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Let Go What’s Gone

I love a good heartfelt story. I guess I have always enjoyed them. I was watching a movie one day where the main character was trying to comfort a friend who had been hurt both physically and emotionally by someone. The main character put her arms around her friend and said, “Honey, you have to let go what’s gone!” The depths of those words have been going over and over in my mind the last couple of days. How often to I try to hang on to the things that are past. They need to be let go, yet I find myself grasping for the edge of those things and fighting to keep my fingertips on them. Like dandelions in the wind we chased as children, they flew away and were gone before we realized it. And yet we continue to reach back to grab the negative rather than turn forward and embrace what is positive.

This morning I was reminded of Hebrews 12:1, “Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”  There are two types of baggage Paul is dealing with here. First, Paul talks about weights. When I came across this verse for the first time, I kind of read it all together as “weights and sins“, but they are two distinctly different things. Weight, I have learned, can be anything that is holding back our progress. Negative feelings and actions can bind us tight. Trappings of the past and the “what if’s” can burden us to the place where can’t put one foot in front of another.  Hurtful words or actions by someone or regrets of our own makings can be weighing us down. A weight could also be a seemingly good thing. Perhaps longing for the way it used to be can stop you from moving forward. Sometimes I long for the days when the boys were little. Looking back and cherishing the memories of them is good, but it can become a weight when I focus solely on all the changes I would have made, and mourn all my mistakes.  Regrets can be cumbersome, they can tie us up and not only hinder our progress moving forward, but also can be so heavy it pulls us backward dragging our spirit low. This can also lead to depression if we are not careful. We need to lay the weights aside. Often we carry weights that were never meant for us to carry. Friend, what are you trying to hold on to that is locking you down from moving forward for God?

The second part of the verse is “the sin which doth so easily beset us.”  Believers all have sins which seem to give us a fit. We are tempted and find ourselves drawn to the same sin over and over. Our human nature did not dissolve when we became a Christian. It became something we would continue to deal with every day. Before we gave our life to God we didn’t care if we were sinning or not, but now that we are a Christian, and our goal is to be like Christ, we have to deal with our sin as it comes up. That’s where 1 John 1:9 comes in. Confessing our sin to God and receiving forgiveness that God offers moves us forward. It’s time we get serious about letting go of that sin we are trying to hang on to. It is time to let go and let God cleanse you. You must ask yourself, “Is the sin I am holding on to worth what it is doing to me and my relationship with God?”

Whether it is a weight or a sin you are fighting so desperately to hold on to, it is time to let go. Letting go will free us to do what the last part of Hebrews 12:1 tells us, “and let us run with patience the race that is set before us.” We all have a race that God has given us to run. It stretches before us and lasts a lifetime. In our hearts, we know we want to run the race well. If something in the past is weighing you down, or a sin plaguing  in the present and regret is locking you down, let go what’s gone. Do not keep dragging it back up. Brake free and run like mad in the race that is before you.  Philippians 3:13-14 “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”  Let go what’s gone, my friend. Jesus is waiting for you.

Stronger Together

“Red Rover, Red Rover send John right over!”  Of all the childhood games I played, I would have to say that “Red Rover” was not my favorite. Probably due to the fact that my hand grip was not very strong. In the game of  “Red Rover”, the line on the other side always seemed to know just the right place to hit to burst through our line. Children often are able to perceive the weakest link fairly quickly and where the line is most vulnerable. Unfortunately, I was targeted far more than I would like to admit. There came a time on the playground when I did what most children do. I grew. I got stronger. So only when I got stronger did the game of “Red Rover” become more fun. I was able to hold on tight. I was able to help my team out to a far greater degree. In those first few years of playing “Red Rover”, I would often wonder “I sure wish I could have some help down here on my end of the line.” Someone who would be willing to stand behind me, and help me hold my spot. Someone who could fortify my position so that I would not be the weakest part of the line. That is not how the game is played.

As in the game of “Red Rover”, I wonder if we have the same mindset  in the church. We band together to stand strong, but we are never hit where we stand the strongest. We are hit in the places where we are the weakest, and the most vulnerable. The Bible states in Romans 15:1, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” Often times we go to church and sit in our place, worship through song and message, fellowship with our fellow believers, or participate in the ministry God has placed us. These are all good things and we should be active in our churches and serve as God intends us to, but do we take the time to really see our fellow brothers and sisters  in Christ? Do we recognize the signs of one who is struggling? Do we pay attention to those who are trying to put on a good front, but in their eyes we see their pain? It is in these moments that we need to build them up in their faith. We need to take time to pray with someone who is crying in the bathroom, or mentions their frustrations in passing. If you are late for the service or singing in the choir, so what, it would be so much better to take hold of those “God divined” moments and bear up a brother or sister in Christ. We need to build each other up in our “most holy faith”. It is time to be proactive in our worship and our faith by putting our hands together and hanging on against the attacks from the outside. We can be so much stronger. We can be stronger together!

“Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” ~Galatians 6:2

May God bless you in the journey,

Amy

Another Bend In The Road

One of my favorite lines from the movie, Anne of Green Gables, is “There is always another bend in the road.” The road I have traveled over the last 8 months has been one bend after another. About the time I get used to the path in front of me, another curve full of surprises looms ahead, and I wonder what new experiences I will have to face head on. I will say this last few months there has been some major changes in our family unit. My oldest son after graduating from high school began working at summer camp from memorial day through the last week of July. We then began focusing on getting him ready to enter college which is almost 7 hours away. The emotions that have gone along with all of this have been at times overwhelming. I am so happy and proud for him and all his accomplishments, but I sure do miss him. My youngest son began dual enrollment at a local college this semester so our homeschooling adventure has been  kicked into another gear. So life as we know it has drastically changed.

I am a planner by nature. To quote, Hannibal from the 1980’s show the A-team, “I love it when a plan comes together.” Surprises do not work very well in my daily routine. I wish I could say that I have learned the lesson of going with the flow or bends in the road of life, but I just haven’t achieved this yet. I wish for a moment that the road would spread out in front of me straight as an arrow with no curves, rocks to climb over, or hazards to avoid. This moment passes, and I realize that without the bends in life’s road there would be no variety. By seeing everything ahead of me would probably be even more scary. With the Lord by my side and a lantern to light the few feet in front of me, I press on. I let the Word of God be “a light unto my path” as it states in Psalms. Though there are many bends in the road ahead I have a blessed hope that the Lord will be with me every step of the way.  Perhaps you are struggling today not being able to see what will happen in the next few days or maybe the next few hours. Remember God is there no matter what you may face today. Be thankful for the bends in the road because God may be using them to grow your faith and develop a deeper relationship with him. The closer we are to Him the more ” the Light of the World” will illuminate our path. You may be climbing over some rough terrain on your path today. Take heart and press on for these moments will pass. Together we can move forward and when we look back on where we have been we will see that we have overcome. May God bless you today in the journey!

 

My Plan for You

Plans can change in an instant. You may get up one morning and have your day planned out in the greatest detail, but often things do not always work out the way you plan. Sometimes what God has planned for you that day is completely different from your well, laid out, detailed plans. How important is it that each morning we give our daily agenda to the Lord? I would say very important. This was made even more clear to me on Wednesday two weeks ago. My agenda was set, and my plans were made, but in a brief moment everything changed. I don’t know how to even comprehend  how drastically things were turned around that day.

I am sure as I am here today that God knew everything that would happen that day and prepared the way before me. Psalm 23 comes to my mind “thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies, thou anointed my head with oil…” On Wednesday, two weeks ago,  I was in a bad car accident. I know that in the midst of the storm I was facing; God was preparing my path. He showed his mercy to me in a person He put there to hold my hand till the paramedics came. Also, in someone calling my husband after calling 911. He showed grace to me by letting my husband get there to talk to me before the paramedics pulled out.  He had the helicopter ready to take me to Tallahassee, and a trauma team ready to help me upon arrival.  He had each group of people in the right place at the right time. Though the road was rocky, He prepared the way before me. Though I was unaware of His plan for me for that day, I know He was by my side through it all.

Maybe you are facing a time that is trying the soul. You may have made plans and in a moment those plans changed. Please know that even when plans change, God is there. Though pain and fear may be surrounding you, God is there. He is waiting to show you His love, His mercy, and His grace. In my devotions today, God lead me to Jeremiah 29:11. God had a special plan for me today. His perfect plan leads me to hope and a future. Let us never forget that as Christians God orders our steps. His will for us may not be exactly what we plan. We may not see all that He is doing because our wisdom is limited, but we have the ability to trust Him with childlike faith that His plan is just what we need.  May God be with you all today and as His plan for you unfolds, just put your hand in His and go through the day together.

Blooms of Summer

About 3 months ago, I was walking around the church where I work helping a member find something she had lost when I came upon two peace lilies in the corner that had been forgotten. One of them was turning brown and wilted and the other one was in slightly worse shape. The dear lady I was with asked me to toss them or if I wanted to try to bring them back to their green status, I was more than happy to try and put them in my office. I have never had a particularly green thumb but I decided to try because I always thought peace lilies were so pretty when they bloom. I kept them in the room next to my office and began to water them and have them where they could get some sun. Believe it or not they begin to perk up. I was so very excited the day I moved them into my office.  The deep green of the lilies added some nice contrast to the tan walls and I have thoroughly enjoyed them.

Even though I have taken good care of them, I had yet to see any blooms on either plant and it had me concerned. Aren’t plants supposed to bloom in the spring? I wondered if they would ever bloom. As I started my work day this morning, I notice a small white flower opening up. In its own time, it brought forth a beautiful white lily.

I am reminded that God’s hands are on the plants as well as on people. How we grow and develop are in His hands. I get so impatient sometimes wanting things to move and grow on my time table.  In our churches we want those who are visiting to join. We want those that are asking questions to make decisions for Christ. In my hurry, I need to remember that if we do our part God’s way the timing of it all will be perfect. In the New testament, there are verses that describe this process so well when it tells us how some planted the seed, some watered the seed, but God gave the increase. God takes all of us where we are and cultivates us into the Christians He would have us to be.

For a while it seemed like things were on hold in our church. We could sense God moving, yet I could not see any visible changes. Then over the last month an explosion of things were happening. People were being saved. God moved dramatically in our Vacation Bible School. Folks were joining the church and getting involved. Though there were struggles, God was bringing the increase. It was in His Perfect time.

I don’t know what you are going through in your life today. Maybe you are struggling and wondering if God is even hearing your prayers.  You want things to happen right now and you feel like the blooms of spring are a long time in coming. Don’t give up hope. Keep planting the seed, keep watering, let God move in on His time table, and be amazed at the blooms of Summer.

Snow and Cotton

As I was driving to work this morning, puffs of white drifted across my windshield. I was taken aback a moment because it looked like snow. For those of you who are not aware where I live it is quite an unusual occurrence for South Georgia doesn’t normally have snow. When I realized what it was, I laughed at myself for being silly. Someone close by was cutting the cotton from their cotton field.

It’s funny how we sometimes think something is one thing when it turns out totally different than what we thought. God is just like that. When I think I have a certain part of his nature figured out, he up and surprises me with a new part of who He is.  It is then that I realize that I can’t put God in a box like a Christmas present and say this is the only way He does what He does. I am constantly amazed at how wonderful God is. I have had the opportunity to get to know Him in so many ways. I know at times I will have to go through difficult things to find out more about who He is and to receive new glimpses of His nature. I also know that God has proved that in all things He is working out “all things for my good”. (Romans 8:28)

I was watching a movie the other day and the two main characters were discussing why God allows some things to happen. One replied, “Without suffering there would be no compassion.” This is so true. God shows compassion and love when I am hurting, and He gives me the opportunity to show love to others when they are hurting. If I never went through a hard time, I would not know how God could be my Comforter. If I never was betrayed by someone, I would not know how Christ could be “a friend that sticketh closer than a brother”. If I never knew sickness or pain, I would not know how God could be my Healer. If I never lost a parent, I would never know that God could be a true “Heavenly Parent” and bring peace to my heart. The list could go on and on. As I go through this life there will be circumstances that test me beyond what I thought I could endure. Yet in all I know that God is faithful.

I don’t know what you might be going through at this time in your life. I do know that we have a great God who will be the strength you need to face life’s trials, and when you least expect it, He will surprise you in wonderful ways and with blessings you did not think were possible.

Watch Out, Spider!

In my effort to get to work on time the other day, I, as usual, went flying out the front door and raced with my purse, foam “guzzler” of iced tea and bagel. Clay chose to fly out the door after me and  reminded me that he had seen a spider in the door of the car that we needed to take care of. I didn’t want to disappoint him the pleasure of killing a spider, but if I identified it quickly enough I could proceed down the road and reach my destination on time. My plan was to put Clay at ease and take care of it Iater that day. I opened the back door and asked him where he had seen the offender. This spider had built a web between the doors that you could only see if you opened the back or front door on the driver’s side. All I could see was two egg sacks and a complex web. Clay pointed it out as it was hiding up under the hinge that holds the door in place. The way the spider was hiding I could not identify it so with a stick I removed part of the web and the egg sacks and “squashed” them. I didn’t want them hatching and taking over my car. It is a small four door and there wouldn’t be room for all of us. 🙂 Anyway, because I couldn’t see very well I closed the back door and opened the front door to see if I could get a better view. I did. It was a black spider so I was immediately concerned I asked Clay to run inside and get the bug spray. When he returned, I armed myself with bug spray in one hand and a stick in the other.  I sprayed it good and as it slowly descended on a silky strand of web with legs curling I saw the red hour-glass shape on it. It was a black widow. I got chills as I “squashed” it when I realized that it had been there for quite some time. At any moment, it could have chosen to hop out on me or one the boys and hurt us.  I praise the Lord for his hand of protection on our family.

As I went throughout my day, I could not stop thinking about the near miss we had and God’s protecting hand. Then my thoughts lead me to realize that temptation and sin is there lurking, waiting for just the right moment to strike. It waits patiently for the opportunity to catch me with my guard down and in the place where I am the weakest. At every turn in this life, sin is all around us. We are faced with it in the media, in the places we go, and sometimes in strangers we come in contact with. We need to be ever mindful that there is one that would love to see us fail and bring down the name of Christ. It is so important for us to watch out for these opportunities, and “squash” them as we would a poisonous spider.

It is not easy to turn from temptation and sin, but we have the Holy Spirit inside of us and a Savior who overcame the very essence of sin and death on the cross.  It is God who provides a way of escape for us so we do not have to give in to the temptation.  In 1 Corinthians 10:13, we read, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will no suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”  We are going to be tempted to do the wrong thing. Satan does not want us to succeed in the Christian life, and if he can keep us defeated, he most certainly will. My favorite line in this verse is “God is faithful.” He is here with us and we can rely on his strength when we are weak. When we became a Christian, we trusted Him with our very soul. In the same way, we can trust God for our daily keeping also. He can help us to resist temptation and guard against the attacks of those who would harm us.

It is time for you and me to keep our eyes open and watch for potential danger, temptation and sin. We know we have a friend who has endured such temptation and become a victor over it. We must turn in Jesus in our need. Jesus is our hope and He is ever faithful.