Check Yes or No (Prayer Devotional for the week of June 7, 2015)

The year was 1986. His name was Danny. He was funny, cute, never once called me “four eyes” like some other mean boys who shall remain nameless, and I had it bad. I mustered up the courage to write Danny a “check yes or no” note to see if he LIKED me liked me, or if he just, you know, plain ol’ liked me. Days and eons passed with no reply, and my self-esteem plummeted. Finally, one day on the way to P.E., he passed me in the hallway, smiled and handed me a folded note. He’d drawn a heart on the front of it.

 

This story isn’t about a sappy, romantic outcome, because Danny moved away shortly thereafter, and we lost touch. (Back then, there was a per-minute, long-distance fee to phone another town, and we had to use these things called stamps to correspond in writing.) What it boils down to is a question that we all need to know the answer to: Do you LIKE me like me, or do you just like me? The question goes beyond tweenage crushes and cuts to the core of our hearts, because it’s something that Christ asks each of us.

 

Jesus once put Peter on the spot and asked him a similar question in John 21. You may remember Peter from the crucifixion story—he’s the one who denied knowing Jesus three times over the course of one night. Our story picks up after Jesus was raised from the dead, and he appeared on the shore where Peter and others were [unsuccessfully] fishing. They realized who he was and had a meal together—after Jesus helped them haul in a miraculous catch. During the course of their conversation, Jesus posed the question three times to Peter: “Do you love me?” It was his way of reinstating Peter for denying him.

Jesus isn’t going to force us to love him or drag us along as mindless followers, without a will of our own. He offers us a choice to love him passionately and to follow him wholeheartedly. The Bible is his love letter to us, filled with grace, mercy and an eternal promise. Will you check yes or no?

(Originally posted January 22, 2012)

 

But, what about …? (Prayer Devotional for the week of January 12, 2014)

I’ve shared before about a bully in my elementary school who ruthlessly taunted a good friend of mine because she was poor and wore hand-me-down clothes. Between that situation and my own hurtful childhood memories of being called “four-eyes,” I have developed a very low tolerance for teasing. Jesting about your own goof-ups is one thing, but boosting your ego at someone else’s expense is unnecessary and mean. I don’t put up with it from my kids, and I sure don’t appreciate grown-ups stooping to such petty behavior. *Steps off soapbox

The point is, no one likes to be made a spectacle. I can’t think of any situation where it feels good to have my shortcomings highlighted or to publicize my self-doubts. (I have plenty; I just don’t want the world to know about them.) Leave it to God, though, to turn the tables around and make our insecurities something to be valued!

Check out what Jesus said in Matthew 5. He put a spotlight on our spiritual poverty, our grief, our need to be nourished and nurtured … all of the gunk that hinders us from seeing our potential and the hurt that chips away our confidence, and he called it blessed. I don’t know about you, but I sometimes need a reminder that God can use the messy parts of my life, just as much as he can use the pieces that are (in my mind, at least) going smoothly.

But, what about this dusty piece in the corner? Yep, that piece. But, what about that broken section that I’ve tried to glue together, but it keeps breaking? Yes, that one also. But, what about that part I buried years ago, because I’m ashamed to bring to light? Yes, even that part.

God can use our messed up lives, when we turn them over to him. It doesn’t really matter if the whole world points and laughs, because where we stand before God is far more important than the approval of others (and I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older: the odds are good that the people who sneer are probably struggling with insecurities of their own).