Showing Weakness

I have some more thoughts to tag on to my post from last week, Beauty in the Broken. Showing weakness is not an easy thing for me, especially in church. There are many reasons for this, but I think I can boil them down to a manageable number.

First, there’s a trust factor. I need to be able to trust that my weakness won’t be used to take advantage of me. Since I have experienced rejection in the past, this is especially hard. I need to let go and let God protect my heart because there is no way I can protect it myself.

Second, some people need to know every detail of my weakness. Sometimes though, I don’t want to share every detail. I would like to be able to ask someone for prayer, and have them sit beside me, put their arm around me, and pray for me without knowing all the details.

I also think people are uncomfortable around people who show weakness in church. Tears are not an easy thing to see, and a lot of people don’t like to show tears, or, if they do, they apologize profusely. That’s wrong. It should be okay to cry in church, but sometimes it’s not. I am reminded of John 11:35 which says, “Jesus wept.” He had heard that His friend Lazarus had died and had come to see Mary and Martha to comfort them. Jesus knew what was going to happen next, but He was still fully human, and He grieved the loss of His friend. If Jesus wept, why is it not okay that we weep?

And finally, I think my struggle with showing weakness in church is because I don’t like to be vulnerable. I don’t think any of us do. However, our real and authentic selves are how God made us, and He wants us to show them to other people. This has been a struggle of mine for a long time, but I’ve realized something. God made me–the woman who is a geek. God made me–the woman who likes to read and write military science fiction. God made me–the woman who likes superheroes. God made me–the woman who pours out her thoughts out on paper and on the screen. God made me–the woman who loves Him passionately and desperately wants to show her authentic self to others even when she is weak. My prayer is that we all can look to our right and look to our left in church, and if someone is showing weakness, we can show compassion to them.

God’s blessings on you today!

Beauty in the Broken

Last week was a rough one for me. Not only was I physically ill, but when I was at my lowest, someone innocuously opened an old wound from my past. It wasn’t their fault. They didn’t and still don’t have any idea. But, for me, it is very raw, and I’m still working through it with God. Because of that wound being opened and another situation that developed at the end of the week, I was very glad to see Saturday come.

You might wonder why I write all of this. In the midst of my prayers for healing and grace, I came across something I wanted to share. It was a phrase I saw online. The phrase is the title of this post–Beauty in the Broken. It resonated with me because we are all broken. There are things that won’t be completely healed until we are with our Lord and Savior. But, God is wanting to work a healing in our hearts now. He wants to be let into the deepest parts of us so He can do His work of healing. That’s where I am now–letting God’s love soothe my soul and ease my pain. For me, this is the easy part, easy being a relative term. I fully trust in my Lord and Savior’s love and what that love can accomplish.

No, the hard thing for me is sharing my pain with the community around me. Don’t get me wrong. I live life with a wonderful community of believers, and we have shared a lot of life together. I consider them to be just as much family as my own husband and children. But, when I feel as broken as I do now, it’s hard to share my brokenness with others. I think that’s something we’re all afraid of. We’re afraid to let down our shields and show our true selves. I don’t know about the rest of you, but sometimes I’m fearful of sharing with my faith community because I’m afraid I’ll lose them if I show my true self.

Now, you’re probably thinking she’s irrational, right? If she has such a wonderful faith community, why would she be afraid to share with them?  Yes, I will admit fear does play a part; a big part, but I think it’s more that I’m still coming to terms with the beauty in my brokenness. Coming to terms with showing it. God means for us to live in community where showing brokenness should be okay. But from what I’ve read and what I know from other people and my own feelings, it’s not. At least it’s not for certain types of brokenness.

Is there a way to sort through all of this? A way to become comfortable with showing brokenness? The first way, of course, is through prayer. Talking to God and asking Him to lead you to a supportive faith community is a good start to defeating the lies of Satan. Second, realize there is beauty in whatever brokenness you have. You are saved by God’s grace, and He will never let go. And finally, do your best to trust the people around you and share your brokenness. That last one is the hardest one for me, and I’m not sure when I’ll get there. But, I know with God’s help, it will happen!

God’s blessings on you today!

The Names of Jesus

During my devotion time on Mondays, I usually read any devotions I missed from the weekend as well as the one for Monday. One of the ones I read talked about what I’m going to talk about today–the names of Jesus.

While several names are listed in Scripture, there can be no argument about what they represent which is life changing power. Wow! Life changing power for just a name? Yes, it’s the truth.

Let me list some of the names and see if you might agree. Lord. Immanuel. The Living Word. The Prince of Peace. The God of Our Salvation. The Promised One. Jesus is the One who saves us from our sins; the One who heals us; the One who is everything regardless of how deep a pit we are in. That resonates with me because I have been in the pit so many times. Jesus is always with me though and always helps me to climb out no matter how badly I’ve messed up.

I would encourage you to look at each of these names and reflect on what they mean. Reflect on how each one is part of God’s promise that He will never let go of any of us, no matter how dark it may seem, and that we who believe will be with Him in eternity.

God’s blessings on you today!

Seeking and Finding God

Jeremiah 29:13

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

It’s been almost three years since I’ve come back to faith. Almost three years since my older son asked the question that changed my life. So, you would think I would have this seeking and finding God thing down. Some days I think I do, but then there are others…when life just overwhelms me, and I think, “What now, God?” Those are the days when I think of how nice it would be to be done, to be in my heavenly home, and not have to wonder why prayers for one person worked and why they didn’t for another.  Not have to wonder how I’m going to pay for something or even if I should because I’m not sure it’s in God’s will for me. Not have to wonder if my prayers are even reaching God’s ears.

There is an answer to these questions and wonderings though, and it has to do with the Bible verse at the beginning of this post. It says that we will find God when we seek Him with all our hearts. When bad things happen, it’s hard to keep seeking Him with “all our hearts”. Yes, we might keep seeking Him with some of our hearts, but the verse says we need to seek God with “all our hearts”.

How do we do that when our attention is diverted by the storms of life? It almost seems to me there needs to be a specific shift in our mindset. We need to consciously say to ourselves–“God, I’m going to keep seeking you even in this storm, and I know I will find you.” When we can do that, I believe we will find God even in the storms, even in the pit, even when there is nothing left.

God’s blessings on you today!

Grievous Sacred Moments

The title of this blog post was used in the sermon I heard on Sunday. It was a sermon on prayer and fasting. I’ve heard some sermons on prayer, good sermons, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a sermon on prayer and fasting.

This post is not specifically about prayer and fasting though, but about my title, “Grievous Sacred Moments,” which was used during the sermon and which my pastor said we should all pray and fast our way through.

All of what was said was poignant with possibilities for me, but the first thing I want to do is define what “grievous sacred moments” are. Some of these moments are fairly obvious–like death and illness. Others not so much–like sin, threats, or enormous tasks. And I had never heard of praying and fasting through any of them. I wonder why that is, but, then, as soon as the question entered my mind, the answer did too. For me, these are moments that are sometimes too deep for words. Moments of deep inadequacy. Moments that you feel awkward about or feel aren’t worth asking prayer for because others’ prayer requests are more important.

Why is it there are certain moments that we take to God more than others? Why is it that we resist letting God, or others for that matter, in to the deepest parts of us?  I believe it is because we have a profound resistance to letting God in. And, as a Western Christian, I have even more difficulty because of the emphasis on individualism in this area of the world. The concept of community is harder for Western Christians because they are inundated with messages, even from the pulpit, that say they are supposed to rely on themselves and not on God and the community He has provided for them.

As I think of praying and fasting through grievous sacred moments, I believe that God might use this to break down my profound resistance and grow me into the disciple He wants me to be.  So, I am looking forward to what God is going to teach me over the next few weeks  as I learn to pray and fast my way through grievous sacred moments.

God’s blessings on you today.

The Victory is Won

When I talk or write about the depression I’ve suffered with, I often use the analogy of a pit. The times when I am at my blackest is usually when I’m at the bottom of the pit. Jesus joins me there. His presence is always comforting, never condemning. He knows what I need to work through, and He is accepting of who I am and not who other people would like me to be. Why wouldn’t He accept me? God the Father is the one who created me.

I’ve realized something today though. When everything is said and done and Jesus comes back for His church, I will not be in the pit! I will be watching as Satan is thrown in there. Revelation 20:1-2 says, “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan and bound him for 1000 years.” Further on into the chapter, it talks about how Satan’s final destination is the lake of fire which I consider to be a never-ending pit.

My point with all of this is that God has already won the victory. There will be no more suffering, no more pain. The pain I’ve suffered in the pit will be gone, and Satan will no longer laugh because he will be gone too. Until then, we need to keep this knowledge at the forefront of our minds by daily prayer and Bible study. We need to pray for and support each other. We need to love each other like God has commanded us to do. But, most of all, we need to remember, God has already won!

God’s blessings on you today!

Christmas is Over—Now what?

Now that Christmas is over, now what? What can give us the same anticipation that waiting for Christmas does? May I suggest sharing God’s love year round and not waiting for a special time. May I suggest displaying more patience, more grace, more joy, and more peace. May I suggest giving the world who doesn’t believe a reason to believe.

Is this a tough thing to do? Oh yes! And, why would that be? Because, all of us who do claim Christ are still broken people and still human. And, we still mess up. But, I want to do better. I want people to see Jesus in me.

A verse that is one of my favorites comes to mind. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”

So, the next time I’m tempted to yell something in traffic or the next time I’m tempted to lose my temper in a restaurant, I’m going to pray for God’s peace in my heart, and I’m going to pray for words to use so people will see God’s peace on my face.

God’s blessings on you today!

Living Water

Psalm 143:6

“I lift my hands to you in prayer; I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain.”

So, on Christmas Eve, I am reading about Living Water. It’s appropriate considering that Jesus is the Living Water that will never run out. The most prevalent example of this in Scripture is, of course, Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well recorded in John 4.  From verses 7 – 15:

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he could have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

 

The account continues with Jesus accurately predicting the woman has no husband and then telling her he is the Messiah. She tells everyone in the town, and many come to believe.

I find this Scripture encouraging on Christmas Eve because of what the birth of our Savior represents. He represents hope, peace, joy, grace, and love to us all. And, most of all, He is Living Water. Without Christ, we are parched and lifeless. But, His promise, from this passage, states that His Living Water can be ours. We can be drenched in it and filled to overflowing if we only believe. I wish this for all of you during this Christmas season.

God’s blessings on you today!

 

Prayers that Outlive Our Lives

That was the title of my devotion this morning. I’ve never really thought of prayer in this way, and it was interesting to contemplate. The Scripture was from Revelation, and the commentary talked about how prayer was living and vital and a part of heaven’s energy and how God remembers every prayer that has ever been spoken. I like that. To me, it shows that God considers our prayers to be treasures and how He holds them in sacred trust. Like when we tell a friend a secret and how that friend honors their word not to tell the secret. Since we, as human beings, are fallible though, secrets and promises are not always kept.

But, God is not a human being. God has kept every single promise He has made to us and will continue to keep every single promise. So, the prayers I offer for my children and their children and their children are held by God in a sacred trust and will outlive the life I live on this Earth.

God’s blessings on you today!

The Sting of a Guilty Conscience

Have you ever thought God might be telling you something you did was wrong? Yes, He can do this, and it’s usually through a guilty conscience. It might not even be through something you did. It might be through an attitude or a thought you had towards someone else and what they did to you. Jesus wants us to love each other and to forgive each other when bad things happen.

Forgiveness is hard though. It’s hard to ask for forgiveness, and it’s hard to forgive what has been done to us. But I will say it again. God wants us to forgive, and Jesus spoke of it often. Matthew 6:14 says, “For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.”  Another Scripture that speaks of this is from Romans 12:17-19. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge, I will repay,” says the Lord.”  Most notably, there is one very obvious reason why we should forgive. Jesus forgave all of us.

So, why don’t we forgive or ask for forgiveness? I believe there are two reasons. The first is pride. We don’t want people to know we have messed up. I still do this, even with all I have learned in the past two years about the imperfect person that I am. None of us are perfect–only Jesus is. As my pastor likes to say, “We are all dirtbags.” Pride then shouldn’t matter in asking for forgiveness, right? No, it still does.

The second reason we have a problem forgiving is because we are hurt over what has happened. While we are still in this world, we can experience pain as well as joy. Of course, pain hurts more than joy, and we, in our human frailty, have a harder time dealing with pain.

How does that change? How can we forgive and live in the community God wants us to as believers? We need to rely on Jesus for the strength to forgive and to ask for forgiveness. We cannot do it by ourselves no matter how much we might want to. And once we have, we will be back in fellowship with our amazing Lord and Savior!

God’s blessings on you today!