How often have we put God in a corner and told Him, “Not now! My life is falling apart and you can’t help me.” Instead of running away from our storms, we should be running to our God. He is our refuge and strength. He will never let the righteous be shaken, so give it all to Him. He’s got this!
I pencil God in on Sundays,
10:15 is when I’m bringing my crew.
I pencil God in on holidays,
It’s the right Christian thing to do.
I pencil God in at bedtime,
Falling asleep before finishing my prayers.
I pencil God in the next morning,
To finish telling Him my worries and cares.
I pencil God in when my life,
Brings me crashing down to my knees.
My mirror breaking into a million shards,
No longer reflecting a life full of peace.
I pencil God in when I’m concerned,
And control no longer seems mine.
I pencil God in when I’m pleased,
And life seems to be going just fine.
I pencil God in when I’m driving,
And a song reaches into my soul.
I belt out and sing of His praises,
My voice wavering out of control.
I pencil God in when it’s convenient,
Or when my mind wanders over to Him.
But my God’s pencil is broken,
His thoughts of me never a whim.
He carries no lead or eraser,
His calendar cleared open and wide.
Waiting for me to turn and see Him,
But my schedule makes me push Him aside.
My pencil is fervently writing,
All that I am required to do.
And time is just too precious,
To sit quietly and listen to His truths.
So the day my pencil slows to a standstill,
And my life is nearer to the end,
Will the moments I scheduled be remembered,
Or the times I introduced Christ to a friend?
Will the deadlines be oh so important,
Or the marks I made when they were complete?
Or the times when I faced my Savior,
While I sat and listened at His feet?
It’s time that I broke my pencil,
Making it look exactly like God’s.
No eraser or lead to speak of,
No appointment getting all of my nods.
I need to look up to my Savior,
Every minute of every day.
And put my life on the path He has chosen,
And throw my calendar away.
2 Corinthians 12:9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness ” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.
It used to be only commercials, magazines, movie stars and the occasional neighbor that made us take a look at our lives and wonder why we couldn’t harness the same perfection that seemingly oozes from their pores.
Now we have social media, and anyone can create the illusion that their life is that amazing. A friend posted about a trip they were planning, and I thought to myself, “Isn’t that their third vacation this year?” It instantly made me revert to the memory of us taking our six kids on vacation a few years back. Our destination was an amusement park in Ohio. We stopped for breakfast and to our horror, the lady from the Waffle House apparently was so proud of the waffle she had just made that she patted it before turning to us and serving it. When we checked into our hotel the night before and headed to our rooms, we walked through tumble weeds of dirt, dust, and debris in the hallway and were greeted with forgotten medication on the floor next to our bed from the previous occupants. Yeah, none of that went on Facebook.
I can’t figure out how people have this much money and time to have so much fun. I feel like I’m dredging along through my work day, running kids to their activities, pretending the dinners I serve on the fly actually do have some nutritional value, and collapsing to watch TV when I should be sleeping because I desperately need some mind numbing time to myself. My beautifully puckered lips or perfect hair day never lands on my social media because frankly, those moments never exist for me. I did post a video of my guinea pig in the pocket of my sweatshirt eating his carrot. I don’t think too many people viewed that post and thought, “Man I wish my life could be like hers,” though.
The thing is, my life is perfect. It’s not perfectly polished without hair-blowing moments or untarnished days, but it’s made perfect through my Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus isn’t asking us to be like our neighbor. He is asking us to be like Him and love our neighbor.
I can celebrate with my friend for going on her fifth vacation in six months because Jesus saved me. I can look at pictures of someone’s freshly installed new wood floors as I scrub the contents of my cats sensitive stomach staining my carpet for the hundredth time because Jesus’ perfection isn’t defined by my flooring. I can walk through a house that has so many stories it reminds me of a wedding cake as I lie my head on my pillow in my small ranch because Jesus says one day, I will be in His house. Jesus doesn’t care about the bow we try to put on our lives to make us look perfect. He only cares about our willingness to humble ourselves and admit that we aren’t perfect by asking for His perfection to cover us. When we see glimmering and shining lives, He sees the real us with our real hurts and issues and no matter how much we cover them, He is there to love us through them.
Perfection is the opposite of what Christ asks us to be. It’s no surprise to Him that we carry dings and bruises, yet how many people avoid church, decide against praying, or won’t talk to that Christian because they feel they are supposed to be “perfect” in order to belong. I remember after falling away from God for a while, I desperately wanted to come back to Him but felt He wouldn’t want me mucking up His church with the sin dripping from my body. I remember during this time period avoiding my Christian friends because I didn’t want to feel their judgmental stares. My life had become a Pinterest fail, and I morphed into Eve hiding in the Garden pretending God couldn’t see me and believing my friends wouldn’t want me. Silly girl.
The enemy uses so many devices, and His greatest weapon is our own desire to be perfect. When we fall from the bar we set for ourselves, he is right there letting us know we will always fall short and God can’t stand losers and failures. He tries to convince us that our unworthiness is now a branded letter on our foreheads and all of the good people can see us coming for miles and miles. We view ourselves as damaged goods and need to be returned to the manufacturer.
The truth is we are all damaged goods. Our DNA was damaged the second the fall occurred and yes, we do need to be returned. We need to have a “return to sender” stamped on us because He is the only one who can fix us! We need to voluntarily put ourselves in that cart behind the counter of Wal-Mart labeled “damaged” because we will be wheeled back to our manufacturer, and we should be grabbing all of the other damaged customers to take along with us. Basically, that would be the whole store but by His supernatural power, we will all fit in the same cart. Some will jump in with us, but some will prefer we just wheel on by them.
The next time the fiery dart of envy tries to aim at your heart just remember, we are made perfect in Christ, and it’s only with Him we should be mirroring our comparison. Our perfection has nothing to do with the beach pictures or perfectly prepared meals we could never fix. I own that my life is a Pinterest fail. That’s what makes me His.
Mathew 18:2-4 (NIV)
2 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
My mom grew up Catholic and had a little prayer book she would take with her to Mass when she was in school. When I was nine, I don’t remember if she gave it to me or I just happened upon it, but it ended up in my possession. How I acquired this prayer book is the only fuzzy part of this memory.
Neither of my parents went to church when they married, so I was never raised in a church. I went to church when I visited my mom’s parents in Long Island, New York, every few years, but that was about it. I remember going with my grandmother and telling her that I thought it was boring. She told me to follow along in the missal so I would know where we were in the service. She thought that would magically make it more interesting for me. I still didn’t get it, and she couldn’t convince me otherwise.
One night while lying in my bed, I opened my mom’s prayer book and started to read its pages. When I did, I felt something. What I felt wasn’t because someone was telling me what I should believe. It wasn’t a building of people telling me how I should worship. It was God in my hands as I laid open His words telling me who He was as I read the prayers to myself. I was bundled up under the covers against the cold Milwaukee winter’s night and held words I had never read before.
Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
These words were strange to me and didn’t roll off my tongue very easily, but I was mesmerized by them. My nine year old brain was asking God, “Did you really write this?” I tried to say it over and over again waiting for it to make sense. The way it read sounded odd, so I decided to change all of the thy’s into the’s. That sounded even worse.
I settled on the fact that God probably knew what He was doing, so I kept it how it was written even though I didn’t fully grasp their meaning.
I looked at that little prayer book the next night as well. By the third night, I had this prayer memorized. I laid my head on the pillow, closed my eyes, and recited these magical words. In my child’s heart, I knew they were important. They must be if God said them.
After a few nights, I felt like I was supposed to do more than just recite the prayer. By this time, I had memorized the Hail Mary as well. Again, I had no idea what I was saying, but the words felt peaceful to me. I had heard them in church when I visited my grandma, so they must be important. I was in awe of how easily they came to me and savored how they sounded.
One thing that confused me when I visited my grandma’s church, though, was while I was there, I felt fearful towards God, but while talking to Him at night, I felt completely calm and peaceful in His presence. I couldn’t rationalize how I could feel so differently about God while attending at my grandma’s church. The reason may have had to do with the formality of their service, or maybe when I acted like myself (a kid) I was hushed and glared upon. Maybe the organ music mournfully bellowing in my ears or the choir’s echoing voices rising straight up and out through the ceiling scared me. I didn’t know why I did—I just did.
I remember lying in my bed and talking to God one evening. By this point we were having conversations, and I was trying to get to know Him. I had my own routine of how I talked to God. In my kid brain, I felt having a routine was important and the honoring thing to do. I was trying to still do church in my head.
I opened up with the “Our Father,” followed by my conversational ramblings about my day, hopes, and fears, and wrapped it all up with the “Hail Mary.” That felt right to me, so that’s what I did. I didn’t ask anyone what I should do or if this was even the correct way. Everything I did was lead by Him, and I can see that clearly now when I look back towards the bedroom I still carry in my memories.
After saying the “Our Father” one night, I worked up the courage to tell God that I wasn’t afraid of Him. I didn’t think I should be afraid of Him and wanted Him to be my friend. This had really been bothering me, and I talked with Him about this for an awfully long time that night. I gave God an out and told Him that He could go on to some other kid’s thoughts if He needed to since I was taking up so much of His time. I didn’t understand about the omnipresence of God, yet. That night, I felt like He stayed with me until the end, though.
He was and is my friend. I’ve wrestled with my faith, I’ve fought against His ways, and I’ve questioned my resolve to follow Him throughout the years, but just as I was a child praying in my bed, I have never felt that God left me to move on to something more important. I feel like He is here still and will stay with me until the end.
He is our Dad, and I am forever grateful He put that prayer book into my hand as a kid. I felt like it was our first introduction: “Crista, this is your Father, Jesus. Jesus, this is your child, Crista.” God found a skinny, awkward nine-year-old girl lying in her bed one night, asked me to follow Him, and I did without giving it a second thought.
Psalm 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you,when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.
Do you dance? Do you dance free-form or prefer the structure of the do-si-do?
I’m more of a free-former. My arms and legs go wherever the music takes me. This probably looked more attractive in my younger years, I’m sure. Even so, it is still my preferred method of moving to the beat.
Sometimes, doesn’t it feel like life is making you dance and you don’t hear any music? I run forward, I step sideways, I curve to the side with my hand on my forehead, and I jump to avoid the holes. I’m unintentionally free-forming, and it’s not a pretty sight.
There have been times recently I have felt like I was on fire for Christ and moving forward in my walk with Him by honoring God with what He was asking me to do, and then I’m clothes-lined staring up at the sky wondering what just happened. I went from marching to Christ’s beat to lying flat on my back. This can be so frustrating.
I have to be reminded still that God didn’t say our roads would be straight without any curves or unexpected hits. Our enemy is keenly aware of which roads we decided to take, and the more we choose the path of Christ, the more clotheslines and camouflaged pits we will encounter along the way.
Ever notice how someone who isn’t walking in the Word doesn’t seem to have as many of these awkward dance moves? Jumping, side-stepping, neck craning, moves? It may appear that way, but it won’t last forever.
I may be lying on my back from Satan who is trying to deter my walk with Christ, but God gave me a friend’s hand recently that helped me back up. I love God’s timing. He let me lie there for a while to learn from this experience before offering me this hand, and I am grateful for both.
We may be awkward dancers on our paths heading toward Heaven, but dancing to the beat of anyone but Christ’s drummer will be a mistake. There are many hands willing to pick you up. Here, take mine. I may need yours someday, too.