Dear Betrayed (from Someone Who Loves You series)

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Three shots in my legs! Three! How could you let her do that to me? I thought you loved me.

Dear Betrayed,

I know you felt betrayed but I never left you. I heard your cries and cried right along with you. I know you’re not able to understand why I allowed this pain into your life, and I’m sorry that it was necessary in this bug filled world. But by allowing this temporary pain, I have given you greater protection from much worse and longer lasting pain in the future. It’s OK for you not to understand. It’s OK for you to cry and get mad. Just know that, since you belong to me, there is always a purpose for any pain I allow in your life. And that all I do, I do out of love for you.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

 

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)   17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

1 Peter 1:6-7 (NIV)  though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

 

 

Do you hear God speaking to you in these letters? If so, it’s no coincidence.  As I write to my new granddaughter, I can hear God speaking to me. And my prayer is that you can also hear Him speaking to you for He loves us even more than I love my granddaughter.

Dear Brave One, (from Someone Who Loves You Series)

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Dear Brave One,

It’s so hard to watch you hurt as you struggle to grow. Your face all red and grimacing reveals the battle going on inside you. Your body is fighting to get rid of the things that don’t belong in there. Be strong, Little One, and let them go. I know it hurts sometimes but you don’t need them.  And you will feel so much better once they are gone. Can you feel my hand on your back, supporting and encouraging you? Probably not, but that’s OK. I’m here whether you know it or not. I’m not going anywhere.

Always,

Someone who loves you

 

Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

These letters have double meaning. On the surface they are letters I’m writing to my new granddaughter. But deeper down I hear God telling us the same things.  As you reread them, replace the greeting with your own name, and the closure with God’s name – and get to know the great love God has for you!

Don’t Get Too Close to the Fence

“Where are you going, Kevin?” she asked, holding on to his leash and trying not to be pulled by his strong legs. “You need to come back here.”

But Kevin had seen something that caught his attention and he was determined to investigate it.

“Stop, Kevin! Don’t get too close to that fence! It will hurt you!”

But whether he didn’t hear or didn’t understand, he ignored the warning and continued running towards the object of his interest, which happened to be on the other side of the fence.

“Kevin! Stop! You’re too close! Come back!” she yelled, trying desperately to pull back on the leash. But he was too determined and did his best to keep going.

He saw the fence, but he had seen fences before. No big threat. He could get past that. But as soon as his nose touched it, he found out different. This fence was NOT like the others. This one bit!

Terrified, he took off, his broken leash dangling behind him, across the large yard and up the long driveway as if he was never going to stop running. He had to get as far away from that fence as he could.

“Kevin, come back!” she called out. “You’re heading for the street!”

But this time terror prevented him from hearing anything. When he got to the top of the driveway, before turning to run down the street, he paused. Did he hear something? Yes, he could hear her voice calling him. Coming from a long way away, it was soft, but somehow loud enough to break through his terror.

He watched her a few minutes as she continued to call to him.

“Come on, boy. It’s OK. Come back to me.” she called gently, crouching down in an inviting position.

Not sure, he just stood there. He still didn’t understand what had happened. How did a fence hurt that bad? And why was it there in the first place? All he wanted to do was check out something on the other side.

But what he did understand was that this girl loved him and could protect him. And he loved her. So he ran to her as fast as he could and hid behind her. And there, he was determined to stay.

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Photo by Lum3n.com on Pexels.com

Sometimes Muddy Water is a Good Thing

 

Emotions churned inside her as she bowed before the Lord in prayer.

“Jesus, I don’t know what’s happening inside me. It’s such a mess. And I don’t even know why. Everything seems to be going well right now – job, family, health. So why all this turmoil?”

“Just a little cleaning up.”

She frowned, not understanding. How can cleaning up make her feel bad? She thought about it for a while. What exactly WAS she feeling? So many emotions all mixed up inside her. Pain and confusion from her teen years that still plagued her. Doubts that she was actually hearing from God and that it wasn’t just her imagination, and fear that she would lead others wrong as she began speaking out for Him.  Depression that seemed to cling to her no matter how hard she tried to fight it.  Very low self-esteem, more like no self-esteem.  The list seemed endless. She struggled to put a name to it.

“Muddy water.”

Muddy water?

She thought of her small garden pond. She enjoyed going outside to sit by it each day and watch the fish swim around. The pond looked beautiful – clear shiny water with green flowering plants growing in and around it. From time to time she would add a little water to compensate for the water that had evaporated.

She remembered a time she had not gone outside to the pond for several weeks. When she had finally made it there, she had been dismayed to find the water level to be as low IMG_20180510_000206722as it was. So she had taken the hose and watched as the water refilled the pond. Almost immediately the clear water had gotten cloudy as the running water churned up the dirt that had settled at the bottom.  Within minutes she could see leaves and pine straw swirling around in the very muddy water. Yuck. She decided to keep the water flowing and as the water flowed over the top, it had taken the mud, leaves and pine straw with it until all that had remained was clear clean water. Her pond was beautiful again, only this time it wasn’t hiding a bunch of dirt and debris at the bottom.

She made the connection. She might look good on the outside, but deep inside her heart,  a lot of dirt and debris had settled over time. Jesus had turned on the hose in her heart, filling her to overflowing with living water!

Amazed at the way He helped her understand, she thanked Him for the work He was doing. It might not look so good at the moment, she thought, but when He gets done, my heart will be clean and clear and truly beautiful!

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really Part 2

She turned around slowly and two men with warm smiles on their faces. The older man was tall, average weight, and thinning gray hair. The other man was younger with dark hair and eyes.

“Umm..” she started to stammer not having any idea how to explain her presence.

“Can we help you?” asked the younger man.

Shaking her head, she looked past them to the door. Seeing her look, the older man chuckled.  “No need to worry, We won’t hurt you.” He walked over to her with his hand outstretched. “Hi. I’m the Pastor here. You can call me Toby. This here is my son, Jude. We’re actually glad you’re here.”

“Um… sorry for intruding. I just needed a place to hide.”

“You won’t find a safer place. Would you like to take a walk with us? We were just heading out to the lake.”

Lake? Here, in the city? Confused, she followed them down the hallway. They passed  several closed doors before Toby opened the one at the end of the hall.

“No way!” she thought as she saw what was on the other side of that door.

It opened into a large garden full of colorful blooming flowers, luscious green grass, and mighty fruit-bearing trees of every kind. A dirt path wound its way through the garden exiting at the far end. And in the distance, she could see the blue glint of water. Where in the world was she?

Toby and Jude chatted as they walked, trying to draw her in by asking her questions. They asked about her job and family as well as her concerns, cares, and dreams. Not wanting to reveal the sadness inside her – being a preacher and preacher’s son, they would be sure to try to “fix” her – she covered her feelings by answering flippantly. They didn’t seem to notice her tone, and were intensely interested in everything she said and even seem to care about everything that concerned her.

They arrived at the lake and climbed out onto a pier that jutted out over the water. IMG_20180504_145142154Sitting down, they were all quiet as they drank in the peaceful beauty of the place. Bella began relaxing as the peace soaked into her wounded soul. She had never experience as much love and acceptance from anyone as she was feeling from Toby and Jude.

After a long while, Toby turned to Bella and said, “Why don’t you tell me all about it. Just start at the beginning.”

Still covering her feelings, she continued to be flippant. “What beginning? When I was born beginning?”

Toby looked at Bella for a long minute, then said quietly, “Start at Disneyworld.”

Bella paled. Trembling, she asked, “How did you know about Disneyworld?”

“It’s my job, my gift.”

“My sisters were molested in Disneyworld. I might have been too because I was there. I can’t remember. All I know is something isn’t right inside me.”

She tried to listen to Toby as he began talking but her feelings were overwhelming her and she couldn’t hear anything but fear and doubt and condemnation. Eventually Toby’s words began to get through to her as he spoke louder and louder. When they were loud enough to drown out all her thoughts, she caught his eye and said, “OK, I can hear you. You’re preaching!”

He smiled and said, “Yes, I tend to do that.”

“I think we should leave now,” she said, wanting to avoid any more discussion.

“Sure, if you want to.” They stood up.

“I’m glad I chose to hide in your church,” she said as they walked back towards the church. “This is a good place.”

“I’m glad you accepted my invitation,” he answered. “You’re welcome to stay as long as you like.”

“Thanks, but I’m fine. I need to go.” As much as she loved being there, she was also uncomfortable. If he knew about Disneyworld, how much more did he know?

“As you will. But just know that you’re welcome back anytime. We’ll always be  here.”

They escorted her through the house and back into the foyer. Reluctantly she waved goodbye and went out the front door. She didn’t know why she was drawn to this place that both refreshed and terrified her. But she knew one day she’d be back.  And when she did, she knew Toby and Jude would be waiting for her with open arms.

 

This story, based on a dream I had years ago, is designed as an allegory. Here are a few analogies you can find in it.

The sidewalk was crowded with people – most going about their business, some feeling lost, and a few trying to connect with other people. Life is crowded with people also. Most are going about their business, not really paying attention to those around them. Some people feel lost in this world. And a few people try to connect with others to share God’s love.

Bella was surrounded by people and ended up getting hurt but chose to be in denial about how serious it was. We live in a world surrounded by people and will eventually get hurt. Many of us also tend to live in denial of the pain we have rather than allow someone else close enough to help us. At least I know I do.

The church was bigger on the inside than it looked on the outside, and contained a beautiful garden and lake. The spiritual world, heaven, is much bigger and more beautiful than it appears to those on the outside.

Bella found refuge in the home of Toby and Jude. We find refuge in God the Father and Jesus the Son.

Toby and Jude were intensely interested in everything Bella said, and cared about all her concerns.  God is intensely interested in us and cares about everything we care about.

Toby knew about the pain Bella felt deep in her soul, regardless of how flippant she tried to sound. God knows the pain deep inside us no matter what we do to try to cover it.

Even though Toby and Jude wanted Bella to stay, she was free to come and go as she pleased. We have the same freedom in God. He desires us to stay with Him all the time, but won’t force us.

 

Now your turn. Does this story relate to your life in any way? What are some other analogies you can see?

I’m Not Hurt, Not Really, Part 1

The sidewalk was crowded as Bella made her way down the street. As she walked, she watched the people. Most of the people were not paying attention to anyone else as they hurried to their destinations, not even slowing down as they bumped into fellow travelers. A few people were looking around, lost in the sea of bodies. Even fewer were the people who were actually smiling and trying to make contact with anyone who looked at them.

Bella felt alone in that crowd of people. Everyone, or at least most of them, seemed to know what they were doing and where they were going. Bella knew neither. Full of sadness that she didn’t understand, she walked through the throng trying to avoid being bumped and jostled.

Bam! Without warning, she was knocked flat to the ground.

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“Hey, are you OK?” Bella looked up to see a lady rushing towards her.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She said, trying to brush the lady off. She didn’t need anyone’s help. But as she tried to stand, pain burst through her right hip. She looked down and saw that her entire right side was blood red.

“You ARE hurt,” the lady exclaimed, leaning over her. “Stay down. I’m going to call for an ambulance.” The lady touched her cell phone and groaned, “My battery’s dead. I’ll go find a phone. Be right back” and ran off towards a nearby store.

Bella didn’t wait for her to come back. She didn’t want her help. She was sure she was OK. Maybe a bit bruised but nothing to make a fuss over. Not near as bad as the pain inside her. She managed to get on her feet and began limping in the other direction to avoid the lady seeing her. Up ahead was a church. Perfect. she could hide in there. She really didn’t want to deal with that lady’s insistence that she needed help.

As she limped towards the church, she noticed her limp was getting less pronounced. See, she thought with justification, I’m fine.

Opening the front door to the church, she was surprised at how big it was. Much bigger IMG_20180504_145124393on the inside than it looked on the outside. She was in a large foyer. Several tables were scattered around, most with pieces of paper on them. There were signs   directing church goers to the bathrooms and exits. And in the center stood an indoor fountain. As she limped towards the fountain, she noticed several doors along the back wall. Thinking they might provide a better place to hide, she tried them. The first door went into the kitchen. She peered inside. Empty. She could hide here, but no, it was too close to the door and if that lady had seen her enter the church, it would be the first place she’d look. Bella needed to go deeper into the church.

Opening another door, Bella saw a long hallway with many more doors. Even though she wasn’t limping as much as she did at first, her hip still hurt and she didn’t feel up to trying a bunch more doors that may or may not provide a suitable hiding place. So she closed that door and opened the third door. It looked like a living room. The preacher’s private quarters? She didn’t see anyone so she decided to sneak in there to hide. If she was quiet enough, no one would know she was there. And maybe she would be lucky enough to find a back door leading to a different street where that nosy lady wouldn’t think to look.

As she made her way slowly across the living room she noticed there was indeed a doorway in the back. It looked like it led into a hallway. She shifted her course slightly and headed towards it. Just before she got there, she heard a voice.

“Well, hello there!”

She froze in her tracks. Should she make a run for it? But she was already across the room from the door, and there was no telling where the hall would lead.

To be continued.

You Want to Be a What?

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She looked at him with disbelief. Did he just say what she thought he had said?

“But what about us?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” he answered. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

She wasn’t happy. More than that, she was hurt. After months of getting to know each other, they were inseparable. She spent most weekends with his family to be close to him. And, when he could, he traveled the hour distance to her house to surprise her. She had even begun thinking this might lead to marriage one day. And now this!

“It’s not like I’m leaving tomorrow,” he continued. “We can still spend time together.”

“Doing what? Are we allowed to even hold hands anymore?”

“I don’t know,” he repeated.

She tried to sort through all the feelings flowing through her. Hurt was way up there on the list, along with a feeling of betrayal. She had finally begun to open up to someone, and now God was taking him away from her.

“How do you know He’s really calling you to do this?” she asked him.

“I prayed about it with a friend. He saw me pulling at a white collar around my neck. I think that means God wants me to go to seminary, but not immediately. He wants me to relax first.”

“What does that even mean – relax first?”

“It means to not worry about it right now.”

“That may be fine with you, but what about me? How do I date a future priest? Do we hold hands? Kiss? That just seems wrong.”

“I don’t know. Let’s just take this one day at a time.”

They parted, neither of them happy, and both wrapped in their own thoughts.

All the way home she thought about what he had said. A priest? Him? Now? Was this some kind of game God was playing with their hearts? If it had been another girl that was threatening their relationship, she could fight. But fight God? How does anyone fight God?

“Lord,” she finally prayed, “I don’t know why You’re doing this. But I know you love us and want what’s best for us. So although I don’t understand, and really don’t like it, I will trust You.”

Trust is one thing, she thought. But the pain is another. And this pain isn’t going anywhere.

The following days were hard as she tried to wrap her head around what God may be doing and what her place in it was. It seemed mean for Him to bring them together, only to separate them. She struggled to maintain her trust in God through the waves of pain, betrayal, sadness, loss, confusion, and anger that flooded her.

A few nights later, as she cried her way through her prayers yet again, she sought a word from the Lord, something to comfort her or to give her hope. But she heard nothing.

“Fine, Lord,” she finally said. ” The most important thing is that You are pleased with me in all this so if this is what You want, then so be it.”

He smiled at her, understanding in His eyes.

“That doesn’t help,” she told Him. “I was really hoping that You’d say it was just a test, that I passed and I could have him back.”

He just continued smiling at her and she knew He knew what He was going to do and He wasn’t going to change His mind. And He wasn’t going to tell her either.

Well then, maybe she wasn’t ready to hear those plans. Maybe she didn’t want to hear those plans. Maybe she should just ignore this whole thing, pretend it didn’t happen and just keep on dating this might-be-a-priest guy. After all, he did say God had told him to relax. And God wasn’t telling her anything.

“OK, Lord,” she said. “I know You’re going to be amazing in all this, but if You won’t tell me anything, and he doesn’t feel we need to change anything at this point, then I’m going to keep dating him until You take him or say otherwise.”

And so she did. Or tried to.

to be continued

Let the Cramping Begin

“We’re back!” they said with evil glee.

“Oh no!” she said. “Not now! The kids are here and there’s no one to cover for me! Can’t you just skip me this month?”

“Um, nope. We’re here.”

“Then come back later, after the kids have gone home.”

“Aw… one would think you didn’t like us,” they said, pretending to be hurt.

“I don’t. You’re timing is terrible.”

“Nah, we think now is a good time.”

All that Friday morning, as she took care of the kids she babysat in her home, she could feel her abdomen tightening in anticipation of the intense pain that usually accompanied these visitors each month. And she could hear them taunting her.

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“It’s going to be bad this time.”

“You’re going to scare the kids when you get sick right in front of them.”

“Feel that? It’s only going to get worse!”

“You may as well as give up. We’re going to be here a long time.”

At noon, she took some pain reliever and prayed, “Jesus, please bless these pills and make them work for me.”

“No! Not the pills!” they cried in mock horror. Then they scornfully laughed at her. “Those pills can’t even begin to touch what we have in store for you today.”

After settling the kids down for their naps, she sat down and held her abdomen. I don’t know what to do, she thought. What will happen if I can’t take care of the kids when they wake? And what about the after-school kids coming later this afternoon?

A small thought made its way into her brain. “You don’t know what to do, but you know Someone who does.”

Of course! Why didn’t she think of that sooner? She placed one hand flat on her abdomen and raised the other hand towards her Healer.

“Wait! What are you doing?” they asked nervously. She had not done that before and it looked a lot like a prayer position to them.

“Just watch,” she responded.

Then she closed her eyes and began speaking. “Jesus, Lord of all creation, You made me and You know how my body works. Please hold back these cramps from me while the kids are here. And while I attend the football game tonight. After that, it doesn’t matter. If the cramps have to happen, I’ll be able to spend the day in bed tomorrow with them.”

Then after a moment, she added, “But I can’t promise not to complain or ask You to take them again if You allow them back.”

“That won’t work. He doesn’t care about a little bit of cramping,” they jeered.

“He cares about everything I care about.”

“Your prayers don’t always work. They’re not going to work this time either.”

“That’s up to God. I trust Him to take care of me.”

“Not if we have anything to say about it,” they said as they became more active – pulling and pushing and twisting inside her.

Finally, she couldn’t stand it any longer and decided to lay down to see if that would help.

“That’s right,” they said. “Get ready for some fireworks! We’re just getting warmed up!”

Their taunts grew louder as her cramps intensified.

“You’re going to get so sick, you won’t be able to take care of the kids.”

“Yeah, they’re going to get up and destroy your house.”

“And maybe ever get hurt.”

“And then their parents are going to be so angry you took a nap and neglected their precious children that they will never bring their kids to you again. You will lose everything!”

And they laughed their evil laughs, enjoying their own imaginations.

“Jesus,” she began.

“Oh no! She’s praying again. Let’s see if He hears her this time.”

“I don’t know why these cramps are still here. I place them in Your hands. Please don’t let me fall asleep as I lay here.”

“No problem,” they laughed at her as if she was speaking to them. “You’re going to be hurting too much to fall asleep.”

“Thank You, Lord,” she continued. “Thank You for these cramps, for they show me that my body is working.”

“That’s a new one,” they said as they looked at each other. “This can’t be good.”

As she prayed, she kept her thoughts on Jesus, on what He’s done for her in the past and what He will do for her in the future. She began to doze.

They looked with bewilderment at each other. Something was happening. Something they hadn’t experienced with her before. They were shrinking right before their own eyes!

A little while later, she roused.  After making sure the kids were still sleeping, she checked on the cramps.  She couldn’t feel them. Were they gone? How could that be? Every month in the past, they would hang around for a day or two. How could they be gone in just thirty minutes?

“We’re not gone!” they yelled. “We’re still here!”

“Oh. Right. But I can barely feel you. You’re too little to do much. Jesus sure took care of you!”

“Just wait until next month. We’ll be back!”

“Bring it on. Jesus will still be here next month!”

And she spent the rest of the day singing praises to her amazing Healer-God!