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Perspective

I have always enjoyed driving! I guess that is why when I was blessed with a job about 30 minutes from home, I really didn’t mind. Most of the time I listen to music when I am driving along, but that was not the case today. Silence reigned in the car and I was very deep in thought on my drive this morning when I focused on the road ahead I noticed it looked like mountains in the distance. Now I know there are not any mountains in Southwest Georgia at least not since last Thursday. The clouds were arranged in the sky in a way that made it look like the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance. For a moment in time my eyes were playing tricks on me. My perspective was tainted; I was seeing something in a different way.

In my walk with God, I often see things differently than the way that He wants me to see them. I often view God from the perspective that I have heard others share about Him. When they tell me how God has been working in their life, I get a glimpse of the essence of God’s character. As I get into the Word of God and study His nature, I begin to learn even more. The deepest lessons I have learned about God however have come through experience.  When I have been betrayed by a friend,  I have come to truly know Him as the “friend that sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24). Through brokenness and sickness, I have come to know Him as the Healer. In Financial lows, I have come to know Him as God, my provider. Recently, when my husband went through a health crisis and we almost lost him, I came to know God as the Comforter and God of Peace. People may wonder how I was holding it all together. Well, I wasn’t. God was holding me together. We stand and sing in Worship, “I want to know you(God) more, I want to know you more”, but I wonder if we are willing to go to the hard places and be put in uncomfortable circumstances in order to really get to know God in the way He wants to be known.

Often trials and tribulations comes into the life of the believer. It is the world in which we live it. A perfect creation was broken by man and his sin (Genesis 3). We have been living in a broken world ever since then. God has made a way to restore us back to Himself and it is through the person of Jesus Christ. God wants to have a deeper relationship with you. When we receive Him into our heart and life at salvation, we receive all of God that there is to get. The thing we need to realize is God may not have all of us. We may not even realize there is something we may be holding back from getting to know God more. He wants to reveal Himself to us. Are we ready to let God put us in a tight spot where the only place we can look is up? Perspective sure can be an interesting thing. Thankfully God is willing to take my perspective and turn it toward His way, and walk every step along with me until I am closer to Him than I ever thought possible.

I Peter 5:10-11

10  But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Peeling The Onion…

Just when you think you have everything figured out, life throws you a curve ball. In the last few weeks I have been praying that God would renew me, reveal more of Himself to me, and basically have a “spring cleaning” of my heart. Be careful what you pray for. In my quiet time today, I read over a passage I have probably read several times. In fact, it is one that I memorized in my teenage years. It is Colossians 3:13-17,

13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
About 13 years ago, God really began to work on my heart in the area of forgiveness. I had some unresolved feelings that needed to be removed from my life. I was a work in progress, and it took a while. I am glad God was patient with me, and did a work of grace in my heart. I was able to forgive some who had hurt me very deeply. I absolutely give God the praise for this because I know I could never have done it on my own. I continued to live my life using the principles I had learned in the area of forgiveness. For a long, long time, I began to think, “Ok, I got this. I have mastered forgiveness.” Well, brothers and sisters, I needed to think again. My husband is fond of says, “Dealing with our sin and attitudes is like peeling an onion. You work on it till it is mastered, and as it it peeled back you realize there is another deeper layer that must be dealt with before considering it mastered.” (or words to that effect) Today, I found a new layer. Something can up in my life that caused me to look back at the hurt all those years ago. I found myself focusing on it, rather than shifting my focus to God. So once again, I gave it back to Him and forgave again.
When things happen in our life, we often find that new depths of our trials need to be dealt with. As I read these verses, I saw a progression from forgiveness to thankfulness.  According to our Scripture, once we have forgiven we need to “put on charity” or love. This is a deliberate act.  I needed to show love. Once I “put on love”, then “the peace of God” can rule in my heart.This peace shows us that we are part of the body of Christ. When we fail to show forgiveness to our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are fighting against our own body. For peace to be felt, love needs in be in action. From peace, I have to choose to be thankful. This is a command, something I must do whether I am ready to feel thankful or not. After I make the choice to be thankful, I am in a position to let the Word of Christ dwell in me “richly in all wisdom”. Do you want the wisdom of Christ? If so, let’s work on getting in the Word of God. If you think about it, the onion applies to this too. To get to the to the heart of the matter, I want Christ to dwell in me completely in all the nooks and crannies of my heart.  I do not want to hold back areas of my life and whisper, “Lord, don’t go there!” When Christ takes over, He gives me a song in my heart that is grace-filled, then I can praise with a heart that is overflowing with thankfulness. Forgiveness to Thankfulness is a overwhelming feeling. It is after this progression is made can I truly be thankful for going through the hurting that I have received by others or by my own making.
Yes, peeling the onion often causes tears and anguish. The knife of God’s word can cut through, and show us where we need to begin. Forgiveness is one of the hardest, needed thing we can ever do, but once those layers are peeled back our heart will be just a little closer to the person we hold in highest regard–Jesus Christ.

Loving the Broken

We all share a common bond. Whether it be physically, emotionally, or even spiritually, we have all had times in our life when we have been broken.  As I am starting to get out and about a little more, I have come in contact with so many of my friends who expressed how glad they were to see me doing better. I can honestly say this is one of the hardest physical tests that I have ever been through except for giving birth to my two boys. Almost every one of my friends has mentioned how hard it must have been to be confined to the chair and/or bed for so long. I would have to agree. It was hard, but there were two reasons why I didn’t go crazy. One reason was knowing that God was with me, and he would never leave me during my hard days. The second reason is the one I would like to focus on today. It is all of the love and support I received from my family, my church family, friends, and even those I didn’t know who were loving me through prayer. They were all reaching out to someone who was broken. Through these dear ones, I have seen and experienced the Love of Jesus.

Last week, I was able to participate in the block party we had in a community near our church. This is a relatively new ministry our church has become involved in the last year or so. I was struck by how many faces I have looked into and realized these people are experiencing brokenness. I am not sure if it is the times we are living in, but so many I have come in contact with lately have been hurting in some way. It is not only in our communities, but in our church pews as well. I read a quote the other day that seemed to sum up what I have been feeling. “Hurt people hurt people.” I am not sure of the author of this quote, but I can relate.  So many times during my time of recovery, I would pray that the Lord help me to speak sweetly especially on days when I was hurting. I think we fail to see that people in our communities and in our churches often speak or react to what we do out of frustration or because they are hurting. It is not always easy to love and reach out to someone who is harsh or cutting with their words, but God calls us to Love. We need Him to love through us. We need to love the broken and hurting people God has put us in contact with. Why? It is simple. God has called us to minister. Sometimes the only time someone may be open to letting the light of God’s love into their heart is during a time of brokenness. It is our chance to be the hands of God reaching out to them.

I am so glad for all those who reached out to me in my time of brokenness. I know I need to take the things I have learned during this time in my life and pass it on. I need to reach out beyond what is comfortable, and love all the ones with whom I come face to face with daily. We have all been in a place where we have been brokenhearted, broken physically etc. So we know what to do. We need to love and bind up the broken. It is what Jesus would do.

“The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;  he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;” ~Isaiah 61:1