The Suspense is Killing Your Communication!

“The right word spoken at the right time is as beautiful as gold apples in a silver bowl. The warning of a wise person is valuable to someone who will listen. It is worth as much as gold earrings or fine gold jewelry. A trustworthy messenger refreshes those who send him. He is like the coolness of snow in the summertime.” Proverbs 25:11-13 (International Children’s Bible)

How important is it that we learn to communicate with consideration for the other person? Very! My posts usually deal with spirituality, but this one is probably as much a matter of practicality.

Communication tip of the day, especially in this technological world of email, voicemail, and texting!

When you need to get an important point or message across to someone with whom you’re not making eye contact, just come right out and say the thing without, as my Granny would describe it, “hem-hawing around;” but use some common sense and put yourself on the other side of the conversation maybe even before you start. Ask yourself, “What would I be thinking if someone else sent/left me this same message?” Are you open with people from the very beginning, or do you make them labor to get to the bottom of why you contacted them in the first place? We don’t usually talk about it, but the truth is, most of us hate to deal with people who do us this way. Don’t be that person!

It’ll drive the people in your life crazy if you keep them in suspense, and if every message is open-ended and sounds like potential gloom and doom. Those abrupt “we need to talk” texts, or messages where your voice always sounds like “a dying calf in a hailstorm,” followed by crickets until they respond to get the rest of the story, already sound as if you’re gonna drop an unpleasant bomb on the recipients. It may send folks who have anxiety or depression issues into a tailspin. They will likely have to build up the nerve to respond because they are expecting the absolute worst! And if every single time you message people, it’s stamped “urgent,” they may come to dread hearing from you at all (or at the very least, stop taking you seriously).

The sky isn’t always falling, for heaven’s sake. Don’t make every communication sound dire and hopeless in the subject line.

Do you know how your own imagination runs away with you when you don’t have all the facts? Well, other people feel that same way! No one likes to feel as if he/she is about to be chewed out, or about to get lured into a drama crossfire; and no one wants to sit and stew and worry and wonder what’s wrong this time. To use that kind of manipulation to try and coerce people to respond faster may backfire, and you can be certain they won’t be eager to talk to you if and when they do finally respond.

Even if it’s very important, even if it is serious, even if it’s something you know others aren’t going to want to deal with, transparency is always the best route to take. We get enough misleading headlines and emotionally-jarring clickbait in the media…let’s not be sources of it! Keep it relatively short and sweet, but lay the information out in advance so that when people get back to you, they’re emotionally and maybe even situationally prepared. Sometimes the information you seek, or the favor you’re about to ask, or the emotional support you need is best gotten when folks don’t feel pressured, guilted, or put on the spot.

Relationships are a lot less complicated when we can communicate with consideration at least most of the time. Make sure that most of your dealings with those around you are positive and encouraging so that when the subject occasionally isn’t a pleasant one, they aren’t already trying to squirm away from you!

One final thought. If you’re the recipient of a message and the other person knows the message has been seen or heard (as most social media does show when something’s been opened or read), acknowledge it. A simple, “I don’t have an answer for you just now, but I want to acknowledge that I’ve received your message, I’m aware of the situation, and I will get back to you later (maybe even estimate a time) when I can help you.” And if the answer is a “no,” say no! Don’t just string people along or leave them hanging if an issue is time-sensitive! Silence is often perceived by the other person as, “I don’t place a value on you or your time.”

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you. Be someone who refreshes instead of exhausts! 😉

The Art of Becoming

Have you ever watched a movie where someone was cast to portray a famous person, or perhaps watched a comedian who was an impersonator; and although he or she didn’t particularly look like the real character, the actor pulled off such a flawless representation that you temporarily forgot you were watching someone other than the personality being portrayed? The transformation is so believable that you “see” the person being imitated! I’ve read accounts where, in preparation for a role, some actors have gotten so immersed into becoming a character that after the movie was finished, they had a hard time going back to just being themselves! Some have even been somewhat permanently altered for having “put on” a certain role.

Romans 13:14 tells us, “But put on (some translations say to CLOTHE YOURSELVES with) the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts.” Several times throughout the New Testament, we are encouraged by Paul and others to be imitators—to act out what we’ve seen. Imitators of God…of Christ…of the apostles…of certain churches…of the faithful and patient…of good rather than evil. To imitate someone or something, we have to become acquainted with his/her/its nature. We have to rehearse and practice to adopt a certain tone, posture, expression, personality, and presence in order to get into “character.” I’ll admit, I’m not as brave as Paul when he encouraged the Corinthians to imitate him as he imitated Christ. Sometimes, to my shame, I’ve borne very little resemblance to the Lord!

Sometimes in becoming a certain character in a movie, an actor might go through hours of makeup and prosthetics to become transformed into a believable imitator. In a world where we are encouraged to become whatever we believe our true selves to be, I would encourage us to find the best examples of what God would have us identify as…and walk in His divine nature. While there’s something admirable and virtuous about genuineness, we can become a better version of who we are meant to be by adopting qualities already demonstrated for us by Jesus and by godly men and women throughout history. Can we add to who we already are? By all means! Apostle Peter instructed us how to add to ourselves, with faith as a foundation: a layer of virtue, then a layer of knowledge, then temperance (discipline), then patience, then godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity.

Under all those layers, we effectively become another person, all while still being our true selves—who we were born to be! As we take on the nature of Christ, we even begin to discard some undesirable traits; and that, friends, is growth. There’s no hypocrisy in exchanging our former habits and mindsets for something more virtuous! Being a follower of Jesus isn’t pretending to be something we aren’t—it’s a daily dress rehearsal in faith of what we need to become. Gradually we are transformed and have put on—clothed ourselves with, gotten into character, become mirror images of the Master Himself!

The Greek word “mimitace” was sometimes translated as “follower” in the KJV, and it literally means to “mimic” or “imitate.” May I humbly submit that we probably can’t be followers of Christ without actually becoming imitators of Him. It should at least be our priority to be working toward bearing His resemblance even when we don’t always get it “spot on.” It’s a process we should all be undergoing.

I remember Sister Sharon Taylor singing an old song that said, “I want to be so much like Him that the world can’t tell us apart.” Indeed, may we all become just that skilled at adopting His character.

Integrity Even in Change

Some of my biggest regrets in life have been associations that ended on less favorable terms than I would have preferred. It doesn’t matter who’s to blame, if anyone—I hate any time that misunderstandings, presumption, or just a lack of right communication unravels years of positive achievements among those who journey together. It’s when these types of events occur that a troubling sense of non-closure remains in place of what should have been wonderful memories and a sense of gratitude for even a temporary joining of purpose.

We can’t change the fact that, during the course of our lifetimes, many people will move in and out of our circles. It’s a constant process. People whom we presume will always be an intricate part of our lives can suddenly be gone through death, divorce, broken contracts, changes of plans, kids growing up and leaving home, right or wrong open/closed doors, shifting seasons, dissolving of likemindedness, and even discord. Others whom we never imagined being part of our lives can just as suddenly become new friends, family, or associates.

No matter what shifts you’re experiencing, I urge you to apply great grace to how you handle each relationship in your life, perhaps especially those with whom your season appears to be coming to an end. Be tender even when you have to stand your ground. Don’t withhold words that need to be said. Don’t just let people stew in confusion or offense if it’s within your power to be the one who applies the healing balm of peace or brings clarity. Sometimes it’s humbling. Sometimes it costs us the chance to feel as if we got the last word in edgewise. Sometimes, even when we feel we weren’t in the wrong, it means we apologize first.

One translation of Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” The KJV would even say, “as much as lies within you.” Another one of those inconvenient seventy-times-seven moments! Could it be that even in the Twenty-First Century, mature believers are still expected to exceed the norm, take the high road, swallow our pride, lose the sarcasm and backbiting, follow peace, walk with integrity, forgive, choose to preserve the remnants of mutual respect…even when our emotions are all over the place or disappointment stings our sensibility? I believe that, yes we must— for the sake of Christ.

Choose how you want to be remembered by those with whom your path has crossed. You can’t always prevent being misunderstood, but let your track record be one of such consistent virtue that it’d be hard for others not to see genuineness in your motives and guileless love in your heart. Each encounter, with those whose presence we take for granted, could be our last.

Lord, may we be conformed to Your image so much that, even in our losses, we glorify You and live above reproach. Help us be the repairers of the breach wherever possible; and whenever we find ourselves at those painful but sometimes inevitable forks in the road, help us release others with blessing and not bitterness. Sharpen our discernment to reveal the enemy’s hidden plots to erode and to isolate, to divide and to sabotage; and when we are in the wrong, compel us to run toward the opportunity to make things right again. Help us guard our hearts—and our words—with all diligence. We pray in Jesus’ name for Your grace to cover us and Your love to flow out of us. We can trust You to honor when we choose to live peaceably with all people. Amen.

A Share of the Spoils of Victory

“…as is the share of him who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the provisions and supplies; they shall share alike.” (1 Sam. 30:24 AMP)

Do your part! If you have an assignment in the Kingdom of God, then a win for the Kingdom is also a win for you! I’m not talking about grace vs works; I’m talking about how we are meant to serve one another as the Church, faithful in big ways and small.

When they passed out Super Bowl rings for yesterday’s game winners, they didn’t just give a ring to the ones who happened to be on the field when the clock ran out. Oh, there’ll be MVP’s and recognition given for those who went above and beyond, but the whole team is credited with the win. They passed out championship rings to the entire team whether a player got to play from the first quarter till the final buzzer, or whether he had to remain on the bench the entire time! As a matter of fact, a set number of rings are cast every year, far above the number of actual football players on the team. Although it’s at the discretion of the person in charge to bestow these rings, it’s said that they are most often awarded to anyone who brought some level of value to that team at ANY time throughout the entire year leading up to the Super Bowl. Victory is a collective effort!

When the 200 exhausted foot soldiers were left behind as David’s army pursued the enemy after the Ziklag incident recorded in 1 Samuel 30, David didn’t kick them out of the army because of their battle fatigue–nor did he completely excuse them from responsibility while the others went after the Amalekites. He left them in charge of watching over their supplies as the other 400 soldiers continued on.

Those 200 were still of use to the cause even though their role had changed for the time being; and moreover, they were still part of the army. They were a fraction, yet still remained part of the whole. And when David “recovered all,” he did not allow greed among his other soldiers to withhold from the ones who weren’t on the battlefield at the actual moment when they recovered all! David’s decree to share with them also validated their worth not just when they were frontline people, but also when they had to serve in a lesser capacity.

Perhaps in this season, your role in the Kingdom has shifted because of sickness, caregiving, disability, parenting small children, a personal crisis, or whatever. There is STILL something you can do in your off-season, even if it’s not the thing you originally set out to do: pray and support the work of those who ARE on the battlefield, and in general, be open to whatever else your God requires you to do!  Your assignment may be different but you are still called upon to do the part you can do. We are all on-call!

During WWII, an entire nation felt compelled to do its part–giving up creature comforts like extra food and fuel to make sure soldiers had supplies on the battle lines; spouses working the factories while the traditional breadwinners of that day were off defending their country; buying war bonds, etc. Everyone got to feel the joy of a victory, because everyone had a chance to contribute something of value.

There is no reward for deserters and for those who are dishonorably discharged; but for the person who stands ready to serve in his or her unique level of capability, or who has had a role in the overall victory during any part of the campaign, there is a share of the reward! Unless you’re unconscious or incapacitated or dead, you are still on-call! One of our responsibilities, when we’re down, is even to do the work of being restored (yes, sometimes it’s a painful recovery and process!), not just for our own sakes, but so that we can then strengthen our brothers and sisters. It’s never just about us. And just think–even if you go on to heaven before your prayers are answered, you’ll still receive a reward when at last they are! The church at Corinth was a result of different people doing different assignments…planting, watering, etc., to which God gave the increase…and everyone benefited!

There is always a “help wanted” sign on God’s door! Support a missionary if you can’t go yourself.  Are you grieved because you don’t feel your church does enough for the sick or elderly? That could be a sign that God wants to use YOU to minister to them!  Pick up your phone and call someone who’s shut in and can’t come to church.

Drop off some canned food, or make a donation to, the local food pantry…and volunteer to help if you can! Encourage someone who’s feeling down. Sponsor a kid who wants to go to youth camp. Be a bus captain. Rock a baby and change a diaper in the nursery. Pray for the lost and demonstrate the love of Christ every chance you get. Pray over and stand behind your pastor and leaders. Show up and volunteer, even behind the scenes, even for the things that don’t gain big attention. Remain faithful to tithe and give. And speak well of your church and its leaders to others, rather than belittling them and weakening their influence in the community. Remember, we are all still works in progress, including those who’ve been set over us in the Lord.

Be the person who will pray when no one else is praying. Those of you who say you are called to teach and then conclude that your church just doesn’t have an opening to use your gift, there’s no excuse…you can host a small group or just agree to be the teacher for someone else’s small group! Who says the group even has to all go to the same church? 🙂

Don’t say that you just can’t seem to get connected–perhaps you are called to connect others who also feel unconnected! If you have a gift that’s not being used, you can expand the overall results of the Church worldwide by thinking outside the box (or outside the four walls). If you preach, teach, sing or play an instrument, or have some other gift that’s not being used, find a platform to use it anyway without leaving your church or being offended that it’s not the platform you wanted!

Make your gift count in the places where there’s still a need but not many people filling that need; and if you do it without making sure everyone hears about what you did, so much the better! For the good thing you did in secret, God will reward you openly! Guarding the supplies didn’t sound like a very glamorous job for David’s “left behind” soldiers; but it was nonetheless a very important role…one for which they received a share in the victory. If you think about it, even when soldiers are in training, they’re required to do the things that seem “beneath” their skill set or level of importance. They keep their weapons polished. They keep the latrines clean. They still are up early and ready for duty even if they’re not in the heat of battle. Remaining faithful over a few things will make us rulers over many!

Find those unique places to minister, remain accountable to someone over you in the Lord, and bring glory to God. Preach on the the street corner or at the jail or the homeless shelter (or even in the nursing home when we are no longer restricted by COVID). Host a Zoom call Bible study! Play an instrument, read to, and/or sing for someone who’s sick or lonely. We know how to stay connected when it’s something WE want to do–just look at how much time we waste on social media talking about trivial, negative, or even ungodly things; what if we were to make that social time ministry time, using the gifts God’s given us!

Do your part and be available when God needs someone to just say, “Yes;” and when progress is made, you will have your share of the blessing for having remained faithful! Poise the entire team, the Body of Christ, for a win– by your sheer availability and obedience to the Lord.

We can all do something in the Kingdom of God, and we can all share in the victory!

“He who receives and welcomes you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives and welcomes a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous (honorable) man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives to one of these little ones [these who are humble in rank or influence] even a cup of cold water to drink because he is my disciple, truly I say to you, he will not lose his reward.” (Matthew 12:40-42 AMP)

Clean, Um…Feet, and a Pure Heart

When I was a kid, my grandmother had this thing about going to bed with clean feet. I can remember getting ready to climb into bed and Granny, with her keen eye spotting what I wasn’t in the least concerned about, saying, “Get in there and wash those nasty feet!” To this day, if I look down and see the soles of my feet looking murky, I chuckle and think of her—and I dutifully go get the job done.

You and I walk through a lot of ugliness throughout the course of every day. Some of us are carrying worry, drama, bitterness, unforgiveness, traumatic experiences, anger, and unbelief right into bed with us, where we didn’t wash them from the part of us that comes into direct contact with these spiritual hindrances. They’re like filth, but in our souls instead of on our soles.

Father, we are getting ready to lie down and we want to receive the restorative sleep that You give to those You love. We ask Your forgiveness for anything that puts a barrier between You and us. We want nothing to isolate us from Your voice.

We ask You to wash us clean from the inside out. Lord, some of us have come into contact with evil spirits that would attach themselves to us like leeches. We have seen and heard things we shouldn’t have. Give us back our innocence and trust again so life doesn’t cause us to become calloused and hard.

And Lord, even though our feet are shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, at the end of the day we still need to wash away the grime of walking through this world, picking up bad habits and wrong mindsets. We release our frustrations and our failures into the wash pan and we let You pour them down the drain forever. We don’t wallow tonight in regret or worry. Our feet are clean and we feel better, and we can now go to sleep knowing Your angels watch over us.

As You visit us in the night watches, upload Your mysteries into us. Let us awaken in the morning with praise and thanksgiving, a sense of peace and purpose, and wisdom to go about all we do with excellence. Your new mercies await us on the other side of the sleep we’re ready to receive. Tomorrow, You’ll order our steps again and at bedtime, we will allow You to wash away anything the day may have left behind.

Thank You for giving us clean hands (and feet), and a pure heart. Goodnight, our beloved Savior!

Fly, Bumblebee

Fly—just as if it doesn’t occur to you that you cannot.

When I was a child, one of our neighbors had a ceramic kitchen plaque that told about the bumblebee being scientifically unable to fly because of its wing-to-body-size ratio. The plaque went on to conclude, “The bumblebee doesn’t know this, however, so it flies anyway.” Odd that these many years later, this memory still often comes to mind…

What thing has happened to you which makes you feel disqualified from your destiny? Is it a moral failure? A betrayal? Is it financial/asset loss? Bad decisions? Recurring weaknesses? Lack of education or credentials? Insecurity? Inexperience? Divorce? Has the enemy attacked your health?

Perhaps one day heaven will reveal why, but it’s ironic how some of the believers who’ve most successfully prayed for others to receive healing find themselves (or perhaps a close family member) bound by a chronic physical ailment which remains unhealed—much like the Apostle Paul, whose deliverance ministry to others didn’t exempt him from that persistent “thorn in the flesh.” Just as I’ve heard people mock someone who teaches on healing but still wears eyeglasses; or who has had to live with recurring cancer, or has had a child born with a birth defect, I wonder if Paul too had some accusers who were quick to point out his own unanswered prayers in progress.

Now is a season where the devil’s minions are attacking the body of Christ with accusations of unworthiness and disqualification. Many are torn between persevering and instead going underground, or even giving up altogether. Many mature saints find themselves now battling depression and despair; and moreover, some have had to rebuke the spirit of suicide in their own lives.

My word to you is DO NOT ABANDON YOUR POST! If you have undealt-with sin, confess and forsake it. Repent. Hold yourself accountable. Then get back to what God has assigned you. If it isn’t a sin issue but an attack against your character, your ministry, your family, your health or whatever, then dig in your heels and stay the course. I’ve had some nuisance illnesses and injuries over the past year or so for which the enemy has taunted, “Yeah, you teach on healing, but you can’t get healed yourself. You should just shut up because you make God look bad!” You may as well know this: in the same area God has gifted you also lies the potential for your greatest personal battle. You can be sure the devil has studied your weaknesses, and has mapped-out the places in which you pose the biggest threat against darkness. Don’t be moved by this. God’s power within you (not your own goodness or skill) qualifies your fragile earthen vessel to be a container of His treasures!

Don’t despair! Be like the bumblebee who is oblivious to the scientific arguments of its accuser. You may never soar with the agility of the butterfly, bumblebee, but you stay airborne anyway. Abraham “considered not his own (90+ year-old) body” when it came to believing God’s promises. When the accuser of the brethren tells you that you need to just crawl off and hide, to sit down, to silence your testimony, you tell him, “I DON’T CONSIDER IT! I CAN DO ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO GIVES ME STRENGTH!”

If God has called you, He has also equipped you…even if your wings appear too small to hold up the burden you’re bearing! Fly, child of God, fly! 🐝

“If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us. As it is, there’s not much chance of that. You know for yourselves that we’re not much to look at. We’ve been surrounded and battered by troubles, but we’re not demoralized; we’re not sure what to do,  but we know that God knows what to do; we’ve been spiritually terrorized, but God hasn’t left our side; we’ve been thrown down, but we haven’t broken.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-9, Message Translation.

Shhhh…

Sometimes we just have to hold our peace, because no answer is going to be the right one–and that’s generally true when emotions run high. Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into commenting about something just for the sake of speaking about a matter, especially if you can’t see the big picture or have too little information to give a fair assessment.

When you blurt out a thought in haste that can be perceived in a way other than what you intended, it quite possibly will be! You or I can’t always convey with our mouth what’s in our heart…and sometimes we don’t realize how foolish something sounds until it rolls out. Man, it’s tough to walk that line in a culture where everyone is so vocal about anything and everything.

If you’ve ever experienced being misunderstood, you can relate to the embarrassment, horror, or pain that comes with it; so cut some slack to the other person whose words appear to have come out very wrong, especially if his/her comments can be taken multiple ways. We live in a world that loves to uncover and replay other people’s gaffes and flawed expressions for the purpose of discrediting, mocking, or harming. Even though it’s true that from the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks…remember also that the mouth doesn’t always do a very good job expressing what’s actually in that heart.

As communication goes, we know how to do quantity; but quality, maybe not so much. Just as others don’t fully know us, we likewise don’t know what’s truly in the thoughts and intent of others; so perhaps we shouldn’t be so quick to assume absolutes. Let’s be a little kinder to one another.

James 3:2 “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.”

Lord, help us not to stumble with our words!

Deliverance from the Spirit of Trauma

 

“A glad heart makes a cheerful face,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.” (Proverbs 15:13 ESV)

I remember years ago when I worked in human resources in the mining industry, how that certain workers compensation claims were for a condition called cumulative trauma, defined as “the excessive wear and tear on tendons, muscles and sensitive nerve tissue caused by continuous use over an extended period of time.”

It wasn’t one big injury that caused a breakdown, but rather, a series of little ones over and over again, and instead of recuperating, the injuries weren’t given time to heal and they began to compound.

I believe there are a lot of us who emotionally are walking around with old injuries that were never healed, and who desperately need to be delivered from a literal spirit of trauma. We feel like because we’re saved and functional, that it’s ok to keep up appearances though we’re very much broken. It’s not an insufficiency on the part of Christ; but rather, a lack of awareness or at least of courage on our part to go back in and allow the pain of uncovering those old hurts in order that we might heal. It’s a bit like a surgery to re-break an old fracture so that it can begin to heal correctly. We avoid those situations because we know there is going to be pain involved; and we got enough of it the first time around. And since we are already suffering, we at least know the full measure of our pain and can compensate and cushion the known. It’s scary to venture past that threshold of knowing, so we stay broken–either out of fear, out of guilt or shame, out of dread, or we may just be too tired to pull ourselves up out of the ditch of despair.

I can only tell you this because I’m getting ready to do some hard work untangling some years-old trauma in my own life. I’m not looking forward to it. I need to though, because it stands in the way of my joy and it blocks who I need to become. Some of it involves generational issues, some involves too many hits with too little recovery time in between. I’ve hit a wall and all I really want to do is stick my head in the sand and hope for the best–just being transparent here! My desire for pretty much anything is drained. I’ve come to that place where I can’t really help any of you beyond a certain point until I deal with what I’ve put off confronting for years. I read awhile back in a book on deliverance ministry that until we do the work of cleansing our lives of bondages, we are hindered in our ability to help others with theirs. Gee, it’s painful just to admit that!

The good news is, there’s healing from trauma if we will come to the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! He heals; make no mistake about that. If I fall short or anyone else, He is still totally able to help you be free if you’ll release your situation into His hands and be obedient. Pray with me, as you and I endeavor to launch into a new place of healing:

Lord, please bless those of us who are limping on old injuries and cumulative emotional trauma. It has become a crippling disease of the heart and soul, that keeps the wounded from moving forward and becoming whole again. Some don’t even know they’re in that state; except that they haven’t felt emotions for a long, long time. In one sense, it feels safe to be in that cocoon of emptiness; but in other ways, it’s incredibly dark and full of much regret. The duplicity is smothering. They don’t know whether to be glad or alarmed that they’re watching life and destiny move on without them.

These precious people have survived accidents, have served on the front lines of war, police, rescue workers, medical professionals, been abused or neglected or exploited, served in pastoral roles, as caregivers, have been victims of rape or battery, multiple tragedies, financial and emotional and spiritual bankruptcy, just to name a few. They have grown comfortably numb, and the alarm of their condition has begun to fade. They wanted more from life, but it seems to matter less all the time. Part of them wants to change, but the maintenance required seems too great. O God, would you minister to and heal them?

Cause them to remember joy and innocence again, what it was like before deep disappointment and tragedy and overload began to rob them of their soundness. Lord, would you revive the dreams they may have lost along the way? Would you help them learn now to stop padding their personal space to keep others well-beyond connection? Let them love and be loved in return. Bring back the laughter, the highs and lows, the ability to cry whereas now they don’t feel any of those emotions?

We ask You to show us how to minister and be ministered to. Father, if these have been overcome by a spirit of trauma, teach us how to break that stronghold so that healing can come. Lord, give us courage to allow You to tear away the crusted-on bandages where we’ve attempted to fix our own brokenness. Heal us of the gangrene of the heart. Help us, if needed, to forgive those who let us down. Help us to forgive ourselves for not measuring up in our own estimation. The losses keep endless-looping in our minds. Please break the cycle, Father. We need You to come to our rescue.

Teach us to pray, Lord. And for those of use who are hurting so badly that we can’t pray, surround us with intercessors. We need to learn how to be restored, Father. If we’ve allowed certain sins or habits or wrong feelings to grant the enemy legal access in our lives, please show us where we have gone wrong. Some of us may have been traumatized our whole life and have never really experienced extended periods of security or joy. Our habits mimic the instability of our life stories. Lord, let this be the season where we are made whole. We’ve learned to manage, but it’s time to go beyond maintaining. You are the glory and the lifter of our head. Make us trophies of Your deliverance, and help us to rescue others who are in the quagmire of despair as well. You are rescuing us to make us rescuers of others, and in Jesus’ name, we will have a genuine, unfeigned victory: no longer covering up a state of deep unhappiness, but sharing a testimony of true freedom.

 

Parallel to Destiny

“Roll your works upon the Lord [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed.” Proverbs 16:3 AMPC

I remember as a child one day, my family was in our car on the road around Marmet, WV, at the point where the highway runs parallel with Interstate 64. I watch intently as, just across concrete dividers, cars whizzed by in a great hurry on a road much nicer than the one on which we were traveling. I asked my dad why we weren’t on that other road, and he explained to me that it wasn’t really going to the same place we were headed; and besides, it was a “toll road” you had to pay to use. The whole concept of a special road on which you had to pay to ride was huge for a little kid to grasp, but I knew my dad was not going to pay that toll just to satisfy a curious Lisa with her nose pressed to the rear window glass! It would be quite a few years later before I would ever be headed anywhere that necessitated the use of that interstate toll road; and yet, almost 50 years later, I still recall that conversation and the longing I felt to go wherever was special enough to justify paying that toll!

Some of you are feeling frustrated because you’re on one road and you feel as if your destiny is on another. The roads may even be running right alongside one another, and all that seems to separate you from where you want to be is a wall. You may have great responsibilities that seem as if they’ll hold you in limbo forever, and the only thing worse than having no destiny at all is having one that you can see but can’t reach.

Father, I pray for the frustrated and discouraged, that You’ll meet them where they are. It’s a hard thing to be separated from our life purpose by the concrete divider of, as Ecclesiastes puts it, “time and chance,” and we humans sometimes fear we will never fulfill the reason for our being here. We are stuck behind debt, or life events that derail our momentum, or our own sense of inadequacy, or even our reluctance to step out in faith. Our road seems so shabby and secondhand compared to the on on which we see others traveling.

Keep us focused on right goals. Help us to appreciate the seasons, and not to wish away the significant moments on this current path which we find ourselves. Help us to maintain integrity to keep doing what’s good and right even when others don’t see. Help us to see that You’re for us, and that You will finish the good work You’ve begin in us. If we are meant to accomplish a particular thing, we won’t miss it as long as we trust, obey You, and operate on Your divine timeline.

If we make bad decisions, please redeem the time for us. May the detour not be wasted time, and may we come away from that season having learned and having grown. May we be even more determined, but wiser for having to put our trust in Your grace and unfailing love for us.

And Father, help us never lose the wonder we had on the other side of the dream. Keep us humble and grateful when we do at last walk in our destiny. Help us to remember, when we’ve been granted our answers to prayer, to pay forward the gifts which we’ve been entrusted. May we use words like “please” and “thank-you” often, never forgetting those who’ve helped us get onto that new road we once longed to travel.

Thank You for reminding us today that we are in Your hands—the safest, most opportune, most joyful place we can ever hope to be. Our steps are ordered of the Lord. It’s good to trust You. Amen.