The Big Picture

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Faithfulness Matters

Photo by IB Wira Dyatmika on Unsplash

“As for you, you thought evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring about that many people should be kept alive, as they are this day.” Genesis 50:20 (Amplified Bible)

For months I’ve lost track of life mourning the fact that some situations can’t be redeemed this side of heaven.

Some pain can never be reversed can it?

Like the death of loved ones … a way of life … relationships.

I’ve spent days in bed with my bible just trying to get a word from the Lord that would pull me out of this funk.

The enemy has used the pain and my introverted tendencies …  to tempt me in walking away from the church and community in general.

The Devil loves using pain and loss to persuade us that faithfulness doesn’t matter in light of our circumstances.

But the story of Joseph has been a great encouragement these last few months.

This story has it all – betrayal, loss, oppression, dysfunction, jealously, rejection, false accusations and bondage … the list goes on and on.

And every time Joseph was oppressed … falsely accused … rejected … the scripture reminds us that God was with him.

I recently read a story about Andrew Murray who was a beloved pastor and writer in England in the late 1800’s. He suffered from debilitating back pain as a result of an injury. As he was eating breakfast one morning, his maid came to tell him that a woman was downstairs in great distress and was seeking advice or encouragement. Murray handed his maid the piece of paper he had been writing on and said, “Give her this advice that I’m writing down for myself. It may be helpful to her too.”

The paper read:

“In time of trouble, say, ‘First, He brought me here. It is by His will I am in this strait place; in that I will rest.’ Next, ‘He will keep me here in His love, and give me grace in this trial to behave as His child.’ Then say, ‘He will make the trial a blessing, teaching me lessons He intends me to learn, and working in me the grace He means to bestow.’ And last, say, ‘In His good time He can bring me out again. How and when, He knows.’ Therefore, say ‘I am here (1) by God’s appointment, (2) in His keeping, (3) under His training, (4) for His time.”

When I read this story, I realized that Mr. Murray’s advice is the exact model that God used in Joseph’s life … over and over.

Amazingly … Joseph remained faithful in all things … good or bad.

As a result, God used him to save many lives … including the lives of the brothers who hated him … yet Joseph held no bitterness in his heart for his oppressors.

Trusting God with our pain and learning to walk in the fullness of His sovereignty … just like Joseph did … can lead us to our purpose in life … if we remain faithful.

Faithfulness matters … especially when our world has turned upside down.

So, let this truth seep into every crevice of your heart …

You are here by God’s appointment … kept under the shelter of his loving wings … for His instruction to grow … within His timing.

Oh, sweet friend with the broken heart …

God has a purpose for your pain … so trust Him and remain faithful.

And that’s the Big Picture that Joseph so wisely understood.

love mel

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“How GOD Fixes Broken People” My Vietnam Vet’s Struggle With Alcoholism

My story…..is tightly woven into my love story. What a man…what a GOD…and oh what a story of FORGIVENESS.  I am recycling an old post to link up with the precious Suzie Eller for #livefree Thursday.

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The year was 1968.

He was barely 19 by just a few days when he received his mandatory invitation from Uncle Sam.

Life was simple….. but he was far from a simple boy.

Talent, smarts and personality oozed from every pore of his body.

Required to report within 21 days, he left his boyhood behind.

After 12 months of combat training he stepped off the plane in Chu Lai, Vietnam.

All he could see on the tarmac were thousands of body bags laying side by side for three lengths of a football field.

Fear struck his heart….

He told himself he would never make it home.

His boots hit the jungle ground running.

His daily goal was just to survive to see the sun rise.

He once went 3 weeks without taking his boots off.

When I asked why?

He said you didn’t want to get caught with your boots off.

When he finally removed them ….the medic had to strip the socks from his skin.

The nights were sleepless.

The smells were endless.

The noise was miserably deafening.

The sights were horribly unforgettable.

The emotional and physical stress took its toil….

He had his first taste of liquor to cope.

One by one he watched his friends die.

He was one of the lucky three that survived his squad.

The tactical missions occupied his mind…..

Shifting his focus from the prospect of death.

Once after an intense night of battle….

He carried a dead GI on his back until he met up with the medi-vac helicopter.

You never forget that kind of weight….he says….

It’s a weight that lays heavy in the mind….

It’s a weight you still feel 44 years later.

Every 3 weeks his squad would go to the rear, aka command base, for a precious 3 day rest from death and destruction….

That’s where he learned to drink in order to numb the stress.

He tells stories of GI’S who shot themselves in the leg or got food poisoning on purpose…

He laughs about one soldier who actually tried to fake being crazy…..

These were the ones who would suffer being a coward rather than face the alternative.

The gruesome images he saw….are still prominent in his memories.

The desperation of surviving affected him in ways he could never imagine.

There are times he is still in survival mode even today.

The shock of all his senses engrossed in the worst horror story you can imagine….

Is who he is….at the most unexpected recollection.

He was wounded…

They patched him up and sent him back to the jungle a few months later.

Again….he fought to live….

Day in and day out…

Fighting for a people who for the most part….

Didn’t appreciate the effort…

Or the sacrifices.

He managed to survive….

He managed to come home….

But he wasn’t the same simple boy who left at the tender age of 19.

He came home and turned to alcohol more and more.

He worked hard and long hours during the day…..

He partied hard and long hours into the night…..

Every hour of productivity or leisure was occupied with anything to ease the memories.

I met him in 1985.

I didn’t know it then….but he was still broken from the war…. 15 years later.

He was a functioning alcoholic.

A good one too.

He was the life of the party….

But after we married…

The party was getting old to me….

Especially after the first baby came on the scene.

I just wanted to be normal….

But he couldn’t give me normal because he was carrying the weight of an unresolved emotional trauma.

Statistics cite severe drug and alcohol problems for 60-80% of Vietnam veterans.

Divorce rates hover around 90 percent.

Somewhere around 58,000 Vietnam vets died in combat….

Over 150,000 have committed suicide since the war ended.

Over 500,000 have been arrested or incarcerated.

It is estimated that approximately 100,000 are in prison and over 200,000 are on parole.

These 800,000 men will never get back what they lost.

They will never know normal….

At least in the way it was before it was taken from them.

My veteran gave up so much promise….

So much hope….

So many dreams that have never been reborn.

He lived with years of pain….

Years of functioning dysfunction….

Years of guilt.

Until it all caught up with him….

And the self-destructible behavior cost him everything.

You see that’s what happens when we can’t cope with the pain….

The guilt….

The mistakes….

The horror of the past….

Man self -destructs.

Interceding prayers made the difference in my vets life.

There were numerous….a too many to mention, faithful prayer warriors…..who prayed for him.

Then one day….

When he could bear the burden no longer….

He surrendered to JESUS.

When the bible talks about a new creation being born at salvation…..

My vet instantly became a new creation.

What rehab couldn’t do….

JESUS did….

What an undying love from a faithful young bride couldn’t do…..

JESUS did….

Nothing the world could offer helped him in anyway….

But JESUS did.

Immediately his countenance was different.

Immediately his heart was light…

His smile was bright….

His soul was at peace.

I will never forget the conversation we had a few years back…..

He talked about how the LORD had removed all the guilt of what he had to do to survive the hell hole of Vietnam.

“All that guilt…and worry….the faces I used to dream about…it’s all gone, GOD took all that from me when he saved me, I am FORGIVEN,” he said.

GOD also took his desire for alcohol away.

He has been sober for 23 years.

What GOD has done in his life is nothing short of a miracle.

He is far from a perfect man…..

But he lives a spirit filled life of joy….

Peace….

Hope…..

Freedom….

He has health issues due to his service…

But he has JESUS….

And though life is hard at times….

And never reaches a perfect place……

JESUS helps us endure….

JESUS keeps us going…..

JESUS helps us live daily with love, laughter and vision for the future.

And now JESUS uses my vet for HIS kingdom….

He teaches Sunday school….

He witnesses and helps others struggling with alcohol….

He goes and prays with those who need a touch from JESUS….

He has led several in the sinner’s prayer.

You see…….

GOD doesn’t throw people away….

Because GOD never uses perfect people.

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No matter what emotional trauma you have suffered….

No matter what addiction or stronghold in your life…..

No matter if divorce happens…..

No matter the mistakes you’ve made with life changing repercussions…..

It just doesn’t matter to JESUS

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When you are HIS….

You are a new creation…..

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; The old has gone, the new is here!            2 Corinthians 5:17

GOD wants to use you…

And your brokenness….

This past summer I heard a quote at a Proverbs 31 Women’s event and it gave me such hope….

“The thing that we think disqualifies us for GOD’S use…is the very thing GOD wants to use.”

Won’t you surrender to JESUS today and you can be FORGIVEN too?

If you have never accepted JESUS as your savior….there is no better day than today to become a new creation!  Please follow this link …..It’s so easy to come to JESUS!

“Fixing Our Hearts”

Everything in life flows through the heart

The walls of our hearts are so scuffed up and damaged….

Unaware we paint bitterness or anger over the damage.

Some of us let fear….

Apathy…..

Defeat…

And even hatred fall into rhythm with our heart beat.

If only we could see our hearts the way GOD sees them….

Maybe we would be careful to keep them soft…..

Surrendered….

Humble.

GOD wants us to be honest about the rubble in our hearts….

So HE allows the life jolts.

The truth is our hearts don’t harden overnight….

We make gradual choices to cover up the pain….

The secrets….

The resentment….

The pride…

The sin….

Everyday we decide to hide the hurt…

Or blame another…

Or push it far away trying to ignore it….

But what we are really doing is giving up the battle for transparency with GOD.

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Just like we tell a doctor about our sicknesses….

We must tell our Heavenly Father about the hard places in our heart.

When we let GOD have his way in the deepest part of our soul…

There is healing and peace…

Even when the tears and lasting consequences remain.

There is something so beautiful in that first moment of breath when I have just let go of a deep rooted hurt…and confessed my sin….

I feel so free…

So clean…..

So hopeful.

We can’t be hopeful or live the abundant life HE came to give us when we carry around the junk.

As long as we keep parts of our heart from GOD…

HE can’t fully use us…..

There won’t be any real peace….

And we won’t be able to hear HIM clearly.

We have no control over the circumstances paralyzing our lives at times…..

But we do have control over our hearts.

And we can determine that disappointment isn’t going to jade us….

Or break us….

Harden us….

Or lead us away from our faith….

Causing us to drift farther and farther away from the sacred closeness our Heavenly Father desires.

Everything in life flows through our hearts.

So perhaps its time to identify the hard places?

 

We can’t fix our hearts by ourselves….

Or another’s heart…

But we CAN surrender to the only one who can fix us…..

Are there places in your heart you need to surrender to JESUS today?

harden hearts

Oh GOD….Help us surrender the obscure places in our hearts where we hide the things you want us to release.

Soften our hearts oh GOD….

So that we may be in your will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“When The World Beats You Up”

Today has been one of those messy days of grace for me.

My mindset has been fractured all day….. cracks were exposed in places of faith I previously thought were strong.

My emotions were fragile just enough to let me drift off to the abyss of pessimism.

Hindering oppressive thoughts drained into my soul….taking me back to long ago when I felt no grace.

I thought I was beyond the point of wandering back to the valley.

Somehow I stumbled right into a thicket of obscure dejection. I let man’s actions make me think I was less….unimportant….invisible.

Funny how the enemy knows what days the physical body ails….making it hard for the spiritual consciousness to keep up.

Today I felt as though I was a middle school girl being bullied all over again….bullied by life….bullied by another’s sin.

I am a child of the King…… why do I let the world hamstring my heart at times?
I know better!

How can we be on the spiritual mountain top for months only to be pushed off by the enemy in one short span of time?

There is shame in this weakness for me.

After all…I thought I had passed the faith test….bought the t-shirt…..walking bow legged from so much truth poured into my soul.

How did I let this happen?

I turned off the light way earlier than usual to sleep this melancholy hangover off. Tossing and turning side to side…. trying to get comfortable in my slumber.

I started to pray…..wrestling with words…as well as my comfort…..but I couldn’t find physical comfort…for my spirit was in battle.

Then I clearly hear HIM say…..

“Work it out in words child….tell me exactly what haunts your heart tonight.”

So I turn on the lamp…I reach for my lab top…and tell HIM just what a rotten day I had.

I tell HIM I am mad at myself for listening to the enemy’s lies.

I tell HIM I’m sorry I didn’t filter my mind….I didn’t fall back on the truth.

I tell HIM the pain I feel by hurtful actions and attitudes.

Immediately….I start to feel peace…slowly soaking up the bitter spew of GOD-less thoughts.

I literally can feel strength seeping back into my aching frame.

Truth is pulsating through my spiritual veins again!

I am an overcomer!

Regardless of what emotional lava that has spread over my mind today.

No matter what suppression man may fling my way….

No matter the landmines of doubt the enemy made no attempt to disguise….

HE has reminded me…..

“Greater is HE that is in me….than he that is in the world!”

The Living GOD is in me!

THE LIVING GOD IS IN ME!

And HE will fight my battles!

And soothe my wounds!

The Living God will go before me in all my steps….and tomorrow?

Well tomorrow will be another day…a new day….to take my stand in the truth of HIS faithful righteousness.

A new day to be “HIS” love…..even when I am unloved.

A new day to experience his mercies….for they are new every day.

“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” Lamentations 3:22

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Don’t let the world consume and beat you up my friend….

Don’t let the enemy exploit the fragile places of your heart.

Remember who you are….and whose you are!

For you are a child of the one true King…..JESUS CHRIST!

And you are an OVERCOMER!

Press on OVERCOMER!

Press on!

“Letting Go Of The Hurt”

My heart was as hard as stone.

I had built a wall all around my fragile emotions.

I didn’t trust anyone….nor did I want friends.

I allowed circumstances to poison my heart toward all people.

I withdrew from relationships and checked out of the only social scene I participated in… which centered around church.

My husband accused me of being unfriendly.

He would go out to eat with friends….I would not.

My job became more demanding requiring me to travel….I stayed tired so it was a good excuse.

I allowed myself to only care for my immediate family.

Thank GOD I did not give up on church.  HE kept me engaged with the drama ministry I served.

My broken heart kept me desperate for GOD.

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In the midst of my internal pain, I knew GOD was the only solace for help.

I lived in this fog for about 6 years….disillusioned with loyalty….friendship….trust.

As time passed….I smiled and put on a good front…but I kept my distance.

Let me just say….distance is never good.

Distance just keeps us farther away from facing the root of our heartaches.

The LORD did many things in my life during those dark years of living in isolation.

First HE showed me how deceitful my heart was.

the heart is deceitful

I was so weak in reality….I believed the lies my feelings were telling my mind.

Not everything I felt was true.

Second HE helped me see….I can’t fix others…but I can fix my heart if I will listen and obey HIM.

HE forced me to identify the true root of my heartache…and I finally surrendered my brokenness to the only one who could restore.

You see….sometimes we spend more time looking at others hearts instead of looking at our own.

It’s so easy to pray for GOD to fix another’s heart isn’t it?

HE showed me regardless of whether certain people in my life are loyal….trustworthy….or not….HE will always be loyal…. and trustworthy.

I’ve learned not to judge all people from the hurtful experiences life throws my way.

Just because someone betrays or lets me down today….doesn’t mean a new friend will do the same tomorrow.

When I realized GOD wanted me to have friends whether I wanted them or not….I knew I had a spiritual problem.

HE let me waller in my misery until I felt the need for GODLY friendship.

HE created us for companionship…to bear one another’s burdens…to encourage….to be accountable….to love.

GOD started speaking to me about letting go…and letting others in.  One day I found a great quote by C.S. Lewis….

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art….It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”

 

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We don’t need friends to survive…..

but we need them to be able to walk the path GOD has planned for us….

because HE knows the rocky roads we will encounter…..

the great fogs we will get lost in….

and the deep valleys that will threaten our existence.

HE knows the value of the friend who will listen…guide and pray for us.

I grieve because I isolated myself from so many.

I grieve because I probably appeared apathetic….maybe even arrogant.

Heartache changes us…..makes us become something GOD does not want us to be…..

Bitter….

Hardened…

Alone.

So I send these thoughts out to the big blog-o-sphere with this encouragement for you to think about…..

If you have unbelievable hurt or betrayal you are carrying around….

if hurt is causing you to isolate yourself from others…..

and pain is making you view the world through the lies of feelings….

Friend….give yourself a gift….

Let it go.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize…..in the grand scheme of things….the situation really didn’t matter in regard to eternity.

Are you going to care about this hurt when you are with JESUS one day?

If you know JESUS….the answer to that question is NO!

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize…you lost precious memories and experiences you could have had with new friends….family….or restored friends.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize…..

Your heart was as hard as stone…..

And that stone heart made you cold….apathetic…unapproachable….unfriendly….judgmental….lonely.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize….

You have regrets….and should have done things different.

You don’t want to get to the end of your life and realize….

It could have been so much different….if only you had let go of the hurt.

Letting go is a gift you give to yourself…..

And the great gift is…. you are no longer allowing hurt to jade your heart or rob you of peace and joy….it means you value your life and existence more than the negativity in your life.

Letting go is an act of obedience to GOD.

GOD’S blessing will come to you when bitterness is excavated from every layer of your heart!

Letting go of the hurt…is the beginning to restoring you.

letting go of the hurt

Tell me friend…….what do you need to let go of today?