|The Steps of the Righteous are Ordained by God. (Psalms 37:23)|
I think we forget that sometimes...
(Picture from imagebank.org.uk)
I've met this sweet, beautiful young sister online. She is FULL of life. She is a wife, a mother, a student. She has a spark in her beautiful eyes and a strong spirit of determination. I don't know her well - yet I see her strengths. She's beautiful and young with so many things ahead of her. I wondered as I communicated with her - what words of wisdom I could give her? From me, pretty much a stranger. But even being a stranger - her sister in Christ. There was so much inside of me that I wanted to share with her - but I couldn't. Partly because of my prodigal state - I'm not in a place to minister affectively to anyone. I need to get my own house in order. Yet there is so much that I see her going through that I'd like to take her under my wing and share my experiences with her. If it was a different time, if I was in a different place - I would. Here is the one thing I will say:
It is so important to listen to the voice of God when He speaks to you. When you are praying about something - especially when it comes to a direction in life - make SURE you hear what He is saying about it before you step out. Four years ago, I thought the Lord was directing my family to a different state. I begged and pleaded with the Lord to do it. I laid down fleeces before Him. But I didn't listen. I thought He wanted my family and I to step out on faith - and move. But what God was really saying - in retrospect was "no." I didn't listen to it. It was an emotional time in my family. I thought we were doing what was best for our oldest son who was on the verge of being a teenager. I WAS WRONG. We truly do forget that we see in part - and God sees in full. When God says "no." It is usually for a very good reason. Heck - it is ALWAYS for a very good reason. We don't see what decisions we make will do to us later on down the line. If God says NO to you - listen. How I wish I had. How I wish I hadn't made decisions during an emotional time. I thought I was doing the right thing, and indeed my intentions were all good. Naively we moved thinking that we would all "run off into the sunset and live "happily ever after." Oh if I had only listened to what God was quietly saying. If I had not ignored the signs... I think I'd be at a different place in my life than I am now. Now I'm not saying that God can't take our mistakes and work them for His glory. Because He can. But sometimes we make it so that we have to pay a higher price - by not listening. By not obeying. I don't know how to be anything but transparent. Although in my prodigal state - I only choose to reveal what God leads me to. The decision to move was based on a protectiveness over my children, but it costs me dearly and is still costing me. I lost my footing. There are doors I opened that I would never have even considered opening had I stayed where the Lord had placed us and believed God to work out the issues in my oldest child. For you see - we can direct our children to the Father, we can show them by our actions our own faith - BUT we CANNOT give them OUR WALK. At some point with our children - we have to remember that God only loaned them to us. He didn't GIVE them to us - for they belong to Him. And we have to trust that He will not let them go - that He will allow them to go through whatever they have to go through in order to choose Him. We try to protect them, shelter them - but sometimes its not what God wants us to do. We have to let them grow. In Him.
God knows our hearts. He does. Not accepting His "no" has costs me so much. I hope someone is reading this blog - and learning from my mistake. I hope this is ministering to you. Listen to God. Even if you feel disappointed when He is saying "no" to a request you are putting before Him. Remember that He sees the whole "story of you" you don't. Although I know that it is by mercy and grace that I am saved - and there is nothing that I can do to earn heaven (thank you Jesus) - I can't help but feel right now like "Bob Marley" from the Christmas Carol - trying to warn my brothers and sisters in Christ who are teeter-totering on making a decision and not at all sure that it is what God wants them to do. Be prayerful about decisions you make. And LISTEN to what the Holy Spirit is saying to you.
I can't go back to how things were before. I've changed too much. Between having had a prodigal experience and also going through breast cancer. I'm on a totally different path than I was before. Sometimes we cause ourselves to take the harder pathways. Still, I DO believe that God will use my experiences to help others grow in Him. Its not as easy as it may seem for a Prodigal to get back to being on the pathway to God. I love the Lord with all my heart - I DO. But I'm not the same woman I was four years ago. I think I'm more humble. I think I'm more vulnerable. I'm still transparent - yet I've walked in shoes I'd never dreamed I'd wear... Not sure if except to another prodigal that makes sense... You know there are lessons we just learn and go on to the next course - but there are OTHERS that we may have to repeat before God allows us to pass. And here is the thing - He won't let us move on to the next level until we've learned what He has put before us. Some of us have to repeat a class over and over again until we truly have learned WHAT lesson it is He is trying to teach us... (Anyone getting me???) I've learned to leave all the judging to God. I know I'm not in a place to judge anyone. I'm too busy judging myself. I cringe when people tell me "how good I am" for I'm not. Again I think of Paul who so eloquently said in Romans Chapter 7 verse 15 - Chapter 8 verse 2:
" I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. or in my inner being I delight in God's law;but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?hanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.herefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death."
Sometimes we Christians judge other brothers in sisters in Christ - like we have a "right to" I know - I use to do it without even really realizing that that was what I was doing. To some degree i felt "better" than that person who was going through. After ALL "I would NEVER do what THEY were doing." --- Watch out when you think this way. Pride REALLY does come before a a fall. And the more pride you have - the deeper the fall you will go. For God will try to teach you - that HE is NOT done WITH YOU. Remember the woman who was caught in adultery and Jesus stopped them from stoning her?? And asked them WHO of YOU are without sin???? Maybe you need to take this time to look hard at yourself. For there is a little bit of Prodigal in ALL of us. Remember that with God there is no degree of sin. Sin is sin. Be careful - walk prayerfully - for you may find YOURSELF that adulteress one day. (Ouch... Iron sharpening iron??) Or you may find YOURSELF one of the many of other sins that you thought "YOU would NEVER do." Its not something that happens overnight you know... A prodigal doesn't always "run out the door into temptation." It is a slow process. I once heard that when someone makes a dish like frogs legs (which I would NEVER eat - because I loved frogs when I was growing up). But I heard that people who cook frog's - don't throw them into a boiling pot. They put them in water and slowly turn the heat up - to soothe them to sleep. Lots of sin doesn't happen "right away" it is a process. Sometimes a sloowwww sooothing process...
The prodigal son - had grown up with the law all around him. Its not as if he didn't know his Word. But he thought he knew "better" what he needed. He was so wrong. He took the hard path. But have you ever thought about how hard it was for him to turn around and make his trek back home? I don't know about you but I'm my own worst critic. I don't need someone else condemning me - because I do a pretty good job of it on my own. I'll bet the Prodigal son did it all the way home. Berated himself. Its hard to admit when you're wrong. How long those miles back home must have felt. But he was met with forgiveness AND compassion. His Father was there with open arms. I'm quite sure he changed the course of his life but all that he had learned. But maybe - he was able to take his experiences to minister more affectively to those around him? Maybe he was able to keep others from making the same mistake he had made? Maybe in the end - he was better for it. For using his mistakes to show that God can use ANYONE. If they allow Him to.
I'm not the same woman I was four years ago. The course of my life is on the eclipse of changing. I cannot honestly see beyond the horizon, I am still "learning" WHO I am. I have been humbled on all sides - spiritually, physically, emotionally this year. But there is one thing I DO know. God is not surprised. When Jesus hung on that cross He saw ME all the way in the future. Although things surprise US they DO NOT surprise Him. I no longer care what people think of me. Let them think what they will. If I dwell on that it will impede my trek back home to the Father and it is already like walking through "deep snow." Where are you in your walk with Him? Take a deep look at yourself. What things do you need changing? Are you willing to admit what you need work on? Or are you too busy judging sister or brother so&so because YOU aren't willing to take a good hard look at yourself? Careful - or you might find YOURSELF right where that individual you were so busy judging is.... BELIEVE YOU ME. I know.
There go I BUT for the GRACE of God.... Food for thought isn't it? Don't push your chair away from the table and run off. Sit and think a while... Maybe God is trying to tell you something. You be the judge of you...