Category Archives: Refined by the Word

TGIF…and that’s a wrap <3

They say the Christian walk is a marathon not a sprint and if you have hung with me through this series, I am hearing a rousing AMEN!! coming through the atmosphere.

I have called you to go deeper still into the wounds and the healing.

It’s a common theme out there, I have noticed …must be a lot of hurting people who are desiring to heal well.

I just got a devotion in my email this past week that had this quote from Andy Stanley about grace and how it relates to our topic Deep Healing….

Grace.    

It’s what I crave most when my guilt is exposed. The very thing I’m hesitant to extend when I’m confronted with the guilt of others — especially when their guilt has robbed me of something I consider valuable.   Faithgateway.com    The Story of Grace    Andy Stanley             Feb. 6, 2017

It’s what we have been talking about, isn’t it?

Forgiveness..receiving mercy and grace…extending mercy and grace…the cycle that we work through as God heals us down in the depths of our pain and loss.

We can trust Him when we can’t trust others or even ourselves.

I want to close this series with a beautiful quote I got from A. W. Tozer’s book Tozer on the Almighty God.

He uses a quote from Rev. Dr. Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) who would cry out in “serious and painful trials”…

“Praise God for the hammer, the file and the furnace”

Tozer expounds on these for the devotionals that cover October 14, 15 and 16 in this book.

He speaks of how the hammer is a useful tool, but the nail must view it as harsh and cruel.

Strike after strife falls upon the nail as forceful blows drive it deeper into the surface.

He describes the nail’s view of the hammer to be “…an opponent, a brutal, merciless enemy who lives to pound it into submission, to beat it down out of sight and clinch it into place.”

He acknowledges that while that is an apt description of the hammer….

“The nail forgets that both it and the hammer are the servants of the same workman. Let the nail remember that the hammer is held by the workman and all resentment toward it will disappear. The carpenter decides whose head shall be beaten next and what hammer shall be used in the beating. That is his sovereign right. When the nail has surrendered to the will of the workman and has gotten a little glimpse of his benign plans for its future it will yield to the hammer without complaint.”

Harsh language, and it goes without saying…but I WILL say it…this is not saying if someone is being physically or emotionally abused they must submit to the abuser!

This is saying that life//other’s sinful choices/our own errors in judgment will bring about times when we feel beat up…defeated…crushed.

And our first inclination will be to curse the circumstances and fight back or give up or give in to our human natures and the world’s systems of dealing with pain.

But as children of the Most High God…there is a better way.

Part of our inheritance is the gift of being one of His own and entitles us to surrender to the Creator who made us and sustains us in the MIDST of it all.

Our loving Father  is well aware of the pain we are enduring and yes, could have stopped the source, but for some reason unknown to us…He has allowed it.

And to acknowledge this is to comply with the hammer because we know it is simply the servant of the Master…as are we <3

And so we lift up to Him our brokenness and our sorrows, our grief and our pain, our sense of loss and our loss of joy…to God, who is Sovereign over us, over them, over yesterday, today and tomorrow.

To ask Him to show us how to move toward healing…and to be obedient to His directions as we simultaneously kneel before Him, lean on Him and yield to Him.

It has been a special blessing for me to walk through some of my stuff with you these past few days.

You all make wonderful travel companions on the Journey…

Have a blessed weekend and I’ll see you on Monday <3

 

Corralling those wild thoughts <3

We have moved to Page 2 and Item #3 of my brainstorming notes.

Which means we are a few points away from the conclusion of this series.

I would say it has been a good one…at least for me…and I know for some of you as well.

You have been troopers as I stomped on your toes with my own bandaged feet and I love you for it.

So today we tackle that battle of the mind that rages on even the best of days but can really throw a damper on the healing process.

As I look at my notes and my to do list before I leave for work (via the post office with a hefty stack of assorted mail that needs to be metered and paid for) and the clock…I have made an executive decision to forego well-written paragraphs and just give you the bullet points from my legal pad for this section.

You in?

Good

I am writing from my experience because not everyone is like me (can we all just shout hallelujah and high-five Jesus for that???)

So again, if you don’t relate to my wiring, maybe it will help you understand someone who is a hypersensitive, over-thinking, neurotically analyzing of every detail person such as yours truly.

Oh…you stayed…great…well, here we go…

1. It is imperative to corral my emotions when something shakes me deeply. Since I am pretty much the worst poker face person, I don’t fake “fine” very well. I am never the person, even on the BEST.DAY.EVER who answers “How are you?” with ….wait for it…and enthusiastic

GRRRRREEEEEAAAAATTTTTTTT!!!!!

I’m one of those who actually tells you how I am, in a thousand words or less.

So when I am experiencing a season of deep sorrow, I find it helpful to remember that I don’t have to share the details of what is going on with every single person or even one single person.

I can just say I’m doing okay and if they press me further with that concerned look and dreaded “Are you sure?”, I am not fibbing when I say Yep…I’m sure.

Because by faith, I am doing OK.

I am upright and breathing and God is doing a work in me.

I am passing through the waters and He is holding me up so I don’t drown. I am passing through the fire and it’s hotter than hell, but my clothes are not even going to smell like smoke.

That’s Isaiah 43:2 if you don’t recognize it.

So yes, by God’s grace and mercy. I am OK.

2. I also absolutely MUST put the kibosh on comparison.

Looking around at what others have never ever helps with the work God is doing in M.E.

This also means steering clear of social media on my more fragile days.

And I will speak into this to others here…if seeing sweethearts happily declaring their love on Valentine’s Day sends you into depression or a barren womb means those lovely tributes to Mothers and Fathers mid-May/June burn hot tears on your face or your family is scattered to the four winds and the “This is Us” pics of happy Thanksgiving gatherings is a slap in the face…YOU are the one who controls checking Facebook and Instagram. 

3. And finally this one I mentioned yesterday, but thoughts of how this friend or that person would do this grieving and healing so much better than I am.

So there’s my big three areas of thought life that I have to reign in so God can get me back in the land of the living.

And the only way to do it is to take those spinning and spiraling thoughts under control.

For though we live in the body, we do not wage war in an unspiritual way, since the weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds. We demolish arguments and every high minded thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to obey Christ. And we are ready to punish any disobedience, once your obedience has been confirmed.   2 Corinthians 10: 3-6   HCSB

Like you I always find this passage encouraging but difficult to apply.

So let’s meditate on it a bit and meet back here tomorrow for some practical application.

Deal?

I hope so.

 

 

Part 3 ….and when the dross turns out to be the meltdown of an idol

As I have been gathering my notes for this, I find myself in a sticky place where I have to look at the ways God has convicted me personally and decide how much is beneficial to you and how much is sacred to me.

I have found in seasons of grief and loss resulting from the choices of others, there is a blessed gift of conviction that feels like anything but a blessing at the time.

There is nothing quite like receiving the loving comfort of the Lord in times of sorrow and then realizing the gentle hand wiping my tears is also beginning to pry into some areas of my soul that would have happily stayed hidden and buried.

Because as I grieve, God sends messages through His Word.

Through a Bible Study.

And then another.

Through a sermon or a devotion that comes in my email.

In one season of loss, I ran into one word repeatedly expressed in multiple ways until I could no longer avoid the fact that God was speaking to me in my circumstances…a word that I was forced to face as conviction…

Idolatry.

Here I was, asking God for help in processing how to move forward with life and what is going on and where is He in all of this and I kept running into the theme of….

I.D.O.L.A.T.R.Y.

While it was so easy to see how the offending party certainly had erected some idols…

the studies and the sermons and the scriptures constantly cropping up seemed to point to …. uh..my wounded spirit.

So I found myself responding to all of this evidence of needed self-examination with the spiritually mature and godly cry of…

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

But sure enough, I started to fill in the blanks of open ended sermon questions like…

What is the thing that if it isn’t going well, your whole world is falling apart?

Yeah.

Stuff like that.

And my heart was definitely being convicted.

I began to look at the deeper levels of my sorrow and loss and I realized that somewhere along the way I had begun to set some things up on little pedestals.

I would never have thought I worshipped them until I lost them and their worth to me became so evident.

Good things that had become main things.

My “success” in life depended on the success of my people and circumstances, and if my people and circumstances failed; then I failed.

I had determined what success looked like and suddenly the cruel waves of other’s decisions and choices washed away the sand castle.

I realized that I was grieving the loss of what I thought life should be like.

Are you noticing a pattern in the above statements…

my people….my circumstances…had determined…thought…

But what did God say?

Tearing down idols is hard work.

You have to put some muscle into pulling them down.

But when you are frail and thin from a hard season of grieving and sorrow, raw from too many tears and too little sleep, set aside from the comfort of others because you have been seeking solace in the Lord…you are in the best possible place for God to show you the good things you had begun to invest your worth and value and security in.

And then He shows Himself to be the best thing.

The only thing.

The only ONE.

The Rock and Solid Ground.

The Firm Foundation.

Idols are funny things.

They can look like being a good parent or a dedicated employee or in a happy marriage or your excellent reputation or even “the real deal” in your spiritual walk.

They are anything that takes the place of the only God worthy of all glory and honor and praise and notoriety and fame and set themselves up as the main thing keeping us steady and giving our life purpose and meaning.

So for today…do an idol check.

Answer the simple question….

What is the one thing that if it isn’t going right, your world falls apart?

Thanks for coming back today…not a fun part of the series, is it?

But necessary.

I hope you will come back tomorrow <3

 

 

 

 

The freedom gained when we forgive and are forgiven <3

Oh I am so thankful to be reading through the Bible again this year!

I missed it in 2017- cheated myself out of a good year in God’s Word!

Yes, I read Scripture – but honestly…just taking chunks in every day is amazing.

Do it.

Because you find nuggets that can be stored up like a treasure that is richer than gold and will feed that soul hunger that we don’t even realize we are trying to satiate in other ways.

Like today.

Today I watched Jacob pack up his large family and flocks and possession and head on back to his homeland.

Back to his father and his family.

And, oh yeah…

back to face his brother.

The one he had traded a meal for an inheritance and then stole the blessing from.

That one.

The one he had run away from to avoid death by revenge.

And now he is going to have to encounter him and face the consequences.

So he sends an outrageous amount of gifts ahead of him and lines his family up in order of who he feels he could spare the most…Rachel and his beloved Joseph at the rear…in hopes they will be able to escape unharmed should Esau and his army decide to fight.

But what a delightful surprise the Lord has worked in Esau.

Granted, his descendants will be a constant headache and heartache for the nation of Israel in the centuries to come and even to this day and til Christ returns.

However, on the road back home, the two brothers meet and Scripture records this exchange between  Esau and his younger-by-seconds brother….

Then Esau said, “What do you mean by all this company which I met? (the gifts of flocks and such that had preceded Jacob and his family on the road)

And he (Jacob) said, “These are to find favor in the sight of my lord.”

But Esau said, “I have enough, my brother; keep what you have for yourself.”

Genesis 33:8 & 9 NKJV

Imagine.

Imagine all the years that Esau had bitterly mourned the loss of his father’s blessing.

All the years he had to nurse the bitterness of his brother – AND MOTHER’S – betrayal.

And now he had Jacob, all the abundance of his gain…his wives and children…all of it…vulnerably hand-delivered to him and his four hundred men.

But something had happened.

Something took away the anger and the bitterness.

Something in him was softened and able to let go.

It had to be forgiveness.

Oh to let God do such a work in me that when I see face to face the one who’s hand worked pain and loss in my life; who seemingly stole the blessing I had thought would be mine…that I could say…you owe me nothing.

The Lord has richly blessed me.

Keep what you have.

Jacob told his brother that this being forgiven so graciously was like seeing God’s face.

This short passage touches my heart today.

Only God can work that kind of forgiveness in our wounded hearts and spirits.

And when we give Him that space and authority, others will see Him and He will receive the glory.

Blessings on you today dear ones.

Life is hard and we get hurt.

But to forgive and be forgiven is like seeing the Face of God <3

 

Of the Brits and Esau and such

So yesterday I mentioned that we started watching The Crown on Netflix. Friends told us about it over Christmas with such enthusiasm we just felt we were making a regrettable life choice by not partaking.

If you are like us before we got the memo and have not a clue what I am talking about…

(I actually have so much dental work, that I assumed it was a documentary on capping teeth, but don’t tell anyone….)

The Crown follows the story of the Royal Family beginning with the marriage of Elizabeth, daughter of King George VI, to Phillip Duke of Edinburgh.

One scene that caught my attention involved a conversation Elizabeth has with her uncle, who had abdicated the throne years before, choosing to marry a woman who was unaccepted as a wife of the King of England.

She points out that he never apologized for vacating his responsibilities.

Assuming she meant an apology to her own father for causing him to assume duties he had never wanted, he assured he did indeed apologize.

No, she says – you never apologized to me.

And then she briefly shares the high cost to her own life, to her marriage, to her husband and to her family that his choice had left her.

His choice had caused repercussions that would continue for generations.

On Monday morning, my Bible reading had me in Genesis 25, where Esau comes in from the field hungry and Jacob offers him food in exchange for his birthright.

The notes in the commentary portion shed a view of this that was new to me and reminded me of the dialogue above about how one man’s decision affected so many others life course.

Careless, and apparently disinterested in the benefits and responsibilities attendant to the birthright, Esau unknowingly forfeits his opportunity to be the one in his generation through whom the blessings promised to his grandfather Abraham would pass.” *

Ouch.

Careless.

And apparently disinterested….

in the

BENEFITS

and

RESPONSIBILITIES

that came with the birthright.

What about us?

What about me?

I have been born into a time and an area of influence with benefits and responsibilities.

And…

AND….

I have been born again…

into an inheritance of Promised Blessings.

Oh my.

These words churn deep in my spirit today.

They make me ask myself if I have been careless and disinterested in the benefits and responsibilities that come with receiving Christ and being made new in Him.

They urge me to be neither careless nor indifferent to the benefits of my salvation AND the responsibilities that accompany God calling me one of His children.

I want to take every opportunity in my generation to be one through whom God’s blessings flow.

I think of young moms and dads out there, swimming upstream in a culture gone awry.

I think of teens and tweens and young adults forging the bridge between the faith they were raised on and the place they will walk it out in the real world of school, work and relationships today.

I think of older people who are starting to wear down and wear out. Our time is drawing closer and its easy to think maybe we might just coast it on out.

Esau, we are told, came in from the fields weary.

Tired.

Exhausted.

Hungry.

We can get that way and when we do it is tempting to settle for creature comforts and forget to fight the good fight.

Let’s not do that.

Let’s you and I be known as people who seized the birthright of being born again as new creations and use our influence to call forth God’s blessings into the day ahead.

 

*From The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order, NIV, with Devotional Commentary by F. LaGard Smith; Harvest House Publishers, page 53