Tag Archives: relationship

Equipped

I watched a squirrel in amazement this morning as he walked a limb with his hind paws holding a walnut with his front paws chewing away the covering as he went along.  Amazing to me God equipped even the critters around us to survive many of their circumstances.  We know they’ll eventually die (as will we) but in the right now they have all the instincts and abilities to survive…and thrive!

God gives humans amazing abilities to survive our circumstances as well, even more so than animals.  Humans were created by God to be houses for the Holy Spirit and afterward, being instilled with all the power He used to create this beautiful planet, hang the stars in the sky (and name them) and the power to raise the dead Jesus after He was crucified to eternal life.  Think about that.  If you’ve surrendered to the authority of personal relationship with Jesus you have all that power inside you. Right now!

Not only do you have physical attributes of survival and provision for the same, you have God’s spiritual dynamite inside of you right now.  You’re thoroughly equipped to live a life honoring Him thanks to Him.  You’re not a victim; you’re not a prisoner to your circumstances (or you don’t have to be).  You’re not a less than, overlooked or discounted IF you believe God’s word and take Him up on His promises.

The “seed” of the Holy Spirit was planted in you when you accepted the Savior-hood of the person of Christ.  However, it’s up to us to “grow” the seed.  “Work out your own salvation” (Philippians 2:12) means we grow through a relationship with Jesus – getting to know Him and what His death and resurrection means to us personally because that’s where the power is.  We grow up and into all the fullness of God and all the promises that relationship brings to us when we learn to trust Him and live like we do.

The closer we get to God and the more we come to believe Him, we see He has equipped us with amazing gifts for every area of our lives – for us and for others.  It’s easy to believe that when paths are smooth but when the way gets rocky do you still believe?

No matter what we face the key to surviving it, overcoming it and being victorious through it is found in God and accessed only through Jesus.  He is the only way.  Pray and ask God to show you WHO is inside of you and believe.  You – through Jesus – got this!

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Surely You Won’t Die…or will you?

I think of the garden scene a lot.  Adam and Eve in paradise – or the closest thing to it on earth.  Heaven on earth.  Adam and Eve walked with God and talked with Him enjoying His presence constantly.  Everything they needed was in the confines of that existence, which is exactly how God intended it to be, perhaps even for us!

In my mind, I see hundreds and hundreds of trees yielding every kind of fruit we can think of.  I believe the garden was the place of perfection and what we all want life to be – no want of any kind and need.  I think desire wasn’t even in their vocabulary yet until that one conversation changed everything (Genesis 3).

“Surely you will not die!” (Genesis 3:4).  In other words, “He’s a liar.  He just doesn’t want you be rival to Him.  He wants to control you!  He doesn’t want you to be truly happy! One piece won’t hurt! What difference will it really make?  Die?  Pff – you’re not gonna die. “ Sound familiar?  With all we have, with everything God has blessed us with and everything He’s allowed us to live through and experience (both good and bad), we can’t seem to get to the place where we’re content with that.  Some are in a state of constant want: “If I could just…if I had…I want…if only…”.

God didn’t tell them not to partake of the tree to be mean or controlling. He did that for their protection because He knew the harm that would come to them.  He knew it would change them and their relationship with Him…and it did.  The same principal is true for us.  He knows what sin will do to us and our relationship with the Father. The things He warns against are all wrapped in “the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life” (1st John 2:16 NASB).  The Bible is full of caution for our protection! It’s not that He wants you to be without what you think you want…He wants you to be without hurt, regret or shame.

Toying, flirting with, considering doing what we know we shouldn’t WILL kill us in more than one way.  It causes something in us to die and could cause pain all around us.  From some consequences we may never recover. Are you willing to risk it?  Do you want to die?

Privilege Not Punishment!

How many prayers have you prayed that have either gone unanswered or been responded to with a no?  How many loved ones have you lost?  How many hardships have you suffered, how many losses have you endured?

How many times have you asked why? How many times have you watched others be blessed with what you’ve begged God for?  How many times have you felt that because of all the above you were being punished for something?

If we have any age on us at all, we’ve all been in those spots.  We tend to think because we’re told no, denied, abandoned, jobless, homeless, or without, we’re being punished.  Maybe we’re just not loved…or loved less…than our neighbors and friends.

This reminds me of Adam and Eve in the garden when they had partaken of the forbidden fruit they hid from God.  Adam offered the timeless excuse…”we hid because we’re naked” (paraphrased).  God’s very wise, parent-like response makes me smile every time I read it:  “Who told you, you were naked?”! (Genesis 3:10-11). See, they had ALWAYS been without clothes, uncovered because they were in paradise – that was their normal then all of a sudden, everything (because of disobedience) changed.  They saw themselves as they really were.

Isn’t that the crux of our problem?  We know how we’ve lived, what we’ve done…we are well aware of what we deserve!  OR we think we’ve been so good (perhaps we have been) that we don’t deserve any bad.  For a time after my son got older and God healed him from a devastating brain injury, I thought I had survived the hardest thing in my life, I had taken my “turn” and that a life of peaches and cream was on my horizon.  How arrogant of me!

The things I’ve been through – at my own hand and at other’s – continue to show me that being in a tough, impossible, extremely painful place is a place of privilege and NOT punishment.  Through those times, I have been privileged to see more of God and cultivate a personal, foundational relationship with Him.  Was it fun?  NO.  A lot of times it still isn’t.  Would I choose to learn this way?  Are you kidding?  Apparently I have to grow and learn the hard way.

If you’re going through something devastating – don’t fall for the lie.  Yes some things we go through are consequences to our behavior but some things aren’t.  Believe God hasn’t left you and He’s not mad at you.  Believe He’s chosen you to allow you a place of privilege – a place where you can choose to get closer to Him. (Romans 8:28!)

Genesis 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “And my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe Me and understand that I am He.”

Alterations.

Almost nine years ago my world began to drastically change…it started with the unexpected death of my younger sister.  As I reflect on that time in my life, I realize that was some kind of a starting point for colossal change in my outside world and my inside life…who I was, what I believed, my…everything.  I remember who I was then and see that now, I’m not even close to who I used to be.  At the time I remember knowing God would see me through; I had no doubt of that…but I also remember thinking nothing would be the same. I had no idea how right I was.

Since that time, pretty much everything that was important, almost every significant person in my life, my ideals and perceptions, the way I approached and thought about things…literally everything is either gone or changed.  Even material things I held dear are gone; hopes for things and the way I thought things would be…gone.  My sense of fair, good and right are forever altered.  Even my faith in God is completely different from what I thought (back then) it should be.

Life takes unexpected twists and turns.  Stuff hits you, you have no way of seeing coming. You’re unprepared.  I never considered the fact my younger sister would die before I did; didn’t see that coming.  At my age (very close to 60) I never thought I would lose my job…get evicted…have to work 2, 3 and 4 jobs to make ends meet…didn’t see that coming either.  Who prepares for this?  To my embarrassment and immaturity (in Christ), I somehow thought because I had had some tests and bumps in my younger life that the rest of my life would be less difficult.  Go ahead, laugh…I am.  My faith was built on something false…something earthly – a false perception of what I thought I deserved and what I was sure would happen.

Over and over again “My ways are not your ways…” has played in my mind. “Lean not on your own understanding…” were the words I woke up to many a morning.  Through all this, I found truth, absolute truth, in those words.

The enemy wants us to think we’re unloved and forgotten when bad things happen but because I’ve been through this “desert season” in my life I can tell you with absolute certainty exactly the opposite is true.  When we find ourselves in extremely painful and terrifying circumstances those are the places where God…His literal presence can be more real to us than in seasons of joy.  Some choose to blame Him and run like spoiled children as far away from Him as we can; others choose to cling to Him for our lives and fight the good fight of faith even if our faith is less than the size of a mustard seed…maybe the size of a grain of sand.  Sometimes that choice brings a “curse God and die” mentality and a very real choice – sometimes on a breath-by-breath basis – confronts us.  It doesn’t look like we’re loved and cherished; it feels like we’re utterly alone and abandoned…so will we choose to press on based on NOTHING else but God’s word to us or will be choose based on our raw feelings and emotions? Those are the moments of spiritual life and death.

Sometimes we have to “get naked” before God, absolutely stripped in order to get to the nitty-gritty of what the real relationship is all about.  Sooner or later, I believe everyone will have a “season of Job” where there is nothing but you and Him.  Our suffering seasons may not look all like someone else’s – it doesn’t even matter what it looks like to others because this is between us and Him.  What matters is the result…will we allow ourselves to be forever altered?  Will we come out closer to Him or farther away?

The Big Reveal

I used to pride myself on my faith – I’d tout what big faith I had. I was relishing all the good and all the blessings.  Even though circumstances weren’t perfect I was smitten like we get with our first love.  It was all good.  Then things turned very bad.  He allowed things in my life I frankly thought because He loved me He never would.  That’s the rub of the Christian life.

I’ve said it before while going through this desert – I doubted big time.  My “faith” crumbled and my hope faded.  What in the world had I done wrong, why, why why…poor little Barbie…devastated and messed up I found it a struggle to find a mustard seed of faith.  The whole experience thus far has shown me I’m not nearly as big a spiritual giant as I once thought I was.

There it is.  The reason.

I see all the time praises about God and how good He is when people get a good outcome.  What if we don’t?  Is He still a good God?  Some say losing a job, losing all material possessions, getting a divorce, children and other loved ones dying, addiction, homelessness and hungry is God’s will.  Is it?  If God’s good, how can those things be God’s will? It’s my understanding that God is good.  So why are things so bad?

All I know is this.  THROUGH all I have been through my shallow perceptions of Him have long since faded.  My notions of how He should handle me and my circumstances have gone by the wayside.  Through it all, my relationship with Him has deepened.  I had to die.  What I thought of Him and His ways had to be destroyed so I could have a heart, eyes and ears to see Him for who He is.

I believe He had to get me to a place where I had to let go of me, let go of my perceptions and my pride to see Him for who He is.  Had it all not happened, I wouldn’t have.  We don’t seek to have ourselves destroyed – we don’t like being wrong.  We think we know…and we don’t until we know.

I think He chooses many different ways through which we have opportunities to grow a more intimate relationship with him.  When we finally see that everything we thought is wrong and accept that, then He can begin to show Himself for who He really is, and His great personal love for us. His ways are definitely not our ways.  I had to come a hard way but it’s been a wonderful way.  Sorrow, loss and pain will reveal who we really are and what we really believe.

I’m Positive: I Don’t Know.

 

Good job: gone.  Money:  nonexistent.  Friends:  nowhere.  Money:  none. Refrigerator:  empty.  Eviction notice:  served.  Diagnosis:  terminal.

Lying awake night after night, praying, crying, begging God to help.  Nothing.  The next day is like the last day, spent in the grasp of fear and anxiety.

What do you do when you’re clinging to God with every breath, and He’s silent?  He has certainly not responded like you thought He would…like you think He should. Getting out of bed to do it all again seems unappealing.  Why? Just another day of failure, fear and discouragement.  Why even try, you ask yourself. Isn’t there a story in the Bible where Job’s wife told him, “curse God and die…”?  Maybe that’s the answer.  You tried everything else and it appears that you’ve failed.

There’s some fierce battling going on here.  On days, in situations like that the only thing to do is go on His say-so.  You must muster up enough faith in the Lord to try to convince yourself…despite whatever circumstance…that He is true to His word.  This is a battle for your faith.  The enemy knows what’s inside you and he’s (I believe) concerned that you’ll have an impact in the future so he must defeat you now – he’s aiming for you and this time his aim was very good.  You’re down and your faith is almost nonexistent.  Thus the decision.

Believe that God hasn’t left you.  Believe He’s faithful and His promises are applicable to you, personally.  Believe He will see you through.  How will He do it?  I have no idea.  What will He do to help you?  I don’t know.  I just know He will.  “Lord, because You say you’re with me, You’ll provide for me and will never leave me, I’m getting up out of bed.”  Sometimes we have no other reason other than that to start a new day.  This is faith.

Countless, the times in the past two years I’ve done just that.  I couldn’t see how I would live through the day (wasn’t real sure I wanted to), but I did…by His grace alone.  I could tell you story after story of how He has provided – it hasn’t been pretty and lots of it I didn’t like but He did. Through that, I have seen Him as never before…and I know Him better than I ever have.

How will he help you?  I’m positive of one thing:  I have no idea.  But.  I know He will.

~Philippians 4:19~

Forgiveness

“Forgiveness does not create a relationship.  Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible.  When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgement, but without true change, no real relationship can be established.”  Wm Paul Young, The Shack

“I’m sorry” isn’t required but it would be nice, wouldn’t it?  Somehow someone acknowledging they caused great pain is great medicine for our woundedness but a lot of times that doesn’t happen.  Someone once said “when someone lies to you or about you, they feel you’re not worthy of the truth”.  That hits home…someone who lies about you and to you doesn’t feel you’re worthy of the truth.  Why would we want them in our lives, to allow them to make us feel more unworthy of truth and love than we already do?

I’ve never been one to just go along.  I believe forgiveness IS possible without ever having to see or speak to someone again and when it’s gone on for as long as one can remember, I think it’s best, especially when there is no change in behavior “So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit.” Matthew 7:17.  Owning up to what we’ve done, taking responsibility, is the best thing.  Some are incapable of that.  Don’t get me wrong I don’t like admitting my atrocities… it’s unpleasant and humbling but I always feel better and KNOW it’s right when I do.

Hope is a wonderful thing.  HOPING someone will change and see what they have done then change accordingly is always in order.  Praying for them is always, always right.  Ask God for them to open their hearts and eyes to see the realness of what has been done and ask Him to give them the desire to change and the courage to act upon that desire.

Until then, it’s okay if you don’t get back in with them.  We need to just be sure we’re “clean” – we must deal with our anger, hurt and disappointment in a godly way and the only way to do that is to take it to Him until it’s gone which sometimes takes a very long time.  I’ve found I don’t feel anything but pity for those who hurt me because they’re blinded by their version of self-justification and the lies they’ve come to believe.  We don’t have to be that way.  “It is what it is”, is one of my favorite sayings and that means to me, ONLY God can change it, I have to accept it and what I DO WITH IT is paramount.

We can allow that hurt to fester in many ways and change us, or we can truly desire to heal from it, forgive and get on with our lives.

We can choose forgiveness.  We can choose to let it go and go on and be better because of it and thankful we survived it.  Some didn’t.

I choose forgiveness; I pray you do too.

“Then Peter came and said to Him, Lord how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him?  Up to seven times?  Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”  Matthew 18:21-22