Thanks to all the wonderful ladies at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Goodland, Kansas, as well as First United Methodist, Norton who welcomed me for their ladies soiree’s recently.
It is always an honor and privileged to share with women all that God has done through His Son, Jesus as well as what He is wanting to do in us and thru us!
The gatherings were different—Ashes to Beauty in evening gown and tiara for one and performing “True Faith”, the story of the Syro-Phonecian woman at the other, but the common denominator is that the fellowship and food was wonderful and God showed up to change lives! Thanks, Girls, for the prayers and preparation that went into both events last week!
Well! My question today is, how do you see your circumstance? And after you “see” it, what do you do about it?
It probably is no surprise to you that there are times that life is just plain difficult! In my humanness, I fumble and fall, I skin my knees both literally and figuratively, I put my foot square in my mouth and in doing so, I hurt myself and others and I fall very short of Christ likeness. Now, that’s just me…..so let’s talk about you! :0)
Seriously, because we are humans after the fall and in the process of being made Christ-like and have not yet arrived, we still fall far short of the glory of God and that provides some moments in life that are just darn painful.
It is especially painful when the wounds or criticism comes from a friend.
Recently, I found myself in the middle of a controversy.
Accusations were made, my motives were questioned, and it hurt! That it came from women I love and admire for their faith made it hurt even worse. I knew the pain wasn’t inflicted on purpose, but it didn’t change the fact that it hurt! Ouch! That it involved my ministry was also a factor in the sharpness of the wounding with the perceived “attack.”
Do I believe in the unseen world of Spiritual Warfare? You bet!
Do I believe there is a literal devil who wars against the people of God as well as prowls about seeking to kill, steal and destroy what God wants to do for mankind? Yes!
Do I believe that there is a battle that rages on unseen by most of us in the church? Of course!
Do I believe that when we make a stand for God the enemy of our souls will do all he can to discourage us and make us quit? Absolutely!
Do I believe that God turns all things for good…even the attack of the enemy?
That was the place I came to as I talked the hurt over with my Father.
“No discipline seems pleasant at the time…”
I sat with my Bible open, wanting to understand what He was saying in that still small voice that was so hard to hear over my hurt feelings.
I had a choice—I could let my joy and peace be disturbed and doubt my calling because some do not understand or I could offer up the sacrifice of praise and let Him turn the attack into a star in my crown instead of a scar on my heart.
My thoughts raced with possibility! Could it be that I’ve missed it all the times I’ve battled the enemy? Could I let my Warrior King fight for me and instead of striving, dwell in peace?
I went through the process I always do when criticized (okay, I admit, not always immediately because like most of us, I want to wallow in the unfairness bog a little before I let it go!)
Anyway, I examined my heart. Of all the criticism, was there any truth there that God wanted me to see using this pain invoking earthly messenger? Was my heart pure before Him? Was there sin I needed to confess? Pride? Self righteousness?
Was I off course in my calling or had I been disobedient in what He’d asked me to do?
As I sought His face, the peace stole over me with the quiet footprints of the Father.
In the end, it came to this…..yes, there is an enemy of my soul who would love for me to get into defensiveness or worry or hatred or bitterness, but there is a great God who will rescue me from the pit!
Is He trustworthy to do this? Oh, yes!
Suddenly I realized that my outlook on my circumstances was skewed! I was looking at my circumstance instead of at Him!
Instead of seeing all the STUFF that had been going on that was bringing me down, I needed for it to bring me to my knees and see it as a refining, defining time period in my life where I could become more like Christ who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross!
I could let Him use this to change me into the image of His dear Son, Jesus where when I look back, I see the Good He has done, tho it was meant for evil! I could look up and see Christ, the author and perfector of my faith instead of looking down into the pit of destruction and despair.
It was my choice.
Isn’t life all about perspective?
Even if Satan has a plan for my destruction, he is not my God! My God is Mighty to Save! Satan can do nothing that God does not allow……everything that comes to me is Father filtered.
Do I need to resist? You bet! Resist the devil and he will flee!
Do I need to be aware that there is a battle between a good God and evil in the form of Satan? Absolutely!
Do I need to wield the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, and pray in the Spirit on all occasions to defeat the enemy of my soul and to stand in the gap on behalf of those the enemy seeks to destroy? Of course!
But what if, instead of stomping around being mad at the devil for being the devil, we all sought holiness, ready to do whatever it takes to become like Christ? What then?
What if, instead of being angry at the plans of the enemy, we all let God take those plans and turn them for our good so that we entered the refiner’s fire ready for the dross to be burned away?
What if we let our circumstances drive us willingly to the Great Physicians operating room table to have our flesh gently transformed into the image of Christ instead of going kicking and screaming?
Maybe painful, but oh, so worth it!
I realized thru this I am really just a wimp! What would I do with real persecution? If this wearies me, what would I do if called to give my life instead of worrying about my reputation?
“Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:3
I guess that is the answer—to keep my eyes on the One who overcomes and who has won the battle for men’s souls.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons; “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you because the Lord disciplines those he loves and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.” Endure hardship as discipline……Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. Make level paths for your feet so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” Hebrews 12:1-7, 10-13.
I couldn’t have said it better myself!