Roots Down Deep.

29 03 2017

For as long as I can remember trees have always fascinated me.  I love the grace with which they swayed in the mind.  I loved watching them survive and change throughout the seasons.  I LOVED listening to the wind whisper through their leaves while on the golf course.

Trees have always fascinated me.

It shouldn’t surprise you then that over the past few years God has spoken to me a lot through the image of a tree and the idea of roots down deep.

 


When I moved to New England there was something that happened within me that I could only explain through the picture of the transplanting of a tree.  Transplanting a tree takes a lot of commitment, forethought and follow through.  The roots of the tree have to be pruned the season prior to transplanting, a new hole must be dug and prepared, the plant must be positioned correctly and will need adequate care after the move.

What I found in my move to New England was that although the pruning was uncomfortable and the move was restricting and hard, once transplanted I finally had room for my roots to dig down deep and the ability to bear more fruit than I thought possible.

God had been purposeful both in the preparation beforehand but also in the where and the when of transplanting me.


And now, 2 1/2 years after I was transplanted I could see that my roots were deeper and my leaves were fuller.  And yet, there still seemed to be areas where there wasn’t much fruit, areas where there SHOULD have been fruit.  I began to ask questions of why I act and respond certain ways in different situations.  Questions of why I struggle with certain sins.  Questions of why I wasn’t seeing the type or amount of fruit as the care and conditions should see.  These questions birthed from a place of believing that there was more for me than I was seeing and that this “defect” had to come from somewhere.  The asking wasn’t consuming but I was becoming convinced that there had to be a reason why, there had to be a source, and God could show me.

And so, a year ago God began to answer.  And it was through the picture of a tree that God answered me.

God showed me, that I had become a stable tree.  My roots were deep and my leaves were healthy but there was an area that wasn’t seeing it’s potential.  He showed me deep into the root system, to the very beginning.  He dug down deep and revealed that sometime in the infancy of my tree a strong weed had taken root and that it had wound itself around my roots and pretended to be a part of the tree.

The weed hadn’t hindered my trees overall root strength or tree healthy but it caused areas to go without nutrients and to produce less fruit.  It wasn’t that anything was wrong with me and it wasn’t anything I  had done.

But it was time for something to be done.  My roots were deep enough and I was strong enough to survive the deep work that He needed to do.  If He had tried before I wouldn’t have been strong enough.  God needed to dig down deep and separate my true roots from the impostor.  He was going to rid me of the weed forever so that the areas that once lacked vitality and fruitfulness would now bear all the fruit that was intended.


Over the past year that is what God has done.  He has gone deep to rid me of the weeds.  And as He has worked He has also continued to speak to me about Roots Down Deep.  It is only if I will allow my roots to continue to go deep that I can withstand His rooting out the weeds deep within.

Growing up in the desert I was always amazed at the depth of roots some plants (and weeds) could produce.  The lack of water forced their roots to go deep.  The easy nutrients were found above but the life sustaining ones were found deep down.  Even in the driest of times, if you dig down deep you will find the nutrients for life.

The work is hard and painful and is taking time but the results I can already see and are worth it.

The only way to survive being transplanted, survive the weeds being dug out of life or the dry seasons that inevitably will come is to have roots down deep; to go beyond the easy and momentary to the eternal and everlasting.

If you have struggled with why God would wait to deal with or heal something in your life, I hope this image gives you hope and strength.  It is God’s love that waits as we become strong enough and it is also His love that goes deep to rid us of those weeds.  His timing is perfect.  His ways are eternal.  His love goes beyond even our pain.

Will you trust God and allow your roots to go down deep?  Will you push past the momentary and trust the Everlasting.

Keep trusting but don’t stop asking and believing for the fullness of His healing and love.

 





Resolving to Relate: DTR Part Two

5 10 2016

If you have been following my blog for any length you will notice that there has been a strong theme over the past few months that have to do with 1. identity and 2. Relationships.  This is because at my youth group we have been talking about Identity (Who we are in Light of who God is), Resolving to Follow God, and then how those two play out in our relationships, especially dating, sex and marriage.

In our Identity series we talked about Determining the Relationship and that we must resolve to love those we interact with not as the world calls us to love but instead with God’s love.  A few weeks ago we touched back on this idea of Determining the Relationship but more in the context of relationships.

Our original design was as the image bearer of God , male and female together. As the imago dei (image of God/image bearer of God) we were created for:

  1. Relationship with God
  2. Relationship with others

If we are made as the image of God – then we have to understand who God is:

God is love.

1 John 4:8 “he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

This word love is the Greek word “Agape.”  This love…

…is considered a benevolent love which means that this love that is God’s very identity is a love that gives the recipient (you and I) something we can’t receive, make, find, earn on our own.

…it sees something infinitely precious in the recipient – not because of something they have done or not done but just because of who they are.

…is not shown by doing what the recipient desires (wants) but instead what the one who loves deems as needed by the recipient, even knowing this may lead to rejection.

We, as humans, cannot show this type of love to God or others without first receiving God’s love – it is only God, in His Holiness, who has such an unselfish love because this love is rooted firmly in the personal character of God. God’s love is a part of his personality and cannot be swayed by passion or diverted by disobedience.

God’s love isn’t based on how we make him feel – it is willful. He chose to love us and He continues to carry that love out.

If we are made in the image of God, and love is a part of His personality/His very identity – then doesn’t that mean that we are made in the very image of love?

And so, we must determine what our relationship with the World should be. Our Relationship with the World must be one of love – God’s love.

A love that gives what people need not what they want.

A love that is willing to be rejected to truly love.

A love based on seeing those we love as infinitely precious and deserving of God’s truth, God’s life.

A love not based on our feelings but based on willful purpose.

But the question is, how do we do that?


  1. A love that gives what people need not what they want.

I firmly believe that with both friends and with the suitable partner God has for us – that they will challenge us to be more of who God created us to be. They will give us what we need feedback, challenges, encouragement, room to grow, etc. not necessarily what we want.

We also need to be willing to be those people. Those friends and even those possible suitable partners.  Are we giving space for them to seek God first and not us, are we challenging what they are hearing from God when it sounds off base?  Are we calling them out when their actions don’t line up with what they say God has said?

2. Love with willful purpose – not a love based on feelings.

In resolving to relate – we need to be intentional – we need to have willful purpose in our relationships. We need to know what God is calling us to.

In our relationships we need to care both about those we are relating with today but also those we will be relating with and who they will be relating with in the future…

Listen to me, it isn’t just about how far is too far. But it is about honoring each other and those you will end up being with.

3. We need to be intentional today for the promises God has for us tomorrow.

We need to not just think about today but we need to ask God what He has for us in the future and then make decisions based on those promises.

Noah started building the Ark when there weren’t any clouds in the sky… when they didn’t even have a concept of what rain was. His actions were in light of God’s Word for the future not what he saw or felt in that moment.

4. We need to know who we are in God.

Adam and Eve were suitable partners for what God had created them to do.  God’s plan for us includes suitable partners for what we were created to do. But that means that to know who is suitable, we have to be willing to wait until we know what God has called us to do.

This doesn’t mean that we have to know the exact specifics but we must have a sense of the direction that God is calling us to.

God gave me this picture:

Imagine that you are back in high school and you have a huge project for one of your classes. Each person has a unique project they are working on and it has to do with who they are and how they were created.  Each project was created to bring out that specific person.

With this project, you will be working with a partner of the opposite sex.  The teacher tells you as you are receiving your projects that you can choose your own partner or you can wait on the teacher and they will pair you with someone who has a project that would complement your own.

You decide to pick your own partner.  You see someone who you think is cute and looks as though you would get along great.  You introduce yourself and ask if they would like to be partners.  They quickly agree and you start talking.  You find out that you have similar personalities, you likes similar things and everything looks perfect to you.

Over time though, you find that your projects are less compatible than you first imagined.  Conflict begins to arise as your research and resources are incompatible.  You find that either you must separate to find new partners, you will stay together but work harder to try and make things work or one of you will have give up their project.

If you had just waited on the teacher they would have brought you a suitable companion.  A companion whose project would have complimented your own.


The questions that God has challenged me and I challenged my youth with is this:

Are we willing to be intentional today – in our relationships –
for the promises of God for tomorrow?  

Are we willing to be intentional today so that our marriages, our callings,
our families tomorrow will be all that God intends them to be?





Identity: Determining the Relationship

4 10 2016

I went to a smallish bible college for my college education.  And I’m not sure about most colleges but at my school relationships and dating were weird.  Our campus and student body was so small that no matter what you did everyone was watching and noticing.

There was a phenomenon in college called “DTRing”  DTR stood for “Determining the Relationship.”  A DTR happened when two members of the opposite sex had been hanging out a lot and on one side or the other questions of where this newfound friendship were going arose.  A DTR conversation could be identified by the following:

  1. A male and female were sitting alone at a bench or table.
  2. Normally there was an abnormal amount of space between the two.
  3. At least one of the individuals looked extremely uncomfortable.
  4. Both were serious.

A DTR conversation could happen because friends were questioning the friendship or due to a desire from one participant to be more than friends.  A DTR was meant to determine what their relationship was: dating or friendship.

I wish I could say that I never had a DTR but unfortunately I participated in a few too many of these.  And while the concept is mildly amusing to think back upon I can’t help but think that when we are talking about our identity as image bearers of God, that we are made for relationship with God and others, that we must Determine what our Relationship with the World will be.

Let’s take a look at what I’m talking about.

If we are made in the image of God we have to understand who God is.

God is love. – 1 John 4:8 “he that loveth not knoweth not God, for God is love.

When I say love what do you think about?

This love that speaks of God’s love is the Greek word “Agape.”  This love…

..is considered a benevolent love which means that this love that is God’s very identity is a love that gives the recipient (you and I)
something we can’t receive, make, find, earn on our own.

..sees something infinitely precious in the recipient – not because of something
they have done or not done but just because of who they are.

..is not shown by doing what the recipient desires (wants) but instead
what the one who loves deems as needed by the recipient,
even knowing this may lead to rejection.

God’s love for man is His doing what He knows to be best for man, not what man desires, because He sees us as infinitely precious to Him.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you look at Jesus, Jesus was not the Messiah, the Savior they wanted but He was the Messiah, Savior they needed.

God loved mankind enough to give us what we needed (and still need) knowing that mankind could continue to reject Him.

God’s love for us is not motivated or manipulated by our rejection or disobedience.

Romans 8:39 “Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

We, as humans, cannot show this type of love to God or others without first receiving God’s love – it is only God, in His Holiness, who has such an unselfish love because this love is rooted firmly in the personal character of God. God’s love is a part of his personality and cannot be swayed by passion or diverted by disobedience.

God’s love isn’t based on how we make him feel – it is willful. He chose to love us and He continues to carry that love out.  

If we are made in the image of God, and love is a part of His personality/His very identity – then doesn’t that mean that we are made in the very image of love?  It is out of His identity of love that our identity and purpose are redeemed. Jesus redeemed our identity and redeemed our purpose of relationship with God and others.

And so, we must determine what our relationship with the World should be. Our Relationship with the World must be one of love – God’s love.  A love that…

..gives what people need not what they want.

…is willing to be rejected to truly love.

..is based on seeing those we love as infinitely precious and
deserving of God’s truth, God’s life.

 ..is not based on our feelings but based on willful purpose.

What the World desires is to be accepted just as they are. To be accepted in their brokenness and chaos.  They know nothing except brokenness.  Their true desire is love, God’s love, but they don’t have even a basis to know what that is.

Eph 5:1-2 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Luke 6:27-28 “But to you who are listening to say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

Are we willing for the World to dislike us if it means they will experience God?

Are we willing to be rejected to truly love others?

Will we resolve to love and not tolerate, no matter what it takes?

 





Resolving to Relate

3 10 2016

Every day I am more and more convinced that God wants us to have full, passionate, healthy relationships.  And every day I am more convinced that the enemy has gotten us to buy into a lie that what we want, see, experience are more than God could ever give us.  And so I have resolved that I will no longer keep silent.  I will share what God has done in me, what He has spoken and shared with me about relationships, marriage and sex so that we will begin to see and experience all God has for us.

At our youth group we have been going through a series that I titled, “Resolved to Relate: Resolving to do relationships God’s Way.”  It isn’t about rules.  It isn’t about kissing dating good bye.  It isn’t about what we cannot do.  But instead it is about God’s love and promises to us which affects our love towards others.

It all hinges on our identity.  That our identity lies in who God is.  We are literally, as male and female, the image bearer of God and God’s purpose in us was for relationship.  Relationship with Him and relationships with others.  Who we are and how we were intended to relate can only be understood by who God is: love.

And so, if we are made, as the image bearer of Chris, for relationship with God and others, then we must resolve to relate God’s way.  We must resolve to relate in love.  Not in feelings or emotions but in love; a love that gives what the recipient needs not wants, that is not based on condition but instead is based on that recipient being seen as infinitely precious.

God desires that we would give and receive love that is bigger than emotions or momentary wants.  God desires that we would give and receive a love that captures the desires of our hearts, even before we understand them.

Are you willing to begin a journey of resolving to relate God’s way?





Being a Mat Carrier

23 02 2015

Have you ever read the story of the paralytic in Mark 2? 

You know the story I’m talking about; the one where Jesus was teaching, as He does, in a house that was packed out.  There was no room ANYWHERE, the overflow’s overflow was overfilled.  Well a group of friends heard on the grapevine that this Jesus fellow was pretty good with healing people, even other paralytics, so they brought their friend, a paralytic, to get healed.  Unfortunately for them, everyone and their brother had heard the same thing; every square inch was filled with those who needed to hear His voice, to feel His presence and to experience healing.  Most people would have sadly turned around and ho hummed their way back home.  Not these guys; they decided that if they couldn’t get near Jesus THROUGH the crowd they would get their another way. So they climbed… with their paralytic friend and his mat… to the roof, dug THROUGH the roof and then lowered their friend in.

Usually when I read this story I think about the paralytic.  I think about how helpless he must have felt to have to rely on someone else to bring him.  How out of control his life must have felt that he had no ability to change his situation.  How amazing it must have been to watch a man who had lived his life on a mat just roll it up and walk off.

Not today.  Today I thought about his friends.  Mark 2:4-5 reads, “Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on.  When Jesus saw THEIR faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins have been forgiven.’”  When Jesus saw THEIR faith – now I don’t know if it was the faith of the man and his friends or if it was just the faith of his friends that caught Jesus’ attention.  But think about that for just a second, what if it was just THEIR faith that brought about the paralytic’s healing?  Jesus wasn’t wrought with compassion for the man instead He was struck by their faith.

I can’t help but think about how many paralytic people my own life holds. You know who I’m talking about, the person who due to hurt, pain, experience can’t seem to stand on their own two feet.  The person who has been kicked around by life and they no longer have the strength or even the desire to do anything but lie on their “mat.”  They can’t seem to change their circumstances and maybe they don’t care to.

Maybe they don’t have the faith. Maybe they don’t have to.

I believe that we have been called, I have been called to be a mat carrier.  Am I willing, when the house is packed to climb to the roof and dig through to bring them into the presence of Jesus?  Am I willing to make room for them when it doesn’t look like there is?  Am I willing, even with the chance that nothing may happen?

And when I have done all that, will I have faith?

In my journal today I wrote this, “What I love about the healing in Mark 2 is that it wasn’t a man looking sorry that caught His attention but the faith in Him and the love of the man who took them to great heights.  They threw away convention and ease believing that if they go their friend into the Presence of Jesus, then he would be healed. Do I have this faith?  Am I willing to think outside the box, to work hard, to pursue and to carry those around me so that they would be healed?  Do I love them enough?  Do I believe Him enough?”

The heart of these friends was built on love and faith.  Love for the paralytic and faith in Jesus.  And so, for me, a fellow mat carrier, my heart must be the same.  Love for the paralytic, for the people, and faith in Jesus.

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13

Yesterday, I prayed that before I “pursued” any ministry at my new church that I would truly and deeply love the people. I have a love that comes with knowing and feeling the love God has for them, but I want the love that comes through community and fellowship and knowing them. Today, God challenged me to be their mat carrier for there is no greater love than to bring someone who cannot bring themselves into the very presence of the one who save, heals, redeems and loves.

I am a mat carrier. Are you?





#Kortnigothitched

21 10 2013

Woops.  I wrote this blog post at the beginning of September, over a month ago, and somehow it never was posted.  I think I had the intention of inserting more photos and it didn’t happen.  Hmm.  So here you go!  Just Imagine it’s the first week of September and you’ll get along just fine :)

My best friend got hitched a few weeks ago.  And I still can’t believe it.  Partly because it’s weird to think that my best friend is married and partly because it makes me realize I’m getting older.  Weird.  So what do I say?  How do I write down the thoughts, feelings and excitement I have for them?  Well I guess I’ll break it down so you can hear it all!

The couple:

I love them.  Don’t tell anyone else, this will have to be our little secret, but they are possibly my favorite couple ever.  Why?  Probably because I was there before, during and now.

Kortni is my best friend and has been since the day that I met her. (I have more than one best friend btw because well God’s blessed me…)  She was my first roommate and for 3 ½ years my only roommate.  She put up with my crazy outfits, gross colored hair and let’s be honest moments of complete uncleanness.  That’s what happens when you first go to college, right?  But her clean freakiness wore off on me so after 3 ½ years I am now considered the clean one.  J  The first day we met we stayed up way too late just talking and after 3 1/2 years we still do that when we get together.  It was as though I had known her forever but we had to catch up on the time we had been apart.  There was so much about her that just made sense to me.  We have laughed, cried and yelled a lot at each other and I couldn’t be more thankful for each and every moment.  Kortni has seen me at my best and at my worst…. She has seen me cry more times than I would like to admit and yet she never walked away. 

Kortni 4

I knew her before Anthony.  I knew her when she was dating someone else, when she was talking to other guys.  But then Anthony came along and she didn’t know what to do.  That is probably one of my favorite things about their relationship.  In the past I had seen her confidently move into a relationship, it seemed normal and natural but with Anthony she didn’t know what she was doing.

And who was Anthony?  A youngin!!  She rocked the cradle with this one ;) No, but in all seriousness, he just kind of appeared.  It was accidental how they started talking and you could tell that neither of them knew what was going on.  And yet, it just made sense.  My sister once told me that although there is truth to the fact that relationships take work there is also an aspect where it should just work, it should be easy while also taking work.  I haven’t experienced this yet but in watching these two that advice suddenly made sense.  So as they moved forward in their relationship and I got to know Anthony it was as though the pieces of who they are just fell into place like a rather intricate puzzle.  The summer after they started dating Kortni went to Africa for a month just as we moving into an apartment.  And it was over that month that Anthony really got a place in my heart.  He helped me move her in, he brought me coffee and we talked about them.  We talked about when they were going to get engaged, how he was going to do it and I gave him my approval!  It was in that month that Anthony was no longer my best friends boyfriend that I liked but he became my friend.  That was over a year before they got engaged but it cemented into my heart his place.  But Anthony never made me feel like the roommate and most of the time I wasn’t thought of as the awkward third wheel but I was a friend.

And Kortni and Anthony together are adorable.  They are unique and bizarre and wonderful.  Everything that a good couple should be, right?! They go to different restaurants and write critique blogs.  They watch “Big Bang Theory” and they read books to each other.  They laugh, they cry and they just enjoy life.

Stolen Moments:

I flew into LA the Wed before the wedding and that meant that I stayed with Kortni Wed night until their wedding!  And two of those nights it was just Kortni and Kaitlin, just like old times.  The first night I arrived later at night and I was exhausted.  You wouldn’t think that a three hour time difference would be that big a deal but when you arrive at like 9 pm and don’t go to bed till after midnight you are exhausted.  But we never could go to bed easily when we had been away from each other so we talked, giggled and chatted a lot later than we should have.  Then up the next morning so Kortni could go to work for a couple of hours.  Then we had a roommate date. 

Some people don’t know what a roommate date is… When we were in college we made sure that at least once a month we would go on what we would call a roommate date.  It was that time that we held each other accountable, we asked the hard questions, talked about life and school and boys.  It was also the times where we could talk about our frustrations with each other, when we could be brutally honest because we loved each other and we valued our friendship.  We had a couple of haunts that were our normal roommate date locations: Target, Ross and Goodwill.  At Ross and Goodwill we played this “game.”  We would pick out hideous outfits for the other person to try on… it was hilarious.  Kortni was a lot better at the game than I was but we always had a great time.  And so it was fitting that before she got married we would do this again, so off w went with Kortni’s sister and it was a hoot!  Our goal this time was to find ugly bridesmaid dresses to wear bowling for the bachelorette party!

Kortni 2 Kortni 3

I loved my stolen hours with my best friend.  Talking about everything and anything.  Sharing our fears and our dreams.  I love her and I’m so thankful for having that time with her.

A wedding unlike any other:

Well their wedding was in the backyard of Kortni’s aunt and uncle which for me was a first.  But it was beautiful.  Kortni had bought a designer dress for a steal and then proceeded to cut the dress and alter it.  What came about at the end was the perfect dress for her.  I was a little skeptical until I saw it in person.  When I saw it the dress was Kortni.  Kortni is a pretty laid back person and her wedding wasn’t any different.  She was one of the most laid back brides ever and I think she cared more about if we were happy than about herself.

But there was one thing that she really wanted and that was for the wedding party to jump into the pool at the end of the night.  Now there was a lot of controversy about this for whatever reason but… in the end we did.  The guys jumped in with the wedding garter and then the girl joined and then Kortni and Anthony as man and wife TOOK THE PLUNGE!  They, hand in hand, jumped into the pool.  It was unlike anything I had ever seen or experienced.  And it was perfect for who they are: fun and a little crazy!

My favorite moment though was as Kortni walked down the aisle and Anthony started crying.  You could see how much this moment and this lady meant to himAnd I am forever thankful for the opportunity to love them, to see them on this journey and to have been a part of their special day.

 





Clarity in Conflict

21 07 2013

The last few weeks have been a little crazy in my life.  A lot has been going on at work and at church.  And some of these things are changes and others have to do with walking through conflict.  I HATE conflict.  Always have and always will.  But because we walk through life with other human beings and we all have different perspective, different baggage and different reactions conflict happens.  Conflict is normal.  Conflict can force us to see that people come to the table with different view points, backgrounds and thought process… and although these are different it doesn’t mean that any one is the RIGHT one.

In the church this is difficult because there has to be ONE Truth that is THE truth, right?  Otherwise it would mean that there would be multiple ways to heaven and Jesus wouldn’t be THE Way.  But if there is ONE truth then why is there conflict?  There is conflict because although there is ONE Truth and ONE Way BUT this ONE Truth and ONE Way maybe expressed, interpreted and experienced in different ways.  Because just as there is ONE Way, God made each of unique to reflect His different attributes.

Well this balance, this tension that we come across in conflict has been very evident in some interactions that I have had in the past couple of months.  And I have been processing through the different experience that I have been having at a present level but also on a future level because someday I am going to be a leader, leading other leaders and I want to have the wisdom to navigate through conflict when it arises in a healthy and God honoring way.

I was faced with a conflict situation that seriously grieved me a few weeks ago.  It weighed heavy upon me each day. I prayed and worked with leaders in my life to process through the conflict that was happened.  And one night God brought me some clarity.  One night as I was pondering upon the situation and praying I exclaimed to God that I just “didn’t understand.”  I didn’t understand the reaction.  I didn’t understand the words.  I didn’t understand anything that had happened.

Now I have already said that conflict has to do with different people coming together in relationship bringing their baggage, their personalities, their thinking together.  Right?  Well, to understand my struggle you have to understand part of my personality.  I don’t like to just know the surface of things.  I don’t want to just know that someone is having a hard time I want to understand the depth that is underneath that hard time.  What is the background?  What has lead up to this point?  What are the factors in their environment that affect their response?  I don’t just take one sides viewpoint.  I want to see all the angles and understand all the factors so that I can wisely approach and minister to the situation.  If you talk to my family I was always the child asking “Why?”  And not just in my twos and three but I remember well into high school when we would be watching the news or discussing something I would often stop my parents to ask what a certain word meant or ask why something affected something else.  I wanted to be able to see the big picture not just my one piece.

And it didn’t occur to me until I was praying about this situation that I am still very much like that little girl who asked her family so many questions.  I was having a hard time processing through what had happened because I couldn’t grasp it.  I didn’t see the whole picture so I didn’t understand why that was the response.  I was having a hard time because I couldn’t empathize with the people in the conflict.  And as I sought the Lord, He, as always, answered.

“That is because you never will understand Kaitlin.  You will never experience what they have experienced.  You will never hurt to the depth that they hurt.  You will never process through in the way that they have.  You will never respond the way that they have.  You will never be where they are.  So… you will never understand.” 

It’s funny, isn’t it, that although God didn’t actually answer me, He did all at the same time.  It was as though all of a sudden I could see.  He gave me some understanding.  He showed me that the depth that I had hurt was not to the same depth that they were hurting.  He showed me that my response would never be their response AND that gave me empathy.  To know that they had been so hurt and abused that their brokenness, even IN Christ, was still so painful… it brought me to my knees again.  And I was able to understand.  I might not be able to understand the why.  I might never be able to take myself to the point to see what they see.  But I can understand how far away from what I can image that they are that they must hurt so much… AND that God’s heart is to bring them even more into His presence, into His healing, and into His love.

And as I move forward learning about conflict and learning that Jesus can redeem and use conflict I must hold onto this… that Jesus is moving beyond the conflict.  That although it looks as though it is a mountain that is impassable in the scripture it tells us that if we have faith we can tell a mountain to go into the depth of the sea and it will.  So too with conflict.  The truth is that if we fix our eyes on Jesus, on His love, healing, joy, comfort, peace and unity He can and will redeem even our deepest conflict. 

And that brings me joy.  And hope…. when it looks hopeless I can cling to the hope that is Jesus.