Relationships and God

It’s been a while since I have written on my blog, partly because I haven’t been spending much time alone, but also because the writing I have done has been deeply personal (even for me) and is not something I feel I should share publicly, as it affects more than just me.  However, today, I had a conversation with a friend that made me want to try and explain what God has been teaching me and where I am in my spiritual walk.  I’m not sure this will end up blog worthy, but it’s a step up from simply writing in my journal, so let’s see what happens.

A friend of mine, who has also never been married and is not currently interested in dating, was telling me about her friend’s engagement and the conversation soon turned to our experiences in relationships.  It has been a very long time since I have been in a relationship, for good reason, as I have never been too successful in that department.  My last attempt was a complete disaster, and the ones when I was younger were not much better.  I have blogged about all of this before, although I took down one of my more insightful blogs written in December 2011 because I was hesitant about portraying anyone in a negative light.  However, while it’s easy to blame other people for your problems, the reality is that my struggles in the relationship department have more to do with my relationship with God than my experiences in life.

I think that’s why I want to publicly share my thoughts on this topic, because when I was talking to my friend about everything, she told me it is good that my current relationship is based on God, as she doesn’t even think of God when she considers dating.  I said this is a relatively new feeling for me, and explained how looking at love and marriage through the lens of God is the only way I could ever envision it working out for me. 

I have always said that it’s good I never married as I would have ended up getting divorced or being miserable, and that’s a very true statement.  Part of this is that I was a huge perfectionist, and wanted this perfect prince to sweep me off my feet, so we could live happily ever after.  But, I had a very negative self-image and never really felt worthy of such a prince, and thus didn’t looked for the right men in the right places, nor did I give them much reason to respect me.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture… Bottom line, God was not remotely involved in my desires, much less the center of my world.

All of this began to change in 2007 when I became a Christian, but my relationship dysfunction was still very prevalent when I wrote that blog in December 2011.  God has definitely been getting through to me ever since that time, and while He still has a long way to go, I am beginning to see everything differently.  It has been and will continue to be a struggle, but it’s definitely drawing me closer to God, and that tells me it’s a good thing.

Studying God’s covenant with us and realizing that marriage is a model for Christ’s relationship with the Church has really opened my eyes to how everything is supposed to work. Even at our recent women’s retreat, the speaker made a great comment about marriage. She said that marriage is being faithful in spite of how the other person is behaving, which is how God has always been faithful to the Church.

I am far from perfect and I disappoint God every day, often because I choose to. Yet, God still upholds His end of the bargain, every day, despite my many failures. I do not deserve His love, yet He lavishes it on me completely. For the first time in my life, I see that a marriage isn’t supposed to be about me, but rather about glorifying God and putting an imperfect person ahead of myself. I fully want to share the grace that God has given me.

If God can love me selflessly, why would I not strive to love my husband in this manner?

If God forgives me every time I stumble, why would I not want to show my husband the same grace and mercy?

If God’s way is always shown to be better than mine, why wouldn’t I consider letting go of my control and following His plan completely, including His model for marriage?

I honestly don’t see how a marriage could ever work without God being the center of both people’s lives. I assume most people are just as flawed as I am and not only mess up with God, but mess up with each other frequently! If I was married, I know I would constantly let my husband down trying to live in my own strength. I think this could easily lead to anger and resentment in the absence of God. Even with God as the basis for the relationship, the potential is still there because we live in a fallen world and people tend to be quite selfish. I am realistic enough to admit that simply seeing God’s way as the answer does not make it easier to get everything right. There are currently many ways I *want* to glorify God and I am falling short, so I know my desires are not enough on their own. Marriage would be a daily struggle with the flesh, just like everything else in life. But, anyone who has known me for a while realizes that even getting to this place emotionally and spiritually is huge for me.

I am so grateful that God brought an amazing man into my life, one who has his own set of challenges.  I love how everything has happened, not necessarily in the way I have “wanted”, but in a way that provides incredible opportunities for me to grow personally and learn to trust God for everything. I honestly find the struggles to be more meaningful than if everything went the way I envisioned. I am slowly letting go of my need to control everything related to my life. I love how God keeps bringing transparent people into my life who are dealing with issues that seem to perfectly tie into what I am experiencing.  I can see God’s hand in everything I do and that is such an incredible comfort and blessing. I am truly enjoying the journey more than any other time in my life and it’s all because of God…

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Love Rather than Judge (November 25, 2009)

I talk to a lot of people – huge surprise, I know – Christians who attend church, those who do not, as well as people who do not believe in God at all. In fact, I just had a conversation with a friend who grew up in a Baptist church, but no longer attends any church with her family. Her rational was exactly the same issue I hear from most people who are not actively participating in their faith, especially Christians. It is simply a fear of judgment from the members of the church. This fear may or may not be legitimate, as Satan is the father of lies, and thus tries to pass on self-doubt to individuals. He hopes that this will prevent people from living the lives God has designed for them. However, I believe that a person’s fear of judgment within a church body can be rational. Sometimes people who have grown from certain sins want to help other people going through similar events, and this may come across as judgmental – although it’s likely never the intention of the more mature believer.

Simply put, our job as Christians is to love other people. This doesn’t only apply to lovable people. We should love sinners and less mature Christians, just as Christ loves us, even though it may not always be comfortable for us to do so. We should love others, especially other believers, without judgment or condemnation. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1).” Even if we have spent our entire lives as Christians, and have no major skeletons from our own past, we still fall extremely short of Jesus’ perfection. Jesus died on the cross for everyone, not just us. We need to reach people and share God’s love without any strings attached. We should love others where they are, and encourage their spiritual growth without coming across as if we believe we are better than them.

God is responsible for judging everyone and will hold us accountable for our actions here on Earth. Christians passing judgment on other Christians is essentially saying that God cannot accomplish His will without our help. It is not our place to articulate all of the sins of every person we come in contact with. Believers should establish accountability partners to help facilitate their Christian growth, with people they trust and respect. This way, if you start to engage in inappropriate behavior, there is always a gentle voice to guide you back along the path to righteousness. Any spiritual correction that is necessary should always be given in a humble, loving, private manner. It should be accompanied with understanding and support, rather than judgment and superiority.

In general, we should always remember the words of Matthew 7:3 “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” This is an exhortation to believers, and reminds us that we will be judged according to the manner we judge others. Trust in the fact that God can and will change believers into the person He desires them to be. Once a nonbeliever truly accepts Christ into their heart, they will be personally convicted by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit works differently in everyone’s life. Sin problems are not all tackled immediately when someone becomes a Christian. God is gentle, loving, and will guide people through their Christian growth. We should nurture this growth as sisters in Christ. Paul sums this up perfectly in Romans 14:1-4:

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

God is in control and will accomplish His will regardless of how much we help Him ‘fix’ other people. This holiday season, may we all live out the words of Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” Help make the church a safe place for all people, no matter what their past, present, or future sins may be. Through love, not judgment, we can show others how incredibly fortunate we are to have such a merciful God.

Failure of Modern Religion

I have noticed an extreme polarization in the beliefs in our country over the past few years, with people strongly embracing individual differences, including political affiliation, social issues, and especially views regarding religion.  On one end of the spectrum, moral relativism encourages us that there are unlimited ways to reach heaven as long as we are sincere; but, at the same time, Christians vocally disagree over the gray areas, which are ultimately unimportant in the grand scheme of things.  The modern Christian faith finds itself at the center of a great deal of negativity because of this type of spiritual snobbery.  The result is that we may be scaring people away from Christ instead of loving them.

Religion is a man-made attempt to get closer to God.  I’m not sure where I first heard that quote, but I’ve been saying it for years.  In fact, this premise had been a major force in the love/hate relationship I have had with the modern church throughout my lifetime.  The church is full of humans, and humans are very far from perfect, so churches (on a local or larger scale) are therefore fallible, and prone to have problems.  The church is a realistic portrayal of our corporate need for Jesus, but we also can allow it to become an idol and thus we take our eyes off of Jesus.

I know so many people who refuse to give Christ a chance because of negative effects of the church.  I started writing this back in December when a colleague shared with me that she does not attend church because Christians are too judgmental and there are too many man made rules.  I have heard numerous iterations of this statement my entire life.  Examples include, but are not limited to: not allowing a child to be baptized because the mother was unwed, restricting church membership to those who appear to have it all together, and having “certain” sins count as being more horrific than others, when sin is sin is God’s eye and He hates all of it.

Jesus never rejected anyone because they were too bad of a sinner.  He never showed hatred towards someone who grew up with a lifestyle that seemed bizarre to Him.  Jesus pursued relationships with all people; He opened doors and encouraged others to engage.  Jesus spoke to people whom society looked down upon with mercy and love.  Consider the Samaritan woman at the well.  Jesus began a conversation with her, asking her to give Him a drink, even though Jews were not supposed to associate with Samaritans. Jesus was upfront with her about her sin, but did not condemn her.

Jesus never compromised His beliefs, but He also didn’t shove them down anyone’s throat.  Think about it…  Jesus did not chase after people to share the gospel; he let them come to Him.  He may have preached in public areas, but He never forced His beliefs on others.  When the rich, young ruler asked Jesus about how he could attain eternal life, Jesus answered his question honestly.  However, when the price was too high for this man, and he walked away, Jesus let him go.

The bottom line is this… As Christians, we need to come together on the basic tenets of our faith, those foundations which define our salvation, and we need to stop the internal finger pointing and end-fighting.  Until we do, we are a stumbling block to the lost, those who desperately need the grace and mercy that only comes from Jesus. As Christians, we should focus on loving God and loving people, helping others understand that Jesus died for everyone’s sins and that by believing in Him, we can all enjoy eternal life!

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 22:34-40).”

Read Any Good Books Lately? (October 13, 2009)

I have never really enjoyed reading, especially novels and other works of fiction. I rarely read any of the assigned books in my English literature classes or even my college courses. In fact, I would purchase the Cliff Notes and only read the two page summary. Needless to say, my grades suffered! It wasn’t until I started doing Bible studies that I realized that you can read something with the intent of understanding. Even more surprising is that I have gained an appreciation for the Bible as a phenomenal work of literature!

You may be scratching your head at this point, wondering why I would describe God’s Word as a piece of literature, but I assure you I mean no disrespect. The Bible is the inspired Word of God, and for that reason alone, we should study it and apply its truths to every aspect of our lives. I completely believe that! But, how many times do we look at the Bible as reference material, something to adorn our bookshelf, or as a stuffy super-spiritual manual that may leave us feeling like a failure? We all know we should be reading the Bible, but seriously, isn’t it easier to pick up a copy of Danielle Steele’s latest romance novel, or the latest fad diet promising to help us lose 30-pounds in 30-days? I know those struggles; I’ve had them all of my life – studying God’s Word was always a chore, something I had to do, not always something I wanted to do.

Over the past couple of years, I have gained a new appreciation for the Bible. Not only is it perfectly relevant in modern times, it contains an excellent mix of all literary genres. Biography, history, genealogy, law, poetry, parables, allegory, tragedy, comedy, sarcasm, speeches, monologues, controversy, love stories, words of wisdom, prayers, letters, etc. No matter what type of literature you prefer, I’m certain you can find it in the Bible. Let me briefly tell a couple of my favorite Bible stories to encourage you to look for more (and I assure you, there are tons of interesting things to read about).

I really love the story found in Acts 20:9-10 when Paul is preaching in Troas and is rather long-winded. Eutychus not only falls asleep on the windowsill, he falls out of the window and dies. Luckily, God allows Paul to bring him back to life, and the ending is a happy one, but hopefully Paul learns that long sermons can be deadly! Comedy, tragedy, and a miracle all rolled into two verses!

In Genesis 18:10-15, God tells Abraham that Sarah will become pregnant. Sarah overhears this and laughs, thinking to herself “After I am worn out and my master is old, will I now have this pleasure?” God questions Abraham, asking if anything is too difficult for the Lord. Of course, Sarah lies to God, out of shame, saying she never laughed. Isn’t that something we would do today – doubting that God can perform a miracle and then lying to Him when He questions us?

Some hysterical words of wisdom (tons of humor in the book of Proverbs):

“If only you would be altogether silent! For you, that would be wisdom.” Job 13:5

“Better to live in the desert than with a quarrelsome and ill-tempered wife.” Proverbs 21:19

“Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish.” Proverbs 31:6

As I often tell people, what I enjoy most is that the Bible shows how God used real people to accomplish extraordinary feats. I love how the apostles were just regular people: fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor, a tentmaker. Better yet, they showed their humanness frequently by not understanding Jesus’ teachings, betraying Jesus, and being selfish. It’s awesome that God uses people, such as prostitutes and ego-maniacs, despite their sin to further His kingdom and bring others closer to Him. Reading how people even fell short despite their conversion from their terrible pasts inspires me that I, too, can make a difference and be a light in an otherwise dark world.

Again, I am not disregarding the sanctity of the Bible – I firmly believe in daily study of God’s Word to guide all of our lives. I just know that reading the Bible can sometimes be a formidable task, and if we can also appreciate the Bible in a light-hearted manner, it might make it easier to become immersed in the Word. The Bible is God-breathed, and I completely believe that God wanted it to be an enjoyable read for us. I know that once you start reading the Bible regularly, you’ll be hooked and will continue studying God’s Word. There is definitely something for everyone in the Bible!

The Unknown Staircase

I used to say that my life could be described by a sinusoidal wave. I would be doing well in life, and then get complacent at the top, and then slide back down to a low point. The pit wouldn’t be a comfortable place, so I would work my way out of it (with or without God’s help) and then head back up the curve, until I reached the apex once again. This cycle would continue over and over again. As I became a Christian, I noticed that the amplitude of the wave (sorry, I am a chemist) would decrease, but I still stuck with the sine wave concept.

Yesterday, I came up with a new analogy that I shared in Sunday school this morning. The concept started earlier this year while watching The Biggest Loser. The trainers talk to contestants about their self-sabotaging behavior, stating that they tend to resist success because they fear it. They are comfortable with failure, but afraid of the unknown – the life that would result from reaching their goals. I was able to identify with that, on some level, because while I have grown spiritually in my Christian walk, I am still not trusting God as much as I would like to be. I now relate my journey to a staircase (perhaps the Stairway to Heaven…Ha! Okay, bad joke).

Life is like a staircase, of an unknown length. I climb the stairs until I reach a point where I find myself completely outside of my comfort zone. I hang out there for a while, trying to decide whether to go higher or not. I previously believed I would grow complacent because I put my trust in myself, but I am not sure that’s completely the case. I think it’s more that I get afraid of heights, and I don’t know what the next steps of the staircase hold. I lose my balance and fall down a few steps. Eventually, I regain my composure and restart my ascent. I climb a little higher, because I’ve been on those steps before….until I reach a new level, and lose my balance and fall again, but not as far as before. This cycle continues, and while I am growing, I never get to see what’s at the top of the staircase. In fact, I still have no idea how high it extends…

The staircase can be equated to aspects of my life that I trust God with. I trust Him with more and more every day, but I am still holding onto some fears and insecurities. Ironically, they don’t seem to be what the average person would think when they look at me. I have no problem trusting God with events outside of my control, but I struggle with some of my day to day concerns. Luckily, every day, He reminds me of the things I need to give completely to Him. I feel I am slowly getting there, as I feel led to leave my comfort zone. That helps me get higher on the staircase before I lose my balance. Eventually, I pray that my balance improves, and I can climb higher and higher without fear.

Fear…what am I afraid of? It certainly isn’t falling down the stairs. I’m really accomplished at that; in fact, I have learned to do so with grace, almost like a dismount off of the balance beam. I can land softly on my feet, stick the landing, regroup, and climb back up. Falling doesn’t seem to hurt much these days because I’ve accepted God’s grace, so that can’t be my fear. I think I’m more afraid of what’s at the top of the stairs… Essentially, fear of the unknown; the things that God could accomplish through me if I let Him.

I’m trying to give it completely to God and continue climbing the staircase. I’ve looked back at my prayer journal from four years ago, and I see how far He’s brought me. I know He’s completely capable of bringing me higher. I just have to trust Him and keep stepping out of my comfort zone, even though Satan will continue to attack me by engaging my fear.

God loves me; He loves you too… He has only wonderful things in store for us. All we have to do is trust Him completely, every day, every hour, every minute. He has an amazing plan for our lives, if only we can step out of the way and let Him achieve it!

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:6-7).

Never Say Never (September 14, 2009)

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through whichthe world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14)

October has turned into such a pivotal month in my life. I’m not sure why – maybe it’s the return of normalcy to the school and work year after a hectic summer; maybe because the temperature is just beginning to chill; maybe it’s the gentle transition into the holiday season. I can’t put my finger on it, but clearly the last two Octobers have taught me an important lesson – never say never!

Take a brief walk with me!  On October 18, 2007, my son and I were enjoying dinner and kid’s bingo at a local restaurant, when a chance encounter with a family from our church would soon change our lives.  This family invited my son to visit Awana at their church. I knew of Awana at the time, as my aunt had spoken very highly of the program, but I never really understood the purpose of useless memorization.  However, I was open to the possibility that my son could benefit from learning to memorize, since he had just begun kindergarten.  As someone who struggles with memorization, I saw Awana as a purely academic endeavor.

I made it incredibly clear that night that my son was welcome to try Awana out, but I did not want people to try and ‘convert’ me.  I was Catholic, and after years of falling in and out of favor with my faith, I knew there was no benefit to my attending church.  Church was filled with hypocrites and spiritual people who would not understand me; God and I were doing just fine with our relationship, I reasoned.

My son attended Awana and loved it, so I registered him, reminding everyone my position about church had not changed.  No one pushed me; they were friendly and great with my son, but never crossed the line with me.  One month later, I found myself as a back-row church-goer when a friend of mine was going through a disastrous period that affected both of our lives.  Shortly after, we met with our pastor and I re-articulated my feelings on church.  Our pastor remained true to his beliefs, but never pushed me.  The rest is history, as you can tell.

God continues to show me that church is not perfect, as it is made up of fallen humans, just like me.  But, He has shown me that a few bad apples shouldn’t spoil the barrel.  In other words, the benefits of attending church strongly outweigh the negatives.  Fellowship with other believers, an organized, systematic way to keep studying the Bible to continue spiritual growth, an opportunity to serve, etc. – these are the reasons that I need and love church!

I wish I could say the story ends there, but last October, I allowed myself to fall a little.  Granted, my personal standards had improved, and this particular altercation would never have bothered me in my non-church days.  But, as a growing Christian, filled with the Holy Spirit – it was painful!  To this day, I don’t know what happened, other than spiritual warfare at its finest.  I was traveling on business, and my week was difficult.  It was at a time where I was getting complacent in my faith; the novelty had worn off.  I was starting to lose my enthusiasm and drive.  It was a hard week and I remember saying to a colleague, “I am a Christian now and I would never…”  Cockiness and pride at its best!  Acting like I, little ol’ me, had any power in overcoming sin.  Do you ever notice that the more you try to show someone that you’re different from who they think – the more you prove their case?  I suspect you know where this story is going; the “I never” happened and the conviction the Holy Spirit sent my way was enough to last a lifetime.

Luckily God has a sense of humor, or rather purpose, in His plan.  Last October, immediately after I was convicted like never before, the topic of my Bible study was faith.  At a time when I wasn’t feeling like I had any, faith was our topic of discussion.  Amazingly, God used this to show me that even mature Christians had similar struggles to mine.  It was an eye-opening experience for sure!  And those hypocrites I feared so much?  I learned that while there are bad people in every organization, many of those hypocrites that I feared were no different than me – people trying their best to walk with God, but not always making the progress they’d like.

God’s even given me the perspective of those who mentored me, by allowing me to interact with people who have the same beliefs that I once had.  I’ve even learned that memorization is not so terrible, and can help with spiritual warfare.  As long as I remember to put God first in everything, I find that my walk is infinitely easier and my relationship with God is headed in the right direction.  Being prideful and saying that dreaded word ‘never’ is simply an open invitation for temptation or for God to lovingly remind me who is in charge!

The Sovereignty of God

“We like to think that we’re in control.  But, we’re not.  God is.  And God must be sovereign in order to be God.  If anything holds any sway over Him, if one atom is rebellious to His will, if one bit of knowledge is unknown to His mind, if one force is unbending to His desire, if anything prohibits Him from accomplishing His plan – He is no longer sovereign.  And if He’s no longer sovereign, that which is able to oppose Him is greater than Him – and He is no longer God.”  -Mary Kassian, from Knowing God by Name

Week one, day five of this semester’s women’s Bible study… The name of God we were learning about was “Adonai Yahweh”, Sovereign Lord.  We could have spent an entire semester on this one name, and that still would not have been enough for me to fully embrace this attribute of God.  But, we glossed over it in the last ten minutes of our time together, and it’s been on my heart ever since.

When you consider God’s sovereignty from a superficial standpoint, it is perfectly easy to accept.  God must be sovereign if He is really God.  Everything in the Universe must be subject to His control.  If God is not sovereign, He cannot be God.  However, when I read the above paragraph from our study, the intricate details of His sovereignty became clear, perhaps for the first time.

If God is sovereign, which He must be in order to be God, every aspect of life must be completely under His control.  Everything!  Not one minute detail can be left up to chance.

Can this be possible, especially from a loving God?  What about the bad things that happen in life? What about the choices I make, especially the ones that God would not approve of?  What does this mean regarding my free will?  And, if God’s sovereignty is this complete and personal, how I do I feel about it?  How should it make me feel?

I’ll start with free will.  I definitely believe that God gives us the power to make decisions that may be in line with or opposed to what He desires for us.  Free will goes hand-in-hand with having faith in God.  It is completely intertwined with temptation and sin, and is required to have a maturing relationship with God.

Free will began in the Garden of Eden, when God allowed Adam and Eve to choose to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  Their decision to give in to temptation changed humanity forever.  Another example is salvation; if there was no free will, we would not have to personally accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior in order to be assured salvation.  I must independently use my own free will to trust that Jesus took care of my sin problem on the cross.

I am also given freedom to live my life as I see fit, even when God cringes at my poor decisions.  However, because God is all-knowing, He knows what our decisions will be before we make them and those decisions are part of God’s overall plan for our lives. Even when our decisions are opposed to God’s desire for our lives, He allows us to make them.  God loves us so much that He does not want to force us into submission; rather He gives us the freedom to choose our way or His way.  And, while He knows how we will respond, He loves us enough to give us ample opportunity to choose Him.

But, if God is so loving, why would He allow bad things to happen that were not directly a result of my poor decisions?  This is one of the hardest questions to understand, and the answer is not always easy to swallow.  The truth is, because of Adam and Eve’s decision to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths (Genesis 3:7).”  Their lives were made much more complicated; they were expelled from the garden, and we have been living in a fallen world ever since.

God never promises us an easy life on Earth.  In fact, He promises just the opposite.  Jesus says to us, “I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).”  Life is hard; life does not always make sense; it’s not fair, but because of Jesus, we have reason to hope.  He has overcome the world, and by believing in Him, we can spend eternity enjoying endless joy, peace and love, together with our perfect God!

The bad things that happen in life, whether caused by influences outside our control, or our own poor decisions, provide us opportunities for our personal spiritual development.  If life was easy, and everything was perfect, I would not need God; I could be completely self-sufficient!  But, because our world, including my little corner of it, is completely messed up and incomprehensible, I realize that I need God to direct my steps.

By trusting God with my life, I give Him the opportunity to bring beauty from my pain, and help me see past my selfishness.  A great example of this comes from the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers, and later forgiving them and providing for them.  Joseph said, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them (Genesis 50:20-21).

It is amazing that God will take the bad things that happen in my life and use them for His ultimate plan!  If one person can see the impact God has made on me and because of that, chooses to trust in Jesus for their own eternal life, then the pain I have felt will have been worth it. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV).

The sovereignty of God can bring us complete freedom, if we allow it to.  Since God knows everything that is going to happen, and it’s already part of His eternal plan, there’s nothing we can do to mess everything up!  That should allow me to not get caught up in the poor decisions I have made, or the bad things that have happened in the past (or may happen in the future).  If it were not for the things that have happened in my life, I would not be the woman I am today.  I will continue to be shaped by my experiences, and I pray those involve a deeper level of trust in God.

God’s sovereignty should completely free me from guilt, shame, anger, worry, and fear, if I let it and should bring complete peace in the fact that nothing will happen that is apart from God’s will for me.  If I have learned anything thus far in life, it’s that God is worthy of my trust, and truly has my best interests at heart, so giving complete control over to Him should be an easy decision!

“Remember this and stand firm, recall it to mind, you transgressors, remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of my counsel from a far country.  I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it (Isaiah 46:8-11).”