Lovest thou me?

**I was offered this book free of charge from the author, in return for my honest opinion. All thoughts on this book are purely my own.**

I was so blessed when my dear friend, Cheryl Smith, asked me if I would be willing to read through her new book, and share a post about how it had impacted me. I have always loved her website and her precious heart for the Lord, so I was eager to read the story of how God had led her family on their journey to minimalism:

“Cheryl Smith is the author of the book “Biblical Minimalism,” the story of her family’s journey from a life of abundance to a more abundant life. She is the author of the blogs Biblical Minimalism, where she writes about minimalism from a Biblical perspective, and Homespun Devotions, where she writes devotionals and conducts “Inner Views.” She loves to spend time with her husband and son in the mountains, sing and play Bluegrass music, and write.”   

I think the best proof of a truly Spirit-led book is when God brings HIS own direction into the reader’s heart, in ways that at first glance might not seem such an obvious parallel. In fact, as I began reading Cheryl’s book, I heard the Lord ask me to be open to HIS leading, even if it seemed odd to my own way of thinking.

Sure enough, I had barely begun reading, when the title of Chapter 3 jumped out at me. “Lovest Thou Me?” and it’s accompanying verse:

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, “Simon, Son of Jonas, Lovest thou Me, more than these?”

John 21:15

And immediately, I was thrust back in time, to my childhood. My eyes were fixed and my face was glowing rapturously as the small woman walked up to the platform and began her solo. I knew the song–it was one of her favorites, and mine as well, whenever she sang it. Her pure soprano voice carried the question deep into my little-girl’s heart, and it felt as if Jesus, Himself, was asking the question. I loved the swelling in my heart as the song rose to its finale, OH! Yes, I love thee more than all of these, my Lord!

Only, something different happened as I read further into my friend’s book, and listened to her share the journey that the Lord had asked of her family. He wanted them to lay down their material possessions, to begin to live a life of minimalism, but not for the faddish way of the culture. NO, He was asking them to loosen their hold upon the very things of this world that they were surrounded with.

My husband and I have walked through that path a few times as the Lord asked us to follow Him in cross-country moves. But this time, I heard the chorus of that song, asking me, “Lovest thou me, more than wealth, more than fame, more than the world?” and the words had shifted so slightly to become, “Lovest thou me, more than health, more than your days, more than this world?” I wanted to answer yes, but as the night wore on, I knew the honest answer.

“No, Lord, I do not love thee. I have no love within me, in fact.” And the enemy jumped into the battle to shout his condemnation there too. It was a very long night.

But when the light of morning dawned, Jesus took me further into that conversation with Peter, as Peter’s heart was grieved that Jesus had to ask that question three times. Jesus uncovers the doubt in our hearts. But He also wants to uncover the truth that He himself has planted in our hearts.

And I knew the answer that Jesus was uncovering in my own heart. I can only love because HE has first loved me. I can only love HIM, as I offer back up to Him the love He has given to me.

We love because he first loved us.

1 John 4:19 NIV

I realized then that my friend’s book was going to challenge my heart to open to Him in deeper ways.

Even as the Lord asked my friend to look into the deep reasons for her clinging to worldly items, I heard the Lord asking me to look more deeply into my own clinging onto the ways I thought my health should be. And it was about half-way through the book that this quote stopped me in my tracks:

Biblical minimalism is not just about letting go of our physical belongings. It is all-encompassing to the point of striping away every source of excess . . . It means getting down to the bare bones of trusting God to supply all our needs. It means releasing anything in our lives that cause us to live under extreme stress.

Biblical Minimalism, Cheryl Smith, page 111.

And I knew the reason why God had allowed me to be part of my friend’s book review team. My bones and my body have carried the excessive stress of this illness and many failed treatments as my own responsibility. Again and again I have heard His call to release the burden, that my health is NOT my responsibility.

But when the world screams at you, when every health-care supplement begs you to take your health into your own hands, the still, small voice of the Lord can be easily put aside. And so the convictions rolled deeply across the pages into my heart. ONLY God can bear the weight of this chronic illness journey. I have lived too long as if I am in debt to my chronic illnesses. Even the terms that I use to speak of it:

  • This disease is a hard task-master
  • I will pay for this activity later
  • I live under the weight of what this illness will require next

But Jesus has spoken a different life for me, because I have been bought by HIM. He has paid all of my debts and I am no longer my own.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

Through all of these years with these multiple diseases, it has always been the Lord who has directed my steps, and led me to different Doctors, different treatments, all for HIS own purposes, not my own. Where I have taken responsibility and tried to pay off this debt, He wants me to know that it has already been paid in full.

I may not find full healing while on this earth. The treatments ahead may or may not be immediately effective. But I WILL find full healing at the feet of Jesus. Whether He brings it here, or in Heaven, He is asking now for my FULL trust of His care over me.

To purchase the book by my friend Cheryl Smith, click HERE. If you are interested in practical tips and Scriptural reasons for living a life that is more minimal and eternity focused, I highly recommend Cheryl’s story for you. And if you do pick up her book, I pray that you will allow the Holy Spirit to direct you in His own path, even as He took me down the path that He had chosen for me.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. . . . You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Isaiah 55:8-9, 12 NIV

I am linking with: #GraceAndTruth #LegacyLinkUp

18 thoughts on “Lovest thou me?

  1. Never thought much about minimalism either. Thought I was not extravagant but these years since my illness have taught me differently. The thing is, that giving up everything and not having money in the bank or a credit card to rely on has actually been quite freeing. I need to write on this discipline soon.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Mandy, I would love to hear your experiences also! I will try to link this post when your next link-up is open. I tried to add it today, but it says the link-up is closed for now.

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  2. Listening to the song now…I’m not sure I remember it. It’s vaguely familiar so it’s probably lodged in my brain from sometime in my past. 🙂

    Cheryl’s book sounds like one worth reading. I cleaned out a closet this week and it was so hard to let go of things that I know I’ll probably never use. In the end, I loved having empty shelves more than I loved the items, so I got rid of them. May I love Jesus above ALL things.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Lisa, may I continue to surrender to Jesus more every day, above all things. He is so good to show us His convictions for us. I do hope you are able to read Cheryl’s book. She shares such practical ways of letting go of the things we hold onto.

      I am so thankful for the way that Youtube can revive memories from music of so long ago! It can be such a blessing!

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  3. Betty, thank you so much for sharing how personally Cheryl’s book touched you. Even having read her book, I saw myself in it more completely after reading your post here, as I was convicted by how I have been reacting to my health issues, complaining and murmuring to God rather than resting in His will, a will that is always good.

    Even though I read the paragraph you shared when I read Cheryl’s book, I saw it again as if with new eyes as I didn’t relate to myself the “extreme stress” part, until today… because indeed, I put myself under so much undue stress when I’m trying to “control my fate in matters of health”, rather than trust my loving Heavenly Father.

    I leave here greatly encouraged and blessed today. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Dear Karen,
      I am so touched that the Lord would speak to you here today. He truly is so careful over us, His people. And I felt the same way as you as I read through Cheryl’s book. The convictions washed over me, as He spoke His truth through her story. His grace is so tender for us, as we do take on those stresses and try to take control ourselves. I am so grateful that we can pray for each other in these health-related issues. Blessings and love to you dear sister.

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  4. Dear Bettie, this is full of honest conviction, and I’m truly thankful you were able to be as open as you are here about how we’re not meant to try to shoulder the weight of our chronic illness burden by ourselves. Your words have met me at so many levels. I have years of accumulated stuff and clutter to sort out and have also gathered several unwanted soul burdens as well, including the same one as you. I’ve seen my poor health as something to rail against at times, or to try to put right somehow with this or that treatment or supplement. Even after decades of struggle, anguish or quiet resignation, it’s been much harder to conclude that God is in charge of this area of my life as well, and He always has been. Yes, we can do our utmost to stay as well as possible, of course, but it definitely helps to be reminded that our healing is very much in God’s hands. I can also identify with the “extreme stress” mentioned here. Oh so much food for thought! I think this is a really timely book for me to read too. Thank you, Cheryl, for sharing your story. And thank you, my dear friend, for sharing so bravely and transparently about how it has impacted you. Sending blessings, love and grateful hugs! xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Joy,
      Oh I am so grateful that you deeply understand the heart of what bearing these illnesses can bring to us. We pick up so many burdens that we were never meant to carry, all the while thinking that we “should” be able to carry it so much better than we do. What if we could trust more fully that “God is in charge of this area of (our) life as well?” I do hope that you are able to read Cheryl’s book too. She has so many practical tips, for the what, the how, and the why of decluttering our lives. We accumulate so much without even realizing it. He is watching over us, just waiting to help us lay those burdens before HIm. I pray that we will listen in our pausing, and give over the reigns ever more fully. Sending you so much love, hugs, and prayers across the pond! xoxo

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Amy,
      Yes, I sure understand! I felt so much conviction, and I am still asking the Lord to help me walk forward in the ways that He asked me to. I’m praying for you dear sister! I hope you are able to read it.

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  5. Dear, precious friend! How my family and I appreciate you and your kind review of our book! Even more, we praise Jesus for applying His love to you through it. So many times I pray for you and long to hear that you are healed, and it blesses me to know that our story may have brought comfort to you in your fiery trials. We all three send much love and gratitude to you, dear Bettie. May the Lord richly bless you for all you do, and also we thank all of your dear commenters for their kind words!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      And I so appreciate all of the kind prayers you have offered for me so many times! Truly it means so much to me to know that you and your family have been praying for me. I am continuing to ask the Lord to help me walk in the conviction and the trust that He brought to my heart as I read your book. And just today, I felt a small measure of relief beginning, after my latest procedure for head-pain. I am grateful for every drop of grace He sends! May the Lord bring blessing and love to you!

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