And so the last chapter of 2016 has concluded... and the open book of 2017 has begun...
Amidst the pages of 2016 there have been many stories, but the theme running through it all has been "God is faithful."
The beginning of Psalm 40 reads:
"I waited patiently for the Lord;
And He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay,
And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm.
He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God"
God has done that for me. He heard me, delivered me, and restored me. And now I can sing again.
Over the course of 2016, God has been bringing me back to life, healing my heart... and teaching me many things as I found my new song.
I learned that healing cannot be rushed or forced, but must be journeyed through.
The healing just... happened... by me just... letting it... it's not easy to explain... but now I feel free... light... new.
I had to let the pain and bitterness and guilt be felt, bring that to God, and then let myself feel His truth, His love, and His forgiveness. I had to let people pour into me with their encouragement and support.
I found spiritual renewal and healing with God, and received what I call "spiritual hugs" from Him, and I received physical hugs and support in abundance from the wonderful family and friends God has given me.
And it was through those healthy relationships, those healthy emotional connections, and letting the feelings come but then releasing them to God, that healing came and I was restored.
Restored after emotional abuse that almost got physical. Restored after betrayal. Restored after divorce.
Restored and freed.
Focusing on those good relationships, with God and with the people who care about me, brought about the full restoration I needed. I had to let the truth sink in, the truth that I am loved and valued, by God, family and friends. My spiritual relationship with a good God and my physical relationships with good people... those were key to healing.
Over 2016, I have been "loved on" and uplifted by God Himself and the many people He sent my way, and I could not be more filled with gratitude.
God has taken me out of the mire and set me on a rock. He has taken me out of numbness, out of brokenness, and given me joy and peace. He has given me a new song... a song of hope, of freedom, of praise to Him for how faithful He has been.
God made me alive again.
I have learned that time with God is the best balm for my soul, that Jesus is the most patient, loving friend and the Holy Spirit the provider of the comfort I need.
I have learned that true strength comes by persevering, that forgiveness is freeing, and that love is healing.
I have learned that God can revive the heart, and breath fresh life into hopes and dreams.
I have learned that with God, all things are possible, and that His love is very deep, and very real.
O sing to the Lord a new song,
For He has done wonderful things
~ Psalm 98:1
O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
~ 1 Chronicles 16:34
Linking with momentsofhope and whatjoyismine.net
Five Minute Friday time again! (A five minute free write)
Joining the linkup: Kate Motaung and Dance with Jesus
So the word prompt for this one is JOY... 1, 2, 3, GO!
This word is very appropriate for me now... for two reasons. One, the Christmas season is one of joy, and two, for me personally it has been a season of joy.
Christmas joy... this joy is because it represents the moment God stepped into time... into human flesh... so that He could heal the world of brokenness and sin by His perfect love and grace...
And my joy... this joy is because I have been set free...
While I understood the gospel some years ago, and was then set free from sin's bondage and gained entrance into eternal life, and given God's spirit and abundant life for this side of heaven, I was recently set free in a whole new way.
For the first time in a long time, probably about four and a half years, I am completely free of bitterness and unforgiveness, and at peace, and I have complete JOY.
I got a divorce about eight months ago and God has been healing me with His amazing love.
God can take away hurt, and wash away resentment, and cleanse wounds, and restore and bring wholeness and freedom.
GOD IS SO GOOD! He took away tears of pain and gave tears of joy!
Seek God... trust Him... and anything is possible...
I can come to Him, totally undone, steeped in despair, torn apart and broken, and He can release me from it and replace that with peace, hope, and joy.
Praise God for a love that never lets go, never gives up, but instead holds tight, and waits patiently, and steps in to satisfy and overwhlem in the most amazing way.
1 Chronicles 16:34 (NASB) "O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting."
Psalm 63:7 (NASB) "For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy."
And, at long last, I am finally doing a blog post again. Wow time goes fast!
So this post will be a quickie, a five minute Friday link up with Kate Motaung.
And it's on the word crave.
There are many things I get cravings for. Some are smaller... chocolate, a chai tea latte, sunshine, a hug, a chat with a friend...
And some are more substantial... financial security, a sense of belonging, a healed heart, the chance to fulfill dreams...
The smaller things are much easier to come by, but they are also very brief. The larger things may be available for a season, and are wonderful while they last, but these can prove to be temporary as life brings changes.
Is there such a thing as a craving that can be fully and forever satisfied?
The good news is yes, yes indeed there is. The deepest longings of the heart, the desire for joy, peace and wholeness that can be had during any circumstance, can be found in the God who made your heart.
I have been through a lot and I can attest to the truth of this. When I seek God's presence, when I praise Him no matter the situation, that is where I find every craving satisfied.
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." -- Matthew 11:28, NASB
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." -- Romans 15:13, NASB
"For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him." -- Psalm 62:5, ESV
Finally a month later, another Five Minute Friday! ..... Technically, its very very early Saturday........ but I have not gone to sleep yet so for me it is still Friday. :)
The word is Protect.
The first thing that came to mind upon seeing "protect" was the idea of protecting the heart... thoughts, attitudes and perceptions...
There is this idea found in Proverbs 4:23 --
"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life."
Biblically, the heart involves the mind, will and emotions... so all that encompasses should be "protected" intentionally - as much as is possible anyway. It is certainly not easy, especially with emotions.
But as what happens in the heart influences attitude and leads to action - the "springs of life" - guarding it is very important.
I want springs of life that are clean and pure... that resemble a joyful, nourishing, fresh mountain stream... that are life-giving to me and those around.
How does that come about? Well there are several verses to that effect... two of the best, or at least my favorites, are:
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.
It starts with the thinking... the right kind of thoughts lead to a sense of peace, calm, joy... which lead to actions rooted in care, wisdom and rationality.
I have been shifting to a more positive focus, rooted in God's promises and His love, and I notice I am much happier and better off for it. That does not mean I am in "Lala Land" or am out of touch with reality - I remain fully aware of responsibilities, obligations, and needs that have to be met. But I am trusting God instead of wasting worry on matters. I am figuring out when I just need to wait on God to act, and when and what I need to act on. It takes practice... it's a process... but thankfully God is patient and faithful as I continue to keep a check on my attitude.
And it's time for another Five Minute Friday post! Linking up with katemotaung.com. The word is HAVEN.
1, 2, 3, GO:
Haven is one of those words that sounds like what it is... it is like a peaceful exhale of breath when saying it softly...
Haven... security... safety... shelter... refuge...
What a lovely word!
For me, a haven is where peace can be found, and healing can happen. Chains are undone and wings of joy unfurled.
I have two kinds of havens - one based in the physical, one in the spiritual... one tangible, one beyond normal reach.
The physical is found in the listening ears, the encouraging words and loving arms of family and friends. To be heard, understood, validated and lifted up by people I fully trust... it breathes life into broken areas, it soothes and strengthens... brings smiles and laughter... and firmer footing through reminders of the truth.
The spiritual is found in my faith - not religion, but a relationship with the God of the universe... with Jesus., the Son, and the Spirit... God's presence brings a peace like no other. A relationship with God means He is always available, always understands, and always comforts. When I call on Him, He pours love and joy into heart beyond description.
There are seasons when God feels far away, but I know He is still with me, and after coming out of those, the sense of His presence suddenly is back in a flood of sweet renewal like water after a desert journey, and that is when I realize the strength and grace He gave me all along.
...And God is so good, that though He might feel far away and His haven unreachable, He sends His love through the haven I find in friends and family. And eventually... the wilderness ends and I am enfolded in once again in God's haven.
I can go through anything and come through stronger, be renewed, and have all the broken pieces knit together and healed by running to my haven.
One more thing.... this is after the five minutes, but inspired by "Haven" and still a rough draft...
Healing in the Haven
Searching for safe harbor
amidst the stormy seas
Where is the calm
Where is the peace
The exhale of a breath
A cry for calm
A plea for peace
A whispered prayer
A waiting heart
Then a stir in the air
Love is outpoured
From the author of love
The God who holds the world
This God holds my heart
and sends His healing touch
throughout every part
Every part of my being
is becoming renewed
as I am being healed
In God’s haven
I am forever sealed
Psalm 73:28 (NASB)
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge
Psalm 94:22 (NASB)
But the Lord has been my stronghold, And my God the rock of my refuge.
Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)
You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character], Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].
Wow......... over a year....... and I'm finally back to blogging...
And to kick off the close of the long hiatus, I am joining up with Five Minute Friday (http://katemotaung.com/five-minute-friday/ ) - a five minute free write inspired by one word, which in this instance is: EASY.
So... here goes...
Easy... I wanted to chuckle at that word choice... at the irony. That has been the farthest thing from reality, and what I have been craving most.
Seas have been stormy indeed. I have been tossed about and lost all sight of the shoreline. There was only wind and waves...
However, I was often so distracted by the waves that I missed the One walking on them.
Life has not been easy... but now that the seas have at last started to calm, and light is visible through the clouds, I realize that God was indeed there with me, watching over me, but the storm had to run its course. And if I had realized it then, I could have found more peace in the midst of it.
Thankfully, God is very patient with me, and is proving again and again that He really is good, and He really does keep His promises, though it may involve painful waiting.
Life is not always easy, but God is always good.
And it really is true that through the hardest lessons, the most is learned, and strength is forged.
"I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you.
I will sustain you
and I will rescue you."
And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28
As America just celebrated its Independence Day, I have been mulling on the subject of freedom.
I’m going to refrain from comment about the history of this holiday, as it is not relevant to the direction I want to take with this post.
So, before a rant or lecture ensues, on to the actual focus of this post.
First of all, what is the definition?
According to http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/freedom, freedom is the quality or state of being free: as
a : the absence of necessity, coercion, or constraint in choice or action
b : liberation from slavery or restraint or from the power of another : independence
c : the quality or state of being exempt or released usually from something onerous <freedom from care>
There are some wonderful sounding words in there… liberation, independence, released…
You could say that freedom is the opposite of being enslaved. The opposite of being weighed down by burdens. The opposite of being bound or trapped.
Sometimes we don’t realize how bound we are until we’ve been set free. And sometimes we understand too well how captive we are but have no idea how to get the key for release.
I spent several years longing for that key, not realizing how close it was. Then there would be times that I stopped looking, believing that I was just fine. But then a collision would reveal there were still prison bars in the way.
It was a horrible cycle, and there did not appear to be any hope of any kind of real release.
Until at last I understood what true freedom was, not just a temporary escape that would end up re-routing back to the beginning.
What was that key?
Or perhaps the better question would be, who was the key?
It was Jesus. He’d been there all along, I just took a long time to see it. He gives the only lasting freedom. As He said,
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28
Now I want to make an important distinction. It was not a religious act that set me free. It is a relationship with Jesus – that is what true Christianity is all about, and what the bible teaches. (I’m not going to go any deeper into that topic now but will save it for another post.)
I’m going to get a bit more personal just to show that I’m not simply trying to throw out some Sunday school fluff or a religious bandaid.
I really do get the difference between captivity and freedom and have gone through both. I went from being an A and B student to getting on academic probation one semester because of skipping classes and not doing the assignments – which was a result of depression. One semester after college let out I spent a month holed up in my room at my parent’s house, hardly stepping foot outside because of anxiety and depression.
I have been so depressed that all I had energy for was lying in bed crying. I have been under such anxiety that it caused pain that felt like a knife ripping apart my soul. I have been in such fear that all I could do was curl in a fetal position and whimper.
And I have yelled at God and hated Him and told Him to leave me alone.
But when I got to where all other options were empty and no answers were satisfying, I looked for God and cried out to Him, and He was waiting, ready to save me.
Jesus Christ has given me true, lasting freedom. Do I still get depressed? Yes. Anxious? Yes. Fearful? Yes. But that is because life is a battle, even as a Christian. Christians go through stress just like everyone else. But there is a difference.
By being set free in Christ, even in difficult circumstances, I am able to rest when I trust Him. My soul can have peace. If I am stressing out then it is because I have taken my focus off of God.
“It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Jesus has indeed set me free, but I have to look to Him, keep up my relationship with Him, to keep living in that freedom.
And how does one keep up a relationship with an invisible God? I'm glad you asked. Just as you would keep up any relationship, stay in contact. Listen to Him - through His Word and His Holy Spirit, which you have if you are a true believer in Christ. Talk to Him - pray. It doesn't have to be poetic or impressive, just honest. And in keeping such lines of communication open you will find strength, peace, freedom and joy given by God's Spirit. He may be invisible, but His power and presence are very real.
Will it always be easy to trust God and remain in this relationship? No, because the stresses of life get in the way. But even when it gets difficult, it's not burdensome. What is burdensome is giving someone or something other than God the place of master. That is being subject again to a yoke of slavery, as in the verse above. Jesus is the only master who grants freedom as you serve Him.
Don’t just settle for escape. Grab a hold of freedom. Escape is temporary. It can be found in money, drugs, other people, and other things. But it never solves anything and it never lasts. God gives the only permanent freedom.
© Seeking Life Beyond
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Hi, I am Angela, and welcome to my blog. I am a woman trying to rise above the tides of this life, seeking to grow closer to God and share His love in the process.