Falling Does Not Mean Failing

Matthew 26:31 Then Jesus said to them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of Me. For it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

Falling Away

My grand entrance into the writer’s conference I am attending this week was falling down the stairs, in the pouring rain. Praise God, no physical injuries. But the internal wounds, the thoughts and false beliefs I have about myself when I fall . . . Many of us believe we are a failure anytime time something bad happens. So we fall deeper into sin, or reject God altogether.

The disciples drank the blood and ate the body broken for them–they were committed– but within hours they would all betray him.

Many would stay down after such a breach of loyalty. Judas did. But falling does not equal failure in God’s plan! Jesus went on to say, “But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.” He didn’t dwell on their betrayal. I can just picture Jesus as Friday on Dragnet, “Just the facts ma’am, just the facts.” Our stumbles put on display the mighty works of God! You may be convinced that God can’t do anything with you. Your laying in the puddle and questioning why try.  I am convinced of God’s compassion for us, and that his plans will not be hindered by anything! There are people in our lives that need to witness the miracle of God’s faithfulness in our battling depression! Jesus is faithful, and he does not treat us as our sin’s deserve

How do you maintain the truth of who God is and who he created you to be when circumstances go sideways in your life? Do you believe you are beautifully and wonderfully made? (Psalm 139) Do you believe the covenant of the cross; while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us? (Romans 5) Do you believe his plans never fail! How many of us stop living before we see the fruits of what God can do in our lives? My son did. He died believing he was a failure.

May I lift your chin, look into your eyes, and declare with certainty, “God cares for you! His loving kindness will not fail you. Many times we will stumble, but God never falters. There is absolutely nothing you have done, or could ever do that will make him stop loving you.”

Prayer of Restoration

Father, when I falter, may I find my identity in you! You alone redeem me, and you alone take me to the mountain to see more clearly who you are and who you have made me to be. May we trust that you go ahead of our circumstances today to prepare a place for us. Amen

Patience Grows Love in the Petri Dish of Suffering

Day 16 (Originally posted on Facebook, 16 days after my son’s death)

Job 3:11 a, 26: “Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?. . . I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil.”

Throughout my scripture reading I have always struggled with Job and other bearers of great suffering. Why would God allow Satan to test Job? He even goes so far as to point Job out. Can you imagine the God of the Universe pointing you out for Satan’s “special” attention? “Have you considered my servant …___________?”

No thank you!

“She has the patience of Job” is used when describing someone who is enduring great suffering. What do patience and suffering have to do with each other?

Patience: from the Latin word patiencia- “endurance”, from pati- “to suffer”.

  1. the quality of being patient, as the bearing of provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation, or the like.
  2. an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay: to have patience with a slow learner.
  3. quiet, steady perseverance; even-tempered care; diligence: to work with patience. (Dictionary.com)

Alright, so suffering is in the very meaning of patience.

Job suffered the loss of all his children, his livelihood, and his health. He even had to suffer through the speeches of three friends who have been nicknamed “miserable comforters”. The closest that the devil can get to having Job curse God is to curse his own birth. But, at the end of the day God had final say over even that. “Where were you when. . .” (38:4) In other words, I am God and you are not.

God doesn’t always tell us why we suffer, but he did not spare his own son, who was without blemish, and look at the results of Jesus’ suffering the cross. Many are saved. I have seen enough examples throughout scripture and in life to know that suffering comes, and that I always have a choice as to how I will respond to it. To truly love others, patience must be the first part of my response. 1 Corinthians 13:4 says love is patient,” . . . Without patience love doesn’t stand a chance. Patience, at its core, means that I am giving up my right to have my way; that I am “bearing provocation, annoyance, misfortune or pain, without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like.”

Barbara Johnson, one of my all-time favorite humorists said, “Patience is the ability to idle your motor when you feel like stripping your gears.”

Today I practice idling my motor, accepting God’s will for my life. The result is ALWAYS that many are saved. Just ask fellow sufferers, Joseph, Moses, Job and Jesus. Our suffering produces good things when we obey the will of God.

Is Love Worth the Grief?

I hold it true, whate’er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
‘Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.—Alfred Lord Tennyson

If you love, it’s guaranteed that you will also have loss. All things, including relationships, pass away. So is loving worth the grief we suffer? God thought so. So much so, that he was willing to come in the form of a baby, be hunted, persecuted and died and was raised, all to demonstrate his love for us. It is that kind of suffering life that changed my destructive pattern and opened my eyes to the love of Christ and therefore his love for all mankind.

I had already begun this post when the following happened:

Daniel: Mom, can I ask you a question? . . . Oh, never mind.

Me: Daniel, please go ahead, it’s okay.

Daniel: Is all this bad stuff we are going through even worth it? I mean, what’s the point?

Me: Do you mean, what was the point of loving Jonathan if we were only going to lose him?

Daniel: Yah, and Sonya too (our dog is in the last stages of dying.)

Me: All I can tell you is my own experience. I spent the first part of my life trying to avoid pain and it never worked. I didn’t know how to give or receive love. But Jonathan changed everything for me. Suddenly my eyes were open to God’s love, and though there was still pain, I didn’t try to avoid it. Actually I grew stronger and loved deeper because of it. So yes, I definitely believe that loving Jonathan or Sonya was worth more than the heartache we are experiencing now.

Daniel: You wouldn’t be standing here talking to me right now if you hadn’t made that choice.

Me: Exactly. Think of it this way. You’ve asked me how is it possible to love you when you are unkind to me. It’s because God loved me that way.

My experience is enough to convince me that no matter how deep the sorrow, opening my heart all the wider is worth it.

Suffering doesn’t equal punishment, it equals perseverance and perseverance must finish its work so that we are complete, not lacking anything. Life is not happenstance; it is a beautiful woven design. I just kept looking at the backside with all the ugly knots. It is in keeping our distance from God that we are most deeply wounded, not in drawing close to Him!

I loved Jonathan and losing him hurts worse than any torture you could put me through on this earth, but I agree with the poet whole heartedly. My life is better for loving God, and therefore opening my heart to my children, and mankind.

A Hug is a Powerful Weapon Against Evil

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

st. francis of assisi – 13th century

Dawn Turns the Page on What God Buries

Joshua 1-9 After the death of Moses the servant of God, God spoke to Joshua, Moses’ assistant:

Moses my servant is dead. Get going. Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon east to the Great River, the Euphrates River—all the Hittite country—and then west to the Great Sea. It’s all yours. All your life, no one will be able to hold out against you. In the same way I was with Moses, I’ll be with you. I won’t give up on you; I won’t leave you. Strength! Courage! You are going to lead this people to inherit the land that I promised to give their ancestors. Give it everything you have, heart and soul. Make sure you carry out The Revelation that Moses commanded you, every bit of it. Don’t get off track, either left or right, so as to make sure you get to where you’re going. And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” (The Message)

____________ is dead! Who or what in your life have you been following for so long that even when they are dead and buried, you are still trying to follow rather than taking the role of leader? Even though Joshua was anointed by God to take over after Moses, he is afraid to take over the tribes of Israel who have proven the are prone to wonder off the path God has set before them.

Moses has brought them to the doorstep of the promised land. It is now Joshua’s job to claim the promised land. You and I have the same choice before us. The Lord anointed his disciples to go into all the nations and make disciples (Matthew 28). Since I accept that God is sovereign in my free will, and therefore, I believe that he will bring beautiful things out of my son’s death, it is now my job to lay claim to his promises. My story didn’t end with Jonathan’s death, any more than yours stop with whatever chapter has been closed in your life. So how do we move forward? How do we lay claim to all God has in store for his people?

Moses’ credentials include:

  • Escaped genocide
  • Became a prince
  • Murdered an Egyptian to save a Hebrew slave
  • Escaped Pharaoh
  • Defended a group of girls trying to water their flocks
  • Married one of the girls
  • Shepherd for 40 years
  • Talked to. . . (or arguing with) a burning bush (God)
  • Became the God ordained spokesperson for Israel
  • Returned to Egypt to face down Pharaoh
  • Delivered the 7 plagues on Egypt
  • concentrated the 1st born of Israel
  • Parted the sea and brought Israelites to safety
  • Drowned the army of Egypt
  • Turned bitter water to sweet
  • Manna and quail meals
  • Produced water from a rock
  • Settled disputes
  • Delivered ten commandments . . .twice
  • Saw God’s (butt) doubt me? Read the text: Exodus 33:21-23
  • Built Tabernacle, Ark, Alter, and established the roles of the priests
  • Led Israel to the doorstep of the promised land
  • Wandered the desert for 40 years
  • Only prophet to talk directly with God
  • Defeated enemies of Israel
  • Blessed the tribes
  • Saw the expanse of the land God was giving to the people
  • Buried on the mountain of Moab by God himself

And Joshua’s leadership is to follow all of this!!! His credentials include:

  • Mighty warrior
  • Only 1 of 2 spies who said Israel could defeat the giants and lay claim to the land
  • Moses’ assistant

Do you feel insignificant to the call God has placed on your life? And, how do you determine when something is dead?

  • God declares it so Joshua 1:1, 1 Kings 19:19-21
  • He anoints a successor Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8-11
  • “Go” He commands the next steps

God declares the things of our past are DEAD! You were a cutter, that is dead. I despaired of life, that is dead. Be strong and courageous! And it isn’t a request, it’s a command. Obedience isn’t based on feelings, it is base on mission. There are things in front of you and I, and our part in the story of God is not an option. I see throughout scripture that though God is flexible with our weaknesses, there are times such as calling of people like, Moses, Joshua, or Jonah, disobedience is not an option.

In turning the page on depression and suicide, looking back, feeling inadequate to the task God has clearly called me to is not an option. So today I declare, Jonathan is dead, and lay claim to the beauty from ashes that God has set before me. There are walls to come down, there is a real enemy to defeat and God is with me, he will not leave or forsake me. What in your life do you need to declare is dead and lay claim to mission and commission God has placed on your life?

 

God,Witness to Our Sorrow

2 Corinthians 1:8We do not want you to be unaware, brothers, about the hardships we encountered in the province of Asia. We were under a burden far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life.

Today my family witnessed the aftermath of a suicide off a highway overpass. My heart breaks for the young man and all who loved him!

Lord, you witness all of our brokenness and sorrow! You are not distant from our pain. Put a hedge of protection, around the children, taken away from him moments before he jumped, and the witnesses of his last moments. Soften the memories for the first responders so that they can rest deeply in your arms tonight. Father, I cry out to you, end the curse of depression and suicide!

I know you are in control. I know that your timing is perfect! But, move quickly to turn our sorrow to singing! God, you do not always spare us from our brokenness, and I struggle with why you linger. My mind cannot fathom, why you spared me from suicide, but not my son, or the young man today. I trust your sovereignty, though I do not understand it! As it took many years for Joseph to understand the wide berth of his dreams, I do not see all that you are doing with my circumstances. May I be aware of those struggling around me.

Teach me to rest content in your arms, though my circumstances crash around me. Amen