Tuesday, November 29, 2011

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:11-12

The ringing of the phone was a jolt out of a dead sleep. Heart pounding, I raced to the kitchen to answer it. It’s never good news when the call is in the wee hours.

False alarm. Wrong number.

Whew. Breathe.

Heart still pounding, I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t.Doesn’t that happen sometimes when life hands us false alarms?
·         Unjust accusation
·         Undeserved criticism
·         Unmerited suffering

Dealing with it can be so difficult. Especially when the situation doesn’t change fast enough for our liking. When issues continue to drag on, even though they were never deserved or warranted. When the end doesn’t seem to be in sight. When we can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel.

I have a tendency to be strong initially. I can even maintain it for a while. But after an extended period, I want to retreat. Crawl into a corner and have a pity party for myself. Ask God, why? Sounding like a toddler, I cry out, “it’s not fair!”

No, it isn’t. But, Jesus never promised us fair. In fact, we are to expect troubles (see John 16:33).

This morning I woke up with the words to a popular song in my head. “You put the light in me,” was playing in the iPod of my brain. Brandon Heath’s words were running around in my mind as I clicked on the radio and made a pot of coffee. Sure enough, the song came on the station I had tuned in to. I went to my Bible.

In Matthew 5, Jesus is preaching the Sermon on the Mount. In verses 11-12, He tells us we are blessed when we are persecuted in His name. Blessed! There are rewards we will not see until we reach Heaven and this is one of those times.

In verses 15-16 , Jesus goes on to talk about light. We are to be the light for Him in this world. The light that shines “before men, (v. 16)” pointing others to Him. Even when persecuted. Especially when persecuted. The only way that is possible is through His light in us.

Just like the song said.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26

Winter has arrived. Well, sort of, anyway. We got our first big snow storm and it was a doozie. After raining much of the evening, it turned to snow overnight, greeting us with about six inches of wet, sloppy white stuff the next morning. After spending nearly an hour shoveling and knocking the snow off the trees, I thought I was done. But, the snow kept falling and those spots where I spent all that time and energy shoveling quickly covered back up again with snow.
  • ·         It makes me crazy.
  • ·         I don’t want to deal with it more than once.
  • ·         A quick fix and then move on to the next thing, that’s my M.O.
It got me thinking. Do I sometimes approach my “stuff” that way? You bet, I do.

I want God to fix me, tidy me up and send me on my merry way. But that isn’t how it works. Some things just take time and impatient little me doesn’t like it. 

Those things we continue to struggle with, making progress one day and slipping the next:
  • ·         Bad attitude
  • ·         Impatience
  • ·         Lack of self-control
  • ·         Envy
  • ·         Doubt
  • ·         Anger
What I’m learning – the hard way, I might add – is that I cannot overcome these struggles on my own. If it were possible in my own strength, I wouldn’t need God. And, boy, do I need Him! I’m praying new words these days. Instead of “help me handle these temptations in my life,” I’m asking Him to step in and be what I can’t. I need to surrender and let the Holy Spirit lead. 

Trust me, it isn’t easy. But, it is possible. The Bible says with Christ, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). I may not be where I want to be with respect to my “list,” but I am nowhere near where I was when I started this journey with my Savior. I am thankful and grateful for the progress He’s made in me and I anxiously wait to see where He leads.

When I look at the snowy driveway, what He’s showing me is that the initial cleanup is the hardest part. Surrendering it to Him means letting go of me. The subsequent cleanings during the storm are far less painful because He’s holding the broom.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” Proverbs 27:9

We met online. Okay, I know that may sound funny or odd, but we did. She is part of a team of ladies in ministry. A ministry that has become kind of like a family. Encouraging, supportive and affirming in so many ways.

I didn’t know her all that well – just tweets and some Facebook comments. But, when my flight to a conference we were both attending was delayed, she was the first to respond to my cry for help. After offering to drive nearly 40 minutes each way very late at night to pick me up, I knew she was special! When I did arrive, she was waiting in the hotel lobby, ready to give me a big bear hug to say “welcome!”

After that weekend, we were friends. We kept in touch, sharing a few more tidbits about life. Then, one day, she emailed. We had both signed up for an online Bible study. She was being obedient. The Holy Spirit had prompted her to reach out and partner with me for the study. Of course, I said yes!

We have had deep, meaningful conversations about things we both have carried far too long. Our time in the study has helped us take steps of faith in order to walk further ahead in our journey with Christ. We have had to release strongholds that have been burdens on each of our hearts. And, we’ve prayed for each other, keeping a promise we made early on.

What she may not know is that while I jumped on the offer to partner, there was some trepidation in my heart. Because, when you commit to partnering one-on-one with someone, you can’t sugar-coat the impact a study may have on you, and you are going to have to share. I can be a mile wide and an inch deep when it comes to things that I struggle with, glossing over wounds so the truth doesn’t surface. But, that wasn’t going to work with this partner!

She has counseled me wisely. She’s been there to talk through things she may not even realize she’s helping me with. She has forced me out of my comfort zone on more than one occasion. And, she has helped me grow.

The Bible says in Proverbs 27:9 – “The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” Truer words could not be written about my precious friend.

Do you have someone like her? If you don’t, I urge you to pray and ask God to bring someone into your life like her. And if you do, pray for that person and tell them how grateful you are for the gift of their wise counsel!