I recently attended a funeral that was different than most funerals that I’ve attended in the past. Some things were the same of course…tears and hugs were definitely shed and shared among family and friends, there was a thoughtful slide show accompanied by worship music displaying a life well lived and loved. There was an anointed preacher, worship music, and the building itself was a church. So, yes, much of it was like a typical funeral.
But there was something different about this one. I sat there trying to put my finger on it. In fact, it was the first funeral where I didn’t really want to leave. Usually I’m ready to get the heck out of dodge when it comes to funerals…and even some weddings for that matter. But there was a peace, a hope, and tremendous love within the walls of the church that day. There was joy and there was laughter. It wasn’t a funeral at all. It was a celebration of a life that honored God and people.
The man’s name was Mr. Doug Lowrey. He was a man that inspired many for his tenacity and perseverance in everything he did. He beat to his own drum and everyone loved him for it. And if they didn’t love him for it, they couldn’t help but admire his ability to do it. And if you knew him well, you might end up beating your drum like his. He was that kind of a leader. A true legacy. He was a people person who relentlessly and fearlessly pursued people for the Lord and as a result, was loved by MANY and lives were changed…eternally changed.
As I reflected on why I didn’t want to leave the funeral, I remembered a line of wisdom I caught a long time ago,
“The people we hang around often reflect who we are.”
I realized the people filling the church that day possessed the same kind of qualities that Mr. Doug did. They were “Doug’s people” and he was theirs. They were people who loved God and who cared about and loved others well. I think most of them understood those words I mentioned above: peace, hope, love, and joy. And there Mr. Doug brought them all into one place and I was surrounded by them. THAT’s why I didn’t want to leave. I saw many familiar faces with hearts of gold and I knew that the faces I didn’t know, most likely shared the same heart. It’s the heart and spirit of God.
“…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.” -Galations 5:22
I knew that if anyone didn’t know God that day, they surely walked out feeling His presence and witnessing His love. And I know that’s exactly what Mr. Doug would have wanted.
That day was a sweet reminder of the simplicity of our role here on earth yet also the depth, weight, and long distance reach our role can carry if we do what we are called to do…love God and love people.
When the Pharisees asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:37
Notice the order Jesus mentioned in loving God and people. He mentioned God first. It’s because God is the source of love, knowing who we are, and why we’re here. God has given us this moment in time in all of history to fulfill a purpose unique to each one of us. We can’t know that purpose until we know God first. And it’s important to note that “knowing” God is much more than believing in Him. It’s an intimate relationship with Him. Not surface level. He has too much to offer than just surface. And if you’re like me and most people, you want more. The good news about our Lord is that He offers limitless abundance. And it’s FREE.
I know Mr. Doug wasn’t perfect. None of us are. But he understood why he was here and many people go their entire lives and never know. He understood because he knew and pursued God. Because of that, his purpose flowed and lives were touched and changed.
So if you’re struggling to find your way, then start where Mr. Doug started… with Jesus. As you discover Him, you’ll find yourself. Your purpose will take root. In fact, it already has. He’s just waiting on you to seek Him and find it.
“Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Matthew 6:33
Thank you Mr. Doug for blessing my life and for the gift of reminding me of the BEAUTY, the POWER, and the IMPORTANCE of pursuing God above all else and how that pursuit not only changes us and guides us, but it changes the lives of those around us. THAT’S a purpose worth living for and there’s nothing else I want more.
R.I.P. Doug Lowrey
I was never a girl scout. I never camped out. I never sold cookies. I never earned a sash full of merit badges.
However, the other day as I pondered God’s grace, His unmerited favor, I realized that in many ways I am trying to be a girl scout right now in my everyday life. And, in some ways, without really realizing it, maybe you are too.
For me, I have always thrived on order and doing my best. Making things “perfect.” I never rebelled as a teenager or any other time. I liked following the rules and receiving the praise that accompanied that choice. That was my identity, and I worked hard to keep it intact. Still to this day, that pretty much sums up how others would describe me because that is what the world sees.
Whether you are a rule-follower like me or not, you could still be an unknowing girl scout. Let me explain.
So many of us, get up each morning and put on a sash without even realizing it. It is a sash of our own making, each one different. As we go about our day, we work and we strive to earn badges to decorate our sashes, hoping those awards will prove to ourselves and to others that we have value. That we are worthy of their attention. These badges come in all shapes and sizes.
Some (like me) might be trying to earn the badge of BEST MOM as you precariously balance PTO, potlucks, car-rider lines, sports practices, bed times and bake sales—all with a smile to make it look as if “it’s no trouble at all.”
Others might be working to earn the BEST WIFE badge by catering to your husband’s every wish out of love and a hope that he will notice and return your love in some way.
Still others are striving to receive the MOST RELIABLE EMPLOYEE badge as you work your tail off day in and day out to gain the admiration and respect of your boss, and maybe a promotion as well. Working to pull yourself up the corporate ladder rung by rung as you aim for the top.
The list of possible badges could go on forever. BEST VOLUNTEER, MOST WITTY, MOST FUN AT PARTIES, PERSON WHO NEVER SAYS NO, MOST CONSISTENT BIBLE READER, MOST CREATIVE, PINTEREST WORTHY HOUSE, BEST PHYSIQUE, MOST ADVENTUROUS and on and on.
You name it. There’s a badge for that.
The thing we all have in common when we try to earn these badges is EXHAUSTION—physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, or maybe all of the above. These badges we try so hard to earn and place carefully on our homemade sashes are only temporary, no better than stickers really. They NEVER LAST. We constantly feel the burden to do more and better to keep them in a place of prominence, where we and everyone else can see them. These flimsy badges fall off and fade so we must earn them again. It is a vicious cycle that leaves us feeling worn out and defeated.
The good news is we can stop. Right here. Right now.
We can rip off those homemade sashes that cause us so many headaches and heartaches and toss them into a blazing campfire because there is something better. MUCH BETTER. However, it is not found in ourselves. It is only found in JESUS.
Jesus says we can stop working and striving when we whole-heartedly place our trust in Him. In Jesus we can say good-bye to working and striving and instead embrace quietness and rest.
“And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever. My people will abide in a peaceful habitation, in secure dwellings, and in quiet resting places.” (Isaiah 32:17-18)
That. Sounds. Amazing.
This righteousness is Jesus’ perfect righteousness that He gives to us FREELY because of His grace, His unmerited favor. We couldn’t earn it if we tried. He left Heaven and came to Earth to do all that was required. His suffering on the cross, His death and resurrection was enough now and for all eternity to earn the only sash each one of us will ever need, and He holds it out to us as a FREE GIFT.
His sash is infinitely better than our own. It is beautiful. It is eternal. It is completely COVERED by the blood of the Lamb and full of badges. Unmerited badges, gifts that we most definitely did not earn. Not a single spot remains empty because it is complete. We do not have to do a single thing to finish it. And, the badges found on His Sash are far better than those we try to earn. They proclaim not what we have done but the glorious riches we have in Christ. REDEMPTION, FORGIVENESS, AMAZING GRACE, MERCY THAT IS NEW EACH MORNING, UNCONDITIONAL LOVE, PEACE THAT PASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, UNENDING JOY, A GLORIOUS INHERITANCE, PROTECTION FROM THE EVIL ONE, UNFAILING TRUTH, ABUNDANT GOODNESS, THE HOPE OF GLORY.
These are only a handful from an infinite list from our infinite God. I believe the longer we wear His sash and choose it as our permanent, everyday accessory, the more gifts we will see it represents. As Beth Moore wrote, “Make us as eager to wear Your righteousness and holiness as You are to wear our sins.” (JESUS: 90 Days with the One and Only)
So, who is ready to trade in their old, worn-out sash for a beautiful, perfect, eternally-unfading one on which the badges say, “Beloved Daughter of the King”? I know I am. Let’s wear them proudly as we gather around the campfire to rest and sing praises to the one who makes it all possible. JESUS.
I hope and pray you will join me.
(And maybe we can munch on a few of those delicious cookies while we are at it.)
Questions to ponder…
What badge(s) am I trying to stick on?
What has Jesus given me that is better?
“All that I had planned, dreamed and desired to have in a marriage had been stolen by endless doubt, harassing questions and ultimately Scott walking away from God. He had become my prodigal husband. We were now a house divided, not a home of unity…”
Words from a post I wrote a little over a year ago titled “My Prodigal Husband“.
Words that still rang true exactly one month ago today…
But MAY I SHOUT a little here at BraveGirl Community today?!! Because…
MY PRODIGAL HUSBAND HAS RETURNED HOME!!! He is REALLY HOME! Can I get an AMEN?!!!
So they began to CELEBRATE .-Luke 15:24
Friends – I would love for you to praise the Father for His goodness and His faithfulness for what HE has done! I am in awe of His relentless pursuit of my man.
God NEVER gave up on him.
And can I just say that if you are reading this and you are in the wait for your prodigal to return, you’re in the wait for that miracle, you’re in the wait for that answer to a long awaited prayer…We SERVE a GOD who is Faithful and who is ON TIME…even when we don’t understand. I wrote a post titled In The Wait as I longed for my husband to return. I hope it encourages you and reminds you of who our God is.
My “wait” has been a 10 year journey and I have experienced every kind of emotion and heartache imaginable. And I can tell you, with confidence, that I would not trade a single day. Because without each and every trial- I wouldn’t have grown or known Jesus like I do right now. The fruit I am experiencing in this moment is priceless. It’s a sweetness of the Father lavishly loving on His children…It’s a contagious laughter that had been stifled by the lack of joy in my home…It’s a feeling of UNITY where the enemy THOUGHT he divided and conquered…
JESUS is the way maker where there seems to be NO WAY.
Below is a video of my husband and I having the privilege to share a small part of our story.
I pray it will encourage you wherever you are and whatever you may be going through to remember the relentless pursuit of God and that our Hope is in Jesus ALONE. He WILL NOT stop pursuing the one…
DO. NOT. GIVE. UP.
Scott and Cheryl share a part of their journey. Click here to watch: https://vimeo.com/225758712
Your Sister In Christ,
Thoughts on dreams:
Sometimes we get lost in our dreams as if that’s all they are: dreams. We don’t consider that God planted these desires in our hearts for a reason and that when the time is right, they will come to fruition.
Sometimes, when we least expect it, God gives us our dreams–plops them right into our laps. Other times, after much prayer and planning, we have to put that first foot forward and take a step towards putting that dream into action–a virtual leap of faith, trusting that the ground doesn’t fall out from underneath us and that God will show up and bless our obedience.
Another thing I’m learning about dreams is that when we’re right in the middle of where God wants us to be, the enemy will do whatever he can to make us doubt our dream. What better way to derail us than to steal our joy while in the midst of our God-given dream? Or make us doubt what at one time we were sure was God’s calling on our lives?
If the enemy wasn’t successful in talking us out of pursuing our dreams in the first place, he will darn sure try to make us abandon the mission once we’ve started it.
He might taunt us with the fear of failure or consume us with self-doubt and anxiety. He might rob us of joy or meddle in our relationships–whatever he can do to distract us from pursuing the path that God has called us to.
Because a daughter of the King who has embraced her calling is a dangerous force to be reckoned with, and her potential impact on the Kingdom terrifies the enemy.
So. Let me encourage you today. Be aware of the schemes of the enemy. Fight against whatever he is currently using in your life right now to keep you discouraged and off track.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…Stand firm.”
(Eph. 6:10-11; 14a)
Sister, be brave in the face of adversity. And keep dreaming big for Jesus.