I am following up on my last post. This is a season of growth for me.. particularly since I wrote my last post.. God is revealing things that I really need to see. I am reading things geared to people in my age range.. written by believers who are struggling with the same issues I am facing. After lots of prayer and confession, God is helping me realize the beauty of this season. Instead of being negative about my age, I am feeling thankful that He has allowed me to stay on the earth.. in this life for 66 years.
My life over the last 15 years has been richer and more challenging than anything that I could have imagined. I am grateful for this season.. so many of my dreams have come true.. there have been surprises that I never expected. As I battled with the temptation to judge myself and my accomplishments.. the voice of God spoke to me ” Be grateful and remember how I have protected you and provided for you for all these years. Expect more. Look ahead prayerfully and with anticipation.” He is also cautioning me to drop my disappointments and embrace my failures. He warns me to stop cynicism, anger, unforgiveness, and bitterness at the door of my heart and turn to Him for cleansing and renewal.
I am so excited about this next year and I hope you are too. God is good.. trustworthy and faithful. If we remember that.. we have all that we need in every situation and at any age. He will not abandon us!
Happy New Year and God’s blessings on you!!!
“Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living.” ( from psalm 27)
Another big one. So subtle and so toxic. Legalism masks our unbelief. We may appear to be performing perfectly..reading scripture..praying..serving..giving..but something big is missing. Beneath the surface of our lives is unbelief. It works its way into our hearts..constantly questioning God’s intentions toward us..helping us doubt and worry.
It is insidious because we can seem so ” Christian” or so pious.. so right..when the truth is we are very troubled inside. Our hearts deceive us..our behavior is a mask that we hide behind. God sees all this and He grieves for us. His promises become memorized passages or empty words. Our future may look bleak and empty. Our hearts are weighed down..we are diagnosed with depression and anxiety.. the doctor prescribes something to fix us.
The cure is not going to be found in behavior modification or medication. The only solution is to return to our first love. To bring our unbelief and doubt to the one who can turn it all around. He holds the keys to our hearts and wants to renewour faith. He asks us to confess..be real..authentic..and transparent. He wants us to stop playing games..to stop faking it.
Our God is the redeemer. He has turned the world upside down and He wants to do the same in our lives. His desire is to infuse us with a passion and faith so strong that we can’t stop thanking Him. His heart longs to transform us into His people..a people of great faith who long for more of Him. We can’t experience any of this unless we are ready to let go of unbelief..He won’t rip it our of our hands.
Do you want to walk with Him in safety believing all of His promises? Do you want to be an encourager..speaking faith wherever you go? Do you want the abundant life with hope for the future? He wants to give you all this.. He is waiting for you to desire all of this more than life itself. Take a risk..live life for Him and with Him..you will not be sorry.
“Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying Him and committing yourself firmly to Him. This is the key to your life!”
Ten more days until Christmas and 16 more days until the end of 2010. The end of the first decade in the 21st century. I never imagined living long enough to be in this century when I was a child.. it all seemed so far away. Here we are completing the first ten years..surprising and intriguing. What is around the next corner? What will the future be like? We never really know the answer to these questions.
Even though I have lived many years and faced an unknown future more times than I care to remember..I am continually challenged when a year comes to an end. My imagination goes wild trying to figure out what will happen next year..will this be the year when___? You fill in the blank. Unfulfilled desires and longings pop up.. demanding attention. It is a time for dreaming and a time for renewed hope.
A new beginning is in sight. This is a great time to put the past in the past as much as we are able. A time to reach for new levels of forgiveness. To move forward into 2011 releasing old anger and resentments. It is an opportunity to renew our faith in the goodness of God. To lay aside doubt and unbelief..to confess fear and anxiety and ask for His help. We have choices in this short season that is left. Do we want to drag our baggage into next year?
I want the fresh start..the new beginning..the next season..to be cleaned out and prepared for everything that He has for me in 2011..do you?
“I am the Lord and I do not change…now return to me and I will return to you…for the Son of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings…you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture.”
God challenges us to love one another. Is it possible? Not without His grace and understanding. People will wound us..mistreat us.. and misunderstand us. What are we supposed to do with that? A very difficult question to answer. We know about forgiveness and the need to deal with anger and bitterness. We realize that it is unhealthy to hang on to those things that breed unforgiveness and alienate us from people..at the same time it is also unhealthy to stuff our emotions.
We have to grapple with getting hurt and understanding the person who has inflicted the wound. This is the path to forgiveness..but it is not an easy one. Our nature is to lash out or withdraw when we are hurt. God’s way is different. He wants us to examine the situation and face the pain. He will give us understanding if we ask and enable us to let go of the emotions that will only cause more pain over time. Truly loving one another is a the greatest challenge there is. The temptation is to pull away and protect our hearts so they can never be hurt again.
We can’t choose that road if we are going to fulfill the purposes that God has for us. His purposes always include other people. His plans for us involve ministering in some way to those around us. His desire is to use us and our wounds to bring compassion and understanding to others. There will be pain..discouragment, and challenges as we walk this road. Our hope is in Him. We need to turn to Him again and again..asking for healing and comfort..He will be there for us. He is the only one who will never hurt or fail us. He will not disappoint us. People are only people.. He is God.. the creator of the universe.. the one who knows us and the one who made us.
” I have loved you, my people with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.”
It takes time and requires us to go deep into our hearts. My life has been filled with opportunities to forgive. When you suffer through difficult relationships and get hurt over and over..forgiveness becomes a theme in your life. I won’t say that it has always been easy. In fact.. it has been very challenging. The deeper the hurt and the longer it continues the more work it takes to let go. We can find many real reasons to hold on to our feelings of anger and resentment.
God started dealing with me about this many years ago when something very unfair happened in a church setting. I was treated very poorly by the people I trusted the most. During that time I heard God speak to my heart. I wanted comfort and understanding but His word to me was “watch out for bitterness.” I am so glad He said that. Hurt that is inflicted by those who call themselves believers is terribly painful and disillusioning. It can turn us away from the body of Christ and drive us away from the community of faith.
Yes..forgiveness is work. It requires us to go to God with our pain over and over again ..to lay down our right to be angry. The alternative is a heavy heart..one that has a hard time trusting anyone. Unforgiveness leads to isolation and loneliness. Only God help us process through the pain and only He can give us compassion and understanding for those who have hurt us.
God has changed my life through my understanding of this process. He wants to do the same thing for you. Check your heart. Is there unresolved pain hidden away? Let Him take you deep and don’t be afraid. Trust that His love for you is more than enough.
“Humanly speaking it is impossible . But not with God. Everything is possible with God.”
It doesn’t happen all at once. True forgiveness is a process. This is especially true when the wound is deep and filled with unresolved pain. The first step is always willingness to face all that has happened. Not so easy. The pain may be buried and difficult to access. The actions of the person could have taken place years early..the emotions are buried. The good news is we have a healer. Our great God..He is the one who can take us to those unknown places and bring up the memories that will help us heal.
When the old wounds are opened..the grief process begins. We are grieving those things that never happened..the relationships that will never be what we hoped for..the lack of intimacy. The process of forgiveness opens the door to buried emotions..those that are buried alive and still clamor for our attention. All of this takes time..time alone with God..out..time to get in touch with our hearts. He longs to reach deep inside us and pull out the knives that are stuck in the wound..to drain those wounds and apply the balm of Gilead. He is the great physician.
After this happens..true forgiveness is possible. Remember the torture and suffering that Jesus paid to bring us forgiveness.. was a huge cost. The same is true for us. To truly forgive those who have hurt us.. there is a cost. There is suffering and pain. The result is worth it..Freedom! He wants us to experience true freedom..a clean heart that is free of old resentments and bitterness. He came to set the captives free.
” Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”
Did you see the movie Tuesdays with Morrie? I just saw it and this was a line from the movie that keeps going through my mind. What a sense of freedom that brings.. think about how it makes you feel. If we can live in that reality our hearts are set free to live more fully. It seems so simple. I know that it is not..but possible? Yes I believe it is.
Forgiveness takes work. It is not just saying the words or thinking the thought. True forgiveness requires us to revisit the past. Sometimes in relationship with the person who has hurt us..sometimes by ourselves. We have to face the pain..even feel it again briefly..grieve and cry..remember..fight with our emotions and finally we can let go. Of course none of this is possible without God. He enables us to truly forgive….to release our feelings of anger and bitterness. His desire is that we live lives that are free and clear.. no obstacles between us and others. This does not always mean we re-engage with the person we have forgiven. This may be impossible or dangerous.
Let’s decide to live this way. Allow God to bring up the people in your life that you still need to forgive. Make room for the process and watch what He will do. It is not easy and it may take time but the rewards are great. He wants to bring healing to our broken hearts so that we are free to move forward. Our hearts will be lighter and we will be able to enter into a new season and embrace new beginnings.
“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”