“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
“So God created people in his own image,
God patterned them after Himself;
male and female He created them.”
Genesis 1:1, 27
The meaning of the Name:
In the first hours of time, God took upon Himself the work of creating a world of life. Out of “a waste and emptiness”, He moved and spoke and painted beauty. With His fingers, the Psalmist tells us, He created sunsets andstorms and hummingbirds and lightning. His creation reflects His very nature, shouting out His “invisible attributes” to a world empty without Him.
And He created us. Each of us, made in His image, a uniquely faceted aspect of who He is.
Elohim has been creating since He first opened the pages of His story and He is creating still.
He made you and He is still making you, writing your story as a part of His own. With intricate skill He carves His face into your life, smoothing roughened edges, correcting crooked angles, shaping His beauty into who you are.
Do you sense His artistry? Are you soft and pliable, yielding to His touch? Or are you oblivious to His creativity—dashing helter skelter through your days irregardless of His grace?
Pause a moment and think.
God began a good work in you before you were born and He hasn’t quit. In fact, He is perfecting and polishing His work in you today and every day.Are you impeding His progress? Resisting His touch? Dragging your heals at what you know He wants you to do? Could it be that you think you know better than Elohim what your life ought to look like?
Are you trying to control God?
If your soul confirms the conviction that what you really long for is His creative hand in your life and circumstances, then tell Him that right now. Let Him do what He has been doing since the beginning of time.
Literally rendered, with us is God, the name echoes both the longing of God’s heart towards us and our aching emptiness without Him.
One of Satan’s most effective ploys seems to be to make use feel isolated— like nobody knows what’s going on with us, nobody understands, nobody really cares.
Jacob’s solitary flight from his raging brother took him away from all that was safe and familiar. After several days of traveling along the ridge road through the hill country, watching his back in fear of Esau, Jacob fell exhausted to the ground near the town of Luz. Finding no shelter, he lay down to sleep with a stone for a pillow. There he slept the sleep of one exhausted from anxiety, tormented by regrets and feelings of failure. He had sinned, and that sin left him alone and afraid, his future uncertain.
Sometime during the night, Jacob had a dream. He saw a stairway between heaven and the earth he lay on. Coming up and down through that portal, Jacob saw angels busy about their task of bringing messages to the sons of men and help to the people of God.
And that’s when he heard this astonishing news that God was with him.
“I will be with you and will protect you wherever you go.
I will someday bring you safely back to this land.
I will be with you constantly until
I have finished giving you everything I have promised.”
Jacob woke with a start! Could it be? Had he heard right? Was God really promising to be with him no matter what? In spite of his mistakes, regardless of his failures?
The very idea scared him to death! For him to realize that God was with him changed everything. “Surely”, Jacob remonstrated, “God is in this place and I wasn’t even aware of it.”
From the beginning of Creation, God has made His presence known to His people. With Adam and Eve as they strolled together through the garden during the cool morning hours, with Abraham as he dreamed of a better life, even with Paul as he fiercely fought against His plan.
God was with each of them. And God is with you.
Do you believe that? Really? Do you believe that God is with you in the good times and the bad, no matter what? It’s easy to believe that God is with us when we’re surrounded by raised hands, swaying to the sounds of worship. But what about when you’re afraid? Or alone? Or ashamed?
Hold on to the hope of His presence.
Cling to Him when you’ve sinned and when you’ve failed.
At first glance, this name appears fierce and negative. Jealousy is bad, right? Who wants a jealous boyfriend or a jealous mother? Atrocious damage is done by the possessive jealousy of a relationship gone bad.
But that is not God’s kind of jealous.
God pulled a broken people out of slavery and bondage.
He rescued them and led them to a rich land where they could put down roots and flourish. And as they settled into that land, He hovered over them, protecting them from both predators without and poison within.
He knew then, as He knows today, that other gods will compete for our hearts. He is fully aware of the wiles of the enemy who wants to exploit that unquenchable longing for more.
Eve had everything, yet she was willing to give it all up for the chance of grabbing more. David had more wives than he could ever possibly sleep with, but he just had to add Bathsheba to his harem.
Aren’t you just like them? I certainly am.
God’s jealousy is more about you than about Him. He never forgets that He made you for the express purpose of tight connection with Himself- and He’s not willing to make a threesome of it. What wife is willing to share her husband with another woman? What kind of husband would be okay with his wife gallivanting off on a cruise a couple of times a year with some other guy?
God is jealous for you- all of you. He wants every inch of your heart connected to His. Then He’ll fill you so full of love that you’ll be spilling it all over the people He puts in your life. Leave Him out of the picture and you’ll dry up like a pitted prune.
Is your heart divided? Are you all of His? Is He painstakingly pointing out areas of your life that you keep from Him? Are you sure you want to live that way?
“And now the Sovereign Lord (Master) and His Spirit have sent me with this message:
The LORD (Yahweh), your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, says: I am the LORD (Yahweh) your God, who teaches you what is good and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to My commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling like waves.”
“Our children will also serve Him. Future generations will hear about the wonders of the Lord. His righteous acts will be told to those not yet born. They will hear about everything He has done.”
Meaning of His Name:
I didn’t much like my first boss. He was an ex-marine kinda guy- complete with blond crew cut and lace up boots.
He was so mean. I mean he made me clock in on time- to the minute! Didn’t he understand how far I had to drive to get to there? Then I had to find a place in the shade to park my 1972 VW Bug. Its black interior and lack of air conditioning needed a little pampering.
And he made me work. Once when he caught me next door licking the left-overs from the cotton candy shop, he even yelled at me. “Wadda ya think you’re doin? Get back to the grill and flip burgers! Can’t you see there’s a line outside?”
Gosh, give a girl a break.
Along with all the rest of the teenagers who worked at Frontier Village Amusement Park, I made faces and grumbled behind his back. We had more derogatory names for that man than I could keep track of.
My next job gave me a little perspective. This time I could shed my ridiculous uniform and wear lovely, sophisticated clothes. I parked right out front and walked into an air conditioned bank. The first time I overheard another teller getting fired for being late, I thanked my old boss for his early intimidation. As sloppy mistakes kept me at my window way past closing, I determined to put to use some of those lessons he’d taught me about exactness and details. For all his bluster, he’d trained me well, knowing that Frontier Village was just one short stop on my path to adulthood.
Jesus is Adonai, Master. We hear it said, we spout it sincerely, we even write it down. But do we get what it means? Lord, Master, the Boss of not only the entire universe, but of me as well!
As my boss, and yours, He has certain rights and responsibilities. He’s training us for the next job- something far more meaningful and impactive than we realize. He cares that we do well- even at the expense of our personal comfort. Sometimes He demands attention to detail- like when He compares calling a brother an idiot to murder. At other moments, this Master requires more of us than we want to give. He even fires us from jobs we mess up on. And He can ‘cuz He’s the boss, girls!
While we love the idea of Abba, Father, and the Rock, and the One Who Heals, this idea of a boss is a little hard to swallow sometimes. Yet, like it or not, He is.
Are you honoring Him as Master of every area of your life and relationships? Are you loving Him by loving on everyone He puts in your path? Like your husband? Or your sister-who-annoys-you? Or your first boss?
Are you fully embracing your Savior for who He is?
Only one woman in the Bible ever called God, El Roi. No men clung to that name- ever!
Hagar was Abraham’s mistress, though she started out innocently enough as Sarah’s servant. Her days rolled by in a monotone of mindless work. No hope of getting ahead, no chance for marriage or family. She had traveled far away from home for this position and had no intention of jeopardizing her job by messing up.
But Sarah was not a nice woman. She wielded her sharp tongue with empirical power. As Sarah grew more and more frustrated with what she saw as her husband’s passive response to God’s promise, her bitter attitude spilled all over Hagar.
Go ahead and read Hagar’s story in Genesis chapter sixteen— it’s a story well worth mulling over. Ultimately, Hagar ran as far from Sarah’s meanness as she could get. With little but her shattered dignity to keep her company, she sat in the middle of the desert road and wept. All alone—no family, no friends, no children to call her own.
That’s when she saw God. Actually, that’s when Hagar realized that God saw her.
Do you really realize yet that God sees you? The one you hide from everyone else. The you under all the make up and pretty clothes and pretend piety. The you no one else sees.
That’s the you He saw hanging from the cross.
That’s the you He longs to come close to every day.
All about that terrible, horrible, beautiful time in my life when I began to lose my hearing and chose— instead of thankfulness— rebellion. And how this Redeemer rescued me and picked me up out of that pit and washed all the mud and muck away and began teaching me a new song.
I am relishing this foray into my past.
It’s like remembering how you fell in love all those years ago; reliving the sensation of infatuation, of that sense of eager anticipation for what may be ahead.
It is a re-visiting of darkness.
Because if I am to write my story honestly, I have got to delve deep into what I felt, why I rebelled, where I was heading, as I hurled into that place of willfulness— when I declared, with hands on my hips, Not Thine will, but mine be done!
What I didn’t know when I started seriously writing my story was how intense this time would be. I thought I could write a little each day, then go about my normalness: blogging, talking, e-mailing, connecting.
But I can’t.
It’s just too much.
Too much emotion, too many memories, too little mind-space to do normal-life. I’ve been caught up in Dorothy’s tornado and carried away to this an Oz-like land of discovery… or maybe it’s really rediscovery.
Add to that…
Elizabeth moved to L.A.
And since she’s the one who takes my words and weaves her magic by arranging and formatting and entering all the extras into the backend of this blog, it seemed best for a while to give her space to get settled.
But she’s been calling and emailing and texting me insistently with, “Mom, we’ve got to tell them what’s going on!”
And so here I am, emerging for just a moment to tell you what’s going on:
What: I am furiously writing the first, roughest draft of my book. I’m new at this; a novice at writing chapters, weaving story with teaching, finding the balance between what I remember and what I’ve learned. It’s one thing to write an 800 word blog post to women I feel like I know— quite another to keep a stranger’s interest for the 50,000 words I’m slated to write!
When: Though the book will not be published until fall of 2015, it is due much sooner. My hope is to get this draft done this summer and then work closely with my editor to hone and craft it into something legible by my due date.
(yes, this is definitely reminding me of those 4 pregnancies that seemed to consume every second of the nine months!
Why: I just cannot seem to create enough space to write this initial draft of my story and write anything else. I need to get this down on paper and I need to allow myself to be all in on this project— fully present, completely focused.
I’m thinking that is really the best way for all of us, no matter what it is we are called to do–
Being fully present in one place at a time…
Being all over the place, scattered, divided, rushing frantically to catch dropping balls and neglected needs.
I’ll be back
I don’t know when. Soon, I hope. But since this process has taken me by surprise, I’m loath to make any promises, though…
In the mean time, Elizabeth is taking the devotional series I wrote about the Names of God and reformatting them to post for the next little while.
This was her idea…
to remind us about what we know about this One we’re in love with.
We’ll take these weeks to delve in to who He is, how He works in our lives, what it is about Him that wraps our hearts in wonder.
But know this…
I miss so much the interaction I love with the women I love…
It can get a little lonely, talking to myself.
If you see a woman out walking her brown and black and white spotted dog in the woods… stopping to type furiously into her IPhone before she forgets… and singing tonelessly while she wanders the lanes… please wave!
It’s undoubtedly me, taking a break to think… so I can go back to write some more.
Thank you, my dear girls…
for praying for me and encouraging me in this grand adventure of writing. I’ve wanted to write this story for so long… and feared writing this story for so long…
Will you pray that I listen well?
Because that is the only way to write a book about listening to God.
I can’t drum this up on my own. Yes, I’m doing the study, yes I’m working hard… but ultimately it is by listening closely that I know what to write.
“ ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit’, says the LORD of Hosts.” Zechariah 4:6
“… as long as he sought the LORD, God prospered him.” 2 Chronicles 26:5
Listening with my whole heart,
P.S. I would LOVE to hear from you…
How is God leading you into a place of listening?
What are you hearing?
What is He showing you about who He is?
P.S.S. Keep watching for new posts… or sign up to have them sent to your email… I’ve so much being stored up to say!
Once upon a time I thought I knew everything I needed to know about raising children. Then I had kids. And every year since I’ve been learning a whole lot of things I didn’t know and couldn’t have known without these four humans who have the courage to call me mom.
Here are just a few things I wish I’d known right from the start.
1. That every child is made in the Imago Dei… the image of God.
Not in the image of me. Nor in the image of someone everyone thinks they should be.
God created that little one to be an unhindered expression of who He is, highlighting specific facets of His beauty in surprising combinations. No two will be alike. Not one of them will fit a mold. They are incomparable and impossible to define.
Because of that, we must approach each of the children in our lives with deep respect for the One who created them. To be rude or harsh or disgusted or rejecting of one of these little ones is an affront to the One who crafted them uniquely in the womb. To deface His masterpiece in any way is to dishonor God.
It is therefore a mother’s honor to go on a quest to uncover her child— not to force him into a mold of her own making. It is her honor to spend the rest of her life helping him to discover those unique contributions to the kingdom only he can bring.
2. That I am exactly the one God wants to mother my child.
Not someone better, wiser, calmer, richer, more patient… or more anything.
Somehow, in some way I cannot understand, He wants me to be the one to help my child become fully herself. So instead of cowering in fear or hiding in shame, I can listen confidently to the Spirit of God within me for specific ways to mother well and wisely.
It is therefore a mother’s honor to believe that He has given me all that I need for the job, along with His heart wide open to pour out more love and more wisdom than I’ll ever come up with on my own.
3. That nothing I will ever do will compare in importance to my role as this child’s mother.
Not a career or a clean house, not achievements or riches, nor the esteem and approval and friending of anyone. All those things that crowd my time and leave me stressed and worn out will never compare to the monumental impact of my role as this child’s mom.
Somehow I thought that maybe I had to prove something to someone in order to be important. Little did I know that the only ones who need proof of anything are those little ones in my own home. And the only proof they’re looking for is my unbudgeable love for them.
It is therefore a mother’s honor to sacrifice the more urgent but less important to see her child impact his world in unfathomable ways.
4. That the mundane moments matter most.
When your child is sick and finds comfort in your arms.
When your son is stressed and finds relief in your words.
When your daughter is afraid and finds safety in your presence.
Those are the moments when you insert earth-shattering truths about God deep into your child’s soul.
It is therefore a mother’s honor to be alert to her child’s needs. To meet those needs with all the loving flourish of the Father— laying a ground work for that child’s faith to be real, honest-to-the-bones, felt faith.
5. That the busiest mother can still be bored.
And boredom is exhausting!
A woman who is not engaged in creativity that meets the challenge her own soul needs will wear out from all the work motherhood demands. There is always room for the busiest woman to squeeze in the pursuits that fill her full and energize her for more.
Whether it is learning or art or writing or fashion or science or order or beauty or design, there is time. There must be time.
Therefore it is a mother’s honor to keep feeding her own intellectual/creative/people needs so that she is in a place of thriving while she is busy growing her children into thriving adults.
6. That our kids need to know that we like them.
Somewhere in all the correcting and training and disciplining and warning that happens from the moment our children are born until we wave them into their future, we inadvertently give off the impression that we don’t like them very much.
Our kids are haunted by the sense that we would like them if only… or when…
They grow up in good, loving, well-intentioned homes convinced that they are not enough… or too much.
It is therefore the honor of a mother to shower her children with affirmation. It is our mandate to assume nothing— to use our love for words and conversation to drill into our kids that we like them RIGHT NOW.
7. That what we don’t say is often more harmful than what we do say.
Silence is not golden to a child. Or a teenager. Or a young adult.
The withholding of interest in what interests your child suggests somewhere deep inside that he is not interesting.
It is therefore the honor of a mother to be interested. To make a concerted effort to loudly proclaim that interest. To see her child and then to say what she sees. To offer her approval on a silver platter. To give voice to all the beauty she sees in her child. And then to keep that conversation going through every episode of that child’s life.
8. That a specific, no-excuses apology from a mother opens floodgates of grace and forgiveness from a son or daughter.
That in fact, our shame-filled history of failure can be rewritten into stories of delight and joy if only we will own up to our mistakes. Our kids want to remember the best times… and willingly overlook the mess that we were so sure would mess them up forever.
But only if we admit the truth. Pretending just doesn’t cut it with kids.
It is therefore the honor of a mother to humble herself on a regular basis. To point out her mistakes and missteps and purposefully ask her child’s forgiveness for blowing it so badly.
9. That my children would one day grow to be my most intimate spiritual brothers and sisters.
No one told me this! I’d only heard the horror stories of fractured relationships and rebellious teenagers. At best, I’d heard, children raised in “religious” homes might settle into an uneasy compliance to the standards set by rigid parents.
No one mentioned those exquisitely vulnerable moments when the people who know every hidden corner of my soul dish up wisdom and grace and reminders of our Redeemer’s mercy.
When the daughter who sees right through me refuses to allow me to stereotype teenagers with tattoos and piercings and mohawked hair. Instead, urging me to see hearts courageously declaring a war on sameness.
Or when my son grows up to be my pastor, teaching me and opening my heart to worlds of wisdom I knew nothing about.
I had no idea the joy waiting for me.
It is therefore the honor of every mother to be taught by her children. To listen and to learn and to joy in the mystery of being joint heirs together.
10. That my success as a woman does not hinge on the success of my children.
Because what I really want for my kids, the thing I hope for more than anything else is not health or achievement or good marriages or fat paychecks. It’s not even a good life.
What I long for more than anything, is that my children will know the incredible riches of God’s grace. That they will long for Him.
What I really want for my children is for them to spend every day of the rest of their lives reveling in this Redeemer whose shocking choice to love them in the midst of their ugliness brings them to their knees in worship.
And for that to be true they’re going to have to mess up. To fail. To make mistakes big enough to embarrass them— and me.
It is therefore the honor of every mother who has been covered in that grace to cease the strutting and pretending and Christmas card cuteness and to allow our children to fail. And then to weep and worship with them when they discover the riches awaiting every one of Christ’s redeemed ones.
The truth is, I didn’t know any of this on that day my firstborn son came rushing, red and squalling into my arms. And he loves me anyway. They all do.
John Mark and Beks and Elizabeth and Matt you’re more than I ever dreamed possible. You’ve led me in the way of grace straight to the Father’s heart. And for that and a million other reasons, I love you.