Thursday, November 29, 2012

No Pain No Gain

So recently I heard a report about a young girl with a rare genetic disorder known as anhidrosis. This disorder prevents its victims from being able to experience pain. Now, our first response may be, "wow, that would be awesome, a life with no pain." However, the effects are tragic. God made us with the ability to experience pain for a reason. Pain tells our bodies that something is wrong. Whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual, pain is actually a gift from God. Without it, we continue in a path of destruction without even realizing the outcome.

The process of being refined or being moulded are prime examples of beauty coming from intense discomfort. When being refined by fire, we feel we will burn before the process is completed, but clearly the Refiner knows how hot the temperature must be to produce the best and most beautiful results. When the Potter is spinning and kneading, and moulding, we feel as though we will never recover, but the Potter knows the perfect design and the beauty He is creating.

Surely none of us enjoy pain, discomfort or prodding, but if the end result is a life that reflects the beauty of the Lord, then surely we will look back and say it was worth it. Similar to the woman in childbirth that forgets her pain once she lays eyes on her precious little one.

As I pondered this idea of being thankful for pain, I realized that many of the greatest lessons I've learned and the most character defining moments in my life have come on the heels of immense pain in my life. I'm reminded of the weight-lifter's mantra, "No pain, no gain." God is able to use our pain to minister to others, which is a beautiful thing. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, "He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us." I find it so amazing that God can take the most shameful, embarrassing, humbling and painful experiences of our lives and bring hope, comfort and peace to the lives of others. Only God can do something beautiful like that!!!  I have been through a lot in my life and I find comfort in knowing the things I've suffered can be used for good, to bring hope and peace in the life of another.

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” Zechariah 13:9

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bravo Maestro

I recently shared with friends  that I had been going through a rough time for a several days. I couldn't seem to "pull" myself out of it. I read the Word, I prayed, I tried to focus on encouraging others, I tried to meditate on all I had to be thankful for, I attended church and it helped somewhat just as it had in times past. However, it didn't leave me completely. I had a heaviness that just didn't seem to fully lift. Then I remembered Isaiah 61:3 "Provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor." So I put on worship music and began to sing praises to the Lord. My burden lifted completely. I remembered the beautiful picture in my mind of David worshiping the Lord and bringing temporary relief to Saul's torment and this experience set me on a path of meditating on the beautiful gift of music God has given us. God knows us so well. After all, He created us. He knew music would soften our souls and relieve our heaviness so that we could use our mouths to sing His praises. Only our God could create such a win win situation. We are comforted, He is glorified. Thank You Lord!!! It was on the tails of this experience that God inspired me with this story:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Surrender and be Free

Unlike a slave, a bondservant chooses to serve another. The word bondservant is defined as devoted to another to the disregard of one's own interests. My surrender to the Lord used to come in the form of kicking and screaming sort of like an enemy reluctantly raising a white flag to give up rather than die. But the more I learn of the Lord and the more of His Character I am privileged to behold the more I find this surrender is more than a willing yieldedness.  I desire to surrender all the days of my life as an offering to the Lord, emptied of all selfish motives and to become an empty vessel longing to be filled by Him. 

I realize that years of betrayal, abuse and emotional injury could cause one to be reluctant in giving up control of their own life. At times I can remember feeling that control over my own life was all I had left.  But I realized that I had become a prisoner to my own defenses and built impenetrable walls to keep all the hurt out while enslaving myself to my own fears and insecurities. We think we can implement these defenses and keep everyone out except the Lord but that's not the way it works. The safehouse we build for ourselves keeps everyone INCLUDING the Lord out. Unlike man, God will never betray us, He will never harm us. His plans for us are good. When we surrender our lives completely to Him and become bondservants, we experience a freedom like no other. How ironic that in surrendering and becoming a bondservant to Christ we actually become free, free to be all He desires us to be, free to be loved unconditionally, free from fear, free from bondage, free from hurt and pain and most importantly free to belong to Him unreservedly. I encourage you my brothers and sisters today to surrender. Surrender all of it. Hold nothing back. Nothing you've been through, nothing you "hide" in your heart can shock Him or cause Him to turn away. He will receive you with Arms wide open. He will heal all the broken places and show you how to walk in freedom. Today surrender and be free.

This illustrations fits perfectly with what I'm sharing here today: 
Story: There’s a bear caught in a trap. A kind hunter wants to help set it free. But the bear, racked with pain, cannot understand this. The only hope is to shoot it with a tranquilizer gun. The bear, seeing the raised shotgun, panics. The approaching hunter must temporarily push down harder on the injured paw in order to spring the trap. Again there is more pain, more misunderstanding. The bear cannot comprehend the hunter’s vision: a beautiful future where man and bear enjoy the gentle hills together.

Romans 12:1-2 (Amplified):  I appeal to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

Thursday, October 18, 2012

I Love New Seasons

As Autumn rushes in like an unexpected guest, I find myself reflecting on the different seasons of life. The older I get the less I despise change. I've learned that a lot of growth can come through change. So, I'm really excited about the new season in my life and am believing God for awesome things for His glory. Even though I've walked with the Lord some 30 plus years I feel as though I've fallen in love with Him all over again for the first time. 

When I'm disappointed, He encourages. When I'm hurting, He comforts. When I'm crying, He holds me and wipes away my tears. When I feel like giving up, He's the silent fan in the sidelines cheering me on. When I'm overwhelmed, He strengthens me. When I feel useless, He reminds me the price He paid for me and how valuable He thinks I am. When I feel like a failure, He lifts me up and encourages me to try again better. When I feel unloved, He kisses me with the Presence of His Holy Spirit, When I've been hurt, He helps me forgive since I've been forgiven much. When I'm lonely, He visits me. All this to say, I've learned not to regret all the difficult/hurtful times but rather allow God to make beauty out of all those ashes. He is in the business of restoring broken, hurting hearts. I am living proof. 

~"It is true that you planned to do something bad to me. But really, God was planning good things. God’s plan was to use me....." Genesis 50:20