Tag Archives: prodigal son

If Only Land

Romans 7:19

I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.
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How many times have we said out loud to anyone who would be willing to listen, “If Only…” and then we spew out some idea of how we should have done something differently?  I know from my person experiences that I could list one million, seven-hundred and eighty-three examples for you, however for the purposes of blogging I will only pick one.  Twenty-three years ago I decided to date and marry a man whom I thought I could change.  If only he had stopped drinking.  If only he had not decided not to turn to prescription meds.  If only I had been following the Lord…..
Do you see how destructive these two words can be?  How many are stuck in a depressed state right now because they dwell in the kingdom of if onlys?  I know for me I played right into that game for awhile until I began to surrender some things to God, knowing that at that point in my life, I was in control not God and my marriage choice was not what He had desired for me.  Now, was I in love, yes.  Was a happy at times, yes.  Did good things come from the marriage, yes.  So why was I playing the “If Only” blues?
Because I had decided from the get go that I was going to fix my husband.  I figured if I dragged him to church enough times he would just come to know God like I did.  I felt if I gave all of me whenever I could, he would become happy with me and not the drinking.  I wanted so much to “make” the picture perfect family:  A happy husband, two kids and dog.    I am not sure when I realized this was not reality but as I slowly began to lose who I was as a person, it was too late.  If only I had done things differently.  If only I had loved him more.  If only I had been more respectful of my own self. If only I loved myself enough to say enough is enough before my whole life spiraled out of control.
Having said all of that, IF I had changed any of the above things, I would have missed out on two beautiful kids.  I would not have had the life experiences which have led me to where I am today with the ability to love others in a capacity I may not have ever achieved. Yes I went through a lot, yet it has shaped me into who I am today and brought me closer to God than I could ever have imagined twenty some years ago.  I am a stronger person now having experienced the life I did and I believe God knew all of this ahead of time.  When we choose to go beyond what God has already planned out because of our free will, He then works out a way for us to return to His grace and love (not that He ever stopped loving us) much like the prodigal son.
Are you playing the “If Onlys”?  Have you perhaps taken up permanent residency in If Only Land?  My encouragement to you would be start to surrender.  Accept that with your free will you get to pick where you go in life, but if you go too far and are unsure of how to get back to God it is so simple to do.  It is as easy as saying “If Only You will forgive me and lead me in the right direction, I surrender my circumstances to You, God…lead me.”
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Who Is Jesus to You?

Luke 15:20

20 So he got up and went to his father.

   “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

Did you know that God accepts you for who you are?  No matter what you have done, no matter where you have been, He will always take you back.  Just like the prodigal son, He welcomes us back with arms open wide and hugs us, showering us with love like we have never known.  Do you also know that God is no respecter of persons which means, we are equal to Him as humans? Yep, the pastor is loved just as much as the beggar.  He loves the choir director as much as the drug addict.  He gives as much attention to the garbage collector as the president.  We all have a purpose to serve and God created us all to run towards our destinies.  He is always there to guide and to correct even when we seem to be unaware of His presence.  What is Jesus to you?  Is He just a religious figure in your life?  He is just something to believe in so that we shall not perish in Hell?  What is He really to you at this moment in your life?

I know; tough questions to answer for some of us.  I have different answers for every stage of my life.  There once was a time when He was just someone I prayed to.  He was someone I ran to when I was in trouble but never for the good things in my life.  There have been times in my life when I have just taken Him for granted, not realizing the big role He should have been playing in my everyday life.  I never thought I was important to God.  I always thought He only loved me a little and I was not worthy of receiving any blessings in this life because I had partied and smoked for so many years.  I am ever so thankful my veil has been removed and I can clearly see now just how much God loves me for who I am.  I now have this desire to become more like Jesus so that I to can begin to accept people for who they are and to begin to have some reasoning to why they behave the way they do.

As Christians’ should we not be following after Jesus and how He treated people?  I know it is very difficult to find acceptance for all the people in our lives.  All of us have co-workers and family members who just drive us nuts.  I am in a working environment where I have to deal with people from all walks of life and sometimes it is very hard to not get agitated by their behaviors at times.  I have one in particular whom I just love to hate.  We never see eye to eye and part of it is her recent disbelief in the things of God.  I know she has walked a very hard road in her life and it has truly just sucked the life out of her.  It pains me to see this once happy, carefree person burdened with pain and distaste for life which is very evident.  I just want her to return to the place in her life where she once was, in love with Jesus, and nothing else mattered because she knew He was there for her.  She stopped going to church because of what some others were speaking about her and her family and it has just been downhill from there.  I know I cannot force her into a renewed relationship with Jesus, I can just pray.

So who in your life needs you to be more accepting of who they are and where they have come from?  If God accepts us for who we are and where we are standing, then why are we not more accepting of others?  I realize at this moment some of you have this pit in your stomach because God is speaking directly to you.  I know each time when I have been too harsh to someone or too judgmental.  Don’t get me wrong, it is in our nature, however, when we take on the nature of Christ, we need to begin to change our lifestyles to reflect Him.  We can no longer just take Jesus as our Savior and go about our daily routines thinking we have nothing to change about ourselves.  Becoming Christ like also is not something we can accomplish over night, it is a slow process of deciding on a moment by moment basis what our reactions are going to be to people in our lives.  God calls us to a higher purpose and part of this is learning to accept people for who they are.  Who knows where the drug addict started out from or why they act the way they do, perhaps they are trying to fill a void in their lives and because they have been shut down by one too many humans, drugs are the only answer.  How about the pastor?  Sure we see how God works in their lives every Sunday as they stand in the pulpit and tries to convey how God is speaking to them to congregation of people who come from all walks of life.  Who are we to criticize His sermon if He is just listening to God and following His will?  God does not command us to judge, but to love.

I pray I have not offended anyone with this blog, however I hope I have stirred some thoughts around in your hearts.  I struggle everyday with this in every aspect of my life, while at work or driving my car or at the grocery store or at the mall.  People are everywhere and most of them are hurting and just wanting to be accepted and loved.  They just need someone to listen to them and accept them even if they are misbehaving or not walking like we think they should be.  Once again we are not called to judge people or to pretend we know how they should be living.  I think perhaps this is why God has called me to be a leader of the youth.  The teens are the most over-judged people I know.  Society seems to be in denial of their own teenage years and it frustrates me when people prejudge the tattoos and piercings and the dress code they display.  Yes, I agree some of these things are strange and not what I would choose for myself, yet I do not let the outward appearance how I feel for these teens.

I challenge all of us to practice accepting people for who they are.  I almost bet if you take 5 minutes to talk to the most annoying person at work tomorrow, you will begin to have compassion for them as you discover they are just human.  Will you do that?  Are you willing to spend just 5 minutes getting to know someone in your life that perhaps you have judged?  I am trying to remember God every moment of my day and He shows me things about people sometimes that just knock my socks off.  I pray He will do the same for you.  I never saw myself has a compassionate person before but the more I try to be a better Christlike person, the more I can see what God sees in others.  If we have struggles then so do they.  Nobody has had a perfect live, but everyone deserves to receive love.