Several years ago, someone hacked into my online accounts, deleting them from the Internet without a trace. Back then, I was running an online ministry (of sorts) that included a blog, Gmail, twitter and Facebook under the name, “LeadHership.” In the days that ensued, I neglected my priorities as I obsessed to get it all restored. But it would not be. It was unretrievable. In all that haze, one thing was becoming clear: I needed closure. And (for me) that would only be through one way: forgiveness. The kind of forgiveness that hurts before it heals and doesn’t happen at microwave-speed but crock-pot speed! As I look back, there were (approx) 5 things I did to forgive…
1) Christian Therapy. Forgiveness is straining, stanky and messy. The therapist office is where we can proverbially projectile-vomit without having to clean it up or put it back in.
2) Prayer. Even if it was a simpleton-prayer like, “Lord you love them. Help me.” A God-heart will prevail in a hurt-heart, if the currents of prayer are running through it.
3) Read. “Choosing Forgiveness,” “Exquisite Agony,” “Total Forgiveness,” and “Forgive and Forget” were healing salves, in paperback.
4) Set a goal. My goal (thanks to my Christian therapist) was to get my HEART to the point where it could say to the hurter, “I wish you well.”
5) Ask Jesus. I had a lot of questions no one had answers to. But Jesus (who asked “why?” in Matthew 27) knew what it was like. Since He resides in my heart—I knew He was closer to my “why’s” than anyone on the outside.
So on a crock-pot slowwwwww setting, eventually God helped my heart get to a place where it could wish the hurter well; let go of “LeadHership” (which was actually His in the first place!) and slowly stir up something new…or should I say wondherful? 😉
I’ve heard it said, “Praying is the least you can do.” SMH. Now that I’m half-way through my (hopeful) century on this planet, I’d say many times, prayer was the most I could do. Let’s say someone in your immediate family is battling addiction, and in a classic cycle: lying, inventing excuses, straining relationships, impulsivity, erratic and/or violent behavior, codependency, enabling, and financially desperate. Generally speaking, experts would say don’t give them money, lest it feed their addiction. Wisdom would say don’t let them back in your home if they’ve disrupted it, lest someone get hurt or something get damaged. Love would say don’t give them what they need, lest we create enablers out of our well-intention selves. Well, gheesh! If these options aren’t options then prayer literally is the MOST I can do! And prayer isn’t to a statue or a person who is imperfect, conditionally loving and temporary. Prayer is to the One who is perfect, unconditionally loving and eternal! Prayer is to my personal Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, who has never changed and STILL answers prayers, heals, mends, sets free, performs miracles, and collects every tear. Maybe my hands are fundamentally tied with what I can do, but spiritually, nothing is impossible with God! Praying for that family member calls down the Savior of the world to a situation I can not save, and a life I can not rescue, but Jesus Christ can do both. When we pray for someone, we may be the ONLY one in the entire human-race who is at that moment…or who is at all. Let’s never reduce it to “the least we can do.” It’s always worth it to pause and pray. I’ve never regretted praying about something or someone. I’ll end with three simple words from God’s Word: Never. Stop. Praying. (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
Love is a huge subject, and when it comes to God, He displays his love in huge ways: creating everything in six days, parting the Red Sea, sending Himself to die for the sins of every human, and having the power to come back to life. But how does God display his love in little ways? I think God does when He showcases it on unknowns: a man with leprosy, a mother-in-law, a bleeding woman, a mute man, a man with a shriveled hand, a woman at the well, a boy with a demon, and a demon-possessed man. Do we realize the insignificance of these people? They don’t even have names! But I don’t think that’s the question. The question is: “Do we realize their significance to God? To help distinguish, let’s juxtapose who He picked to showcase His love, to who he didn’t pick: A-list celebrities, viral YouTuber’s, Athlete All-Stars, People’s Most Sexiest or Twitter’s Most Trending. In the Gospels, out of twenty-two miracles Jesus performed, twenty were for unknowns. Today, we may not be performing miracles, but we ARE made in the image of God who does. Maybe some of our biggest ways to showcase God’s love are through (and for) the unknown’s opportunity. Maybe the one who everyone else has overlooked, God has personally preserved and reserved just for you. For you to be the first (and maybe only) one to show them how much God loves them. You know what I hadn’t thought of til now? The unconditional, unwavering, everlasting, perfect love of Jesus Christ is the same whether I show it to a famous millionaire or an unknown beggar. It is HIS LOVE that is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow–not mine or yours! You feelin me? If you are, maybe we can pray this together: “Lord, help me find ones no one is noticing and find ways to love them. Amen.“
Have you ever noticed we never see that kind of post? We post about going to work, school, church, shopping, vacation, but who’s posting about going to their counseling appointment? If you know me at all, you know I unashamedly advocate christian-counseling. There are no numbers I give out more than the psychologists,’ psychiatrists,’ and counselors,’ contacts in my iPhone. As long as I’m breathing, christian-counseling is what I’ll be shouting. How can I be so bold? Because I’m not just an advocate petting a good cause. I’m a satisfied, (literal) life-long customer. I had my first session when I was eight years old, after I penned a letter to my grandparents saying I wanted to die. Thanks to my parents for having the smarts to know I needed to talk to someone. For 37 years, I haven’t felt shame with counseling because I haven’t distinguished it from any other professional I’d see for any other organ in my body that was struggling. FurtherMORE, it’s biblical! Proverbs 15:22 says, “Without counsel, plans go awry, But in the multitude of counselors they are established.” God Himself, authored verses about counseling in the Book of Life. Why? Because He made us, and our brains, and knew we’d need it. We all have garbage we need to dump. I can’t think of a better landfill than a God-filled, spirit-led, judgement-free, 100%-confidential counselor’s office. If you don’t have one, and need one, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’ll do my best to help you find one. I hope this encourages someone today!
Several years ago, DJ and Andy found a tadpole. They didn’t want it to die, so they put it in a bucket. They didn’t want it to be thirsty, so they put water in the bucket. They didn’t want it to be hungry so they put a bug in the bucket. They didn’t want it to be cold, so they put a fabric-softener sheet in the bucket. They didn’t want it to be bored, so they put leaves to jump on in the bucket. They didn’t want it to sink, so they put water to the top of the bucket. The frog jumped out. I think life’s like that bucket, and we’re like that tadpole. God gives us all the provision we need. And everything we think we need? He knows the even-better of it. When we are in his Kingdom (bucket), we will never be neglected by the King. He will tirelessly and eternally care for you and me. He will even go to the extreme to jump out of the bucket to die, so we can be saved. Even still, some tadpoles won’t want the provision and safety of His bucket, and will choose to jump out. Or worse, reject His hands that want to catch them and put them back in. Today, if you’re a tadpole in the bucket, thank HIM!!! And never forget to tell others–so they may know Him too.
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I ran to the store to buy a case of water. I was in aisle 2B when Jesus walked up to me. He began to share with me everything I had ever done, thought, felt and said. Things that only my secrets knew–He made known in laser detail. Then, there in the aisle, Jesus made an offer to join me in the journey for the rest of my life. I can’t explain why, but saying “no” was nowhere to be found. I emphatically and excitedly said, “YES!” I felt this warm, oceanic wave move through my body, from head to toe. As if years of dirt and stain succumbed to its cleansing salt-waters. I was so excited about this NEW me, I blurted, “can I get a selfie?!” Jesus obliged. Still excited, without saying bye and without my water, I took off. When I got home, I told everyone at our house about Jesus. I grabbed my phone and tweeted, Facebook’ed, and Instagrammed our selfie and convo. The next day, I wasn’t done! I told my trainer at the gym, my barista at the smoothie place, and my nail tech at the salon. Sound familiar? It should because it’s what happened in John 4. And when you read it, you learn Jesus didn’t tell her to go tell everybody. SHE WANTED TO! This begs the question: am I occasionally and casually sharing my faith with a few? Or emphatically and passionately finding every possible way to share Him with everyone? Lord, infuse me with excitement. Let me leave proverbial water behind to run and tell as many as I can about the best Living Water of All Time!
“I am praying to you because I know you will answer, O God.”