The Peace of Paul: “What has happened… has actually resulted in…”

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“And I pray this: that your love will keep on growing in knowledge and every kind of discernment, so that you can determine what really matters and can be pure and blameless in the day of Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” –Philippians 1:9-11

As we dive into the letter to the Philippians, we find the apostle Paul writing to the church at Philippi.

In the above verses, Paul is praying for the welfare of the church at Philippi. Interceding for them. Encouraging them. At first read, this seems ordinary and normal considering this is the Bible after all. And Paul is a great man of God. Of course Paul would be praying for the Philippians. What else would he be doing!

But did you know that the apostle Paul was actually in a jail cell when he wrote this?

That’s right.

A jail cell.

Paul had been imprisoned by Rome for preaching the words of Christ. For doing what God had instructed him to do. For doing the right thing.

So it seems that Paul would be upset, right!?

Wouldn’t he be angry at God for orchestrating his landing at a Roman jail?

Especially considering he had been appointed by God to carry out the mission of God. Wouldn’t God have wanted Paul to not be captured and keep preaching and ministering? Couldn’t God rescue him? Couldn’t God have stopped him from being captured and imprisoned by the Romans?

Surely God could have.

God could have prevented Paul from going to prison unjustly. But He didn’t.

Why?

To Paul, the answer is clear:

“Now I want you to know brothers that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is for Christ.” –Philippians 1:12-13

Wow.

Paul isn’t angry.

Now that is a faith in Christ that cannot be shaken.

What has happened…has actually resulted in…

Hmmmm…

It seems Paul is starting to think about how this can be used for God’s glory…

Hmmm….

It seems Paul is starting to see how others can hear about Jesus by him being there in the prison…

Hmm…

It seems Paul is finding joy in jail…

It seems Paul is seeing God at work…

It seems Paul trusts God’s hand in his life in any and every situation he goes through…

Wow…

What has happened…has actually resulted in…

Plug in your situation… has actually resulted in…

Being in jail…is actually helping others hear about Christ.

Being persecuted by others… is helping me fellowship with Christ in His sufferings.

Experiencing conflict… is actually growing stagnant areas in my life.

Not having what I think I need… is actually elevating my trust in God as my provider.

Feeling unloved… is actually drawing me nearer to the Lord who loves me extravagantly. 

Remaining in a difficult situation… is actually shaping me into the person God wants me to be.

Whatever has happened…God will use to result in something beneficial! For you and for His glory!

“No one takes up the case for your sores.

You have nothing that can heal you.

But I will bring you health

and will heal you of your wounds…” –Jeremiah 30:13 & 17a

Remember: love seeks the welfare of others. And God is love. So God seeks our welfare. No matter the situation, God seeks our welfare in that. Aren’t you glad to know you have one person on your side in this life seeking your welfare? And not just anyone! But God! The God of the universe is seeking your welfare!!! And He’s never gonna stop.

Paul may be limited to a jail cell.

But God is not limited.

God is still seeking the welfare of Paul.

Even in the jail cell.

God is using Paul’s situation to do exactly what He intended all along.

And in the middle of it, Paul also starts to reflect the love of God by seeking others welfare as well. Paul starts to pray for others even in the midst of his own suffering.

Do we?

Are we seeking the welfare of others when we are in pain? When we are upset? When we feel ignored, rejected and passed over?

Paul did.

Paul demonstrates the purity of love by praying for others and seeking their welfare, instead of dwelling on his own unfavorable circumstances.

In verse 10 of the first chapter, Paul says something very meaningful that particular sticks out to me: “so that you can determine what really matters…”

What really matters.

What really matters.

Paul discovered what really matters.

Paul found that what has happened… is actually helping him to discover what really matters. 

→ Saying yes to God at all costs.

That really matters.

“For me, to live is Christ, to die is gain,” (1:21).

So whether Paul is alive: he says yes to Jesus.

And whether Paul is dead: he sees Jesus.

Either way, he says yes to Jesus.

He follows Him.

Are you?

“So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” –Philippians 2:12

Are you following Jesus at all costs? Am I following Jesus at all costs?

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the songs I listen to that talk about my faith in God.

Songs that say, “take it all…”, “you can have it all, Lord…every part of my world…”, “I surrender all…”, “should this life hold nothing but my Savior, I will praise you always…”… And to me, these words are very serious words. These are not just songs on the radio to sing along to. They are serious vows. Serious vows to the Lord.

When I sing “You can have it all, Lord…” do I really mean it?

If so, why am I surprised when God takes it all??

When we sing “I surrender…” do we really mean it?

If so, why do we try to take control over God and do things our way??

What we commit to in our relationship with Jesus is very serious. It’s not to be said whimsically. If I say to the Lord that he can have it all, I better expect for Him to take it all and I subsequently find joy in that. Just like the apostle Paul did.

Paul meant what he said when he said “to live is Christ, to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21)

Paul walked what he talked.

Paul sang praises to Jesus while chained in a jail cell!

Paul found joy in God taking everything from him. And I just can’t get over it. It helps me so much to learn from Paul’s contentment in the Lord when his situation could have been incredibly miserable. From Paul’s humble submission to let God do anything to him, no matter how much it hurt. From Paul’s willful obedience to follow the Lord even unto death. To choose Jesus over every other thing he could have. His whole life revolved around Jesus.

Paul would go on to be executed by the Romans.

For him, saying “to die is gain” would be a quick reality.

And Paul was ready.

Paul was willing.

Paul was joyful.

Paul was glad to give his life for Jesus.

Are we?

I pray we would think about what really matters. And that our inclination during a difficulty would be to say “what has happened…has actually resulted in…” for the glory of God.

→ Just like the picture above after a forest fire, the flames were hot and the devastation discouraging. But the forest will regrow. And look at what you can see now. Beauty is just along the horizon. What has happened… has actually resulted in… 

May our confidence in the Lord blur every over worry, discouragement, stressor, anxiety and assailant of our joy. God is fighting for you and He’s on your side. Let us recall the posture of Paul’s heart when we go through what seems like hopeless situations in our lives. For surely, God it doing something glorious.

 

“But our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a Savior, The Lord Jesus Christ. He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of His glorious body, by the power that enables Him to subject everything to Himself.”

–Philippians 3:20-21

 

Questions for Today:

  • What did Paul say that redirected his potential misery into peace?
  • How can I learn to be thankful in the midst of unfavorable circumstances?
  • How can I fill in this sentence to reflect my own response to my current situation? → “what has happened…has actually resulted in…”
  • What next step can I take in my relationship with the Lord today?

 

“Fullness” (Acoustic) by Elevation Worship

God Did Not Create Us to Hate Each Other

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The recent events surrounding unjust killings along with the steady escalation of racial tension in America are grieving to witness. This isn’t what we were created for. This is not who we are. No one wins in this.

God created us to be like Him.

To reflect His goodness.

To demonstrate His grace.

To show His Kindness.

To be different.

God created humans in the form of a beautiful tapestry of humanity to enjoy one another, complement one another, love one another and sharpen one another.

But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.” –1 John 1:7

We possess a God-designed identity for humanity’s family on earth.

A family that was meant to be holy and set apart for God.

God did not create us to hate each other.

He created us for each other.

We’re meant to be a blessing to each other.

 “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” –1 John 4:11

“Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2

 “For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” – Romans 12:4-5

And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” -Colossians 3:14

Sin tries to ruin our God-designed identity as humanity’s family.

Sin tries to put enmity between us.

Sin tries to divide us.

This is nothing new.

It’s been happening ever since Genesis 3.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1)

“Did God really say…” says the devil.

“Did God really say…” whispers our flesh.

The devil wanted to make Eve question God.

The devil wanted to plant division within the human heart.

Enmity.

Division.

“The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’ ” (Genesis 3:2-3)

Eve knew what God said.

That wasn’t the problem.

The problem was that what she knew was about to be threatened.

And this had never happened before.

Eve was not prepared for truth to be attacked. Eve all the sudden had an invasion of normalcy. Unity with God as it was intended to remain was about to be assaulted by the one who has been scheming against God from the very beginning. Satan. Eve did not know who she was up against.

And soon, humanity would never be the same.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

Satan’s determination to break the design anointed on God’s humanity was wrapped up in a promise of eternal life.

How ironic.

Eve didn’t need his promise. She was already designed for eternity. But that’s how evil does.

Evil always makes a counterfeit promise.

And it never comes through.

It tricks every time.

Eternal death was Satan’s hidden agenda and turning her against the one who created her was just what he needed to complete his mission.

“When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.” (Genesis 3:6-7)

This is where everything changed for Adam and Eve.

No more watering the flowers in luscious Garden of Eden bliss…

No more singing with the bluebirds in the sun…

No more dancing with the bunnies of the forest…

No more peace…

No more calm.

Satan was about to damage humanity forever. All with one lie. And creation was sabotaged. Our design for unity hacked and rewired.

Hatred spewed in like the breaking of the Hoover Dam.

It was never meant to leak in.

But it did.

Thankfully, Jesus has come to save the day. And He will come again to rescue us into the real eternal life that only He can promise and fulfill.

But we’re still here in this broken, grieved earth. The same earth assaulted by Satan in Genesis 3.

Now Satan along with sin continues his assault….whispering lies in our ears causing misunderstanding… skepticism… disunity… prejudice… bitterness… and on and on…

Lies that break our original design for harmony.

Lies that cause us to assume the worse about others.

Lies that cause us to doubt each other.

Lies that plant animosity and hatred within humanity’s family on earth.

Lies that causes some people to carry out their evil desires and hurt others.

Lies that kill.

We have become estranged it seems.

Throughout the Bible and throughout all of history, we have witnessed story after story of division within humanity’s family and how that division attempts to ruin our identity.

You don’t even have to pick up a book to confirm this.

Many stories are already imprinted into the fabric of our memories and ancestral histories.

And it hurts.

Sometimes, it hurts so much that even we are who God’s people are tempted to rebel against our God-designed identities as well and let these negative feelings overtake us. Sin continues to stir negative emotions within the human heart that lead to anger, rage, division, prejudice, pride, and selfishness. And it can be hard to push aside.

I myself have difficulties experiencing some of these emotions at times.

The devil hates us.

And he wants nothing more than to make us to hate each other and wreck our God-designed destiny for humanity’s family here on earth.

It’s working isn’t it?

The devil seems to be winning.

Seems.

It seems humanity does hate one another.

War after war. Violence after violence. Killing after killing. Prejudice after prejudice. Rudeness after rudeness. Belittling after belittling. Sin after sin.

What’s problematic is that so many forms of hatred are masked by human rationality.

Human nature causes us to find a “reason” to hurt one another.

Just like Satan did.

Satan had a “reason” for why Eve should disobey God.

Sin always has a “reason” for why it’s okay to do the wrong thing.                         

A “reason” that’s always disturbing.

Hitler wanted to kill Jews out of a communal-unity-purity “reason,” ISIS kills out of a religious-ideological “reason,” thieves steal out of a lack-need “reason,” slavery existed out of a financial-greed-economic “reason,” I sin against God out of self-preservation “reasons.”

“Reasons” that hurt other people and/or ourselves are never okay!…”

Reasons saturated by sin are an abomination to the brain-functioning capabilities.

It’s freaking messed up what humanity capable of!

“Reasons.”

Too many reasons.

Why did you do [that]? asks the judge every time.

“Well, because…”

There’s always a “because…”

A reason.

A disturbing reason.

A disturbing reason for doing the wrong thing.

Sin always persuades you with a reason.

Don’t fall for it.

It hurts.

Satan has contaminated our identities and he’s trying to make us act like him when we were created to act like Jesus. Too often we fall for it. How grateful I am for Jesus’ grace.

It’s human nature to try and justify a wrongdoing according to what we think is good for us.

And that’s a problem!

Because it causes innocent people to get hurt. Even killed.

My hearts hurts for the families of… Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, the 5 Dallas police officers, the now 3 Baton Rouge police officers and so many countless billions of others recently and throughout history who have been harmed and/or murdered unjustly.

My heart grieves at the animosity boiling in our country between black and white.

My heart is unsettled over the fact that so many are hurting and unheard and misunderstood.

Battling each other will never solve anything.

I’m not here to offer up the perfect solution.

I don’t have one.

I wish I did.

But I do know we need to seek to learn how to love each other better, understand one another, and feel what others are feeling.

Feeling what others are feeling and cultivating empathy is incredibly important.

Empathy is one of the strongest cultivators of love.

Why?

Because what you feel drives how you: think, respond, and act.

And that’s what Jesus did to draw us to Himself.

Jesus came down to be like us so He could feel what we feel.

Empathy.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him… Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” –1 John 4:9, 11-12

We need to go out of our way to do whatever it takes to understand each other’s pain so that we can share in empathy with each other.

Paul exhorts us in Romans 12:15 to “Rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.”

We must start with ourselves when it comes to each of our individual roles in this whole family of humanity and the sin that divides us. We are all living here on earth. We are all involved. We are all contributors, whether by action or inaction. We must each analyze our hearts and recognize the sin that is cultivating any kind of division within humanity’s family, and change it, so that we may seek the welfare of one another.

I have to examine my own heart and discover the wickedness within me before I can expect anybody else to change.

What I am encouraged by is this: there is a lot more good than evil.

I am encouraged but what I have witnessed so far in Dallas surrounding the police officer shootings, with people coming together and seeking to better understand one another, acknowledge that we have not done our best to love each other well, create dialogue and conversation regarding the escalating tensions surrounding race, and seek healing together.

This is an opportunity to show the devil who we are in Christ!

To show who we as humanity were created to be!

The good news is, 1 Peter 2:9 declares WHO WE REALLY ARE!

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (emphasis mine) – 1 Peter 2:9

God has called us out of darkness.

Into His light.

We were not created to hate each other.

We were created to display the beauty of God together: every race, every culture, & every color. It’s beautiful just like God created it to be!

We were created to love one another no matter how much it costs us.

We were created to mourn with those who mourn no matter how uncomfortable it is.

We were created to pursue justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God no matter how inconvenient it is.

For we are God’s chosen people!

This is who we are.

May we take back our God-designed identity as humanity’s family.

May we be known by our love.

 

“Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselvesnot looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Philippians 2:1-4

 

Questions for Today:

  • What role have I played in the injustices of our world?
  • Is there any hostility, prejudice, anger, pride, or other negative emotion remaining undealt with in my heart?
  • How can I better understand and empathize with my fellow brothers and sisters?
  • What is my posture towards racial injustice and racial reconciliation and what am I doing for the cause of Christ to make a positive impact?

 

Don’t be Mad at God

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Lately I’ve felt mad at God. And in feeling guilty about it, I figured I should forgive…because I’m usually of the mindset that if I am mad at someone then I should forgive them. Easier said than done sometimes, I know. But I know it makes me feel better.

But then I thought… What the heck. I can’t forgive God! God has never done anything wrong! Oh wow…I cannot believe I actually just considered forgiving God.

I laughed.

And then I felt incredibly embarrassed before the Lord.

I hope you didn’t hear that, God.

But, I know He did. Thankfully, God is gracious and He won’t hold it against me. And though, at the time, I still wasn’t able to get over being mad at the Lord, today He’s been showing me why. And I hope this helps somebody who may also be wrestling with this not-so-unique problem of feeling mad at God.

I don’t know what you’re going through. But I do know that if you’re a living, breathing human being, there are times when you wonder why God would allow pain in your life.

There will be times you’re tempted to be mad at God.

Times you assume He’s out to get you.

Times you’re confused.

Times you feel hurt.

I want you to know that you don’t have to be mad at God.

He is NOT the one causing you pain.

Let me repeat…God is NOT the one causing you pain.

God is the One coming to rescue you into eternity, safety, beauty, love and glory.

But in the midst of real life, I keep wondering over and over why God would allow pain. And I get mad. I get in a mindset where I believe that because God is sovereign and He allows everything to come to pass in our lives, that my pain passes through His hands because He doesn’t care to stop it. As if the bad things happening to any one of us are travelling through a security checkpoint, then making it through and travelling on to meet its destination: you and I. Why would God let pain pass through the security checkpoint? Why would He allow it? Why won’t He stop it?

We can ask these questions all day long.

But it’s not going to get us anywhere.

God is not the one causing us pain.

Satan is. Evil is. Sin is.

If we want answers to why pain and suffering exist, we need to look at what God is doing with Genesis 3 and Revelation 20-22.

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve are dwelling in a beautiful garden hand-crafted by God for their enjoyment. Lush greenery, velvet grass, sweet-smelling flowers, luscious fruits. But Satan comes along and tells them about a tree: a tree that will make them like God, knowing good and evil. Adam and Eve know God told them not to eat from that tree. But they disobey God and eat the fruit. This act generated the entry of the knowledge/awareness of good and evil into the world.

The point of Genesis 3 is not that Adam and Eve disobeyed. Nor that they should be punished and thus God lets pain and suffering exist. No. That’s not the point. The point I’m trying to illuminate is all about Satan.

Satan is the one who initiated the idea for Adam and Eve to disobey.

This is incredibly significant, as we see the relationship between God and Satan throughout the Bible, or the tension between good and evil, play out.

If you look at everything as a power struggle between God and Satan (even though we know God always wins), you can take the pressure off of Adam, Eve and the whole human race as the ones to blame.

You are not to blame, beloved.

God has a purpose.

That doesn’t mean we are off the hook…but then again, we ARE off the hook!!!

Why?

Because God – the One who gets to make all the executive decisions in the universe – decided that you and I were off the hook for what happened in the garden. He sent Jesus to pay for all that (John 3:16). That’s pretty freaking good news if you ask me!

“I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more,” says Isaiah 43:25.

God let Satan tempt them.

God let Genesis 3 happen.

He needed it to happen.

Why?

This is an instance where I would be mad at God for letting something bad happen.

Why did you let the serpent tempt us God? I’d be thinking if I were Eve.

But God had a reason.

And it’s bigger than their one sin to eat the fruit.

It’s about something much bigger.

God is doing something in this whole power-struggle between good and evil, Him and Satan, where God’s end goal is to destroy evil and destroy Satan for good. And He just had to do it this way with us involved in the story. He needs to filter us through this world of good and evil too. God also lets this be a means by which humans choose if they will believe in God and follow Him or not.

Then in Revelation 20-22, God will complete the work He started in Genesis 3.

He will deal with the problem of evil.

God is going to destroy evil and Satan, and create the New Heaven and New Earth where no more pain and no more suffering will exist ever again:

“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever… Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.” –Revelation 20:10 & 14

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea…

He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Then He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” –Revelation 21:1 & 4-6

But there is a gap of time between Genesis 3 and Revelation 20-22.

 

Satan gets to have some power during this time.

Before He is destroyed.

Thus, bad things happen.

Nobody is exempt.

Not even Christians.

In fact, Christians usually experience more bad things because Satan likes to attack the ones who believe in God, the One he hates. We shouldn’t be surprised. Yet it seems that I am always surprised when bad things happen to me. So I need to remind myself of this just as much as anybody.

When I remember this…the reality of Genesis 3 and Revelation 20-22, I am comforted in the midst of bad things happening to me and all around me.

But is this my default?

I wish.

I wish I could say immediately in the middle of a bad thing, thank you Lord that despite the brokenness allowed by Genesis 3, I can have hope in the promise of Revelation 20-22 and then go on my merry way.

But that is not my default.

My default in the middle of a “bad thing” is to get angry at God for letting it happen to me.

Out of human emotional impulse, I lack recollection of the reality of the Genesis 3/Revelation 20-22 plan of God.

I forget that bad things are inevitable and I must wait for God to wipe out everything that causes us pain here in the world.

What catalyzed all of this thought today is THIS troublesome realization:

When I think about God, I imagine Him in 2 different ways depending on how I feel: loved or unloved.

THIS IS WHY I struggle so much to trust God sometimes.

There’s 1) the God I imagine in Heaven and with in Heaven, who I know loves me and I feel loved by, and then there’s 2) the God I don’t understand, seems unrelatable, who I fear wants to hurt me and doesn’t love me.

This is contradictory.

I know.

Because God is the same always (Hebrews 13:8).

So He can’t be both.

Most of the time, the first description is who I imagine God as.

But when I am fearful and mad at God, it’s always the second description that I imagine God as.

Interesting.

I realized today, I’ve been imagining and talking to 2 versions of God…

2 very different versions of God who cannot coexist…

This is how God showed me this today…

Today I was really angry and confused. More than I think I’ve ever been. And I just felt like God was deceiving me and tricking me. Confusing me and using me for His benefit and my pain. I was talking to God as if He was out to get me. As if I didn’t trust Him. Then all the sudden… I stopped. I started to imagine me being with Him for real in heaven. And I stopped being mad. I just wanted to be with Him in Heaven. And I started imagining me and God together. As I did, I started talking to Him differently. When I imagine me talking to God as if I were in heaven right there with Him, there is no doubt in my mind that God loves me. I feel it. It’s real to me. More real than any other love I feel from anyone. It’s in that moment that I know for sure God loves me way too much to hurt me. The God I am with in Heaven could never ever hurt me or make me angry. It’s not possible. Then all the anger I was feeling several minutes prior started to fade away. I realized my reasons for my anger were not God’s fault at all.

Then I thought…that’s it! That’s my problem! This is why I’m struggling to trust God right now. I see Him in 2 completely different ways! It’s as if He exists as 2 different Gods in my mind. And that is not possible!

There’s the God who loves me.

But then there’s the God who wants me to suffer.

There’s the God I’m with in Heaven.

But then there’s the God roaming throughout the earth causing me pain.

There’s the God who desires me.

But then there’s the God who’s annoyed with me.

There’s the God who wants to do good things for me.

But then there’s the God who hurts me.

The God I love.

But then the God I’m angry with.

The God I trust to help me.

But then the God I don’t trust with anything.

2 different Gods.

Both fighting to be the same in my mind.

This is scary.

I’m getting goosebumps.

The “But then…” God is not God.

It’s a lie.

It’s Satan.

“And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light,” declares the apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:14.

Wow, no wonder I’ve been seeing God in 2 different ways.

All along, the devil is the one who’s been acting as a fake version of God in my mind, trying to make me be mad at the God I love! He’s been making me think God didn’t love me! What a schemer he is! But he will not win. No sir. The devil has been found out and he has no more authority in my mind nor yours!

Satan will attack you and try to make you be mad at God.

Don’t let him.

Satan will deceive you and try to make you think God is orchestrating your suffering.

Don’t believe it.

Satan will whisper tantalizing lies to you that you should forget God’s way.

Don’t fall for it.

Satan is a liar!

Jesus said so in John 8:44 when he was talking of those who would not believe in God:

“You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (emphasis mine).

And Satan’s power will NOT LAST forever! Revelation 20 is coming. And by chapter 22, we will all be with God forever free from Satan and his lies.

Choose to believe that God is not responsible for your pain. The devil is. Evil is. Sin is.

But this is not an excuse to be vengeful!

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord,” in Romans 12:19.

Let God take care of the devil, evil and sin.

Revelation 20-22 is coming.

Therefore, we have no reason to be mad at God.

We must also take responsibility for our own flesh.

Not everything bad that happens is Satan’s fault.

Some of it is our fault too.

Sometimes, I get mad or distrusting of God just because I am a sinful human being. May we rely heavily on the Spirit to cleanse ourselves of sin that inhibits us from seeing God clearly and experiencing intimacy with Him.

“The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” – Romans 8:6

God is more than willing to help us along the way.

His grace is overflowing.

Romans 8:31-32 says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

God is for us.

Not against us.

God is not double-minded.

Before, I was seeing God as 2 different Gods…now I see that evil was tricking me.

I could choose to believe that God is the one who’s given me pain, but that won’t get me anywhere but further from Him. That’s what the devil wants. For us to distance ourselves from God and be bitter.

God won’t hurt you.

God won’t confuse you

God won’t be mean to you.

But Satan will. Evil will. Sin will.

Don’t be mad at God.

Don’t be mad at anyone else.

Rest in the truth that God loves you.

Love never hurts you. Never.

Thank Him.

Let God know how thankful you are that He is your God, your love, your safe place.

 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart,” Jeremiah 29:11-13.

I pray that you would believe God is good in every possible way. So all those negative thoughts circulating in your mind…may God cast them out in Jesus’ name!

We will be safe and loved with the Lord for all eternity. And this love is here now. There’s no differentiation between God’s love for us now and His future love for us. It’s constant and strong always. May we believe that God never wishes harm on anyone. But luckily, He knows how to make something really beautiful even from the most horrible circumstances. Genesis 3 will turn into Revelation 22. Hallelujah!

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

Questions for Today:

  • What is the hope of Revelation 20-22 in light of Genesis 3?
  • Am I angry at God? If so, why?
  • Do I recognize the devil’s schemes in wanting me to be angry at God?
  • Why should I believe that God does not want to harm me?
  • How does the way I see God impact my attitude towards Him?
  • Why is it important to rely on the Holy Spirit and not the flesh?

 

“It Is Well” by Tommy Walker feat. Kesha Shantrell, Leon McCrary,  Sean Beck & CBC Choir

Pain’s Family Reunion

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There’s a party at the Pain house tonight.

It’s a reunion, really.

A Pain family reunion.

It’s evening now and music is getting louder and louder, sounding into the streets as the pavement echoes the beat of the music. Thump thump sounds the bass coming from the house as the family members arrive all ready for the party. Cars line the streets and the house looks like it’s alive with flashing lights and laughter. You can see the party through the front windows of the house.

Some of the neighbors have already made arrangements to be out of the house this night. They’ve long given up fighting with the Pains over the loud music and debauchery. They went to knock on the door one time. They learned their lesson.

Neighbor 1 is a seasoned pro at this.

They just rolled into Chucky Cheese with the minivan. “Let’s play nicely now, kids,” says the dad who resembles the one on Leave it to Beaver, as he presses a button to close the portable DVD player playing Dora the Explorer in the car for the toddlers in the back seat. Night covered, he thinks to himself as he looks to his wife all decked out in white. And then it gets real. “Really, honey? You know they have pizza sauce here, right?” He reaches for the baby wipes. He’s not about to let year 4 in their streak of avoiding the Pain’s family reunion be a catastrophe. Oh, the qualms of a stain on white. He knows it’s the least of their worries.

Neighbor 2 is a little green.

Never mind that neighbor 1 already informed them of the Pain’s annual family reunion days ago. “Surely it can’t be that bad,” they say to each other. A pair of newlyweds who aren’t really concerned about the rowdiness of a little family reunion. They’re still euphoric from their Honeymoon in Cabo last week and they know a thing or two about loud music and Tequila. “Honey, why don’t we take the Pains a bottle of wine and a chocolate cake to say hello?” says the wife, who’s unawareness clouds her vision of any potential harm coming from this. “After all, we can’t avoid meeting our new neighbors forever.” Year 1 and already audacious. Oh, the delusion of a little optimism. They’ll learn.

Neighbor 3 couldn’t care less.

He’s a cynical old man. An old war veteran who stays up all night telling war stories to anyone helpless enough to join him for a glass of whiskey on the front porch. “You know son, why don’t you let me give you some real advice…” he’ll say, with that deep southern draw that make you feel like he’s got a lot of old-timey wisdom that has to be at least somewhat credible. Squeak squeak goes the wooden rocking chair that he likes to sit in on his front porch. And tonight he’ll be rocking along to whatever the Pain’s DJ has playing. Year 18 and he’s not bothered by their rowdiness one bit. He likes it. Oh, the pleasure of a deep-seeded ambivalence. He doesn’t let much get to him now.

Meanwhile, the party at 222 Pain Street is revving up its energy for the night.

It looks so alluring to the passers-by.

A group of boys in their teens drive by.

“Ooooooh look at that party over there,” says the boy driving his Dad’s Hummer. They have a bass in the back that enhances the stereo sound and they can’t help but nod their heads back and forth. “Let’s stop by…” says the bright-eyed teenagers looking for an outlet for all their adolescent energy.

Little do they know that Pains are waiting inside.

physical Pain.

relational Pain.

mental Pain.

emotional Pain.

All meddling together.

Waiting for someone they can feed on.

The one in charge of the group drives the Hummer down the long stretch of road trying to find a space.

There’s nowhere to park, let’s just go back home,” says Lincoln, the discerning one with brown eyes in the passenger seat.

I’m going to circle back around first and try again. There has to be a space somewhere,” says the driver, Kai, with windows down, eyeing the house where the party is at.

I don’t like this,” says Lincoln, the same one in shotgun.

We have to go in!” says Jess, the blue eyed boy in the back seat.

They just don’t get it, do they. Maybe I will just not saying anything anymore, Lincoln thinks to himself. Head down and worried that trouble is about to become their friend, he looks out the window to the flashing lights. Closer and closer they get to the house, and he can feel the car starting to move from the beat of the music.

The allure becomes stronger and stronger and they all become captivated by the people they see through the windows dancing, lights glimmering and music making the whole house seem like a buzz of entertainment.

“Look! I told you a space would open up!” says Kai, who’s blinded by the trouble about to ensue.

Beep beep!! There’s a yellow sports car with horns on the logo pulling out in front of them. The driver is signaling to them with his hand out the window to come and park in his space. And he’s looking back at them with a devilish look in his eye. He drives away slowly.

“Alright, let’s go boys,” says the Hummer driver, Kai, who struggles to parallel park and hits the car in front of them. His eagerness is getting the best of him. “Well that’s the problem with big cars, guys, but it looks good, doesn’t it?” The others are not convinced.

“Maybe next time we should just take my mom’s Volkswagon Beetle?” says the quiet one, Stan, who hasn’t spoken up till now.

Kai looks at him in confusion.

“Girls like Hummers, Stan,” says Kai. “At least that’s what my dad says. But what does he know… He’s divorced.”

Tears start to well up in his eyes as he tries to not let the other guys see. He shakes it off, moving his head around and fumbling with his keys as he locks the Hummer door. “We’ll think about it Stan.”

Bump bump bump goes the rhythm of the music as they make their way toward the front door. There’s an uneasiness about this place that’s starting to become apparent and there’s something about the faces through the window that doesn’t look real.

Neighbor 3 is looking on from across the street.

“Uh oh. Those boys are in for hell of a…”

Crash! goes the glass mason jar falling from his hand. He falls off his rocking chair passing out from the 5th drink he’s had since the Pain family reunion on-looking began.

Screeeeeeech…..goes the front door of the Pain’s house.

“Why hello there, boys.”

“Welcome to the Pain Family Reunion. I’m Mrs. Pain,” says the lady greeting at the door. She has a forced smile that makes her look almost evil despite her long eyelashes and flowing long hair. She’s wearing a green dress fitted too tightly and her hands have long fingernails with horn designs on them, just like the ones they saw on the back of the yellow sports car in from of them a few minutes ago.

“Come on inside and let me introduce you to the family…”

The boys look around and shadows bend around the room like ghosts.

The smiles they saw in the windows are gone.

There’s no one dancing.

No music.

Just eerie silence and sizzling noises coming from something like smoke settling near the ceiling.

What is this place!?” they think to themselves but don’t dare to say out loud. They know they are in trouble. Hearts pounding. Sweat starting to drip. They look at each other and over at the front door to signal an escape.

Mrs. Pain is eyeing them with a vicious look as her lips keep smiling at them wickedly.

“You see, we’re all about the human experience here in the Pain family. We like to exploit our patients for the betterment of their sense of reality. We wouldn’t want you to get the idea that you can actually be happy and peaceful in this life now would we.”

She starts to laugh with a sharp splintering sound of laughter as she lifts her hands to craft something out of the smoke.

A body appears.

It has eyes that burn with fury and a shroud of agony cloaks him like a garment. He hands are rough and peeling from some kind of physical labor.

Then another body appears.

He has a twisted look on his face and a chuckle that slightly resembles Mrs. Pain. He keeps dancing in place lifting one foot of the ground then the other, like some kind of jig. He has a sick look in his eye.

Then a 3rd body appears.

His arms are strong and muscular, like he must work out or so some kind of heavy lifting. He’s wearing glasses and has a puzzled look on his face, like he’s in deep meditation or thought. Arms crossed and face stern, he doesn’t look confident in whatever he’s thinking about.

Then a 4th body appears.

He has long flowing hair and a seductive smile on his face. Tall and lean, his physical appearance is appealing. He won’t make eye contact with Mrs. Pain but he keeps eyeing the boys in front of him. Perhaps he thinks he can get to them before they know too much.

The boys start to shake at the sight of all this.

“What is going on here?” demands Lincoln. “We thought there was a party. Nothing in here looks the way it did to us outside.”

Mrs. Pain puts her arm around Lincoln’s shoulder and starts to gaze at all four of them.

“You see, boys, this isn’t just any old get-together. No, no… This is a family reunion. A family reunion of pain. And these are my most masterful soldiers of pain. They know how to inflict the four most brutal kinds of pain that humans experience. And with more pain, comes more resentment of that wretched One in the Sky who we seek to devour. There will be no mention of His Name here!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Shrieeeeeek!!! she shouts at them for the first time, raising her voice and cracking the chandeliers that rest below the ceiling but aren’t shining.

“If you mention His Name, you will surely die. I guarantee you that,” Mrs. Pain threatens as she looks each boy in the eye with a grimacing look and then immediately changes to a forced smile and a fake tender voice.

“Now, to my soldiers…”

Mrs. Pain walks toward the first body in the smoke.

“Let’s leave!” Stan whispers and the other boys nod their heads in agreement as they all try to make a run for it while Mrs. Pain is distracted.

But when they try to run to the door, they can’t move.

Their feet are stuck in place.

Each one tries to jump and then pulls at his pant leg to try to move out of position but their feet won’t budge.

“I think we’re stuck here! What has she done to us? How are we going to leave!?”says Kai, the one who was driving the Hummer.

“Try to unlace your shoes and let’s just get out of here!” says Lincoln, who knew from the beginning this was trouble. “She may not see us through all this smoke.”

Meanwhile, Mrs. Pain walks toward the first body to introduce him.

“This is Physical Pain. My most dependable Pain soldier…” says Mrs. Pain as she comes around to massage his shoulders.

“He may not be the most damaging, but I can always count on Physical Pain to inflict a solid hurt on somebody. He lingers long enough to inflict his usual blows and then bails without leaving a remedy. Always reliable. Nice job, Physical Pain.” She pats him on his shoulders and releases her hands, starting to walk over to the next body.

The boys are looking up towards her through the cloud of smoke and unlacing their shoes. “Hurry, hurry we need to get out before she sees us!”

“Allow me to introduce you to Relational Pain,” Mrs. Pain says as she looks straight at him and his sickening grin.

This one is of my own flesh and blood. I taught him well. He usually makes an appearance at the party after he gets to know you. He likes to bring a friend with him like he always does, one who will stir the pot and make the air really tense. He plants seeds of misunderstanding between people. Then he channels it into resentment and annoyance. He’s gifted like that. That’s why I’ve nicknamed him ‘sick and twisted.’ Love you, pumpkin.” Mrs. Pain squeezes his cheeks and they both join in a bizarre kind of laughter.

“My feet aren’t coming out of my shoes! What do I do!?” Stan says as the other boys look at each other with fear in their eyes.

“Mine aren’t either.”

“Yeah, me neither!”

Lincoln suggests another plan.

“Ummmm, okay. Next plan. Try to take off your socks. If our feet are stuck and our shoes are stuck, then maybe we can free our feet and get away by getting straight out of the socks.” They all nod in agreement.

Mrs. Pain walks over to the next body behind the veil of smoke to the one with glasses and strong arms.

“Now this is my second most powerful Pain…Mental Pain. When he comes to the reunion he likes to break down the front door. He can’t wait long enough for someone to answer the doorbell. He always lets impatience get the best of him and his condition is contagious. He’s the smart one in the family, and he knows how to get people to overanalyze things and  question the One in the Sky. He always fuels worry and anxiety in my patients. He is very useful to me for that. Depression starts to set in with him a lot. I have to be very careful with how I use him. Keep at it, Mental Pain. You do good work.” Mrs. Pain rests her hand on his face and looks him in the eye with one of the most sincere looks she’s had till now. There’s something strange about her relationship with Mental Pain. She seems to really love him.

Mrs. Pain has been so wrapped up in her Pain soldiers, she just now notices the boys’ escape efforts.

She glides over towards them through the veil of smoke.

“Now, now, boys there is no point in you trying to break free from my humble abode. You can’t break free from my power. You’re in my domain now!!!” she shouts at them with a vicious loud voice that is different from how she was talking before.

Her eyes turn a menacing green and the Pain soldiers start to take steps forward to where she is standing, as if they are going to torture the boys right then and there.

“Please go back to your positions, Pain soldiers, I am in control of this situation. If I need you, I will alert you.”

They step backward in an orderly fashion. She recovers herself and her eyes morph into a soft blue color while her face returns to a forced smile.

“Listen here, my boys, my lovely boys…” She smiles at them cunningly walking over gracefully. “You are stuck here whether you like it or not.”

There is a pause.

Then she leans in with red in her eyes and a fiery look on her face that they had not seen before, with her voice reserved and firm.

“If you keep trying to escape my family reunion that you yourself decided to join, I will not relent in letting my Pain soldiers do whatever they want to you. And believe me, they don’t have the emotion of compassion like humans do. They will not relent in torturing you.”

The boys look over at each other as the fear that was formerly in their eyes now turns to despair.

Mrs. Pain walks back over to the last body.

“What are we going to do?!” Jess whispers to the other boys. “We should have never stopped by this party. We’re going to die here. She’s never going to let us go! I’m tired of this Pain family. I want to go home.”

After hearing him, Lincoln, the discerning one with brown eyes sits down.

He begins to think.

He begins to pray.

“Now this is my most lethal weapon…Emotional Pain.” Mrs. Pain winks at him and gets close to his face. She begins to run her fingernails through his hair.

“Emotional Pain eased his way in the backdoor this time, now didn’t you, e.p.? He’s good at that. You see, over time, my patients know from experience not to let him in. They know that he is a sly one. But He sneaks in every time. Always unexpectedly. And he always wears a disguise of beauty and allure with my patients. He’s smooth. He knows how to make you feel special and happy and wanted. They usually forget about how he wrecked them last time and so they end up giving him access to their emotions. Once he has access to all the brain chemicals, he’s in control. He can rip someone apart through their emotions. Even get them to the point where they don’t want to live. He wants you to be so emotional that you can’t think straight. Then you won’t be effective at anything. You won’t want to do anything. You will sulk in your tears and You will despise the One in the Sky. He’ll make you a nervous wreck. He is oh so gifted at that and he doesn’t care about decency. I can get him to do almost anything to someone once he has their emotions. Exceptional work, Emotional Pain.” Mrs. Pain keeps caressing his head and leans in to kiss him but pulls away. Hahahaha, Mrs. Pain chuckles with an evil look in her eye, laughing violently and indecently. Then all the sudden her form starts to transform into something other than a woman.

Globs of her hair fall out as molten lava.

Her skin begins to melt, like a candle falling away from her face.

Her fingernails grow longer and her body looks like a monster. More smoke starts to fill the room.

“But even something as lethal as Emotional Pain doesn’t have control over me! My soldiers do what they’re told! No one tells me what to do!”

Mrs. Pain starts to get taller and taller as her body morphs from the body of the woman in the green dress to a devilish figure with a man’s voice and a shroud of red smoke all around him. Smoke keeps filling…the soldiers start to move forward…they are all looking at the boys as if they are the next victims to be inflicted with pain…they keep moving closer…and closer…and closer…and they reach out with their arms to grab the heads of the boys stuck in place…and then…

“Stop!”

“The Name of Jesus!”

“The Name of Jesus!”

The Pain soldiers stop.

Lincoln stands up. He starts yelling the name of Jesus at the top of his lungs.

“The Name of Jesus!”

The Pain soldiers are halted in place.

Lincoln turns to the other boys.

“She said that the Name of the One in the sky is not welcome here. I know that Jesus is the One she is talking about. Maybe if we say His name He will rescue us from this death! It’s our only chance!” The boys look at each other in awe.

“That’s it.” They say to each other.

Holy crap that’s it.”

They start saying His name too.

“The Name of Jesus!”

“The Name of Jesus!”

“Be silent, be silent, I told you His Name is not welcome here!!!!! Be silent now!!!!!!!” says the devilish figure that used to be Mrs. Pain as she slowly loses shape and the smoke starts to clear the room.

The Pain soldiers are still stuck in place.

They can’t move.

They are trying to reach out to grab the boys but now they are the ones that can’t move.

“It’s working, it’s working. Keep saying the Name of Jesus,” says Lincoln.

“The Name of Jesus!”

“The Name of Jesus!”

Boom!!!

A loud sound echoes throughout the whole house.

All the sudden what was left of Mrs. Pain disappears.

And she is gone.

The smoke is gone.

The shadows are gone.

There is a bright light shining through the window.

The front door opens.

And the boys can move.

They are free.

The biggest threat is gone.

But the Pain soldiers are still there.

They didn’t disappear.

Their mouths are moving but there are no words coming out.

They cannot speak.

“I cannot believe what has just happened…we can move now all the sudden…we have been rescued by the One in the Sky…let’s go! Let’s get out of here!” says Kai, Jess and Stan as they are so relieved.

But Lincoln looks over at the Pain soldiers.

And he has compassion on them.

“I’m sorry for what Mrs. Pain has done to you. I pray that you will be free from the pain she has put on you.”

And Lincoln walks towards them, and he touches them.

Each one, he touches.

Lincoln says, “I ask God, the One in the Sky, Jesus, to not take away the pain, but to heal each one of you from the oppression that has been inflicted upon you because of it. May you be healed.”

Then the four Pain soldiers suddenly change back into life-filled, normal human beings, teens about the same age as Lincoln, Kai, Jess and Stan.

They look tired and weary. But relieved. They nod to say thank you. Lincoln nods back. And the four of them walk out the front door.

Lincoln and the rest of the boys, shocked and shaken, also walk out of the front door and make their way back home.

There’s a minivan pulling into the driveway a few houses down.

And a young couple walking across the street.

“Hmmm, I wonder who that couple is taking that bottle of wine and cake to?…”

They look each other and don’t say a word.

Vowing to never to return to another Pain family reunion.

Tears, Airport Terminals, and When God Gave Me Pain

terminal C

Why does God give us pain?

I know why He allows pain. I know why He permits pain to exist in the world. It’s a product of fallen humanity. Nothing will be free from pain until Jesus comes back and ushers in the New Heaven and New Earth (Revelation 21). I know all of this.

But why does He give pain?

Not allow it.

But give it.

That’s what God has been doing to me.

God’s been straight giving me pain.

I’m at the airport making my way to the Atlanta concourse connection train.

Seas of people gliding with rolling suitcases and determined looks on their faces pass on either side. The smell of Cinnabon and Chik-fil-a linger in the few air particles left for breathing. Beep beep!! sounds the golf cart behind me transporting an elderly lady with gray hair and a driver whose eyes scream move out of the way before I make you. It’s a busy thoroughfare here in Atlanta. You can’t get to heaven or hell without passing through, so they say.

I like it.

I like being in the middle of the chaos.

It’s the only thing holding me together…being enveloped by the crowds.

People are everywhere. And I don’t feel so alone. But inside, my heart is torn in a million different ways all begging for my eyelids to relieve the pressure welling up. But I can’t cry. I’m stronger than that, I tell myself. I don’t need to cry.

Besides, I had already determined on the plane from Dallas I wasn’t going to be the one everyone was looking at like a crazy person. Everyone glares and scowls at infants crying on airplanes, I had thought to myself. A 24 year old with a pony-tail and pink tennis shoes would probably be even more of a disturbance. I can hear it now…will the pony-tailed girl in seat 25B please keep it down, please! You’re going to wake the sleeping babies who themselves have managed to overcome both the air pressure and their biological hunger alarm. Get over it. Thank you kindly.

So I wipe away the tears rolling down my face as I gaze out the foggy window. Clouds are resting in the air so effortlessly. How do they do that, I think to myself? Clouds have nothing to worry about. They have no life. They have no soul. No joy. No pain either. Hmmm.

Why did God give me pain, I wonder…

Ring ring!! goes the overhead speakers as my mind comes back to reality.

Please do not leave any items unattended… shouts from the sound system as I make my way onto the concourse train. If only I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that announcement. But they mean what they say.  I made the mistake of leaving my backpack alone for 5 minutes at the airport when I was 11, never to see it again. My life savings of $60 and my little Liz Claiborne black purse that I loved so much gone forever. Oh the sadness of an adolescent who’s small world had fallen apart. I got over it.

The train comes to a halt as I hold on to the top metal bar overhead. My feet fight to keep my body from swaying from the sudden stop but I can’t hold it. It’s a balancing act, isn’t it? Trains. Life. Other things.

The doors open as I exit and meander around the bend to the escalator. Up I go. I see Concourse C up ahead. I hope the plane isn’t delayed this time, I think. But then again, I could use a delay. I could use a couple more hours alone. And here in this crowded airport is the perfect haven. No one knows me. No one has to talk to me. I don’t have to be happy anymore.

I am free in this endless sea of strangers.

Oh the comfort they bring me.

Keep smothering me, strangers.

Keep smothering me.

I just want to stop and sit over here against the wall in endless nothingness. Lost in this sea of people. Here in the middle of concourse C. Next to the store with Falcons jerseys and Welcome to Atlanta postcards. Just let me be. Earbuds in and music playing, nothing matters anymore. The plane could leave me if it wants to. I just want to remain here invisible. I want to remain here…

Tears, why won’t you fall?

Tears, why won’t you fall?

You don’t have to hold it in anymore.

No honor in concealing your drip dropping crystals.

It’s beautiful.

Fall, little tears.

Just fall…

Gate C39 departing for Charlotte now changed to C41! Gate C39 departing for Charlotte now changed to C41!

Jolted from melodious diversion that is my phone’s playlist, I hear the speaker. Earbuds why can’t you be louder! I turn it up. My phone has a warning on it: increasing volume may lead to hearing impairment. Believe me, Droid, that’s the least of my worries. I turn it up some more.

“You Don’t Miss a Thing” by Amanda Cook (no-not the Aerosmith song thank you Jesus) playing in my ears as I close my eyes and submerge myself into the obscure. I want to believe what she’s singing but it’s hard to right now. I don’t feel like God sees me. Or if He does He’s probably annoyed by me…probably sick of me and my fragility. I’m such a mess. He’s probably sorry He told me anything to begin with…

Maybe I should go to my gate now, I tell myself.

I get up to walk to C41 but the weight starts to overwhelm me. I want to crumble. Not from my backpack. Though it has my purse inside, which my Dad swears is going to give me long-term back problems. Not from my suitcase. Though it contains a dozen books that the airport security gave me a hard time about. I start to think about the pain God has given me…all that has happened…I can’t get past it…I don’t know why God told me what He did…maybe I didn’t hear from Him correctly…I feel broken and confused and weak.

I keep walking.

There’s a string of people flowing from the Starbucks into the middle of the concourse line all waiting for their pick me-up.

Man I wish I drank coffee, I think to myself. Right about now would be a good time for coffee. Or maybe some Tequila. Yeah, Tequila. DTS did just change their policy after all. But I don’t think Mema and Papa would know what to do with a drunken granddaughter just in from seminary. Ha, oh the irony! Guess I shouldn’t…

Airport terminal, you’re comforting to me.

Airport terminal, you’re refreshing to me.

Here in this pandemonium of disorder and chaos, I feel safe.

I feel at ease.

Embrace me, airport terminal…

Draw me in.

Drink me in like a strong glass of Malbec.

I just want to stay here in this airport terminal.

The clock is ticking and I still have an hour left until C41 prepares for boarding.

I feel tears accumulating in the back-storage areas of my eyelids. It’s growing heavier and heavier. God, why have you given me such a painful confusing Word from Your Spirit? Why have you led me into something You knew would end up this way?

I’ve been confused at God for many weeks now. Feeling like God put something on my heart a while ago that provoked me to prayer and petition concerning it, and then it ended up not even being possible. I don’t understand why He did that to me. He’s never done this to me before. He’s never led me to something He knew would be heartbreaking. He’s never given me straight pain.

Tears start oozing like the Hoover Dam is about to be opened.

And nobody wants to be around in its wake.

I can’t restrain it anymore.

I want to find a place to just cry but there are people everywhere.

Looking around trying to keep my head down so no one will see the catastrophe that’s about to take place on my face, I see a Varsity Grill and a restroom right next to it. Oh how I love The Varsity!, I think to myself as I run to the bathroom to escape. If only I wasn’t a wreck I would so eat a chilidog right now. But there’s no room for that…

Waiting in line with my suitcase trudging behind and ladies filtering in and out, I finally make it to the bathroom stall.

Oh blessed bathroom stall!

Despite your less-than-favorable smell and putrid sounds, you are a sanctuary to me.

All the tears I’ve been holding in all day just erupts like Mt. St. Helens out my eyes.

I weep and weep. And I’m cold from this AC that won’t stop blowing on me. I don’t know why God answered all my prayers up to a certain point if He knew it was unavailable to me. He should have never let me get close to it. God, why haven’t you protected me? You always have! You never let anyone through! Why did you this time? Why did You answer my prayers to make certain things happen that I wanted to happen if it wouldn’t work out in the end? You shouldn’t have answered me at all. You should’ve just kept it away from me from the beginning and then I wouldn’t have had to experience the pain of losing what I thought You were going to give.

I yell at God as I weep there in the terminal C bathroom stall.

I can’t leave.

Every time I try to regain composure to leave and go to the gate the tears come back. It’s as if I’m not meant to leave. Like I’m supposed to make my home there in the bathroom stall…a permanent weeping resident who keeps the other women from lingering in the bathroom too long. No one wants to hear that kind of crying.

But does God?

God, do You see my pain?

God, do You see my pain?

Do you know what You’ve put me through?

I get that You want to teach me.

I get that You want to grow me.

But do you see how I’m hurting here?

Do You even care?

Why have You given me pain?

I don’t know why God has given me straight pain this time.

It’s like He shot me with the arrow Himself.

Not the devil.

Not other people.

God did it.

God did it!

God’s the One that started it.

God gave me the revelation and put it in my heart to pray for it for months.

And He answered so many things leading up to it.

And then He just let it all be nothing.

He’s never given me a revelation before that ended up being painful. But this time, He did.

Everything within me wants to go back to the place where I’m in that bathroom stall in the Atlanta airport. I want to hide away. I want to cry alone in a secluded and unhealthy place. I want to avoid God and anything else He might ever reveal to me again. But I can’t do that. I can’t. I know I can’t get through life without God. If I think life is hard with Him, it would be impossible without Him. I would surely die. So I’m not going to shut myself off from Him. I would kill my only chance for life if I do that.

So I’m praying that God will show me His purpose for straight giving me pain. I’m asking Him to show me why He put something in my heart that is causing me such heartbreak and confusion. And I hope for dear life He answers.

Today I felt led to visit a different church, Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas. Before I moved to Dallas, I thought that would be the church I joined because I love Kari Jobe who came from there and a couple years ago I got to hear their pastor at my old church, NewSpring, one Sunday. But I ended up joining another one.

Today at Gateway, they played a short promo video for their upcoming conference and one of the speakers they featured said this:

“There is something about you that Satan wants to silence. But you’re not gonna let him. God will get you through this. It’s His job.”

I don’t know what you’re facing right now in your life. But know that if you are experiencing intense spiritual attack, God has the power to get you through it. He is the only one who has the power!

I pray that God will start to unleash freedom in our world to all those who are hurting as we await for final redemption through His Son, Jesus Christ. We may not get all the answers we seek here in this life, but One day we will get to be held in the arms of Jesus who will never let go of us. I don’t believe that He is just a Spirit or beam of light. I believe with my whole heart that I will get to touch Jesus. I am waiting for that blessed day. And He will be so much more comforting than an airport terminal, I do believe. Hallelujah.

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,

“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will live with them.

They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God.

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes.


Death will no longer exist;
grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer,
because the previous things have passed away.”

-Revelation 21:3-4 –

“Nothing Is Wasted” by Elevation Worship