Tag Archives: relationships

Light Up the Room

15 Feb

By Beckie Halaska

People have often spoke of my light, post divorce 2010. There is a very real reason for this.

The light that people comment on isn’t because I am special in some way. I am not. I am loved by but no more special to God than the very least, the very worst of his creation.  I like to remind myself of this often or I get a bit too me focused, too approval needing. God finds us all special;  The homeless man, the man that murdered someone, the drug addict, the prostitute, the liar, the betrayer, the bully, the wealthy, the “saintly”, and even the successful, when they are humble and stewards of Him. When they use their blessings to shine the light back to Him.  He is the light. Not us. We are simply just the reflection of the light, and let’s face it, we are not always shiny! I’m not!

There is this perception out there, among both Christians, Jews and non-believers that when we say we are Christians, we become instantly like God, that we now should measure the rest of the world by how they uphold every law of God.
First of all, we aren’t capable, none of us, of that kind of perfection. We have sin in us, all of us do. The truth is, all sin is equal in the eyes of God. (Matthew 5-7).  The absolute truth of salvation is this, we have three choices: Believe in nothing, believe we have to live by the law and be perfect in it, (be a good person, that’s enough…are you able to be that good all the time?) or we can accept our need for an intercessor because living by law makes us fail every single day. Living by the law makes us finger pointers or with a sense of failure in light of those that live better than we do. Comparison is lethal!  There is also the believer, the hopeful believer that there is more to this story of God, and we believe, deeply or sort of, but it really isn’t a defining part of our lives. We may attend church sporadically, or maybe just the major ones (just in case) we may feel guilty on those occasions, because what if it actually matters? (this was me my whole life, fear and guilt but no real foundation or relationship to that weird place). Or we can be the rejector’s because God wasn’t the genie we wanted Him to be. We wanted to not have to suffer,  even though He did for us. He never said it would be easy, He just said you will never be alone in it.

My story, which I share openly, was that I found God at the bottom of me. I was suicidal, going through empty nesting and divorce. I was tired of living this hard, hard life and not finding any absolution, more than that, not finding love and acceptance. Depleted from striving for all that I felt, in the end, I had failed at, mostly love. I had no sense of belonging to this world. When you have decided that people or success are your mirror of who you are, how you are, there is not a good enough human able to fill that void!  It was all so heavy within my spirit, too heavy. The day I planned my suicide was the day God took me out of the wilderness and set my feet into His Glory instead.
Instead of taking my life that night, which was perfectly planned, I broke. I broke and cried from the depth of my soul. It was a cleansing with Him. He replaced the betrayals, the abuse, the hopelessness, the guilt, the shame, the fear, the empty with His light of hope; Hope beyond all Hope. I found acceptance and freedom from a life of lies and betrayals, hurts and failure.

There was, in that waking up the next day, a joy and a hope for sure, but more than that, His light was in my face. Like Moses. My life didn’t suddenly become so wonderful. Not even close. I have suffered incredibly in the 10 years since I found a hand to grasp, a hope to hang on to and a peace that absolutely sits in me, even in the worst of times. When my son was lost in his addiction, I had peace. When I married a conman and learned a thousand lessons, I had hope. When I lost loved ones, I had a joy that no one can explain, because they went home to be with the Lord.  Let’s get this right, right now. Not in any, not one, of my trials did I behave perfectly, saintly, without sin nor was I not humbled, convicted, in need of laying at the foot of the cross. But I was able to do that, go to Him, fully exposed, no lies between us, no pride,  knowing I was welcomed and set free from any bondage from those choices, though they cost me.  I was free and still accepted by my God, because of the blood of Jesus. Every. Single. Time. That my friend is what being a Christian is about. Surrender and Hope. Learning and growing. Seeking and finding.

This light that shines so brightly on my face is because I have been in the presence of God Himself. Because He dwells within me.  His word lights up my face. Worshipping Him lights up my face. Prayer lights up my face. Because my heart is set on Him and not me. That is where the light is found. Him. Not me. Not because of me. But because of Him. Just Him.

 

Exodus 34:29-30,34-34
The Radiant Face of Moses
29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.

Proverbs 27:19
As in water face reflects face,[like a mirror] So the heart of man reflects man.

Matthew 5:14-16
14 You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. 15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.

John 8:12
Jesus, the Light of the World
12 Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.”

Psalm 119:105
105 Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.

John 1:5
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

1 John 1:5-9
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Psalm 27:1
The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?

Luke 11:34-35  (AMP)
34 The eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is clear [spiritually perceptive, focused on God], your whole body also is full of light [benefiting from God’s precepts]. But when it is bad [spiritually blind], your body also is full of darkness [devoid of God’s word]35 Be careful, therefore, that the light that is in you is not darkness.

Revelation 21:23
23 And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.

Psalm 119:130
130 The unfolding of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple.

 

The Christian Journey

16 Dec

This is to my family of believers and my skeptical faith walkers;  My Sunday traditionalists and my in the deep end of bible banging believers.  We are all in this together and it isn’t easier for any of us. Not one of us has it all perfected, not one of us is able to judge another, able to cast a stone. Not one of us is so right.

Faith is so hard! We are instinctively (because we have sin in us) so legalistic, so prideful, so quick to be disappointed, quick to fear, quick to judge. We look at the world and see the wrong in other’s. The bible was recorded for each of us, individually.  It is the living word of God written just for each of us, for our own personal journey with our Father.

We can get so weary on this road at times. This world can be hard on us. Mostly because we look to the world for our perception of how it should look and not to the gospel. The gospel is clear! It’s going to be hard, you are going to mess it up a ton of times and it’s going to be amazing, mind blowing beauty.

So many of our scriptures remind us to not love the world but rather the creator of the world; to not grow weary in doing “good”, to not grow weary in the race-he isn’t talking about a physical race.

There is the Facebook factor, the self-help factor, the constant barrage of comparison; The need to fit in, the need to belong, the need to be happy.

Here is the truth.  If we acknowledge that God is sovereign,then everything else is less than. It means He is in charge.  We have not just a worlds perception but even worse, an American perception of how it’s supposed to look.  The pursuit of happiness. Let’s remember the woman holding her starving child in another country, or let’s remember the woman who has to hide her faith or be murdered, stoned to death. If the teaching/lesson from the scriptures are not true for all, it’s not true at all.

God in the Gospels reminds us to set our sights on Him. Paul reminds us to keep going even when it’s hard. To be a beacon of hope, not perfection, but hope. Hope, even when, not if, but when, it gets beyond difficult.

If we believe we are set apart for heavenly places, then why on earth would we let the sinful side of this dark world bring us down?

The Sermon on the Mount puts everything into perspective. Everything comes back down to us; Our relationship with Christ. Do we really believe what He is saying to us? Do we really believe He came to set us free? Do we really believe we are solely responsible for every thought, every word, every reaction and every response? Do we really believe that when we submit it all to Him, process it all from a faith journey rather than it being all on our shoulders, we are forgiven, cared for, provided for,  free?

If we really believe His words, there would be no room for offense, for fear, for self-focus, for longing, for weary.  We would not put people in a position above him to be able to affect our peace, our hope, our joy. But, He knew our journey would be hard here, so He provided us the grace when we mess up. Which we will and do, constantly.

Being a christian is not about being any single way, not about being so great at this, it is a state of constant turning back to Him and humbling ourselves and saying “You have this, I surrender, I trust you, I believe you are providing all that I need and protecting me even when I can’t see it, I believe you will work this all out for my good and your purposes. Thank you. “  That’s the light that shines in us, our joy that spills over from that kind of love and hope.

If you read the Psalms in order, it can feel so much like our lives. Psalm 19 is so beautiful, so full of perfect worship, Psalm 22 is so stressed out, so rock bottom, then Psalm 23 is so perfect. David was a mess! He had family dynamics, he cheated, he had not just one but several wives. It wasn’t about him, but rather we were gifted the beauty of seeing what surrender and a seeking heart looks like. That is faith, that alone is a such a great lesson. This will be our walk and our journey until the day we are made whole and perfect in heaven with Him. Not about how well you do, it’s about continually turning back to him, continually remembering. Continuing to love Him with your whole messed up, broken heart. He is the Lord your God and He is doing a beautiful thing.

Even when you can’t see it. Thank you Jesus! This is where our hope and joy come from! Hallelujah what a savior.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205-7&version=NKJV;MSG

Re-done

2 Dec
If I were to come up with a description for the past decade it would be Re-Creation.
I went back to church 10 years ago this month. I remained unable to really connect the dots of faith to my why until July 2010. Entering this decade brokenhearted, lost and so unsure of my why; ‘Why was I here? What did I have to live for? ‘ These were some very overwhelming questions for me.
I often quote my friend Pastor Brent Knox.” I am either in a trial or between a trial.” Such truth!
Nothing lasts forever except The One who created it all. No trial, no moment. But, His love endures forever.
Isaiah 40:28 says “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.”
Endings are as much a part of life as beginnings are. Grief and joy, peace and struggle, gain and loss…. Nothing is without meaning and value, but nothing is done without Him beside us and the Holy Spirit within us. He is sovereign. Always. We choose to trust in faith or struggle alone.
This is the hope I hang on to every day. He has it all figured out, and it’s all meant for my good and His glory.

There is perfect peace to be found in the bumpy journey, even when it all falls apart. I am so grateful to have found this joy. This life is so not easy, and it will only become more difficult as we grow older.

Joy isn’t happiness, joy isn’t laughter. Joy is deep. It is resting assured in faith that I don’t have to have the answers, that I am deeply cared for, loved beyond measure, I am not alone, and one day, this will all be new. I will live forever with Him.

Joy is pouring this truth into another life;Being able to be completely transparent, no longer having to pretend I have it all together. I don’t!

Joy is knowing that even if I made a huge mess of a thing, even if all the pieces make no sense; I don’t have to have the vision of the future. He does. I just need to be so in touch with Him, so patient, so steady.  He will not leave me, nor forsake me. Men may leave me. friends may, but not God. Joy is confidence in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The one truth remains, our lives are still so rich with blessings. Our trials become our lessons and the lessons become our testimony. When we give them all to Him, He uses our difficult testimonies to bless other’s.

This heart is so grateful, even for the hard, the goodbyes and the trials. This girl is glad for the decade of crazy, coming to a close. This girl is grateful for every mistake, every tear cried, every lesson, every sorrow. Without each of them I wouldn’t be me. I wouldn’t be where I am.

I love this re-creation of me. He is pretty smart!

Phillippians 1:6 “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Forgotten

2 Nov

As my mother slowly began to slip away from us, it became clear to us that it was time to draw close. To not leave her at all. She would speak to us a bit but would tire quickly. Everything had been said long before. Now it was just time for each of us to see to her comfort and to say our goodbyes.

It was an honor and a blessing to be beside as my mother crossed over to heaven. I thought of those that have gone before, my father, my uncles, my aunts, my friends. I began to reflect on her time the months prior. The trip we took to spend fun time with as much family as we could gather; the visits each of us took to be one on one with her while she was still able to enjoy our visits. Now, we prepare for her funeral, a family united by love of our mother.

I rested today. There was this nagging thought that would not leave my mind. Not of my mother, but of the countless men and women I see in the nursing homes and Veteran’s home, day after day in my work. So many of these people will die with no one holding their hand, praying over them, caring for them. (Yes this would be one more huge reason for Hospice at end of life!)

I recall the social media cry for people to attend the funeral of a veteran in Sarasota that had no family. It was touching. It was an event one could “check in” at, did you know this? You could let the world know you do good deeds.

What if your good deed went vaguely unnoticed by the world but made a huge impact on the life of a human being. Without knowing what the reasons are for living life in a nursing facility, without any family or friends to stop in, to check on you, I have to ask… Does it matter?

These facilities do religious services within those institutional walls, but then the crowd dies away and for the remaining 23 hours, with the exception of an aid or a nurse, your day is spent alone. Waiting to eat; Waiting in your chair, or your bed.

How lovely would it be if we began to “foster” the lonely nursing home patients? If the social media cry was to “rescue” an invalid or dementia patient; an ALS patient or Parkinson’s patient. Maybe your calling is to visit the veterans and visit with them, spend time letting them feel valued and seen?

We are a nation of “see me” and “look at what I did” and “listen to my opinions”; “Make me feel important”, “I am enough”. Can you imagine how completely important a selfless act of time and friendship would be to someone that is invisible, unseen, forgotten?

This is not the grief I anticipated, nor the sadness I thought I would process today on this beautiful Saturday.

My mom is no longer.here Her new life began on Tuesday, when she became a bride in heaven. She doesn’t need a funeral, we do, we need the closure. Her suffering has ended and she is rejoicing. I am rejoicing for her. There will be tears I am sure. She will be missed but she is no longer ever going to feel anything remotely close to suffering, regret,sorrow or loneliness.

Have you been lonely? I have been so lonely it took my strength away; being lonely is true suffering.

You don’t really live well until you love well and you don’t love well until you give it away selflessly to someone who can never repay you.

I encourage you to give this thoughtful consideration.

When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Romans 12:13

God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another. 1 Peter 4:10

And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God. Hebrews 13:16

 

Precious Time

1 Oct

I broke a mug today.  Not a big deal on most days, but this morning, my broken mug became my catalyst for a good cry.

This is a daughter’s hospice story. This is end of life. Finding joy and grief so intertwined. This is love.

As my mother nears her end of life, I am still learning from her. She is still the teacher. Her peace is calming, reassuring. Her strength still shows, though her body is so frail, the strength of this woman’s soul is very present. Her faith rock solid.

Tears fall, but there is also a smile in my heart.  Grief is like that. My siblings and I are all gifted this precious time with her. Each of us spending our one on one time with our beautiful mom; To care for her, sit with her, talk with her as months turn to weeks and weeks to days.

My mom has done the unimaginable in this life. I think I am only really seeing ALL she has done in her lifetime because I can’t take her for granted any longer. I am so blessed to have this time with her, to have the gift of complete awareness of my mother, who she is.

Born with a heart defect, I think there was a part of us that always worried we would lose our mom. I also think ,because she always seemed to just take stuff in stride and bounce back, we grew to believe she would beat everything that came her way.  I think it made it hard for us to see our mom aging even.

As kids, the thought of losing our mom wasn’t even remotely an option for us being that our dad was not able to care for us with early onset Alzheimer’s. My mom didn’t have options, she still had little ones to raise. My mom always just did what needed to be done. She even crossed a picket line to feed her babies and keep a roof over their heads. She worked 4 jobs. We as a family learned what teamwork was and what hard work and tenacity can do. We also learned to enjoy life. We learned to value one another. What I find so remarkable is that she actually went back to school and got her Master’s plus 40. She is so amazing!

Through all of this trial and difficulty, she remained elegant and kind: Proud and strong. She beat breast cancer, she had oblation for her heart defect, collapsed vertebrae and ocular melanoma (her metastasis is from this, 16 years later, crazy!)  She never stopped, never stopped pushing through. I think there is a part of us that keeps think she will push through this too…

But she won’t.  Our beautiful mama, our energizer bunny is tired and even though it’s hard, it is well with my soul.

This is the gift of just being, of allowing and accepting my mother’s end of life instead of fighting it. Being strong doesn’t only mean choosing medical interventions, robbing one of quality.  This time of embracing my mother’s ending has been a gift. A beautiful gift of valuing and enriching this incredibly important relationship.  I could not be more inspired to do what I do every single day.

God is getting a pretty amazing angel soon, but not yet.  Today we still get the gift of more time.  I dry my tears, and I smile because today I get to do, be, affect, love, laugh, cry, feel. Today, I still get to call my mom and say, “Hi mama, I love you”.

“You matter because you are you, and you matter to the end of your life.”

-Dame Cicely Saunders

The Letter

10 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

My mom put a letter in my hands as I left her house and said “read this when you get home.”  I asked her if it will make me cry, she smiled her sweet smile and said “yes”.

I have held the letter in my hands for long minutes, staring at it, unable to open it. Wanting to hang on to the mom I have always had, strong in mind and spirit. Not ready for what is coming. Not ready to read her words.

I am so grateful for the time I am blessed to spend with her and leaving her gets more difficult. As her body grows weaker with every passing week, her spirit grows stronger. She is more peaceful, happier.

This is what the hope of Heaven looks like. Peace. I am blessed to see it in my mother’s eyes.She is at peace with her journey and is now beginning to look forward to meeting her beloved bridegroom. I am encouraged by her inner strength.

As I set the letter back down, my heart streams down my face. I say a silent prayer for her and I decide maybe I will open it tomorrow. Not tonight.

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:4 

Hope

2 Sep

by Beckie Halaska

God gave my friend and I this word last night. It was just one word. A powerful word.
I have realized that Hope is what drives everything; Everything!
We go on dates because we hope for this to be the one.
We flirt, we share, we open our hearts up because we hope for the relationship to be important, we hope for love.
We begin new jobs, plan families, plan vacations, all from hope.
We fight disease from hope.
We stay in jobs because of hope.
We invest energy, resources and time in the hopes of outcomes.
We go on diets, and begin exercising with a hope of achieving a goal.
We look forward to an event, hoping for a fun time.
We pray from hope, and sometimes we pray for hope.
Today, we pray for a hurricane to move away, we hope for safety, for lives to be spared, for change.

Hope is hugely important and drives just about all we do or desire.
The Hebrew root words to describe Hope all stem around the word trust: To trust, or worthy of trust.  To put our trust in God is to put our Hope in Him.

The entire bible is about Hope. Jesus himself was about Hope. One of my favorite scriptures is the epitome of that Hope. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

There is a hope that comes from knowing that at the end of our time here, at the end of this amazing and turbulent world, we will no longer suffer and there will be joy everlasting. What a hope this is.

There is a hope that comes from trusting that even when we can’t see an outcome, with things out of our control, God is still in charge, still working all things out for our good. There is a hope that when we look back on our lives, we can see that we always came out of hardship. All the pieces made us who we are, gave us our purpose.

When you don’t have that hope, when you are trying to do this all on your own, when you have lost the ability to see hope, find hope, we become desolate and alone. We crumble. Sometimes hope is all that is left when the suffering is great. It can be just a thread, but it is life itself. Without that thread of hope, we have nothing.

Hopelessness is a rampant disease these days. People suffering and taking their lives, because they have lost hope. Our world isn’t becoming more evil, our world is losing hope.

In all that I have gone through, in all I have done, I can only give God that credit. It is because I learned from hopelessness, that He is my hope. And all my hope comes from the Lord. I have learned to trust in His sovereignty. I am grateful to not have to shoulder everything myself and I know this world will have it’s share of suffering and sorrows, but my strength and joy comes from the hope for heaven. For eternity.  I can lean on that when all else falls apart. This life is a vapor and it without the Hope of more, it loses all meaning.
Literally no one will know most of us even lived here 2 generations from now. We are not so important to be remembered like that.
However, we are so important to those people we love and those we encounter. We are also important to God.
We can be the ones that light the fire of hope in this suffering world. One smile at a time. We can be the hope that says to one person or many, every day, “I see you, you matter”. “There is still good here”. “You are loved, even if I don’t know you, I know God and He loves you beyond measure”.

Hope. We talk about being accepting, being love, but what we really need to be is hope spreaders.  We need to share what Hope looks like, feels like, and how we found it, how we find it every day.

That is our calling here. That is our legacy for the future generations. That is our light in the dark.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. “- Romans 15:13

Little Bits of Wisdom

29 Jun

By Beckie Halaska

God has been really putting some very real truth within my heart.
Little pieces of wisdom, morsels as it becomes my understanding and knowledge.

I am not wise; He is wise. I am learning to be wise, like Him, through Him.
I am imperfect. I have very good moments. Moments that I am absolutely a useful tool for God’s love and grace. I also have moments of pure human emotion and reactions.

I can be very hard on myself, very religiously legalistic, where I expect myself to be perfect. Perfectly His image. That is a lie that Satan uses to make the world think God is not real, that our Christian faith is a joke.
I am so not perfect. I am completely human. Paul really hits home to this point in Romans 7 and 8. I am nothing without God. I will never be perfect. I will need Him always, and without that knowledge, I will either fail miserably or I will take complete credit for everything God has done on my behalf.
I had a few things happen this week that confirm I am hearing Him fully. Last Sunday morning I was talking to God that He seemed to not be close to me. I don’t “feel” him like I used to. I have all this head knowledge, but He feels far away. Later in church, as I was leaving, I saw acquaintances that were sitting behind me, we greeted one another, joked a bit, and as I walked away, God pressed hard on my heart to go back to the husband (If you know me, I have a heart for women and really don’t talk to that many men!) and ask him if he needed prayer and within my soul I knew he did and knew it was health related. He choked up because he in fact, has some very real and very new health issues. God showed off for us both.

Later in the week as I sat listening to a chaplain from work present at a meeting, he shared about how he overcomes his inner voice to minister to people at the commitment center for sexual abusers.
I realized a new layer of truth about God. I have always struggled to understand how God can allow so much suffering here, especially the kids. In that moment I saw the truth. We are here for such a brief moment. This time here is short, and our time with Him is beyond our comprehension. We will absolutely suffer here. Sometimes it just seems too much! Jesus is a perfect reminder of just how much suffering we will have here. This world is hard! We are all so imperfect and there is very real evil here. We are all fragile and suffer illness, abuse, hardships. Not one of us is above it. But God!

This does not take away our purpose here. God is Sovereign over all of it. He knew every single thing you would suffer here and also said He will not leave you alone in it. He never said you will have happiness and joy all the days of your life. You didn’t get the raw deal if you have suffered great loss, been abused or watched a child suffer. Our hearts are too pure to endure it well, for sure. He said, though, don’t focus on this world too much. This world is very hard and broken, your trials will be many amongst your blessings. This world is short, heaven is forever. Colossians 3:2. Heaven is our victory one day. This world will be no more for us and we will dwell in peace forever.

Religion and misled believers, have done a number on who God is. People have misunderstood that our relationship with God is a vertical, one to one relationship. Jesus said over and over that we absolutely cannot judge anyone’s walk with Him. Our job is to love Him so much that we can’t help but have that spill out of us. Our job is to be so humbled by our own lack of ability to perfect faith that we give the same grace to everyone we meet and especially those that harm us, or hurt us.

At the end of the day, it just doesn’t matter who loves us or doesn’t love us. It doesn’t matter how successful we are or if we are learning to be good stewards of our lives. It doesn’t matter if you have walked closely with God your whole life, have a successful marriage and family or if you have just found redemption from your jail cell. God is the equalizer. His grace, His pursuit of you, His dying on the cross for you, His love and plans for you are equal. No more, no less.

I have learned fully that even really bad people can be saved. You can be unkind, slanderous, a trouble maker, a liar, a cheat and still be saved. You can be arrogant, mean, manipulative and judgemental and still be saved. You can be super kind and righteous in your own humble way and not be saved.
It is not what we do, or don’t do. It is not sin, it is not success; it isn’t how we look to the world that saves us.

God is still that prodigal father sitting on the stoop, offering his grace through the sacrifice of His son, simply because He is love. Not because you are. Not because you are without sin. He loves us because that is who He is.

I have come to this understanding of God’s sovereignty. Our lives were planned before we were born. We will go through all of our trials and all of our joys, and at the end of the day, they are all for His purposes. To bring Him Glory. Our real free will is whether we choose Him in it or not. We sin because we have sin in us. Even when we walk close with Him. Period.

As this begins to really settle on my soul, I am filled with such a peace, knowing He has it all figured out. If I could only just keep my eyes on Him at all times and not be so wishy washy… But God.
Yes, He works it all out for our good and for His purposes. Always Grace. Always more grace.
And it is well, with my soul. Amen.

When Evil Seems to Win

30 May

There is an ever present evil in the world. We can see it every single time we open social media or turn on the news. None of us will be spared evil in some fashion.

When your life has been touched by evil, one of the biggest challenges will be to not become embittered in the battle, especially if it seems to not touch the one that caused the harm.

We want things to be fair, and when there isn’t justice, we can lose sight on what actually is true. Evil may seem like it is winning but the truth is, there is no “win” in evil, only destruction.  Evil also loves to seduce in numbers.

Maybe that is the real goal of evil, to make us really question if there is any goodness left, to stop believing in the goodness of the world. Obviously we know the goal of evil is also for us to ultimately question our faith and hope.

Guarding our hearts against bitterness is very important during this battle. Bitterness can choke out the light in us, God in us. It is a daily battle; A war for our souls.

When we filter our thoughts on what has been done, no matter what has been done, we begin the battle of unforgiveness. When we begin to want justice, we begin our battle against bitterness. The battle will be fought in many ways, but at the end of the day, the real battle with be within your own mind, your own heart.

Trials will absolutely always come. Evil will be at times, be very strong against us. It is a spiritual war and a battle for our soul. Evil will come in many forms to wear us down. There will be attacks. There will be slander. There will be times you are or feel all alone in the battle. You will feel overwhelmed, defeated at times and you will want to give up the fight.

That is exactly when we must stay focused and steadfast in our faith. Practicing even what we can’t feel. Trusting in God’s plan for our lives even when it seems so unfair or worse, impossible. Reading His promises even when we can’t seem to believe it fully. He tells us that His word never falls void. Keep reading it.

Evil utilizes comparison, isolation, judgement and fear. The word of God, prayer and steadfast commitment to Him is the anecdote.

God will always triumph. This is His story. Evil doesn’t win. We may not appear to win in this world, but we are not to conform to this world, we are to remain in Him.

Our journey is not really about our success, how we fit in, or what anyone else does, thinks or says about us.  Our journey is to become Holy.

There is only one absolute truth, we are in a vertical relationship with Christ, He and us alone. There will not be anyone else with you when you take your knee at the throne.

When evil mocks you, pray.  Tell Him your wish for justice, He understands. He believes in justice as well. He is also merciful and gave you grace.

Praying not only for your faith to remain steady and confident, but importantly, pray for anyone being used by evil. That is the greatest weapon we have against bitterness.

Grace.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

 

Suffer with Hope

20 Apr

I don’t know why we think life shouldn’t be hard?  Where did we ever get this idea from?We all (ALL) have this idea that life should be easy.  I had to work this out myself, this legalistic idea that I somehow had become “good enough” to deserve less suffering.

My non-believing friends speak about  controlling the things that happen by “what we put in the universe”

What if I told you that it was never intended to be easy or without sorrow. Jesus, the “Son Of God” himself drank from the same cup of sorrow we suffer, on our behalf.

He suffered rejection and betrayal, especially at the end of His life. He sat at a table, washed the feet of those that would abandon Him and betray Him.  The disciples fled and left him, Peter denied knowing Him; Judas sold him out!

I saw this photo and it really brings home the fullness of suffering.

Mary, who bore our King in the most difficult of ways, also had to watch Him be beaten, dragged, mocked, spit on, nails driven in his feet and hands so he could hang on the tree until he died. His side was stabbed.

This mother, aside from being the Chosen King, loved her child,her first born son!She loved him beyond measure. How her heart must have suffered! She must have begged and had her own prayers not mentioned in the bible.
Our Lord, how He suffered! Imagine the pain and the fear! His prayers in the garden, his frantic beseeching of  his friends, his disciples to stay awake while he prayed.  He was alone, afraid, he was human in that moment.

Yet, His words “Thy Will Be Done” is the overall theme of trusting in God, trust that has so much Hope behind it.

Life is hard! This world though it has life, love, joy, and health, it also has death, sickness, betrayal, loneliness, fear, unkindness, evil.  Our poor kids don’t get to see the posts on social media about all the good there is. There is an epidemic of hopelessness.

Jesus understood us.  He knows your thoughts even before you speak them and he completely understands, completely relates to you, because he walked through this world, just like us.  He is full of acceptance, love, encouragement and understanding.

If you really get to know Him and His life, you can see how he worked out his obedience through all the suffering he witnessed to and all that he endured. He modeled it all for us.
It isn’t about how you react, it’s how you walk out a trial. We work through things. It’s not that we don’t suffer at all. We will and we do.

We stumble, we fumble, we fear, we cry…BUT peace, hope and joy can co-exist within those same feelings, when we just come to Him with it all, with every bit of it. We are set free and placed back on the path. Our circumstances may not be changed, but our peace returns, even while our trial still rages.

Mary loved her son. She was chosen by God. She suffered terribly, I can’t even imagine her mama’s heart!  But Hope.

This world doesn’t need more politics, more laws, more leaders, more religion. This world needs more hope. Hope is what I see so lost in this world.

Placing our hopes on success or people, or politicians or husbands, or friends… we will never be at peace. Placing our hopes in the finished work of Christ, the hope of all hopes, our perfect salvation, the one we don’t have to work out for ourselves, gives us renewed vigor to get through everything.

There is a divine Hope, an unsinking, unshaking, unrelenting hope I have found in my Savior. It is there even when everything falls apart. I celebrate this with so much gratitude every day., even more on Easter.

Even in the hard times, even when I sorrow, fear, or have anger. He is always near.  I am unreliable to Him, but He never leaves me, nor forsakes me. He is who he says he is, no matter what we do or say.

This beautiful Easter season, find Him. Seek Him.  He died for everyone, even those that will never acknowledge Him. He is waiting, never giving up, always pursuing you.

1 Peter 1:19-20 – “He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God. God chose Him for this purpose long before the world began, but now in these final days, He was sent to the earth for all to see. And He did this for you.”