shawn had always wanted to see alexi murdoch live. so naturally, when it was brought to my attention that he was playing at a little club in downtown seattle while shawn was home, i was quick to purchase two tickets an evening at the Crocodile Cafe. but then yesterday, as soon as i lifted my achy, preggo body from sleep, i knew i wasn’t going to be up for a concert that began at 9:30pm. luckily, shawn was able to connect with a good friend he hadn’t seen since we got home from traveling and they played pool and went to the show together. i hear it was amazing.
carrying a baby around inside can be cumbersome, friends. i am just starting to really feel how heavy my stomach is…the skin is stretching and gravity is pulling and my back is taking the brunt of it. i can’t believe i still have almost 3 months! they say pregnancy is 9 month, but its really 10…no one tells you that until you are already preggo! *grin* anyway, my short-not-very-big-body is starting to feel the strain…
i thought that’s why i stayed home.
now i know God had other plans for my evening that had nothing to do with music or an achy pregnant belly.
the pups and i were curled up on the couch, dozing in and out of sleep…well, i was dozing anyway..piper was buried in a sweatshirt and not moving and jetti was snoring as loud as any overweight male human…i had kind of realized that the news had now become saturday night live, although it wasn’t funny enough to keep my eyelids open…then at 11:45pm my phone rang. it startled me. i wasn’t expecting a call. i looked at the screen with fuzzy eyes, thinking i might see “hubby” listed as the caller- but it wasn’t him. i blinked rubbed my eyes and looked again. it was a dear friend of mine from back home. i blinked again. someone on eastern time, i thought. its way after 2am there. something isn’t right.
i picked up the phone. my friend said ‘did i wake you?’ i realized how out of it i must have sounded. i assured my friend that i was just dozing and asked what was going on, although from the second i picked up, i knew somethng wasn’t right. my friend kept making vague comments and i kept asking questions, trying to get my sleepy mind to wrap itself around the vague words..trying to figure out what was going on. finally, i prompted my friend to quit speaking in code.
after a sharp laugh of admittance, my friend plainly told me what had happened. i listened to one of my favorite people in the whole world tell me how badly he/she had blown it. the whole evening was recounted with my friend stopping every few minutes to give him/herself a verbal slap. ‘what was i thinking?’ ‘how could i be this stupid?’ ‘what have i done?’ ‘i can’t believe i did this!’ ‘crap! i am such an idiot’ ‘what a mess’…
i felt for my friend. wished i was closer. wished i could pop in my car and drive over and be of some comfort. look at each other eye to eye. there is probably no feeling worse than knowing you let yourself, others, and God down. with each word, i heard in voice of my friend deep regret and dread of what consequences tomorrow might bring. it was heavy.
you see, my friend came to know the Lord a little over 5 years ago and her life is probably one of the most changed i have ever seen. its such a privilege when you are able to see a person’s life transformed by the truth of Jesus made real to them. i have seen nothing short of a miracle in this person. at times when i felt no inspiration to keep pressing on, a word from this person would remind me of what God can do with a willing heart. this friend now has an amazing ministry through his/her work and constantly amazes me with stories of how God is touching people through his/her presence and friendship.
my friend tripped up last night. after 5 years of losing an appetite for certain sins, my friend fell down.
i felt no reprimand in my own heart. i know that’s why my friend thought they called…to get a reprimand, a little smack to get back on straight and narrow…but i felt i had no sharp words. i felt compassion. my friend loves Jesus and has given up so much to follow Him. i know that hadn’t changed despite the events of the evening.
the words that tumbled out of my mouth, i know were from the Lord, because i was too tired to think straight and even if i had been able to think straight, i am not very wise.
‘friend, did you forget that you are human? prone to falling? whether it has 5 weeks or months or 5 years or 50, you need Jesus now as much as you did before one thing in your life had changed…you know that right? don’t ever be surprised at what your flesh is capable of doing or of how easily you can start living out of it!
yeah are people going to know about it? maybe. does it have to ruin the ministry in you life? i don’t think so. honesty is the best policy…if someone you have been witnessing to asks you about tonight, tell the truth. you let your guard down and you fell. you love Jesus, but you need Him every bit as much as they do…you aren’t perfect. a humble, honest heart will draw someone in…don’t be afraid of the very humanity that is your reason for so desperately needing someone to save you.’
i heard myself quoting romans “all things work together for good to those who love God and called according to His purposes’ i reminded my friend that whatever is in her life, surrendered to God, He will use for His purposes in her life.
my friend protested.
i urged her not to beat herself up. to confess, to be honest, and to move on. ‘don’t give the devil a tool to beat you with by not believing God is both willing and able to forgive this’
my friend continued to protest.
then something came out of my mouth that i know what no thought of mine. how do i know? because i needed to hear it as least as bad as my friend did in that moment.
‘if you beat yourself up about this, especially in front of the people you are working with, what do you think their impression of God will be? if you keep saying how you blew it, how you let God down, if you won’t give yourself some grace, if you won’t believe that the mercy of God really is new every morning- what do you think that will tell them about God? that He is obssessed with perfect behavior? not ready to forgive? punishing? unmerciful? that His grace has a short arm? is that what you want to tell your friends about God? is that how you know Him to be?’
these words began to preach to my spirit as i spoke them.
‘do you really think your ministry at work is sustained because of your lack of certain sin for 5 years? come on…God is big enough to sustain His ministry in your life through this bump in the road. this isn’t going to take you out..but if you believe that God is sitting up in heaven, wagging His finger at you, rather than understanding His deep love for you as his child THAT my friend will take you out. i am not saying God doesn’t care about tonight, i am saying He does. He cares about YOU in this moment…your heart, your guilt, the pride that let you believe you were past falling…but not in the way that He can’t wait to turn you over His knee and teach you a lesson! confess to Him, really trusting in His character…trust that He wants to scoop you up and dust you off and heal your scraped knees. He wants to set your feet back on the path, not because He is annoyed with your short comings, but because of His great love for you and for the purposes He placed in your life before you took your first breath.’
peter came to mind. the man Jesus called a rock and said the church would be built on….the same rough edged man who had a foul mouth and swift temper. after walking with jesus and seeing miracles and being personally instructed, peter denied christ in the hour of his need. Jesus built the church on a man who talked big, but then cut off someone’s ear and was afraid to even admit he knew Jesus for fear of his own life. that gives me hope. did peter change? yes, but not overnight. not even after three years of living with Jesus in the flesh was he perfect. i am so glad God uses the imperfect.
we got off the phone shortly after talking about peter. ironically enough, my friend’s devotions were about peter earlier in the day. ..another little peice of evidence of God in our late-night-confession-session. i hung up the phone, now fully awake, and the words ran over and over through my mind.
i knew i needed those words as badly as my friend. i have been struggling with some hidden sin. i could say i am not going to name it in this blog so as not to glorify my flesh, but in reality,embarressment and shame and guilt are probably more the reason than any other thing. i have myself been wondering if God could really use me despite my character flaws. i have been thinking about the book shawn and i are doing with world vision and wondering if it would fail so God could teach me a lesson. it sounds dumb, but the fear was there. i had let my guilt lead me into hiding and fear, rather than confession and freedom. i haven’t been believing the truth about God in my own life…you can imagine my surprise when i the words i spoke to my friend urged him/her to think correctly about God!
i found a quote i written in a journal years ago this morning.. “so if to think is the easiest thing in the world, than to think rightly is the hardest” SO TRUE! the world of the mind is a mysterious place…my pastor from home says that if you feel afraid as a believer, its not really your own fear, but you are owning the fear of your enemy, who is always afraid. i had taken my guilt handed it to my enemy and allowed him to beat me down with it.
this morning, i am trying to think rightly. trying to take my own advice.
or perhaps, i should say, the urging of my Father who longs to pick me up, dust me off, touch the broken parts, and set off with me on the path He has prepared for my life.
have a blessed sunday, friends!