How These Three Things Saved My Life

We all live lives of great adventure. Most of us may not recognize it until we look back, but I am sure you are stockpiled with memories of every emotion imaginable.

Whether we know it or not, each encounter we face can change how we respond for the rest of our lives. For me, I have lived with a lot of fear of the unknown.

This beast of fear has robbed me and my loved ones. It steals our peace. Without peace, we are restless and anxious. I am done living in the prisons of bondage and I bet you are too.

I don’t know what has happened in your past, but it’s been hard to forget the hurts of mine. What I didn’t realize is that with each letdown or scary experience, I carried it with me.

After being so sick, G-d has shown me his healing power by teaching me how to forgive those who have broken my heart (including myself). Another thing he taught me was not to look at those hard times as a punishment, rather a learning tool.

G-d doesn’t expect us to be perfect. The only failure we have is when we don’t learn from our mistakes. I am actually learning to be grateful for these difficult places. They are what have shaped my compassion, increased my prayer life, and helped me to persevere.

Forgiveness.

Gratitude.

Grace.

These words put into action helped save my life.

 

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I have listened to countless sermons on forgiveness and all of them have said, it’s rarely something you feel like doing. It’s a choice. Jesus shared a parable in Matthew 18:21-35 (NLT) about the Unforgiving Debtor.

This is the story of a servant who owed an enormous sum of money to the King and was going to be put in prison. But when the servant begged for mercy the King forgave him. Then once the servant was freed; he turned around and went after someone else who had owed him much less money.

When the King finds out about his behavior he replies:

You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me.  Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’  Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

 “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”

The Lord opened my eyes that I was the unforgiving servant. I had pleaded with G-d so many times for grace but was unwilling to give it to those who had wronged me.

This is a tender area for a lot of us. It’s easy for us to spot this sin in someone else, but very easily hidden in our own heart.

In these past few years of healing, I have realized that some of my sicknesses came from carrying years of unforgiveness. It weighed heavily on my body and brought me to the point of death.

It was when I was at my sickest I watched Ed Dobson’s series at :http://edsstory.com/. If you haven’t seen these, I would strongly encourage you to watch.

He shared about forgiveness and gratitude. As I listened, I could feel the walls around my heart come tumbling down. If this man with ALS can find reasons to be grateful, who am I not to search out such things.

And I did.

For the first time in years, I finally see the younger untainted girl who had been imprisoned in the chains of bondage of unforgiveness, shame, regret, and guilt.

As I began to be more grateful, G-d sent His grace to free me from these chains that had held me back for so long. I now see forgiveness isn’t letting them off the hook; it’s there to give me peace.

As my pastor had truthfully preached, “Healing most of the time isn’t instantaneous. More times than not, it’s a process.”

I still have my days where the enemy likes to strike me while I am weak. On those days I ask others for prayer and open my Bible and focus on scripture to refocus.

As soon as they come up, I realize how dangerous these poisonous morsels can be.

I have learned to grieve deeply. But because I have walked those hard roads, I have noticed that I have joy on a scale I haven’t had since I was a child.

Are you feeling weighed down?

What things are you holding onto that are keeping you in chains?

It’s time to taste sweet freedom, and joy to flood your heart!

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All I Ever Have to be is What He Made Me…

Faith is a road that isn’t for the faint of heart. Growing up in the church was cut and dried with my black and white personality. I just assumed that if I did everything the Bible told me to do, life would turn out dandy.

What I didn’t realize is that the word of G-d teaches you anything but that. In each story that is told and each person that we learn about, you see the struggle. Rarely do we see anyone who goes unfazed by the trials of life.  If anything their journey is filled with mountains and valleys.

We often think of the mountains as being an amazing view with all the world at your feet. I will never forget driving to Maine. While we there we visited Bar Harbor and rode up Mount Cadillac. To most, it is a leisure scenic drive up a glorified hill. For me, I was freaking out. I am not even exaggerating, we didn’t even make it all the way to the top. I told my husband if he went any higher, I was jumping out of the car.

What should have been a picturesque drive turned into a nightmare.

I suppose perspective plays a big part of it. To my husband, it would have been a photo op filled with the release of all stress. For me, it was a panic attack.

Isn’t that how faith can be? Sometimes for one person, that mountaintop experience would mean freedom! For another, it means a free fall.

I love to think logically. Yet what I have learned is that G-d moves outside of the box. He is constantly pulling us out of our comfort zones to be the people he created us to be. Better versions of anything we could dream possible.

But this is not done without growth.

It’s these passages of life that feel like you can’t take one more breath because you are so exhausted. Whether they be in fear, loss, sickness, abandonment, doubt, depression, it all is so consuming. It’s almost like a Tsunami that seemingly destroys everything in its path.

What we fail to realize is that after each catastrophic event, we learn how to be rebuilt to be tougher, braver, and persevere onto our next destination of life.

Often we feel we need to do it all on our own, but that is a lie. G-d didn’t create us to do any of this on our own. He created us to do this with Him and the community that He sends to support us.

Are you in a faith crisis?

Do you feel like you are imprisoned in a nightmare or a cyclical pattern of endless insanity? Do you feel like you are doing everything wrong and you wonder when the punishment will end?

If you have prayed and you believe with all your heart that G-d is your Father and Jesus is your savior, know this: the enemy isn’t going to make your life easy. In fact, he is going to do everything he can to defer you from becoming the person G-d created you to be.

I love the Message version of James 1:2-4 says:

Faith Under Pressure

Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.”

I remember reading this for the first time and being utterly aghast at the simplicity and dare I say condescending tone (or so I thought) of this message. Then, I learned that James was Jesus’ half brother. If anyone had witnessed this first hand, it was him. How do you watch your brother be murdered by your own people and later suffer persecution for following him? Talk about death-defying faith.

What I am learning is that most of the people in the Bible weren’t naturally awesome. In fact, we learn of their human side and how desperately they needed to be saved. Each time that a miracle occurred, it wasn’t because they deserved it or made it happen, rather it was an act of grace.

When they finally let go of all the striving, G-d stepped in.

I have wrestled with my place in the kingdom of G-d. How do I move on without striving in my own flesh? And where do I let G-d take the reigns? What if I missed my one opportunity that was bestowed upon me and I screwed it up? What if I….

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Amy Grant sang this song many years ago.

‘All I Ever Have To Be’

When the weight of all my dreams
Is resting heavy on my head
And the thoughtful words of help and hope
Have all been nicely said
But I’m still hurting, wondering if I’ll ever be the one
I think I am–I think I am.
Then you gently re-remind me
That You’ve made me from the first
And the more I try to be the best
The more I get the worst.
And I realize the good in me is only there because of who
You are, who You are.
And all I ever have to be is what
You’ve made me
Any more or less would be a step out of Your plan
As you daily recreate me help me always keep in mind
That I only have to do what I can find
And all I ever have to be
All I have to be
All I ever have to be is what You’ve made me”

The words and the music soothe my soul and remind me, we can let go and stop trying to figure it all out. He knows our capabilities and doesn’t fault us for not having His supernatural strength. That is why we need him every step of the way.

Take comfort in knowing, you are right where you belong and He guides your steps.