What if Jesus called us to be imperfect?

5:00 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments


At seven, I learnt to form crude letters with a pencil. I would create lengthy stories, inscribing them in immature letters for my teacher.

After I finished crafting each new story my teacher would call me to her desk to read it to her. I thought she asked me to read them to her because I was a good storyteller. I never imagined she asked me to read them to her because the words I formed made no sense without my interpretation.

I never considered that my spelling rendered my teacher illiterate.

I was diagnosed with an audio perception problem and part of my therapy meant a visit to speech therapist twice a week.

Adele taught me to play word games. She would read the word. I would match the word with a picture. If I got it right, the puzzle could be flipped over to reveal a secret pattern. If I got it wrong, the other side revealed my mistakes in broken lines.
Telos: Be perfect as I am perfect

I found this really frustrating. I failed often.

Perfect children did not need speech therapy and they excelled if they did go.

I would think, “Why can I not do this? Why can I not be perfect?”

I would get annoyed with myself and I would cry in frustration. Adele stopped our work one day to ask me why I cried.

I told her I was crying because I was not perfect.

When I look back at that incident I realise that there have been many times in my life when I have felt imperfect. 

I’ve wondered at the scripture in Matthew 5:48 that says, “Be perfect, as your Father in heaven is perfect.” It seems impossible. And sometimes it feels like unnecessary pressure.

Recently I was reading Amy Julia Becker’s book, A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations, and a Little Girl Named Penny. Her daughter, Penny, was diagnosed with Down Syndrome shortly after birth and her memoir is an honest wrestling and surrendering to God.

She writes about a day she was grappling with this verse. Thinking how Jesus must have known we’d never be perfect if his definition was without a flaw, without blemish, without desires, without pain. 

A theology student she dug out a Greek Dictionary and looked up the root word of perfect in this verse. Turns out the word is telos. 

Telos can be translated as perfect or as “wholeness, completion, the end for which you were created.”

Isn’t that beautiful?

Doesn’t it take some of the pressure off being perfect? 

Christian quotes about JesusIn The Message Bible this verse is translated closer to this second definition: 
Live out your God-created identity. 
Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you. (tweet this)

When I read this verse in light of perfect being the end for which I was created, the story looks different. 

It looks like being invited up to my teachers’ desk to read as a seven year old. My vowels are all misplaced, and my sounds are muddled but my teacher asks me to deliver a story anyway. Telos looks like generosity and graciousness towards me in my struggles.

It looks like a speech therapist who could have told a child to wipe away their tears and figure out a puzzle but instead pauses to listen to a heart. Telos looks like generosity and graciousness towards me in my struggles.

I think Jesus is like that. 

I think Jesus is gracious and generous to me in my struggles.  (tweet this)

I think when Jesus said, “Telos”, he wasn’t commanding perfect living but rather inviting me to live life to the full, calling me live a life of generosity and scandalous grace. 

Ponder: Have you struggled with living a “perfect” life? Does this devotional change your idea of what that might look like?

Pray: Jesus, help me to live out my God-created identity. Show me opportunities to live generously and graciously toward others. Amen.

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When you need strength to make it through today

7:57 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

christian inspiration
We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us. Colossians 1:10-12 (MSG)

"What is that sigh for?" My husband calls from the other room alerting me to the air I exhaled. 

I thought it had been internal. I thought the worries of the week ahead were contained in head not leaking audibly out my mouth.

I'm looking at my week wondering how I'm going to get the to-do list done. Considering what I can scratch off the list and realizing the list is already down to only things-that-must-done. 

I have no idea where to start so grab my bible.

I pick my bible up because I need to write this devotional. And I pick it up because I need to read a verse that gives me the courage to face this week.

I flit from verse to verse in the bible like a bee searching for a sweet flower. 

I read about how God is strong when we are weak and how his at his weakest his strength makes our strongest moment look like baby struggling to stand on it’s own two feet.

Then I flip again and I imagine Paul is praying Colossians 1:10-12 over me.

We pray that you’ll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul...
Strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy…
Strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that the Father has for you.
colossians 1:10-12
As I pray this verse in my head I begin to feel that the long-list of things I have to do this week – the minor things and the major things – can be achieved if I ask God for strength. 

I look at the list again and I pray for strength, not the kind of strength that has me gritting my teeth but the kind of strength that spills over into joy. 

The glory-strength God gives, is the kind of strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy. (tweet this)

God’s strength is the kind of strength I need as I sigh about the week. It’s the kind of strength that gives me the ability to face my to-do list. 

Ponder: What are you dreading doing this week? Do you believe that God will show up and help you through whatever hard things come up?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting my teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes me strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for me. Amen.

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When God pushes you out of your comfort zone

6:00 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

comfort zone quotes
Moses raised another objection to God: “Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer.”
God said, “And who do you think made the human mouth? And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind? Isn’t it I, God? So, get going. I’ll be right there with you—with your mouth! I’ll be right there to teach you what to say.” Exodus 4:10-12 (MSG)

I like quiet. I like reading. I like doing most of these things on my own. 

My husband on the other hand likes noise. He likes talking. He likes doing everything with anyone. 

Sometimes this causes problems. It creates a push and pull effect. A simple question like, “Shall we go to this event?” can turn into a long negotiation. 

This happened recently when Xylon received an invite to an event that evening. 

He really wanted to go. I really wanted to go back to our friends’ apartment and have a quiet evening. 

But every objection I brought up Xylon had an answer for. 

A couple of hours later I found myself attending the event with him, listening to speeches by Former US President Bill Clinton and Morgan Freeman, and thinking sometimes it is good to be pushed out of my comfort zone, that sometimes it is only when I do things that make me feel uncomfortable that I learn. 

I live a small life when I stay inside my comfort zone. (tweet this)

The moments when my husband tries to nudge me out my comfort zone often makes me think of the story of Moses in Exodus 3 and 4.

Moses raised another objection to God: “Master, please, I don’t talk well. I’ve never been good with words, neither before nor after you spoke to me. I stutter and stammer.”
God said, “And who do you think made the human mouth? And who makes some mute, some deaf, some sighted, some blind? Isn’t it I, God? So, get going. I’ll be right there with you—with your mouth! I’ll be right there to teach you what to say.”

There is Moses coming up with excuses and God countering every single one. 

prayer comfort zones
There is Moses stammering about being scared and there is God saying I’ll be right with you. 

There is Moses talking his weaknesses and God pointing out His strengths.

As I read this story, I wondered if Moses ever had a moment when he looked back on that conversation and was so grateful that God pulled him away from herding sheep to shepherding people.

Moses would have lived a very small life if he hadn’t allowed God to coerce him into a God-imagined future. 

All of this has made me ask myself, “Am I listening for God inviting me to live a different life? Am I open to him nudging out of my comfort zone into the future only he knows for me?”

Ponder: What uncomfortable thing is God asking you to do right now? Imagine God was countering your objections like he did with Moses what do you think he’d say to you?

Pray: Lord, nudge me out of my comfort zone into the life you’ve imagined for me. Amen (tweet this)

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.

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The One Thing I Wish I Believed Sooner

6:00 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

[A note from Wendy: Today I'm lending this space to Dabney Hedegard. She is a writer who helped me realise that sometimes the best miracles look like nothing.]
Bible verse Philippians 4:6-7
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7 (NLT)

I used to be fearful of a lot of things. I worried about money. I agonized over work projects and whether I was competent to perform a job well done. Seeking the approval of others was another fear. Did I offend them? Will they like me or secretly laugh at me? 

It’s funny the things I let consume my thoughts; such trivial matters in comparison to reality. 

Money? I could always make more.
Work? I could always refine my skills.
Approval? People, I’ve learned, are typically more concerned with themselves, not my little blunders. 

But a life-threatening sickness? That’s bone-wearying business. That’s real fear that trumps a host of nonsense.
  
You can’t control that. 
I’m about to share something that can transform your thoughts, something more powerful than disease itself.

At 25-years old and six-weeks-pregnant, a football sized tumor blanketed my lungs. 

Life changed with one x-ray and an oncologist telling me my odds would improve by terminating my pregnancy. Only, he couldn’t really endorse an abortion since it contradicted his beliefs. 

Meeting this physician in the ER the night of my diagnoses was no accident. Any other professional wouldn’t have treated me unless I ended my pregnancy. If I ever doubted that God was with me during the coming years of battling illnesses, this should have been clue number one. 

But sometimes we don’t see God’s hand entwined in ours until we look back on our journey. (tweet this)

Sometimes we don't see God's hand until we look backWe never aborted. Kneeling in our apartment, praying for guidance, a supernatural peace confirmed our hunch that this baby was destined to live. I assumed God had a greater miracle to perform, one which surely included healing me from cancer. Why else would He have given me such a peace to keep my child? 

But He didn’t. 

My prayer wasn’t answered. Not the way I wanted. 

When I started chemotherapy in my second trimester, I again believed He would heal me and spare me the six months more of treatment after my baby was born. 

But He didn’t. 

No matter which prayer-position I tried, or how many church members petitioned the Lord, God never removed my illness.

My daughter was born early, and I endured more chemo, then radiation. 

At 26, my cancer was in remission. Halleluiah, I thought, until two months later my oncologist found cottage-cheese looking tumors along the outside sac of my heart and more mushroomed clusters growing along my abdomen. 

Not a good sign. Not a good prognosis. Not much hope. 

“But why, God?” I sobbed. “Why would you give me such a peace to keep my child, only to kill me with cancer or chemo?” 

I endured the recommended stem cell transplant. By the time I was released from Moffitt Cancer Institute in Tampa five weeks later, I longed to return home to care for my toddler. 

Only I couldn’t. 

Friends and family babysat me and my daughter. They cleaned my house, made my meals, read her books. Resting on my sofa or the floor beside her crib, I watched everyone else live my life for me.  

After two weeks at home, I realized I wanted my role back, even though I operated at forty-percent of my energy. My husband agreed, and left me to love on my 16-month-old. In less than an hour, I realized my mistake. 

I needed to nap. She didn’t. 

By noon, I hoisted her into the crib and pawed her wall to steady myself on the way out. I panted the fifteen steps it took to reach my front porch and lowered myself on the cement step. 

Angry with God, I wiped my face, “Why me? I just want to bake with my daughter, drive her to story time, and laugh like I used to.” 

I hated my life. 

Then my phone rang and my friend Ragan blurted out, “Oh, Dabney, we’re so glad you’re home from the hospital. We just didn’t know what we were going to do when we found out you weren’t going to make it!” 

“What? What are you talking about?” 

I swallowed hard as she told me how I should have died. That’s why my whole family unexpectedly visited me early one morning during my transplant, and why my daughter, whom I was told I wouldn’t see for my five-week hospital stay, was toddling around my sterilized room. Even though her germs could infect my weakened immune system and threaten my life, she was there to say her last goodbyes. 
I would die long before sickness would catch up with me. 

Turns out, my doctor’s believed my daughter was the reason I was hanging on, and they encouraged my husband to bring her in to see me as many days as he could. 

She was saving my life. 

I always thought that I saved her, but really, God created her to save me. 

She gave me something to live for: hope. 

By the time I had hung up the phone with Ragan, I was face-forward in my grass—bald head and all—worshiping Almighty God and thanking Him for one more day. My neighbors must have thought I was nuts. 

For the first time in my life, I didn’t care what anybody thought. 
My situation hadn’t changed. I still felt crummy. My nose still dripped, my head hurt, and I had sticks for legs from losing so much weight, but my perspective shifted. 
I wasn’t dead. 
Not yet. 
That’s when I realized I needed to stop living as if my disease had won, as if my sickness owned me. 

Guest post by Dabney Land - Days are numbered by GodA new thought occurred to me. As long as I was alive, I still had precious moments to raise my baby girl, to invest in her, to share my crazy God-stories that proved the undeniable power of prayer. As it turns out, while I was hospitalized, prayer chains circulated the Internet. And this time, with a room full of doctors and nurses looking on, God performed the unthinkable. 

If I’ve learned one thing from this experience it is that no one can thwart God’s plan (Job 42:2). If His plan for my life wasn’t completed, no amount of chemo could do me in. Not on His watch. 
My days are numbered, and they will never be set in stone by my doctor’s statistics. (Tweet this)  

I wish more than anything in the world that I would have believed this sooner. 

For me, it took a violent shake of sickness to wake me up to see the glory surrounding my circumstances, even when I felt the crummiest. 

I needed hope and encouragement and a reason to go on. I believe that’s why the Bible repeats over and over for us to not worry. I believe He penned this command for people like me who, without a reminder, would gravitate towards this world’s worrisome situations. But with God on my side, I have another choice. I have a life-giving book that rewires those negative thoughts. I drank in scripture during my darkest days because very little things in life brought me peace the way reading my Bible and prayerfully laying down my fears did. 
The two go hand in hand.  

We have the ultimate tool at our fingertips. Fear is a state of mind that can be released. It starts in our head and flows from our mouth where life and mental death take shape in what we speak. Because what we say sets the guidelines we live by. I had to relinquish control and repeat, “My God goes before me and He is with me. He will never leave me or abandon me. I will not be afraid, I will not be discouraged” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

Worrying is meditating on the problem, festering in tangled up thoughts that may never come to pass. Freedom begins by meditating on God’s Word. That’s where you’ll read that God sends his angel to encircle us with protection each time we pray (Psalm 34:7).

This is the message I wish I would have recorded and replayed every day of my fear-filled life. I let my worries steal time from my friends and family, precious moments I will never get back.  

Believing God’s in control is the number one step to victory. 
Then, soak in His Word, bow your head, and unleash your angelic guard waiting to protect you. 

Ponder: Do you believe that God is in control of your circumstances?

Pray: Lord, help me not to worry about anything but to pray about everything.

{More about the author of this guest devotional}
Dabney Hedegard is an author, speaker, and professional patient. Her four near-death experiences are chronicled in a fast-paced memoir, When God Intervenes (Tyndale House Publishers, July 2013). She blogs at dabneyland.com

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{Get my book}
In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.

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Photo Credits (Creative Commons): Running toddler & path: Nina Matthews Photography Dandelion: LifeSupercharger | Design: Wendy van Eyck 

For the times when you wish you could see God

5:31 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments


Light, space, zest – that’s God. So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. Psalm 27:1 (MSG)

I sometimes wish I could see God all around me, that I could see God in light and space? That his presence was something I could almost taste? 

I often think that if God’s presence was more tangible I would have less fear? 

If I could see God in light and space and zest, would I worry less, and be more certain that God was with me?

I think that all the time.

I especially think it when anxiety begins to creep in, ‘God, if I could only see that you were here, I wouldn’t be afraid.’

The last few weeks have been full of change for me. I’ve changed position at work, my husband quit his job and we’re planning a few months of travelling. It would be fair to see that I’m worrying about the future. 

I’ve been reading up on fear in the bible, reminding myself that fear is not from God, praying about how to give that worry back to him, and thinking about how fear rules so many of our lives.

Then I found this verse in Psalms about how to be fearless. And I began to think, I can do this, I don’t need to let fear rule my life

This verse in Psalms says God is light, space, zest.  

If God is light than I have a tangible reminder that God is always there. 

I can flick a switch and see my God. (tweet this)

I love that God is light because even in the dark I can turn on a light, spark a match or know that the moon shines even when I can’t see it. 

I know that light always pushes back darkness, always shoves out fear.

Then I read that God is space. 

And space is all around me, stuffed into gaps and openings and time, covering earth and the universe and the cosmos. Suddenly it makes a lot more sense how God can be bigger than anything we fear. 

But my favourite part of the verse is that God is zest. God is in our love of life. God is the flavouring we add to our lives.

Enthusiasm, keenness, gusto, relish, passion – that’s our God. That doesn’t sound anything like fear. 

Tang, piquancy, bite, spice, taste – that’s our God. That doesn’t taste like fear. 

I don’t know about you but often when I feel fear I sense it. My mouth goes dry, my stomach flips, my hands shake and I don’t see things properly, which is why I love that God is light, space and zest. 

I can be fearless because I can see, feel and taste God is with us. 

Light, space and zest are all around us. So is God. (tweet this)

Next time I feel afraid, I’m going to look around me, and see God in the sunlight, the air I breathe and the taste of my food. 

Ponder: How do you think seeing God all around you will help you to be fearless?

Prayer: Thank you, Lord that you are all around me. Help me to see you in light, space and zest. Show me tangibly that you’re on my side and I don’t need to be afraid.

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In my free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe below to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday.

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When you're wondering if God is broken (or what happens when all you can hear is silence)

5:20 am Wendy van Eyck 0 Comments

[A note from Wendy: Today I'm giving this space to Rachel Franklin, a woman who doesn't allow her circumstances to limit her view of God.]
Zepheniah 3:17
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)

The white awning shows slats like piano keys. Rectangular pieces all in a row with one bent backward here and there become broken keys, ivory plucked right up. I feel it tragic, as though I stand in a junkyard to dump off a decades old piano. Similar to a string strummed on an instrument, the storefront awning reverberates as it leaves my car window.

The music, I cannot hear it.

My ears have been stopped up for seems near forever, but going on eight months, from unexplained congestion. It has become part of life. And sometimes I cannot hear the tune.

A rest or interlude does not mean the tune is broken; it does not mean God is broken. (tweet this)

The whole rhapsody is God breathing. It is all life.

The world, you know, it just gets too loud. 

I want the record to keep the rhythm, and replay, whether I am hearing the lines of the song or not. I look for perpetuity like a nightlight. I want the comfort of vigilant, dim yellow for the times I need soothing. Just in case. 

But the Singer does not sing for happenstance. “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.” 

Yes, sometimes that tune I have come to love sounds like it has ceased. I feel as if I am enclosed in a theater devoid of strings, woodwinds, brass, and the very Conductor Himself. The crescendos and staccatos, with their precise forms, begin to depreciate in value. Are they lost on ears working to listen?

These annotations of the arrangement must not deafen us. I need not let the inquiries rain down white-noise snow in its mix of black and white, light and dark. 

There is light and there is dark. And I can allow my God to direct my hearing in both. (tweet this)

Quotes about direction
Oswald Chambers says, “There is darkness which comes from excess of light, and then is the time to listen. […] Abraham went through thirteen years of silence, but in those years all self-sufficiency was destroyed; there was no possibility left of relying on common-sense ways. Those years of silence were a time of discipline, not displeasure.”

Can I learn to lift up the lulls in love? For right after the lull, there is the aby. There is a lullaby. 

There is a song sung over the furrowed brows with counted hairs spooning the forehead from sweat. As my ear is to the Father’s heart, I, His child, will hear it: all ends in song. I am at peace, at rest, in Him.

There will be times the words will get choked by my throat, or I question if my ears are clogged, or forget I must discipline myself in the dark.

But then
I hear it again,
the song -
He continues to sing.

“The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”

Ponder: Currently, where can you see giving in to the silence might be the greatest spiritual discipline you can practice right now? How can you learn to refine your listening abilities?

Pray: Lord, I ask you to give me strength to rely upon Your word, how “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” Help me to trust in all decibels.

{More about the author of this guest devotional}
Rachel Franklin is a twenty-seven-year-old wife, writer, and artist. In 2010, she spent a year within the four walls of her home. Since then, life has been autoimmune diseases including chronic Epstein Barr Virus. But beyond this? Each day Rachel’s slaying limitations and studying the freedom rising like dawn. She’s not giving up on resurrecting freedom. You can join her at www.RachelFranklinWrites.com


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{Get my book}
In my (Wendy's) free e-book Life, Life and More Life I share thoughts on how to make every moment count gleaned from my experiences of loving my husband through 18 sessions of chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant. If you would like a free copy please subscribe to receive my devotionals every Monday and Friday by filling your name in the block below. 

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Photo Credit (Creative Commons): Piano Keys: rkramer62 Dancehorrigans Flowers: jasohill  | Design: Wendy van Eyck