Friday, May 17, 2013

Cast It All Off

     My little brother undressed faster than anyone I have ever known. Our family would get home from an outing, and before the rest of us could kick off our shoes, he was headed up the stairs in his underwear. As though clothing somehow restricted his little body, he reveled in casting each item quickly away. He joyfully ran about the house in his skivvies. When necessary, he would also wear a pair of shoes.

     What if we did the same, casting off not our clothing, but our restraints? Anything that holds us back from living fully for Jesus Christ hinders our relationship with Him. Behaviors, idolatry, insecurities, resentments, bitterness, sin ~ flung far and wide while we bask in the pleasure of restoration with God.

     However hard and long you have to hammer and saw at those chains keeping you enslaved to your own humanity, the freedom achieved will be worth it. God never leaves us alone with our chains and is readily accessible to help you in your weakness.

     Witnessing the broken chains falling off the lives of others encourages those struggling with the same chains. Many of my own have been broken, giving me some momentum to break the others in the power of Christ. The biggest, most annoying chain I can see right now is the chain of insecurity. This one keeps me enslaved to my fears. In time and with prayer, this too will be flung from me.

     I can't help but think the author of Hebrews had this sort of unchained freedom in mind when he said, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."~Hebrews 12:1-2

     What's hindering you?




Friday, May 10, 2013

The Greatest Author

     A fiction writer I am not. Plot twists, compelling characters, and believable conflict will not be achieved by me without intense study. Because of my failings in this arena, I have an incredible amount of respect for those who write fiction well.

     My favorite fiction contains at least an element of truth. I enjoy knowing that some parts of the story really took place--the creativity of man built upon the creativity of God. How incredible that He who created the universe instilled in our makeup a portion of His own creativity.

     As if creation itself were not intriguing enough, the intertwining of lives, the plot twists, drama, and conflict that occur every single day astound me. Once in a while, it's encouraging to step back a bit to ponder the bigger picture happening all around us throughout our entire existence.

     Looking back over my life, I can see how God used specific people to protect and guide me along my way. I see an ultimate good coming out of undesirable circumstances, and I love seeing where the hand of God has been with me in every situation. Realizing the depth of God's love is enough to make my heart burst.

     The people who enter our circle for a time impact us in one way or another for the rest of our lives. God allows and arranges situations encouraging our growth, educating us in His ways. We are never, ever alone, even though it may feel that way. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, "This is the way; walk in it." ~Isaiah 30:20-21

     Feeling unloved? Unappreciated? Discouraged? Make a list of all the times you have seen God move in your life, including the people who have been placed by God to influence you at just the right moment. Write down anything good that has come out of your trials. Do you feel the embrace of God?

     Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.~Hebrews 12:2


Thursday, May 2, 2013

This Too Shall Pass...

    Car Accidents. Rehabilitation. Surgery. Persecution. Sorrow. Divorce. Death. Life gets messy sometimes, doesn't it?

     Through ten months of intense counseling intended to repair our broken relationship, my husband and I tore down the entire structure of our marriage in order to learn new, healthier ways of relating to one another. The rebuilding was slow and painful. An awkwardness like we had never experienced forced us to treat each other carefully. It was as though we were strangers trying to familiarize ourselves, much like ten years earlier while we dated. Now, however, all kinds of relationship baggage weighed us down.

     Never before was God so evident in our lives. We would rely on Him or watch our family finish crumbling. He was right beside us every single day. The best part was the healing that took place as we daily committed our marriage to God. For months while we wondered if we could make it, the good work going on in our lives as individuals and as a couple was undeniable. During that time it was imperative that we remain committed to the goal of a God honoring, vibrant family. Otherwise, we may have been tempted to take another road--to give up on us.

     We would have missed recommitting our marriage in front of our family and friends, declaring our determination to do things differently--putting Christ as the head of our marriage, and depending on Him to lead us the right way.

     Had we given up, not clung to the thread holding us together, we would have missed out on the most incredible plot line. We are co-parenting under the same roof, and our children have a more stable home because of it. The benefits are greater than we will ever know this side of heaven, but we know enough of them to be eternally grateful for God's work in our lives.

     If you are having some tough times right now, hold tight. This too shall pass, even though it may pass like a large kidney stone. Like birthing a baby after enduring labor, the reward is great. And God has a plan--for all of it.

     For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. ~2 Corinthians 4:17-18