Earnestly Seeking

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

Today is a big day for me. Today I make my last payment on credit card debt and, except for school loans, my car and my mortgage residual, I am debt free!! It has been a long road the past 18 months but it has paid off, literally. I am praising God in a way I never have before because he has freed me from the chains and stresses of debt. My reward for earnestly seeking him and earnestly seeking to live a life pleasing to him is that I am no longer handing over my paycheck to cover debt. Thank you Jesus!!

Let me share with you my even greater reward…peace. My life has a measure of peace that it has NEVER had before and I say that without exaggeration. 18 months ago I was miserable and that also isn’t an exaggeration. I was drowning in a huge ocean of grief, anger and depression and I had compartmentalized my life to such a state that my closest friends and family didn’t even know. I was spending my free time with the wrong people in the wrong places doing the wrong things and I was drowning. The scary part of all of it is that I was still functional. I was at work every day. I was at church every Sunday. I was at family gatherings every time. One the outside I was smiling and probably showed a little of the pain but on the inside I was living for the next drink. I am goal oriented and my goals were getting to Mondays, Thursdays and every other weekend because then I could numb the incredible pain I was in and find relief.

18 months ago that relief and those compartments started cracking and caving in on me. And actually, they started cracking a few months earlier and I knew I was headed in a terribly wrong direction. God was the last person I was trying to earnestly seek. I was in church every Sunday and without fail, I would end in tears crying out for God to rescue me and through my tears He would lovingly say, “Give me your life and you are saved.” Unfortunately, I was unwilling to give Him my life. I was more interested in the pain and feeling cheated in life than I was in facing my responsibilities fully and earnestly seeking Him. I wanted the easy way out and I knew God wanted the hard work. I wanted Him to rescue me and He wanted to transform me. I wanted to keep being angry and destructive and He wanted me to love and seek.

Pain is a scary place if you aren’t very careful. Pain has to be fixed, it has to be numbed and it reveals a problem which has to be fixed. My pain was over the sudden death of my mom who was the manager of my life even though I was an adult. My pain was over having to actually be an adult and face my responsibilities just like most other adults. My pain was over losing the one person who always made excuses for me. My pain was over losing my mom who had been my friend and caretaker. My pain was selfishness and self-centered and it turned to anger in an instant and I wasn’t careful. There’s a verse in 1 Corinthians 15:33 which says, “bad company corrupts good character,” and I fully believe that bad company is waiting on every corner. Bad company is pretty, it’s handsome, it looks like the right thing but it is deceptive and it is fatal. Bad company may not kill your flesh but it will kill your soul and your peace because it keeps you from faith and it keeps you from earnestly seeking God.

I gave my heart and devotion to people and things which were bad company and I had replaced God. I felt that God had no place in my life because He was mean and hurtful. I desperately longed to feel close to Him but for a time was completely unwilling to do what He was asking me to do: give Him my life. Giving God my life, earnestly seeking Him, meant giving up people and things I thought I loved. (I say “thought” because that’s the most accurate description. I didn’t really love, I used.) Earnestly seeking God meant that I would have to trust that He really did love me and that He really was going to rescue me. Earnestly seeking Him meant that I would have to let him tear down all the compartment walls I had built and that was terrifying.

Giving my life to God was a 2 minute action. I made a phone call, ended a friendship and determined right then that God was my priority. Done! Earnestly seeking God, however, is a moment by moment activity that soaks up my life more and more every day. Yes, I am credit card debt free and I do believe that is a reward for me but that is not where the rewards stops. I am alcohol free (none since November 9, 2011)! I am bad company free! I am pain free! I am anger free! I am fear free! I AM FREE!!!  Activating my faith and earnestly seeking God has been a challenging and sometimes painful process and the result is my freedom. I am free to love God. I am free to love people. I am free to live the life God created me to live. I am free to NOT have compartments in my life. I am free to be a member of my family in a way I never was able before. I am free to be a better parent.

Are you free? Are you activating your faith so that you can earnestly seek God? If you answered yes, then amen and pass the hugs ‘cuz your life is like mine and God is in control and you are receiving every drop of His precious and amazing love. If you answered no, make the necessary changes. God is going to rescue you but you have to turn to Him. You have to truthfully and intentionally give your hurt, your pain, your anger, your whatever to God because He is bigger than it and He will rescue you.

If you are struggling with seeking God, please email me so I can pray with you. I know what the bondage of sin feels like and it stinks. I know what it’s like to wrestle with God and not feel like you can give up bad company because your heart is involved and it hurts. I want so badly for you to feel this freedom and I know how you can, I just want to show you God. God is so good, try Him and see.

Live in the love, grace, peace and mercy of our most amazing Father and Redeemer.

Love you,

KA 🙂

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Love’s Recordkeeping

“it keeps no record of wrongs.” I Corinthians 13:5

God has blessed me with an amazing gift…forgetfulness. I know, it sounds crazy to call forgetfulness a gift but in my case it is. I forget wrongs committed against me almost the second after they are done. It’s true! I can remember some wrongs done to me if I try hard but even then, I don’t have much if any emotion connected to the memory. You know that old saying, “forgive and forget”? Well, I do both pretty much at the same time immediately and I’m thankful.

Here’s the interesting thing about my forgetful heart…it only applies to other people and not myself. When it comes to myself and my actions I have a great memory of the things I’ve done that I wish I hadn’t and I’m guessing most of us are the same way. It’s easy to forgive someone else yet incredibly hard to forgive ourselves. However, I am convinced that the longer we hold on to shame and regret the longer we are living in slavery and bondage to the past and the less close we can be with God. Here are a few verses that I believe we need to apply to ourselves and forgive ourselves in order to allow the freedom to love others, and to love God, reign in our lives.

“The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’. There is no commandment greater than these.” Jesus speaking in Mark 12:31

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:18

“It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:7 Paul is speaking of Love.

These are beautiful descriptors of love and I think for the most part when we read them we believe them to be telling us how to love others. While this is true, it is also true that they are showing us how to love ourselves. When Jesus told us to love others the same way we love ourselves, doesn’t it seem to imply there is a level of self-love going on? Not arrogant, boastful, mean “love” but rather, protecting, trusting, hoping, persevering love.

God’s love is unconditional. No matter what you’ve done in your past, what you’re doing in your present or what you’ll do in your future, God’s love is unending, steadfast and unconditional. Your actions, both good and bad, have no impact on God’s love for you. He’s provided forgiveness before you even need it. Do you feel that? Do you grasp that? Your past, present and future actions, good and bad, don’t draw or repel God. (Say this out loud and personalize it by starting with “My”.) Here’s what does happen though, your past, present and future actions, good and bad, draw or repel YOU to or from God. You cause yourself to be further away from God when you don’t love yourself, when you don’t forgive yourself, when you beat yourself up. If love keeps no record of wrongs, then if you love yourself you won’t keep your own internal record of wrongs. God has taken our sin, our mistakes, our regrets and thrown them as far as the “east is from the west”. (Psalm 103:12) Do you get it? Do you get that the east and west never meet?

God knows everything about us and He loves us. God knows how we are formed (Psalm 103:14) and that we sin, and yet He sent His Son to die for us in the midst of our sin (Romans 5:8). My heart’s cry is for you to draw close to God and in order to do that you must let go of your shame and love yourself with a love that keeps no record of wrongs. Give your wrongs to God and let Him throw them as far as the east is from the west. Seek forgiveness for those things you haven’t yet, make the changes you know He wants you to make in your life and then experience His peace and love for you in a new way and not through a filter of shame and regret over past actions.

I am learning to truly receive the forgiveness and love God has for me and stop punishing myself for sin and past mistakes. It’s not easy and yet it is necessary. God loves us so much and He wants to be close to us and so we need to let go. You can’t change your past all you can do is change your present and your future. I don’t know about you but I want all the freedom, forgiveness and love God wants to pour out on my life!

Love keeps no record of wrongs. If you struggle with keeping a record of wrongs for yourself, or for others, I encourage you to write these simple words down on a 3×5 card and tape it somewhere you will see it throughout the day. Ask God to help you change your record keeping and to help you focus on all that He has done for you.If I can pray with you, please email me at kaprayingforyou@gmail.com.

Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy.

Love you,

KA

Insurmountable

“and when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all the days of harvest), the waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were completely cut off. So the people crossed opposite Jericho. And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had finished crossing the Jordan.” Joshua 3:15-17

Insurmountable. Insurmountable means that the task at hand is just too great to overcome. How many times do we feel God moving us in a direction and our first reaction is….no way! I can’t do that! I’m not equipped to talk to those people! I can’t move my family there! There are hundreds, probably thousands, of “no” answers we give because we feel the thing God is asking us to do is insurmountable. And in the end, it’s an issue of trust because it’s not so much that we think we CAN’T do something, it’s that we don’t think God CAN. It’s easy to follow God when it’s easy right? I can trust God to get me to church on Sunday. I can trust God to help me have a challenging conversation. I can trust God to help me rearrange my schedule to have more quiet time with him.

When the stakes are low, the trust is high. But our God, the God of Adam, Abraham, Noah, Esther, Moses, Joshua,  Rahab, David, Jesus, is not a God of low stakes. I’m not saying that God will only call us to high stakes tasks, I am saying that God is not bound to consider the stakes at all, He’s just calling. It was no suprise to Him that the Israelites would have to cross the Jordan at a time when the river was at its highest, but I’m willing to bet it was a surprise to them. Can’t you just hear the crowds asking each other how on earth they were going to get across the raging river? Don’t you just hear some of them talking about how crazy Joshua must be! And I’m certain the last one in line thought they had the best place because they would see what was going to happen first and then be able to make another plan. Of course, the Bible doesn’t tell us any of that so it’s just my imagination playing with the words but I’m sure some of the Israelites were wondering how God was going to help them face this seemingly insurmountable task. And just like God, He does it in a big way! He creates a holy dam with a wall of water and they just walk through on dry ground. Who saw that coming?? The insurmountable now became the surmountable and once again God shows He’s got a plan AND the power to see the plan to fruition.

Do you have a raging river in your life right now that you are facing? Are you trying to figure out how to cross it? Stop. Stop trying to figure out a human answer to God’s super-human call and just listen for His instruction. He didn’t lead the Israelits to the river and then say, “Ok kids…today’s challenge is how do thousands of people cross a raging river!” He simply told Joshua to lead the priests to take a step into the river and then wait for God to show His answer. The insurmountable is always surmountable when it is God’s call on your life. Don’t look at the circumstance and get frightened…step into the circumstance and see what God will do. There’s no question that if He’s calling you to do something then He’s there with you and He’s already got the path laid out. Step into the river, step into the circumstance, trust.

If you need a prayer partner please email me at kaprayingforyou@gmail.com. Live in God’s love, grace, peace and mercy. There’s freedom in life once you let God fully take charge of your path and lead into the raging rivers.

Love you,

KA 🙂