Resilience

…We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces perseverance.

Romans 5: 3

As I think about my children’s future, one of the things I think they will need most is resilience, something we Americans seem to lack. If someone dares look wrongly at our child, who may or may not have been disruptive, rude, or unpleasant, we rush to social media to cry about it. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world people – children included – are being maimed, burned, tortured, raped with sticks, brutally murdered, suffering multitudes of social injustices, unemployment, poverty, slavery, ridicule, and rejection by families…. And often they still find a way to smile.  I want to learn from them.  Too often, I’m too weak.

Considering the American social and political climate today, my children are going to have to be stout-hearted. They are going to have to accept injustice, ridicule, unkindness, prejudice, and offense… They are possibly looking in the face of persecution like our country has never seen before at a time when our endurance levels have never been lower. So if I do not prepare them to accept what Paul called “light and momentary” hardships like a good soldier of Jesus Christ, who will in this hyper-sensitive, pansy hands, run-home-to-mama climate???

Life is unfair. People are cruel. Sin is real. The curse is a ubiquitous malady we cannot escape. But we have been promised the ability to triumph. We have been given everything we need to bear anything our enemies dish out. We have been commanded to love in return for hate. With the commandment, comes the enablement. If that is true, it’s my job to live it. So I am trying to bulk up my heart and train the children God assigned to me to remember:

1. Be brave.
2. Be kind.
3. Accept hardship.
4. Choose joy.
5. Love.

And remember… We win.

Overcoming Me

This week I have spent time thinking about slavery.  From my own life, I have learned that the greatest source of oppression comes from allowing bitterness to become our master.  If we look for Master Bitterness, we’ll definitely find him.  Because I have become painfully familiar with my own chains, now when people share their “chips,” especially on Facebook, in my head I ask: “So…. what are you doing to protect yourself from the bitter root this experience will create in your life?”

Cost what it may, I want to be released from perpetuating bitterness.   Though it’s sometimes scary to face the price, having observed the racial bitterness this week, both in the shootings and in the “white privilege” complaints by whites, no less, I realize that the more we exalt our bitterness, the more we worship ourselves and our pet cause.  That never ends well.

We’re called to be over-comers, but I’ve discovered, overcoming me is HARD work. It takes tenacity and perseverance to forget myself, my pain, and my unfair or unpleasant circumstances. Redemption does not give us a free ride out of it all, either. In fact, it rarely does. Apparently there’s a reason. God wants us to be strong, mature representatives of His incredibly buff Son…. And I have to keep remembering

He crucified Him.

As believers, letting our genetics, our hormones, our labels, our losses, our grievances, our trials, our illnesses, our skin tone, our tribulations, or any other bundle of injustices turn us into bitter crybabies is just not in The Plan….

“In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer though Him who loved us…. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:37,38

Words, Words, Words

I seem to spend a lot of time thinking – thus, writing – about words. They are so powerful – for good or ill – and they are incredibly ubiquitous in today’s “comment culture.” The frenzied pace at which we race to make our words known is staggering to the imagination when we stop to consider the fact that God has to be the silent Witness to them ALL. Our ceaseless, usually vile, cacophony raises, overflowing the heavens with the ache of our condition. He never gets a rest. Oh. To think of my contributions…. I grieve.

Words hurt. Whoever came up with the “sticks and stones” line was at best deluded for the purpose of self-protection, I think. Words spoken over me in the past are Satan’s best weapon against me then and today. That means mine, too, could enable him to wage war in another soul’s mind. Terrifying.

Occasions meant to be the happiest in this life can be so clouded by the nagging memory of hurtful words attached to them, can’t they? Satan can get a lot of miles out of a handful of ill-combined letters. Especially when the words were never rescinded, they cling tenaciously.  How does one climb around or over this mountain of letters to enter congenial relations when they clearly spelled rejection and disdain? Outside God’s grace, I do not know. “You’re holding a grudge” then becomes a cudgel of guilt in the Enemy’s hand when grace seems elusive, and the awkwardness of broken “relating” can be palatable, am I right?

I want to learn grace-lessons from the scarring pains I have known – and caused!! I want to set a vigil over my lips. I want to remember the words “I am sorry; I was wrong” are powerful allies in this war against my sin-bleeding tongue. God help me not perpetuate wounded-ness in others. Heal me that I may be healing.  Remember I am dust, I stumble.  Amen.

“We all stumble in many ways. If any man does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body as well.”

James 3:2

Cleansing Grace

What God has cleansed, no longer call unholy.  Acts 11:9

How many times have I refused grace to myself and others to be genuinely cleansed?  How many times have I had but a tiny, surface peek into another’s (even sinful) “Gentile-ness” and mentally deemed that person unholy without seeing the brutal flail pounding on a genuine, God-loving soul as Satan sifts it like wheat? How many times have others had that limited view of me, too? We will know/be known by the fruit we bear, but sometimes worms invade good apples, too.

Having gone through the very worst pounding of my life a few years ago, it left me marked with scars, some self-inflicted, but it also left me with the grace to give “cleansed grace” much more readily to others who may very well be in the middle of the pounding of their life, too.

When tongues wag where others are concerned – even only in our thoughts – they rarely know much about that which they speak. That, for me, is a lesson hard-learned. I am guessing I am not alone in my humanity. When someone is slow to forgive, struggling with bitterness, fighting to learn thanks-living, or any other number of apparent “worms,” perhaps they are encountering a battle we would navigate even worse if the test were ours. I’m learning on the human side that God will beautify His afflicted ones with salvation. (Psalm 148:4). May I not call unholy what on the God side has already been called cleansed.

Revelation

I just recently read a comment:

“God doesn’t give a ___ what words we use! All He cares about is our heart.”

But our words disrobe our souls; they reveal who lives there.

I’d say that has an awful lot to do with our heart, wouldn’t you?

“The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

Luke 6:45

 

I cannot help but think a day is coming when all of us are going to be rather surprised when we discover what God cares about….

Gorillas and Alligators, Oh My.

The internet has given me a priceless gift in a way I would have never anticipated. I occasionally, albeit briefly, peruse comments online. They reveal the human condition incredibly well!  It is amazing what comes out of the woodwork when an “issue” sparks emotions, isn’t it?  The verbal stones fly fast and furious, and it doesn’t take long to see that we have become a society who has never learned empathy because we are too busy expecting sympathy –

for ourselves.

For how can we ever step into the ache of another’s loss, failure, mistake, or sin when life is all about seeing to our own (deserved) gain, recognition, rights, equality, or special needs-ness??? It seems the result is that Swollen Self can proudly navigate the pond or gorilla pen of another’s story “rightly” –

from the sidelines.

Seeing this is a gift to me because it has dropped me to my knees in deep repentance. I never before realized I could be so stricken with the conviction of MY OWN self-righteous, sinful nature through seeing it come out in others online. Even the inclination toward a “righteous” observation and commentary of others’ glaring lack of grace can take hold of my heart –

right here as I type!!

It reminds me:

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ But if you bite and devour one another, watch out or you will be consumed by each other.”  – Galatians 5:14-15

Who am I devouring today in my heart?  For it won’t take long to come out in my “righteous” words….

Defining the Terms

I’m watching my country die by suicide; she’s slitting her own throat on the razor blade of autonomy.

Freedom isn’t “every man doing that which is right in his own eyes,” it’s the courage to do as we ought  according to the One Who made us, and the humility to repent when we haven’t. That is what it means to be a true libertarian.  You can’t run a machine properly independent of the operator’s manual. It will break down. Likewise, you can’t run the human machine contrary to its Maker’s instructions. Yet we keep insisting rather proudly and loudly that we can. We even shape our little girls’ souls to “Let it Go” with:

“No right, no wrong, no rules for me; now I’m free!”

(And then we have the audacity to wonder why we have entitlement issues??)

The “right” to reject His Absolute – Benevolent – Authority is the choice to be enslaved by the tyrannies of our evil independence; our machines are crashing into one another with increasingly deadly force today as a result.  One cannot be autonomous AND free.  They are mutually exclusive terms.

See any airplanes successfully navigating the depths of the ocean lately?

Case closed.

“You have forgotten the God of your salvation and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge…”

Isaiah 17:10