Matthew 25:40

There’s a stage in adulthood where, for the sake of your family, career, etc., it becomes very important to become thought of as an upright, law-abiding, mannerly citizen. One of the “good” people. When you’ve been a Christian for a long time, it is surprisingly easy to lump your faith into this same category of “proofs that I am an upright, law-abiding, mannerly citizen”. Then this position becomes so internalized that you don’t stop and think about it, much the same way that you don’t stop and read your own name tag every morning before you go to work. If it no longer has the correct name on it, you probably wouldn’t notice, much the same way I didn’t immediately notice that the words “follower of Christ” no longer identified me.

Now, I’m not talking about wild living here. I’m not talking about “opening yourself up to new ideas” in terms of leaving behind your own faith, or going to places or people that you know are going to cause you to sin. Even if it’s not technically sinful but you know yourself well enough to know it will end in you sinning, don’t do it. But having said this, somewhere along, if you’re trying harder to keep to the straight and narrow than you’re trying to follow Christ, Satan starts whispering in your ear in an attempt to stop the love, and it usually takes the form of combining those 2 distinct roles and saying “that’s not what good, upright, law-abiding, mannerly Christian citizens do,” and then blurring the two together so much that it simply becomes, “that’s not what Christians do.” The Enemy whispers in my ear, “build a genuine friendship with that homosexual man? That’s not what Christians do. You can “love” him, but keep him at arms’ length, as if he was contagious. You can tell him that Jesus loves him, but make sure not to actually love him, because that’s not what Christians do… Treat a known prostitute and addict like she’s a real human being? That’s not what Christians do. Tell her Jesus loves her, but don’t really believe it. Don’t let yourself believe that she, too, is a human being made in the image of God, a person who Jesus would gladly die to set free from the burden of her sins, would gladly take into his arms and give glory to and present before His own Father, saying, ‘this is the one I brought home to you, the one I love as a groom loves his wife’? That’s not what Christians do… Give aid to an atheist, who spent their life loudly decrying God and now has a desperate physical need of help or food or shelter? No, be offended, tell him he’s profaned the family of God too much and isn’t welcome here. Bask in your righteous anger. Don’t have the humility to put aside your differences and help him now, because that’s not what Christians do.”

It’s all lies, of course. Jesus’ criteria for helping others was that they be human beings, not a certain kind of human beings, or even particularly good human beings.

Good afternoon, and God bless.

-Morgan Hart

Dancing With My Enemies

I have no special gift for being able to forgive people. It usually takes me a long time, and I often don’t even realize I’ve been holding a grudge until I’ve been carrying it far too long.
One day, I felt like something had to change. I didn’t know what, or why, just something.

I navigated to peacewithgod.net and there requested an online prayer partner. For what turned into 3 straight hours of conversation, this blessed stranger talked me, free of charge, through just about everything that had ever happened to me, culminating in a charge to actually forgive. Truly, deeply, meaningfully, forgive those in my life. Take a notebook, write down all the hurts, go through each, forgive. That, he said, was what was missing.

So I took the charge, and really set time aside to forgive people I remembered. And it was so hard to start, I thought I’d never find the strength to do it. But my God did I feel good afterwards! At the very beginning. I cried and cried, but maybe an hour later, I was the happiest I’d felt in years. Just like a cartoon, it felt like all the little birds in the trees were singing, the grass was swaying — just pure levels of happiness like nothing else this world can give.

As I went through this process, God sent an image to my mind. How lovely it was, and how much it warmed my heart and set everything to healing! I saw Jesus standing with a person that had hurt me a great deal in my past. He was slow-dancing with her, arm around her waist, talking and laughing with her, touching her face. Very intimate moments. And He was soin love. I just stood there, watching how much joy it gave Him to be with this person, as if He had lost her for a very long time and finally had her back in His arms again.

I could not help but feel so happy for Him. It didn’t matter what she had done to me, it mattered that Jesus was with her now, and that He loved her, and His eyes were shining when He looked into hers. The joy welled up in my heart to see my savior so happy. Jealousy tried to tug at my heart, but I knew too well that no level of affection for one person can diminish the intensity of God’s love for any other. I would have the next dance for sure, and in a way, already had this one, too. Anger tried to tap at my shoulder but I just could not stop thinking, “I cannot hatesomething that makes Jesus this happy. If I really love someone, I’m going to try hard to appreciate the people they adore.”

I couldn’t help but feel like I saw something profoundly wrong being made right that day, and with it, a hope that all those prayers for forgiveness for my enemies really will be answered, and God will be able to have those people, cleaned and made good from their sins, just as He is able to have me, also cleaned and made good from all my many sins.

God bless, and have a good weekend.

Your Servant in Christ,

Morgan Grace Hart

My Snuggly Bunny

The other day, I saw an image that took my breath away. It was a pastel watercolor of a young boy, falling asleep on a porch swing, with a young rabbit curled up on his chest. The image was so gentle, so peaceful, that it brought tears to my eyes.

With a little research, I found out it was from this book:

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Furtively, I went online to order a used copy. Looking over my shoulder, I made sure no one saw me order it, made sure it would come in a plain brown box, as if I was buying something obscene!

This is how deeply I hate being the sensitive person that I am. It feels too much like weakness to me. I hate personality tests that rate other people as “lions” or “wolves” while rating me as a “dove” or “doe” or another useless, severely weak animal.

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I hate people seeing me crying at a movie, or looking at a children’s book. I even hated it when I had my first child, and some coworkers came to visit. I felt pathetic and laughable to be seen in such a state, marked as I was by blood and bandages, not fully dressed, unable to sit up unassisted. While I loved my child like crazy, the presence of a newborn in my arms did not help. In my mind, this one visit ruined the image I had worked so hard to cultivate: the image of a strong, self-assured, working woman.

It hasn’t gotten any easier since that day. In mixed company, I avoid talking about being an artist, for fear that it will make me look moody. I avoid owning anything that is too pink, too lacy, or too silly, for fear I won’t be taken seriously. I think about creativity and emotion – my “soft” side – as something inferior, an embarrassment that must be covered up at all costs.

This time, though, God has not been silent on the matter. He told me that while I may despise my “soft” side, it’s actually the part of me that most closely resembles Him. He said love and sensitivity – and with it, the ability to be hurt – were Godlike traits. He said that the problem was not sensitivity at all: it was the fact that someone, influenced by the Devil, had told me that I shouldn’t be that way.

In my mind’s eye, I saw a flowing river, and at one spot, its movement was being impeded by an ugly, rock-covered sand bar, jutting out almost to my full height. Jesus told me not to worry, that we’d work on it together, over time. And He took my hand and told me that He loves me.

He loves me.

I can’t count the number of times He’s told me this, sometimes through others, sometimes through scriptures, and sometimes from His own mouth; but every single time, it catches me off guard. He loves me. The God of all the Universe loves me.

Beloved Readers,

May you find His love today and throughout the week.

Sincerely,

Morgan Grace Hart
Scripture for Today:
“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death
— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:1-11 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Philippians%202:1-11&version=NIV