A conversation I had with a friend this morning made me think deeply about choices. We have so many of them in this world. Everyday we are choosing without even knowing it. The Lord gave us free will and He gave us a mind. Both of these enable us to choose.. He seems to be very in favor of that or He would not have created us with the ability to choose so freely. I realize that there are people who think we should choose everything that feels good with no regard for anyone else.. I am definitely not in that camp. Then there are those who believe if you do not choose what I choose.. then something is very wrong with you.. not in that camp either. Choices are very serious and they are messy.
What prompted this blog post was the realization that we may have more choices than we realize.. maybe we feel like if we don’t choose wisely right now.. this could be our last chance. While I realize that there are grave consequences to choices made lightly without careful prayer and seeking God’s best.. I also know we are serve a God of second chances. third chances etc. Basically we cannot run out of chances with Him. So how do we navigate this road which often feels like it is full of potholes? I can’t claim to have all the answers.. but I do know that we live in a world where the Lord is constantly redeeming things. I also know that so many of the heroes of the Bible did really unbelievable things.. in fact if we were in charge we might say to them.. ” that is it.. no more chances.” Fortunately we are not in charge and that is not how God sees things.. He does not run out of grace and mercy.. even we take a wrong turn He will steer us back in the right direction.
So choosing is an awesome responsibility .. God knows that through our choices we will see Him more clearly.. even the bad choices. He knows that we will learn to seek Him more deeply as we choose.. if we desire to follow Him throughout our lives and He does not have a list of consequences we can read before we decide. Choices are deeply entrenched into our life.. we are walking by faith and not by sight. Choices tell the Lord we trust Him even if everyone around us thinks we are crazy.. Choices knit us to Him in a way that rules and regulations never will. We are given freedom.. lots of it.
Really the only thing we can do is pray and seek Him and ask Him to stop us when we are moving in the wrong direction. Then we can shut out of the voices of well-meaning people or how- to books and leap ahead in the direction that is right for us. Once we realize that if we fall He will catch us.. We can ask for courage and turn away from fear as we move forward..
I hope this year is one filled with hope for you as we move into 2017.. may you choose wisely as you follow our amazing God.
If you wander from the right path, either to the right or to the left, you will hear a voice behind you saying, “You should go this way. Here is the right way.” ( Isaiah 30:21)
If you’ve been reading my blog.. you know that my passion in life is to see God bring healing to His people. As a counselor.. there is nothing more important to me than being a part of this deep work that He is doing through the Holy Spirit. For the last year I’ve been in a season of grief and healing..yes the two often go together. When we grieve God has an opportunity to go deep into our hearts and bring up things that we might never look at under other circumstances. I would go so far as to say that without grief, the healing really isn’t complete.
When God opens a wound from the past.. there are emotions that become jarred loose and we find ourselves face to face with our losses. Every life is full of them. The older we get, the more losses we experience..it is inevitable. I have some very deep wounds from the 25 years I spent in an abusive marriage. When it was over, 14 years ago, I began to grieve and unravel my past. Recently God has been excavating some remaining emotions from that time.
He is going deep into the recesses of my heart and pulling out old memories and the feelings that are connected to them. It is a painful process and even more so since so much of it is happening in the middle of the night. I imagine because it is a time when I am quiet and not busy with life. So I am sleep deprived but looking forward to the fruit that is going to come from this season of healing. As I work with my counseling clients.. I am constantly reminded by the Lord that I am only His instrument and their healing comes from His hand.
“The wounded healer is a phenomenon that occurs between the healer and the one receiving the healing. Psychologist Carl Jung used the phrase to describe experiences in the relationship between the counselor and their patient, where the counselor would examine themselves and experience depths of their own pain, in order to probe, understand, and heal the pain of their patient. Jung expressed that the experience was entirely necessary to the healing process, as well as warned of its many dangers.”
Jesus is our wounded healer..the one who enables us to become the same for those He brings into our path.
I keep coming back to this idea of a balanced life. We have so many demands on us in our culture. There is the culturally acceptable idea that we must always be busy.. that somehow our significance comes from our accomplishments. Then there is the idea among Believers that we must be emotionally available to everyone who needs us. We also have the prevailing cultural view that we need to go to a gym or somewhere daily to be in good physical shape… eat a particular way in order to be healthy. Add to that the ideal of spending time reading the Bible and praying every day and you have a full life.
The question for me is “what does a healthy balanced life look like? ” I’ve arrived at some conclusions over the last year. Too much activity is deadly. Time alone is absolutely necessary. Eating too much and too fast is unhealthy. It is not possible to be emotionally available to everyone who needs something. I don’t need to go anywhere but outside my front door to exercise..by walking. Sometimes I cannot read the Bible or any other book or pray. God understands this and is fine with it. His grace is enough.
So what does a balanced, holistic life look like? Living daily with our Great God, taking care of our bodies, pacing ourselves, and rejoicing in His goodness.
” Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
That is what it feels like when the voice of God suddenly becomes clear and strong. He promises to speak to us.. if we are willing to wait..to be still.. to be alone..to rest in the silent place. He longs to reveal those things that will enable us to live more fully..to speak truth in the innermost parts.
I believe these things that I just wrote.. but the silence can be agonizing. His voice brings freedom to our weary souls. He shines light into the darkness and the confusion is gone. He is the rescuer. He comes for us. I have just experienced this over the last month in a way that I never would have imagined. The darkness was one of the worst I have ever known..the accuser doing his work. Where was God? All I could do was cry out to Him..trusting that He was close. I was desperate for Him and He began to peel back the darkness. Little glimpses of light came into my life as He spoke to my heart.
I had asked for healing and He came to do a work that would set me free. Healing requires desire..committment..longing..willingness. We also need to set aside time to be alone..to let the pain come to the surface. My life has been filled with disappointment and pain caused by those closest to me..I never thought I could understand why they did what they did or be able to truly forgive. God knew better.
He met me each time I cried out to Him.. “help me forgive them Lord”..He met me every time I asked for protection and comfort. He used my husband to hold me over and over again as the pain poured out of the old wounds. He gave me a safe place to fall apart..so He could put me back together again.
He is the healer..the redeemer..He is able. He will do a deep work in you if you keep asking Him and make time for it. He is longing to transform us.. to fill us with His amazing unconditional love. He is our God.
God is always doing a new thing. Today is the first day of a new year and He will be doing many new things as this year unfolds. As we follow Him on the path He has prepared for us, our lives will unfold and blessings will fall upon us. There is no way that He can fail us or disappoint us as we trust Him.
His desire is to renew our minds..to heal and restore us.. so that we may live more freely. He is not asking us for new years resolutions or good intentions. He is not waiting for us to promise Him what we cannot deliver. He is longing for more relationship. He wants to spend time with us.. to reveal Himself to us.. to pour His love into every empty space in our hearts. If we carve out space and find a quiet place..He will be there..ready and waiting.. to fill us, encourage us, soothe us, calm us, and comfort us.
Let’s enter in..rejoicing in the God who made us..beginning this new year in a new way..delighting in our God.. the one who gave everything for us and continues to come for us day after day.
“His mercies are new every morning.. great is His faithfulness”
I have been doing it for many years..it is a practice that I encourage everyone to try. Don’t think diary when you see the word journal. A journal can be a diary and there are times when it should be. It can also be whatever you want it to be. My daughter found a website with some very unique approaches to journaling. Her new adventure inspired me to think about what I might do to expand my journaling experience.
I love to write about my feelings and use my journals to unravel my emotional life and my spiritual journey. You may want to try doing that..writing about things can be very freeing. It enables your to connect to your pain, anger, or sorrow. As I write new insights come up.. I release and process my emotions so I can hear the voice of God more clearly. I am about to add a second journal to my life..and have been asking God what it should be. I am going to call it a Gratitude journal..a place to write about all the encouraging things that happen..a book to hold any small pictures or cards from my grandchildren..a place to post pretty pictures that remind me of how blessed I am..anything at all that will lift my spirits as I flip through the pages.
We all need to find ways to remember His goodness..to record the blessings..to encourage ourselves..to save reminders of those special moments. Life can be challenging and dark..reminders bring light into our lives and lift our spirits. It’s summer..a great time for new beginnings..new adventures.. a time to move forward in our journey.
“Search for the Lord and for His strength; remember the wonders He has performed, His miracles..Tell everyone about the amazing things He does!”
God is always doing new things..but our awareness of this can vary. If we become stuck in a difficult place emotionally we will miss much of what He is doing. Our focus tends to stay on ourselves..our problems..our worries..our sights are set on the things of this world.We may look intently into the future..when we cannot see what will happen..we become filled with fear. Soon we are writing our own story..the one with an unhappy ending.
I recently went through a very difficult season of my life..it lasted for several years and during that time I found myself wondering about things that I thought I would never question. I grew weary and my faith faltered. I found myself getting depressed and discouraged. I suffered physically..grieivng my losses and disappointments..my spirit was deflated. I didn’t have any answers and all I could do was remember that God was with me. He carried me along and when it was time He rescued me from the heaviness of those days.
He never forgot me and I never forgot Him. I grew during those dark days..they were not a waste. He healed old wounds that went back to my childhood..painful memories came to the surface and I shed many tears. He was doing a deep work in me. No..I would not choose that road..but He did and I knew it was going to bring me to a new place emotionally and spiritually. I agreed with His desire to set me free and that meant facing the old pain and receiving the restoration that He longed to give me.
Moving forward is not always pleasant.. it is often painful..requiring courage and committment. But we have a God who will move quickly to bring healing and to bring us into that new place where we experience more freedom. We will be transformed as we trust Him and remember His goodness. His plan for our lives is perfect and nothing can keep it from unfolding.. our part is to nurture our connection with Him..to rely on Him in the dark and know that He is with us.
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”