Sometimes Resurrection Requires Letting Go (Amanda Miller Garber)

3254a0cb305b209fbf29469efcfce9c0Mother’s Day is difficult for me.  Since it always falls on Sunday, I usually play hooky, so I wont have to put on the façade of “happy mom.”  However, this Sunday was different.  As fate would have it…or maybe God…this Sunday I was slated to help with communion service.  So for that reason, I sucked it up, and went to church.  “Let the acting begin,” I thought, as I walked through the door.

Now, you may wonder, why Mother’s Day is so difficult.  Several reasons.  One, my mom is dead, and yes I miss her, but, I also do tremendous guilt for not spending more time with her while she was alive.  Two, I miss my own children, who live far away, and I also do tremendous guilt for decisions I made in the past…decisions that negatively impacted their lives.   Some of those decisions needed to be made, but, none-the-less, I do guilt…and I do it well.  I usually hear from them…a text or a call, but I can’t help but wonder how Mother’s Day would be if I’d only chosen a different path.  It torments me.

On Mother’s Day I just want to crawl into a hole, but this year the hole sat empty, as I sat in church.  Listening to the pastor’s sermon, something she said jumped out at me, and caught my attention.  She said, “Sometimes, resurrection requires letting go.”  She asked the question, and I paraphrase, “What is keeping you from experiencing true resurrection in your life?  What are you holding on to, that needs to be let go?”

***

Today, intellectually, I realize I need to let go of the past, but I’m discovering it’s not easily done.  I guess, a good first step would be forgiveness.  Somehow, some way I need to figure out how to forgive myself.  My prayer is for God to show me the way.  I’m sure it’s not something that’s said and done, but rather, something that must be practiced on a daily basis.  I pray for God’s strength.

Just like a baby learning to walk, we have to let go, to move forward.  More often than not, what we desperately cling to is toxic.  If we fail to let it go, we begin a slow death that eats away our individuality, until we no longer recognize ourselves.

We all teeter on the precipice of transformation, but to get there we must let go.

***

“Sometimes, resurrection requires letting go.”   __Amanda Miller Garber

 

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The God Who Sees Me…

“You are the God who sees me…” __ Hagar

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I’ve always felt a kinship with Hagar.  Hagar was the maidservant of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.

This is her story:

Sarah, the wife of Abraham, was barren.  None-the-less, God had promised  that through their children would come the nation of Israel.  Abraham and Sarah had tried to have children for many years, but now they were old, and Sarah finally gives up hope.  One day, she tells her husband…  “The Lord has kept me from having children.  Go sleep with my maidservant (Hagar); perhaps I can build a family through her.”

[SCRRRREEEEEECH…]

[Pardon the interruption…it’s just my wheels coming to a halt!  Okay, if I had been the writer of this Genesis’ story, I would have written it, more to this effect,

“…go sleep with my maidservant; perhaps I can build a family through her,” said, no woman ever! 

Call it a hunch, but, I have a sneaky suspicion this idea was more Abraham’s than Sarah’s.]

[…now…back to the story]

So, Abraham, “obeyed” his wife, and slept with Hagar, and Hagar, became pregnant.  Of course, tension mounts between the two women, until one day, all hell breaks loose within the camp.  Sarah, in a jealous rage, mistreats Hagar.  Scripture gives no detail as to how, but it was bad enough for Hagar to run away, and hide, from her mistress, in the dessert.  Scared and alone, Hagar finally finds a spring of water and pauses  to drink.   God sees her at the spring, and begins a conversation with her.  It goes something like this: 

God:  Hagar, what has happened and where are you going?”

Hagar:  “I’m running away…”

God: “Go back… face the problem, and I will be with you.”

Hagar: “You are the God who sees me…”

And so, Hagar returns.  The problem doesn’t go away, but God is true to his word, and helps her every step of the way.  Eventually, she is blessed with a son, she names Ishmael, and through Ismael’s descendants the Arab nation is born. 

 

In my life, I have endured many “Hagar moments,” and I bet you have too.

How often I’ve felt…

  • …alone
  • …misunderstood
  • …unloved
  • …without hope
  • …a victim of circumstances, beyond my control
  • …an outcast
  • …ready to give up

 

When I read God’s words to Hagar, I read them as if they were written just for me.  He tells me, “Go back, my child, and I will be with you.  Don’t give up, I have a good plan for you.”

I’m so thankful, He is the God who sees me.

***

Daily Prompt: Measure

Everything we need is give through His good measure.

 

 

Accepting Bridges, Instead of Walls

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God has called us to build bridges and not walls.  The whole story of Christ’s life, testifies to this.  During his ministry, Jesus broke down many walls of separation.

For example:

  • Jesus was a Judean Refugee living in Egypt.  (What if Egypt had built a wall?)
  • Jesus had many women disciples. (Gender Wall)
  • Jesus praised the Samaritans, whom the Jews considered dogs. (Race Wall)
  • Jesus spent his time with sinners, instead of the religious. (Religion Wall)
  • Jesus admonishes the poor, instead of the rich. (Status Wall)
  • Jesus proclaimed Grace instead of Law. (Rule/Regulation Wall)

Jesus leveled the playing field, where all are equal, and He calls us to do the same.

For He is our peace.  He has made us both one body, and has broken down the hostile, dividing wall between us.  Ephesians 2:14

 

Daily Prompt: Acceptance

 

God’s Abstract Love

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There are some things we will never understand, and God’s love is one of them.  Maybe there are times, we think, we comprehend its depth, only to have the knowledge drift away, like a cloud in the sky.

If it were possible to put God’s love to canvas, you can be sure, it would be abstract art.  I truly enjoy abstract paintings, because every time I view it, I learn something new; and for me, that is exciting!

Such is God’s love, dear friends.  It is multifaceted with many doors, but, behind each door stands Jesus.  He tells us, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in.”

Jesus knocks at our door, but sometimes it is required of us to knock. In the book of  Matthew, Jesus speaks, “Ask and it shall be given you, seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”

Sometimes we hear, see and feel his love, but often we do not.  When we walk the latter, we walk in God’s abstract love; but don’t despair; for it’s during these times, our faith is strengthened, and our eyes are opened to something new.

Jesus is whispering, “Seek, and you shall find.”

***

Daily Prompt: Abstract

 

Never Hesitate To Prove Your Love

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Some two thousand years ago Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”  Not once, but three times Jesus asked this of Peter, and three times Peter replied, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

One may question, why did Jesus ask this three times?

Why wasn’t one “yes” enough for Jesus?

Was Jesus so insecure that he needed to hear Peter, say it three times?

Of course not.  Jesus was trying to  teach Peter a valuable lesson about true love.

This account is found in John chapter 21.  When reading the story, we notice after each “yes” from Peter, Jesus says, “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” and lastly “Feed my sheep.”  In doing this, I believe Jesus is trying to convey to Peter that, true love is not how you feel, or what you say, but rather, true love is what you do.  True love is action. 

I think it probable, Jesus asks us the same question, many times a day, and it’s not an answer he seeks, but rather a response.

We prove our love for Jesus, when we take care of his people.

My Daily Prayer:  Lord, as I go through this day, help me to hear your question, “Do you love me?”  May I hear it when I see the hungry, the poor, the lonely, and may I love you, by loving them.  Jesus, fill me, that I may be you, to all those around me. In your beautiful name I ask, Amen.

***

Never hesitate to prove your love.

 

 

 

More Than a Conqueror

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photo from: http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/blog/5-easy-ways-to-build-your-inner-strength/

For the past week I’ve lived a defeated life.  I’ve lived as though my fears had come to fruition, and those things I dreaded the most, had arrived and taken their abode in my life.

In truth, I had surrendered, even before the battle had begun.

Yesterday, a friend sent this text, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ.”  It touched and warmed my heart, but still I continued my day as a lamb headed toward its fate.

This morning, I got out of bed with the same mindset.  Like a zombie I dragged toward the coffee maker, and set it in motion.  As my coffee brewed, I mindlessly began to fill three bowls with kibble and hefty dollops of beef stew from a can.  Three wagging tails increased pace as I set the bowls on the floor.

Coffee in hand, I sat to read my morning devotion that was slated for this second day in February.  (I have the app “Power Thoughts” on my phone and try to read it everyday)  The words I read, roused me from slumber…

“The Bible states that we are more than conquerors, and we are to reign as kings in life, through Jesus Christ.” 

There it was again, “…we are more than conquerors…”

Coincidence?  Some may say, “yes,” but for me, it was a gentle shake of my shoulders, waking me to reality.  I am the child of a King, and my Father wants me to live as such.

Come what may, poverty, loneliness or any other trouble, still I am more than a conqueror through Christ.

In this life, He lives within me, and in the next I’ll live with Him, forever.

***

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  Romans 8: 35;37

Cleanse your mind of negative thoughts, one at a time.

 

You Are A Gift

We are uniquely created for reckless abandonment to our Creator. 

We crave Him,  and long for His sound and scent.

We yearn to share His story:  For God so loved the world.

 And no one else can tell the story quite like you. 

You are a gift to the world.

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How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You. (Psalms 139:17-18)

(Daily Prompt: Scent)

The Day I Floated

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Today’s word, float, reminded me of when I truly put my trust in Jesus.

I was sitting in a revival service, and the evangelist was teaching from the text of, II Kings 6:5-7.  I listened as scripture was read and this is what I heard that night:

 But it happened that as one was cutting down a beam, the axe head fell into the water; and he cried out and said, “Oh no, my master! It was borrowed!” The man of God said, “Where did it fall?” When he showed him the place, Elisha cut off a stick and threw it in there, and made the iron [axe head] float. He said, “Pick it up for yourself.” So he reached out with his hand and took it.

In the story, the man of God, Elisha, asked the one who had lost the axe head, “Where did it fall?”  The individual, extremely upset because the axe was not his own but borrowed, pointed to where it had fallen.  Elisha then, threw a stick into the water, and the iron axe floated.

Somehow, sitting in that service, I identified with the axe head that had fallen into the water.  I felt lost, heavy laden, and unable to save myself.  I recognized my helpless plight and called out to Jesus.  Jesus, by his Grace, lifted me from the water, my sins fell away, and I was safe in his embrace.

Jesus lovingly tells us, “Verily, verily, I say unto  you, he that hears my word, and believes on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”

My prayer:   Lord, thank you for speaking to my heart that night.  Thank you for lifting me up, so that I could pass from death unto life.  I was lost, but now I’m found, and it’s all because of your love and grace.  May I fall more in love with you, as each day, of my earthly life, passes.  Amen 

(In participation of today’s daily prompt: Float)

 

 

Grace is Found in Hues of Gray

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Recently, I had a family member express concern for my soul.  Their reason?  I’m a lesbian.

Now, first of all, I realize their concern is an expression of love, but I also know, they fear if they fail to warn me, then my blood will stain their hands, at the great white throne of God’s judgement.  I know this because, I too, once held to such belief.  I am aware of the almost unbearable pain this causes, and it makes me sad.

After a lifetime of being taught this, it ceases to be an opinion, and becomes a way of life, which is extremely hard to escape.  Everything in life, is governed by the philosophy of black and white, cut and dry, leaving no room for debate. There are no hues of grays, it’s either wrong or right, irregardless of what modern technology or science proves different.

For example, I Corinthians 6:9-10 names a long list of characters who have no hope of heaven.  Listed among these, of course, are homosexuals, but also listed are people who covet, adulterers, thieves and drunkards.  There’s a significantly longer list, found in Romans chapter 1, and it contains, people who envy, people who gossip, people who are proud, and even people who are disobedient to their parents.

May I be so bold as to say, everyone in the world, falls somewhere within these categories.  So, if taken literally, no one, it seems, should ever make it to the pearly gates, but that, my friends, is the point; and this point, is often missed because the reader becomes side tracked by the mention of the “sin” of homosexuality.

The point is, no one, absolutely no one, is worthy of Gods Kingdom.  To stress this, Paul in the same book writes, “There is no one righteous, no, not one…for all have sinned…”

Thankfully, the book of Romans doesn’t end upon this dire note, but instead it points the reader to one person:  Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ, and what he means to all of mankind, is the sole emphasis of the whole book of Romans.  If you read the whole book, instead of picking scripture here and there, the conclusion is made that we are all “… justified freely by God’s grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus…Therefore we conclude, that a man is justified by faith without the deed of the law.”

Now, having written all of the above, I am aware there are arguments to be made.  My fundamental and evangelical friends pose some valid questions about homosexuality and sin in general.  I truly want to address these; however, that is another blog for another time.  To be honest, more than a blog post…a series.

In closing, I just want to say, as a gay-christian, (no oxymoron) I choose to live by grace.  Grace is a world of unanswered questions; a world full of wonder that drives us to seek answers. We become scrappy Christians, who wrestle and grapple to find answers, but at the end of the day, we still have to say, “I don’t know” and because of grace, that is okay.  Grace is, not knowing the answers while resting in peace.

In the past, the accusations, from well-meaning Christians-family and friends-would anger me and set me on the defensive.  I would think, “How dare they judge my relationship with God?”  That’s not, so much, my reaction anymore, instead, I am saddened by the fear, I know they feel.  I wish, there were a way, to draw back the curtains of my soul, so all concerned, could witness my relationship with God.  This, I know, is the only thing that would lay such fears to rest.