Great Article on Depression

Leave a comment
Mental Health and Faith

This is a great article by The Gospel Coalition on depression and anxiety. It’s written specifically for ministers, but the truths are relevant to all Christians.

“The best counselors have themselves been in counseling. It’s how God works.” and ““Damaged” does not mean “ineffective.” It does not mean “done.”” remind us all that everything God has brought into our lives is for His glory and can be used to serve Him.  Often it’s felt to me as if we are not supposed to talk about these things in the church. But depression and anxiety aren’t always a lack of faith or presence of some unconfessed sin. God can bring these things into our lives to keep us close to Him.

Very good read if you or someone you love live with these conditions.

http://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/anxiety-and-depression-my-strange-friends

THE Blessing

Leave a comment
Glimpses of Grace / Learning New Lessons / My Story

We are created with a need to be accepted, to belong and be loved and valued. Every human wants the blessing — an affirmation of worth, approval, a future, potential, acceptance. John Trent and Gary Smalley define The Blessing as “A life-changing gift of unconditional love and acceptance passed down from one generation to the next.” (http://www.theblessing.com/html/overview.html) In scripture, we repeatedly see the Patriarchs from Abraham on giving the blessing God gave him to their offspring.

We still long for that blessing, and is usually comes from an important person in our lives. In a perfect world it would come from the father. Because we are fallen, sometimes it’s a mother.  But if in a dysfunctional home the blessing is withheld, the next best is another important person in your life: spouse, mentor, teacher, or a respected authority who knows you well enough to be able to pronounce “the blessing” on your worth and future. Regardless, everyone wants that blessing.

It’s not always an obvious, conscious desire, especially if it wasn’t received in childhood. Kids are naturally very resilient, and learn to give up one thing, make do with something else, and how to cope early in life. Young children don’t really know to ask for the blessing. As they grow into adults who never received it, they find other ways to gain the approval and acceptance, the stamp of “worth” that they long for, and it can be hidden under a variety of other motives that seem harmless.

Lately, I’ve been working through some very hard things in my life. The details are ultimately unimportant here, but suffice it to say that I did not receive that blessing from my parents, and have spent the last several years trying unsuccessfully to “earn” it from a respected authority in my life.

I didn’t realize that’s what was going on — it’s strange how the sub-conscious and the heart can hide things from us. But through a series of very difficult and faith-shaking events, it became clear to me that’s what I had been doing. There was some affirmation and kindness, but never “the blessing” that I had been longing for. It would seem so close sometimes, so I’d work harder trying to earn that stamp of approval, so hard in fact, that it got to the point of a near complete physical, spiritual, and emotional breakdown before I realized that something wasn’t right, something had to change.

Letting go is painful — even letting go of things that you know shouldn’t be in your life. If you’ve pinned hopes & dreams to it, it still hurts to acknowledge that it was wrong, to identify an idol and tear it down. Loss of any kind brings grief, and grief is hard to understand and harder to explain. From the outside it looked like a simple job change. My heart knew it was more, and the grief pangs of losing what I’d hoped for rolled in and out like the tide. Some days I was much better, feeling the release of the bondage this particular idol had kept me in, and the joy of new ways to serve. Some days, I ached for just one more kind word of approval to tell me I really was ok and to help me keep going.

It was on one of these days that God taught me something beautiful as I cried out to Him, a little like a pouty child who’d been told “No,” but was still trying to find a way to get just a little bit of what she wanted.  “Father! Why is it so hard? I wanted to be accepted, to matter to someone. I feel so useless, even though You’ve given me new work, but it feels fake without that person’s approval. Can you restore this relationship so I could have acceptance and blessing from him so that I feel qualified to minister in these new areas?”  And He answered, just as He does, “far more abundantly” than I had asked for.  What did He say?

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.”  (Ephesians 1:3)Ephesians 1-3_THE Blessing

I stopped dead in mid-whine! Stunned, He had answered! In a normal moment in time, in my room in average suburbia, God took my chin in His hands and gently spoke to His child, an answer to put the end to the cries for a blessing from any human!

A few years ago, during a time of dark trials, I had memorized Ephesians 1 & 2, but haven’t been reviewing it lately. Thankfully, He used that time of hiding His word to bring this verse back to me right at this exact time, in answer a very specific question. Not only that, He then reminded me that only a few weeks ago, as I sat quietly asking Him to untangle things in my life that were so painful, all I heard in my spirit was “Daughter, I AM here.”  As I thought of Ephesians 1:3, and remembered that this very same God calls me Daughter, I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

God, the Father of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ is also my Father, in a very personal way, and far better than any human father or authority can ever be. And that same Father, who sent His only begotten Son to suffer the wrath I deserve so that I could be redeemed and brought into His family, has already pronounced THE Blessing on me – HIS blessing in Christ! What can possibly compare to being considered worthy of redemption, worthy of being made a bride for His Son, accepted into His family for eternity? What human voice could bestow words that could ever be worth anything at all in light of having already received “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places?” from the God of the universe? And hadn’t he already brought new work and new ministry into my life? Wasn’t He allowing me opportunities to serve Him and others even as I continued to work out the pain of this loss? That is also Him pronouncing His blessing, Him “confirming the work of my hands,” telling me that it is valuable and has a purpose. More than that, He is telling me that I am valuable and have a purpose, and most of all, that I am HIS.

Oh I pray that this reminder, this BLESSING will continue to soothe, heal, teach, and restore me. I expect there will still be days when I will forget and long for a blessing from someone else. It is hard to ignore the audible and tangible – or lack of them. I still cross paths with this person occasionally and a word of affirmation would be nice. But I am not longing for it the same way. Instead, when that thought comes, I praise God that He is the God who hears and answers, who heals and restores, who Blesses us beyond our deepest longings. Thanks be to Him!

Photo credit: PicJumbo https://picjumbo.com/?s=sunrise+grass+flowers

Currently remodeling

Leave a comment
Uncategorized

Lots of things have happened in the last year, a lot of falling, learning, and getting back up. Lots of things on my mind to write, but first some remodeling is needed. So be patient, keep up with me on Twitter and check back soon.

image

Kept from what?

Leave a comment
My Story

Of course the first thing that has to be explained is the title of this blog.  It comes from my life verse, written directly underneath the title -Jude 24 & 25. That is my story.

Many years ago, God shined the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ into the young mind of this strange little girl. At 5 years old, I didn’t understand everything, but I thank God for the Sunday School teacher (I don’t even remember her name) who told me of the separation from God caused by my sin, and the death of Jesus on the cross to take the punishment I deserved, granting me forgiveness and eternal life with Him if I simply believe in Him and trust His grace. This much I understood, and accepted this free gift eagerly.

The rest of life wasn’t so easy. (My testimony will be shared on the About page.) But what I know now, 45 years later, is that through every trial, every rebellion, every dark and doubt-filled night, He never let go of me. It has been His grace that called me from the beginning and has kept me from abandoning my faith all these years. There were times. Times that I thought I had better just give up, He couldn’t possibly want me now.  Times so hard and dark I wondered if He had left. But as the story of my life is farther into the second half than the first now, I see His hand traced along every storyline, never leaving, never letting go, never stopping in His pursuit of my salvation, holiness, and relationship with Him.

And, only because of Jesus Christ can I have the certainty that some day I will stand before Him, blameless with great joy.  My life is certainly not blameless, but having accepted God’s gift of salvation through Christ, I know that His righteousness will be more than sufficient to bring me before Him on that day when I finally get to see my maker face to face. Yes, great joy!

So that’s it, a reminder to myself that no matter how bad things seem to be, or even how well I feel that I must be doing in my Christian walk on any given day — He is the one who has kept and is keeping me from stumbling.

All glory and praise to Him!