You Are Loved

by Elizabeth


“You are loved with an everlasting love — that’s what the Bible says — and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

I recorded this Elisabeth Elliot quote in my journal a few months ago. Like many people, I have a complicated relationship with Elisabeth Elliot, but this message is pure gold.

It all started with a kitchen table conversation. Jonathan Trotter had been reminiscing about his childhood, the way he and his family would pause their studies each morning to grab a snack and listen to Elisabeth Elliot’s 15-minute radio show.

Every show ended with this statement of truth and grace. I sat at the kitchen table dumbfounded. I had never heard that statement before. I certainly didn’t know she spoke it over her listeners every single day.

She was saying this in an era when, in some religious circles at least, not a whole lot of God’s love was being preached. And it especially wasn’t being preached (at least in most of my childhood churches) that the reason we dare to believe in God’s love was because the BIBLE.

The next day at church the preacher talked about God’s everlasting love, and I took note.

At a special worship service later that week, we sang these words from Hillsong:

“I’ll sing to You Lord a hymn of love
For Your faithfulness to me.
I’m carried in everlasting arms,
You’ll never let me go, through it all.”

More everlasting arms. And more recordings in my journal.

Then last week I dropped my kids off for VBS, and when I came back to pick them up, all the kids were singing:

“What have I to dread, what have I to fear
Leaning on the everlasting arms?

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms,
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.”

It was a song I sang a lot in my childhood, and though it’s a fun song, I didn’t have any particular fondness for it at the time. But it didn’t take a genius to recognize the pattern here.

When God speaks, He tends to repeat himself — or echo Himself as my husband likes to say. Over the last few months I’ve heard a lot of echos of God’s everlasting love, and I want to pass them on to you.

I don’t think I can say it any better than E.E., so remember:

“You are loved with an everlasting love — that’s what the Bible says — and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

The Insatiable Hunger of Comparison {a Bible study}

A few months ago I was asked to teach a Bible class on the topic of confidence and insecurity, and I was thinking lately that I’d like to share that Bible study with you all. I really enjoyed preparing for this Bible class, because I gained so much clarity on the life of the disciples and how they were just like us in all our pettiness — and also how much hope we can have for ourselves when we see the way that Jesus transformed them so completely. I didn’t convert my study notes to blog format, but they’re here for you if you’re interested in digging further into the always-relevant topic of comparison and competition. ~Elizabeth


Intro: Let me throw out some words and see if you’ve ever felt them:

low self-confidence
Fear of judgement
fear of not measuring up

Maybe you can think of some others?? Because this is what I want to talk about tonight.


Warmup/Reflection Question: Who in your life do you feel you don’t measure up to? Alternatively, who in your life do you compare yourself to and find yourself better than? Think of that person and that relationship as we study these matters tonight.


Competition and comparison among the disciples:

  • In Mark 10:35-45, esp vs 37, brothers James and John are competing together against the other disciples. They are wanting more glory, fighting for their worth. And it wasn’t just their problem; when the other found out, they were “indignant.” What does Jesus do? (He will not grant their request.)
  • In Luke 9:46, all the disciples are arguing over who is most important. What does Jesus do? (He corrects their wrong ideas.)
  • In Luke 9:53-54, Samaritans reject Jesus and the disciples, and brothers James and John want to punish them with fire from heaven. Basically they want to reject the Samaritans for the rejection they’ve received. What does Jesus do? (Again, He rebukes them.)
  • In John 21:15-22, Jesus asks Peter a series of questions. How does Peter feel about this conversation? (His feelings are hurt.) How does Jesus respond to Peter’s question in verse 21? (He does not answer the question – says it doesn’t matter — and tells him to “Follow Me.”)


There was a lot of competition and comparison among the disciples! Even amongst the 3 most heavily invested-in, privileged, and “most important” disciples (Peter, James, John). So it’s not external success that drives out the fear of not measuring up. Glory and prestige and honor can’t inoculate us against the fear of being not valuable, unimportant, or unworthy. And what we look like on the outside doesn’t necessarily match what we think or feel on the inside. (But wait, because it all changes in the end!)


Of course that last example was from the book of John. I used to be so annoyed at the way he called himself “the disciple Jesus loved.” I thought it was arrogant, proud, to assume he was the one Jesus loved, almost implying he was more greatly loved.

And then he went and wrote I John. I could not even handle I John, it was such a heavy burden of shame and guilt and not measuring up, if I were feeling in a particularly non-loving way toward a brother or sister. There was so much in there about needing to love people – and if I didn’t, I was afraid I must not have been a Christian. I couldn’t force myself to love, and it depressed me. So much pressure to be perfect, I felt condemned, without hope.

Then I learned some things that changed everything, and now John is my favorite (well, along with Peter’s passion and impulsiveness). John was the youngest, so less important in the world’s eyes. And he was the only one not to die a martyr’s death, the only one who didn’t have the honor of dying for his Master. In fact, he was more like a babysitter to Jesus’ mother Mary.

To lack honor in the traditional sense, and to still follow Jesus wholeheartedly to the day he died, he had to be absolutely convinced of Jesus’ love for and acceptance of him (which is perhaps where “the disciple Jesus loved” came from). Walking with Jesus for those 3 years must have so utterly changed him from who he was before, that he was convinced to his core that Jesus loved him. And since he was convinced of Jesus’ love, he was freed to love others, and he could go on and write all about loving each other in I John.

He used to be insecure! He used to grasp for his worth. But everything changed because of Jesus. Years and years of following Jesus irrevocably changed him.


So I want to re-examine John’s writing in light of a man who knew deep down in his core that Jesus loved him

  • I John 3:1: See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 
  • I John 3:23: And this is his commandment: We must believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as he commanded us. (We BELIEVE, and then we LOVE.)
  • John 6:29: Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.” (there it is again, BELIEVE)
  • I John 4:16: We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. (We simply trust in his LOVE.)
  • I John 4:18-19: Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love. We love each other because he loved us first. (I used to think that meant I was a bad person if I had fear or didn’t have enough love. Now I know it just means I haven’t fully experienced it yet, and just need more gentle, relaxed time with God. “Not there yet.”)
  • I John 5:1: Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has become a child of God. And everyone who loves the Father loves his children, too. (Again, no pressure here. Simply a timeline: first we believe in Jesus and His love for us. Then we are able to love others.)


Tell the Jesus Loves Me This I Sometimes Know story


Last year when I was going through all this, we were reading Ephesians 3:14-20 each Sunday at church. I already had a special love for the book of Ephesians because it was the first book of the Bible I read and truly enjoyed when I was coming out of a deep depression nearly 10 years ago (another long story).

I love the words of Paul in Ephesians 1:7-8: He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins. He has showered his kindness on us, along with all wisdom and understanding.

And I love Ephesians 2:18: Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.

I even grew up hearing a song set to the words of verse 20. But week after week I kept hearing verses 14-19 in a newer, deeper way than ever before:

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.



This is what I want us to know: Comparison is a thief. It wants to steal, kill, and destroy us. It never stops wanting more, never stops devouring. God’s LOVE is the weapon that fights back against comparison and competition. God’s love makes us – all of us – worthy. We are all equally and incredibly unbelievably worthy in His sight, because of His love and because of His Son. He made us. He saved us. He forgave us. We’re His. We belong to Him. We are His children. That’s all we need to know, all we need to believe, to defeat comparison, rejection, unworthiness, low self-confidence, and insecurity.

Pray along with Paul in Ephesians 1:17-19:

I ask God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance. I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. 

It’s Time to Trade the Yoke {Velvet Ashes}

I’m hosting The Grove at Velvet Ashes today. This is the first thing I wrote after finishing a “writing fast” a few weeks ago. (As an aside, completing this purposeful season of electronic quietness must have unleashed a torrent of words inside me, as evidenced by the sheer number of blog posts and Facebook statuses I’ve shared in the time since writing this post.) ~Elizabeth


At the beginning of this year I sensed God pressing the pause button on my writing. Not now, He said, not yet. I nodded and said OK. You’ve got stuff in your heart that needs to come out, He said —black, tarry, sticky stuff. I sighed and told Him I knew.

There was a stronghold in my life, a particular set of sins I’d been unequally yoked to. So I stopped writing and started working hard with God instead. Except I wasn’t always working with Him; sometimes I was working against. I complained, I reasoned, I argued. I contended that I was right and He was wrong. I kicked against those goads, oh yes I did.

Until one morning this month when breakthrough began, and the yoke began to crack. Later that day I sensed God lifting the ban on writing, almost as if to say, Ok, now you can start writing again, and THIS is what you need to write about.

Which is why I’m here today, taking a deep breath and walking to the front of the online support group we call Velvet Ashes. It’s why I’m steadying my feet, looking into your lovely virtual faces, and announcing that I’m Elizabeth, and I’ve been yoked to bitterness. I’ve harbored unforgiveness in my heart. I’ve been very, very angry.

Finish reading this post here.

Sometimes I Hoard God’s Love

by Elizabeth


I’m always ready to receive good gifts from the Father. Then again, who isn’t??

And in using the word gifts, I don’t mean material possessions, but rather the little (and big) evidences of God’s Love in my life.

I know God loves me. I know He made me and that He wants to give me good gifts.

Then, in a total disconnect, I look at people who’ve hurt me, and I don’t want them to receive good gifts. That’s not fair. They don’t deserve that, you see. They’ve hurt me.

I know this way of thinking is wrong, yet I cling to it anyway — until one day I was driving along the scant Kansas countryside and the words of Jesus came to me. HARD.

“You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him.” — Matthew 7:9-11

I’ve hurt other people, yet He still bestows loving gifts upon me. Then I turn and I don’t want Him to lavish His love on other people.

But I realized: I don’t deserve those good gifts from my Father either. And doesn’t He love other people as much as He loves me?? Doesn’t He want to give good gifts to them as much as to me??

God loves everybody equally; I universally believe this. 

In my head. 

But my head needed shaking and my heart needed stirring.

Because He wants to give good gifts to people who have hurt me, in the same way I want to give good gifts to all my children equally, no matter what they’ve done and regardless of how they treat one another.

I can have a pretty rotten heart sometimes, yet not only does God want to give me good gifts, He follows through on it: He actually gives me those gifts. Gifts I receive with an open heart and an open hand.

But I clench my hands back up again when I think about Him giving good gifts to other people.

So right then and there on a sunny day on the open highway, I opened up my hands again and said, “I’m glad you are a good Father to me. And I know You want to give good gifts to people who’ve hurt me. I think I want to be glad about that now, too.”

Because if I’m not glad about that, about a loving Father who takes good care of an imperfect child, then I can’t possibly expect to receive good gifts for myself, a fellow imperfect child.

These logical-sounding words describe what was actually a very palpable shift in my heart. A shift of love towards those who have trespassed against me. A new understanding of God’s parental love. And another release of bitterness from my soul.

So I thank Him. I thank Him for the good gifts He’s given me. I thank Him for the good gifts He’s given others.

I choose not to hoard God’s love for myself. 

For He is a good Father to all. And I am glad.

Underwhelmed by God’s Love


by Elizabeth

As a family we recently read the story of Jacob fleeing Esau and sleeping on a stone and having that ladder dream. I’ll be honest, the ladder story has never done very much for me. Who cares about some dumb stairway in a dream? (Apparently, I didn’t.) But that night the story moved me like never before. In it, we learn that God interacts with us, relates to us, speaks to us, not because of what we’re doing or how well we’re following Him (because at that point Jacob wasn’t), but because He loves us.

He loves us? Yes, He loves us — loves us because we exist, because He made us, because He is Love. He loves us because He has chosen us, and our relationship with Him isn’t dependent upon our good behavior, our good standing, our proper obedience. It wasn’t until years later that Jacob was really following God with his heart, but here God gave Jacob an experience of Him that was so intense that he named the place Bethel, or “house of God.”

Jacob met God in that place, and it wasn’t because of anything Jacob had done. To think that God wants to interact with me no matter the state of my soul! How wondrous not to deserve this interaction with God, but to get it anyway. How incredible that He gives us His fellowship even though we are unworthy. His love is that big. And this kind of unconditional love is not just in the New Testament as we sometimes tell ourselves (or as I sometimes gathered growing up in church). No, God’s unconditional love is all over the Old Testament too. We don’t deserve this relationship, yet God gives it to us anyway — even before He sent His son.

Hearing my husband read this story out loud spoke to deep places inside me. Afterwards I tried to share my amazement. What I said may not yet make sense to such childlike faiths — young hearts that don’t yet doubt God’s love for us human beings. But I hope that planting these kinds of revelations in their little hearts and minds will help them later in life. I hope they will look back on what we taught them and be able to see His love written all across Scripture in a way that is sometimes hidden from the more legalistic among us.

So thank you, God. Thank you for including the story of Jacob’s ladder in your Word. Thank you that a passage I know so well and am usually so underwhelmed by could still touch me so deeply. To borrow a phrase from Connie Harrington, “Your grace still amazes me. Your love is still a mystery.”