There are times in this fast-paced world when many of us have felt that the more we do, the more we will be accepted by God. If we aren't careful, we will feel the pressure to compete with others or compare our progress with that of someone else, because whatever we are doing at the moment never seems to be enough... "Enough" is a spiritual thing, it doesn't mean that we don't need to live with purpose or we don't need friends, that we don't need a companion, that we don't need money or any of the things that are part of living. But when God becomes our "enough" we won't spend our time obsessing about what we don't have or can't get done. We can be at peace within ourselves, so that we don't spend our lives constantly trying to please others to the point where we lose our own way. The way that God becomes our "enough" is through our communications with Him, praying to Him, not just because we need something from Him, but because He is God. Read His Word. you cannot separate God from His Word because He is the living Word (John 1:1). The more you learn of God, the more you will want to know of Him. You can see Him in nature, in his creation, in all the things that He does. God is great! and He is enough.
On New Year's Eve, I drove out to Dockweiler Beach, and sat down on a rock with a sheet of paper and a pen. I wrote down the name of every person that I could think of that I needed to truly forgive, and prayed for each one of them. When I finished, I took the list out to the shore, and send it away into the tide. It was so freeing to watch it go out, under the waves. I began to feel sorry for some of the people, because I began to see them as they were; that they really were unable to do any better than what they did. I thanked God for life, health and strength, and asked Him to help me to never do any of those things to anyone else. I found a seashell with holes in it, and put it on my bulletin board to help me remember the day.
There is a line in the song entitled A Heart That Forgives by Kevin Levar says: " A heart that lets go is a heart that will know so much freedom". I thank the Lord for freedom today, so I can go on with my life. Forgiveness does not change what people have done to us, but it helps us to live our lives to the fullest.
Be blessed...and forgive.
Thanks to Jeneen Harris for the top photograph...
The season of Lent is a time for many to contemplate our lives and think about what is going right, what has gone wrong, and what we need to do differently in the future. Many of us abstain or "give up" certain activities or foods, and "give in" to things of a higher nature. There is much going on in the world and this is a time like no other in history. Working with children every day has caused me to reflect on my own childhood and how I can make life better for the ones I come in contact with, even if it's just for a day. When I was in school, I was bullied a lot. I'm not sure exactly why, but I think it had a lot to do with being different. My family was from Barbados and had a very different way of thinking and doing things. When I started school I had an accent and didn't know a lot of the games or ways of speaking that the other children had. My grandmother was a seamstress and made all of my clothing, so I dressed differently. I was already reading when I went to kindergarten, so most of the time I was bored with most of the books that were being read and always finished the stories early. In short, I didn't fit in!
I know that by now you are probably reading this article and wondering: "What does this have to do with worship?" The answer is: Everything. Worship is the way we relate to God every day, not just when we go into a sanctuary. The truth is, children haven't changed much over time, and I see a lot of the same behaviors that they do being repeated in adults. How do we treat people that we see as "different"? Do we talk to them and make them feel welcome in our circles of faith? Do we put on the smiles when they are around but talk about them as soon as they leave our presence? Do we go out of our way to greet a new person who comes to visit our church, or just ignore them? What happens when someone new joins wants to be a part of our group? Do we welcome them in, or see them as a threat and try to run them away from the church? These are all things that people have either experienced at one time or another or been a part of and I can guarantee that some of it is going on right now, somewhere. But, look at what God's word has to say to us:
I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger, and you took me into your home. I needed clothes, and you gave me something to wear. I was sick, and you took care of me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’“Then the people who have God’s approval will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you or see you thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you as a stranger and take you into our homes or see you in need of clothes and give you something to wear? When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? “The king will answer them, ‘I can guarantee this truth: Whatever you did for one of my brothers or sisters, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did for me.’
Matt. 25: 35-40 (GWT)
Christ came into the world to save people. He didn't pick and choose whom to love, or which persons would be invited into His kingdom. He came to save anyone who would believe (John 3:16). As worshipers and followers of Christ, He expects us to treat all people with kindness, even if we don't understand them, because that is His way. During this season and beyond, this is the time to reflect on our own ways. It's time for many of us to "grow up" in Christ and really learn how to relate to others who are different from us. The harvest is coming... are we ready to receive the ones that come in?
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. ( I Cor. 13:11)