From a Widow's Pen

Reflections From the Heart

Category: Blog Content (page 1 of 3)

Distrust and Worship

Take away the solid gray hair and the beard and it was me. I was looking at a reflection of myself.

 

He caught my eye as we stood for worship; an older gentleman who stood across the sanctuary. I watched him as we sang observing his stance and his mannerisms. He stood obediently when asked although his shoulders were squared as if ready to employ defenses when needed. His arms remained either crossed or fingers locked in front to ensure little chance of being taken off guard. His look was not one of displeasure. It was simply emotionless. He did not sing as others sang. He just stared ahead watching the musicians.

 

There, standing in his shoes, was me.  I understood that stance.  Years ago I would have interpreted it as apathy or disrespect but today I saw it for what it was – distrust. As I watched him I knew in my heart I was watching myself worship.  I immediately wondered what his eyes had seen and his heart had felt to bring him to this stance on worship.  He didn’t stand as one who didn’t want to be there or one who didn’t know the Heavenly Father.  He stood as one who had once held great faith but lost it.  I wanted to ask him why? What had broken his faith? How long had it been? And did he have a plan for getting it back?

 

I did not ask, though, because I knew he had no answers. If he held the answers his stance would look different. His expression would be filled with emotion. The defenses would have been let down.

 

The irony of it all was this was not church. It was a concert. I had resolved a few weeks back that church no longer fit in my world. It is the only aspect of my life that I have not been able to take control over or move forward in. So I have taken the coward way out and quit going. God, however, is still finding ways to speak to me. This time it was through free tickets to a Keith and Kristyn Getty concert. We had gone to their Christmas concert a few years back. I’m not much of a concert person but that night was great fun – highly energetic music, Irish dancing, and talented musicians. I went to Saturday’s concert not for the worship but to relive a good memory.

 

But as I reflect on this most recent concert all I see is the gray haired man and his emotionless response to worship. It brings me back to my own plight to run from church, which in reality is to run from God. What are you doing, Sharon? I have spent the day reflecting on how I got here. How has church and worship lost its meaning? How have I managed to push God so far away? I know the answer to this. I know how I got here. It is one expectation, one disappointment, one unanswered question after another. They pile up until all you see is anger and bitterness. My coping mechanism was to shut off that which caused the tension. And it worked, sort of, no, not at all. I know I cannot stay here, in this spiritual state. I must find a way to forgive, to trust, God, myself and others. Otherwise, I become the gray haired man who once had great faith and now stands emotionless in worship. Please, Lord, do not let that be me.

 

 

A Letter to My Daughters on Father’s Day:

There are days that by nature induce more reflection. Father’s Day has become one of those for me. Honestly, it was a day I somewhat took for granted. We had our annual ritual of making cards, going to lunch and ensuring daddy was overwhelmed with attention. Sometimes I wonder what we’d have done differently had we known 2013 was our last chance to honor your daddy on Father’s Day. Perhaps the ritual would have altered, perhaps not. After all, it was a good ritual and I do not doubt he knew he was loved.

On past Father’s Days, long before your loss, I have thought of those children with no father, whether due to death or choice, and those men with no children. For many years your father and I wanted badly to have a child and were told we couldn’t. I understand this holiday from that perspective. Yet I do not truly understand it from yours. I do not know what it is to grow up without a father.

As you know, we do not often get to choose our lot in life. Whether we have a good father or an absent father or no father; this is outside of our control. How you handle life’s challenges, however, is very much within your control. Your circumstances, the good and the ugly, shape you for today and ready you for tomorrow. It is up to you to choose how to respond. I implore you to let this shape you for good. Learn from it. Internalize it and let it drive you to a better you. It does not mean you cannot ache for the old. It simply means you cannot stay there, in the pain of it. How easy it is to find joy when life is good but to find it when life is tough – that is a gift.

I often think of your father. He understood. He holds the answers I do not. He lost his own parents at a young age and never stopped missing them. We had many conversations about how he longed to share life with them. Much the same thoughts that you have I’m sure. From watching him I know there are times that will hurt more. There are joyous occasions that will feel as if something is missing. Nonetheless your father grew into a strong man: loving God, loving his neighbor, loving his wife and especially loving his girls despite (or maybe because of) his circumstances.

I pray, you will catch a glimpse of it again. You will watch your own husband father your children. You will experience an earthly father through their laughter and joy. Until then hold onto your memories both happy and sad. Look to the father figures that God has placed in your life through your grandfather and uncles and other means. Yet, above all, keep your eyes on Christ, your Heavenly Father. That is where your inner strength will come from. It is not from me or your father or any individual.

One day (please Lord let it be many years from now) you will walk through the gates of heaven not only into the arms of your Heavenly Father but once again into the arms of the earthly. For now there will be hard days and easy. There will be seasons of sun and seasons of rain. Live and love as if each day is your last, as if each moment matters. Always take note of others around you, love them, encourage them and radiate God’s glory.

What was good about your father already lives within you. Cherish it, foster it and you will grow into the women that God has called you to be.

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I see him in each of you: in your smile or the words you say. I see him in a twinkle of your eye or a tear shed. He would be so proud of you – as am I!
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When God is Distant and Church Hurts:

I recently read an article titled “Jesus I don’t Want to go to Church Anymore.” The author who apparently is a long-time, active member of her church talked of her now personal struggle in attending. She described the complacency she feels and her desire for more. It immediately caught my attention because this is where I am at. I gather it is where many of us are at because that particular article had over 5,000 Facebook shares.

As I read, I searched for a solution. There was none. She concluded with the idea that her and her family would go to church no matter what because it is the right thing to do. GREAT! But …. how is that helpful to anyone? Where is a solution? Where is something that will help? That article did not provide a solution but it did set me in search of one for my own similar struggle.

The struggle is real. Sometimes I think I can’t do it anymore; church, that is. I long for something different. I long for something that will take away the pain and bring healing. Church, isn’t that where healing is supposed to come from? Why, oh why, is it the most difficult place for me to be? Why do I so often want to run frantically, crying from the building? (Which I have, in fact, done twice in the past year. Once as recently as this month). Where is healing if not within the walls of the church?

This writing though, as I assume is true of hers, isn’t truly about the church. It is about a girl who hurts – deeply. One who cannot seem to overcome the feelings of sadness and guilt and as a result is experiencing deep, broken fellowship with God. A brokenness that is being oxygenated and allowed to burn hotter each Sunday morning.

I see this same brokenness in the Psalms of David:

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death” (‭Psalm‬ ‭13‬:‭1-3 NIV)

David, a man after God’s own heart, pours out his anguish in multiple Psalms. Like David, my greatest need is God. The issues with church are a reflection of my Spiritual drought. I am struggling. I open my Bible to words void of meaning. I go to bed Saturday night anxious about church on Sunday trying to come up with an excuse not to go that my kids won’t see through. Because to drag them into my Spiritual void would be an even greater wrong than the facade I have constructed.

Church was the place that I always belonged. We were there every time the doors were opened: serving, teaching and praying. It was more than a building for me. It was my purpose.

And somehow down the line it has become the exact opposite. The thought of going makes me weary. I begin planning on Monday what my excuse will be for the following Sunday; constantly wrestling with how I could not go but still teach my kids its importance? The answer is “I can’t”. So I keep going. And each week as my sense of duty increases my desire to be there lessens. The wall around my heart becomes denser. The Scripture becomes void of meaning and the songs lose their fervor. It is a dangerous place to be in and I cannot figure out how to reverse it.

What is wrong with your church? You might ask. Other than the fact that they keep allowing me to attend without contributing anything, nothing. It is filled with people who care about us, who pray for us and who have supported us. The problem is not with my church. It is with me. It is Spiritual. It is between me and God. I have pushed Him to the outskirts. And church is where the struggle is most strongly felt. When I enter the church I enter His playing field. He gets the upper hand for those moments which causes my flight mechanism to kick in. I’m tired of smiling. I’m tired of pretending. I’m tired of answering “I’m fine.” But is the fact that I don’t answer honestly the fault of the church?

How I have lost touch with God, I do not know. But to run from church will not bring Him closer.

I look to the Psalms and to David. He talks in later chapters about restoration and God as His rock. David goes from deep anguish to restoration in a matter of verses. How did he get there? Where is the solution? And then I find it in verses such as this:

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm‬ ‭13‬:‭5-6‬ NIV)

Faith, trust, remembering that God is good, these are the solution. I should go to church because it is the right thing to do. But more importantly I should go because somewhere within those walls, there is healing. Healing I desperately want to find. Healing I cannot accomplish on my own.

Reading the Psalms does not provide instant healing. Acknowledging that trust and faith will one day get me there does not make this Sunday any easier. But it provides hope for a brighter tomorrow. Until God’s work is complete in me, I will cling desperately to the feet of Jesus begging Him not to let go of me.

“Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Savior. ” (‭Psalm‬ ‭38‬:‭21-22‬ NIV)

What Matters Most

It can all be summed up with Dora the Explorer.

She came running in the bathroom this morning. “Mom! MOM! Look I found my Dora the Explorer microphone in one of the boxes! I remember when……!” And the dancing and singing along with an excessively loud, very large headed, animated character, whose best friend is a monkey commences.

And I smiled because it was confirmation that we packed the RIGHT things.

When we left Louisiana in November 2013 we, along with the help of some amazing friends and family, packed an entire 4 bedroom house into a 16x8x8 POD storage unit in about 9 hours. Many of the decisions about what came and stayed were not made by me. We left behind a sizable trash pile and even more sizable Goodwill pile.

I remember leaving that next morning and walking to the trash to drop off the last bag and seeing a few of the girls’ toys laying in the dirt. I starting picking them up and my little brother gently grabbed my arm and said, “Leave it sister. It’s time to go”. He correctly steered me away from the Goodwill pile. And I obediently went because (1) I have always been more practical than sentimental and (2) I had a very sick husband in Oklahoma anticipating another medical hurdle the following week.

Today, as we unload I’m looking for practical things like lamps, rakes, brooms, trash cans. These things didn’t make it to the POD and the list grows. But to see the joy in finding the microphone I am reminded that what matters did make it – Memories. I would likely never pick up the old garden shovel and reminisce about happier times but the Dora microphone (which has resounded through my house all morning) is another story.

Memories are what we need to keep. The rest is just “stuff”.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21 NIV)

The Grace Gift: It Isn’t For the Faint of Heart

Another life ended too soon; another family walking an impossible journey.

It never stops, the cycle of pain.  Even when I can conquer my own, the celebration is short-lived as I learn of the pain of others.  When you walk through something life altering you come out with a grace gift.  It is non-returnable. It is desired by few.  Yet, I’d venture to guess that each of us possesses a grace gift in one form or another.

A grace gift is the ability to feel the pain of others.  To know where they are at and understand what lies ahead.  It is the ability to do more than sympathize.  It is to empathize.

For the longest time I was angered by the grace gift.  I could not manage my own pain and to hear of another whose hurt was just as (or more) intense resonated deep within me.  Each time I learned of another experiencing loss, I was forced to relive my own.  It spurred on many questions as I sought to get a handle on God and sinfulness and why so much pain abounds.  It was so easy to see the bad in the world. I lost sight of the good.  And I wondered things such as why God even created His people and this world.  The ability to empathize was seen, by me, as a curse not a gift.

The first time I truly understood the grace gift went like this:  Some months ago, I sat next to and watched a couple grieve their lost son.  I saw their pain.  I felt all that was left unsaid.  It was gut wrenching.  It brought me back to the beginning of my own grief journey.  And there was NOTHING I could do to make it better for them.  The only words I managed to share, through tears, were “grief sucks!” This was not a feeling of one who carries a gift but one who carries a burden.  I left that meeting in such distress I slid for a period into a depression.  Work was the only thing I did.  Outside of that I lay in bed.  I cried out to God and prayed that He would teach me.  And He did.

As God patiently worked within me, He began to introduce the idea of the “gift”.  The ability to walk beside another, fully understanding their sorrow, without them having to say a word; this is a gift you can not buy and you can not earn.  It must be bestowed upon you by God himself. I saw that couple weeks later and he walked up to me with a small smile and said something to the tune of:  “I’m glad you’re here.  We all know this sucks.”  And I felt the beauty of the grace gift.  Hearts that understood another’s pain, comforting words not necessary.

My prayer, now, is that God will never remove my grace gift.  I pray I will always feel the hurt of others to the point of tears.  I pray God will never let me forget the pain or heartache of my own experience.  I don’t want to forget the struggles within myself or with God.  I do not want to forget any of it. I’m not looking to carry a burden toward bitterness.  I’m looking to retain my grace gift.  May it always be a gift I treasure.   The day I become numb to another’s pain is the day I cease to live fully.

I cannot stop the cycle of pain.  I do not understand why there is so much hurt, but I know God is faithful to provide those with a grace gift to help us walk through trials.  It is a heavy gift.  It is not for the faint of heart.  But a gift still the same, not to be considered a burden.   There is a heart walking the path you have traveled whose only comfort that day may come from your grace gift.

What is your grace gift?   Do you view it as such?

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-6 NIV)

 

 

God Did Not Change (but you may have)

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV)

I cannot get this off my mind. And I feel an urgency to share. Christian, we do not have time for mediocrity. We can not accept something just for “normal”. Our emotions can not drive who we are in Christ.

Let’s talk spiritual repercussion caused by both large and small life events and driven by emotion.

What is spiritual repercussion? Technically repercussion is defined as an unintended consequence following an event. It is generally used in an unwelcome context. That said, some life events bring positive change. We are focusing on the unwelcome change. Those cases, in which repercussion, in a spiritual sense, defines itself as the doubt, anger or apathy that a believer accepts as normal in response to difficulty.

When something major or life changing happens to a believer there is often Spiritual repercussion. I’ve read it in blog after blog. (Yes, it is in mine). I’ve talked to others in situations similar to, or very different from, my own. And I’ve lived (am still living) it. Here are the types of questions that arise:

*How can I continue to trust God?
*Why pray if it does not work?
*What is the true purpose for prayer, church, religion, etc.?
*Why has God left me?

The more you question, the deeper the doubt, anger or apathy becomes.

I understand the intent. The intent is two fold. First it is a survival mechanism, an attempt to press forward in life. Second it is a finite attempt to understand an infinite God.

I don’t argue the reality. There are questions. There are doubts. There are new ways at looking at life and spirituality. It is OK to question and seek a deeper understanding but to decide prayer is no longer viable or God no longer worthy IS wrong. It shows a deep misunderstanding of who God is. It claims that God somehow is the culprit in all that goes wrong. We prayed. He didn’t answer like we wanted. So now we don’t understand prayer or it has taken on a lesser meaning. Biblical teaching or example about prayer didn’t change because ours didn’t go as hoped. The Bible is the same. God did not change.

“I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6a NIV)

It was never about the exact prayer we prayed or the things we thought to be true. It was always about God and obedience to Him.

We pray because God commands us to.

“Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV)

We read because God commands us to.

“Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ‘”” (Matthew 4:4 NIV)

We fellowship with other believers because God commands us to.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24, 25 NIV)

We do not do these things for God’s blessings. Although I believe that God’s blessing, however different from the earthly blessings we desire, will follow. We do these things out of love for our Saviour.

“And this is love: that we walk in obedience to His commands.” (2 John 1:6a NIV)

The Bible promises us that in this life we will have trouble. Yet, when it comes we are dismayed. We get angry at God because He did not protect us.

But He did protect us.

Let me say that again. He DID protect us.

First He sent His Son so that when hardship ends in death we have an eternity of glory. Then He provided His Word for guidance and He established His Son as intercessor. Then He established His church so we have a support system. We have to quit thinking that hardship is an allowable excuse to question God. And we have to GENTLY correct and SLOWLY guide those we know who feel this way. We do them no favors by allowing them to harbor bitterness or anger towards God.

When a member of the flock is wounded he/she definitely needs your prayers but there is more. They HAVE to have more. He/she needs spiritual encouragement. Someone to walk regularly through the Scriptures with. Someone to remind them about the character of God. Someone to rebuke when they are wrong and encourage when they get it right.

Next time you hear someone say they no longer pray because of suffering. Ask them what changed -prayer, God or them? Don’t accept that the feeling is normal. Just because something is common, defined in our world as normal, does not make it correct. Help them walk through what has changed about prayer or about God. Help them understand that God did not change.

I understand life can be hard! And lots of self pity is available to those whose life doesn’t go as planned. I am the most guilty of this. Journal entry after journal entry I have written this year questions God, His intent and the power of Prayer. But if God’s character changed as a result of my trial, He could never truly have been God.

He did not change. I did.

The Rain

I see a man sitting on a bench waiting for something. A train it seems. It is pouring down rain but yet he sits there waiting what seems to be patiently. Only he knows if he is frustrated or cold or angry. Only he knows why he chooses not to come into the shop and watch out of the window where I wait.

I wonder where he is going. Does he know? Does he care? He doesn’t care about being drenched so maybe he doesn’t care about where the train will take him either.

I wonder if he feels alone. Does he welcome the thought of being alone or dread it? Maybe he is catching the train to meet someone. Maybe they will laugh together and share stories of times past. But why does he wait in the rain? Won’t he be cold and uncomfortable when he finally arrives? Won’t that dampen the laughter and make him want to skip parts of the old stories? Why does he wait alone?

I wonder if it is my job to wait with him. Has God put me in this place, at this time, not to wonder so much about the man but to talk with him?

I have never actually been to this part of town; and I did not set out to come this way today. It was such a beautiful morning. I found myself walking, led by an unknown curiosity of what lay ahead. At the first drops of rain I took refuge in the little shop; the one where I now wait. Is it God’s timing for me to be here now? Is it His plan for me to interact with the man in the rain while he waits? Oh dear, I don’t want to sit in the cold rain and make small talk while we wait for a train that may or may not come. What will I say to him? What if he doesn’t want my company? Then I, too, will just be wet and cold.

If only the rain would stop. Then I might visit with him, find out where he is going. Then I could do so comfortably.

Oh look, here it comes – his train. I watch him rise and climb aboard. He turns just after clearing the top step. He is an elderly gentleman, frail. His eyes are dark and worn. He looks lost and alone but not afraid. I watch him seat himself next to a window but he does not turn to look back at me. The seat beside him remains empty.

It was then that I looked up and noticed the destination on the train window. Panic instantly flooded my being. Oh wait, there are truths that I could have shared with you! Truths that would have allowed you to board another train with a glorious destination. I ran out of the shop in the direction of the train but it was too late. It was already pulling from the station. I had missed it! I had missed my chance; the reason behind God’s placement of me in that spot. I had missed it because I was too afraid of getting cold or wet. All I could do now was watch as the train disappeared into the haze. The picture of the frail man who sat alone in the train embedded forever in my memory.

God had sent me to that shop not to analyze the man in the rain but to sit by him; to hold his hand while he waited and comfort him; to encourage him and help guide his destination. A destination that might have been glorious had I been more willing. But I had been far too worried about being cold and wet and I had missed it.

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So often I look for obvious opportunities to minister to others. Physical or financial needs are great examples. When we know someone is hungry we take them a meal. When we know they are stranded we offer a ride. Both wonderful, much needed and very Biblical ways to minister.

To minister to those I don’t know or to meet a spiritual need, is not always as obvious. It is not that the desire is not there. I just let insecurity overtake me or I question whether it is really God’s voice leading me, putting me in that spot at that time. And as a result, I have missed it – numerous chances to help someone wait out the rain.

Ministering in Early Grief

People have asked my input on how they can best minister to one in the early stages of grief.
With a touch of whimsy and a large degree of truth, here you are….
(I’m certain I will be bestowed an honorary PhD once you hear and ponder the answer.)

The question: You are grieving. How can I help you?

The answer: You can’t!! (Where’s my PhD?)

Here’s the deal:
(1) If you call them, they won’t answer because they don’t want to talk (likely due to them feeling alone or forgotten). But if you don’t call, they’ll feel alone or forgotten.

(2) If you send texts, they’ll feel cheated because they can’t really tell you how they feel (which is very likely alone or forgotten). But if you don’t text they’ll feel alone or forgotten. And if you decide to call instead of text, well, (see #1) above.

(3) If you invite them to dinner they won’t come because they don’t want to pretend to be happy. But if you don’t invite them, they’ll feel alone or forgotten. And, well, if you call to invite them, they won’t answer (see #1) and if you send a text they’ll be upset (see #2) because you didn’t call (see #1) so how are they going to express how they feel? Now they feel alone or forgotten.

So there you have it. You are destined to not do it “right” and they are destined to feel alone or forgotten. Until one day when they do answer the phone, respond to the text and come over for dinner. All because you persistently called, texted or invited.

All I can say is follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. If He leads you to call, do it. Even if they didn’t answer the last 10 times. If He leads you to text, do it. Even if all they reply is “I’m great” (which is never true by the way). And if He leads you to invite them over, do it. They’ll likely say “no” (and then you don’t really have to cook or clean) but they might say “yes”. And each of you will walk one step closer to healing.

What is Your Story?

What is your story? We all have a story and in some amazing ways your story intertwines with that of others. Most of you know my story. If not it is laced throughout the pages of this blog. My story, like yours, is not yet finished.

It is true that there are aspects of each of our stories that are outside of our control. Often we can do nothing to change our circumstances. But the heart of one’s story is in his own hands. Each morning we are faced with this decision: what shape will the heart of my ongoing story take?

Recently, I took my girls to see Cinderella. A good point regarding the shaping of one’s story can be made in assessing this tale. Cinderella has a story. Hers meets adversity at a young age with the loss of both parents and a once happy childhood turned into a life of cruel servanthood. Her stepmother, also, has a story. It too is filled with adversity as seen in the loss of not one but two husbands. It is what each chose to do with that adversity that sets her apart from the other. One allowed kindness and hope to blossom in her heart and the other harbored anger and bitterness. The clashing of the two results in the fairy tale as we know it.

We, too, are living in a fairy tale, of sorts, where good and evil, anger and hope constantly clash. Like Cinderella and her stepmother, we, too, are given a chance to decide how we will let circumstances shape us.

There is no loss of hurt in this world. You see it daily in the form of death, divorce, sickness, injury, job loss, wayward children or abusive spouses. We are not so naive as to wait for a fairy godmother to make it right. We know there are no magic pumpkins, talking mice or glass slippers. My prayer, however, is that you also know there IS both a King and a Prince. And for everyone who lives in the Kingdom, be they nobility or commoner, there IS a happily ever after.

It is because of this King, a Heavenly King far greater than any earthly king could be, that there is hope outside of our circumstances. It is because of this Heavenly King that each of our stories, whether filled with comfort or adversity, finds purpose. Our hope is not in this world. Adversity makes that reality ring true. Our hope is in Christ and our happily ever after is in His Resurrection.

God has made Himself known in many ways. Each day the sun rises again. There are mountains covered with snow and caves filled with wonders. The majesty of God is all around us. Good is still present in this world. It is seen each time a meal is brought to new parents or a donation made for a good cause. It is seen in a visit made to a hospital room and felt in a moment spent on our knees in prayer.

Let these actions, performed from the overflow of God within us, be the magic pumpkin or glass slipper given to another. For those that are hurting there can be laughter and love once again. And for those that know God the promise of happily ever after is just on the horizon.

A story, once told, cannot be untold. Yes, there are parts of your story that you cannot control. Still, you can let it weave itself into a glorious story that is yours alone. One which, when filled with faith in God, has the power to point others to Christ.

What is your story?

Standing on the Edge of Organized Religion

I once thought people who had no church or religious affiliation were sad and hopeless. They had no anchor in times of grief. But, today, I stand on the edge of the field. Behind me, the path I am now traveling, is dark and empty. It is a void. It is filled with me trying to be something I’m not. It is filled with me trying to live up to an expectation I can’t. I can’t be the one who smiles when life is tough and spouts Scripture to find strength anymore. It is not working. The smile is false and I have no strength at all.

I look the other way, a step towards no organized religion. There is nothing on this side that says I have to accept all that is bad because there is no higher calling. Nothing on this side says hurt is necessary to perfect you. Hurt is just hurt on this side. You learn to bury it, to become numb to it. There are just my own rules on this side; my own ability to forget; my own ability to not care; my own ability to focus only on me. It’s greener that way. The road ahead is short. I can’t see where it leads. But maybe I don’t care? Maybe that road would be easier if only for a bit? I could use a break. Should I take a step?

I’m standing in the field weighing my decision and I hear behind me, faint voices, calling:

“Momma”,
“Momma!”
“Where will you lead us?”

My burden is made heavier. The decision to walk away from organized religion does not just affect me. It affects them as well.

I start to question. What if it is true – all they say about Christ? That He is the Messiah; the Saviour of the world; that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. All others will suffer eternal separation.

And then I feel it. A gentle hand pulling me away from the edge of the field. I don’t have to question “what if” it is true. I know it is true. I have walked with my Saviour for many years. He has never let me travel to this depth before but He has never left me. Why would I leave Him?

The path I am on was never truly void or empty. I see now that the path of no religion is only greener on the surface to tempt me to take the step. The vegetation appears pleasant but it will not sustain. Wide is the path that leads to destruction but narrow the path that leads to life.

As my Saviour and I walk away from the edge, back into the desolation, I see that it does not go on forever. There is in fact a brighter field, greener and more lush, than the field of no religion. I see my children there, playing in it. They are drinking milk and eating honey. They are skipping with the Lamb. It is truly the best choice. And I wonder why did I ever travel to the edge of the field? How did I get there? I suppose it doesn’t matter as long as I make the choice to not stay there. I will not stay there. My choice is to follow my Saviour where He leads. My choice is to one day drink the milk, eat the honey and skip with the Lamb.

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