Category Archives: ugly

When Evil Shows Up

We were all shocked yesterday when we heard that a gunman entered a little Church in Sutherland Springs Texas and killed 26 people and injuring more.

I can’t even begin to fathom what was in that young man’s mind when he walked into that church. Understanding something like this is beyond us. What I absolutely know though is evil is rampant in our world and when it comes in to a place or personal life, the results can be devastating…even to Christians.

For some reason God’s people think we’re entitled to a pass from devastation and destruction. Exactly the opposite is true. Exactly the opposite is true (according to Jesus Himself) and that encompasses inside the walls of the church as well. Evil can exist and does exist literally everywhere. I wish God would protect us from horrible things happening, I wish we were all exempt from the experience of evil and sin. There was a time in my life when I expected God not to let me suffer anymore; I thought since I had been through some stuff, I’d had my turn and ‘land of milk and honey’ was my destination.  It shames me to admit that but after all, that’s what I was told when I got saved! Nothing could be farther from the truth. (Romans 8:35) I thought I’d failed as a Christian when bad or horrible things happened because I didn’t understand – now I understand better and I know that just because bad, evil things happen to us doesn’t mean God loves us less or has abandoned us in any way. (Romans 8:35-39)

Our hearts break just like everybody else’s. We lose people we love just like everybody else. We lose jobs and finances, material things that are important to us, and we feel it just like everybody else does. There is only one difference between us and people who don’t know Jesus and that difference IS Jesus.

I don’t pretend to understand how people will cope with what happened yesterday. I just know that Jesus is with them. I believe God weeps at the atrocities (He’s in us, with us, for us – he feels our pain, of course He does!) playing out now but I also believe He will comfort his people. He promises to do so, we must believe He’ll be true to His Word. In times like these His promises are all we have. Jesus himself said we will have (not might have) trials and tribulations but He’s overcome it all (John 16:33).

When we have pain we can go straight to Him and when we do, we can have that peace that passes all understanding – the peace only He can give. (John 14:27)  Miraculously through His Spirit that lives in us, His comfort comes. Those of us who have lived any time at all can testify to the fact that He eases our pain, He comforts our broken hearts and helps us by giving us His strength when we’re at our weakest so we can carry on through this Valley we’re walking through (2nd Corinthians 12:9). He will do the same for His precious people in Texas because he’s 100% faithful. He died so He could have a connection with us and that His Spirit could live inside of us for moments like these. He’s the Difference Maker. I’m quite sure many hearts are broken and many tears will be shed but I’m just as certain that the many hearts turning to God, seeking His touch will be comforted by His great presence and His matchless love.

In this world of uncertainty where evil seems to be out of control, where morals are definitely on the decline, and where there is nothing solid to hold on to we can rest assured, God is with us, walking us through these times of the unfathomable.  Jesus feels our pain and He’s right here to help us through it.

That’s all I know and today, that’s enough.

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Just as Ugly as Ever

I took Sampson walking this morning. He was chasing squirrels like he always does. We got to a tree and this little tiny squirrel was right at the base of it. When he saw Sampson he started climbing up. Long story short he fell and Samson got him and started shaking the squirrel violently.  Sampson is a gentle giant and doesn’t have any aggressive or mean tendencies. However, when he had that squirrel in his mouth, he reverted back to a dog’s natural instincts and when he did, I reverted back to mine.

I enjoy watching him run squirrels and everyone else does too.  People come to the park just to watch Sampson.  He’s an older dog so I think he’ll just run them up trees so no harm is done. Not today.  When he had that squirrel shaking it for the kill, I freaked.  It wasn’t pretty.

Sampson is a rescue. We’ve had him for 4 years and when we got him, I could walk toward him with my phone in my hand and he would put his tail between his legs and run.  He was afraid of everything, even loud noises and loud voices. Obviously, he had been abused by hands he thought he could trust.  I’ve made a conscious effort not to even talk loud when he’s close because it visibly upsets him.  The first year we had him, we purposely didn’t walk toward him with anything in our hands because he was so scared.  I have never laid my hands on him for punishment but when he grabbed that squirrel I smacked him on his tail and I screamed at him.

It was only when he let go of the squirrel that I realized what I was doing.  When I snapped out of the heat of the moment, I felt terrible.  Sampson sat and looked at me with a look I’d hadn’t seen from him before.  My heart was absolutely broken.  I was so disgusted with myself and the possibility that maybe I’d undone the trust and safety it took so long to build with my companion.

This, obviously, wasn’t the first time I reverted back to my old nature and I’m sure it won’t be the last but there was something different about this morning. I saw how quickly – based on circumstances – the human flesh can revert back to what it so desperately wants to be free of – that ugly, vile “sin nature”.  We all have it and as I saw this morning, no matter how loving and “good” we want to be, our “flesh nature” will rule the moment if we act on feelings and/or circumstances.  We’re capable of anything at any given moment.  Those of us who say “I’d never…” are the most vulnerable. I didn’t want to scream at my dog. I certainly didn’t want to smack him but I did. I’d promised him and me I’d never do anything to make him fear me.  This morning I did exactly what I said I’d never do.  What I never intended to do became instinctual in that circumstance.

One second I was praising and listening to my music enjoying a beautiful sunrise and happy in the Lord and the next minute I was a monster. Just goes to show you that at any given second I can be just as ugly as I ever was, doing what I never intended to do. Never ever, ever think you ‘would never’ do something because all of us when left to the heat of the moment in a given circumstance will find we’re capable of anything.

I’ve spent years with the Lord. I know he’s changed me from the inside out. I know I’m not who I used to be but this morning I learned I can act just like I used to, given the right circumstances.

I’ve repented, asking God to forgive me as well as Sampson. He seems to not be troubled because after the incident he went after another squirrel.

I don’t like myself very much right now. I’ve seen in a very short span of time how I can be just as ugly as I ever was. Instincts (and our culture) encourage us to act based on how you feel. That’s the very thing the Lord is teaching us to get out of.  He’s teaching us to react based on what He says in ways (actions, words, thoughts) pleasing to Him and not how we’ve always done it. I thought I had mastered that a little better; this morning proved I’m capable of being just as ugly as I ever was and when left to my emotions and reacting out of fear, I’ll be that way again.

Thank you for the reminder Lord, as humiliating and ugly as it was.  I pray to keep this flesh controlled regardless of what happens. I hope you do, too.

 

1st Corinthians 10:12  “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.”

Philippians 3:13:  “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead…”

The Other Side of Beautiful.

I live in a cabin that’s almost 240 years old. Oh if the walls could talk. Andrew Jackson has stood in my living room in front of this fireplace; it’s been said Daniel Boone walked across the front yard. There is all kinds of history on this property.

The cabin has (what I call) character and is a story within itself. Some look at it and see its faults and everything that needs to be fixed but I see the beautiful. It does need work and on the side where nobody can see the beginnings of renovation is taking place. From the visible side, it looks much better.

The side you can’t see shows what it’s been through. If you choose to see that side, you have to walk around to where you can. Nobody sees it unless they make the effort to see it.

We’re much like this historical cabin. We all have a side we don’t show (or try not to) to the world. We choose to let others see our beautiful, our socially acceptable, try-to-fit-in-and-be-good self; the everything-is-fine-and-I-love-life self. The majority only care about that side of us; few ever venture “around the house” to see the other less exposed side, the self we work so hard to hide.

If you’ve lived a few years, you’ve weathered some storms and if others look close enough, they can see it. You’ve been hurt, wounded, made some mistakes and have the scars and marks to prove it. Everyone has another side of beautiful. Everyone. Everyone has a side they don’t really want others to see. Some, though, can’t help but show it. They’re the ones we see on the streets with no place to call home, no resources and no people supporting them. We try not to look because we want to see beautiful; we want someone else to help them. Those closest to you – just like you – have a side that is less than beautiful. We all have a side we would just as soon not show.

Look at them the next time you can. LOOK at the people with you in the checkout line at the store. LOOK at them and pray for them. Ask God for opportunities to smile at them and look them in the eye and ways to help. They’re beautiful too! Others you’re exposed to have deep places and fears they don’t share with anyone. They may need a positive, encouraging word or smile to let them know they’re not alone and they are loved, ugly and all.

God loves us despite of and IN spite of our ugly. He KNOWS our other side of beautiful and has chosen to love us anyway! He wants to touch our ugly and heal us. He wants to do a major renovation in us and He will if we let him. He will even use our other side to encourage someone else if we’ll let Him.

The next time you’re seeing beautiful in others and places think about what you don’t see. Be thankful for the beautiful and pray God is allowed to touch the other side and make it beautiful too.