I took the oxygen tubing out of my daughter’s nose and carefully lifted the medical tape, which had held it in place through the night, from her cheek. I lifted it as slowly as I could, the way I removed a bandaid from my own arm when I was little. I can remember that clearly—every tug on every hair hurt, and I’d lift it as slowly as humanly possible. And even though my dad would recommend ripping it off fast, I couldn’t help but lift it slowly, carefully. Because the thought of “ripping off the bandaid” just sounded like it would hurt a whole lot more.
I was careful, too, with my daughter’s cheek. Slowly, careful not to hurt her skin or get any of her long, blonde hair caught in the tape, I pulled it, watching her expression to make sure she didn’t wince.
I have a choice every morning—to rip off the medical tape quickly and move on with our routine, or to do lift it slowly, with lovingkindness and extra care.
This morning in particular, she looked at me with especially trusting eyes. And I saw something there.
She lives in a posture of complete and total trust toward me.
She trusts me to take care of every one of her needs. Because the fact is that she cannot feed herself or dress herself. She cannot stand up. She cannot speak. She trusts me to do all of those things for her.
And she also trusts me to not hurt her.
To be gentle with her when I lift tape off of her cheek. To care for her with lovingkindness. To watch her expressions and to be aware of how she is feeling. To do my best to minimize the pain in whatever way I can.
She trusts me to gently pull her shirt over her head. To brush her hair with care.
She trusts me to do that because she knows I love her.
She depends on me to take care of her basic needs. But she also trusts me to do it carefully. Why does she trust me to do that? Because she is confident that I love her. We have a relationship. And in that relationship, I have proven to her that I care about her well-being and I am most careful with her. So when it comes to my interaction with her, what does she have to fear?
God is also careful with us
There’s a difference between someone who cares for you because it’s their job and someone who cares for you because they love you. And you can feel the difference, can’t you? There’s also a big difference between someone who helps you out of obligation and duty and someone who helps you because they care about your well being. You know it when you see it. You know it when you feel it.
That look in her eyes moved me. That look of complete trust and total dependence… that is also what God has also planned for me in relation to him.
I’m reminded of this verse from the Bible that says,
“Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you.”
The Amplified version of the same verse says,
“Cast all your cares [all your anxieties, all you worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection and watches over you carefully].” (I Peter 5:7)
Have you ever felt cared for in that way? Is someone in your life careful with their words toward you? Are they careful with you physically? Do they pay careful attention to your feelings, expressions and emotions, and adjust as necessary? It feels good to be treated carefully.
How does it feel to know that God, the creator of the universe, the creator of your body and soul, is also careful with you?
I hope it makes you feel loved.
What about when it hurts?
Let’s talk, also, about another side of this care. Because we do hurt and that can be confusing in this context. Let me offer an example.
Sometimes I have to do things that my daughter doesn’t like. I know they are painful for her, but they are necessary for her very life. I have to change her feeding tube button every three months. It is a piece of rubber that goes directly into her stomach. I have to remove the old one and insert the new one. At home! The first time I did it, my hands shook visibly. I hate doing it. I’m certain she hates it too. But without it, she would not be able to eat. This is a painful necessity that ultimately causes goodness in her life. The important point here is that I would not do it to her and for her unless it was totally necessary for her well being. Frankly, it is painful for both of us.
Sometimes a good parent has to do things that might cause pain in the short term because they know they are necessary for the child’s very life, or at least for their well-being in the long run. And so it is with our heavenly Father. I know that he allows pain in our lives because he knows that it is necessary for our well-being and for goodness to develop in us. And I believe it is often painful for him to watch. Did you know that the Bible says that He collects our tears in a bottle? He cares about your pain. Every single tear, even. That is tender care. That is lovingkindness.
How about you?
What pain are you going through right now? Could it be necessary to create goodness for you? To soften you? To redirect you? To lead you to a real relationship with God? Your Heavenly Father is a good father. He does not leave you alone in your pain. He does not allow your pain to be wasted. There is purpose in it. I know it may be hard, even impossible to see right now, but is it possible for you to make a shift in the way you see God and see yourself in relation to him?
I believe there is a shift that occurs in a human when they truly see themselves as loved. Do you know that that is your identity?
If you are nothing else, you are one who is fully loved.
In my experience, most people do not fully believe this, or they do not live from this place. I know this because they hustle around, looking for validation from other people. Demanding respect. Proving their worth. Creating ways to derive love from people around them because they don’t believe or accept that they are already fully and completely loved by God.
If you truly believe that you are loved, and that God is most careful with you, how would that change they way you live?
If you truly believe that God is love, and that He can cause every single thing that has happened to you to turn into something good, how would that change the way you respond?
If you truly believe that God is chasing after you with goodness and mercy every day of your life, how would it change the degree to which you trust Him?
If you live as one who is loved, how would your life change today?
God is careful with you, and you can depend on Him
In the same way that my daughter trusts me, we can live in full dependence on God. For all of our needs. For all of our hurts. To take care of our emotions. To take care of the big things and the small things. And to be careful with us.
He is a careful caregiver because of his profound love for us.
Our part involves trusting Him and believing He is good. If we can master that, we can live a life free of fear and worry. A truly carefree life. A life of joy and freedom.
The next time it feels like the proverbial tape is being removed from your cheek, remember this: God’s strong hand is on you…He is most careful with you. You are in good hands because you are loved.
You can get in touch with Kerry at firstname.lastname@example.org
I have worked in churches for the last twenty years or so. This may or may not come as a shock to you, but I got really good at faking things and pretending to be OK. You see, when you are employed at a church you can’t exactly vocalize when you are struggling. There is a higher expectation to have it all together and figured out. We’re the ones trained to be ready with all the answers for everyone else which usually sound something like this: “I’ll pray for you”, “You just need to have more faith”, “God never gives you more than you can handle”.
Deep down I struggled with Jesus loving me. If you spend any amount of time at church, you most likely will hear the phrase “Jesus loves you” (if you don’t hear this at your church, you should find a new church). I really wanted God to love me but knew how screwed up I was. If I couldn’t be real at my church how could I be real with God? How could Jesus love me? What can I do to get Jesus to love me? Ok, forget love. What can I do to get Jesus to simply like me? Tolerate me?
Maybe help some old people…save a few kittens…recycle? Maybe if I cuss less or stop drinking (hard liquor)? I could become a vegan or donate blood or plant some trees. Or what if I listen to really terrible music like they play in church, with lots of piano and loud out-of-key singing? I’ll give up listening to Beastie Boys and Metallica and only listen to Christian Radio. Ready for the brutal truth? You can’t do anything to get God to love you. He doesn’t love you because of who you are or what you’ve done (good or bad). He loves you because of Who He is. You will never earn God’s love, you’ll never have to. God loves you so much He made wiener dogs and sunsets; things that don’t have to be near as cool as they are but are so cool. Whatever mess is going on around you, rest in this truth: God loves you in spite of who you are because of Who He is. Jesus really does love you. You don’t have to pretend. He loves you even though you are going through some pretty heavy stuff. He loves you even if you don’t love Him. You will never do anything that will make Him love you more and you will never do anything that will make Him love you any less. His love for you is perfect. Jesus loves you, exactly the way you are in this exact moment. You can rest in that.
Guest post written by Tim Beal
I’ve been hearing about Marty Sampson and others who are questioning their faith Story HERE. A lot of people have weighed in and/or commented on posts and… I have a read a few comments. There were actually some good comments I read, but of course the ones that stood out the most were winners like these:
“I believe it’s much deeper than this. There are imposters and they were never with us… And their whole point of boldly stepping away is to bring true followers with them.”
Nothing New to me….
Unfortunately, I am not shocked because for years I’ve been used to heartless Christian comments online sounding nothing like the Christ they say they love. So many people are so quick to quote a verse or write a comment dripping with a judgmental, self-righteous spirit: “well, Marty Sampson wasn’t really a Christian or else he wouldn’t have fallen away.” I can’t even tell you how many foolish, heartless comments I read about Marty alone that were completely devoid of Christs’ nature.
There seems to be a pharisaical addiction rooted in the fallen nature of man that countless so-called Christians have been possessed by; an addiction that pre-judges situations and rushes to self-righteous conclusions that they hope will make them seem so “biblically sound” and full of “unshakable faith.”
But the obvious truth is that they have not come into union with the Christ they say they know and love, and it clearly shows as the spirit coming through their words is shouting, “I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.” (Luke 18)
The Luke 18 Pharisee is one of the main failures we should try to stay far away from, because who did Jesus have the biggest problem with?
I personally know of a couple/few very public Christian leaders who have had major dark seasons where they lost their faith for a time; or even their minds. One leader even went so far as to apologize to his children that he taught them God was active in their family’s lives. In his confused mental state he was convinced that God wasn’t real and he felt horrible for steering his kids into faith.
But guess what Jesus did?
Or should I say guess what Jesus didn’t do? HE DIDN’T ABANDON HIM like we so quickly do to our brothers and sisters who walk through dark seasons!!! Jesus gathered a few of His true followers who knew His heart and walked with this man through his darkness and this man of God came back stronger than ever after his complete mental break down!
We need to stop acting like mere men and start displaying who Christ truly is! GOD IS LOVE. Jesus understands our dark seasons, with all of our doubts and hard questions. He leaves the 99 to save the one! Don’t we sing songs about this very fact?! He doesn’t say, “well, Marty Sampson wasn’t really a true Christian or else he wouldn’t have fallen away!”
I believe God is saying something like, “Marty, (or whoever the doubting brother or sister is) I will never leave you or forsake you, I love you because I am Love, and I can handle all of your doubts and questions.”
“Well, Jesus said if you deny him before men, he will deny you before His Father in Heaven.”
Some of you will comment.
STOP! WE ALL KNOW THE SCRIPTURES! BUT DO WE KNOW HIS HEART?!
I know of many Christians who have denied Jesus and walked away. Guess what? Jesus was perfectly capable of loving those people right back into His arms!!! Don’t let the scriptures that Jesus spoke to His disciples 2000 years ago speak into every single situation on earth! You have to get to know Jesus in 2019 and what His heart is saying in each unique situation!
CHRISTIANS…. PLEASE GROW UP, GROW IN LOVE AND GROW OUT OF THE KNOW-IT-ALL SELF-RIGHTEOUS PHARISAICAL-ADDICTION THAT PRE-JUDGES SITUATIONS YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT!!!
My God, help this discombobulated church that You love so dearly.