It is March 1st. It means that is has been almost a year since the first lockdown here. This last year has had its ups and downs. There are two questions looming in my heart and mind. The first is what happened to the last year? It almost feels like it has been an alternate reality, but in reality it is life as we know it.
Some of you may have had a great year, but for the most part it has been a difficult year for most people. I want to take this opportunity to encourage you that God is there for you. He will never leave you, no matter what happens. God holds us close to his heart and he celebrates with us in every victory, and he weeps with us over every sorrow. He is always present with us. He will never give up, even when we are tempted to. God's love is greater than any other love in this world, and he loves you! When looking back over this year, make sure you look for the moments God demonstrated his love for you in the midst of storms, tragedies and trials. He was there even when we do not recognize it.
The second question looming in my heart and mind is what will this next year look like? I do not know the future, but I do know that God never changes. This means that no matter what happens this next year, God will still be loving us, always present. He is the one thing we can depend on going into this next year. Even if everything else in life shifts and changes, God remains the same. My only hope is that I will be watching for him. Watching for his love seeping into every moment, his peace saturating every painful moment, and his strength raising me up from my weakness. Watching for those moments when he has made his presence known to me in so many various ways. Knowing that God is unchanging whatever this next year holds I know I will make it through with his help.
Life is filled with unexpected moments. No matter who we are, our plans falter, our dreams change and some goals seem unachievable. It is in these unexpected moments that we can discover grace and compassion. Can you imagine what would happen if we were to face every time we got off track due to the unexpected with grace and compassion for ourselves; recognizing that we are actually in the exact timing and exact placement God wants us in.
God is the one who orchestrates our lives, He is the one who placed us on the path, and what is unexpected for me is no surprise to Him. That is right God planned for every moment that seems unexpected to us. This takes the pressure off us! We are exactly where God planned for us to be. Hard to wrap your head around, but freeing if we embrace it!
God has planned for our unexpected. When we feel like we have failed cling to the fact that this is part of the path you are following, the journey you are on. God knew this would happen and has meticulously planned for it. We need to have compassion towards ourselves and not get discouraged, but pick ourselves up and continue on.
This brings a new perspective to James 1:2 Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. Great joy because God has already accounted for it and you are exactly where you need to be. Great joy because it gives us the opportunity to demonstrate God's grace for ourselves. Great joy because God will give us everything we need to endure through it and come out the other side.
Do not let go of your goals, your plans, your dreams. Instead be open to the fact that they may not happen in your time table, or in the way that you had planned; rest in the knowledge that it is all happening in God's time table and in the way that he has planned. It is so reassuring knowing that the living God of the universe and beyond has everything under control, even my unexpected moments!
Always Moving Forward
Time keeps moving forward, no matter what. There may be times when the future seems overwhelming, even daunting and we just want to stay in the present, or relive the past. No matter how difficult the future may be time is constantly moving forward. None of us have the superpower to stop time.
When I am unsure of the future, I go to God. He has a plan for my life, it is a plan for my good. Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope." God's plans are better than our plans could be. Isaiah 55:9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. We can trust God with our future, no matter the outlook.
The next time you get overwhelmed by the future remember that God has a good plan for you. All you need to do is trust in that. God loves you and wants His best for you. When I was in my early twenties, I had mapped out my entire future, before I was even 25 all of my plans had failed and I was angry with God. I carried that for a very long time. One day, someone said to me, "You have such a great life, you have a husband who loves you, a beautiful home, a great job, you have it all. In that moment that anger reared its ugly head and my response was that what I had wasn't what I had planned for myself and I told her my plans. She then answered me by saying, "Don't you see that what you have now is so much better?" It took me a few minutes to process that. She was right! Everything I had imagined for myself, would have ended in my unhappiness.
Do not waste years wishing you had some ideal, take a step back and look at all of the blessings in your life, you just might realize that you have more than you ever wanted right now, and never even realized it.
Betrayal and Forgiveness
Betrayal sucks! If you have not been betrayed either you are very blessed or you have not allowed anyone close enough to you to betray you. The rest of us, however, feel its affects: broken trust, feelings of abandonment, cracked relationships, fractured self worth, anger, hatred, and bitterness to name a few. The closer people are to us the deeper the damage goes.
Paul experienced this. He faced a judge to plead his case when he was in prison. Everyone abandoned him, they betrayed him. Can you imagine? You are incarcerated and those who are your witnesses don't show up. How devastating would that would be? You would think he would be livid. You would think he would be telling Timothy to avoid these people and if he came across them deal with them accordingly. Instead, he does something that challenged me. He not only forgave them, he asked Timothy to not hold it against them. 2 Timothy 4:16 The first time I was brought before the judge, no one came with me. Everyone abandoned me. May it not be counted against them.
I have been betrayed before and I can honestly say that I have not been as gracious as Paul is in this instance. He challenges me. He saw the bigger picture, that God used this situation for good. 2 Timothy 4:17
But the Lord stood with me and gave me strength so that I might preach the Good News in its entirety for all the Gentiles to hear. And he rescued me from certain death. Paul saw God at work through this circumstance. The next time I am betrayed, I hope I can see the bigger picture and be quick to forgive.
Renewing the Shattered
The last few weeks have been hard, but in a good way. God has been gently guiding me to this place where I finally feel like I can start experiencing His fullness in my life. So many people in our world are struggling and they bury it so no one else can see into their shattered worlds. We become shattered when we believe lies, when we allow those lies to become our identity verses who God created us to be. God made us unique and special.
Psalm 139:13-18 states "For You formed my innermost parts; You knit me [together] in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks and praise to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was being formed in secret, And intricately and skillfully formed [as if embroidered with many colors] in the depths of the earth. Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were appointed for me, When as yet there was not one of them [even taking shape]. How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast the sum of them! If I could count them they would outnumber the sand. When I awake I am still with you." AMP
God's love for us is so amazing and so complete, we do not need to hold onto the lies that we are not good enough, that we are not worthy of God's love or forgiveness, that we are not worthy of love, that if we do enough then maybe we can earn back His grace. These are all lies!!!!! The truth is that the only thing that makes us worthy is God, He sent His son to die on the cross so that we are covered by GRACE!!! When God sees us, He sees us as His children that He designed for a special purpose. He does not see the sin and the lies. We need to let go of shame and guilt, we need to confess and we need to repent (this means to ask for forgiveness and not turn back to the things we are asking Him to forgive). Then we need to forgive ourselves and anyone else we are holding back forgiveness for. This process is hard. It breaks us out of the stagnant lives we are in and brings us back to the vibrant life God designed for us.
John 10:10 sums it up quite well. "The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows]." AMP
God wants us to live lives that are filled with joy, peace and love! He wants us to make the most of every moment and live out this adventure with Him. Those of you who are reading this who feel cocooned in lies or sin or anything else that would hold you back from enjoying life to the fullest, then it may be time to shatter the chains that are holding you back and allow God bring you back into His fullness! Bring you back into enjoying life until it overflows!!!
Join me on my journey through life's joys and difficulties.