What’s in a Name?

When Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to anoint Christ’s body, she was filled with grief and frustration. She arrived at the tomb at first light, but it was empty. Jesus was gone. The others went home disappointed, but Mary lingered, longing to know what had happened to the body of her beloved Lord.

But Mary was standing outside the tomb weeping; and so, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb;  and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had been lying. And they said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him.”  When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.”  Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, “Rabboni!” (which means, Teacher). John 20:11-17 NASB

This passage has always tugged at my heart, but it touched me even more deeply this Lenten Season as I witnessed the power of love in a new light. Mary didn’t recognize Jesus, but that isn’t surprising. None of us see what is right before our eyes, especially if it is something we are not expecting to see.

Henry Cavil, the actor who plays Superman in the new movie, stood in Times Square under a giant advertisement for Superman vs Batman wearing a tee shirt with the Superman logo on the front. His face was in lights above him, but no one recognized him. He was responding to criticism about Superman’s trademark disguise. Critics pointed out that glasses would never be enough to hide Superman’s identity from those around him. The experiment proved superman didn’t even need glasses; he could easily hide in plain sight because people do not see what they are not expecting to see.

Mary asked the man she thought to be a gardener what he had done with the body. He simply said, “Mary!,” and suddenly her world was changed forever.  One of the most powerful moments in the Bible, for me, is when she utters, “Rabboni.” She wanted to embrace Jesus, but He bid her not to come near because He had not yet ascended to His Father. Like Mary, I am beautifully changed when someone speaks my name in love. Being known heals and makes my heart whole. No one knows that better than God, and Mary learned its power that morning at the empty tomb.

The first time my son uttered the syllables “ma ma,” my heart melted into a puddle. The first time my granddaughters called me “Gigi,” my heart went to a new level of love. The children in my granddaughter’s kindergarten class call me “Gigi” when I visit or volunteer, and that fills my heart with joy. They squeal with delight each time they see me at school or out in the community. They act as though it’s been years since they’ve seen me. That delight is what love is all about, and it never gets old.

God delights when He hears His children say His name with love, but His heart is broken when His name is used to justify violence or spread hatred. His greatest desire is to be with us, and to know that we know how much He loves us. When we say His name and the names of those around us in love, His kingdom comes, and His will is done.

A name spoken in love brings joy into the world, and that is what Easter is all about What’s in a name? Everything!!

Happy Easter 🙂

 

 

 

Desires

The truth be told,

A heart on hold

Is not what God desires.

 

He knows that love

Like that above

Is all my heart requires.

 

My will persists.

My soul insists.

So what I want transpires.

 

I get my way!

I have my say!

His voice gently retires.

 

I find myself

Upon the shelf

In a world that admires.

 

Beautiful stone

Cold and alone

Warmed by the glowing fires.

 

Suddenly real

Loving the feel

Of all my heart’s desires.

 

I start to cry

But don’t know why.

My aching heart inquires.

 

God hears my plea

And rescues me.

Beautiful change transpires.

 

Love chases fear

As He draws near

Giving me His desires.

Heartburn and Heartbreak

They say the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. I think that’s a lot of sexist nonsense; but God did manage to get to my heart through my stomach this week, so maybe there is something to the old saw.

I’ve suffered from acid reflux for three months, and it’s driven me to distraction. The nagging burn of stomach acid in my throat was becoming common place because I opted to eat what I wanted to eat, carry antacids around with me, and accept the burning as my new normal.

My father used to tell me that I was born hungry and would die hungry. I told him I planned to eat as much as I could in between. I was born prematurely and couldn’t nurse or suck a bottle, so mama cut a hole in the nipple of a bottle and let the formula flow into my mouth a few drops at a time. She was afraid I would choke, so the process took forever. According to daddy, she fed me every five minutes. He attributed her obsession with feeding with my obsession with eating. That theory made perfect sense because I turned to food when I was hurting, and I ate all the time.

Weight was never a problem when I was growing up. I was tiny in elementary school and stayed a constant 110 pounds throughout high school and college. I ate heartily, five meals most days. The first time I gained a lot of weight was when I was pregnant with my son, but most of that came off as soon as I got home. My sweet son filled a void that needed filling, so I put all my energy into loving him. In my forties, a slower metabolism and a broken heart took a terrible toll on my heart. I couldn’t keep up any more. In fact, I didn’t want to keep up any more.

My heart’s hunger has always been greater than my stomach’s desire to be filled; so when the two pains merged, food became my drug of choice. I cooked and served and pretended all was well. Mama taught me much more than how to cook. Her death left my heart in a lurch I’ve been trying to crawl out of for six years. I gained twenty-two pounds trying to recreate the comfort of her unconditional love. The more I tried, the more I failed. I knew what I was doing was wrong, but I kept on doing it because I couldn’t face the truth.

Thanking God for acid reflux may sound bizarre, but that’s exactly what I found myself doing yesterday. If you’ve ever had acid reflux, you know it will not be ignored. It’s been nagging me unmercifully for three months, and I finally had enough on Tuesday.

I love researching, so I took to the internet to find answers. I was tired of hurting and ready to change my ways. I found a list of foods that cured and a list of foods that caused acid reflux and decided to give it a try. On Wednesday, I ate only foods that cured and avoided all foods that caused. I couldn’t believe the difference and kicked myself for waiting so long to do the right thing.

God used my relief to remind me that my heart needed relief as well. It had been broken for a very long time and it was affecting my health and my happiness. I took a hard look at my heart habits and realized I had some changes to make. No one knows my heart better than God, so I turned to Him for answers.

It isn’t easy to give up what I want. I missed having coffee, chocolate, and cheese on Wednesday, but I did not miss the terrible burning that came with their consumption. It is human nature to want what isn’t good for me, but God showed me that what He wants for me is so much better than what I want for myself. His lists for living aren’t designed to punish or deny; they are designed with a full heart in mind.

My heart and belly have been full of good things for the past two days, and I’ve lost a pound in the process. I wasn’t thinking about my weight on Wednesday. I simply wanted the pain to stop. God showed me that doing the right thing is the simple solution for both heartburn and heartbreak.

I had to laugh when I thought of Paul in Romans 7:19 last night. I decided to eat a little chocolate before heading to bed, and I immediately regretted that decision.

“For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want.”

Maybe writing that little verse a few hundred times will help me remember to stick to the good list when it comes to my tummy and my heart 🙂

 

 

 

 

Like Ruby Slippers

As I prayed last night, God showed me that I have always had the power to change the direction of my heart. Like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, my heart will take me home. I’ve wandered down many yellow brick roads searching for something I had all along. It boils down to trust, and I didn’t trust my heart. Neither did Dorothy. She wandered in Oz when she could have been home with those she loved. I’ve done the same.

God reminded me that I didn’t trust Him or His promises. He didn’t put on a fancy show or perform magic tricks like the Wizard. He did something much more spectacular. He waited while I wandered, and never stopped loving me. He knew I would eventually find the truth that would transform my heart and bring me home.

I’ve been the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, and the Lion on this journey, but I think Dorothy best exemplifies my search for love. When she looked down at those ruby slippers, she knew what she wanted. When I looked into my heart and saw the beautiful truth that had always been there, I knew the same.

Oz didn’t give Dorothy or her friends anything they didn’t already have. He simply saw in them what they could not see in themselves. That is the transforming power of  love. When I feel it and know it is within my own heart, my journey changes in a powerful way. I can go home. I can love and be loved as I never imagined, and I can be who God created me to be. That’s as transforming as it gets.

There's No Place Like Home
There’s No Place Like Home

 

I’m Not My Own

When I read the first two verses of Romans 12, I think of Chris Tomlin’s song “Lay Me Down.” The lyrics remind me that I am not my own, and that makes it easier to give my body to God. I am giving back what already belongs to Him.

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2 NLT)

Old Testament sacrifices involved killing live offerings. Jesus turns sacrifice on its head by giving life to that which is dead. Metanoia involves a change of life resulting in a spiritual transformation. It is associated with repentance or penitence, but it is simply a change of mind that leads to a change of heart that shows up in the way I live my life.

I can’t know God’s will for me until I let go of the world’s notion of who I am and embrace His vision of who I am. Transformation occurs over a lifetime and isn’t complete until I am in His presence. It begins the moment I put myself into His loving hands and let Him begin His will in my life. I must be willing to lay me down before He can pick me up. The song says that much better than I can.

With this heart open wide
From the depths from the heights
I will bring a sacrifice
With these hands lifted high
Here my song here my cry
I will bring a sacrifice
I will bring a sacrifice

I lay me down
I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down
Lay me down
Oh, hand on my heart
This much is true
There’s no life apart from you
Lay me down
Lay me down

Letting go of my pride
Giving up all my rights
Take this life and let it shine, shine, shine
Take this life and let it shine

I lay me down
I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down
Lay me down, oh oh oh
Hand on my heart
This much is true
There’s no life apart from you
Lay me down
Lay me down
Oh oh oh
Lay me down
Lay me down

It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way, always

It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way
It will be my joy to say
Your will, your way, always

I lay me down
I’m not my own
I belong to you alone
Lay me down
Lay me down, oh oh oh
Hand on my heart
This much is true
There’s no life apart from you
Lay me down
Lay me down, oh oh oh
Lay me down
Lay me down, oh oh oh
Lay me down
Lay me down

The Potter

Clay

Muddy

Messy

Sinking

Trapping

Self

Lust

Love

God

Lifting

Transforming

Gracious

Beloved

Potter

Still, God, you are our Father.
 We’re the clay and you’re our potter:
 All of us are what you made us.”

Isaiah 64:17-18 (The Message)

Advent begins this week with a beautiful message of hope from Isaiah. The image of God, the Potter, is one that gives me great hope. My heart, on its own, is a muddy mess; but in the hands of my loving God, it becomes a vessel designed to hold and share His Son’s precious love. God never forces His transformation. He waits for me to relax in obedience and let His embrace create a new heart in me.

Psalm 51:10 goes perfectly with Isaiah’s beautiful image.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
 and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (NIV)

Isaiah 64