Strength to Endure All: A Life Hidden in Christ
May 23, 2014
After I received the phone-call from my mom, I rushed home, and looked for anyone from my family, but no one was around. I ran up to my room trying to figure out who to call. Worry and fear gripped my heart, as thoughts of what actually happened circled my mind. I immediately started to have a panic attack and fell to the floor in the fetal position, crying and hyperventilating. Within a few minutes, my aunt, step-dad, and boyfriend were surrounding me trying to calm me down. I wanted to know where my mom was and why she wasn’t there. “What is going on,” I cried out.
My aunt then uttered these words that are now forever etched in my mind, “Honey, your dad is dead. Someone shot him in the head and killed him. His body was dragged across the street to an abandoned building and the building was set on fire. They were able to identity his body this morning.” My mind couldn’t comprehend what I had just heard. This sounded like something out of a movie or a forensic science TV show, not my life! I immediately went into shock and couldn’t stop shaking or crying.
Yesterday, I was instantly transported back to this traumatizing memory that changed my life forever. After almost six years, the man who murdered my father was finally charged with a guilty sentence. He will serve up to 45 years in prison as a punishment for his actions.
And while most people are shouting: “That man should burn in hell!” I am preaching, “You MUST forgive!” because I know the severity of holding onto the wrongs that others have done to us. It simply is not worth it, my friends.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14 (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but I have fallen short of the glory of God many, many times, and I need my sins to be forgiven because I need the Love and Presence of my Heavenly Father from now until eternity. No matter what the sin is (how big or how small you may think it is), it WILL separate us from God. I NEVER EVER want to be separated from Him.
Although I made a CHOICE to forgive the man who took my dad’s life right after it happened, I wrestled with so many emotions and thoughts after reading the articles describing the horrendous acts of murder that turned my world upside down in November of 2008. Seeing the photo of this man as he was escorted by two police officers out of the courtroom with his stone, cold eyes looking straight back at me made my stomach churn. My heart was pierced and so many different emotions rose up in me.
Avoiding haunting memories and traumatic thoughts was the main reason I chose not to follow the murder case as the years went on. Immediately, I chose to forgive and move on with both my life with Christ and my now husband. I did not want to live in the trauma. It wasn’t that I didn’t love or miss my dad terribly. It was because dwelling on all of this wicked and demonically influenced tragedy would never bring my dad back. I knew that justice belonged ONLY in the hands of the Lord. Most of all, I longed for that man to repent of what he did and find a life-changing relationship with my Jesus like I had found. I still pray for that to this day.
I can’t say that I have found the strength to pray a prayer like this or the strength to forgive from solely within myself. My strength does come from within though, but it is the power and might of the Holy Spirit who has given it to me. My life verse from the Bible will forever hold true, and I will never stop standing upon the promise of Philippians 4:13: “I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST who strengthens me.” I’m so thankful for that promise.
In the midst of darkness or struggle, I know Jesus will never abandon me (or YOU). Although, my earthly father is gone, I have a Heavenly Father who loves me more than anyone could. I cling to Him when the trials and storms of life try to overtake me, for He is my anchor of hope. I cling to and stand upon His Word that is full of promises – promises of His love, mercy, and grace, for He is my Rock and firm foundation. I cling to my Jesus and the voice of His Holy Spirit, for He is the One who gives me strength and courage to endure every trial I could ever face. I urge you to accept the forgiveness of the Father today and find strength in Jesus to learn to walk in total forgiveness, even in the midst of the darkest of trials. Oh what freedom and peace you will find!
I will leave you with the lyrics of a song I wrote after another trial I faced in November of last year, that seem to fit so perfectly right now:
In YouVerse 1:You’re my desireLord, You are my everything
It’s in You I find
My purpose, my meaning
So take my life
Display it for the world to see
So that You, my King
Can receive Your glory
I’ll hide my life
In You, Jesus Christ
It’s You who gives me strength
To rise above the storm
Oh yes, My life
Is a living sacrifice
So that You can shine
And draw all men to Your heart
I live and move and have my being
When I stand in Your name
Your blood cleanses me of all my shame
The Father sees what You’ve done
How You died on the cross to save us
Just Not Now
April 16, 2014
JUST. NOT. NOW.
Those three words seem to be the words I have had to say quite a lot over these last several months. And I am not a fan of having to turn down opportunities, especially when they seem so right, so perfect.
But the timing may not be…
Sunday morning before church, I was reading Psalm 37 and I think the Lord was trying to prepare me for a decision I was going to have to make later that night…
Psalm 37:4 (NKJV) tells us to:
Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
“The Hebrew word translated “delight” (עָנַג, pronounced aw-nag) literally means to be delicate or feminine (Strong’s, עָנַג.) It carries the idea of being pliable or sensitive. In this particular context, it means to be dependent upon God and to derive one’s pleasure from Him” (Dan Lowe, MBC Global-Pastor’s Blog).
When we read this verse, we usually picture the word delight meaning to enjoy God, which in a way it does. But as I went deeper researching the Hebrew meaning of the word, I realized the verse almost seemed to be a command to us.
The Lord is trying to tell us that He will give us the desires of our heart once we FULLY DEPEND ON HIM AND HIS WAYS. When we have a full revelation of who God is and what His ways are like, we can take genuine pleasure in Him. Not because of what He can do for us, but just because of who He is.
We see in Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV):
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
When we understand this, or at least ATTEMPT to understand this statement from the Lord, we see that God’s plans may be difficult to comprehend for us humans because they will always be higher than our’s.
So how do we walk through life when we have to be the ones making the decisions?
But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NLT)
But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 KJV)
And of course…
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
6 In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
(Proverbs 3:5-6; NKJV)
Then the Lord really hit me with this one in Habakkuk:
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry. (2:3 NKJV)