Basketball and God

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My 5th grade nephew doing his thing last season.

I doubt many folks think of God when they think of basketball. I’m sure a multitude of prayers

have been lifted up from courts and stands across the nation with the desperate hope of a buzzer-beating shot. But on the daily, not so much.

I certainly didn’t relate the two until a couple of months ago. I was in the middle of a personal retreat, wrestling with my soul-crushing inability to allow God’s love to define my worth rather than work and ministry. It was an agonizing couple of days struggling to traverse the deep canyon from head knowledge to heart knowledge. My head knows God’s unconditional love constitutes my worth. My heart, however, tends to think God is far too nice to hurt my feelings by telling me how much I’ve disappointed him. Maybe God doesn’t even realize he is disappointed. Maybe he isn’t being honest with himself. But I know. Which makes me feel worse so I work even harder to be worthy of His love and not let Him down. Pity party for one, please.

It was in the middle of this wrestling (excuse the mixed metaphors) when I thought about basketball.

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He likes me. He really likes me.

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The other day someone asked me my favorite thing about Jesus. 

It has been awhile since anyone has asked me that question. It reminded me of a recent lunch where I asked a college student what she loved most about her long-time boyfriend.  She had a momentary stunned look and then replied, “Wow.  No one has ever asked me that question before.”  She went on to explain a lot of things she loved about him and as words poured out of her, it was clear to see she loves him. Very much.  Yet to narrow it down to a favorite thing was a daunting task because her reasons for loving him where countless. Where should she begin?

The reasons I love God are countless. Where do I even begin? I could speak of His great love for me. I could speak of His amazing grace. I could give witness to His comfort in my times of pain. I could tell you stories of His faithfulness to me, to people I love. I could point you to people, including myself, who have been freed from all types of slavery by His mercy. All of these are reasons I love God.

But this past year another truth has become my favorite thing about God.  A truth that leaves me amazed and overwhelmed nearly every day.

The truth is this:  Not only does God deeply love me,  God genuinely LIKES me, too!

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One Thing that is Certain

If someone were to ask you, ‘What is the one thing in life that is certain?’ you would have to answer, ‘The love of Christ.’ – Brennan Manning

Enjoying the sun

This truth is the one thing that helps me the most in life. When I start to get out-of-whack with hopes and expectations in people or ideas, God brings me back to this truth – the one thing in life that is certain is the love of Christ. Not parents, not family, not friends. Not knowledge, not adventure, not money. Not self-understanding, not significant others, not possibilities. The foundation of my life must be the love of Christ or I risk being tossed about by the storms that come or even a slight, beautiful breeze that gently turns my head in another direction.

My life phrase for 2013 is “Enjoy Me!”. I’ve discovered that the biggest part of making this a reality is trusting God. I must have a child-like trust that God is who God says He is and that God will do what He says He will do. In ruthlessly trusting God, I will be freed to truly enjoy God and our life together as we love one another and others.

There is absolutely nothing easy about what I just typed. I don’t have an easy 3 step plan to fully trusting God and I think that is the whole point. It seems to be more of a daily surrendering to God as I shift from making self-conscious efforts to be good to allowing myself to be loved as I am. It is a daily choice to sit quietly in His presence and fix my eyes on Him because I love Him. And under his gaze, God transfigures me into His likeness allowing my life to shine brighter and more beautiful as He fills me.

Maybe one day I won’t have to will this each day. Maybe one day it will be so knitted into my soul that I don’t even realize I’m doing it. Until then, I am grateful for every thing or person that falls short of my expectations because it reminds me of the one thing that is certain – the love of Christ.

Abba, I surrender my will and my life to you today, without reservation and with humble confidence for you are my loving Father. Set me free from self-consciousness, from anxiety about tomorrow, and from the tyranny of the approval and disapproval of others, that I may find joy and delight simply and solely in pleasing you. May my inner freedom be a compelling sign of your presence, your peace, your power and your love. Let your plan for my life and the lives of all your children gracefully unfold one day at a time. I love you with all my heart, and I place all my confidence in you, for you are my Abba. Amen. – Brennan Manning