Monthly Archives: June 2013

Lonely People

Today, the Beatles’ classic Eleanor Rigby has been on my mind. They ask two questions in the song: “All the lonely people, where do they all come from? All the lonely people, where do they all belong?” It’s actually sobering to seriously ponder this song, these questions, because when we do, we realize we have lonely people all around us.

There’s the old woman in a nursing home. She’s surrounded by nurses and other elderly people, but she’s never visited or cared for by the loved ones she cared for and looked after. And she’s lonely.

There’s an old man too. A war hero. But nobody remembers him or his service, nobody wants to listen to his stories, even though he needs to tell them. And he’s lonely.

There’s the stay-at-home mom whose last child has just flown the coop. Her world has centered around her children for many years, and now they are gone, and she has nothing. And she’s lonely.

There’s the man who has lost his job and is suddenly unable to provide for his family. He’s got dozens of people looking in, wondering what he did wrong, criticizing him, but no one to encourage him, help him out. And he’s lonely.

There’s the young mom with three little kids running around. She works a full-time job, but even when she’s home there is always some argument to be arbitrated, some diaper needing changed, and she’s worn out of her mind. She never has time alone, but she’s lonely.

There’s the recent college graduate who can’t even get a job, let alone a career. All of the odd jobs he did to make it through school don’t amount to anything. None of his friends get it. And he’s lonely.

There’s the college freshman, new on campus, not a friend around, but thousands of people she doesn’t know. And she’s lonely.

There’s the army brat, meeting new people all of the time, but never developing deep relationships with them. And he’s lonely.

There’s the child whose parents work around the clock and have no time or energy for her. And she’s lonely.

Where do they all come from?

Better question: where do they belong?

I’m revisiting the theme of Emmanuel (“God with us”) for an upcoming collaborative writing project, and that is what sparked my thoughts about lonely people.

I’m left questions: How does Jesus transform loneliness? If He visited each of the people mentioned above, what would change in their lives?

In short, what does it really mean that God is with us?

The Mission of Jesus

To preach good tidings to the poor.

To heal the brokenhearted.

To proclaim liberty to the captives.

To comfort and console all who mourn.

To give them beauty for ashes.

To give them the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

Why?

So they may be called oaks of righteousness.

The planting of the LORD.

That He may be glorified.

~Taken from Isaiah 61

For anyone needing good news today, Jesus came to save you, because you can not save yourself.

For anyone needing healing today, Jesus came to make you whole, because there is a part of you only He can fill.

For anyone bound today, Jesus came to liberate you, because the world’s idea of freedom will only bind you longer.

For anyone sad today, Jesus came to comfort you, because we live in a fallen world.

For anyone whose world is crumbling today, Jesus came to reveal something far better, because we are created with hearts for beauty.

For anyone depressed today, Jesus came to take the focus and pressure off of you, because it really is all about Him.

Jesus came to make you alive and healthy and strong.

Jesus came to make it so we can draw attention to Him and lift Him up.

This has been my experience with Jesus.

What is yours?

Challenging Week

Challenging, challenging week.

But.

I came out a winner.

After all, I’m not a victim.

I’m a Warrior Princess.

“He trains my hands for battle” (Psalm 18:34a).

“You have armed me with strength for the battle” (Psalm 18:39a).

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Thinking About Jesus

I’ve been reading through the Messianic prophecies (prophecies about Jesus) in Isaiah over the past couple of weeks.

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, My Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles. He will not cry out, nor raise His voice, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth. He will not fail nor be discouraged, till He has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands shall wait for His law” (Isaiah 42:1-4 NKJV).

“I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles, to open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, and those who sit in darkness from the prison house … Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare, before they spring forth I tell you of them” (Isaiah 42:6b-7, 9 NKJV).

“Behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall y0u not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19 NKJV).

“For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, and floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, and My blessing on your offspring; they will spring up among the grass, like willows by the watercourses” (Isaiah 44:3-4 NKJV).

“I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22 NKJV).

“I bring My righteous near, it shall not be far off; My salvation shall not linger. And I will place salvation in Zion, for Israel My glory” (Isaiah 46:13 NKJV).

“Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth'” (Isaiah 49:6 NKJV).

“The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to hear as the learned” (Isaiah 50:4 NKJV).

“He shall startle many nations” (Isaiah 52:15a NKJV).

“But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5 NKJV).

“He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:11-12).

These verses remind me that the life I have is possible because of Jesus.

 

For Those Tears I Died

“You said You’d come and share all my sorrows,
You said You’d be there for all my tomorrows;
I came so close to sending You away,
But just like You promised
You came there to stay;
I just had to pray!
“And Jesus said, ‘Come to the water, stand by My side,
I know you are thirsty, you won’t be denied;
I felt ev’ry teardrop when in darkness you cried,
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.’
“Your goodness so great I can’t understand,
And, dear Lord, I know that all this was planned;
I know You’re here now, and always will be,
Your love loosed my chains and in You I’m free;
But Jesus, why me?
“Jesus, I give You my heart and my soul,
I know that without God I’d never be whole;
Savior, You opened all the right doors,
And I thank You and praise You from earth’s humble shores;
Take me, I’m Yours.”
~Marsha Stevens, For Those Tears I Died
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book”  (Psalm 56:8).

Strangely Dim

A current favorite from Francesca Battistelli. It’s so easy to get distracted by little things, big things, whatever. This song reminds me of an old hymn: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim.” So true.

I’ve got all these plans piled up sky high
A thousand dreams on hold
And I don’t know why,
I got a front row seat
To the longest wait
And I just can’t see
Past the things I pray
Today

But when I fix my eyes on all that You are
Then every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
All my worries fade
And fall to the ground
Cause when I seek Your face
And don’t look around
Any place I’m in
Grows strangely dim

Sometimes where I stand
On this narrow road
Is in a raging storm
Or a valley low
But oh

I don’t know, I don’t know
What tomorrow may hold
But I know, but I know
That You’re holding it all
So no matter what may come

I’m gonna fix my eyes on all that You are
‘Til every doubt I feel
Deep in my heart
Grows strangely dim
Let all my worries fade
And fall to the ground
I’m gonna seek Your face
And not look around
Til the place I’m in
Grows strangely, strangely, strangely dim.

What’s The Point

For basically my whole life, I’ve been told that my character should be what’s on display to a guy, not my physical looks. I think it’s a great philosophy, and in general, I try to live by it: what I want a guy to know about me is what I present to him.

I’ve been pretty content to live this way, but a few weeks ago I had a conversation with a Christian guy friend that deeply discouraged me. (Lest anyone reading think my discouragement is for personal reasons, I have to say right off the bat, I have no romantic interest in this guy. I’ve known him my whole life and you could say we have a sister-brother relationship).

We were talking about a girl he’s interested in.

Me: What is her relationship with God like?

Guy: Doesn’t matter what her relationship with God is like. It matters what her relationship with me is like.

Me: Um. If her relationship with God isn’t right, her relationship with you isn’t going to be right either.

Guy: That’s not true.

Me: It’s absolutely true.

I was so disappointed to see and hear this guy friend blatantly disregard what is most important to God about a woman: her relationship with Him. It wasn’t even a deciding factor.

Ouch.

Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

And here I was thinking (and hoping, and wishing, and praying) that at least Christian guys actually value my relationship with God and character. And I caught myself wondering, What’s the point? The point is that even if no other person on the planet has any respect for my relationship with God or my character, God still values it. He’s the Only One who matters. I live my life to honor and please Him, not to get a boyfriend.

A few days after the afore-mentioned conversation, another friend remarked how sad it was that a lot of Christian young men are ending up in broken marriages. The undercurrent of the conversation was that it was the young women in these marriages bringing these guys down.

Yes. It is sad. It is sad that a lot of our Christian young men have choices to date and marry women who have their priorities straight before God, but will still choose a girl who is not living for the Lord, or who is lukewarm in her relationship with God. It is sad that while the Bible warns against such relationships for practical reasons (unequal yoking), many Christian young men pursue them anyways.

But you know what that says to me about a guy pursuing such a woman? His own priorities are not straight before God.

And that is between that man and the Lord. It is not because a young woman is not where she is supposed to be that a young man falls away, but because that young man is not where he is supposed to be.

This is so frustrating to me. On so many levels. Not because I’ve personally experienced a shortage of godly guys interested in me, but because I’m seeing so many friends go down this road of choosing to date and marry people who are not living for the Lord. And when that relationship and marriage get to breaking point, it’s the other person’s fault for bringing them down.

Get real.

Please.

A Spirit Gentle and At Rest

I’ve been struggling with my personality this week. I tend to be quiet until I get comfortable with people, but this week I really wish I was one of those super outgoing people. I tend to better contribute to one-on-one and small group interactions, but this week I really wish I was more at home in a huge group. I tend to be very compassionate and emotional, but this week I wish I could be less feeling and logical.

This week, it doesn’t matter that being taking time getting to know people helps me build deep, strong, and long-lasting relationships with other people. This week, it doesn’t matter that the fewer people and ministries I have vying for my attention will receive better quality from me. This week, it doesn’t matter that there are people who are starving for compassion, for empathy.

It doesn’t matter how needed I am as I am created to be, because this week, I just don’t want to be her. People judge her for not being friendly enough, not putting herself out there enough. People judge her for not serving enough, for not getting far enough out of her comfort zone. People judge her for not taking sin seriously enough, mistake her for being gullible and easily mislead.

It doesn’t matter that they’re all wrong. Their judgments are just enough to make me feel unworthy because of who I am.

And I wonder, Who will ever accept me, for me? Who will ever value me?

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward – arranging your hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel – rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the unfading beauty of a gentle and non-striving spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. This is how holy women of old made themselves beautiful” (1 Peter 3:3-5a).

Although these verses are typically used for talking about modesty, I felt God speaking to my heart this morning through them about my personality. It was like He said, Lydia, be who I created you to be. That is what I value. And He told me I needed to start accepting myself.

I think as human beings we can get into this very prideful state of mind where we think everyone else needs to be like us in how we behave and even (dare I say it) where and how we minister. In Christ, yes, we are a body working to make Christ known, but God has given each of us unique gifts and burdens to accomplish His purposes in us. And that has tremendous value.

Maybe I’m not as outgoing as you. Maybe I’m more vulnerable than you would be in your worst nightmares. Maybe I’m not as busy as you are. Maybe I’m more sensitive and emotional in a day than you will be in your entire life. Maybe I’m not as assertive as you, as logical, as cut-and-dry in my thinking.

BUT as long as I am being who God created me to be, I am every bit as valuable as you.

The Undesirable One

How can I put who I am on display instead of what I am able do?

I want to be known, not just used.

I want to be desired, not just needed.

I want to be loved, not just depended upon.

There is more to me than what I can do for you.

There is more to me than what I have to offer you.

There is more to me than what I can help people with.

Because someday my usefulness to you will expire.

Someday what you need me for will be irrelevant.

And someday I will be too frail to support you.

But I will still be here.

Will I be less of a person when I can’t do anything for you?

Will I be less of a person when I have nothing to give you?

Will I be less of a person when I can’t hold you up anymore?

It’s tempting to think, Yes.

But no.

I will still be who I always have been.

A woman of proven character and great value.

A woman longed for and sought out.

A woman cherished and cared for intimately.

And you can either appreciate that or you can’t.

Either way, it’s no longer my problem.