The Rival seeks to destroy the beauty and reality of God's love!

Four rocking chairs squeaked gently as we sat quietly on my front porch in the cool of the mountain sunset at the end of the day. A cherished friend of many years shared the moment with my two daughters and me. All of us had shared our hearts and thoughts and conflicts and issues bubbling up inside.

I realized that, in my life, and in the experiences of all of us who were together this evening, there have been many conflicts, bruises, separations with people over many years. All of us will confront many challenges in our lifetime in a broken world. Our sweet fellowship of friendship gave comfort to each of us and we shared each other's burdens with understanding and gentle sympathy.

 So often we allow these times of difficulty to effect how we perceive God looks at us.

We think, "Because I have scars or have a failed relationship, God must be disappointed in me. Perhaps we are disappointed with ourselves because we have the illusion that somehow if we try hard enough, we can create a perfectly harmonious life. And so we feel we have failed God and He looks down upon us with angry or disappointed eyes.

But when Jesus looks upon us, he looks at us with compassionate eyes. I love the scripture in Psalm 103: 14 that says, "For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust."

Jesus died for us, because He loved us so much, he wanted to restore us to the perfect love that God had always wanted us to know. We read, "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."Romans 5: 8

Amazing--while we were stuck in our own selfishness, our own pettiness, our own scars, he loved us so much He died for us.

It is the cross that bridges the gap between our hurts, disappointments, brokenness and God's perfect love. It is the cross that brings us hope for what we will experience in eternity.

Consequently, Satan does not want us to know this freedomthis amazing grace. He seeks to steal our joy, destroy our image of the living loving God. He wants us to think somehow we are able to heal ourselves by trying harder.



"It is easy to be cynical, it is brave to be joyful."

Joy Clarkson

As we were speaking of these issues, we all were captured by a field of wildflowers in our view.  Swaying in the wind, they seemed to dance and sing of the beauty, the glory of the artist who planted them there for our pleasure. It is as though God reminded us that He was with us--that He had seen and heard our hearts, but that the beauty He had shown us was a hint of the exquisite loveliness had has prepared for us in eternity, where we will live in a perfect relationship with Him, and everyone else who dwells with Him there.

My daughter Joy observed that our sense of God's provision was a choice of faith that it is our glory to make. All around us are evidences of His reality and presence, but we must open the eyes of our heart to see His beauty and to embrace His love and joy. She finished her thoughts, "As we experience the disappointments in this world, we have a choice to make--to look at the reality of God's beauty and fingerprints to remind us of His provision of love or to ignore what He provides every day and to live in despair or disappointment. She concluded, "It is easy to be cynical, it is brave to be joyful."

We must understand, our peace will not come from our circumstances, our only hope is God Himself.

We cannot control the behavior of others in our lives. We cannot force someone else to be understanding, responsive, forgiving, sympathetic, when we experience broken or disappointing relationships.

But we do have the choice of controlling our own responses.

We can choose to forgive, to grow in humility. We can choose to give difficult relationships to God. And then we must leave the consequences and results in God's hands to work out in His time.

If we allow a broken relationship to consume us, to take up too much brain space, it will create anxiety and despair. However, if we give it to God by faith, and seek to leave the consequences of our difficulties in His hand, then we are able to move forward, to cultivate hope, to learn the pathway of His love. When we meet Him at the cross and allow Him to take our broken hopes, we can leave with peace, knowing that He knows us and still loves us and has healed once and for all, the places of our own failures. Only as we live in this way, can we experience His love--when we forgive ourselves and when we accept His amazing accomplishment and victory in our lives.

It is my prayer this week that you will learn to live into the light of His promised love, that you will give your burdens into His capable hands and that you will accept your Father's desire to love you and carry you through this world until you see Him face to face.

May you live free from burdens and worries to day, and rest in His amazing love.

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