terrible twos

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If you’re a parent, then you are all too familiar with this stage of opposition and self-absorption. Now that I’ve been a mom for over 15 years, I’ve noticed that the terrible twos resurface quite a bit throughout childhood. When hormones start surging in the preteen years, when a desire for independence comes in the teen years, and even a few times in between.

Honestly, I think the terrible twos represent our sin nature so well. Basically, the terrible twos are rooted in the child’s inability to see beyond what they want in the moment. They can’t fathom any other scenario than the one in their head. Sound familiar?

I’ve recently had my own bout of the terrible twos. There’s a particular situation in my life that has gone on for a few years, and frankly, I reached my limit very early on. I’ve gone through seasons of surrendering and depending on the Holy Spirit to carry me along in this, and then seasons of resentment and fear that it will never end. At ideal moments, I experience joy, knowing that God has me in His hand and it makes no difference what sort of circumstances I am in. In low moments, I can’t get past the fact that I want out. I guard my heart from Him, hide from Him, and experience a lack of peace, joy, and contentment. The most recent cycle of hiding my heart from Him has been difficult to break out of. To be honest, I am just so darn weary of this particular circumstance. I can’t see the value in this situation and I can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Along the way, God’s word to me has been, “Trust Me.” When I couldn’t trust people in my circumstances, His word was, “You don’t need to trust them. You only need to trust Me.” When I was convinced that the end was around the very next bend, only to get there and see miles stretched out before me, His word was again, “Trust in the God you know Me to be.” He has repeatedly steered me to Psalm 77:7-13.

Will the Lord reject forever?
Will he never show his favor again?
Has his unfailing love vanished forever?
Has his promise failed for all time?
Has God forgotten to be merciful?
Has he in anger withheld his compassion?

Then I thought, “To this I will appeal:
the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.
I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.”
Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?

When circumstances are out of my control, I have to appeal to what I know about my God and His track record. I must reflect on all of the times that He saved me, that He provided, that He worked miracles. I have to meditate on the character that He displayed in those glorious moments and believe that He is still the same. He is good. He cannot lie. He never changes.

Since He is good, then His plans for me, even within my difficult circumstances, are good. If I can’t see the good, or even the possibility of it, then I must believe that there is some unknown factor, some undreamed agenda that He is working to bring about in my favor. I must believe that He has some sweet blessing that will be revealed as I hold on to Him.

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I cannot see yet what He will do. But I MUST believe that He has been weaving in threads of glory that will be revealed in the end. Hasn’t he always managed to bring good out of tough situations?

One thing about the terrible twos is that most little ones wear out eventually and become compliant. I think I’ve worn myself out and it’s time to fall into His faithful arms. It’s time to believe in my Father’s loving heart and His ability to orchestrate the unimaginable. It’s time to let go….

photo credit:
Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson
Farmhouse Kitchen Window, zazzle.com (text added)

he loves me

A few years ago, I went through a traumatic experience that left me virtually “undone”. At the time, I was teaching bible study on a regular basis, starting to speak at retreats, and experiencing new things in my spiritual life that astounded me. God was taking me to a whole new level.

While struggling with getting pregnant after a miscarriage, I thought I heard God clearly tell me something that did not pan out. I was devastated. Not so much about the thing that didn’t pan out… but by the fact that I was convinced I heard Him clearly. It made me question everything. All that God had done in me, and everything I thought I’d heard Him say in the past.

It was a dark time for me. I couldn’t trust anyone or anything. I didn’t want to walk with God anymore… but where could I go? I knew too much. I knew He was real. I just didn’t know how to move forward.

I look back on that season with such a different perspective now. God allowed my “undoing” for very good reason. I had a lot of understanding regarding His word and His ways, but I had no clear understanding of how much He loved me.

And that is what I learned in the dark season. I couldn’t pray, I couldn’t read the word. I could only sit and cry. I didn’t want to hear anything from Him that required action on my part (because I was convinced I couldn’t trust my own hearing).  It was then that He began to speak words of love to me. For the first time in my life, I was able to receive it.  Soon, I was able to read the bible again. From there, He spoke words of love to me. Over and over, He spoke His love to me.

It forever changed me.

Now, I have a much clearer understanding of His love. It has permeated my heart, my mind, my soul. By no means have I arrived… the depths of His love are unfathomable! It will take me a lifetime to fully understand. In the past couple of years, He has worked to remove many of the barriers that once stood in the way of His love. The affection of my Heavenly Father and Savior on the cross flow more freely into my heart than ever before.

I heard Joyce Meyer say something this morning that really got me thinking about this very subject of love. Consider two of the disciples. Peter continually professed his love for and devotion to Christ  (Matthew 17, Mark 8, Luke 22). On the other hand, John was known as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (which he professed in his writings in John 13:23, 21:7, 21:20). While Peter was focused on his own love for Jesus, John was blessed with a clear understanding of how much Christ loved him.

Both men were affected by the understanding that they had. Both professed their understanding in words and actions. When we look at the moment that Jesus went to the cross, we see a vast difference between these two men. Peter found that his devotion to Jesus wavered when he denied knowing the Savior, yet John was present at the foot of the cross and accepted Christ’s request to care for His mother.

This morning I realized that I used to be a Peter, but now I’m more like John. This penetrating understanding of His love and care for me has proven to be of more value to me than I ever imagined.

If this revelation is sorely lacking in your life… ask God to give you a deeper understanding of His love. When you read the scriptures, press in and look for the evidence of His love. What you discover there, repeat to yourself over and over. You will believe far more of what you say out loud than what you merely read.

May you confidently become the individual that Jesus loves, and may you proclaim it all the day!

face down

Have you ever felt stuck? Sick and tired of your current position, too wise to go back, but too scared to go forward? Maybe you have the courage to move forward, but find it impossible?

That’s me today. Make that for the last month or more. I know that God wants to do a specific work in me. While there’s a part of me that wants Him to do it… most of me is scared to death.

The Lord showed me recently that this is probably the most significant work that He will ever do in me. That is why the enemy has worked so hard to keep me stuck. Until God does this work, so many of His plans and promises are on hold. It involves changing my “default setting” as I like to say.

Because of hurts in my past, I behave a certain way in relationships. I feel so powerless to change that about myself. I’ve tried making adjustments myself, but it never lasts long. I return to my old “setting” and I don’t experience everything that God wants for me in my relationships with others.

Lately, I have felt so stuck. So powerless to move forward. Even angry. In some ways, I am miserable and I feel like I can’t do a dog-gone thing about it.

Last night, I met with my small group and the Lord spoke two things to me very clearly. The first was that I am believing a lie. The enemy has convinced me that the change God desires for me is impossible. I have been saying over and over in my head, in my prayers, to my small group last night that I cannot change. God says that this is a lie.

The truth is that I don’t know how to change. However, God knows how to change me. I’ve been so busy believing that I can’t change and being mad at God because I can’t change, that I forgot to let God do His thing.

That brings me to the second thing that God revealed to me last night. The answer to my whole problem is surrender.

Maybe you hate that answer as much as I do. I had all of the responses you’d expect from a two-year-old last night… and even a bit this morning. But I know what I need to do.

What does surrender look like for you? For me, it means getting face down on the living room floor at some wee hour of the morning when the rest of the house is sound asleep. It means laying it all down, crying it all out, and falling in an exhausted heap next to my mountain of snotty balled-up tissues. It means laying face down before my God with all of my excuses, motives, and anger confessed. It means saying every last thing that I have stored up in my heart, and then being really quiet before the One who loves me from the top of my head, through the dysfunction of my heart and mind, all the way down to my feet that keep running away.

I need to get face down and surrender. I didn’t have the courage to do it this morning, but it’s coming. The Lord kept breathing Genesis 22 in my ear this morning. When I turned there, everything that God had been saying to me was confirmed. I need to lay my heart down as a sacrifice before Him. I need to entrust my heart to Him, knowing that He will give it back to me in much better shape. I need to hand Him my heart so He can change me.

I just have to find the courage get face down. I just have to surrender.