Knowing God in the Messy Bits
*Editor’s Note: There’s going to be a slight change. Monday’s posts will focus on Getting to Know God and His Character. What Kind of Wife Do I Want to Be will continue on Wednesdays with link-ups. The “What Kind of Woman Do I Want to Be” series is getting bumped to Fridays.
I have this friend. Our relationship has been a bumpy ride. I remember when we made a friendship commitment – to spend lots of time together, to talk on a regular basis, and to love each other. I remember standing at the kitchen sink while talking to my friend when I was eight years old. I had just read a book about Joni Erickson Tada, the quadriplegic turned artist. I remember saying how I felt going through a tragedy would be important to my faith. Little could I have known what my words truly meant. A few months later, my parents separated and I began an on-again, off-again ten-year battle with anger, bitterness, lies, and depression. My friend was there for me, but I didn’t always talk to my friend. I was wrapped up in myself and my pain, unable to truly open my heart. But even if I ignored this friend, my friend still loved me and spoke to me, even when I didn’t want to listen.
Then something happened. I was attending this church that was raising money to help stop human trafficking and my friend excitedly whispered to me, “This is for you.” I remember thinking, “What? Get involved with the stop human trafficking campaign?” At first, I took that very literally. I assumed that’s what I was supposed to do with my life – helping women escape trauma and abuse.
The following summer I took an internship out in California, and my friend came with me. My friend spoke to me again, being more specific this time – that I should take my degree and work in ministry, a nonprofit organization that helps women and ministers to the hearts of women. I was excited. What a fantastic idea!
I returned to college fully ready to serve and minister and learn, and then another curveball hit – a handsome one named Adam. ;o)
Of course, we ended up dating and getting married and my friend was shoved to the back shelf a little, only coming over for visits when I was available. My friend stayed with me through this time, encouraging me, coaching me, and correcting me when needed, which I didn’t always want, or appreciate.
But it was a week ago that my friend came with me on a women’s retreat. While I was listening to the speaker, the friend was whispering just to me, but it might as well have been a loud bullhorn. Suddenly, I understood the words of my friend so clearly. I didn’t need to know where I was going or what I was supposed to be doing. My friend wanted me to listen, and to hear, and to help give me purpose. My friend wanted me to know and understand and to love and be loved. My friend wanted to have a deeply personal relationship with me. It finally clicked. I finally got it, and I knew in my heart!
See this Friend I’m talking about is Jesus, and He was with me the whole time as I struggled to figure out who I was, who He was, and what I was supposed to be doing. What a wonderful friend that He stayed with me when I was angry with Him, when I forgot Him, when I neglected to spend time with Him, when I put other people, even my husband, first, instead of Him.
“This is what the LORD says– your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” Isaiah 48:17
The Lord (Yahweh) your God wants a relationship with you! He is not just someone to be invited over when the house is clean and you look perfect and when you’re in the mood for company. He is there with you always, even when your house is a disaster, when you’re throwing up your dinner, when you’re angry at your husband or sibling or roommate, and when you’re struggling to make sense of this life.
I was watching a movie called Letters to Juliet recently. In the movie, a fact checker named Sophie from the New Yorker and a soon-to-be restaurant entrepreneur decide to take a pre-honeymoon trip to Italy. When in Italy, her fiancé ignores her, wrapped up in his own preparations to open this restaurant and meet with his suppliers. Sophie wanders off to sightsee on her own and finds out there are women who write letters to Juliet about their romantic woes and leave it at her house, and there are women who actually write back. She joins the ladies and finds a letter by a woman named Claire written 50 years before. Sophie finds herself writing back and Claire and her grandson, Charlie actually show up in Italy. Claire has come to find her Lorenzo, the man she ran away from 50 years earlier. Sophie joins Claire and Charlie on their adventure. They drive all over the area, meeting Lorenzos, trying to find Claire’s Lorenzo. They stop at a mansion with extensive grounds and Charlie makes a comment about the boy who works in the fields to the man who owns them. “You got to skip the messy bits, Gran,” he says. Grandmother Claire’s wise response is, “Life is the messy bits.”
When asking myself what kind of woman I wanted to be, I realized that my list was all well and good, but the underlying desire was…
…to be a woman who knows God!
When Moses was visited by God at the burning bush, and he took off his sandals because he was on holy ground, God personally revealed His Name to Moses. No one had heard the Name of the Lord before this. God was calling Moses to do something outrageous – to take the Israelites out of Israel and free them from Egyptian slavery. Moses was probably thinking, “Who’s going to believe me?” So he asked God what His name was.
God replied, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you say to the Israelites: I AM has sent me to you….The LORD (Yahweh), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob – has sent me to you. This is My Name forever, the Name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3:14-15).
God cared enough to reveal His personal, holy Name to His people. A name is intensely personal. It is the spoken or written representation of all of who you are. You don’t just give out your name to anyone on the street, especially not your full name, but God, God reveals Himself to us. He doesn’t hold back because He doesn’t want us to hold back.
Amos 4:13 says, “He who forms the mountains, who creates the wind, and who reveals his thoughts to mankind, who turns dawn to darkness, and treads on the heights of the earth—the Lord [Yahweh] God Almighty is His name.”
But God doesn’t just want you to know Him when it’s convenient or when our lives are trouble free. He knows you and He wants you to know Him.
God is in this life with you and in your messy bits… and He loves you always!
Meet Me for a Cup of Coffee
God sees all of you – the good, the bad, the ugly, and He loves you still. Nothing you do and nothing you don’t do will change His love for you.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39
Sidewalk Prophets beautifully captures this hope and truth in their song, “You Love Me Anyway.”
How does the love the father demonstrates for his daughter in this video mimic the love that God the Father demonstrates for us?
“Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you…”
Read Romans 5:1-11. What reassurances does God give you in this passage? How does His Word comfort you when you’re uncertain in life, when you struggle to know if He’s still there? How does it help you to know that God is there with you in the messy bits?