Archives for posts with tag: God

Our pastor shared this video at church the other day and I LOVED it. It’s just a beautiful free verse that perfectly explains the divide between God and man.

 

The sadness seems to have hit me right between the eyes. These songs I find so encouraging and comforting. It is a great thing to know that God is with me, for me and He can consume the sadness and grief that consumes me. I take great joy in it. Hope in Him is what fills me and keeps me pressing on and forward. This sadness is but a moment and fleeting.

While pain is always pain and by very definition hurts, I am so glad that there is no road so painful that God won’t walk it with me. One of my favorite passages is Psalm 139. Of course, I love the standard, (vs. 13), “For you formed my inward parts; You wove me in mother’s womb.”, but my favorite part of the passage is one I feel is overlooked.

Psalm 139: 7-12 says, “Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Youar e there. If I take the wings of the dawn, If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me, And the light around me will be night, ” Even the darkness is not dark to You, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to You.”

I, for one, am so grateful that God can see through the darkness. As strange as it sounds, going through what is now my second miscarriage, is less daunting because I know the God of the universe is in complete control. Perhaps it is my personality, but I can’t help but look at how things could be worse. Maybe God is sparing me some future pain, perhaps the loss of the child in my womb is actually sparing the child of something, who knows? Only God. I have come to the hard conclusion that I would rather never know my babies than to birth them and have them never know Jesus. To lose a child to this world is a pain I hope and pray that I never have to bare. That might not make sense to some, but I assure you that living without Jesus isn’t living at all. I know, because I’ve done it. I take great comfort in knowing that when I leave this world, the children I’ve never known in this life, will be standing beside Jesus waiting to meet and greet me when I get to my eternal home.

The tattoo reads, "No regrets. No shame." I'm using it as a case and point, because at some point in her life I am sure she will regret that tattoo - even if it is when she is 90!

 

I can’t tell you the number of times I have heard someone say, “I have no regrets in life.” Or my favorite plug for the life of no regret is when someone tells you to “live with no regret”. If we’re all being completely honest with ourselves then we know that it is impossible to live with no regrets.

Anyone that blatantly says, “I don’t regret anything in my life” is truly only kidding themselves. Let me say that I don’t regret any of the lessons I have learned from the mistakes I have made in my life, but I certainly regret having to learn them the way I did. Just because I got something beneficial or even amazing from a bad decision or poor choice in my life doesn’t make the mistake acceptable, but rather means that it wasn’t wasted. Where ever there is a hard lesson learned, rest assured there was an easier and better way to learn it.

I attended a Christian High School from which I graduated. As a senior, each of us had to choose a life verse. Feeling that this was a monumental decision, but not really knowing or understanding what a life verse was or what it was supposed to indicate, I chose Philippians 3:13-14. I assure you that I had no idea the meaning that would take on in my life. I consider my choosing of this verse nothing less than Divine Providence and quite honestly, it was a point of Divine intervention. The Lord chose at that very moment in my life to intervene and give me a verse that He knew I would very much need at a later point in my life.

Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

As human beings it is impossible for us to forget. I can think of countless times in my life where I have beaten myself up over that which has already been forgiven. Each morning I get a devotional called, “Girlfriends in God”. This morning the devotional just so happened to be on my life verse and she had this quote to say, “As humans, we tend to remember what we need to forget and forget what we need to remember. God, on the other hand, forgets what He promises to forget and remembers what He promises to remember.”

This principle is as close to living with ‘no regrets’ as we can come. Recalling the past and rehashing it and feeling guilt and shame over it is failing to live in the realm of freedom we have based on God’s forgiveness. Of course there are things that we all wish that we hadn’t done. That’s life, but God calls us to accept forgiveness and move on. If we recall our past mistakes it is meant to be without pain, guilt or shame because God has removed us from bearing the burden of those past mistakes. Any time we talk about them it should be for the ministry and betterment of others. We are called to let others know that there is freedom from the burden of pain and past mistakes.God can use our past and past mistakes to lift others out of the mire.

I find incredible comfort in that. To know that parts of my life that were wasted are not in vain. Several years ago, I revisited those verses that I had chosen as my life verse in my senior year of high school. Verse 12 was one that I had read, but it really didn’t have any meaning to me then. Perhaps it is because I hadn’t really been “taken hold of” yet.

Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:12-14

Forgetting did not mean obliterating the memory of his past, but was a conscious refusal to let it absorb his attention and impede his progress.” (Zondervan NIV Commentary: Volume 2: New Testament (Grand Rapids, Michigan: The Zondervan Corporation, 1994),  pg. 806.) I have certainly lived a life that has many things that I regret having lived and done. BUT, what an awesome God we serve that I now may live knowing that my guilt and shame have been covered by His mercy, grace and forgiveness. My past is covered in His blood and my present and future can be lived out in His name through His power. His grace is sufficient for me. “And her (the verse actually reads “their” but God’s Word is personal and meant for Y-O-U and ME!!!) sins and lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 10:17) Not to sound like a total nut, but seriously, HALLELUJAH! PRAISE THE LORD!!! If there was ever someone who needed God’s forgiveness and forgetfulness in His forgiveness it was me! And guess what?! He will do the same for you!

This morning I woke up with this verse on my mind, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar with wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” Isaiah 40:30-31.

At first, I couldn’t really think of why this verse popped into my head. I kept hearing it over and over and over again in my mind; yet, I didn’t really stop to think about it and consider what God is trying to tell me. That is until now.

We’ve had a really good week. Usually, five out of the seven days in the week are good days and the other two are challenging. There are those weeks, especially when teething that it seems like it has been ages since I had a good day, but we just push through and I remind myself every day, “This too shall pass.” I say the same things on good days. That phrase makes the bad days easier and the good days more enjoyable. Everything has a season.

The season I am in now is a season of contemplation. It’s not bad to be a thinker, but sometimes I can think too much. My husband and I have a great life and we love where we live, but sometimes I have a harder time with it than he does. Motherhood can be a very lonely place at times. When you are a mother with no family around it can be even lonelier. When you are a mother with no friends with children around, it can be even lonelier than without family.

I know what everyone is thinking. Get involved in a play group or a Mom’s group. Believe me when I say that I would love to do that, but the little munchkin still takes 2 naps a day, both being about 2 hours long. That doesn’t really leave a lot of time left to get out there and be social. Perhaps I am too rigid with the schedule, but the fact is that is what I choose. My isolation is no one’s fault but my own, but I am ok with that because it isn’t about what’s best for me, but rather it’s about what is best for her. Her routine and her naps and all the things that go along with it are what is best for her. In the future, Lord willing, I will have plenty of time to do things for myself.

This brings me back to the verse. Days like today, where I wish that family were close by so that we could go visit them or they could come here. Days like today where I wish I had another mom in my life to come beside me and take up arms and walk this stage of life with me. Days where I’m lonely and just need a friend, I have this verse. I hope in the Lord, knowing that He is walking this road with me. He will give me strength when I have none. He will raise me up on eagles’ wings. I will run and not grow weary. I will walk and not grow faint. He is My Family away from family and My Friend away from friends. He is My Strength because I am weak.

“Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.” ~ Judy the elf from The Santa Clause movie.

Hopefully, I don’t lose credibility for quoting a children’s Christmas movie, but this line has always been one of my favorites and has always stuck with me since I first saw the movie. That is the perfect definition of faith. Granted, she was talking about faith in believing in Santa, but I am going to use it as it relates to faith in God.

1 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. 2Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation.

3 By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” Hebrews 11: 1-3

Whether you believe in evolution or creation, you are believing it in faith. The same science that one might use to defend evolution is the same science that affirms to me that we are here by Intelligent Design. Even the mathematics of it all swing to the favor of a Creator God. Personally, I believe that it takes more faith to believe in evolution and that we are here by accident than it does to believe that there is a God who sculpted and formed every being on earth with the care, passion and finesse of the Greatest Master Artist.

The kind of faith I want to talk about is the beyond the faith in Christ and salvation. It’s the faith that we as Christians live day in and day out. The faith I’m talking about is the faith that God is always working on our behalf, for our good, our betterment and His glory. That doesn’t mean that things are always perfect in our lives – far from it. What I am talking about is seeing through the fog of our circumstances both good and bad and knowing that no matter what the outcome, whether we like it or not, whether or not it is the outcome we desire, that God is doing a great work and that His way is best.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes that is hard. I am definitely a ‘glass half-full’ person. However, just because I am an optimist doesn’t mean that sometimes I don’t find it difficult to be positive, because I certainly do. There are so many things in my past and even in my presence that I have failed and still fail to believe and have faith that God will provide. Despite the countless examples of God’s incredible faithfulness in my life, so often I find myself back in the wilderness of doubt, fear, anxiety and despair.

1Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also (A)lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us (B)run with (C)endurance the race that is set before us,

2fixing our eyes on Jesus, the (D)author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him (E)endured the cross, (F)despising the shame, and has (G)sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3For (H)consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary (I)and lose heart.”

Hebrews 12: 1-3

Our gaze has to be eternal. Every day faith is simply believing that God is in fact working on our behalf. It’s believing that God will provide the house you hope to have someday, the place to stay when the bank has foreclosed, the baby that you desire to have, the strength to make it through a rough day, week or year. Faith is also believing that should God choose not to provide one or any of those things that He will grant you the grace to accept that His answer just might be no. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t wait in great expectation for God. God can and does and will continue to do great things. Faith is simply believing and desiring God’s Best rather than our own will and way.

Trust me, it isn’t easy and it never will be, but that is just where faith steps in.

If you have a mom, there is nowhere you are likely to go where a prayer has not already been.  ~Robert Brault

My mother once told me that her prayer for me was not just that I would choose to do right, but that if I chose to do wrong then I would get caught. Let me tell you, I was terrified when I made bad choices. Reason being – I ALWAYS got caught. You might think I am kidding, but I did. Growing up, I didn’t get away with anything. I got caught for everything. Of course, it didn’t help that I would often tell on myself before I even got caught. I figured if God was going to tell them anyway then I might as well beat Him to the punch.

This very distorted view of God followed me for many years. Even at present, there are times where I find myself having to remind myself that God does not delight in our misdeeds or the consequences we reap because of them. Who knows where or how I developed this mentality, but I did. Perhaps it stems from years of finding it hard to believe that Grace was just that simple. Each one of us knows exactly who we are and what we are capable of and even though we might convince ourselves that “we are basically good people”, as good as one might be or try to be, it is never going to be enough to impress the perfect, impeccable God of the Universe. That is the beauty of His grace. There is nothing we can do to earn it. Nothing we can do to lose it. All we have to do is accept it. WOW!!!

So how does all this fit into Mother’s Day and honoring my mother. I admit – I already sort of went off on a rabbit trail a little bit. Well, not really, but sort of. All right. All right. I’ll bring it full circle.

My mother’s prayers actually always worked, but in my late teens, early 20s and mid 20s I thought I was getting away with my poor choices. THOUGHT being the operative word. At the age of 19 I began to “dabble” in drugs. My “dabbling” became “recreational use” and by “recreational use”, I mean I did drugs pretty much every day. Using the term “recreational” helped to convince me that I wasn’t doing anything wrong and it wasn’t a habit, but it was just for fun. The problem is that “fun” was a habit for me. I know – it’s funny, but it’s not.

For years, I wanted to be caught. I wanted to be rescued from the pain and emptiness I felt on a daily basis. I was a ship without a mast. Like most people, I longed for a place to belong. A lot of my life, I felt misunderstood, mainly because I didn’t understand me. I’ve always had a difficult time connecting to people simply because I have always felt different – not Charlie Sheen different (as in “I’m tired of pretending I’m not special”) – just different. It’s hard to explain. When I did drugs I only felt sad when I wasn’t doing them. When I did drugs, suddenly I seemed to belong (at least in my own mind I did). I didn’t feel different any more. I was “the fun one”. I was the life of the party and when the party stopped – well, I was just me.

One night, during my years of drug use I had a particularly bad acid trip. That night, I went to a friend’s house and promised my mother that I would come home. Well, I caved to temptation and stayed so I could take a few hits of liquid acid – 4 to be exact. The next 12 hours were nothing short of an amusement park in hell. I was haunted by this boy who may or may not have really been looking at me with a piercing, evil stare and saying to me in a creepy, exorcist-sort-of way, “I’m the Devil – and I’m going to kill you.”

At around six o’clock that morning, seven hours into my acid induced hallucinations, the room of people I had been talking to had black teeth, melting faces and began talking about God. Whether or not they actually did talk about God, I have no idea, but it sent me into a tailspin of grief and shame. I ran to my car and by the grace of God and the watch of 1,000 angels I made it home. My whole drive home I sobbed, begging and pleading God to hear me. I shouted at him through breathless sobs, “I NEED YOU! WHERE ARE YOU? WHY DON’T YOU HEAR ME? ARE YOU REAL? HELP ME!!!!! HELP MEEEEEEE!!!”

Those are the only words I remember saying, rather screaming, on the drive home that day. As I crept into my house, hoping to sneak in bed and pretend to be asleep before anyone realized I was there, I entered my room to find my mother sleeping in my bed.

She started to speak and then she must have realized that something was wrong. I climbed into bed, still crying and my mother wrapped her arms around me. She lay there quietly, stroking my hair and simply held me. It was what I needed.

A few moments later, I broke the silence, “Mom, why does God love us?”

“I don’t know,” she replied, “but he does – no matter what – and forgives us and then throws it as far as the east is from the west.”

Silence.

“Why don’t you go take a bath? I’ll wait here,” she said.

After my bath, I came back to the room where my mother lay with me in silence for the next three hours, stroking my hair until I fell asleep.

It took years, but that night has become a defining and shaping moment for me. My mother could have judged. She could have told me everything that I wasn’t, was and should be. In a slew of words, she could have asked me what was wrong and then condemned me for it. Instead, she chose love and grace.

This night and her actions, whether she knew it or not, modeled for me one great answer, to a great question – Why does God love us? The answer – simply because we’re His.