Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Grasping Hot Coal

I was talking to one of my dearest friends a couple of weeks ago, and she brought up the subject of this blog.  She said to me, "I don't know how you think of something to say or write about all of the time.  Is it stressful?  Are you always looking for things to write about or does it just come to you?"

I hadn't thought of this question really...

I replied, "Well, I generally pray about it alot.  I ask God for clear direction about what He's trying to say to me.  Usually, there are lots of things to choose from but every now and then, I get in my own way, walk the path I'd prefer to walk...then, it's pretty challenging.  Because without Him, nothing comes to me."

Today I find myself in that very quandary.

It's been a strange few days.  My mind is in spinning mode, which is never good.  Usually I spin and spin until I'm out of control during these times.  And I eat alot - especially chocolate...again, never good.  I find it difficult to settle in prayer.  But realizing that some personal issues were taking time away from my children and their Spring Break, I decided it was time to cut it out and ask for help.

So I asked...

And I prayed...

And asked some more...

And then I read...

The following passages, written by other authors, both ancient and contemporary, make up my inspiration for today:

"And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also:  Knowing that tribulation worketh patience; and patience, experience; and experience, hope."  Romans 5: 3-4  (I hope through prayer that I can move on...)

"But God is always recycling hurts to bring growth, upcycling hard experiences to bring understanding and redeeming the old to make the beautiful."  - Sarah Markley, (in)courage  (I want my hard experiences to bring me understanding.)

"Holding onto anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one getting burned." - Buddhist teaching  (Dear God, please show me how to throw the coal as far away from me as possible...or not pick it up in the first place.)

"And what I know is that it is not my own righteousness that enables my Father to see me as beautiful, but Christ's." - Christi Milligan, (in)courage  (Father, please help Jesus's righteousness remove my self-righteousness.)

"Stop and thinketh before saying something that stinketh!"  - FB post of my friend, Diana...who by the way is also Italian and made me feel better by showing me that someone else finds this a fault and an issue!  (Lord, I stink!!!!  Guide my speak so I don't wreak!)

"We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us - they help us learn to endure.  Endurance then develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation." - Romans 5:3-5  (Enough said on this one!)

"No matter what storm rages in your life today - no matter how fierce the winds or how high the waves may be - where you are is no surprise to God.  Heaven is not in a panic.  Keep your gaze on Him and your glance on the raging waters.  Lash yourself to Him and He will supply everything you need to stand firm in the storm."  - Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God blog, emphasis added  (God, when  my mind spins out of control, remind me that Heaven in not in a panic over my problem.  Thank you for these trials and the strength to get through them.)

And lastly, from Joel Osteen's newest book Every Day a Friday:

"Human nature tends to turn negative in difficult times.  But the scripture tells us to do just the opposite: 'Count it all joy when you fall into negative trials." - James 1:2  That doesn't seem to make sense to some people.  'You mean we're supposed to be joyful and glad-hearted in the middle of tough times?'...Yes, that's right, because when you lose your joy, you lose your strength.

You need your strength more than ever in the difficult times, and your strength is dependent on your joy.  When you're facing a financial crisis, dealing with an illness, going through a breakup in a relationship, or raising a rebellious child, you need your strength.  If you go through those challenges feeling negative, bitter and discouraged, you will not have the vitality to stand strong and fight the good fight of faith.

You can keep your joy knowing that on the other side of each test is promotion.  On the other side of every setback in opportunity.  On the other side of every offense is growth.  The difficulties you face are not there to defeat you.  They are there to increase you.

Just keep reminding yourself, 'Even though this is hard; even though I don't understand it; even though it's not fair, I'll keep a good attitude and stay full of joy, knowing that this is not setting me back.  It is setting me up for God to bring me through to the other side of this in an even better position.' "

Thank you God, for these written words at a time that I truly needed them.  Thank you for filling me with the Holy Spirit so that I can remain full of joy.  Thank you for quieting my mind with Your peace and strength.  Thank you for increasing me beyond this trial.

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