As I greet the day with thanksgiving, briefly I think about memorable times in my life and I find it is not necessarily the large raises I may have received nor the awards or large material gifts. What comes to mind instead, is a beautiful sunrise over the mountains, something good happening to a loved one or standing in as a grandparent at school for a child that didn’t have one here. The feelings I had with human accomplishments or gifts were fleeting but the genuine ones I can call up in my memory bank and recall the actual feeling.
When I remove self as in self-righteousness, self-absorption, self-pity, self-condemnation I can get in touch with my real self; the one God knows and sees. This is when I can relate to verses like Jeremiah 31:3 which states “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.'”
Recently, my husband and I were watching a science fiction series where this young woman who was a time traveler went back in time where her father had been run over by a car and killed when she was an infant. Rather than just watch the event, she ran out to the street and pushed him away which saved him. The remainder of the episode was the chaotic result of that split second decision to alter what had happened. From there it was a ripple effect of horrendous things!
Thoughts came pouring in from the past and very soon, I realized that nothing should be changed, even if we could so why would we even entertain the past? Genesis 19:26 states “But his wife, from behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.” This is talking about Lot’s wife looking back, even after God told them not to look. “Pillar of salt” was slang in biblical times for “frozen with fear”. This just led to some interesting thoughts about the past. Today, I will keep my thought right here, right now!
This morning as I was studying the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego being thrown into the furnace by the order of Nebuchadnezzar, I prayed for a deeper meaning. What came to me was that often when we hear a certain song, smell or fleeting thought, we can be seductively drawn back into an experience of the past. If careless, that experience becomes a god to us and we are worshipping it. Images of the past can flood our consciousness, whether enjoyable or frightening. God is right here with us at all times and there is nothing to fear. There was also no past without Him! Daniel 3:11 states “And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.” Do we really think God is saying that to us? The more alert I am to my thoughts, the more I can cast out the ones that are not from God.
Praying daily to see what God sees and hear what He is saying strengthens my spiritual muscles and I can honestly say only spiritual growth is going on.
Have been studying about Peter’s denial of the Christ after the Crucifixion. He had just told Jesus the night before there would be no way he would ever deny knowing Him, but he did just that three times. Matthew 26:75 states “He went out, and wept bitterly.” His remorse was so great but later, his spiritual understanding was so great, he went on to raise Dorcas from the belief of death! That story reassures me that my past is forgiven, freeing me up to learn more and more of God and my relationship to Him. Being able to use this understanding every day enriches my life.
This is true for each and every one of us.
This morning as I study and pray, the thought came to me that my Church family may know me better than my own family. There are times when I feel less judged by my Church family and I feel my siblings may still view me in the past. Then, I asked myself, “Is this my thinking?” Philippians 3:13-14 states “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Recently, I had the opportunity to spend time with family individually as they were here during a recent challenge I experienced. The only thing that was expressed was Love, no pretense nor judgment at all. As I think back my heart is filled with gratitude and humility for that time with each of them. My daily prayer is for more grace and the ability to drop off any concern on what anyone else thinks. It really is none of my business. Spiritual growth is all that really is going on.
She is one of my very favorite Bible characters. She had been forgiven of much and yet, she was the first to see the risen Christ. I can’t help but think it was due to her humility, repentance and Love for Jesus that made her receptive, even before His faithful disciples, who doubted her when she told them she had seen Him.
Apparently, she released her past completely and knew her true selfhood to be the child of God. By doing this, she was able to recognize the Christ. When I know my True Identity, I feel closer to God. 2 Corinthians 4:17 states “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” Only Good is going on.
Today, I have had quite a few realizations about worrying. First of all, how can we pray and worry at the same time? Isn’t that questioning God’s omnipresence? Isn’t that doubting that God is the only power there is? To worry about something gives it power and by doing that, it becomes a god! Sin or error can never be in the present, but is always in the past or future and is usually a judgement call. I Peter 5:6 reads, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time.”
When worry tries to tempt me, I will reject it and know God is working His purpose out and that purpose can only bless me.