CrossReads Weekly Devotional: Coming Back to the Smile 8/5/2019

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by Precarious Yates

These past few years have been difficult for me in ways I haven’t discussed publicly. Mostly, I withdrew. I had difficulties with one of my children to the point that I was emotionally needy. Extremely emotionally needy. The one thing I sensed from God was that I needed to love my child in the midst of her brokenness. But it was hard. Oh, let me tell you, it was hard. The most difficult part was knowing that I needed to come to the Lord to fill the constantly depleted well of love and patience, and all I sensed was a lecture from Him about how bad I was. Every scripture I turned to, every moment spent trying to communicate with God, all I encountered was this wall of sensing His disappointments in me. All my failings as a mom. All my moments of short temper. 

My well was empty, and the barrage of insults from my child seemed relentless. And the only one who could help me, Jesus, I thought was angry with me. 

Instead of turning to God, I began to turn to insipid and fairly innocuous means of passing the time and numbing the pain. In between her constant request that I would just “Go die already,” and some frighteningly specific threats, I played video games, I watched movies, I spent hours on Pinterest staring at pictures of gardens, beaches, and seaside gardens. I stopped turning to God. And my pit of depression grew deeper, the walls grew steeper. My daily anxiety skyrocketed. 

I don’t wish this place of despair on anyone.

On my last anniversary, I broke down and told my husband. For a solid hour, I shook and cried. All I wanted was to come to God and sense His smile, be filled with His love, and be able to love my daughter no matter what she said to me. 

I spent my early years as a Christian reading the Bible as much as possible. I wanted to dive into the scriptures again and find the ocean of God’s love and grace. One book I frequented more than others was Song of Solomon. In my own place of brokenness, I heard the echo of part of 1:4, “Draw me away, let us run…” I shot those words up to heaven as a last ditch effort of a prayer, as final and timid knock on God’s door. 

Those words cracked the door open, and I began to remember: the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4). I needed to discern by faith God’s joy over me. 

Once I applied a little faith, thanking God for His joy over me, the door opened a little more. “I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. “- Hosea 11:4

The tears that flowed were no longer fearful—they were now hopeful! The leap from fear to hope spans a vast chasm, but the Cross is the perfect catapult. 

The door opened even more, and I remembered Zephaniah 3:17, “The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”  – Zephaniah 3:17

But I had missed out on so much time. I wasted so much time. Would God still pour His love in my heart if I hadn’t been spending an hour with him every day for a month, or even a week? This was my first appearance in way too long. 

And He showed me this parable:

7 They said to him, ‘Because no one has hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too.’

8 And when evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last, up to the first.’

9 And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each of them received a denarius.

10 Now when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more, but each of them also received a denarius.

11 And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house,

12 saying, ‘These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.’

13 But he replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius?

14 Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you.

15 Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?’

16 So the last will be first, and the first last.” – Matthew 20:7-16

In God’s economy, I didn’t have to make up for lost time!

Then the door opened wide and I encountered the last thing I expected when I started turning toward Him: I sensed His smile.  

“He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” – Isaiah 40:11

Not only would God lead me, as a mom, gently, He would hold my daughter in His arms!

“…while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. – Luke 15:20

“19 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,

20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,

21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God,

22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.” – Hebrews 10:19-22

If you know of anyone who has adopted or does foster care, it’s likely they are facing a similar pit of despair to what I discussed earlier, along with a lot of judgment from adults around them. Reach out to them and ask if they are REALLY okay. They need far more help than they’re comfortable asking for. If you are in a spiritual place like what I discussed at the beginning of this blog, please reach out to someone. If you are a foster parent or have adopted, don’t be ashamed of needing extra love and help. Our kids who are so broken need extra love, and their parents need extra support.

About the Author:

Precarious YatesPrecarious Yates has lived in 8 different states of the Union and 3 different countries, but currently lives in Texas with her husband, her daughter and their big dogs. When she’s not writing, she enjoys music, teaching, playing on jungle gyms, praying and reading. She holds a Masters in the art of making tea and coffee and a PhD in Slinky® disentangling.

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