it would have been better for him that he would have never been born. (See Mark 14:21)
  • Jesus spoke the truth over the situation. (Mark 14:17-20)
  • Jesus’ omniscience ensures that he fully expected and anticipated betrayal and accepted that as the path towards the fulfillment of his life’s purpose.
  • Jesus continued to call Judas friend. (See Matthew 26:50)  Judas’ final act did not negate or erase the relationship that Christ had with him up until that point.
  • Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Jesus, being fully human and fully God, hurt just as we do when someone hurts us. His heart was not protected from pain any more than ours. Yet he did not retaliate against Judas.

When someone with close, intimate proximity to us stings us with their malice, acts of betrayal, or apparent apathy, we can rest assured that Christ empathizes with us, sees our pain, and will one day bring justice to the situations we experience. Further, Christ provides an example of holiness for us to pattern with our parting words.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. ~Reinhold Niebur

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Parting Words: Jesus Before the Cross

The Garden

It probably seemed a hairs breadth time between the calling and the cross for Peter, James, and John.

One day Simon Peter, Andrew, James and John were finishing an all-night fishing trip with no favor, when Jesus tells them, Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch. (Luke 5:4, ESV) That was the fishing trip that would change their lives. No longer would they be fishing for fish; they would become fishers of men.

It’s funny how we never know what hello will change our lives. What new acquaintance will be a God-appointed friendship waiting on which to embark. Luke 5, and the other gospel accounts, is epic in our view because we know the outcome. But, did the disciples feel in their souls the gravity of that day’s events as they unfolded? It’s impossible to know.

Spring forward three years, and we once again encounter Jesus and three of his first-called disciples sharing a world-changing moment together. However, this time, the setting is a garden, not the sea, the food is bread and wine, not fish, and the task is to watch and pray, not to cast their nets to the waves.

Sometimes watching and praying can be much more challenging than working and casting. The sleepy disciples bear witness to this. There is a weight in the waiting.

Jesus had finished his final Passover meal with his disciples. He foretold of His betrayal, his death, and his resurrection (See Matthew 26) and commenced to sing a hymn and depart to Gethsemane. In these final parting moments with his friends and disciples, Jesus behaved in certain ways that we can pattern as we draw to transition points in our own lives:

  • Jesus drew close to those closest to Him. Jesus took all the disciples to Gethsemane, minus Judas who was too busy betraying Him; however, He drew even closer to his three friends: Peter, James and John. Jesus took them further into the garden and shared more of Himself with them.
  • Jesus shared the burdens of His soul with trusted friends. Jesus’ future was not veiled to any of the disciples, but the agony with which He faced his destiny was shared with a chosen few. He confides in Peter, James, and John:

My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here and watch with me. (Matthew 26:38)

  • Jesus drew closest to the Father. While Christ invited His friends and disciples to share in His burden through prayer, He petitioned His Father alone further still into the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus asked for the cup of God’s wrath to pass, yet ultimately he petitioned for the Father’s will to be done. We too can portray only so much truth to our closest friends and family–God is the only one who knows in fullness our joys and our sorrows.
  • Jesus used his fleeting time to continue to instruct His disciples concerning:

Their duty. Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41)

God’s power. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:53)

God’s will. …all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. (Matthew 26:56)

It is comforting to me that even in partings, Jesus provides the way in which we can do so with the greatest impact.

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Parting Words: An Easter Series

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Better is the end of a thing than its beginning, and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8,ESV)

Good-byes are difficult. The good-byes of life: the dorm room, the parting of child from family at the alter of marriage, the distance of a move, the deathbed…many moments in life involve parting words. As we enter into the Easter Season, I want to focus on the good-byes of Jesus and of Paul. What did the Savior of the world want to leave as parting lessons with his disciples–with us? How did Paul part with Timothy? What were his final instructions to the young man he mentored in the faith?

I believe that our good-byes can be strengthened by looking at the good-byes of Jesus and Paul. In the next five weeks leading up to Easter we will delve into:

  • Paul’s last words to Timothy
  • Jesus’ last words to the Apostles
  • Jesus’ parting words in Revelation

I look forward to learning how to say meaningful and lasting parting words in this life so that the hellos of eternity will be all the sweeter. I certainly need these lessons, and I eagerly anticipate learning them alongside you this Easter Season.

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Shades of Regret

Shades of Regret

When you are a mother of two small children, you spend a lot of time in public restrooms. It was my fourth trip to a public restroom in the last two hours, and I didn’t want to make another trip once our movie started.While waiting on my daughter to come out of the stall, an older woman was washing her hands and offered,

I just watched 50 Shades of Grey. I didn’t’ need that. My curiosity got the better of me.

She shakes her head and wrings her hands with soap. I nod and wonder what on earth I can tell this woman. What hope should I offer in a few seconds in the bathroom? It seemed she simply wanted to confess to me. She continued as I listened and nodded,

You know the man is just messed up.  Save your eight dollars and go get Chinese instead.

She shook her head, flung up her hand, and walked out the door while I meagerly offered a few remarks. This woman was clearly disturbed by the sadomasochistic movie that is sweeping the nation and was first within the grasp of teens, moms, and people of all ages at major chains such as Walmart, Target, and all bookstores and e-readers since 2011. It is reported to have sold 100 million copies in 52 languages worldwide.

An estimated 900 teens in Orlando (see here) stormed a movie theater in attempts to watch the rated R movie earlier this week.

The Christian community has not remained silent on this topic. Consider Dannah Gresh’s book, Pulling Back the Shades. (Read about it here.) Or, this thought provoking article by Dr. Russell Moore, Women Stop Submitting to Men? (click here). However, in the case that you have missed these, I want to warn you: flee the temptation to see what all the hype is about!

Men and women of the Church, do not use this as an opportunity to research pop culture. Consider this a call to be in the world and not of it. Protect your minds and relationships from this obvious working of evil. Many times we can fall into a spiritual pit of despair and sin we were not seeking, but consider this your warning that the pit is within your vision and the choice to descend is up to you.

Sex is so perverted in our fallen state post garden– post forbidden fruit. The good gift that God created from the time He introduced Adam and Eve has been polluted by the sins of this world. We worship the created act of sex above the Creator and pervert the original gift of sex within marriage. 50 Shades of Grey is another proof of this fact.

Don’t let curiosity rob you of your peace of mind and spirit. Heed the lesson from the woman I met, and warn your friends likewise.

Fight the good fight of faith and finish the race having won the battle over curiosities that God’s Word blatantly speaks over as evil and destructive.

Did I miss an opportunity to share Christ with this woman? Perhaps. I pray that she will seek out, or already knows the truth for herself. However, I didn’t miss an opportunity to pray for her. Further, I don’t think that it was any accident that I was in the right place at the right time to hear her confession and tell her story to you.  I can see her distraught look even now. I pray that the shades of regret will not be mirrored on your face.

Choose life.

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The True Love of Valentine’s Day

Valentine's

St. Valentinus of Rome, was a priest born 200 years after Christ and whose martyrdom we remember every February 14th. It seems that Valentinus disobeyed the ruling of Emperor Claudius the Cruel to cease all marriages within the Roman Empire and to worship the Roman gods.

Claudius the Cruel needed more men for battle and believed that unmarried men would make better and more willing soldiers. Valentinus knew this was against the law of God and chose to secretly marry couples under the blanket of night so that men could depart for battle having married their loves.

Valentinus’ worship of God and practices of matrimony was quickly found out and resulted in his imprisonment by Claudius the Cruel. He was beheaded on the 14th of February around 278 A.D. for his crimes of love and loyalty. Above the laws of men, Valentinus obeyed the One True God’s commandment for men and women to join together in holy matrimony.

Celebrating the faithfulness of Valentinus is an occasion that I can recognize with deep respect and gratefulness when we celebrate in truth. Like Valentinus, many people are held prisoner around the world for their faithfulness to the gospel and continue to die in the name of Christ Jesus for obedience to His commands.

The true love of Valentinus was love of God and His people. He brought men and women together under the biblical mandate: that for this reason, a man will leave his father and mother and cling to his wife. (Ephesians 5:31)

Valentinus cherished the love and obedience of God above the safety of conforming to the world’s demands. He showed true love in laying down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)  May we, if called upon to obey God above country, do the same.

This is real love–not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. 

(1 John 4:10, NLT)

I tell you the truth, everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, the Son of Man will also acknowledge in the presence of God’s angels.

(Luke 12:8, NLT)

So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

(1 John 4:16, ESV)

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What Learning Looks Like From Here

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They stoop low at the ocean’s edge inspecting a Florida horse conch. The sun has just begun to peak out from beneath the clouds and warm the final January day in Florida.

I snap their picture and think, this is what learning looks like from here.

Bent low, searching, seeking the knowledge and adventure that await in a moment of exploration. God’s sea creatures each tell a story, and the seemingly peaceful shore mocks the real truth that life in the sea is fierce and tumultuous even as the soothing, rhythmic sounds of the ocean lull me into a peaceful state.

There is always this tension just beneath the surface of life.

There is no escaping the forces of good and evil when we live on this side of eternity.

There is a constant need to bend low and search out the still, small voice of God that can also boom like approaching thunder.

At the supposed age of Christ during his final year in earthly ministry, I feel what most people feel as they steadily grow older: wisdom comes with age and it is harder not to be blinded by the cares of this world nor the skepticism reality brings with each passing year. I am learning that I can no more hold on to the present than it becomes the past. I must enjoy each moment for what it is, for it only comes once and then a memory.

Is it any wonder that God asks us to approach Him with the faith of a child? The child that is oblivious to the cares and demands of life. The child that sees not distractions, but opportunities to explore and learn. The child that sees now even as she anticipates the future. The older they grow the faster they desire to grow up and shed the contentment of their age at present.

Life, like the tide, is in a constant state of give and take, come and go. Even this week, we celebrate the seventh birthday of our daughter and only three weeks ago the fifth of our son; we join with the throngs who utter, “Where did the time go?”.  But hidden with the jewels of the sea, there are lessons to be learned, discoveries to be made that utter even of the passing of time. Anne Morrow Lindbergh captures a few of these lessons in her book, Gift from the Sea:

One learns to accept the fact that no permanent return is possible to an old form of relationship; and, more deeply still, that there is no holding of a relationship to a single form. This is not tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth. All living relationships are in process of change, of expansion, and must perpetually be building themselves new forms.

~Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

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The jewels of the sea grow larger with age–their age brings constant rebuilding of their present forms. So do we, don’t you agree? We shouldn’t look the same at fifty as we did at five, nor should we come to the same hobbies void of new knowledge and understanding.

I have always loved the shore. The splash of waves and the picking up of shells. However, now I enjoy it with specificity. That is, I see it more like God sees it. Crying forth its message of creation, fall, redemption, life, death, catastrophe, and rebuilding. I can name the shells I once only admired. Isn’t that grand, that learning from here continues, but looks different than nearly three decades ago?

I can only imagine the discoveries I will make and the view-point I will take in one, two, or perhaps three decades time. Then, maybe I will stoop with my grandchildren and ponder, So this is what learning looks like from here.

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7 Things to Pray for Right Now

Prayer

In this life, I most often feel like I am not measuring up. Like I have not given enough to the poor, have not kept first things first, I’ve said something I shouldn’t have,  or misused my time. Do you feel that way too?

This leads me to the topic of prayer.  Have I prayed about everything? The answer is a decisive no. I have prayed about many things, but everything is certainly not many things.

Most of the bad choices that I have made, or tend to make regularly, could be prevented with a right attitude which accompanies time spent in prayer.

Praise, confession, and petition are integral to righting my attitude between myself, God, and man.

Below are seven things that you can pray about right now that will refocus our worries, doubts, misappropriated attentions, and energies to God and His will. 

  1. Pray for wisdom.
  2. One home-front need.
  3. One news related story.
  4. One mission, pastor, or person in your church.
  5. One goal or dream.
  6. One friend.
  7. The lost and poor in your community, state, nation, or world.

When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them. “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Matthew 21:20-22, ESV

Today, let’s right our attitude when it begins to stray by taking every little thing to God in prayer. Use this list of seven areas to help you structure your prayer time with God. Also, consider reading through  these three other posts on prayer:

  • To Kneel or to Break (here)
  • Enter Here (here)
  • Of Our Crosses and Christ (here)

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Performance Pressure

Have you ever experienced stage fright even in an off stage moment? Your desire to perform well was overwhelming to the point of paralysis. Instead of giving your best, you fell short of even attempting your goal at all. My son recently had an experience like that.

Our children began ice skating lessons a week ago. I’ll tell you, there is nothing more precious-at least to date-than seeing my daughter and son attempting to skate. They look like little penguins starting to waddle on the ice. The faces they, along with their friends, make during their first attempts on the ice are priceless.

It is amazing to see how the children tackle the challenge of gaining their footing and making ground on new turf. Some of the children flail and zoom as fast as they can from point A to point B, with little care whether they fall while making it across. Form and beauty play no role in their thought processes; rather, let’s do this is the self-talk ringing in their minds.

Then you have the apprehensive ones. The ones (as in the case of my children) who aren’t willing to let go of the teacher for a moment for fear they will fall or fail in their advancement across the ice.  Gracefulness or success is close to the last thing on their mind either; survival from one side of the rink to the other reigns supreme.

With the two beginners attitudes towards learning to skate, I think the focus is on two different planes; group one is motivated by success, group two by fear.

The first week my son attempted everything the teacher asked of him; albeit with fear and apprehension written over his face at least 15 or 20 minutes of the 30 minute class. The second week, my husband came to watch the kids, and our son uncharacteristically started crying and wanted to leave his class and sit with his mommy.  We thought he was scared of the ice and may be too tired or experiencing a sugar crash from his birthday pie and ice cream that I had made him for breakfast. Maybe, we pondered, he was a little nervous having his daddy there to watch him for the first time.

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Later on, we would discover that the later thought was correct. Our son was worried that his attempts wouldn’t be good enough and therefore he stopped trying at all. All he could think about was getting to his mommy who would be waiting with hugs and kisses. In this case, both Ron and I weren’t letting our son off the ice until the class ended. We wanted him to give his best; even if his best meant trying with the aid of the instructor the entire time. For us, and I propose for the Father, our efforts are what matter. The heart that says, I am afraid, but I will face my fears and give my best, that is the heart that God delights in. That is the heart that we as parents delight in seeing our children put into visible action.

Our daughter was tempted to follow her brothers lead and stop and stand on the sidelines, but she dug in and decided to keep trying. In the end she stayed after class for free skate and hugged the wall off and on around the rink 10 times! That is effort that deserves praise. Was she up to speed with other skaters her age who had taken lessons longer, or peers who left the security of the wall earlier than she? No. However, she pushed past her own fears and insecurities and in that found confidence and reward that will push her farther the next time on the ice.

Approaching our car, our son told me-after a little prompting-with head down and shoulders slumped, “I was afraid dad wouldn’t like my skating.” Wow. That he could articulate his feelings was remarkable. More surprising, even though it shouldn’t have been, was the fact that fearing he wouldn’t impress the most important man in his life lead him to quit trying. Ron is an encouraging and patient father beyond any other I have ever met, but our son still wanted to impress his daddy and feared not doing so.

Minutes after I sent Ron a text to let him know of our son’s fears, my phone rang. Ron called to reassure our son that he maintained his father’s favor and pride in him. Our son’s face lit up at simply the call from his dad and kept beaming even after the good news filled his five-year-old ears.

What about you? Is there a new task that you are attempting and the fear of falling short is tempting you to halt trying at all? Are you afraid that somehow you are going to let your Father down? Well, its a good thing that God doesn’t look at the outward appearances, but rather, He looks at our heart. When we give his calling on us our all, He sees the heart and the intentions of our heart beyond simply the success or failure of our feet, and He proudly cheers on His sons and daughters from the sidelines. He doesn’t compare us with our brothers and sisters in Christ, but rather looks simply at us individually and prods us to become more of who He created us to be.

 For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7b)

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