It's a scary world out there. It was yesterday, it is today, ...it will be tomorrow.
And so we were told it would be:
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy... (John 10:10)
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour...(1 Peter 5:8)
Make no mistake...we are to be watchful for sure. Informed, without a doubt. Cautious and alert.
Because evil never rests.
But, dear friends...our hearts need to.
Our hearts need to rest.
Our minds need to find peace.
Our soul needs to be refreshed.
And no matter how terrible the situations in the world might be, it isChristmas.
A time meant to be filled with:
I know it's hard, but let's take the time to remember the rest of the story....
thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:
come that they might have life, and that they might have it more
8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:
9 Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.
the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by
Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect,
stablish, strengthen, settle you.
11 To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
8 And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.9 An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. (Luke 2:8-11)
Do not be afraid...
Good news that will cause great JOY...
A Savior has been born to you, the Messiah, LORD.
Since the beginning of time, those who would seek to destroy God and all His goodness, including His people, have raged.
And every year it seems to escalate, especially near Christmas time.
There is terror and are terrorists in every corner of this world.
But if we dwell only on the fear and sorrow they bring, we risk filling our hearts and minds with so much anger, we don't allow Christ to enter in and bring His peace.
She sat in the recliner to my right and continued her story of grief and pain.
No one she loved had passed away....
She had a safe warm place to live....
She was well fed and clothed.....
She had body pain that came with age, but otherwise was in good health....
But still...life was just too much for her and once again, her disappointment spilled over and filled the room. And my heart hurt for her.
Months earlier, she had her own personal space, but was unhappy with the cost, the neighbors, the landlord, so she moved.
Years earlier she had a large home, but was unhappy with her job, her failed marriage, her children, her responsibilities, and she lost her house back to the bank.
Money had always been an issue......
She never seemed to have enough money for bills, for food, for the raising of her children (although her children, by the grace of God, did receive the material things they needed), for her mortgage, for her car payment...but she did have enough money to shop at thrift stores for knick-knacks, garage sales for books and clothes, and home decor items. There was enough money for craft shows, and flea markets, occasional trips to K-mart, and Walmart, and a multitude of other places that was more than willing to take her money, where she might be able to pick up just one more item that might bring her happiness - just one more "thing" to brighten her day....and when the joy of those items wore off, there was money for alcohol to numb the disappointment and pain. Now with her kids grown with families of their own, she still struggled with the concept of money.
And people had always been an issue....
Someone always needed something from her. An hour of babysitting, a ride to the grocery store, a new pair of shoes, a safe loving home to live in, sobriety, ...some things she could do with much effort and groaning...other things were beyond her capability.
She lived in a clouded mind and a with a darkened heart. She alienated people with her lies (although she never thought of her exaggerations that way),...with her life choices...with her attitude. No matter how someone helped her, it was never the way she wanted, liked, or would do for herself. No amount of money that others offered was ever enough because there was always something that she was left paying for.
Years of anger and sadness surrounded her and wounded all who came near.
And she couldn't understand why she felt alone.
Now, sitting beside me she retold the story that had become the only one she knew by heart...a story of pain, loneliness, heartache.
Of how her body hurt, of how she felt like she was being treated as a child, of how her life will be better when she had...no more aches, a new place to live, more money, a better.....(insert anything here.)
I silently agreed that life had given her hardships. Some were out of her control, but some were of her own making...and she was making new ones everyday.
I understood her attitude.....I was part of the mix over the years so I lived it and felt it, too.
This entire story that she repeated...COULD HAVE BEEN MINE....
But - I chose to make these experiences part of my story to grow out of, to look back on, to move away from, leaving the drama and pain behind.
She decided to allow the experiences to define her.
She nurtured them, she fed them, she chose to allow them to grow until they consumed her.
And now she sat in my living room, either oblivious to the love that so desperately wanted her to step out of her darkness...or aware of it and unsure how to take that first step.
She didn't need someone to pour INTO her misery...she needed Jesus to pull her out.
But trying to talk to her about the Lord and all He had done and all He is capable of doing in her life was always brushed off.
Still, I prayed that someday her heart would soften and that I'd know that a seed had been planted with the efforts.... I do not judge her, for her story could have been mine. I can understand, I can have compassion, but the truth of it all is this.... I'm not sure if life will ever improve for her. I'm not sure she truly wants it to....
But, my sincere hope is that she someday trades in her misery for the love that is waiting to welcome her in.
My hope is that she someday sees that circumstances will never be perfect, and things can never bring happiness. That joy can be found in recognizing all the ways you've been blessed that money can't buy. That happiness comes from your life and identity in Christ, in faith in His provisions, in appreciation of all He's already done.
That life is more about what your put INTO it...not what you get OUT of it.
All things on this earth - our living arrangement, money situation, material things we surround ourselves with are temporary...and can not buy us love or happiness.
...Love, joy, comfort, laughter, good. Or - complaining, deceit, ungratefulness, bitterness, wastefulness, self-centeredness...In this life...what you put into it, is what you get out.
But you MUST do the work. You MUST make the effort. You MUST want better and DO different than what you've been doing all along. It depends on YOU and how you choose to live each day.
Change in attitude = a change of heart.
And when the heart begins to change, your eyes begin to open and see that the good in your life really does outnumber the bad.
“Words can never adequately convey
the incredible impact of our attitudes
toward life. The longer I live the more convinced
I become that life is 10 percent what happens to us
and 90 percent how we respond to it.” ~ Chuck Swindoll
If you can relate to this post in the sadness....Don't let your experiences and circumstances define you. God has great things in store for your life. In no way am I claiming that joy and goodness will fill every day of your life in Christ, but when we turn our attitudes and hearts around, we can have HOPE for our futures, we can overcome our circumstances, we can have faith that our set-backs are only temporary and that joy WILL come again.
If you've not already done so, seek Him out...pour out your pain to Him. Recognize your part in your situation, and confess all your sins. Ask for forgiveness, and show repentance (turning away from your harmful actions and behaviors and doing your best to not return to them). Acknowledge and accept Jesus as your ONLY Savior - your friends, family, money, job, "things" can never save or fill the hole in your heart that was designed for only Him to fit into.
But you must want it, and work toward it.
Others can not do it for you. Only you with the help of God.
Decide to bring joy back to your life and joy into the lives of those around you.
Drama and misery grow and spread like plagues. Decide to stop poisoning yourself and those around you.
I promise you, when you let go of yesterday, purposefully work to bring joy into someone elses life today...it will come back to you.
My prayer is for you to feel the tug of God on your heart, open it up to Him, and accept all He has to offer for you in your life.
If you can relate to the position of seeing a loved one stuck in their misery...love them, pray for them, try to be an encouragement to them. Help them IF the help will move to improve their situation - but do not enable them. Share the love of Christ with them and have faith that a seed will be planted. And please be sure to protect your heart - and the hearts and minds of your family - from the plague of darkness that follows when drama is welcomed in.
This is a hard story to share, but I pray that it reaches those who need to hear it.
It is written in love.