Monthly archives: August, 2017

A Cloak Of Love

 

How would you describe what it looks like to be protected?

 

Feeling safe…valued.  No matter what, ‘this person’ has my back. As long as ‘they’re’ around, I’m good. Worth the effort even if it’s inconvenient. Feeling loved. Do these descriptions sound about right?

 

As I recall times that I really felt protected, my mind drifts back to my childhood. Many a time severe thunderstorms had me terrified. If you lived in the Midwest, you know more often than not those storms would undoubtedly turn into a tornado siren sounding. When you’re a kid, it felt like the world was coming to an end when that happened. But, as long as I was with my parents, I felt safe. Protected.

 

Then there were those nights I would swear there was something/someone under my high canopy bed that gave something scary just the right amount of space to hide underneath me. I would line up all my stuffed animals all around me and cover up with blankets (even when it was summer and I was sweating) just to feel a little bit safer. But what really made me be able to go to sleep despite my being fearful was I could count on the fact that my parents had always come to my room at my first call reassuring me and calming my fears. Unbeknownst to me, there was no guarantee on the outcome of the storm and they may not have even won the fight with the monster under my bed. But, I felt their protection – their love.

 

As we grow up, we need more than just a pep talk through thunderstorms, right? We need the kind of love that Paul was talking about when he wrote the phrase “love always…protects” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NIV). Its root meaning is “to cover or conceal”.  One scholar thinks the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament explains the meaning of protect as, “the idea of covering with a cloak of love”.

 

Remember that time you received one? You were nervous about walking into a room full of strangers, but that one awesome person reached out to you and included you. You were far from home on a holiday and someone invited you to their house with their family. You were innocent and accused, but your friend stood right beside you and defended you. You were covered with encouragement. With genuine love. Covered with a cloak of love.

 

Unless we pause and reflect, it’s easy to forget the ways that God protects us. It’s been said that life only makes sense when you look at it backwards. When you do, you can’t miss the ways that God has loved you. The unexpected job transfer that was not welcomed at first yet ended up being better than you could have asked for. When God removed someone toxic from your life that hurt at first, but you can look back and see clearly now that it was a good thing. The unanswered prayer. Just driving from home to work today. God is protecting us…loving us in more ways than we even recognize every single day. Thank God for His amazing love!

 

“He has covered me with clothes of salvation and wrapped me with a coat of goodness…” (Isaiah 61:10)


Redeemed In Forgiveness

 

 

I closed the front door behind me and collapsed to my knees in hopeless tears. Walking home from the bus stop each afternoon in 8th grade brought a new level of hurt and pain than I had ever experienced. One day I belonged, and the next, I was exiled from the lunch table and ignored by the very girls I thought were my friends.

 

It had happened so suddenly. As vile and hurtful words were hurled at me daily, the questions inside my head escalated from, “What did I do wrong? How can I fix this?” to “What is wrong with me? Why am I even alive?” High school brought with it new beginnings, yet the wounds ran deep as the lies sown in my heart were taking root.

 

I began walking with the Lord after I graduated college and it didn’t take long for Him to take me right back to that foyer carpet where He had collected every single tear of rejection. Jesus spoke truth into the lies that I would never experience meaningful relationships, never be loved, and never be of any value or worth.

 

It was absolutely beautiful! Jesus had come to set this captive free! And then, He asked me to forgive.

 

Immediately, I went into self-preservation as the walls flew up, “Shouldn’t those girls have to ask for my forgiveness? I was wronged!”

 

That was precisely why I had to forgive. My unforgiveness had held me captive in bitterness that was preventing me from walking in the fullness of God’s purposes for my life. Jesus had come to make His home in my heart, and if Jesus is God, and God is love, and love “keeps no records of wrongs,” I had to surrender to His love that has kept no record of my wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

 

Forgiveness is a choice. It isn’t easy. People hurt people, intentionally and unintentionally. We are all bound to offend, to be offended, to hurt, and to be hurt. But the best part? We get to perfect this demand of love “70 x 7 times,” (Matthew 18:22). There should be no end to our forgiveness.

 

I confess, there are days when my heart is so angry and my prayer is “Lord, I just can’t… help me to forgive.” Yet, God is big enough to handle our anger and will answer our cries for help. Forgiveness and mercy are at the very core of who He is and if we’re to be reflections of who He is, forgiveness and mercy ought to be at the very core of who we are.

 

As for my years of rejection, the Lord has redeemed them all. He has placed a passion and calling in my heart to share with others about our God-given value and unique callings upon our lives for His glory. However, I would have never stepped into this destiny without receiving God’s gift of forgiveness which has taught me to love.

 

 

 

-Lauren Ferguson