#Write31Days – Post 28 – If You Were God

MBA

I was listening to the radio this morning, when the show’s host posed the question:

If you were God, given all of his knowledge and power, what would be the first thing you would do?

Scoffed at the question, too easy.

But it wasn’t easy at all.

My first thought was to end abortions, but then I thought about the homeless.

So then I thought about ridding the world of homelessness, but then I remembered there are starving children with a roof over their heads.

I kept going down the trail… and I thought about criminals, and generally mean people.  I thought about poverty and in equality.  I thought about our country and developing nations.

Ultimately the trail brought me to the the only conclusion, the one thing that would be at the root of solving all these individual problems:  You have to change PEOPLE.  Changing their hearts so that they are more compassionate, honest, trustworthy, and good.  If you can change people, you can end abortion, murder, abuse, homelessness, starvation, etc.

When I picked up my daughter and her boyfriend from school, I posed the question to them.   Both smiled at the simpleness of the question, yet both struggled to give an answer.

The truth is even if God gave me all of his powers to do ONE thing… would only put a bandaid on a larger problem.  It would be also be moot, because God already did the ONE THING needed to save the world.

He sent His son, an innocent life, to die a sinners death, atoning for the sin of those He loves and calls His own.  Those who encountered Jesus before his death, became changed people…. and that hasn’t stopped and never will.

To change people, to change the world, we need to introduce them to Jesus.

#Write31Days – Post 14 – The Daily Grind

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Ten years ago or more, I couldn’t understand “invisible illnesses”.  They were those things that I heard people complain about, but thought to myself: But they look totally fine.  Invisible illnesses are the ones that steal things from you, but the rest of the world can’t see.  And, there are a lot of them.

Most invisible illnesses are not even fully understood, we know very little about them.  They hide in plain site, and often go undiagnosed as we attribute our symptoms as aging.  Or, they are misdiagnosed by doctors … and in many cases they are just simply dismissed.   People with “invisible illnesses” are often considered hypochondriacs, making things up or making excuses for things they just don’t want to do.  Some are given psychiatric care and medications for anxiety and depression.

This lack of treatment or mistreatment leaves the person no better than they started, and sometimes worse because the medications add to the problem instead of solving it.  I didn’t understand invisible illness myself, and definitely could have been put into the camp of people who made cheeky comments about those who claimed to have one.

Then, I was diagnosed.

When you look at me, what you see is a person who looks totally normal.  I’m not a svelt super model, long since have been the days where I could shop in the juniors section.  What you don’t see is the war that goes on in my body every single day.

At first I dismissed my symptoms, thinking the toll of three children and getting older was to blame for how I felt.  I thought it would be as simple as changing my diet, hitting the gym, taking a multi-vitamin and I would start feeling better.  I just got worse.

My memory was shot.  I used to be the type of person who could exist without a calendar, recalling details with ease.  Now I was having to write down everything. As a trained actress, I learned to memorize & recall information quickly.  Now I live with a phone full of alarms  to even remember to do the things that are apart of my DAILY life.  If I don’t write it down, count on the fact I won’t remember it.

My brain is in a constant state of fog.  Some days it is as if someone just pulled the plug on my brain and all the information drained out.  I can be listening to a speaker or reading a book, and find it absolutely impossible to comprehend what they are saying.  This is why I am a fastidious note taker.  I need to be able to read through it later to comprehend it, when I am in a clearer state of mind.

My energy is a small percentage of what it once was, some days it is a battle to just exist.  I can see the things that need to get done, but I just can’t.  There are days where my skin literally hurts to be touched.  There are days where my body is swollen to the point it aches.  Add in night sweats, body tremors, fatigue and exhaustion and it doesn’t get much better.

For my particular disease there are over 300 possible symptoms.  I have a prescription medication that I will take for the rest of my life.  I have 14 supplements that I take due to deficiencies in my body.  I see several doctors to address the various ways my disease impacts my body.  I’m giving vials of blood every three months to see what is working, what isn’t, and what has changed.  Dosages increased.  Supplements added or removed.  Try this.  Try that.  Knowing that no matter what I will never get back to where I was, I will never be cured, or 100% better.  Instead I’m just trying to make the best of what I have been dealt.

Some days, it takes me really … really low.   But, then there will be spikes when I have energy, and my outlook on life is a lot more positive.  I try not to burden others with my illness, and I do believe in part it is because I know they simply will never totally get it.

It’s a daily battle.  It’s my daily grind.

Will today be a good day?  A bad day?  Will I give into those feelings and symptoms, or will I push through them?  Is today a day I just need to stop and relax?

I have prayed for answers, and for healing.  I believe with all sincerity in miraculous healing.  Yet, I have never been angry with God that I am still sick.  It doesn’t diminish my faith or increase my doubts about God.  In fact, it strengthens them.  My faith is stronger, because I am not relying on myself.

My Pastor’s wife once called me “high capacity”.  If you talk to others who know me, they will agree with that.  I am a person who gets things done, quickly, and efficiently.  I can multitask with the best of them.  As much as I am a creative person, I also have a gift for administration.  I’m usually the person you want on your team, I thrive on deadlines, and I always give my best.

If this is how they see me now, since being diagnosed, can you only imagine what I was like before I was sick?   It would make your head spin.

The difference between now, and then, is that today I do not work in my own strength.  Everything that I do… is in HIS strength.  He gives me the energy, drive, and motivation.  He gives me the physical strength and mental capacity.  When I look at what is accomplished I can ONLY give HIM the glory.  My flesh is weak, tired, and broken.  His power is perfected in my weakness.   My joy comes from the Lord.  My peace is from Christ.  My strength is from the Holy Spirit.

My thorn keeps me meek, humbles me… so that I do not exalt myself and what I am capable of.  Instead I keep my eyes on the Lord, where my strength comes from.  I know that He goes before me, and comes up behind.  I know that He shields me and protects me.  He will give me charge to battle, or call me to lie and rest.  He is the one who provides the words, lays out my path, and guides my journey.  I simply say:  Here I am Lord, use me.

2 Corinthians 12:7-9

7Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me– to keep me from exalting myself! 8Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. 9And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.…

BUYING SALVATION- Making It Up to God

MBA

In the days before she knew Christ, she was broken.  She felt abandoned by her father.  She never felt good enough for her step father.  She had a great mom, who was overworked and under appreciated.  She attended schools where she was the perpetual “new girl” because they moved a lot.  And, even when she settled in, she was always different than the rest of the kids.  She would withdraw herself into the background, hoping to go unnoticed.

By the time she would graduate high school, she would find her self settled into rebellious ways.  She wanted to stand out, and if she couldn’t be recognized for her accomplishments and her good deeds…. she would take another approach.   The way she dressed, talked, walked all would tell another tale.  A story of a confident, wild child.  An illusion of someone who didn’t care.  A mask that hid her insecurity and her depression.  She would find her self bar hopping and bed hopping.   Looking for acceptance, love and appreciation any place she could find it.

Do you know her, this girl?  I bet you do.

She was that girl from high school, who went off to college and went “crazy”.    She was that girl who shocked everyone when she got pregnant in the 11th grade.  She was the girl who dropped out of school to become a stripper.  She was the friend you thought you knew everything about, until she attempted suicide.  She was your sister, who suddenly got wrapped up in drugs and ran away.  She’s the girl that so many people will often ask “what ever happened to that girl….”.

You may know her.   You may be her.

Then, by the grace of God, she met Jesus.  It may have been in rehab or even that stint she did in the local prison.  It might have been on that cold floor, with her tear stained battered face.  It may have been through that person who approached her on the street corner & told her there was another life for her than this.  The neighbor or roommate, who steadily went to church and simply extended an invite.  It could have happened at the funeral, when she was burying her best friend who died of a drug overdose.  He could have found her lying on her bed, needle dangling from her arm… and he whispered “I am not done with you yet” and breathed new life into her.

She met Jesus.  Her life, your life, changed.

With the deepest of sincerity, she appreciates and acknowledges what God has done in her life.  She is a new woman.  Married.  Children.  House. Dog. Cat. Fish.  She shares her testimony with the youth, the women, and possibly even during a service every now and again.

People look to her with awe.  They see the scars and wounds that have healed, ever present reminders of what she went through & where Jesus has brought her from.

And in her thankfulness, she strives to pay God back for his mercy and compassion and grace.  She volunteers for every committee.  Her tithing is above and beyond.  She leads the church study, leads a recovery group, disciples troubled kids in the church, she goes on missions trips, she dresses modestly, passes out hygiene kits to the homeless and witnesses to those who are lingering on the street corners.  She funnels Christ into everything she does, trying to prove to Him that she was worth saving.

All the while, she holds onto that past, which motivates her to keep doing good, trying to use all of these good deeds to erase the sins of her past.

To you who read this, nodding your head with understanding….

You can not buy your salvation, or ever pay God back for your salvation.   It was a gift.  For you.  Not to shackle you to the memories of your past, but to set you free into a future of great hope and joy.

Satan wants you to hold onto your past.  He wants you to believe that some sins can’t be forgiven or at least forgiven easily.  He wants you to believe you have to earn your salvation; because he knows that when you make a mistake you will feel like a failure.  Whenever we hold on so tightly to our past, we are sinning.  We are showing God a lack of trust in His word and a lack of faith in His promises.

You are a new creation.   (2 Corinthians 5:17)

You have been washed clean.  (1 John 1:7)

You have been adopted in to His family.   (Ephesians 1:5)

You are loved.   (Romans 5:8)

In John 8:1-11 a woman stood accused.  Jesus said to the crowd that if any of them were free of sin, they could cast the first stone.  No stones were thrown, the crowd dispersed.  Jesus said to her “Go, and sin no more”.     That was it.  He didn’t leave her with a debt that needed to be paid.

Because Jesus himself  will pay her debt, paid your debt… my debt.

In Isaiah 43:25 we read that our sins are blotted out.  Blotted out is different from erased.  Erased would imply that it was gone, entirely, disappeared.  Blotted out means that the transgression was marked through, illegible.  This meant an acknowledgment that the sin existed, but it is no longer counted against you.   We should never come to a place where we believe we are NOT sinners.  We all are.  The Word tells us that ALL will fall short of the glory of God.  But, we know that through the blood of Jesus Christ… those sins are blotted out.  They are no longer held against us.  There is nothing we need to pay back.  The debt is paid.  It was paid on the cross…. once and for ALL.

It’s time to let go of the past that shackles you and embrace real freedom.   Stop allowing Satan to steel your freedom through the lies of doubt.  Take down the wall you are building between yourself and God, when you hold on to those sins you think are unforgivable.  Stop wasting time and energy trying to buy your salvation or pay God back for your debt.  Find confidence in the fact that the debt is paid, you are free…. and in that freedom God will take you to places you could never imagine.