Backpacks

My three year old daughter is insistent on carrying her backpack to and from daycare every day. And everywhere else she goes. One day last week, she asked me to carry her whilst wearing said backpack. As I lifted her (and nearly threw out my back in the process) I could swear she had doubled her weight. When I asked what she had packed in her backpack, she replied, “My stuffs.”

When we got home, I opened her backpack to discover she had been carting back and forth her most prized possessions: a jigsaw puzzle, her favorite blanket, a makeup bag containing a variety of chapsticks, a bouncy ball, shoes, dress up dresses, a variety of trinket toys, etc. None of it made sense to me. Most of it was impractical and unused at daycare. As I began to unpack it and put things away, she caught me. “No!!! That’s my STUFFS!” she protested. She very angrily and in her spirited way began to repack all the nonsensical items back into the backpack. And the next morning, as she laboriously tried to pull on her backpack, she nearly toppled onto her back like a turtle! She had added even more items to the backpack. Seriously, did we buy this thing from Mary Poppins?!

This reminded me of how we react to God sometimes when he attempts to relieve us of our baggage. All the hurts, anger and resentment that we insist on packing around every day. We think we need our “stuff.” We justify its importance. “That person hurt me. I must protect myself with these walls,” we explain. “This terrible thing happened to me as a child. How can I possibly just forgive?!” we insist. “That event changed me, shaped me, and now defines me. I can’t just let go!” we say.

But Jesus paid the ultimate price. He sacrificed his life and raised from the dead so that we could live in abundance! He paid for freedom! Freedom from our past, our baggage, and our burdens. The cross was enough! And when we defiantly insist that we need to drag around our pain and scars like badges of honor, we discredit the love and victory Jesus poured out on the cross. When we worry, hold grudges and cling to resentment, we only hurt ourselves much like my toddler falling on her back under the weight of her backpack.

There’s no need to cart around your baggage anymore. Trust in God, the Creator of the universe to unpack your burdens.

“…Come to me [Jesus], all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Faith Like a Child

Recently my very inquisitive toddler was asking me questions about God, Jesus, and the universe in general. At one point in the conversation, she asked how she could get Jesus in her heart. So there in the car, on our way to school, I led my 3 year old daughter in the prayer of salvation. As soon as we said, “amen,” she asked, “Now is He in my heart, Mommy?” I said, “Yes, sweetie. He is.” She then asked, “Is God in your heart, too, Mommy?” I replied in affirmation and explained that God is in her brother’s heart as well. Then I caught myself in the complexity of trying to explain the omnipresence of God. How could a three year old understand the concept of God being everywhere and indwelling multitudes at once? I chastised myself.

But then my sweet little girl surprised me with her simple response: “God’s in my heart. And God’s in Mommy’s heart. And God’s in Brother’s heart. We love God and He loves us.” With a big grin and a simple acceptance of God’s infinite love and presence, she stated it so plainly and beautifully. God is in all who ask Him to be and He loves us far more than we can understand. Period. All we have to do is accept it.

Each night as I tuck my little girl into bed, she smiles and confidently says, “God is in my heart, Mommy! I love Jesus! And God is in your heart, too!” It is the best part of my day.

As adults we try to understand, compartmentalize and rationalize God and eternity. We try to fit Him into a box of our finite minds. Instead we should take a cue from my three year old and just accept His infinite love. Stop trying to overcomplicate things and make it all fit in your God box. It’s so simple even a three-year-old can explain it.

“Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’” -Matthew 19:14

Wielding a Sword

The other night while tucking my children into bed, my son was telling me about his day and some of the very challenging obstacles he’s facing as an adolescent boy. And during that conversation, he began to quote scripture he had memorized at school.

“‘Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable,whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.’ [Phil. 4:8],” he proudly recited.

From there this beautiful conversation evolved as I asked him how that could be used in his own life. He had gone to the effort of reading, understanding and memorizing God’s Word. He knew what it meant and what the instruction was. Which is quite commendable for a young boy. However, he had not realized that memorization is only half the equation.

I explained to him that the scriptures are like a double edged sword: a weapon for his use in battling temptation and fiery darts of evil thoughts. We talked about what it means to pick up that “sword” and fight. We talked about how important it is to take our thoughts captive and that it’s much like exercising a muscle: a muscle of self-control. We imagined together what it would look like to put on the full armor of God and go to battle. How much preparation and practice that must require. Just like a knight of King Arthur’s court, dressing for war against a dragon that would hiss lies in his ear. Most importantly, I let him know that he’s not alone.

As I laid in bed that night, reflecting on the significance of our conversation, I wondered how many other believers miss this valuable step in our faith walk? So often, we go to church and say, “What a great sermon! Pastor really hit it home today!” And then continue through our week “business as usual.” Or we take the time to read God’s Word and pray, but forget what we learned must be applied to our life. The Word of God is a tool for shaping and growing us spiritually, but also for fighting against an enemy who would love nothing more than to see us miss the divine purpose God has on each of our lives. Everyone on the planet, Christ follower or not, has a battle they are warring. Our enemy is trying the same lies, trickery, and temptations he has used since the Garden of Eden.

Today, memorize a scripture that you can use to fight against temptation or your personal struggle. If you need suggestions, feel free to reach out to me and I’d love to point you to God’s Word! He has provided all the answers we need for life and godliness!

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