Heart Guard

There are families.  Oh.  At one time, they were loving.  They spent time together on a regular basis. They laughed together.  They cried together.  They ate together.  They celebrated together.  They spent holidays together.  Then something happened.  One family member upset another family member.  And that was it.  Or maybe it was a slow fade.  Perhaps over time, enough was enough.  Whatever the situation.  Someone decided they had had enough.  And that was it.  No more holidays together.  No more laughing together.  No more eating together.  No more celebrations.  There was definitely crying.  But not together.

And they call themselves Christians.

Oh.  There was plenty of talking.  About the other person.  But not with the person.  It happens in more Christian families than anyone would want to admit.

I’m not judging.  I’m asking.  How can Christians on different sides of the argument say they love each other but then not be willing to share time?  Family members or friends.  Does it really matter?

I once asked someone the question.  How can a Christian family who won’t spend time together talking out their issues.  Forgiving each other on earth.  How will they all be in heaven together?  How can souls spend eternity together in heaven when they couldn’t spend time on earth together?  It doesn’t add up in my book.

There were two men who did not see eye to eye.  They had harsh words for each other.   Harsh public words.  They weren’t friends.  Perhaps they could have been close colleagues, if they had tried.  Oh.  If they had tried, they would have discovered they had things in common.  They would have also found they disagreed on other topics.  Nevertheless.  They never tried to close the gap.  Several days ago, one man died.  He was called a war hero by some.  The other is called the leader of the free world.  The one who died asked for the other not to attend his funeral.  His request was obliged.

I try to imagine the possibilities that could have been achieved if both men had set aside their differences.  If they had agreed to disagree on some things, and then work together on common ideas.  But no.  They chose to stand their ground and not come together.

What happens if both these men end up in heaven?  Will they be able to come together and celebrate the wedding feast side by side with their Lord and Savior?  Will they be able to welcome and celebrate each other’s spiritual rewards?

Can’t we be better than that?  Can’t we as adults agree that we can still work together.  Can’t we still be colleagues or comrades?  Can’t we still be friends?  Can’t we still be family even if we disagree?


Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.  Proverbs 4:23


I ask the question because I now find myself in a similar situation.

I felt she had wronged me.  Done me dirty.  Not once.  But twice.  I thought I could call her friend.  I trusted her.  But she hurt me again.  So I’ve let her go.  I’ve let her go as in I can’t see her anymore.  I can’t communicate with her again.  She hurt me and I don’t want to be hurt again.  Oh.  I’m sure I’ll be hurt again.  But I don’t want to be hurt by her.  Ever.  Again.

Does that mean I haven’t forgiven her?  Does that mean I’m holding a grudge?  I don’t have angry thoughts about her.  I don’t wish harm to come to her.  I don’t harbor any ill will against her.  But I don’t trust her.  That’s it.  Plain and simple.

Oh.  We don’t run in the same circles.  Our days are not mixed together.  Our lives aren’t in the same location.  So I have no reason to see her.  If I saw her, it would be accidental.  Unless it was planned.  But I have no plans to see her.

I know healing takes time.  I’m healing.  Slowly.  Very slowly.  Perhaps, in time I would welcome the thought of a conversation.  I don’t know.

But I know my judgment day is coming.  I’m planning to go to heaven someday.  I know she’s planning to go there, as well.  So what happens when we both get to heaven?  When I see her for the first time, how will I respond?  How will I feel?  Will I run to her with arms wide open?  If I can’t do that on earth, can I do that in heaven?  And if I can’t do that on earth, what does that mean?  For me and my eternity?

I have to examine my heart.  Very closely.  Is it ever ok not to reach out?

Search me, O God, and know my heart.  Test me and know my anxious thoughts.  Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.  Psalm 139:23-24

 

The Good Worker

I started a new job.  There are weeks and weeks of training.  My head is full of information and knowledge.  I wonder how I will ever remember everything once I start doing the work.  It is a scary thought.  What if I fail?  What if I can’t do the job after all the training that was put into me?  What if I can’t cut it?

There are so many instructions.  So many steps.  So many complicated steps.  To everything.  Nothing is simple.  Nothing is quick.  Copy this.  Encrypt that.  Make notes of this.  Learn three new systems.  Track your time.  There is so much to learn.  Oh.  The work isn’t really difficult.  It’s just a very manual process that needs to be automated.

I shared my concerns with a friend.  I asked her to pray.  She hears from God.  His message was loud and clear.

It will settle.  You are well equipped.  He assists you and never leaves your side.  Deep enjoyment is forthcoming.

That was the promise.  How could I doubt?  I realize I don’t doubt God.  I doubt myself.  But in doubting myself, am I doubting God?  So many times I have gone back to read that promise.  To steady my nerves.  To gain confidence.  To face the fear.  I pray for God’s mercies each day as I walk into work.  I know God is with me.  With each task I struggle with or accomplish, God is there.  He has not left my side.


What if the Lord had not been on our side?  Psalm 124:1


I have to remember my time of unemployment.  When I prayed for a job.  When I prayed that God would provide the right job for me.  I felt such peace about this one.  This place.  I knew it was where I should be.  I am so thankful to be there.  The company is great.  The people are great.  Now I need to feel great about it.

The blessings of God are not trouble free. The answers to prayer are part of our path to eternity. The work of God in our lives is a work in progress. The ups and downs of daily life are blessings and obstacles that put us on a path to God.  Success is as much a curse as it is a blessing.  Success brings challenges that failure never thought of.

I know God can run my life much better than I can.  His plans are perfect.  I need to trust Him more than I trust myself.  Because right now.  Right now I wonder if I can do the job that he has provided.  I need God’s strength and help right now just as much as I needed His provision when I was looking for a job.  The truth is.  I always need God’s help.  There’s nothing I can do on my own that is done better without God’s help.

I need to keep my focus on my God.  And His strength.  My work has just begun there.  His work continues in my life.  As long as I have breath.  For everything I need, He will provide.

 

 

The Fade

It’s been in the news lately.  A couple of famous people have fallen off the sobriety wagon.  Oh.  They’re jumping back on, but now their private acts have been exposed.  The battle they’ve been fighting is still being fought but now out in the open.  Their worst private moments are made public.  They lost their way.  They had a tough year.  They gave in to the dark thoughts and desires within.

Oh.  It’s easy to point fingers and name names.  It’s easy to blame others’ problems on their lack of self-control or unknown weaknesses.  But I don’t know these people.  Except for what I read in the news.  I’ll never meet them.  I’ll never shake their hand.  I’ll never look them in the eye.  But what I do know is that the issues they’re facing can’t be faced alone.  They need others to help guide them and hold them accountable.  They need help.

They’ve had years of sobriety and great success.  They have been applauded and rewarded.  They have been the center of attention for a period of time.  But something happened.  Poor decisions.  Hard times.  Uncertainty.  Temptations.  Dark thoughts.  Who knows what caused the downfall.  They knew all the right things to do.  Go to meetings.  Be accountable.  Get help when things start to spin out of control.  But this time.  This time things were different.  The downward spiral started and before too long, they were too far gone to rescue themselves.  They no longer listened to the voice of reason within themselves or from those who wanted to help.  They got lost as they walked the path of sobriety.


I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  Psalm 119:11


I read a story in the Bible about a nation called Israel.  They had a history of ups and downs in their relationship with God.  Oh.  Life was good when they kept God on their side.  But when they started to spiral downward.  And they did.  Life went out of control.  Their enemies came calling.  No.  It wasn’t social calls.  It was war.  All-out war.  Then when life became so unbearable, they remembered God.  Oh.  Yes.  God can help us.  They remembered.  When they allowed God in their lives and routines, He always came through.  He helped them win those battles.

During the times of forgetting God, the temple priests preached feel-good religion.  The priests quit reading the Bible to the people when they visited the temple.  The Bible got lost in the shuffle and wasn’t read for years.  Oh the joy when they found the Book.  When Josiah became king, he commanded the priests to dust it off and read it again.  Oh.  The change was real.  The king and his people repented and enjoyed peace in their land and in their homes and hearts.  But when Josiah died, the people forgot God and went back to their old ways.

It makes me wonder.  What happens in our lives and homes when we don’t read the Bible?  When we put the Bible on the shelf to accumulate dust?  How long does it take for us to forget God’s commands and promises?  How long before we begin to ignore God’s calling and will for our lives?  How long before we no longer talk about God to our children and families?

What do we turn to during our times of trouble if we’re not turning to God and his Word?  What stumbling block is in our path if we don’t keep the path to God clear and uncluttered?  Who will hold us accountable when we start down the slippery slope?

How does it happen?  It’s not an overnight change.  It’s gradual.  A slow move to accepting.  Or thinking.  Or acting in ways you once thought repulsive.  A giving up.  A letting go of values.  Beliefs.  To accepting the viewpoint you once disapproved.  The gradual release of convictions.  Of letting inhibitions go.

How do we go back?  How do we return to our first love?  How do we get back on the road of redemption?

Oh God.  Forgive us for not faithfully reading and studying your Word.  The lifeline to you.  We’ve forgotten it and moved to thinking that being good is good enough.  But really.  The Good Book needs to be dusted off and placed in the center of our lives.

Angels Rejoice

I heard the news.  Two people recently made a life-changing decision.  That decision.  To follow Christ.  To turn their back on their sins.  To turn their back on themselves.  To turn their back on their old thoughts.  Desires.  Ambitions.  To place their faith, hope and trust in the God who created them.

They humbled themselves and bowed to the only God of the universe.  They bowed to their will.  Their ways.  They have turned themselves over to the one true God.  They have submitted their lives to God.

Their slate of sin has been erased.  Wiped clean.  Any wrong they have done has been removed as far from God as the sea is from the heavens.  Those sins have been forgotten by God.  Oh.  He’s that good.  Salvation is that good.

I imagine the peace these two people now feel.  The burden of sin they carried has been crushed by the weight of the cross that Jesus carried.  The charred blackness of their hearts has been made white as snow.  The weight on their shoulders has been removed.

Once they walked away from their sins, they walked through an open door straight to a new best friend.  God Almighty.  Now they have the opportunity to build a strong, close relationship with their Maker.  They are now learning how much God is on their side.  The one they once shunned is now the center of their life.  I pray they will continue to build that relationship with him.  He is fighting for them.  He is working for them.  He loves them.

They will learn that they still have free will.  Oh.  They can choose to sin.  There will be times of temptation.  Every day when they wake up, they will have to choose.  Will they follow God?  Will they follow their own will?  I pray that as the sun rises each day, they choose God.


There is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents.  Luke 15:8


There have been many prayers sent up to heaven for these souls.  There have been tears.  Pleas to God.  Please save our loved one.  Oh.  God was willing.  He’s always willing and waiting.  The decision is in the hearts of each of us.  Will we give our lives to God or will we selfishly hold on to our will and our ways?  We each have a choice.

This news fills me with joy.  It reminds me that God is still bigger and better than all our worries and problems.  It tells me that God is still working in the hearts of men and women.  Teenagers and children.  God is not dead.  God is not done.  He is holding out on sending his son, Jesus, back to earth.  Just for this reason.  He wants all of us to be saved.  He wants everyone who is ever born to join him in heaven.  But we can only do that if we repent of our sins.  If we turn our lives over to him and let him guide us.

Some may think God is not relevant today.  Some may believe God is dead.  Or that he never existed.  Some people think that being good is good enough.  The fact that two more people have made the decision to follow God tells me God is very much alive.  God is still waiting for those who are not yet his followers.  God is still working in the hearts of those who need him.  God is a very patient God.  God is still in the saving business.

Angels in heaven rejoice when a sinner on earth makes the decision to become a Christian.  Heaven throws a party to celebrate new believers.  Has there been a heavenly party for you?  If no, it’s not too late.

 

Attitude of Gratitude

I started a new job today.  Oh.  It felt good.  It felt frightening.  It felt God-given.  After months of unemployment, it felt good to be called an employee.  Again.  God is good.  All the time.  All the time.  God is good.

I want to remember this day.  I want to remember the joy I felt as I walked through the door for the first time as an employee.  I want to remember the expectation of good days to come.  Of successes.  Of new friendships.  Of finding my purpose for being there.

When I’m down in the weeds of work.  Researching.  Writing.  Discussing.  Preparing reports.  Fighting to make the world a better place.  I want to remember the joy of this new beginning.  I want to be thankful for the opportunity to struggle with meeting a deadline.  I want to appreciate the hard fought battle of gathering information and making things right.  I want to feel joyful that God has provided an opportunity for me to serve Him in a new place.  A new setting.  A new beginning.

Oh.  There will be struggles.  There will be deadlines.  There will be too much work and too little time.  There will be differences of opinion.  There will be collaboration.  There will be a plethora of learning.  There will be hard fought battles.


Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.  Colossians 3:23


I want the challenge.  I accepted the offer.  Now I must be willing to accept everything that comes along with that offer.  The good.  The bad.  The ugly.  I hope and pray there isn’t much ugly.  But one never knows.  Personalities clash.  Timelines are crunched.  Budgets grow tight.  Tempers flare.  But through it all, I want to remember.  I want to remember the act of walking through the door on this first day.  I want to remember the art of appreciation when I am fed up with the system.  When all I can see is red tape and slowness of progress.  I want to appreciate being employed.  For being employed even in a bad job is better than not being employed.  That’s easy to say.  It’s not always easy to live through bad employment.  It’s even worse living through unemployment.  But both are survivable.  I know.  I’ve lived through both.  That’s why I want to remember this day.  And appreciate it for all it’s worth.

I was welcomed by new coworkers. New names. New faces.  New opportunities.  New office.  New surroundings.  New routines.  I welcome the discomfort of being new.  Of not knowing the system.  Of having to learn the ropes.  Of being the newbie.  Because it will become familiar.

New becomes familiar.  Familiar becomes routine.  Routine become boredom.  Boredom becomes complacency. Complacency becomes death for 40 hours a week.  That is what I don’t want.

So.  For this new beginning, I say thank you to God.  Thank you for providing me with a new job.  Thank you for listening to my heartfelt prayers.  Thank you for all the interviews you sent my way.  Thank you for giving me the ability to earn a living.  Thank you, God.

People Watchers

We have a neighborhood cat.  He roams the neighborhood at all hours of the day.  And night.   He walks through everyone’s yard.  Through the wooded ravine.  Down the middle of the street.  This cat knows more about the nooks and crannies of the neighborhood than any kid who lives here.   He’s always out and about.  Checking out the latest happenings.  He pops up just when you least expect him.

It seems that he’s always in my yard at the most inconvenient times.  He likes to taunt my dog.  He brings out the worst in my dog.  He knows what causes my dog to go ballistic.  He keeps coming back for more.  I think he enjoys having power over another animal.  He’s always on the prowl.  I don’t know why the neighbors allow their cat to roam.

There are people watchers.

A boss who likes to watch their employees.  Eavesdrop on conversations and butt in when they feel they’re the wisest voice around.  They publicly humiliate others.  They take advantage when it isn’t theirs to take.  They abuse their power all in the name of concern for others.

A teacher who studies her students as avidly as her students study for a test.  She watches her students’ behavior.  She wants to know if someone if cheating.  She gives awards for best performance or perfect attendance.  She looks for signs of abuse and neglect.


The Lord is watching everywhere, keeping his eye on both the evil and the good.  Proverbs 15:3


There are other people watchers.  Watchers not of this world.   Watchers with good intentions.  Watchers with evil intentions.

Satan is known to roam the earth.  He’s even admitted it.  He doesn’t keep it a secret that he watches people.  He looks for people he can devour.  He searches for Christ followers who he can trick into following him.  He makes people sick and diseased.  He slyly convinces people to do things his way.  He pretends to be someone else.  Be on the lookout.  He’s coming for you.

There is still another people watcher.  His eyes search the earth for different reasons.  He wants to give strength to people who are fully committed to him.  He’s looking for the wise.  He’s constantly observing everyone on the earth to see what they’re doing.   He can see the entire human race all at the same time.  He is omnipotent.  He can be everywhere all at once.   He isn’t a magician.  He is God.

It seems to me that God and Satan are watching the same people.  God is watching His followers.  Those who are committed to him.  He’s looking for us, so he can strengthen us.  He will work for those who are fully committed to Him.  We are his job.  He works to protect us.  He is our helper.  Satan, on the other hand, is looking to fool us.  To trick us.  To tempt us.  He’s a deceiver.  He pretends to be a friend, so he can manipulate us into being like him.  That’s no friend.

Whether we want him to or not, God is watching us.  We can’t hide from him.  He has our best interests in mind.  He knows ahead of time the struggles we’ll face.  He sees us at our best.  He sees us at our worst.  He doesn’t take advantage of us.  He loves us.  No matter what he sees.

Day Lilies

I look out the dining room window and see the row of day lilies below.  They seem to bloom later in the season than other day lilies in the neighborhood.  Could it be because mine were planted in a shady area?  I see several blooms that will open in the next few days.  But today.  One flower has opened.  It is a beautiful rust color.

I’m surprised the flower had a chance to bloom.  In years’ past, the deer have eaten all the blossoms before they ever had a chance to open.  Maybe this is my lucky year.  Maybe this year, all the flowers will get their chance to shine.  Maybe they’ll be able to open.  If only for a day.  But they will make that day count.  Oh.  These flowers do make their one day of beauty shine.  They are breathtaking.

These day lilies have a short lifespan.  One day.  But in that one day, they can bring a smile to one’s face.  One look at the beauty of God’s handiwork will send hope for the flower that blooms tomorrow.  For this one day, though, this open flower has the power to spread cheer and excitement.


The faithful love of the Lord never ends.  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness.  His mercies begin afresh every morning.           Lamentations 3:22-23


I’m reminded that there is also another part of God’s beauty that lasts only for a day.  God’s mercy.  Oh.  He promises mercy for each day.  He promises just enough mercy for this one day.  And this day alone.  Tomorrow another bud of mercy will bloom.

Just as I see the row of day lilies waiting their turn to bloom, so I think of God’s row of mercies lined up for me this week.  I can’t use those mercies yet.  I must wait until tomorrow for God’s new mercy to hold me through tomorrow’s worries and troubles.  I consider that today is still new and fresh with plenty of mercy waiting to sweep over me.  Whenever I call on God to pour out his mercy on me today, he won’t disappoint.  He will shower me with enough mercy for the moment.  For the hour.  For the day.  He never fails.  He never disappoints.  At times, I feel the worries and fears begin to creep in.  But they slip away as mercy rains down on me.  God is faithful and showers me with mercy when I need it.

So when I think of my troubles, I know the mercy maker is waiting to pour a fresh batch of mercy over me whenever I call.  I think of the worry deer eating away at my budding hopes.  I know the worry may threaten to destroy my peace and faith.  But I also know another thing.  My God is the giver of life and the renewer of mercy.  So for today, I have all the mercy I need.  For today, the one day lily that is blooming is enough.  Tomorrow is on the horizon.  I don’t know what it will bring.  But this one thing I do know.  There will be a fresh outpouring of mercy waiting for me.  All I have to do is receive it.

Mercy for the day.

The Fight for You

You.  Yes.  I’m talking to you.  You know that voice inside your head?  The one that only says negative things to you about you?  Well.  It’s time to let it go.  Just fire that voice.   It’s time to take control of your thoughts and words and actions.  You are you.  Not that voice that you hear.

Get in the fight.  Fight for yourself.  Fight yourself.  Fight your fears.  Fight your worries.  Fight that person’s voice you hear if it’s telling you lies.  Because it’s always telling you lies.  You know that voice you hear.  In your head.  That voice that constantly puts you down.  Tells you that you’re worthless.  Tells you that you can’t ever reach that goal or dream.  The voice that tells you you’re not good enough to amount to anything worthwhile in life.  You know that voice.  It isn’t even your voice.  It’s someone else’s.  Oh.  You most likely know whose voice it is.

That voice that you’ve let become your voice may be from a former teacher.  Or a parent.  Or a sibling.  Or that bully you sat by in sixth grade.  It may be a former boyfriend.  Or your spouse.  A former spouse.  It may be your soccer coach.  It may be the boss you report to for forty hours a week.  For years on end.  It may be that coworker who thinks the world owes them everything and you nothing.  You know the voice.  Get rid of it.

So admit it.  You listen to that voice more than you listen to anything else anyone else tells you.  Because that voice is always right.  Am I right?  Well.  Think about this.  That voice isn’t right.  It’s telling you lies.  Big lies.  That voice has put you down for so long that you think it’s the only voice of reason.  But here’s the thing.  It’s not the truth.  It’s not reason.

For too long, you’ve felt that you have to continually seek approval from that person.  The one who criticizes you.  Puts you down in public.  More so in private.  Never applauds your successes.  All you want is their praise.  Their applause.  Their acceptance.  Doesn’t seem like much to ask.  But it is.  Remember this.  They too have someone’s voice in their head.  Don’t pass that ugly voice down to another generation.


Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.    Philippians 4:8


You know that dream you’ve had tucked away.  For so long.  You dare not call it a dream anymore for fear someone may laugh.  Well.  I dare you.  Start thinking about it.  Write it down.  Dare to speak it.  Oh.  You say you’re not a dreamer.  You can’t imagine new possibilities.  Or even hope them.  Maybe you should.  Because you’ll only accomplish whatever you do.  Oh.  You may fail.  That’s right.  But what if you succeed?  What then?

You say you’re not educated.  Do you think a piece of paper is worth more than natural talent?  God given talent?  Do you think a diploma is worth more than experience?  Well.  It may be for some things.  But not for everything.  So if you don’t really need that piece of paper.  Don’t sweat it.  You’re still somebody without it.  You still have natural talent.  You still have gifts.

I’ve heard others sing your praises.  More than once.  They think you’re awesome.  They’re amazed at your God given talents.  They admire you.  They kind of want to be you.  They wonder how you do what you do and stay so humble.  They love your sense of humor.  They love your steadfastness.  They seek you out of a crowd.  They come to you for advice.  You are loved.  You are valued.  You are the answer to someone’s prayer.

So go ahead.  Listen to the voice in your heart.  Listen to the voice that calms your fears.  The voice that speaks truth in times of uncertainty.  Trust that voice.

You are worthy.  You are capable.  You are enough.  You are loved.

Don’t let someone else’s negativity become your life motto.

When I Am Weak

I thought my heart would shatter into a million pieces when I heard the words. Today is your last day.  I felt a huge silent sigh escape my lips.  It was not a sigh of relief.  I felt I could no longer breathe.  My mind went blank.  My mind whirled with a thousand thoughts.  Why is this happening to me?  Again?  I wondered.  Oh.  I had been laid off before.  Twice before.  But years went by between each layoff.  And birthdays occurred.  I was older each time.  And this time, I wondered if my career was over.  It happens.  Older workers have a harder time than younger workers finding jobs.  It’s a fact.  Oh.  They won’t say you’re too old.  They can’t.  But they can hedge.  They can find other reasons not to hire someone “past their prime”.

The same power that rose Jesus from the grave lives us. That’s what the song says.  That’s what the Bible says.  Why did I suddenly feel powerless? Why did it feel as if my power had just been taken away?   Where is my identity anyway?  Is it in a job?  A title?  A paycheck?  I don’t like to think so.  But when those things are suddenly gone, what’s left?  Power is one thing.  But so is security.

For when I am weak, then I am strong. Sounds like an oxymoron. Feels like an impossible stretch.  But the apostle Paul knew how that felt.  Oh.  He begged God three times to remove his thorn in the flesh.  But God never removed it.  So Paul learned to rely on God’s power.  He learned that he must depend on God in those moments of weakness.  Not on himself.  He was strengthened by God through his weakness.  But what does that mean?  What does that look like?  Is that even real?  Or possible?  Can I do this?


I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  2 Corinthians 12:9


I remember when I took swimming lessons.  It was a 6-week course.  The first thing we needed to master was floating face down.  I’d never been in a pool.  Being in a body of water where I couldn’t touch the bottom was unnerving.  Floating face down was frightening.  Very frightening.  I was taught to relax.  It’s easier said than done.  Because this thing could kill me.  Literally.  So I learned calmness and relaxation.  I let myself go and float face down.  The master teacher was always nearby.  Ready to catch me if I needed help.

One lesson in particular I remember.  We floated down the pool and around the bend.  The lesson that day was to learn to get myself in an upright position after floating face down.  I was having trouble.  I couldn’t master the act of bringing myself to an upright position.  I was struggling.  Oh.  I knew the steps it took to move into the position, but I wasn’t strong enough.  I tried over and over.  At one point, it felt as if I was going under and never coming back up.  Where was my instructor?  I thought.  It felt as if I was drowning.  It was a feeling of total helplessness.  Will she let me drown?  I wondered.  By some miracle, I was finally able to get myself in an upright position.  Coughing.  Sputtering.  Deep breaths.  I now knew the feeling of drowning.  It wasn’t good.

She never came to rescue me.  Oh.  She was watching.  She was close by.  But she allowed me to struggle until I had the strength to endure and survive.  I had to dig deep and find the will to conquer my fear and trust myself and the water.  It was a hard lesson.

I never went back to swimming lessons.  Oh.  I had my reasons.  Petty excuses.  I never learned to swim.  I still remember that helpless feeling of sinking in the water.  The water that could cause my demise.  Oh.  I would still love to learn to swim.  But now I know the cost.  The price I must pay in order to feel comfortable in a situation beyond my control.  Where the monster.  The beast.  Is bigger than me.   It’s bigger than life. It’s ever moving and flowing all around me.  Where it engulfs and consumes me. Where the current can take me out to sea.  I don’t like that feeling.  I like to be in control of my situation.  So I gave up.

I now find myself in a situation that’s out of my control.  Oh.  I have good days.  I have not so good days.  I’m learning to float face down in God’s love.  I’m learning to let go and face my fears. I’m learning to breathe underwater.  It doesn’t feel good.  It’s not my comfort zone.  Sometimes I wonder if the struggle will ever end.  But I keep doing the work I need to do to get to the other side of this battle.

I know my God is watching.  He’s close by.  Oh.  I know he could rescue me in an instant if he chose.  But he’s allowing me to struggle.  I don’t know how long this will continue, so I have to be prepared for the long haul.  I have to dig deep in God’s love and learn to relax and not fight what I can’t control.  It isn’t easy.  I have to trust that God’s power is working through me.  It’s in the struggle that strength is born.

A New Way to Walk

I’ve been told I walk wrong.  When I take a step, I step off on the ball of my foot instead of with my heel.  Apparently, that isn’t the way walking should be done.  So I now have foot problems.  Bunions.  Morton toe.  And they hurt.  They can disfigure a foot.  And they cause problems with wearing shoes.  If I wear shoes that I think look stylish, my feet are screaming by the end of the day.  Oh.  There are remedies.  Surgery.  Toe separators.  Exercises.  Orthopedics.

I stretch my toes with Yoga Toes.  I use Yamuna balls for a foot workout.  I get foot massages.  These things help my feet.  I can feel the difference afterwards.  But I’m looking for long-term relief.  I want relief from the pain I feel from wearing certain shoe styles.

I’m told there is a correct way to walk and an incorrect way to walk.  I try walking the correct way.  It takes deliberate concentration to walk just right.  With each step, I have to think about how I’m stepping.  Some days I do my best to walk correctly.  Heel first.  Roll to the outside edge of the foot.  Then roll from the pinkie toe to the big toe.  That’s what I’m told.  It is less pain.  My feet feel better when I walk like that.  But it takes concentration.  And there are days that I don’t feel like concentrating on how I walk.

I find it’s easy to slip into the habit of walking in the old way.  The incorrect way.  It shows, too.  After I’ve walked incorrectly for awhile, my feet don’t feel good.  The ball of my foot hurts.  The muscles feel tight.  The bunion aches.

I saw a new massage therapist.  As he worked on my feet, he noticed the problem immediately.  He could sense the tightness and soreness.  He applied pressure in tight areas.  He worked to ease the discomfort.  The momentary pressure brought great relief that will last longer than any discomfort I had been feeling.  Oh.  How good it felt to be able to stretch my feet without the tightness.

I’ve probably been walking this way since I learned to walk.  It’s a natural walk for me.  After all these years, it’s hard to re-learn to walk.  After all, I didn’t know I was walking incorrectly.  So when I try to walk the correct way, I have to think through each step of the process.  That certainly slows down the walking.  But I’ve noticed that the discomfort and pain are lessened if I walk the right way.  Maybe there is something to this new way of walking, after all.


But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son, purifies us from all sin.  1 John 1:7


I think of the one who has recently made the decision to walk with Christ.  They asked God to forgive them of their sins.  They’re starting over.  They’re walking in Christ’s footsteps now.  They need to learn a new way of walking in this world.

Oh.  There will missteps.  There will be pitfalls.  There will be tests.  There will be trials.  and there will be temptations.  Temptations to walk in the old way.  The way not of Christ.  Old habits die hard.  Tempers flare.  Words are said.  Attitudes are set.  Behaviors once thought conquered may reappear.

The new walk may sometimes be painful.  Learning to walk in the footsteps of Christ can be invigorating.  humbling.  empowering.  peaceful.  forgiving.  This walk is not impossible.  But it won’t be a perfect step.  This new walk is a walk of obedience.

The thing is.  This new walk is not meant to be a walk of solitude.  It’s meant to be a walk in step with others.  It’s a walk with those who have walked those first baby steps of faith.  It’s a walk of companionship.  Camaraderie.  Fellowship.  A walk with fellow believers.  A walk with someone who can  disciple and mentor a new believer along the path of faith.  This walk can’t be walked alone.