The wind whips through the tiny tree in my back yard and the clouds slowly cover the sun to remind me of what tomorrow is. Friday marks the pinnacle of Christianity, not just that God would form himself into a human but that he would die as one to save the sins of the world. No matter what the world says about Christianity it can’t deny that we serve a unique God. Because this day marks the day when he distinguishes himself from the crowd. On this day he steps out of the limelight to take up his cross and he performs the ultimate act of love. A pure and holy God sacrificed himself in the most gruesome way so that he could have a tiny chance of knowing you. Jesus stands out from every religion not just because he died and rose again but because his love for us was his greatest mission. He had no ulterior motive, no other reason to die that day, except to take my sins on his back and wash me clean. He gave up everything so that he might gain your heart. He knew a lot of the world would reject him but he didn’t care. He didn’t make a pro’s and con’s list to decide whether he would wear a crown of thorns. The maker of heaven and earth looked into your eyes and said “I want to know you and if that takes dieing in the most excruciating way possible to know you i’ll do it.” See we all know the easter story but do we really understand it? Have we grasped the idea that someone loves us that much? He had all of the choices in the world and he choose you. Maybe it’s just because i’m new to the whole Christian thing but that gets me. For some reason when Jesus paid it all comes on at church I can’t help but tear up because I know where I would be had it not been for that cross. Had he not paid it all I would be paying for eternity. That is amazing grace.
I want to be ten again and not have a care in the world. I want to go camping with my little brother, stay up late to see if we can hear Santa Claus, and jump in leave piles. I want to go back to nap time, snack time, and the comfort of my mothers hug. I want to return to a time before politics worried me and I knew the true meaning of poverty. I want to live in one house with all of my family and not need a planner to see friends. I want to go back to game nights, black jack with my dad, and long family vacations. I want to return to the baseball parks and watch my brothers proudly as I eat laffy taffy. I want to remember what it was like not to feel stress or anxiety. I ache to be back in a time when life seemed easy, I didn’t need to know the answers just how I was going to do my homework. A time when friendships seemed everlasting and I never considered growing up. Days before addiction and failure taught me who I really was. I never knew how good I had it at 3616 Robinson walk drive, I haven’t lived there in almost six years but the address is still imprinted in my brain. You remember a place that great, like the first time you go to Disney world or the beach. I think it still holds a tiny piece of me, the part I desperately want back, childhood joy.
My oldest brother always had a way of making me believe that God had great plans for me. Even when I was in the midst of trouble or knee deep in sin he would look me in the eye and tell me, ”Tindell God is going to do great things in your life”. I tried to brush it off like I did everything else but for some reason his words always stuck with me. He believed in me when he shouldn’t have and he didn’t give up on me even though all the odds seemed stacked against him. He knew that this was just a phase of my life and it wasn’t the end. He knew that one day God would turn my trials into glory for his name. There is no mistaking Gods work, he takes pain, heartache, and rejection and turns them into great things for his kingdom. Loneliness will turn into longing for him which will turn into fulfillment and might even turn into meeting someone which might turn into a family. Alcohol abuse and addiction turns into redemption that turns into compassion for others which turns into the spreading of hope. Ugly circumstances turn into great testimony. There doesn’t seem to be anything greater than a testimony of hope, a life transformed by a great God.
We are coming up on Easter as I write this and at church on Sunday they had people come out with big poster boards that had “I remember” with a portion of their life and when they flipped it over it had what God had done for them. One said I remember being homeless, addicted to drugs and on the back it said found God, now I work for a homeless shelter and am no longer homeless. One said I remember being in prison feeling hopeless and alone and the other side it said, found God and a wife and now I work for a prison ministry. Each cardboard had the same scenario, pain and heartache redeemed to fulness and joy. All the while amazing grace played in the background, “my chains are gone, I’ve been set free, My God my savior has ransomed me.”
See God would just be another god if it weren’t for stories like these, redemption that could only come from a powerful savior. It can only happen because he traded everything for a chance to win your heart. There could be no backside to the cardboard cut out but we each have an “I remember” time, pain that was so deep it is worth writing down but if you’ve found God then there is always a back side. He is always whispering in your ear, I made you to do great things for my kingdom.
My card would read like this, I remember addictions, heartache, and loneliness but the back would say, redeemed in 2005 married, fulfilled, and happily serving high school kids just like me. Nothing says how great is our God than scenarios such as these. We were all made for greater things, a chance to show the world the glory God deserves. Stories like these are the greatest testimony, it tells the world you have been through the dark but made it to the light. It tells the world that there is hope and most of all it tells them that they are not alone.
“I saw the way you were exposing your body and I covered your nakedness with my cloak. I took your shame and cleaned your broken heart, I cleaned your cuts and dressed your wounds. I put you in a beautiful dress and adorned you with beautiful jewels. I placed a crown on your head and lifted you up to your rightful place as my queen. Your beauty caused the earth to talk of my splendor and I made you perfect. Your beauty became an outward adornment in a world full of gloom. All who looked at you could see the deep love of a father.”
Ezekiel 16:8-14 (paraphrased)
What if we really believed this, that God had taken our shame onto him and made us clean and righteous? For me that word seems far too dignified, I know what I’ve done and the people i’ve hurt, righteous is much too big for me. I did nothing to deserve my righteousness but God did everything so that I could have it.
My parents wanted to make my eighteenth birthday really special, I didn’t deserve it but they went out to Tiffany’s and picked out this beautiful ring, it had a heart made of peals and tiny diamonds on either side. They planned a big family dinner for me and fixed my favorite meal, I felt so special. I was truly loved, I knew because I had done nothing to deserve this kind of favor but they lavished it on me anyway. When everyone had left my parents called me into their room and handed me a tiny box, robins egg blue with a white ribbon tied perfectly on top. I opened it and there was the ring, a symbol of my parents undying affection for their only daughter. I put it on and smiled with joy. Tears welled up into my eyes and I attempted to thank them for this precious gift. I slipped it on my finger as I walked up the stairs to my room. I couldn’t stop looking at it. The next day as I left the house I took my ring off dug a hole in the front yard and buried it. I figured I would save my beautiful gift for when I deserved it. Do I sound crazy yet?
I wanted to create a word picture for what it would be like to hand God’s gift back to him. To actually reject it. I have noticed that every time he offers us the crown that we don’t deserve, we take it from him smile with joy then want to bury it in the dirt until we are deserving. The point is if we are waiting to deserve the gift God has given us we will never deserve it. If we are waiting until the gift is rightfully ours we will end up burying it in the dirt and never recovering it. God has given you a beautiful gift, not because you deserve it but because he loves you and he loves to lavish you with presents. That story is not real but it might as well be, my parents are amazing loving parents who give me far more than I deserve. I am far unworthy of their love but isn’t it so much better that way? Isn’t it better when you can look someone in the eye and truly say I don’t deserve it, that makes the gift all the more special. God is holding out a precious gift to you and if you are waiting to take it until you clean up your life or get all the rules right I promise the crown will grow dusty and his hands will grown tired. He never asks us to clean up our life to find him he just says we need to call out to him and he will be there.
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
Sometimes you feel God calling you so loud it feels like a megaphone in your ear, you try to ignore it but somehow your thoughts go back to where you are supposed to go, who you are supposed to talk to, or something you are supposed to do. These times are few and far in between and a lot of times God takes you far away from your familiar surroundings so that you can hear him. I had many expectations for this part of my life, newly wed in a new city.I figured I’d find a job I loved, new friendships, and plenty of activities to fill my time. Three months into my life in Texas and I found I was more alone than ever, Ben worked all day and everything I had heard about the economy turned out to be true, finding a job was hard. I found a few good friends but I realized friendships after college were different, who knew that midnight doughnut runs would end after graduation. I found myself returning to the basics, talking to God instead of my constant companions and when the house was quiet I almost felt that I could hear him, I quickly looked up symptoms of paranoia and breathed a sign of relief when hearing God wasn’t one of them.
1. I hate blogs. I always thought they were impersonal but one night God woke me up at 3am and told me to start a blog so I did.
2. I live in Texas but I am in no way a Texan. I do not have one of those huge metal stars in my house, own cowboy boots, or say the texas pledge at school (yes there is a Texas pledge). I have foun d God to be bigger in Texas, once I was removed from all my distractions and completely alone I found I listened much better.
3. I became a Christian four years ago after a lot searching and experimenting. My freshman year of college I found myself at a passion conference and God was what I was looking for all along. After that I promised God to help high schoolers With my testimony.
4. I substitute teach and I love it!
5. I want to write books for teenage girls.
6. I watch the show friends religiously and refuse to watch the last disc of the season because I like to pretend it never ends.
7. I have a honesty problem and tend to stick my foot in my mouth.
8. I am married to the most amazing man in the world because he puts up with me.
9. I am the only girl with three brothers which is why I don’t handle estrogen well.
10. I am addicted to sugar. I hide candy from Ben but Normally forget where I put it. Desert is never an option and when I make coffee I put enough flavored coffee to make it white.
Last night I babysat my precious niece and nephew, I only get to see them every couple of months so I was really excited. Sadly Norah had a stomach ache and was in a lot of pain. She is normally a very happy baby but tonight she was in clear pain. She would stick her precious little lips out and in between quivers exhale in a clear da da da. She has just learned how to say dada and in between her sobs I could hear the clear cry for her dad. She knew he would know what to do. I would rock her for a second she would quite but quickly her tears would come back and in between sobs a clear call for her father, da da da. My heart was breaking, I was so clearly not what she wanted. I thought how great it must feel to be a parent and to be needed so deeply by a child. To hear the sobs of your child calling you, da da da. Tiny whimpers that let you know you are needed. I have always been a little bit of a daddys girl so I could relate to Norahs cry. When I was little I often got very bad stomach aches and I would lay in bed calling out for my dad. When I was scared as a child my dad was there to comfort me, the big strong man who provided a refuge from a dark night. When Jesus was refereed to as a father I had no problem getting a clear picture of my heavenly father, my earthly father was already close enough for me. Father has never been a scared word for me, I associate it with fun trips, long talks, and wisdom. There are many times that I find myself like norah in deep pain calling out in between sobs, da da da. I need my father. I heard someone say once that growing up is realizing there isnt a bigger bed to crawl into when you get scared. That has been my life, married young I have had to embrace that the only place I can go to now is my heavenly father. Sometimes its on my knees in prayers and all I can do is call out, da da da. I know he will know what to do , I know he will be able to bring the remedy I so desperately need. So I cry out and I have to believe he heals, smiles, and welcomes my neediness. I have never seen my brother reject Norah’s cries instead he comforts her and God will do the same but only after I cry out. He waits patiently for me to exhaust all my other options and then like I always do I come to him and cry out, da da da and he is always there.