Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

A Human Response

Good morning, peeps!


My spirit feels like it has been beaten over the head with a sock full of pennies. As I told you last week, this leg of my fight has been a doozy. I’m a bit battle-scarred (battle-wounded…these wounds are still fresh), raggedy, and my clothes don’t fit. Yes, I just blamed the spreading of my hips on the enemy. This is not a space I’m comfortable in ’cause I’m IJAC, right? The encouragement of mankind, right?? I’m really not. I’m human. Well, your girl is in need of a bit of encouragement herself so God is taking me back through some of my earlier posts as a reminder of just who I was when I wrote those: human, wounded, and raggedy. Sometimes I forget that in my most human state, God used me to do some marvelous things. Human ol’ Deone. And I was victorious! Yessss! This walk down memory lane is definitely giving me the boost I need to press on and I hope that it helps you, too. I’ll return next week with a new devotional series titled “The Press”. Have a great one.


Picture it: You’ve been happily married to your sweetie for over 30 years and are living “the life”. You have a houseful of beautiful children who’ve never given you a day of trouble in their lives. Speaking of “house”, you have a sprawling estate sitting on hundreds of acres of fertile farmland, with thousands of livestock to boot. You and your family are well-respected in your community and known as God-loving people. Life is good, right? Can you say “I’m blessed and highly favored”?? Then one day, you lose it all: your house, land, livestock, AND your children. Gone. All that’s left is you and your spouse. And if that’s not bad enough – I mean, seriously, can it get any worse? – the love of your life is stricken with a debilitating disease causing painful sores and horrific disfigurement. Your once-beautiful life is gone. How would you react?

In your Bible, read Job 1 & 2. If ever there was someone in the Bible who has been given a hard time for their reaction in a crisis, it’s Job’s wife. This is her story. Now, you probably can’t relate to this story because I bet she and I are the only people who’ve ever let their emotions get the best of them and ended up saying something that they really don’t mean. We’re the only ones. Just us. Too many times we judge people by how we think we would handle a situation. Notice my emphasis on “think”. Oh, it’s easy to say what you would do when you’re just a spectator, but when it’s your life that’s topsy-turvy…yeah. I’ll be honest, I don’t even have to go as far as topsy-turvy: step on my pinky toe just right and I may have to repent for what I think…or let slip out. I’m a work in progress. What I love about Job’s wife is that in her only recorded statement in the Bible, she was painfully transparent. We’re talking raw emotion here, folks. Think about it: so maybe losing the family’s livelihood and possessions wasn’t the best thing in the world that could’ve happened to her, but her children?? I’m a mother and I get upset whenever one of my babies breaks a bone! God only knows how I would react if even one of them died. (By the way, Lord, I don’t want to find out.) Back to Job’s wife: she loses all of her possessions and her children, right? Then on top of that, she has to see her sweetheart – probably known him since high school – go from being the strong man she’s always loved to a sore covered, grossly disfigured, and emaciated beggar who has been banished to the outskirts of town. After who knows how many days, she says in her frustration, “Curse God and die”.

And there they were: words that would be associated with her forever.

We quickly forget how human we are when we witness others’ frailties. What Job’s wife had was a perfectly human response. She spoke out of her pain, her frustration, and her desperation. Thankfully, Job didn’t follow her advice…and neither did she. Ah! Did you miss that? I’m not excusing what she said, but with that being her only recorded statement, we don’t know if she asked God for forgiveness. I hope she did. If she did, she would have found out that the very God she was upset with was the same God able to forgive and surround her in His abounding love. Some people have said and done worse things in less stressful situations. And guess what? There’s even hope for them. I know this because I’ve had to ask God for forgiveness several times for my own reactions and responses. I still deal with hurtful situations, but now I’ve learned to talk to God about them and with His help, I will have more of the right responses. I’m a work in progress, folks.

May we always remember that we all need His grace.

Daily Devotional, Long Read, Spiritual Walk

Getting Even

Good morning, peeps!

(This a repost.  It was on my heart to put this out there again.  Maybe I needed it.)

A month ago, I heard Pastor H.B. Charles, Jr. teach on “How To Get Even God’s Way”. When he said the title, I think all I heard was “how to get even”.  I HURRIED UP and found pen and paper!  I gave my sister a wink and said “Yeah baby!”  I’m all for getting even, honey.  Do me wrong if you want to and you will regret it.  Well, maybe not.  I get folks back all the time…in my head.  At the time, I was having a hard time letting go of what someone had done to me, so this really piqued my interest.  Here’s this minister about to give me some juicy tips on how to do it and you know he had scripture to back it up.  I’d definitely come to the right church service.  Yessuh!  Can you say “He’s an on-time God”??  I leaned forward in the pew, eager as all get out.

Ugh.  Everything he said had the underlining theme of forgiveness.  What in the world?!  Well, he did say “God’s way”.  I guess.  Referencing Genesis 50:15-21, he gave three points:

  1. Accept that you are not God.
  2. Look at the situation through the eyes of providence.
  3. Treat them like they’ve already been forgiven.

I’ve had time to live out these points. I didn’t want to, but holding onto what had happened to me was really killing my spirit and I wanted to be free of it.  So I revisited my notes and tried to apply them to my life.  Here’s how that played out…

Point 1: Accept that you are not God. I can admit that I’ve wanted to get folks back for what they’ve done to me.  I’ve also waited for God to get folks…the way I wanted Him to.  The thing is, He never does.  I keep inviting Him to join me in my pettiness, but He’s like “I’ll pass”.  What’s up with that??  (He’s not exactly a team player. I need to talk to Him about that.) In this passage of scripture, Issac has died and Joseph’s brothers are fearful that he will now get them back for the evil they had done to him.  Joseph’s response: “Am I God?”  Me: “Brace yourselves, boys.  The pain is about to rain!”  YES, JOSEPH!  YES!  YES!  YES!  GET ‘EM!!  Surely, Joseph had earned this.  C’mon, now!  Can’t Joseph at least get in a couple of jabs, God??  Makes sense to me.  Then again, I’m not God – which was Pastor Charles’ point.

The only way I could get out of this messed-up thinking when it came to my own life was to jump down off of God’s throne – I was keeping it warm for Him – and let Him take His rightful place in my heart. Letting God reign and rule is something I struggle with. Being under God’s rule means that I am subject to His ways and…well…we don’t see eye-to-eye all of the time.  I want to get folks and He says “love them”.  If God says “forgive”, then I have to forgive.  If God says “let it go”…ooooh.   I know this is in the Bible somewhere: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.  S-C-R-I-P-T-U-R-E.  So, what about that, God?  Those were the good ol’ days.  No lie: a lot of folks would be walking around here with seeing-eye dogs and bare gums if I had my way.  God broke it down to me real smooth-like: what if I allowed those you’ve hurt to be ‘God’?  Ouch.  I’d be an eye-patch-wearin’, snaggle-toothed fool.  Gumming down applesauce.  I’d still be cute, though.  I’m just sayin’.  I don’t like this “put the shoe on the other foot” stuff.  Fine.  I’m not God: You are and there’s nothing I can do about it.  I have to step back and let Him be God. (I am really trying to be happy about that.)

Point #2: Look at the situation through the eyes of providence.  Let me give you the definition of providence, first. (You should’ve seen me scrambling to secretly google it on my phone just in case Pastor Charles asked for the definition. I ended up calling someone by accident.) Providence means “the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power” and “timely preparation for future eventualities”. This wasn’t really hard for me to do.   I just didn’t want to do it.  Not right then.  Give me a few more months of anger and then…

Now, you know there are times when you knew that God’s hand was all up and through a situation, but you didn’t want to admit it because you were hurt or angry.  When you knew it was a blessing that something didn’t turn out the way you’d wanted.  When you’ve dodged a bullet..but then again, how painful would it really have been?  There have been situations where I KNEW the way it worked out was for my good.  Even when it hurt.  Yeah, sometimes the things that help you can hurt.  And hurt bad.  See, my Father knows me.  He knows what’s good for me and He knows how to get my attention when I’m “off”.  I’m a tough cookie that sometimes needs to be broken in order to get back on track.  When I am broken, I usually gather up the crumbs I can salvage and tearfully glare back at God, asking, “Why did You let it happen this way? You could’ve just told me what You were trying to teach me! (Or just placed me where You needed me to be!)  Why everything gotta be a lesson??”  Sometimes, I think God is so extra.  Let’s take a snapshot of Joseph’s life: in order for him to be in a position to help his family during a famine, he is thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, and spends years in a prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  Really??  Why did he have to go through all of that, God?  You couldn’t just give him a job transfer to Egypt?  Look over your life.   Wouldn’t it be great if your journey from point A to point B didn’t look like:

Point-A-to-Point-B(And if ONE MORE person – I just need one – quotes Romans 8:28’s “all things work together for good” when I’m going through something…)

I get it, I truly do.  I’m perfectly fine with admitting that there are a lot of times where even when I know that God is in control, I still think the process is too much.  Everything that I’ve gone through has really been for my good.  I know.  Got it.  It’s the process, though.  I’m a learner, meaning I don’t really focus on where I end up, but rather what I’ve learned.  When I can recognize the growth, I’m usually all good.  It may take a second for me to do that because I’m usually fussing about the process.  I’ve accepted that through it all, God has me in His care.  One day I’ll appreciate the process as I’m in it.

Point #3: Treat them like they’ve already been forgiven. Scan this paragraph. How many sentences are there?  About twelve.  As you can see, I don’t have much to say on this point.  I didn’t even want to write it down when Pastor Charles said it.  My sister made me.  Meanie.  I can smile in your face and pretend that all is forgiven, but I don’t think the minister meant “be fake”.  Oh well.  I tried.  NEXT!  I need another point because this one is not going to work for the kid.  I brought this up to God. “Lord, I’m not a ‘fake it til you make it’ girl.  You need to give me another solution.”  Ever the team player, He said, “Sure.  Then just go ahead and forgive.  That way, you won’t have to be fake.”

So…I’ve done the first two points. Hopefully, I will have successfully executed the last point at least once by the time I talk to you all again. It’s a process…

(Update: I was able to do Point #3.  It was hard and it took a couple of “woosahs” and I utilized my backspace key a lot, but I did it.  You can, too.  Plus, who wants to live a life full of unforgiveness?  Not me.)

…dc

Bible Study, Blog, Long Read

Getting Even

A month ago, I heard Pastor H.B. Charles, Jr. teach on “How To Get Even God’s Way”. When he said the title, I think all I heard was “how to get even”.  I HURRIED UP and found pen and paper!  I gave my sister a wink and said “Yeah baby!”  I’m all for getting even, honey.  Do me wrong if you want to and you will regret it.  Well, maybe not.  I get folks back all the time…in my head.  At the time, I was having a hard time letting go of what someone had done to me, so this really piqued my interest.  Here’s this minister about to give me some juicy tips on how to do it and you know he had scripture to back it up.  I’d definitely come to the right church service.  Yessuh!  Can you say “He’s an on-time God”??  I leaned forward in the pew, eager as all get out.

Ugh.  Everything he said had the underlining theme of forgiveness.  What in the world?!  Well, he did say “God’s way”.  I guess.  Referencing Genesis 50:15-21, he gave three points:

  1. Accept that you are not God.
  2. Look at the situation through the eyes of providence.
  3. Treat them like they’ve already been forgiven.

I’ve had time to live out these points. I didn’t want to, but holding onto what had happened to me was really killing my spirit and I wanted to be free of it.  So I revisited my notes and tried to apply them to my life.  Here’s how that played out…

Point 1: Accept that you are not God. I can admit that I’ve wanted to get folks back for what they’ve done to me.  I’ve also waited for God to get folks…the way I wanted Him to.  The thing is, He never does.  I keep inviting Him to join me in my pettiness, but He’s like “I’ll pass”.  What’s up with that??  (He’s not exactly a team player. I need to talk to Him about that.) In this passage of scripture, Issac has died and Joseph’s brothers are fearful that he will now get them back for the evil they had done to him.  Joseph’s response: “Am I God?”  Me: “Brace yourselves, boys.  The pain is about to rain!”  YES, JOSEPH!  YES!  YES!  YES!  GET ‘EM!!  Surely, Joseph had earned this.  C’mon, now!  Can’t Joseph at least get in a couple of jabs, God??  Makes sense to me.  Then again, I’m not God – which was Pastor Charles’ point.

The only way I could get out of this messed-up thinking when it came to my own life was to jump down off of God’s throne – I was keeping it warm for Him – and let Him take His rightful place in my heart. Letting God reign and rule is something I struggle with. Being under God’s rule means that I am subject to His ways and…well…we don’t see eye-to-eye all of the time.  I want to get folks and He says “love them”.  If God says “forgive”, then I have to forgive.  If God says “let it go”…ooooh.   I know this is in the Bible somewhere: “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”.  S-C-R-I-P-T-U-R-E.  So, what about that, God?  Those were the good ol’ days.  No lie: a lot of folks would be walking around here with seeing-eye dogs and bare gums if I had my way.  God broke it down to me real smooth-like: what if I allowed those you’ve hurt to be ‘God’?  Ouch.  I’d be an eye-patch-wearin’, snaggle-toothed fool.  Gumming down applesauce.  I’d still be cute, though.  I’m just sayin’.  I don’t like this “put the shoe on the other foot” stuff.  Fine.  I’m not God: You are and there’s nothing I can do about it.  I have to step back and let Him be God. (I am really trying to be happy about that.)

Point #2: Look at the situation through the eyes of providence.  Let me give you the definition of providence, first. (You should’ve seen me scrambling to secretly google it on my phone just in case Pastor Charles asked for the definition. I ended up calling someone by accident.) Providence means “the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power” and “timely preparation for future eventualities”. This wasn’t really hard for me to do.   I just didn’t want to do it.  Not right then.  Give me a few more months of anger and then…

Now, you know there are times when you knew that God’s hand was all up and through a situation, but you didn’t want to admit it because you were hurt or angry.  When you knew it was a blessing that something didn’t turn out the way you’d wanted.  When you’ve dodged a bullet..but then again, how painful would it really have been?  There have been situations where I KNEW the way it worked out was for my good.  Even when it hurt.  Yeah, sometimes the things that help you can hurt.  And hurt bad.  See, my Father knows me.  He knows what’s good for me and He knows how to get my attention when I’m “off”.  I’m a tough cookie that sometimes needs to be broken in order to get back on track.  When I am broken, I usually gather up the crumbs I can salvage and tearfully glare back at God, asking, “Why did You let it happen this way? You could’ve just told me what You were trying to teach me! (Or just placed me where You needed me to be!)  Why everything gotta be a lesson??”  Sometimes, I think God is so extra.  Let’s take a snapshot of Joseph’s life: in order for him to be in a position to help his family during a famine, he is thrown into a pit by his brothers, sold into slavery, and spends years in a prison for a crime he didn’t commit.  Really??  Why did he have to go through all of that, God?  You couldn’t just give him a job transfer to Egypt?  Look over your life.   Wouldn’t it be great if your journey from point A to point B didn’t look like:

Point-A-to-Point-B(And if ONE MORE person – I just need one – quotes Romans 8:28’s “all things work together for good” when I’m going through something…)

I get it, I truly do.  I’m perfectly fine with admitting that there are a lot of times where even when I know that God is in control, I still think the process is too much.  Everything that I’ve gone through has really been for my good.  I know.  Got it.  It’s the process, though.  I’m a learner, meaning I don’t really focus on where I end up, but rather what I’ve learned.  When I can recognize the growth, I’m usually all good.  It may take a second for me to do that because I’m usually fussing about the process.  I’ve accepted that through it all, God has me in His care.  One day I’ll appreciate the process as I’m in it.

Point #3: Treat them like they’ve already been forgiven. Scan this paragraph. How many sentences are there?  About twelve.  As you can see, I don’t have much to say on this point.  I didn’t even want to write it down when Pastor Charles said it.  My sister made me.  Meanie.  I can smile in your face and pretend that all is forgiven, but I don’t think the minister meant “be fake”.  Oh well.  I tried.  NEXT!  I need another point because this one is not going to work for the kid.  I brought this up to God. “Lord, I’m not a ‘fake it til you make it’ girl.  You need to give me another solution.”  Ever the team player, He said, “Sure.  Then just go ahead and forgive.  That way, you won’t have to be fake.”

So…I’ve done the first two points. Hopefully, I will have successfully executed the last point at least once by the time I talk to you all again. It’s a process…

 

…dc

Blog

A Jaded Moment

I watched her joy, but I didn’t join in.

My quiet was sharply interrupted by a yell and I groaned heavily. In the kitchen two rooms away, my oldest was yelling at the top of her lungs. “Yes, God! Whew! I’m about to shout!”  As I grumpily adjusted my pillows, I wondered “What is Alex going on about now?”  There was a knock on my bedroom door and before I could ask who was there, she bounded in, smiling and laughing.

Me: Alex, you are loud.

Alex: Oh my God! Mom!!  God is SO GOOD!!

M: (groggily) Yes, He is.

A: You know what I just realized? Nothing I do is a surprise to God!

M: (blinking the sleep away) Mmmhmm.

Alex went on to explain how she finally “got” that God knows all things and He isn’t surprised by anything she does, “AAAANNNNDDD” He isn’t holding any of those things against her.  She went on and on, repeating herself several times as she tried to fully convey what she was feeling.  She couldn’t.  I could tell.  She asked questions about scripture and I answered them as best I could.  Then she started in again with her love-gift of praise for what God had just revealed to her. I watched her face as her huge smile grew bigger and bigger.

I watched her joy, but I didn’t join in.

We shared a few words, embraced, and said “I love you”.  She bid me “good night” and left my bedroom.  I could hear her still giving God praise as she walked down the hall.

I watched her joy, but I didn’t join in.

I was typing a different post today when this exchange came back to me and I felt convicted. Why didn’t I join in with her?  Why didn’t I get excited for her? Aren’t I the one who said (look at old posts) that the reason I teach is for the look of relief on a person’s face when they realize that they haven’t completely boogered things with God – when they finally “get” how amazing and loving He is?  Yep.  I said that.  So what was my problem last night?  I was tired and just wanted to wind down and fall asleep.  I wasn’t in the mood for a long-winded discussion about God or anything spiritual.  I was feeling some type of way because I’d been telling my child that for years and now she gets it…at 11 p.m.??  I.  I.  I.

I was way off my game last night.

When this came flooding back to my mind, I thought of the passage in Luke 15 where Jesus was talking to the Pharisees after they had their two cents to spend about Jesus eating with sinners. The tenth verse states: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”  If angels who’ve never known what it means to repent can rejoice for a sinner who does…

I know what it’s like not to know how awesome and loving God is.  I know what it’s like to believe that God has a huge stack of yellowed “misdeeds” lists with my name on ’em and He’s holding them against me.  I know what it’s like to believe that God can’t possibly be thinking good of me and that anything I try to do right is a waste of time.  I know.

I know what it’s like not to know the truth and I know how excited I was when I discovered it.  Alex has just discovered it for herself and she excited about it, too.  She has a joy that she cannot put into words.  Surely I can rejoice for my baby who has realized who her God is.  This is big.  This is huge.  This is LIFE CHANGING.

Lord, help me to remember it’s by Your grace that I get who You are and how You love. Help me to rejoice when someone else gets it, too.

Bible Study

A Human Response

Picture it: You’ve been happily married to your sweetie for over 30 years and are living “the life”.  You have a houseful of beautiful children who’ve never given you a day of trouble in their lives.  Speaking of “house”, you have a sprawling estate sitting on hundreds of acres of fertile farmland, with thousands of livestock to boot.  You and your family are well-respected in your community and known as God-loving people.  Life is good, right?  Then one day, you lose it all: your house, land, livestock, AND your children.  Gone.  All that’s left is you and your spouse.  And if that’s not bad enough – I mean, seriously, can it get any worse? – the love of your life is stricken with a debilitating disease causing painful sores and horrific disfiguration.  Your once-beautiful life is gone.  How would you react?

In your Bible, read Job 1 & 2.  If ever there was someone in the Bible who has been given a hard time for their reaction in a crisis, it’s Job’s wife.  This is her story.  Now, you probably can’t relate to this story because I bet she and I are the only people who’ve ever let their emotions get the best of them and ended up saying something that they really don’t mean.  We’re the only ones.  Just us.  Too many times we judge people by how we think we would handle a situation.  Notice my emphasis on “think”.  Oh, it’s easy to say what you would do when you’re just a spectator, but when it’s your life that’s topsy-turvy…yeah.  I’ll be honest, I don’t even have to go as far as topsy-turvy: step on my pinky toe just right, and I may have to repent for what I think…or let slip out.  (I’m a work in progress, people…a work in progress.)  What I love about Job’s wife is that in her only recorded statement in the Bible, she was painfully transparent.  We’re talking raw emotion here, folks.  Think about it: so maybe losing the family’s livelihood and possessions wasn’t the best thing in the world that could’ve happened to her, but her children??  I’m a mother and I get upset whenever one of my babies breaks a bone!  God only knows how I would react if even one of them died.  (By the way, Lord, I don’t want to find out.)  Back to Job’s wife: she loses all of her possessions and her children, right?  Then on top of that, she has to see her sweetheart – probably known him since high school – go from being the strong man she’s always loved to a sore covered, grossly disfigured, and emaciated beggar who has been banished to the outskirts of town.   After who knows how many days, she says in her frustration, “Curse God and die”.   And there they were: words that would be associated with her forever.

We quickly forget how human we are when we witness other’s frailties.  What Job’s wife had was a perfectly human response.  She spoke out of her pain, her frustration, and her desperation.  Thankfully, Job didn’t follow her advice, but neither did she.  Ah!  Did you miss that?  I’m not excusing what she said, but with that being her only recorded statement, we don’t know if she asked God for forgiveness.  I hope she did.  If she did, she would have found out that the very God she was upset with was the same God able to forgive and surround her in His abounding love.   Some people have said (and done) worse things in less stressful situations.   And guess what?  There’s even hope for them…me…okay, us!  I know this because I’ve had to ask Him for forgiveness several times for my own reactions/responses.  I still deal with hurtful situations, but now I’ve learned to talk to God about them, and with His help I will have more of the right responses.  A work in progress, people…a work in progress.

May we always remember that we all need His grace.