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The Old Path

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I am not sure how long I had been on the old and dried dirt path.  My feet and legs were growing tired and the sun was beating down on that red, Virginian clay with no mercy.  My sandaled feet were ever so tired, I was parched from the dust and the relentless heat, and it was taking so very long to get home.  I prayed, “Lord, how much longer do we have to go on this old and dusty path?”  All I could hear were the Locust singing and announcing that Winter was to be very long and cold…or at least that was the talk of the old folk at the end of each hot summer.

We don’t always start out on an old path, now do we?  No, we start out welcoming the Springs and Summers of our life.  We are vibrant and have endless amounts of energy and good health to use said energy.  Working hard and playing even harder is what fills our days.  We don’t grow tired of such a life…when we are young.

At the right and appointed time, we marry and have children.  The path is still lined with green shade trees and we don’t mind so much the heat of the day or the bit of sweat that has beaded up on the bridge of our noses.  We work even harder and then on the weekends, we gather with family and friends on the banks of a cool lake or river and enjoy the laughter all around of our families.  Life really couldn’t get any better than this…or worse.  And, as the path weaves along, we add the wedding of our children and the birth of our grandchildren…no, the path, and the journey have all been relatively easy.

But, that path does become dusty — the earth becomes cracked and those crevices swallow up parents and friends and some times our life partner.  Now we are walking it alone and we are tired and we are worn and our health is declining so rapidly.  “Lord, how much longer?”  He whispers a response to my soul, “A bit farther child…a bit more.”  “Oh, Father, I can’t walk anymore — my feet hurt and I am thirsty — I want to rest now.”

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

I don’t know how much farther I have to go, but I know that He is with me and His grace is sufficient for my every need.  So, I continue walking and as I do, the Locusts are singing loudly of the coming Winter and I know the journey is coming to an end and I’ll be finally Home.

“But He knows the way I take; When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. “My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His way and not turned aside. Job 23:10-11

 

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A Measure of Faith and His Easy Yoke

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I was chatting with a life-long friend today and what joy it was to catch up with her and each other’s lives.  It is so easy for the dailiness of life to keep us from sitting and visiting for a spell.  Usually what binds us together with friends is commonality — faith, family life, and many other things that fill us and shape who we are and how we bond relationships.

Some of those things that bind me with my friend are first and foremost our faith in Christ Jesus, but then we both have one child and both boys.  We’ve each only been married once and have had beautiful marriages with Godly men.  We love music and crafts and French Country decor — the list goes on.  Yet, in the commonality, we’ve both had to walk parallel, but different paths.

Our sons, though raised similarly, have chosen different paths — one in Christ and the other away from Christ.  About ten years ago, she buried her dear husband…a grief that weighs still so heavily over her soul.  She is now alone — her son is not very attentive — friends have come and gone — well, for her life has been “unfair” it seems.  Is that true?  I don’t think so and this is why!

In Romans 12:3, Paul tells us:

For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith.

 

Commentator, F. B. Myers said, “that God deals out according to the measure of our faith. Let us ask that it may be “pressed down and running over.”  To me, this means that my friend was given God’s best for her.  He, in His merciful sovereignty, gave her the burden and load she must carry.  It is not unfair or unkind because all throughout Scripture we are reminded of His provision and His grace to help us bear our burdens.  Jesus said in Matthew:

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Nowhere have I found in Scripture that says we will not have trials and burdens or that we would not be laden down with them.  Instead, we are promised that “His grace is sufficient” to help us bear them.  Paul reminds us of this and through his own trial:

“And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

How can one be content with weaknesses and insults and grief or children not walking according to God’s Word??  Paul told us, “It is for Christ’s sake.”  It’s not for our sake or to make us appear better than we are…It is for Christ’s sake.  It is for God’s glory and His alone.  We can boast in these weaknesses because of Christ!

Sufficiency in Christ Jesus — isn’t it so daily?  Each day is given to us by Him and for Him — He is sufficient for our every need.  Some days that is harder and some days it is not, but every day that we rely on His sufficiency and His grace — when we take His yoke upon us and learn from Him, Jesus said that “you will find rest.”  That, my friend, is a promise with certainty!  Jesus didn’t say you might find it, He said, “YOU WILL FIND IT.”

My friend will most likely awake tomorrow, Lord willing, and find her heart grieving and her home loudly quiet.  God, in His rich mercy and love for her, has given her that portion.  He loves her and His grace is sufficient for her and it is sufficient for you and it is sufficient for me.  Rest in that sufficiency today and do it to the glory of God.

 

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Contentment in Christ – Letting Go of Bitterness

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Bitterness has a certain ability to take root in the depths of our beings.  When we have experienced woundedness in our lives (and we all have), often we allow that woundedness to cause us to be bitter and it seeps into other areas of our lives.  Bitterness can keep us from being overcomers in Christ Jesus.

I have experienced in my own life things that have caused trauma and disruption.  I have allowed it to affect many places — relationships, experiences, and peace.  There have been times when it has kept me from getting involved in ministry, as I should.  Too often, I’ve allowed it to hedge a barrier around my heart so that I would not be wounded again.  This is not how we are intended to live as followers of Christ.

When Joseph was left for dead and then sold into slavery by his brothers, he proclaimed to them years after serving in Pharoah’s court in Egypt:

“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.”  Genesis 50:20

However, he did not say this to them in a vacuum — he said it after he had been mistreated, accused of rape, imprisoned for that false accusation, and seeing his brothers again.  Before he could even reveal himself to them and upon seeing his favored brother, Benjamin, we are told that:

“Joseph hurried out for he was deeply stirred over his brother, and he sought a place to weep; and he entered his chamber and wept there.” Genesis 43:30

Joseph most assuredly missed his family — he had been treated horribly by others and his brothers and in Pharoah’s court, but he didn’t allow bitterness to take root in his soul.  After he wept, the Scripture tells us that:

“Then he washed his face and came out; and he controlled himself and said, “Serve the meal.” So they served him by himself, and them by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because the Egyptians could not eat bread with the Hebrews, for that is loathsome to the Egyptians. Now they were seated before him, the firstborn according to his birthright and the youngest according to his youth, and the men looked at one another in astonishment. He took portions to them from his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him.” Genesis 43:31-34

Imagine inviting the person or persons who have caused you great distress and woundedness to come and dine with you in your home!  Beloved, only God can work such an invitation and response.  The change is wrought by Him and He only; for to take on the image of our Father, requires Him to change us — He is the one who is loving and merciful and gracious, and when we mirror those attributes of God, we can forgive!  However, not just forgiveness, but restoration.

This is what Christ has done for us!  He has taken our sin upon Himself, forgiven us when we repent and restored us to a right relationship with the Father.  Because of Christ’s finished work on the cross — because Jesus has forgiven me and restored me — I can forgive and should!

I pray that you can find healing with the balm of forgiveness and root out the bitterness you may be harboring in your heart.  It is possible, but only through Christ Jesus!

Solo Christo!