Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’

I’m Not Of This World – Except When I Am

Know what I mean?

I am very much His – saved by the blood of Jesus Christ – given mercy new and fresh every day – afforded grace beyond what I deserve.  I sin every single day.  Multiple times!  Not proud of this, but also not in denial.  And after all of my shortcomings and daily mistakes, my Father still welcomes me.  Wants me.  Loves me.

Praise the Lord, I’m not who I used to be.  And tomorrow?  I’ll be not who I was today.  Day by day, I long to live a life that is completely glorifying of my Saviour.  Sometimes it feels like two steps forward and three back, but I’ve learned as long as I keep Him in focus and ahead of me, I’m progressively being molded into the person He desires.

Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. (Is 64:8 NIV)

 

Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? (Rom 9:12 NIV)

 

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

 

Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. (Lam 3:23 NLT)

Advertisements

I Was In Darkness…And Then I Saw You

Several years ago, I went through a divorce.  The circumstances surrounding my life then left me feeling betrayed, broken and unworthy.  I was hurting.  I was angry.  And I was afraid.  The whole ordeal introduced me to poisonous feelings I had never had before, including some very unhealthy disdain for my ex-husband and his new wife.  Disdain is a nice word.  I used that instead of hatred.  But that’s what I was feeling – raw, destructive hate.  Hate for people I credited for my wounds at the time.  For my broken family.  For my children who were now part of a single-parent household.  For the gossip and rumors.  For the fishbowl I was sure I now lived in.

Years passed.  Those negative feelings, though, really didn’t.  Instead of addressing them, I buried them under busyness and new relationships.  I avoided the two people whom I felt caused me pain at all costs.  Wanted nothing to do with them.  Neither one.

Then one day, almost ten years after my divorce, I became aware of the Holy Spirit nudging me.  I strongly felt that God wanted me to reach out to my ex-husband’s wife, the one for whom I still carried most of the ill-feelings.   The one for whom I had shifted all of the blame to after all of these years.  Absurd as it seemed to me, I ignored this feeling for as long as I could.  I can remember saying outloud in my car once, “You want me to do what?!”  Softly, and continually, an urgency seemed to grow.

I had joined a church close by, one that I spent a lot of time at when I was a child, and had been getting in on bible studies and attending services pretty regularly.  For the first time in my life, I had begun to read the Bible consisitenly, too, actually digging in to understand The Word.  Christ’s ministry on earth had come alive for me and though I had been baptized when I was 24 years old, about 6 years before my divorce, pieces I didn’t know were missing started to click into place as I grew in my understanding of what it means to be a daughter of Christ.  No doubt that this is the reason it had taken me 10 years to finally acknowledge the negative, damaging feelings I had been harboring.  I was being convicted.  I had been committing the same sin for all of these years, day in and day out, and the Holy Spirit was guiding me to do what was right.

You’d think that would be enough, wouldn’t you?  But it wasn’t.

I kept ignoring Him.  I kept arguing with Him.  Debating with Him.  I didn’t want to give in.  I didn’t want to face the very person whom I had hated for all of these years.  I thought I knew what was best.

So God gave me a vision.

It came to me in a dream, but unlike any I’ve had before or since.  I chose to believe it was a vision, because I was stubborn enough and so obstinate — well, it’s like the “big guns” had to be brought out so I could understand what was being asked of me, and why.

This is how it was presented to me:

It’s dark.
Pitch, so.
I can only see the outlines of figures.
It’s so dark and scarey.
I have a feeling the others all around me are not friendly.
They are talking aggressively, in a language I can’t understand.
We are alone.  
In a solitary place.
It’s small, reminding me of a deserted island;
except, there are so many others.
I cannot see trees, or sky.
I only see these agitated figures flailing around.
It’s growing louder.  Their voices.
I still can’t understand them.
Everything is colorless.  Dark.
But I am not dark.
I sense that I don’t yet belong to this darkness, but I am here anyway.

Why am I here?
Who are these people?
I become anxious.
Frustrated, because I can’t understand what’s around me.
The sound is so loud.
Almost like growling.
I feel an urgency to flee, but there’s no where to go.
Then in the rush of fear, I see two people through the crowd of bodies.
They are not dark figures either.
It is them!  
Hallelujah!
I know them!  I know them!
My heart leaps with joy!
I’m so excited over recognizing them.

And then I woke up.

The two people were my ex-husand and his wife.

I understood.  I finally understood.  No matter how much hate I felt for them, it wasn’t enough to keep me from being excited over seeing them in a place like hell.  Not because that’s where I wanted to see them, but because in the midst of all that despair, I was happy to recognize someone I knew.  That put it in loud perspective for me.

The next day, the Holy Spirit dialed my ex-husband’s wife, and before I could change my mind, I asked her out for coffee.

Forgiveness.

It is absolutely required of us, to be forgiven by the Savior.  I’m so thankful for the Holy Spirit.  I’m so thankful for a patient, loving Father.  He wants only what is best for us.  And He doesn’t want anyone to perish without knowing Him and having the chance to accept Him as Lord and Saviour.  I was headed down a very dark, dark path for ten years.  TEN YEARS.  Praise His holy name that I had an opportunity to forgive, and to ask for forgiveness.

Jesus paid a mighty big price for me.

Thank you, God.

He paid the same mighty price for you, too.

He’s waiting.  Patiently.  Is there a nudging you need to yeild to?  You won’t regret it!  The day I was obedient to what was being asked of me is one of the best of my life.  I followed through, and He was glorified because of it.  But the blessing was all mine.  Christ showered me with a joy I had never known before, but one I have known since.  I hope you’ll be obedient to what He is asking of you, too.

 

The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. (Galatians 5:17 NLT)

 

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 ESV)

 

For if you forgive people their wrongdoing,  your heavenly Father will forgive you as well.  But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing. (Matthew 16:14-15)

I Have Made Some Crappy Choices

It’s morning.

Driving to work.

Should I listen to the radio, Lord, or shall we talk on the way to work today?

I hit the radio button.

“It’s a good morning!”

It’s also a beautiful day.

Figures.

Clear skies and sunshiney rays of hello lend to poor reception.

Too many different sound waves happily traverse the space around my car.

Sorry, Mandesa, I have to turn you off this morning.

So, I guess it’s a talky-kind-of-morning.

I’m no different from the next guy.

Really, I’m not.

I sin.

I have a hard time learning a lesson.

Gosh, I’ve made a bad choice and decided against making the same bad choice, only to do it again.

And again.

And again.

Lord,  I’m so glad You love me and You forgive my shortcomings.

I’m so glad you’re patient.

I have made some really crappy choices.

Yes, but you’ve made some really good choices, too.

Thank, you, Lord, for pointing that out.

I have made some really good choices.

I HAVE made some really good choices.

I get it.

Thank you!

I Own A Paula Deen Frying Pan

Just one.
That’s all I need.
It’s pan-enough to handle all of my stove-top cooking needs.

My husband bought it, actually.
I’ve never fancied myself a Paula Deen fan.
Not really any kind of fan, for that matter.

I am Not A Fan.
             [Sorry, couldn’t resist.]
[But it’s true, I am not.]

This Paula Deen pan I have,
it’s blue and sort of speckled.
Not hard to miss in the sea of orange and silver pans in my cabinet.
It’s one of a kind.

Love my Paula D Pan!

Love my Paula D Pan!

I have always enjoyed cooking in that pan.
It’s sturdy.
It’s reliable.
Things cook up well in it.
The clear, glass lid fits nicely, too.
It’s easy to see what’s going on inside it.
It’s also unmistakable.
I could pick that pan out based on the sheer weight and solidness it has.
It does not waiver when it comes to even heat distribution either.

Sure, it’s over cooked some meals.
It’s even burnt one or two.
Okay, 12 or 18.
But what pan doesn’t make mistakes?

In light of recent current events and headlines,
I’m finding myself more and more fond of my Paula Deen pan.

Whenever I cook in it, or wash it, or even think about cooking in it and washing it, I am now constantly reminded of how much My Savior loves me.

How cool is that?

I mean, how wasteful and frivolous would it be if I every time I scorched a little food, or over salted it, I threw the pan away that the food was cooked in?

Thank you, Jesus, you haven’t and won’t discard me based on my mistakes and slip ups.  Thank you, Jesus, for your daily forgiveness of my sins!  I know, because of You, that I am to forgive as You forgive.  I am to love as You love.  I am to understand second chances (and third and fourth…), because You have given me so many.  Because of You, Jesus, I also know that I am not to judge others, lest I be judged by You in the same way.  I’m not to judge people who cook in Paula Deen pans, nor those who choose not to cook in Paula Deen pans.  Thank you, Jesus.

Yep, the Paula Deen pan has a permanent residence in my kitchen.
I’m going to keep it.

Writin’ Sins in the Sand

When my 15-year-old son and I got home tonight from church, it was raining, and that gave us a good excuse to stay in the car to finish our conversation.  He’s 15.  A teenager.  He had done something the day before that got him into a little trouble at home.  The “what he did” is not important.  He had spent a majority of the day after, however, beating himself up over what had happened.  So what –  he did something, made a poor choice, and was called on it.  Where he was struggling was getting beyond the poor choice he made.

Jesus died for our sins.  Every single one of them.  If you can think of it, or have done it…Jesus paid the price for it.  That does not give us a free pass to live a sinful life, but it does give us freedom from carrying the burdens of our past sins.  I want my son to understand the beauty of salvation and how freeing it is to walk in communion with The Father who loves unconditionally, and always.

Poor choices do not define who you are as a person.  Understanding this – really understanding this – is key to being able to let bygones be bygones.  Move forward.  Be forgiven.

After talking for a few minutes, with the rain beginning to let up, my son shared this story with me:

“Yeah, mom, it’s kind of like when Justin took us all to the beach and told us to write one of our sins in the sand.  He said just to write one thing that we know was a sin we’ve committed, and then sit back and watch the waves crash over the sin and wash it completely away.  He said that’s like what God does.  We are forgiven of our sins when we repent, and Jesus just washes it away and makes the sand all new and clean.  It’s like that, mom. ”

Yes, it’s just like that, son.  When we acknowledge sin, and ask for forgiveness, it is given to us, and we don’t have to feel guilty over whatever it was.  We don’t have to beat ourselves up over it.  As a matter of fact, when we hold onto guilt over a sin, that’s going against what Our Father asks of us.  He doesn’t condemn us, and he certainly doesn’t want us to condemn ourselves over it.  Time and time again, through scripture, forgiveness of sins is mentioned.

In 1 John 1:9, His Word reads:   If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

In Acts 3:19, His Word reads:  Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out…

In Matthew 26:28, His Word reads:  For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Thank you, Lord, for your never ending lovingkindness and patience and continual forgiveness.  And thank you, Lord, for the teachers who continue to mentor and make a difference in the lives of so many, by way of sharing Your truth.  Thank you for Justin, and for the messages he shared that continue to resonate in our lives.  Thank you, Lord, for the rain that allowed this momma to have a captive audience in the car tonight.  Thank you for the waves.  Thank you.  Amen.

My Father’s Words…

My Father’s words came quickly.
Unexpectedly.
Sharply.

Weeks earlier, the woman I care most about in this world, my momma, became angry at me.  The reason is not important.  But in her anger, she said some things that were intended to hurt me, or cause a reaction.  Her final words to me were “do not call me”, as she headed out the door.

So you know what I did?

I didn’t call her.  In my head, I was convinced that I was doing what she asked.  I had her grandsons call to check on her.  I sent her instant messages though Skype every now and then.  But I did not ring her up on the phone.  Why not?  Because she told me not to.

Yes, my Father’s words came quickly.
Unexpectedly.
Sharply.

He said, “When did you ever listen to your mother before?”

Nail on the head.  Convicted.  I am guilty.

I recalled my teenage years, when I was rebellious.  I recalled decisions I made that were in direct opposition to her wishes when I was younger.  I recalled recent comments my momma made regarding…well…anything from recipe suggestions to furniture arrangement in our den, and from taking my kids out on “date night” to feeding the pets.

Why had I chosen to “obey” this one little thing my mother said to me in anger?

Because in doing so, I didn’t have to face the hurtful things she said, or own up to my part in what made her angry in the first place.  It was easier to forget about any of that and just “not call her”, because that was her final demand.

I’m so thankful for my Heavenly Father who grants me mercy and forgiveness.  His question to me was spot on and required that I really examine the fruits (or lack of them) that were resulting from the distance between my mom and I.  Just as God forgives me on a continual basis, I am supposed to do the same thing.  Thank goodness, God doesn’t take days and weeks to forgive me.

Father, I want to reflect you in all that I do, even when and especially when faced with things that cause hurt and anger.  Just as you love me, in spite of myself, Father, help me show that same love to others.  I want them to see You in all that I do.