Convinced

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.–Romans 8:38-39


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Dirty Old Men and the Scars They Leave Behind

I can still smell his smoke-filled, alcohol-infused breath. I can feel the cactus-like prickles of his beard. One kiss was all he took, but it felt like much more was lost. And it was.

Mr. Piggy, as folks called him, was a scruffy old man, but seemingly harmless. He and his wife owned a makeshift dime store-basically they bought bulk candy and sold it from their kitchen to the neighborhood kids.

I remember the day I skipped down the road, pigtails flying, to buy some candy from Mr. Piggy. Usually there was a gang of us bombarding his back door, spending the change we found under seat cushions or had left over from lunch money. But this day I was alone. As I held out the coins to pay for a Mary Jane and some Dum Dums, Mr. Piggy pulled me to himself, smashed my face into his, and not only took the change, but what he called a kiss. As if to offer a bit of hush money, he placed a couple extra pieces of candy into my hands and told me not to tell anyone. I took the candy, and I didn’t tell anyone. Until now.

Mr. Piggy was a dirty old man. He was nasty, lewd, wicked. What he took from me was much more than a kiss from a little girl. He stole something from me–a bit of innocence, a load of trust, a lot of transparency. Years of guilt followed that 30 second exchange. I should have pulled back. I should have told someone. I should not have taken the hush money/candy. Instead of feeling like a victim, I felt like a participant because I said nothing and did nothing, I felt responsible and dirty.

It was through a tender conversation with my husband that the Lord finally freed me from guilt, shame and fear. As I unfolded my story and shared how dirty I felt for what happened, the Lord used him to uncloud my eyes and help me to see the truth. My experience was real. It was painful. It was haunting. It left scars. It was worse than I realized as a 10 year old, but not as bad as it could have been, and for that, I’m grateful. I know many women and young girls have suffered abuse far greater than what I’ve described here, and I by no means am equating my experience with theirs. My heart grieves for those who have suffered and lived in pain and in secret and in bondage to the sins of others.

God is just. I know He will not leave the guilty unpunished (Exod 34:7). I know He will judge the wicked (Ps 73:1-20). I know God is good and just and allows things to happen according to the counsel of His will and purpose, and for the good of those who love Him. I know that I am not guilty. What happened was not my fault. I understand that I was taken advantage of, and I praise God for freeing me from shame and guilt by exposing the evildoer for who he is.

Abuse comes from all ages and genders, to all ages and genders. None of us are immune to the possibility. Many of us are living with its effects, either through personal experience or through the lives of family and friends who have suffered varying degrees and forms of abuse. If you have been a victim of abuse, it’s not too late to tell someone. It’s not too late to get help. It’s not too late for justice to be done, and God promises that justice will be done (Ps 10).

O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted;
you will strengthen their heart; you will incline your ear
to do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that man who is of the earth may strike terror no more.
–Psalm 10:17-18


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Caring for Our Children as Humble Stewards not Anxious Owners

Boy, can I identify with this prayer!

This is re-posted from A Prayer for Parenting and Re-parenting by Grace by Pastor Scotty Smith, who blogs at http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/scottysmith/

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Ps. 127:1-3

Heavenly Father, it’s a peace-generating joy and a heart-liberating privilege to address you as the architect and builder of your own house—including the household of faith and our children’s place in your family.

As I look back over the years of my pragmatic parenting, I’m saddened, but I am also gladdened, for you’ve always been faithful to your covenant love, even when I was overbearing and under-believing. The move from parenting by grit to parenting by grace has been a fitful but fruitful journey. Take me deeper; take me further.

You’ve rescued me from parental “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. Father, only you can reveal the glory and grace of Jesus to our children. Only you can give anyone a new heart. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of saving face, making a name for ourselves, or proving our worthiness of your love.

Oh, the arrogant pride of thinking that by my “good parenting” I can take credit for what you alone have graciously done in the lives of my children. Oh, the paralyzing unbelief of assuming that by my “bad parenting” I’ve forever limited what you will be able to accomplish in the future. Oh, the undue pressure our children must feel when we parent more out of our fear and pride than by your love and grace.

Since our children and grandchildren are your inheritance, Father, teach us—teach me, how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners. Help us to appreciate and celebrate the uniqueness of our children. Should you give them a personality and passion, gifts and callings other than what we would choose for them, give us grace to enjoy, rather than just endure who they are. More than anything else, show us how to parent and grandparent in a way that most powerfully reveals the unsearchable riches of Jesus in the gospel.

Give us quick repentances and observable kindnesses. Restore the years eaten away by the locusts of both co-dependent parenting and non-engaged parenting. Write wonderful stories of redemption and restoration. Convict us quickly and surely when we don’t relate to your covenant children “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14 NIV). So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ powerful and faithful name.