The Big Picture

If you spend a lot of time studying people, you’ll notice that they try as hard as they can to be the same and to be different, all at the same time.

Young people are especially interesting to study. They will dye their hair nine different colors and get five different piercings in their heads and get fourteen tattoos, all in an attempt to be different and to distinguish themselves from the crowd. But at the end of the day, you just have one big group of colorful, metallic kids that look more alike than they ever did before.

Ever since my hair started undergoing natural color change, I’ve become a big fan of hair dye. I—being a huge fan of accessorizing—enjoy painting on the occasional temporary tattoo. And I used to have four holes in my ears. So, please don’t mistake me for saying that any of these things are inherently wrong. It’s just that if we’re intending to use them to make ourselves different, we’re failing.

As hard as we try to be different, we all have the same motivation lying at the center of it all. We all just want to be loved.

Inside each of us, we have a picture that’s been painted on our hearts. And that picture is what we believe love is and what we believe love isn’t. We spend our lives—all of our time, emotions, and energy—trying to love and be loved in a way that fits that picture.

The saddest part for most of us is that our pictures are skewed. They’re incorrect and lopsided with the wrong colors in the wrong places. But we beat ourselves bloody chasing the wrong things and the wrong people to try to make our lives reflect the picture on our hearts. And sometimes, when we can’t find a love that fits our picture, we’ll settle for whatever we can get, even when we know that it’s wrong.

There’s only one true picture of real love and that’s Jesus’ love. But sadly, for most of us, the things we’re taught or experienced have thrown paint on that picture and covered up the truth.

I love my Dad and we have a very strong relationship, but when I was growing up, I thought that God was like my Dad. Because my Dad was sometimes quick-tempered, I thought that God was, too. And because my Dad was sometimes demanding and difficult to please, I thought that God was, too. And because my Dad was uncomfortable and impatient and frustrated by my tears, I thought that God was, too. So, just as I tried to be perfect for my Dad and tried to hide my deepest hurts and fears from him, I tried to do that with God, too.

As years have passed, I’m learning some truths that are fixing the picture on my heart:

Psalm 103:8 – “The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.”

Psalm 56:8 – “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?”

One of the most moving and meaningful scriptures for me is when Jesus says to the disciples, “Listen, I’m going on to the house to get it ready for you, but when you’re done here, you’re going to come stay with me forever!” (John 14:1-4, paraphrased)

What a healing realization! Jesus wants to be with me forever! He doesn’t think I’m too loud, too talkative, too fat, too dumb, too slow, too emotional, or too anything! He loves me just the way I am and loves me so much so that He wants to be with me forever! And every time I am reminded of that, the Holy Spirit touches the turpentine and the paint to the canvas and restores the picture in my heart. And one day, I will truly know what love is.

Lord Jesus, I thank You for loving me, even though I don’t know what love is. Thank You for showing me.

About Sarah Salter

Comments

  1. I’m totally offended. I’m not sure by what, but I’m offended all the same. I may be offended by my offendedness. Or not. But there. I read your blog post. I read. Happy now? Better be, or I’ll be offended again. Too late, already am offended again.

  2. Sarah Salter says:

    Wendy, as always I’m eternally grateful for your candor. :)

  3. I do what I can. I also offend where I can. So there.

  4. Vicki Yohe once said that her mother taught her if folks told her that: she had a nice voice, she sang beautifully, etc. it would appeal to her flesh. However, if she was told that her song touched their heart, it was truly anointed. Sarah, your blog today has touched my heart. Thank you!

  5. This reminds me of the following verses:

    Colossians 1:21-23 (New Living Translation)

    21 This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. 22 Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.

    23 But you must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News. The Good News has been preached all over the world, and I, Paul, have been appointed as God’s servant to proclaim it.

    We are perfect in His sight!

  6. “But now so says Jehovah who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” Isaiah 43:1

    We are HIS! Thank for that beautiful reminder!

    Jay

  7. Sarah Salter says:

    Oh, Jay, I love that scripture! Thanks for throwing it out there in your comment! I have ALWAYS wanted to “belong” and now, because of Him, I DO! :)

  8. We need this reminder over and over again! Makes me want to rush home and tell my kids, “I try to be a good dad but God is so much better and bigger and more patient and gracious…” I know they don’t always see God in my attitudes or reactions, but I want to point them to Him even as I grow and take in more of His grace… Thanks Sarah.

  9. There are different kinds of love. I think we long for what we feel we lack.

  10. Sarah Salter says:

    Jason Stasyszen, do you know how much you bless me?! God knows your heart towards your kids. There’s no question, Jason, that God knows exactly which children to put in your home and in your life because he knows the great, big, sweet father’s heart that beats inside of you. And even though there will be times when life in your home isn’t happy and fun and warm and fuzzy, I promise you that those kids DO see Jesus in you. How do I know that? Well, I live halfway across the world from you and can see Jesus in you.

  11. Aww, thanks Sarah. I’m not being hypercritical of myself. I do have to remind myself sometimes that I’m doing my best, but like you said, even good dads can give their kids the wrong impression about God. I appreciate the encouragement! *awkward tender moment complete* :)

  12. My mom sent me this the other day and your post made me remember it. I think you’ll like it:

    A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.’

    When I say that ‘I am a Christian’, I am not shouting that ‘I am clean living.
    I’m whispering ‘I was lost, but now I’m found and forgiven.’

    When I say ‘I am a Christian’ I don’t speak of this with pride.
    I’m confessing that I stumble and need Christ to be my guide.

    When I say ‘I am a Christian’ I’m not trying to be strong.
    I’m professing that I’m weak and need His strength to carry on.

    When I say ‘I am a Christian’ I’m not bragging of success.
    I’m admitting I have failed and need God to clean my mess.

    When I say ‘I am a Christian’ I’m not claiming to be perfect.
    My flaws are far too visible, but God believes I am worth it.

    When I say ‘I am a Christian’ I still feel the sting of pain.
    I have my share of heartaches, so I call upon His name.

    When I say ‘I am a Christian’ I’m not holier than thou,
    I’m just a simple sinner who received God’s good grace, somehow!

  13. Hey Sarah, beautiful post!
    I’m thankful that God’s love is so much bigger than anything I can imagine. Have you ever read Your God is Too Small? It says a lot about how our initial concept of God comes from our parents and other authority figures. As a mom, that freaks me out a bit. Thank goodness for God’s grace. It’s one thing I really want my kids to understand.

  14. I echo what everyone has already said here, Sarah. Great post.

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