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Monthly Archives: December 2013

What I dont’ have….

“…The joy that is missing, that you want to have will come from thanking God for what you do have, don’t worry about thanking Him for what you don’t have yet.”

These words have been running through my mind for the last two months.  Joy is truly something I want more of.  I’m generally at peace with my life and when I’m not – I fight to regain peace. But I have to admit – Joy comes in spurts.  If I need a shift of perspective and the result is more joy, bring it on.

The first part of the statement that I really started pondering was where this person said, “don’t worry about thanking Him for what you don’t have yet.”  It wasn’t a reprimand.   In my life, part of building my faith has been recognizing that God keeps His promises, that He is trustworthy, and that He is good.  As Father, Provider, Comforter, and Healer – when I have needs or wants I go to Him and ask.  As hope sprouts up in my life – the hope that He actually wants to take care of my future – then faith is established that He will take care of all that pertains to me.  In that, I thank Him for the things that I don’t see yet in my life, based on His character and the assurance of His great love for me.

The thing is, I get really focused on the things that I feel are lacking in my life today.  When I feel like God needs to be reminded that I haven’t gotten my promise yet, I’ll thank Him nicely, in advance, for what He’s going to do for me.  Then I start imagining all the ways He’s going to do it.  It’s not a bad past time – but it still causes me to spend a lot (or most) of my time thinking about what is to come. In the meantime, I missing out on what is here today.

For the last couple of months, when I start thinking about what’s not in my life – yet, I’ve discovered that I really spend a lot of time in an imaginary world (that’s for a later post).  I’ve been missing the real live miracle of today.

So, I’ve been trying to stop thinking about what I don’t have. This has been freeing up a lot of my thinking time. As I’ve been determined to look at what I do have, I’m even more impressed with how good my life is.  I’m more grateful for how well God is taking care of me today.  I see that He knows what I really need way better than I do.  I don’t deserve this favor – but I’m thankful for it.  In light of the miracle of today, I see something else forming in my life that wasn’t there a couple of months ago….Joy.

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Prelude

I grew up a Christian.  I loved God the best that I could understand as a child.  I reached my teenage years and I decided that following God’s rules were too constraining.  I was naive, I felt foolish, I was embarrassed all the time.  I walked away from what I was taught and tried to find the answers to my list of questions on my own.  Honestly, for me it was awful. I was even more embarrassed, more insecure, and on top of that I felt guilty all of the time, and I was afraid I was going to get caught.

When I recommitted my life to God at the age of 17, I was relieved.  I was so grateful to have the safety of boundaries set around me again, to have a scale to measure my life on, to put my relationships back in order, to have the potential for a “blessed” and happy life.

Then, my world was turned upside down and with it all of the things that I thought were important faded away and the things that were truly important remained.  Trauma – life and death experiences have a way of doing that.

One thing that stuck was that I knew God was good.  I knew that there was no way to get through the life that awaited me without His help.  He wasn’t the one that did this to me – He was the One that saved me.  That was basically all that I knew – everything else was just words.

The (encouraging?) words that I heard often:

You are a miracle
God loves you so much
God has a big purpose for your life
You are so beautiful on the inside

Fast-forward a few years. I sat in church and watched the people around me.  There were those that were happy, that seemed so in love with God and loved each other.  They seemed to know God in a way that I didn’t know Him, they heard Him differently, they prayed differently. They were…free.  I wanted that, I wanted to feel what it looked like they had.  I tried hard.  I prayed more, tried to read my Bible more (or tried to stay awake while reading it).  I listened to the sermons and left church determined to do what the pastor had preached.  I came back to church the next Sunday so mad at myself for all the ways that I had failed in the previous week, and left again determined to do better the following week.

This happened for years.  I decided that the closeness to God that the Pastor, the guest speaker, the pillars of the church had – wasn’t meant for me.  I decided that those people must have never rebelled like I did, they must have always made the right choices – that’s why their life was “blessed.” I decided that freedom and joy was for others, not for me – I blew my chance.

One day I was invited to a Bible study, by one of those people that I had observed – one of the celebrities of that church, one of the “happy” ones.  It was like nothing I ever experienced before in all of my Christian upbringing.  At that Bible study these people – the “blessed” ones told the raw truth.  They shared what they were really feeling, the thoughts that they struggled with – they sounded a lot like my thoughts.  They shared about who they were before, about the terrible things that happened to them and their determination to forgive – even when it was hard.  Then they shared what they were learning, they would talk about the things that God was saying to them, the things that they were repenting for, these people were real.  Their freedom and their joy was real.

Over time, their stories – their willingness to “testify” about what was going on in their life – helped me to see the truth in my own life, and to face them good or bad.  I began to overcome because of those testimonies.  My life transformed.  It no longer looked like occupying a church pew for the remainder of my days – I began to believe that my life had purpose.  I began to believe the words that were spoken to me over and over.

There are many hurting, broken people sitting in churches, going week after week, hoping for an answer that will transform their life.  They know that Jesus died for their sins.  They also know that He came to bring “life and life abundantly.” They are waiting to see that in their own life.  Those people go home determined to do better, and come back the following week defeated, feeling forgotten and alone in their struggle.

Often as Christians we put on our happy face and show everyone how “blessed” our life is.  We put our past in a closet.  The truth is that we are all messes, we are such a mess that God sent his Son to earth to provide a way for us to get cleaned up and to experience His incredible Love for us.  I am grateful for those in my life that are truthful and vulnerable enough to have let me see the mess that their life was, in it I see the daily miracles of God making beauty from the mess.  Their testimonies help me to know more of God’s perfect love and to overcome my own mess.  Their transparency encourages me to share my reality, in hopes that someone else will experience the miracle of God’s perfect love.   – Charity