"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
September 12, 2018
This is one of those devotionals where I know what I want to say, but don't know for sure if putting it into words is going to really do it justice and be clear, or just sound muddled where it's hard to understand my point.
My sister and I were recently discussing marriage. I had mentioned someone who had left a marriage after several years because they go bored. The lady telling me about it said that they understood why that person would leave due to boredom. It wasn't an abusive marriage; in fact, I know that the person was deeply loved. I wasn't in the home so don't know all the details; neither did that person confide personally in me. What I do know is that perhaps people sometimes confuse comfort for boredom.
When a couple is first married, they are in that stage where they are feeling their way around each other and trying to impress and find their way. For instance, the wife tries to figure out what foods her husband likes and dislikes so that she can cook meals that please him. Both the husband and wife are committed to doing things to please the other person and finding what acts or things bring pleasure to their spouse. Generally, they are on their best behavior and are trying to figure out daily routines and are eager to please. And doing things to make the other person happy is priority.
But as years pass, life events occur and busyness happens and there are bumps and curves in the road. Most times, life doesn't go as smoothly as planned and there are unexpected detours and problems that arise. The key to having a strong, successful marriage is for both spouses to be able to trust one another and talk things through and make decisions as a team. At times it may mean that they compromise or come to an agreement that goes against their personal wishes.
There comes a time when the husband and wife should feel secure in their relationship enough where they aren't constantly trying to impress their spouse, but where there is a level of comfort. They know that they can be themselves and that their spouse will still love and trust them.
That type of relationship comes with maturity and by honoring their vows and getting to know the heart of their spouse. It doesn't mean that you take advantage of the other person or stop trying to do things to make them feel special or loved, nor does it mean that you feel like you no longer have to try to please your spouse or do things to bring them joy. It means that your relationship is not established on emotions or feelings, but has solidly been built on a foundation of respect and trust.
There is a feeling of security. Secure people know that when they need help, their husband or wife will always be there for them to give comfort and support. They are confident that in good or difficult times, their spouse will stand steadfastly by their side.
There comes a time when your spouse can see you at your worst, and you're not self-conscious or embarrassed. You can have bad breath, burp, fart, vomit, have bed-head, be sweaty and stinky..... and your beloved still loves you. You can have a bad day and be in a bad mood, be cranky, say hurtful things out of anger, get our feelings hurt and be in a snit.... yet our sweetheart continues to love us.
We know that we can also disagree, argue, and get upset with one another and be honest about what's on our mind and in our heart; yet love remains. We don't have to hide our feelings or be worried that if we share when we're upset or angry that our spouse will no longer love or want us. We are open and honest, we forgive, and we share openly so that healing can come and our relationship can grow stronger.
We have grown in our relationship with one another to the point where we feel comfortable and secure. We have matured where we no longer feel as if have to constantly impress. We can be with one another and be ourselves and know the heart of one another. We know what pleases the other person, but it comes naturally without all the fuss and work. There is peace in being with each other and spending time together; and can enjoy the presence of the other person without always speaking or doing something.
This is a picture of what our relationship with Jesus should look like. When we first become a christian and everything is new, we are overjoyed and trying our best to please Him and on our best behavior and working hard to do what is right and find what brings Him pleasure. Sadly, there are some christians who never mature beyond that stage. They are always worried that they're going to do something to upset Jesus or that if they mess up He will leave them; and often wear themselves out trying to always be "good".
There should came that point of maturity in our relationship with Him where we are just comfortable being in His presence. We can be ourselves and trust that He loves us and that we love Him and feel secure in that knowledge.
Yes, we make special time with Jesus and do what brings Him joy; but every day with Him doesn't have to be a special "date" that we have to prepare and work for. Throughout the day, we take pleasure in knowing that He is present and we enjoy being in His presence. When we are in the car driving or at home doing housework or on the job or sewing or mowing or whatever it is that we are doing throughout the day, we can have conversations with Jesus; us talking to Him, and us quietly listening to what He is wanting to say to us in that moment.
Jesus can see us at our worst, and we know that He still loves us. We may have moments when we don't understand what is happening in our lives, or why, and we have questions and are upset and our feelings are hurt and we may feel anger. Guess what? Even then, we can openly share our heart and feelings with Jesus and He is big enough to understand our heart and isn't going to be surprised or angry at us for our honesty with Him. In fact, through our honesty can come healing and forgiveness. It's when we close our emotions off and choose to not share our true feelings with Jesus that we begin to grow bitter and negative and harbor offense. We are His bride, and as our Bridegroom, He wants us to share every thought, every emotion, every fear, every concern with Him; both the good and the bad.
I remember one of the first times in our marriage that Jon saw me at my very worst. I had a stomach virus and was very sick. I was in bed, and Jon was lounging on the love seat in our bedroom in order to be nearby in case I needed anything. I needed to throw up and couldn't make it to the bathroom. I was kneeling on my hands and knees beside our bed, and Jon was holding the trash can for me and rubbing my back. I was vomiting so violently that I lost bladder control (sorry, if this offends your sensitivities!). We had been married a couple years at that time. I was crying from feeling so badly, throwing up, and being unable to control my bladder. Jon was so sweet and helped me get cleaned up, cleaned up my mess, and helped me back into bed. He never made me feel stupid, or embarrassed, or as if he was disgusted by having to clean up after me. That is true love!
We don't have to try and always be clean and put together and looking our best for Jesus; but we can let Him see us at our very worst and know that He will clean up after us, care for us, and show great concern and love towards us.
Our relationship with Jesus should mature to the place where we are secure and trusting and comfortable; and it's not constant work to try and be good and please Him and do what we think He expects. We know what Jesus likes, He knows what we like, and we are comfortable together. Sometimes we don't need to use words to express what's on our heart; we just know.
We don't have to set aside a special time to be with Him, and that is our only time together. It's not a date! Before Jon and I were married, we would plan when we would see one another and would either go to church or Jon would plan a special activity for us; whether it be dinner, or to go see a movie or a play. When we talked to each other when we weren't together, we had to put forth effort to call. It took work and planning and time.
But once we were married, we shared a home together. We no longer had to plan time together or date nights or call each other on the phone. When we woke up in the mornings, we were there lying beside one another and saw one another and talked before going our separate ways for the day. When we came home from work, we shared dinner together and had conversations whenever we wanted or had something to say throughout the evenings. On the weekends, we were generally together day and night. Nothing had to be pre-planned, on purpose, in order to be together; but we could choose where we wanted to go, when, or if we just wanted to stay home. We could talk whenever we chose.
That's how it is with Jesus. We don't have to pre-plan our time together, or make effort to call; but we have Him there, day or night, and can enjoy His presence 24/7. Regardless of the hour or what's going on, we can have conversations with Jesus, or just speak His name, or enjoy being in His presence. We can share our deepest secrets, bring our requests to Him regarding burdens or needs -- whether it be on our behalf or for others, or just tell Jesus how deeply we love Him.
This is the type of relationship that I have with Jesus, and I hope that you do, too. A bond that is strong, secure, deep, trustworthy, and committed; honoring my vow to be true to Him, regardless of what happens. It is quite freeing and an honor to know that Jesus sees me just as I am, all my strong points as well as my flaws, yet He still wants me as His everlasting bride!
It seems like most women accuse men of being unemotional. That really irritates me, because it simply isn't true. It really isn't even close. I think men in general feel just as much emotion as women (maybe even more). We just learn throughout our lives to keep from showing those emotions.
At an early age, most of us have adults scold or belittle us if we cry or show that we feel upset, like we are doing something wrong. We might be called sissies, girly, weak, or similar. I heard "Don't cry, or I'll give you something to cry about", usually when I was already upset for getting in trouble. So, we learn not to show that we feel upset.
We (I'm sure girls, too) are told to stop being so noisy and excited when we interrupt adults. We learn to act calm, even when we feel more like shouting.
As teens, we learn not to show that we appreciate beauty in art, older styles of music, decorating, clothing, etc. We can get accused of all sorts of "out of it" kind of thinking. So, we learn to hide when we enjoy almost any kind of beauty (except when judging women).
Later, we get laughed at for expressing that we feel hurt or offended by others. We may be called weak, silly, over-emotional, or told to "get over it." So, we learn not to share that we feel any kind of emotional pain.
We learn again and again that we should never share any of the emotions we feel. But that doesn't mean we don't feel them. We do. But we know we need to pretend we don't.
Now, there is some good news. God will NEVER tease, scold, or humiliate us for expressing an emotion to Him. We can yell at Him if we are upset, and He will patiently listen. We can weep our hearts out, and He will understand our pain (I'm sure His own heart breaks with ours). We can jump up and down in joy, and He will enjoy watching us, and never complain that we are being too noisy. He will never tell us we are being ridiculous, or that we shouldn't feel that way. He will stand by us, and help us through whatever it is. He will never give useless, trite comments, like "When one door closes, another one opens." He will give us what we really need, whether it's some bit of wisdom, guidance back to the right path, or simple patience.
1/4 cup flour
1 onion, sliced
1 tsp. Salt
1 green pepper, chopped (optional)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 pounds beef round steak
1 quart tomatoes
Mix flour, salt, and pepper together. Dredge meat in flour mixture. Brown in oil on both sides. Put in casserole dish. Top with onions, green peppers, and tomatoes. Bake at 325 for 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
Goes well served over mashed potatoes.
My sweet Jovie, that I babysat from the time she was a newborn, started pre-K this year. How did that already happen?!? My sister, who is her grandma, picked her and her siblings up from school their first day this year. When the kids got in the car, Janie asked how their first day of school had gone. Jovie said, "Grandma, I can't believe it -- I was good ALL day long!" Later she again told my sister, "I just can't believe that I was good all day long!!"
You can't go back and change the beginning,
but you can start where you are and change the ending. - C.S. Lewis
We love you!
Loretta & Jon