A while back, I showed up to see a friend with a sad face. A long conversation ensued about where I was on the journey. We spoke until I could see what he meant by sadness should never take root and I should never get used to it. Funny how I hadn’t seen it before.
How could I, a child of God, have so many sad days? How can the weight of sadness be so settled and not lifted? Did I miss something in my journey? Did all the people feeling down miss something too? How could such sadness take hold of the people and never seem to let go? Some days we smile to cover it, while on other days walk away and hide. How could such pain coexist with faith?
A lot of the sadness we carry is often from relationships.
Life can be challenging because of how we interact with people and then how we expect them to deal with us. We hold onto those feelings and even project them onto others unrelated to that pain. It is possible to be so used to sadness that it becomes our cloak and identity. Other times, sadness is a tool in the hands of God to teach us to press into him and earn of him. It could be the place to create compassion for others.
As I write, I see how I choose the cloak I live in; I am astounded. Everything works together in God for my good and His will. I must understand the importance of how I feel and turn it to Him. God is in control because nothing is impossible with Him. Everything happens according to his purposes and plans.
It then struck me that JOY is critical to life, but a choice.
It is not the absence of sadness or a feeling but rather the reality of God as the driver of everything. Joy is understanding His purpose with this season and then walking with confidence. Joy is grounded in God and only understood through Him. Therefore, I must choose to connect to the Father and remain hidden under his wings. No matter how hard the things around me have been, I make a definite choice. I choose to listen; I choose to follow; I choose to become.
I find strength in several scriptures that I will share here today:
He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. Ps 91:4
The joy of the Lord is my strength, Nehemiah 8:10
For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 2 Cor 1:20
The name of the Lord is a fortified tower the righteous run to it and are safe. Prov 18:10
…as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises… 2 Peter 1:3-4
…Weeping may endure for a night, but [a]joy comes in the morning. Psalms 30:5b
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. Prov 17:22
My journey in God is founded on and grounded in the realities of His word and His work. The promises of God will never fail.
It is very interesting to figure out how to grow our lives daily.
Think about what it is like this to become a successful business owner. If you want to become a successful businessperson, you can’t just wake up in the morning today and be successful tomorrow. You can’t wake up today and be a millionaire tomorrow. You can’t study business today and be a great businessperson tomorrow. The growth into business success needs a vision, a mission, a strategy, commitment, consistent effort, networks and connections. The hundreds, thousands, millions and even billions come over time.
The same thing applies to our faith.
Faith is built and grown over time because we must learn the patterns, shift our minds, change our attitudes, learn and apply concepts over and over until the principles of our faith are indeed our true nature. Thus time is critical because it helps us become better in our walk as we clarify why we exist and how we must live out our assignment which changes how view ourselves and how we live out our lives.
If a business will not just grow itself, why do I expect my faith to miraculously grow itself?
Christ said that his sheep will be known by their fruit, so if I have no fruit why am I expecting to be identified as one of his? The growth of fruit presupposes that there is a seed that is planted in the ground and dies. After a while, the life within it comes up and the seed gives life to a shoot that grows into a plant or tree that provides a form of fruit for all to see.
Therefore, if I want to grow and produce fruit, I must be willing to die first. I must be willing to die in the required area of growth so that I can grow and often that is what makes life so difficult. Too many of us want a simple life; we want stress-free living and thriving. We would rather float through life than deal with the thinking, strategizing, growing and becoming. We assume that it is possible to be stuck in a corner, doing as little as possible and still become someone great and worthy of the call of our Father in heaven. Alas, it is not possible in God’s scheme of things.
When He said “I will instruct you and teach you in the ways you should go. I will comfort you & watch over you…” (Psalms 32:8) He meant that there was a process to our walk. Colossians 2:6-7 also applies here and it says, “As you, therefore, have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding [a]in it with thanksgiving. Beware lest anyone [b]cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
If we are to be rooted and built up in Him, we must choose to be that seed that dies and then gives life, the shoot that battles the dark and pushes out into the light, the plant that braves the scorching sun, the wind, and the rain to stand firm regardless of the weather and battles for its life to be ready to produce fruit. The plant that is pruned and tended then reaches the stage of pollination where another must add to what it has to produce flowers then fruit then food that will be harvested.
Our growth is deliberate and based on a personal process because in the process He will prove us as acceptable and good seed. As in the case with business, let’s stop expecting that God will make our lives smooth sailing and problem-free rather let us understand that God in his wisdom, allows trouble to come our way and bring out of the storm a harvest of peace, grace, inner strength, character and that is critical for the next phase of our lives.
So, the next time you find things a little bit challenging don’t whine or complain, simply call on your ever-present Father and God and ask Him how the place you find yourself fits into his plan for your life, connects you to the grace for your next lever and how it brings Him glory. Then live by the answer he gives.
We are in the days of deliberate choices. True dedication. Clear focus and commitment. We can no longer be complacent in our pursuit of Him who created the heavens and earth. We must do the work, walk the talk, live lives that speak of Him alone all our remaining days.
I know that is heavy, but it is true.
It is easy to think that when God is walking with us, we should have everything on a silver platter, but have you really looked at scripture? Who had an easy life in the Bible? Who did not have anything to give up or deal with? Who walked in easy and comfort? Do you see anyone? Is there any life that accomplished anything for God that sat on the beach all day or in the shade all their lives doing nothing? No!! Not even one!!! Not even Christ the one who was indeed God sent to the earth to lead men back to God. So who do we think we are that life should be easy?
This weekend this reality hit me in the face and wow, I was floored. I looked back at the life of people around me and no one who had attained even a semblance of the path God has assigned to them has received it free or on a platter. Each one has lost something, given up something, walked away from something, chosen something, lived for something, loved God more than themselves, those around them and things of love.
One of my long-time friends loves saying, ‘Forgiveness is for you.’
As I was thinking tears filled my eyes when God reminded me about how forgiveness had changed my life. My friend and I had a big fight many years ago that kept us away from each other for more than ten years. It was the kind of separation that tears the two parties apart because you assumed that life would always be good, and you would always be close. It was the kind of tear that destroys the balance in life because you were pillars to one another then suddenly a bomb explodes and brings down the whole house. Oh, the pain…no words!!!
For a long time, I would catch feelings and anger would simmer every time I heard his name, saw him or he reached out. Couldn’t he see how much pain he had caused me? Did he just expect me to forgive him and continue talking? Did he think he had the right to disrupt my life and appear at will expecting happy smiles? Who the heck did he think he was? Why did he think he deserved this kind of attention and freedom to be around me without apology?
Didn’t I deserve a heartfelt apology? Of course, I did!!! Or maybe not.
In time I realised he did not carry grudges even when hurt. He did not hold it against me and neither did he give space to things he could not understand. He simply parked them at the foot of the cross for Father to let him know when to deal. I on the other hand, was fuming and assuming he knew how much pain I had suffered. But alas!! I had shut down, hidden the tears and brokenness and I held onto that pain as the identity of this lost friendship, stability and decade.
Imagine my shock when God began to deal with me about holding grudges and projecting my pain onto others. After all, I was party to the split because at the time it was good for all parties, so how could I blame it on the other? How could I determine in my heart he would bear all the blame, yet I too caused him pain, I too said, thought and projected mean things? To blame him was to declare that I was innocent and we both knew that was not true.
Then Papa said…’You need to forgive your brother.’
Did you just say brother? There is no way he could still be my brother. There is no way I would be around him. That was just impossible!!! And I stomped my foot and stalked off, angry with a stiff spine. Oh, how God does not relent. How He makes His point clear and His judgement true. Over the next few months, God and I dealt with every part of that piece of the past. He showed me my part, the pain, the break, the anger and resentment and the barrier it was creating to my successful progression.
How every time a new opportunity came, I judged His sons and daughters with the same harsh position I had taken against one. How every time someone looked like they could hurt me I walked away in advance to protect myself. How I used this broken friendship as the reason not get close to people since people hurt people right? It was shocking to realise how bound I was. Stuck in solitary confinement and I did not even know it. Lost in the middle of the crowd with no hope or way out.
What? You mean being angry was holding me back? Absolutely!!!
So, we begun the path to healing and my oh my, it was ghastly painful. I had to let go of all the pain I was holding in and using as a shield. I had to cry and let the pain out one tear at a time (my gals used to say that to me cry was a matter of national importance). I had to let go of and burn every memory that had become a hindrance to my healing and restoration.
One day, I realised I as different…less angry, more joyful, more hopeful, and eager about life. I found release in the separation from the hurt and pain. I found healing in forgiveness first of myself and then of my brother. Finally, one day we had the big conversation. We talked about life, the destruction of our friendship, the reasons behind it, the years of pain and tears, the weight of sadness we both carried for a long while, the sense of imbalance until God stepped in and the healing we had to walk into. I realised he didn’t understand things the way I did, and I didn’t know exactly how he had felt. There were so many assumptions around everything that caused us more pain and so few words for so long. We couldn’t heal fully until we both forgave each other.
The difference was…he dealt with things faster than me.
It became clear that forgiving my brother was the route back to wholeness and peace. It was the pathway to an easier yoke and lighter burden. It was the pathway to a new move of God in my life. It was the pathway peace and harmony.
Over time, I have learnt a lot from my brother especially unconditional love. The kind of love has no bounds and standards other than God’s. The kind that will see me falling flat on my face in the mud and come to sit with me in the mud so we can figure out why I keep losing my footing. The one that sees me walking into the dark and will light a floodlight and call me out. The kind that sees me in the middle of pain and seeks God diligently for me then walks as close as possible cheering me on to deal or holds me as I cry on the other side.
I have found true brotherly love on the other side of forgiveness.
Indeed…Forgiveness is for me!!!
And why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye? Matthew 7:3
Therefore you are inexcusable, O man, whoever you are who judge, for in whatever you judge another you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. Romans 2:1
Every day provides an opportunity to do something new and different.
I was listening to the Word recently and it struck me that all through the story of the scriptures, no one really knew the whole picture of what would happen except God. Think of Abraham when he was told to tell Lot to choose where he was going. I think he expected his nephew to pick some of the good country and not all of it but Lot did just that…he took all the choice land and forgot about his Uncle. This in essence could have disqualified him from the running.
6 Now the land was not able to [b]support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together. 7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.
8 So Abram said to Lot, “Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren. 9 Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.”
11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east.
14 And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your [c]descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.”
Now it was time to separate the true son of God.
Each day provides a chance to know God deeper and move into the plan He has for you.
Lot thought he had chosen the best of the land yet, it had already been given irreversibly to Abraham. It wasn’t given to Abraham because he was a good man and deserved a good life, rather it was given to demonstrate the goodness of God in our lives regardless of what people do to us. Lot took the best the eye to see but God gave the true inheritance to the obedient one.
This is shown again in the story of David. He was anointed and then went back to keeping sheep and not lead the country. Can you imagine being ruled by a young boy with no experience? Well, there was already a plan in place for this. David went back to keeping sheep with his harp and singing until the day God decided to unveil him. He was persecuted and chased around the country by a man who knew he was the next promise and King. Saul wanted to preserve the legacy of his family as leaders, but God had already judged him and found him unworthy.
The story is told in 1 Sam 14-16, where Saul was deemed unworthy because he took things into his own hands, he didn’t do everything God had instructed and finally his days were done and the time for change had come. God didn’t finish him off all at once like He could but allowed Saul opportunities to listen to the ways of Israel and the realities that come with that.
Could it be the same for us?
Are we missing out on opportunities, mindsets, lifestyles that really interrogate God’s word then translates backwards into the path for man to find God?
Could it be that we are so caught up in tradition that we don’t see or hear God? First of all, before some of you shoot me, understand that no matter how much you take your children to church and hammer all the gospel music you can play, their lives are useless and will not amount to much if there isn’t an integration of life and love for God.
Seeing that God keeps his word, everything that is yours will come to you. Do the inner work and let the outward expression be the product of your faithfulness. We must understand that God gives us what we need and no more, so if the supply comes, spend it on the good and dispel whatever you cannot deal with.
If God is faithful, why don’t things always work?
It is evident all around us that Jehovah God is real. He is our banner and provider of everything we need, yet He doesn’t do wants. The big question is how we reach the people assigned to us. We must pray that each finds the thing we are supposed to be doing and finalise that before God gives us the next step.
If we are looking to succeed by our definition and not God’s unique definition for each person then we will be mad at God for ‘not’ coming through. If we shift our understanding to the knowledge that each one has a distinct path to bring God extreme glory then we will never go around feeling like failures no matter how hard things get. There is a master plan for each life and a way out for each challenge to bring God the maximum glory and establish His word over us as eternal.
What do you need to do?
Each one must hear the voice of God about their life goals, patterns and outlooks that will give him the kind of room he desires to make the fullness of his desires for us. The key is to listen, accept, learn and live out. Can you do that one thing?
A few conversations this week got me thinking. What is happening to the plans we made at the start of the year? Where are we in the plan for these things? Are they still valid, have some of them been thrown off track or are they all on track? I can say with confidence, that life as we knew it has changed. Nothing is or ever will be the same again.
Many didn’t imagine we would be working in these conditions. Many didn’t think it was possible to be home for three months or out of work in a blink. Many children were happy to close early but are now missing their teachers and friends. Some businesses have closed for a little while others have closed their doors for the last time.
HR professionals have the daunting task of showing people the door when they don’t even know how much longer they have their own jobs. CEOs and Founders are grappling with how to keep the doors open, lights on and staff working despite enormous and unanticipated cash crunches. So what happens now when it all feels like it is falling apart?
Is there a glimmer of hope in such trying times?
What happens when we have a promise or vision we are waiting on and we are not careful to make sure it happens? We can say that life is hard and things aren’t working and we give up along the way but surely there has to be a plan that will work no matter what and we can find a way. In so many ways it feels like we are in a place of confusion and unsure what we are doing and how we will go forth. It is even more intense when we realise we aren’t the first to experience challenges and we will not be the last. That really caught my attention.
Genesis 25 blew my socks off. First off I had never really thought about how many children Abraham had. The focus on Isaac had until now hidden some facets of his life. So I began counting the sons and almost got distracted. I almost spent long hours just looking at those sons and maybe I will do that later.
It all begun to clear up as I read…
Abraham had a promise in Isaac and even with all his other actions, he stood firm on the promise and acted as such. His posture as he got older and more settled into the realities of walking with God became stable and still like a rock set in quick-dry, high strength cement and nothing moved him from his position.
Genesis 56:5-6 really fascinate me…5 And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. 6 But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east. To stand solid on the word of God, Abraham gave his other sons an inheritance and dispatched them to another so he could make room for only the child of promise to inherit what was promised to him. This got me thinking about life.
Do I fully stand for and on the promises my life is built on?
Do I give everything to build the purpose of my life? Do I ensure that all possible distractions are removed even physically if need be to protect the word? Do I move away from places that would be a hindrance? What happens when the promised fruit is slow in coming? What do I do when the promised realities are invisible? Do I believe and work on the promise and assignment no matter what?
Abraham’s whole life was about that reality. His father Terah left Ur of the Chaldeans and led them to Haran where he died. Then God led Abraham out of Haran to the Promised Land and appeared to him several times. He almost sacrificed his son on the Word of God. He went to war against 5 kings for the sake of Lot. He pleaded for Sodom because his nephew was there. He sent his servant to bring a wife for his son with absolute faith that he would come back. The final thing he did to secure the promise was to the boy’s inheritance so that Isaac’s heritage was secured.
Abraham gave it all for the promise.
God called Abraham and he responded in the affirmative. Abraham believed God’s word over him and made a covenant with God then guarded it jealously. He believed it even when nothing seemed possible. He laughed when the promise was discussed but corrected his position when questioned. He believed God so deeply that it was credited to him as righteousness. He was dedicated even to the potential loss of everything to preserve the promise.
Can we do that?
Can we hold onto the promise of God and the plan He has given us no matter what? Are we willing to lose some things, gain others and course-correct daily to remain on the path no matter what? Can we stay set to the task, with a gaze set like flint even in a season like now in faith that God is who He says He is and you are who He says you are therefore your life will indeed manifest his word?
That is what it takes to deliver the promise put in your hands and become everything God sees in you and calls out from you. I know it sounds hard but it is really simple. If He said it is, nothing can change the plan unless you or I step out of the plan. Simple…really simple.
Is it always easy for me? Not at first. Do I go off course? Sometimes, but I have learnt to stop, assess, confess, repent, get back on the road and walk on. Every course correction makes me aware of my weaknesses and build in needed support structures. As we continue to walk together He has become the only one I lean on all the time because He will never fail me.
Know that it is possible.
Know that all things are possible for you and I when we believe and follow instruction to become
Know that you are appointed and will become what you decide to focus on and work towards.
Know that your God is able to do exceedingly abundantly, above all you could ask, think or imagine.
Know that He knew you from before and He is certain you are the best choice for this path.
Know your Father is true and never fails, but He watches over His word to perform.
Know that when you lean into God your path makes sense and will succeed.
Know that you can preserve the promise and attain the assignment.
Know that you are one of a kind with a one of a kind assignment.
Know that you are not alone and will never be alone.