So softly and tenderly He calls…

My goodness so many thoughts are flooding my mind tonight as I feel the weight of the long week pushing toward the end…so much to do, so much to absorb, so much seen, heard, so much yet to ponder through to a conclusion and often there isn’t one, but this time, I’m finding some strength and solace to comfort me as I consider it all…

How often I, we, many of us are deeply misunderstood. We struggle with matters so personal to others they cannot begin to imagine how it could be personal to anyone else, yet it is. As mothers especially, many things pierce the heart. We’ve journeyed a path unique to us, personal literally to our depths as our own bodies are used by God as fertile soil from which He grows another human being, bodily. Before our arms can wrap around a child of our own, our hearts beat to sustain him or her while our blood nourishes and builds his or her strength. Hearts and bodies are joined simultaneously, no separation for those of us blessed to experience the wonder and joy of this one of life’s most precious and fragile gifts.

Bodies have a special and unique importance for us as we tend to every need of our children’s from before birth until years after when they are finally able to manage on their own.

I often ponder the gift of God, His precious and only, His perfect Son, He gave as a sacrifice for us. We know God in the flesh, bodily, only through Jesus. We read of the suffering of the heart, mind, and very body of the Lord and as we do, as I do, as a mother, I grieve. I can hardly bear to think of the cost…of the suffering of One who was perfect, for me, for you, for all who would believe.

Yet I believe God gave us something so very personal, so deeply penetrating, so that we might know the depths of His great and all-consuming love for us, grace that is greater than all our sin.

I see and hear everyday as I teach young women and men struggling to find acceptance, some mark their bodies while others starve theirs. Some pierce and reveal while others hide and conceal. All of these are bodily displays of need for acceptance, need to feel special, need for recognition, need for love…a need for what can only be found and fulfilled by One who never fails; One who has already proved not only love, but boundless, eternal, redeeming love.

My heart understands so much more than many would think. So many times in my past I wished I could throw off the covering of my flesh and be bound no longer by the insecurities and shame, dissatisfaction and sadness it held. I can’t explain how exactly it all changed for me but I know when it began to happen…When at 34 years of age I found myself rounding with expectation of a child soon to come, for the first time in my entire life I was able to look at my body as a beautiful thing, not beautiful by worldly standards, but beautiful because of the miracle God was choosing to work in and through it. I knew God Himself had touched me to bring about a precious new life, one that would be forever tied to mine in a loving and wonderful way. My husband and I marveled together at the miracle of life as we watched and waited for God to do His wondrous work in me.

As I teach and we, as classes of students, grapple with notions of self-concept, self-worth, value, health, wellness, growth, illness, and even death, I find my mind ever drawn back to what matters most. At the core of who we all are is the truth of how we came to be…we were created, we were given the gift of life, unable to sustain it we are able to recognize a power far beyond our own is at work. It is undeniable, yet how often it is missed and other avenues of thought are pursued, other means for finding purpose sought, other journeys chosen that lead away from what the heart truly craves most…perfect peace and love from a source that never fails.

We hate rejection yet again and again we are all prone to choose a path that is bound to lead to further pain of that very sort. It brings to mind the song that says, “prone to wander, Lord I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love.” Isn’t it true? Aren’t we prone to wander away, in the opposite direction from what would wholly satisfy?

It is so hard for our finite, carnal minds to grasp and hold onto the truth of God’s perfect, redeeming love. Scripture tells us He is the all-sufficient One. He is our sufficiency, yet we seek other means, other ways of making ourselves into what we believe will make us more acceptable, more loving, more sufficient.

If only…if only we could grasp at the center of our souls that we “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called [us] out of darkness and into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9) then and only then would we be forever freed from the bondage of the mind that so often attempts to convince us that we need to be changed on the outside in order to be acceptable. I am so thankful that the Lord looks on the heart, He discerns what is hidden and reveals truth. He is concerned with what is good and right and true, with what is pure…that is all. How thankful I am for a Lord of love who did for me and for you what we could never do for ourselves. We are accepted, accepted in the beloved, safe, and forever blessed with eternal, redeeming love.

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