Friday, January 18, 2013

Redeeming Power

I am going to admit some things about myself tonight. First of all, I am a person who has always had a poor self image. I have never felt like I was good enough or worth much. I have never felt like I mattered to anyone. Not until I met my husband. When we first dated I felt like a princess. He treated me better than anyone ever had and he truly became my best friend. After we got married, I felt like a Queen. I had found the person in life who made me feel important and made me feel like I had value.

Here we are getting ready to celebrate our ten year wedding anniversary. I feel like life has beat us up. Life has chewed us up and spit us out and is waiting for our next move to see what else it can throw at us.

While my husband is still by my side, my insecurities and my poor self image have not gone away. I worry about things every day that I can't change. I worry that I'm not pretty enough (ten years, a kid, a college degree, and a full time job can definitely start to show). I worry that I'm not good enough. I worry that I'm gonna say the wrong things. I worry that my emotions are going to be perceived as something they are not. I worry that I'm not a good enough mom. I worry that I'm not making the right decisions for my son. I worry that I'm going to wake up one day and be alone. I worry that everything in life that matters to me will disappear.

A year ago I attended a women's rally in Conway. The message that night I will not soon forget. The message from The Lord I personally received that night, I will never forget.

The message was on the seasons we go through in life and was encouraging us to lean on God and trust in Him through every single season. This was a rough time in my life at home and I felt like my family was going to dissolve under the pressure we were under and I was already watching it happen. I cried everyday to The Lord before that night asking Him to hold my family together and asking Him to change our situation.

That night last January, as clear as if I were sitting next to you talking, I heard The Lord speak to me. He told me that I was going to make it. That I was going to be ok. That no matter what happened in my circumstances, He was going to take care of me and that He loved me. Beginning that night, I just started praying that God would handle it. I gave it to Him and have prayed daily since then that God would work out all things to His glory.

Here we are a year later and He has held true to those promises. He has worked in my life and is restoring the pieces of my life that I thought were slipping away. It has been a process and it isn't over yet, but He is working.

Because the theme for women's ministry this year is Redeemed, I have really been thinking about this. Salvation came for me as a child. But salvation is only the first step of redemption. Salvation is about believing in Jesus. Believing that Jesus died on a cross for your sins so that you didn't have to pay the price for your sins. Jesus did that for you and in return you get to spend eternity in heaven with Him.

Redemption is so much more than salvation alone. Redemption is about taking the broken pieces of our lives, the trash, the nasty stuff we may not even tell our closest friends, and changing those things. Cleaning us up and giving us a new purpose. Redemption is about taking what others may see as the worst situations in your life and giving them meaning and making something better out of them than we could ever imagine.

Redemption is an ongoing process that even the greatest Christians walk through over and over again with each new twist and turn that life brings their way. God can redeem you and your circumstances in life.

As I said earlier, I worry about a lot of things in life, but in the middle of my worries, I pray that I have the strength to trust God to redeem my circumstances and to make the best of them. I trust that God has a plan and that no matter what we get hit with next I know that His redeeming power will get us through.

I'm still a broken person who while trusting in God's redemption struggles with the human emotions attached to my situations. I still worry, I still cry, I still get anxious and stressed out. That doesn't mean that I'm not trusting. It simply means that I am human.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Knock at the Door

This evening, before we left for church, there was a knock on the front door. I opened to door and standing there was a young single mother. She was involved in some sort of workforce program. She talked for a few minutes and asked me several questions while I waited to find out what exactly she was selling.

She asked me if I believed in working hard and programs like the one she was in to help train people to get a better job in the future. She asked me what I did for a living and asked me where I started and how I worked my way up to where I am now. It was quite interesting as she seemed to be gleaning information about how to succeed in life at the same time she was trying to make her sales pitch.

Turns out, she was selling books and magazines. I told her I really couldn't purchase anything right now and I wished her well hoping she would take that answer and be on her way. I really don't care much for people knocking on my door trying to sell me stuff.

I almost missed a chance to share the love of Christ with a complete stranger who randomly showed up at my door, but lucky for me, the Holy Spirit gave me another chance!

Before she left, she asked me what advice I would give to someone like her in regards to succeeding in life. That caught me off guard and anyone who knows me very well knows that I am not too good at thinking on my toes and answering a question like that.

The first thing I said was, "don't give up". Then as I thought for a minute, I told this young woman that life gets hard sometimes. Sometimes it gets really hard, but the one thing that has always gotten me through the trials in life is my relationship with Jesus. I told her if it wasn't for Jesus I don't believe I would be here today.

She looked at me for a minute and said, oh yeah, me too. That phrase wasn't near as confident sounding as the rest of her sales pitch was. She quickly said thank you and goodbye.

My prayer tonight is that she hears that echo in her mind and heart and that she finds that relationship with Jesus and the next time she hears that from someone, she can say with confidence that she has that and leans on that daily for help and strength.

I am praying The Lord gives me more of these opportunities and that I don't miss them.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Your Storm Will End

Today was a very dreary day outside. I had to drive from Little Rock to Fort Smith, in the rain and with one stop on the way, roughly a three hour trip. When I left Little Rock, it wasn't sunny outside, but it had lightened up outside and wasn't too dark. It wasn't raining either. As I traveled down the road, listening to my music and really enjoying the drive, it started to get darker. The further down the road I went, the darker it got and it began to rain. The rain itself wasn't too bad. There were only a few spots along the way where the rain was heavy and in those spots it only lasted a few minutes and then stopped. What was bad was the road spray. Driving on Interstate 40, half of the vehicles on the road were large vehicles, either buses or eighteen wheelers.  Those large vehicles can throw a lot of water on a small car and make it very difficult to see very far down the road.

As I neared the end of my trip, I really began to think about how this trip relates to life. We travel through life the same way as I was traveling down the interstate. Sometimes life is sunny and easy to enjoy. Other times in life, things get dark. Sometimes it gets really dark. And while it’s dark, we still have to travel down the road. We still have to navigate all the curves and stay in between the lines. While it’s dark, the rain falls even harder sometimes. And sometimes, like the eighteen wheelers, when we think the rain isn't so bad, something else flies by us and drowns us in even more rain.

Here is the good news, every storm has an end. No matter how dark life gets, no matter how much rain falls, no matter how soaked we get by even more water, there is hope because at some point, the storm will end. I was blessed to see the edge of the storm as I drove into Forth Smith today. As I neared the end of my journey, I drove out of the storm. It was beautiful! If you are going through a storm in life, just keep moving. Keep pressing forward and at some point you will come out of the storm. But there is more good news. Even if I had not been driving and moving down the road, the storm at some point would have passed. If the weight of your storm is so great that you can’t move and all you can do is stand still, the storm will still pass.

Mark 4:35-39 says, “And the same day, when the even was come, he saith unto them, Let us pass over unto the other side. And when they had sent away the multitude, they took him even as he was in the ship. And there were also with him other little ships. And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.”

Storms may come when God is moving us. When He is asking us to pass over unto the other side, there may be some storms that come our way. Most likely there will be more storms at those times in life when God is moving us. Just remember, if we are passing over to the other side with Jesus in the boat with us, we have all we need to navigate life’s storms with the assurance of making it through to a great calm.