Mandy Baker Johnson

Living without Shadows

Tag: loved

Affection and Sympathy

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy

In Christ there is affection and sympathy. What does that mean?

Affection is showing love: a hug, a smile, a hand on the shoulder, holding hands. Every school day afternoon I see from my window a mum striding briskly ahead of her small son. I long for the day when they will walk side-by-side with that little boy enjoying his mum’s attention, secure in her love as she shows him affection.

Affection is warming and affirming. It makes you feel secure. You know you are loved.

This verse says God is affectionate to me. How?

  1. Every time He brings truth alive in my heart, giving me assurance and making me feel loved.
  2. When I have a supernatural encounter with Him and I enjoy His presence.
  3. By a hug or prayer or prophetic word or blessing from a friend.
  4. When He whispers to my heart to come outside because He has something to show me, He directs me to look up and see golden clouds at sunset, and says: ‘I thought you’d enjoy it.’
  5. Each time He reaches down into the depths of me, healing and restoring what had broken into a thousand tiny pieces.

God also has sympathy for me. Jesus knows precisely how I feel because He was human too. He understands my weakness and my needs because He has been there.

Am I childless? So was Jesus.

Am I tired at times of sin and temptation? So was Jesus.

Have I been hurt in unspeakable ways? So was Jesus.

Do I get tired and achey? So did Jesus.

Because He sympathises with me, I draw near to His throne of grace with confidence, knowing that He will meet me right in my need. It’s real. When I’m dealing with situations and feelings too big for me, I know that Jesus is enough to handle them. He sympathises in a way that no one else ever can. He is real and authentic and strong.

Look at all I have in Him: encouragement, comfort, love, fellowship and participation, affection and sympathy. There’s no one like Him.

 

 

 

Celebrate: Good Plans

I’ve loved looking at Rahab’s life these last few days. She was a ‘woman of the night’ who sold sex to men. Someone it would be easy to look down upon, but God had His sights set on her.

God loved Rahab from the depths of His heart. He had plans for her life: to rescue her out of the brothel and bring her into friendship with Him. Although Rahab couldn’t have known it at the time, she played in integral part in the Jews’ history. Her son Boaz married Ruth, a widow from a despised nation. Ruth was an outsider, but Boaz had been taught by his parents to welcome those who are ‘different’.

And God chose this family line through which to send His Son. What astounding grace to a prostitute! No one seeing Rahab working in Jericho could possibly imagine the wonderful plans God had for her.

How amazing it is to know that God has plans and dreams for us. He has good things for me, and He has good things for you.

I have dreams and hopes for myself. Some of those dreams I’ve had to lay down: the dream of having children. Does that mean God has a second-best plan for me? Or that He doesn’t love me as much as He does someone else to whom He has given children? No way! He is crazy about me. It just means His plans for me are far better than the best dreams I have for myself.

I love that God plants hopes and longings in my heart, and then fulfils those desires. And He always has far better planned for me than anything I can imagine.

Knowing Him is to know true life. It really is. And so I celebrate God today, and the way He fulfils my heart’s desires and that He dreams over me good plans. Whoop! What a God! Yee haaah!!!

Keziah’s Diary: Treasure

You saw me in my childhood,
Lost, alone, sullied, rejected.
And You gave me full acceptance.

You saw me on the street corner,
Beautiful, empty, desolate.
And You gave me peace and joy.

I was a prostitute,
Unworthy, unlovable.
You said my value was above the price of rubies.

You saw me in my sin,
You came to rescue me.
Oh what sacrifice was Yours,
To woo me back and make me pure.

You saw me in the darkness,
And Your love shone so bright.
I’m forgiven, I’m a child of light.
All because of You.

I’m loved.
I’m chosen.
I’m forgiven.
I’m accepted.

Jesus, my treasure.

Loved and Secure

I gazed at the television screen in awe. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Everyone else in the surgical theatre – and there were a few – was tuned out as I drank in the beautiful sight of our two-day old twins.

The surgeon was talking, nurses and technicians bustling about getting everything prepped, Adi snapping away at the screen with our non-digital camera.

Long before I was ready to stop gazing, the screen was switched off and I was arranged on the edge of the operating table, legs akimbo, for our babies to be transferred back to me.

ZygoteI’d been unprepared for the rise of strong maternal feelings that exploded inside me when I called the hospital the day before to find out whether my eggs had ‘taken’. As soon as the lab technician assured me that both had taken and were dividing well, a lioness inside me lifted her head and roared.

I was a mother, and I would do anything to protect my kids. If it had been allowed, I would have spent the next twenty four hours in the lab gazing at those two tiny, fragile lives in the petri dish. They were mine and woe betide anyone who dared to be careless around them.

I loved our tiny twins, who we nicknamed Two and Three, from the second I knew they were conceived. I still love them and can’t wait for the day I will finally meet them face to face and wrap my arms around them for a lifetime of missed hugs.

It hit me this morning that God feels the same way about me.

Except He loved me long before I was conceived. In fact, He loved me so much before I existed that He made sure my parents met so I could be conceived.

He loves me. Just as I couldn’t tear away my eyes from my little ones, He gazes at me with love and delight. He sits beside me and counts every hair of my head. He watches over me when I sleep and is with me in every activity.

I am loved. And so are you.

Read the full story.

Unite

Jogging by the sea this week, I loved observing the oyster catchers unite to fly in a group. Seeing the odd one was nice but nothing out of the ordinary. But as a group, it was pure joy watching them dip and wheel on the breeze. One moment they moved in a circle of silver against the blue sky, the next they were almost invisible. Lovely.

I enjoy watching starlings congregate on the roof tops in autumn, preparing for their great migration south. There is power and beauty in seeing the large group wheeling on the wind.

In their unity, birds reflect their creator so well. God is united: Father, Son and Spirit in happy agreement with one heart and mind. Nowhere is this more evident that in His magnificent plan of salvation. In full agreement, the Father sent the Son so that I could know Him, and the Spirit lives within to whisper I am loved.

Need

Needs are different to wants. Wants are luxuries. Needs are necessary.

A few years ago I was in the Gulf on a work trip. Travelling between Abu Dhabi and Al Ain, I needed the loo – and I mean needed! My thighs went numb and started an ominous trembling. The situation was desperate.

‘Do you know if we’ll be stopping anywhere soon?’ I asked my boss.

‘Yeah, they’ll be doing their evening prayers in about ten minutes.’

Ten minutes felt like ten hours right then.

Oh the relief when the coach finally stopped and my colleague Stanley escorted me to the rickety wooden shed housing a hole in the ground. Not the best facilities I’ve ever used but probably the most welcome.

I have more fundamental needs in life: to be loved unconditionally for who I am, to be needed.

God has fulfilled both of these needs. He loves me like He loves Himself; I am loved more than I can comprehend. And He has specific things planned for me to do. In Christ, I have all that I need.

Beloved

God makes promises to those He loves and calls some surprising people ‘beloved’:

He grants sleep to His beloved.

King Solomon was called beloved by God despite sinning by having lots of wives and mistresses.

God delivers His beloved.

The Father sent His beloved Son to earth to save us.

John, once nicknamed ‘son of thunder’ by Jesus because of his quick anger, later became known as the ‘disciple Jesus loved’. John was secure in knowing who he was in Christ, in comprehending the love of God which casts out fear.

By the Spirit’s help, I too am beginning to know who I am in Christ, that I am loved and accepted by God. I wobble frequently. But regardless of what I think or feel, the facts don’t alter. I am loved by God.

You may think you are unlovable, that you’re not worthy of being loved. The promise God makes to you is, ‘You who are not beloved, I will make My beloved.’

 

Look

Day three’s word prompt for blogging through Lent is:  LOOK.

I’m one of those people who can’t see for looking, who frequently misses the obvious. I’ve lost track of the times I’ve embarrassed myself in shops by asking an assistant, ‘Can you tell me where whatever is please?’ only for them to point it out on the shelf directly in front of me.

A couple of years ago I went to an ACW writers’ day in Bath. I planned to get there nice and early to get the registration table set up before all the delegates arrived. I drove round and round the one-way system. My written directions and Sat-Nav both confirmed that the church was just off the one-way road I was on but I couldn’t see it. Then I spotted a church with a steeple on a hill so I exited left and drove up to it. Wrong church. Oh well. I got myself back into the one-way system and drove round for another go. Again, the only church I could see was the one with a steeple on the hill. Maybe I’d misread the name on the sign outside last time. I exited left and drove up the hill. Same name, still the wrong church.

Would you believe I spent almost an hour doing the same thing over and over again? (Maybe I shouldn’t be admitting to this so freely in public….)

CatOn the seventh or eighth attempt, I sat in my car with the church-with-a-steeple behind me and gazed out over Bath. ‘Lord, open my eyes.’ And He did. The church I needed (without a steeple) was almost opposite me, slap-bang in the middle of the one-way road I’d wasted an hour driving round and round.

Sometimes my looking is so skewed I can’t see straight. This is also true spiritually. There are all sorts of unhelpful things I believe about myself because I’m not seeing straight.

‘I’m stupid.’

‘No one ever listens to me.’ = I’m worthless.

‘I can’t…. because….’

The great thing is that God is waiting to open my eyes spiritually, emotionally and mentally as well as physically so that I can see straight. I think there are two things that run side-by-side for this to happen: I need to ask, and I need to look at Jesus. Because the more time I spend getting to know God and being with Him – gazing at Him – the more I am changed. God is the one who changes me from glory to glory, making me more like Jesus every time I look at Him.

When I look at Jesus, I see clearly because I see things from His perspective.

‘I am loved.’

‘God waits to hear me and bless me.’ = I am precious and my life has worth.

‘I can, because all things are possible for one who believes.’

Linking up with:

Missional Women

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