Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Navigating the Titanic of Life

April 14, 1912. A day forever significant in history for being the day the Titanic struck an iceberg which lead to the deaths of over 1,500 people. The monstrous vessel celebrated the title of the fastest and most luxurious ship of it's day and was said to be "Unsinkable". It had the most modern technology available, multiple fail-safes built in, and the ability to communicate conditions with ships up to 400 miles away. On the day of the ship's sinking, five different messages were sent to warn the ship of icebergs. Coordinates were even included. The Captain received two of the ice warnings. The ship was also traveling faster than was considered safe for iceberg-infested waters. Several other ships in the water sent warnings to the Titanic but the warnings fell on deaf ears. These along with several other factors lead to the collision that cost the lives of so many innocent people.

God has left us the Bible, a living instruction manual with the ability to help us through any of the challenges we might face. Remember, the Bible is LIVING. I read one thing and get something out of it and you read the same thing and can get something completely different. It is like art, but not, because it is inspired by a God who wants to show you EXACTLY what you need to see. Instead of stabbing in the dark or pulling from your "life experience" to find your interpretation, He can show you exactly what you need. 


Second, He gives you the understanding to know to surround yourself with wise counselors. The Titanic had lots of modern technology, crew, and other ships to help the Captain with his decisions. Surround yourself with people of wisdom-a wisdom greater than themselves. Godly wisdom still exists, you just have to be willing to look for it. After you have established it, be sure to listen to the when the painful truth is shared. Ignoring the wise counsel of others can set you up for disaster.

Despite these safeguards, sometimes we still think we know better than God. For those situations, God is still there. He gets the deal. He gave us a free will and expects us to sometimes take liberties that contradict His intention for our lives. Does it surprise Him, no! He's already prepared to help us up when we fall.

Isaiah 43:1 & 2
"But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you."




These verses don't specify if you stumbled into the fire, jumped into the fire, were just playing with the fire, or the fire was something God allowed to bring you closer to Him. The point is, He is RIGHT THERE WITH YOU! He doesn't let you go through your struggles in life alone. The failure is when we chose to wallow in our problems. Problems don't improve if we decide to distract ourselves during the storms.
It's like being on a river in a canoe and at the first sign of rapids you respond by lying down in the bottom of the boat. Navigate through that crap! Don't hide! God's got your back and He's got way more experience! Get close to Him and start looking at the directions He left you! We have Google. It's fantastic! Try it. "what Bible says about depression, laziness, heartache, etc" 


My encouragement today is more for my own ears than anyone else's. I am struggling. Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. My mind wanders constantly to where it shouldn't be and I want to just hide in bed and wallow. Despite my mind closing in on me, God is here whispering in a still small voice. He wants to comfort. He loves and cherishes each of His children and when we hurt, He hurts. He can absorb the pain, but not if we don't let Him in. I can sit on the bathroom floor of my mind with the door locked and my face in my hands, or I can open it and let Him flood my soul with His love. Be encouraged today.

Psalm 147:3 “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.”

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Emptiness


The word "fear" in this verse can be replaced with the word "respected". The word was used in the Hebrew and Greek to mean respected or revered. 

God is teaching me so much about my heart. So much about my needs and my longings. So much about how desperately lost I am when I deny Him in my life. Someone close to me recently said something that rubbed me raw. "You walk around acting like you are this strong, independent woman, then you turn out to have all of these needs." Wow. Thanks for revealing my cards!

The truth is, this was completely correct. The strong, independent and confident woman... well that's a front. I have the heart of a little girl that has "adapted to her surroundings." I live in a man's world. In many ways I have suppressed the femininity that God gave us as women, in order to make myself more "marketable" and "acceptable". This is a separate issue-one I will not discuss today.


In addition to failing to embrace my feminine heart, I had also failed to fill the God-shaped hole in my heart with...God. I had tried and continue to fight trying to fill the spot with everything else. Money, friends, attention, fitness, a relationship, food, traveling...eventually all of those together should be able to fill in all the cracks and fulfill me, right??

My brain works with pictures, so here is a photo for you. It is a child's toy, something I grew up with. The green shape is much like a circle, but not exactly. My box and it's shapes were made of wood, therefore the shapes fit or they did not. In a rush, I would often try to fit the circle into the shape of the "apple" but it would never work. 

This is how our lives are. We were created. When you create something, it has a purpose. When it fails in it's purpose, it fails to reach it's maximum potential. The placement of a treadmill in your home can make you look more serious about fitness and can even serve as a great place to hang clothes, but it is not serving it's maximum potential-the purpose for which it was created. 

As men and women, we will never be the most effective if we are running from our purpose. Our purpose is found when we properly fill the hole in our heart. We all feel the hole. We all know our emptiness. We all long to feel completed and safe. Celebrity suicides should indicate to us that fame and money do not fill that emptiness. At some point in our life, we have to come to terms with the fact that no human or human-created thing can fill that gap. Only God can properly fulfill our needs. If we force that task on another person, it will drive them away because it is an unfair expectation. If we reply upon success, no amount will ever be adequate. We have to come to terms with our humanity-or forever remain unsatisfied. 

Sometimes in the ER I look around in the middle of some chaotic event and find the most peaceful person in the room. This is often one with the confidence stemming from years of experience and education. It doesn't matter how fast the driver was going, how mangled the body, how many times family screams at them, they know how to handle anything because they have found peace with life and death and their part in both. They realize that they cannot save everyone and  they can't make everyone happy, but whatever is going on outside does not change their reaction. 

This is how I want to live my life. The inner peace that God provides does not change. The things that God says do not change. God's love doesn't lessen and He is certainly never leaving. He gave us the gift of our heart which is a key to open up the stores of His love. We can either use the key for what it was intended, or try it on other locks and repeatedly feel the disappointment. When we use it to be filled by Him, we are able to love others without NEEDING them to fill some emptiness in our life. We can be free to TRULY love-with the kind that a parent gives a baby, expecting nothing in return.