My neighbor’s overgrowth of weeds has reached nearly 3 feet. It is a perfect hiding spot for a rabbit, that is, until my Labrador decides he wants to retrieve him. I keep him from having any success; however, this morning he did shock the rabbit he uncovered with his keen abilities. The rabbit, stunned and not really able to evaluate his options, ran right towards a pack of German Shepherds. He rebounded and finally found an escape route.
Watching the frazzled rabbit run from one point to the next haphazardly reminded me of how easy it is to get comfortable and feel safe somewhere only to find yourself under attack. This can happen in a relationship, at a job, in a circle of friends, and even at church. It is usually the people closest to us that hurt us most. We get comfortable. We feel safe. Then something happens. We all have moments, situations, events, etc. in life that shock us, open our eyes, hurt us, change us as people. We have the option to respond in whatever way we see fit. Sometimes we run. Sometimes we fall. Sometimes we deny.
When we run, like the rabbit, we are running from something, and there’s always a place we are running toward. Maybe we attempt to nurse our brokenness with some self-soothing methods that are almost second-hand nature. Remember the Golden Girls moments when the cheesecake came out of the fridge? Perhaps your soothing is going to the gym, taking a shopping trip, having a few (or more) drinks. We all have our vices; some of us have multiple vices.
Whatever your situation may be, spend time with God. Take refuge in Him. People change; God is unchanging. People are unfaithful; God is faithful. People are broken, not-perfect, and many times selfish; God’s love is unfailing, His ways are perfect, and He pours out His blessing in abundance. As you cling to Him, may you realize you were never meant to hide in the safety of the overgrowth—you were made to soar! The people in your life are not to be your safety net, but they are part of your life to love, to encourage, to serve. The financial security of a good job and money in the bank is not for you to sit back and coast through life, but to glorify God. Often, when you are chased from the overgrowth, you are led to right where you are meant to be at this very moment. Let the Spirit guide your steps from the weeds to all that He has awaiting. It might not appear to be better than the pile of weeds, but you can trust that God has a great plan. In faith, in obedience, in love – press onward and soar!
“Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you.” – Psalm 143:8 [NLT]
“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.” – Psalm 25:5 [NLT]
When someone does something wrong to you, there is usually this desire for justice and even revenge. Over the years I have heard many stories about how people have gotten even with others who did something bad to them. We all have this need for retribution but God doesn’t want us to “get even” with people by repaying them with evil.
Too many people take the “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth” concept the wrong way. God is a God of justice and He will judge. He is fair. He is right. He is faithful. Our retaliation, our revenge attempts only bring us a moment of temporary satisfaction for getting someone back. But does it really do something good for us? Does it really make us feel better?
God wants us to pay people back with a blessing. Has someone done something mean to you? Has someone hurt you? Has someone stolen from you? Has someone spoken badly about you? Pray for them. Pay them back with a blessing. Don’t stoop down a level for retribution. Trust God will handle it all. Be a blessing.
“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it.” – 1 Peter 3:9 [NLT]
Today when I was walking my dog, he was charged by another dog. I was prepared for the situation; however, because the same dog owner allowed this to happen weeks ago. Last time, he had let his Golden Retriever run loose and the dog came and snapped at my dog. This time, he left his German Shepherd loose, and although there was no snapping, I was not a happy camper at the second episode of negligence.
In life we will meet a person who will do something that irritates us, that hurts us or something that is wrong. We will throw our hands in the air (or sometimes our fists) and demand change. We will get angry. We will say words (sometimes words that are not positive, life speaking words). We will be frustrated by these people who do not do what we want them to do; however, we cannot expect them to change and act as we wish. Nor can we expect someone to follow the commands of God.
I was mad at this man today. He has proven twice that he cannot handle his dogs. The first time I was upset. I was injured. My dog was frightened. It was not a good situation. This second time, though prepared for it, was just as bad. Even so, some people will not change. We can only control our reactions to a situation—not someone else. It is how you react to any given situation that says something about you. I know I do not always react as I should, but I also know that over the years, the Holy Spirit has helped me to react better to each given situation. Don’t let situations and circumstances control you. React with love.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 [NLT]
In 2 Kings 5, Naaman, army commander & leper went to Elisha for healing of the leprosy. Verse 11 says he “went away angry.” He thought that things would be different. Elisha did not come out. Elisha told him to go to the Jordan River and wash 7 times when other rivers were considered better. The servants then said if the prophet Elisha would have told Naaman to do “SOME GREAT THING” his response would have been different.
Sometimes we come before God with our problems, our hurts, our dissatisfaction, our pain, our troubles– and we think that He will act in a particular way and do “some great thing.” As we know, our thoughts and ways are not like God’s thoughts and ways (Isaiah 55:8). Even so, we can trust in His plan– it is a better plan. It is not some great thing. It is simply amazing, beyond our comprehension. Walk in faith. Trust in Him. He will do more than some great thing. Don’t try to limit God by not allowing Him to move.
The guy in front of my car was swerving all over the road. Someone might assume that the driver was drinking or sending a text message. But what he was doing was actually looking at what was behind him while he was moving forward. He demonstrated how hard it is to move forward when you are looking backward. You cannot be successful if you are paying attention to everything going on behind you.
Life is like that as well. If we invest so much time dwelling on our past, we do not have ourselves focused on the present. If we are looking down the road we just traveled to see all the road bumps and pot holes that bounced us around and messed up our car, we cannot see that the car right in front of us has just stopped.
I like to think that everything happens for a reason. When we experience something in life; however, we cannot get stuck in that area. God always wants us to move forward in life. He has given us a purpose, and it is not to get stuck. He wants us to grow in Him, to mature as Christians. He has things for us to do, and we are not capable of doing much when we are stuck.
Some things that we experience in life hurt. We may have been hurt by a situation, by people that we care for deeply, and even by ourselves. It is okay to have emotions and to need time to go through the process of change. When we are going through change, there is always going to be some type of loss in our lives. That loss will bring you pain and it needs to be dealt with first. If it is not addressed, you will be as this driver was in front of me, swerving all over the road, focused on what is behind you.
If something behind you is on your mind, acknowledge it and take the steps to grieve for the loss. If you cling to it, not letting it go, your hands will not be open to receive the blessings that God has awaiting. While you are stuck, God is still moving. Being stuck does not help you to go forward. Being stuck only allows your future drive to be as bumpy as the last ride. God has so much more for you.
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”
– 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 [ESV]
Life can be overwhelming at times, especially when we try to carry everything on our own. The Lord tells us to come to Him for His yoke is light. The Bible says we aren’t to worry, because worry is not from God. Instead, we are to give it to God and trust Him.
It is difficult to give it to God and then not worry. We are so tempted to give only so much to God, and then try to solve the rest on our own for whatever reason we have in our mind. Sometimes we do not even know why we cling to something that drags us down. What is worse is when we see that something is too much for us, and yet we still fight to survive with it weighing us down.
In the Book of Isaiah, the Assyrians were trying to get the people of Israel to not trust in Hezekiah’s leadership and in his word from the Lord of upcoming deliverance. Rabshakeh stood before the people and told them why they should not believe and should not follow Hezekiah or his God. Later Hezekiah even received a letter to bring him down. This could have turned into a situation of doubt and fear. Hezekiah could have drowned his sorrow, ran from his problems, turned his back, or sank down and left Assyria have their way.
Instead, Hezekiah took the letter he received, entered the house of the Lord, “and spread it out before the Lord” (Isaiah 37:14b NASB). Then he prayed, acknowledging God and seeking His answer.
We receive “letters” all the time, letters that crush our spirits, diminish our hopes, challenge us, hurt us, intimidate us, and make us feel anything but confident. We fear, we doubt, we hurt. We get tired, overwhelmed, depressed, and ready to throw in the towel. But instead of allowing the senders of the letters to get the best of us, we have a God who is above all, a God who can do the impossible. We have the option to take our letter, spread it out before the Lord, and let Him have a go. It may seem easy, but it’s not. Nonetheless, after you’re able to fully release it out of your hands and place it in the hands of your loving Father, you’ll find this peace overcome you. It may not happen overnight, but there will be a change.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOUL. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 [NASB]