Tripping the light fantastic

Most nights, I am the last one to bed, and my routine is set. I let the dog out one last time, turn out all the lights, and make my way upstairs. The house is pitch black, the dog bounds up ahead of me jumping right onto my side of the bed, warming up my spot. Isn’t he considerate?

Having much better night vision than me, he never stumbles on his way. I on the other hand, have to navigate a gauntlet of shoes and backpacks and Lord knows what else. But I have no fear. My trusty iPhone lights the path up the stairs and to my bedroom. My path is lit just enough to spare me the disaster. The light doesn’t shine far, it only lights up what I’m about to step on or trip over, but I know with my phone, I can navigate my way through.

God loves to navigate us through our blackest black because our weakest moments show His most amazing works. And our human frailties show His abounding mercy, love, and grace. What He is looking for is a heart that would say in its darkest moment, God I trust you to work this out. I expect a miracle from my loving God.

You see, He is always right there, to lift us out of the miry clay and set our feet upon a rock. (Psalm 40:2) He is always there in the midst of the storm, but it’s our choice to say, God help me, and I trust you.

A dear and wise friend reminded me that it is our human frailty that best showcases His mighty power. It is through our weakness that He can show Himself strong. Though I may give God many opportunities to bail me out of messes, I know that from my most disastrous failures will come His most dazzling victories.

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You want me to do what?

My son, Jaxon, and I have a running disagreement. He says Lynn’s Chevy pickup is silver, I say it’s champagne. When I first heard him say it, I was confused because it REALLY is champagne. But in Jaxon’s eyes, it REALLY was silver.

I honestly don’t know if at that point in time Jaxon didn’t understand the difference between silver and champagne, or if his eyes were actually seeing something different from mine. But the bottom line is, I believed one thing and he believed another. Does that always have to mean that one of us is wrong? Can I make the mental adjustment and just say, we disagree?

Does disagreement have to be a deal-breaker?

How would Jesus behave in this situation? Well, from everything I’ve ever read about Jesus, he turned it back to the Word of God. When he was tempted by the devil he used scripture as a weapon. And the only weapon! He didn’t fly off and say what an idiot Satan was, he just quoted the Word.

So when someone says disparaging things about you, whose word are you going to believe?

Are you an idiot? Or are you the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus?

Are you inept, are you incapable? Or can you do all things through Christ who strengthens you?

Are you doomed to fail, are you a loser? Or are you created in God’s image with gifts and callings that are special, just to you?

Whose report are you going to believe?

Romans 8:1 says, There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

Real Christianity is loving those who hurt us, forgiving those who wrong us, and not condemning those who don’t agree with us. You see, we have to apply that scripture to them as well. Just as we can’t let the devil condemn us, we cannot condemn them. We have to let it go and let God sort it out. That’s where peace can come in and we can take our hands off the sticky situation and let our loving and amazing God work it out.

I realized that Jaxon and I can disagree on the color of Lynn’s truck, and neither one of us is wrong. There are some battles that we just don’t have to win! And maybe realizing that fact is winning the battle.

People are different, we think differently, we hurt differently, we react to pain differently, and God made us that way. I don’t know why it’s so difficult sometimes, but hey, it’s not my job to know why we are all so different. It’s my job to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, and strength, and love my neighbor as myself. It’s OK if we disagree. I like mayo on my sandwich, you may like mustard… different strokes for different folks. And that’s OK.

Whatever struggle you are facing, I encourage you to go back to the Word of God and see what God says about it. Excavate those precious nuggets of gold, write them down, meditate on them, and let them be a soothing balm to your soul.

Evil little tattoos

Jaxon had to learn the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. The kid has an amazing capacity to memorize, it’s really astounding. He can rap too, which cracks me up, because that is about as likely for me as growing a second head.

In his learning, I also learned quite a bit… of course I already knew the whole thing, being a preacher’s kid and all… NOT!

But here’s the part that was the kicker for me:

(Love) It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5 NIV).

Hold the phone. Love keeps no record of wrongs? Are you kidding me?

How do we keep the things that hurt us from being burned into our minds like evil little tattoos?

Here’s what I know: Go to the Rock. Not the rap… The Rock. A head-full of painful memories profits us nothing. A head-full of the promises of God keeps our hearts soft, and our ability to forgive firm. God’s promises keep our minds focused on the good in people, not the bad.

God’s promises fill the craters in our souls that the storms of life have left behind. We just have to open The Book, and go to The Rock.

Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (Psalm 119:165 KJV).

My peace is only complete when I am resting on God’s precious promises. And His Word never fails me, never. It won’t fail you either.

Love is ticklish

Love is ticklish. One day you’re in a haze of warm, fuzzy endorphins and the next day you want to pull out his whiskers, one by one. But the love is still there. The feelings are not.

Feelings are fickle, they are moody. They don’t know what they want. They are goofy. They are part of our flesh, they have to do with that whole thing about surrendering the flesh to the Holy Spirit, to the Word of God, to serving God, to dying to self and all that jazz. They go with that tricky scripture about our thought-life… Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5).

Feelings can lead us down a dangerous path, and our free-will can hang us if we’re not vigilant.

Be vigilant in your relationships, don’t let love be a feeling or a fleeting thought. Let it be a choice that you make day-to-day, even moment to moment. Each and every time you make the choice to love, you win the battle. And if we keep winning these little battles, I know we will win the war.

Suck it up

My Eureka upright vacuum, circa 1998 really sucks. Actually, it’s just the opposite… it doesn’t suck at all. I have a big dog and he has infiltrated every corner of my house. I find dog hair in the most bizarre places.

I will not elaborate on this point.

But here’s where I will elaborate: Sometimes… a lot of times… we need to suck it up.

There are not many guarantees in this life, but one is for certain; we are going to go through difficult things. We will have hard times. We will experience pain. We will feel the sting of loss. We will hurt. But it doesn’t have to get the best of us. It doesn’t have to derail our lives, it doesn’t have to wipe us out.

Jesus took that wipe-out on the cross and He walked our every rocky path. But how do we apply what He did for us then to our struggles now? That’s the million dollar question. That’s what I have tried to understand time and time again. Here are a few things I’ve learned along the way:

Recognize that He’s there. He will never leave us nor forsake us. (Hebrews 13:5)

Obey His commands. If you love me, obey my commandments. (John 14:15)

Trust that He is true to His Word. His Word is truth. (John 17:17)

Lean on the Holy Spirit. He will send the Comforter. (John 14:16)

The Juli Mize version of all this… Suck it up! That’s what Jesus did for us! He sucked it up and endured the cross… and He didn’t even have to! He was without sin! He didn’t make messes everywhere He turned like we do! (Thank God.)

We don’t have to be at the mercy of circumstances, we can grab hold of the steering wheel and regain our peace in the middle of the storm. He is right there with us, even though we might not feel it. And He will give us the strength to suck it up and keep going.