The freedom to love

“Deeper and deeper must be the dying, for wider and fuller is the lifetide that it is to liberate–no longer limited by the narrow range of our own being, but with endless powers of multiplying in other souls. Death must reach the very springs of our nature to set it free: it is not this thing or that thing that must go now: it is blindly, helplessly, recklessly, our very selves. A dying must come upon all that would hinder God’s working through us–all interests, all impulses, all energies that are “born of the flesh”–all that is merely human and apart from His Spirit. Only thus can the Life of Jesus, in its intensity of love for sinners, have its way in our souls. ”  I Lilias Trotter from “Parables of the Cross”


Growing up I had a lot of problems in my relationship with my Mom.  It seems like over the years we fought more than we ever got along,  and for so long I was haunted by lost time.  Looking back it seems like all I ever wanted was her love, and it was daily fight and struggle trying to figure out how to go about that, and I never did get it right.  I became a Christian at 38 and I understood forgiveness, but having gone through so many painful struggles I still wanted someone, or something to “make everything better”. I thought if my relationship with my Mom, or friends or a spouse was working it was for me…it took me years to realize the kind of love that Jesus Christ requires of me is just the opposite but I was still so needy, so fractured and broken and like Humpty Dumpty thinking someone needed to put me back together again. Thank goodness a few years ago my Mom and I finally got that relationship I had been dreaming of.

It’s funny, all I had to do was stop expecting anything and just love her.

We talked every day and I was so happy that when I called her or went to see her she actually wanted to see me, she loved me and I loved her. Sadly several years later she got sick and ended up with dementia and our precious time together was cut short. It seemed like I was cheated in a way, we had only a few years but God is merciful and He allowed me to realize that those two brief years were precious. I was not owed any more and those few times are a gift.  I have had to learn to see my Mother as the same woman, but with a completely different personality and it’s been so difficult. That woman who was so strong she survived cancer 5 times now has no idea how to use a straw. It’s humbling and I depend on God’s grace to not break down into tears constantly, when I am weak….he’s like the Incredible Hulk. I could never do this without Him.

She is is very ill now,  89 and  her death hovers around me like a misty cloud. Some days I can only see the rain and winds but other days it’s like a veil, it shields me from the reality of pain and the fear of losing her. I am able to tune out the turbulent feelings and see her just as she is, a gift to me and I am so thankful. The simple act of feeding her or stroking her hair is a blessing. I enjoy her snoring, her rare smiles or kisses.  I was driving home today and I realized after 9 years of salvation I think I finally understand what liberation and freedom we have in Christ, even in ways we seldom think about. I am free from years of pain and trauma, I can love my Mother just to love her. I don’t need anyone to fix me, or even comfort me. Christ has done all that and continues to. Through Him I can just love people, no strings. And like Him, that’s more than enough for me.

I will lift my eyes

Psalm 121

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot slip—

he who watches over you will not slumber;

indeed, he who watches over Israel

will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord watches over you—

the Lord is your shade at your right hand;

the sun will not harm you by day,

nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all harm—

he will watch over your life;

the Lord will watch over your coming and going

both now and forevermore.

What to Do If You Wake Up Feeling Fragile


by John Piper | December 26, 2011

There are mornings when I wake up feeling fragile. Vulnerable. It’s often vague. No single threat. No one weakness. Just an amorphous sense that something is going to go wrong and I will be responsible. It’s usually after a lot of criticism. Lots of expectations that have deadlines and that seem too big and too many.

As I look back over about 50 years of such periodic mornings, I am amazed how the Lord Jesus has preserved my life. And my ministry. The temptation to run away from the stress has never won out — not yet anyway. This is amazing. I worship him for it.

How has he done this? By desperate prayer and particular promises. I agree with Spurgeon: I love the “I wills” and the “I shalls” of God.

Instead of letting me sink into a paralysis of fear, or run to a mirage of greener grass, he has awakened a cry for help and then answered with a concrete promise.

Here’s an example. This is recent. I woke up feeling emotionally fragile. Weak. Vulnerable. I prayed: “Lord help me. I’m not even sure how to pray.”

An hour later I was reading in Zechariah, seeking the help I had cried out for. It came. The prophet heard great news from an angel about Jerusalem:

Jerusalem shall be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the multitude of people and livestock in it. And I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord, and I will be the glory in her midst. (Zechariah 2:4–5)

There will be such prosperity and growth for the people of God that Jerusalem will not be able to be walled in any more. “The multitude of people and livestock” will be so many that Jerusalem will be like many villages spreading out across the land without walls.

But walls are necessary! They are the security against lawless hordes and enemy armies. Villages are fragile, weak, vulnerable. Prosperity is nice, but what about protection?

To which God says in Zechariah 2:5, “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, declares the Lord.” Yes. That’s it. That is the promise. The “I will” of God. That is what I need. And if it is true for the vulnerable villages of Jerusalem, it is true for me a child of God. God will be a “wall of fire all around me.” Yes. He will. He has been. And he will be.

And it gets better. Inside that fiery wall of protection he says, “And I will be the glory in her midst.” God is never content to give us the protection of his fire; he will give us pleasure of his presence.

This was sweet to me. This carried me for days. I took this with me to the pulpit. I took it with me to family gatherings. I took it to staff meetings. I took it to phone calls and emails.

This has been my deliverance every time since I was first marking my King James Bible at age 15. God has rescued me with cries for help and concrete promises. This time he said: “I will be to her a wall of fire all around, and I will be the glory in her midst.”

Cry out to him. Then ransack the Bible for his appointed promise. We are fragile. But he is not.

But this I know

Beams of heaven as I go
through this wilderness below
guide my feet in peaceful ways
turn my midnights into days
When in the darkness I would grope
faith always sees a star of hope
and soon from all life’s grief and danger
I shall be free someday

Burdens now may crush me down
disappointments, they’re all around
troubles speak in mournful sigh
sorrow through a tear-stained eye
There is a world where pleasure reigns
no mourning soul shall roam its plains
and to that land of peace in glory
I’ve got to go someday

I do not know how long it will be
nor what the future holds for me
but this I know, this I know:
if Jesus leads me
I shall go home someday