Never Departing—Raising Kids with Values and Not Just Skills

arrows“Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life.”  (Proverbs 22:6 TPT The Passion Translation®. Copyright © 2017 by BroadStreet Publishing® Group, LLC.)

Your child’s real future isn’t in scholarship, it’s in #discipleship. Scholarship says, “I got it all because of ME.” Discipleship says, “yes I have talent, but even that is because of HIM.”

Praise the Lord for favor and open doors, for free rides to college, and I’m all for getting all the education and credentials we can; but please, Christian parents, don’t elevate your child’s talent above his or her spiritual well-being. If we teaching our children it is all about their earthly goals, we are teaching them to build on sand instead of the Rock. If their entire hope is tied up in their talent—their life plans formed solely around what their own hands can do–then their future is as fragile as one unfortunate sports injury or failed entrance exam. And what good would a scholarship be on the timeline of forever if that renowned college were to transform your child into someone who no longer believes there even IS a God? Celebrate that talent, but don’t make talent an idol. Don’t neglect the foundation in favor of making the facade look good. Want eternity for your kids even more than you want moments...yes, let’s want heaven for them even more than we want a degree from that prestigious university hanging on their wall! If we seek Him first and His righteousness, did our Lord not say that “all these things” (the things that the world would make the primary or sole focus) would be added to us?

I get grieved when I see once God-focused homes where the celebration is no longer on the children’s Jeremiah 29:11 future, but on exalting nothing more than skills and beauty and temporary achievements. Are your children discovering their spiritual gifts? Are they growing strong in their relationship with God, connected to stable children’s or youth church groups where they are fortified by other young believers and godly adult mentors? Are they being brought to see and participate in the move of the Holy Spirit in revivals, prayer gatherings, youth camps, and worship services, or is there never time or desire for those things because of all the other pursuits we have enabled? Do they hear prayer and the Word read in the home, or does God only receive honorable mention from time to time? Are the dreams they chase guided by godly wisdom and balance, or are we endorsing paths that lead far away from God by not teaching them to use those talents for His divine purpose? If we aren’t training them up in the way they should go, how can they stay on a path they were never taught not to depart from!

Lord, speak to our hearts today as Christian parents and recalibrate our focus. Forgive us for grooming our kids to grow up as unbelieving adults who were raised in lukewarm, powerless Christian homes rife with duplicity. You gave them to us as arrows; show us when the problem lies in our aim. You have blessed us with healthy, smart, beautiful kids–and we will teach them how to use their gifts to glorify You rather than to replace You.

Help us to train them to be as effective in fervent prayer as they are in the fast pitch; to tear down strongholds even better than they can sack the opposition’s quarterback; to be Esthers instead of divas; Solomons instead of just intellectuals; Davids instead of rock gods; Daniels instead of conformists. Help us to model in front of them a burning, living relationship with You instead of just a religious experience we once had. Help us not to have poisoned our kids with pride and self-absorption! Remind us to tell them often that we are pleased with them not just because of all they can do but rather, who they are in YOU! Help us not to live our lives vicariously through our kids, trying to recapture our own missed opportunities. We want them to be successful and strong, but O God, we want them to love You even more than we ourselves have loved you. We want them to rise and be the ushers of a last-day awakening, who use their gifts and talents and testimonies to draw people to the Savior!

We choose today to openly to put You first, and to teach them to put You first, too. We will guard our conversations in our homes, what we take into our gateways of eyes and ears. If You tell us we need to change some things, add or take away some things, we will not ignore Your voice! We will communicate to our kids that no matter what else they do or don’t become, we want them to love and serve You first and foremost. We will help them hone their skills, but will teach them to give You all the glory for what those skills help them achieve. We will instill eternal-mindedness into them, and we will live lives in front of them that back up what we teach. It will show in how we invest our time, our money, our affections. We will have great fun with them and laugh and make memories; and we will teach them how to have compassion, how to give, how to love with perfect love, and how to flee from temptation. We will teach them how to cling to truth, stand firm even when the world bullies them for what they believe, and we will teach them how to forgive and be forgiven. We will love them like You want us to love them–unconditionally–and will love them too much to let them be deceived and led by the devil away from their life purpose!

Help us to hear Your voice concerning our kids, Father. Your planned future for them is better than anything we could lay hold of for them on our own. As we trust You for that future, we will be good stewards of our little arrows; and by Your grace, they will grow to be arrows hitting not just any mark, but the actual destinies for which You handcrafted each of them uniquely, fearfully and wonderfully!. We consecrate ourselves, our homes, and our children today. Bless them, protect them, do great things through them, and let them never depart from You, in Jesus’ name.

(Adapted from my Facebook status, August 11, 2017)

The Tares of This Life

Tares and Wheat - 101 BlogA word for us to contemplate today: tares. The Bible refers to a specific “weed” as a tare; it is identical to wheat,only at harvest time, there is no head of wheat. Fruitless. Jesus mentions an enemy tossing weed seeds in among the farmer’s crop, causing mixture: tares growing among wheat. The result is, the farmer has to endure a season of pesky weeds stealing the nourishment from the real thing, unable to pull them up without risking damage to the entire crop. Those roots are so intertwined that if the farmer were to pull one, it would uproot the others. In the parable of the sower, some of the seed scattered fell among “thorns” …and those seeds could not produce because they were outnumbered before they even had a chance. Their root system was choked out by what? Tares. Why, even in our modern English, tare is a term used to describe “empty container;” specifically, the weight of that container before something is added, so that the weight of the filling might be calculated accurately. A big box with nothing in it…ever find disappointment in that? Sure you have! Pop the lid on that pizza box left on the table to find that it got emptied before you got any! I pondered these things last night after Pastor Mitch shared a powerful message on unity in the Body of Christ, in which he referenced the parable of the sower. However, my thoughts drifted to a tare, and the whole concept of something enticing which proves eventually to be fruitless: that counterfeit pursuit which looks legit all the way to harvest time, only to produce a big, fat nothing. It convicted me as I thought of the tares in my own life. So I go before my Father today and ask Him to set my affections on right things; to know the difference between a fruit-bearing seed and a vain distraction. Oh, they’re everywhere. And while we need relaxation, leisure, and even a little entertainment at times, how many tares do I nurture which will produce absolutely NO fruit? Your entire life will be wrapped around the choices you make. We all have an equal amount of seconds, minutes, hours in a day…even if the number of our years vary from one individual to another. Approach this day as if you must get a return on your investment, because today is all you really have this side of eternity. You might get another day tomorrow, but you might not; it’s a stark reality of our human existence. Confess 120 years, but live as if you could be gone tomorrow! Evaluate the gazillion little things that eat up your day, and stop feeding those activities and interests that have no true value. Don’t let your complicated, hurried, fruitlessness be a self-inflicted curse! Pray with me: Father, I am a spirit with a soul, dwelling in flesh. My soul (mind, will, emotions) is in a constant tug-of-war between my flesh and my spirit. You have such wonderful opportunities prepared for me, if only I will tune out the distractions and search You out! Whenever I am guilty of wasting time, send a way of escape from that temptation…bring to mind something worthy of that moment given to what won’t bear lasting fruit. I’m just as saved as I’ll ever be, and I know that my salvation can never be about my works; but Father, I want to produce because I love You! I don’t want to be an empty container. Fill me with Your love, Your favor, Your heart, Your desires, and may I go forth and sow, sow, sow! I am determined that I will not stand before You at the Bema Judgment with nothing more than an account of wasted opportunities. Purge my branches of dead things, trim off those ‘sucker sprouts” which steal nourishment from the fruit. I submit myself to You today willingly, and I say, “Make me a bumper crop fruit-bearer for Your Kingdom!” In Jesus name, Amen.

The Right Angle

Your eyes are like a window for your body. When they are good, you have all the light you need.  But when your eyes are bad, everything is dark. If the light inside you is dark, you surely are in the dark.  (Matthew 6:22-23 NCV)

glassesI recently found an almost absurdly simple gadget that compensates for, of all things, eyesight deficiencies.  It’s a pair of glasses (the cheapo plastic ones) whose lenses are completely black except for tiny holes spaced out over the entire surface of each lens.  Now, being very, VERY nearsighted (and most recently, adding the need for bifocals too—how can one be nearsighted AND farsighted?!!),  I was skeptical.  But to my surprise, when I popped out my contact lenses and put these glasses on, I could see!  Not 20/20, mind you, but this old girl normally can’t see more than a precious few inches in front of my face before everything morphs into one blurry blob.  I could actually SEE!

There are some claims that, if these strange glasses are worn for a certain amount of time each day, and in conjunction with certain other eye exercises, one can actually reverse his or her declining vision and eventually no longer need eyeglasses.  You retrain your brain and your eyes to do what they were meant to do all along.  Now, I don’t know if that’s true, but their theory makes sense, considering that the most common vision problems are usually caused by the eyeball becoming elongated rather than round The “mirrors” get out of line, kind of like when you get behind the wheel and someone else has the mirrors configured in a way which doesn’t work for you!  By merely changing the angle and intensity at which light enters the retina, suddenly the focus is corrected.  It’s the same principle optometrists use when they determine the strength (the percentage of “bend” in either convex or concave lenses) of your eyeglasses; and corrective surgery goes after the same goal—to restore the angle at which light enters the eye.

In our ever-shrinking world, we have “light” coming at us from all directions—half truths, humanistic worldviews, deceitful marquis messages of so many different, seemingly good things that our eyes are continually scanning and taking in.  And while the little fragments of Confucius, Buddhism, Humanism, Hinduism, Taoism, Intellectualism, and even the Koran may contain some truth, when we combine all those “isms” together, they form a ‘pr-ism’ which scatters our vision every other direction instead of toward the undefiled, unadulterated truth of God’s Word.   When we try to take all of those other things and roll them up into one big religion or paradigm (even trying to mix it with Christianity) it just doesn’t work…and the worst part is, most of what we absorb turns our focus back to our finite life here on earth instead of pointing toward eternity.  Could it be we’re so full of other influences, trying to mix it all in so as not to miss anything, that our vision has turned to blindness?  New Age, old lie.

We need God’s Word.  We need God’s Word exclusively.  God’s Word is perfect and entire, and it needs no special adapter to make it fit.  When our vision is corrected by its complete truth, we can see clearly.  We focus on the right things and we think beyond this short life into a much more vast period of time—eternity.  Is it narrow?  Oh yes.  It’s as narrow as those tiny holes in that pair of glasses, but when we allow our spirit and soul to acclimate to its perfect guidelines, we are receiving LIGHT from a different angle—from a SINGLE angle.  It sharpens the lines instead of blurring them.  It changes our perspective and our perceptions, and aligns them with absolute truth.

I don’t know about you, but I need to see clearly.  I’ve wrapped my toes more than once around a coffee table leg or bedpost in the middle of the night, stumbling for the bathroom without my glasses on.  I’ve made some major life blunders out of lack of focus, too—painful ones.  I’m in an ongoing process of retraining my eyes and brain to see my life and all that’s around me from a different perspective—God’s—and while it’s unconventional to say the least, it brings glorious light into my spirit from the right angle.  Anything less would leave me groping in the dark.  Anything less, I would surely be lost.

Oh, be careful, little eyes what you see.  There’s a Father up above, looking down in tender love, so be careful little eyes, what you see.

Where Heaven and Earth Meet

I can remember how, when I was a little girl in kindergarten, all us kids would make crayon pictures.  Most of the children would draw a house, trees, pets, and people, sandwiched between a strip of green across the bottom for grass, and a strip of blue across the top, for sky.  My teacher eventually explained to the children that, in order to draw it correctly, the sky actually came all the way down to the ground, without a separation in between.  The heavens touching the earth.  Interesting, that I would remember this now, 40 years after-the-fact.  I think I really understood the profoundness of it a few years ago, however, on the back of a Harley with my husband traveling a vast expanse of road under a heavy Montana sky.  It felt as if that beautiful morning sky were going to sit down on us and crush us!

Sometimes in our walk with God, we fail to grasp just how close He is to us, and how close eternity is to our finite lives here on earth.  We live as if we’re walking on the green strip of crayon grass, with blue Heaven way above us, and we’re stuck in the white middle far beneath.  We believe in Heaven, but have little comprehension as to just how real eternity is.

God wants to bring that Heaven down to meet us where we are.  When He created us, He was looking for living, breathing tabernacles in which to dwell.  Those beautiful, ornate churches in which we worship seem like a fitting place for God to live, but those aren’t nearly as precious to Him as a receptive human heart. The more closely we walk to Him now, the more eternity makes sense—and more precious the realization that life goes on beyond this short span of time.  There isn’t a strip of nothing in-between…and when our lives cease to exist here on earth, it will be merely a seamless kissing of earth and sky.

Draw close to your Heavenly Father today, and you’ll see what I saw that morning under the Montana sky:  what’s above us is so much bigger than what’s below.  It goes on, well, forever.

“Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven…” Colossians 3:1 NLT

©2012 Lisa Crum

And In the Bad Times, Too

SOMETIMES BEING FAITHFUL WHEN ALL IS NOT WELL IS THE GREATEST TESTIMONY WE CAN GIVE

In all of this, Job did not sin by blaming God.” – Job 1:22 NLT

My husband and I just finished reading through the story of Job in the Bible.  I can honestly remember a time when, as a young girl, I would hurriedly turn past that book.  In my mind, I felt that if I didn’t read about dealing with hard times, maybe I wouldn’t have to face them.  How juvenile!  Boy, how wrong I was!  Ready or not, life has a way of getting all in our business.

I know of situations all around me, and have come through a number of them myself, where the outcome of circumstances was quite different from what had been prayed.  It reminds me of that old song, “We’ll understand it better by and by,” because there are some things we’re not going to understand here.

Life is so full of circumstances which are unfair.  It just is.  It has been since the fall of Adam, in which Satan took over the earth’s lease from one man’s (and woman’s) disobedience.  Every bad thing which you’ve ever encountered is a result of sin being given dominion in the earth…not necessarily that you or I did something in particular to deserve the bad, but that sin itself has a place of rule in our atmosphere.  It sets up a chain reaction of sorrow, pain, sickness, loss, and ruin which attacks everyone in its path.  Deserve has nothing to do with it, as often as not.

There have been so many instances when I’ve prayed—and sincerely believed—for a favorable outcome, only for it not to happen as I’d hoped.  Good people have gone on to be with the Lord who, if measured by their faithfulness to God, should have been healed and gone on to live out their days unscathed.  And every time I interceded on their behalf, my mind always went to how the Lord would be glorified if they received their miracle.  My heart counted on seeing people’s faith bolstered when that miracle took place; and in part, my prayers were often motivated by a fear that people would become discouraged and forsake the Lord if an outcome was not as was hoped for.

I can’t fathom how God has such a more thorough view of things than we have.  We’re told in the Scriptures that His ways are higher than ours, and it’s true.  One thing I’m learning as I grow in the Lord is, His answers to our prayers are always based on eternity rather than this one tiny life.  As a matter of fact, if we received a ‘yes’ to every prayer, we humans would make everything about the here and now.  Our affections would be vested in the present, rather than eternity.  Our desires would be totally self-serving.

I’m not saying that everything we ask for is selfish.  Most of the time, we’re asking for good things; needed things.  But just as a child who gets everything it whines for, we too would become spoiled if we got everything we asked for in prayer.  We would serve God just for the loaves and fishes, rather than to know Him intimately.  When Who He is becomes eclipsed by what we can get out of Him, we bypass relationship for quick gratification.  And when good people have only good things happen to them, we begin to forget that it’s God’s grace instead of our works which gives us favor in His sight.

So where’s the balance in it all?  We should always pray with faith in the Word and what it says about our situation; but we must always allow God the sovereignty in how He chooses to answer.  He knows so much more about the future than we can possibly comprehend.  And in truth, sometimes we need to see living examples of people who remain faithful even when the outcome of their prayers isn’t what they asked.  Though it’s not what we enjoy witnessing, we sometimes need to see good people encounter difficulties and face them with courage.  Sometimes we ourselves are those good people who have to walk in wilderness settings.  You can learn a lot more about faith from someone who has to forge through trial and tribulation, than you can from someone who seems to have everything going right and well in his/her life.

If we never have to go through hard times, we are probably not going to be compassionate toward others who struggle.  It’s easy to become sanctimonious when we feel we have an “edge” on other people spiritually.  Why do you think Jesus allowed Himself to experience everything a human can be tempted with?  Aren’t you glad He intercedes for you before the Father, knowing that He has first-hand experience at what you’re facing and feeling?

We also need to remember that when we’re going through terrible things,God’s not doing it to us!  Going back to the truth that sin has ruined Eden for all of us, remember that your enemy—the Devil—is behind anything bad you’re encountering.  So often I hear people misquote the Scriptures, and their explanation of the hard time is that “God won’t PUT ANYTHING on us that we can’t bear.”  That’s not what it says!  It says, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not LET you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”  (1 Cor. 10:13 NIVFurthermore, His Word says, “And remember, when you are being tempted, do not say, “God is tempting me.” God is never tempted to do wrong, and he never tempts anyone else.” (James 1:13 NLT)  It is true, however, that God will test us; but it’s not so that He can see whether we will remain faithful.  He already knows!  He allows us to go through things so that we ourselves can know the depth of our faith.  And like muscles, faith will atrophy if we don’t have to exercise it once in awhile.  Remember, a test from God is designed to strengthen and refine you…a temptation or attack of the enemy is an attempt to destroy you, and at the very least, to destroy your faith.  If something has come about to steal from you, to kill you, or to destroy you or someone you love, it’s not God’s doing!  It’s orchestrated by the one who kills, steals, and destroys.  Jesus’ will is to give you life—and a more abundant one, at that!

As we wait for answers to our many requests today, I pray that we will be willing to allow God to answer our needs in light of eternity.  I pray that we’ll be mature enough to endure with grace those seasons when there is no detour around trouble.  And I pray that, should we have to come through something unthinkably hard, our testimony of remaining faithful to the end will be as effective an example as if our troubles had vanished immediately upon asking.  Whether you realize it, your life and how you live it is an ongoing teaching to others, so we need to be teaching the right lesson!  It’s not all about this life, but eternity!  Those saints who allowed themselves to be martyred for their faith knew this…and not even death could defeat them.  Even now, when we come to the end of this finite human life, death cannot defeat us because Jesus took the keys to death and Hell!

Lord, we want blessing all the time; we just do.  The carnal, selfish part craves getting our own way and it pouts when we don’t get it.  But I pray, help us this day to be faithful in plenty and in famine, in good times and in bad, and in times when the answer isn’t what we asked for.  You are good all the time; may our speech, our attitudes, and our actions point to an eternal versus a temporal hope in You.  Just as You restored Job after a terrible storm in his life, You will take care of us too.  In life and in death, people are watching us, so help us to live right and to die right, perhaps leading someone else to an eternity with You in the process.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

©2012 Lisa Crum

An Internal Fountain of Youth

Since I’ve reached a certain median age, it seems as if every mail order company in the Continental U.S. has my address or email.  Ten years ago I got trendy, youthful apparel catalogs…now I’m getting life insurance applications, ads for miracle wrinkle and fat erasing creams, booklets full of ugly shoes (which I’ll NEVER be old enough to wear, thank you!), mailers for high-fiber supplements, and yes, brochures for motor scooters.  I haven’t even broken fifty yet and already my demographic has changed.  Even what little television I watch these days seems to be have its audience pegged for the declining years of life, because all the commercials are for prescription medications and accessibility aids.

So, it is true that each year brings changes to our lives…some subtle and others not so much.  The metabolism goes south, our teeth yellow and wear down, we suddenly need either reading glasses or longer arms (smile), and we have to decide to either go gray or fight it to the death.  Our society is oh-so-focused on how youthful we can remain, and suddenly we feel that same peer pressure we thought we’d kicked in high school…the struggle to project an acceptable version of ourselves.

We may or may not choose to try to slow the wheels of time for our outer man.  For some of us, the changes are too painful to bear, and we exhaust our energy and our pocketbooks just to buy one more year, ten more years, of youth and beauty.  Others of us are passively embracing the gradual changes in our appearance, trying to find the humor hidden in the irony of time and gravity.  However the transition might personally affect you, be encouraged…for there’s a part of you that is exempt from the ravages of time:  your spirit man!

The Apostle Paul revealed a priceless nugget when he penned these words:  “Therefore we do not become discouraged (utterly spiritless, exhausted, and wearied out through fear). Though our outer man is [progressively] decaying and wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day after day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16 AMP)  I love this Scripture in every translation I’ve read, and the Amplified version includes the word “progressively” in both parts of the passage.  I daily witness the outer “progressively” when I have to stand in front of that full-length mirror…but I often fail to acknowledge the INNER “progressively”…the one that says I’m brand-new every morning!  Regenerated.  Reborn.  A fresh layer of spiritual skin as blemish-free as a baby’s.  My spirit man will not get arthritis, age spots, cancer, Alzheimer’s, or just flat-out old.  EVER.

If sickness and age-related conditions have taken their toll on your outer man, I want to encourage you to begin praising the Lord for the one part of your being that cannot be touched by the enemy.  Thank God for His Holy Spirit which dwells in your spirit, and begin declaring Scriptures of renewal even on your outer man as you speak in faith.  True, unless we go out in the Rapture, eventually all of us will have to taste of death…but we do not have to accept just anything and everything that the enemy tries to heap onto our backs.  If you’re even having to face a potentially terminal illness, all the more reason to praise the Lord for that part of you which sickness can never touch—that inner man or woman which lives on even when the outer one starts faltering.  As I write this, I’m praying for you to find the strength to bravely face each day, in sickness or in perfect health…always thankful, always determined, always looking to an eternity beyond this one short life.

When I was meditating on all these things a couple of days ago, I believe the Lord allowed me to get a little revelation about 2 Corinthians 4:16.  When our spirit is daily renewed here, it is as whole and healthy on this side of Heaven as it will be the day we enter eternity! If you’re daily walking with God, feasting on His Word, talking with your Father, allowing His Holy Spirit to dwell within you and guide your words and choices, you are taking on a renewal of spirit every single day.  When we get to eternity, we’ll have that glorified body to match it…but there’s a part of you right now that has absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with it!  So stop obsessing over the outside and see that beautiful, created-in-His-image inside!

Confess and receive your daily renewal.  Allow the Lord to renew your strength like the eagle’s…and when the outside man starts showing his or her age, allow your vision to re-focus on a deeper, more substantial part of who you were created to be.  Rest assured that you have a spirit which, like the mercies of God, is renewed every morning!  How’s THAT for an anti-aging formula?

“He who believes in Me [who cleaves to and trusts in and relies on Me] as the Scripture has said, From his innermost being shall flow [continuously] springs and rivers of living water.” (John 7:38 AMP)

©2012 Lisa Crum

Hold Out for Your Eternity

A cloud of sadness has hung heavy the past couple of weeks over our close-knit, rural area.  We’ve seen the death of a teenager, a child, and an infant within days of one another, and it’s painful to hear the stories of families and friends coping with unexpected losses.  I can’t imagine what agony they’re navigating through right now; it’s one of those times when there seems to be so much we should be able to say, and yet the words won’t come.  It’s like that when there are no easy answers.

I’m reminded of several stories in the Bible where parents had to cope with the unthinkable.  A mother, Rizpah, who spent months standing off the wild birds and beasts after her sons were executed to exact vengeance for a broken covenant; a grieving King David, who had fasted and prayed for days that his young son might live…but still had to bury him; Job, who said that the thing he feared most had come upon him when he lost all of his children in a single tragic accident; and finally a mother, Mary, who had to stare up helplessly at her dying Son Who’d been born for the very purpose of giving His life a ransom for many.  To these parents, hope would find its way in time, but as some of you may well know, there’s nothing a mother and father can do but just swim against the riptide of immeasurable sadness when a child is lost.  There’s no detour around the grieving process; and whether your child is 3 months old or 70 years old—when it’s your child—the only thing that comes to mind is “too soon.”

I wish I had the perfect soothing answer to fill the gaping wound left in these families’ lives, but since I’m of only finite wisdom, I’ll keep my answer to this:  sometimes the worst things happen, even to the best of people.  Even to God’s elect.  Does it mean that our Father doesn’t care about us…that He is absent, indifferent, or caught by surprise at our misfortune?

No; on the contrary, God loves us very much.  He isn’t sitting up there playing a cosmic shell game with us.  He does, however, have a timetable that operates quite opposite of our comprehension of time.  We can only see the joys and sorrows that are right in front of us.  He sees eternity past and future.  Before time was, He is.  Somewhere on that timetable, there is a set date which only He knows; and on that date, sin’s lease upon this earth will expire.  Sin set the opportunity in motion for perfect lives to go perfectly wrong.  Bad things happen to even good people, because Adam’s fall forfeited man’s lease of our world.  A serpent’s conniving deceit—and that first couple’s desire to venture outside God’s safe boundaries—set the stage for many tears to follow.  The devil had no dominion over the human race until man chose to take his word over God’s, and it’s been a mess ever since.

Prayer will divert many bad things from our path, but not all.  And just because you or a loved one has just experienced the worst thing that could ever happen, doesn’t mean you did something to cause it.  The disciples in John 9 asked Jesus who had sinned, the blind man or his parents, to cause his illness.  Jesus replied that neither had…but that this was an opportunity for God’s works to be displayed in him.  God didn’t strike this man blind, as some might have supposed;  He would, however, bring glory to Himself through the restoration of what was broken. The enemy comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus came to bring life—filled to the brim and overflowing.

Right now you may be going through something for which there is no answer, no consolation.  As you feel your way through the fog of grief and confusion, I encourage you to talk to God.  Cry to Him, even argue at Him, but don’t walk away from Him.  Even if you feel He has allowed something grossly unfair to happen, talk to Him anyway.  Don’t allow the enemy to drive a wedge between you and the Source of hope, because as badly as you hurt, God is still the only one who can heal the hurt.  The “accuser of the brethren” can’t pull the wool over God’s eyes, but he will often try the angle of isolation to separate us from our Father.  If he can get us to harbor unforgiveness toward God, others, or even toward ourselves, he can cause our healing to be delayed indefinitely.  Don’t give him the satisfaction.

When you can’t find rhyme or reason behind any of it—-and yes, life is not always fair, as I’ve well come to know-—remember one word:  eternity.  That same timetable on which the end of sin’s lease is situated has no finish point itself…because there is no end to eternity.  Whatever has failed or gone wrong in this one fallible, short life, He will perfect in the eternity that follows.  He will take the injustices, the tragedies, the losses you’ve encountered, and will work them toward your eventual good, as Romans 8:28 assures us. Some of it He’ll make up to you in this life.  Some of it, He’ll finish in eternity.  Just know that to the believer, we have His assurance that we won’t have to hurt forever. Clutch onto the reality of eternity, and hold on for dear life…it will comfort you when you feel out of your mind with grief.  Right now, my words may offer little solace; they may even anger you. In time, you will be ready to move out of the most painful place of grief and will seek answers.  There will come a day when your soul will be open to reaching for an eternity better than the present circumstance…and when you are ready, you’ll find God’s constant grace right there.  You’ll even look back and see where He had never left your side.

At the end of Job’s nightmare season, God blessed him with twice as much as the enemy had robbed: double the lost material goods, greater measure of health, more sons and daughters.  But the best part is, when at last he got to eternity, and after he got to behold the God Whom he’d refused to deny, he found that those original sons and daughters (remember, those kids on whose behalf he prayed and gave sacrifices to God just in case they committed any wrong) were also waiting on him.  He didn’t lose a thing, because prayers to our Heavenly Father are never wasted.

Revelation 21:4 says everything I couldn’t possibly sum up about the end to sorrow as we know it:  “He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (NLT) There will come a day, friends, when for those of us who place our hope in Jesus, all the terrible things we’ve suffered in this life will be faint memories overshadowed by the glory of His resurrection power.  Isn’t it mind-boggling to think that sadness, sorrow, mourning will be obsolete emotions in our eternity, upgraded to peace, fullness of joy, and never-ending pleasure?  Hold out for your healing.  Hold out for your eternity.  A better day awaits you, because God IS good.  All the time.

©May 2012 Lisa Crum