Thursday, April 25, 2013


The wooden silk-screened plaque anchors the picture grouping of our four GRAND-children on the wall of our bedroom. When I first saw the plaque the words immediately resonated. I bought two of them. My friend bought one too.
Jesus knows me, this I love.
No, it’s not a typo (a rearrangement of the beloved children’s song, Jesus Loves Me). I love that Jesus knows me.

A few weeks ago I was reminded again of that truth and I smiled. Jesus knows me. He communicated it to me by the joy I felt in using our home to bless my friends.

It was almost five years ago; I was driving down the interstate and the hymn, I am Thine, O Lord came to mind—one I hadn’t sung in years. The next day I gathered my Bible, journal, and our hymn book and headed outside for some time of pondering with God. When I opened the hymn book to I am Thine, O Lord, several words from the second stanza ministered to me deeply. Funny, I didn’t remember the second stanza, but when I read the words—“consecrate”, “steadfast hope”, “my will be lost in thine”—I dissolved in tears. They were the affirmation I needed that day.
Jesus knows me.

More recently, my friend exhorted me (or was it a rebuke?) through an email, her words were like an arrow to my heart—exactly what I needed to hear.
Jesus knows me.

Almost three years ago, a new friend—only an acquaintance at the time—and I were taking a walk in a beautiful, deserted canyon. I don’t remember how the conversation started, but I do remember looking at her in amazement as we discovered our shared passion for spiritual formation. Our friendship took a quantum leap forward that morning and her friendship has been a salve to me ever since.
Jesus knows me.

Occasionally I hear someone say, “I wish I had known (or learned) that—whatever “that” is—twenty years ago.” I understand; I’ve been there.

A true desire, yet a desire that falls short of believing the truth that Jesus knows me. Jesus knows when I am receptive to Him. He knows when I need to hear those words; experience that joy; be humbled by His love; be awed by His attentiveness,
Jesus knows me.

When I consider God’s omniscience (His all-knowingness), Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  Memorized years ago, the truth of these words has always been encouraging and truth worth ingesting. The following verse reminds me of why it is so wonderful that Jesus knows me, Then you will call upon me, and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. Jeremiah 29:12. I am invited to call on Him, come to Him, and pray with the assurance of His listening heart—the heart of one who knows me.

 Memorized scriptures
+ life experiences
+ pondering God’s engagement in my life
= transformation—heart knowledge that Jesus knows me.

This transformation, the realization that Jesus knows me, is life-giving, smile-creating, trust-building. It changes everything.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared before hand, that we should walk in them.”
Ephesians 2:10

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Responding to Easter: Take Up My Cross

My husband is prone to depression. Those months in the fall of 1999 blindsided us; they were difficult, adjusting, learning times. I hope we do not experience the depth of their darkness again.
I remember our conversation over dinner the night we received his diagnosis. “Are we going to tell our friends?” I queried. Bill responded, “Let’s not use the word depression; let’s say, Bill is exhausted.” While not admitting openly to the clinical diagnosis of depression, I longed for friends with whom I could talk. I’m an extrovert; I process out-loud.
Our initial attempts at sharing—but not really—with others were comical. A pattern emerged. As we (mostly me) communicated with others using our agreed on descriptor, the response was always, “Oh Bill is depressed.” Well, yes. God pushed us to vulnerability.
As the depression waned and Bill began sharing his story another pattern manifested itself—a telling question from others, “Are you on medication?”  “Yes.” And then the admission from the questioner (after carefully checking to make sure no-one else heard), “I’ve never told anyone this, but I am too.” The underlying belief of many, depression is something to be embarrassed about.
For us—as well as countless others, depression is one of our crosses; a pain we carry in this life.
Give your pain to God as a sacrifice.
The apostle Paul knew about pain; he spoke of it in his letter to the Corinthian church as "a thorn". (II Corinthians 12:8). He pleaded with God to take it away; it remained.
In a letter to the church at Philippi written from his prison cell Paul says, “as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not at all be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.” (Philippians 1:20).
Paul’s exhortation to the church at Rome has a similar ring, “present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1).
Jesus lived with the painful reality that every day brought him closer to Gethsemane and Mount Calvary.
The scriptures are filled with stories of hard things: sickness, death, corruption, and more. Life is pain-filled; life is full of crosses.
Give your pain to God as a sacrifice; like Paul did, like Jesus did.
How do I do that?
·         Don’t be surprised by my pain.
·         Don’t hide my pain.
·         Allow my pain to bless; to be redemptive.
He is risen; he is risen indeed.
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.”
II Corinthians 4:7-12

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Responding to Easter: The Nail-Pierced Hands

                                Snow in Spirals,
                                Yesterday – seventy degrees,
                                Today – ten.
                                Living in harsh reality.
                                Pondering eternal truth.
In the midst of The raw,
                         The rough,
                         The relentless,
                                                God is present; God is here.
                                                                I am engraved in the palms
                                                                                        of His hands,

                                                                His nail pierced hands.

“Can a mother forget the infant at her breast, walk away from the baby she bore?
But even if mothers forget, I’d never forget you—never.
Look, I’ve written your names on the backs of my hands.”
Isaiah 49:15, 16 – The Message

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Responding to Easter: Zero Faith

Two messages converged into one; they rattled my faith and clarified my desire—I want to live like I know the resurrection is true. (Thank you to recording artist, Michael Card and my pastor, Mark Bates.)  

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away … they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, … He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, … And they remembered his words …” Luke 24:1-8

The women forgot—I identify.
They were perplexed—I understand.
They remembered when they were reminded—I get that too.

During Michael Card's concerts, he often shares the thoughts from scripture that birthed his songs. That night he spoke of the women who went to the tomb early on Sunday morning. When they found it empty, their immediate response was that someone had taken the body of Jesus. They totally forgot Jesus telling about the resurrection. Michael Card named their forgetfulness Zero Faith. He reminded us of several other scenarios of Jesus’ friends who after the resurrection also forgot the many times Jesus prepared them with words before his resurrection.

My mind wandered back to our pastor's sermon on David and Goliath. David was an unlikely candidate to represent the Philistines before Goliath. David, a youth, paled compared to the seasoned warrior Goliath. But David’s faith did not rest in his size, or his armor (or lack thereof), or the size of his enemy; his faith rested in his God. He knew God’s faithfulness from personal experience. Unlike Jesus’ friends, David remembered.

Forged in David’s normal everyday activity while living with and caring for sheep, his faith grew in the solitude and silence of those hills over Bethlehem; the reality of God’s provision and protection happened regularly for him. “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of the Philistine.” I Samuel 17:37.

Solitude and silence—two of the keys for David that locked God's character in his mind and heart; that prepared him for Goliath. Those same keys help lock the character of God in my mind and heart; that help me prepare for my goliaths; that help me believe the reality of the resurrection.

Another Mark comes to mind, our Sunday school teacher from the years when our sons were in elementary school. Mark and his wife have 7 children; their youngest, Paul, is the same age as our oldest, David. Mark had the gift of story-telling and we sat in rapt attention knowing the lessons from his family may well be the encouragement we needed in our family. One Sunday he introduced himself as “doubting Mark” because he identified with doubting Thomas and his need to see in order to believe. John 20:24, 25. He suggested that perhaps we are too hard on Thomas; that we too have a hard time believing. His arrow hit the intended target in my heart.

I know me; I’m human; doubting Sue is an apt descriptor many days but I don’t want to be described as one with zero faith. Like the shepherd David, I want my faith to flourish in my normal everyday activities; I want times of solitude and silence to characterize my life. My “goliaths” are as real as David’s. I want my confidence to rest in God. David was concerned with the glory of God. That's where I want my (and your) confidence and concern to settle.

"The resurrection declares in advance of the event God's total victory over all evil and oppressive forces - such as death, evil, and sin. Their backbone has been broken, and we may begin to live now in the light of that victory ..."           Alister E. McGrath

He is risen; he is risen indeed.

“…if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed… nothing will be impossible for you.”
Matthew 17:20