My life is my life. Ever heard that before? Ever feel that way? Think that way? Maybe this is your belief. Our lives are in our control. We make our own destiny, future, fate. Well, if you do then you are not alone. Many others believe the very same thing. Not only do they live by this way of thinking but many also believe in a God or that they are a Christian. (Christian meaning a follower of Christ) However, the interesting thing is that some professing Christians and those that actually know and serve God are two totally different things. For example, I met a lady that told me all her life has said she was a Christian. However, when a tragedy occurred in her life that challenged her belief of God, she did not know him. She had no idea what the Bible said, she had no idea of who God actually was his character, she had nothing to pull from b/c she had no personal relationship with him and her belief system was challenged. She went from saying, “I’m a Christian” to wondering why God allowed this tragedy to happen to her and what kind of God allows horrible things to happen. Her understanding of who God was not based on who the God of the Bible actually is but instead who she had made him in her own mind. This belief she had about “God” had been enough for her. So when the door opened up to her and challenged her spiritually she began searching who God really was. Did God use this trial to draw her closer to him? So, what has challenged you lately? What has happened in your life? Did you stop and ask yourself, do I really know God?
What happens when life does not turn out the way we had hoped or wanted? When day after day problems, trials and storms just keep barreling down making life seem impossible? Do you ever wonder if you’re being punished? Maybe you’ve been told you’re a sinner. The Bible does say, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” Romans. Has God possibly been trying to get your attention? Perhaps allowing things to happen in your life to grow you in righteousness?
“My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you.
For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.” Isaiah 26:9
What is he trying to tell you? And how are you responding? Are you glorifying God?
The Lord has been so patient with me. Over the last year, he has been graciously showing me how to respond in kindness and not anger. Not only is his word clear about the old self vs. the new self; putting off the old and putting on the new. It also talks clearly several times in scriptures about the nature of the flesh vs. living in the spirit. For example in Col. 3:5-10 Paul is telling the Colossians how to live in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord. He says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” So, it’s clear what to take off. Then we read in Col 3:12 what to put on. The Bible says, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and , if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.”
Maybe it’s easy to read this passage and think, “I don’t do any of these things, I must be pretty good.” It’s also easy to read this passage and think, “I have lived a lot of my like this and I’m ok, why should I stop, I have not hurt anyone.” And finally, one could say, “I have lived like this and I was wrong. I am suffering from my choices, I am in pain and I need God’s forgiveness, I need his help.”
Isn’t it always easy to see other’s people’s sin? Don’t we as people measure our own lives with those around us? Saying things like, “I’m not as bad as that guy” or talking about people we know and saying, “Boy, I’m glad I’m not in their shoes.” Let me ask you a question. In the verse where God is telling us to put off all anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth – does thinking like this fall under the old self or new self?
Let’s put the shoe on the other foot for a moment. What if you attitude is one of acting in kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Can you still show these characteristics when treated badly? Maybe your child or husband is behaving in a way that is hurtful. Maybe you have pointed out their behavior and how it hurts you but they continue to walk how they want and not care how you feel? Maybe they were involved in sins that were downright hurtful. Now, let’s take it a bit farther. Let’s say this person was not a Christian, so they are not walking with the Lord. How then are we supposed to act? Is it ok now to gossip, slander, talk badly about this person?
Well, let’s look at what Col 3:10 says. “And have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” It seems pretty clear by this one verse that our new selves are to become like our creator, in his image. How did our creator act in his life when he was sinned against? Did he defend himself? Did he become angry and fight back? Did he lash out in anger and say things he later regretted? Or here is a good one; did he sulk for days on end allowing his pain to turn into bitterness? If I go back to Col 3:10 where Christ is telling us to set our minds on things that are above and not on things that are on earth and that we are to put off the old self and put on the new self. I see one of the things of the new self is forgiving each other, as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. I think it’s good to remember these truths. I know each one struggles in these areas of life so therefore, it’s good to read, pray and seek the Lord in these areas of our lives. I also like to remind myself what the Lord says in Col 3:25, “for the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he had done, and there is no partiality.” The Lord knows what has happened and we each are held accountable by God himself.
I can only say these things because I have and continue to walk along a path where I myself have to submit my anger, my sulking, and my pain to the Lord daily. I am currently separated from my husband and taking care of my two young children alone. He sees them every other weekend and during the week he works, leaving me to raise them on my own. On his weekend’s off, he sends me a text message saying he is going to be busy doing things and I don’t hear from him. If you can only imagine the pain this causes. Knowing how my family has fallen apart. Knowing that my children will suffer because of what is going on. Knowing that now I have to handle everything alone. Knowing that he told me he wanted to work things out and work on our marriage and then not knowing what he is doing, ever. Not knowing where he is or whom with.
It’s painful and downright, debilitating. My anger can get the best of me. In these moments, I have to turn to the Lord almost hourly to ask for his grace, his mercy, his strength, and his help. I have to turn to prayer partners and pour out my heart to them and ask for prayer. Thank the Lord I know to do these things b/c this situation would be far worse if I did not know the Lord or have the Lord to help me. Can you relate to this kind of pain? What is your situation like? What is God asking you to do? Is it hard?
My hope is what the Lord tells me in his word – which my reward is in Heaven. I’m called by God to love my family. I’m called to teach my children the things of God. And I’m called to be obedient to God. All I can do is my best and pray for my loved ones, my children, my life.
I believe God can change his heart and my hope is that he will. My prayer to the Lord is just that – Please Lord, please have mercy on him, please open his eyes to his sin, please have mercy and lead him to repentance. Father God, he needs you – somehow, someway – get his attention. Father, like 2 Tim 2:21 says, “grant him repentance leading him to a knowledge of the truth and may he come to his senses and escape from the snare of the devil.” Father, I cry out to you for his soul – have mercy Father. In Jesus precious name.
But in saying this, “my hope is that the Lord will change his heart.” It’s not for my fulfillment, it’s for his salvation. Even if we never get back together, even if he moves on and find’s someone new, even if my worst fear comes true (single mom with no job and no way to raise my kids out of poverty) my hope is that the Lord will reach him and change his heart – my prayer is for his soul to escape the snare of hell itself. His salvation is more important than anything this life can offer. More than money, more than comfort, more than security, more than life itself, his salvation is eternal. The Bible is very clear that there is an afterlife. One where we live with him or one where we live eternally separated from him. One place has life, light, love, peace and the other is complete darkness, void of any kind of light, ever. The Bible talks of this place, hell, as a place with no relief from pain, ever.
I remember listening to a sermon on hell one time from my computer. Afterwards I decided to take a hot bath and while I was watching the water fall from the facet into the tub I envisioned what it would be like to never see color. To only see blackness, no light ever. To never again see beautiful things, shapes, colors, trees, flowers – but only blackness. And then I envisioned never being able to escape, being fully aware and never being released from the torment, the anguish that continually flowed over me like crashing waves of despair, one after the other……this my friends is what hell is. If that does not make you stop and think, then why don’t you think about what if? What if you’re wrong and this place does exist? Have you ever wondered what if I’m wrong? Why do I not believe? Why do I choose to reject the Bible and why?
Being a Christian means believing that the Bible is true. That the Bible is the very word of God and was God breathed. That Jesus is the son of God and rose after death. That God sent the Holy Spirit to live inside each one that believes these truths. That hell and heaven are very real places. For this reason I believe this is why people want to share the truths from the Bible with those that do not believe. It’s out of love. No one in their right mind would wish Hell on their worst enemy. It’s because of love that God sent his son to die for our sins, so those that believe could have eternal life with him and not perish. It’s because of love that we follow Christ, forgive, show compassion, mercy, kindness and care for the lost.