When I was little I thought a lot of things were true that turned out to be not so true. Some are funny, and some are a bit sad. It’s interesting, though, to think back.
When I was very small, I thought that the Bible said somewhere “Thou shalt not kill any living thing.” I was riddled with guilt over each bug I crunched or tree branch that I may have inadvertently broken. I remember vividly being in a heated debate with a VBS teacher over this fact–certain that I had read it in the Bible somewhere. I didn’t, of course. Probably dreamed it.
During every dinner in the evenings, though our family sat around the table together, we were shushed throughout the entire meal because the news, most importantly the weather, was on. My dad worked outside 3rd shift so the weather report was vital to him. I listened to a lot of forecasts and I was pretty sure the “wind chill” was the “windshield.”
You know, how cold the air was when it hit the windshield! Makes perfect sense to me!
I’ve mentioned before that I was my dad’s little tag-a-long. He didn’t talk to me much. Mostly, I chattered away hoping for a response, or at the very least that something at some point would be heard.
He did, however, get a big kick out of telling me tales which I believed hook, line, and sinker for more years than I care to admit.
Some of his stories:
Dragonflies will sew your mouth shut.
Stay away from those little suckers! They are just looking for a great set of lips!
My bellybutton was made into a knot by the doctor.
That’s why it looks the way it does. Duh!
Battery acid! Watch out for that great amputator of limbs.
One little drop will cut your arm or leg right off.
Pileated woodpeckers–giant birds that lurk in the woods.. Ever seen one of them? According to dad, they were at least three feet tall. I was constantly roaming the woods alone. I was also waiting to see a terrifying, giant Woody Woodpecker at any given moment.
My mother told me different stories. Ones that scared me just as much until I grew enough to find out how very wrong she was. Hers were believed entirely by her and just enough by me to make me take some precautions. She believed that my relationship with God, and His love for me, was entirely contingent upon my behavior. She believed that if one sin was accidentally left unconfessed, and she was to die before fixing that she would go to hell.
Now, I know that my Jesus paid a once and for all price to cover me for always once I’ve accepted His beautiful gift of grace. Because I’ve accepted His gift, I, in turn, want to please Him with my life and choices.
When I was small though, that law-based thinking had me up for hours every night trying very hard to confess every single sin, reciting the Lord’s Prayer, and because I had heard that I should be thankful for everything, I would fall asleep thanking God for the grass, the birds, the leaves, the moon, my friends, the sky, paper, blankets, the air…
I was pretty sure that picking my boogers was a pretty big sin. I made sure to confess that every day, too.
No wonder I was a scared little girl! Yup, pretty much Chicken Little.
At school and some of the churches I attended, I was taught that rock-n-roll music was of the devil. That the beat itself was pure evil. That even swaying to the beat was participating in the evil. Even so-called Christian music was questionable if it had too much of a drumbeat.
I was attending services where I watched deaf people healed and lame legs grow longer in front of my eyes, and also being told by others in authority in my life that healing is not relevant today. That God only did that in the Bible. I saw folks worshiping with their whole beings and heard them speak in other tongues at night, and by day I was told that didn’t and shouldn’t happen.
No wonder I was a confused little girl.
Now, I’ve seen the hand of God work miraculously more times than I can count. I’ve watched Him heal. I’ve spoken in other tongues. I’ve heard His voice. I’ve worshiped Him with all that I have.
I’ve traded rule-based thinking for freedom and grace. I’ve committed to honor Him in all that I do, and in return, I am free.
The rules and all the chains that come with them are just plain gone.
No, this does not mean that I can do whatever I please and still expect to fall under His covering over me. It means that He loves me and when I even start to grasp the depths of that love, I am changed. My motives, my intentions, my very heart desires something new.
Out go the “must-do’s” and the “don’t-you-dare-do’s” and the needy, paranoid confessions. Out goes the rulebook and the need to appear holy. It’s the difference between “religion” and “FAITH.”
I’ve learned that religion is never attractive.
Love always is.
“Love is the overflow of joy in God. It is not duty for duty’s sake or right for right’s sake. It is not a resolute abandoning of one’s own good with a view solely to the good of the other person. It is first a deeply satisfying experience of the fullness of God’s grace, and then a doubly satisfying experience of sharing that grace with another person.”–John Piper
In our family, we’ve taught our children that they are loved beyond measure. That there is nothing that they could do that will EVER cause us to stop loving them. That they will mess up sometimes because they are human, but that if they bring it to us, though there will certainly be a consequence, we will handle it together.
In response to this love, they try very hard not to disappoint us. They love us fully in return and do their best to live in a way that honors who we are.
That is exactly what my relationship with my God is. If anyone looks at me, all I want them to see is a representation of the love I’ve known and been shown.
I am loved. I am safe. This is what I know now.
“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” 1 John 4:17,18
“Being loved this much should make a difference in your life today. Remember the One who loves you, and then be different because of it.”–Author unknown
I am my Beloved’s, and He is mine. His banner over me is love.–Song of Solomon
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