never, lord, he said.

I don’t have a title or a ministry.

My name is not printed as a key-note speaker.

I do not stand in front of people with words of encouragement, truth, or comfort.

I am elusive.

Not on purpose. Some things just play out that way.

Sometimes we really don’t have much control over things, do we? God leads us on a course we did not intend to be on.

Some courses are detours and bring us around to where we were.

But for some, the course is a long journey of squalls and rough water.

Some would point another way – the right way. While their intentions are good, perhaps they have placed God in the box of what-it-should-look-like.

Never, Lord! he said. This shall never happen to you …

But it did.

What if God wanted to change course? Would you follow the course He laid or cling to the shore of life with the assurance of your gifts and talents?

When others sail out into the deep, do you question if “it’s God”?

How free are we? Over the years, Christians have embraced the Holy Spirit in fresh ways, making our faith tangible.

But be careful of the pain you inflict on those who are already hurting.

Be careful you don’t think you know what is best.

Be careful the awakening to live your faith with purpose does not make you stumble.

If you’ve been the recipient of words or the silence and you are fully anchored to the God who is enough, let your light shine.

Even if it’s a small, steady glow.

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photo credit: Photo credit: Foter.com

let the rest go.

When facing tragedies as a Christian, I have discovered it is really important to embrace the core beliefs of the scripture and let “the rest” go.

The core beliefs are the scriptures that have been understood for centuries. They have been the buoyancy which has carried the nearly drowning soul since the beginning of time. And with some simple research, we can find the men and women who have rested in God’s provision to sustain them through the suffering of loss, failure, and heartache.

“The rest” can mean something different to a lot of people because there are many views within Christianity – interpretations of scripture, emphasis on certain topics, etc.

Despite the differences, Jesus Christ and him crucified is not in dispute and that is a good thing. And since losing Christopher, I have found myself time and time again, returning to the Apostle Paul’s words:

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

That’s because “the rest” was and has been meaningless, noisy, and distracting to my shocked and confused mind.

If you don’t really know what I mean, you are likely to know if you find yourself standing at the threshold of some real suffering. Jesus is the only one who can calm the storm. There was nothing in me to “speak to the wind and the waves”.

Yes, me, of little faith.

Tragedies have a way of reducing us to running on low power and we only need some basics to keep functioning.

One way of thinking in Christian circles is the emphasis on faith and/or positive thinking/speaking.  Both fit nicely in the American culture of don’t give up, you’ve got this, keep on keeping on – all positive, good advice.

Combine this with the scripture and you might begin to think you’re invincible from tragedies. Maybe this is why so many of us go on so long with questions, causing us further pain.

Maybe if you’re reading this, the mountain moved for you.

But what about the mountain that did not move for someone else?

I remember praying Psalm 91 for years, paying particular attention to the part that says, … no evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your dwelling.

I really believed my diligent, committed, watchman-on-the-wall type prayers put protection around us and our property. After all, the effectual, fervent prayer of the righteous accomplishes much, right?

In time, I realized (since I know God is the one who shows us) the protection around us was how God protected us through the tragedy of losing a son and a brother.

This isn’t a cop-out. I am fully aware of how we can justify anything to make us feel better. But if you are tempted to think you didn’t have enough faith, you didn’t pray enough, you must have sinned, well, those are Job’s comforters’ words (and we all know how that went).

God showed me a lot during those days and he still does. Because He is all I had.

He is all you have, too.

We cannot keep analyzing what we have believed all our lives, even if it’s through what we learned through a church sermon, class, or conference.

We have to dig deeper when we’re alone in our grief. Because well meaning people think they understand or know the answer.  They don’t.

Only God does.

And the digging deeper is not weeks or months of researching. It’s actually pretty simple:

No matter how you feel, settle it now that all things are in God’s hands and you will trust Him no matter what. Then watch what happens.

If you resist, you block his help. Not because He doesn’t want to help because He is with us always. But He is watching and waiting.

Ever try and help a toddler who doesn’t want your help? Kinda like that.

All throughout history and even now, humankind suffers. It’s a fact of life that all Christians have to come to terms with or you will be bitter the rest of your life. Bitter, because you will always be searching for the answer to fit your paradigm; the way you think or the way you’ve been taught.

But the Bible tells us God’s ways are not our ways and he does not think the way we do.

Sometimes, I think our suffering does not find the relief God offers because we are trying to get out of it. That’s normal. Who likes pain? No one.

Particularly in America where we have so much when you think about it. We’ve grown accustomed to getting what we want or getting our way. We expect it. We even demand it.

This doesn’t mean we should embrace suffering as if it makes us more worthy or holy. There is more to the story of our lives and there is a good ending to be played out in eternity. God gives us this hope. Every Christian knows this.

It is not hope the way we think about it – “I hope this or that happens”.

Merriam Webster dictionary defines hope like this:

:  to cherish a desire with anticipation :  to want something to happen or be true hopefor a promotion; hoping for the best; hope so.

Here is their archaic definition:

: TRUST

Interesting how the passage of time changes meaning. Has the scripture’s meaning changed, too? Causing too many to question for too long?

We hope because we trust. We trust God is who he says he is and he will do what he says he will do.

Anything less is temporary and disappoints.

Isn’t it time to set aside the questions that go around and around in your thoughts? This is not what God wants for you. He wants you to know there is rest for your tired soul.

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Photo credit: http://foter.com/re/ce1695″>Foter.com

memorial day.

I haven’t lost anyone close to me who gave their life for our country.

But I know many of you have.

What a noble act for your loved one to protect all of us.

When I am feeling annoyed over something small – even sorrowful over something big – I think of the 15 and 16 year old young men who fought in the Civil War and beyond.

They never got to experience life.

These are difficult things to grasp, no matter what your story is.

Christians have hope; a certainty and assurance of knowing there is life beyond here on earth – where God says he will wipe away every tear and there will be no more sorrow or death.

My prayer is comfort and peace for you today as you remember the loss of your loved one for our nation.

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acknowledgement

I don’t dwell on losing Christopher. I say this because some say and some think “You’re a Christian, don’t get stuck in grief”.

I say what Jesus said on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

And they don’t.

The words shared here resonated with me. And the reason I can go on in life, despite the ache in my heart, is because I know Jesus was acquainted with grief. He knows and will help us.

Bereaved Parents

Grief does not demand pity; it requests acknowledgement.

Grief is not simply a feeling, it is a deep indescribable anguish of the soul that permeates our entire being. It exists whenever there is trauma and loss. I do not say this to diminish anyone’s grief in the loss of a beloved pet, a mate, etc.; however, there is no grief that compares with the loss of a child. You do not get over it, you do not move on from it. You only move forward with it. The excruciating pain becomes a lifelong companion.

Bereaved parents are not wallowing in self-pity. A part of their soul has been violently torn from them. Yes, they go on and find a manner of functioning that may appear to the outsider as if they have ‘gotten over it’; but let me be frank: NO! They have not! Appearances can be deceiving. Any unexpected…

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mother’s day.

While shopping for groceries yesterday, tables were set up in the entrance of all the stores, filled with flower arrangements for Mother’s Day.

But today, you might not be celebrating.

Maybe memories of your mother are painful.

Maybe you didn’t have a mother in your life.

Maybe your mother died and you miss her terribly.

If you are a mother, maybe you haven’t talked to your child in years because of a broken relationship.

Or maybe your child died.

Please just know, some of us know there are people like you who are hurting today.

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when understood.

Yesterday, I read this:

“God’s anger is that of a father who is unconditionally committed to his children but because of that is furious at their sin. There is nothing that affects us like the displeasure of one we love and adore. This fatherly anger, full of unfailing love, when understood, is a transforming motivation that makes us willing and able to change.”  The Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller

full of unfailing love, when understood.

There’s a lot we don’t understand about God.

But there is enough we do understand.

We either see an angry God, aloof and disconnected or we see him as loving to the extent of accepting whatever we do or how we live.

Both are wrong.

It’s up to us to understand. And we can.

We may say because we cannot understand everything we cannot understand anything. If you believe in God, if you believe Jesus died on behalf of your sin, you must believe in a benevolent God who didn’t leave us without understanding some things.

Maybe not all, but some. And some, is enough.

The most important thing we can understand from the Bible is God’s character. There is plenty there to tell us what He is like and what He will do.

It’s true – God is angry at sin. That’s kind of hard to understand in a world which accepts so much sinful behavior, along with accusations of not loving if you don’t accept it.

Excuses are made. Labels are applied. But the bottom line is sin is a real thing we have to come to terms with.

But then there is God so loved the world …

He lowered Himself to become a part of humanity.

He dwelt among us.

He gave Himself on the cross and his anger was justified at the cross.

Again, this may be difficult to comprehend because society has become so accepting of certain sinful behaviors (more so than 10, 20, 50 years ago) it may be hard to remember that God sees things differently than we do. I mean, after all, he is God, right?

Yet, He also loves us in a way we cannot fully grasp. Our love is limited. His is not. Our love is conditional. God’s love is unconditional.

Does that mean he loves us no matter what? Yes. He embodies love in the highest form – sacrificing Himself on our behalf.

So how does this help a hurting person?

Unless you know who God is, you are unlikely to trust him.

If you think he is just angry, you will stay clear of Him.

If you think he is just loving, you will be angry because He “let this happen”.

The only way you can trust Him is to understand who he is. Not what you think He is, but who He really is.

What does God want from us? Following all the rules and regulations?

He wants our love.

We cannot love what we don’t understand.

When we find out who God is – what He is really like – we will be motivated to be willing and able to change.

Believe me. When you begin learning what God is really like, you will begin loving Him, because you will start to trust Him. You find out he really does comfort you. He really does give you peace in your mind.

And you will want to change only because you love Him; not because you have to behave in order to go to Heaven.

It’s not just about changing how we live, but how we view God through what the Bible tells us about Him. We either believe it or we don’t. And because God loves us so much, it’s okay to ask Him to help us believe.

The reason to change is because it works. Like a good, earthly father, He knows what is best for us. The reason to avoid this and do not do that is to keep us happy and safe.

Hurting people get angry at God.

Hurting people get bitter.

Hurting people hurt themselves even more when they don’t turn to God for help.

He is there, waiting for you.

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Mara ~earth light~ via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND