I do love the routine of the seasons although there are some seasons I like better than others. I like the general predictability of the seasons within a year but even the “unseasonal” events make life interesting.
I have always enjoyed the seasons of parenting and rarely wished the days away. I enjoyed each moment as it came. And if I was in an ugly moment, I knew that it would change shortly. When it was a sweet moment, I savored it knowing it would also move quickly to the next.
I also enjoy the seasons of the Church Year. Today, Palm Sunday, marks the start of Holy Week. It is a very busy week at our church for the entire staff. It probably is at yours as well. There are many people putting in many hours of preparation. Pray for your pastors, musicians, janitorial staff, secretaries, bulletin designers, printers and collators. Pray for the many who will attend church only because it is expected in their family. Pray for God’s Word to be preached effectively and for many ears to hear the Gospel, pure and true.
And as you travel through this Holy Week, consider the walk Jesus took for you. Pray for a greater integration of His gifts of love, mercy, and forgiveness into your life. As His gifts pour out into your life let them flow unrestricted to those around you!
Ever wonder how King David from the Old Testament (shepherd boy, giant slayer, and man after God’s own heart) could possibly walk so close with God and then end up so far away from God by committing adultery, murder, and failing to protect his family? It happened just one step at a time. An unchecked heart and unconfessed sin can lead both you and I astray very quickly. David’s story didn’t end there…and ours doesn’t need to either….
Sometimes we think receiving faith in Jesus as Savior eliminates all of our temptations and rebellious, sinful decisions. It isn’t true, but it sure would be nice. We do, however, get to experience the nudging of our conscience from the Holy Spirit. You and I can try to stifle and smother those promptings and go our own wanton way for a long, long time but the consequences will catch up to us eventually.
Don’t try to still the small voice of God. Confessing your sin will be a turning point in a difficult chapter of your life. Consequences won’t likely be eliminated but God can and will grow you in His love and grace.
God can redeem all situations and longs to be reconciled with you!
Have you ever had a snapshot from your past ~ an uncharacteristic lapse of judgement ~ become public and abruptly change your life course?
Has a private sin or simple mistake become public in a painful way for you and those you love?
As we live life in this world we experience some very wonderful and some very difficult situations. Some questions will not have satisfying answers this side of Heaven.
If your life hasn’t had these challenges, maybe you know someone who has. Please consider if God is calling you to extend tangible expressions of His grace to this person (and/or their family) during this time. Here are some practical suggestions:
~ Pray for this person during your prayer time.
~ Send them a note letting them know you are committed to praying for them (and then do it).
~ Send them a copy of a prayer to God you have written on their behalf.
~ a meal.
~ a listening ear.
~ a safe place to vent.
~ God can transform very difficult situations. Sometimes it takes years for this to occur but God is capable and willing. Standing alongside someone in their deepest need — even if no words are exchanged — is a very powerful way to show God’s love and grace. If you are aware of a situation, pray and seek God’s direction on your course of action. Do not feel you need to pass judgement. The natural and logical consequences of these situations typically are very difficult and very present. I suspect the greater need is to know that there is God’s forgiveness, peace, and reconciliation even as consequences remain in place.
There have been a numerous times I have “fallen from grace” in this life. I have had my share of regrets, hurt, anger, and confusion but it has been through these times that God worked to grow His grace in and through me. I am so thankful for God’s grace. Withholding it from others is not an option.
I have noticed that it is infinitely easier to express grace and mercy to people I really like. Conversely, it is easy to be stingy and withhold grace, mercy, or forgiveness when I don’t particularly care for the person who needs it. There are people in our lives who daily need grace and forgiveness. If we are regularly put in the situation to demonstrate it, I am willing to bet there is something that God is wanting to teach us about our own need to extend it.
In terms of spritual growth, if I am the very one who is begrudging someone frequently, I think it ceases to be about the person I am annoyed with…it is now about me and my attitude of unforgiveness. Nursing a grudge is a destructive thing but it is much easier to not allow yourself to fall into that trap than get out of it once you are there.
Here is the anatomy of a grudge: It starts with being annoyed or downright angry with someone who has caused you some level of grief followed by “expecting” that annoying behavior to continue. Next you pay attention for and look for that annoying behavior and you are satisfied in your inner ugly place when you see it. And soon you notice that many of your thoughts revolve around that person or situation. Like an ominous cloud, the negativity continues to grow. And so does your sin.
Have you ever been there?
It is good to interrupt that cycle before it gets too far down the path. And we need to recognize that only God can help us accomplish any of this.
If you think about the nursing profession, you know that nurses work very closely with people and nursing a baby is a very close contact experience. If you apply these ideas about nursing to nursing a grudge you will rightly connect that nursing a grudge draws you even closer to the person that has “wronged” you. Do you really want that?
I don’t think so.
A first step towards freedom from this trap is to admit to God you have an issue with this person. Next ask God to bless this person. Every day. It is pretty tricky to hold a grudge against someone you are praying for.
Do you know people who function day-to-day but their words or action indicate they are wounded? Maybe they speak with anger or make cutting remarks around you and it actually makes it hard to be near them. There are many reasons that people lash out (sometimes they are tired or overwhelmed) and we don’t always get to know the why behind what we see.
My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds; my neighbors stay far away. Psalm 38:11
If someone comes to your mind, please lift them up in prayer today. I do think if you see a consistent pattern of ‘meanness’ that there is probably something else going on there. Wounded people wound people…often because of where they are in their pain. And while their actions or attitude might drive you away from them, it is often then that they really need a friend. Whether or not you are called to be that friend, I don’t know. But if God has allowed you to cross paths with this person, your prayer intercession on their behalf is an amazing gift.
If it is you that is wounded, seek healing. God is in the business of transforming ugly circumstances and situations into evidences of His mercy and grace. There are 190 versions of the word ‘heal’ in the New International Version of the Bible. Psalm 38 is a powerful petition from a hurting David. His pain is evident. As you begin your journey of healing, find a friend who will pray for you. Then find a Biblical counselor or pastor to sort out the situation and dig into God’s Word and God’s Truth. God’s healing work often begins with humble hearts.