Tell your kids… EVEN IF

There was a commotion outside. It seemed like my son had made a big mistake and things were heated. He was all alone in a hard moment and my mama bear instinct was to bring him in, cover him in a hug, and get the truth. There I learned the power of saying EVEN IF.

Turns out after talking it out with his friend, my son was innocent and it was an accident. But my heart still ached for my kid. When others were calling him guilty, it broke his spirit.

It made me think of all the times we’re called out and shamed instead of covered in grace. And how quickly we lose our joy when that happens. All the times I should’ve covered others instead of speaking fast out of anger.

My mind fast-forwarded to him at 25 when he really does mess up big time. What if he loses a job? What if he cheats on a test? What if he thinks he’s beyond the grace and love of Jesus because others make him feel that way? But that’s people, not God. God doesn’t shame us. He absorbs our shame.

God doesn’t shame us. He absorbs our shame.

So I hugged him and changed all those “what ifs” to “even ifs”.

Right there in the kitchen, I hugged his sad little self, and said…. “I need you to know that someday you really are going to mess up, and you need to know that your mom and dad and God will love you still. We will love you even if you crash the car. Even if you cheat an lose your job. Even if your family has problems. Even if… Even if…”

The heaviness was lifted and his joy returned. He was able to move on because he knew our love was secure.

During this month when I ponder the fruit of the Spirit, joy, that we have in Christ a certain verse has pounded on my soul.

10 He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. (psalm 103:10-13)

God doesn’t repay us for our sins. He covers them in grace as we confess them.

God doesn’t repay us for our sins. He covers them in grace as we confess them.

The truth is the opposite of what we think. His love is steadfast and higher than we can fathom. His grace goes beyond our mistakes. So much so that He’s removed our sins and thrown them away. He is compassionate and forgives us EVEN IF we mess up big-time. He loves us even if others don’t.

That’s why we are joyful. Because no matter what, we have a Dad who’s got our back. Who will never leave and will always love and cover us in His grace as we come and tell Him the truth. So tell your kids EVEN IF, but also tell yourself. God loves me…even if…

 

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him.Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

Your outfit, bitterness or grace

What are you wearing today? Does it look good on you? In times of betrayal, I’m tempted to put on the ugliest outfit of all — bitterness– and then I read my favorite verse…

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience,bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful,” (Colossians 3:12-15 ESV).

“…And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony,” (Colossians 3:14 ESV).

We are scandalously loved by Christ. And so when there is chaos around us, we as God’s people, are entrusted to extend that undeserved love to others. Because God first loved us when we were a hot mess.

Believe me, I know, it’s hard.

If you have been lied to or betrayed this is the last thing you want to do. It doesn’t mean that you say it’s all OK. It doesn’t mean that you don’t ask God for justice. But it DOES mean that you hand it over to God, completely. You hand over the outfit you were going to put on of judgment, anger, and bitterness, and you exchange it for a lighter more beautiful outfit of compassion, kindness, patience, and forgiveness.

 

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This wardrobe switch is as much for you as it is for the person who wronged you. Because these clothes feel better on your soul. They feel healing and warm and peaceful.

I don’t know what outfits are in your closet, or why they are there. I’m sure there are very valid reasons. But I pray that you and I can fold them up and give them to Jesus today as we come to him in prayer. And ask Him to help us choose to clothe ourselves in love, grace, and thankfulness so we can experience His peace.

 

Journal reflections:

book-bindings-3176776_1920What relationships are strained in your life because of sin or betrayal? Have you forgiven that person yet? What feelings would you have to give to Jesus to exchange for an outfit of grace and love towards that person? Knowing God loves you, write a prayer asking God to heal your heart and work out good in others lives.

Salvation Removes our Shame

Think of your very worst day. The one you hope no one saw. Or your biggest mistake. The one you still haven’t forgiven yourself for. What if I told you that Jesus was there that day. Would that make you squirm? Would you believe me if I told you that is the best news ever?

“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” John 4:29 ESV

In John chapter 4, Jesus was sitting by a well one day tired and thirsty. And up walked a woman. She was the kind of woman that others would avoid because she had slept around. Yet Jesus spoke to her and asked her for a drink. Instead of serving Jesus, she wondered why a Jewish man, someone who clearly out ranked a Samaritan woman, would even speak to her. She almost missed Jesus because she was insecure.

She almost missed Jesus because she was insecure.

Sometimes we feel like that, right? We think, why would Jesus love me? Why would He ever hear or answer my prayers? Why would He be on my side if He really knew what I have done and all the ways I’ve messed up.

Truth is He does know. But His response is the opposite of what we deserve.

Jesus knows every time we spoke out of anger, all the failures in motherhood or marriage, and every gossip or lie we ever told. He could say it’s time to reap your consequences! Instead, like He did for the woman at the well, He offers himself instead of condemnation and shame.

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“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water”” John 4:10.

Because Jesus led a sinless life and died a sinners death on the cross, we get to take our worst moments and trade them for God’s grace and forgiveness. If you’ve trusted your life to Jesus and asked for forgiveness, He’s not thinking about your past anymore and He doesn’t want you to dwell there either.

It’s hard sometimes to let go of the past, but we have to in order to truly accept grace from God. What do you need to let go of today? What mistake do you need to forgive yourself for? Jesus wants your eyes forward looking out for opportunities to grant others the mercy you have received.

For You to really live

My belief of the significance of Easter was missing a key element for a long time. I wasn’t hung up on if it all happened. I believed that Jesus died on the cross, conquered death and rose victorious the third day. I believed all the things you are taught in church…

I just didn’t believe Jesus did it for me.

In my mind it was true that Jesus was the Savior of the world, but I felt I personally was on the outside of God’s grace. 

Somehow my sin was too great for the cross. Or surely He wouldn’t have come all that way and suffered so immensely for a rebellious nobody from Nebraska living 2,000 years after the fact. In my mind it was true that Jesus was the Savior of the world, but I felt I was on the outside of grace not knowing or accepting it as my personal gift from God.

Until I needed it more than anything.

In early motherhood I needed the grace of God to be real for me personally. I was broken by anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, and stress. All I saw was black fog and I needed Jesus to be real and to be light not to the world, but to me.

The cross had to take away my junk because I couldn’t hold it any longer. Every day I need Jesus to remind me that I am loved, forgiven and free to just live without any conditions. Because Jesus came to set his Father’s kids free, not so they could keep trying to earn their own Salvation.

Jesus came to set his Father’s kids free, not so they could keep trying to earn their own Salvation.

Knowing that Jesus is for me personally changes everything about life. Really it has given me back back my life. It increases my joy, hope, and thankfulness while banishing fear and inadequacy.

So this Easter my prayer for us all is that we would continue to walk boldly in the freedom won on the cross. Claiming that we are…

FREE to accept love and grace personally from Christ.

FREE to forgive others with his strength and wisdom.

FREE from trying to work for the gift of Salvation.

FREE to believe in your core that God crossed the barrier of heaven and earth…

for you and me. So we could truly live.

“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10 NIV).

God wants You. Period. End of story.

I doubt God’s goodness and faithfulness like it’s my job. Like a dog who sees a squirrel, I keep forgetting the salvation that He has called me to through Christ. I keep forgetting His power He has shown in my life and turn to my own power and control. I forget that God doesn’t want my efforts, but that He wants me. He wants you.

We are not alone in the struggle of amnesia. Micah shook the Isrealites trying to get them to stop running after their own tails too.

He told them, “My people, remember…Remember your journey… that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD,” (Micah 6:5 NIV).

Friend. Remember. When you are scared, or lonely, or anxious, or depressed, or grieving, or heartbroken, or just plain broken… REMEMBER. Remember your journey with God.

Remember your journey with God. 

Remember the times He was the only one listening at midnight when you needed peace.

Remember when He pulled you out before and gave you new life and new perspective through His Spirit.

Remember you are already made right and already completely cherished and loved without an ounce of payback required.

Remember that He wants you for YOU not for what you can do — because really, what could we do greater than the cross?

Micah continues to press their hearts asking, “With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Micah 6:6-7NIV)

Our earthly striving selves need to be set free from this desire to pay back God everyday. He doesn’t want our fearful, guilt-ridden ‘have to’, He wants our thankful, heart-pounding, awe-struck ‘want to’.

He doesn’t want our fearful, guilt-ridden ‘have to’, He wants our thankful, heart-pounding, awe-struck ‘want to’.

This struggle is not a new one in the kingdom of God. Thousands of years ago His people were trying to please the Lord with spilling out whatever they had physically, when all God really wanted was their hearts. In their time it was giving of offerings to make things right. In our time it looks a little different.

We do what a ‘good Christian’ should do. We go to church to say we went. We don’t do this or that because we shouldn’t. And we do, do, do because we should. We tally up our good and try to hide our bad. We try to lay all our “shoulds” at His feet when He never asked us to strive. He doesn’t want our “shoulds’ He wants our hearts. So why do we withhold our hearts from Him?

Micah 6:8 “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

He has shown us what is good through Christ on earth. In Colossians 1:15 it says that Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He showed us how to live as sons and daughters of the King because He was one!

The way to walk humbly with our God is found in following Christ.

The way to walk humbly with our God is found in following Christ. Loving like He loved with the strength of the Holy Spirit within us. Forgiving crazy abundantly like He continues to forgive us. Reaching across ethnic, cultural, racial borders like He shattered the border between Jews and Gentiles, seeing the poor and oppressed and weary as equal and worthy and priceless like He saw women, children, and beggars.

Knowing Christ is knowing what God wants of you. He wants you and He wants your heart and He wants your life plan and your control and your time and your everything. Not because you have to, but because you love Him back and you want to do life with Him because life without Him is no life at all.

Sister, I pray that we walk humbly with our God today. That walk will not disappoint.

Silencing past regrets

Everyone has a sinful past. If you are living and breathing I would put money on the fact that you’ve said or done something you regretted. Something you wish you could erase. I know I have. Even though we are forgiven in Christ, sometimes it’s hard to let go of who we were before we started following God.

Recently, I wrote about the Proverbs 31 woman who is a beautiful picture of what a life can look like when God is at the center of every decision and every moment. But there’s another woman who is just as important to recognize.

She’s the Luke 7 woman.

We read her story in Luke 7:36-49. She’s the woman that led a sinful life and is weeping at Jesus’ feet, wiping and kissing his feet because she wants to let go of her sinful past and feel free. Instead of hiding her sin or staying in it, she seeks the Lord and lays her sin and regret right there for Him to take away so she can feel loved and whole again.

Instead of hiding her sin or staying in it, she seeks the Lord and lays her sin and regret right there for Him to take away so she can feel loved and whole again. 

She believes that this Jesus guy who everyone is talking about really is the Messiah, the one capable of wiping away everything and giving an undeserving person like her a new start.

And he does. Just like that at the end of the story, Jesus tells her that her sins have been forgiven.

“Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace,” Luke 7:50 NIV.

I wonder what this woman went on to do with the peace and forgiveness she was granted by the Savior of the world. Maybe people still treated her poorly because of her past, but she was able to walk with new pride anyway knowing that their opinion no longer mattered to her heart. She was right with God and no one could take that.

She was right with God and no one could take that. 

I wonder if she looked around her town for other broken women and told them the good news — that the grace Christ gave her could be theirs too if they believed and loved the Lord.

I wonder if her new excitement for life in Christ naturally prompted her to extended her faith and peace with the strength of the Proverbs 31 woman.

I bet in her new life she detested the sin that once owned her and instead gave every ounce of herself for the work of the Lord because she knew He was good and worth it.

Do you know the Luke 7 woman? If we have trusted Jesus as our Savior, she is us. She is me and you.

I’ve been that woman. The one who doesn’t know why on earth God would think I’m anything worth loving or forgiving, but so thankful He does. I wake up everyday the Luke 7 woman, wanting to be more like God and less like me, hoping in faith that I can start over again with a clean slate and live this life for such an incredible God. I love the fact that it’s possible to start over no matter what we’ve done or left undone if we find forgiveness at its ultimate source — Jesus.

I love the fact that it’s possible to start over no matter what we’ve done or left undone if we find forgiveness at its ultimate source — Jesus. 

I think we have to be the Luke 7 girl before we can be the Proverbs 31 woman. We have to accept God’s crazy love and forgiveness knowing we are imperfect and he is perfection before we can start living out love and forgiveness and peace to others.

Don’t let past sin haunt you anymore. Do business with Jesus today praying and laying the old you at His feet. Let’s trade in our regret for His peace and joy and love today. Let’s live free to be something completely new and lovely in Christ.