A God who runs

I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.(Luke 15:18-20 ESV)

I don’t know what you think about God, but I know that sometimes, many times, I have hard thoughts about Him. It is as if somewhere in the depth of my heart, I always have some doubts about His goodness. I cannot just see it, understand it: a God who runs to me because He loves me.

If I were an outstanding woman of faith, I would understand. But I am just like the other heroes of the Bible, weak, messy, and fearful. And I doubt. I doubt because I give Him no reasons to rejoice over Him, but He says He does. I doubt because He does not need me but want me. I doubt because how could He wants me, seriously? It just does not make sense.

But in the depth of my heart, I also know that it is true; that as incredible that it is, His love is the real thing. I know He is good and merciful, gracious and full of compassion, and He runs. When I come back to Him, ashamed of who I am, He runs to me. No questions asked, just His arms around me.

The Holy Spirit made it clear: the love of Christ surpasses knowledge. So we need to pray that we will understand it. There is no other way. So I pray for me, I pray for you, that we will understand that incredible love more and more and more.

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:14-19)

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Self-esteem according to Christ(3)

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)

God planned and created us and we rebelled against Him. We decided that we knew better and betrayed Him. Doing that, we ruined His workmanship, us. But God has a plan, another one. He planned to make us holy and blameless and to adopt us.

That means God loved us so much that He found a solution to a problem we created, our separation from Him. It means God wanted us so much that He found a way to put our betrayal and our rebellion behind. And He made sure that we would not destroy everything again by forgiving us, giving us a new relationship with Him through Christ. Because of Christ and in Christ,  our relationship with God does not depend on our righteousness.

Moreover, He did not just plan all of that for the humans, but He chose us. He planned all of that for each of us individually. He said, “This is my plan for Kelly. “; ” This is my plan for Anne.” And I guarantee you that if the general plan is the same for all, details differ from people to people. Because our God knows us and loves us personally.

So do you feel that you don’t measure up? Oh, you don’t. But Christ does and that is enough. The Love of God is enough. He knew who you were, all you are, and everything you will be, but chose you. And He is not ashamed of you.

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers… (Hebrews 2:11)

 

 

Self-esteem (2)

Have you ever looked in the mirror and hated what you saw? Have you ever looked at your personality and wished you were different? If you are a little like me, you did. The good news for all of us who don’t like much who we are and what we see in us is that how we feel about us does not change who we are. We are people created according to a plan and a purpose.  We are not accidents. Who we are did not come about by chance. True, we live in a fallen word and our sins disfigure the perfect workmanship of God that we are.However, that does not change who made us, how and why. Created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26), we were planned. God thought of us, of how we ought to be before our conception.

The next time you feel worthless, the next time you are treated like the bottom of the barrel and think it is normal, remember who made you. Remember that you are not a mere accident. Remember His purpose. No one will never be able to take that away from you. Remember who you look like. Remember and rejoice. Remember and give thanks.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (Psalm 139:13-16)

I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” (Isaiah 43:6-7)

Self-esteem according to Christ(1)

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. (Isaiah 62:3)

Self-esteem or confidence in one’s own worth or abilities is very trendy. How we assess our worth, how we judge ourselves and our attitude toward us are deemed to be the reason we success or fail.

I have a very low self-esteem and many people tried to help me view myself differently in the past. I tried different things on my own. But even if there were some improvements, there was no radical change.  Then Christ came into that weakness of mine. He began to teach me what true self-esteem was and how to assess myself.

He told me things as:

  • You are a sinner.
  • You can do nothing apart for me.
  • Everything you have (skills, qualities, beauty), you received them.
  • You are an unworthy servant.
  • You are undeserving.

But also:

  • I planned you.
  • I chose you.
  • I love you with an everlasting love.
  • You are the apple of my eyes.
  • I died out of love for you.
  • I will never forsake you or leave you alone.
  • Through me, you can do anything.

It is not always easy to believe those last truths. But I know that when I completely do, I will be able to walk with my head held high, outside and inside.

Yes, my success and my failure depend on my self-esteem, but not on a self-esteem based on my abilities or qualities, on a self-esteem based on who Christ is and on whom I am in Him.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

 

 

Finding beauty

But even when I was seeking for God’s true beauty, I did it all wrong. I worked hard to attained perfection with my own strength. I was tired and frustrated, and sure that God did not love me or was not fair. Until I heard Him whispering “grace”. Grace is the key to true beauty. Grace gives strength to be a seeker. Grace gives eyes to see, a heart to understand. Grace shows the source of beauty. Grace helps us rest on beauty, the real one.

When life is ugly, when people seem more horrible than before, grace leads us to that place of beauty, where love reigns and where mercy abounds; where we are welcomed as we are and changed to be more like Christ. Grace gives strength to keep going when your heart does not want to beat anymore. Grace says, “You are welcomed, protected, guarded, loved and taken care of… always!

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” … (Revelation 21:1-6)

 

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. (Isaiah 62:3)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

In search of beauty…

For many years I have been looking for beauty (peace, goodness, love, generosity, honesty, loyalty) everywhere. I moved from places to places, hoping that the next one would be the right place. After decades of searching, I finally understood what God has been whispering in my heart. There is no beauty except in and through Him.

Searching for beauty has led me in the wrong places, with the wrong people. There were hurts and dramas, but always life and hope because of Christ. Is there beauty in the world? Of course, yes. But in the right places, those places where God has sown it in His creation, in His creatures. Outside God, there is no beauty, but through Him there is abundance of beauty for everyone who looks at Him and hopes in Christ. Trough His eyes, we won’t even notice what only appears beautiful, but we will admire and commend what is truly beautiful even if it appears ugly.

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matthew 6:28-29)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

 

Glory

Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. (John 12:42-43 ESV)

They loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God because they did not want to be put out of the synagogue. Being put out of the synagogue meant rejection, shame, embarrassment, loss of social status, etc. and they were not willing to endure that. Oh, I understand how they felt.  I am tempted every day to choose  the glory that comes from man.

Will I be willing, today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, etc. to be without friends at work, to be without church or to lose the consideration of my “spiritual family”, to be despised by the non-believers around me (siblings, friends, neighbors, coworkers, etc.) for the sake of Christ? Am I going to open my Bible on the bus, subway, train, even if it means being laughed at? Am I going to seek the glory that comes from God even if it means that I will have none on this earth?

Every day, you and I  must make a choice. Let the following words of Christ help us make the right one: Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:25 ESV)