Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help usin our time of need.Hebrews 4:16
Recently, it occurred to me that our knees are pretty handy for us to have. Walking, running, bending down to talk to our little children. Petting our fur babies. Many other things that I can’t name at the moment. Oh yeah, that dreaded thing we all love……. HOUSEWORK! But, the one wonderful thing we can do on our knees that will give us joy is honoring God.
So, pray on your knees because:
On your knees, you can confess your sins and God will forgive you.
On your knees, you are reminded to be humble.
On your knees, you can pray to respect other people.
On your knees, you can Praise God’s Holy Name.
On your knees, you look UP and see the face Jesus.
On your knees, you can thank God for your salvation.
On your knees, you can pray for other people to accept Jesus’s gift of salvation.
On your knees, you can cry out to God for help.
On your knees, in the quietness of your prayer room, you can hear the voice of God.
On your knees, God will comfort you when you are feeling low.
On your knees, you can feel joy that you are God’s child!
So, it’s been a while. Honestly, I have been wanting to write, but just couldn’t think of anything to write. I’ve been waiting on God. Waiting to see what He wants me to write about. I guess He had other ideas. So I waited. And I prayed. Do I have writer’s block? When I started this blog I wanted each word I type to come from God. So does that mean God has writer’s block? Or is He wanting to teach me something else? Well, since I’m pretty sure God doesn’t get writer’s block, I’ll assume it’s the latter.
So that led me to do some research in the bible about waiting. When I think about the word wait, my head immediately goes to the word patience. Of which I am not good at having!! In fact, I’m horrible at it! But I also think of the word, listen. Wait and listen. When I’m waiting and listening, I’m also learning… with patience. Boy have we all had to have a lot of patience these days! The pandemic has caused a lot to go on pause for a very long time! Talk about being thrown into learning patience! Patience in waiting. Waiting for church to reopen, restaurants to reopen, schools to reopen. Patience being stuck at home with the same people. (And let me tell you, we can get grumpy and mean!) Patience getting back to work for some of us.
Paul had to wait. He really wanted to go to Rome, but it was years before he finally got to go. Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the wall around the temple. He prayed to God regarding this for 4 months until God moved! And then it was another 4 months until he got to the wall to rebuild it! There are multiple stories in the bible about people that have had to wait.
I think God has been teaching me to wait and teaching me patience through all of this. Teaching me to trust. If this pandemic had happened years ago… oh man! I’d be losing my mind! But the cool thing about this is that I’m not! I’m not freaking out! I’m at peace. There’s nothing like God showing you just how far you have come in your faith and trust in Him. And I have to say, it feels good this way. It feels good to be able to know, truly know, that I don’t have to worry because God’s on His throne, He’s in control and always has been. And if He has us, or me, waiting, it’s because He’s just got to mold me a bit more, He’s got more work to do. Then a bit more. Then maybe a little bit more. Once I stopped fighting that process, and letting God do it, things got so much easier, so much more peaceful in my heart.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the holy spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5
So, since the vaccine has been out, more and more people are getting vaccinated now. Things, I’m sure, will slowly start to come back around. Church will re-open, restaurants may start to get back to normal, jobs start up again, or for some, we will start working in the office again and the kids will be going back to school activities again. Slowly, but surely! And I think to myself, am I excited about this? Well, to be honest, it’s bittersweet to me. To be honest, I don’t want things to go back to the way they were. Why, you say? Because I think that before the pandemic and shut down, there was a lot taken for granted. People weren’t spending as much time with their families. Everyone was always rush rush!! Don’t get me wrong! I hate that this pandemic happened. My heart aches for all lives that were lost, lives that were turned upside down, and the hell that people went, and still are, going through. But I’m hoping that when we do get back to ‘normal’, we remember what it was like to not be able to go to church buildings and worship together. We remember what it was like to not be able to meet up with friends at their home just to sit together. What it was like to greet someone with a hug! That we continue to take care of each other the way we have. We remember to spend time with our family, and not put work at the top of our important things to do list. If we have made the new habit of spending time alone with God every day, that we continue to do that. Not just decide to do it ‘if we have time’. That we slow down!! That we keep caring about those who suffer from systemic racism, that changes come!! That we LOVE! Love each other.
I don’t want to lose that as we move forward into this new season. Yes, it’s exciting! Yes, thank goodness there is a vaccine and lives will be saved! But I don’t want to forget what was lost, what this taught me, how our eyes have been opened to so many things.
So maybe this is why it took so long for me to write. I think I needed to be in the place where I am today, right now, for God to say to me, ‘OK, write this!’ I pray that any of the words I have written in this blog help someone, somewhere. Even if only one person reads them, that one person may be the one that God was reaching out to!
Let’s talk about Christmas, the reason for the season. Jesus!!! God did an amazing thing on Christmas.
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:6-7
Imagine giving your only child over to people who you knew were going to torture, hurt and kill him! But loving those people so much that you do it anyway, because you want to save them.
On the other hand… imagine being that son. Willingly walking into being tortured, hurt emotionally and physically, and eventually killed. Now imagine doing that for people who you know will turn against you, but doing it anyways. Murders, sex traffickers, atheists, racists, all those people who choose evil ways.
Would you do that? Would you give your one and only child? Would you, as that child, walk head on into torture? Would you? If I’m being honest, I wouldn’t. In my head, it’s not deserved. No way would I send my son, let alone go myself!! But Jesus did! He did! That has to show just how much He loves us and wants us to be with him and feel his love!
And He didn’t come all dressed in glory…. lording over everyone who He is. Dressed in rich clothing, scaring us with his Godly presence. No… He came to earth as a little baby.
An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Luke 2:9-12
Harmless… unable to hurt anyone… relying on His mother to feed Him, change Him, protect Him. Born in a barn, laying sweetly in a manger. Acting just like any sweet baby out there. Inviting you in with His first giggles, first baby babbles, first words, first steps. Inviting you in. Not forcing you. Inviting. Because real love can’t be forced. And He wants our real love.
This year has been so tough. So much has happened and I’m quite sure it isn’t over yet. But in all of this, through all of this, there is one thing that will never change. That’s how much Jesus loves us. That God came to us in Jesus so we could be saved and know real love. Emanuel, God with us… this is Christmas. This is real love. Christmas is NOT canceled! Nothing can stop us from celebrating Jesus and what He has done for us!
May you and yours be blessed with the knowledge of Jesus’s deep love for you. Merry Christmas to all!!!!
I have to be honest, I have been struggling with writing lately. I guess you would call it writer’s block? But I am just going to assume that God just hasn’t wanted me to write anything lately. I told myself when I started this that I wanted each blog to be something that I was sure God wanted me to share, and I pray over each one before I click that ‘publish’ button.
This morning, however, I felt the need to write about giving thanks. About giving thanks in the year 2020. About giving thanks in this pandemic that has touched so many lives. I feel like we have so much to be angry about, to complain about, to grieve about and be just plain upset about. But I also feel like we have a lot to be thankful for!! And in no way is it my intention to take away from those that have lost. To those that have lost, I’m so sorry and I pray for you daily. I ask God to ease your pain, give you peace and take care of you.
So what do we have to be thankful for? When I try and think on this question for myself, I think of ‘time’. It’s been so long since I have had this much time. And some might think that is a bad thing. I know some that love to keep busy all the time! And our world basically tells us that if we are not busy doing things, than we must be lazy!! So where does that leave time for our families? Our friends? For time with Jesus? For time to read the word?
I’ve got to admit that at first I was like, what am I going to do with all this time? What can I make myself busy with? I’m working from home now, I hardly ever get out anymore. Maybe I will work on my house! I can do something in the backyard! OH! I know! I can start sewing again! But I kept feeling this tug at my heart to read my bible more. So, I dropped a lot of those things I was keeping busy with, and started reading the word. And I’m so grateful for that tugging I felt, because I’ve never been this close to God. I’ve never felt more spiritually grown. I’ve never had this much hope! Hope in the middle of all of this craziness and uncertainty. This is peace beyond all understanding! Because of this time coupled with this hope, my heart has more time and room for the other things in life that I may have been too busy for before this pandemic.
So, I’m thankful for this time. Time that, if I’m honest, I probably would have never taken on my own. Time at home, time with my family, time with myself, and time with Jesus!
But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the sovereign Lord my refuge; and I will tell of all your deeds. Psalm 73:28
But it’s also so easy for me to get caught up in the bad news of the world. I mean, I turn on the TV, and it seems like there is NEVER any good… especially on the news. Even our commercials lately have been politicians putting each other down and creating division, just so they will be elected and have power. It’s almost like someone doesn’t want anyone to get along, or be happy. Like someone wants to create all this havoc for his own reasons. I’m pretty sure that someone is the devil.
I’ve come to realize that I’m actually starting to be thankful for that constant bad news. YUP! I’m thankful for those politicians. I’m thankful for the news and the misleading news. You know why? It has pushed me further into a closer relationship with Jesus. I have never hungered for the truth more than I do in these days. I have never wanted love from an everlasting, never forsaking, trustworthy father like I do these days. I have never wanted to look at my own thoughts and my own self beliefs more than I have these days. I have never wanted to love people, against all efforts of the devil trying to create hatred, more than I do now. So take that satan!!! And in a world full of hatred, anger, and fear, isn’t that what Jesus would have his children do right now? Love each other? Be the light?
For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. Ephesians 5:8-11
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
So, this year, I’m thankful for different things. I mean, I’m still thankful for my home, my job, to be able to live where I live. But no other Thanksgiving holiday, no other year I’ve lived through, has ever taught me just how thankful I am for time. For the time I’ve had with Jesus. The time I’ve had to read my bible. The time I’ve had getting closer to my church and worship family. The time I’ve had at home with my youngest son. (He’s our last kid at home, so I’m treasuring it.) The time I’ve had with my husband. The time I’ve had to grow in a way I never have before. Thank you Jesus!
I pray that you all have a safe, healthy, and loving Thanksgiving this year. I pray that you know Jesus and if you don’t, please reach out to me and I can talk to you about Him. He loves you so much! And He has never stopped working for our good and loving us. And, lastly, I wish this blessing for you all…
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face towards you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
You know all those people you see? Those people on Instagram and Facebook? Those perfect families, perfect worship leaders, perfect pastors? Those people you compare yourself to? The ‘perfect’ ones? I know them. So many days I have sat in my own misery of judging myself and comparing myself to these people. Convincing myself that a perfect and holy God could never use me for His glory. But these people… these people He can use.
Then my mind wanders to another thought. Who am I to even think that these people would even want anything to do with me? The person who made so many bad choices in her life. The person who basically made a mess of her life. They probably look at me thinking, ‘Oh that poor girl! She tried so hard, but she’ll never make it. Just be nice to her. EGR! Extra Grace Required!’
I mean seriously! Those are the thoughts that have gone through my head. And I bet you’re thinking, ‘Oh come on! You can’t really think that way.’ But oh yeah! I do go there in my head. And it happens quite often. More than I’d like to say.
Satan loves it when I go there. That way he can keep me down. Keep me living in self pity, self doubt, and low self esteem. And you know what? Maybe there really are some people out there who think of me as not good enough and an extra grace required person. But God doesn’t think of me that way! He loves every bit of me! Satan would really love it if I stayed in that misery and those false beliefs.
So how do I beat those stories in my head? I start feeding my brain with the truth. I pick up my bible. I talk to God. I invite the Holy Spirit in and remind myself of what He thinks of me. He loves me so much that He sent his own son to die for me… for us!!!
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him. John 3:16-17
Wow! How amazing is that? And this…
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 1 John 3:1
We are children of God! I am a child of God! He wants me to be His child! I must be worth something! There must by something useful in me! The one true king loves me and accepts me! I’ve heard it said that it’s not my business what other people think of me. But I know what God thinks of me, He thinks of me as his child and His friend.
I truly believe right now, in these crazy times, we are in a HUGE spiritual battle. There is so much going on in the world and satan is just roaming around, loving what he’s doing. Those thoughts that pop up in your head, you know the ones… ‘You’re not good enough to do that. You’re not pretty enough. Why would you even think you would get that job?’ Those thoughts aren’t coming from God. And boy does the evil one, the prince of lies, have lots of time right now to get in our heads during this quarantine.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12
So I want to say this to you today, sweet friends. Don’t listen to that voice! Satan is a liar! You ARE beautiful! You CAN do that thing you thought you couldn’t do! You WILL bring glory to God! You ARE enough! You ARE worthy!
I feel lost. I feel useless. I feel guilty. I feel angry.
This season has been so hard! And I have gone back and forth in my head about sharing these feelings because I feel that as a Christian, maybe I shouldn’t feel this way. Shouldn’t I be looking for the good in everything? Shouldn’t I be asking God what He wants me to do to serve right now? Shouldn’t I feel OK with taking a ‘break’ from everything I was doing prior to the pandemic? Shouldn’t I realize how blessed I am, when others have much less and a lot more bad things happening to them?
But… aren’t I also human? With very human emotions? Isn’t it OK for me to feel this way? Doesn’t God already know how I’m feeling? So many questions. So many feelings. I think the answer is, yes, He does know how I’m feeling. Yes, it is OK to have these feelings. And, yes, He does want me to go to Him with all of these questions and feelings! That’s how much He loves me!
So here it is. I want to sing at church again! I want to go to the store without pandemic rules! I want to hug people again! I want my son to be able to enjoy drumline, marching band and school again! I want to sneeze in public without feeling like everyone is staring at me! God… I know you can make this stop! So, why don’t you?
Am I the only one feeling this way? Kind of like a shell of a person? I mean, I see others who seem to be taking this all in stride. So why aren’t I? I was happy with my life before this pandemic. It was full of joy, serving and singing at church and going to my son’s competitions, among other things.
Then come those feelings of jealousy creeping in. Boy does the evil one love to use jealousy, doesn’t he? Like, why do some people get to continue in their ministry, when I can’t? Why can’t they figure out ways to include everyone? Why are all of the new ministry opportunities during the week when I can’t do it? I see so many videos and pictures of those who get to serve, while I’m working from home and making sure my son is completing his online school each day.
Am I even a good person anymore? What would I say if God asked me, ‘What did you do for my kingdom during the pandemic?’ What would I say?
Have I put my identity in all of those things? Am I feeling like this because of that? Or have I put my identity in Jesus? Our Father says, ‘My grace is sufficient for you.’ Oh man! That kind of stings! I mean, that is convicting my heart right now! You know why? Because I HAVE been putting my identity in all of those things, instead of where it belongs… in Jesus! I’m not allowing His grace to be sufficient for me! Maybe this is what God is trying to teach me.
Paul said in Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
I love how Paul credits everything to God! He is truly allowing God’s grace to be sufficient for him. This is how I want to be! This is what I’m allowing God to teach me.
I’m a work in progress! Thank goodness Jesus is so patient with me… because man am I stubborn!! Ha ha! He’s teaching me through these losses that my identity is found in Him and Him alone. That His grace is sufficient for me. Everything else… ministry, singing, and writing, will then fall into place. In His time.
Change… learning from mistakes and failures… heartbreaks… all of these suck! Sorry, but it’s how I feel. I mean, why do we have to go through bad things? When I was younger, I used to wonder this all the time. If God is such a good God, then why do bad things happen? If God is God and He can do anything, why doesn’t He just stop all the bad? Anyone else ever have these questions?
Well, as my pastor says, we’re not in Heaven yet. We are still living in a broken world, which was broke the day Eve and Adam ate the apple. The enemy wanders this world, looking for ways to trip us up, bring us down, and turn us away from God and each other.
I’m now learning to kind of look forward to hard times. I never would have said that in my 20’s or 30’s, trust me! (Aaand… I just gave up the fact that I’m way past my 30’s! OOPS!) But I’m starting to learn that when I’m in those hard times, God can really mold me… if I let Him. And I think that’s the key, really. Letting Him, trusting Him, knowing that He is still good no matter how much bad is happening, and praising Him through it.
Romans 5:3-5 says… More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
Boy, I must have a lot of endurance and character! Ha ha!! But, have I let it produce hope in me? Or anger and bitterness?
I think for a long time in my life, I let it produce anger and bitterness. I was always so mad at God, blaming Him for everything. As if I had nothing to do with my own choices, or the outcome of them. I was walking through life thinking, ‘No one is going to tell me what to do!’ And then getting mad at God when I suffered the consequences of my own actions. I wasn’t having a close relationship with Him or studying His word enough to know the real truth. I just made assumptions about who He was, his character, and going off the few verses I remembered out of the bible. Have you ever judged someone or made assumptions about someone before really knowing them? Show of hands please!!! I’m pretty sure we all have, if we’re honest. Well, that’s what I was doing to God.
When I decided to take the time to get to know Him, to get in the word and really study it and let Him speak life and truth into me, I realized that it’s impossible for God to be a ‘bad and mean’ God. It goes totally against His character. It says it throughout the bible.
This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you. God is light, in Him there is no darkness at all. 1 John 1:5
The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far He has removed our transgressions from us. Psalm 103:8-12
There are so many verses about His character, love and goodness. These are just a couple!
There’s still the question of why that pops up in my head though. Why do bad things happen? Why does He allow it? And then I remind myself that we’re not in heaven yet. That I may never know why and that I still need to trust God. I need to remember that the bible doesn’t promise us a pain free, easy life. Especially if we choose to follow Jesus. But Jesus does say…
…In the world you have distress. But be encouraged! I have conquered the world. John 16:33
Thank you Jesus!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
God is always good through it all. God will always love us through it all. Keep praising Him. Keep trusting Him. He will come through. He has already conquered the world.
My sweet friend Marcia Caine is a blogger as well, and has sweetly allowed me to share one of her blogs on my site. This is such a relevant blog in these times and such a good reminder that we need to be ready and stay alert. And most of all, ‘roll up our sleeves and get to work’!
I’m reading the Message translation of the Bible this year and recently read the following verse:
1 Thessalonians 5:3 I don’t think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—“We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!”—suddenly everything will fall apart. It’s going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.
Doesn’t this sound familiar? Isn’t this just what happened to us? I don’t know about you, but I was enjoying 2020. Work was going well, I looked forward to continuing my ministries with the Food Pantry and On A Wing and a Prayer, serving the homeless, singing with the choir, and was even having a song I wrote sung in one of the venues of my church. I had great plans. My birthday was coming up on March 20th, and I was going to be celebrating with friends that weekend, followed by some smaller celebrations, including a party at work.
However, suddenly, on Friday, March 13th, my boss told me not to come back to work until further notice. The following day my friend let me know that the club where my party was to be held was closed down. I was urged to stay at home for my own safety and the safety of others, and life as I knew it stopped. Just when, as the verse above says, I thought I had it made, here came some virus called the Coronavirus aka COVID-19.
Fast forward to May 25, 2020. Things are slowly getting better. California is opening up again. People are dining in restaurants for the first time in months. We are back at the parks, trails, and beaches in droves. We are able to get our hair cut! Now we can take it easy. Even though we have been warned that we will have to alter the way we live by wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, we are celebrating victory over COVID-19. We seemed to have it made once again.
And then, just as the scripture says above, suddenly everything fell apart again when four police officers determined that George Floyd’s life didn’t matter.
Both the virus and the rioting came “as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.” This really is a perfect description of how quickly our lives changed. Anyone who has ever gone through a routine childbirth knows that one minute you are pregnant, and the next, without warning, your water breaks, the contractions start, and hours later you are a mommy. The timing is always a surprise even though you have been pregnant for 9 months.
I would like to say that things have gotten better since May, but they really haven’t. Although in Orange County businesses are reopening, that good news is clouded by the fires, hurricanes, protests, the killing of both protesters and police officers, as well as the continuing division of our nation. In a world like this it is difficult to know what is next, but whatever is ahead, 1 Thessalonians 5:3 warns us that we can’t be complacent.
If the past six months are any indication, we need to be prepared for anything, including Jesus coming back at any minute. Are we ready? Will our loved ones and friends be with us when we are whisked off to Heaven? This is something to really think about today. Is there someone in your life that needs to hear about Jesus and salvation? For me, I am convicted by these thoughts. I know I need to roll up my sleeves and get to work!
This is a tough one. Just the word forgiveness makes me squirm. It makes me think that I’m letting people off, for some reason. Like I’m saying, what you did is OK. It took me a long time to learn that is not what it’s about. I remembered a sermon from years ago that taught me that.
Does anyone else save their hand out notes from church? Or is it just me? Ha Ha!! I decided to find that particular sermon note, (which is the note pictured above). And I’m glad I did! It’s such a good reminder! And at the same time, it showed me how much more I need to grow.
Our own human nature, and the way our minds have basically been programmed, is to think that forgiveness means that the person who committed the offense gets away with it. We say to ourselves, ‘I’ll never forgive them! I’ll never forget what they’ve done!’ And then we walk through life carrying that heavy load of anger, bitterness, and hatred for that person. Letting it weigh us down day after day after day. Wondering why we are suffering from health issues, triggers which throw us into frenzies, and not understanding why we have closed our hearts to people who truly love us and want the best for us. Who, then, are we really hurting with this unforgiveness?
That particular sermon that I previously spoke of had some points that hit my heart to the core. Pastor Rick Warren preached…
Forgiveness isn’t conditional. Forgiveness isn’t minimizing the seriousness of the offense. Forgiveness isn’t resuming a relationship without changes. Forgiveness isn’t forgetting what happened.
Did you read that? Forgiveness isn’t forgetting what happened. It doesn’t minimize the seriousness of the offense.
Psalm 130:3-4 MSG says… If you, God, kept records on wrongdoings, who would stand a chance? As it turns out, forgiveness is your habit, and, that’s why you’re worshiped.
Look at that! Forgiveness is God’s habit!
Seriously, guys, I’ve had some people in my life who have done horrible things to me. And here God wants me to make it my habit to forgive? And how many times?
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’ Matthew 18:21-22 NIV
OK, how hard is that?? I can’t even bring myself to say in my head that I forgive certain people. Now you want me to say it over and over?
Then I hear it again… ‘Do you trust me?’
So, going back to when I said I’ve been hurt by a lot of people in my life. I mean, it was hard to start forgiving. But I did, I took that first step. And you know what? It took a weight off my shoulders. It felt good. And I wasn’t letting anyone off. I was taking that bitter weight off!
The past 6 months have carried a lot of hard things in my life, my family’s life and I’m quite sure many of your lives. A close friend passed away from cancer at the end of February. I got cranial shingles a couple weeks after that. Then the pandemic hit. (Will I still be able to work?) Then I found out I had to deal with skin cancer and all the fun stuff that came with it. We had a death in our family. And then another death brought me to writing this blog.
My youngest son’s father passed away just a couple of weeks ago. A call from the county coroner at 5:40 AM on 8/25/20 brought this news. But, you see, here’s the thing, we haven’t communicated with him since my son was around 7 or 8 years old for many reasons. (My son is 16 now). However, the first thing that was put on my heart was forgiveness. It was almost like my son’s father was standing there in that room asking for it. And God knew I needed to forgive this man. And so I said it. I said it out loud, in a room by myself. Because God asked me to. Because God does it too. Because He knows it heals.
It doesn’t mean that anyone got away with anything. It just means I’m letting it go. I’m removing it’s grip on me. And I hope that for the things I may have done to anyone else, that they learn to forgive me. Not to let me off the hook, but so they can heal and move forward. Because God knows I am not perfect, and I have done plenty in my life that may have hurt other people.
I hope my kids learn this as well. To forgive means to heal. And forgiving is what God does constantly for us.
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14
Forgiveness may be a word that makes you cringe as well, but let me tell you, it’s way better than letting bitterness fester a black hole into your heart. Just try it. I promise, it’s worth it.
So, the other day I was watching an old 80’s movie. The film started in a park, on Easter, with kids running and playing together. Adults were hugging each other, saying hello. There were people having a picnic together. There was an Easter egg hunt. It was sweet. (The movie was Steel Magnolias for anyone who wants to know. And of course I was bawling at the end!)
Then you know what happened? I got really sad. Because those were the good old days when we could be around each other. We could hug, shake hands, stand closer together than six feet, meet friends for a picnic, WITHOUT MASKS! It seems like so long ago! I never thought I would see the day when I would get sad about something like that. You know, not being able to be around people? I feel like we are living in a sci-fi movie. Anyone else feel that way? With the masks on everyone?!
And then came the time when we finally got to move forward a bit. Stores opened, restaurants opened, churches were allowed to open up for in-person services… one step forward!!! Oops, just kidding, two steps back. Come on, Father! I know you can do anything! Why would you give it and then take it away. We were almost there! Almost to the ‘promised land’. What now?
And there it is again…’Do you trust me?’
I started to feel a bit like a complainer. Like when the Israelites left Egypt and started their trek to the promised land. They started complaining right from the start! Exodus 14:10-12As Pharaohapproached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’?It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
Seriously? They are basically telling Moses they would rather be owned, in slavery, most likely treated horribly, work every single day in the hot sun… until they die! They wanted to go back to the way things were. Kind of like how a lot of people are feeling right now.
That wasn’t the only time they complained. They complained about not having water. Exodus 17:3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?’
They complained about not having food. Exodus 16:3 The Israelites said to them, ‘If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.’
At another point in time, they decided that Moses took too long on the mountain with the Lord, so they made their own idol as their god. Exodus 32:1 When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, ‘Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’
Even though they had seen time and time again what God will do for His people, they still weren’t trusting Him. I mean, come on! They saw the Red Sea part and walked through it on DRY LAND! There was a pillar of cloud by day to lead them and a pillar of fire by night to lead them. They saw water come out of a rock. And each evening quail came to them and each morning manna fell from the sky to feed them! How can they still doubt? Man these people are hard headed!! And what should have been a 11 day trip to the promised land ended up being a 40 year trip!
But if I’m being honest, I’m just as hard headed as them! I’ve been grumbling and complaining. I’ve been quick to get mad at God because he hasn’t fixed things. I’ve been sitting here saying, why can’t we go back to the way things were? We were much better off! People can get ‘herd immunity’! Wear your mask, open everything back up!
Yet God is so patient with us! I can’t see what God can see. He sees the big picture. And when I say things like 99% of people recover from this virus, I need to remember that people aren’t just a number! What about those 1% that lose their lives, or could lose their lives? What about how I go around reminding people that God leaves the 99 for the 1? Does that 1 only matter when I talk about specific things? No! That 1 always matters to God and should also matter to me! Am I just caring about myself at that point? Because I know God doesn’t teach me to be selfish like that. But if I’m honest, I have been having those selfish thoughts and I don’t want to be that way.
So, will I trust God? YES! Will I do what my Father asks through this pandemic? YES!! Will I continue to complain and grumble and moan? (I may screw up on this one every once in a while, but I am going to try really hard not to!)
God knows what He’s doing, He knows how things will happen. He’s still on His throne! He’s still the one who is ultimately in control no matter what anyone thinks!
And do I really want things to go back to the way they were? I see how much I’ve grown through these times and how much I am continuing to grow. How my relationship with Jesus is so much stronger. I see how many people are coming to Him at food pantries. I see things starting to change for my black sisters and brothers and people of color. Eyes are being opened. Conversations are happening. Our Father’s family is growing!! Maybe through this pandemic, He is transforming His people in this world for the better. Let’s just hold on a bit longer! He’s got this!