Finding a Cure for The Deep-Down Ache

IMG_1273Jeff Goins just wrote the story of my life in his latest post called How to Stop Getting Paralyzed and Start Making Better Decisions. He doesn’t know it but he is one of many that God has used to push me forward, out of my rut, out of my safety net. And, believe me, it has taken a lot of pushing and prodding to get me to move!

Because I like feeling safe. The only problem is, that sort of approach to life only leads to disappointment. I call it a deep-down ache. Always wondering what if…What if I had done this, that or the other?

I told my husband the other day, it’s too bad it’s taken me so many years to begin to figure this out. God doesn’t require my perfection, just my willingness to follow Him. I don’t need to have all the answers. I just need to trust the One who does.

Every day, I have a choice. I can either stay where I am or keep moving toward what is undoubtedly the riskier but more rewarding existence He has planned for me.

What about you? If you feel God is calling you out of your comfort zone, I encourage you to follow the sound of His voice. Trust that the plans He has for you are good, and keep moving forward. Because this is the only cure for that deep-down ache. The only way to really, truly live.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

I Hope

I was young when I learned that trusting people is a bad idea. And this belief has been continually reinforced throughout my life. It’s the reason I am intensely private. And it’s also the reason I write.

Because when I push publish, it pushes me out of the safety of these fortified walls I’ve built for myself. 

Walls can protect but they can also isolate. They can free you from the fear of attack but they can also imprison you and keep you from knowing how it feels to fight and conquer that fear.

I don’t know why people hurt other people. Maybe they think that by wounding others they can somehow heal themselves. But that’s not how it works.

Jesus said, “do to others what you would have them do to you...” (Matthew 7:12)

This verse, known as the Golden Rule, is one I haven’t always measured up to but it is so important. And I wish we could get that. Because I guarantee if we did, there would be no more bombs and bullets. No cursing or criticizing. None of this silent, but just as vicious, passive-aggressive posturing to make ourselves feel more important, more righteous or more anything than anyone else.

I’m no Pollyanna. I know there’s evil in the world. I’ve seen it up close. And it sounds like a small thing when there’s blood on the streets but I’ll say it anyway.

When you’re betrayed by a friend or family member or someone you thought you could trust, and when they look you in the eye and smile because they are taking pleasure in your pain, it’s like shrapnel to the heart.

Those kind of wounds cut deep and they can leave lasting scars. But I know where to go for healing. I know God can be trusted to right all wrongs and I also believe that good will triumph in the end.

And in the meantime, I can pray. I can keep chipping away at these walls, scratching words into stone, choosing hope. Because as Andy says in the movie Shawshank Redemption,  

“Hope is a good thing. Maybe the best of things.
And no good thing ever dies.”

I hope for a new world where people treat others the way they would like to be treated. With kindness, respect and compassion.

I hope for that day when God’s promise is fully realized, when evil is defeated and heaven is revealed.

And when I come to that place, with shackles broken and heart wide open, I hope it’s as beautiful as it has been in my dreams.

I hope.

A Reformed Life

I will not violate my covenant or alter what my lips have uttered. Psalm 89:34 

 

October 31st is a significant day in the history of the church. It was on this day, in 1517 that Martin Luther posted his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. The central theme of his writings declared his belief that the Bible is the ultimate authority and that salvation comes through faith alone, not by works. These were radical statements for that time, ideas that would lead to the Protestant Reformation.

Dictionary definitions for Reformation, Reformed, Reform: 
“to change to a better state, improve by alteration, abandon evil conduct or error”

Luther was just a man. A flawed, struggling human being, just like me and you. But it was his unwavering determination and focused commitment to what he believed, as depicted in the following video, that is truly inspirational.


 

In her book, Jesus – Life Coach, Laurie Beth Jones explains how we need to imitate our ultimate example, Jesus, in this area of focused living.

“It is very easy in this world of distractions and 24/7 information streams to get off track and lose your focus. Knowing what you came here to do, and being determined to do it, no matter what, will give you more power than you can imagine.”

Jesus never strayed from his mission, which was to do the will of the Father. And I have gone my own way, like a wandering sheep, straying off the path too many times to count. But He knows I desire to live a life that is pleasing to Him. And I know that comes at the price of complete, wholehearted surrender to His sovereign will.

So I pray.
I pray for courage to allow Him to mold me to His image and not the other way around. Because He is the Potter and I am clay.
And we are all clay in His hands. The wheel keeps turning and He is changing, literally re-forming, us so that in the face of trial and opposition we will be able to stand firm in the faith and declare to the world, “I will not recant!”

 


Father, help all of us who call ourselves yours to be ever steadfast in our resolve to live according to your Word. May reformed living cause us to stay focused on our commitment to you.


Amen.

On Blank Pages and Changing The World

ComputerKeys

Blank pages are opportunities.

That’s what I tell myself when I’m staring at a piece of paper or the blinking cursor poised inside an empty, white box on the computer screen.

It is an opportunity to start fresh. To create something new.

But sometimes blank pages can feel like failure.

Because productivity is how we measure success, how we and others define our worthiness.

That’s not the whole story, though.

What we do is just a byproduct of who we are, which is a work-in-progress. It is the sum of our experiences, our dreams, what we’ve done and what we hope to do in the future. Who we have touched and who has touched us.

Life has to be lived and our hearts filled before it can spill like ink onto a blank page. First we breathe in. Then we breathe out.

Still, we wonder in silence. Is the work I’m doing good enough? Am I good enough? If it is God’s approval we seek and not the praises of other people, we have to answer that question in the affirmative. Because we know He is not so concerned with our perfection as He is our faithfulness (1 Cor. 4:2).

We may think we have little to offer but, no matter how inept or daunted we feel, it does no good to try and excuse ourselves from the process.

Hasn’t it always been true that doing some small thing is better than doing nothing? And might it be possible for all of these small things to come together and make a bigger impact than we could ever imagine?

I think, yes.

ComputerKeys1

So maybe this weaving of words and turning of phrases and tapping at computer keys will never change the world. But, I know it will change me. It already has.

Because my faith gets stronger when I am obedient, in spite of my feelings, to do what I know God wants me doing.

What about you? What does God want you doing? 

I pray you are encouraged to pursue your calling, whatever that may be. Because every day is an opportunity. An opportunity to grow, to emerge from your shell as a beautiful butterfly.

And maybe that metamorphosis will inspire others. Because they will see the work of our Creator. “God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were (Romans 4:17b)”, or as the NLT puts it, “creates new things out of nothing.

In truth, we serve the One who makes the impossible possible. So, if we allow His power to change us, we just might change the world. One blank page at a time.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
Colossians 3:23

Related Inspiration I found on the Web this week:

An awesome article from Marcus Goodyear on How The Smallest Actions Can Change The World

And this cute animation, drawing attention to how greatness can begin with something as simple as one, small dot.

Enjoy!

When Your Spirit Needs A Lift

Let’s be honest. Sometimes life is hard and being human can feel like a weight. But God gives us hope and hope is like helium.

It can elevate the heaviest heart.

And, even though it looks like our world is falling apart and though it may feel like we are barely hanging onto a tiny, thin sliver of string, we hold tight to the One who is holding onto us.

And this is faith.

Knowing that God is all around us, His love like a mighty wind sweeping over and under, and lifting us higher and higher…

Other places to find encouragement if you find yourself needing a lift today.

Inspired words from Ann
Where to Find Happiness

The sweetest song by Brandon Heath

 
 

But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31