Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Tender-ized

My mom is a great cook. One of my favorite things she makes is chicken fried steak. When I used to help her cook, usually my job was to prepare the meat. I would lay the pieces of steak on a cutting board, and then I'd take the steak hammer and "pound, pound, pound...whack, whack, whack." Then I'd flip the piece of meat over and "pound, pound, pound...wham, wham, wham."

It's a noisy process, and it takes energy and arm muscle to keep pounding over and over again. But the result was that the meat would be tenderized. Eventually my mom would say, "That's enough." Then she would take the meat, cover it in flour, and fry it. Frankly, I think I had the harder job. =) But once the meal was ready, the hard work was worth it as we ate the tender steak.

If you've ever cooked a meal like this, I'm sure you'd agree that the difficult process is worth the delicious result.

Sometimes in life it's hard to see or remember that the difficult process will be worth the result.

For many months it felt like God had me in a process of what I'd call "tender-izing." Sometimes I felt like that piece of steak - with those little knobs on the steak hammer pounding here, there, and everywhere.

It hurts. It's hard. And when it finally feels like there might be a break, it's often just a pause before the pounding starts again on the other side.

Maybe you've felt like this too. Maybe you've wondered why things have been so hard for so long. Maybe you've questioned God's love for you. Maybe you've tried to run away from the "tender-izing."

If so, I want to encourage you and myself today. Our heavenly Father holds every tear we cry, He hears every prayer we speak or even think, and He gives us every breath we breathe.

God still loves us.
He still wants our best.
He is still in control of everything.
He still works all things for good.
There is a worthwhile result.

In the midst of the difficult process, I realized that the "tender-izing" actually had made my heart more tender.

In those moments when the pain would wash over me and tears flowed, I didn't think only of myself. I thought about others who were hurting. My heart filled with compassion for them. I prayed for them. I sent an encouraging message or let them know I was thinking of them. Somehow in the difficult process, in the midst of my own pain, God gave me more of His tender mercy for others.

And even when I cried out and told God how much it hurt, I knew that He understood. I knew that in the fellowship of Jesus' suffering, He was drawing me nearer to His heart. And I want to be close to Him. My heart longs to hear His voice, receive His comfort, experience His healing touch, and grow in intimacy with Him.

Maybe you prayed for a tender heart without knowing it might require a "tender-izing" process. No, the process isn't fun. It hurts. It's hard. But the result of a tender heart toward our Savior and others is beautifully worth it.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." -2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Remembering The View

Hello friends! I am so very sorry that it’s been months since I’ve blogged here. This year has been full of surprises…some really difficult and challenging, and others amazingly wonderful! It’s been quite a journey. I’m hoping I can start blogging regularly again, and I thank you for your patience and prayers.  

After traveling thousands of miles this year, I’m currently in FL. Even though I’m at “home,” most days I still feel like I’m not exactly sure where I am or where I’m going. I know my heavenly Father knows both of those things, and He is faithful. So I’m trying to live one day at a time and trust Him for each next step. I keep asking Him for a clear vision for the future – some picture or view of where it is He’s leading me. 

Today I was looking back through pictures of my time in Europe. Oh how I miss those views! The mountains are breathtaking in many places I visited. I’m thankful I have the photos to look at and to remind me of the incredible experience of seeing those places with my own eyes. There’s something special about standing in the midst of such beauty and soaking in the view.

On the border of Austria and Slovenia

So much of our lives it seems our view is only of what is right in front of us – traffic, laundry, grocery store aisles, office cubicle…. Our daily view may seem uninspiring, discouraging, painful, or overwhelming. It helps me to look back at photos of majestic mountains. But even that doesn’t solve my difficulties today.  

While thinking about this, I read this passage in Romans:

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.” –Romans 5:1-2a (NIV)

Because of Jesus we have so much! We have peace with God. We have been justified – declared righteous, holy, and pure! And we now stand in God’s grace. We stand in the presence of God, in the courts of heaven, surrounded by beauty far beyond what we can imagine! That is our place. And that is our view. 

We now stand before our awesome, perfect, loving God as – beloved, perfect, alive, free, beautiful! Oh how I want to see myself this way. And how I want to see my life from this view. 

When my daily view begins to take too much of my attention, I know God wants me to remember this heavenly view. God has given us His Word to teach and remind us who He is, who He says we are, where we stand, and where we are going. This view is what helps us live out each day here on earth. 

Whether I’m in Austria or FL, the truth is that I am standing in God’s grace – His divine favor. I am loved, I am blessed, I am complete – in Jesus my Savior.  

Time for me to go soak in that view…. 


*Do you have a photo of yourself in a beautiful place with an amazing view? Try placing the photo where you’ll see it everyday, and let it remind you of standing in your place of grace with that heavenly view. =)