Just before the financial crisis of 2008, I decided it was time to consult a financial planner. I rolled all my old retirement accounts to his company and chose the most aggressive growth strategy. It was terrible timing. I lost 35% of my hard-earned savings in mere months. I understood the Sunday morning quarterbacking that was rampant at the time, the wish to have safely invested if I’d known what was coming. It seemed everyone was spooked. Many delayed retirement. Some believed their losses would never be recouped.
Widespread fear would have pulled me down with it, had I not summoned the effort to ignore alarmists. It required a conscious choice to think spiritually. I made myself trust God. I didn’t consider Him as just a recipient of tithes, I wanted Him in control of all my resources. If that meant living in a tent subsisting on rice and beans, so be it.
(* In hindsight, the decision to trust spared me needless worry. By 2012 my funds had recovered and they continue to amass.)
Curious about how I was faring in the midst of that market crash, one of my sons asked about my investments. While he was at it, he also wondered about my long term plans with my job as a physical therapist, remaining in our home or moving, and whether or not I thought I would ever remarry. I told him I had learned to be content being single but always felt it was temporary. I might stay with my job or do something entirely different. I might stay in my home or end up moving far away.
I must have sounded noncommittal to my son that day, but the truth is I don’t make important decisions without guidance from God, and I didn’t have it yet. I’m all too aware of my very limited understanding. I want His direction regarding finances, vocation, health, where to live, the people in my life … everything.
(* In 2011, I did leave my job to do something entirely different — writing. What next? I don’t know yet. He is a light unto our paths. As mine becomes illuminated, I’ll walk forward on it.)
Ephesians 2:10 – For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Several years ago, I met a young man who expressed his deep regret for not patiently following God after a divorce. He’d quickly remarried, and had just been left by his second unfaithful wife. He felt like a failure, was deeply depressed and without hope in himself. In his view, divorcing twice was proof that he was the cause and destined for failure. Buried under his demolished dreams, he was convinced that this was who he was, this was what he deserved.
I saw it much differently. I agreed with him that his humanity and weaknesses contributed to getting into something that God likely didn’t want for him, but he wasn’t the cause or doomed to failure. If he trusted God and followed Him, he would be led through and out of crises, and as a bonus, would extract benefits from his troubles.
(* He has since married a wonderful woman. They have a baby now and a happy, secure life together. The guy radiates joy and gratitude!)
Romans 8:28 – And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.
While we are overwhelmed by troubles, God is up to complex designs behind the scenes. We may be miserable and suffering from injustices or our own wrongdoing, but He is shaping and molding us at the same time. He is creating possibilities for us. We usually aren’t even aware of His tireless work to give us a hope and a future.
John 10:10 – The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
The enemy of us all intends harm. One effective scheme is to convince us that our current sub-par life is the end of the story. Those who rely on God and keep expecting good things from Him will be positively affected even by evil in the end. From the rubble of our demolition arises patience, wisdom, desire for righteousness, hope, and ambition to live fully and meaningfully if given another chance to do so.
Romans 5:3-5 – We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
All those good things happen in the suffering. Whether it’s suffering we did nothing to deserve, or suffering we caused, it doesn’t matter — suffering is useful to shape qualities within us for a better future.
What a tragedy it would be to voluntarily stop the story of our lives in the middle of our most pitiful chapters. We shouldn’t accept that our biographies will conclude in defeat. The ending needn’t be “my losses will never be recouped”. If God has His way, those painful chapters will be exploited to ultimately adorn us with splendor. If we expect and allow it, our worst chapters can yet be converted to exceptional, satisfying, victorious biographies.
Isaiah 61:3 … to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
When we’re in chapters of discouragement and lack, we must look for our future chapters to improve, and realize God wants to illuminate extraordinary paths to each of us. We need to discern when a devil’s advocate is at work, claiming our biography will close in depressing style without ever arriving at happiness and excellence. Devil’s advocates come in the form of unsuspecting or willing human vessels of harm, or as unwanted circumstances that are thrust on us. Sometimes it inhabits our own thinking.
The man in his second divorce temporarily believed that he deserved a minimal life. He thought that his life was at odds with God’s nature and ways. Based on his punishing circumstances, he expected more of the same ahead. Had his errant self-condemnation persisted, he would have written the final chapters of his own biography far short of the enviable life he now has.
When my son was home from college one holiday, he told me, “When I’m away, I feel like I won’t get a job, and can’t manage simple chores even. When I’m at home, I feel like I can do anything … I’ll go to grad school in Berlin! Or I can find a great job anywhere right now!” I don’t know how or when self-doubt and defeatism came to obscure his thinking. It wasn’t rational. He was in the top 15% of his college class and had a great work ethic. How did the truth of his potential get buried under a dark blanket of lies?
1 Corinthians 4:5 – Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will bring to light the things hidden in the darkness …
I’m grateful the light displaces the blanket of darkness for my kids, even if only intermittently for now. I expect it to shine increasingly brighter for them over time. What a shame if they were permanently deceived into expecting their life stories to be of defeat, apathy, underachievement and non-effectiveness, when all along God had opportunities open for them to enjoy the opposite.
What if God has unwritten pages of everyone’s biographies reserved for the fulfillment of their desires, expectations, and needs, but most life stories read as nothing more than mundane existences? What a shame!
1 John 1:5 … God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.
When all we can see is darkness, we have to seek God’s light in our lives. Equally crucial, we must pursue total light when we’re in dim light. We’re being fooled to the point that we’re satisfied because “it could be worse”. We’re living in gray, when all along we could have lived in vivid colors had we only kept expecting it.
God alone knows how our futures will be written, but we do the writing. He doesn’t coerce. He gives each of us free choice. I want mine to be penned the way He hopes for it. I don’t want him sadly saying, “What a shame,” when he thinks of me. As a parent, I want as much for my kids. As a parent to all, God’s desires for us exceed our imaginations.
I hope for light to dispel others’ darkness, and to witness God’s delight as their lives take a turn to the vivid, colorful, expansive lives He intended. I want Him satisfied that biographies were averted from sagas of turmoil and defeat, to accounts of maximized lives — impacting, purposeful, unique, joyful lives lived to the utmost.
and strength to the powerless.
Even youths will become weak and tired,
and young men will fall in exhaustion.
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.
They will soar high on wings like eagles.
They will run and not grow weary.
They will walk and not faint.
Don’t be alarmed when God leads through horrendous conditions instead of routing away from trouble. Keep the faith. It may not look like a good thing while we’re in it, but the training ground will result in good things in time. He has a gain in store — those are the conditions in which we develop command over trouble.
After the “gain from the pain”, we find ourselves elevated a bit more from the earthly plane of living. We are able to more quickly understand God and His ways. We can look back and see how He orchestrated events and caused us to will and to act according to His good purpose. We are different, changed; more equipped for His purposes. We are less subject to concerns and troubles in this world, and increasingly victorious over them.
“Hold On” and Youtube license held by: checkDEMout
Nobody likes unwanted news. We don’t like to hear that someone important to us is not who we thought they were. We don’t want to accept that a person we’re invested in is a thief, a traitor, an adulterer, or an abuser. We don’t want to believe that our diagnosis is terminal, or our behaviors are destructive. Some of us will do anything to avoid unwanted truths like these.
To cope personally, or to save face publicly, we deny truth, spin it, and justify it. It’s remarkable how spectacularly we pull off mental contortionism in our quest to disguise truths.
Which is silly if you stop and think about it. No amount of spinning the facts, denial, fabrication, justification,deflection, or delusionment can ever change truth. Like it or not, truth is what it is.
Isn’t it a marvel that people who initially choose deceit out of shame or inability to cope, quickly progress to actually believing their own lie? They developed habits of deceitfulness, and expect others to adopt their deluded thinking. They slipped unaware into a lifestyle of lies, then wonder why they are off-putting to others. Their relationships, home and work lives, minds and emotions all suffer. Persistence in untruths only compounded their troubles.
All of that mess could have been averted. The truth would have set them free, and kept them free. As difficult as it is to believe, even those truths they despised were best acknowledged and dealt with.
The good news is, it’s never too late to start fresh. And none of us has to do it alone — God will help us handle all truths. The benefits of trusting Him to do so include being freed of mental turmoil. If we want and allow Him to, God will transform our tangled thinking into healthy truthfulness. He will accomplish it in a way and at a speed that is best for each of us. If we need to slowly come face-to-face with painful, difficult truths, He’ll do it that way. If we need swift and full immersion in unmitigated reality, He’ll do that instead. He knows best.
Let God peel back the layers of amassed issues that were caused by untruths. Wait on Him. Be at peace with not always understanding everything as God exposes and corrects wrong-thinking, and assists us in developing new, factual, healthy thought patterns. Trust that He is at work upending the chaos that chronic lies caused, for our long-term good.
And that’s the truth of it. Truth is always our friend.
John 8:32 – “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
Romans 12:2 – Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Philippians 4:19 – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Originally posted on Cindi Gale:
While perusing my files this morning, I noticed a dated exchange of emails with a friend. At the time, he was traveling in South America, which sparked a memory of one of my travels. My true tale included quantifiable experiences (actual, earthly, physical—whatever you want to call it) and intangible experiences, too (spiritual, divine, and incomprehensible). A humorous misunderstanding followed when my friend assumed that my story was cut and pasted from a novel. When I clarified that the incident happened to me, and I’d written it, he suggested I write a book.
That’s the back story—this was my email response:
“My Mom has said many times that I should write a book about the strange things that have happened to me. But I rarely tell people about them because they must seem like fiction. Many things people just can’t relate to. I used to think God was making me be a…
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Do you ever want to say, “Mind your own business”, but know that the best response is no response? Do you abide by the principle of overlooking the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye while attending to the plank in your own eye? If you do, you are very careful about which incidents with people require speaking up to advocate for yourself or others, and which are best met with silence. This is for those who refrain from objecting outwardly, but who are inwardly standing their ground. Enjoy!
Video rights belong to Ryan Hunley.
Violence is spread worldwide and there are families on the street
That all we do is eliminate our future with the things we do today
Money is our incentive now so that makes it okay
But I believe that love is the answer
I believe that love will find the way
I believe that love is the answer
I believe that love will find the way
Walk blindly to the light and reach out for his hand
Don’t ask any questions and don’t try to understand
Open up your mind and then open up your heart
And you will see that you and me aren’t very far apart
‘Cause I believe that love is the answer
I believe that love will find the way
I believe that love is the answer
I believe that love will find the way
Quote: The song is about the lack of love in the world. In an interview with thecelebritycafe.com, songwriter Eliot Sloan said “when I sing ‘Love will find a way,’ I mean ‘God will find a way,'” and that he has always believed that “God is love.”