Lent devotional 9
Held by strings
Today on the TV I saw a woman who had been so broken that as she was speaking you could see that she was trying to be strong, while falling apart. These past several days we have seen a lot of people, women and men, who have been trying to hold their voices steady as they speak, trying to swallow back tears while being determined to push forward. You may not be in the middle of a war zone; you may have recentally lost a loved one, or a job, or perhaps you feel like you are losing yourself, your sanity in the swirling mess of what society has become- many are feeling that these days. Suffering, loss, even change has become so wearing and hard to handle that we feel like a dog’s teddy bear, torn apart and held together with streatching strings. We are wondering how many more times we can be sewn back together before there’s nothing left to attach. Humanity feels like the dog has our body under his paws and he is yanking on our arm, determined to pull it off. We wonder. Where is God?
He is here, sewing us back together everytime another part of us comes off. Our fallen world is imploding, just like He said it would. Does that make it easier to handle? No! Does that mean the death and suffering doesn’t matter? Of course not! But God promises that even when the world itself is falling to pieces that He is still there, He promises that even when we scream out ‘how can you let this happen God?’ That He still holds us tight and loves us. Why doesn’t He make it all end and save us? I don’t know. It’s the stuff that we can’t explain that makes us doubt the existance of a loving God, because in the pain we forget the good things we have seen God do. When the children of Israel were in the desert everytime they fell apart God had to remind them of the amazing things and wonders He had done for them, because when you are hanging together by one final thread all you can see is the pain you are in, you -we -I forget the times we have seen God help us and save us and provide for us, but He has and He still does. In the moment you are in right now, hold your hands infront of you, close your eyes and say with me, ‘God, it all so big and such a mess. You know what I am feeling and the pain I am in, and I know that you love me even in this moment that hurts so bad, hold me close please Jesus and help me know that you know what you are doing and that you will never let me go. Amen’
Stormie Omartan once said that after a dear friend of hers had died she came to a point in her grief where no one wanted to talk about it anymore because she had gone beyond the acceptable time of mourning. That’s ridiculous. Not how she felt but the fact that people treated her that way, and you want to know something? It’s true. I recall feeling that way after one of my friends passed away, my mom felt that way after her mother died, eventually people want you to move on, not for your sake, but because they are done hearing you talk about it. Come on people! Grief has no time limit. You will move on and then a sound or a smell will send you right back into it, and you know what? That’s okay. That is totally okay! When you are ready to move on you will, don’t feel rushed by other people, this pain is yours and they can never understand it nor can they feel it for you and of they could wear that pain for you they probably couldn’t bear it. But there is someone who can bear the pain for you, who understands it and has felt it too, His name is Jesus and He never grows tired of hearing you cry and mourn over loss, He never gets irritated when you bring up your agony, He will listen forever if you want Him to, because He loves you more than anyone else, and He will lift your pain and heal you. And if the pain comes back He will lift it again.
We all want to be more. More than we are at this moment, more than we dreamed we would be, more than enough. And it is not easy. All you can do is what is in front of you at this moment. Striving to be the best YOU you can be is not a bad thing, but the person you are right now might be the person you are meant to be. God often has to remind us to be still and to trust in Him, when things are not progressing or going the way you expected, when you are not reaching beyond your own expectations it can be hard to calm down and remind yourself that you are okay as you. God will grow you when He feels you are ready to grow. Trees don’t complain when they are a few branches short of how large the wished to be or when they have a smaller ring count than the tree next to them, they simply grow in God’s time and that is what we have to do. Wait on the Lord. Be still and know that I am God- Psalm: 46:10
We as humans tend to used descriptive language often. We say things we have built or roads we have taken are drenched with our sweat or our tears. When we redid our house I often said it was coated in my blood from the two or three minor scrapes I received while working on it. Drenched, coated. What if our lives were drenched and coated, not with blood, sweat and tears, but with prayer? What difference would we see? I once heard a mission planter say that he truly saw the difference come when he began to pray. He worked on his own for awhile, but then he started to coat everything in prayer and that was when things began to happen. My grandpa is a prayer, no matter what we do, before we do it he prays. It may take time but in a bit you see that exact prayer come true and crazy things that shouldn’t be possible start to happen. I used to think it was because he is a retired pastor and God just hears pastors better, but I found out after trying his technique that it is simply because he pours himself into a thirty second prayer before doing anything. His weakness in the moment gave God room to show His strength, so grandpa eventually got to a place where instead of becoming stuck and needing God to bail him out, he just handed it all over to God in the beginning and watched God work. If we drench our days, familys, selves with prayer we will see things begin to change. It may take time, but it will happen.
Jesus isn’t a little bird trying to fly away from you, He’s a man who is there for you to trust and lean on- a solid rock on which to stand. He’s not fluttering by and have to try to catch Him, He’s standing there with His arms open ready to embrace you.
If you know nothing else about the Bible but the fact that God sent His son to earth as a human baby to be stripped, beaten, spit upon and killed by the people He loves so much; if you know that a man tempted by sin but pure enough not to fall into it died and took the keys out of the devil’s hand and freed the captives from hell and ascended to Heaven, and you know that He is waiting for you to come to Him so Heaven can be yours too, then you know the greatest grace, mercy and miracle in the whole book. He wants you so come to Him.
What combats hate?
And love is stronger than hate.
However, love is a heavier weapon to carry.
It’s easy to hate because hate is all emotion, it doesn’t even take thought to accomplish hate- but love is an action, you have to work at love. Love says ‘you did wrong by me, you brought me low and left me abandoned- but I still love you.’ Love is not an emotion. Passion is an emotion, like is an emotion, love is an action.
There are plenty of people who I have seen show love to people that they don’t like. I have seen a pastor be torn apart by a devil sent destroyer and yet that same pastor went and visited that destroyer when he was hurt and in the hospital. Why? Because as much as that man caused the pastor to feel a sense of dislike deep in his stomach due to the man’s actions and lies, the pastor still loved him. Jesus still loved Judas even though he betrayed Him.
Paul prayed for his prison guards when he was waiting to be executed.
Joseph wept for his brothers who has sold him as a slave.
You can’t tell me they liked them at those moments, but you can see clearly that they loved them.
Love is a heavy weapon to carry and takes great effort, but it also delivers a more powerful blow.
Use the thinking side of your brain.
In the horse world we have a saying, ‘use the thinking side of your brain.’
Horses have two sides of the brain like all animals, but unlike us they have a thinking side and a reacting side. Why do you mount a horse from the left? That’s the thinking side. When you try to train a horse to let you mount from the right side, the reacting side, be prepared for the horse to introduce you to the ground awfully fast a couple of times before you convince him not to kill you.
We as human kind have the problem of not having a thinking and reacting side so when we react we stop thinking completely and it over takes us. I can walk up to my horse with a bucket of treats and if I go to the right he will generally take off on me, but if I go to the left he waits to see what’s in the bucket. How often has God come to us with something great but we have reacted and run away because we aren’t sure we trust Him? How much have we missed out on because the thing holding the gift -the bucket- scares us? Unfortunately with people the thing that scares us on our right side usually scares us on our left. We have to let God work in us and calm us down and teach us to trust Him enough that we stop running away and start becoming curious about what is in the bucket.
So, here comes Halloween, and thus here comes red popcorn, hot chocolate and the Z movies. Out of all of the different monsters I feel zombies are the most terrifying, not because they are scary – actually they are kind of dumb- but because the zombies are the ones that were originally human. Generally it’s a disease that creates them, right? But in truth they are just people who are sick.
As you walk through the world these days and look around at other people how many are sick? How many are dying? How many are already zombies? Don’t give up yet, I have a point and it’s not ridiculous. There are so many people around us, people we meet in real life, people we meet online, people we never meet at all, and most of them don’t know Jesus and that is sad. Without Christ we are dead people walking, the truly scary thing is that a lot of people who are the walking dead think they have Christ, but knowing Jesus is more than a prayer before bed and Church on Sunday, it’s a sacrificial way of living. You have to sacrifice your time of pleasure to spend time praying, which is something we should find joy in but it can feel like a task at times, but we need to do it even on those hard days. You have to sacrifice carnal desires -no, I don’t mean donuts- I mean things that are sins but seem like so much fun when you see others doing them, better to not do those things and keep your relationship with Christ. Wait. Did she just say keep your relationship with Christ? Does that mean we can lose our relationship with Christ? That’s a topic that lots of people ask about and struggle with the answer to, yes you can lose your Jesus if you are not putting effort into that relationship with Jesus. Here’s the great part about that, even if you don’t spend time with God, even if you continue sinning and just assume that God will forgive you so it doesn’t matter what you do, even if you break God’s heart and make him cry, Jesus will never leave you. You say but that doesn’t make sense because you just said that we can lose our relationship with God, yes we can lose our relationship, but we can never lose God’s love. God will always pick you up when you fall whether you just sinned against him in a drastic and vile way, or you just finished a 2-hour prayer time and I feel you couldn’t be Holier, if you fall and ask God to help you he will always be right there for you. It’s so easy to become one of the sick. This world works so hard to infect us all, and we are surrounded by zombies, but God will never give up on us and he holds the Cure to this disease. So no matter where you are on your Walk of Life, when you’re ready to say “Jesus I Need You, come into my life, forgive me of my sins, please draw me into your power and bring me back to life,” know that he is right there listening to you, answering you, and healing you.
You know how when you are hiking you generally either bring a walking stick or you pick one up on the road as you go? If you did not bring one with you, at what time in your journey do you generally pick up a stick to use? When the journey starts getting hard, right? When you feel like you need something to support you and to help you carry on, that’s usually when you bend down and pick up a sturdy stick to help you along the way. I know you all know where I’m going with this. God has become too much like our walking stick, we usually tend to leave him behind, and then when the journey starts getting hard return to him again and ask him to help us. Then when the journey becomes easy again we drop him and continue on by ourselves. Why do we do this? I suppose because God and walking sticks have one more thing in common, when the road is easy the’re a lot of work to carry. When the path is flat and you’re not really using the stick anymore and you’re more just carrying it with you it becomes tiresome doesn’t it? So we give up and we drop it, then we hit a rugged part of the road and we go back and get our stick again to help us along the rough part, then it becomes easy again and the stick becomes something we’re just carrying so we put it down again. Praying everyday reading your Bible, even going to church once a week can seem like a lot of work at times, when things are hard we run to these things because they draw us closer to God and God is helping us over the hard times, but then when times become easy and we find ourselves having to do these things we feel like they’re too much work and we don’t want to. But God isn’t a Genie in a Bottle, he’s not there to grant wishes and then to just disappear, God is our father he wants a relationship with us he wants us there with him all the time, so even on the times where you feel like you just don’t feel like going to church, or like you read the Bible so often that you’re just tired of it now, keep going, keep attending Services keep reading your Bible keep praying because these things are drawing you closer to the father. Serving God can be a lot of work at times but it will always be worth it, he will always be worth it. So don’t put him down when the road gets easy and pick him up when the road gets hard cling to him at all times instead and trust him as he Journeys with you.
Pain is a word we all know too well. Recently I hurt myself. I have hurt myself many times and this pain that didn’t want to leave is a familiar enemy. Thank God we have an intelligent chiropractor who feels my neck and shoulder and says I have hurt my 3-1 or V-4 or whatever vertebrae and then he puts it back in place and then he rubs it and then I go back again a few times because the injury wants to persist and he needs to keep reminding it where it belongs until it stays.
Let’s break pain down like this:
P- problem occurs
A- attempt to fix problem
N- now what?
We are like our pain, and we cause pain to ourselves. We fall out of place, a problem occurs and we try with all our hearts to fix the problem ourselves and we end up hurting ourselves in the process. Our hearts get broken, we cry, we get angry, nothing works so now what?
We look down and there is nothing there, then we slowly look up. Jesus is looking back at us and we lift our hands and give it all to Him. He takes the pain, the sorrow, the need and He heals it all. We cause ourselves more pain by fighting to fix things ourselves, if we give the problem to Jesus He is the one who knows how to fix it with ease.