Hide And Seek With God?

Did you like to play hide & seek when you were a kid? It’s fun for little ones when someone covers their eyes in front of us then uncovers with a cry of “peek-a-boo!”. Before long we encourage our playmate with “Again! Again!”. While the game is simple and great fun it also builds a trust within a relationship, showing kids that while their loved one may hide for a minute they are never truly far away.

In backyards all across America kids young and old challenge friends to hide around the yard or in the house while someone counts down the moments until they seek them out and see who was the most successful with their hiding place. These games too have a sense of security in knowing that our friend is going to seek us out, reunite with us and continue the game.

Sadly for most of us the time comes when we begin hiding because we don’t want to be found. Maybe for children it’s something as simple as eating a cookie we weren’t supposed to or breaking a toy that belongs to a sibling. When my little dog knows she’s going to have a bath she tries to hide under a table or behind a living room chair so I won’t make her go through with it.

I make light of it, but hiding can be more serious. When danger or ethics are involved hiding can seem like a solution but ultimately makes things worse. If we hide from a problem that we need help with we rob ourselves of a better life. If we hide something we’ve done wrong instead of admitting it we are often led to more and more lies and deception to continue covering our tracks. When we are eventually found out (and we always are) the consequences become much worse than if we had owned up to it in the first place.

Have you ever tried to hide from God? 

If you have you’re in good company since the first people God created tried to hide from Him. Adam and Eve had it good. No, actually they had it great! God created a garden just for them where everything was perfect. They never had to work. All the good food they could imagine was provided to them, and their environment was indescribable. The best part was that every day they walked and talked with God. Yet Adam and Eve chose to do the one thing God told them not to, and then they were ashamed. And afraid. They tried to hide from God. But they could not. God knew where they were and He knew why they were hiding. And He loved them anyway. Sure He sent them from the Garden of Eden but He didn’t leave them. He disciplined them, but was with them and loved them even though they disobeyed and tried to hide from Him.

There are plenty of examples in the bible of people who tried to hide from God. Many returned to Him, some did not. But there are just as many examples of men and women who sought God out and tried their best to obey Him. And that is what God truly desires from us.

I love those who love me, 
   and those who seek me find me.                                                                                                         Proverbs 8:17

God knows we’re going to fail Him. Since no one is perfect except for Jesus we will all sin at times in our lives. The difference is how we react when we do sin. Do we try to hide from God and act as though it never happened, or do we seek God out, ask His forgiveness and move forward, walking with Him again? I think our humanness may incline us to try to hide, but if we fight that inclination and turn towards God instead of away from Him we will find a great reward. For God promises…

You will seek me and find me                                                                                                           when you seek me with all your heart.                                                                                       Jeremiah 29:13

Are you hiding from God in any area of your life right now? 

Is He asking you to serve Him in a way you aren’t sure you’re ready for?

Maybe He’s asking you to show love to someone you really can’t in your own strength.

If so, please consider coming out of hiding and calling at the top of your voice, “OVER HERE!! I’M OVER HERE!! COME AND FIND ME!”

I am certain He will!

blessings & peace to you…

Paula

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…as you love yourself

“Love your neighbor as yourself”. An oft quoted verse from the bible ~ actually a commandment cited by Jesus in Matthew 22 as second only to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.”

When I think of this commandment my first thought is to ask myself whether or not I am being selfish in my own life. Am I giving to others as I am giving to myself? Do I spend more time considering the needs of others than feeding my own desires?

I believe it is healthy and appropriate to ask these questions and to examine our lives to eliminate selfishness and poor attitudes toward others. But I have also been struck by the “what if” in this verse.

What if we don’t love ourselves?

Every neighborhood is filled with hurting people. Too many people don’t even like themselves, forget loving. Some people look in the mirror and detest what they see there. Others have never known true love in their lives. Beat down by words or actions from childhood, all they know is criticism, never praise or acceptance. When there is no example of love in our lives it is difficult to know how to love others.

The challenge I have when I encounter someone who is difficult to love is to not react but to realize. I need to realize that I don’t know what’s going on in that person’s life and I don’t know what is making them act in a certain way. Maybe they’ve had a really difficult day and the way I respond to them could make the difference between whether the day continues to go downhill or takes a turn for the better.

There is a phrase that has become sort of cliché in Christian circles of what would Jesus do? While perhaps this saying can seem tired and overused the reality is that applying it to our lives can make a real impact…for us and those around us. If before responding to others we stop to think about what Jesus would say or how He would act toward the person we encounter we may swallow a sharp retort or adjust the expression on our face and make a bigger impact than we know.

If you are hurting today I want to encourage you that God knows your hurt and wants to show you how to love yourself. He loves you regardless of how you look, how much you weigh, and whether or not you are “successful” by the world’s standards. He already knows all about you and loves you for all you are, the good and the bad.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; 
I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.                                               Jeremiah 31:3

With our human eyes and brain it can be difficult to see how God can love each of us with all of our shortcomings. But whether we understand it or not, He does. God is just waiting for us to cry out to Him and release all of our feelings, good and bad to Him and allow Him to sort them out with us. 

God is so faithful that as we allow ourselves to be open and trust Him with our relationships He will bring people into our lives who will walk alongside us and show us what love is supposed to look like here on earth. The relationships may take a while to build and they won’t be perfect, but don’t let that stop you from reaching out. By loving those God puts in our path we will learn how to love ourselves as well.

We are all in this together. Neighbors both physically and through the wonders of electronics. And in our interactions we have power…the power to heal or to crush and the power to love or turn our backs. Allow God to work in you and through you today to learn to love yourself as He loves you and then in turn to love others as you love yourself.

blessings and peace to you…

Paula

Not Just Another Thursday

Over the past few weeks I have been dealing with a medical issue that seems to be a mystery. To this point my pain cannot be diagnosed, yet it increases. This unknown can be frustrating, even frightening at times, yet in the midst of it I am learning a great deal about myself, those who love me, and my faith.

Amidst every doctor visit, each test, and repeated pokes of needles there is only one (here on earth) who truly knows what is going on inside my body. That person is me. I have to do everything I can to help others understand what I am feeling and narrow down what the cause may be. I must be my own advocate and continue to press on until someone listens enough to help me. I must persevere.

Perseverance:

“continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition.”  (Miriam Webster Dictionary)

I think of others who persevere and am humbled at the thought of what they face. Every day people face cancer treatments, learn to live without limbs, lose their jobs or homes and figure out how to survive and support a family. Some face incredible odds to start the business of their dreams. When I felt sorry for myself  because I had to fast for 2 days before a test I was jolted back to reality with the fact that when the test was over I could eat whatever I wanted while others go without food for many days at a time, not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Amazing perseverance.

I’ve also been reminded that perseverance is biblical.

Romans 5 reminds us of the reward for our perseverance:

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.  Romans 3:3-5

The book of Luke recounts a story Jesus told of a man who had a guest in his home late at night. He had nothing to feed him so he went to a friend’s home at midnight asking for bread. The friend tells him to go away and yet Jesus says…

“I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your perseverance he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

On this Holy Thursday, as we enter Easter weekend we remember the day Jesus spent preparing for the last meal He would eat with His disciples before His death. Throughout the day Jesus tried to explain to them what was to come – of His imminent betrayal and eventual death. His disciples didn’t get it. Jesus washed their feet, explained to them about serving others, and asked them to join Him as He prayed in the garden. He never gave up trying to teach them of God’s love for them.

When evening came Jesus gave us such a beautiful, yet heart wrenching picture of perseverance. Jesus knew He was about to be betrayed, then executed. He had lived a perfect life. In all His interactions with those who opposed Him Jesus never sinned. Yet He would be ridiculed and hung on a cross to die the most painful death for all people who believe that He is Lord and Savior. His heart must have been so heavy, yet He persevered.

Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane that evening to pray for God’s will. Matthew’s gospel tells us that Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” He didn’t receive an answer so He prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will  be done.” Jesus prayed a third time in the same manner, persevering for an answer from His Father for what He was facing.

The outcome of Jesus’ perseverance was not His deliverance from the coming ridicule and death. It was not what He desired but for Him it was more important for God to be glorified than for Him to be comfortable. And because Jesus persevered and completed the purpose for which His Father sent him to earth we reap countless blessings. Every year as we remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us we are reminded that if He had not persevered through His times of tribulation we would not have the gift of eternity in Heaven with Him.

Each one of us has challenges to work through and overcome. While yours may not seem significant to the world it is significant to you, therefore it also matters to God. Whatever you are facing as you read this I pray for your perseverance. Don’t give up – on yourself, a solution, and especially your faith that God will bring good out of your circumstances. And as you persevere remember that through Jesus’ gift of salvation we can have the blessing of peace that passes all understanding.

I echo the words of the book of Hebrews and pray it encourages you today:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  Hebrews 12:1-3

Blessings and peace to you…

Paula