Deep wounds

When I kept quiet, my bones wore out; I was groaning all day long— every day, every night!—  because your hand was heavy upon me. My energy was sapped as if in a summer drought. So I admitted my sin to you; I didn’t conceal my guilt. “I’ll confess my sins to the LORD, ” is what I said. Then you removed the guilt of my sin.  That’s why all the faithful should pray to you during troubled times, so that a great flood of water won’t reach them.~ Psalm 32:3-6 (CEB)

I fell. It was storming and wet and I had to get gas. While I was pumping gas, and because I can’t just stand there waiting for my car to fill up with gas, I thought I would move my bag from the trunk to the front passenger seat while I was under some protection. That way when I got home I could just dash in the door with everything. As I stepped over the hose, somehow my foot got tangled and with the lack of traction due to oil and water, I fell with all my weight landing on my knee. To stand and walk did not cause great pain but bending my knee hurt. Taking ibuprofen seemed to reduce the swelling and I seemed to just be black and blue with no major injury.

Because it is just a big ugly bruise, I think it is funny. It makes a good story. One minute I am walking, the next moment, I find myself looking at the underneath side of my car. I kind of enjoyed showing the bruise off to my family as it went through a rainbow of colors. There is no real damage done. The damage is only on the surface and over time it will fade away.

A couple years ago, I injured myself running. It wasn’t so funny. I was embarrassed to have allowed the injury to happen. I should have known better. I should not have let it happen. So I felt. I was afraid that I would never run again. I hated to talk about it. If you looked at my leg you couldn’t see that there was anything wrong. It just hurt. Bad. After a few days I realized that I was not getting better and went to see a physical therapist that sees people at a local running shop. He told me to continue with heat, ice, stretching and ibuprofen. After a week of doing this he said I could try a 3 mile run on flat ground.

One week later, after doing exactly what I had been told I went off for a light run. It was a little sore but no major pain so I finished running the three miles. As the day went on my leg began to hurt more and more. Two day later my leg and ankle began to swell. I couldn’t hide the fact any longer that something serious was going on. This situation had become bigger than me.

It took four months for my leg to heal enough to no longer limp when I walked. I began to run again but the fear of injuring my leg again was constantly in my thoughts. Still I feel twinges in the tendon that I pulled below me knee and I remember the hobbling pain I lived with day and night. The memory of this injury will always be with me. Re-injuring the tendon again will always be a possibility. My leg will never be the same.

When life injures me, I find myself in a similar situation. The surface wounds though painful are easy to share, talk about and even get a good laugh. But the deep really painful hurts that no one sees are harder to talk about. Often it is frightening. Many times it is embarrassing and I think I should have known better than to let myself get into that situation. Sometimes it hurts too much to move to go get the help that I need. Even after I begin to heal the fear of re-injury is ever present. Some hurts are life changing.

There comes a moment when you know this injury has become bigger than you. God has put us in community for our healing. James 5:14-16 says “If any of you are sick, they should call for the elders of the church, and the elders should pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. Prayer that comes from faith will heal the sick, for the Lord will restore them to health. And if they have sinned, they will be forgiven. For this reason, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous person is powerful in what it can achieve.”

Turning to God in our pain will help direct us to a community for our healing. When we talk with others about what is wrong in our life we find that we are not alone in our pain; we find that there are sympathetic people to our plight and we find that we are not the only ones in this situation. We find that there are people who have been through what we have been through and they survived. In sharing our stories we give each other hope. Hope for the journey.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for community. I thank you for fellow sojourners on this journey called life. I thank You for those whom You have sent to walk with me along the way providing hope. May I always be willing to shine a light for others so that their travels can continue always toward You. Amen.

An awakening

When the crowd heard this, they were deeply troubled. They said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what should we do?” Peter replied, “Change your hearts and lives. Each of you must be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you, your children, and for all who are far away—as many as the Lord our God invites.” ~Acts 2:37-39 (CEB)

Maybe it is hearing tv evangelists or street corner preachers that plant the idea in our heads that coming to Christ is a lightning bolt moment. While coming to Christ may seem like a once-in-a-lifetime experience it is really an ongoing journey within us. Conversion is a lifelong process of turning more and more fully toward God in all that we are, possess, and do. I can look back over my life and see earthshaking moments that seemed to shift my life more in line with Christ. But such moments are just part of the process not the end as I give myself over to the transforming power of God.

It took a long time for me to come to terms with the fact that change is not instantaneous. While conversion requires our decision and action, it takes time to change us into the image of Christ. I have also learned that it took time to develop my bad habits so it will also take time to undo the habits I have formed. Without the work of undoing the bad habits they will come back or new bad habits will take their place. (Matt 12:43-45)

Sometimes like Paul we need to begin our conversion by being knocked down. Once God got Paul’s attention, Paul began his conversion as he groped this way in blindness. With his sight gone, he was able to see with interior eyes. Paul’s conversion continued day after day as he began to give meaning to his hew name, Paul. His conversion continued till he end when he was on his way to Rome in chains.

I get a glimpse of Paul’s ongoing conversion when I read in Romans 7:15-21, “I don’t know what I’m doing, because I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do the thing that I hate. But if I’m doing the thing that I don’t want to do, I’m agreeing that the Law is right. But now I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, its sin that lives in me. I know that good doesn’t live in me—that is, in my body. The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it. I don’t do the good that I want to do, but I do the evil that I don’t want to do. But if I do the very thing that I don’t want to do, then I’m not the one doing it anymore. Instead, it is sin that lives in me that is doing it. So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good, evil is right there with me.”

Conversion is an awakening of the spirit. Suddenly the world begins to make sense despite the absurdity, the injustice, the pain. Our vision is opened up enough to be able to absorb the contradictions and the collision of opposites. We go from being blind or short sighted to seeing with God’s eyes. The love of God dawns upon us and with it comes the most amazing promise and a new hope. What we cannot redeem, God can, and what we cannot erase God will.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for Your grace that saves me. I thank You for awakening my spirit and the transformation You allow in my life. I claim the strength You promise as I try to do Your will, one day at a time. Amen.

To move on

Compassion and deep forgiveness belong to my Lord, our God. ~Dan. 9:9

Part of being human is to hurt and be hurt.   Forgiving does not mean that I am denying my pain. Forgiveness means that I stopped pretending the hurt isn’t real. Only if I experience the sense of having been wronged and the impact of he action or attitude on my life is forgiveness possible. This is true whether or not harm was intended. Until I am honest about how I feel, forgiveness, and the ability to move forward cannot happen.

Loving, merciful and forgiving God, You have forgiven me much. May I forgive others as You have forgiven me, so that I as forgiven and reconciled can walk through this day with a glad and upright heart. Amen.

My plan for sucess

The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps. ~Proverbs 16:9 (CEB)

In my office, there are several sticky notes with, ideas, reminders, phone numbers, and notes from family. It seems that most days find me scrambling to use a sticky note. They are a really neat invention aren’t they? I often wonder how people come up with some of these ideas.

The idea for a sticky note itself came out of a failure.

A scientist at the 3M Company was working to try to improve the glue that they put on their tape so that it would stick better.  He came up with a new formula for glue, but the new glue didn’t stick very well at all.  It would stick at first, but then it was very easily pulled off.  He thought his new glue formula was a failure, but instead of throwing the formula in the trash, he decided to share it with others in the company and see if there might be some use for it.

A man named Art Fry started trying the new glue in different ways and finally he came up with the idea for the Post-It Note.  Now, Post-It Notes are the biggest money maker for the 3-M company. What started out to be a big failure for 3M turned out to be one of their greatest successes.

I am a planner. Sometimes things don’t go the way I intend for them to go. Even when I try my hardest it just doesn’t seem to work out. It would be so easy at these times to just throw my hands up and quit. When I remember at those times that there is Someone else who can take my failures and turn them into possibilities, I see things I never would have considered. When I turn failures over to God I often find that there are answers that can lead to a different success.

Proverbs 16:9 tells me that I may make the plans, but God will direct my steps. Often I know where I want to go, but I just can’t seem to get there. If I put my faith and trust in Jesus, He will direct my steps to where I need to be.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for sending Jesus to guide my steps, despite my planning. Soften my heart to go were You lead me. Help me to not get discouraged as I try to go about Your work this day. If I hit a wall, help me to wait patiently for You to show me the way around it. Amen.

The air I breathe

The LORD God proclaims to these bones: I am about to put breath in you, and you will live again. ~ Ezekiel37:5 (CEB)

There was a time in my life that I struggled just to breathe. I carried such burdens inside of me I felt that there was no more space left for my lungs to fill with air. My breathing actually felt shallow. Breathing is essential but unless there is something wrong we never pay attention to the act of breathing. The Bible speaks about the Holy Spirit being the breath of God, breathing in us. The Greek word for “spirit” is pneuma, which means “breath.”

There is a song by Mercy Me, “Breathe”. At times when I was almost gasping for air I would say in my heart, “You are the air I breathe; You are the air I breathe”. This was my prayer when no other words would form. Ezekiel 37:9 says, “Breathe into these dead bodies and let them live.” I feel that God has done that in my life. Every time I reached out to Him, He breathed life back into this dead heart bit by bit.

When I don’t have words to pray, Romans 8:36 assures me “In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans.” It is the Holy Spirit of God who prays in us, who offers us the gifts of love, forgiveness, kindness, goodness, gentleness, peace, and joy. Lamentations 3:25 tells me “The Lord is good to those who hope in Him, to the person who seeks Him”, so I hope in God with my whole heart. Psalm 130:5 says, “I hope, LORD. My whole being hopes, and I wait for God’s promise.” What is God’s promise to me? “Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and God’s Spirit lives in you?” (1Co 3:16) As long as I let Him live in me I can have life because it is His breath that breathes through me. When it is God’s breath flowing through my lungs it is not a struggle to breathe.

Lord, You are the air I breathe. I thank You for your Holy Presence that lives in me. I thank You that You give me words every day to tuck deep in my heart. I would be lost without You. May I always be desperate for Your love. Amen.

More than I am

Send your light and truth—those will guide me!Let them bring me to your holy mountain,to your dwelling place. ~Psa 43:3 (CEB)

I cannot spell. In my early years I was told I “was lazy”; I might “have some dyslexia”; “artistic people are naturally not good spellers”; or that I probably “didn’t hear sounds correctly”. But the simple fact is probably somewhere along the way I didn’t learn the rules of spelling. If I had learned these rules it would have been easier to spell words even if I wasn’t born a natural speller.

Sometimes I treat the “rules” from the Bible in the same way. I am just too lazy; I feel that it will stifle my creative spirit; I am afraid it will cramp my life style; or maybe I won’t understand what has been written. These are lies that Satan feeds me. But what is the real truth? I know what happened when I didn’t take the time to learn the rules for spelling… and grammar. I became conditioned into thinking that I was not good at writing.

In my junior year of High School I had an English teacher who looked past my inabilities and saw my capabilities. She saw me as I was, a poor speller who did not grasp the rules of grammar, but she didn’t let me stay there. She pushed my creativity and helped me wrestle with how to line words up in a way that made more sense.

I think that we can get conditioned into believing that we are incapable of doing things right. We get trapped in Satan’s lies. Thank goodness God accepts us where we are in life but He doesn’t leave us there. He brings us up out of our misunderstandings and confusion, guiding our steps to walk in truth. His boundaries are meant to give us Life.

Lord, I want to truly live. Help me hide your truths in my heart so that I may feel the freedom and confidence of being a child of God. Help me step out of my conditioned self-concepts and learn to be more than I think I am. Amen.

Faith to see yourself in God’s eyes

You are from God, little children, and you have defeated these people because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. ~1 John 4:4

It is so easy to judge ourselves by what others think of us. I often forget that my true value is through God’s eyes. My value is not from the people who surround me. If I base my significance on what others think I can be lifted up as high as the sky by their praise or I can find myself plummeting quickly be their disapproval. This creates such a roller-coaster effect on my emotions and is very dangerous to my well-being.

Instead I need to look in the Bible to find my self-worth. Who does the Bible say I am? If I look through the Bible I can find many references. One of my favorite verses on “who I am in Christ” comes from Romans 5:1 “Because of Christ and His redemption, I am completely forgiven and fully pleasing to God. I am totally accepted by God. Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” My favorite part of that verse is that I am accepted by God, just as I am. No, I am not perfect. Whether I am at my best or at my worst I am still totally accepted by God. That is not always true of fellow humans. If I based my significance on others approval I begin to fear rejection. My fear of rejection can begin to control me and my self-worth. My dependence on others for value brings bondage and darkness.

God doesn’t want us living in darkness so He sent Jesus into the world to seek out those who find themselves in bondage. He came to speak truths to our heart about God’s love and acceptance. Taking this truth into our heart brings freedom and joy. I want to live in the light where freedom from bondage of what others think of me exists. I want joy in my life so I hold a simple truth in my heart, “I am a beloved child of God” (Gal 4:7). The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear (Psalm 27:1)

May I live securely in Your love and acceptance of me oh Lord. Help me this day to remember that my relationship with You is what matters above all others opinions. Hide deep in my heart Your truths of who I am through You. Amen.

To live a life of love

For those who want to love life and see good days should keep their tongue from evil speaking and their lips from speaking lies. ~1 Peter 3:10

 

The words we speak can be a blessing or a curse. Once words are unleashed they can never be retrieved. We can ask for forgiveness for the words we have said but we can never take them back. How differently would we live our lives if we thought about this fact before we ever said a word? If I thought ahead how hurtful my words might be before I say them would I ever say them in the first place? Often I think I would not. What is said out of anger or carelessness many times brings regrets and deep sorrows.

I want to live a life of love. I want to see good days. If this means that I need to slow down my own reaction to situations before I respond, if it means that I need to not take offense so quickly then I want to work harder on my part of the picture. I want to take that deep breath before I let words fly. I want to think about the reason the other person may have acted or said what they said. I want to be a solution not an aggravation to the problem.

I can think of a relationship or two that I have lost because I did not slow down and think ahead. Misunderstandings can have disastrous results. Some bridges can never be mended. I don’t want to live a life full of regrets or long for relationships that could have been different. I want to live and love as Jesus would have me do.

Heavenly Father, help me to guard my words. May the words that I speak be carefully thought through. May I be known as a reflection of your love even in the things that I say this day. Amen.

Joy in the moment

A joyful heart helps healing, but a broken spirit dries up the bones ~Proverbs 17:22 (CEB)

Looking at the big picture can seem overwhelming sometimes. Too many times I forget to live in the moment. I see the bigger picture looming ahead of me and I don’t see my son’s little dances, don’t feel my daughter’s hugs or appreciate my husband sitting on the porch swing with me. I forget to smell the jasmine, to see my blooming flowers or my vegetable garden grow. I forget to laugh at my dog as she takes serious her task of chasing the rabbits. I forget to listen to the bird’s songs or listen as the wind rustles the leaves.

Seeing things piece by piece and searching for the joy in the moment helps to lighten my day. When I get to worrying about all the things that I have no power to fix at this moment, those things that are out of my control, I allow those things to steal the simple joys from my heart. Missing out on these simple things soon finds my spirit hurting.

God doesn’t want me to live with the weight of the world on my shoulders. He has put things in my path to help me enjoy life. He created flowers and bird songs for my enjoyment. He gave me my family for comfort and love. May I remember each day to appreciate all that he has blessed me with down to the simplest and smallest of details.

Heavenly Father, help me to remember to stop and smell the flowers, to hear the birds sing, to hug my family. May I not take any of these joys for granted. May they ever be fresh on my heart. Amen.

Power in thankfullness

I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise will always be in my mouth. ~Psalms 34:1 (NRSV)

I love to read the Psalms. The range of emotions expressed in Psalms helps me to find words for my own feelings. “O that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. (Ps 55:6 NRSV) “With the Lord on my side I do not fear” (Ps 118:6a NSRV) But I also find good instruction for daily life there as well. I know that there is so much for me to be grateful for, and I need to focus on it, every single day. In Psalm 50:23 the psalmist says that when we bring thanksgiving as our sacrifice we honor God. The psalmist in Psalm 69:31 says our thank offerings bring him pleasure.

There is power in thankfulness. Not only does it help set us free, but when we pause to give thanks to God for the blessings that we have in all our moments, we actually begin to find more blessings, even more to be thankful for. Psalm 100 puts this all in perspective: “Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. Know that the Lord is God. It is He that made us, and we are His; we are his people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His steadfast love endures forever, and His faithfulness to all generations.”

Heavenly father, I thank You for the freedom I can find in thankfulness and praise. I know that I can always count on Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness. I know without You, I have nothing. I thank You for the goodness that You show to me every day. Amen.

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