Captured by Pam

words and images by pam wright

Category: God’s Unfailing Love (page 2 of 2)

Captured: What if… Then Maybe

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I am SO human… so predictable and I don’t ever seem to get past this one…

I recently had an interview for a job that I’m still waiting to hear about. I would love to get this job and I honestly feel like it’s a perfect fit. But, through the process, I have become really annoyed with myself because I find myself doing the ‘What if… then maybe game’… hoping to get something out of my behavior.

You know what I mean…

What if I love everyone, to the point of exhaustion, ignoring my own needs and well-being… then maybe I will be loved in return.

What if I work incessantly at pleasing people… then maybe I will be loved in return.

What if I am the perfect Christian… following all of the rules to a tee… then maybe God will love me in return.

What if I give all my money to help others… then maybe I will be blessed and loved in return.

What if I do all of the above… then maybe I’ll get that job!

I remember the very first time I did something that garnered praise and love… I must have been 4 and I took it upon myself to clean up the bookshelves that housed my brother’s and my toys. The reaction I received from my father over that little clean-up changed me forever.  I loved his reaction! I loved how grown-up and worthy I felt. He was proud of me!!! It would dictate how I began to work in order garner praise and love for the rest of my life…! People-pleasing…

I still seek that from others … and, wrongly, I still seek that reaction from God. I continually hope that my behavior will make him proud of me. If I behave in a certain way… then maybe He will come through for me.

I limit God by placing human expectations on Him… I think many of us do.

The only things that God is asking of me is to trust him and to wait on him… with patience. I don’t need to do anything or behave in a certain way. I just need to chill… and love and trust my Heavenly Father…

What If I let him have control of my life? What if I trust him with that life? What if I just wait on Him??

Then maybe I won’t have to try so hard and I can appreciate the true expression of love … God’s unfailing love.

Captured: Movin’ On

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Today I packed up my apartment. Everything is packed except this mug I kept out… my favorite mug! It reminds me of several things… to be courageous in difficult circumstances… to be courageous when life seems to be more than one can bear… and just because I love the cowardly lion! I actually played the part of the cowardly lion in a faculty play many years ago.

I love the lyrics from the ‘Wizard of Oz’ for the cowardly lion:

‘Yeah, it’s sad, believe me Missy
When you’re born to be a sissy
Without the vim and verve
But I could show my prowess
Be a lion, not a mowess
If I only had the nerve

I’m afraid there’s no denyin’
I’m just a dandylion
A fate I don’t deserve
I’d be brave as a blizzard

(Tin Man)
I’d be gentle as a lizard

(Scarecrow)
I’d be clever as a gizzard

(Dorothy)
If the Wizard is a wizard who will serve

(Scarecrow)
Then I’m sure to get a brain

(Tin Man)
A heart

(Dorothy)
A home

(Cowardly Lion)
The nerve

We all can relate to the desires of this quartet heading to see the ‘Wizard’. And we KNOW the author of these desires… the ONE who placed these desires in our hearts from time immortal… Our Heavenly Father, who graces us with knowledge, heart, courage and the dream of one day arriving ‘home’, in Heaven, where we belong!!

I am sad to have to move in with my daughter. I feel weak, and lame and needy. But, that’s OK… God asks us to be humbled… to seek him for our strength. I didn’t expect this, but I will face this with my mug in hand… the one that reminds me to be courageous, relying on God’s strength to get me through, coming out on the other side stronger than I ever imagined.

I will just follow the yellow brick road that God has set before me…. one step at a time… brick by brick… with a ‘lamp unto my feet’.

I’m excited where it will lead me… it can only be wonderful and magical, because I have more that a ‘wizard’ to follow… I have a savior… a lover of my soul… who will never abandon me, nor forsake me…

I’m movin’ on down the road… with courage… with confidence… because I am loved… and because there is something amazing waiting, just a little bit farther down the road…

Captured: Be Mine

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I love those little candy, Valentine hearts that say little things like ‘hug me’, ‘cute stuff’, ‘true love’. It was always so much fun to get those in the little bags we made in elementary school, decorated with lace paper and hearts cut out of pink and red construction paper. I would wait impatiently all day for the moment when we could open the bag, wondering if the boy I liked would give me one of those little, candy hearts with a cryptic message declaring his undying love for me… the beginning of a happily-ever-after love story.

I am the biggest, sappiest, girly-girl romantic on the planet and always have been. The only real dream I ever had was to fall in love and live happily ever after. I never cared about a career, or money, or success… I wanted to love and to be loved. However, I’ve never had a very good love story. I just haven’t. I’ve come so very close, but in the end, it just eludes me. It’s no one’s fault, really, and I don’t harbor resentment or blame. In fact, I’ve so often prayed that I learn to love unconditionally, without receiving anything in return for my love… well, perhaps God is just answering my prayer. Who knows??

I remember a sermon a while back, about Abraham’s willingness to offer his son as a sacrifice … the son he was promised to have, his dream, and the absolute love of his life … and the pastor asked us, ‘What are you holding back from God?’, ‘What dream are you unwilling to give up, keeping you from a fulfilling relationship with God?’ I was convicted then, and I’m convicted now… it’s my dream for a good love story here on Earth.

Ultimately, I do believe this …

God wants me to set my heart on him…

… and him alone.  And be completely satisfied in that.

John Eldredge’s books, Wild at Heart, Sacred Romance and Desire, and William P. Young’s, The Shack, have each had a huge impact on me about the subject of love… of true love… of God’s love story with us. God wants me to be head over heels in love with Him. He wants me to find the love and safety and comfort that I long for, in His own perfect love. He says it very plainly in Isaiah 43:2-4.

‘I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.’

I have gleaned from the Bible and the books I have mentioned that God is crazy about me. He loves me perfectly. Everything He does is to win my love, to romance me into his arms, to care for me. Everything. John Eldredge notes, ‘What he is after is us… our laughter, our tears, our dreams, our heart of hearts.’

I know how painful it is to be rejected… to have someone turn their back on you, to take another lover, to take your heart and toss it about… all of these have happened to me. John Eldredge says in Sacred Romance, ‘To make ourselves vulnerable and entrust our well-being to another, only to be harmed by those on whom our hopes were set, is among the worst pain of human experience.’

Oh, I do know this. However, I’m actually grateful for it (well, most of the time) because it does draw me into the comforting arms of my eternal love… the one who will never harm me and will always protect me.

I can only grasp how God must feel when we ignore Him or turn our backs on Him for stuff and people and pleasure and comfort and more stuff… idols all. He is a jealous God… not in the negative sense, but in the sense that he desires all of us in relationship, because he loves us so much. I’ve heard it said that God created males and females as a living metaphor for His relationship with us… to remind us of the love He desires to share with us.

However, because of our desire for a tangible, earthly love, we can create idols out of the very construct that should remind us of God’s love for us… the object of our affection can actually be the greatest hindrance to knowing God’s love fully. Recently, I have been reminded that this is precisely what led me away from God in the first place so many years ago. Because of my desire to be loved, I strayed away from God, chasing a worldly dream, beginning a journey filled with despair, rejection, extreme loneliness, a battle with alcoholism and very nearly death.

Eldredge says, ‘Our desire becomes insatiable because we’ve taken our longing for the Infinite and placed it upon finite things’.

Guilty. I often find myself daydreaming, longing for ‘someone’ and I can still so quickly forget that what I’m really longing for is God. Of course, we should hope for love in this life, for companionship. God says it’s not good to be alone, so yes, it’s good to hope for a love with whom we can navigate this life. But we must always be cognizant of where love truly resides and be completely satisfied in the greatest love story we’ll ever know … God’s love story with each of us.

In his book, Desire, Eldredge says,

‘God is the wellspring of everything that has ever romanced your heart…the thundering strength of a waterfall, the delicacy of a flower, the stirring capacity of music. The masculine and feminine that fill all creation come from the same heart. What we have sought, what we have tasted in part with our earthly lovers, we will come face to face with in our True Love.’

God romances me all the time and I don’t always realize it immediately… a perfect daisy along my path, a beautiful sunset, a butterfly landing on my shoulder. I remember my first solo vacation ever. I went to Thailand feeling lonely and blue. I was so reluctant to go on vacation alone and felt a bit pathetic. On the very first night, heading to Railay Beach all alone on a small, wooden, Thai boat, God romanced me with the most beautiful evening sky, filled with a gorgeous sunset, an already risen, perfect full moon and a thunderstorm on the horizon. It was so beautiful… of course, I was wishing I had someone there to share it with me, but I now see it as God romancing me, encouraging me to seek Him in the beauty of that place. I couldn’t help but be brought to my knees by such beauty. And I did. I spent the whole week with Him. It was a very meaningful, lovely vacation with ‘the lover of my soul’.

I’m also convinced that it is not the love I receive, but the love I give that enables me to even experience love at all. I want to be God’s love letter to those he places on my path and I want to love without expecting anything in return. God showed us how to love by giving us our freedom. He let us decide. He seeks us with pure love. He doesn’t force it on us because that would not be love. And he is patient with us. A quote from The Shack reminds us that…

‘So many believe that it is love that grows, but it is the knowing that grows and love simply expands to contain it. Love is just the skin of knowing.’ 

I love that quote!! The more we know about a loved one… their quirks, their mannerisms, even their flaws… the more we come to love them… at least that has been my case.

I am reminded that the Bible tells us that God knows everything about us, even the number of hairs on our heads. He knows everything we will ever do or think or feel. If love is the ‘skin of knowing’, then I can’t really even grasp how much he loves me. My knowledge of love is SO limited. And no one could ever even come close to loving me like he does. It reminds me how critical it is that I pursue him like he pursues me … to know Him, to spend time with Him and to seek Him.

Lately, a favorite Bebo Norman song, How You Love Me, has been the background music playing in my head as I go through my day. The lyrics say:

And should my dreams fall through
I will be safe with you
And with every breath I can breathe
I’ll sing about how you love me
I’ll sing about how you love me

Yes, God romances me … declaring His undying and unfailing love…offering little candy, Valentine Hearts that say ever so simply … but with such longing…

‘Be Mine’

 

 

Captured: The Death of Fear

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Just 6 months ago, all of my dreams seemed to be coming true. Everything was wonderful. I was engaged to a wonderful man and I believed it was an eternal love, ordained by God. I taught high school English and coached. I had a beautiful home and was soon to move into a new home with my new husband. I had a sufficient income, although it was always a struggle on a private teacher’s salary.

I was really happy. I felt safe. I was excited about the future.

And then, within a matter of weeks…

… No fiancé.

… No job.

… No home.

… No income.

All of the fears that I have harbored for most of my life came to pass all in one fell swoop. I was devastated. Heartbreak, panic, and utter disbelief flooded my whole being with a power that was more frightening than anything I have ever experienced. Honestly, I tear up just thinking about it.

I did the only thing I knew to do… I sought God. Whenever the pain became too great I would scream, begging God to do something.

… and he never failed to do something.

He never fails to do something…

He performs the miraculous in my life. He calms the storm within.  He provides just what I need the exact moment I need it. He has bound up my broken heart. He has filled the spaces occupied by loss and heartbreak and fear, with bounty and hope and joy and confidence.

And guess what? I didn’t crumbled. I didn’t break into a thousand pieces. I didn’t succumbed to depression and despair. I didn’t completely disintegrated. All the things I imagined would happen when I found myself in the midst of this Job-like experience didn’t happen.

I realize today that all of these things that happened, that I thought were going to destroy me, were really only answer to my prayers. In my prayers, I offered every part of my life to God… into His hands so that he could transform me… I prayed and prayed for God to mold and conform me into the woman he created me to be. And he answered my prayer through these losses, these trials.

I know this because I AM being transformed.

… by God’s UNFAILING LOVE!!

Today, my being is utterly consumed with hope instead of despair, with trust instead of panic, and with certainty instead of all the doubts that I knew only weeks ago.

Next weekend I will be moving in with my gracious daughter and son-in-law until I can get back on my feet and I am so very grateful for their love and generosity. Having to move in with my daughter at my age isn’t bothering me in the least. Six months ago, however, I would have been horrified at the thought of having nothing and needing to rely on others for my wellbeing. I’m grateful because God is replacing so much pride that I’ve harbored within me with humility, and His strength is replacing my weaknesses. And because I am ‘jobless’, I am in a position to pursue the gifts that God instilled in me and for which I am passionate … writing about His Glorious Name and revealing the beauty of His creation through photography.

Above all, God has dealt with me directly about my fear. His perfect love has cast that from me… I fear nothing. Honestly, I fear nothing. I lost my fear of death years ago because Heaven awaits me. And yet, I’ve struggled with fear over my time here on Earth. But, you know what? I’ve been through everything here. I’ve lived through the death of loved ones. I’ve been through the hell of addiction. I’ve been through emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual assault. I’ve lost the love of a man. I’ve lost my income and my home. And I’ve been through many, many other difficult experiences.

But, I HAVE GOD!!!

… And that’s ALL I need.

Not that long ago I would have been mortified to reveal my circumstances and my ‘failures’ to close friends, let alone to the world, but what matters is not if I’m ‘proud’ of my life or my experiences. NO! I am just SO very, very proud of my God … at what He has done and can do with this little life he gave to me.

It’s not about me!

It’s about God!!

Everything is and should be about God! However, it’s through my experiences and my hurts and my trials that God’s power and unfailing love can be revealed! And I want that!! I want to show him off to anyone who will listen!!

THIS IS MY GOD!!! Check him OUT!!

I no longer question God about the trials I face. I don’t question the trials any of us face. Yes, I need to be compassionate, empathetic and BE the loving arms of Christ to show His love to those who are going through the storms, like so many did for me. However, I don’t pity those in the midst of storms. I don’t pity myself. I know what can come and how God can transform and truly bring roses from ashes. Instead, I ‘consider it pure joy to face trials of many kinds’, as Paul reminded James.

God still has a lot of molding and transforming to do in me and I know that trials will come… but that’s cool! I’ll be all right!! I won’t crumble. I won’t succumb to despair. I won’t disintegrate. God has me under the shelter of his wings, in the arms of His son and in His heart forever… He truly is my eternal love!

So, I say in response:

… Adieu Despair

… Adieu Doubt

… Adieu Fear

Rest in Peace!

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