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

 

Available: Forgiveness

She trusted them.  They stole from her.  They thought they had fooled her.  They didn’t.  They created a story of untruths.  What started out as an act of goodwill ended up with stolen treasures, lies, loss of trust and possible loss of friendship.  Was it worth it?  Was it worth the risk to take things belonging to another?  Things that weren’t yous?  For what?  A few dollars?

Now when they see each other, and they will, they’ll remember.  They both will.  The thief and the victim.  They’ll avoid each other.  Unable to look each other in the eye.  They’ll both be uncomfortable.  For different reasons.  Ruined friendships for their children.  All because of greed.  All because of wanting more.  All because of wanting what others have.  Was it worth it?

Then there’s the punishment.  What’s appropriate?  Confront them?  Press charges?    How do you really prove guilt without finding the stolen objects?  Deep down, you know who took the items.  You just can’t prove it.  How do you confront an injustice when you can’t really prove it?  But deep down, deep down you know.  And they know you know.

Imagine the fear of getting caught.  Imagine the stories the guilty have had to create.  Imagine the strain on relationships of those who are guilty.  A mother and child.  Both involved.  Why would the mother put that stress on her child?  Why would she lead her child down a path of wrongdoing?  Were they that desperate?  If so, don’t they know help is available?  Would they accept help?  Wouldn’t the fear of getting caught and being punished be more embarrassing than asking for help?

Have they done this before?  Perhaps this wasn’t the first time they had taken from others.  Perhaps they have a history of unpunished wrongdoing.  Have they taken advantage of others’ kindness in the past without being confronted or punished?

All the victim wanted was to get her possessions back.  No police.  No arrest.  Just right the wrong.  She offered mercy to those who had taken from her.  She chose forgiveness. She decided there was too much at risk to publicize the wrong that was done to her.  Going public with the offense would cause embarrassment to the guilty.  Perhaps.  Going public could break up the guilty family.  Perhaps.   Going public would end the friendship.  Perhaps.  But was it right to stay silent?  Is offering forgiveness and mercy enough?  Should all wrongdoings be punished?


I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.                Isaiah 43:25


The Bible tells us that everyone has sinned.  We were born sinners.  We need to right our wrongs.  We need to ask for forgiveness.  If not, we will be punished.  It’s an eternal punishment in the depths of hell.  Who wants that?

We have a forgiver.  One who offers forgiveness for all our sins.  No questions asked.  Mercy is offered for admitting guilt.  Sure.  There may be consequences because of our actions.  Wrongs will have consequences.  Some consequences and punishments are private.  Others public.  But forgiveness is always available.  Always within our reach.  All we have to do is ask.

His name is Jesus.  The forgiver of our sins.  He will wipe our sins off the map.  He will drop them into the depths of the ocean.  He will remove our sins as far as the east is from the west.  He will forget we ever sinned.  Once he has forgiven us.  We’re made new.  New creatures.  Go and sin no more.

Petty Tyrannies

Her words do me in.  They are sharp.  Cutting.  Unpredictable yet predictable.  Unpredictable because I never know when she will strike.  Predictable because it’s happening too often lately.

She says we’re not the target.  It’s the situation that causes her to be this way.  But those around her are the victims.  Easy prey.

I’ve tried to quietly analyze her.  What causes her to strike?  What is happening in her life that makes her so stressed?  Why is she so tightly wound?  Do I even want to know?

The thing is.  Others notice.  Others hear the words.  Others avoid her.  Her reputation precedes her.

Stress causes people to act out, speak out and mistreat others when it is never their intention.  Our differences will divide us.  If we let them.  We can choose to work and live together in harmony.  Give each other space.  Help each other out.


Free us from the petty tyrannies of each other.  Romans 14:9 (MSG)


I’m the peacemaker of the group.  Usually.  But sometimes I find myself striking back when the words are too cutting.  I find that my sharp words come out when I’ve been wounded.  Hoping to inflict as much damage as I’ve received.  Even if I’m not the intended target.  A person can only take so much.  I tell myself.

But does that really give me the right to strike back?  Does that make it right?  Is getting even ever justifiable?

I’ve begun to realize that I’m prone to getting even when backed in a corner.  I say words that I will later regret.  My thoughts have a bent toward retaliation.  Even though that’s not the way I choose to live or treat people.

I don’t think of myself as evil.  I’m protecting myself.  That’s what I tell myself.  I’m making sure that I’m not walked on.  Not trampled on.  Not chewed up and spit out.

I want to think I’m better than that. I want others to think I’m better than that. I want to think that others don’t see the real me.  I want them to see the good in me.  I want them to believe in me.  I want them to trust me. I want my reputation to be honorable.

If I have to justify my petty tyrannies to others, then I know I’m doing wrong.  Why don’t I repent and choose to do better, be better instead of continually explaining away my shortcomings?

I remember Jesus in the garden when Judas Iscariot betrayed him with a kiss.  When Jesus was arrested, he went quietly.

I remember Jesus was put on trial.  Listening to the lies.  The false charges brought against him.  He stood there quietly.

I remember someone shoved a crown of thorns on Jesus’ head.  He was beaten and stripped of his clothes.  He didn’t fight.  He didn’t try to escape.

I remember Jesus was ordered to carry the cross that he would die on.  He carried that cross up the hill with the little strength he had left.  He was nailed to that cross.  He knew he was going to die.  I wonder if he wished he was already dead.  So he wouldn’t have to suffer more.

He had no strength left to fight, yet he was willing to die so he could save everyone fighting against him.  He could have called on heavenly forces to save himself, but he died alone so everyone else could live.

I remember Jesus on the cross.  A soldier slit his side.  A thief on one cross insulted him.  Another thief recognized Jesus and asked for forgiveness.  In his dying moments, Jesus forgave him.  He told the second thief they would be together in heaven later that day.


 Strength is for service, not status. Each one of us needs to look after the good of the people around us, asking ourselves, “How can I help?” That’s exactly what Jesus did. He didn’t make it easy for himself by avoiding people’s troubles, but waded right in and helped out.  Romans 15:2-6 MSG


I see a pattern in my life that doesn’t match up to Jesus’ example.  If I’m going to be like him, I need to think like him.  I need to act like him.  I need to embrace his willingness to forgive at all cost.  I need to love others as he did. I need to ask how I can help.  I want him to look at me and tell me that he’ll see me in heaven when my time comes.