Sunday, September 7, 2014

Straining Forward

If there is one thing that I have learned, it’s that life is messy. I’ve spent the better part of this year wondering and questioning why things happen the way that they do, but it’s just life. Life lived by broken, messy sinners- All of us.

I’ve also learned that pain is a part of us. It just is. Physical, mental, and emotional. But it doesn’t have to define us. What defines us is how we respond to pain and the things that life throws at us. If we bring God glory through our pain, then isn’t the pain worth it? Pain is really, really good at its job. The enemy uses it more times than not as a stronghold in our lives. But…isn’t God even better at His job? He rescues us. He restores us. He redeems us. I’ve learned that the power in that is greater than anything that pain can do to me. I recently read this: “Satan can’t snatch faith, hope, and love from you. You have to hand them over.” We have to make the conscious decision to not hand anything over to him. 

I firmly believe that the circumstances of each of our lives are not coincidental. Each of us has a journey mapped out for us. Would I have chosen a different journey for me? If I could go back, is there anything I would do differently? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding YES. There are a lot of things I have faced that I would not wish upon my worst enemy, and I have recently been through some of the darkest days of my life. But, when I’m at the end of my rope, it’s God and His Word that ties the knot. 

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit…” Hebrews 4:12, emphasis mine

God’s timing is flawless and perfect. And I’ll be honest, it’s taken time for me to really get this. It took me praying to God for a fresh vision to understand this. A lot of things we face are inevitable, but trusting God through these things is a choice. As Lisa Harper says, “God loves us way too much to leave us mired in our own mistakes with our stubborn fists stuck foolishly in the air.” That’s been me plenty of times. But trust me when I say that I’m not saying all of this from the outside looking in…I’m saying it from deliverance looking back.

God took what was hands-down the most detrimental circumstance of my life so far, and He delivered me. Simple as that. The only explanation I can really give is God because my situation was (and I quote) an anomaly. I will never fully understand what happened. I will never know all the details surrounding the situation. I will never get it. You always hear of people being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it’s one of those things that you think will never happen to yourself. But even though there’s so much that I will never understand, there is so much that I CAN understand and testify about God and His Goodness. When I thought I was endangered, God rescued me. When I thought my life was over, God restored me. When I thought my testimony was destroyed, God redeemed me. It’s just the business that God is in. 

I don’t believe that God caused what I have went through, but I do believe He allowed it. And hear me: I needed it. I was running away from God. I was trying to live my life without Him. I wanted control of my life, but the Bible says that kingship belongs to the Lord (Psalm 22:28). God showed me that I can’t live my life without Him. He is ever-present, and I ever-need Him. A lot of times I have read the stories of the Israelites and how so often they forgot about God. I would think something like this: “Are they crazy? Look at everything God did for them, and they STILL act like that?!” How quick am I to judge them, but look at me…I have been a crazy, forgetful Israelite. I have been so distracted by my own disappointment, so preoccupied with my own pain, that like the Israelites, I have glanced right past what God has done in my life. 

Just this morning, I received a text from a sweet friend that reminded me that I’ve never been out of God’s sight. He began a work in me a few years ago and He will complete it. He will finish. He has brought me so far that I can’t stop now. To throw in the towel would a shame. Just as God has used my life so far, I hope that He will continue to do so and let it bring Him glory. It’s my hope and prayer that others will see just how much we need God in our everyday lives, but that we will also be reminded of how he catches us when we run from Him. We can’t outrun Him. We can never run too far either. He’s always there. I find comfort in that, and I hope that you do too. 

I don’t know where you are in your life right now, I don’t know your circumstances, and I don’t know what pain you might be bearing, but please know this: God loves you. He wants to rescue, restore, and redeem you. If He can do it for me, He can do it for anyone…and that’s a promise. I pray that my life will be an example for others. Run to God, not away from Him. If you mess up, it will be okay. We aren’t expected to be perfect. But we should all make God a priority, don’t let Him take the backseat.

It’s never easy, but it’s always worth it. Difficult days are ahead for each of us, but we have a choice of how we will respond. Don’t let Satan make it easy for you to fail. In the end, God wins anyways. So why not be on His side now? Walk before him. Psalm 56:13 says, “For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” 

Really, it all comes down to this: we just have to figure out and learn what truly matters. I’m figuring out and learning every day. Our past doesn’t matter. It what’s we do with our future that matters. A lot of things that we tend to cherish are not eternal. But neither are the things we don’t cherish. Pain is not eternal. Hardship is not eternal. Afflictions are not eternal. Just like I heard this morning: It won’t always be this way. Glory is coming- We have to prepare now. Don’t let pain defeat you. Even in your darkest of days, allow God to use it to bring Him glory. Allow God to draw you in and love you back to life. It’s a process. If you find yourself struggling or straying, allow God to help you get back on the right track. He has a plan and He has a purpose. Don’t be myopic. See the big picture. Learn from your mistakes. The gospel is the best thing that could happen to us, so it’s my prayer that we will live like it. Because when we do, it may not always be pretty—trust me—but there will be so many blessings waiting for us…

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12-14

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