“Love is patient, love is kind” – 1 Corinthians 13:4
These words are so familiar to us, and yet, at least for me, so far out of reach. Patience is the next Fruit of the Spirit, and if you talked to me a week ago, I’d say that I was the worst person to end up with it. I am not good at patience. I have three young children, so I spend a lot of time hurrying people along or getting irritated by them. Obviously I love them. And love is patient, right? So what am I doing wrong?
I’ve always heard that you shouldn’t pray for patience. God gives it to you through trials. And maybe I’ve made the mistake of doing it anyway. But James says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (verses 2-4 NKJV). Trials are good because God uses those trials. Avoiding them would not help us develop into the Jesus followers we’re meant to be.
So maybe patience is about being at peace with God’s timing. The timing does not change to accommodate us or our desires. Nor should it. I have to remind myself that I am not the smart one in this relationship. I don’t have the answers. I need to leave all the scheduling of life events to the One in charge of the whole calendar. All the calendars. This is much easier to write than to live but knowing it is a good start.
As I started writing today, I was sitting with my son at a doctor’s appointment I’d been waiting months to get. This is an early step of what will probably be a long road, and it took months to make this one tiny step. It’s frustrating. I want to know why things can’t move more quickly. No one seems to think this is as important as I do. But I’m waiting “patiently” and working on this blog post when 2 Peter 3:8-9 slaps me in the face.
“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends; With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
The Lord is in our struggles, not matter how big or small. As much as we have to be patient with our kids/spouse/friends/coworkers, we have to be patient with God too. We know all things work together for good. It doesn’t say all the good things or all the easy things. All the things. What if we’re so busy trying to speed our situations along that we miss the blessing?
My prayer for you, sweet ladies, and myself, is that we receive this fruit of the spirit. I can’t promise it will be easy, because God doesn’t promise that. But I can promise it will be worth it.
It wasn’t until my early 40’s when I realized the Holy Bible is a book about recovery. To be honest, I never read the Bible until then. Many of us are just waking up to the fact that recovery is an essential part of life for everyone. I just didn’t realize I could read pages of Scriptures to recover the soul I’d lost for so many years. Rebuilding a broken life is serious and it almost came too late for me.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)
God always gives humble people a chance to start again. It wasn’t until after my second suicide attempt when I accepted Christ into my life. I desperately needed help in my recovery for healing, forgiveness and strength. I began reading the Bible daily and met numerous individuals in the Bible whose hurting lives were restored through the wisdom and power of God. It sounded so familiar as if I was reading my own story. I realized we are no different than the individuals in the Bible. They, too, were far from perfect! After all, the Book of Genesis reminds us of where all of our problems began as it illustrates human opportunities, difficulties, and sin while demonstrating that God’s solutions are the only ones that work. I was so astounded that while learning Scripture, the Bible is about recovery and letting God do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It gave me the encouragement and enthusiasm to take the steps necessary to draw closer to my Creator and Redeemer. Understanding the Bible revealed a plan for my recovery and the source of the power to accomplish it; this gave me the hope and peace I’d searched for what felt like endless years through so many tears. I remember the exact moment when I learned Christ is the one to whom we can turn for deep healing and recovery…. and my recovery was on the way!
In God I have put my trust.
The greatest joy came into my heart and soul when I first realized I was already in the beginning of my recovery and wanted to share the message with the world about my Lord, my Savior Jesus Christ. I felt my soul for the first time in over a decade! I heard the beautiful music from birds singing, the intense, sweet aroma from spring flowers. Had it always been this way and I was just now able to recognize the beautiful abundance around me? Through the Holy Spirit and my growing passion for discovery, I began to immerse myself in His Word and Bible studies. Within the first year, I realized my Scripture readings allowed God to heal my wounded soul. I was so surprised by the changes that God made in my life. Recognizing how far I had already come, encouraged me to persevere in the process of my recovery.
While we will always face obstacles as we seek to live out God’s plan for our lives, God wants us to succeed in recovery. I knew I could not find strength within myself, but strength through trusting God. By allowing Him to direct my decisions and plans brought restoration to my life. God restored what was broken and changed it into something amazing and beautiful. All I needed was faith. God is always a God of restoration and healing. No situation is too far gone for Him to restore. Trust me, I have been there! My life was shattered, a total mess that I even hated to be with myself! His Word showed me how I could gain direction from my past, guidance for the present and hope for my future.
Against all odds, God is able to bring about recovery for us. But remember, recovery is a characteristic of God that should be appreciated and not presumed upon. We need to be willing to listen to His Word and follow through. It’s not always easy. As painful as it is, how wonderful that God provided His Son to take the punishment on our behalf. Recovery can take place only in the environment of grace created by the work of Jesus Christ.
As we may know, the book of Revelation is about struggle and gives hope to believers. As God transformed my shattered world, He will make your broken life new as well. Throughout Revelation, He urges us to not give up but to believe in Him and to overcome.
Will you allow recovery in Christ like I did? Will you turn over your life to Him today? He is greater than any other power in the universe.
I watched my parents as they made their way through the security line at RDU a few weeks ago. I’m that cheesy person who lingers on the other side of that security line and just waits there until my person or people are completely out of sight. I stand there holding onto that last sight I may catch. Because there’s just something about being with people you love. Presence can’t be replaced.
My mind and heart have been wandering to this topic lately – God’s presence with us. I’ve been finding myself doing some menial task or puttering and pruning in the garden (hello-first-spring-in-new-home-with-beauty-of an-overgrown-garden) and thinking about how close God is to us, with me. Am I really aware of God with me, despite not seeing Him, or feeling Him at times? Do I really believe God is with me all the time?
And I’ve been thinking about the Holy Spirit, He is beautiful, humble, fully God, and our companion. Jesus conveys this when he is hanging out with his guys for the last time before He faces His death. He tells them “ I will ask of the Father and He will give you another Helper that He may be with you forever.” (John 14:16). Helper here also means “one called alongside to help.” I can’t just read over this, I’m compelled to stop and let that set in. God’s Spirit is with us, to help us, always. Jesus continues to tell his friends that the world cannot receive this Spirit of Truth but they’ll know Him because He abides in you and will be in you. Not only is God with us, He is in us!
In this same conversation Jesus is having with His disciples He says “I am the vine, you are the branches”…”Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4,5). A vine and its branches – what a picture of being interconnected. It’s clear that God wants to be with us, that He gives us opportunity to be close with Him. I don’t have God’s presence with us even close to figured out but I want His presence with me. He is just so good. I don’t know what it looks like to live in His presence all the time but I will cling onto these verses that say the Holy Spirit is with us, among us and that we can abide in Jesus and He in us.
The other morning I stopped as I was making my bed and looked outside. The dew was still collecting on the leaves outside the window, there was light and life and it struck me… somehow in that very ordinary morning moment I couldn’t help but think of God’s presence there with me.
There’s this account in Genesis 28 of Jacob. He was travelling to another town where his uncle lived and night had fallen – it was time to stop and rest for the night. It simply says “He came to a certain place and spent the night there because the sun had set.” To me it just sounds like an ordinary place and it was time to stop and catch some zzzz’s for the night. But something happened in this place while He was sleeping. God revealed Himself and His plans to give Jacob land and descendants. God says to him “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised to you.” When Jacob woke up he said “Surely God was in this place and I did not know it.”
Again, this makes me stop and question. When I’m just doing my ordinary thing could God be there and I am just unaware of it? Is His presence with me, and His promises there as an anchor? I am challenged to abide in Jesus, to know the Holy Spirit as the one who has been sent alongside me, always. I am challenged to draw closer to Him and know His presence with me.
So I’m curious, What does God’s presence with you mean to you? Do you think of the Holy Spirit with you, in you all the time?
Lent was hard.
On my way to travel the journey, I got bushwhacked.
My prayer at beginning of Lent: “Lord, give me the trust to know I am forgiven and the faith and strength and courage to lay down my small life and walk this path to Easter.”
Well, I sincerely prayed that prayer. And when I prayed to lay down my life I had no idea what price I would pay, how my heart would get hijacked, and the dark valley my journey would land me in.
The darkness in my heart is like a sore that has been scabbed over as it has been pushed down with a flippant “oh, I don’t have the energy, the time, the concentration, or the whatever, to deal with those emotions”.
Words of warning: don’t do that.
I blithely tripped along, smoothly sailing that Jerusalem road until I came to a roadblock. It happened almost exactly halfway into Lent. I was blindsided with a force of emotions I had not felt in a long time.
Bob said “I’ll be praying for you during this meeting” as I left the house that morning which I thought was a little strange, did he feel I wasn’t able to handle this?
My time spent that day was rich with transparency and faith and prayer, but as I was driving home, I had to stop because of the strong emotional reaction that overcame me.
And beginning that day, continuing to Easter, one after another image, thought, conversation, song, event, all served to pull up memories and emotions that had been hidden well, so I thought.
I became untied from my mooring and I searched out scripture for courage and strength and grounding.
I landed on the words of Isaiah 43
. . . the LORD who created you says:
“Do not be afraid . . .
I have called you by name; you are mine.”
“When you go through deep waters and great trouble, I will be with you.”
““When you walk through the fire of oppression you will not be burned up . . .
“For I am the LORD your GOD
the Holy One of Israel
“. . . you are precious to me . . .
I love you.”
Fil Anderson tells a sweet story of being in a meeting during a conference that his young family was attending. He had been gone before his children awoke in the mornings and was out late every evening. As he sat in his meeting, out of the corner of his eye he caught sight of his young son wearing his pajamas walking by the door. The child continue to walk by the door peering in each time at his dad. Fil motioned with his hand for the little boy to come to him and the child runs into his daddy’s arms saying “Him wants me, him really wants me.”
That child was me as I read and reread and reread those powerful words found in Isaiah.
Each time I read that “you are Mine”, the sore that had had its scab painfully scrubbed off was brought a little closer to the light of healing.
Each time I read that He would be with me, the struggle lessen to breathe deeply of the Lord’s love.
Each time I read, the flames of oppression wouldn’t consume me. I gained strength to take that deep breath and deal with those dark places.
Each time I read the heart-stopping words “You are precious to me”, a weight was lifted off my chest.
Each time I understood that He would “sell off the whole world” to get me back, “trade the creation” just for me, the light became brighter.
“Him wants me, Him really wants me.”
I needed to suck those words into my soul again, to spread their healing on the sores in my heart.
I thought Lent would be a breeze, but I underestimated my God who only wants the best for me even when it means I needed time in the crucible.
For many days of Lent I was a ship without a rudder and my anchor could not find a hold.
I was brought face to face with the truth that He is my anchor of hope for the soul as Hebrews says “sure and steadfast” and as Beth Moore reminded me during my desperate searching, I am anchored in all upheaval, roped securely to God’s throne.
Nothing can untie me.