A strange thing happened the other day, it came to my attention that people actually read what I write, I know, I’m slow on the uptake. With that realization the thought that I might need to think through what I write more, instead of just finding some words in my head & throwing them out there, came to me. That does not necessarily mean I will be changing much with what I write about, just maybe remembering to add more context where required and certainly pausing before pressing a little more.
My blog writings tend to be all over the place, which reflects my personality quite well. One moment I will be wrapped in deep spirituality, the next moment I’m wrapped in some form of struggle or internal battle. I don’t have it all together in real life & I like to think my blog is transparent enough to reflect that, while at the same time pointing towards the good that I enjoy in life.
I think my normal is not to be hyper-focused on any one thing, I have a bunch of things I really like and I do them a little each. Occasionally I’ll get really into something for a while, but generally that does not last. This got me thinking about this is also reflected in my spiritual life, how it tends to look like waves, high moments followed by lulls. I would love to stay on the highs the whole time but I don’t know if that is possible, I wonder if the lows are necessary for me to recover from whatever was gained in the high. Maybe the lulls are a test to see how committed I am. Or maybe, that’s just the way I am and while I am a much different person today than I was 10 or 15 years ago, some things seem to be hard wired. Regardless, it is my desire to be more consistent in my spiritual life, unfortunately it seems that is only possible with discipline, not my favorite thing.
Sometimes rather than worrying about how I am not perfect in my spiritual life, I need to take the time to remember how far the Lord has brought me, where He brought me from and hold onto His promises for my future. Over the last few weeks I have heard some amazing lessons at my church, a friend who is an active fire fighter with MS shared some of his testimony and how the fire service has helped him in his walk. The values of (humble) pride, honor (for God, your family & others) & integrity (respect for yourself, respect for others & responsibility for your actions) have helped him in his life & they apply directly to our walks with Christ.
I then heard the amazing story of coach Larry Clay, who had one of the most horrendous childhoods I have ever heard of, and was on his way to a troubling adult life before God intervened. He is now a member of the US Martial Arts Hall of Fame, a successful businessman, coach, speaker and then some. His willingness to share every detail of his life, to see this giant of a man (6’7” ish approx. 300 lbs of man mountain) be so open, vulnerable and humble, all to give glory to God and allow God to use his story to help others, was immensely inspiring. If he is ever speaking near you I cannot encourage you to go listen enough, it will blow your mind.
These messages in addition to the sermons at my church since I got back from vacation were really encouraging. It was when I noticed that they were encouraging, and not the kick in the rear / wake up call that they would have been in the past, that I really started to try and take stock and appreciate just how far God has brought me. Sometimes I get over anxious for what He might want me to do in the future, or how I might not be measuring up to what I am supposed to be. I need to just enjoy the ride, enjoy being His and enjoy living life in a place of healing and freedom from my past and be ready & willing to use my history to help others who are not yet where I am.
That is the thing, one of the most important messages that I have received from God & one of the most important messages I can give to you is: Do not allow your past to determine your future. You need to deal with your past (or more correctly put, allow Him to deal with it), learn from it & use it. Christian counseling is a great place to start with this, followed by open honest community with a small, safe and authentic group.
God did not create you to suffer, He did not create you to live your life in pain. We are all born into a broken and fallen world. No matter what has happened in your past, no matter what you have done, or what was done to you, God loves you & He wants to redeem you, heal you & set you free.
New English Translation (NET)
10 Even if my father and mother abandoned me,
the Lord would take me in.
New English Translation (NET)
7 The Lord will protect you from all harm;
he will protect your life.
New English Translation (NET)
10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.
The problem is not that you sin, or that you have pain. The problem is when you allow the enemy to become your accuser and prevent you from reaching your destiny. Your destiny is to be loved, your destiny is to be a part of Gods family. If you here that you are not worthy, if you think you are unlovable, if you feel are not good enough, that is not God, that is the devil, the father of lies. Choose to believe what Jesus says about you, not the enemy. Your past does not define you – God has a future for you.
Too often we think that, well, maybe when I get it together, maybe when I fix things. That is not how Jesus works, He came to save and restore. Your sin problem will not go away until you are connected to Jesus, He will take it away, you cannot do it by yourself, so stop trying.
How does Jesus operate in the life of someone who is trapped in their past, who has given up on the future? While you are still sinning Jesus still comes and moves on your behalf. He does for you what you cannot do for yourself. You don’t need to do better, you need Jesus. Look at the story of Zacchaeus the tax collector, a sinner, a person who collected taxes from his people to give to the Romans who had taken over their land. This was not a popular chap and what happened? Did Jesus reject him?
New International Version (NIV)
19 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”
8 But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
He knew he needed Jesus, he knew he had to get to Jesus. Just as so many of us have. It doesn’t happen by waiting, you have to seek Him, you have to wade into the river. Did you ever notice how in Joshua 3 God did not part the waters and say, ok go across? The Israelites instructions were to wade into the swollen river Jordan & only then would the waters be parted. That in itself is such a key lesson in the Christian life.
New English Translation (NET)
Bright and early the next morning Joshua and the Israelites left Shittim and came to the Jordan. They camped there before crossing the river. 2 After three days the leaders went through the camp 3 and commanded the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priests, you must leave here and walk behind it. 4 But stay about three thousand feet behind it. Keep your distance so you can see which way you should go, for you have not traveled this way before.”
5 Joshua told the people, “Ritually consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will perform miraculous deeds among you.”6 Joshua told the priests, “Pick up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they picked up the ark of the covenant and went ahead of the people.
7 The Lord told Joshua, “This very day I will begin to honor you before all Israel so they will know that I am with you just as I was with Moses. 8 Instruct the priests carrying the ark of the covenant, ‘When you reach the bank of the Jordan River, wade into the water.’”
9 Joshua told the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God!” 10 Joshua continued, “This is how you will know the living God is among you and that he will truly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites. 11 Look! The ark of the covenant of the Ruler of the whole earth is ready to enter the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now select for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one per tribe. 13 When the feet of the priests carrying the ark of the Lord, the Ruler of the whole earth, touch the water of the Jordan, the water coming downstream toward you will stop flowing and pile up.”
14 So when the people left their tents to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them.15 When the ones carrying the ark reached the Jordan and the feet of the priests carrying the ark touched the surface of the water—(the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest time)— 16 the water coming downstream toward them stopped flowing. It piled up far upstream at Adam (the city near Zarethan); there was no water at all flowing to the sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea). The people crossed the river opposite Jericho. 17 The priests carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan. All Israel crossed over on dry ground until the entire nation was on the other side.
Jesus is still healing, he is still saving & he is still redeeming & changing lives. I am living proof of it. The gospels are not just what Jesus did; they are what Jesus is still doing! Jesus calls you to live in your destiny, not your past.
You have a choice; you can either stop where you are, or start moving towards what you were created to be. You have more power than you think. You have the power to choose, the only power the devil has over you is the power you choose to give him. Do not negate the power of the cross by living in your pain. You can’t do it alone. The answer to your past, the answer to your present and the answer to your future is Jesus Christ.
May He bless you with a life of love, peace & healing.