You’ve Got My Attention!

You've Got My AttentionDistracted drivers kill over 3000 people every year, and they injure over 300,000. Their actions say that driving isn’t important enough to merit their attention. The average car in the United States weighs around 4000 pounds and is traveling anywhere from twenty to eighty miles per hour. It doesn’t take a degree in physics to understand that driving is dangerous business and demands all of my attention all of the time, especially if I am carrying precious cargo. My driving habits changed dramatically when my granddaughters got into my car. Love makes a big difference in the attention equation.

Distracted lovers are as prevalent as distracted drivers, but I don’t have any statistics on how many hearts they break. Checking the time, answering a call, sending a text, or taking attention away from a loved one says they are not important. They either learn they are not worthy of your love or you are not worthy of theirs.

I’ve struggled with unworthiness my entire life. I’ve always believed I wasn’t worthy of God’s love or anyone else’s. I knew God loved me because He had to, but my experiences with human love taught me I didn’t merit the attention love requires. As a result, I’ve always settled for less than God desired for me because I didn’t embrace His vision for me. My heart was molded by the way it was treated early on, and I connected to those who would love me the way I believed I deserved to be loved. I found myself in the arms of those who didn’t have the time or attention love needs to grow as God desires.

I wonder what would happen if our cars demanded our attention. What if they pulled off the road each time we were distracted? When Tyler was a toddler, he used to hold my cheeks together and get right in my face when he wanted my full attention. Mylah says, “Look at me. I’m talking.” Maybe we could get an app that would do the same on our cars and phones, or maybe we could simply stop for a second and think about how it makes us feel when we are in the presence of someone who isn’t present.

God is always fully present, but we rarely give Him the attention He deserves. He could very easily demand our attention, but He knows demanding attention is worse than not getting it. His world is filled with distracted lovers who run to Him when they need something or when they are hurt but forget all about Him when all is well. I am as guilty as anyone in that regard.

The world fills our journeys with distractions, but God fills them with beautiful opportunities to love. We must decide whether to love and let go of distractions or go with distractions and leave love behind. I can’t imagine I leaving this world wishing I had checked the time or my phone more often, but I fear leaving it wishing I had loved more.

Driving takes time and attention if it is to be done in a way that doesn’t hurt others. The same is true for loving, so take time today to stop and make sure those you love know you love them by giving them your full attention. God knows we miss so much when we are distracted, and He also knows that a loving presence is one that is focused upon the one being loved ūüôā

What Am I Missing?

Weeping Witness or Slick Sales?

Witnessing is opening my heart in a way that allows me to weep openly on the shoulder of another and let others weep openly on my own. It’s honest communion and loving in a way that the world cannot understand. It is about loving God with all my heart and soul and mind and strength and letting His love be the love in my own heart for others. As I’ve watched coverage of trials in the news this week, I’ve seen clearly the importance of a good witness. I’m not an attorney, but I can discern the difference between heart-felt testimony that simply states the truth with love and a witness with an agenda trying to sway the jury.

Witness isn’t about taking sides, pointing fingers, or making comparisons. God doesn’t need for me to defend Him, but He does want me to be a witness to His love. God doesn’t have to be sold as if He were the latest, greatest gadget guaranteed to fix all. Salesmen convince, cajole, and motivate others, and Satan is looking for slick sales representatives. God’s witnesses aren’t in the sales department although we often sound as though we are. Tracts, flyers, pitches, and pushing often take the place of a loving presence because it is much easier to sell than to witness.

There are a million ways to sell, but there is only one way to witness. Sales is about taking the truth and twisting it to benefit me and my agenda. It’s about bending, but not breaking the law. The same is true for sales when it comes to God. He’s been packaged and sold in so many ways that I couldn’t count them if I tried because new ways are constantly on the horizon. When I try to sell God, there is something in it for me. A sales commission in Christian ministry might be high contributions or large numbers in attendance. It may be a running list of those I’ve led to the Lord or an accounting of the hours I’ve spent working for God. When it comes to witness, all the credit and accolades go to God.

Measure is meaningless when it comes to witnessing. In a court of law, witnesses considered to be experts are paid for their time and effort. Many of God’s witnesses want the same reimbursement for their expertise. I want recognition, payment, compensation, or credit for my witness. I want others to know that I have gone out of my way, worked hard, and spent my valuable time winning souls for God. Those witnesses belong in sales.

God is love, and if I am to be His witness, I must be willing to be broken. Love breaks my heart in a beautiful way that allows me to be a loving presence, weep with those who are hurting, and let them hear me weep when I am hurt. Witnessing for God involves stripping away pretense, letting go of the need to be right, and being who God created me to be by loving myself and others as He does.

It’s not complicated, and I’m sure judges on this earth wished the same were true for witnesses in their courtrooms. God doesn’t need a courtroom here on earth because He knows the heart of everyone without having to hear any witnesses. God has a world filled with His children, and we are all in desperate need of Him. Witnessing is designed to feed, fill, and free all His children. Love shared in a way that glorifies Him changes everything as only an honest, loving witness can. ¬†

Stumbling is Humbling

One of my favorite verses is Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” That is the underlying theme this week as God has taken the circumstances in my path and used them to teach lessons as only He can.

Last night as I listened to Robbie Campbell describe the living conditions in the Dominican Republic, I was humbled and ashamed at the excess in my own life. There is more than enough for all in this world, but the hoarding that takes place keeps food from the hungry and fresh water from those who thirst. I always pray that God will let me hear Him as I go into a service or study His Word. The most important thing I heard last night was something I used to preach to my classes, there is something only I can do, and if I choose not to do it, it will be left undone. God calls each of us to do a work for Him that only we are able to do. That humbles and sobers as nothing else. There are those who will be hungry if I do not notice, those who will die from thirst if I do nothing, those who will not know of Christ’s precious grace, if I do not live it out in my own life, those who will die never reaching an intimate level of relationship with others or God if I do not reach out, and those who will give up without the encouragement I am here to offer.

God has prepared the path, but I must stay the course. I thank Him for dear friends who help me stay on track and keep me accountable. The messages this week have all been about the importance of forming relationships that go deeply into my heart and allow the honest communication necessary for that accountability. Love draws me nearer to God and helps me be a loving presence to those already in my path and those who will come into it. I’ve ignored the obvious when it comes to missions and missed opportunities to make a difference in my family and community by getting off the course God has prepared. ¬†I have stayed on the surface when it comes to relationships out of fear of being hurt again. I thank God for helping me see His will and hear His call; ¬†I pray I will find and stay at the depth He desires in regard to my heart. With His help and the help of those trusted friends sharing my journey, I know I can be the loving presence He needs as I learn and grow even in my stumbling. Perhaps I should say especially in my stumbling! Stumbling is humbling:)

Calling Out to God

Calling out to God is my way of making sure He is still there. ¬†I know that sounds silly, but maybe Lillyann can help me explain what I mean. She spent the night with me the week before her third birthday and woke up at three in the morning. She came into my room quietly asking ‚ÄúGigi?‚ÄĚ ¬†I assured her I was there and ¬†put her in bed with me. She snuggled closely and fell right back to sleep. She didn’t need anything. She wasn’t scared, and she really knew I was there. ¬†She wanted to check and ¬†make sure, but more importantly, she wanted to be near me. ¬†I ¬†lay there for a long time holding her, listening to her breathe, and thinking of how much I love her and how glad I was that she was next to me. It made me think of praying. ¬†I pray often and love to be in God’s presence. ¬†I know it makes Him feel the same way I do when Lillyann comes looking for me.

I call out to God in a variety of ways many times a day and often whisper “God?” around three in the morning myself when I wake and need company or reassurance. I cry out when I’m hurting, argue when I’m angry, plead when I’m scared, ¬†ask a quiet question when I’m confused, or whisper a soft thank you when I’m happy. ¬†Like Lillyann, I just need to know He is there. Calling out comforts no matter what circumstances surround me. His presence is all I ever need and wonder why I pray for anything else. ¬†The desire to be with God is the center of my relationship with Him and with others. God is the ultimate loving presence. ¬†Pastor John continues to remind me that I can be such a presence in the lives of those I love. ¬†It truly is all we can be or do in this world. ¬†So simple yet so very difficult for me at times.

I’ve learned many lessons in love over the course of my life, but those lessons have became more intense in the three years after mama’s death. ¬†God sees my potential and beauty, and His love helps me see both in myself and others if I reach out in love. What a difference it makes when I find the courage to risk reaching into the hearts of others and into my own to find the love God has in mind for me. Finding that love is the point of my journey.

A great friend is one who knows me at my very worst but still sees and loves the very best in me. That level of love changes me and allows me to experience kingdom love now. God not only loves me that way, He shows me how to love the same way. ¬†Just as I go to God when I am, hurting, troubled, or just out of options, I can go to a friend who hears and understands my heart. It isn’t easy to open up and expose my feelings. ¬†It’s why I preferred those cages for so long. ¬†I could hide and pretend all was well, but I wasn’t able to love as God desires. ¬†Love and truth go together and cannot be separated. Honest communion combined with love, ¬†allows me to walk in God’s kingdom now. ¬†I believe children understand kingdom love and walk in God’s kingdom until we teach them not to reach out, not to open up, and not to trust.

I think of myself at Lillyann’s age and wonder how it is possible for anyone to take out their frustrations on someone so tiny and vulnerable. I am struck by how fragile ¬†Lillyann’s little body is next to mine. She trusts me to love and care for her. The thought of hurting her is beyond me, and I would die keeping someone from hurting her. I thank God she and Mylah are surrounded by those who love and cherish them. The beauty of being re-begotten is that it means to get a new Father, one who draws me near when I find myself alone or fearful. A Father I can cry out to in the darkness and trust Him to hold me closely until my fear subsides. I am loved in a way that allows me to be who He sees in me.¬†Through reaching out and loving, I am able to see beauty and potential as it is reflected in God’s heart and through the hearts of those sweet friends He places in my path.