The Good, the Bad, the Ugly......What's My Choice?

So, my very dear friends, don’t get thrown off course. Every desirable and beneficial gift comes out of heaven. The gifts are rivers of light cascading down from the Father of Light.
There is nothing deceitful in God, nothing two-faced, nothing fickle. He brought us to life using the true Word, showing us off as the crown of all his creatures. (James 1:16-17, The Message translation)


All of my life
In every season
You are still God
I have a reason to sing!
I have a reason to worship!
I will bring praise!
I will bring praise!
No weapon formed against me shall remain!
I will rejoice!
I will declare!
God is my victory and He is Here!
(Desert Song, Hillsong)


The Fall semester, back to school, a return to routine is upon us and for most of us it is welcomed with great delight! When something unexpected darts into our day without warning, and especially if we are already in a vulnerable state, it can send us into a downward spiral quickly. I had one of those days this week that went something like this:

6:20am Out of bed/And so another day begins……
7:30am Chloe to the bus
8:15am Arrive at work
3:00pm Early departure from work (ate lunch while I worked through to get the most hours I could in for the day and minimize use of personal time)
4:00-4:30pm Pick up my youngers (AJ and Chloe) from the bus stop
5:00pm Arrive at WHS and wait for Bailey to finish audition for school play
5:30pm Bailey finishes audition

*Here is where the day bit the dust: 5:30pm I was supposed to get everyone and be at WIS for AJ’s homeroom team meeting/orientation. Unfortunately circumstances beyond my control, Ryan being at night class and hungry children gnawing on day old leftover strawberry poptarts in the van resulted in this Mom simply coming to the end of herself and saying to God and to herself, ”Nope. It’s just not going to happen tonight. I give.”
At this point in the evening, I was simultaneously ready to scream and collapse into a puddle of convulsing tears.

I work very hard every single day to keep it together for my family, for my job, for the sake of simply saying I accomplished a day---but the reality is, some days it breaks me. Some days I am able to hit a rhythm and ride through the day without much turbulence. Other days, I can claim a portion of the day as a victory, and hopefully coast on that the remainder of the day without incident. Some days are like the one I detailed above, and I am ready to stamp it and myself, “Failure”.

Do you see the deception?

You have a CHOICE. I have a CHOICE. ALWAYS, there is a CHOICE. At any given time, life is going to hand us a big fat sour lemon. Guaranteed. So how will we choose to handle it?

I allowed that momentary deception, because of my reaction to circumstances outside of my control, to steer me toward a conclusion of “Failure”. The day was not a failure. I was not a failure. That moment was allowed to occur in God’s divine plan for my life, because He knows the outcome and He has the victory!
My mind, my heart, my hands will attempt to control and orchestrate my life day to day, but the Holy Spirit resides within me to keep me in check, to assure me when I choose Him, that regardless of how unpredictable life is, God has it all well in His hands. I don’t need to know it all, and I don’t want to know it all because I’m pretty sure if I did, I could not handle it.

We are deceived when we allow our circumstances to shape our perception. The Holy Spirit resides in each of us to always change that, re-set that. But we have to choose it! It is not automatic and it is not our nature. We are human, we are flesh, and so in spite of being children of God, we must practice holy habits. We must meditate on, study, speak His Word and pray, pray without ceasing, praise Him in all circumstances, and when we are hit by something difficult we must choose to stand and praise Him still!

I didn’t say it was easy, but it is necessary. To be like Christ, to be closer to holy like Him, takes practice, lots and lots of practice. So on our lesser than best days, we pick ourselves up and pull ourselves together, wipe the tears from our faces, stand up and stumble one step at a time through the mess before us and raise our hands in victory. You can do this. I can do this.

Be deceived no longer, my friend. Embrace His good and perfect will for you and trust He has made a way for you always.


Grace

‘I am in control—calm and serene.
I am watching quietly from where I dwell….’ (Isaiah 18:4 The Voice)

I didn’t make it to vote yesterday, but intend to in November. I have decided on my choices for various candidates on federal and state levels. I will not share that here because for me it is a personal choice that I’d rather not have to defend to people who don’t agree with my choices. My stand is this and only this: it is vital that we educate ourselves and not simply vote our conscience. We are part of a great community, a great country, an amazing world with such a beautiful mixture of cultures, beliefs, traditions precisely as God created and intended for it to be. There is no place for divisive, cruel, narrow minded, one size fits all language and attitude amongst us. We need to make more room in our hearts, in our minds, in our conversations for GRACE. God extends it to us, so should we extend it to one another. There are no perfect candidates, they are all entirely human and flawed. Somehow we all have to find our way through the political nonsense and vote for leadership that best represents our beliefs, our freedoms, our hopes and dreams for our country. Then, when the elections are concluded, we need to continue to communicate with our leadership what we expect of them and hold them accountable. They all need and want to hear from us because they represent us. We cannot take this responsibility lightly, just as they do not take their responsibility in their respective position lightly.

My devotional today was timely particularly in light of the current election season. I have wondered at times how God views all this that is going on. Scripture tells us precisely how he views it. He is being patient, watching and fully intent on making His greater purpose come into being when the time is right.

In Isaiah 18, we read as the armies approach, and the people wonder as they gaze at these foreigners how they will ever defeat them and when God will act to defend them. God speaks and acts in a manner that may easily be interpreted as passive; in fact, He is simply being patient, waiting and watching to act according to His good and perfect will. When we become emotional, frustrated, fearful, angry, anxious, distraught about what is happening in our lives and even in this highly political election season, we need to take a deep breath, step back and ask God to speak, to move, to calm. He does not act without great purpose. His is a purpose we cannot fully understand. When pride puffs us up, and we are spouting our opinion and throwing God’s Word and our religiosity at each other, we need to stop and consider this is not how God intends for us to live. This is not how He intends for us to exist.

We are not God. God is in control, not us. The moment you think you have control, have earned the right to be in control, or deserve to be in control….my friend, that is a very dangerous place to be. Humility is necessary, is required, to fully embrace and live out the grace God extended to us and now expects us to extend to one another. I shall not speak for God, but will boast only in His love and sacrifice for me. I shall not claim to know as much as God, but will point others always and only to His Word and to His all sufficient power as our King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. I shall always place God first in my life, by my speech, my actions, my example to others in how I work, play, live out this life I have been given. To be like Christ, to reside more fully in the obedience He has called me to, I find it has served me well to take more time to be still in His presence, to close my mouth and listen more often than I choose to open it and speak, and to make myself more open and available to what He intends for me to do with my time on this earth.

God is in control, He is watching and waiting to intercede at just the right time. I don’t understand it, but I look back at some of the most difficult times in my life—down on my knees, crying out to God, shaking my fists at Him and screaming, “Why won’t You do something, God! Now, I need You to move right now!”—and I see it. I know now why He chose to wait. I know now why His answer to me at times was, “No”. I know now why He did not answer but simply waited for me to collapse into His arms and at the end of myself, find He had not changed, He had not moved, He was still there for me. Unchanging, unfailing, unending. He is God. He has His reasons, and I may not agree with Him and I definitely do not understand all of His ways, but I am learning. That is the purpose of this journey after all. So as we step through this difficult political season, as we walk out the remainder of our days, regardless of our interpretation of it all we are called to be set apart. We are called to be His light, His love, His grace in a world that has no interest in any of it and is entirely selfish and determined to destroy itself.
Consider today the GRACE you have been given, and then ask yourself—

When is the last time you extended it to someone you determined did not deserve it?

What makes you more deserving of it then?

Truth is, none of us deserves it. But God has given it to us anyway. I am so thankful for that. Thank you, Father…..

‘Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
Amazing love, now flowing down
From hands and feet that were nailed to the tree
As grace flows down and covers me…’ (Christy Nockels, Grace Flows Down)

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