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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Clutter to Contentment

But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.
                                                                          1 Timothy 6:6-8

I'm still stuck in the process of learning that things - no matter how beautiful or special - will never be able to give me the contentment that can only be found in Christ.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with beautiful or special things.  They can add enjoyment and pleasure to our lives.

But they can never bring us lasting happiness.  They can never take the place of God - not without terrible consequences.

Advertisers promise that the next new "it" item is all we need to be happy and fulfilled.  We're told that we need this new and improved version of "it" to stay connected and current.

The reality is that there is no "it" that can ever fully satisfy our souls.  Only the Prince of Peace can do that.

Why is this so hard for us to understand?

Why are we drawn like Magpies to the next bright and shiny new object?

We'll never find what we are searching for in the temporary things of this world.  No matter how beautiful or exciting, they will all pass away.  The Love that is the great source of us all is the only thing that will remain.

True contentment will never come from the clutter of worldly possessions. We will only find lasting peace when we loosen our grip on the things of this world and cling to Christ who holds all things together (Colossians 1:17).  In the end that's all that really matters.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Open the Eyes of My Heart

O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.
                                         2 Kings 6:17

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

The more I seek God's face, the more He opens my eyes that I might see.

Even more astounding, He continues to open the eyes of my heart wider and wider with each passing day.

I feel the sense of His incomparably great power in my life as He strengthens me to become more and more confident in Him.

You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
                                         1 John 4:4

I have tried for so long to free myself from the chains of my addictions and obsessions.  In my own strength I am ultimately powerless.  My strength is too weak to overcome the power of the sin.

But God's strength is not.  As long as I cling to Him in faith, hope and love, He will not fail me.

I may stumble and fall but He is there beside me gently encouraging me to brush myself off and stand firmly beside Him once again.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Practice of New Habits

In my own struggle to develop healthier habits I have often turned to the wise words of Portia Nelson's poem:

I walk down the street.
   There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
    I fall in.
    I am lost . . . I am helpless.
        It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
   There is a deep  hole in the sidewalk.
    I pretend I don't see it.
    I fall in again.
 I can't believe I am in the same place.
           But, it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
   There is a deep hole in the  sidewalk.
   I see it is there.
   I still fall in . . . it's a habit.
          My eyes are open.
          I know where I am.
   It is my fault.
   I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
   There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
   I walk around it.

I walk down another street.

This has been the story of my life for the last twenty years.

Over and over I've determined to set boundaries and over and over again I have failed.

I don't want to hurt other people.

I don't want to cause pain.

I don't know how to say what I really need to say.

So I've fallen into the hole of sweet compliance again and again at the expense of my true self.

I see now, on the verge of turning 50, that I can't continue to live a life only dedicated to pleasing other people.  Pleasing God?  Yes.  Other people?  Sometimes.  Myself?  As long as I'm not causing harm to others.

I have to live the life I am called to live - not necessarily the life that those around me would like me to live.

I'm sure there are times when I will walk down the wrong street and maybe even fall into the hole again.  But I also know that I have the strength and the courage to climb out.  And I'm grateful for that freedom.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Trust Beyond Reason

Losing my baby brother at the age of 27 was the deepest pain I've ever had to endure.

Not far behind was the death of my dear sister in Christ  to breast cancer two months to the day before my brother was killed.

My world and my faith were turned upside down.

Struggling with depression and questions that had no answers, I felt totally alone and abandoned by God.  How could this God I'd grown to love and trust in the past several years allow such terrible tragedies to occur to two of the best and most loving people I knew in His creation?

I still don't know the answer to that question but one thing I do know in my heart is the truth of these words from Romans 8:28:

                    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those
                     who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Against all logic and reason my faith has only continued to deepen in strength over the last 13 years.

Our family has continued to struggle with grief but we have also grown closer to each other than we ever would have otherwise.

I have learned that God is too big to ever fit in my (or anyone else's) carefully constructed box.

I don't want to make it sound like it was a quick and easy (or finished) process because it wasn't.

But in the deepest recesses of my heart and soul I know that out of the worst and most confusing situation in my life, my faith in God and my recognition of His unfathomable mystery has been the one thing that has sustained me.

Even though this world can be a dark and scary place, I now trust the One who made it.  He alone can make all things new.

I will trust in Him and not be afraid.