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Monday, November 12, 2018

A Love Like This

 I have not posted in so long- I have been more focused on writing for publications- I have a Facebook page titled "Ever Upward." It includes all of my published works! With that being said, I apologize. I will also have an updated site by the new year. Let's get to the actual post though, shall we?

Have you ever stopped and paused for a moment to reflect on all the times that God seemed to deliver you from bad circumstances? Did you just happen to walk out of a store that was robbed a few minutes later? Or have you almost gotten into an accident but somehow managed to avoid it at the last minute, wondering how you managed to react in time? Have you come face to face with a criminal and been spared? Or maybe you made a last minute decision that affected your life positively.

I recently did this after seeing God's ever present hand guiding me through a certain situation. And it led to the realization of how many times He has intervened to spare my life- the time I was a victim to a crime, the time I felt someone was following me, the times that I have just missed incidents or an accident. And it got me thinking, just how many times has God spared me from death here on earth that I don't even know about? And Why would He even care about me? was my next question.

The only answer I have to that is the beauty of why we worship God- He loves those who believe in Him, taking very good care of His own. And it's not just that he cares for us. It's that He continues to protect and lead us even when we have failed to obey Him, to be in the Word and in prayer. He has every right to abandon us for failing Him, yet He doesn't. His love remains.

This was seen in the Old Testament when God took care of the Israelites even though they had turned their back against Him and decided to go off and do their own thing. He could have turned His back on them, but He did not.

"For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, 'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.' But you were unwilling, and you said, 'No! We will flee upon horses'; therefore you shall flee away . . . the LORD waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. " Isaiah 30:15-18

The Israelites decided to live life without God. Imagine turning your back on the person who has delivered you from so many tragedies, who has guided and held you your whole life and instead you basically spit in his face and walk away. They walked away from something good and turned around to live a life without God that appeared good on the surface, but was ultimately a regretful and poor choice. It cost them their life! And yet even through this, God still waited for them to return. He waited for them while they went off and lived in sin. He waited for them to come back and do the right thing.

We don't deserve to be taken care of at all. God is holy. We are far from it. I think about the things I do on a regular basis and the sinful thoughts I have. The times I neglect the Word and prayer. The times something unimportant takes precedence in my life over God. And yet still, this God cares about me, even when I don't seem to care about Him. This is the greatest love I have ever experienced. It's the best love. How could you deny a God who loves you like this?

And so I was left with that, recognizing that with my God, I'm always protected and cared for. No matter what else happens around me, God is always with me. I don't need to worry about a thing. I don't need to fear anything. I can rest knowing that God will take care of me even when no one else will. God's love for us deserves our all.  So I can't just reflect, marvel at it, and then walk away, can I? What a hypocrite I would be! No, I must give Him my all everyday. I must do my best to place Him first in all things. As should you.

I'd encourage you to examine your life and the times that you clearly saw God's hand of mercy and protection upon your life. It's such a convicting and powerful thing to behold, truly life changing. And after reflecting, go out and serve the God who saved you. The God who loves you!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Eternal Satisfaction

Sometimes people are shocked when I say, "I don't drink- I'm a teetotaler." I think others think that I'm regretful I never partied hard or tried drugs in high school- because I never did. And clubbing? Nah. No regrets- for any of those. I made a choice not to participate in those things, mostly because they are not appealing to me in any way shape or form, but also because, as a Christian, my life is dedicated to Christ.

And that further begs the question others seem to have, "Why?"

Well to that I say, "Why not?"

I know what it's like to be at the "end of your rope," to be depressed, to lack a future, to be lonely, to experience failure, to be rejected, to lose loved ones, to break down, to be hurt. I know what it's like to have everything you love completely stripped away from you, to be stuck at nothing- a bleak future with no one to confide in because no one cares. I know what it's like to have a hardship pressing on your heart so badly but your sole confidence couldn't care less, so you have to keep those issues to yourself. This was especially true when my mother had a cancer scare- nobody cared. I knew it. I saw it. It hurt. I was in pain- I'm an only child. How does it feel to continue on in life with perhaps just one parent and no one else very close? But still, nobody cared.

I have experienced all of these things, and yet I am not completely destroyed by them because of my faith in God. The "person" who has been there at the end of my rope, when everything I loved was taken from me, is God. He was there in my depression. He was there when my future was uncertain. He was there when my best friend left me. He was there when I failed for the first time in my life- such a deeply-ingrained failure I will never forget. He was there when I was rejected by someone I thought cared about me. He was there when my grandfather and my friend's brother died. He was there when I felt the stress and pressure were too much for me, and I couldn't take it anymore. He was there every time I was hurt by a human being, when no one else was.

All of those experiences brought me to God- to see his great love for me, for you. To see the miracles he works in the midst of hardships. To see that darkness ends, light begins. To see what matters most in life.

Each event drew me closer- How can I refuse such a loving God? And that wasn't the reason why I became a Christian- we don't become Christians to improve our lives or so that we will be happy all of the time. That's obviously not what my life has been. I became a Christian because I wanted to follow Christ- I didn't want the world. I knew that materialism couldn't satisfy my greatest need. Neither can friends, family, or love. Believe me, I've tried them. They always let you down. And if you find yourself highly contented with either of the above, I can guarantee the feeling will be short-lived. No, I wanted the One thing that would fulfill my empty soul eternally. I wanted to be forgiven of the miserable way I have treated God and my sins- because they are many. I wanted to please God, to call Him for my very own. He has been sufficient.

Being a Christian has been very difficult, as problems don't automatically disappear, but life has become bearable. I can face each day because of God's strength. I understand the purpose of life now. I'm not afraid of my future because He guides it.

And perhaps you feel content right now with all of your stuff. One day you won't though. I can guarantee that. One day, you will be at the end of your rope and come to a point where it's decision time. Will you accept Christ as your deliverer or will you reject His help and go your own way? Don't let yourself get to that point before making a decision; sometimes we don't even have that much time to decide. You never know what's going to happen. Accept the satisfying God who never fails. He's never failed me once- He's always been there in the good and bad times, and He will be there for you too, if you just let Him.

No regrets.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

A Glimpse of Hope in Suffering

Christ guarantees the believer will suffer- salvation doesn't make life's trials disappear. It makes them bearable. Nobody wants to hear they will suffer. Nobody wants to continue groveling in the pit of despair. It's miserable. We want to hear of the way to get out. But did you know that God promises us one thing during our suffering?

He promises to comfort us.

2 Corinthians 1:1-7 reveals this promise:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as we share abundantly in Christ's sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.  If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer. Our hope for you is unshaken, for we know that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in our comfort.

There's an end to the suffering- comfort. Isn't that wonderful? The pain you experience now will be relieved. The end is in sight. We don't have to wonder if the pain will ever end because it will. We are promised final comfort. We may not get what we want from the situation. It may not turn out as we had hoped, but in the end, it will be okay because we will be comforted.

And what's more is that you who are suffering are suffering to be comforted by those who have suffered through the same trials. You're not alone. You never will be. Someone else has walked in your shoes. God enabled them to do so to comfort you, ultimately His comfort sent down to you. And once your suffering is over with, you are used to comfort those are going through what has now ended for you.

Don't lose hope. This passage unveils a beautiful promise that the future will be better. There is no need to be discouraged to the point of death because you will soon be comforted!