Dear Fellow “Lost” Wanderers….

I wrote a post recently about feeling lost.  Feeling like there was more for me out there and not feeling fulfilled until I get there.  Just struggling with a lot of feelings about life and the turns it’s taken.

I was overwhelmed with the responses via comments, emails and facebook messages.  I got responses from people I never imagined would feel the same way I did.  Friends who I thought “had it all together” and loved life with no issues!  Was I wrong!

It got me thinking, there are probably a lot of us out here who feel like this at one time or another.  Maybe often or for long periods of time, maybe just for short seasons.

So, I wanted to look into the Bible and see who else may have felt this way and how it was handled.  I believe that God gave us the Bible to be able to learn from it, to hear His words to us, to relate to people who have been down our road and see what God has to say about it.

I thought I’d first look at Joseph.  You know, the one with the amazing technicolor dreamcoat?  I really like Joseph and his story, so I think that’s why he popped into my mind first.

Joseph had a very interesting life.  He was Jacob’s favorite son. This did not sit well with his brothers, as you can imagine!  Then, to heap on the reasons for them to hate him, Joseph tells his brothers he’s had dreams about his brothers.  Dreams where his brothers were bowing down to him.  The youngest!  As you can guess this did not sit well with the brothers!

To make matters even worse Jacob had a very special, colorful coat made just for him.  Have you ever seen movies that take place in Biblical times?  Most people are not wearing clothes with much color.  Their clothes are very brown, beige, bland colors.  Having clothes with COLOR was very special!

Between the way that Jacob treated Joseph and the dreams he had, I would think Joseph believed he was going to lead a special life.  A life filled with good things, maybe leadership of some kind, a life of favor.  I’m guessing he thought he had a special purpose, at least in his family (based on his dreams).

But that’s not exactly how his life played out.  His brothers sold him into slavery, told their dad he was dead, and separated Joseph from his beloved family for quite some time.

Joseph was sold to Potiphar, an Egyptian officer.  This is where things start looking up a little bit.  Remember though, not the road Joseph thought he would be on.  He was still separated from his family and sold as a slave.  However, God blessed Joseph in his “new life”.
          The Lord was with Joseph, so he succeeded in everything he did as he served in the home of his Egyptian master. 3 Potiphar noticed this and realized that the Lord was with Joseph, giving him success in everything he did.

But, for poor Joseph, every time things start looking up, they take a swift downward plumet.  Potiphar’s wife wanted Joseph.  In a bad way.  He would have none of it.  He knew that was wrong and honored Potiphar’s marriage.  Well, Mrs. Potiphar did not take kindly to being rejected and told her husband that Joseph tried to rape her!  This landed Joseph right in jail.

Can you imagine going from being second in command under Potiphar to being thrown in prison?  Talk about feeling lost and wondering where your life was going!

But, again, the Bible says that God was with Joseph and blessed him for honoring Him.  Joseph was put in charge over the prisoners and all that happened there.  God continued to put him in leadership, just not necessarily in the places that Joseph might have thought it would be.

God gave Joseph the ability to interpret dreams.  This served him well in jail and then again with the Pharaoh.  God gave Pharaoh a warning, through dreams, of a time of fest and a time of famine.  Pharaoh could see that God’s Spirit was at work in Joseph and put him in charge of the entire land of Egypt.  Quite a long way from being in prison!

Eventually, Joseph’s dreams dreamed as a teenager came true.  Without knowing it, his brothers came to him, bowing before him, asking for food during the years of famine.  Because Joseph had let God work in him so strongly, because he let God reign in his heart, he was able to forgive his brothers for their horrible treatment of him and his family was reunited.

Now, this story has a happy ending.  This may sound morbid, but I don’t believe that in real life we always get our happy ending.  I still believe God loves us and can be close with us, but we may not get “everything we ever wanted”.

But I think we can learn a lot from how Joseph handled these times when he could have wallowed in feelings of hopelessness, feelings of being lost and wandering aimlessly, wondering when God was going to use him the way he saw in his dreams.

Genesis 41:52 says: Joseph named his second son Ephraim, for he said, “God has made me fruitful in this land of my grief.”

I like how Joseph ACKNOWLEDGES that he dealt with grief.  We see him following God so well and it could be easy to think that he didn’t struggle with it.  This verse gives us a glimpse into his feelings and thoughts during those dark times.  It was a land of grief, BUT God was with him and made him fruitful.

Why was he fruitful?  I think it’s because he never lost his connection with God.  I know that sounds so trite, but I think Joseph really worked at that.  We see in his story how it says that God was with him in those dark times.  We see Joseph’s character.

He didn’t seem to become bitter.  He could have NOT interpreted those dreams.  He could have sat in the corner with his arms crossed and refused to do anything to help anyone who put him in prison.  But he chose to use what God had given him.

He COULD have gone ahead and had sex with Potiphar’s wife.  She asked him day after day after day to do so.  He could have done what she asked because of position as someone who could punish him (as she did).  He could have appeased her to save his own skin.  And I’m sure she wasn’t so bad to look at!  But he chose what GOD would have him to do.  He resisted the temptation.  He did what was right and stayed true to his character.  And it landed him in prison!  But he didn’t buckle under the pressure.

So, what does this mean for us who feel lost and wandering, wondering when we will be released from our “jail”?

  • Don’t give up.  Don’t turn our back on God even if we feel He has done that to us.  Maybe He’s still with us after all.  Maybe, just maybe, He does still love us and sees us and hasn’t forgotten about us and the dreams He’s given us in our hearts.
  • Use this time to refine our character.  It’d be so easy to get lazy, bitter, frustrated and hard hearted.  We have to fight that.  With all our strength we have to fight those feelings and choose a different path.
  • Let God use us where we are.  It may look WAY different than we thought or hoped it would be.  But it’s where we are, so we can choose to let God use us HERE or reject Him and miss out on seeing Him work and feeling His presence.  It’s our choice.
  • Don’t do all this expecting that perfect happy ending.  We may NOT get the big dreams we want or expected.  Do this because it’s what God is giving us right now.  Don’t rest on promises of something more.  Live in the day, the moment that God has given us now.  Whether that is in a pit, in a palace, or in prison, it’s where we are now.

That is a HARD list!  I don’t really like it too much.  But, as best as I can tell from where I’m sitting, that’s what I think God might be telling us, fellow wanderers, from Joseph’s story.

What do YOU think? 

A prayer for my family

I read this passage the other day.  I think it was actually on Tuesday night.  It really struck me.  I’m trying to pray it often for Tim, for Caleb, for “Baby Bubbles”, and for me.

So we have not stopped praying for you since we first heard about you. We ask God to give you complete knowledge of his will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding. Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit. All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.

Colossians 1:9-14

We ask God to give you complete knowledge of His will and give you spiritual wisdom and understanding.  Then the way you live will always honor and please the Lord, and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.  All the while, you will grow as you learn to know God better and better.  

WHO would NOT want that???  Wisdom and understanding…..such elusive commodities a lot of times.  I feel they are anyway.  And having “complete knowledge of His will”????  Uh, ya, I’ll take some of that!  Anyone else??

And this verse gives us a promise!  (Always look for those “thens”….and pay attention to what is before them!)  If we do A, then B will happen.  We will live lives of honor, we will please our loving Father, and our lives will produce good fruit.  Sounds pretty nice to me!

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.  May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father.

Endurance and patience….something our house desperately needs…anyone else??

So, I guess this is saying that being thankful leads to joy.  Hmmmmm……so maybe we should look for things to be thankful for.

I don’t know about you, but life is pretty intense right now.  It is V E R Y easy for us to find things to complain about, wish could be changed, lament over, etc.  O, so easy!  But there are also plenty of things we can find to be thankful for.  They may take a little more intentionality to find sometimes, but there are plenty there.

And when we turn our hearts to choose thankfulness, joy follows.

Just thought I’d pass along those verses.  I liked them, I thought you might too.

 

Grace, even for enemies

There has been a lot swirling around in my brain these last weeks. A LOT.  It’s hard to sort it all out sometimes, so I come here to write.

Grace.

Forgiveness.

Consequences.

Repentance.

Change.

Yup, nice light topics!  No wonder I haven’t been sleeping well! (Well, it could also be having to get up four times a night to pee because of this sweet little baby kickboxing my bladder while I try to sleep….ya know, maybe!)

In my last post I confessed my unforgiveness and my relapse as of late.  It ain’t pretty, but it’s the truth.

Why do we, as humans, think that forgiveness is earned?  Why do we want people to have to pay for us to forgive them?  How does that match up with Romans 5:8 – But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

I didn’t get all cleaned up and figure out how to never sin again….and THEN Jesus died for me.  No.  He died for me BECAUSE He knew I would sin.  I would hold on to anger, I would not extend forgiveness to those around me, I would gossip, I would judge…..the list goes on.

And Jesus died KNOWING FULL WELL that Tim would have an affair as a pastor.  And that she would be involved. (I would like to acknowledge her personhood by giving her name, but I don’t think that would be right so as to protect her privacy.)

He though of her too while He was dying.

It’s easy to go to church and sing the songs on Sunday mornings about God’s grace and love and think about ourselves.  And maybe even believe we DESERVE that grace and love we are singing about because, after all, we are in church!  So that means we are good enough, right?

But I’ve been struck while singing those songs, and listening to music, and reading verses in the Bible….that those words absolutely, 100%, completely apply to her too!

UGH!

Those same words that I take comfort in, God uses to offer her comfort too.  He wants to offer her hope, grace forgiveness, love, a future.  It’s her choice what to do with that offer, but He is offering it.

And, as far as Tim, withholding forgiveness and grace from him only hurts us.  It hurts me.  It’s not “teaching” him anything.  It’s not aiding in our healing.  It’s not going to “help him to not do this again”.  It does nothing but destroy.

He can’t earn it.  I have to give it.  Of my own CHOICE.  It’s not a feeling.  It’s a CHOICE.

I don’t have a nice little bow to put on this post today.  This is just what I’m wrestling with.  Wrestling so hard it’s exhausting me.

It’s in my head, but my heart is resisting learning the lesson.  So, in the meantime, my head and my heart wrestle.  There are bruises in the process.  But I believe one day soon my head will win and my heart will give in to what it knows is right and true.

But, today, we wrestle.

Let’s not forget

I was in the car the other day and a song came on that apparently starts with President Obama talking.  He was talking about 30 lost lives recently from the attack on the Seals division.  (I’m sorry to say I didn’t listen to the song, so I don’t know what it was attached to.)

It got me thinking about those lives lost.  The families and friends who are now having to deal with those beloved people not in their lives anymore.  The devastation, the grieving.

But my mind immediately went to those who lose their lives everyday and don’t get a tribute song on the radio.  Or news specials.  Or any recognition at all.

Now, before you fly off the handle and think this is going to be an un-patriotic, callous Gen-Xer writing about war….hang on.

I don’t think we should take away from the tribute to those who gave their lives in this war.

But I don’t want to forget the thousands of men, women and children who have to give their lives WITHOUT a choice.  Of course, these soldiers did NOT have a choice about when their lives would end in war.  However, since we are not drafting for this war, they did have a choice about whether or not they joined whatever branch they joined.  They knew the risks when they made that choice.

Does that make their death less tragic?  Of course not!  Death is never ok.

But I don’t want us to forget the children who are kidnapped, taken, sold, stolen and forced by torture and brainwashing to fight wars and tender young ages.  The 8, 10, 12, 16 year old boys carrying guns as big as they are.  At an age when they should be learning the value of life they are being forced to shoot at anyone who comes at them.

The men, women and CHILDREN who are forced and sold into forced labor with abhorrent working conditions.  Little to no pay, food, or rest working so many hours there’s almost no time for sleep.  And those who are forced and sold for their bodies.  Anyone who will pay for these young, innocent girls can do whatever they want to them.

And these people lose their lives too.  Their life is a LIFE.  A life that is extinguished long before it should be.  A life that is miserable, disregarded, beyond what my brain can even comprehend….and then it is taken from them.

And most of them had not choice.  They did not get to choose whether or not they would join the army and pick up a gun.  They did not get to choose where they would work and what they would do for hours and hours and hours.  They did not get to choose who they would allow to touch them and who they would share a bed with.

They had no choice.

And once they are in it, they often have no choice to get out.

Unless someone rescues them.  International Justice Mission does just that.  And there are so many other wonderful organizations who have the same goal!  Not for Sale is another amazing organization working to educate us and STOP this atrocity in our world.

I’m excited to make my first donation from VDub Designs very shortly here to keep my commitment to send 10% of anything I make to IJM.

So each time we hear of another soldier lost, and grieve with that family and those friends, let’s ALSO remember the thousands in our world right now who don’t have a voice.

Be their voice.  Pray for them.  Care for them.  They are also brave, beautiful, precious, VALUABLE human beings!  God sees them, let’s try to have His eyes and see them also!

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

Matthew 25:34-40

Book Review: “Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken”

I “met” Cindy Beall (virtually) through her blog back when Tim first confessed his affair.  I was referred to her blog as a resource to help me as I navigated this road.  I read through her story and was dumbfounded.  There were quite a few similarities in our stories.

Her husband was a pastor at Lifechurch.tv in Oklahoma.  He had had a porn addiction for many years and had multiple affairs while being a pastor.  His last affair resulted in a pregnancy.

As I read through her story on her blog I saw a ridiculous story of grace and hope.  Ridiculous (in a good way of course)!  She and Chris not only stayed together, but he became a pastor again at that same church, and they went on to have another child together.  AND if that wasn’t enough, she has befriended the mother of his child from the affair!!  If that doesn’t show God’s power, I don’t know what will!

Healing Your Marriage When Trust is Broken is Cindy’s first book (also available for Kindle) and has been quite a labor of love.  It is very hard to go back to those early days and recall those emotions, the thoughts, the memories, the pain, the struggles.  But she does that for us readers.  She retells them in a wonderful conversational writing style.  She is honest and open about what she felt, learned, and dealt with.

A nice bonus I wasn’t expecting was stories from other couples who have also walked this road.  She “interviews” them and allows them to tell their stories (in short form).  While Chris and Cindy’s story is so powerful and so amazing, she allows others to also tell their stories and show how God works in MANY marriages who have endured unfaithfulness.  Chris and Cindy aren’t just an anomaly.  God has done a crazy, mighty work in them….but He has done the same amazing work in many others’ lives too!

This isn’t just a book based on her experience.  It is a book based on her experience with GOD leading her through this journey of new life.  New life for them as individuals and new life for their marriage.  She supports the lessons she’s learned with God’s Word.  The Bible is not all about “warm-and-fuzzy-feel-good-verses”!  The verses in this book point to the hard truth that God gives about how to deal with betrayal and forgiveness.  God’s truth is always BEST, but it’s almost never easy.  The rewards in the end are MORE than worth the heartache….but there is often heartache, followed CLOSELY by God’s peace and comfort when doing the right thing.

This book was hard to read.  It brought up so many emotions and memories.  It made them very fresh again.  That’s not very pleasant.  However, it reminded me of the hope that God does offer.  If we are willing to do “whatever it takes” (a phrase and idea used often in the book), God will honor our hard work.  And walk through it WITH us.

My wish is that no one reading this will ever need this book.  My wish is that no one you know will ever need this book.

But, sadly, that is not reality.

Sadly there are many men and women who will let lies invade their minds and find solace, companionship, feelings of worth and lust in someone other than their spouse.  Many are or will dabble in porn.  They will believe the lies that it’s not that big of a deal.  They will keep the secrets hidden, even from those closest to them.  And that secret life will grow.  It ALWAYS does if it is not brought out into the open.  It will turn into chatting online.  It will turn into an emotional affair.  It will turn into exchanging pictures that shouldn’t be shared.  It can even turn into a totally physical affair.

And marriages will be blown apart.  They will be devastated beyond words.  Ministries will be lost.  Friends will be lost.  Families will be shaken to their core.  Some marriages won’t survive.

But this book helps us to remember that IF God is put at the center.  IF the unfaithful person is totally repentant, done with the behavior and all that goes with it, and truly devastated for doing it, not just getting caught.  IF BOTH people want the marriage to succeed and are willing to do WHATEVER IT TAKES – NO MATTER HOW EXTREME IT MAY SEEM….

Then God gives us such hope.  As my friend recently reminded me, there was death and devastation when Jesus was crucified.  All hope seemed to be lost.  He was dead for days.  He was buried.  There was no hope left.

But God is bigger than death!  There is NO destruction that is outside His realm of rebirth.

And if the unfaithful spouse is not repentant and doesn’t want to work on the relationship, even if they leave you for the other person, ALL this is still true for each individual!  God WILL heal and make you NEW!  IF you’re willing to do whatever it takes, God will be faithful to heal and renew you!

So, if you, or someone you know, has experienced any unfaithfulness in a relationship, whether it is lies, secrets in money, relationships, jobs, etc., or an affair of any kind, get this book.  I believe it will help give you perspective and hope for a life of forgiveness, grace, healing, and hope!