I lost my will to live

Have you ever came into contact with something or someone that made you feel uncomfortable?

Before I entered into a relationship with Jesus, my life was full of a lot of things like drinking, smoking cigarettes, and, well, I had a real mouth on me. It was an exterior that was evidence of a lifetime full of abuse and neglect. This exterior was an automatic response to protect myself and, then, dull the pain.

In those moments, if someone would have told me that I should stop, I don’t know that I would have, because I did not feel like I had the reason to stop. I didnt have the will power to do such a thing.

When God came into my life, what was once a loss of the will to live became a powerful passion to do right for myself. To put into video game terms, I went from a minus 100 will-power to a plus 100 will-power. Everything was changing in such a great in awesome way. It was what I needed. I needed that time of mercy. But as God demonstrated his love for me, he also began to reveal the sources of my pain, the sources I could change. This was not easy but needed to be addressed.

It was a difficult task to stop smoking cigarettes. I had been smoking for 15 years, and it took 2 years to quite. I have been in those moments when I would be walking and begin to smell cigarette smoke. In the earlier days of my recovery, it smelled so good. But then something deep inside caused me to feel uncomfortable.

It would have been so easy to drive two blocks down the road and buy a pack of cigarettes. Would I heed the warning, or would I feel offended that someone was telling me that I shouldn’t do it?

If someone came to my house and set a pack of cigarettes in front of me, would I be offended? I may feel offended, but should I blame my conviction on the person who placed those cigarettes in front of me? Or should I take the matter to the Lord ready to learn what was being presented, something that was for my own good?

As children of God, we must learn to hear the conviction of God over the offense of another, or even the guilt of the devil. If we don’t know the difference, we are likely to blame people as we can be easily caught up in our flesh if we don’t attend to our spiritual well-being.

Today, if someone brought cigarettes into my home, I would ask them to put them in their pocket or in their purse, for the sake of the children. Although though those things make me feel uncomfortable, it is not the fault of our guest that I recieved that feeling. That feeling is a reminder from God of what those cigarettes represented – a lifetime of abuse and neglect covered up by substances to help dull the pain.

I don’t need those substances, because God is my substance. He is my everything. When I listen to those uncomfortable feelings and acknowledge them before God, I am more able to avoid the dangers of this life and live in prosperity.

This is what God wants for us: peace and prosperity. Ask God today what that looks like for you. Ask it with a sincere heart and respond accordingly, and you will never regret the outcome.

Go forth and be blessed my friend.

The Heart of a Woman

It is interesting how the heart of a woman works; it can be easily moved contrary to what most might expect.  For example: those of us who are deeply moved by the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” find ourselves overwhelmed by the story that takes us from a fun movie night to an emotional state being taken through a series of events where we experience the loss of a loved one.  Our hearts are overwhelmed with sorrow from the loss, compassion as we see a heart-broken little boy and his father try to live without the most important woman of their life, and hope as we see possibilities of love.  We are then led into a state of happiness as two people find each other.

As women, we are able to experience each individual element of life.  While men have the ability to experience compassion, we, as women, are by far the most emotional creature.  We are often the first to respond to a need when nobody else sees it.  It is what drives us to love so much and put our hearts out on the line so often.  Compassion is why are hearts were created. 

As far as our emotions and what they lead us to, I am reminded of the story of Lazarus.  Mary and Martha are part of this narrative.  Here is the account:

Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick. When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,

—John 11:1-6 NIV

Something to note here is how Jesus stayed where he was for two more days.  Considering the text to follow, by the time Jesus was informed, Lazarus had been in the grave at least 2 days.  (John 11:17 NIV)  When Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, he didn’t drop everything he was doing and go to be with him as Mary and Martha expected in verses 21 and 32.  The text tells us that Jesus waited and “stayed where he was two more days”.  What are we to think of this?  What we find are two women, who obviously have hearts of compassion, emotional to the point that they blame Jesus for the death of Lazarus.  They proclaim that Jesus would have healed him if he would have been there.    These two women let their hearts of compassion overwhelm them; it led them to doubt Jesus.  Yes, they sent the request for Jesus to come to their aid when Lazarus became ill, but they lost faith that he could be healed even if he was in the grave.  They thought that they had to go out and meet Jesus where he was and make it known to him that Lazarus was now dead because he did not come when they expected.  They were letting their hearts guide them to not only take matters into their own hands but blame Jesus for their circumstance. 

Isn’t this what we sometimes do? When we notice a need, we stop what we are doing and run off to save whoever it is instead of communicating the need to Jesus and wait to see what Jesus is going to do.  When did they stop and ask Jesus what they should do?  They didn’t.  We have the need to study the Scriptures so that we know and understand what is needed to live the life that God intends for us. If we use the Bible for instruction for how to live and how to handle situations we are faced with, we would also learn that after we have done everything we were taught to do, we are to stand. (Ephesians 6:13 NIV) According to this passage, to stand would mean that we would wait and allow God to do what he intends to do. We are told all through the Bible how we are to live our lives.  We are to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV)  Mary and Martha let their hearts get overwhelmed while Jesus remained faithful knowing that when he saw Lazarus, he would be raised from the dead.  (John 11:43-44 NIV)

It is a sobering notion that if we were to just hand our cares and concerns, or matters of the heart, over to Jesus, our circumstances can turn out very different.  Mary and Martha let their emotions lead them to blame Jesus for the death of Lazarus when all along it was his plan to raise him from the grave in front of the whole world.  As Jesus responds to Martha, he says, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”  (John 11:40 NIV)  Then we read, “When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.  Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:43-44 NIV)

I recently experienced a situation where I let my compassion for someone else lead me into becoming overwhelmed, and I even got upset with someone.  I assumed this person would not following through with something I was trusting them with.  I did not give them the time they needed to respond.  I wasted time pushing them to make a decision when I should have just placed it in God’s hands and stood where I was.  I should have gone about the day doing everything else I needed to do instead of what I ended up doing.  The interesting thing about the heart is that it can be provoked by fear.  It was the fear that caused me to feel that this person would not follow through, and we would miss out on something special.  It was fear that caused me to take things into my own hands.  Thankfully, this person extended mercy toward me and understood where I was coming from.  They knew that I was driven by a heart of compassion.  While my heart was in the right place, my actions were not.  Don’t we all find ourselves in that place from time to time?  It is a reality that we all have to come to terms with: we are all sinners and are in need of God’s forgiveness, as well as the forgiveness of others.

Thank you, Lord, for your daily mercies.  May I forever be grateful for your blessings and never take them for granted.     

Question for comment or for self-reflection:

When was the last time you found yourself in a similar situation, taking matters into your own hands, only to find out later that it was already taken care of?  What was the situation, what did you do, and what was the outcome?

Go forth and be blessed, my friends.