Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Saying No to Myself

I say "Yes" to myself many times during the day. It is easy to do because it comes naturally. In fact, I usually don't hear myself ask and then knowingly respond in the affirmative, I just do what I feel like doing at the time.

For example, if I have a craving for chocolate I will go seek out chocolate and enjoy the "Yes" I give myself. If I want to play a computer game, again, I will simply start the game and delight myself in the mindlessness of pushing candies together in sets of three or more. There are many other examples I could give, but I do think you get the idea.

The hard thing for me to do is to say "No" to my cravings, or addictions. Stopping the forward motion toward the chocolate, computer game or whatever takes a deliberate action; a decisive "No."

This past year I have had some success with this little two letter word. In fact I am thrilled when I say it and find power in doing so. It becomes even more recognizable when I backslide and fail to use the strength this often unused word gives me. Realizing that I failed to say "no" to myself makes me feel powerless. I regret that I did not use the two lettered dagger that would give me victory.

Mathew 5:37 says "Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil." (ESV) The truth I see in this scripture is first, I should mean what I say. "Yes" should not be my default answer to every choice. I should make choices with full knowledge of the consequences and benefits. Secondly, I need to remember that not choosing wisely is sin. If I need to justify my choices I step over a spiritual line that God does not commend.

I have written this blog entry with a craving for a soda wandering through my thoughts. In writing this I have decided that the sugar and caffeine are not what my body needs tonight, and so I say "No" with the power of choice. The greater choice I have made today is to say "Yes" to The Holy Spirit prompting me to become humble and let go of a previous choice.

2 Corinthians 1:20 "For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory." (ESV) Yes and no can both be difficult choices, but choosing Jesus is always the right choice.

Father, You are the God who has said "Yes" when I ask for mercy and grace. You say "Yes" when I need a Savior, healing, guidance, and hope. Forgive me for every time I think of You as a God of "No." Thank You for giving me choices. Thank You for giving me Your Son so I can choose His redemption. Thank You for not turning away from me when I sin. Thank You for Your forever open arms. Give me wisdom for my daily decisions. Amen.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Waiting to Live

My brother is dying. Cancer is slowly depleting his strength and stealing his body's ability to sustain life. It has been a long sad time.

Early in the summer we heard the news that the cancer we thought was gone had returned. The prognosis was very poor. He would not survive this, but chemo could help curb the symptoms. He decided that he would not let the doctors intervene and so the waiting began.

The family waits and prays in faith that God will heal him with a miracle. The weaker he becomes the more we pray a litany of requests for him: healing, no pain, getting to see everyone he wants to see, completing his project, more days. God has answered our requests, except for healing.

DJ is a young man by modern standards. Fifty eight years is much too young to face death. I have thought that asking for more days would be enough but why not ask for years? Cancer is a thief. The years have been stolen. We can only hold on to the treasure of each day.

God has been so good to me during this time of waiting. He has given me peace and hope that is so real that I feel it as a presence surrounding me. Songs and scriptures hold a new meaning for me as I hear them amid the realities I face. My prayers have become thought-filled. I question my thinking and avow my convictions with passion. I ask with living faith. And so it was this past Sunday as I spoke to God saying, "I don't want to wait for DJ to die!" My Father in Heaven responded quickly saying, "Wait for him to live!" His words have changed me. I now wait for my brother DJ to live. I wait for him to live eternally. That is my hope and my peace. God the Almighty Sovereign and Good Father is drawing DJ to himself. Every day gives my brother time to choose life, life eternal. It is in God's faithfulness that I trust and wait.

Father God, You are my security. You have given me all I need to face this sad time. I am so glad that You have turned my waiting for death into waiting for life! I know I can trust You. Thank You for every blessing and every lesson I am learning from this time. Thank You for being strong when I am weak. I ask only that I remember these days and not forget the things You have done. I love You, Lord.

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Finish Line

Have you ever had to run the hurdles? Hurdlers are a special breed that can run fast and kick their legs high over 27-42 inch obstacles, take two steps and do it all again!

I had to try those beastly obstructions in my freshman P.E. class in high school. It was a disaster. I stand only 61.5" tall and the hurdles were chest high on me if I remember correctly. After trying multiple times to get my leg high enough to get over the hurdle without success and being bruised and scraped up from falling all over those mini mountains, I decided not to try any more. I simply stopped in front of them and trotted around. Coach finally decided that I could just run the lap without going over the hurdle. The experience makes me stand in admiration for hurdlers now when I watch track and field on tv.

Life has hurdles. Every day we come against obstacles, big and small. Each goal we set for ourselves comes with its set of circumstances that can trip us up with bruises and scrapes or offer opportunities to soar. There are choices to make when we come up against those pesky bumps in the road. We can get around some, but others need to be dealt with more aggressively. When we fly over them we feel powerful and in control. Some that tower over us may make us consider giving up. Any hardship can intimidates us into backing down and question if our goal to reach the finish line is worth it.

I know there have been many finish lines that I have failed to cross because of the stumbling blocks in my way. At those times I have felt weak. My goal has not been met. I got stuck. I failed. It is sad to know that I may never have an opportunity to win because the moment has passed. Realizing this makes me consider carefully the goals I set and the importance of committing myself fully to the task.

One of my favorite sayings is "I chase not race." The chase, unlike a race, gives me time to face my mountainous hurdles and break them down so I can proceed further toward the finish line. I do not need to race against others. I just need to keep chasing the goal I have set for myself.

The most important thing I need to remember is that God is always there to help me get past the obstacles. He is just a prayer away. Isaiah 41:13 says, "For I am the LORD, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you." NIV We can trust His strength, His faithfulness and His love for us to get us through.

My Most Powerful God and Father, You know the trials I face today. They seem to want to trip me up and make me fail in my quest to do Your will. I want to reach the goal of pleasing You, but so often i fail to push through when it gets difficult. Forgive me Lord. Thank You for Your grace and mercy when I fall. Thank You for lifting me up in Your Fatherly hands. Give me wisdom in dealing with the hurdles I need to overcome. Give me Your Spirit to empower me to make it to the end. I want to hear the words "Well Done!"