You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘sadness’ category.

They search the sources of the rivers and bring hidden things to light.

~Job 28:11 NIV~

I went to the dentist today.  A few weeks ago, I had broken a tooth and although it didn’t really hurt and it wasn’t visible to anyone else, I knew that it would do damage if I didn’t get it taken care of.  Much like the sin that holds us back from true relationship with God, if there is no tangible painful consequence (at least one that is visible to others), we often seek to work around the issue until we have the time and energy to deal with the healing or repair needed.

As I traveled to the doctor’s office this morning, whose name was oddly biblical, I thought about the areas of brokenness in my life that are keeping me from moving forward.  No one else can see them.  No one else really knows about them and they’re really only hurting me or so I believe.  So does this mean that they aren’t really bad things?  Well, no.  It really doesn’t.  Actually, it means that they are probably worse than those things which are exposed for God to work on.  Nothing is hidden from him, but the idea that if no one else knows I’m having this problem, then I’m not causing any trouble is a sure way to put some serious distance between you and God. But it’s not like He’s going to look the other way just because it’s only affecting your walk.  He doesn’t want any of His children to fail.  What hurts you, hurts Him.  Not so much because you are sinning, but because you aren’t allowing His love to cover whatever brokenness exists in you that draws you to that sin.

What is hidden is so much more damaging and insidious than that which is out in the open.  That has been proven time and again.  Of all of the family issues that we see, it is clear that those which someone seeks to cover up are those which do the most damage.  Thinking in terms of my own experience, it was recently revealed to me that I had been molested as a child.  I had always had strange memories of things that had happened to me and had just dismissed them as the product of an oddly focused imagination.  The whole thing was confirmed, however; at the worst possible time.  During a funeral for one of my dearest relatives, the perpetrator approached me and asked me to forgive him.  Now, thirty-five years down the road, the news that someone has violated you comes as somewhat of a shock.  So I did the only thing I could do, I patted him on the shoulder, told him all was forgiven and then quickly got away from him.

The whole thing threw me off base and I spent the time that I should have spent grieving for my relative, grieving instead for the innocence that I had lost so many years before I would have even realized I had anything to lose.  And that brokenness, though no one could see it and it didn’t cause any visible pain, did damage over the years that I didn’t even realize it was doing.  Having been raped when I was in my early twenties, I already understood the pain of covering something up so that no one else would know what had been done to me.  The sudden realization that there was more damage that I needed to somehow hide was almost unbearable.

I think when we have that kind of brokenness in us and we’ve hidden it for so long, we tend to have a reflexive need to continue to have something to hide.  And even if we’ve been delivered from that original brokenness, sometimes we have a hard time accepting that God really doesn’t see it as a huge flaw in His creation.  Some of it is shame, some of it is guilt, and a big part of it is pride.  When we’ve been damaged, we scramble to pick up all the pieces and shove them back into place before anyone notices that something is missing.  We hurt silently, we cry when no one is looking, and we yearn for someone to just make those feelings go away.  Yet the One who can take away that pain, we push away.  It’s something I’m not sure I’ll ever understand.  The only logical explanation for it is that the devil is working so hard to keep us from the healing we need that when he sees weakness in us, he comes at us with everything he’s got because he knows that once God starts doing His thing, we’ll be good as new.  He knows that if he bombards us with things that stir up feelings of guilt and shame that we’ll never feel like we can go before the Throne of Grace and bow before our Father to ask Him to heal us.  He knows exactly how long it takes us to get back on our feet when we’ve been knocked down.  But the wonderful things is, he’ll give up on us eventually.  God NEVER will.

So when that thing you can’t seem to fix just won’t go away, there really is only one solution.  You have to speak God’s word, you have to seek God’s grace, and you have to believe who He is and what He can and will do in your life if you let Him.  You must be steadfast even when it feels pointless to keep trying.  Especially when it feels like nothing is happening to turn things around.  You must trust in Him.  He will not fail you.  He’s here to fix what’s broken.

 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

~Deuteronomy 13:4 NIV~

Advertisements

Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.

~Proverbs 25:28 NKJV~

I used to carry myself like a tough girl…always cussing people out and daring anyone to call me out of my name.  I was angry about everything and I wanted to make sure that everyone knew it.  Keep your distance; don’t even think about trying to hurt me.  This was the attitude I had and it was born mainly out of a fear of abandonment.  I was scared to death that someone was going to pretend to love me and then end up leaving me.  The funny thing is that throughout that time, I couldn’t seem to get people to leave me alone.  There were always people who wanted to be close to me and who wanted to show me that I was worth being cared for.  I just wouldn’t believe them and I really wanted them to just back off because the fear of being hurt was more compelling at the point in my life than my need to make a connection.

Over the years, things happen.  You build walls, you tear them down, you put them back up and others knock them down.  You reinforce them and still others come to take them apart; brick by brick.  Sometimes it’s the same people who come back over and over, testing you and looking for the weak spots in your fortress.  And there really is nothing you can do to prevent it.  But there is something you can do to overcome it.  You can pray.  You can come to understand once and for all that the only foundations that stay strong are those built in Christ.  Without faith and trust in His power, anything we try to build will crumble.  Sometimes we’ll see it as clearly as if someone had taken a wrecking ball to us; sometimes it’s like they’re digging through those walls with a teaspoon.  No matter how obvious the damage, you can be sure that it is actually happening.  Even when we are walking with Christ, the enemy never stops trying to destroy what He’s built in us.  The difference lies in how we respond.

So now, some twenty years later, I look back on my reactions to the attacks I’ve suffered.  When I reacted from a place of anger, I got back more anger.  When I reacted from a place of hate, I only bred more hate.  When I reacted in fear, which wasn’t as often as it probably should have been given the situations I found myself in; the end result was something more to fear.  It was only when I began to respond with grace, mercy and a peaceful heart that I began to reap a sweeter harvest in my life.  Yes, I still have problems.  I still run into opposition and difficult times.  I’m still challenged at every turn on most days.  The difference is that now I turn to Jesus and ask Him to guide my steps.  I ask Him what I need to do to bring about the fruit that He has promised.  These things that happen aren’t an opportunity for me to lash out and prove that I can be just as hateful as the next person.  This is not the time for me to sucker-punch someone with my sharp wit.  This is the time for me to prove that God’s way works every time.  It’s time for me to show that I have no fear because my heart belongs to the one who wins every battle.

I look at my daughter and I can see that she doesn’t have a hateful bone in her body.  Her presence makes the world a better place.  I can’t say that my presence always has.  In fact, I know at least a handful of people who might say they wish they’d never known me.  I can’t go back and fix the damage that I’ve done to those relationships, but I can put forth the effort and the energy needed to make all of my future interactions something that will make a positive difference in a world that is so quick to offer up the very worst that it has on any given day.

This means that I don’t present myself as someone you don’t want to mess with.  It means I don’t think it’s cool to tell everyone all of the awful things I’ve convinced myself that I’m proud of doing to myself and others.  It means that I don’t look for any and every way possible to sabotage myself and others.  It means that I don’t take pride in running away from the plan God has for my life.  It means I surrender.  I give my life to the One who made me.  I ask Him which way is up and I avoid looking down.  I move forward with the knowledge that I am covered by His grace and mercy and that no one can take that away from me.  No one has to take it from me because He offers it to all without prejudice; without requirement, without limits.  I don’t have to defend the grace He extends to me by building walls to keep you from seeing what I’ve got.  On the contrary, I want you to know what He’s given me because I want the same for you.

And the Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely.

~Revelation 22:17 NKJV~

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives…”

~Isaiah 61:1 NKJV~

There is probably no other reason that I have called upon my God more than to help heal my broken heart. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve put myself out there only to be deceived, manipulated and ultimately hurt by those who profess their great love for me. As I was reflecting on this today, I realized why it hurts us so much when someone we love decides that we are no longer what they want. As God’s creation, we are made in His image. His spirit lives in each of us and when we hurt, he hurts. For those who operate exclusively in the flesh, the hurt comes out as an attack on those who don’t deserve to be injured by our injury. So, as we are trying to understand our walk with God, we’re either hurting to the point that we hurt others or we have been hurt so by others that we can’t help but set ourselves up to repeat the mistake time after time.

But is it wrong to hurt? No, not at all. God wants us to love one another and sometimes that love requires great pain and sacrifice that we may never understand. Love always requires some sacrifice, but there are times when it takes everything we’ve got just to move ahead of the things that attempt to drag us back to our Babylons. The more progress you make, the more likely you are to encounter hurt. But the triumph you will experience if you just press on will be amazing. We’re assured of that victory in God’s word.

It’s not that we should just cut ourselves off from all relationship for fear of being hurt again. That’s not what we’re called to either. In my own experience, just when I think I’ve got things figured out something comes back into my field of vision and tries to convince me that I wasn’t finished with whatever I’d already walked away from. Something tries to pull me backward into a mess I’d spent so much time trying to clean up. And there is no good choice available. I can either choose to go back and try it again to see if anything has changed, thus risking all of the healing I’ve done since I walked away. Or I can choose to make my demands plain up front and experience a whole new kind of rejection and heartache, thus proving that what I left behind should have stayed there in the first place.

We can heal from anything with God’s love in our hearts. If we choose to keep letting people break us, He will continue to put us back together. But we have to wake up and see whose purpose this brokenness really serves. The devil knows that if he can get someone to break your heart, you will be in recovery for a time and you won’t be able to fight the good fight until you’ve done some healing. Every little setback that he can throw in your path is worth his effort. But as usual, he’s only delaying the inevitable stomping that he’s going to get when we recover. God wants us to heal. He wants us to be able to love others even when they are unlovable. He also wants us to guard our hearts with the knowledge that it is His love that will always be there for us. It is His love that will never choose the things of this world over us. Even when we fail Him and we choose the things of the world over Him. He forgives…and He loves. And so, when someone you love chooses the things of the world over the love you offer them, let them go. Forgive them, continue to love them and give them to God.

In the same way we fail to love God as we should, people will always fall short in the way they can love us. There is nothing we can do to keep others from hurting us. Sometimes they just have no choice. They haven’t figured out that the love they will experience in the spirit when they finally embrace God is so much better than what any other person will be able to give them here. When we love from the flesh, it will always fail to meet our expectations. Only the love that comes from the spirit of God that lives in us can truly satisfy. When we get that, there is no devil in hell that will succeed in breaking our heart. With that, I’ll just say, “Well played, devil. Nice try. But my God is an awesome God and He’s already fixed what you’ve broken. Move along. There’s nothing to see here.”

Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.

~Mark 5:29 NKJV~

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

~John 10:10 NKJV~

The devil is a sneaky guy. Literally. When all of his attempts to pull your love away from God fail, he tries even harder to bring you to a place where everything you associate with God begins to hurt you. Hence the many individuals who have been hurt by churches and congregations that aren’t focused on the message of Jesus, but on gossip and backbiting and judging.  But that’s another post.  In this particular case, he caught me off guard by presenting me with what I thought might be my Boaz. For a long time, I had prayed to God that He would send me a good man. A man who loved Him first so that he could love me as a man is supposed to love his woman. Well, it took nearly three months of hell, but I finally figured out that this was just another one of the evil one’s tricks meant to sway me from my love for my God. Even what I thought God had sent had been used against me to draw me out of His love and toward the bitterness and anger that often accompanies a bad breakup.

Luckily, I look at failed relationships as successful research. If I didn’t, by now I would have sworn off men altogether. I’m not making light of this situation. My time with this man has caused me innumerable problems; many that I can’t even discuss here at this point in time. I’ll be cleaning up after this mess for a long time. In reflecting on things today, it occurred to me that just as the devil was able to sway Judas to betray his friend Jesus, he is able to persuade a desperate man to take advantage of a compassionate and loving woman. After being lured into relationship by a man who was willing to watch Bible programs and pray with me, how can I ever trust another man who claims to be a good Christian? I had never figured that this man would begin playing the very same games that other men had played in my past relationships. I never would have guessed that he would deceive me in the way that he did. But in my enthusiasm for what I thought God had sent me, I forgot what I’ve learned so many times in one Bible study after another; man will ALWAYS disappoint us. God is the only one who will never fail us.

So, even though this one didn’t end well…all IS well. I have not forgotten where my help comes from and I have faith that when it is time, He will send me the man who can appreciate the woman He has made in me. He will provide all that I need at the exact time that I need it and I will not have to wonder whether or not this one will break my heart or try to manipulate me or use me. As for this guy, I’ll pray for him. And I’m not angry. I’m not the least bit upset with him. I’m more upset with myself for allowing the devil to use my love for my God to almost get one over on me. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice…well…you know the rest. For now, with my faith still intact, I must believe that God wants my focus to be on something better than a pseudo-relationship. And so, I press on.

“And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.”

~Luke 9:5 NKJV~

So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.”

~John 8:17 NKJV~

 Holding onto opinions about a person based on something they did in the past is not walking in love. Yet, there are so many who would rather continue to hate someone based on who they once were than to begin to love them based on what God has done in them. Would you consider yourself to be the kind of person who truly understands what it means to forgive others? What if God’s will for your life put you right in the middle of an issue that was not what others perceived it to be? Do you walk away from it because others don’t understand? Or do you continue to listen for God’s voice in the storm and persevere? This is where I find myself today.

Most of my life has been spent trying to live up to the expectations of others. Only in the last few years have I begun to question why it was always so important that I be the person they want me to be, even if what they want for me seems to conflict with what God wants for me. If I hear from God and He is guiding me, then why should I allow others to deter me from what I know He has asked me or told me to do? Life is confusing enough without having the people who are supposed to love you tell you to ignore what God is saying to you.

When I love someone, I try not to place conditions on that love. Even if you have wronged me, if I ever loved you, chances are that I will still love you even though I may not give you the opportunity to hurt me again. Love means being able to forgive someone who hasn’t yet figured out how to love. It means being able to forgive those who don’t seem interested in learning how to love. It means being able to forgive those who cannot forgive themselves or anyone else. It isn’t about doing what everyone else thinks you should do. Those who claim to love you while at the same time doubting every move you make or giving you grief because they do not understand the path God has you on have no idea what love means.

If I say that I love, that means I understand that people will always fall short of my expectations. The only one who will never disappoint me is God and He is also the only one who will ever love me without the condition that I impress Him or do exactly as He wants me to do. Even when I go in the wrong direction, His love for me is perfect and unfailing. Even though He is fully aware of the person I have been, He still loves me as though He can only see where I am headed as I walk alongside Him.

It is so important not to pass judgment on those who are attempting to emerge from their trials. Only when you are in the process of breaking free from your own strongholds can you fully understand how much He loves you. No matter how much I think I know about your situation or about your capacity to change and grow, I will never know you the way God knows you. I have no justification in directing your life. I can only share with you what God has done for me and hope that you will allow Him to work in you. When I do that, I’m showing the most love I can possibly show.

 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.

 ~1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NKJV~

A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.

~Luke 7:37 NIV~

I used to wonder sometimes, will there ever be a time when I don’t feel like this woman?  Having come through a long period of self-destructive behavior and found grace at the feet of the Savior, it would seem that I would be able to let go of the guilt and the shame that once defined my life.  For the most part, I am.  But the devil is sneaky.  There are still some days when I’m haunted by things that I’ve not completely reconciled and though much healing has taken place, I’m just not where I need to be yet.  Today, has been one of those days.  Thankfully, the grace of my God makes the knowledge of my former brokenness bearable.

Our pastor mentioned something in a recent sermon that stirred a memory.  When I had a quiet moment today, I went back through my notes to find a passage that I had written a couple of years ago.  The pastor had re-written a passage of Scripture to capture the reality of today’s church.  It wasn’t exactly the same subject, but the thought process was similar to some therapeutic writing I had done a while back when I was struggling with grief and trying to make sense of loss.  In any case, I had the idea that if I were to write a story about myself for the Bible, it would look something like this:

1 And there was a woman named Rebecca who had lived a sinful life. 2 Once taught the word of God by false teachers, her knowledge of the Savior held no real understanding of the love He had shown by sacrificing His Son on the cross. 3 She wandered away from her faith and for a period of twenty years lived in darkness. 4 God placed in her life a man who became her husband, and the two lived in darkness together.  5 Having been blessed with one child, they tried in vain to have another, but in that time lost five children before they ever saw the light of day. 6 For ten years, she remained in that place before her brokenness became so unbearable that she called on Him. 7 “God, why have you allowed me to hurt in this way?” she cried out. 8 And she was consumed with sadness. 9 He answered her, saying, “Come home, daughter,” 10 And she found her way to Him, walking away from all that had constrained her. 11 Yielding to His love, she found truth and healing and finally received the beauty He had promised for her ashes.

The purpose of this writing was to help me figure out why I was still experiencing periods of grief when my life had been so completely restored.  What I found was that my tendency is to reject God’s love because I feel so unworthy.  And we are…unworthy…but not in the sense that we cannot and should not accept His grace and mercy.  We will never be perfect and He didn’t create us to be perfect.  He created us to love Him and to love one another with the same perfect love that He shows us.

Having been through a great deal of trauma in my life, some of which was self-inflicted and some the result of another’s brokenness, at times it has been difficult to see through the tears.  But through forgiveness, prayer and faith, I have been learning that my purpose is to accept His love and to then give that love as a gift to others who are broken so that we each become a reflection of the Savior’s unchanging love for all of us.

The farther I walk with Him, the more the devil pursues and attempts to turn me around so that all I’m looking at is what lies behind.  If I still feel like the woman with the alabaster jar, it is not God who is bringing about this condemnation.  It is Satan’s attempt to keep me from receiving the great gift that he once rejected and continues to reject.  So, with eyes forward, I take my steps confidently and with the knowledge that my future will not be like my past.  He has made me new and what the devil doesn’t realize is that now, even if I turn to look back, I’m doing so through new eyes and with a new vision.  And so, he cannot win.

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

~Luke 7:48 NIV~

On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.

~Acts 16:13 (NIV)~
This is my first major post of the new year for this blog and I have prayed long and hard about what to say.  Even as I sit here typing this, I have a lump in my throat.  I’m learning to trust God more and more these days and as I sit here scrolling through my Facebook feed, seeing friends bashing God and the Bible, I’m compelled to present a different side of my God to those who may not know Him in hopes that they will seek the actual truth of Him and not just these misinterpreted perpetuations of who He is not.  One of the biggest reasons why God is misunderstood, in my opinion, is that as humans we tend to desire a Savior.  We desire a Savior, but we don’t look to THE SAVIOR to be that Savior.  We put our hopes in each other and when they are unable to live up to what we believe our Savior should be, we automatically assume that God is the same way.  Let me clear up a huge myth for you here; HE IS THE ONE AND ONLY SAVIOR AND NO HUMAN BEING CAN EVER HOPE TO LIVE UP TO THAT STANDARD.  When we put our hopes in each other, we might as well prepare to be gravely disappointed.  The only one who can truly fill you with peace, love, and strength is God Almighty and there is NO substitute.  There is NO close second.  There is NO alternative that will be able to provide for you what God can.
That said, I’d like to share something that I’ve recently experienced.  This is very personal and I would not share it unless I felt that what I had just experienced might resonate with some who might be reading this blog.  I am a single woman.  I’ve had rotten luck with relationships and up to this point, have never really had the kind of relationship that provided a safe, peaceful, loving atmosphere from which I could say that I felt truly loved by a man.  It’s unfortunate, but that is just the way it is.  I’m naturally somewhat distrustful when it comes to dating and I generally don’t jump too quickly when a guy claims to be everything I’m looking for in a partner.  A few days ago, I started talking with a man online who represented himself as a single, Christian man.  Here is an excerpt from an e-mail he sent:
 I don’t want to scare you off but feel I need to tell you that I have not been able to get you off of my mind. I am looking forward to getting to know you better, who you are, more about your family, Etc. I too am very cautious about who I talk to. I got burnt in the past, I am not bitter nor do I dwell on it, the past is the past but I will never understand how a person can be a cheat.
There are a number of red flags here that I didn’t actually see until I started really listening to that still, small voice that kept saying to me, “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”  I had declared earlier in that same day to a close friend that I wasn’t looking for a relationship and that I was quite happy with my single status for now.  Of course, everyone says that when you make that kind of statement, that is when your dream guy will appear.  Oh, so magically.  Well, instead of hearing God on this, I heard the voices of all those who had said to me, “When you least expect it, there he’ll be.”  So, I almost let myself get a little excited over the idea that I might have finally found my Boaz.
Several days passed and we exchanged several e-mails.  I wanted to do some research online to make sure the person I was dealing with was legitimate.  This was difficult because he didn’t divulge his full name to me until yesterday.  At that point, I was almost to a place where I didn’t feel the need to check up on him.  He was charming and claimed to be a God-fearing, Christian man who was looking for someone who would treat him better than his ex-spouse supposedly had.  I felt many things; sympathy, curiosity, hope, fear, and even a twinge of compassion for this man that I had not yet met.  Thankfully, one of the things I hadn’t yet developed for him was trust.  And being the investigator that I am, I set about the task of finding his truth.
It didn’t take long, once I got down to business, to find that he was not, as he had claimed, divorced.  In fact, his wife has a very nice, detailed profile on a social networking site that allowed me to view the very same photographs of him that he sent me.  He had claimed that he didn’t have any pictures of himself online and that he didn’t get on social networking because she had cheated on him and it was a long story and blah, blah, blah…well, how awful for him.  As I looked through the photos and read her most recent updates, it was very clear that they were still very much together and that he was very much a liar and a cheat.  Immediately, my feelings of compassion, my sympathy, and my curiosity about this man pretty much vanished and it was obvious that there was only one thing left to do; confront the sin.  But how?
As I lay in bed thinking about how angry this man had made me and how I had almost let him into my life, God reminded me that He had given me exactly what I needed to navigate this whole situation in a way that would bring Him glory.  Years ago, my response would have been to rip into this man and threaten his life, effectively glorifying no one.  Today, I know that what I need to do is to find a way to help others protect themselves from this very thing by helping them to understand how these kinds of people thrive.  Obviously, this man is sin-sick.  He has no real roots in his own faith and that is sad and pathetic.  The word that he has been given has been planted in the thorny, rocky soil of his heart and its seed lies among whatever pain and hurt that has prevented him from letting it into his soul in the way it was intended.  I feel sorry for him, but most of all, I feel sorry for this man’s wife.
To think, he knew from what I had told him that I am a women’s advocate, a strong believer and follower of Christ, and that I’m intelligent enough to figure things out.  Yet, he went ahead with his game.  That’s how strong a hold Satan has over us at times.  He can make even the most seemingly devout act like complete heathen idiots.  He does this by brainwashing us into believing the lie that our flesh tells us; that God is failing us because of the way other people treat us.  Well, he didn’t win this round with me.  I’ve been stupid before about things and I allowed myself to fall into the trap of infidelity.  This wasn’t during my marriage, but I was convinced at one time that my affair with a man I knew was somehow justified.  By the time God got finished with me, I knew that I had done this man and myself a grave disservice and I swore that it would never happen again.  And to date, I’ve stood by that.  I’m not perfect, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t want to be.  And while God wants us to want to be like Him; He understands that we cannot and thankfully for this man’s soul, He allows us to make mistakes and grow from them if we are willing.
The long and short of this story is that while this man tried to pull me into something that served his own need to hurt someone else, God alerted me to it and I was able to make the right choice.  He has healed me to the point that I could not be convinced of the value of this man’s admiration and that I recognized him as a false Boaz.  Today, I pray for his wife.  I pray for him as well.  I pray that God will deal with him and I know that He will.  Last night, as I made these discoveries, I was very angry.  But it was clear even then that while the man had destroyed my feelings of compassion and sympathy for him, he was not able to destroy my hope and my faith that somewhere, God is preparing the right man for me.  I don’t need him to show up right now, but when he does I can be sure that I will recognize him because deep in my heart I recognized that this guy just wasn’t the real deal.  That’s how my God works.  That’s why I trust Him completely.  That’s how I know that He has done a work in me that no man can reverse and no devil in hell can overcome.
Praise God, He gave me wisdom and discernment.  My Redeemer lives!  My ONE AND ONLY SAVIOR is Christ, the Lord.
Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
~Psalm 62:8 NIV~

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.

~1 John 5:14 NIV~
I didn’t write much throughout the month of November because I was struggling with the notion that I had nothing to say.  I was caught up in a process of trying very hard to hear God and wanting to be quiet so that when He did finally speak, I would be paying attention.  I have a tendency to talk too much at times and I was in dire need of a word from Him to tell me what to do with this next phase of my life.  That word finally came to me in the form of a request from our women’s Bible study group at church.  We had just finished up Beth Moore’s James and we were trying to figure out what would be the best way to spend a few weeks in a study during the holidays.  I had suggested we do The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson earlier in the year, but it hadn’t been the right time then.  Finally, we all agreed that it was time to draw some prayer circles and I was asked to lead this study.
We are currently in our second week of The Circle Maker and the concepts that I’ve been reading about are finally starting to make sense.  I understood them on the surface, but it wasn’t until I put them into practice that I began seeing the true value of what we have been learning.  My ministry, Higher Ground Ministries has been a small ministry at best.  I’ve not known what to do, what direction to take next, or how to achieve the goals I’d set for myself.  Not sure why I was having this difficulty; the only excuse I can offer is that the devil really didn’t want me to kick things into high gear with this ministry and so, he confused me with reminders of every single inadequacy I possess.  He had me convinced that I could never make things work.
After watching the second video for this Bible study, I made the decision to begin praying for direction for the ministry again and this time, I targeted specific things I wanted to do to get things moving while I’m getting our application for 501 (c) (3) status together.  I asked God what He would like me to do for the women I wish to serve in our community.  He answered and He even told me what I needed to do next.  And so, last night I sent out e-mails to about sixty of my female friends and family members asking for donations of new underwear, socks and bras to be given as Christmas gifts to women and girls who are currently in shelters.  Within about an hour, I had fifteen responses and commitments from all of those ladies to donate items for this project.  I was absolutely thrilled!  Today, I received an instant message from a friend asking if I wanted to go on her radio show and talk about the project.  Of course, I said yes and I’m scheduled to be on this Thursday at 5 p.m.  I’m so blessed to have a great bunch of friends and family to support the things that God is calling me to do.
So, the point of this post is to tell you that I’m stepping out in faith, praying big circles around my dreams and following God’s direction so that I may glorify the One who has made me new.  Even when I begin to doubt myself, He remains faithful and gives me time to come back to my senses and do what He has created me to do.  When you are struggling with not having enough confidence to follow through on your dreams, remember that God put those dreams in your heart for a reason.  He never gives us more than we can handle and He has created us for our own unique purpose to bring glory to His name.  His glory is our strength and His love never fails.  Let Him guide you down the path you must go.  Let Him light the way with His marvelous light.
All that said, if you have donations you would like to send, please e-mail me for details.  I’m collecting these items through December 15th and all donations of new items are appreciated.  Or if you would like to donate cash to help cover gift wrapping supply costs, that would be wonderful as well.  More information is available at the Higher Ground Ministries blog.
In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.
~Exodus 15:13~

But He was speaking of the temple of His body.

~John 2:21NIV~
I am overweight.  I have been for many years and only recently have come to accept that this is a part of me that I cannot change.  God can change this; I cannot.  You see, part of my weight comes from years of feeling like I wasn’t enough.  On the inside, I could never measure up to what I believed others wanted me to be.  When I was younger, I would try to diet and was only moderately successful in losing a few pounds here and there.  I began to feel that there was nothing I could ever do to fix this flaw.  Funny thing was; in high school, I wasn’t actually overweight.  I just felt like I was too fat and since everyone around me was skinny, I figured I was the one who needed to change.
Eventually, the idea that I was completely powerless over my weight morphed into a rebellious streak that said, “Fine, I don’t need to be thin.”  This thought, ever-present in my mind, manifested in poor eating habits and reluctance to diet.  As a teenager, I struggled with depression and a severe lack of self-esteem.  There was a lot going on that I didn’t talk to anyone about at that time and as a result, I turned my grief inward.  I gained a few pounds after high school, but I was never really overweight until I hit my mid-twenties.  When I looked in the mirror, I saw a chunky, unattractive girl.  This pattern of thought continued and actually grew much worse when I was raped at the age of 22.  I began to create a cocoon of sorts to protect myself and the end result was about eighty pounds of unwanted, but very necessary extra weight.
Necessary because I believed that the extra pounds insulated me from other potential attackers.  I figured as long as I was heavy, I wouldn’t be a target.  The more “unattractive” I could be, the better.  And so, I grew. And I’ve used this “insulation” to protect myself ever since.  Strangely, my ex-husband never had a problem with my being overweight.  He was a big guy and he didn’t seem to mind that I wasn’t rail-thin.  In retrospect, this is probably why we were together as long as we were.  He knew all that had happened to me and he put no pressure on me to lose weight.  For whatever our differences may have been, he didn’t necessarily add fuel to that particular fire.  When we split up, I lost a little weight but I noticed that as soon as I began dating again, I started to gain it back.  The process was just too much and I really didn’t want to trust anyone again.
As God has been taking me through various changes, I have noticed that we haven’t yet begun to deal with whatever is keeping the weight on.  He’s been patiently working me through some addictions (more like compulsive behaviors and preoccupations) and helping me to build my confidence and my knowledge of His word.  He’s been helping me sort through the issues from my past which have served as ample ammunition for the devil and He’s been making some Divine connections between myself and some wonderfully encouraging people who have helped me remember who I am in Christ.  He’s done all this, but He hasn’t necessarily given me direction on how to get these pounds to leave me once and for all.  Perhaps, I’m still shielding myself from some imagined threat.  Maybe I’m still not trusting Him enough to protect me from painful relationships.  This has, after all, been my number one stronghold and as long as I keep the pounds on, I don’t really have to deal with it.  I’m at least intelligent enough to know that I’m avoiding the issue and He’s allowing me this…for now.  But what happens when I finally decide that I am ready to shed the exterior and live completely from the inside out?  Am I somehow worried that the inside is still not good enough?
The answer in this case is the same as it is for any problem we face; Jesus.  Jesus died so that I could have life and live more abundantly.  Not that I, myself could be the abundance, but that I could live in the richness of His love and allow His fullness to surround me and protect me.  I don’t need my own “insulation,” I need Jesus.  And when I fully accept that the body I’m in is keeping Him out along with all of those who might try to hurt me, then I can emerge from this cocoon as the beautiful butterfly that has been suffocating inside the shell for so long.  I can come out from under the weight of condemnation and fly until I reach the heavens.  Yes, I know that’s cheesy, but it is probably the truest way to say that our transformations are of no value if no one else is allowed to see the work that has been done in us.  We must stop hiding under our protective shields and trust God to shelter us as we reflect His glory into a world that desperately needs to see more true beauty.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.
~2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV~

For in Him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.

– 1 Corinthians 1:5-7 (NIV)~

The sooner I allow this principle to live on the inside of me, the better.  I tend to forget sometimes that it was God and God alone who brought me through all of the treacherous times.  While I was going through them, I tended to lean on others and then find myself disappointed when they didn’t live up to my expectations.  Getting it through my head that God is the only constant and true friend I will ever have or need makes a huge difference in my ability and desire to do what He has called me to do.

In my life, I’ve called many people friend.  And there are different degrees of friendship that we experience based on the amount of time and energy we have.  I enjoy such wonderful relationships with people that I rarely see thanks to the internet and our ability to connect online.  So, it isn’t these individuals that I’m referring to when I talk about people who haven’t been available or who have been disappointing.  Please understand that before reading on.  The people I’m referring to are those who step into your life and suck up all of your energy while it is convenient for them and then disappear when you need their support.

For example, I spent my birthday weekend pretty much alone.  Aside from having a very nice dinner with my mom and her husband, I had no big plans.  My daughter was with her dad and they were camping with his new family.  My sisters were busy living their own lives either here or elsewhere.  My father lives in another state, so I couldn’t spend time with him either.  These are just things I have come to accept as a normal part of getting older.  Most of my friends no longer live near me or are too busy in their own lives to take time out for lunch or coffee.  This is perfectly understandable given the fact that I’ve rarely had time to spend with anyone myself in past years.  But there are those who claim to care about you who only check on you to make sure you would still be around if they happened to need you.  Of course, I had a few of those get in touch and again, felt sorely disappointed that they couldn’t just leave things alone if they weren’t serious about wanting to see me.  Still playing games long after being declared the loser.

Last year was a perfect example of how spending time with the wrong person can completely destroy any plans you have for doing something useful. But coming full circle to another birthday where I had the option to re-engage with the wrong someone just to keep from being alone, I’m happy to say that I prayed through it and felt very much at peace with being in my own space, living comfortably in my own skin, and not allowing loneliness to make me feel unloved, unwanted, or unnecessary.  What a difference a year makes!  Instead of feeling the need to give someone another chance to hurt me, I felt relieved to find out that they were still the same old dud that they had always been.

As I pondered this notion, I figured out that I am really not as lonely as I would have been years ago had I been confronted with this very same issue.  If being with someone means that I have to let them abuse me or degrade me or devalue me or take advantage of me or somehow become someone else in order to please them, then I’m glad that it really has come down to just me and my God.  As He has been trying to show me, I make poor choices because I do tend to love some people more than they even like me.  And so, as He reinforces the notion in me that I do not need the validation of others in order to be His child and to be the apple of His eye, I have broken free from a few entanglements recently that were doing nothing but damage.  Looking back, I can see that these relationships were constructed by the devil to keep me pre-occupied and prevent me from doing what God has called me to do.

I must tell myself each and every day that God has rescued me in order to better understand my connection to Him.  He rescued me because He has a purpose for me that is far greater than anything those who have hurt me would have been able to provide.  And so, when it looks like others have moved on and are happy and I’m still standing here with my heart broken over another person’s inability to care, I need to know that God has given me what they will never be able to have as long as they live their lives in a way that seeks to glorify themselves and not Him.  If they are still hurting others, then they haven’t learned yet that God loves them and that He really has forgiven them.  They are still running away from grace and in doing so, cheating themselves out of the true blessing of knowing His love in their lives.  The same thing goes for those who are still allowing others to hurt them.  If you feel like you’ve been walking around the same desert year after year, waiting for someone to make you feel like you’re worth something, you are also cheating yourself out of the happiness that a relationship with God can bring you.  Don’t trade His love for something that has no value.  No matter how much you want to be able to create it for yourself, He is the only one who can give you the real thing.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not see  you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

~1 Peter 1:6-8 (NKJV)~

 

Introduction

My name is Rebecca Benston. I'm an author, speaker, and advocate for women and children. My spiritual journey has led me to many questions about what is right and how to live out the purpose that God has set for me.

I am finding that after considering all other possibilities, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that without living a life that acknowledges the blood of Jesus we are lost. Yet, there are many who claim to know Him and understand His teachings who spew hatred and look for any and all opportunities to judge others instead of seeking them out to lead them to Christ. The goal of this blog is to work towards removing the animosity that exists between followers of Christ who subscribe to different doctrinal approaches and beliefs about what is expected of a "good" Christian. Also to draw the unbeliever closer to Christ through practicing His love and patience and to help all followers understand that love and true faith cannot co-exist where hate, intolerance and a sense of superiority live.

I also hope to open a dialogue with people from many different religious backgrounds and to work together with followers of this blog to break down some of the barriers to harmony that exist in our society. I hope you will join in the conversation!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 2,331 other followers

October 2017
S M T W T F S
« Sep    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Past Ponderings

Blog Stats

  • 1,776 hits