Letting Go….

Hi, my name is Nancy and my superpower is worrying and overthinking. Everything. Or at least it was. With the new year I have decided to let go of my superpowers for a bit. Or at least try to. If you’ve read my posts before, then you know I over plan and over think and over worry. Is that really a thing? I think it can be. I think there is nothing wrong with a bit of concern, but when we take it too far and what ever we are concerned with takes up all our thoughts, well yup you got it!, over worry.

So, while I might not admit to making a New Year’s resolution, I usually do; I just don’t tell anyone, so that way if I fail, no one has to know. Pretty good plan, huh? Well, this year it isn’t so much what I am adding to my resolve, like exercise, but what I’m leaving behind. I’ve decided to leave the past, right where it should be, the past. Everything that went wrong and everywhere I fell short, or others fell short. I’m just going to not bring it up in my mind. This year is a new chance for falling short, both mine and others.

When we hold onto those past short comings we label people and ourselves in such rigid ways, that we end up only seeing ourselves and others in that way. So we enter a new year expecting the worst from ourselves and others. We limit them and us and restrict any growth.

I really don’t like labels. People can move forward and grow. We are all capable and with God’s help we will continue to grow in our faith walk and in life in general. No one would expect a kindergartner to do Algebra and neither would they stay at the kindergarten level. They will grow and learn. Adults can grow too. We learn from the past and give ourselves the grace to move forward despite making past mistakes. We should offer this grace to others as well. Putting the past behind and moving forward is not just a cliche, but is a part of living.

But what about worry? Are you going to mention that again? Yes. Yes, I am. I am still a work in progress in this area and a verse came to mind this morning as I thought about what to write. It’s from Matthew: Here’s Jesus’ words on the subject of worrying: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?(6:25-27, NIV).

Many of you might be familiar with this passage, but I think the best part is found further on in the reading of chapter 6 from verse 34;  “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for today is its own trouble” (ESV).

Ahh, see there’s my biggest nemesis! Being anxious and worrying about things that haven’t happened yet. Today is enough for today. And this is also where letting go of the past comes in. I think much of what we base our worry and anxiety on is from our past. If something went wrong before, surely it will go wrong in the same way tomorrow, right? Well, no. Yesterday’s mistakes were so yesterday, tomorrow’s mistakes will be tomorrow’s, we need to be concerned about today. And when we focus on that, the part about not worrying about our stuff, as mentioned in verses 24-27 about food and clothes comes in to play. Don’t be anxious about tomorrow. Think about today. And oh yeah don’t worry about today. God’s got this. That might be a unofficial version of the text, but I think that is what it is saying. Just something to think about. God Bless -Nancy

Night Light

Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.

– Psalm 119:105 (NIV)

I really enjoy driving around the neighborhood looking at all the Christmas lights. Some people seem to have gone all out and bought every light strand and inflatable Santa available. It amazes me how some people will even risk life and limb to put lights on their roofs. But I’m glad they do. Christmas lights on the houses and the tree reminds us of the light of the world that came into a dark world. It certainly brightens up what would ordinarily be a dark season of the year, at least here in the northern hemisphere.

Without the lights, it would be pretty dim around the neighborhood except for a few streetlights. I grew up in the country, which means no streetlights and it was in a valley and surrounded by trees. What this means is that it got really dark, really fast in the winter months as the sun went down. If you didn’t have a flashlight in hand to walk between the house and the barn/garage it could be kinda scary for a little kid.  You couldn’t see where you were going, much less where you were stepping.

But the years since then have made me braver, if not wiser and I don’t fear the dark as much. I live in a neighborhood with streetlights and porch lights to guide my walks out at night. The light is great for walks, but not for sleeping, so we have blinds to block the light coming into our house. This is great for sleeping , but not walking around inside the house. I still need light inside for that. But, sometimes I try to risk it and walk around without turning on a light. Yay for me! I have overcome my fear of the dark. Yes! I have conquered it! Watch out world, I now believe I can do anything! I don’t need a light!

Yeah right! I wish I hadn’t been so brave and bold the other night as my foot became entangled with a chair leg. Who put that chair there, anyway? Oh yeah it was me. My second thought was why? As I looked down at my foot which was in pain, I noticed that my pinky toe was no longer where it should be. It looked like it was trying to run away from my foot. Seeing my broken toe was disturbing. But I also felt a tremendous amount of regret for not turning on a light before I ventured into the living room. I thought I knew where everything was. I thought there was a clear path ahead. But, I was wrong. I needed light to see where I was going. I had walked into the living room and through it so many times, that I was certain I could make it safely without needing light. But, reality is often different then what we think it is. We need light to safely travel on our paths. We need clarity, direction and safety. Things can change, obstacles shift and if we are trying to navigate by memory or trust the things are the same in the dark, we’re going to stumble and fall.

Life is full of changes and what we need is some light on our path so we won’t fall. Psalm 119 gives us the answer to that light; the Bible. It’s easy to get brave and try to rely on ourselves for our own direction. We know what we are doing and we can figure it all out on our own, or so we think. We made it work before, so we should be able to do it again. We don’t need to read the Bible or seek God’s plan, we can handle it all, until the obstacle we didn’t see ahead blocks our path. Walking through life without seeking God’s plan is like trying to walk in the dark.

As you see all the Christmas lights out there, take time to reflect on what it means. Jesus came into the dark world that was without hope to shine light and reconcile men to God. Without Jesus the world is stumbling around in the dark trying to make sense of all this. Jesus came as the light of the world and exposes the darkness of the world. He offers a clear path that leads to life. Time to stop bumping into stuff in the dark and turn on the lights. -God Bless Nancy

20/20

Their faces appeared suddenly in the video and at once I was transported back to a time that, although not many years ago, still seemed like a life time. So much had changed about them and about me since are paths had first crossed. I wasn’t alone watching the video, but the crowd watching with me were unaware of my connection to those faces staring back at me in the video. They had not seen the video before  or the  faces before, but I had. My mind quickly replayed the last time I had seen these people and then quickly fast-forwarded to what I knew of about them now. A few had changed in appearance, some retired from full time ministry and a few others had become entangled in a controversy with a fellow church leader.  It was as if I was staring at my past, while considering where I was now. It was a weird place to be where the past and present meet.

But, as time has moved me past what might have been in serving with these particular faces from the past, I have learned to trust God. He has my back, to speak in modern terms. I was reminded today of the often quoted verse from Romans 8:28; “And we know that in all things God works for the good for those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose” (NIV).

I admit, I still do not have the perfect 20/20 hindsight vision to understand why things did not work out to serve with those in the video, but I see a glimpse of the reasons at times. God has His reasons and I know I have grown as a Christian since. Maybe I wouldn’t have grown as much if things had worked out in the way I had wanted them to. At the time, it was difficult to feel rejected, to be judged and evaluated by my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and shown to be falling short of their standards. It hurt. Quite a bit in fact. But now, I am content with the past, the “almost was”. God was working out everything for my good, and now I can look back and reflect upon it.

Sometimes we might think that we are moving so slowly towards the future and the goals we have set out ahead of us. When we look backward, we can actually see how far we have come and how God has been there, working it all out. When we  realize this, we can move forward,trusting Him as we face new situations that will be our next “almost was” situations. God is faithful and His promises are true. -God Bless- Nancy

Waiting For The Morning

“Sorrow may last for the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5)

Do you know many joyful people? Those people who always seem to have a smile on their face, no matter the circumstances? I do. And I admit sometimes I’m jealous that they can seem to be so happy all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy, but I do not always appear that way. I’m a thinker, who likes to think about everything and if you see me out and about, I probably have a serious look on my face. It’s just that I’m thinking and reflecting on something. If you have seen me lately, you probably would have noticed a little bit of a frazzled look added to my my serious look due to my recent philosophy classes, which force me to think too much. But I am happy, just maybe not outwardly joyful.

This topic came up recently when my husband woke me up in the early morning hours to ask me what “sorrow lasts for the night , but joy comes in the morning” meant. It was a good question. Although I was tired, I managed to grab my phone and do a Bible verse search to find the passage the phrase had come from. Memorizing scripture is an area that I admit I do not have skill in, so I am so thankful for Bible search apps. It wasn’t easy to find because some versions trade the words sorrow for weeping. We decided to table the conversation until we were both more awake, but it started me thinking. Why do I not feel joyful all the time? Is there something wrong with me?

Maybe you too, have asked yourself this question before too. Are Christians always supposed to be joyful? Isn’t it a bit too unrealistic? Well, maybe what the problem is found in our definition of joy. If we treat joy as a feeling, then yes, we will not always feel “joy”. We might feel joy when our favorite sports team wins, but then become sad and depressed when in the next game the team loses. This kind of joy is changing with our circumstances. No one would expect us to feel joy if our team lost, or we receive news of the death of a loved one, or of a bad health diagnosis. So, what is this passage trying to say?

This particular phrase is found in Psalm 30 and its writer is David. If you’re familiar with the Psalms, David seems to write whatever pops into his thoughts. There are times when he cries out to God and wonders where God is in dark times. He will then remind himself of previous occasions when God came through in these darkest hours and he rejoices with praises to God. Psalm 30 is no different. Bible commentator Matthew Henry finds evidence in this Psalm of David’ sadness at God’s turning away from him because of his (David’s) sin. Henry believes David had security in himself and this brought him to sin and the feeling of sadness or sorrow that was replaced with joy once David repented.

While, I am not an expert at the meaning of this Psalm, I’ll offer what I can as I let God work on me through this passage. This is some of what I have gleaned through reading Psalm 30: 1)There will be times when we do have dark times. there is no getting around them. This is life, and the fallen state in which we live in the world. We as Christians, cannot escape the bad times in life, the dark hours, just because we are Christians- they will come.2) I also believe there are people who are just naturally happy go lucky people. It’s just their nature whether they are Christians or not. 3) We are all created uniquely by God and shouldn’t compare ourselves with others- even other Christians. We all have different temperaments. I might be more of a serious minded thinker, but that doesn’t mean I’m not joyful on the inside. 4) Joy is more than a feeling; it is a quiet confidence and trust in God. We rejoice because we know God will strengthen us through anything. 5) We can trust God and  He will get through to the morning- the times when we can rejoice again. 6) We should ask ourselves if we have let confidence in ourselves lead us into sin- is it God who has turned away, or have we turned away? If so do we need to repent a little? 7) The passage seems to be meaning that we shouldn’t focus on the dark times as a permanent place regardless of the cause- it is temporary. 8) After we go through these dark, joyless times, there will be joy. Times of praising and remembering all that God has done.9) Sometimes, we can be mistaken as to when we are in the dark places when actually we are in a time when we should be rejoicing. We can assume we having bad, difficult circumstances, but maybe things aren’t as bad as we think. We can focus on the negative or choose to think about the good, which is what I suspect the” happy” people  I know do regularly.

My husband’s question was a good one, and as I said, I probably do not have the perfect answer to the meaning of the passage, but I think it is one to reflect upon and do some research on. If you are finding yourself in a place where you are having are difficult time being joyful, reading the Psalms is a great place to start. Just be assured morning will come. Sometimes we just need to wait. -God Bless- Nancy

 

 

 

God View

So, I’ve got a confession to make- I’m a recovering perfectionist. I thought I had outgrown it from my childhood, but sadly I am a work in progress. But aren’t we all? None of us can claim to have it all figured out and to have overcome every weakness or quirk in our personalities. For me, I still find myself trying to do everything perfect- including my faith walk- why? well, I believe it depends upon my view; my God view.

See, how we view God, reflects in how we view ourselves in our walk with Christ. If we view God as a heavy -handed task master, we will feel the unending need to work for His approval. If we see God as a loving Father, we will rejoice and find rest from our endless striving to do more. We will not see His corrections as a call to be perfect, but the hand of a loving dad who wants us to realize and experience who He made us to be.

If we dig still deeper, we can learn that how we view God reflects how we saw our own dads. When we as Christians call God our heavenly father, we have in our minds, what we have been taught as an example by our earthly fathers. These things learned first stick with us into adulthood.

However, this view really doesn’t reflect God completely. Our earthly dads can make mistakes, but God doesn’t. He remains steadfast and the same. His nature never changes. God is always good, always loving, always just. These are in God’s nature, it isn’t simply an action on His part, but in His very nature. Men (and women) bear the image of God and have been created in God’s image, but unlike God, we are fallen in our natures. It is like a mirror with a crack in it. The reflection has been distorted and doesn’t give a clear picture of God anymore.

What we need in order to get a much better view of God, is to look into His word, rather than trying to put our own view of father on God. The more we study God’s character and nature, we will realize He is not the heavy handed task master, but a truly loving father who desires the best for his kids. That doesn’t mean He doesn’t care what we do,  but He rather knows what is best for us and does give us boundaries to stay within. But, we should never feel like we have to earn His approval or earn His love. he loves us unconditionally. He knows we aren’t perfect, but He is willing to teach us how to live in a better way.

How’s your God view? Is it based upon the example seen from your own dad, as a flawed, fallen person, or is it based on what the Bible reveals of God, as a loving, forgiving heavenly father. -God Bless- Nancy

Relative?

“What is truth?” – Pontius Pilate( John 18:38)

Can you answer that question? Or do you struggle as Pilate did when Jesus mentioned the word?   Ask anyone today what is truth and you’re bound to get several different answers. Ask about religious truth and you’re bound to get even a few dozen more. But, does it really matter what you believe, so long as you believe something? This question is one that has been circulating for decades. Yes, it does matter.

Let me put it this way, when you pull up to the gas pump to fill your car’s gas tank, does it matter how to you how much you pay per gallon? Well, for some of you perhaps not, but  I know for others of you, it becomes a mathematical science of figuring out which station has the right price, how much you need, what your gas mileage is, etc. But, imagine if you will that each station had its own definition of what a gallon of gas is. For example if one station calls half a gallon a gallon, would you still fill up your tank there? So, does the truth in measurement matter? Yes. There are certain regulatory laws in place to protect the consumer against frauds, such as weights and measures. So why should we fail to accept absolute truth in other areas? Are there any laws to protect against frauds of belief? Is there any standard by which morals can judged be against?

Now, I realize this is a simplistic argument for truth and some of you might argue that in other countries they use liters or imperial gallons for measurement, I get that, but my aim here is to just get you to think; What if there is only one truth. The truth Jesus was talking about? if we can agree that there are laws protecting the measurements of gas to protect the consumer, could there possibly be other moral laws built into this world to protect the people of it? Are all religions equal? Is it okay to take bits and pieces from different ones until you find what is true for you? That would be equal to filling your car up at multiple sights across town just so you will have a full tank in the end. Sounds kind of crazy to me. All religions cannot all be true because in order to do so they would have to contradict themselves. Cars require gas or (electricity) to run properly and we expect to get what we pay for in terms of gas or electric charges, so should we not expect that for life to run well, there must be something we need, something that is truth? We might look different on the outside, but we are al really the same on the inside. We all want to be loved and accepted. We all want to find something to do that we love and someone to love and share life with. We really aren’t that different, no matter what culture we are from. So, why do we question truth about beliefs? We need truth in our lives, not different truths, but truth that will actually fill the needs I just mentioned before. Truth that doesn’t change with the times or with whichever political party is in charge. Truth that sustains when life seems out of control. Truth that is true for all not just for the individual.