Jesus Isn’t Into Sharing

For some reason this week I was reflecting on how hard I used to have to work at being a good Christian and how it comes so naturally now. Why is it so different?

Flashback to the early to mid-90s, I truly had myself fooled that I was representing the Lord pretty well. I was always in church, at the church, or chasing whatever revival was nearby. I just couldn’t be in church enough. In looking back I can see how much I was struggling to be ‘a good Christian.’ I couldn’t see it then because I was too busy doing church stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there is anything wrong with church involvement – just that for me it was a hiding place where I could feel like I was being a good Christian. After all, I was busy for the Lord right?

I kept tripping and falling over and over again. I was always losing my temper or control of my tongue. I was constantly in a cycle of hyper faith, failure, and repentance. Sometimes the cycles would last only hours and others I might have squeaked out a little longer. I would try so hard to follow all of the do’s and don’ts I heard laid out week after week but I just couldn’t seem to live Christianity out. Over and over again I would start praying a prayer of re-commitment and stop because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to live it out.

The Lord showed me this week the problem, He said to me “It is because in the past you tried to share your life with me instead of giving your life to me.” To me that answer was so simple and yet to profound.

That was exactly it – my problem all of those years was that I wanted Christ in my life but only when, where, and how I wanted Him. I have control issues and I was not willing to give up control of my life so I tried to share.

The Bible tells us:

  • I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing – but I planted myself just close enough to the Lord and church to have the association but not close enough that it would really impact my life and I could still do everything that I wanted
  • If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me – but I followed just close enough to see Him and His work in the far distance – but not close enough that I might be expected to be a part of the real stuff
  • Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness – instead of seeking Him first I sought whatever I deemed right for me at the moment
  • Do not worry about tomorrow – I lived in a constant state of worry over every.single.thing every.single.moment of every.single.day

It just wasn’t working for me – because Jesus isn’t that into sharing. I was trying to serve two masters and that never works.

I realized that because I chose not to give Him my life, chose not to completely surrender – my life could never have been that reflection of Him that I wanted it to be.

Without giving Him my life I was unwittingly not giving Him my pain, my heartbreak, my anger, my sins. Without giving Him my life I couldn’t receive His peace, His love, His forgiveness, freedom found only through Him, and reconciliation to God.

I could see all the He had to offer to me, all that He had died so that He could give me but I was unable to grasp Him and His free gifts because my hands we too full holding onto the tatters of my life. The more I tried to hang-on and control my life, the more that I was pulling it apart at the seams.

I can remember praying “God, I want to be good but I can’t. Take away my free will and make me be good. I am okay with that because it is the only way I can make it.” But God in His wisdom and His unfathomable love for me would never have done that. Instead, He let me keep making my own choices good and bad – mostly bad for a very long time.

Instead of leaving me when I made those bad choices, He was always there. I chose not to see Him. As a matter of fact there came a point where I believed that I had gone too far and that I was beyond His love and His grace. I didn’t care then because I believed He had let me down – after all I had done for Him. Oh yes, these were my thoughts and beliefs for many years. Still, I know now that He stayed very close to me.

After a long time, my heart began to soften and I began to think that God wasn’t such a monster using me as a pawn for His entertainment. I began to think about Him again and began exploring who the Bible teaches us that He is. What I found astounded me, how could I have missed it for so long? I missed that He loved me with a love beyond my imagination, far beyond my comprehension. He loved me whether I was living for Him or not. He loved me enough to die for me even if I turned my back on Him. He loved me when I spat at Him and His church for the pain I was feeling and He loved me when I swore never to grace the doors of another church. HE.LOVED.ME. and nothing that I did or ever could do would change that.

Don’t just read the words in that last paragraph – inhale them. Let Him make them come alive in you if you are not already overcome by that love. HE LOVES YOU and there is NOTHING that you can ever do to change that.

The power of that unfailing love washed over me as never before in my life. In the presence of that kind of love I freely and willingly gave my entire life to Him to use as He wished. In the presence of that kind of love there was no fear of what He might do with my life, no fear that I might fail Him again. The revelation of His love was a life-changer for me. Now I wanted to serve this God, before I only wanted to not go to Hell. I wanted to live my life to bring honour to Him, to bring glory to Him.

That laundry list of do’s and don’ts became a thing of the past because we do not live under the law but under a new covenant. In the revelation of His great love was freedom and security. In the revelation of His great love I could truly rest in Him.

Now I cling to Him for my hope and my support. I know that there is no other place that my help comes from but Him.  I know that if I do trip and fall that He is right there to catch me or to help me get back on my feet again. I know that He doesn’t get angry with me and start looking for ways to punish me when I disappoint Him. Now I am quick to believe the best about Him because I have come to understand His character as a loving God who pursued me through some very ugly things when I thought He would wash His hands of me and my filthy rags.

I cannot live in the presence of a love like this without wanting to give myself over to it. In the presence of a love like this there is an eagerness to please because there is an assurance that my best interest is His primary goal.

Have you fully given your life over to Him or are you just trying to share it and hold onto the things in and of the world? Do you realize His great love for you? I know you may sing the songs and have likely heard the words all your life. But do you KNOW it in your heart? Let the words sink in deep – JESUS LOVES YOU – meditate on them and let Him show you just how real this love is. Ask Him to flood you with His presence and fill your senses with Himself. He is right there waiting for an invitation…

God Blessed The Broken Road…

This blog has been quite some time in the making…  I started it ages ago during my lunch break at work.  I keep pulling it out and reading it and just was not released to finish and post it.  Tonight while visiting with a lovely friend, the discussion turned to how looking back we can see how things worked together to bring us to where we are now – and the Lord said, “Finish it now.” – so here goes…

*******

The realization hit me hard…  After a lifetime of frustration at hearing/reading “be thankful in everything”, I finally got it.

Last year I had the privilege of hearing Kim Phuc (The Girl in the Picture) speak about forgiveness and healing.  Ms. Phuc helped me to realize that, although I had made great strides in forgiveness and healing, I had even further to go.  She talked of forgiving and praying for the man who was responsible for the lifetime of horrible pain that she had endured.  (I wrote about this just over a year ago:  https://krislukings.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/do-scars-hurt/)

My mind heard that she prayed for him daily, but my heart would not accept this – could not fathom this.  It was clear to me that this in itself was a problem.  I would like to say that I immediately corrected my ways, that I started praying for the person (people) responsible for my abuse in the past – but I cannot say that.  I started praying for the strength to want to do that, that I could begin  to release whatever made me feel the extreme resistance that I felt as Ms. Phuc spoke.  Slowly but surely as I allowed, the Lord began to do a work in me.  After sometime, I began praying for my abusers.  It was strictly an act of obedience and submission in the early days.  God has been faithful to meet my willingness with more healing and more understanding.

Still, when I would hear someone talking about “being thankful in all things” I would get my back up and become defensive.  I still couldn’t quite wrap my head around how I was supposed to be thankful for the pain of the past.

A few days ago as I drove home, the song “God Bless the Broken Road” came on the radio.  I was a bit surprised at first because I hadn’t thought of it as a song that would be played on a Christian station.  Then the Lord told me to listen closely, and here is what I heard:

“I set out on a narrow way, many years ago
Hoping I would find true love, along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow, kept pushing through
I couldn’t see how every sign, pointed straight to you”

By the time Rascal Flatts got to the line “But I got lost a time or two” the tears started to stream down my face.  I got lost a lot more than a time or two, but I kept pushing through.  I took great pride in how I could take care of myself – didn’t need anyone else.  Broken roads often lead to more broken roads and more broken roads and, well – I suppose that you get he picture.

“I think about the years I spent, just passing through
I’d like to have the time I lost, and give it back to you
But you smile and take my hand
You’ve been there you understand
It’s all a part of a grander plan, that is coming true”

More tears flooded over me.

“Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart, they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way, into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.

Now I am just rolling home
Into your loving arms
This much I know is true,
God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you.”

At last I got it and I can say wholeheartedly that I am thankful for the broken road that has been my life.  I was flooded with such a peace – you know, that kind that surpasses all understanding – yeah, that kind.  How I wish that I had the time back that I wasted on so many broken roads!

For the first time in my life I felt the true sense that the good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful had been mixed up – molding me into who I am today.  I am so thankful that “And we know that all things work together for good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” – Romans 8:28  is so true.

So thankful

  • that he brought me through it all,
  • that He is taking all the bad and using those experiences to teach me about others,
  • to make me more empathetic to those who are suffering,
  • to help me help those who feel like they are the only ones,
  • to help those who feel like the abuse is their fault or that it is deserved, and
  • that I am alive and on the right road!

I finally understand how all the different, horrible roads that I have traveled were leading me back to Him, back to the One who gave up everything for me.  How every instance of abuse, every time that I fell because I was trying to do it on my own or because I couldn’t follow the rules closely enough – all of those things were signs or northern stars pointing me back to the One who loves me perfectly.

I had always thought of this song as a nice love song.  It fits how I feel about my husband -there were so many broken roads (for me) before we met.

But the Lord showed me that although it was indeed a love song – it wasn’t about finding the love of my life and having the privilege of marrying & serving alongside him.  It was about finding the Lover of my soul, about Him taking the mess that I had made out of my life and turning it into something beautiful.

It was and is about recognizing that God truly has blessed the broken road that led me back to Him.

Put Your Baggage Down!

For some time now I have been contemplating how connected healing is to willingness to forgive the source of abuses and painful memories.  The more that I think about their connection, the more that I believe that healing is actually contingent on forgiveness.  If I had not come to a place where I could conceive forgiving the ones responsible for the pain and painful memories – I don’t believe that my heart would have been truly in a place where it could be healed completely.

I have talked with my husband Tim many times about the journey of healing that God is walking with me.  I have said so many times that I wish I could identify steps for people to begin taking so that they too can be on the road to healing instead of stuck in the past – stuck in the pain.  But I couldn’t really identify exactly how or when I began this journey.   I just realized one day that I was walking this road named Forgiveness and that the longer I chose to stay on this same road, the easier the walking became.

Tim’s message this morning was really awesome and was based on the text Philippians 3:10-13.  “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.  Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  (Emphasis mine)

Tim also used the text Matthew 6:33 ”But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

As he was delivering the message, realization began to flood into my mind and at last I understood how and when my journey started.  When I began to focus more on knowing and pleasing God (straining toward what is ahead) I began to forget what was behind me.  When I began to care more about what I did with God in my life and what God wanted to do with my life – I stopped looking backwards and focusing on the pain that was inflicted on me, on the old wounds that still often festered and infected every part of my life.

Please don’t misunderstand me here.  My memory wasn’t wiped clean.  I didn’t suddenly have a case of amnesia that allowed me to forget all of the bad times in my life.  It was more like a choice that I made, with God’s help, to move the magnifying glass from the dark times over to the good things in my life.  Instead of dwelling in the dark memories I began walking toward new memories – toward what was ahead.

Tim said this morning “The spiritually hungry aren’t hung up in the past; they are anticipating what God has for them now and to come!”  Bingo.  I got hungrier than I have ever been in my life – I was desperate.  I started looking at God instead of looking backwards and suddenly the past began to grow dimmer and dimmer.

He also pointed out that it is vitally important to forget our past identities and move forward.  This particularly struck me…  That would mean that we also have to forget the past identities of those who have abused us or hurt us and move forward.  That is powerful.

If I can’t forgive the abuse and hurts of the past, I cannot move forward.

If I am not constantly straining toward what is ahead by moving forward in Christ, I am bound to look backwards.

We all have baggage in our lives from one thing or another.  Whether yours is/was abuse, financial distress or whatever your baggage may be, God is saying to stop looking at circumstances, stop looking at the past and look at Him, the One who is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.  He is inviting you to walk closely with Him looking forward and never backward.

So put your baggage down
there is rest and healing in this place – in Christ.

Rest for the weary

Don’t spend another moment looking into the past and dwelling on the pain that lives there.  Allow God to come to you and flood your life with love and peace and joy.

Thanks for the message honey, once again it got me thinking about how to do things better/differently; it got me thinking about straining for what is ahead and forgetting what is behind.

I have a song floating through my head this afternoon.  I don’t think that it will ever cease to be true and that is okay.  “He’s still working on me, to make me what I ought to be.  It took Him a week to make the moon and the stars, the sun and the earth and Jupiter and Mars.  How loving and patient He must be…  He’s still working on me.”  43 years and counting…

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Something that you have to say might help me or someone else on their walk to healing, please leave a comment below if you are comfortable in doing so…  If you would like to contact me directly/privately, you may do so by emailing me at krislukings [at] gmail [dot] com or through Facebook using the link to the right.  Any personal messages that I receive will be kept in the strictest of confidence.

Surreal

I almost can’t imagine that my memories are correct.  Did I live like that?  Did I once try to measure every word that came out of my mouth for fear some strange little something would cause an explosion that would end up in pain and degradation?  It seems surreal to look back now.  The memories are often shadowy.  They seem to be blurry around the edges, trying to hide things I once thought were best forgotten.  I have come to understand in the last year or so that I wasn’t quite as “okay” as I thought I was with all of this stuff.  I discovered that I wasn’t quite as strong as I pretended to be and that unnerved me.  Someday I think I will be telling you that story.  I can look back and almost laugh now – just almost…

This evening I was searching for an image dealing with abuse.  The images of abuse were so shocking to me, they made me sick to my stomach and they made me feel ashamed.  The images brought to mind a number of years ago when I was asked to briefly talk about my life during the abusive periods.  As I look back now I realize that my answers were spat out with much anger and hatred.  I used to relive a bit of the past each time that I discussed my former life.  I would get angry at the unfairness of it all, angry when I remembered the pain and the fear and for me, most angry at the complete loss of control that I felt in my life.  Everything just seemed to be in a perpetual spin cycle and life was just a dizzy mess most of the time.

I began to ask myself the same questions that people who haven’t been touched by abuse ask.  I realize now that if I was not careful the questions would add more guilt and could easily shred my self-esteem.  I felt that I had to answer these questions for myself once and for all and deal with everything that came with them.

1.       How did I let it happen?  I no more willingly “let it happen” than I would willingly have a car accident.  It just started happening and I was never taught what to do when someone abused me.  I defended myself as much as possible from the physical blows, but the verbal blows were impossible to ward off.

2.       How could I not have seen that I was being manipulated or controlled?  Lack of experience in the field.  No one had ever tried to control me before.  Besides, my life was all about choosing my words carefully and trying to respond appropriately to life around me.

3.       Why did I feel such shame over something that was not my own doing?  I believe that the shame came because the very person who was supposed to love me the most in the world deemed me fit only to receive treatment that was worse than anything I could ever fathom.  There must be something wrong with me…

4.       Why did I work so hard to hide the evidence from everyone in my life?  I didn’t want people to ask questions – they would surely see that I was a lousy wife and deserved what had been delivered.

5.       Why on earth did I stay? This was a hard question to answer.  I took a lot of time and the following is what I have come to understand about myself. I imagine that others have similar reasons and sometimes a lot more.

a.       SHAME – as mentioned above, there is a serious deep-rooted shame that (for me) grew from the first incident.

b.      A breakdown of my self-esteem and the feeling of complete UNWORTHINESS.  He loved me once and I just didn’t think I deserved any better. I had to have done something to deserve what was happening.  I couldn’t make sense of it any other way.

c.       FEAR
i.      of being alone– no one else would ever care about me.  The experiences that I had during that time filled my head with hopelessness that there was any other way.
ii.      of going to Hell – at that time in my life, my beliefs said that divorce equaled Hell*.  There was no other way – I thought I had to accept that this was the life I had chosen and I had to live it.

*Now, I don’t think that divorce is God’s first or best plan for any of us – but I no longer see it as unpardonable.  To me, saying that divorce is unpardonable is like saying that the blood of Jesus Christ is not good enough to cover it.  That it was the one thing that He wouldn’t forgive – it just affected too many people to deserve to be forgiven.    Nothing in our lives deserves to be forgiven, but He forgives us anyway and tosses those in the sea of His forgetfulness.  Oh my, as my hubby says – I am going down a dangerous bunny trail.  I will say this and then I will get back to the real business at hand.  Take a look at the people that God used throughout the bible, there are murderers, adulterers, and all types of characters that we might deem unworthy to be forgiven, unworthy to be used of God.  I thank God that I don’t make those judgment calls – they are left for the One true God who is perfect in all things.

During my marriage, every incident caused me to die a little inside.  It was the strangest feeling.  I could almost feel my heart shriveling up around the edges with every blow.  Soon I became withdrawn and almost zombie like.  I was always trying to walk an invisible line that kept moving.  I felt like I was just going through the motions most of the time.  I seemed to always be desperately trying to find the right motions, the right reactions that would in turn get the right reaction from my abuser.  I just wanted peace.

As I was searching for the image I was confronted with images of horrible abuse and pain.  It seems so far away from my life today.  For many years I tried to forget it but couldn’t.  Now sometimes I try to retrieve something seemingly innocent from my mind and I come up blank.  It is almost like I have somehow put a lock on that part of my mind and thrown away the key or at least it has been hidden amongst the haziness of this time in my mind.  Our minds seem to be very good at crafting protection.

There was one other thing that I noticed again when I was looking through images that represented pain, anger and most assuredly, hopelessness.  I was once again justifying or minimizing my abuse.  As I looked at pictures of people covered in blood, with broken bones, with tears of sorrow streaming down their tortured faces, I told myself that what I experienced wasn’t that bad.  The internal conversation continues and something tells me that I shouldn’t really even say that I was abused; that I had no right to say that.

I recently came to believe that this justifying or minimizing was just another form of protection.  I began believing that it helped me to not feel victimized and out of control.  God is showing me that this is faulty thinking on my part.  In a book that I read recently (I believe that it was one of Sharon Jayne’s books) there was a suggestion that we can apply a few words to our thoughts to see if they line up with God’s view of things.  These words are simply “in Jesus name”.  So, I tried that on for size. “In Jesus name all of the different types of abuse that I suffered at the hands of others was not really a big deal.  Those incidents are nothing to get my drawers in a wad over and nothing to cry over.”  Hmmmmmm….  Nope – that just doesn’t sound right to me.  So then, if it isn’t truly my thought what is it?  It is a lie from the enemy of my soul.  he sees that I am headed down the road to healing and wholeness and that makes him mad.  If this enemy can get me to believing that what happened wasn’t really such a big deal then he will soon have me believing that I actually did deserve the things that happened.

he is trying to pull every trick in the book but it just isn’t going to work on me.  I might get turned around for a second, but God is the chief voice in my head and He says that if I resist the devil he MUST FLEE.  he can’t bother me, I don’t have to keep suffering with the thoughts he tries to plant in my brain.  he is just wasting his time planting those seeds in shallow ground – the word of the living God points out his lies and gives me the power and the choice to uproot the lies.  Make no mistake, I meant to say the choice.  I have the choice of living in self-pity, shame and sorrow over what happened to me so long ago or I can choose to forgive the trespasses, let God work His miracles in knowing who I am through Christ and moving out of the place of being a victim and into the place of restoration.  That isn’t going to change what happened, history can’t be rewritten.  But it will and it has changed my life and how I feel every moment of every day.  I have chosen to start the road to victorious living and I know that I will be successful because I have got Jesus holding my hand all the way.

I am coming out of the shadows and into the light of His glorious love.  This is a process that cannot be rushed I am finding.  I have to wait until God begins to speak to me about little things, such as He did tonight, before I start exploring them.  Otherwise, I am trying to get ahead of Him.  He knows the timing that is right for my heart and mind to be able to work its way through these things.

I mentioned this in my last post and it is worth mentioning again.  All of the revelations, realizations and healing that I talk about starts with inviting God to walk more closely than ever beside you.  If you trust Him and truly desire to fight for your freedom, for your sanity, for your victory – invite Him.  I keep trying to figure out how my slow journey to wholeness began but I really can’t.  I just know that it started.  It continues now because I am willing to confront memories when they come and because I know that God is by my side and I can lean on His strength when mine fails me.  It continues because more than anything in this world, I want to be completely obedient to Him and to His leading.  I want to be exactly who He wants me to be, nothing more – but certainly nothing less.  I don’t want to have to face Him once I get home and know that He had to give the job that He assigned to me to someone else because I wouldn’t do it.

 

Jesus

He is reaching out to you today...

 

Choices.  Will you choose to fight for your own victory?  Don’t let yourself grow too weary, He will strengthen you.  The ONLY thing that can keep you from succeeding in gaining your victory, your freedom, is you and your choices.

 

 

Romans 8:35-39 (NIV) says “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  As it is written:  “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”   No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Emphasis is mine.

Isaiah 41:10 says “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Finally, 2 Corinthians 2:9 says “But He said unto me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Choose to start living victoriously if you have not already.

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Something that you have to say might help me or someone else on their walk to healing, please leave a comment below if you are comfortable in doing so…  If you would like to contact me directly/privately, you may do so by emailing me at krislukings [at] gmail [dot] com or through Facebook using the link to the right.

Also, if you don’t want to miss the next post when it comes, you can sign up to receive these messages in your inbox using the link to the right.

Blessings…

Forgiveness Is God’s Specialty

I was going through my notes in my MySpace account last night and found this one that I had written after talking with a friend who was unable to forgive themselves for their past. I immediately had a sense that I needed to share it, but I was nice and cozy in bed and my Ipod just isn’t the best place for me to do such things so I decided that I really didn’t need to worry about it. Turning back to the book I am currently reading and what are the first words I read as I turn the page – the same as the very last words in my rambling below. So maybe someone needs this today.

March 17, 2009 – Tuesday

Forgiveness is God’s Specialty
Current mood: blessed
Category: Life

I have made a whole lot of mistakes in my life. Things that haunted me for years and years, things that kept me awake at night and drove me half crazy.

It seemed to me that no matter how many times I tried to commit myself back to God, these things would play themselves out in vivid colour every time I tried to sleep.

One sleepless night, as I lie awake beating myself up over my past, God spoke to me very clearly. I almost felt as if I turned around, He would be standing right there… He whispered to me so gently and said, “Who are you to not forgive yourself when I have forgiven you?”

It was a bit shocking and humbling. God had sent His only Son to die to cover my sins and for me it was as if that wasn’t enough. I was still holding a grudge against myself.

I won’t say that it was an instant change, but I realized after His words that I can’t hold on to that stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I still would go back and change so many things if I could, but that is not an option.

My only option is to commit myself to Him daily, live an upright life that is pleasing to Him, doing all things to for His glory.  Allowing God to make you into a new person requires learning to forgive yourself. People are relational. I can relate to others more easily if they have gone through or are going through things that I am familiar with. If I cannot forgive myself, how can they see the amazing grace and mercy provided by the blood of the most Holy Lamb of God? How can they see that their sins can be forgiven and that they can have a new triumphant life in Christ if I couldn’t when we share the same (or similar) pasts?

Let God give you heart knowledge of what forgiveness is – let Him show you what freedom feels like. He has already paid the price for our freedom, don’t let it be a waste – grab hold and never let go.

Forgiveness of someone who has deeply hurt you can be difficult but certainly not impossible. But something that most people don’t realize is that forgiveness is a choice. There is only one person in this world that I have forgiven thousands of times over, sometimes it is easier than others, but I choose to continue to forgive them – endlessly. Choose to forgive yourself, even if it means doing it continually. You will find that if you lean on God, He will help you to grow and prosper in that freedom and those times when you have to remind yourself of forgiveness will become less and less.

Do you trust Him? Trust Him to carry you through. When things happen to torment your mind over past sins, remind yourself that you are covered by the precious blood of Jesus.

I love this song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xUK2Dx5RkY) because I have learned at the first hint of the tormentor showing up at my door, to sing the second verse. I am suddenly saturated with that reminder that God does not see those things anymore and if he doesn’t, why should I?

Look at the story of Saul, when God made Himself known, Saul never looked back – only looking forward toward walking in God’s will for his life…

Forgiveness IS a choice. Will you choose to forgive yourself?

Have You Ever Felt Like A Fraud?

Boy I have.  All of my life, as far back as I can remember I was afraid of being found out.  You see, I have never felt like I was good enough for anything, literally – nothing.  In school, I was never one to have very many close friends and I still find that to be a struggle all of these years later.  It has just always been hard for me to show someone who I really am.

I learned several years after graduating that many people thought that I was a ‘snob’, that I thought I was too good for most people.  I cannot tell you how much that stunned me…  When I questioned the person who revealed this to me explained that I wasn’t easily approachable and I was very difficult to get to know.  Wow – that is so not who I was and I had no idea that was the face that I was presenting to my classmates.

Scared Child at Nighttime

The way that I remember it was once I reached Jr. High School I felt so lost.  I was afraid of absolutely everyone, afraid that they would figure out that I wasn’t good enough to hang out with them or even be seen with them.  I was afraid of my own shadow, afraid that someone would not like me if they got to know me, afraid they would make fun of me for something.

I remember once trying to emulate my older sister.  She was popular, smart and well respected.  I felt like such a dork compared to her…  One day I overheard several people complimenting her on an outfit so I decided that I would borrow the same clothes (down to the shoes & socks people) within the next few weeks.  I figured if I could imitate the way that she dressed it would make me feel safe from anyone deciding that they didn’t like the way I was dressed for at least one day.   So feeling more comfortable than usual I arrive at my locker and while gathering supplies, it happened.  One of the very people that had so complimented my sister was having a field day criticizing me for the very same clothing.  “So now I know, it was just me; there was something wrong with me…”  That was my first thought and then all of the other ‘I am not good enough’s’ started playing in my head.

I am wondering now in looking back if this was the moment that I really bought into those thoughts.  Was this when I started allowing myself to begin accepting that I just didn’t measure up?  Oh, the thoughts had been there before but now I felt that I had confirmation.  So when the tirade started, I just agreed and decided that if they didn’t want me to fit in I would stop trying.  I believe that was the final straw for me and I started to feed on those thoughts and almost no others.

The list goes starts like this:

  • You don’t fit in there, it is easier to not even try
  • They won’t like you, keep your distance so you won’t get your feelings hurt again
  • You aren’t good enough to have that kind of friend
  • Your aren’t smart enough, skinny enough, strong enough, talented enough, pretty enough, nice enough etc. etc. etc.

The list seemed endless and hopeless.  I wondered what was wrong with the few good friends I did have.   I was always racking my brain to see what their angle could possibly be…

I have been out of high school for 25 years and until recently I was still buying into those lies and many new ones associated with my life now.  You know, “you don’t have a job because you are useless, no one wants to hire someone like you, you don’t fit into that ministry/group/company” etc. etc. etc.

Until recently I believed that they were my own thoughts and further reasoned that if that is how I saw myself, I didn’t want anyone else to see me for myself.  It was just easier to keep my distance.

Until recently, even when I accomplished something, was recognized for doing anything well or was just plain recognized for anything at all I just wanted to hide.  I didn’t like the spotlight because it might shine enough light for someone to figure that I am just a dumb, scared little girl who is just not good enough for anything.  Then they would know that I was a fraud pretending that I was actually good enough.

So what is happening that is causing me to change?  Why don’t I feel so much like a fraud anymore?  God has been shining His light onto the truth and onto the lies.  He is on a mission to show me who I really am and I am absolutely loving it.

No more do I have to worry about someone seeing that I am not good enough because now I know that I am!  Now I recognize that all of those thoughts that I used to have, you know, the ones that say I am not good enough and that someone is gonna find out – they are not my thoughts after all.  I now recognize them as lies from the enemy of my soul.  Lies to destroy me, to make me ineffective in whatever God calls me to do.

So now when that endless list starts I know that it is no longer hopeless.  I can refute everything that it says to me by using these scriptures and many more:  Ephesians 2:10 “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”  How cool is that?  I am God’s masterpiece – YOU are God’s masterpiece.  If that wasn’t enough, try 2 Peter 1:3-4 on for size “As we know Jesus better, his divine power gives us everything we need for living a godly life. He has called us to receive his own glory and goodness!  And by that same mighty power, he has given us all of his rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in his divine nature.”

I read this quote the other day and I love it.  It made me look at what I am afraid of a bit more closely and realize that I have been playing it safe for all of my life.

“Our deepest fear is NOT that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, WHO AM I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in SOME of us; IT’S IN EVERYONE. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” — Nelson Mandela

I am a child of the Most High God and I am most certainly GOOD ENOUGH.  I won’t ever let me or anyone else say differently again.

Have you ever read 1 Corinthians 1:26-31?  It basically says that God chooses the foolish, the weak, the lowly & despised and the things that are not to nullify the things that are.  That means that He chose me precisely because I am not a perfect and spotless person.  He chose me because without HIM I am broken, I am a mess, I have no talents and nothing to offer this world.  He chose me so that I can glorify His Holy name by following Him.  I don’t feel that I have done a very good job of that up until recently but it is not the time to beat myself up about lost time.  I spent too much time doing just that – crying over spilt milk instead of cleaning up the mess and moving on.  I declare that I will glorify His name for the rest of my life with every opportunity.

Can I just tell you that I am so excited?  I am still praying for and desperately needing His leading but He is showing me things left and right about the truth of who I am.  I don’t know where He is leading me but I am so incredibly excited about following Him there one stepping stone at a time.

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Leave me a comment below or send me a private message to the email address in the photo badge to the right of this message.

Stepping Stones at Gargrave

Image via Wikipedia

Intimacy

Some thoughts from last year…

How many times do we take our significant others for granted? We would never do so intentionally, but our busy lives just take over. Most of us are on auto-pilot, we get up, go to work and/or take care of our children all day, prepare dinner, put the kids to bed – by the end of the day, we just collapse and let our minds vegetate or move on to other projects. We all have our ways of doing this. Mine, is crashing on the couch with the tv on, computer in my lap and puppy on my feet. Even in my rest, I am multi-tasking and I would guess that many of you do this too. Most of us would say we are just too tired to read our bibles or study. We have worked long and hard and just need to rest, so life goes on, day by day – on auto-pilot just getting through it all.

My favourite days of the week are Sunday and Wednesday. These are days that I have commitments for church & bible study. These days fulfill the need and desire to worship the Lord. Times that I can slow down and concentrate on His character and learn more about how I should be changing… I often wonder about this. Why, if these are my favourite days, do I not study more at home, take more time to pause and worship the Lord?

As I am writing this, it is just past 11 and I have just given in to go to bed even though I should have been asleep hours ago. As I settle in, I touch my husband’s face and tell him that I love him. As he mumbles incoherently, I smile because I know that he is trying to return the sentiment. As I look at him, I see him – I mean really see him. This is the man that I fell in love with, the man that I want to live out the rest of my days with. I marvel at the rush of emotions that flood through me. All of those beautiful feelings from new love are stirring, but now, they are complimented with trust and familiarity. Remember the moment that you first realized you were in love with that someone special? Remember the pounding of your heart, the shortness of breath, the joy, excitement and fear. Those are the feelings that flowed through me, those and more. When you first fall in love, you wonder if your love will be returned and it can be terrifying. There is a guarding against forgetting how completely and totally in love that I am with this man and growing complacent in that love, guarding against letting life get in the way and taking him for granted.

As I lie here watching him sleep, I know that I love him even more than that first moment. We have grown together and a beautiful friendship born out of love, respect and trust as well as faith in the Most High God. God has bound us together and allowed us to understand love as He intended it – in a way that some people will never understand. There is no doubt in my mind that I would do anything for this man and he for me.

So how then could I need to be reminded of how I felt when I first laid eyes on him, during our first conversation, that first time that he held my hand? How could I need to be reminded of how much I love him and how much I know that he loves me?

As I lay contemplating this, I realized that this is the same thing I have been experiencing of late in my relationship with God. I love Him deeply, much more so than when I first met Him. But, I often don’t see Him clearly in my rush to get through every day. On Sunday’s and Wednesday’s I am undeniably confronted with the person of God. I am surrounded by worship and must stop all other business of life. It is in those moments that I see Him, really see Him for who He is, the Almighty God, the lover of my soul, my Father.

As I thought about this further, I came to the realization that the real issue with both my husband and my God was the loss of intimacy. Intimacy is defined as a close personal relationship, a quiet and private atmosphere and a detailed knowledge resulting from a close or long association or study. I was allowing the business of my life to prevent me from seeing both my husband and my God clearly. A very dangerous thing… I have taken them both for granted by rushing through the days and just letting life carry me. Don’t misunderstand me, that doesn’t mean that I don’t deeply love them, it means that the close relationship – the one where my husband and I can practically read one another’s minds – is often clouded over with other things/people – the business of life. The connection is not operating to its full potential. It is at times like these where misunderstandings can occur and potentially worse yet, we carry on with the ritual of life not realizing that anything is wrong.

So where did all of this come from? As I went to bed I was praying for God’s wisdom in a difficult situation – one in which I will have to think on my feet. Praying that when this situation came to a head, that the Lord would talk to me a bit faster than usual – and maybe louder too. I want to be sure that I am hearing Him loud and clear instead of opening my mouth and sticking my foot in by uttering words that would hinder His purpose. So He did speak to me immediately and quite loudly he said, “Intimacy. That is how you can be sure to hear from Me in perfect time and more clearly. As closely as you were thinking of seeing your husband more clearly, see Me more clearly. Walk closely with Me and I will always deliver you. Don’t grow complacent in your relationship with Me, take the time to see Me for who I am.”

That came in loud and clear… Many days I still fail to slow down and do this and I suffer the consequences. I now I understand the reason why and I know the solution.

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Leave me a comment below.

Standing on the Promises

Today’s sermon really struck me and I just feel the need to write down my thoughts somewhere.  Tim talked about the Israelites’ time in the desert (titled Warning Against Unbelief).

Some things that really hit me:

  1. What should have only taken a few months took 40 years because of unbelief.
  2. The people were stuck somewhere between bondage and freedom.
  3. The trouble started simply by people murmuring against Moses/God.  The murmuring led to self-reliance and finally disobedience.
  4. The people had no clear purpose, just existence.
  5. They began to put belief in things that don’t satisfy.
  6. Unbelief caused them to:
    a.  distrust God’s faithfulness

    b.  not realize that the very God who delivered them ‘out’ of bondage would deliver them ‘in’ the promise that He had made

    c.  not follow God where He leads

Look closely at number 3?  The trouble started simply by people murmuring – complaining.  Such a simple thing led to people dying without ever receiving what had been promised to them.  I might have been subtitled to the sermon ‘Watch Your Mouth’.

The people were consumed with the present rather than the promise.  They were too focused on their circumstances to remember that after many miracles, God had just parted the Red Sea delivering them out of Egyptian bondage and He surely could overcome anything else in their way.

A few statements that I liked:

  • When times are tough let the words of our mouths alert you to the condition of your heart.
  • When you face challenges, you either grow in independence or grow in your faith/reliance on God.
  • “Those who no longer trust God to bring satisfaction to their lives tend to imagine satisfaction coming in other ways, but it is vain imagination.” -TJL
  • Intellectual assent to the gospel with a lack of faith turns life into a desert.

The song that we used to sing at church when I was a little girl is ringing in my ears and I will grab hold of it and won’t look back.

Standing on the promises that cannot fail,
when the howling storms of doubt and fear assail,
by the living Word of God I shall prevail,
standing on the promises of God.

Standing on the promises I cannot fall,
listening every moment to the Spirit’s call,

resting in my Savior as my all in all,
standing on the promises of God.

Standing, standing,
standing on the promises of Christ my Savior;

standing, standing,
I’m standing on the promises of God.

I don’t want to be guilty of unbelief in any area of my life…

I wonder how many of us are in a self-induced desert.  How many people are looking so much at our circumstances that we simply forget that our God is a God of miracles, He owns the cattle of 1000 hills, He is the Alpha and the Omega.  If we simply keep our eyes on Him believing the promises given, we can go into that Promised Land.

Anyone want to stand with me?

I would love to hear your thoughts…  Leave me a comment below.

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