Tag Archives: strength

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.

Looking Back


Every now and then I sit back at night and I stare out the window with a cup of tea in hand, and I wonder about the direction my life has gone in. It’s not so much that I have regrets, though, if I had the time again, I know there would have been some things that I would have changed. It’s that, in those moments, I just think about the ways it might have been different had a decision been one of the other choices I could have made.

Who would have I become? How would have it changed the person I am? Would it have changed him at all? Would I still have been the same or reached the same place? If I had, would my life have been any easier for getting there? If not, would I have been happy with the person I had become?

Sometimes, to be perfectly honest, I’m not always content with the places my life has taken me or the places I have wound up. In those moments it’s easy for me to slip into the “What If’s” of a different time and decisions. After all, life is made up of all of those little choices that we make along the way. Sometimes they’re so small that we don’t even recognize them as being as big as they are as they set us on a course we little expected, profoundly changing the direction of our lives.

It could be that it’s an important process for us to come to, to make peace with ourselves and the decisions that we have made and the road our life has gone down, especially when it hasn’t been all that we had hoped or thought that it would be. Yet it is also one that we have to be careful of lest we allow ourselves to fall into the trap of regret.

You see, our lives, at times, can take unexpected twists and turns. It can take us down a course and a path that we little expected for it to take us on. Perhaps it’s far from where we had ever thought we would be. The truth is, that happens. Yet, sitting back and wondering to ourselves how our lives might or could have been different does us little good in the grand scheme of the human experience.

For as much as the past may have had its effect on us and who we have become, it is not nearly as important as looking to the future and deciding what we want to make of it. (Philippians 3:13-14)

You see, life isn’t about living in previous things. Yes, perhaps we have made mistakes in them, but, in the end, about the only thing we can really do about it is put them behind us, and learn from them, knowing that even they had a purpose for us to draw upon. (Hebrews 12:10-11) Though God doesn’t want us to make mistakes, it’s not like His plan and His design for our lives can only operate if we are free of them. Loving, understanding, and knowing, even as He sets into motion the plans He does have for us, (Jeremiah 1:5) He does so taking into account the human element so that our future is one of hope and faith in that hope, (Jeremiah 29:11) even if we don’t necessarily understand at the time.

Sometimes then, it is just about how we let the decisions we have made pass through us as we let them pass by us, knowing that though they may have been hard, and perhaps they have taken a toll on us, God didn’t need us to make all the right ones from the start to help us reach the inevitable end that we need to arrive at. Our faith, our trust it has to lie in more than just the choices we make, knowing that while we take an active part in our future, for however far we may have deviated from the road we perhaps should have been on, we can be taken back to the path we need to go down.

Here, if there are changes to be made, it isn’t a question of how could of my life been different. It’s a matter of how can I make my life different. It is about looking at the gifts, the talents, the blessings and the hope that have been given to you by your Creator and using them, learning to become the person you want to be rather than perpetually looking back to the person you might have been. It’s about knowing that life is a journey, and one that does take unexpected turns, but also one that we are always growing, evolving in, one that, as we put our faith in a higher purpose and a higher meaning, heals us from the wounds of the past to start fresh with the future.

Be who you are, but do it with a firm eye on who you need to be. Remember God cannot reveal what is in front of you if you are perpetually looking behind you. He has more planned for you, it is just a matter of taking hold of it and moving forward, reminding yourself that the reason behind everything is revealed in time in love towards the person you were, are and can be. Lay your burdens at the feet of your Savior, Christ Jesus, and move forward with the love and the hope that God has intended for you and your life.

When you see the path as that journey you travel towards a place of hope, know that it is never going to be perfect, but it is going to give you the peace in who you have become that you have been searching for.

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.

A Question of Beauty


Looking in the mirror it’s hard sometimes not to see our flaws and imperfections as they stare back at us. Maybe it’s a little bit of the world around us with its ever changing standards, not so subtly pushing us towards its own perceptions of beauty. It imposes itself on us, flooding us with images and ideas of what it means to be pretty or handsome. It tries to take and mold those who do not fit those standards, trying to make and re-make them in its own image until finally, in a sense of deeper conformity, it pushes people to meet with that image.

Yet the truth is, for as much as that may be the case, it has more to do with us than it does anything else. After all, we are the ones looking and seeing, wanting to somehow be different than we are, using whatever these standards are as a measure of ourselves to try and change, to want to change, somehow thinking there’s something wrong with us.

You see, what we need to remember is that we are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) in the image of our Heavenly Father. (Genesis 1:26) Still, even amidst that, each of us are as unique and as special as the love that God has for us, formed by the wonders of His touch and with the gifts that He intended for us. That’s what makes us truly special, it’s what makes the truest beauty, and the most wondrous of elegance.

It is the image that we see when we look in our hearts, when we look at our deeds, not necessarily the one that we see when we look in the mirror. After all, that can be deceiving and can be trapped in vanity. It can be fleeting, soon to disappear as it washes away with the tides of time. (Proverbs 30:21) It can hide a heart that is cold and hurtful.

That isn’t to say that all who are by the standards around us considered beautiful, are that way. There is no question that they can, and do have a radiance that shines from within their hearts. That though is their most real and sincere beauty and they realize it too, knowing that when everything else in the world starts to fade that’s what they have to count on.

It’s that it’s important to remember that the truest standard of beauty that we can have, the most stunning of grace that can take hold of us is judged by the love in our hearts, the hope in our spirits, and the wonders we make use of in our souls. It lies in how we look at the world, at those who are in need around us and strive to help them, how we edify and uplift our fellow man making their lives just a little bit better. It’s the sense of charity and faith that guides us to imitate our Blessed Savior in the healing power of His touch, seeking to be more to those around us.

Sometimes this is hard for us to remember when we are bombarded with images of the perfect smile, the perfect body, the perfect hair, or whatever else it may be. We think life will just be that much easier, we will be able to get whatever it is that we want or feel that we need if we are a little thinner or a little better looking, if we have a little more hair on our head or whatever else it may be. Yet, in the end, when these things fade, we either end up struggling with the fact that they are slipping away from us, or we have the love and the hope in our hearts that guided us to be better people, to be stronger and more courageous of people.

Rather than trying to obtain beauty, be beautiful with a light that shines forth from your heart. Rather than seeing flaws or imperfections, see a person who has a chance to do more and be more with themselves today, knowing the gifts your Heavenly Father gave you, and using them to change the world around you rather than trying to change yourself for the world. You’re only as beautiful as you let yourself be, the question becomes how beautiful do you want to be?

God judges not by the physical appearance but by the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7) What will He see when He looks in yours? Will it be the beauty of your love blooming? Or will it be a preoccupation with being exactly as you perceive you need to look?

Find your beauty within, and bring it out through love, hope, faith and charity. When you do, everything else will make sense in the wonders that it hold.

The Nature of True Beauty

With love and hope in our hearts how do we, as Disciples of Christ, measure beauty? How do we see it, not only in the world around us, but in the people who surround us?

When this question runs through my mind there’s a verse I often like to consider. It’s from the story of David, when the prophet Samuel sought to anoint a new king over Israel to replace Saul, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)

You see, the shepherd boy, when placed side by side with the other sons of Jesse, standing beside his brothers, was not much to look at. In fact, when considered with them, it could hardly be thought that he would have the capacity to lead, to offer the strong guidance that the nation itself needed. Yet, in the eyes of the Lord, it wasn’t the strength, or the height or any of the outward appearances. After all, He had Saul, a mighty man of renown, strong and charismatic, as the chosen King and it had met with such disappointment as He had watched him waver to the point where his fall would become inevitable. Now the Lord sought a different sort of man to lead His people.

Still, it wasn’t hard for Samuel to fall into a trap that each of us can so easily find ourselves amidst, looking at the strongest, the best looking, the mightiest as the one who catches our eyes somehow believing that they have more to offer because of their appearance. We so often see beauty as an outward appearance, as only being significant and worthy of our attention if it somehow can merit a second look from our eyes. We see it as it is, by the standards of our present age, and by the focus that is given to it by society as a whole. It is there that we mark worth and assign value by what captivates our eyes and captures our attention.

Yet the truth is true beauty is marked by what is in our hearts, by the love, the hope and the inspiration that we offer in the courage and the perseverance of our spirits. It is in the wisdom that we show, it is in the way that we offer our hand to one another to be a force for good, edifying and uplifting them, by the charity that spurs on optimism despite whatever despair it may offer. Each of us, “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14) have, by the power of God, an enormous capacity to offer of ourselves through the gifts that we have. This is the true mark of beauty, the true mark of our strength.

Perhaps, at times, we don’t see ourselves as we should. We look in the mirror and we see our every physical imperfection, whether it is real or perceived. We hate our glasses, we’re not model thin, our hair is falling out, our body doesn’t look like we think it should. Perhaps, at times, we look at others, and we don’t necessarily see them for who they are. We see them for what we can only see with our eye. By this sight we don’t even always necessarily know what it is about their appearance, maybe it’s a little bit of everything, but we just find them to be unattractive.

As imitators of God, given to His love, captured by His grace, we need to strive to see more in ourselves and in others, to see beauty for what it really is. It is not in waist sizes or in hairlines or in any other physical standard that we can mark it by. It is in what is given, and the guiding presence of a spirit and a soul, a heart and a mind given to the greatest capacity we have to live in the image of God that we are created in. It comes through a God who is, in and of Himself, love. It is to take the lessons of Christ and to use it to create a spiritual makeover, one that focuses on the elegance and the strength of our inward appearances.

It is only in this way that we see true beauty for what it is as we let it encompass our being. It is being moved not by the vain eyes but by the pure heart in the wonders of all of God’s creation. In this we become more than we ever hoped to be as the character of our splendor is marked by the blessed exquisiteness of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who offered us the greatest example of what it truly means to be attractive.