May I share with you what I have learned…
God always speaks out against the injustices we suffer. He always upholds us when we are wronged. He walks with us through our hard times. He never lets us down.
I have also learned that even though everyone has a choice, we can’t make anyone choose to do what is right. And, even though their choices may ruin our lives, God always has another way. He redirects our eyes to something new.
Because we understand grief, we can comfort those who grieve. Because we suffer injustice, we can fight for those who are crushed. God doesn’t consider our past as wasted years; it is the foundation on which he builds hope.
Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash
Does this ever happen to you? The Bible says, “Do not fear,” and you still cling to fear in certain relationships. It says, “Be strong in the Lord,” and you still feel overwhelmed in certain situations. It says, “Rejoice in the Lord,” and sometimes all you can do is fight back tears at certain pains you experience.
It does to me. Then last night it hit me. I have been living two lives, with two opposing gods. I think I have to please certain people, yet, I also want to please God.
Last night I resolved to live only one life, to live for the God I love. I don’t know what it will look like, or how to even do it. All I know is that I set myself free. What about you?
They say that dreams reveal what is going on deep down inside us… Not long ago I dreamed that I was on a cargo train trundling through the desert. I found myself holding two snakes by the head, restraining them from doing harm. Then a woman came up close and pointed to the desert. “Throw them overboard,” she said. It hadn’t occurred to me.
God also speaks to us through our dreams. That same afternoon someone gave me a prayer by St. Anthony of the Desert… “Lord, help us to take nothing with us as we enter the desert and there teach our hearts to beat in time with yours.”
I finally knew what those snakes represented. In my prayers that evening I threw them overboard and felt freer than I had in years… Is something dragging you down as well? Sometimes it is as simple as throwing it away.
People sometimes say, “The end is important, but not how you get there.” But… what if we doubt we will ever reach our desired end, the goal we want for our life? Is our journey invalidated? Does this mean we are a failure for life?
I know of a person who lived in the future, for the plans they had made, and they forgot about today. They forgot to be kind and enjoy life with those they loved. The Bible says, “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 NLT) Plans aren’t everything in life.
Whatever happens, our lives still count. What we do every day, how we treat those around, these are just as important as any plan.
Have you ever been so upset, you dared not speak? I recently was, even though I did all the right things. Count to ten. Take deep breaths. Try to see things from another perspective.
Nothing helped, and all I accomplished was losing sleep and gaining five pounds in weight. I cried out to God, “Help me.”
A simple thought came to mind… “Focus on God.”
I shifted my gaze from the pain within, to a verse on the kitchen window sill. “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and rich in love.” (Psalm 145:8) I caught my breath. I had been feeling the opposite. It was time to realign with God.
Do you have verses around the house to help you regain perspective?
A few days ago I experienced something painful in my heart. I prayed that God would send me someone to help me regain perspective. I set off on a walk. Maybe I would meet this person, and maybe they would stop me. But, I wouldn’t take the initiative, I would let God do it.
I had barely started out when a virtual stranger stopped me. She asked me how I was.
I was taken aback, and didn’t want to share. But I had prayed, and God had done his part. I had better do mine. I told her what was going on. “I’ve been there too,” she said. “It isn’t your fault…”
God does answer our prayers! But, we too have to do our part.
A few days ago someone assured me that I could still fulfill a dream I had as a youth. I had wanted to become a medical doctor, but no matter how hard I tried, the door slammed shut again and again. This ‘someone’ encouraged me to go back to school.
I declined. My doctor dream may have been totally crushed, but God replaced it with something else. You see, our talents can be expressed in many different ways. I had wanted to help people’s bodies to heal, but God wanted me to help people’s hearts
What about you? Has your life turned out different than you had hoped? Do you feel like it has been ruined? Don’t give up hope. Seek God’s perspective. Let him redirect you and you will find life.
I have this persistent longing to make a mark in life. I have this one-track mind that says it must look a certain way. Somehow it has sunk deep into my heart that adulthood is where it happens. Why? I grew up with that old Victorian creed, “Children should be seen and not heard.” I believed that life did not begin until one grew up.
But God is challenging me yet again, to go to those silenced ones, any silenced ones, whether children or adult, and listen. To value them and help them find their voice.
God is saying, “Hear and pay attention. Do not be arrogant, for the Lord has spoken.” (Jeremiah 13:15) This is a challenge for me… to step away from making a mark… to step into sync with God…. to enable the silenced to speak.
All of us encounter crossroads in our lives. The signposts point in different directions, and our emotions can get in the way…
We’re scared: maybe we should go back the way we came, back to our familiar rut. We want perfection: maybe, if we camped out by the signpost, a better option will arise. We tired of waiting: how about tossing a coin, and hopefully someone will stop us if we’re charging towards oblivion!
There is a four word solution. God says, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it.” (Jeremiah 6:16) It is… Stand. Look. Ask. Walk.
At this moment I am asking about the books I have written. Which publishing path should I take? Then comes the hard part, WALK!
In the space of four days, opposite events occurred:
- Someone said something with an intent to destroy.
- A friend took me to the National Art Gallery in London.
I sat before a painting with my friend – The Raising of Lazarus.* It mirrored my circumstances… Lazarus was dead, and I felt the same. But, four days later Jesus told the mourners to open to tomb. An awful smell poured out. Yet, Jesus called out, “Lazarus, come out!”**
…I sat there. Lazarus was me. Jesus was calling. I lived! Lazarus tore off his shroud. I could tear off mine. I could be free!
You see, death-like words don’t have to hold us down. “Come out!” Jesus calls to each one of us. We can choose to get up and LIVE!
* Sebastiano del Piombo, 1517-19 **from John 11