Thursday, July 30, 2009
Friday, July 24, 2009
I don't look back on that part of my life often because it can still sometimes be very painful, but when I do, gratitude swells in my heart. I am so thankful to the Lord for bringing me through it and for the woman he has created me to be out of the ashes of my past. When I look at the difference of who I was and who I am now, I can't help but have confidence in the Lord that he will bring me through all the challenges and valleys that are ahead of me. When I'm disappointed in myself for what I believe are my failings and inadequacies, I look back at all the Lord has done in my life and remind myself that maybe those victories and qualities I lack today are on his list of things to mold into me tomorrow. Taking a short glance back always affords me the joy of celebrating what God has done in my life and inspires hope for what he will accomplish in me in the future.
Friday, July 17, 2009
This is where my mind took over. Do I pray for Jesus' return as diligently as I do for my car to pass inspection or for the new iPhone? I had to answer no. So of course my next question was - shouldn't I? I've been through so much pain and abuse in my life that there are scars that will only be healed with Jesus' return and the ushering in of God's Kingdom. While I would not insult my persecuted brothers and sisters by comparing my life to theirs, I have a glimpse, from my own experience, of what it's like to fear for my life. I know what it's like to just want to die so that the pain and hardship would end. I know that on the day Jesus returns - I will finally see my little boy again and the aching hole his death has left in my heart will be filled with joy and love again. All very good, albeit selfish, reasons to be in constant prayer for his return.
But then I started thinking about those I love who don't know him yet and those who have never heard of the Lord and his gift of salvation. My thoughts drifted back to September 11, 2001. About how one minute life was going along like it always does for the people in New York, the Pentagon, and on the plane that went down in Pennsylvania, and the next moment...gone. All of a sudden, they didn't have any more time to come to a saving belief in the Lord Jesus. I cried that day for those people the most. When Jesus comes back, I believe that everyday life as we know it will be irrevocably changed and we will experience the wonder and joy of God's Kingdom in ways that we currently don't have the capacity to imagine. But, for those who have been putting off the decision, who have never heard of him, who have rejected him because they have been hurt by those who carry his name, for those people time will be up. Can I pray for that?
I can't speak for the persecuted. But for me, I'm willing to live with the emotional scars and the pain of my past just a little longer, if it gives those people the time they need to know and accept God's love. I can wait a little longer to hold Bryan in my arms again, if it gives them the opportunity to learn to love Jesus. So maybe my persistent prayer must be: "Come, Lord Jesus. Come into the moments of my life. Give me your strength to endure, your passion to love those around me, your wisdom to lead them to you, and your patience to wait for your return."
About the pictures:
Niagara Falls (August 2007)
Friday, July 10, 2009
At first I thought that I was learning about perseverance this week. But in prayer, I've come to realize that this week's lesson is about learning how to deal with temptation. Temptation is like the pain I've experienced this week. While it's the temptation that grabs our attention - the root cause is found elsewhere. Temptation is only a symptom of our sinfulness and it is always there to some degree.
I'm learning to go about my daily life despite temptation's constant distraction and I've noticed that when I'm concentrating on important things like honoring God, spending time in his presence, and helping my brothers and sisters in Christ, that I am able to ignore temptation for the most part. I can look to the world's remedies such as shrugging off my sinful actions as unavoidable, convincing myself it’s okay to sin, or claiming that sin is my right as an individual to deal with temptation but that won’t solve the root cause or eliminate temptation. Real healing comes from time spent with God, seeking his presence and comfort, his guidance and strength. God is creating in me a new heart - one that loves God, not sin. He is the only one who can heal the sinfulness in me and bring final and lasting freedom from temptation. He works this healing in my heart and in my life gently but firmly and this is not always a pleasant experience. In fact, the pain of this healing can sometimes be excruciating, but necessary if God is going to mold and make me into the beloved child of God that he is creating me to be.
About the pictures:
Parkwood Presbyterian Church, Allison Park, PA (July 2009)
Friday, July 3, 2009
Sin is a personal betrayal of God and to the person God is creating me to be. In that betrayal, God allowed me to feel the full weight of guilt, shame, and self-loathing that comes with sin. Not a pleasant place to be, however, quite effective at reminding me of why I sought God’s redemption in the first place. Being in God’s presence makes the stain of my sin all the more ugly and unbearable. When you find yourself in a similar situation, it’s always good to remember that seeking the Lord’s forgiveness is always humbling, though never humiliating. There is something so truly uplifting in seeking God’s forgiveness, and yet, we so often hesitate to approach him to confess our sin. Why?
While I know that God has forgiven me and has removed my sin as far away from me as the East is from the West, I still have to deal with me. I’m not as forgiving as God is when it comes to my faults and my sins. I fear that the moment I let myself off the hook, I will feel free to rebel against God again. Yet, I know, that until I let go of this, it will hold me back from experiencing the fullness of God’s forgiveness and love which Jesus came to give through his life, his death, and resurrection.The moment I confessed my sin and God forgave me, he erased it from his memory. So for me to hold myself accountable for something God doesn’t even remember is irrational and not what he would want. In not forgiving myself, I am once again defying God’s will for me in my life. I guess I better get working on forgiving myself and let God take care of what I will or won’t do in the future when we get there.
About the pictures:
Blocked Path - North Park (2005)
Open Path - Deer Lake Park (2007)