On Hiatus

Hi, all.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Unfortunately, I’m stretched too thin right now to continue blogging regularly. I hope to start back soon … whatever God’s plan is.

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Taking the Week Off

Father’s Day weekend kept me very busy, so I had no time to write. Looking forward to writing again this weekend. Have a great week, everyone!

Taking the Week Off

I just got back from Ireland and have not had time this weekend to write ahead for the upcoming week, so I’m taking the week off from blogging. While this is completely off topic for this blog, I’ll share a couple of picture of me “kissing the Blarney Stone” at Blarney Castle in Cork County, Ireland. One of the legends surrounding the Blarney Stone is that is was Jacob’s pillow, brought to Ireland by the prophet Jeremiah. I have no idea if there’s any truth to the legend, but I couldn’t resist kissing it just in case.

blarney_castle1

blarney_castle2

God is Close the Brokenhearted

broken_heartContinued from here.

In my last blog entry, I shared a Bible verse for when we are in deep pain:

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18)

I spent most of my life brokenhearted. Actually, “shattered-hearted” would be a much better descriptor. I could not fathom how God could possible knit my heart back together when it had been ground into sawdust, but He gave me a new heart instead, one that feels as if it has never been broken. I have not forgotten what it felt like to have a shattered heart. Holding onto the memory of a shattered heart while living with a new heart drives home just how powerful and faithful God is.

A friend told me about her mother losing her brother (my friend’s uncle) in her late teens when he was killed in Vietnam. Her mother, who has been a Christian her entire life, said that God felt so close that she could almost reach out and touch him. She was still in an enormous amount of pain, but the reality of God’s presence provided her with comfort during one of the most painful seasons of her life.

It has been through experiencing the comfort of God in my anguish that I have learned how to comfort others. How do we comfort others? It’s not by distancing ourselves, is it? We comfort others by drawing close to them … by hugging them and holding them close … by reaching out to check in with them to see how they are doing … by listening to them. All aspects of comforting someone involve drawing near to them, not pulling away. So, why do we believe the lie that God pulls away from us when we are at our most broken?

Nowhere in the Bible does God promise us an easy life. Jesus actually promised us just the opposite:

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

You are going to experience pain, struggle, and grief in this lifetime. It’s inevitable. What you DON’T have to experience is buying into the lie that God has abandoned you. When you are feeling like God is nowhere to be found, that’s when He has drawn the closest to you.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace inside a broken heart. Courtesy Bitmoji.]

 

Waiting for Hope

A friend gave me Sarah Young’s Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence (Jesus Calling) for Christmas. This is one of the Jesus Calling books, which Young wrote while battling a long-term illness. Interwoven into the daily devotionals are quotes about holding onto hope while suffering. This one deeply resonated with me:

Waiting with hope is very difficult, but true patience is expressed when we must even wait for hope. I will have reached the point of greatest strength once I have learned to wait for hope.” ~ George Matheson

Not surprisingly, I was immediately tested on this principle and learned that I definitely have much opportunity for improvement in this area. That being said, this quote did come to mind, so I did think to pray for God to give me hope. I had to wait on receiving that hope and did not do it gracefully. However, once the hope came (after asking the ladies in my small group to pray for me), God restored me to a place of peace within hours. So, I wasn’t in a place of waiting for hope too long (a couple of days), but I sure felt every minute of it!

As I sit and write from a place of renewed hope and peace, I am disappointed in myself for “going down the emotional hell well” again. And yet I am also cognizant of how “below the belt” the spiritual attack was that led me to a place of feeling hopeless. It’s humbling to know that even after many years of walking closely with God, I’m still vulnerable, but I’m in good company. After all, Elijah went down the “emotional hell well” immediately after God led him to a huge victory. I’d like to take a look at this story from the perspective of having to wait for hope and talk about how we can apply what we learn to our day-to-day lives.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cover of Jesus Today: Experience Hope Through His Presence (Jesus Calling) Courtesy Amazon.]

 

The Effort of Being in a Relationship with God

 

barbellI previously shared that I am reading Janet Brooks’ book, Enjoy!: More than Surviving Life’s Transitions. She caught my attention when she quoted my favorite Christian writer, C.S. Lewis, as saying,

We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” ~ C.S. Lewis

I had not heard that quote before reading it in Brooks’ book, and I have been meditating on this concept since reading it in one of the early chapters of her book. I also decided to return to reading another of Lewis’ books (I had taken a break after spending a year in divinity school – needed a break from reading theology books). I recently started reading his book, The Problem of Pain, which I’m sure I’ll be blogging about in future weeks. But I digress…

In her book, Brooks asks why we find it so hard to trust God even though we know how intimately He loves us. She postulates the reason is that we know how much work it’s going to take to transform us into the image of Christ in his perfection. She then weaves in the above quote from C.S. Lewis. I think Brooks has hit the nail on the head – Far too many Christians never grow up because they see how much work is involved and simply don’t want to do it.

Think about it. Becoming a Christian requires nothing of us other than belief. While this can be a blow to our pride, there’s not much to do. I say, “Jesus, please forgive me for my sins and come into my life,” and just like that, I’m a Christian. This requires very little effort on my part because Jesus did all the work. The reason I can say a simple prayer and be reconciled to God is because Jesus did everything else. Effort was certainly required to reconcile me to God, but Jesus expended 99.9% of that effort. He allowed himself to be tortured, killed, and temporarily separated from God so that minimal effort would be required on my part – simply believing – for me to be reconciled to God. However, that’s not the end of a relationship with God. It’s only the beginning.

To be continued…

[Graphic: Cartoon of Grace lifting a barbell. Courtesy Bitmoji.]