My Lord and My God

“Where’s my girl?”

My son was about three years old when he gave his sister this nickname.

He’d pad out of his bedroom following naptime, his hair still a mess of bed-head, rubbing his eyes with the blanket still in his fist.  He’d ask right away to find, “My girl.”

“Your girl?” I’d ask.

“Where’s my girl?  Where’s Catherine?”

“Can I go see my girl at the school?”

“Can I sit next to my girl in the van?”

“I want to paint a picture for my girl.”

He even went so far as to proclaim that Catherine was “My best girl ever in the world.”

Catherine, of course, loved all the affection.

He staked his own little personal claim on his sister by calling her “my girl,” and I wonder what that could change in me?

What would it  look like for me to stake some claims of my own by getting possessive about my faith, my position in Christ and my relationship with Him?

I don’t mean claiming some exclusivity with Jesus that others can’t enjoy.   That’s not it.

I mean letting my faith seep down into the nittiest grittiest details of my every interaction and my every response and my every thought and feeling because it’s so deeply personal to me, it’s the very essence and core of who I am.

It reminds me of the disciple Thomas who stood in a room with the other apostles and announced he’d believe that Jesus raised from the dead when he saw it with his own two eyes.

And then he did see Jesus.  Not only that, Jesus invited him to touch the scars in his palms and feel the scar along his side.

Jesus said:

“Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:27-28  ESV).

I love Thomas’s answer.

MY LORD AND MY GOD.

In the Matthew Henry Commentary, it says,

He spoke with affection, as one that took hold of Christ with all his might; My Lord and my God.

And Matthew Poole’s Commentary says:

My Lord, to whom I wholly yield and give up my self; and my God, in whom I believe. It is observed, that this is the first time that in the Gospel the name of Godis given to Christ.

This apostle we call “Doubting Thomas” was the very first one in the gospels to give Jesus the name of God.  This was a declaration of deity.  This was worship.

It was also Thomas’s personal statement of affection and personal confession of belief.

I want to be that personal.

I want to be that bold.

I want to “take hold of Christ with all my might.”

He isn’t just Lord and God, a deity over all, a divine overseer who loves all of humanity in one encompassing feeling of committed affection.

He is MY Lord and MY God.

He is this for you, also.

And that should change some things.

This week I’ve been swatting away worries like pesky flies.

I’ve been duking it out with that kind of tension that just eases down on your shoulders and won’t go away, the kind that wakes you up at 3 a.m. and doesn’t let you slip  back to sleep.

But Jesus is MY Lord and MY God.

I know He is able.  He is Mighty.  He can do the impossible.  He can overcome anything I face.

There is nothing that happens to me that surprises Him and nothing that interrupts or destroys His plans for me.

And He loves me.  It’s personal.  He has set His affection on me and He cares about what happens to me.  He doesn’t forget about my need or turn His back on me and let me down.

MY Lord and MY God is trustworthy and capable, compassionate and powerful, full of loyal love for me.

So slip your hand into His hand.  Save Him a seat next to you in the minivan.  Make Him the first person you seek when you wake up from naptime (if  you are blessed enough to have a naptime!).

Pour your affection on Jesus and put all your faith in Him.  Make it personal, deep-down real.  And let that wildly abandoned faith change everything.

Managing Expectations

Last year, we bought a new minivan while my daughters were away at summer camp.

We hauled all their luggage out to the parking lot on pickup day, and they stood there scanning the rows of vehicles wondering where in the world I parked.

Even when I opened the back door of our new van and told them to load up, they still didn’t understand. One of them asked if I had rented a van just to come pick them up.

It  was quite the surprise.

But now that one surprise has destroyed my kids’ abilities to gauge how excited they should be for any of my surprises.

Sometimes,  by “surprise” I just mean it’s National Doughnut Day and we’re going to Krispy Kreme for some hot doughnuts.  That’s a wonderful treat—-unless you’re expecting something more along the lines of a new car…or Disney World…or something like that

This year when I picked my girls up from  camp, my youngest daughter asked me if  I’d bought a new car again while they were away?  Or maybe a dog?

So, the ice cream cookie sandwiches I had actually bought didn’t quite measure up.

We’re not really a family that loves surprises of any kind.  (Actually, I hate surprises. So, why should I expect my kids to love them?)  But I am slowly learning that if we do have a surprise  we should package it with some expectation boundaries.

Something like:  Okay,  we have  a surprise for you.  It’s not a Disney World surprise, more like a local, nice surprise that you haven’t tried before and also it’s not  a puppy or a car.

We’re managing expectations with birthdays a bit, too.  It goes  like this:

Mom:  What would you like to  put on your birthday  wish list?

Child:  Well, there is one thing….

Mom:  Something that isn’t a dog.

Child:   Oh.  Right.  Well, how about a camera and some craft supplies?

Mom:  I’ll write those down.

I’m getting better at expectation management and expectation clarity with my kids.

Today, though, I was thinking about how my kids can slip into expecting so much, but I seem to slip into expecting so little of God.

I  read again today the account of Thomas the disciple, who needed to  see Jesus’s scars in order  to believe He was alive following t he crucifixion.

But there’s another moment  with Thomas in the Gospels that I love.  Before Jesus died,  just as tensions were rising and the disciples sensed the growing enmity of the religious leaders,  Jesus announced he was going to Judea again–right into the thick of the conflict and the trouble.

Lazarus had died,  and Jesus intended to be with the family.  The  disciples didn’t understand why Jesus would put himself  in danger, but we know why:  His purpose was resurrection for the glory of God.

So, Thomas  said to his fellow disciples: “Let’s go too so that we may die with him” (John 11:16 CSB).

I love how Thomas was ready to die for Jesus.

Beth Moore wrote,

“What a strange mix of loyalty and pessimism. Oddly enough, Thomas never doubted Christ would die. He doubted the most important part of all–that He would rise from the  dead and live again!” (Living Beyond Yourself).

Thomas expected Jesus to die.   He had no trouble expecting the worst.

But He didn’t expect Jesus’s resurrection.

Isn’t that me sometimes? 

In a season of loss, I can begin to expect more loss.  I expect to barely scrape through and survive the mess or the famine.

When there is bad news, I begin to expect more bad news.  More sadness.

Like Thomas, I have no trouble expecting the worst, but I so rarely expect and anticipate the resurrection Christ brings and that  is what needs  to change.  Instead of expecting the worst,  can I learn to  anticipate God’s glory?

I’m so deeply grateful that God is a God of abundance. he does so much more than meet my meager, miserly expectations.

I can never expect Jesus to  give me everything I want or ask for.  He loves me too much for that.

But I can expect this:

His goodness in all things.

His lovingkindness.

His sweetness in the midst of the best and worst of times.

His presence with me at all times.

His provision.

His strength.

His resurrection work, making things new, making things beautiful, filling the things that seem so dead with new life.

This resurrection work is what He is doing now, and it will be His ultimate work in creation,  building an eternal kingdom with no sin or death or pain, transforming all that is dead in this world into the perfection of eternal heaven.

Then the one seated on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new.”  (Revelation 21:5 CSB).

Bending and not breaking

She’s my daughter, after all, a miniature me in many ways.

So, why didn’t I expect it?  Why did I treat her less gently than God treats me?

Such a simple parenting issue: Daughter colored instead of reading before bed.  She ran out of time. Lights out, no reading for the night.

But then there was the reaction, like dynamite-meets-fire because the routine was broken and she couldn’t be flexible, couldn’t bend, couldn’t change up what we always do .

She and I both struggle here.  We cling to routine for personal sanity and prefer the scheduled, the planned, the known, the normal, the everyday and the expected.

Every night, she reads before bed.  Every single night.  Even before she could read, she flipped through the pages and invented tales about the pictures.

That’s me.  Whether it’s 9:30 or midnight when I finally ease into my own bed, I must read also.  Not that I prefer it or casually enjoy it.  I must read, even if I only scan through one single page before I pass out on my pillow.

So, surely I should have expected that when I asked her to bend and skip the evening marathon reading session for one…single…..night, she wouldn’t bend at all.

She’d break.  And break she did.

I am brittle like this, too: Snapping or shattering into pieces of emotional disaster when God nudges me out of the comfortable beauty of a planned day, or week, or year, or season of life.

And it’s not that God allows me to live life so rigid and in-control.  He won’t let me stay in this place of “needing to know the details” and “always having a plan.”

No, He asks that I trust Him.

He asks for faith without seeing.

But He teaches me gently, nudging me with the unexpected–a phone call, an appointment, a sick child, traffic, a cancellation– and then cleaning up the mess of me as I fluster and stress, react and over-react.

Still He leads me out in faith and then comforts me when it’s hard, always taking me one step farther into the faith-life and the blind-walk and one more step away from my day planner and kitchen calendar.

I’m grateful for the grace.

Surely, I’m not the only one who hates the surprises and plain-out hyperventilates at the unexpected.

I consider the 72 followers, sent out by Jesus with instructions that would probably make me tremble:

 Carry no money belt, no bag, no shoes; and greet no one on the way. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house.’ (Luke 10:4-5 NASB). 

They had no travel agenda, no itinerary, no schedule, no advance contacts or fall-back positions.  No money for the hotel when hospitality failed.  No change of shoes for weather fluctuations or suitcases stuffed with extra underwear and layers of clothing “just in case.”

“Whatever” house they entered, is where they sought rest and provision.  Sometimes they received it.  Other times not.

Peter may have loved this unexpected lifestyle.  He was a speak-what-comes-to-mind, do-whatever-pops-into-your-head kind of fellow.  Eager to hop out of fishing boats and walk on water, willing to shout out promises and convictions at the slightest whim. He lived for the adventure not the agenda.

Peter mystifies me a bit.

But Thomas I understand, and what if Thomas was in the mix of 70?

He always wanted the facts and the proof.   Yes, Thomas and I would be the ones studying the maps and searching for hotels, phone numbers, restaurants, and recommendations on Google before we set out on any journey of “faith.”

And perhaps we’d be the ones laying awake at night because we liked our own bed with our own pillow and cup of tea and a book to read before sleep.

Jesus would send us out anyway.

We might struggle and maybe we’d even have a meltdown and need God to piece us back together with superglue, but Luke writes that in the end, “the Seventy returned with joy” (Luke 10:17 HCSB).

Maybe Jesus indulges me in my nighttime reading habits and doesn’t ask me to travel from town to town without a packed lunch or luggage.

But when He asks me to ease my death-grip on my daily schedule and my long-term plans and the way I’ve always done things, after the aftermath of my mess…. there is joy.

Because it’s when He shatters the confines of my expectations that I feel His peace, not the comfort of being in control, but true peace and the settled assurance that Yes, He can care for me.

That’s when I see His glory.

That’s when I’m finally bending and flexible, no longer too fragile for Him to use.

Originally published 5/3/2013