I’d like to share here an old journal entry but a very significant one where I wrote precious life lessons and many favorite Bible verses related to them. This was one of those major turning points in my life that once again reminded me (as it does now again!) of how tenacious our Father’s love is. Yes, I choose this word – tenacious. Because God’s love really is that. Despite being saved, we still tend to go back to our old selfish, sinful and stubborn ways and yet, He just won’t let go of us and leave us out cold. Well, perhaps He does that sometimes but not out of frustration, anger, desperation and desire to control or bring us to submission, but again, because of His goodness , grace and unceasing love for us.
As I re-read this old journal entry, I came upon this quote by Sharon Jaymes, one of my favorite writers in an online devotional, Girlfriends in God from Proverbs 31. It’s a very timely and perfect quote to remember today and open my post with.
“[God] is calling you to let go of your failure, move forward in all that He has for you to do, and live bold.” Sharon Jaynes
(TBT – The BIG Question then…)
22 December 2009
It’s late. I am leaving for home tomorrow at 12.10 am and will arrive at 4.40 am. A killer flight – that is, I’d have to stay up late. I really should have been sleeping hours ago but as usual, sleep eludes me. Drinking Pepsi or Coke or even coffee isn’t the cause here. The caffeine contents don’t affect my sleeping habit or time at all.
All these crazy thoughts as usual. Not exactly crazy. I do know and realize that these thoughts are serious, legitimate and well worth pondering on. Truth is, I’ve been going through them over and over in my head – pondering, wondering, reflecting, analyzing, rationalizing. Add to that praying!
All this pondering is what drives me nuts! Why am I getting seriously and constantly bothered? Now this is another thing that confounds me. Where and how do I begin?
(About 2 years later, below was my reflection on that BIG question!)
Hmmm….looking back! Why oh why indeed!
First was God’s whisper. Looking back and reading those entries, I realize now that ‘being bothered’ was God’s warning whisper to me. He was in fact ringing the alarm bell, raising the red flag but at that time, I couldn’t quite put a finger to the ‘what’ and the ‘why.’ God knew all along (of course!) that everything just wasn’t right and I, foolish and stubborn me, was only beginning to have an ‘inkling’ and a bird’s eye view of the whole picture! I clearly recall having that feeling of being under and completely surrounded by dark clouds and I was literally (well, as the unfolding events would later show and prove!) overshadowed! That heavy feeling, this sense of dread and constant turmoil in both my heart and mind. Something was clearly amiss and I kind of had that disturbing certainty that things would gradually unfold, my questions answered and my doubts proven.
So I clearly remember praying repeatedly since then (struggling in prayer is more like it!) and even when January 2010 came, for God to show me and give me a clear indication regarding this personal concern. I especially asked God to show me the way and His will regarding this area.
“Wisdom and discernment as to relationship and God’s will and plan in this.” (as written in my prayer requests and 2010 goals – well, all water under the bridge so to speak – goal achieved and prayers answered! Praise and thanks be to God for this indeed!)
Oh and He did! Not in whispers as what He had previously given me. This time around, the answers came in SHOUTOUTS! They literally flooded and caught me unaware. Though I admit I had somehow ‘known’ and ‘felt’ that something of this magnitude would come, that it was all a matter of time. That my Father, with His holy and unconditional love, would have to jolt me with His lightning bolt as Zeus would in Greek mythology, to bring me to my senses and yes, to my knees! I’m not saying that God fancies electrifying His children. Certainly not in the literal sense!
I know God always honors the intents of our hearts and rushes quickly to those who cry out to Him for anything – help, guidance, comfort and assurance, encouragement, strength, wisdom, enlightenment and more! As a very good and close friend put it, God knows that my heart’s intent and motive was honest, good and sincere and tough love had to be given. And sometimes, we all have to learn His lessons the hard way because He’s left with no other option. He loves us so much and He alone knows the best way to deal with us – our pride, foolishness, weaknesses, willfulness and all. And oh! How stubborn we can be at times!
I’m truly grateful for God’s words, prayers (mine, my family and chosen friends!), encouragement, affirmations and comfort extended to me by God (through my close friends and sisters in Christ), and most of all – His own unique way of intervening and stepping in, taking action, putting His foot down, whatever you may call it. It’s His very tangible way of proving to us and showing us without unquestionable certainty that HE IS a LIVING GOD! That He’s not some distant, strange, hands-off deity or person. He showed me, throughout all those circumstances, that He answers prayers and that He is INVOLVED in our lives. That He cares enough to intervene even if it means bringing us pain. In this case, it’s a pain caused by an unwise choice and decision in the first place, for NOT heeding that ‘still small voice’ – which happens to be our conscience, the Holy Spirit, our Helper and Guide.
‘Do not quench the Spirit,’ as one Bible verse says (1 Thessalonians 5:19) and oh, this is one consequence when we do exactly that! ‘Quenching God’s Spirit’whose main task is to wave the red flag and to sound the alarm! Not only was I deaf and blind, my downfall was that of ‘assuming and deciding for myself’ that it was a ‘step of faith’!
Going back to 1 Thes. 5:19, ‘Quench’ in this context means ‘ignoring’, ‘not heeding,’ ‘turning a deaf ear’, ‘disregarding’, ‘putting out’ and more.
How could I have fooled myself into believing that something good, lasting, honorable and beautiful can come out of questionable motives, shady intentions, lies, secrecies and deceptions on one side and disobedience (on my side!)?
‘Wait on the Lord…’ ‘Delight yourself in the Lord and He shall give you the desires of your heart.’
I certainly didn’t do much on the waiting. I should have waited even more! And it brings to mind a significant comment that a sister in Christ told me even in the beginning.
A lot of truths and realizations here really and looking back now, I am more than glad and thankful (gee..how many times must I say this? As often as I can remember, Lord so I don’t easily forget) that He brought me out of that ‘miry pit’ and made me realize my own foolishness, willfulness and pride at attempting to control this area in my life when clearly, it’s out of my league!
I am smiling now as I write this down and I can almost (almost!) distinctly hear God say, ‘I told you so.’ LOL!! Now I am laughing hard! And of course, I am grateful for this sense of humor! It keeps me sane, grounded and sober!
The fact that the 8-sesisons in Life Group deal with ‘Life’s Healing Choices’ is again God-designed and God-willed. It isn’t by accident that I’ve been given this opportunity. I know it’s God’s way (again!) of reaching out to me (and everyone else who’s brave enough to admit their lives are unmanageable without God!) and making sure I get the exact help I need!
Isn’t our Father an absolute sweetheart? Very thoughtful, wise and all-knowing. ‘Give it to me, let me handle everything!’ God tells me this. And through those circumstances, He did literally pull out the shades from my eyes and made me see oh-so-clearly what I should’ve seen in the beginning! And I pride myself on my 20-20 vision! See???? Pride…
Vision both spiritually and physically, as it turned out, wasn’t exactly 20-20! Far from it!
(NKJV) Isaiah 55:8 is a sobering reminder we all need to PUT to MEMORY (especially BEFORE making a decision!):
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts Your thoughts.” (One of my favorite and well-known verses which I sadly disregarded at that time! Sigh…)
And I add a few more! Still from Isaiah 55 but verses 2-3 (NKJV)
“Listen diligently to Me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in abundance.Incline your ear, and come to Me. Hear, and your soul shall live.”
It’s all about Him, my Father…certainly not about me! Again, I share these thoughts and reflections simply as a proof that God is ACTIVELY involved in His children’s lives and has COMPLETE knowledgeable of everything about us – whether or not we admit it. To remind myself of God’s work in my life….that He is constantly refining me, putting me under the heat that I may, by His grace and His Spirit, slowly evolve into someone He wants me to be, to be used for His glory and purpose. It is also a sobering reminder for me that left to my own devices, my own limited and fallible human understanding and imperfect knowledge of the whole picture, I am helpless, hopeless, empty, broken, forever scarred, unfulfilled and constantly dissatisfied.
That’s REALITY #1 and an obvious fact as well! Newspaper and TV reports show countless proof of this reality.
CHOICE # 1 is admitting that I am NOT God – that’s why I mess up, time and again. And that’s why I gotta ‘fess up and be humble and courageous enough to say that ‘Yup, I messed up big time, I can’t successfully manage my life and that I NEED GOD.’ NOT once a week nor once a month! But I NEED Him and His power to change me moment by moment! Every single day, in each and every circumstance He allows me to go through!
And here’s what God has to say if we ‘fess up’ and admit to ourselves we’re not God and we don’t have complete power and control of our lives!
Isaiah 55: 6-7 (among my other favorites!)
“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have MERCY on him; and to our God, for He will ABUNDANTLY PARDON.”
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them out of their distresses. (Psalm 107:6)
“But You O Lord are a God full of compassion and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.” (Psalm 86:15)
** God’s PERFECT KNOWLEDGE of Man ** (one of the many reasons why HE IS GOD and we’re NOT!) ++ Psalm 139:1 – 10, 13 -16 (NIV)
“O Lord, You have searched me, and You know me.You know when I sit and when I rise;You perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down;You are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue, You know it completely, oh Lord. You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Where can I flee from Your presence? If I go up to the heavens, You are there. If I make my bed in the depths, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,If I settle on the far side of the sea, Even there Your hand will guide me, Your right hand will hold me fast. (We have a song version of this in my home church and I love singing this as a lullaby-cum-prayer to my daughter now because the very words speak out God’s comforting love, assurance and constant presence in my life!)
(As the last few verses say, strictly speaking, there’s NOWHERE we can hide from Him!)
For You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb.
(WOW..’knit together’ aka….Master Genetics Engineer down to the last chromosome and gene!)
I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place. (So what else really is there to hide from God?)
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, Your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. (God-appointed DAYS, EACH SINGLE day we have!)
*** My..my….what else is our God capable of doing? EVERYTHING. What are we capable of doing? A better question would be: What am I an expert at? (am grinning widely!) Attempting to CONTROL and RUN my life the best way I know how….which isn’t exactly God’s best!
Consequence – Mismanagement and bumpy rides, shoutouts, heartaches and tears, etc.
So here’s the BEST alternative yet!
CHOICE #2 is believing, admitting and accepting that Our ONLY HOPE and SALVATION really is in God alone through His Son Jesus Christ. That God alone IS our HOPE – this we must acknowledge. And what makes God our only source of Hope? His being Omniscient means that He KNOWS ALL about our situations/circumstances. His UNCONDITIONAL LOVE means that He CARES about us and our situations. And He simply does because it’s His very nature, it’s WHO HE IS. No one on earth is fit to earn God’s love based on what we do (for we can never do, be or give enough to earn His love) or even based on our achievements, status or financial wealth but He is WHO He says He is – ‘God IS love.’
And yup, I have HOPE because for sure, God CAN CHANGE me and my situation. ONLY HE has that power however. Not by my own strength (as has been proven over the years!) but by His.
Bottomline is – It’s SURRENDERING EVERYTHING to God. To quote the theme of a retreat I attended 3 years ago (oh! I should’ve recalled that siginificant MEMORY!!), ‘Letting go, LETTING GOD.’
Oh and a taste of God’s promises in the following verses below!
(2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV – “My GRACE is SUFFICIENT for you, for My STRENGTH is made PERFECT in weakness.”)
(Hebrews 10:23 – ” He who promised is FAITHFUL.”)
(John 14:27 – “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. LET NOT your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.“)
In everything, God has His divine reasons and purposes. And these verses in Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3 – 7, 11 (NKJV) are but a few of those reasons.
‘To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones; a time to gain and a time to lose; a time to keep and a time to throw away; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak..’
“He has made EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL in its time. Also He has PUT eternity in their hearts, EXCEPT that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.”
And I’d like to include some quotes here from Our Daily Bread issues (January 1 and 2, 2010 and December 30, 2009)
++ We cannot erase a single moment of the year that is past.
We need not remain chained to our old memories because we CAN MOVE ahead FOCUSED on God.
** The roots of STABILITY come from being grounded in God’s WORD and PRAYER.
## Why do we sometimes go at it alone in life when at EVERY MOMENT we have ACCESS to God?
(Behold, I am with you and I will keep you wherever you go. – Genesis 28:15)
(I will never leave you nor forsake you. – Hebrews 13:5)
** Trials teach us what we are: they dig up the soil and let us see what we are made of. ^^ (Charles H. Spurgeon)
And I close this journal and reflection with a quote from St Augustine:
” FAITH is to BELIEVE what we do not see: the reward of this faith is to SEE what we BELIEVE.”
My final words on this reflection? Admit, accept, believe, receive and get plugged in to God. He offers you this indescribable, life-changing and liberating gift and it’s free!
Take it! Grab it with both hands if you wish! It’s all yours for the taking.
I did and have never regretted it to this day. Heart-praises and heart songs to you, Lord!