Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My source of strength

Written to someone who said they didn't know about the kidnapping.

In regard to Paul, he told me that he was meant for our family. He is so outgoing and a really kind kid. He loves music and plays the guitar and sings.

Our strength was all borrowed from God. God has never left us and His unchanging character gives me hope. Hope that He has/had a plan for us regardless of what I see. It's all about choice. And, my choice was to believe in eternity and to try and live each day with the knowledge and joy that comes from having a close relationship with Christ. Christ is not untouchable. He is my companion and friend.

The book of Philippians is a constant reminder of seeking joy in this life. The apostle Paul wrote this book in the New Testament and Paul understood disappointment. I can fully agree with this statement in Phil. 1:21 - "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain." But, Paul continues to speak of having joy in all circumstances. Paul had reason to be angry. Paul had reason to be bitter. He was a very learned man - a Jew in a position of power but he left it all and became a follower of Christ Jesus. He was in prison standing in about a foot of sewage when he penned these words:

Phl 4:4 - 13
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
Let your gentle {spirit} be known to all men. The Lord is near.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned {before,} but you lacked opportunity.
Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

I have chosen to rejoice in my salvation and to rejoice in the people that God has put into my path. I could have chosen to become bitter and angry but that would not have found my children or redeemed my parents. I have had to live in a way that says, "I have forgiven them." Holding on to bitterness only makes the one doing the holding physically ill.

Now, forgiving someone who has done a great wrong in your life doesn't mean that you want to be their best friend or that you would ever trust them. For me, it means that I have faithfully prayed for them. I have prayed God's blessings in their lives. I try to think of good things and not dwell on the sorrow and sadness. Believe me, I can go down that path but it is one that I prefer not to travel.

God has been faithful to me - to us. The fact that my marriage survived is a testament of God's greatness. I have watched friends' marriages end over finances or a cluttered house (not kidding). Yet, because Mark and I have this true, deep and abiding relationship with Christ - we have survived - and found joy in life. Not the kind of joy that is temporary and fleeting - but a joy that invades our dreams, lives, and hopes.

We have been able to stand only because of Christ. And, Christ isn't interested in woe is me and life is crap Christians. He died for me. He died and then rose again, so that I could live in this world and not be made into its image but into His. I really don't think that Christ had fun that horrid day He carried the heavy cross and was crucified. But, he chose to fulfill His purpose - which was to save the lost and dying creation. It was to save me and you.

My only job is to fulfill God's purpose in my life. And, my purpose is to worship Him, to love Him and to forgive those who have injured me and those I love. Christ desires us to have fullness of life. He wants us to know Him intimately.

It's real easy for someone who has never experienced tragedy to say, "I love and trust God." Their faith has never been tested. But, I say to you, "I adore my Lord and Savior and I trust Him and His plan for my life." I say this knowing that life on earth can sometime really suck. I say this knowing betrayal. But, I also say this knowing blessings and goodness, and God's tender mercies. God has been faithful in surrounding me with people who love me and have been faithful in friendship and in their prayers and support.

Now let’s get back to my son, Paul. I had someone ask me once (yes, people are idiots....) what I would choose - never having our precious Christi and Bobby kidnapped or adopting Paul. I could never choose one of them over the other. I can't imagine our family without Paul. He was/is God's gift to us. And, if Christi and Bobby had not been stolen - we wouldn't have left seminary for a season and moved to Rome, GA and Paul would not be our son today. But, see I agree with Paul, "God intended him for our family."

The picture of life, to me, is like a rose. Often, when touching its petals or smelling the scent, you get pricked with a thorn. However, those thorns do not take away the beauty of that flower. And, think about it, there are a lot more thorns than blossoms on a rose bush! But, when most people view the bush - they see the roses.

I view life that way. There have been lots of thorns in my life but my prayer has been that when others see me, they will see the rose and not the thorns.

I should have added that if you see the rose - it is only because of Christ living in me. It is because I am redeemed by my Savior.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Good Intentions

The other day I was inspired to write a piece but I felt like I didn't have the time. So, I made a few notes with the intention of writing it up later in the week.

This morning I have been looking at my abbreviated notes and I get absolutely nothing! I wish I had found the time to write this up the other day. It's like all of the creativity has been sucked out of my brain. I might as well be trying to interpret the Rosetta Stone. Okay, comparing my chicken scratch notes to the Rosetta Stone is approximating a drop of water to the Pacific in the big scheme of life. However, in my fumbling mind this idea was going to be a great devotion that would inspire the masses (insert eye roll) or perhaps just a few weary pilgrims on their journey with Christ.

This situation is quite maddening since I was so excited about my idea. I can’t remember how I was going to thread my thoughts together. That’s the main problem. Somewhere in my overloaded brain the ideas are still there but I can’t seem to access the information in an applicable way.

Now, I am left speculating if there is a way to help me jar my memory. Obviously my notes are of no help. I wrote them in red, put little stars by certain words, and drew an arrow to a section. Despite my fancy comments and doodles, I am still drawing a blank. The excitement has vanished. While I see the potential in the idea, the urgency of it is no longer persuading me to act.

As I write this frivolous piece, another random thought pops into my beleaguered brain. Do we as Christians have amazing ideas for ministry, in reaching the lost, or simply to contact another? However, we put the ideas on hold and then never return to actually do them. Does the Holy Spirit beckon us to act but we make excuses as to our hectic schedules and ignore His urging. How many moments have we missed?

Good intentions without action often get negative results. Some may feel that an unfair statement. Perhaps, a receiver in a football game doesn’t complete the play. In all fairness, he meant to do it. He thought about doing it but he waited and didn’t act. So, the ball gets intercepted and the opposing team scores. This is an extremely simplistic physical illustration of a spiritual truth. When we as Christian don’t act and ignore that “still small voice” the opposing team scores.

We get so caught up in this physical life that we miss opportunities and never realize our potential or the full power of God’s ability and desire to lead us. And, in ignoring God, we allow Satan to score. Of course, we know the final outcome. We know Christ wins the big battle but I am left pondering how many defeats could be avoided if we acted when the Holy Spirit inspires.