I recently spent some time sharing with a sweet group of ladies in Wisconsin at a retreat setting. It was lovely and Wisconsin is a beautiful state (especially in the north central part.) One of the things that I shared how I came to a place of being sick and tired of going around and around the mountain and making the same mistakes over and over again and again!!! Thankfully this has ignited my desire to draw closer to God. I knew that God had something so much sweeter for my life but that I would have to jump some hurdles to get there.
For me, it was a matter of learning to lay down my pride, and acknowledge that I could no longer rely on my own resources to keep from making the same mistakes over and over again. Don’t you just hate it when you are in repeat mode? You self-talk asking God to never let it happen again and then boom, repeat. It is embarrassing to continually do, react or forge ahead and then realize that you have been on this pathway before! For instance, my marriage was not going to improve unless I was willing to work on me. My tendency to be judgmental and critical of others was not going to stop until I realized that I had to make a very purposeful choice not to look at others comparing myself with them and criticize. My ministry was not going to go forth until I was willing to be honest with my struggles and work on allowing the Lord to refine me in the furnace of His love, being content knowing that He would use me right where I was. You see, God really wants us to flourish and grow and go forth in His name and for His purposes. And finally that I would stay committed to relationships with Him, my husband, children, work and friends to the best of my abilities and most of the time. Not in my strength but in His.
Where God was and is concerned, I had to make a choice (and daily make that choice) to spend time with Him first and foremost! This is where I have learned the answers to the hard things involving all my relationships. Learning to love my husband in a fresh way unlike I never had before. Friends, it has changed our relationship! I suppose realizing that I cannot control anybody but me is nothing really new but God made it fresh for me as I focused on what I could do to better our relationship instead of expecting and demanding that my husband needed to change. I am only able to change me!!! With my children it was similar in that I could not control their lives like I used to try to do to keep them from learning the hard way like I did. They have to learn their life lessons in the same way I have, through their own choices and mistakes.
Work was merely a matter of being content where God had placed me. I am not one who enjoys confrontation and a few years back we had a lot of confrontation going on and frankly I wanted out. Not realizing that God was up to some big and exciting things that I could have very well missed out on. So every interesting job posting that became available in town I would apply for. But God certainly had something else in mind. He has kept me at Psalm 99:5 Radio to serve in the capacity of the office administration and for over 20 years now I have been part of a very exciting ministry including "the Vertical Connection". For the past six years as I have hosted a two hour radio program to encourage listeners to draw near to the Father’s heart. A side note of thanks to a former employee who saw something in me that I never dreamed I could do, thanks Gene! We just never know where God is going to take us and sometimes He takes us kicking and screaming while saying “I can’t do that!”
These tests and trials that come through our relationships with others, whether they be Christian or not, really matter to God. We are members of a body. We are not all the same (thankfully) and we have so much to offer each other but more importantly people are the litmus test of getting this God-walk right! I know we are all in process and we do not have it perfect this side of glory, but, how we treat each other is crucial from the stand point that the outside world looks at us in expectation that we know how to do it right. I think the song says that “They will know we are Christians by our love…” and we do know how to do it right. But the question is will I choose to do it the way I have been instructed and shown from God Himself through Christ? Or will I continue to circle around the mountain again and again never taking the next step upward?
We can always justify our actions whether anger, jealousy, injustice or whatever other reason that is out there. But as my dear friend and I were sharing recently, the bottom line is we are responsible for making the right choice. By doing so we deny the flesh and by doing this we allow the flow of the healing balm of reconciliation to be applied to whatever the offense was that tore us apart.
I sure am grateful that our Father and Creator, Who is fully aware of our short comings and struggles. And although we will continue to make wrong choices it is certain that we will make less wrong and many more correct as we purpose to serve and spend time allowing the Lord to change who we are into the image of His Son Jesus. I know how hard it is, believe me, but for me I am now at a place where I have tasted the sweet rewards of my Father when I do it right and I would rather walk up the mountain than let my frustrations and disappointments continue to hold me back because of repeating the same mistake time and time again, keeping me at the baseline. Henceforth, going round and round the mountain!
“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma”.
Father, You know the sorrow that plagues me when I mess up. I can only imagine the disappointment that You must feel when I have to take the same test over and over again. I truly have set my sites on You and I really want to show others just how much You love them by the way I live my life and treat others. To be Your representative I ask that You give me the courage to change me and I surrender my frustrations and all that I think is justified in exchange for Your grace and ask that You would help me to humbly wear Your love for others…in Jesus’ Name.