Arise, Darling! Winter is Over!

We only have one that pops up in our garden each spring. But it only takes one to make me squeal like a three-year-old …

“Look! The daffodil has bloomed!”

Daffodils are one of my favorites. They are the first to bloom around here. With their perky heads and sunny faces, they trumpet promises of warmth and renewal.

2017 May 22 Daffodil

Photo courtesy of Aaron Burden @ Unsplash

God’s promises are like that, too. They trumpet hope like water in the desert, color after a long grey winter, warmth after a bone-deep chill, the beginning of a new productive season. God’s promises are like that because like the flowers we count on to bloom every spring, so God is unchanging and faithful. We can count on His promises because we can count on Him.

Yes, His promises reveal much about His character:

He’s not slow—He’s patient.
He’s bigger than any giant—and He uses the subtlest weapons.
There’s hope beyond our current difficulties—He’s with us in our difficulties.
There’s always a bigger picture—an eternal purpose.

But did you know …

His promises also reveal much about our character?

May 22 God's promises are meaningless unless they've been tested.

For example:

His promise to never leave us or abandon us (Hebrews 13:5) doesn’t much matter until we’re in a place where He seems to have vanished. We can’t see Him, hear Him, or feel Him. It’s at this point we have to discover if we trust Him even then. It’s at this point we have a choice: to let our trust grow or falter.

What about His promise to prosper us and not harm us, to give us a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11)? Do we look at our future through the lens of our circumstances today or through His Word?

Then there’s His promise that nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). How many times have we allowed death or life, principalities or powers, present circumstances or fear of the future, convince us otherwise?

Oh, and the one we all think we’ve passed when in truth we have failed over and over. Whoever believes in Jesus will have everlasting life (John 3:16). How many times have we acted as if our salvation depended on our performance—as if it’s something to be earned?

And there’s other promises we often fail to believe when tested. I can do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). He will supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19). The joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). And how about, He will give life to our mortal bodies (Romans 8:11)?

I find that it’s easy to perk up when we recite God’s promises—that is until those …

promises experience a hard freeze.

And for me, mothering unattached children frequently blew the door wide open to wintry blasts. But you know what? Though I doubted, I clung like crazy to God’s promises.

I’d like to say those promises have evolved over the years. The way they materialized in the end sure looked a lot differently than I expected at the beginning. But the truth is, the promises didn’t change. My understanding of them did. My mind—my heart—is what has been transformed. And I can tell you now, the scent of those promises is much sweeter than I ever imagined.

So what’s popped up in your garden this spring?

Have you considered

… the effort it took for that sprout to push through the soil? Have you pondered what it might be like to endure a long, cold winter, buried in darkness? Do you realize that near death had to happen for new life to grow?

Oh, but you’ve experienced these things haven’t you? Yes, me, too. And that’s why we take the time to stop, gaze, touch, inhale deeply, and praise the Creator as we see His promises blossom into new life before us.

Like Solomon,

Jesus invites us to enter His spring.

May we follow.

 

“Arise, my darling,
    my beautiful one, come with me.
See! The winter is past;
    the rains are over and gone.
Flowers [daffodils?] appear on the earth;
    the season of singing has come,
the cooing of doves
    is heard in our land.
The fig tree forms its early fruit;
    the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
Arise, come, my darling;
    my beautiful one, come with me.”

Song of Songs 2:10-13, NIV

Restoration for a Heart Eroded by Lying

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She stomped her foot and insisted she hadn’t gone in the house I had just watched her go into. Or was that me who stomped her foot out of complete frustration? (I can’t remember.) How could one lie so blatantly in the face of evidence clearly stating otherwise? They call it crazy lying and it’s probably the most common behavior SAFE (Step/Adoptive/Foster/Every other nonbiological) parents battle. I’m not sure I know a single SAFE mom who has reported differently.

SAFE children lie—a lot—like, every day. I’ve come to believe it’s not a moral issue for them; rather, it was a matter of survival that became a lifestyle. Think about it. In Russia not that long ago, Christians met in secret; the poor stole wood or coal to heat their shackish homes in the winter; and street kids told heart-wrenching stories in order to procure food. In impoverished environments, lying is simply a means for meeting basic needs.

Needless to say, once those needs are consistently being met in our homes, the habit of lying gets used for other purposes: avoid punishment, fulfill desires, or affirm a false sense of being in control (another practice necessary for survival).

But for us raised in an environment where basic needs were readily met and love cradled the needs of the heart, lying is taught as evil. To utilize it would result in uncomfortable consequences. Honesty, however, was a prized characteristic—a mark of respectability. Most SAFE parents were reared with this moral code deeply ingrained.

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So when you have a mom raised where honesty is exalted, trying to parent a child who learned lying is a necessity, battles, confusion, and heartbreak result. When that mom spends years having trust eroded, her view of the world is tarnished. She has learned to evaluate people through the grid of distrust.

This is the place I landed after fifteen years of parenting habitual liars. A place where I kept a guard up that said, “Yeah, right! I’m not buying that story.” And I didn’t like it one bit. An innocent, basic trust in mankind had been destroyed and it felt icky. I didn’t mind being wiser and more discerning; but I missed the ability to watch for the good in others instead of the bad. My youngest child moved out for good the summer of 2012. Four-and-a-half years later, I think I’m learning to trust again.

So what do we do when we swim in a tank of devious sharks? How do we keep from being swallowed by cynicism? Well, I’m still learning this and God has been gracious with me. I think it’s simply taken time for the beauty of others to soak back in.

I remember making huge strides in this recovery when I visited my parents in Ukraine. I met all these people with Russian sounding accents that were honest and upright. Part of my brain was shocked that such godliness could accompany that accent. I mean my frontal cortex was saying, “Well, duh. Not everyone is a liar.” But a deeper part of my brain took some time to absorb that truth.

My kids, by the way, rarely lie to us anymore. I suppose they don’t always paint an accurate picture about what’s going on in their lives. But since I’m not responsible for their choices anymore, their decisions don’t carry the weight they used to. And frankly, I have a pretty good idea about their lives and I love them anyway. They are maturing by leaps and bounds and I know little by little the need to lie in order to live or to impress others is slowly diminishing. They’ll get there.

As for me, I’m learning to take my cynicism to the Lord. I think I’m learning to love people even if they aren’t telling the truth. The Lord alone knows what’s driving their need to lie and I can leave that brokenness with Him. If God wants to use me to reach them somehow, then I have to start by loving them right where they’re at.

Maybe the key lesson for me, is that it’s no longer my job to confront the liars of this world. My job is to love them anyway—fully aware of their tactics—pray for them, and let God fix them.

If you have kids who frequently crazy lie, I would say just expect them to. Don’t take it as a personal affront. Call it, communicate it’s wrong and no longer needed, and implement disciplinary action. Be consistent and don’t back down. But also know that love and safety will eventually erase their need to lie. I say eventually because mine were adults before they got to this point.

One more thing. We’ve all done our own fair share of lying. Only God can not lie.

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I probably say it one way or another in everything I write—all needs are met in God alone. When you need to remember what Truth looks like, look to Jesus. Sink into His Word. Live there. It makes being a light in this dark world a whole lot easier.

Make me know Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
For You I wait all the day.
(Psalm 25:4-5, NASB)

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6, NASB)