Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Lessons of Faith (One): Trust


The greatest lessons we can learn come from the deeper meaning that faith has in our lives. As we are it teaches us as we ought to be, as we desire to be, so it instructs us as we need to be. The only questions that then remain are what does God require of us so we can live up to His potential and what gifts has He given us so we can?

In the stress of life’s journey we sometimes forget that, don’t we? It’s hard to keep focus on, especially in our times of trouble and hardship we pray for our Heavenly Father to reveal His plan for us as we battle with our deeper sense of purpose and meaning. It’s not for lack of trying, it’s just that we can’t see it when the times get rough and the world around us seems slightly blurred. We want to do more, to be more but we can’t entirely see how we are supposed to do it. We look for the answers but, in the end, they seem far removed and far distant from us as we do.

The thing about it is that it’s never quite as complicated as we make it. Granted none of us can see the future, and we don’t know what’s going to happen next in our lives. God, on the other hand does, and He has a purpose in it. (Isaiah 46:10) For everything we can’t see, and that we can’t understand or yet comprehend, the Lord, our God, can and does and in this, He creates, through us, something of the divine with miraculous wonder. (Romans 8:29) Perhaps we may not always fully grasp what that is or what that means but it doesn’t make His presence any less amazing and wonderful as He guides us according to His amazing plan.

It’s here that we must come to realize that the first and the foremost lesson of faith is a lesson of trust.

On a grander scale we perhaps already know that. After all, we are saved by grace through faith and not of our works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Understanding that our blessed Savior is the way, the truth and the light, we know we come to God through Him, (John 14:6) washed clean through His precious blood. (Isaiah 1:18) We trust God, we trust His plan with the most important parts of ourselves, with the greatest portion of our being, our hearts and our souls and our spirits. Yet, we still find it hard to let go of the smaller things, and why? Maybe because, though that gift of grace transforms us, it deals with all that is unseen, with all that we don’t necessarily confront on a day to day basis. The smaller things, they wage there own little wars on us day by day, moment by moment, chipping away at us, taking more and more from us to the point were we suddenly think that we have to take it all into our hands.

The truth is, until we learn to let go of the small, until we learn to let go of the daily troubles we have, putting them into God’s hands as we leave the burdens we have at the feet of Christ, whatever they may be, (Matthew 11:28-30) there is no rest, there is no peace for us, just worries and struggles that seem to overwhelm and overpower us. Simply put, trust in God is letting go and letting Him lead. It is realizing there are things that we cannot and will not ever be able to change, so, instead of spending our time worrying about them, we need to let Him worry about them for us as we travel down the path of our life. It’s a matter of finally allowing yourself the comfort of knowing that the God of the large is the God of the small, and He is going to care for you regardless of what you may be facing. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Yes, it may be that God is going to lead you to make some hard choices and perhaps some tough decisions, He is perhaps going to tell you that the road you are going to have to travel down isn’t going to be easy. Yet, in that first lesson of faith comes the realization that every challenge you face is not a challenge that you and you alone have faced, that only you have known. God has seen it all through the lives of His saints and He has provided a way forward so they have been able to reach the promises through the hope He offers. (1 Corinthians 10:13) Just remember, He is going to take you down a path, when you put You trust in Him, that you might not have thought of, that might make you question but that is ultimately going to work wonders through you.

So what are you holding on to? What is it that you are continuing to hold on to? Release it. Release it to God and take His hand, it is reaching out to you. Whatever you think or whatever you feel like you know or don’t know, give it over to God. He is there to take it from you. Sure, God can work with you even if you refuse to let go and let Him lead, but it’s just going to end up creating a lot more hardship and pain as you wrestle not just with your problems or with your plans, but with Him too.

Find strength in faith, find strength in trust, for when you do a whole new world will be opened to you in ways you little thought possible in the wonders of God’s plan that works through the great and the small. Then, with that lesson, will you take the first steps towards learning what you need to know at the Masters feet as He directs you in the wonders of His love for you.

A Question of Why

Why? Isn’t that always the question? Often times it’s the one short little three letter word that defines for us our trials and adversity, our struggles and our pain. We ask it as we try to make some sort of semblance of sense out of everything we can’t figure out enough to actually make sense. We do it to the point where it’s not just a question anymore, but the answer as well.

How often have we found ourselves challenged, asking ‘Why’? “Why me?” “Why now?” “Why do bad things happen to good people?” “If God is so good and He loves us, they why would He let this happen?” At times, it’s the easiest and quickest word to roll off of our tongues in our hour of need, knowing we just don’t know and that what we need to know isn’t going to come simply or readily to us even for as much as we want it to.

But then life is difficult, it’s hard and it’s wrought with challenges. Just when we think we’ve gotten our head wrapped around it enough to actually do something, it throws a curve ball that knocks us off our game. Sometimes it’s small, and we’re able to pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off saying “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” as we move on from it. Other times it’s big and it’s encompassing and, for as much as we want it to, we can’t quite seem to do it, we can’t quite figure it out enough to do it. It leaves us with this hurt feeling as we wonder if it’s ever going to be the same. In those moments, “Why” is about the only thing that’s uncomplicated about the complicated to us.

The thing is it’s not always about the “Why”. After all, for as unclear as it may all be, for as convoluted as it perhaps seems to be, the “Why” is actually transparent, it’s not that complex at all. We live in a sinful world; one that, since the fall of man, has been marked with trials and temptations. (Genesis 3:1-19) As Peter reminds us, “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Is there a greater “Why” than this?

Even the most righteous, the most faithful, living in this mortal realm, need fear the old adversary, and they need to do so more than the unrighteous. After all, the greater question of “Why” is why would the Devil go after a soul he already has when the nature of man is to abide in fear and doubt? He knows this, and he doesn’t go after the weak alone, but the strong, hunting them, seeking to make them his own.

No, the question isn’t “Why?” regardless of how easy it comes. “Why” is often times the means by which uncertainty attacks that which we need to be the most certain of. “Why” is the easiest way to make the simple become complex, so complex that we can’t begin to understand it. “Why”, for as hard as it may be to let go of, is how comfort and peace is robbed from us as it sends us looking everywhere but where we need to for the answers.

It’s not “Why” that’s the most important thing, but rather “What” and “How”. “What am I supposed to learn?” “How is this going to make me a better person?” “What can I do differently?” “How can I use this to grow in faith and better understand God’s plan for me?” Regardless of the pain and the hardships we may face, these are the questions we not only have to ask but the ones that need to draw us closer and nearer to our Heavenly Father.

The promise of God is the promise that where we are so He is as well. He will never fail us or forsake us. (Joshua 1:5) His covenant with us is the covenant that stands by His blessed assurances to us in the faithfulness of His love and mercy. (Deuteronomy 4:31) So strong is He in that love and care He has for us, in the covenant He has made with us, He would give His only Son to die for us (John 3:16) even when we seemed like we were lost to sin, death and the Devil. How much more then does the wonders of His Word mean when He tells to us that, if we come to Him, in faith and hope, He will give us the knowledge that we so seek? (James 1:5-6)

Even when we stumble, even when we fall, even when the world seems unfair, unnecessarily so, our blessed Savior is there for us, to take the yoke of our burdens from us. (Matthew 11:28-30) Again, the “Why” is simple, it’s a matter then of “What are we meant to do with the freedom He has given us?” and “How can we use His good gifts to be the people He has intended for us to be?” We can only do that, we can only answer that by letting go of “Why”, understanding that it has already been answered for us, and we are not in control of it, all we can control is what we do with the blessed gifts and the wonderful promises God has given to us.

It’s only then that we can find the peace, the hope, and the comfort we so long for.

Miracles Great and Small

How often, in our times of trouble, do we pray for a miracle? In our faith and our hope we often just find ourselves kneeling down, laying it all out and wishing for something, for anything that will come, wanting it so badly and for it to be enough to encompass our lives, making it just that much easier.

Why not? After all, even in his sin, even in his fallen state of anger and hate, Saul of Taurus gave witness to a miracle. The ground rumbled, and shook and any questions, any doubt he had was chased away by the booming voice of God as the heavens split and His presence and will was made known to him. He didn’t even pray, he wasn’t working in faith, the persecutor of the early Church he didn’t even realize he was in need of that divine guidance, yet there it was. So why can’t we be blinded by the glory of God to be shown the path? Why can’t His voice come like thunder from the skies to tell us the road we need to go down?

It’s one of those questions, one of those struggles we battle with. We know the verses, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” (Romans 8:37) or “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”, (Philippians 4:13) but sometimes it seems as if the God who tells us to be strong and courageous, reminding us that He will never fail us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6) just doesn’t hear. It almost feels as if He is waiting for us to figure it out for ourselves, removed from the situation as we plead with Him, in our faith, for a little more, for a little something, the weight of it all just bearing down on us.

God’s miracles are never far from us though. It’s just a matter of looking for them and seeing them right in front of us. Though He can, He doesn’t necessarily send angels with blazing swords to appear in front of us, nor does He split the skies to appear in His wondrous glory in front of us. Even as we want a dramatic example or an encompassing miracle that shows us the path of His divine design for our lives, it’s not the way it works.

The promise of God isn’t the promise that He will give us what we want. It’s the promise that, in His goodness and His mercy, in His love for us He will give us what we need. (2 Peter 1:3) With that, through the power of His Holy Spirit, His miracles are everywhere around us to behold, made manifest in His hope for us. (Hebrews 2:4) It’s just a matter of understanding what those miracles truly are, letting your heart and your soul, your spirit and your mind open to the fruits of His Spirit, (Galatians 5:22-23) the truest blessings of God’s wondrous plan and love for us.

Coming to our Heavenly Father, laying our burdens at the feet of Christ, means not only trust Him, it means not only having faith in Him, it means opening our eyes to the great and to the small, knowing that they happen all around us if we are truly receptive to the way that they come to us. With that it’s not about the lessons He can teach us or the hope He can give us when He makes things so easy for us that we can’t ignore it, it’s about the way He guides us to a better understanding, a greater understanding that only comes when we open our eyes to a world of greater possibilities through Him. It’s the reminder that, as our blessed Savior reminds us, it takes but a mustard seed of faith to move a mountain, (Matthew 17:20) and the greatest came come from the smallest.

Though He promises us His goodness, His hope and His mercy, telling us that He has plans for us and for our lives, (Jeremiah 29:11) God comes to us on His terms, not on ours. He does so because, better than we know ourselves, He knows us and what is best for us. With that He guides us and leads us according to who we are and who we need to be, we just need to keep our eyes and our hearts open to the signs and the wonders that He has all around us. Perhaps they’re not always easy to see, but they are there. What we need to remember is that coming to God in faith, coming to Christ in hope, trusting in their blessings, and their guarantees, means we are trusting in the power and the terms of the Divine, and not just our own want or desire for what that should mean.

Let your hearts behold the miracles of the living God, let your lives be encompassed by those blessings great and small. Let go of your own preconceived notions of what they should be or need to be. Once you do, you open yourself up to a whole new world of possibilities where the miracles you once considered small now become greater than anything you ever imagined as they give you the power to do more and be more according to the wonders of God through the grace of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Finding, Being Who We Need to Be

For as hard and as frightening as it may be at times for us to remember, there are times when we have to look at life and consider not just who we are but who we are meant to be, who we want to be and need to be, so we can be more and do more. For as challenging and as difficult as it might end up being, there are times when we have to remember that just because something didn’t work out the way that we had wanted it to, it doesn’t mean that’s the end of the story or the end of a dream, it’s the start of a new chapter and a new beginning for us. Sometimes, it’s a matter of considering where we are and where we need to be, finding the path we need to be on so we can be more and do more with ourselves.

There’s a lesson from our blessed Savior hat I often think of when I think about this. Having told the Parable of the Faithful and Wise Servant (Luke 12:35-40) Jesus would end the story by saying, “You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” As Peter would press Him a little further He’d dig a little deeper before finally saying “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” (Luke 12:48)

You see, none of us know when the end is coming, none of us know when our time will come. When Christ speaks here He is talking about the end of days that will be ushered in by His inevitable and triumphant return, a time that will come like a thief in the night. (1 Thessalonians 5:2) Yet, the truth is even without looking and waiting for the end, our time our short and precious, measured in minutes and days, weeks and months, years and decades that can be over in the blink of an eye, that can be over before we have even had the chance to really live. Just as none know the day and time of those final moments except God, (Matthew 24:35) so the same can be said of our lives and our time.

This is what makes the gift of life that much more precious, and why our use of our talents and our abilities, given as a gift from God, are that much more important. It’s why Christ Himself uses the language that He uses in telling us that much is demanded from us, that much will be asked from us. It’s so that we can understand that in our lives, we need to make the best use of our time, we need to make the best use of our gifts to be who God intends for us to be, understanding that there are going to be challenges and difficulties, that there are going to be moments when things don’t work out the way we want them to be, but that in all of these things we are meant to be honed and strengthened to do more and be more.

God, in His promises, and Christ, in lesson, do not guarantee that everything is going to work out the way that you hope. Sometimes it works out the exact opposite, giving you something that you hadn’t been expecting. Maybe when it does, it hurts or it creates a sense of hardship within you as you struggle to find the purpose and the meaning of it all. Perhaps it might even leave you wondering why you even bothered trying in the first place, looking around and thinking to yourself it wasn’t supposed to be this way. What God does offer, and what He does tell us is that, with time, He will let it make sense if we have faith, abiding in hope and trust. (James 1:5-6) What He does promise is that He has a plan for us, even when we can’t necessarily see it, so long as we use our gifts and our abilities accordingly to become the people we are intended to be and need to be.

With that He wants us to know that, in life, we are to use our gifts, our talents and our abilities to take chances, and to take risks, to push ourselves past our comfort zone to become more than we are, and show all that we are capable of. Remember the Parable of the Talents, (Matthew 25:14-30) and how the two servants took what the Master gave them, and invested it. Any time we invest, there is a risk that we are going to perhaps lose, there is a risk that what we have put in may not offer a return or, even worse, give nothing back, not even our original investment. Yet it is better than burying our gifts away, hiding them from the world in a sense of fear and doubt, never willing to do anything with them, because we are too scared. Even if everything is ventured and it seems as nothing is gained we are taught something more about who we are and what we are capable of for the future.

Be strong, and challenge yourself to do more and to be more, to seek out who you want to be and need to be, putting fear and doubt behind you. Know that God has given you what you need to become who you should be. Though the road may be long and wrought with challenges you will get there if you put yourself out there, and you give of yourself, showing that you are willing to make the most of the time that our Heavenly Father has given you.

Let your life be that perpetual challenge to use all that you have been given and everything that you are to show that you will face the world head on. When you do, you will see clearer and your fear and inhibition will melt away, leaving nothing but the strength and the hope, the love and the courage of the Lord giving you the ability to move forward in ways you never thought possible before.

It’s Not What I Expected


Don’t you hate it when, let’s face it, it seems like you’ve done everything right, everything that should have been expected of you, yet nothing seems to be the way it should be, or it just seems to make things harder than it should be? It’s hard when you find yourself in those times when you think to yourself “It should be like this” or “how did this happen?” when you know it should be something different. After all, you put yourself out there, you took the steps and you did everything you could, you did the most your potential allowed you to do, doing the best you could do and still, it wasn’t enough.

You expect something different, you wanted something different, that there would be at least something given for that faith and that hope that you had. All you end up finding though is that you’re tired and restless, wishing it could have somehow found a way to be what you wanted it to be, knowing that it’s anything but. It just makes you so weary that a part of you is reluctant to try again, to just give it your all again. Why would you? After all, if you did everything that could have been done, why do you just feel like you’ve failed? Why didn’t it work out the way it should have?

The truth is you’re not the first person to feel this way, watching it seem to all be different than the way it should have been. Atop Mount Carmel Elijah did as was expected of him. He stood in the shadow of the prophets of Baal and Judah’s King, Ahab, and he gave testimony to the power and the glory of the living God of Israel. (1 Kings 18:20-39) Yet, as the word reached Jezebel her answer was fierce and merciless, the prophets of her god laid slain, and she demanded blood, sending her messenger to the Elijah that he might know that his life was now held cheap and without value. (1 Kings 19:1 and 2) It would send him into hiding, fleeing into the hills, even as he cried out to the Lord, “Take my life, I am no better than my ancestors”, (1 Kings 19:3-5) a deep sense of failure overtaking him even when he did everything that was asked of him, that was expected of him, knowing it wasn’t as it should have been.

More than likely our own stories, they aren’t as dramatic as the story of Elijah, but they have the same sort of effect on us. We wonder to ourselves what’s the point of trying when trying mean these feelings, when it means these troubles, when it just causes a whole different set of struggles. We ask ourselves what’s the point of putting it all out there if putting it all out there means that we have to face challenges like this, finding that the peace we wanted, it just hasn’t come and our hope is fleeting.

The truth is not everything in life is going to work out the way that we want it to. We can do everything the way it’s supposed to be done and, honestly, the results may surprise us and not in the best ways. It could be that, for as much as we put into it, the only thing that comes out of it is hardship and even some pain. Still, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of the story. God still has a plan for your life. In His glorious hope He still has a grand and a great design for it, (Jeremiah 29:11) even as He makes us more than conquerors in the wondrous grace of our blessed Savior, Christ Jesus, letting nothing separate us from His love. (Romans 8:35-37)

Sometimes it’s just a matter of putting our preconceived notions behind us, and giving ourselves up to the idea that life isn’t going to be the way that we planned it to be and yet it can be more than we planned. It’s a matter of letting what has happened be just that and looking towards a new day as a new chance to run the race in front of us. (Philippians 3:13-14) Not everything has to be the way we expected it to be, even when we did everything we could to make it that way, for it to teach us something of value, and something of worth. According to God’s timing, the deeper lessons that it has to offer will be revealed to us even if we can’t see what they are at the time. It’s a matter of living your life knowing that there is more to it than any one set of circumstances or any one situation that you may face, and that, though it may not be all you wanted it to be, there is a chance for tomorrow to be different if you never stop believing in the wonders God’s hope and love for you and your life.

Be strong and live in faith, today is but one day in your life and it could just be that it is a lesson there to teach you what you are capable of, and the way you are able to put your own inhibitions and fears aside so you can do more and be more. Find peace in that and peace will come to you even as tomorrow brings the hope of a new opportunity for you in the wonders of God’s design and plan for your life. Let not your heart be troubled, for God is there to lead you, through Christ, in grace, love and mercy, healing the wounds of your past, and giving you the strength to meet your future in all He has equipped you and is equipping you to do.

When Faith is a Mystery

Faith can be a mystery to us as we struggle with the deeper questions and the more daunting challenges that we can face. It’s not so much the question of its existence. After all, most who abide in it understand that “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” (Hebrews 11:1) Rather, it’s a question of the why and how, finding ourselves wondering what possible good could come out of this even as we try to hold fast to the hope that we need.

Sometimes we don’t easily or quickly find the answers we need. Sometimes it feels as if we push a little too hard, trying to get to where we want to be, to where we feel like we need to be. We battle with these ideas and these thoughts that we just can’t seem to escape telling us something needs to be different, trying so hard to convince ourselves that these things too shall pass, but not entirely sure when or even if they ever really will.

It’s in these times that we struggle, not necessarily with the existence of God, but in what grand scheme, what grand design He has for us. We just don’t necessarily know. We cling to the promises that He has made, the promise that He will never fail us or forsake us (Joshua 1:5) or that if we need answers that He will give them to us. (James 1:5) We pray with that sincere heart, searching for the purpose and the meaning we are in such desperate need of and it seems like it is far removed from our lives.

What we have to remember is that God, He never promised us that the road we are going to go down was going to be an easy one, nor does He promise us easy answers or quick fixes. Sometimes we are told that our Heavenly Father, He just wants us to be happy. The truth is He does, there is little question of that. The redeeming sacrifice of His Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ, is the perfect example of that. Yet, He wants us to be happy for the right reasons and the right times, knowing that He has a time for all things. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) This is the way that He ensures that we are as He wills, never letting anything touch us that is more than we can handle. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

Though the answers and the reasons may not be clearly apparent at first, this is why Christ, our blessed and good Shepherd, is there for us. He is there not just as the great and wondrous deliverance for our sins, but also to take upon Himself the yoke of our burdens, giving us the rest, hope and peace that we so need during the trials that we must face during this existence. (Matthew 11:28-29)

God’s path, and His design may not be the simplest or the easiest. It may, at times, even go beyond our ability to understand or comprehend as we travel it. That’s okay. Not all things are meant to be revealed right then or there, regardless of the challenges it may create. Sometimes, by knowing at that very moment it would even create a greater challenge to the spirit and to the soul that we just find ourselves unable to wrap our heads around, because not only did we not need to know right then, we just aren’t capable of knowing right then and there. Sometimes we need time to travel down that path to give us what we need to grow, to be, to find ourselves before the answers make any sort of sense to us.

Sometimes we need to let go of the how and the why and let ourselves be just transcend it. We need not to think of faith as a mystery but as a journey through the deeper places within ourselves, knowing that the trials we face and the adversities that are there are nothing more than markers on a road towards a greater end for our lives. We grow when we learn to let go, and we learn that though the moments may be hard, all of them weave together to create a greater picture that we are meant to see with time and space.

Let these moments pass through you, but don’t let their lessons pass by you as you search for meaning in them. In the end they will tell you of a grander, greater vision that God, in His infinite love has for you. You just have to let it.

Marking Success and Failure

How do we mark our lives? How do we note the successes of it? How do we mark the triumphs that come with it?

Last week we talked about the feelings of failure that we can have. We talked about those gnawing senses that something just isn’t right. It was a question of when you look around and you can’t help but feel yourself overwhelmed and even a bit overshadowed as this sense that something just isn’t as it should be comes to dominate over you, leaving you with this lingering feeling that you aren’t as you should be.

It’s a difficult challenge that we can face, one that can wreak a special sort of havoc on us. Yet sometimes it’s not a matter of how we understand success or failure. It’s a matter of how we understand life.

You see, for as much as we want it to be sometimes, life isn’t something that’s just black and white. Situations, circumstances, they don’t make it that simplistic. Yes, perhaps we want it to be. It would, in most cases, make everything a lot easier for us. There wouldn’t be the conflicts and the struggles that cause the deeper questions to arise within us. We would know who we are, what we were meant for. No one and nothing could take that from us, because we would see the path’s that are in front of us just so much clearer.

It’s why we need to understand that though God has plans for our lives, plans that He has set out since the moment of our conception, since the time of our birth, (Jeremiah 1:5) it’s never quite as simple or easy as we may like it to be. This isn’t because God is somehow confusing. Our Heavenly Father is anything but, making Himself apparent in all things if we choose to look and to see it. (Isaiah 40:21) The problem is we don’t necessarily live in a world that’s that cut and dry, in a world that is solely guided by His hand and His influence.

Perhaps this is why we are called His workmanship, created anew in Christ for the works that He has intended for us. (Ephesians 2:10) Note the fact that isn’t that it doesn’t tell us that we are completed. No, it tells us that we are a worked by the hand of the Master Craftsman Himself, molded and form, shaped for the things that He has intended for us and for our lives.

What needs to be remembered is that though God’s design for our lives is towards the divine, He sets out His plan for our life with a deep knowledge of this world and our nature. He understands that to the person who everything is given, nothing is really valued, and to those who are never challenged, nothing is ever enough. It isn’t a matter of testing us, it is a matter of teaching us all that we need to know, never giving us more than we can handle (1 Corinthians 10:13) while showing us the path, showing us the road and the journey that we need to be on.

God uses this, whether it is our failure or our success, to guide us. They don’t define us, not even our greatest success or most tremendous of failures. They are intended to be nothing more than the deeper lessons that we can learn as we are directed towards the people we need to be. Even as one failure grips us, a success is waiting around the corner, and just as one success satisfies this need in us, chances are there are more failures still waiting for our lives. It’s because our Heavenly Father, He knows us. He knows that there are certain things we are only going to examine, that we are only going to question, and to actively seek the answers for, the answers He is waiting to give us (James 1:5) in these situations. Sometimes we need to be humbled to find where we need to be, while other times He elevates us because these triumphs are meant to show us a view that we need to have.

In all of this the question the Disciple needs to ask themselves is why? Why has this happened? It’s not a question to be taken lightly, or out of a sense of pity or arrogance. It’s a question that is meant to lead them towards the sense that they are supposed to make out of it, so they can find what God is trying to show them for their lives.

Once you see your successes and your failures as nothing more than markers on the road of life you can set about really living your life, moving through the journey that it’s intended to be to become the person that you need to. Each one step, it tells you, teaches you a little something about yourself as it shows you not who you are but directs you, in love, hope, faith and compassion, towards the person you need to be.

As we understand that we understand what is intended for us better than we ever did before dwelling on nothing more than the challenges, and the successes and failures of our lives.

Let the Shame of it Go.

It’s hard when the faithful Disciple, in living their life, finds their mind slipping and their heart sinking deeper within them. They want to see the light that surrounds them, but in that moment they can’t help but see the darkness that fogs their eyes as they feel a coldness inside of them brought by this emptiness. It’s an emptiness that should be filled with faith and hope, the faith and the hope that have always guided you, that you’ve always known was enough, but that seems removed from your life right now.

There’s a myth that surrounds Christianity, and the Christian that is sometimes touted out who says that they cannot be depressed. After all, “This is the day that the Lord has made,” aren’t we meant to “rejoice and be glad in it”? (Psalm 118:24) Aren’t we supposed to “Shout for joy to the Lord” while we “burst into jubilant song with music”? (Psalm 98:4) There are times when we can be made to feel as if, in the depth of despair, amidst the darkness that can surround us, it is even worse because there is something even more shameful in the way that we feel, as if we are not showing the proper gratitude to God for all the good gifts and wondrous blessings He has shown for our lives.

If this is the case, are we truly faithful? Are we truly the Disciples we were meant to be finding that depression creates within us a despair and a pain that doesn’t allow us to see the deeper wonders of God’s miracles that should create a joyful heart within us?

It has always been our perceptions of God’s love and the way that we perceive His word that creates more questions, that create more hardship than the actual fact that lies within the meaning and the purpose that He has intended for us. Whatever myths we attach to it, the truth is something vastly different in the confidence we should have in the faith He has blessed us with as that gift of His grace.

Considering the one we are meant to set our sights on, “the author and the finisher of our faith”, (Hebrews 12:2) there are few who understand the temptations that surround depression quite like our blessed Savior. Facing all that we face, seeing the world through the eyes of our hardships, there were times when even Christ Himself was threatened to be swallowed whole by it. Even as He placed his trust in God, His faith in the love and the design, the grandness of the plan of His Heavenly Father, whom He knew loved Him so dearly, it was not hard to see that pain and that sense of despair on His face, to hear it in His voice as He prayed, knowing His course, as He fell to the ground, and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39)

Though His faith never wavered in the face of it, nor did He ever question the nature of God’s plan, in those moments, when He felt the finality of it all, of the design He knew He was sent to fulfill, like any of us, He Himself felt a darkness that surrounded Him that did not let Him make that “joyful noise” or “burst into that jubilant song.”

But then there is a reason why Jesus tells us to “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) He wants us to know that, even as we feel tired and weighed down by this world, even as we feel the struggles of this world push on us, there is nothing shameful in it. Saints through the course of time, men and women whose faith would be renowned for its strength would face the same even as they trusted in God, finding that the hardships of this world would find the weaker places in them and try to break them. There was and there is nothing shameful, nothing wrong in that. The true test of faith is not in never feeling depression or darkness surrounding us, it lies in how we seek God and those who He has sent to help us through that journey into the foggy mists of the hazier places in our minds.

More than just singing a joyful song or praising God for all of His blessings, being a Disciple of Christ is about being honest with Him. You cannot be faithful in your steadfast devotion to your faith if, like Adam and Eve in the Garden, you hide from Him when you feel as if something is shameful and wrong. You cannot seek His plan and design, you cannot find the peace of His love if you pretend to Him, refusing to bear your heart and your soul to Him.

There is nothing wrong or bad or shameful about what you feel or face, the only wrong that can occur is when you refuse to let the Lord, your Heavenly Father who loves and care for you, heal you, guiding you to the people and places you need where hope and love and help lie waiting for you.

A Revolutionary Spirit

America should have never been.

In Russia the Cossacks of Yemelyan Pugachev had already been crushed even as they attempted to rise against Catherine the Great’s rule, while, in Greece, the attempt to revolt against Ottoman rule was quickly put down with a lack of support from their allies. If, by the examples of the turmoil that was laid to rest by the rulers and the empires around them, the thirteen colonies were to learn anything, it was that you do not rise against your King, especially if he ruled the most powerful of the Empires.

Yet, coming face to face with what they knew of the world around them, and seeing the challenge of what they had to do, there was no other course for them, no other path they could have taken. The cries of Revolution, though reluctant at first, rose from their lips in the courage and the faith that though they may rise and fall with the next steps taken, they were giving themselves for something greater than themselves in the dreams of liberty and the hope of freedom that it carried.

As disciples of Christ there are times in our lives when we see the world around us for all that it is, and the truth is, we should, by the examples that have been placed before us, think twice of standing by our face. Perhaps we live in the blessings of the freedom to express our faith, a blessing that is not, even in this day and age, known by all. Yet, the challenges we face, though a spiritual challenge, offer to us a warning as we see the struggles of those who speak out and speak up for what they believe in all around us. We seek to change the world, offering ourselves in hope and love to others, still, even as we do little seems to change.

During these times we need to remember there is no other course for us except to stand and to dwell in the freedom granted to us by faith. After all, to live by the Spirit that has taken hold of us, that has created a new creation in us, is to live in liberty (2 Corinthians 3:7), a blessed gift offered through the love and sacrifice of Christ. To ignore that is to wear upon us the yoke of slavery, (Galatians 5:1) forged by apathy, hatred, in the understanding that we are all bound together and that while one lives in darkness and pain, destitution and hurt, we all find ourselves in such meager estates, even if we close our eyes and ignore that dark truth.

It is to be burdened by even greater challenges as we accept the world as it is, rather than how it could be in courage and the strength, as we fail to realize even the smallest of voices can be heard around the world by how it touches the lives of those around them. After all, our freedom is an opportunity to, in love, affect change in the lives of others if we let it, (Galatians 5:13) and we put behind us the corruption of our flesh that so weakens us. (Romans 8:21)

The truest revolutions, given to the hope that freedom brings, it does not come through the roaring thunder of cannons, or through the marches of those who take up arms, it comes in the hearts and the minds of those who believe in something bigger than themselves. It comes through a spirit of charity that looks at the weak and the forgotten and asks what can be done for them. It comes through those who love for the sake of loving, and nothing more, using what they have to help the poor and the downtrodden, seeking them out to offer them hope. It comes from feeding the hungry, listening to the depressed, helping the elderly, and being a force for healing to the sick. It comes from being there for those who need you on their terms, showing them the hope and the wonder, the miracles that surround them in the miracle that you can be in their lives.

The faithful disciple meets the world as it is, and asks of themselves, regardless of the challenge that it may bring, how can I rise above the struggles it may bring, above the difficulties I know may arise, to do more and to be more in the lives of others? They do so in a revolutionary spirit that is based firmly in reality, but that can’t stop asking how they can make it better, and what they can do to bring that about in the courage and the strength to take action.

Today is a new day, given as a gift from your Heavenly Father, and, as days go, it is your chance to put anything and everything that may hinder you behind you to give yourself in hope, love and faith, guided by the blessed wonders of Christ. How will you spend it?

Learning from Lou

17 seasons, 2,130 consecutive games, 6 World Series Championships, 23 grand slams, he played in every All-Star Game until the day he was forced to retire, saying his farewell at age 36 in 1939, and to this day I’m convinced that the records he broke, ones that took between 50 to 70 years to even tie or break, would remain untouched if his time hadn’t been cut so short before he was called home.

Ever since I was a child there were few who invoked my imagination amidst my love of baseball like The Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig. Even as I marked his birthday yesterday with a quiet, solemn remembrance of the man, I found myself thinking about his legacy. What an amazing legacy it is even today when you sit down and consider it, a man whose name, even now, stirs a degree of reverence and invokes thoughts of greatness even  109 years after he was born, 71 years after his death.

What though does any of this have to do with discipleship? What does it have to do with living an effective life as a disciple of Christ?

The truth is, for all the incredible, amazing things Gehrig did, it’s the courage summed up in a few sentences from his final farewell, “… For the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth…. I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for.” It was that strength, knowing the impossible odds that he faced, the impossible odds that would tear from him any hopes he had for a future, that allowed for him to stand there, in front of God and those fans and say that, despite it all, there was so much he was grateful for and so much left to live for that he couldn’t find it in him to be angry or bitter about any of it, that gives to us an understanding in a lesson taught.

You see we can lose a bit of ourselves amidst the challenges and the difficulties that life has, finding the struggles overwhelm us. At times we can lose sight of ourselves and the fact that there are no temptations except those that are common to man, (1 Corinthians 10:13) as we let ourselves lose sight of the blessings that are in our lives. Yet it’s never the challenges that define us, nor the struggles that have the power over us, that is unless we let them touch us in a way that stirs that dissent and hardship within our spirits and our souls.

Yet, despite any of it, what we need to remember is that despite the adversity, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) to be more than conquerors in Christ, who loves us. (Romans 8:37) That sometimes means looking past the here and now, and the present hardship, even the things that seek to tear us down and cast a veil over us, to remind ourselves that despite the bad breaks, we’ve “… got an awful lot to live for” through the blessed reminder that “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21) telling us that nothing built of trial and turmoil has any power over us if we run the race with perseverance and hope. (Hebrews 12:1)

We might not have the world watching as we stand in front it for the answer we give to the deeper challenges we face in our lives, and if our blessed gift of time is cut short, we may not have memorials erected in our honor as people remember our names, speaking it with reverence long after we gone. Yet that just makes it all the more important for us to use our time and our days wisely while we live this temporal existence, it makes it all the more important for us to meet our challenges head on, and to live each day letting only that blessing and the hope of the strength given to us as what defines us in the faith and the love that guides us.

We are as strong as we let ourselves be, so let your strength be forged by courage in the fires of adversity, and know that each day is a gift, a chance to be more and do more, to meet the struggles head on, knowing that even at its hardest, it is nothing more than a testimony to the unbreakable spirit and will that abides in you through faith by the love of a Heavenly Father and the care of a blessed Savior, the works of a divine Spirit, that is with you all the days of your life.