The Bigger View


Have you ever tried to look at your reflection in a window instead of a mirror? Since a window’s purpose is not to cast a reflection, trying to see yourself in one is difficult.

I found that I often treat the Word of God like a mirror, when in actuality it’s more like a window. I’m constantly looking for myself in the pages of the Bible. But that’s not a right perspective. If, as I’ve proposed, the Bible is more like a window, it was written to show the bigger picture of who God is, not merely a reflection of who I am.

To take this analogy further, if I focus on my reflection in a window, I can still see the window’s view, but it’s out of focus and a bit distorted. The same is true when it comes to the Word of God. If I’m so focused on myself and what it says about me, I’ll be too wrapped up in the “dim” reflection to be able to see the grand view of God clearly.

Reading the Bible from a self-centered point of view allows me to still “see” God and His character. But it’s out of focus and distorted. Instead of being about who He is and how I fit in His story, it becomes about how He fits into mine. And if I don’t perceive Him as serving my purposes, I question Him and His character.

Second Timothy 2:15 reminds us of the importance of keeping a right perspective of God’s Word: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth” (ESV).

Of course, if I look out of a window, I will catch glimpses of myself. The same is true as I read and study the Bible. God will inevitably reveal things about me. Second Timothy 3:16-17 says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (ESV). But the reason I look in a window is not to see myself, but rather the larger view it’s been designed to showcase.

Try it sometime. Try focusing on your reflection in a window. How well are you able to see the view of that window? How well are you able to see yourself? I dare say, you will see both quite poorly.

When fear is the loudest voice you hear

I set out to write a very different post today. I had a plan and a schedule. And then life happened. I had hoped to tell this story on the other side of victory, but I’m struggling to get there.

You see, we had a minor mouse problem. For some, this may be a small thing. But for me, it’s been paralyzing. I always knew I wasn’t a fan of furry little critters that belong outdoors. But it wasn’t until I had to deal with one in my own home that I realized how incredibly afraid I am. I know it’s irrational. But here we are.

Can I be honest? I have had to fight against feeling let down by God. I’ve found myself questioning Him, “Why this? Why now? With everything else that I’ve been through, can’t I just get a break?” I even told a friend, “This feels more stressful to me than my divorce.”

I find myself easily believing the lie of the enemy that says God is either impotent or indifferent. I should know better. I’ve seen God’s faithfulness in more ways than I can count. But yet here I am trying to combat these age-old lies.

I wish I had a magic bullet for these moments of doubt. But the only way I know to silence fear is to actively oppose the lies of the enemy. And the only way I know how to do that is with the Word of God. So for my sake and yours, I’m going to share the truth of who God is.

  1. He’s a promise keeper. Joshua 21: 44-45 says, “And the Lord gave them rest on every side just as he had sworn to their fathers. Not one of all their enemies had withstood them for the Lord had given all their enemies into their hands. Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (ESV, emphasis added). God made a promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If you read the book of Joshua, you can see the fulfillment of that promise. But I don’t need to look much further than my own life to see that God is a promise keeper. He promised, “I will not leave you or forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). That’s a promise I have walked out. I remember when I was meeting with a lawyer regarding my divorce. I didn’t know if I was doing the right thing by meeting with someone. I was afraid and confused. But it was as if God sat with me and took my hand and guided me through the choices I had to make. His promise to never leave me was so palpable in that moment.
  2. He loves me. All I need to do is remind myself of the cross to remember that I am loved more than I deserve to be. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believers in him should not perish but have eternal life” (ESV). Romans 5:8 says, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (ESV). Hebrews 4:15-16 says, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (ESV). Not only does God love me, He sent His Son to this broken world so that He could understand and empathize with me. If I can hold on to this truth, I won’t ever believe the lie that God is indifferent to me or my pain.
  3. He’s in control. God is sovereign, which means He’s in control of everything that happens to me. I’ve heard it said like this: “Anything good or bad, must pass through His fingers first. There are no accidents with God” (Dr. Tony Evans). Jesus said it this way in Matthew 10:29-31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows” (ESV). Lamentations 3:37-38 says, “Who do you think spoke it and it happened? It’s the Master who gives such orders. Doesn’t the High God speak everything, good things and hard things alike, into being?” (MSG). He uses all of it, good and bad, for our good and His glory. Which leads to my next fact about God.
  4. He is working all things for my good. The Bible is full of examples where things looked pretty bleak and as if somehow God wasn’t working. One of my favorites is the story of Joseph. It seemed that everything in his life was working against him. But I love what he says at the end of his story, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today” (Genesis 50:20 ESV). The Resurrection is another example. I can only imagine how hopeless the disciples felt after Jesus had died on the cross. I’m sure those three days felt like an eternity. But just as He promised, Jesus rose again. Once again, a dark and seemingly hopeless situation was miraculously turned around for the blessing of those involved and the glory of God. An often quoted verse is Romans 8:28, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (ESV). In my younger days, I always thought this meant, “God will make your life good.” But that’s not what this verse is saying. It’s not saying that everything I encounter will be something good. But it does promise that it will bring good out of my life. Verse 29 goes on to say, “For those whom he foreknew he predestined to be conformed into the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers” (ESV). I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a greater good than for everything I walk through in life, good and bad, to conform me into the likeness of Christ.

I wish I could write and tell you I’m not afraid anymore. But what I can say is that I know God is working on my behalf. I feel less afraid now than I did a few hours ago. And I know I will be okay as I continue to rehearse for myself the truth about who God is and who I am to Him.

My two cents: walking through divorce

I recently saw a post on Instagram asking for advice from women who have gone through a divorce. The tips given were varied, anywhere from don’t become bitter to make his pockets hurt. As I read through the comments, I began thinking about what advice or encouragement I would offer another woman going through a divorce. While my hope and prayer are that no one else would ever have to walk through a divorce, I know the realities of this broken world. So with that in mind, here’s my advice:

Don’t let go of God’s hand

During the dissolution of a marriage, it can be easy to feel like God has somehow abandoned you. As things were falling apart, I begged God, on countless occasions, to save my marriage. But when the divorce papers were served and it was clear things weren’t turning around the way I had hoped, I had to fight the urge to blame God. Like Martha and Mary, I wanted to say, “Lord, if only you had been there…” (John 11:21, 32). But the reality is, He was there, the entire time and continues to be.

God didn’t abandon me or let me down. He fought for me and continues to do so.

I experienced my greatest growth during this time because I didn’t let go of God’s hand—even when tempted. See, God didn’t abandon me or let me down. He fought for me and continues to do so. When He says, “He will never leave you; he will never forsake you…” (Deuteronomy 31:8), those aren’t empty words, said in bad faith. It is a promise from an everlasting God who cannot lie (Numbers 23:19).

But often, because we don’t experience God through our senses, hearing, seeing, touching, etc., we can sometimes transfer the characteristics of our spouse on to God: “My husband left me and made me feel like I was hard to love. God must feel the same way!” But that’s not how God sees you or me. Our spouses loved us imperfectly, because they are imperfect, just like us. But God’s love is perfect. This is what God says about you:

“I love you so much that I sent my only Son to die on the cross for you. I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love, I have drawn you to myself. I rejoice over you with joy. I quiet you in my love. And I rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

“I will be your God throughout your lifetime—until your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry along and save you.

“Even if your father and mother leave you, I will hold you close. Don’t be afraid, for you are very precious to me. Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For I, the Lord your God, am with you wherever you go. I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who says to you, ‘Fear not, I am the one who helps you.’

“Even before I made the world, I loved you and chose you in Christ to be holy and without fault in my eyes. You’re so beautiful! I love you!”

(John 3:16; Jeremiah 31:3; Zephaniah 3:17; Isaiah 46:4; Psalm 27:10; Daniel 10:19; Joshua 1:9; Isaiah 41:13; Ephesians 1:4; Song of Solomon 1:15)

Stay in the Word

This one goes hand-in-hand with my previous point. The enemy will throw every lie known to man at you during a time like this. One of the lies of the enemy I had to fight against was that the failure of my marriage was completely and totally my fault. But I have found, the only way to combat a lie is with the truth. And there is no better truth than the Word of God.

It may be hard to believe what God says about you, at first. But the more time you spend reading, listening, reciting and memorizing Scripture, the more convinced of the truth you will become. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ” (ESV).

When everything began to fall apart in my marriage, I bathed myself in the Word. I read it and when I couldn’t read it, I listened to it. I would often listen to podcasts from trusted pastors or watch them on YouTube. I even sometimes had Scripture playing in my room as I drifted off to sleep.

It’s not going to be positive thinking or “good thoughts” that silence the lies of the adversary. It’s God’s Word and His Word alone.

There is a reason God’s Word is referred to as the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17). It is the only thing that can cut the enemy down to size. It’s not going to be positive thinking or “good thoughts” that silence the lies of the adversary. It’s God’s Word and His Word alone.

Don’t weaponize your kids

Don’t try to use your kids against your former husband. Your children are innocent in all of this. Any time you use them to “hurt” your former spouse, you are just hurting the kids. He may not parent the way you would. He may be more permissive or more restrictive than you would like. He may be less attentive or too much of a “hoverer.” But unless he is a danger to your children, don’t try to limit his access to them.

One of the promises I made myself (and my children, though they don’t know it), was that I would never be the one who hinders their relationship with their dad. If that means I have to give up extra time with them so that he can invest in their lives, then that’s what I have to do. It’s not always an easy promise to keep, but I know in the end, I’m doing what’s best for my kids.

And as hard as it may be, don’t speak ill of your former husband in front of your kids. You may not be able to extol his virtues as a husband, but if you can, speak well of him as a parent. Chances are, he loves them as much as you do. And if that’s too hard, do what your mother always said, “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

Don’t try to make him suffer financially

If you’re still in the process of settling the details of the divorce, don’t seek an opportunity to make him “pay.” It’s easy to want to exact revenge through his wallet. But before you ask for a certain amount for child support or spousal support, check your heart.

When I was starting the divorce proceedings, I wasn’t working. So not seeking spousal support wasn’t a realistic option for me. However, I had to stop and check my heart to make sure I wasn’t trying it to punish him, financially.

I remember the first time I realized money was a hot-button issue for my former husband. He had always been so cool and collected when it came to ending our marriage. But where finances were concerned, I found I could finally elicit a response from him. It felt empowering. That night, I wrote in my journal, “I want to make him pay!” But thank God for the Spirit! The Holy Spirit helped me to see clearly that using money to harm him would only make me feel better temporarily. It would not help me heal or give me back the broken years.

It’s important that you can take care of yourself and your children. So if spousal support is needed, please seek it (child support is non-negotiable). Just make sure your heart is free from reprisal when seeking it. Romans 12:17-19 says, “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord’” (ESV).

Don’t ignore your feelings

Whether you’re angry, sad, or lonely, don’t sweep your emotions under a rug. I’ve had to learn how to acknowledge what I’m feeling, take the time to sit with my emotions, then lay them at the feet of Jesus. So sometimes that looks like screaming out, “Lord, I’m so ANGRY!” Or it could be a headache-inducing crying fest. But through the whole process, I’m holding on to God—even if my anger happens to be directed toward Him (trust me, He can handle it).

The book of Psalms is a beautiful template for how we can have all the feels without letting go of our ultimate trust in God:

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me? Consider and answer me, O Lord my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death, lest my enemy say, ‘I have prevailed over him,’ lest my foe rejoice because I am shaken. But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13 ESV).

Forgive

This one may seem like a “no-brainer.” But it bears mentioning. Don’t wait for that heartfelt apology for all the trauma and pain your former husband caused before you forgive. Truth is, you may never get it. Do you deserve one? Probably! But don’t let that be a condition for you to forgive him.

When you’re tempted by unforgiveness, just remember how much your Heavenly Father has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32 says, “Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (ESV). I know it can be easier said than done. But for the sake of your own heart, forgiveness is necessary.

I’ve shared a bit of my journey with forgiveness previously. You can check it out here.

I know there are a lot more nuggets of truth from people far wiser than me. And I’m still learning and walking through the healing process. But I hope that some of what I’ve shared is encouraging to anyone who is facing one of the most difficult circumstances you’ll ever encounter. I’m praying that your heart will be healed, and you will experience all that God has for you.

If you’ve been through a divorce and have encouraging words or bits of advice, please share them in the comments.

An Unworthy Exchange

This week, I was reading Psalm 106. It’s about God’s faithfulness and goodness despite Israel’s unfaithfulness. As I was reading, one verse caught my attention: “They exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass” (Psalm‬ ‭106:20‬ ‭ESV)‬‬. When it’s put that way, it sounds absurd that the people of Israel made the choice to worship the golden calf (see Exodus 32).

It’s easy for me to sit back and judge their unfaithfulness, because I would never bow down to “the image of an ox that eats grass.” Right?! But I started to think about all ways I “exchange” God’s glory, His presence, for lesser things. What about that extra 20 minutes of sleep, instead of getting up to seek Him? Or how about the half thought out, half followed through commitment to fast? Or that one more episode of Star Trek: Deep Space 9, instead of cracking open my Bible before bedtime?

Psalm 105:4 says, “Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually” (ESV, emphasis added). If we’re honest with ourselves, we all have things we are seeking, other than the presence of the Lord. For me, it’s comfort, rest and peace. None of these things are bad, in and of themselves. But while I’m chasing them through extra sleep or one more episode of my current favorite TV show, I end up with a sorry replica of what can only be found in the presence of God.

Don’t get me wrong, God honors rest. He even set aside a whole day in the week for it. But when I seek that more than His presence, I’ve basically “exchanged the glory of God for the image of an ox that eats grass.”

Matthew 6:32-33 says, “For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (ESV). So that’s what I’m choosing to do–seek God first. When I do that, I can trust that everything else, including that coveted comfort and rest I so desire, will be added to me.

Tell the Truth, Shame the Devil

The enemy of our souls thrives in secrecy and lies. It’s how he keeps us bound. Shame and condemnation keep us from seeking true freedom in Christ. He can convince us that we are unworthy. The truth is, we are unworthy, except through the blood of Jesus. But secrecy also keeps us isolated from other people.

I learned this lesson recently, as I took a step of transparency with a dear friend. God had been dealing with me about being open with her about an area in my past. You see, when I was 15 years old, I decided to rummage through my older brother’s belongings. He had been known to hoard candy. However, what I found was not candy. It was a pornographic magazine. (This was before the proliferation of the Internet.) What I saw in that magazine ripped through my innocence and began a pattern of secret sin that I lived with for years–sin I brought into my marriage.

At the time, I didn’t know why God would have me “dredge” this up. After all, I rationalized, I’ve been delivered from that pattern of sin. I sat with it for a few days, trying to convince myself that it wasn’t a prompting of the Holy Spirit. But the topic of truth and being a person of truth kept popping up. At that point, it would have been an act of intentional rebellion not to do as the Holy Spirit was directing me.

So I swallowed my pride, called my friend, and confessed this blotch in my past. Then, to my surprise, she responded with a meek, “Me too…” Even though God had set us free from the sin, we still lived under shame and condemnation. But in that moment of honest transparency with one another, we both experienced a deeper level of freedom.

“And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:32 ESV

It was then that I could see so plainly the enemy’s scheme. John 8:32 says, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (ESV). Satan doesn’t want us to walk in truth, because he knows that there is freedom, real freedom, in that. If he can keep us bound by guilt, even if we’ve put a particular sin behind us, we won’t be able to experience full liberty. He knows that there is nothing he can do to separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39). But he can sure keep us from accepting and receiving that love, if we let him. It’s like I can hear him saying, “Gotcha!”

To destroy the chains of shame, we must break the silence and live in transparency with one another. We have to remember, one of the weapons of our warfare against Satan is truth (Ephesians 6:14). Revelation 12:11 says, “And they defeated him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by their testimony. And they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die” (NLT, emphasis added).

Today, I choose to be a person who walks in truth. I will no longer be bound by shame or condemnation. “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:36 NLT).

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