A higher calling …

I am in awe of Jesus!  I am truly in awe!  Recently, He has impressed upon me to study holiness.  Truthfully, this is a revisit for me.  But this is the wonderful thing about God, He knows our understanding, He knows our circumstances, He knows why we make a particular decision too.  He knows us!  The cool part is that He takes us where we are at and will open our understanding along the way based off our own lives.  In the Good News Version of the Bible Isaiah 28:10 tells us, “He is trying to teach us letter by letter, line by line, lesson by lesson.”

As I was studying, I recalled some of the things that had been taught from the past, but this time, there was something that changed my understanding to what I was researching.  The thing that changed my understanding was … my own experiences of trying to walk with God.

As I studied the word holiness, I recalled how I’ve acted and responded over the past several years since I’ve known God.  While my intention is always to do right by God, truth-be-told, I have failed over and over again.  Not always, but certainly enough times to make me realize that I’m kind of, well … a mess.  The place that He’s called me to work most is in my home, with my own family members.  This is the very place where it seems that I am the messiest.  We tend to put our walls down and let everyone see the ‘real’ us at home, don’t we?

Anyway, as I was studied this, I recalled distinct moments where I knew how I should respond, but I didn’t ‘feel’ like responding the appropriate way.  Maybe I was mad or hurt and perhaps even justifiably so.  In those moments where I felt justified, I have to admit that I was hell-bent on doing what was right for God; using my circumstances to justify my sour response as taking a stand for Christ.  Thankfully, God’s grace covered me through all of this because my heart was truly in the right place of doing what was right for God.  However, it was time to open my understanding because ultimately, God does expect us to grow and change and produce fruits of peace and gentleness, humility and love, to name a few.

I have certainly felt those things a time or two through the trials I’ve experienced, but not quite as often as I would have hoped.  This study helped me understand that something was missing in my equation.  I was trying to accomplish something for Christ, but I’ve been doing it all on my own.  I’ve been working hard, really hard, and it’s resulted in me feeling run down, wore out, and wondering when the peace is going to get here.  I’ve been a slave for Christ.

At this point, I can’t help but recalling a sermon in which a woman stood on stage and shared that, ‘she chooses to be lovely for Him.’  I realize, that this is what it means to walk in ‘holiness.’  It encompasses our thoughts, our actions, our words, our clothing, and especially how we respond when things are difficult … everything!  I thought I understood this before, but I thought simply living my life for Christ meant that He would accept me the way I am and correct me along the way.  After all, He knows me and created me.  And you know what, He has.  However, He’s now calling me to something higher .. He’s wanting to deepen my relationship with Him.

Walking in holiness encompasses taking an active position of making changes He reveals to me.  It’s taking the understandings He’s giving me and acting on them.  It’s taking the work out of relationship and making it an act of love instead of merely an act of obedience.  I love Him and I choose to do my best to paint a picture of loveliness for Him.  Certainly there are times when it’s harder than others.  Certainly at times, it goes against what I want or feel like responding.  Certainly there are times when I know I appear to be hypocritical.  And certainly, I will fail and not produce the picture of loveliness that I wanted to paint for Him.

But that’s the beauty of holiness.  It’s a process.  I’m certain there are things that He has yet to reveal to me regarding my understanding even now.

The beauty of holiness is that out of love, I want to be pleasing to Him.  I want to be lovely … for Him.

After all, Jesus is coming back for a bride, not a slave.  🙂

This is Your Life

It’s strange how hearing a comment directed to someone else can hit you like a brick.  In this new year, I started with a promise to myself to press on, challenge myself, and move onto whatever it is that God wants and expects of me.  So when I heard my husband make a comment to one of his children, it side-swiped me in a way I didn’t expect.  The comment was, ‘This is your life.’

Of course, he was pointing his child towards Jesus and his point was simply to say .. what you see is what you get.  You can’t do this alone.  You need God.

For me, it meant something completely different.

I already have God.  I already have a strong relationship with Him.  Not that we can’t all stand to have a reminder or two to get back on track, but it would be just that, a little reminder.  Forgive me for being real here, but it turns out, life isn’t much different with God as it was without God.

I’m referring to the problems and challenges that I had before.  I still wrestle with insecurities and I find that I still have a list of faults that I’m working on improving.  My children are still rebellious at times, I still have debts, arguments, get mad a time or two, and well … life still happens.

I’m not really sure what I expected.  However, admittedly, I often find myself seeking inside wondering when I will have that big God moment where He speaks audibly telling me exactly what it is I’m supposed to be doing.  My husband’s comment was like that voice telling me to simply … live your life.

I can only imagine that it had to be similar for the Israelites in the Wilderness.  God rescued them and performed miraculously wonders proving that He was for them only to put them … in the wilderness for 40 years.  Sure, God was still caring for their needs, but boy, life sure was different.  They were rescued to wander around aimlessly?  We look from the outside and say they brought it on themselves, but if you think about it, we do the same thing.  At least I know I do.

I’ve got all my needs met.  God constantly provides me with manna from Heaven.  I always have just the right word when I need it and it never comes from a source I would have expected.  And what’s my response?  To complain that I’m wondering around in circles waiting for some direction to the supposed ‘promised land.’

After my husband’s comment, I thought, what if this is it?  What if there is never any BIG call other than to simply do what I can where I am at?  To simply move forward?  What if nothing out of the ordinary happens?  What if I am expected to simply ‘live my life for God?’  What if there is never any ‘Moses’ moment for me?  What if I was called to be one of the unmentioned disciples?

Wow!  Talk about a reflection!  I had to confront that Passion I feel inside and truly face  … dare I say it … pride.  Do I chase God’s work for His glory or mine?  Not to say that I don’t think we should do great things for God.  However, I honestly believe that we neglect the bigness of simply being a reflection for God.  The bigness of being one of the unmentionables.

I also think we forget that living life is a miracle itself.  How difficult it is to live life and NOT focus on the problems?  With God, we have a new perspective and living daily, being content with where He has put me, with a smile on my face, or getting back up each time I fall is a BIG deal.  This IS being a light.  It does make a difference because those around me who don’t know God have a reference point to see, the right way IS towards God.

I don’t think it means that I have to give up on the Passion that I feel to do something great for God.  I think it means facing up to just how big that job really is.  A kingdom isn’t built on just a few souls, it’s built on a whole lot of people doing little things daily which amounts to a whole lot of light reflecting God’s glory.  Not my glory .. God’s glory.

So this is my life.  Turns out I’m okay with simply living it.  If I never get to be a Moses, a Mary, Ruth, Paul, or David, well … that’s okay.  I’m a Dionne.  My part is not mentioned at all in the Book on your shelf, but it turns out, there’s another book that I am found in and well … that’s the one that really matters.

I’ve got Big things to accomplish.  Love that needs to be given.  Laughs that need to be had.  Fights that need to be fought.  Tears that need to be shed.  Struggles that need to be faced.  Faith that needs to be shared.  I’ve got a life that needs to be lived!

Turns out, the promised land is     ….    Life.

Reflecting on Expectations

This last Sunday, Pastor gave a great message.  It was one on reflection.  It was one of those messages where God is diving deep into your heart revealing some un-pleasantries that were hiding in a dark crevice tucked behind a bunch of justifications.  Since then, I’ve been doing my best to confront this particular dust ball head on.  Today, I realized that perhaps what I’ve really been doing is hanging on to expectations.

I don’t think it’s bad to have expectations.  As a matter of fact, they can help people.  Expecting good things is well … a good thing.  But I’ve found that personally, when my expectations are repeatedly returned with disappointment, I tend to go in what I would refer to as, hibernation mode.

Maybe it’s because I’m not really sure how to handle the situation.  Actually, I know that’s part of it.  I tend to look at what I can do differently so I tend to withdraw believing that it’s best to think on it before reacting.  Problem is, the repeated disappointment results in growing distrust and disgust that, unchecked, seeps out as sarcastic anger.

I had the revelation that the real problem I was contending with was holding onto expectations that I should really just turn over to Jesus.  I’m not quite sure that this will solve my dilemma, but I do feel as though it’s a good place to start.  I also feel it’s a much better option than attempting to simply manipulating myself or anyone else into believing that things are ‘just fine.’

Perhaps the distrust that I experience has more to do with the expectations I put out rather than a real trust issue.  Turns out however, that I can not deny the fact that distrust ultimately means a lack of faith in God’s ability.  I would never willingly say that I didn’t have faith in what God can do, however the repeated issue of distrust tells me … yep, there’s a malfunctioning wire that needs correction.

Ugh .. the double-edged sword of cleaning up your heart.  Feels good when it’s done, but dang .. it’s a lot of work to get there.

I’m not completely sure how to sort out all these expectations quite yet.  Turns out I’ve a heap of them that have been collecting for some time.  Maybe in the end Jesus will tell me that there are a few I should keep, but in the mean time, I really need His help to determine which ones to toss and which ones to give Him for safe keeping.

Oddly, just talking about the job is making me feel better already.  I’m okay with a little work.  Especially if it means cleaning up that sess pool that was seething at me in the mirror the other day.  Yikes!

Speaking of reflections, turns out it was a good thing I put that reminder on the mirror to not forget my smile.  🙂

The other side of Christ’s Love …

It seems that we all know about how we are supposed to turn the other cheek, give up our coat, and forgive seventy times seven.  However, there is another side to Christ’s love that we don’t hear as much about … I’m referring to the tough side of love.

Believe it or not, I’m not talking about my children .. although as a parent, these things certainly apply.  I’m actually talking about people who Christ has put in our path that need not just another hand out or just another body to enable their dysfunction, but rather, they need a hand to help hold them accountable.

I had a situation recently that I had to be one of those hands.  At first, my attempts to assist were eagerly accepted and there seemed to be a direct change for the better.  However, the change was short-lived.  As I began to hold this person accountable, the scenario began to reveal a self-defeating ‘victim’ status that seemed to plague this person.  This was the hard part for me.  Certainly I wanted to help this person .. I wanted to see this person succeed .. however as time continued, it seemed that rather than climbing out of the hole, it was just getting deeper.  It got to the point where I had to make a choice.  I could either continue to enable defeat or do my duty and say .. enough.  How do you help someone who is simply not willing to help themselves?

Forgive me for saying so, but I don’t like this part of being a Christian.  Truthfully, I’m a sap for someone who has a ‘bad’ story.  I literally feel their pain and can understand why they are the way they are.  But this situation really made me understand the importance of doing my part to stop enabling the ‘I’m a victim’ cycle.

So the other side of love is this .. sometimes we have to be ‘tough’ with people.  Not mean .. tough.  The difference is all in the heart.  I really did feel for and understand how this person had gotten in the pit.  However, I also realized that victory would never be achieved until this person looks in the mirror and stops blaming today’s problems on yesterday.  Can I tell you?  I hate being the one to say that.  I know it’s supposed to be a blessing, but it doesn’t feel like much of one.  At least not yet because I don’t see any change.

Maybe that’s the reason it’s so hard for me.  Despite all MY efforts, I didn’t see anything change.  At least not yet.  I’m just another random hand reaching out to someone who’s not quite ready to climb out of the pit.

Sigh …

Not that I’m going to stop being compassionate, because if anything, this situation just increases my desire to help others.  I just feel like I had a visit from a vagabond and really really thought … there would be change.

I guess the tough side of love is realizing that not all the people Christ puts in your path are at a point where they are ready to change.

Ugh … what a different world it would be if they were.