What does it mean to “lay down our lives” for others? In 1 John 3:16, we read, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for others.”
I love how the verses continue because when we love in this way, we’re told that this is “how we set our hearts at rest in his presence.” When my heart feels that old turmoil, or if the old self rises up in selfishness and in that demanding of my own rights again, I remember the ancient pathway of laying down one’s life as Jesus did.
Laying down my life means the Holy Spirit enables me to use my resources to bless others all day long. It means asking God to show me how to lay down my life for my family and neighbors. With the personal and ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit, I think about living a lifetime of laying down my life. It feels, in the flesh, like death. It feels like giving up yourself, and that girl will throw a tantrum, believe me. But when we surrender like this, suddenly, we know it’s the life we were made for.
I am so excited to see this edition of Seated with Christ in Korean. Bethany House Publishing published this translation. I’m so grateful and so excited to imagine wonderful friends reading this book in their own language. It’s overwhelming! People all over the world, right now, worship Jesus in their own language, and they read Ephesians 2:6 together with me here in Pennsylvania. What a beautiful picture of the family of God right here!
I’m always looking forward to new dreams for the upcoming academic year. I think about the new students I’ll meet at the end of August and all the beautiful writing I’ll encounter. I think about new books to write–both fiction and nonfiction–and new goals to achieve. Arriving home from our summer travels, I think about where I’ve been, but mostly, I think about where I’m going. I think about ways to help my daughters grow academically, spiritually, emotionally, physically, socially, and even financially; I think about neighbors to bless; I think about living a life of love this year.
I laughed when the children remarked how disgusting the dead, floating fish was in the lake. I told them that the horrific thing they detest attracts the thing they want: turtles. Sure enough, they finally catch a turtle who comes by to feast on the dead fish.
I remember that the things in my life I wish weren’t there often bring about some thing I’m really after.
Every few months, I like to remind myself of the truth that we don’t have to wait to begin to make small, positive changes. We don’t have to wait for perfect conditions or some dramatic new beginning. We can choose, today, to start small in the direction we want to go.
Maybe it’s drinking more water, taking a long walk, starting a new spiritual discipline, or beginning the novel finally. We don’t have to wait.
In Psalm 34:15, we read that “the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.”
God sees and is attentive to our cries today. What a wonderful truth when we feel ignored or overlooked, forgotten or discouraged. God is attentive to us this very moment.
I’ve been thinking about how, in Exodus, the whole point of delivering the Israelites out of bondage in Egypt was for the purpose of worship.
We read this great purpose in Exodus 7, 8, 9 and 10: “Let my people go so that they may worship me.”
When God moves to release us from sin, and when we receive Christ into our hearts, we become true worshipers first and foremost. I think sometimes we immediately jump to service or giftedness to minister rather than our primary purpose: worship.
We leave to explore the shores of White Lake, and within just a few yards, we discover eggs hidden in the cypress trees, a baby turtle belly-flopping off the log, ducklings coming too close to my feet, dragonflies sunning on laundry lines, and minnows darting under piers. We visit with neighbors and meet a new dog.
I’ll forever love exploring nature especially. I think of Thoreau’s lines in Walden: “We need the tonic of wildness. . . We can never have enough of nature.” I think of Emerson: “In the presence of nature, a wild delight runs through the man, in spite of real sorrows.” And I think of the poet Wallace Stevens who wrote, “Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake.”
I love walking in nature, and I return refreshed and full of wonder. I return more myself.
It’s wonderful to take a moment and talk to children about what they’re worried about, what they’re mulling over, and what kind of thoughts trouble them. Getting these thoughts out–and having a loving adult reassure them–can make all the difference in the life of a child. My friend told me that a great parenting tip is to, each day, look your children fully in the face and give them ten minutes of undivided and undistracted attention.
You listen. You ask good questions. You don’t even move. You just look at them and listen to whatever they need to say.
Today, on the way, it’s seeing a large bird of prey nesting on top a tall pine. It’s drinking a fancy vanilla latte in a coffee shop in Asheville (where the barista convinced me I must absolutely try the last of the chocolate croissants). But the best part? A safe arrival to where Grandma Kitty waits, fresh from the farmer’s market, with sliced tomatoes, okra, butter beans, purple hull peas, and corn. She has a carrot cake from the church bake sale and barbecue chicken just out of oven.
We’ll eat, play cards, and enjoy the summer evening.