Hope, in the badlands.....

“Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history. Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is! I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands” (Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG)

What is life without significant struggle? Not reality I can tell you that. Some have had more than their fair share of struggle than others, and there is good reason for it. Notice I didn’t just say there is a reason for it, but there is good reason for it.

I came upon this scripture today, and it hit a very raw place in me, because of the current season I am experiencing. A visual in my head, as I read the scripture several times, of precisely God’s intent for me right now. For nearly a year now, I have been incredibly unsettled in my job. I didn’t have any specific indication that my role would be changing in any way, but the pressure was on in ways I cannot fully explain. Some unexpected transitions are underway in my workplace this month, and I find myself in a place I did not expect to be. As I am preparing for the changes coming, I find I am oddly at peace with it. I am not shaken or surprised, but I have confirmation now for how unsettled I have been. I believe wholeheartedly that God has my best in mind and I trust Him completely. I am aware today more than any other, just how blessed I am to have family and friends who love and support me unconditionally, and a circle of colleagues whom I can confide in and rely upon to give me solid advice and counsel as I consider what is the best direction for me to go.

Life is constantly changing, when we do not realize it, it is constantly changing. That job you’ve had for 25 years, could suddenly end tomorrow. Your marriage of 15 years, could suddenly be in jeopardy because of your partner’s confession to you that the love just isn’t there anymore for them. Your life could be completely turned upside down by a diagnosis from your doctor today that you have a terminal illness. Your family could be tragically ripped apart today by a serious life event.

What is your first reaction? How will you choose to respond in this moment, this unexpected and life altering moment when you have a choice to make that will not only effect you but those immediately around you?

My natural reaction, if I did not have Christ, would be anger. Anger would lead me to bitterness, and ultimately resentment toward those I considered responsible for the crap I’m forced to endure. That choice to be sunk by my circumstances, is so far from what God intends for me. There has to be a shift in us at this point from what would be our natural reaction, to a supernatural reaction. That’s because of Holy Spirit living in us! I believe God has had His hand upon me for a long time leading up to this season. I believe He is with me in and through every moment of this transition, and I believe He is working on my behalf to ensure what comes next is far better than what I have experienced thus far. This season, this difficult season, as much as I’d like to avoid it and skip over it to the good stuff, holds great purpose for me. The scripture in Isaiah today was perfectly timed because it is a reminder (the visual helps!) that “He is making a road for us through the desert, rivers in the badlands…”

So today, I am keeping that visual in my head, walking it out, trusting my Father God with what He intends for my good to come about. He is a good Father. I may not agree with what’s going down, but I know there’s purpose far beyond what I can understand right now.

I know someone reading this is dealing with something and needs to be reminded that there is Hope. He is our Hope. Don’t give up, my friend. I’m not giving up, and I am believing for greater things to come!

The goodness of God

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.
(1 Peter 2:9 NLT)

I had a conversation with my son last night on our way to drop him off to his school play rehearsal, and it was timely I think. He talked about an issue, some drama that went down with a group at school amongst some of his Thespian classmates, something that would concern any parent. My heart warmed as I listened to him share how their teacher was approached for help, intervened with this group and the issue handled appropriately for the sake of the one deeply hurt by the entire situation. I had a chance to share with my son how important it is to think before speaking, that what may be interpreted one way by many as harmless and amusing, could be entirely hurtful and wrong for the person who directly receives it. I was a proud Mama at that moment to hear my son agree and witness this moment of truth and kindness sink into him for what I believe will shape him well into adulthood.

Every single day we all have circumstances coming at us that threaten to take the best of us and turn it into something very ugly. If we aren’t thoughtful and careful in considering what we are about to say before we say it, we could do some very serious and lasting damage on someone else’s life. Once you speak it, regardless of your intention, you better be prepared to live with how it effects the person on the receiving end. So, how are you choosing today to show the goodness of God to others? To your community? To your world? Regardless of your position in society, Christian brothers and sisters, this season more than any other we are seeing people become disheartened and disenchanted by the church. I have personally witnessed over the years a number of people leaving the church. And it isn’t for the same reasons, it is a variety of reasons. What makes me sad is, the way the church treated them shadowed any impression they may have ever had of who Christ is and what a relationship with Him is. That ought not be. When someone sets foot in the church, my hope is they don’t leave saying how good that church was, but in fact how good God is! That’s the entire point of why we are the church, isn’t it?! How foolish we are to think we as the church must make that first impression by what we do when they set foot in our buildings, our worship gatherings on Sunday? I am far more convicted today than ever before, that we are to begin before we approach our gatherings as “the church” with prayer! We need to consider on an individual level whether or not we are truly humbled, broken, and open to the Holy Spirit using us in our next encounter with someone who needs to know Christ. Relationships are key to sharing the love of Christ with the world. It doesn’t matter where you go to church, your religious preference, your denominational allegiance, etc. What matters is what you have in Christ, and that you are sharing it every chance you get in the way you live this life day by day.

Truth, kindness, mercy and love are vital. Without these, everything is just going through the motions, mechanical and pointless in terms of eternal value. How dare we expect God to extend us grace, if we are not extending it to others. It doesn’t work that way, and I can’t imagine living my life that way and having the ability to stand before my Father God one day to account for it.

We are called to be hope in a world that has so very little worth hoping for anymore. God is patient, and because of that we have an opportunity to make the best of our time on this earth to live well, and love well. Let’s do it, let’s get out there and make the most of what we have been given.

my Ebenezer...

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