You May Be Worshiping Wrong

There was a great sadness in the woman before me as we discussed the dysfunction of her marriage.

“Does he ever bring you gifts?” I asked.

She nodded, staring out the window. “He brings me gifts all the time, but nothing I desire. He brings what he wants to give, what he wants to be seen giving, things he wants a woman to have. Each one, as valuable or costly as it may be, simply reminds me that he doesn’t even see me. Our relationship is completely about him. He gives what he wants to give, nothing more or less, and revels in his own satisfaction.”

It appeared the man’s emotional maturity halted in toddlerhood. Many a mother or father has received a well-intended gift for Mother’s or Father’s Day from a child that reflected the child’s own interests with little thought to the recipient. Continue Reading →

Like a House Afire – Further Adventures in the Advent of a New Tradition

Every year around this time in New England, there are reports of homes destroyed by chimney fire. It’s natural that as fires burn in the fireplace through the year, that layer after layer of soot collects inside the chimney stack and if it is not cleaned out, it reaches a dangerous level. This accumulation of soot is highly combustible and the fire that is supposed to bring warmth and light to a home becomes the source of its destruction.

Last year, around this time, I learned that same thing can happen to me.

2008 had been pretty rocky and day after day, I’d allowed thin layers of unforgiveness, grief, anger, bitterness, sorrow, disappointment, and my own sins to accumulate in the chimney stack of my soul. As Christmas came around, I had the sense that I was a walking combustible – one little flame could catch the brittle tinder of my heart and I would self-destruct.

That’s when, during a heavy snow storm and a quiet time of prayer with the Lord, I was struck by a life-changing truth: I cannot change the past.

Not the most radical thought, I know, but it was. I remember when my son was fourteen and suffered a severe burn on his back. He was racked with a violent flu and briefly fainted, falling back onto one of our hot iron radiators. For days afterward, I found myself reliving the moment when from the next room I had heard the dull thud of his fall. Eventually I realized that on an emotional level, I was trying to get back to that moment to change what happened. But we can’t go back and neither can those we love.

In the popular song, Breathe, the singer observes “’Cause you can’t jump the track, we’re like cars on a cable, And life’s like an hourglass glued to the table.”

During that snowstorm in 2008, I saw anew the wisdom of the Lord in confession and forgiveness. Our yard starts to look pretty dismal around November but the first snowfall arrives and everything is blanketed with white and my yard is reborn. So it is when we bring our sins before the Lord and ask forgiveness. So it is when we bring what we hold against others to the Lord and agree to forgive them. So it is when we bring our disappointments in what the Lord has allowed or not allowed before Him and reaffirm our love and commitment to Him.

So, that is what I did last year and what I will do again this season. I set aside time and asked the Lord to bring to mind all the things I had to confess and all the things I was holding against others and against Him (even though we know we have no right to judge the Lord’s ways, most of us still hold some things against Him when His ways are not our ways). I acknowledged the gravity of each of my sins, asked for forgiveness and agreed to change. I acknowledged the pain of other’s sins against me, agreed to forgive them and leave judgment in the hands of the Lord. I acknowledged any anger or disappointment in the way God had worked things out in my life and let them go, reaffirming my trust in His character and His wisdom in my life, reaffirming that I have given my life to Him and it is now His, not mine. And I put 2008 under the blanket of His forgiveness, just as I will put 2009 under the blanket of forgiveness.

Each of the four gospels approaches the birth of Jesus in a different way but one thing they have in common is that each makes significant mention of John the Baptist. John was born to “Prepare the way for the Lord.” Our God is a consuming fire and we must prepare for Him to set a blaze in our hearts. Cleaning out the chimney stack of our souls is how we prepare for that fire to be the light and warmth and heat it is intended to be.

It is good that as we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus to remember that He grew up and that He is now ascended to His throne in heaven and is as He appeared to John in Revelation “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like a blazing fire. His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing water. In his right hand he held the seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.”

He is our risen Lord, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. We should prepare our hearts for His coming.

Loved ones, don’t forget during all of your Christmas preparations to Prepare the way for the Lord.

Making A List and Checking It Twice

Just a list of names.

I’ve been reading the Bible since I was six but for many years, when I came to a long genealogy like the one that opens Matthew’s gospel, I would pass it by so I could get to the stories. Maybe because I’m older and closer to being just a name on a list of ancestors, I’ve grown to appreciate that each name on these lists is a story.

There are lots of reasons to have a list of names. One couple seeking fame and attention, snuck into the White House this week despite the fact their names were NOT on the invitation list. Tom Brady was once just a name on a list. He was the 199th choice in the sixth round of the NFL draft. The position of his name on the list held no real hope for promise or performance in keeping with his true story. There are names carved on lists of memorials like the Vietnam Wall – lists that tell of stories cut short. During the Holocaust, having your name on the right list meant the difference between life and death. On Broadway, audition lists hang heavy with names bearing stories of desperation, aspiration and hope. A list of names is almost never JUST a list of names. Every name tells a story that God believed could only be told over a lifetime.

The list of names in Matthew 1 begins with Abraham – the man who received an amazing promise from God and believed Him. Fourteen generations later, we find the name of King David, a man after God’s own heart. Fourteen generations from David, the heaven’s opened and God stepped into human history as a squalling, swaddled baby named Jesus.

Skeptics accuse Christians of claiming to have the truth while they believe we’re just following a religion invented by man. The genealogy of Matthew is evidence that no man would make this up. Listed among the great men of Jewish and Christian history on this list are five women – and here is the proof that some man trying to invent a religion to win over Jews and Gentiles alike would never make this up.

In verse 3, we find Tamar. Her story is actually found in Genesis 38. She was dealt a raw deal by her father-in-law, Judah, and took matters into her own hands by posing as a prostitute and becoming pregnant by him. No real winners in this story but God chose to include her in the line of Jesus and mention her by name.

Next, verse 5 mentions Rahab. Rahab was the prostitute mentioned in Joshua 2 and again in Hebrews 11:31. When Israeli spies visited her establishment, she hid them from the King of Jericho. Her faith in the God of the Israelites won her her life and a place in Jesus’ line.

Also in verse 5, we see the name of Ruth. Ruth was a godly woman but she was not a Jew, she was from the Moabite people. Radical to find the name of a Moabite woman in the lineage of Jesus.

Verse 6 makes mention of Uriah’s wife. Uriah was a Hittite and while he was at war, King David seduced his wife, Bathsheba. When he discovered she was pregnant with his child, he first brought Uriah home on furlough and tried to get him to sleep with her. When Uriah insisted on remaining in solidarity with his men and taking no comfort for himself, David had him sent to the front lines and killed, taking Bathsheba for his own wife.

Finally, Mary is mentioned. A teen-age girl discovered to be with child before she could be taken in marriage by Joseph, her betrothed, claiming to carry the seed of God who would grow to be Messiah.

Five women’s names on a list.

A story behind every name.

And evidence that the Christian faith is completely God’s idea. What man, in devising a false religion and setting a man up to be worshipped as the Jewish Messiah would make mention of – highlight, in fact – that His great, great, grandmothers were prostitutes, adulterers, ruined women and non-Jews. That’s the kind of family history you keep in a closet, you don’t use it as your opening line!

But, God’s not running for Messiah. He doesn’t need your vote. He did want us all to know that nothing and no one is out of reach of His redemption. Matthew himself was a tax collector – he was a Jew who worked for the Romans- often selling out his fellow Jews to gain a profit – until he met Jesus. So, who better to spread the news that no matter who is listed in your family tree, Jesus has the last word on your life?

Names on a list. A story behind every name. In preparation for Christmas, read the names. Look up some of the stories. God hides nothing in the closet. He brings it all to light because He is the Light.

The family tree of Jesus continues to grow through the adoption of sons and daughters through Jesus’ sacrifice every day. In the long run, the eternal run, there’s only one real list that counts. Is your name on it?

Just a Little Nap in the Poppy Field

Did you ever want to stop and stay where you were for awhile but your traveling companion had the energy and drive to keep moving forward? I hate that.

Sometimes a journey gets long and I get tired and the poppies are so pretty and smell so sweet that I just want to lie down to rest. I have, however, a very energetic, very determined traveling companion in Jesus. Always moving forward, that One.

You can see it in a read-through of the gospels. The disciples always seem like I feel – in awe of Jesus, stunned by His words and miracles, hoping for a moment to bask in His miracles, to absorb His teaching, to take in the crowds and maybe allow some of His residual glory to fall on them. But Jesus is always on the move forward – always moving toward His destination and inviting them to travel with Him.

There’s a verse in Mark 10:32 that makes me laugh: “They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid.” That’s me on the road with Jesus – half the time astonished, the other half afraid.

I so understand these guys, Jesus’ disciples. I mean, they’ve just seen Jesus perform miracles, heard Him teach about how hard it is for anyone to be saved, watched Him welcome children into His arms and set them up as examples for all and now He’s moving them on toward Jerusalem explaining on the way that when they reach Jerusalem, He’s going to be betrayed. Shortly thereafter, they’re engaged in a debate about who gets to sit on His left or right when He comes into power. I’m just like that.

For much of my life, I’ve been up for hitting the road with Jesus pretty regularly but this year felt different. Maybe because I’m forty-eight – very mid-life. He and I have been walking this road for a lot of years and I’ve been feeling a yen to take a nap in the poppy field. Haven’t I learned enough? Haven’t I grown enough? Haven’t I risked enough times? Haven’t I reached out enough, been stretched enough, been tested enough? Can’t we push the pause button on spiritual growth?

Not Jesus. He keeps moving toward our destination and inviting me to travel with Him. And there I am with the other disciples – astonished. With the other followers – afraid. But like the disciples I am compelled by Jesus, I know He is the genuine article, I know He is the key, the door, the gateway to the greatest adventure in the universe and as appealing as it is to snooze with the pretty poppies on the side of the road – He is the road, the Way and He is a traveling show.

What does this mean really? Having loved Him, worshipped Him, studied Him and followed Him for over forty-five years, there is more and I can choose to hang back, rest on past progress, share testimonies from old adventures and settle on sanctification lite or I can continue to follow close at His heels even if it means entering my soul’s Jerusalem.

The poppy field is so pretty, so appealing, and a nap would be so restful but I choose to be awake because generations before me waited for His appearance and I’ve been offered a ticket to ride. I don’t want to miss a thing.

How about you?

Annoying Kids and the Kingdom of God

There’s a television promo running right now that aptly captures the current state of my relationship with God.

It’s a commercial advertising The Family Guy – a show of which I am NOT a fan and which I do NOT recommend watching. However, in the commercial, the baby of the family, Stewie, stands beside his mother’s bed as she tries to rest and repeatedly calls her name like this:

Mom! Mom! Mommy! Mommy! Mom! Mom! Mummy! Ma! Ma! Mom! Mom! Mommy! Mom! Mom! Mummy! Ma! Ma! Mom! Mom! Mummy! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mum! Mummy! Mom! Mom!

Lois tries to rest quietly until she can no longer take it and cries out, “What?”

“Hi.” Stewie then replies.

In the gospel of Mark chapter 10, people start bringing little children to Jesus but the disciples shoo them off – scolding them for bothering Jesus with little kids. Jesus insists they let the children come to Him and tells the disciples “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.” And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.

Receive the kingdom of God like a little child.

I’ve heard many sermons on this topic and sometimes I wonder if the people speaking on the wonder of little children ever spent long, long days raising them.

Kids are open, trusting, amazing and awestruck by life.

But they are also energetic, curious, messy, straightforward, blunt and maddeningly persistent when they want something to the point of being downright annoying. OK, well, there’s one Bible verse I’m living out. I definitely receive the kingdom of God like a child.

My children used to play Stewie’s game with me. Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Mom! Over and over and over until I finally gave in and said “What?” “Hi.”

Often it was just a silly game but sometimes it rose out of a need for attention or connection or a childish test to be sure I would respond in case of a real emergency or just because a child needed reassurance that I was there. Even when it was a silly game, though, it was evidence to my children that even if they were terribly silly and annoying, I would be patient with them and not lash out at them for simply being children.

I need that reassurance from God. There are times in life when every circumstance seems to highlight for me that I am not in control, that when push comes to shove I am very small and wildly vulnerable and that in a battle with the universe, I don’t stand a chance. I feel like the child that I am.

In those times, I need to hear from God pretty frequently. I need to know He’s close. I need to know He’ll be patient no matter how much assurance I need, no matter how often I show up with nothing more to say than “Hi, it’s me again. Just checking on you.” I need to know that even when I’m silly or annoying or needy or clingy or small and scared, He is there to be my Father and to love me and to not shoo me away because He has more important things to do and more important people to see.

Father! Father! Papa! Father! Dad! Dad! Dad! Father! Father! Dad! Dad! Da! Da! Papa! Father! Father!

What?

Hi.

I believe receiving the kingdom of God like a child means coming to Him as I am. Sometimes I’m annoying. He gets that. Sometimes being with me is like being alone with a toddler for a long rainy afternoon with no electricity and no break in sight. He loves me anyway. Sometimes I knock on God’s door again and again and again and again asking the same question over and over. He is patient because this isn’t a religion, it’s our relationship and it’s real.

Do you annoy God sometimes? Then maybe you get it, too. Maybe you’re receiving the kingdom of God like a little child.

Dad! Dad! Dad!

What?

I love you. That’s all.

I love you, too, child.

It’s All About Me, Me, Me – But It’s Not.

Too much of my faith is about me.

Do you have that problem?

My faith. My life. My issues. My calling. My spiritual growth. As if the Bible was the original self-help book for extreme makeovers of the soul.

I think the disciples had the same problem I do.

At the end of Mark chapter 8, Jesus tries to tell His men, His followers, His disciples what lay ahead for Him. His Father’s plan.

So Peter (you’ve got to love, Peter), so Peter pulls Jesus aside and says something to Jesus like “OK, you need to stop talking all this suffering and death stuff. You’re scaring some of the brothers and it’s really not a very uplifting message. Can’t you go back to how we get to feed the crowds and maybe show us how you healed that blind guy with a handful of spit? That was pretty cool and the men were fired up after that but this stuff about rejection and death – I don’t know if you’re seeing what I’m seeing but these guys are freaking out a bit. It’s not very inspirational.”

Well, really we don’t know exactly what Peter said but whatever it was it got him rebuked by Jesus and told that he did not have his head in the game – not God’s game, not THE game.

I suppose that explains why, six days later, at the beginning of chapter 9, Jesus decides to take His three closest followers on a field trip up a high mountain with him. It is there, high on that mountain, that Jesus is transfigured before their eyes.

trans•fig•ure (tr ns-f g y r) tr.v. trans•fig•ured, trans•fig•ur•ing, trans•fig•ures
1. To alter the outward appearance of; transform.
2. To exalt or glorify.

Suddenly, it was all about Him, Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, the Living One, the Son of God, the Light of the World, the Lamb of God, Messiah, Redeemer, Word, Ruler of Creation, Author and Perfecter of Our Faith, the Bread of Life, Deliverer, Faithful and True, the Lion of Judah.

For a moment, high on a mountain, Peter, James and John had their faith right and it was all about Jesus.

Then Peter (you’ve sooo got to love, Peter), then Peter does what I would do (what I do) – he opened his mouth, he babbled and then he looked for something he could do.

And God loved Peter and so He broke in then, coming in a cloud, and told Peter what to DO: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!”

So, because I am just like Peter, on the days, which is most of the days, when my faith becomes all about me, I need to go up that mountain and I need to see Jesus. I need to hear God’s voice saying, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to Him!” And then, that’s what I need to do.

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things are created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Colossians 1:15-20

Jesus Was a Disappointment

Recently a friend told me, “I used to think you were so together and perfect. I was just in awe of you.”

“And now?” I asked with not a little trepidation.

“Oh, now I know that a lot of the time, you’re just as messy and clueless as the rest of us.”

Yes! I thought to myself. I’m making progress.

See, I’ve learned that the kingdom of God is not built by perfect people. Perfect people spend most of their energy trying to maintain their own perfection – or at least the illusion of it. This is what I did for years until I realized something about Jesus.

Jesus was a huge disappointment for many people.

For centuries, the Jews had anticipated the arrival of their King, their Messiah, their hope of salvation. They had studied the scriptures, watched the stars, researched the signs and planned for the arrival of the embodiment of their hopes only to find out it was the kid who grew up down the street who had built the kitchen chairs they kept in the front room.

Him? He used to play with my son. Nothing special about that kid. My kid can run faster and he’s a head taller than Mary’s son (who we all know was conceived before the wedding). No way, that kid’s grown up to be the Redeemer of the Jews!

And Jesus continued to disappoint throughout his life.

He disappointed the crowds by refusing to perform miracles on demand. He disappointed the religious leaders by breaking rules they’d created and held dear (OK, and they didn’t like being called vipers). He didn’t seem to appreciate any of their efforts at being religious. He disappointed the Zealots who had waited for a king to come to reign – to lead the overthrow of the Roman oppressors. He disappointed his friends every day by talking to the wrong people, messing up their schedules, having no regard for public opinion and not showing up exactly when they needed him.

Jesus always seemed to be listening to only One voice and it wasn’t any of theirs.

So, He lived His life knowing that He would disappoint people on a daily basis. Important people. Connected people. People that He loved. People who followed Him.

His death was a spectacular disappointment.

From the cross, He must have seen their emotional devastation, their dashed hopes, a disappointment in Him that seemed cataclysmic, unbreachable, final.

So, why have I spent so much of my life so worried about disappointing other people?

This really bad habit leads me to take on activities, relationships and pursuits that have nothing to do with what God wants me to be doing. They aren’t usually bad things to do but they are not what I am supposed to do. How do I know that? Because people around me say things like “You can do everything!”, “Is there anything you can’t do?”, “You are always so together.” “How do you do it all – I know I never could.” These are warning words that I’ve gotten off course, that I’m wasting valuable kingdom energy trying to appear in control.

I’ve learned that if I’m not disappointing anyone, that’s a sign that maybe I’m busy doing many things I shouldn’t do. Maybe I’m more devoted to the illusion of my own perfection than to building the kingdom of God. Maybe I worship “having it all together”, “staying on top of everything”, “leading a balanced life”.

Jesus always had strength for the day. Did you notice that? There’s never a time when you hear Jesus scream “Well, if I don’t do everything, I guess that nothing gets done! I’m starting to lose it people! I’m really losing and if I don’t get a break soon, I’m going to have a nervous breakdown.” Yeah, double check me on this but I’m pretty sure He never said anything like that.

Because, Jesus was not afraid of disappointing people. He lived for the approval of One – His Father. And He earned that approval “This is my Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

I’ve learned that sometimes God DOESN’T give me strength for my day and that’s usually because I’ve planned a day doing things that have nothing to do with His plans for my day. Isaiah 30:1a says: “‘Woe to the obstinate children,’ declares the Lord, ‘to those who carry out plans that are not mine

I’ve disappointed many people in the past few years. That’s because I’m finally listening to what God has to say about His plan for me and I’ve begun to pry my fingers off the idol of “pleasing others.” I definitely have lapses but God sends me a signal – usually it’s when I hear someone say “How do you do so much?” Oops, I think. Better check in with my Father.

I was going on and on about Jesus one day to a woman I know. Late in the conversation, she casually remarked that she was Jewish. (I had brilliantly not figured that out from her last name.) “You’re Jewish!” I exclaimed. “You’ve just let me go on and on for an hour about Jesus!”

She laughed. “Honey, most of the Christians I’ve met are sweet and have it all together. You are anything but sweet and you’ve got problems just like me. I figured if Jesus loved you, maybe I had a shot with Him.” Aahh, the accidental evangelistic stumbles into truth once again.

Jesus disappointed people. Have you disappointed anyone lately? Maybe it’s time.

The Danger of Drifting

“I used to be Snow White, but I drifted.” Mae West

Sometimes there are signs at the beach warning swimmers of a dangerous current, known around here as “riptide”. The news stations run clips of lifeguards expounding on the risk of getting caught in a riptide and the proper way to escape its grip before one is dragged out to sea.

I think about the danger of drift.

When I was a little girl, we would pack a cooler with tuna sandwiches on white bread, sliced cucumbers and Kool-aid in a thermos and spend long, lazy days at the beach. While my mother read “Jaws” on her blanket, my brother and I would take to the sea, walking out into the surf as far as we dared and riding in wave after wave.

After a few hours, we would emerge from the water and head to our blanket, only to find it nowhere in sight! Panicked, we would wonder if our mother had somehow forgotten and left without us! But then, from way back down the beach, we would hear a distant call, see a familiar figure waving and realize that the subtle force of the tide had carried us far from where we had started. We were oblivious to the tow until we emerged but by then, we were already far from where we wanted to be.

There should be signs up at church “Beware of Drifting”.

I drift.

Like sleeping with my eyes open, I usually drift right out in the open in full view of others. But, because I have been a Christian for so many years, I have perfected the art of looking like I am still properly moored.

The early signs of drift are subtle. My prayer life becomes inconsistent or routine. I read the Bible but don’t engage with its contents – walk away unaffected and unchanged. I show up at church but I’m thinking that I don’t like the words to that song or didn’t we sing that one last month and during the sermon I start my afternoon’s “to do” list in my head. I listen to a brother or sister and I look like I care what they’re saying and I respond as though I care what they’re saying but really, I don’t care, not really.

And I can feel that it’s not enough for God. (He’s sooo picky that way!). And I try to defend myself. “That was a prayer – why can’t that be enough?” “At least I read my Bible – c’mon, I can’t get something out of it EVERY time.” “Hey, I’m here at church, that’s something, isn’t it?” “I’m acting like I care and usually I do care so don’t I have some compassion credit I can borrow against now?”

And God says, “No. You’re in danger. Beware of drifting, daughter.”

And suddenly I can see that I am way down the beach from God. He seems so small and His voice seems very quiet and I can’t believe I didn’t see how far I had moved just by riding the tide.

And since everyone else is taking a dip in the same surf, they don’t notice either. See, I’m really good at looking like I’m awake now, even when I’m sleeping. Years of hanging with the church crowd and I know how to fake it with the best of them.

I can drift and teach. I can drift and blog. I can drift and serve. I can drift and witness. And before you know it, someone asks “Whatever happened to her?” and someone answers “I don’t know, she just drifted off.”

Are you drifting? Beware. It’s more treacherous than entering the riptide because it takes you away before anyone even notices.

REJECTED!


Did you know there is a fake phone number that young women can give out to men they wish to reject? When the young man calls the number, he receives a recording telling him that, basically, he’s received this number because he’s a loser and doesn’t stand a chance with the girl who gave it to him.

My heart hurt when I learned of this practice from the teens in my high school Sunday school class. Rejection is hard enough but false hope with a chaser of humiliation is a cruel twist on the already crushing experience of rejection.

Rejection kills.

It kills hope. It kills dreams. It kills spirit, creativity, energy and drive. And more of us are facing rejection in these days when there are hundreds of people vying for the same job, when businesses and non-profits are forcing cutbacks requiring endless layoffs, when magazines are folding and publishing houses are streamlining it seems rejection is the order of the day.

In many professions, like acting, sales, writing, art, sports or music, rejection is a routine part of the job. Seasoned pros advise newcomers to develop a thick skin. And it’s true that it helps to know that rejection comes with the territory but no amount of epidermal hardening can truly dull the serrated edge of rejection. No matter how kindly it’s worded, the person rejected hears “you’re just not good enough”, “we don’t want you”, “you’ll never measure up”, and “you’ve failed – again.”

Rejection is isolating.

Rejection is a scream into your pillow, curl up in a fetal position, and cry for mercy experience whether it happens in a professional setting or personal. Rejection from a spouse, a child, a parent, or a friend slits open our emotional jugular vein and leaves us to bleed out on the bathroom floor of our souls. Often, rejection leaves us feeling so worthless, we can’t even call for help for fear that admitting the rejection to another will only expose us to more rejection. So we cling to the icy tile, muffle our screams with a towel and lie exposed in the unflattering light of our loved one’s rebuff until the feeling returns to our limbs and we can crawl beneath the covers and draw sleep over our heads like a shroud.

Now, imagine this.

The Creator of the universe submitted Himself to this experience.

The Son of God knew rejection.

Isaiah 53: 3 says of the Messiah, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” Jesus knew the pain of bone-crushing, chest-smothering, crucifying rejection. And He willingly endured this most devastating human experience to be –well, human – so He could die in our place.

So we can trust Him when rejection comes to us. When we can’t let anyone else near the wound – all nerve endings and open sores – Jesus will apply a healing balm. When we spill our guts that have turned sour with the fear, the condemnation and the humiliation of rejection, Jesus will hold a cold cloth of comfort to our heads. And when we are ready to sort through the lessons of rejection, Jesus will spoon out the soup that strengthens us for the task.

Because, rejection can instruct.

Through rejection, sometimes we learn where we need to grow, to improve, and to change. Through rejection, we find out what we are made of and what we will not change to please another. Rejection can expose our weaknesses, our brokenness and our idols.

Sometimes, when rejection is entirely unjust and unwarranted, then it can bring us to know Jesus in a deeper way since He was perfect and yet rejected. And knowing Him is, after all, our goal.

I Peter 2:3-5 says “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” God has the final word on all things. Though we are rejected again and again, He decides what we will become.

So, if you have been rejected, then come to the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him.

You, too, will be accepted by God through Jesus Christ and when you have overcome and He hands you a white stone on which is written your true and perfect name -I can promise you this – it will NOT say “Rejected”.

Next time you experience rejection, remind yourself of this. “I am rejected for the moment but I am accepted for eternity.” And then press in to Jesus because He knows rejection and He died so that we would not have to know it forever.

Do you have a rejection story? Share it and how Christ helped you overcome it.