Tag archive: Jesus Christ
Heroes are born from adversity
Being extremely organized (not OCD!), I was up early to consider my needs and re-pack my provisions for the day. I would need some basic items like food, water, and rain gear but not all my clothing and toiletries. I could forego the unwieldy (and obnoxious) tail bag if I carefully filled the precious space in my tank bag – NOT that I wanted to carry that ugly thing either, but a full day’s ride meant I needed to pack like a prepper. My buddy Greig Hochreiter (of Devolve Moto) had assembled a fine team of superheroes to mount an assault on the winged, fire-breathing beast slumbering in the mountains so my partner David and I were obligated to arrive with a complete arsenal of weapons of our own. Feeling satisfied that all was in order, I got dressed and strolled downstairs with all my gear in hand. We ate a leisurely breakfast and killed time chatting with our gracious hosts until the riders up call was sounded. Our meetup was at high noon in Bryson City, about an hour and twenty minutes west of our current location, so if we left at 10 AM we would have plenty of time to get there and dally along the way. While David was outside checking the oil in his bike, I frittered away some time playing with Charlie, who was intent on ferociously shaking and “killing” her favorite toy: a dragon no less.
I contented myself with a cursory T-CLOCS inspection not being overly concerned as the Falcon is practically brand new and it was in fine shape last night when I kissed her goodnight. Eh, it all looks the same as ever – turn signals work, brake lights work, nothing puncturing the tires, oil is good, hey is that a little bubble in my brake fluid reservoir? Nah, it’s probably always looked like that. Well OK then, all good to go! We mounted up and launched off down the ski jump driveway. Wheeeeee … hmmm, do my brakes feel funny? Well, that was a heck of a hill we just came down; I probably had to squeeze the lever harder than normal to stop … I’m sure it’s my imagination … Gee, I don’t remember David’s bike smelling like that yesterday … Is that smoke? OK, yes, that is most definitely a huge plume of black smoke. What in the WORLD??? By now I’d figured out there’s something seriously wrong with his moto which is blowing oil like the Exxon Valdez. I backed waaaaaay off to keep from getting splattered and choked to death by the geyser spewing forth from his bike but I had to find a way to get him to stop. Fortunately at the next intersection as I wheeled up to him frantically trying to get his attention he had figured out there was a problem, especially seeing as his right pant leg, now sopping wet with oil was the only thing stemming the gushing tide of black gold. A look down and – DOH – he had forgotten to replace the oil cap.
<Deep sigh>. Back to square one we went. While David got busy hosing down his now slick and glistening motorcycle, Michael, kindly went to the store to buy him more oil. Have I mentioned that our hosts are the most gracious people EVER??!! With our early head start blown, instead of killing time, now we were going to be late. We texted Greig and he was running behind too so no worries, we were OK. For real? Whew, dodged a bullet there. I shook off the anxious feeling that this was a bad sign.
An hour and a half later, bike and man were good as new and here we go down the ski jump again…. Uh-oh, I am NOT imagining it, my brakes feel really spongy. Ignore, ignore ignore, lets just get on down the road. Um… that bubble in the reservoir is most definitely getting bigger – it’s like taking up half the tank now. UGH, I do NOT want to deal with another delay, especially one that requires a mechanic to fix. CRAP, I can’t ignore this any longer. So I blew David off on the highway and took the next exit knowing he’d follow. We pulled into a gas station and inspected the situation. There was indeed a leak and you could see fluid spurting out the bottom banjo bolt with every squeeze of the brake lever. It was nothing we could fix ourselves so now I had to face the fact that I had a real problem. My hopes for meeting the guys and riding the Dragon were dashed. I was just praying I could locate a motorcycle shop that could take me in on the fly at noon on a Saturday and patch me up good enough to get back home. If not, I figured I might be able to buy some brake fluid and keep refilling the reservoir as it leaked out and at least limp home praying nothing broke loose for real and left me with no brakes at all. “Go on without me, I’ll only hold you back – Save yourself” I dramatically cried and offered myself up sacrificially like the damsel in distress whose twisted ankle struck her down amidst a zombie horde hungrily clawing at her legs. Or maybe it more like a stoic admission that I was doomed but there was no reason he couldn’t at least accomplish what we set out to do – someone has to survive to slay that dragon!! AVENGE ME….. (Hey, it’s my story – there’s room for zombies, Vermithrax, and Wolverines.)
But in true loyal, hero fashion, David refused that notion outright and stuck by me. He was magnanimous enough to accept that if nothing else, we had an adventure in just getting this far. Another text to Greig to tell him that I had a breakdown and we probably couldn’t make it at all was answered by, “Get it fixed and hit the road, we’ll wait.” ARE YOU KIDDING ME? These are some patient and good-hearted fellows I’m surrounded with! Feeling emboldened, I started Google searching for motorcycle shops on my phone. The first shop that came up was the one I called: MR Motorcycle in Asheville. They are not a Ducati dealer, but after explaining my symptoms it seemed like something they could repair and they could get me in immediately. Thank you Jesus again! It was only 6 or 7 miles away and as long as there weren’t too many stops I could manage by engine braking – I do that most of the time anyway, which is why my leak probably didn’t show itself more than it did before now. Pulling into their lot was a bit like pulling into Motorcycle Mecca. They had a separate building for service and their showroom eclipsed anything I’d ever seen at least in regards to non-Harley shops. Jason in service was kind and easy to work with and Tex, the mechanic was incredible!! He finished his lunch early so he could get me fixed up. While we waited we strolled through the showroom in what I called the Candy Store. OMG they have EVERYTHING… I want one of those, one of those, two of those… I honestly wasn’t too disappointed to be stuck there, but my bank account might have suffered irreparable damage if we lingered too long. Fortunately the guys were quick and efficient and got us out in no time. And yet there it was again – that nagging feeling this was another bad sign …
By now it was well after noon and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. There was a little bar/restaurant nearby so we swung in there to regroup and refuel. Upon leaving we had to wait on a little uphill incline before we could jump out into 2 lanes of fast moving traffic to our right. We waited forever it seemed and finally David settled on a wide enough gap in the oncoming cars to make his move. I released the clutch to fall in and BAM! In a blink of an eye the Falcon and I were suddenly and savagely slammed to the ground. She had bucked me off like a bronco stung by a bee in the belly. Who the? What the? How the? My elbow was in immense pain and I was lying in the middle of a street with a 400 lb motorcycle on me, so I couldn’t take time to ponder how we got there. I had to get my horse back on her feet – NOW. I tried the backwards lift thingy I’d seen demonstrated on videos, but holy cow, that’s not as easy as they make it look. I got her about up to my calves and was about to go for another heave when a red Jeep Wrangler came screeching in behind me. The guy jumped out, picked my bike up like it was a 10 speed and asked if I was OK. I told him I was fine and before I could hardly thank him, he and his girl sped off out of sight. Thank you Jesus for sending angels to my rescue yet again.
Right about now, David had figured out that I’m not in his mirrors so he’s thinking there might be something amiss. Ah, there he is, I knew he wouldn’t leave me. After a U-turn, he arrived on the scene and was clearly shocked to find me standing next to my bike and not on it. He took charge and calmly helped me to a nearby parking lot and I tried to make sense of what in the hell just happened. I could feel my wobbly, adrenaline filled muscles begging me to just sit down quietly but my elbow was screaming in pain and I was torn between crying like a little girl and kicking the ever living shit out of something. I opted instead for objectively assessing the damage to my body and the Falcon before giving any more thought to why or how it happened. I took off my jacket and made a visual inspection of my right arm. Oooh, that’s gonna leave a mark.
I’m pretty tough though and have survived much worse (like my horse brutally breaking my nose with the back of her head causing a fountain of blood to spew down my front as I tumbled to the ground writhing in pain. Not once, mind you, but on three separate occasions). My current injury wasn’t that gruesome and nothing appeared to be broken or in need of stitches, so while this was going be sucky, it was far from sidelining. The Falcon suffered only minor, superficial injuries: the tip of the brake lever snapped off (no big deal, my hunny had already ordered me hot new sporty, shorty racing levers for my birthday!!), the right mirror was scraped up and loose but fully functioning with a little tightening, and there was a scuff on the muffler cover. Like every warrior, my Falcon obtained some battle scars to add to her character and charm. I could live with this.
Unlike the earlier brake line failure or great Gulf oil spill, there was no blame to pin on another party for this setback; it was all on stupid me – on soooo many levels.
- First, I chose my riding attire based upon two things – warmth and looks. It was easy to justify: It’s chilly in the mountains and I should be wearing my warmest gear, and, everyone knows you’re going to get some cool professional pics while riding the Dragon, so I should be sporting my best Fonzie leather look, duh. Buuuuut this is my only jacket without elbow armor. — Oh believe me, I mulled that over before I left my home and still went with that choice anyway. I even mentioned my misgivings about lacking those crucial pieces of protection to Michael, David, and Wendy before leaving the mountain side retreat this morning. Karma??
- And second, the Falcon didn’t just decide to violently throw us both into the pavement. Nope. I popped the clutch and stalled her. BTW, stalling an 803 cc Ducati is nothing like stalling my little 250 cc Suzuki. Not. Even. Close. And why did I pop that clutch? My only defense is that I was holding it in the friction zone to keep from rolling backwards on that little incline and I needed to be able to gas it and go when a sliver of an opportunity presented itself. I didn’t reckon on sitting there so long though. I guess I just forgot where my hand was and when I let it go it was already so far out that the little bit of throttle I rolled on wasn’t nearly enough. As my dear, dear friend Pastor Jim Gillespie always says, “more throttle.” Apparently there’s no problem big enough that more throttle can’t fix; so far in my experience he’s been spot on with that advice. <Bigger Deep Sigh>
So just how thick did we have to be? There was no mistaking it now, this was surely a sign from God telling us to just turn tail and skip the ride altogether. The day was getting on and we still had 3 hours to go just to get to the base of the Dragon, then we had to somehow survive that storied monster, and ride back to Asheville the same night. How many more demons could we withstand? It seemed insurmountable.
Hold on a minute – – I’m not a sacrificial maiden. And I’m not a quitter dammit – even when I should be. David isn’t either, God bless him. So with all the resolve we could muster we beat a path to Bryson City where our cohorts were (not so much now) patiently waiting for our arrival. We had a beast to tame and wussing out was not an option!
The final chapter is about to unfold.
When I first read a post on Facebook commemorating the 24th anniversary of the tragic and untimely death of Mckay Gell and her unborn daughter Megan, my heart gave pause. The date, 12/29, will forever be burned into my heart. The original date fell on a Thursday. I rarely talk about it and I live with a sense of shame that not many of you can fathom. Yet at the same time, I credit Mary’s (I never called her McKay) amazing family for giving me something more precious than gold – the knowledge of what Christ’s forgiveness looks like. I’ve never put this in writing before and I’ve rarely ever spoken of it outside the confines of my immediate family. Bear with me, after 24 years I need to tell the story. It deserves telling.
To make some extra money, my Aunt and Uncle took the job of cleaning the law offices where my Aunt and Mary worked. They would go on Tuesday and Thursday nights after regular working hours. On this particular Thursday night it was quite cold and neither of them wanted to leave the warmth of their cozy fire at home. So they flipped a coin to see who would go. My aunt lost, so she headed to the office. I had just finished feeding my kids and was settling in to watch a Cheers rerun when I received a frantic phone call from my aunt. She was begging me to come to her. At her office. Mary, who was 8 months pregnant, had been raped and murdered. My aunt found her and the police hadn’t yet arrived.
You must know that my aunt and Mary were very close. Mary was like a sister to my aunt and she often referred to her as her best friend. Mary’s parents and my family had a long history of being good friends. I spent quite a bit of time in that law office where Mary and my aunt worked. I’d come down to go to lunch and hang out with the two of them. We’d talk about our kids and pregnancies since Mary and I had our first children pretty close together and she was currently pregnant with her second child and I had just given birth to my second child. I called the office almost every day and was greeted by Mary’s cheerful voice. She was such a joy-filled person and I greatly enjoyed spending time in her presence.
So on that night, one of my cousins came to babysit and I got down to that office as fast as I could. By the time I got there, the police had just arrived and it was a crime scene. They let me see my aunt and be there to hold her while she was in complete shock. She recounted the details of the scene and it burned into my heart forever…. I don’t care to recount that for anyone. I’ll NEVER forget that night.
It was so incredibly hard to fathom my aunt’s pain at not only losing her best friend to such a heinous crime but to be the first one on the scene to discover the crime was just – unimaginable. I spent the next two weeks living at my aunt’s house trying to comfort her, counsel her, and pray with her. It was HELL.
Then it got worse. My aunt figured out that her own son had committed the crime and had to be the one to turn him in. This son had grown up like a brother to me. We were together ALL the time as children. He slept over at our house so much it was like he lived with us. The events surrounding this crime was so mind reeling and heartbreaking that to this day I don’t think anyone in my family can fully express how we felt then or feel now.
Then came the funeral. It was like a wedding in a macabre way. It seemed like all of Mary’s family was on one side of the aisle and all of my family was seated on the other side of the aisle. My entire family experienced so many emotions collectively – – outrage, shame, guilt, grief – – we felt dirty and unworthy to be in the presence of this precious family. There were no apologies heartfelt enough to be of any comfort to anyone. I heard several of my uncles and cousins outside the church exclaim that they would kill my cousin if they could get their hands on him. With their jaws set and damnation in their eyes – I knew they meant it. Who wouldn’t feel that way??!
Then a miracle happened. A miracle for me anyway. I was already a saved believer in Christ and I knew that I was saved because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. God had forgiven me of my sins. Forgiven! I thought I knew what that word meant. But I didn’t know how little I understood until one by one Mary’s family got up and spoke at that funeral. Their words were full of pain and grief but through it, they ALL spoke of forgiveness and the mercy of God. They continued to be unwavering in their faith in our Lord and trusted Him to have all of this in His control even though we couldn’t understand it. If just one person spoke those words it might not have impacted me so much, but every single one of them spoke about forgiving my cousin and asked that the rest of us do the same. The ones that weren’t ready to forgive spoke of praying to the Lord asking Him to allow them to be able to forgive at some point. I felt like the roof opened and the Lord and I were the only ones in that room. He was telling me – THIS is what I’ve done for YOU! I have forgiven you EVERYTHING, therefore you have no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone including yourself. I cried knowing that I had received divine intervention and wished I didn’t have to learn this lesson in such a real way.
I saw side by side that day hate contrasted with grace. My family was full of hate and her family was full of grace. Mary’s family were the messengers of God himself and I am eternally grateful they allowed themselves to be used by Him to glorify His holy name. My prayer is that I wasn’t the only one who heard the message so clearly. I spent years unpacking the revelations of what forgiveness truly means. I have learned how to have empathy and grace in situations where most people would not. I learned that part of forgiveness is being able to forgive myself for my own sins and shortcomings. If the Lord could forgive a sinner on the magnitude of my cousin (if he chooses to ask for it – and to my knowledge he has not), then I must be able to forgive myself and others. Not to forgive, places me higher than the Lord. Am I greater than He who made me? Certainly not.
I haven’t been faced with having to say “I forgive you” to my cousin, and my prayer, like one of McKay’s brothers said the day of the funeral, is that I would be ABLE to forgive if the opportunity arose. In the meantime, I have lived my life looking through the lens of grace. I still experience extreme guilt and shame just for being related to the murderer. It pains me and torments me when I think of it. Every single time I see Mary’s family and friends I want to crawl in a hole and die. My life was forever changed that December 29th. God redeemed those events to make me a more humble and grace-filled person than I surely would have been otherwise. Whenever I’m tempted to think ill of anyone I have a very real voice in my heart that says “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Acts 13:38-39 Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
Buried in the waters of Baptism, raised again to new life in Christ!
Those were the words I heard going under and coming out of the cool water on the first weekend in June. But more than the words in my ears and the water rushing over my body, I felt something that I rarely ever do. I felt the Holy Spirit moving and speaking to me. The words “Well done good and faithful servant” played out in my head as I was briefly transported away from this earth and back again in the few seconds it took to go under the water and come up out. I honestly and truly believe I died and came back in some sort of literal sense..not symbolically. A few inches under the cool water I felt a peace, calmness and beauty that cannot be described and most of all I felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy One right there with me the whole time. “Supernatural” comes to mind. And I was COMPLETELY caught off guard by the whole experience.
Romans 6:3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?
In the moments leading up to the actual “dunking” (as I’ve affectionately called it) I was thinking about how I should be feeling about it. In fact, for days prior to the big moment I was struggling with how I should feel. I was saved as a child and I’ve always known Christ was my Lord; my salvation has never been in question for me. But being raised in the Methodist church where people are “baptized” as babies, it never crossed my mind that I should do it again as an adult even though I’ve been attending evangelical Baptist churches for the past 10 years or so. In these churches we are taught that being baptized after salvation is an act of obedience and a testimony to the world that we are believers in Christ. While baptism itself is not a prerequisite to salvation, this simple act is one that Christ himself asked us to do as a demonstration of our faith. Even Jesus himself was baptized – and there was certainly no question about his eternal home.
Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Mark 1:4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
Matthew 3:15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
Soooo….what to feel? I knew in my head that I should do it, my church was requiring it as a part of my membership, and I had no good reason why I hadn’t done it before. So there I stood, waist deep in the water along side hundreds of fellow believers and over 30 people who were in the process of being baptized themselves and suddenly something sparked. I watched intently as the children’s pastor baptized the very children that he had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with. Kids that he taught for years and prayed over daily. Those precious little ones who heard the Word and were convicted by it were joyfully doing the thing I had avoided doing for decades. While watching each child go under and come up I was overcome by emotion. How wonderful must this pastor feel to actually baptize the people (in this case many children) with whom he shared the love of Christ? My heart broke once again for all the people who I had failed to share the Good News with, and that in one day this pastor welcomed more people into the kingdom than I had done in my entire lifetime. I renewed my conviction that my sole purpose in life is to share the love of Christ – all other things are insignificant if they don’t ultimately aid me in that intention.
If nothing else happened that day I would have gone home feeling that being baptized was worth it for that conviction alone. But something else did happen. I was not prepared for and I did not ever suppose that the Holy Spirit would invade my personal space during any moment of the day. After I came up out of the water I gleefully waded around to others for jubilant hugs of congratulations. I tried to put into words what I heard and felt. I couldn’t come up with the right words or descriptions, but one of our pastors did for me – He said I was Obedient.
Obedience – – YES, that’s it!! That’s what I had done that I had failed to do for such a long time. And even though my salvation was never in question, I had not been obedient to the calling of Christ in this one area. I had no idea how much it pleased the Lord and how much His pleasure would spill over to my very soul for such a simple act as proclaiming Jesus as my savior with my lips and then being dunked under the water for a few seconds in public. Being baptized isn’t about me or doing some ritual to join a church, it’s about being obedient. And for that alone my Father is well pleased with me. My husband put it best when he said, “If it’s good enough for Jesus to do, then it’s good enough for me.” I walked away a changed person that day and I will never be the same again!
Romans 6:4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Galatians 3:27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.
I was very blessed to be asked to walk the runway in an eco-friendly fashion show this past weekend during all the Earth Day festivities. I love fashion and the whole idea of using eco-friendly techniques and up-cycling vintage products to create garments and accessories makes me super-duper happy. It was a joy and a thrill to be a model for this particular show. The people involved are conscious of the environment and are very giving and loving individuals. Every designer I met and every person I spoke with glowed with their love for nature. And…I’m right there with them! Love me some nature!
Yet by the time I got to the second day of events and made an appearance at the outdoor festival which took up several city blocks of downtown Raleigh, something that was gnawing at me in a teeny-tiny way suddenly took on a ravenous appetite and began to devour my heart. I passed by a statue of a person posed with it’s arms wide open, face turned up towards the sky, and clearly in a position of worship. I looked around me and saw a myriad of birds, animals, people, celestial bodies, and all forms of created things replicated in some fashion (paper mache, statues, artwork, etc). And as I looked around some more, I saw rapture and awe on the faces of festival goers as they gazed upon the re-created things. Yep, I was right square in the middle of over seventy thousand people WORSHIPING. Worshiping not just created things – but RE-created things (can we say idolatry?). And I could almost feel the contempt for the CREATOR of the organic creations in the midst of all this “love.”
Whoa. Eye-opening and soul-baring moment. I needed to leave. It was time to sort out how to reconcile my love of nature with my love of the one and only God Almighty who created the earth, sea, heavens, and all things in them!
Let’s be clear about something. I firmly believe God calls us to be good stewards of the resources and creatures we are coexisting with. I do NOT advocate any practice that harms the environment! Yet at the same time, I fully recognize that it is my Father God who deserves my adoration and my worship – NOT his creation. So how do I share my love for God and not alienate/offend my environmentally conscious yet utterly lost friends? This is what scares me!! I don’t want people to dislike me and I certainly don’t want to say or do anything that would make them hate the Lord!
So I dug into the Scripture. Romans chapter one really spoke to me this morning. The Bible is very clear about the dangers of worshiping the created rather than the creator. I talked about this with my husband, prayed over it, and then I went to church with all of this burning on my mind. And in the middle of the teaching, the pastor said, “If all we do is love people (and not share the truth of the Gospel), then we are just making them happy on their way to hell.”
OK, so I’ve now feel both led and commanded to share what I’ve been thinking and feeling – fear be damned! If someone gets offended, then I just have to take that chance. I would hate to have someone whom I loved dearly but was too afraid to offend, look at me and say, “You knew this and you NEVER told me?” as they stand in judgement when the Lord sentences them to hell. So here goes…. (All bold and italicized emphasis is mine, New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica)
Let me share Acts 14:15-17 from this morning’s teaching:
15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”
And here is what stood out to me from Romans (1:16-25,32)
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
BAM! STOP RIGHT THERE!! Is that me???
Do I continue to do such things and approve of those who practice them? ………………………………………….Um………no? (There’s that fear of offending people creeping in.)
Wait…let me use my big girl voice and be more definitive – NO. I do not!
(let the de-friending and nasty remarks commence while I duck and cover…)
Are you still here? whew….. Ok, well, then let me just sum it all up with some conclusions I’ve drawn about myself. After pondering, praying, and reading this morning, I’ve decided that I must take care that I keep perspective on my own environmental and animal rescue efforts so that I don’t get caught up in inadvertent worship of the creation. I must continue to immerse myself in scripture and surround myself with fellow believers so that I can be an effective witness to the great and awesome mercy of Christ; that He died for us while we were still sinners! And I must set my self apart from others who choose to worship the created rather than the creator. But by being set apart I don’t mean that I should abandon or remove myself from having relationships with folks outside the church – I need to be an example of Christian love and Godliness in every circle I am involved with. And I need to be involved in every kind of social circle available to me so that I have the opportunity to share the gospel with everyone and all may come to know the saving grace only offered by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.Details
Why did he lose his job again? They’re all strong in their faith and have been shining examples of what Christians should be. What purpose can this be serving in his family’s life?
Why did she die? She was too young and had so much life in front of her. Her family certainly prayed hard enough. Why didn’t God heal her?
Why did they get divorced? They were a perfect couple. How can this be what God wanted for them?
Pondering these (real) situations today makes me question God’s motives as I’m sure (if you’re honest) you do too. How can a good and loving God allow us to go through this garbage? Doesn’t our faithfulness to him count for just a little bit of favor? So many questions….
Earlier this week I posted a Bible verse on my facebook page: “[Trials and Temptations] Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3 NIV).
Perseverance? Perseverance for what? More trials? It seems like a vicious circle.
But when I quit complaining and airing out my questions and anguish to no one in particular and really dig into that verse and have a conversation with the Lord, I discover something. I discover that God, MY God, the father of our dear savior Jesus Christ, has something for me. He’s got all the answers to all my questions!! But he tells me that if I want to make the tough decisions and have my heart wrenched open 100% of the time, then I could do his job and have the answers too.
His job seems a bit tough to fathom, though. Watching people destroy each other spiritually, emotionally, and physically? Watching people destroy the environment and themselves? Watching a mother grieve a murdered child? Watching a father commit suicide because he feels inadequate for not having employment to support his family? Watching a child suffer abuse and become hardened to love? All these and so much more? And not just singular isolated cases, watching ALL people suffering these things simultaneously all day every day – – 24 hours a day? And not just watching all these things but knowing WHY they are occurring in the first place and having to chose how to interact and discipline and comfort? WHAT??!!!
Um, no thanks! I have a hard enough time dealing with the few trials that come my way along with those of the people I love. If knowing all the answers comes with knowing (and feeling) all the pain and making choices that I know will cause more pain but it’s the right thing to do, then I think I’ll just shut up, and consider it pure joy when I do suffer trials. Those trials produce in me the perseverance to get through this life and make it to the glorious home that awaits me in heaven. It also provides me the strength, wisdom, and empathy to encourage others on the same journey. Our faith WILL be rewarded – we just have to TRUST that God knows the answers and knows why he’s shaping us in this way. And knowing I have a loving father who cares enough about me to NOT tell me all the painful answers – to just embrace me in his arms and quiet my soul – gives me the courage to press on.Details