We’ve been blaming the devil since the beginning when Eve blamed the serpent for eating of the forbidden fruit. And just like Eve in the garden of Eden, we are looking for something more, and Satan simply plants a seed of disturbance in our head.
So then what? Well, the way I see it, I have a choice for the next step I take (we all do really). Will I go with my heart, or will I seek counsel and turn to Jesus’ words, like in 1 John 4:4?
“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.”
There comes a time in our lives when we realize being a follower of Jesus isn’t the easy road. It’s tough and not some quick fix of “oh look how awesome everything is now.” No, that’s when Satan is going to throw whatever he can at you, and you are going to have to pick a team. It sounds odd to say but it’s true. If you’re not saying yes to God, you’re saying yes to Satan.
We make excuses all the time for ourselves or others. Yes, things do happen and we make mistakes. My heart breaks for marriages, children, parents and even the individual that is walking around with scales over their eyes, unwilling or incognizant to God’s love that restores us. I realize I make this sound far more simple than the months and years it may take to repair what is broken, but my main point is, as Christians we have to start realizing it is us sinning, not the devil. Yes, he is the tempter, but James 1:14 says:
“But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.”
What drives you? What do you long after? Where do you spend your time and money? If God is not in these decisions, then we need to know someone else is guiding our influence. But at the end of the day, God has given us the freedom to chose. If you’re being tempted, stop and spend time with God, wise counsel and do anything not to make a foolish, selfish choice that will follow you for the rest of your life.
God makes a way of escape.
I’ve blogged off and on for years now. I’ve written commercially about fitness, how to grow your gym, and how to motivate your clients. Somehow when it came time to write this blog (my first for #ThisIsLiving) I lacked the ability to motivate myself to do it. I’d write a few sentences here and there that I’d quickly go back and delete. I’d stare at my computer screen with the cursor flashing, daring me to write something. I even got a whole paragraph in comparing the spiritual pursuit to running- something that has way more parallels than you can imagine. Yet, I still found every excuse under the sun not to write a blog entry – something I had volunteered to do. Why?
After staring at the blank page for the better part of two months, I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom. I am in no stretch of the imagination what you’d expect a Christian to be. I am tatted up with a half sleeve, live in yoga pants, I curse more than I’d like to, I’ve been divorced, and I loathe the societal stigma that has somehow attached itself to being an Christian. So, who am I to write to you about anything to do with holiness?
…I came to realize the reason I couldn’t write this is that I feel inadequate to impart any type of spiritual wisdom.
On Sunday, the message at church was on Jonah. During which it became abundantly clear that like Jonah, I had been running from doing something that I feel God has called me to do. Don’t you hate that? When people say stuff like that? “God told me.” I used to hate that, too. It sounds totally cliché, but I assure you it is also totally legit. When I say that God called me to write this, I don’t mean I audibly heard him say it. It is more like something on my mind and in my heart that I can’t quite put into words. Obviously, it wasn’t something of my own creating. I’ve fought hard against it. Where is all this leading you’re wondering? Don’t worry I’m finally getting to the main idea.
Like Jonah, I was afraid and I had taken hold of a pagan idea and pretended it was true. I was afraid to put myself out there by writing and being vulnerable. I had taken hold of the pagan idea that Christians are supposed to be perfect. Since I don’t fit that mold, I felt I had no business in writing this. Then I recalled how Hebrew literature depicted some of the best of the best: David, Abraham, Jacob. None of these men were painted to be holier-than-thou and perfect. God used them in their imperfectness, and with their many sinful blemishes, to do amazing things. They knew what I’ve come to realize in writing this and through the message I heard…what I hope you’ll explore as well: “We can keep trying our plan, or we can yield to God” and “Sometimes, the thing you feel uncomfortable doing is the thing God’s called you to do.”
God was there in the beginning and God is Love, but I wasn’t there in the beginning…and I don’t feel that love right now. There are days when it’s hard to love others, but God says that those are the most important days to do just that. I stand with this reality in front of me on those days, and it’s difficult to say yes to a love that I do not see in action in others. I do not exist seeing the fullness of time knowing the eternal insignificance of my anger and the importance of love. I don’t want to see the fullness of time because the momentary affliction is too strong for me to wrap around my mind.
It is not easy to be the one sitting on the inside trying to look out at these issues. When the ones that I am called to love are fighting me at every opportunity they get, how can I be expected to love then? Sometimes I sit and wonder if it wouldn’t just be easier to not love at all. I wonder if I could exist in a world of solitude knowing that I don’t have to be hurt when my brother in Christ turns to me and looks me in the eye and lies. I wonder if it’s easier to exist in a world without commitment and accountability when he takes that advice I give him and spits it in my face. I wonder if it’s easier to love without covenant when my loved ones and I fight to the point where it gets too personal and too direct. When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
When the resistance gets so strong I can’t stand, where is God’s teaching of love?
What exactly am I expected to do? I turn to the books and I re-read them, but what I’m reading has lost its meaning long ago. I flip through the pages of my bible looking for the answer but the Spirit sends me back only with the commandment to, “love as I loved first.” These words sting in my ears because they are the very reality I am fighting against. Love. What a word to come from someone I have cursed out in my prayers and yet He stays there. Am I expected to understand the depths of love from Someone who knew my every action while sitting on the outside of time and said yes? How can I stand in between the pain of my brother and the ones I love with this knowledge in my brain and say nothing?
I come back to the depths of my mind and ask, “Where am I to go?” God sends me back to the beginning and asks me where I am. I look into the depths of Him and see myself there. In the beginning of time. When God was love, and I was on His mind. He loved me first, and I chose to fight Him every opportunity I got. He loved me first, and I looked Him in His all-seeing eyes and I lied. He loved me first when I cursed His Spirit as He called my life and made it personal and direct. He loved me first when the resistance got so strong and I said no to the forgiveness of His Son, and yet He still called me back with those three words. Love Me first.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.”
“Let it go.”
I hear these words turning around in my head. I know they are from the Lord, but I feel like I can’t do what He is requesting.
The older I get, the more I realize how weak I really am. I see all the things Christ has brought me through and given me strength to accomplish, and sometimes I just forget.
Continue reading “Bitterness and Surrender”
I’ve never considered myself a control freak. I’d like to think that I fall more under the category of go-with-the-flow. I thrive in organized chaos (my desk cluttered with paintbrushes and about 6 half-read books can attest to that). I love spontaneity and adventures with no determined schedule. Sometimes I eat ice cream for breakfast. I mean, that’s really letting the reigns loose on control if you ask me.
So it’s funny that the Lord is teaching me just how much I try to control my circumstances in my broken, often newborn-Bambi-like (wobbly legs and all) attempt to follow Him.
Continue reading “Confessions of a Control Freak”
“Will you give me your hopes and dreams?” I heard these words spoken in my spirit several months ago as I was walking out of my house. I was perplexed and annoyed, and my response was, “Really, Lord? After all that’s been going on, that’s all I feel I have left.”
Later, I read the story of the rich ruler in Mark 10:17-27. In this story there was a man of great wealth who eagerly approaches Jesus and asked, how to have eternal life? Jesus explains about keeping the commandments, which the man says he has done from an early age. Then the story says, Jesus looked at the man and loved him. Jesus, tells him to go and sell what he owns and give it to the poor and then to come and follow Him. The man then walked away saddened because he had wealth and things, and he didn’t want to let them go.
Oh, how I can relate. Continue reading “Will You Give Me Your Hopes & Dreams?”
Things began to change as I grew up a little (physically, mentally and spiritually), went to college, and experienced some trials. I traveled a bit and remember feeling a little out of place.
I made many mistakes. I took the road that many traveled and left the one that few take. I decided that I knew best. In the end, it was hard to even see my reflection. God brought me to a place of brokenness. A place that ultimately led me into His arms.
Now, you’re graduating. You’re ending a chapter to begin another. Time moves so quickly. So I want to write you a letter to help you begin this new journey. I hope this reaches your heart and you remember it in moments of indecisiveness, trials and failures.
Continue reading “Dear Senior…”