A Blog by Jennifer Aulthouse


A heart for those who want more of God. A desperate plea for those who don't.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Formulas

I wasn’t going to write about the Newtown shooting. I didn’t want to contribute to the noise sprung forth. I guess sometimes, even if I’m hundreds of miles away from something, the best gift I can give to a situation is to not direct more attention its way.

But I also know that words are my gift and if I’m withholding them when they are pressing to get out, it’s a form of disobedience.

So here I am. I will say nothing about gun control, prayer in school, mental health awareness, school security, or anything of that nature which has already been discussed quite thoroughly, and to which I really have nothing to add anyway. I’ll just share a little bit of what’s been in me since about 2:00 on Friday afternoon.

Several months ago, I became more and more aware of how naturally my mind seeks out formulas to make life work as I desire it to. You do it, too, if I’d venture a guess. Whether it is specific actions to take to attain tangible things (earn money doing this so I can have that), emotional things (as a woman, if I can make myself fit into the world’s definition of “beautiful” then I will be considered valuable and feel wanted), or notions that we’ve willed to believe as truth or promises (“x” won’t happen to us because we live in a safe town), I know that I am programmed to consistently search the universe for formulas that will guarantee me what I most long to have. It’s not wrong to desire them or even necessarily to plan to attain them, but what I realized is that when this continual search for formulas so I can have life the way I want it is my priority – as it often is – I am then living in stark contrast to the claim I make as a Christian that I am God’s and my life is for Him to do with as He pleases. The formula quest is about me first. The Christian walk is about Him first.

Transformation takes a long time. I really thought I’d be better at this being-a-Christian thing by now, but I’ve observed that the more I mature in my walk, the more I see how far it is I’ve fallen and how great the distance is between my natural inclinations towards life in general and the radical selflessness of Christ. Also, though, as I move forward in Christ-likeness one painfully slow and awkward step at a time, I am convinced of how strong His grace is to cover that distance.

So I catch myself plotting a formula. And I put a halt to it. I tell God that I’m sorry, and I really am, because I know my formula quest is largely based on both wanting life my way and not trusting Him to really take care of me. And I know it isn’t held against me. So I move forward into healthy and sacrificial thinking, then at some point slide back into formula-searching, and so then I repeat this process dozens of times in any given day. It’s never held against me.


I have a first-grader. She’s 6. And she’s the most wonderful little girl in the world. She sings and draws and takes care of her stuffed duck, and she’s a peacemaker among her peers. Her kindergarten teacher last year told me that my daughter has an empathy for others that is rare for a child her age. I look at her and see all the potential to be used in amazing ways for good in this world. I see that in my third-grade son, too. And that is my formula I use to convince myself that what happened to the children in Newtown won’t happen to mine. Because how could it be that these children so wonderful and amazing and filled with potential not be present in this world?

But it is neither truth nor promise.

What I’ve been searching the universe for over the past few days is the formula to guarantee me that I’ll never have to live through anything like that. And so, a hundred times over, like every other day, I repeat the formula-halting process. And receive the grace to start over again. It's never held against me.

I would suggest all the debate about the aforementioned issues is about finding this formula, too. We just collectively as a society can’t agree on the elements.


Death is the loss of presence. Grief, the emotion driven by that loss. I don’t think anything about death and grief feels natural. I don’t think it’s ever supposed to, no matter that it's happened billions of times.

There’s only one thing I’ve been able to find in my formula searching that has been affirmed to me as something I can cling to. And it’s the same thing I always end up with anytime the terrors of the world push me to start my formula quests.

Psalm 139:13-16:
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

The Presence of God at the beginning. His Presence now. And His Presence then and when. The only answer to the loss of presence is His Presence.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Spiritual Sharpening

Proverbs 27:17 tells us that “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another”. In years past I looked at that verse through warm, cuddly, rose-colored lenses, thinking it was a verse encouraging us in friendship and love and spiritual growth. It is, of course, a verse promoting all those things and often is a very pleasurable process, but I suppose I should’ve been paying attention to the fact that the words “iron” and “sharpen” do not connote anything of a rosy, cuddly nature.

Although I am a fairly outgoing person and one who generally isn’t afraid to speak up when I have an idea, the mere thought of conflict or confrontation in any of my friendships makes me extremely uncomfortable. I know that discomfort is based on fear: fear that the other person may really not care enough about me to want to extend the effort in resolving the conflict, fear of criticism that cuts to the core of who I am and perhaps exposes sin and weakness, and the fear of losing a secure place to land where I know I’m accepted and approved of. But through some painful and trying situations, God has shown me that I don’t need to be afraid of the sharpening process.

With a few exceptions, every close relationship I have has been through at least one awkward and potentially devastating conflict. Sometimes it was simply a poor choice of words or tone in how one of us (usually me) handled a tense moment; sometimes it was from an outside circumstance neither of us was really responsible for and yet still found ourselves caught in the middle of -- and on opposite sides of when it came to how we thought the situation should be handled. In each case, if we hadn’t humbled ourselves and gone to each other, expressing our love for the other, how important the relationship was to us, and how we were wrong in our response, the damage caused by our initial reactions could’ve been heartbreaking. But God used each of these instances to refine and sharpen my character, as He continues to mold me in Christ-likeness.

It is so hard to be vulnerable and humble. It wounds our pride and leaves us open to rejection without anywhere to hide. Sometimes what we fear most is precisely what happens, and it’s so tempting to promise ourselves that we’ll never get in another position like that again where we allow someone to have any sense of power over us. But in my life, more times than not, when I have followed God’s call to trust Him with the people most precious to me and the relationships I have with them, and I swallow my pride and humble myself, I find that we come out as stronger people with a much stronger bond, because we both can rest in knowing how important we are to the other. That’s a tremendous blessing to have in life, and one that’s worth the terrifying experience of feeling the sharpened blade of spiritual growth pressing close to our hearts.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes....."

There’s something in particular I have dreamt of receiving for the past couple of years. This dream came about after a series of moments in which I realized there was something I had never experienced and desperately longed to. I also realized that this particular something I strongly desired was a good thing, one I believed that God would want me to have when I was ready for it. And because I have been through the excruciating process of experiencing a few dreams twist and morph and then die, but coming out of that pain with a new and overwhelming feeling of being intensely loved and protected by God, I knew that I could trust Him with this good particular dream. He would either give it to me in His perfect way and timing or He wouldn’t. And if He wouldn’t, He must have a perfect reason for it, so I could just rest in knowing He has good plans for my life.

I remember my new-Christian days. I remember longing to soak in the Bible and racing home from work so I could do so. I remember my enthusiasm for all things God and my desiring to tell everyone about what I was experiencing. I also remember having the ingrained assumption that He would shower me with happy blessings and be supportive of everything I wanted.

I distinctly remember one day sitting and reading Psalm 37:4, one of the warmest, fuzziest-feeling verses in all of scripture: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart”. I remember reading that and coming alive with misguided hope, assuming this meant He was going to grant me everything I was dreaming of having. In reality, this is absolutely correct.

But not in the ways we nearly always assume.

So often when dreams take root inside of us, our hearts become like delicate pieces of china, the dreams like wobbly shelves, tasked with bearing the pressure of hope and expectation we so easily thrust onto the dream itself to fulfill our quest for wholeness and meaning. The greater the longing, the more crushing it is when the shelf gives way – when the dream collapses – and the heart is broken into infinite pieces. We don’t realize that the shelf was never designed to hold everything that we placed on it.

As I soaked in Psalm 37:4, I began telling God all the things I wanted, and I continued to do so for many years. Some I received and still have today, though they don’t resemble what I imagined they would. Some seemed to have great possibility but just never came to fruition, some never felt like they ever got started, and a few......well......yes, God gave them to me. But because of their nature and the warped way I internalized their role in my life, I never could truly enjoy them. My well-being was wrapped around steadfastly preserving their place and guarding them fiercely from any intrusion or change. It hurt beyond measure when they fell under the weight they were bearing, and I felt almost swallowed whole by the emptiness felt because of the emotional death I experienced when the dreams collapsed. In each case, I had made the dream my lifeline to wholeness and didn’t know how to breathe without them. In each case, I now know, it was God’s unfailing mercy that allowed them to fall, and His unfailing love that guided me into the periods of emptiness I felt without them.

The shelf giving way is never an act of cruelty, though it may be cloaked in indescribable pain. It is in the broken pieces scattered across the cold, unyielding ground of life where true desire is revealed and faith cultivated. Sometimes the process hurts so much we swear we’ll never hope again for anything, tidily sweeping the pieces up, dumping them in the trash, and existing in a black-and-white, dreamless reality from thence on. Sometimes we delude ourselves into believing none of this is as bad as it seems and we simply go on to the next thing without tending to the broken mess. Yet it still lies there in sharp, haphazard shards, interfering with whatever the next thing is and the next thing after that, a destructive layer never repaired and never made new. Sometimes, though, we just sit and wail among the pieces, fully taking in the devastation, throwing all of our pain and bewilderment in the only place there could possibly be any hope: the notion that Someone must have seen the shelf starting to break away. Someone must’ve known this was coming. And Someone didn’t stop it. And if we dare, we wrestle with the Someone’s authority and sentiment towards us, intrinsically trusting that the Someone can handle our agony-driven questioning. In time, if we dare further, we invite the Someone to show us how any of this could possibly be used for good. And just maybe, we will continue to press on in faith that somehow, the Someone who didn’t stop this dream from collapsing is also the same Someone who claims to love us and give us the desires of our hearts.

It is among the most vulnerable of experiences to clumsily hand over our dreams to God in complete abandonment. They may rightfully carry extraordinary purpose and affection for us, and to proactively transfer ownership of our dreams and all the longing that’s wrapped up in them to God can be nothing short of terrifying, if the dream means that much to us. But the path of true discipleship requires nothing less; in fact, not only are we called to hand them over, but we are called to hand them over with full awareness that we may experience their destruction firsthand, and still believe that God loves us and that He is good. Perhaps there is nothing harder.

God has shown me that when He promises to give me the desires of my heart, His plan is to, in fact, give me the desires of my heart. What this is entails is a lifetime filled with realizing, stripping away, and releasing, as we allow Him to show us the messy, misguided state of our hearts, give Him the authority to tear down what we’ve clung to as idols, and take away good things in order to make room for the Best Thing. In this pain-filled, never-ending process, we see the true desire of our hearts is Him, and He promises this gift to those who would receive.

A few days ago, God gave me this good particular thing I’d been dreaming of receiving. It was wonderful and euphoric and amazing, and it brought me to my knees in awe and worship and thanksgiving, and it is something I will savor now and reflect on my whole life when the storms come and I wonder where He is and I need some evidence to cling to that He was ever there in the first place. But you know what? As precious as this good gift was and is, it didn’t satisfy; the worship of God and His felt presence through receiving this dream is the true gift, and because of it my being shines, as did Moses’ face when experiencing God on the mountain.

Deep inside, I continue to feel the longing for other dreams and blessings to be received and actualized, and even the formation of new ones, not yet revealed to me. They are good and they are there for a reason, and hidden underneath all the layers of creative detail that make up the rich, purpose-filled exterior of these dreams lies the truth that they all point back to the singular human longing to be reconciled to and loved by his/her creator. Deeper still, I realize that this is exactly the way it’s supposed to be. The moment I begin yearning for something more than to be held in the presence and love of God is the first moment I step away from the abundant life He promises. For this is a shelf that will never give way.



*I am indebted to Dr. Larry Crabb for his exploration and insight into good versus Best.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Some Thoughts on Penn State

I’ve never actually been on the other end of a knee or punch to the gut, but I imagine that part of the pain in receiving such a blow is that you don’t see it coming. A sensitive part of you that’s left generally unprotected is attacked, and the force of these things coming together leaves you doubled over, consumed momentarily by the violent intrusion of pain, arms thrown around the area in an effort to bring relief and further prevent the area from any more harm. The wind is knocked out of you; just regaining normal breath takes some time.

And so will it be for the Penn State community.

Saturday, May 16, 1998, I sat on a folding chair on the floor of the Bryce Jordan Center (BJC) at Penn State University and listened to a handful of speakers address all of us College of the Liberal Arts graduates as we transitioned from the world of underclassmen academia to the real life stuff of careers and marriages and bills and the like. Of course, since we were Liberal Arts students – sort of the next step removed from the Division of Undergraduate Studies people who also still hadn’t quite figured out what they were actually there for – I’m betting at least some of us weren’t yet sure what we were exactly transitioning into. I sure wasn’t. Penn State hadn’t really helped me figure that out as much as it helped me figure out what I didn’t want to do. But that’s okay. That’s still a step forward, and as much as I put into it, I had a good experience there, one that I reminisce about in ways that I imagine parents whose children have moved onto adulthood remember the toddler and preschool years: as precious, fleeting moments, gone too soon. It doesn’t quite ring with truth to the mom who’s up to her eyeballs in potty training and dirty dishes every day. Nevertheless, I graduated with feelings of pride for my Penn State degree, even if I didn’t know what on earth to do with it.

Elsewhere on campus and in the State College area during the month of May, 1998, a victim was assaulted in a shower a few buildings away from the BJC, police were called about it, emails flew back and forth, and meetings were attended in which such things were - or were not - investigated and discussed and debated and what have you. And here I sit today, 14 years later, momentarily hunched over, searching for relief and protection from being dealt another blow like the ones felt over the past eight months, and especially, the past two days.

This isn’t about me, though, or any attempt to dramatically tie myself into what happened. I’m just one of thousands of alumni who went about my business and was entirely clueless that any of this was going on. Yet like a bad gene that is passed along from one generation of a family to another, it’s part of my history, too, and it has to be accepted as such, sort of like what I imagine the residents of Columbine, CO, have to live with.


Sometimes Jesus shows you how He’s been victorious in your life in the seemingly strangest of moments. Sometimes it’s when you realize that you’re actually looking forward to the spinach salad on the lunch menu instead of desiring the huge cheeseburger that used to be such a stumbling block. But sometimes it’s when you witness a man found guilty of horrifying crimes being led away in handcuffs, receiving a punishment he richly deserves, with a crowd cheering and hurling insults towards him as he walks, and you realize that you are filled with a sorrow that feels too big to be contained because there just really isn’t anything good in the whole wretched affair. Yet, as you look in the man’s eyes, aware of what he’s done and heartbroken because of it, something greater begins to grow out of that immense sorrow: the realization that this is a person God intensely loves, and that as long as he’s breathing, God hasn’t given up on him. And because you love the Lord, neither can you, and so you find yourself praying in brokenness for him, because you know firsthand the greatness of God’s mercy and the healing and hope that’s waiting there for all of us. Whether your name is Jerry Sandusky, Graham Spanier, John Doe, or Jen Aulthouse, it’s available for all of us.

At least as far as I’ve come to experience it, grace has nothing to do with ignoring sin. It’s believing the worth of the guilty person is greater than the pain and the destruction his or her sin has caused. Sometimes there’s accountability; sometimes not. Sometimes there’s reconciliation; sometimes not. Sometimes there’s a wonderful rising-from-the ashes story; sometimes not. These are secondary things which should be considered in light of what best will help the guilty person understand his or her worth, understand how his or her sin has failed to reflect that worth, and then begin to live in belief of that worth, whether it’s in the free world or in a jail cell. That’s the grace that Jesus offers us and the grace that we’ve been directed to live in. It requires self-examination and a daily awareness of how dependent we are on God’s mercy. In a way that is only God’s, realizing our smallness in Him produces an awareness of his tremendous love and affection for us. Living in this awareness means that step by step, we walk away from our own quests to find worthiness—and the abuse of others that often comes with it—and instead can be used to point others to the One who has answered that question for us.

A person is more than a timeline – more than a collection of dates and events. An institution is more than this, too, simply because it is made up of people. Penn State fans/alumni, those of us on the periphery that are not directly related to any of this stuff, it has to be processed like the death that it is. Whether the way you particularly embrace and adore Penn State is of a healthy level or not – whether it’s about revering a football program and somewhere internally making its glory your own, or admiring an academic institution, rich in history and with seemingly impeccable priorities in place, or simply embracing the school because your family has a proud connection and tradition of doing so – you’ve lost something, and the way it was is never coming back. It isn’t about leaving alone or removing statues, or renaming buildings, or whether records should or shouldn’t count, or whether there should or shouldn’t be football this season, or anything else that at this point really is a side issue. There are brilliantly thought-out arguments on all sides for these things, and a time will come when it’s appropriate to address them and decide what’s best. We need to gracefully and soberly accept that this is part of our history, and concentrate on making each moment in the present and future count for good, not so it can be a positive public marking on an institutional timeline, but because it’s just supposed to be the way we live. That’s true whether you’re part of Penn State or not. What’s happened cannot be rewritten; we learn from it, take an honest self-accounting of whether our attitudes contributed to the out-of –whack environment of misplaced priorities that may have shaped such a colossal nightmare, and we move forward. And while we most certainly need to listen to the views of those genuinely outraged or broken by what has happened, pay no attention to hecklers and those who lodge verbal assaults that have no sound reasoning or evidence of good intention behind them. What they say does not matter and isn’t worth your response.

I know in the days and weeks ahead, I will have absorbed the blow and will stand upright again and go about my business; I also know that there are those who were affected by this whole ugly chapter in much weightier and damaging ways than I can imagine, whether they are victims or ones who themselves directly contributed. They will obviously need much more time to recover, whether the wounds were self-inflicted or not. Part of making the best of each moment is finding ways we can help them to begin to stand upright again, and as the church, we don’t get to choose whose quest it may be that God longs to use our lives in pointing the way to Him.

Because “there but for the grace of God, go I.” – John Bradford

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A Few Rocks, A Serene Ocean, and An Indescribable Sky

I’ve joined a writers group, and this past week the director passed around some random pictures; some were of people caught in some sort of emotion-driven moment, some were of beautiful landscapes, and some were of everyday subjects, such as a pair of untied shoes. We were to look through the stack and choose the one that stood out to us the most, and then find somewhere quiet to write whatever was sparked from the picture.

I am drawn to just about anything having to do with the ocean. So the picture I chose was of an expansive blue sky with large, fluffy white clouds, and the serene, unaffected ocean underneath. Off to the right side in the picture was a little building which looked like a chapel, made out of stone. It sat atop a collection of other large rocks, sort of haphazardly shaped and yet they were obviously tethered together somehow, with the base of this larger rock formation unseen under the ocean water. The whole thing was like a little stone island, its roots and history left unknown.

Finding a quiet, comfortable place, I sat down with my notebook and picture and contemplated what I saw. A lot of my thinking lately has been focused on the church and what Jesus intends for His bride, and so my thoughts were directed to such things as I studied the picture. In time, the analogy came clear, as the magnificence of the brilliant, piercing blue sky claimed my attention.

Gazing at this sky, I couldn’t help but ponder the beauty and power of God, especially against the smallness of the little stone chapel. Yet the chapel held importance; it clearly had a purpose. And it was supported by this seeming random grouping of stones that somehow were brought all together in order for a greater mission—the chapel—to emerge.

As with these rocks, the people who make up the church often seem to have no rhyme or reason to their assembly. Each is shaped differently; some with pointy, jaggedy edges which seem to prevent any possibility of allowing other rocks to rest against them. Others are smooth and serene, simply finding their place and resting there. Many have both qualities, yet because of their placement within the larger group, perhaps they never experience the side of a particular rock that many of the other rocks have. Some have gaping holes between them due to erosion from the storms they have endured. Yet tethered together, they play a role in upholding the church’s mission; Jesus has given all of them a purpose in this mission, in line with the gifts and talents God designed for each one. Every rock is vital, yet their individuality fades when the church itself and her mission comes into vision. Each disappears altogether when confronted with the majesty of the Lord, as the church, though still present, takes its place to the side, allowing the wonder and power of God to claim the glory that is His.

These rocks—the people, the church together, and its mission—are held in the ocean of Christ’s love. It is calm, unthreatened by any force, therefore cradling the church with peace. All shall be well, if she does not resist the presence and authority of the ocean. All shall be well if she finds her place and rests in this love.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Leaving Good for Best

“God never closes one door without opening another”. I have no idea who said this and when, but I’ve heard it many times, and I’m sure it’s stitched on a decorative pillow that’s sitting on the sofa arm of some well-intentioned person as I speak, ready to greet with spiritual optimism whoever decides to park their tuchus next to it. Kind of like my pretty lace Fruit of the Spirit wall-hanging that adorns my bathroom, opportunistically sharing scripture with whoever comes in to answer nature’s call.

Well, a big door is closing. And I know a new door is opening. I even have a fairly decent knowledge of what’s at least in the first room behind the new door. The doorway is a thick one, however, and I’m just sort of waiting for the time to arrive when I can push the door all the way open and take the first step through it.

I have peace amidst all the door noise. In fact, I have more than peace. I have hope and I have love and I have joy, which stems from the knowledge inside that I am in God’s will. Yet there’s a layer of sadness encircling what truly is joy, showing me that every silver lining has a cloud, I guess. There are a lot of things in the old room that I adored. A lot of things that are precious to me. A lot of things that added beauty and laughter to the backdrop of everyday life. Leaving them is bittersweet, as I know they will continue to be beautiful and enjoyable and I just won’t get to experience them in the same way anymore, even though there is excitement in knowing that God has plans for me on the other side of the door. It is a great gift of God’s wisdom that I know all these things can exist in me at the same time and not be in conflict.

Sometimes a door opening takes the form of a ram struggling in the thicket, providing something less painful to sacrifice when you’ve shown God that you’re willing to give up what’s most precious to you. Sometimes God tests you to in order to show you your true priorities, and He doesn’t end up taking away what you thought He might.

Sometimes, though, a door opening requires the knife to tear into our beloved precious thing – or perhaps requires nails piercing Beloved hands and feet – and that beloved precious thing is altered, scarred, or maybe even destroyed permanently by our determined persistent obedience to the belief that no matter how unfathomable to us it may seem, God’s plan is always Best. God’s plan is always Best because He is Best and Perfect and will not lead us away from Him, no matter how painful the cost may be.

Sometimes we are called to leave what is Good in order to take hold of what is Best, and what makes Best Best is not in its comparative qualities when judged next to what’s Good. What makes it Best is that it’s God’s plan.

Good may be a place of belonging, a place where I am needed and welcomed. Good may display great quality, polish, appearance, and be buoyed with honest good intentions. Good may provide comfort, joyful memories, and a safe place to hide when it all becomes too hard. Good may be sweet to the palate, and even satisfying and nourishing to the soul. Good is unquestionably good.

Best may be a place where I never quite fit, where I’m not even noticed, let alone necessary. Best may be messy, vulnerable, unfinished and therefore starkly un-obvious in regards to its true fruit-bearing potential. Best may be a lonely, painful wilderness which forces me to take measures I would never require of myself if I didn’t have to. Best may taste bitter, sour, and bring an unexpected emptiness that drives me to my knees for relief. But if it is God’s will, than it is indeed Best.

I know Good. Good is unquestionably good. I don’t yet know Best. But I will. Just by stepping through the doorway, flooded with a peace that has brought a stillness I could never inherit from anything of this world, I am assured of nothing but the promise that He is guiding every step, that victory is already mine; that I need no other promise in which to cling to. Best.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Good Shepherd

Well, it's been awhile. I've sort of hit a wall in my writing; I haven't really been able to put things into words. Although, frankly, I haven't much bothered with trying to. I'm still experiencing the wonder of embracing my green pastures, and what it means to let Jesus be my Shepherd. I trust that as I continue to move forward, more words will come.

I’m in the process of a big transition now. It’s a little scary, quite overwhelming, and enormously heartbreaking. And too big for me to manage. I need a Shepherd; I need Him to guide me step by step, I need Him to cling to, and I need to rest, knowing that He is taking care of every last detail.

The Lord has opened my eyes to the green pastures He’s put in my life. When I allow Him to be my Good Shepherd, I am freed to enjoy the pastures and be ministered to by them. My Bible study is a pasture. It’s been a safe place for me to study the Word and be with others who just want to know Him more.

Friendship is a pasture. I’ve been strengthened by the presence of friends and it inspires me to do the same for someone else.

My children are pastures. Yes, there are times when I’d like to take them out to pasture, but even in the midst of parenting chaos, I can stop and see how beautiful and amazing they are, and how they are filled with promise. And my Good Shepherd reminds me that He sees all these things in me, too.

My husband is a pasture. I’ve been shown yet again how blessed I am to have such a supportive, affirming man beside me, leading me, and behind me all the way.

But most of all, My Savior, Jesus, has been a pasture for me, as well as My Shepherd. He leads me to Himself, and I find wholeness and hope in Him as He leads me one step at a time.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Green Pastures

I’m learning something about green pastures these days. God will make them ready for you in the most unexpected of places and people and moments if you open your eyes to His presence and go where He leads. And sometimes He makes them ready in the places, people, and moments that have always been there, and we've just been too caught up in our perceived realities.

Sometimes lying down in a green pasture is about intentionally seeing the blessing and care bestowed upon our everyday lives. Sometimes it takes the form of a song that reminds us of our value in God’s heart on days when our unworthiness seems painted on our foreheads for everyone to judge before a word is uttered. Others, maybe a message given that paints such a vivid picture of the Lord’s character that we can’t help feeling smaller and smaller in the most wondrous way, in the light of His glorious majesty. Still another, perhaps with a group of women who cling joyfully to the hope given through Christ and aren’t afraid to testify of His hand in their lives because they know we’re all connected through this truth.

Sometimes a green pasture appears in the gentleness of your seven-year-old son - who typically suspects you of having it out for him because of your consistent refusal to let him exist as if the world revolves around him – believing in your love for him every now and again and wanting to share something precious with you. And sometimes it comes through a friend who verbalizes to you in her own special way that she believes in you and can see your heart for God, even when you fear there isn’t anything good left in there because you're all too aware of how you’ve been thinking lately.

I’m in a place right now where the pastures aren’t so obvious anymore. I don’t understand why. I don’t understand where He is and why He seems so passive. But I trust Him. I know He’s working, and because of His mercy and grace, I know that He is good.

I let go of insisting what my pasture must look like, feel like, hold for me. I trust in the Good Shepherd’s hand, and the pastures He promises open in ways I would’ve never bothered to notice before.