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I must confess – I often hide my true feelings.  And I know I’m not alone.  I see people all the time and as far as they are concerned, life is great.  I say I’m fine but busy.  I smile.  I ask how they are doing.  Often times I truly pursue how they are doing.

All the while, I’m crying inside.

And social media makes it even worse!

How does one deal with isolation?  I know what the Sunday school answer is – “Jesus”.  And He truly is the reason I can keep going.  And yet, the loneliness still looms ever near.  And I’m not alone in dealing with feelings of loneliness. I hear from others how disconnected they feel.  I watch people leave groups they’ve been with for years all because they feel abandoned, alone, isolated.

What is the answer?

It really is Jesus, but I think we forget the form He “takes”.  He expects US to be His hands and His feet.  He wants us to reach out to others, to include others, even when it might be uncomfortable.  He wants us to spend our time caring more about making connections than the inconveniences to ourselves.

Philippians 2:4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others.  Ephesians 4:32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted…

And the opportunities that abound!

How many people were like me, sitting at home on Superbowl Sunday because no one reached out to say, “Hey, come join us.”  How many then struggled with the darkness looming ever near?  How many got the twitter feed or snapchat/instagram feed of the evening festivities that they were not a part of and the gloom grew.  How many felt the isolation driving deeper into their spirit when on Monday morning they learned from Facebook posts of all the friends who were at parties and not one included them?  How many then began to lose the battle with the darkness, even those who know Him?

I struggle with the answer.

I don’t claim to be a theologian nor do I claim to have the answers that will prevent one from ever feeling the despair of loneliness.  All I have are my thoughts  –  and my heart.

This feeling of isolation is so overwhelming at times.  It can feel like a wave that you see coming and think you can ride out only to have it crash over you and drag you under such that you can’t catch your breath.  Then, when you break free of the wave, you lie on the beach, exhausted, struggling to even move.  But you must, for the next wave is coming.

My heart breaks for every person who feels the deep abyss of that isolation because I feel it sometimes.  I know the despair that threatens to overwhelm.  I also know the frustration of being the one who tries to connect only to be – forgotten.  I know the journey of trying to be in relationship with others only to be rebuffed at every turn.  I know this isolation and it can be consuming.

So what is the answer?

I know what most of us want and also to some degree what most of us think “we” should do.  We should include others in our lives.  We should invite people over.  We should be aware of our special “inner” circles that we really don’t let others into – our cliques.  We should go outside our comfort zones.  We should seek to get to know the “strangers” in our midst.  We should …

And of course, we often look at others and see how much they are not doing what we think “we” would do all the while we aren’t actually doing all that we think we are.

So, we who feel isolated see others who are living life, having fun with each other while we sit on the outside, looking in wishing desperately that we were on the inside too.

And we cry.  But do we cry out?  For the answer lies in crying out.

Psalm 34 presents an answer – dare I boldly say THE answer?

When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears …v17

For those who know the Lord, there is comfort found in His word.  The promise that when I cry out God hears me.  The assurance that the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (v18).  He is ready to carry us through the desert called isolation.  It is not that He promises that my loneliness will ever abate – for it may not.  His word  – the living and active word, can work as a salve to our soul if we let it.

Our Lord is so patient.  He has made promises to us about His presence in our lives and when we choose to fight against the goads, He patiently waits for us to return to Him.  And when we return to Him, seeking Him alone, He actually allows us to have a taste of His sweet rest – the rest that we will have in complete fulness in heaven.  Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!  Blessed is the man (or woman) who takes refuge in Him! (Psalm 34:8)  He is our refuge and our strength.  By resting in Him, our feelings of isolation, loneliness abate.  As we seek Him to care for our broken hearts, He gives us the strength to be His hands and His feet regardless if anyone ever invites us to do anything ever again.  By seeking Him as our refuge, we learn to say even in my isolation Lord I will yet praise you.

Whatever you do, do all to the glory of the Lord.  We can even do “isolation” to the glory of God.  Yes, we can!  We can trust that what is going on in our lives at this moment is not beyond His sight or care.  We can remember that there are many people who not only feel our isolation but they are missing hope for they do not know the Lord.  We can continue to reach out to others never knowing if that next contact may become our dear, dear friend.  It has been my limited experience that God does not shine a spotlight on our path.  He gives us just enough light for the next step.  And He does it because He loves us.  So I can feel isolated; then I can choose to seek His face and walk forward trusting His work in my life.

God never promised that I would feel great all the time.  He did not promise my life would be easy or free from struggles.  He told me that in the midst of all that is going on in my life, He is working all things together for good.  And this can be enough to get back up after the wave has hit and keep seeking to make the connections, be that light, remembering we have been entrusted with the message of reconciliation as ambassadors for Christ to those who are lost and dying.

I hope that if you know me and you are feeling that isolation that you will take a chance on me.  Let me know you are getting hit by the wave.  I will in turn do my best, by His grace, to walk with you and help you walk through.  For I know this place of pain and I want to be His hands and feet to you.

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The other day I made the comment that God uses everything in our lives to mold us and shape us.  I was struck anew by how true this is when I began to reflect on Apollo.

Apollo was a beautiful Manchester Terrier – dogs that are about 18 inches tall but have the look of Doberman Pinchers.  We got Apollo as a puppy.  He had a quirky disposition and loved to play fetch.  He looked so stately.

But he had a dark side too.

We first began to experience problems with Apollo the night we brought him home from being neutered.  He had had surgery so when he bit my daughter, we concluded she must have accidently touched him in a very sensitive spot.  Unfortunately, that was the first of over 30 bites the members of this family sustained.

We could never make the connections to what was setting him off.  If we were preparing food and we moved while he was underfoot, he’d bite our feet.  A few times he bit us as we were trying to get a toy out from under the couch.  Every time he bit us, he had that shameful look dogs get when they do something wrong.  So we thought it had to be us.

Things got to the point where we did not invite people over.  He hated men so that nixed us being able to entertain.  If people came to our house, we had to make sure he was locked up.  This is not a way to live.

By law, we were supposed to report each bite and we didn’t.  We couldn’t.  We truly believed this was a matter of training and we had to work through this.  We also knew that by Virginia law, 2 bites labeled a dog as vicious and he would be euthanized by the state.  We truly did not believe Apollo was vicious.

My youngest was the first and the last victim of his biting.  The last straw came when he attacked her foot.  The only things she had done was stand perfectly still and quiet.  In other words, there was no stimulus to warrant his action.  He just got freaked out by something and attacked.

My oldest and I took him to the vet to do what we never wanted to do.  We had him euthanized.  The entire time I was weeping.  It was the most painful thing I have ever done.

Once he was gone, we had some freedom and spoke of our problem.  I had people judge us – “I would never allow a dog to bite me once and live much less more than 30 times”.  We had a rescue organization tell us we were unfit to have a new dog because we euthanized a dog that bit us over 30 times.  We couldn’t win.

Why did God allow this to happen to our family?  To prepare us for such a time as this.

Currently there is fallout from the sins committed by a friend.  From the ramifications of this friend’s sin I am seeing how God has used the events of Apollo in my life to help me have compassion and seek after God.

We humans are so quick to judge when we are not the parties involved in the exposed sin.  We make hard and fast judgment calls about how, why, when, and what.  Some go so far as to excuse horrific behavior while others are willing to condemn with no room for redemption or restoration.  The immediate sufferers of the sin are being looked at as how could they let this happen with no understanding of what it must be like to be in the middle of loving a person who is in sin.  Many are ready to blame God for the choices made and the consequences of sin.

How did this happen?

The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?  Jeremiah 17:9 . 

We deceive ourselves.  For whatever reasons, we convince ourselves our actions aren’t wrong or our actions are excusable.  We convince ourselves if we just do x, y, or z that we can prevent any further problems.  Sometimes we know what needs to be done but it is HARD!!!  So we endure the situation, making accommodations for the sin until we are left with no other option. – like with Apollo.

There is a whirlwind right now because the sin is no longer hidden.  And people are responding in a variety of ways.  And as I look to see how can I minister to any who need it, I was reminded that I have walked this road in a weird way and there are lessons to be learned.

God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (Numbers 14:18)

Events in our lives are not so simple  and clear as black and white.  God, knowing our natures, is patient with us.  So we need to be patient with each other.  We need to show steadfast love even for the one caught in sin.

God will not be mocked and does in fact allow us to do that which will bring about our own “destruction” (Isaiah 30:1-3, Galatians 6:7-8)

We cannot continue in sin and never suffer the consequences of it.  Apollo was going to keep biting.  And the law was clear about biting dogs.  It could not be mocked.  We were left with no other choice but to judge our dog according to the law of Virginia.  And we as Christians need to remember that God will not be mocked.  We cannot make excuses for our sin.

The consequences of sin do not just go away because we admit to it.  (John 20:26-27)

If you were to look at my arm, you would see 5 scars from the bites I sustained from Apollo.  His bites were such that the wounds did not heal in a manner that hides the cause.  They are a reminder of what he did to our family.  Our sins leave scars.  It is the scars of our sins that Jesus told Thomas to touch when he doubted that Jesus lived.  Our glorious Savior carries the scars from our sin.

God restores us even as He allowed us to suffer the judgment for sin (Isaiah 30:18-26, 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24)

It is crazy to use this picture but it works for me.  Although Apollo inflicted much pain to this family, he was one dog.  From having him in our lives we found we really were a dog family and immediately began the process for bringing another dog into our home.  We were judged by one rescue group.  But we didn’t give up.  We found another rescue group that listened to us, they showed compassion, and we became the family to the sweetest tempered dog.  Our youngest daughter no longer fears dogs like she was beginning to.  This dog has helped to heal her scars from Apollo.  We could see he needed a friend and from the same rescue got a second dog that also has helped us heal.  These two wonderful dogs have helped restore trust and brought healing to us.

God’s great love for us heals us from sin.  He is the Author and Finisher of our faith and He is in the business of restoring us.  Isaiah 61:1-3 reminds us of how He is going to replace the ashes of sin with a beautiful headdress and replace our mourning with the joy of gladness.

He longs to restore my friend, His child.  And I know He will in His time.

I sit in awe of my God who uses all things in my life to show me His great love for His children. Romans 8:28

If one gives an answer {makes up her own conclusions} before he hears, it is folly and shame. … The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:13,17

I commented on facebook that this passage had so much more meaning to me than it used to.  I spoke to life being a jigsaw puzzle.  I talked about ranting at God.  But my comment was also short of the mark.  I had come to a conclusion about a situation and I just KNEW my thoughts about it were correct.

Isn’t it just like us humans to draw our own conclusions as to the truth of a situation, to question the very character of a person just because WE don’t see the answer, hear the answer we want?  I know these verses are used when addressing conflict between two people.  But it applies to when we interface with God too.  You see we believe OUR side over his.  OUR thoughts as to what is going on instead of His character.  We compartmentalize so much, failing to see that God uses EVERYTHING to work out our sanctification.  Do we look to that irritating driver as being part of God’s plan for our lives?  What about that cold we got, the food intolerance we’ve developed, or that prickly person who just rubs us the wrong way?  God even uses our own tendencies to lie to ourselves, puff ourselves up, or our insecurities.  He uses ALL of it to speak to our souls.

We kind of take it for granted that people do that people will make predeterminations and jump to conclusions.  We make assumptions as to what people are thinking/planning/doing.  We spread gossip.  We get caught in our mouth mischief. And we move on.  But the heck of it is, we do this to GOD!.  We presume that what we think, how we feel, and our interpretation of events are the truth of a given circumstance.  We rant at God because He failed us.  He showed He didn’t care – He allowed some injustice to occur.  We give our answer without hearing God.  We state our case and Believe our case without “hearing” God’s side.  And we then rant because He is doing everything wrong.

That is until He reveals to us why His plan is the best plan.  Then we humble ourselves and apologize for our rants and go our merry ways.  

Why is that?  Why do we question His character and believe our own character?  We trust in our own knowledge more than in His knowledge.  We follow our own thoughts, ideas, plans and then wonder why our life is a mess.  We accuse Him of every conceivable thing only to find out in HIS time that His plan was the best plan all along.

I believe most conflicts with people stem from the fact that we actually trust ourselves more than we trust God.  Now that is just my opinion and I am sure that this could be argued.  But hear me out.  I say I am a Christ follower.  I say God is sovereign.  I say He is active in my life.  So why, when life does not go the way I want it to go do I question the One I say is sovereign, trustworthy, perfect, all-knowing, all powerful?  Why do I doubt that He is still active, still in control, still sovereign, trustworthy etc?

Because I believe myself first.  Because I choose to trust my opinions, thoughts, “knowledge” above the Creator of all.

“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine.  When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1b-3a

Such powerful words.  He knows me intimately.  He is with me wherever I am.  He will not let the flames of the fire consume me. Doesn’t mean things won’t get hot or that I won’t feel the pain of the fire.  It just means that the fire will not scorch me to a crisp such that I am consumed by the flame.  What a promise!  

And I KNOW this – when life is good.  I even know this when life is in total crisis mode.  But those in between times.  When the heat feels like it is starting to get to be more than I want.  When I feel a major injustice to my pride.  It is in these times that I show my true colors.  I trust me more than God.  I do not hold to His promises like I should.  I cling to my thoughts, my wisdom.

And thus, why I say I am so dull of learning.

God revealed another piece of the puzzle the other day and my “faith” was restored.  And He has been patient with me through this.  But my faith in God should not be dependent on me learning why He chose to allow things to happen to me.  My faith needs to be in HIM.  (I am pretty sure I keep coming back to this truth).  God’s character is all I need to rest in Him.  HE is I AM.  So as the storms of life occur – and they will occur, I should be resting in Him.  Joseph rested in Him and was sold into slavery, accused of sexual impropriety, was forgotten by someone he helped, and finally, after 12 years, was made a powerful leader of Egypt.  David was told he was God’s anointed to become king only to have the reigning king seek to kill him.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego trusted God’s character and were thrown into the furnace.  He never promised life would be easy and go the way we wanted it.  He promises us He is with us.  And this is where I need to look.  NOT to the circumstance but to Him.  I need to truly cling to His character instead of my bad informed knowledge.  

I am so glad that every time I question Him, He graciously shows me, in time, a portion of the puzzle that helps me accept His plan.

I long for the day that I can just accept His plan resting in who He is.

In the mean time, I will celebrate how He uses the most interesting situations to reveal those puzzle pieces and how gracious He is with my stubborn heart.  I will look to His word to help me grow.  And I am going to cling to those promises, no matter how weakly for He is I AM.

 

ImageHebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

Lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely.  Quite the command.  How often do we truly look at what weighs us down or the sin which so closely clings?  It is more than physical weight that holds us back.  Actually, I would argue that our physical weight is just an outward manifestation of our inner weight.  We turned to food (an idol) in order to try to deal with something in our hearts that was weighing us down.  We don’t just turn to food.  We turn to sleep, to texting/instagram/facebook/etc, exercise, shopping, smoking, drinking, drugs, gaming, reading, socializing, cutting, vengeance, gossip, you name we turn to it all because we have something weighing us down.

This something (or multiple somethings) is in our heart.  When I began these ramblings I said that my success would come from dealing with the heart.  And I said I wanted my journey to be one that others could benefit from.  But how do you benefit if you don’t know where I am turning?

So let me ask you something –

How is that heart?  

When we seek our solace in things of this world, things made by human hands, we are trying to run from what we are feeling – we are angry, envious, jealous, insecure, scared, alone, disconnected or any other debilitating emotion.  We don’t like this feeling so we seek that which will make us feel better.

There is nothing inherently wrong with most of the things on my list of go tos.  I love to read.  I enjoy facebook.  Texting is a phenomenal tool for me to stay in touch with my very busy daughter.  Exercise is critical to our health.  But too often, we spend a lot more time with one or more of these things because there is something we are yearning for and seeking for it from things made by man.

We have idols.

Why do we turn to those things that we fashion from our own hands/minds?  When I turn to food or TV or facebook or running, can any of that heal my broken heart?  My angry heart?  My alienated heart?  Can these idols bring peace?  Can these idols bring joy, love, patience, strength?

No.  And yet, we continually turn to them.

Why?  I believe the truth for many of us is that we do not believe God.  Oh we believe He exists.  We believe He is powerful; but we don’t believe He really cares for us, is really working in our lives, will really solve our problems.  It has been my experience that we believe there is something lacking in us that causes Him to not do in our lives.  We know He is real and we see how He works in others lives.  But for ourselves, we live as practical atheists.

Instead of holding fast to our confession of hope, knowing He is faithful (Hebrews 10:23) we look to other people, things, actions, programs.  We do it for “instant gratification”.  We do it because it is easy to go to these things.  We do it  for many reasons.  But may I suggest we also do it because we don’t want to ask ourselves the hard questions.  

Do I truly believe God?  Do I truly trust Him with ME?  Do I truly trust His ways?  Am I willing to trust that although the answers I am getting are not what I want that they are for my good and His glory?

Let’s be honest; the answers to these and many other personal deep questions can be scary.

So we turn to our idols.  They may not always give us the answers we want, but we understand them.  We KNOW them.  And they provide the satisfaction we long for – at least temporarily.

Then something happens and we realize we are still not satisfied and we once again go for our idol – more food.  More electronics.  More exercise.  More… you name it we go after it.  And rarely do we look at the futility of our actions.  We continue to look for a magic pill.  And we continue to ignore that we are not seeking the One who is able to satisfy us with living water, the One who has granted us ALL things that pertain to life and godliness (John 4:14, 7:38, 2 Peter 1:3, Revelation 21:6)

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith. (Hebrews 10:22a)  Full assurance.  True heart.  Can I be honest?  I think we lack these.  That’s why we so easily turn to human things/ideas/pleasures.  We are full of fear.  We are full of doubts.  We are full of disappointments.  We like Israel believe that our lives are hidden from the Lord, that He has forgotten us, that He does not care.

The place we need to turn is to Him – trusting that our ways are NOT hidden from Him; that He has NOT forgotten us, that He DOES care.

I have been seeking reasonable, earthly means to lose the physical weight.  And there are some measures that indicate change in the direction I want.  Yet the real change that is going to make the physical changes last is my believing God.  His word is helping me break free.  Knowing He is I Am is giving me the strength, courage, and focus to really face myself, make my heart face the fears, doubts, anger, etc that have caused me to turn to the wrong source for satisfaction.  Resting in His grace is giving me the courage to fly.

The storms will come, but my heart knows to Whom I will go.

It has been an interesting week.  Not going to lie – there have been some shaky moments for a variety of reasons.  But during the week, I just kept pressing on.  It’s what we have to do.

At one point, a friend posted a comment about how we need to trust God more and stop going to people first; this was an interesting challenge.  I am a verbal processor.  So my first inclination was to tell the post (not the friend) that talking to one or two trusted people is not a sign of failing to trust God.  It’s how I process.  Really – ask some of my friends and they will tell you how funny it is to let me ask questions that I then answer all for myself.  And with that thought in mind, I moved on.

Funny thing how God can talk to you…

(And this has to do with TV how?  Patience, I’m getting there)

So I usually do not watch a ton of TV.  Mostly cop dramas.  And Friday night is my favorite night for them.  I happened to be watching Blue Bloods last night – Tom Selleck has aged very nicely.  One of the story lines had to do with a case the police commissioner wanted reinvestigated.  Tom Selleck is the PC.  He tasked his son with the job and told his son to not tell anyone.  Of course, the son has a partner – a female partner.  When she asks him why he had to meet with his boss, the son wouldn’t say – even said he couldn’t say.  And the partner’s response was to be offended and take it personally.

As I was watching the scene, I was so annoyed at the partner.  I mean how dare she NEED to know something.  And it got me thinking.  Isn’t that how many of us respond to a friend not telling us what is going on?  We get offended?  And don’t we secretly enjoy listening to the struggles one person is having with another?  And don’t we secretly desire to complain about others and go to our trusted friend(s) in order to talk about someone but feel good about it because we are seeking wise counsel?

I’ve watched this play out throughout my life.  Sometimes I am the one going to others, sometimes others are coming to me, and sometimes others get offended and will go through all sorts of hoops to find out what they weren’t included on.

And here is how TV taught me something.  That post by my friend was brought back to mind.  It IS a lack of something for us when we go to others instead of first going to God.  It could be a lack of trust.  It could also be a strong desire to gossip.  It could be a desire to seek vengeance.  (These last two would indicate a lack of obedience) As I wrestled with the partner’s response to the son in the show, I realized that I can be that partner way too often.  I get offended when truly I need to trust my friend or trust God.

When we have things that we need to deal with – especially friend issues, why don’t we go to God FIRST?  Why is He not enough?  If we chose to go to God first instead of other people or worse, instead of facebook, then how many misunderstandings could be avoided?  How many friendships would not need to be damaged because gossip didn’t occur?

This thinking also got me thinking about the number of times we have problems with a particular person and never go to that person to resolve the problem.  If we are unwilling to talk to them about the problem, then either it is not that big a deal OR we are looking to bad mouth them.  I hate that.  Truly I do.

I do believe that God has given us trustworthy people to turn to for counsel and advice.  I know there are times when our lives are so convoluted we can’t see the forest for the trees.  So turning to a person who will speak words to us that open our eyes to that forest is a gift God has given us.  However, I suspect we turn to people when in fact we should be turning to God.

And if anyone is like me, the truth is, sometimes I don’t turn to God because He doesn’t speak to me the things I want to hear.  I don’t want to let love cover a multitude of offenses.  I don’t want to be forgiving.  I don’t want – fill in the blank.  God does not change in what He expects from us.  So sometimes we don’t turn to Him because we just do not want to do the right thing.  But if we knew we looked like the son’s partner on TV?  Would we care then?

I hope that the fact that this thought came from the most unlikely of sources – a TV program, that I will think about this next time I want to run to a person.  I hope that He is who I choose to run to instead of people, resting in the knowledge that I can trust Him.

And I really hope those writers of Blue Bloods make that partner less stereotypical, hyper sensitive female.  She needs to be a strong woman – one who can trust the reasons behind why her partner can’t share – but then again, that is asking a lot of Hollywood.

Image My father in law passed away today, April 2.  He was a former Detroit City mounted police officer.  He was the second born of six kids – five boys and one sister.  From the stories I have heard, his mother was a VERY patient mom.  His birthday was September 11th.  He had many a story to tell about the struggles Detroit was having with corrupt government and of course stories from his time on the force.

He and my mother in law got divorced when my husband was about 14.  It was not a good divorce – lots of acrimony.  So this unfortunately colored my relationship with both parties.  In recent years, the vitriol seemed to have given way to acceptance that focusing on how awful the other person was just was not worth the time.  

He remarried and the two of them shared some fun years together.  But as happens when we age, his body especially began to fail.  

He was a talented artist and I am grateful we have a picture of Buster Keaton that he did.  The artistic bent has definitely continued in the family.  I can still picture a visit we had where he talked with my oldest about horses and drawing, and the two of them drew a cowboy together.  It was a very sweet moment.

We did not have enough of those; distance and different paths kept us from having them.  But my husband and he talked often.  

I know these conversations will be missed.

So, if you don’t mind, say a prayer for comfort for all of Bob’s family as we all mourn his passing.

Bob – I am thankful I knew you and I thank you for your son.

Really – isn’t that the cry of all the health nuts out there?  Just do this, take that, turn around three times and stand on your head and you too can have the body of your dreams!!!

And the sad thing is – WE ALL BUY INTO IT!!!!!  If we didn’t, after the first snake oil salesman we would have learned our lesson.  But we keep looking for that fountain of youth – or rather, that magic pill that will solve all our problems instantly. Well, no – Christians don’t do that because, you know, we trust wholly on our God.

If you believe that one, have I got a deal for you.  A gorgeous bridge I can sell you….

Seriously, Christians are no better than anyone else in buying into the promises of instant success.  Pray this way to KNOW God’s exact plans for your life.  Pledge purity and you will be given Prince Charming.  Eat this way to live the Life God has for you.  etc.  

Usually, I see these promises and know that they are not all that the proponents promise.  I don’t deny that some people have been successful following these various plans, but not every one is successful.  However, I did get blindsided by a study.  The opening lesson caught me, hook, line, and sinker.  The lesson was about hope and how I could cling to this hope – that I was to not look at my past because God was doing a new thing in me.  The implied message – because I was doing this Bible study based weight loss program I was going to be successful because God was doing a new thing in my life.

Funny – it seems to me nothing has changed.  Oh wait.  Maybe I didn’t listen for my hunger scale.  That’s the problem.  I didn’t follow the rules.  I so fell into the trap.

Whenever we use Scripture for our lives we must remember the cardinal rule – context, context, context.  Yes, I WANT God to do a new thing.  I WANT Him to decide to do the work that I am too discouraged to do or too stupid to do or too impatient to do.  We’re supposed to be in the Word daily and here I will kill to birds with one stone.  I’ll read my Bible and pray and God will do a new thing in my life.

Only, the new thing being referenced was that God’s people were no longer going to need to go to the temple – for He was going to dwell with them.  The new thing was that He was going to send His Son to be our Savior and then, once the wages for sin had been paid, He was going to send the Holy Spirit to live in us.  THAT was the new thing.  He is not doing anything NEW in me.

There is a danger of taking verses out of context.  We so want to though.  I mean, the Bible is God’s word and we can trust His word so if it says what we want it to say then God has to do what we … want … Him … to …….do. Um – does this sound like we are treating God as a genie in a bottle there for our bidding???

God is not about granting us wishes.  He is about conforming us to the image of His Son.  God has had a plan all along.  Scripture says we are His workmanship, created in Christ for good works, which God prepared beforehand.  When I became a Christ follower, God had already been working in my life.  He didn’t start something new.  He prepared things for me to do and I am His workmanship.  He began a work in me and He will bring it to completion.  He doesn’t start something new just because I am doing some study.

The traps we fall for.  We so want it simple.

But matters of the heart are NOT simple.  They are very complex.  I was asked a question today that my answer could have been yes.  Except that was an answer too far from the complexity of the situation.  I was dealing with some issues and the struggles associated with the issue was far more complex than the answer “yes” could address.  And this is the same for why we can’t lose weight.  Are we eating too much? Yes.  But there is more to it.  There may be stressors in our lives that result in us producing hormones that actually cause us to hold on to fat – yes, this happens.  There could be imbalances that need to be fixed.  There may just be a need to change the type of food we are eating.  Yes is not a complete answer.

And so, I see today that once again, we want the easy answer and so even we Christians will turn to those things that make us believe that this time we will have our problem solved.  And once again, we turn to the golden calf.

I know there is hope for me found in Christ.  I truly believe that ultimately, He will provide the answers I am so desperate to find.  But these answers are going to come from digging into my heart; resting in Christ alone, not verses out of context and let’s face it, some hard choices – cutting intake of food, increasing exercise, or both.  This will require sacrifice and time.  There will be no instant gratification.  It will require that I trust God’s plan – even if it doesn’t align with my desires.  

I usually read Scripture but today, I listened to it.  When Jesus tells the people He is the bread of Life, it caused some followers to stop following.  In Chapter 6 of John, Jesus turns to the Apostles and asks them if they are going to leave too.  Intentional or not, the reader put an intonation in his voice as he was reading Peter’s response that truly resonated with me – “Lord, to whom shale we go? …” – the tone was almost one of resignation.  And my heart truly felt a kindred response.  Things are NOT going as I would like, but to whom shall I go?  I don’t have any clarity but I know the answers lie with You, so I will stay here.

I plan on still completing this study.  But I will do so knowing that I am immersing myself in His word, not getting the new body I want.