Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Disease

Let me tell you about a disease you should know about. Well, it starts very subtly. It begins with a small part of your mind. Sometimes others may notice the creeping illness in you. Sometimes you notice it yourself. The scary part, is some don't notice it at all. If left alone, this terrible sickness will wrap itself around you. At first it feels good to wallow in it. It doesn't hurt. It actually feels rather comforting. It's then that it sinks it's icy fingers around you. It has you now. It isn't so comfortable anymore and others see it all over you. It pulls you deep into a spiral downward. Now fighting it is nearly impossible. You are consumed, overwhelmed, paralyzed.

What might this disease possibly be? Self pity. The truth is, it's really not a disease. It really isn't something we don't have control over. I heard a preacher on the radio in my car say a few days ago, "Self pity is one of the most consuming sins." I stopped and thought about that. I read a quote that said, "Self pity is easily the most destructive of non pharmaceutical drugs: it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure, and separates it's victim from reality." Sheesh. Honestly, I never think I'm having a "pity party." I always have a reason for why I feel the way I feel. If I'm miserable, for goodness sakes, I think I have quite the right.

Self pity is something that Satan uses more than I thought he did. He persuades us that we have a "right" to wallow in our problems. We don't feel like we're hurting anyone by being miserable especially if we try to hide it and shove it down in the depths of our heart. At least I don't. I think, "I may not get to see my fiance for two months... I have the right to be miserable."

But plain and simple, we do not have the "right" to wallow in self pity. Of course we are going to be in miserable miserable circumstances sometimes, but it doesn't give us a right. If we are saved by the blood of the Son of God, we have all we need. We have been saved and nothing can take us out of the hand of God. All self pity does is cripple me from being my best and it shows others that my faith in Jesus is weak.

"Indeed I count everything as loss compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ," says Paul to the church in Philippians.

I love that! He calls all of that suffering RUBBISH! That's such a neat word, RUBBISH! And Paul sure knew about struggles.... he experienced a few.

"I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me." Psalm 118:13

We will suffer. That is part of life and being a follower of Jesus. Yet, we suffer, we can defend ourselves against the evil disease of self pity. Keep your eyes of Jesus. Focus on others. Life is more than for the pursuit of our own happiness. There is joy in following the Truth.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Do We Even Care?

Do we even care about what?

We have one life. Despite all of the "earthy" talk of karma and such, the Bible says that we live once. If you are a follower of Jesus, you live forever in Heaven.... But, we have one life to live in this manner on this earth. One chance to live it.

I was thinking about how much time out of my life I lose because I focus on myself. In the past few months I've seen incredible things happen in my life. I've seen God move in my life. I'm so blessed that I have gotten to experience this journey thus far. Yet, I wonder how many things I miss because of where I focus day to day.

I read in the Bible about Joseph in Egypt, David as king, Esther as a queen, Peter as a fearless leader... even people like Gideon, or King Hezekiah, or Ruth. God must have had super good plans for their lives. They must have really had purpose. Well, I just don't have purpose like that. I will never save a nation from starving, lead an army to battle for the Lord, I'll never save a whole people from destruction, I'll never proclaim the Gospel to thousands of people all at once... I'll never do anything close to those things. I may not. I may never do anything like that. It's probably a good thing if I don't do some of those things. So what? Am I supposed to sit back like a lot of other Joe's in our church pews and critique the pastor's sermon? I just live and get by?

Somewhere deep inside of us as followers of Jesus, we know that God has a plan for our lives, but we as a whole really don't seem to care enough to follow it or even find out what that is.

You may expect me to say that David was just an average shepherd, and Esther a poor Jewish girl, and so on and so forth. And you would be right, they were those things. But yet, they weren't. Here is where they were different that I often am:

They had open hearts.

They were ready and tuned in to God's plan.

David wouldn't have gotten to kill Goliath if he hadn't had to do the drudgery of killing a bear earlier. Joseph wouldn't have been second in command under Pharaoh if he hadn't been in command of the palace prison for almost a decade leading up to that. They proved that they were "usable."

Sometimes I think that I can become usable to God if He suddenly decides that He needs me for a project or something. Why can't I stay prepared? I may get the opportunity to tell thousands about Jesus or I may just be expected to tell that girl over there on the bench outside of Walmart about Jesus. I might just be expected to sacrifice to invite others into my home along with my family, just to encourage a hurting soul.

God's not going to give us a big job, if we can't handle the "everyday" of serving Him.

All of those "Bible heroes" were chosen because they had an open heart. They wouldn't have been the Christians that leaned back and said, "God must not have that big of a plan for me." Their purpose was what was ahead of them. Great or small.

God has a purpose for you. Don't wait for it to come to you. Go to it. He isn't hiding it from you. A good place to start is the Word of God... the Bible. I pray that whatever it is, whether it be easy or hard, great or small, we will do it with all our hearts.

I love you all! Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

One Dress and One Man

Months ago I began the search. The search for a wedding dress. Now, I know many girls begin that search long before a guy is even in the picture of their lives, because it is fun to look. I just never did look for a perfect dress as a little girl or as a teenager (though I still am one). So suddenly, I was hit with the realization that I better start looking! I thought, How hard can it be? It's a white dress. Easy. Wrong. It is not easy. There is every imaginable kind of wedding dress out there, except for what I wanted, of course.

I was at camp, and Mom was on me about my need to get looking. I toyed with the idea of eloping after seeing the "to do" list for a wedding. Ahh!!!! I swallowed hard and began looking online. I found that I had an idea of what I wanted and I didn't even give dresses that didn't meet those qualifications a second glance. May be harsh, but it saved time. Why look at a dress with a red stripe when I didn't want that? I saw all of these skimpy, flirty, dresses and I cringed as I searched for something better.

That's when I found it. The dress. But, I didn't love it at first sight. I saw things about it that didn't seem like me. It couldn't work, could it? Yet, it stayed there in my mind. I kept looking at it and it grew on me. I wanted to order it. WHY??? I hadn't even been to a bridal shop anywhere! Get this, I had never tried on a wedding dress... ever. Why did I think I could order a dress from Utah and it work, first try? I really don't know. And Mom's eyes widened as we ordered it.

People asked if I had been wedding dress shopping yet.

"Have you tried on a bajillion dresses yet?" "How many stores have you been to?"

I just chuckled and said, "No. None."

They laughed and said, "Well, you'll have time to go try a whole bunch on."

"Uh... I already ordered one."

They about passed out when I said I had never tried one on. And I began to wonder if I was a fool. Goodness gracious, I should have gone and tried them on. I should have tried it out before I committed myself to it.

The dress came early. The brown box seemed to laugh in my face as I struggled to take off the tape. My heart thumped as I pulled it out. The pristine white sparkled. It looked good. Mom breathed the words, "Ok, let's get you in it." The smooth cloth dropped over my shoulders and when I looked in the mirror all I could say was, "IT'S PERFECT." It was perfect. Tears filled my eyes when a thought came to my mind.

How that dress came to me is very much like how Josh came to me. Josh is the only man I have ever been in a relationship with, he is the only man I'll ever kiss, he is the only man that will have all of me. God showed me that I didn't have to go and "try on other guys" just like I never tried on other dresses. I haven't "test kissed him" to make sure I like what I'm getting before it's permanent. God brought him to me, and I didn't have to do anything. It was a sort of love that progressed. Just like when I saw the dress. I didn't know if it would work, but now, I know circumstances, time, and everything else is in God's hands.

There could be things about the dress, that aren't perfect, but I don't know and I don't care. It's the only one I ever tried on. It's perfect to me. Josh is perfect to me. He is exactly who God designed to be my husband.

I'm not saying that girls shouldn't try on wedding dresses. That is fun and innocent! But, I am saying that we don't have to "try on guys" and guys don't have to "try on girls." The commitment of a husband or wife at the altar should always come first. For me it worked out that my wedding dress story is just like my love story. A once and done. A perfect fit.