Till I Found You

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From my earliest memories, I was a teacher’s pet.  I loved the feeling of answering my teacher’s questions and hearing, “Good job, Kim.  You’re so smart.”  I loved receiving the end-of-year awards, walking with pride across the stage.  I wanted desperately to be admired, to be important, to be valued.

As I grew older, I found my approval in boys.  When I was 13, I had my first boyfriend.  He was just the first in an unending series of boys, one after another, who I thought could fill a void in my life.  Boys made me feel pretty, attractive and valued.

I see now that that void was never meant to be filled by any man or the praises of any man.  I see now that no matter how hard I tried, no matter how good my grades were, or how high my ACT score was – it was never enough.  I could never score high enough to be “enough.”  There was always someone quicker, someone smarter, someone better.  No matter how much of myself I’d give away, no matter how hard I tried to please the guy I was with at any given moment – it was never enough.  There was always someone prettier, someone funnier, someone better.

Till I found Jesus.  Jesus loved me just the way I was, and He loves me now for just who I am.  I don’t have to try harder, do more, or be better.  I don’t have to “make Him like me.”  God has already demonstrated His immense love for me, in that while I was STILL a sinner, He sent His own son, Jesus Christ, to die for me. (Romans 5:8).  Jesus deeply values me, paying the price for my sins by His own death on the cross.

This, friends, is love.  This is love.  This is true love.  This is love without conditions.  This is love that truly is unending, unfailing and forever.  It began before I was born, and it will continue even after I’ve left this earth.

And do you know what’s even more incredible?  This love isn’t just available to me. It’s available to YOU.

You don’t have to be the smartest or the prettiest.  You don’t have to be better at all.  This love isn’t only available to “the few, the proud, the Marines.” It’s available to you.

Jesus doesn’t just love ME, friend.  He loves YOU.  And He longs for you to love Him back.

I’ll leave you with a song by Phil Wickham that has me in tears, “Till I Found You.”

Counting your Blessings

“Count your blessings, name them one by one.  Count your many blessings, see what God has done.”

When my oldest two children were preschoolers, we’d drive around town in our Toyota van singing along with catchy Christian children’s songs, like this one.  This idea of “counting my blessings” has further been encouraged by the current gratitude journal craze, where I’m encouraged to number out the blessings of my day.

So, I begin.  “Thank you, God, for mymany blessings …”

1. Jesus

2. Bill

3. Emily

4. Nick

5. Noelle

6. Daniel

But, wait, there’s something missing from this list … or, rather, someone missing.  In fact, two names are missing from this list.

Where are my two babies who died before they were born?  Where is my “baby #1,” miscarried just months after we were married?  Where is my son, Tommy, born still 20 years ago today?  Why aren’t their names on this list?  Why is it so easy for me to skip over their names when I’m counting my blessings? I know that the scriptures tell me to “rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18a). So, what should I do?

I choose to make myself look up with eyes open wide for God’s hand carrying me through each day. I choose to look ahead, looking forward to the coming rewards like Moses who “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:26).  Like Hebrews 11:6, “without faith it is impossible to please [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”

These coming rewards may take the form of earthly blessings, like Job being blessed with more cattle and more children after he’d lost them all.  Or they may take the form of heavenly rewards, like those referred to in 1 Corinthians 3:14.  Or they may take the form of greater faith and confidence in God, like James 1:2-3, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.”  We may not “count it all joy” for the trials, so much as finding joy for the result of them.

I, for one, know that my faith has grown deeper and stronger because of Tommy’s untimely death. That baby’s short life — and painful death — began a new trajectory in my life.  I wanted Heaven to be real more desperately than ever before.  I watched for God’s hand in my daily life more than ever before.  I searched the scriptures because they were bread for my soul, like never before.

Look up, look forward and look back.  God is with you.  Look for him.  Keep your eyes wide open and see Him work!  God is keeping count of your tears in a bottle. (Psalm 56:8 ESV).  He has not forgotten you.  “Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.” (Isaiah 49:15-16a ESV)

Let me leave you with two songs.  “Counting Every Blessing” by Rend Collective; and “Blessings” by Laura Story

For more, check out my website at www.AChildofPromise.org

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Foundational … or Conditional?

I’ve been working through Kelly Hall’s excellent study guide, “Courageous Faith.” Today I’m pondering this question: “Is my faith FOUNDATIONAL or CONDITIONAL?” Kelly writes, “Foundational faith believes God’s character remains unchanged regardless of our changing circumstances.”

Today I choose to put my faith in God even when it’s hard, when the days are long and my prayers are not answered immediately. I believe that God is real, that He exists and that He knows me. I believe that He will never leave me or forsake me. I believe that He is able to do more than I can ask or imagine.

How about you? How can I pray for you? Are you struggling today to believe that God sees you, hears you and knows your every innermost need? How can you choose today to make your faith foundational, rather than conditional?
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