In Part 2, we finished looking at the 1st of 4 steps in jump-starting your relationship with Jesus.
It can be a difficult thing to fully Analyze Your Friendship with Jesus, and it is the most time-consuming of the 4 steps. We previously looked at Signs of a Bad Friend and Signs of a Good Friend in order for us to be more honest about our relationship.
I’m going to be brutally honest with you…I’m not sure I have always been the most compassionate mother of all time, or even of any time. When my kids were little – and I have three – I mastered a course in How Not to Hear Your Children’s Voices. It was included in a much bigger educational catalog that I completed as part of the PhD I received in the Life of a Working Mother. Some of the prerequisites for my particular degree include:
(Please understand, this series of articles is designed for the born-again believer. If you are not already saved, the only way you can jump-start your relationship is by accepting Him as your Savior.)
Recently, a lady in my Sunday School class shared that someone had told her not to take little things to Jesus. Jesus isn’t to be bothered with little things. He has too much to do. My first thoughts were that Jesus is supposed to be our friend. He wants a relationship with us. Do you only talk to your friends about the “big” things in your life? What a bizarre perspective! My real friends and I talk about everything. Silly things, things that don’t matter, things that make us happy, scary things, big things, medium-sized things, and yeah…little things. If a person only talked to me about the big things in their life, I have to say, I don’t think I’d really consider them a friend. That’s weird. We wouldn’t really have a relationship.
Right now, I want you to think of the most beautiful wedding you have ever attended or seen pictures of. Maybe it was your own, but for me…I always picture the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana.
Abide in me, and I in you.
There are many lessons in John 15, as is the case in all of Jesus’ teaching. Something came to me in such a profound way today from it. It was something I’ve been struggling with for several months now. I felt I had a really good understanding of what the Lord was trying to teach me, yet there seemed to be something missing. Like I wasn’t quite done with it yet. Today…I got it, and I wanted to share it with you, because that’s what I do. I want everyone to know how good our God is, and I know there is someone somewhere who can relate to my experience. So…let me back up just a bit.
I secretly loved being scared when I was a kid. We’d watch the old monster movies – Frankenstein, Dracula, The Mummy, Werewolf – they were awesome, and provided just enough fear to give you a thrill. When I got a little older, the movies got a little scarier. To get to my best friend Julie’s house, I had to travel down a stretch of road where some large, old trees hovered over the street. There were very few street lights in this part of town, and it was pretty eerie. Julie and I were always a bit apprehensive about traversing this stretch to reach the house at the end of our destination – if it was dark. At some point, we convinced ourselves that we were perfectly safe…as long as we didn’t hear the theme music from Friday the 13th. You know…the dreaded, “Che che che che che. Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.”
Not every lesson my mother tried to teach me went the way she planned. One such time happened when I was about 15 years old. Mom called my little sister, Mary (who was 12 at the time), and I into the room and told us to sit down…she wanted to have a talk with us. I remember vividly, my mind racing back and forth, wondering what in the world she wanted to talk to us about. Had something happened? Was someone sick? What is going on? It was a bit odd to say the least.
One of my favorite times in church as a child, is when we would sing songs in our Sunday school. Often, we would perform one as a special for the congregation before the preaching service began. These children’s church songs usually had hand gestures or other body movements to go along with the words, signifying the ideas in the verses. I particularly loved, This Little Light of Mine. The version we sang went like this:
I was raised near the South Canadian River in a small town in Oklahoma. My family spent a lot of time on that river, noodling and swimming and searching for morels. I have always understood the power of its raging waters after the spring floods. A fact that was made all too clear to me when my brother, Robin, took me with him one day to hunt for arrowheads. There had just been a heavy rain, and he knew this was a great time to find them. Farmers had just plowed their fields for the spring planting, and the rain would help expose any treasure we sought.
The word “passion,” as most people know it today, comes from a French word associated with a state or outburst of intense feelings. However, the word is also associated with the final hours of Jesus’ life on earth. That “passion” stems from Latin and means suffering or enduring. It is most definitely what Christ did. He suffered more than we care to imagine. The passion of Christ begins with His time in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He began to really feel the heavy burden of what He must do, through His death on the cross. Jesus suffered so many things in those last hours: the betrayal of Judas, abandonment and denial by His disciples, arrest, trials, mockery, shame, and torture. These things He endured voluntarily.
I saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time when I was about 3 years old. The movie had a powerful impact on me. I was mesmerized by it. I loved the singing, adventure, and friendships. So many scenes captivated me. I remember being very upset when Dorothy was trapped in the witch’s castle and the hour glass was almost empty. I was crying from fear she was going to die. I also cried, a time after this, when I watched The Cowboys and John Wayne was killed. I thought he was really dead. It was a relief to learn we don’t really kill people in movies; they’re just acting. So many things about The Wizard of Oz impacted my life, including the overarching theme: there’s no place like home.
More than 15 years ago now, I spent many days in a hospital room taking care of my mother when her time on earth was coming to an end. I slept in the bed beside her, fed her, bathed her, washed her hair, helped her brush her teeth, massaged her neck, talked to her, watched over her, and tried to comfort her during her pain and confusion. The emotions we all experienced during this time ran the gamut. My mother had not gone into this hospital to die. It was just another step in the process of getting her better, or so we thought. None of us, me or my three siblings, misunderstood the severity of the cancer that ravaged her body. Yet we were slow to accept the truth about how little time she had left. The reality of that fact would weigh heavier on me than anything I had ever faced before. So heavy, I all but crumbled beneath it.
This past summer, my husband and I went on a little vacation, and by that I mean I went with him to work for a few days. He travels a lot with his job. We spent a couple of those days in Kansas City and were able to attend a Royals baseball game. We hadn’t been anywhere in quite a while, and even though it was a “working holiday”, I was pretty excited about getting to spend time with my husband and laying out at the hotel pool while he worked. The day we departed, he asked if there was anything particular I wanted to do while we were in Kansas City. I had been wanting to go to the IKEA that had opened there for a while so I told him about that. He didn’t really know what IKEA was and thought this was a questionable request. No more was said about IKEA for the next two days, and I figured by his dismissive response earlier that we would not be making a visit.
Several years ago, I had a profound experience with a young lady who was a student of mine at the time. I have known this girl since she was in kindergarten. She is the same age as my youngest daughter, Autumn, and they have always been friends. Her mother is also a dear friend of mine. Through the years, I’ve watched her grow and face all the challenges that many young people face, including the loss of her father while still in elementary school. Almost anyone looking at her from the outside would never know things in her life have ever been anything but rose petals and sunshine. She was always cute and bubbly, and had a million dollar smile. That just speaks to the power of her Faith, and is part of her testimony for the Lord.
Forrest & Jenny, Woody & Buzz, Sherlock & Watson, and Thelma & Louise. These are some of the most famous best friends of all time. But how does one acquire a best friend? Friends come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. They are born as your sister or cousin, or made from complete strangers. My sister, Mary, and I are very close, and true friends. Aside from my sister, I have a dear friend who is also my sister-in-Christ and we go to the same church. But growing up, my best friend was a little girl with blonde hair. She was sweet and kind, and she had a little sister about the same age as mine. I remember the first time I saw her. It was the first day of kindergarten. I was already in the classroom. I looked up, and she was coming through the doorway with her mother. Her hair was up in doggy ears, and I knew immediately that we would be best friends.
Christmas is just such an awesome time! The whole world seems to transform into a more wonderful place when it’s infected by the Christmas spirit. There’s all the beautiful lights, spending time with family, decorating the tree, Christmas music, yada yada yada. People just seem so much happier and friendlier during this time of year. (For the most part).
Woman, why are you weeping?
Woman, who are you seeking?
A broken heart, life in despair
A joyful heart, my teacher’s here
Go tell the brethren, so they will know
That I was here, and I must go
To our FATHER, ascending high
To our LORD’s, sweet bye and bye
Before I go, remember this
Feed my sheep, is what I wish
Remember all I’ve shown to be
Faith, Hope, and Love, a gift from me
If I worked all day, every day, for the rest of my life, it would never be enough. I, in my imperfection, my sin, my absolute ‘humanness’ could never do enough. No matter how pure my intentions, or how true my heart, I can never reach this pinnacle I thought I had to reach in order to be able to serve the Lord. I can’t wait until I’ve finally reached this level of Nirvana, that does not exist, to serve God. I have to serve Him now.
It’s Your breath in our lungs,
So we pour out our praise,
We pour out our praise.
Great Are You Lord!
These words from one of my favorite praise and worship songs pretty much sums up how I feel this Thanksgiving. I fall on my knees in praise of the Lord, thanking Him for all He has blessed me with. I will thank the Lord with all my heart; I will declare all Your wonderful works. Psalm 9:1 Many could look at my life and ask why would I thank Him. That always makes me grin just a little because I realize they just don’t get it. Then it makes me sad because I realize, they just don’t get it. Whatever you have been dealt in life, you cannot forget that God is still on the throne, and everything is part of His great plan. Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7