Thursday, August 27, 2015

I fear and worry about E V E R Y T H I N G! Especially, I realize, I dread trusting my loved ones to God…yes, I fear entrusting the same ones He, Himself has given to me, back to Him. I have issues trusting the same one who created the uUniverse, the Almighty, the King Above All Kings, the One Who Has the Power to Bring the Dead Back to Life…when it comes to trust…I falter … I stall…

Seeing the ones I love go through struggle, hardship and pain feels like a million stabs right to my heart. I become focused on fixing it. I get angry (of course). I get nervous. I fret. I try to manipulate things so whatever it is gets better. I talk and lecture. I yell and scream. I freak out. I cry in my sleep. And, as it often happens, I make everything worse. By doing the things I do to “try to help” I just create a bigger mess. My actions, or over-reactions rather, only contribute to creating an overall sense of calamity, kind of like as if the world might just end.

I heard someone say the other day (don’t ask me who or where…can’t remember), something like, “it’s important to leave room for God to be God so just get out of the way.” Hm…

The phrase “just get out of the way,” stuck with me. That’s what I usually do, I get in God’s way. I mean, I know it’s not like I’m going to halt God’s plans or anything like that. I know. But from my perspective, that’s exactly what I do. I get in God’s way when He is doing whatever it is that He does in my life. For example, my inexhaustive desire for control moves me to indicate to Him how to best take care of my ailments. Often I plainly just tell Him what to do when it comes to fixing my husband. And I always give Him specific instructions on how to deal with my sons’ issues. That’s a big one!

I am particularly tempted to concoct schemes to help in this department. For instance, I struggle deeply with my son Grant’s inability (for lack of a better word) to make friends easily. I don’t want him to walk through adolescence alone. I want him to find good, godly friends to help him through the tough years ahead…so I plot. I plot and I push. I plot, I push and I smother a LOT! And at the end I get nothing. No matter what I try, Grant is still much of a loner. Today, a voice inside of me tells me to quit interfering and to take my own advice: “choose to trust God!” He’s got Grant’s name written on the palm of His hand. Grant is the apple of His eye. Grant is His beloved. I, myself, cannot ever love Grant more than God already loves him…

He knows what He is doing in Grant’s life. He doesn’t need me to be His GPS. I mean, really…He doesn’t need me to give Him directions; He knows where we’re all going! He is the God Who Sees. He sees you. He sees me. And He certainly sees Grant. I’m not sure what Grant’s life will turn out to be like. I don’t know if eight grade holds the key that will unlock the door to good friendships. I don’t know if he’ll be an introvert all of his life. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to help him overcome his social challenges. I just need to work on trusting Him, the One Who DOES Know all these things, and get out of the way… that’s the only way I will get to see the miracles that He has in store for my boy as well as for all those around me.

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.
Isaiah 26: 3

Monday, August 24, 2015

I Choose to Trust God!

I think I have expressed often before how I have serious trust issues…The Holy Spirit is hard at work in me on that…

What a mess!


I sense, however, that The Holy Spirit is molding me into a new person from the inside out. The transformation has been VERY slow; but I do feel it more and more with each passing trial. A moment of clarity came a few months ago, while I was stuck at a New Jersey airport…(I wanted to add a bunch of expletives here, but I’m refraining…see, another tangible sign of my transformation process : ). Anyway…

At that time, after about four hours of standing in a never-ending line, and later dealing with uncooperative and tactless airline attendants, being very hungry and thirsty, wandering aimlessly trying to look for a hotel shuttle, sharing a room with a total stranger (yes, it was a young lady and she ended up being very nice), overpaying for an unsubstantial breakfast to then get back to the airport to find out my flight wouldn’t leave until the evening with only one tiny hope of getting on an over-booked plane at noonish for which I was in standby…a flash of light came out of nowhere and in the midst of my fret I texted Dan the words: “I choose to trust God!”

I think that was the very first time I ever uttered (can I say “uttered” when I actually “texted” rather than said it aloud?) anyway…it was the first time ever that the sentence “I choose to trust God” came out of me. In the midst of panic…in the midst of frustration…in the midst of chaos…I don’t remember ever saying, thinking, writing that particular combination of words without having been prompted by someone else first.

I remember feeling a bit different after I pressed the “send” button on that text. Like Jacob, after he wrestled with God all night and God touched his hip…Jacob got his blessing, and with that a new name. The Angel of God gave this troubled man a new name as an outward sign of his transformation. I’m also guessing, after dislocating his hip, Israel would, for the rest of his life walked with a limp…another sign of things being different, a great reminder that he was not the same…(Genesis 32: 22-31)

As the Lord helps us overcome our unbelieve, He leaves behind traces to serve as memorials of his delivering power so next time we falter or stall, we turn our eyes and minds toward that sign and remember that He is able, and that He is in control.

I did end up getting on that earlier flight and came home to my dear family at a decent time. And now, every time I feel the tension of anxiety begin to creep into my spine and gut, I utter the transforming words: “I choose to trust God!”

Friday, August 21, 2015

Too Late?

Four years have gone by
And the words still can’t come out
The world is up-side-down
For the love I once thought I had
Is no longer sensed…not sure it was ever there…

Four years have gone by
And now I’m lying on a bed
I know I will never leave of my own will.
I feel life’s end closing in
I’m losing hope I’ll ever see his face once again on this earth.

Four years and a few days
And I still can’t make myself pick up the phone.
Four years and a few days
And I can’t shake off the hate in my head.

I don’t even know how long it’s been
All I know it’s been too long.
I’m grasping my last breaths
Praying he’ll come to me soon enough
before it’s too late.

People say I’m crazy
But I feel it in my gut
The wrong he’s done to me is real
The hurt is not in my head
Anger overcomes me…
No matter what people say, to me it is a big deal!

"Don't wait any longer,
go see him before it’s too late!"
a thorn pokes my heart from a distant place I try to forget,
like a flaming arrow I cannot evade.

Is it too late?
Is it ever too late?

I get in the car
Rushing through sleepy towns at the crack of dawn
The hours feel longer
As I speed on the highway
The whole world seems to slow down just because I’m in a hurry.

I can’t hang on any longer
I have walked through the threshold
The door is quickly closing behind me
I’m sorry son for all the wrongs
I’m so sorry for the pain I caused
It was not intentionally done, please trust me
For I have done nothing but love you
With all my strength, my heart and devotion.

I make an effort not to run through the hallways
But I don’t really know where I’m going.
I’m still so angry, I’m tempted to turn around
But the thought on the back of my mind
Tells me to stay.
Even though it may be too late.

I wish I could tell you how much I love you…
I did the best I knew how
It’s all over now.

It’s too late, it’s too late
Punching the wall, I cry out
It’s too late, it’s too late
Why did you do this to me?
Why did you have to go like this?
It’s too late, it’s too late!
I can’t believe you couldn’t wait!
It’s too late…
I hate you…I love you…it’s too late…
Is it ever too late…is it ever too late to find forgiveness?
Is it ever too late for one last embrace?
Would we ever meet again…where it is never too late?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Humility as the Path to Forgiveness

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. 
Mathew 6: 14-15

Reading this passage always makes me nervous, uncomfortable, uneasy…sigh…and the reason is…obviously…because there are some things that are just too hard to forgive.

My recent visit to my home country re-opened old wounds and stirred some dust I thought was settled. I allowed pride to take over at times and I allowed my heart to be vulnerable to the sting of hate once again. I allowed old hurts to be revived and allowed my mind to dwell in the stagnant waters of thoughts of revenge…

How can I forgive the person who _______________________? (Fill in the blank with your own situation).

The answer is, oftentimes…I can’t…left to my own devices and power, I can’t really, truly forgive.

Achieving true forgiveness, getting to that moment when our soul grieves for the one who wronged us…that moment when our heart aches for the fate of the one who caused us pain…that moment when we are concerned for the eternal future of the one who destroyed us…achieving that state is not a human trait. It is a Christ-induced condition. It is a path that we cannot find unless guided by the Light of the Holy Spirit. It is a road paved with humility.

Probably the first step toward forgiveness is when the Holy Spirit inspires us to be humble and realize that we too are sinners…that we are fallen…that we are undeserving of forgiveness too.

As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one… Romans 3: 10

And as Paul’s comprehensive list of Old Testament references continues:

…there is no one who understands;

there is no one who seeks God.

All have turned away,

they have together become worthless;

there is no one who does good,

not even one.”

“Their throats are open graves;

their tongues practice deceit.”

“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”

“Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”

“Their feet are swift to shed blood;

ruin and misery mark their ways,

and the way of peace they do not know.”

“There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Romans 3: 11-18

Humility is the consciousness of the reality of our own sin. Such realization, such moment of clarity is what the Holy Spirit uses to move us toward the action of forgiving those who trespassed against us…those who offended us. The consciousness of our own inability to be good should send us on our way. The realization that our own forgiveness is a great gift of Mercy and Grace should open the door.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1: 13-14

We are new in Him and that newness was nothing of our doing. We cannot take credit for it.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5: 17

So why should we ask of others what we ourselves cannot give? Why should we demand of our brother what he cannot provide?

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”  Mark 11: 25

As my days in Panama drew to a close, I looked back and felt regret for the way I allowed my heart to dwell in old hurts…for the way I allowed it to harbor hate again…However, I’d like to think that the next time I feel the sting of unforgiveness begin to poke through my skin, filling my veins up with its poison, I would be able to remember to be humble. Humility is the attitude that will set me back on the track of forgiving my debtors as He has forgiven my own debt.

Monday, August 17, 2015

After four weeks out of town and out of the country on vacation I returned home to witness the hustle and bustle typical of the week before the semester begins. The roads have been patched up and the university crew is making everything ready to welcome students back to campus once again. And while football players, marching band, track team all run around trying to get a head start… I can’t help but to look back at the almost gone summer days and wonder if I redeemed the time…

For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. This is why it is said:

“Wake up, sleeper,

rise from the dead,

and Christ will shine on you.”

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Ephesians 5: 8-20

This summer, I praised the Lord for the lazy days, the traveling, the stress-free-times relaxing and being lulled by the sound of the waves. I praise Him for the means to go to exciting places, for the joy in my children’s faces and for the company of those I love the most. But when I think of whether I was “light in my world,” or if I pursuit goodness, righteousness and truth…I have to say, I’m not so sure.

I’m afraid that some of the “fruitless deeds of darkness” led me to unwise paths and kept me from waking up. The evil days surrounded me as pride took the best of me at times. I argued, plotted and sought my own comfort and agenda above seeking Him first and loving my neighbors.

I didn’t go to church, remained in His Word or spoke to others with psalms, hymns and songs. I was sometimes harsh, impatient, selfish and unloving…

I didn’t get drunk neither was led into debauchery, but I did not “make the most of every opportunity” …

However, I do give Him thanks for everything in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Author of everything I am, and He is really, the Only One who can truly, truly redeem the time.

Therefore, since He designed my days and promised to remain with me wherever I am and in whatever state I may find myself; I believe He extends His grace to those who belong to Him, even when we don’t completely understand what His good and perfect will for our time is.

As the coolness of autumn begins to fall on our days, I pray I can refocus and find balance in my routine again. I pray that summer’s leisure keeps me refreshed and that I can appreciate the purpose of the experiences of the past weeks for the shaping of the days ahead.