Turning it Over To God

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Let go and let God”, but it isn’t always the easiest thing to do.  Well at least not for me.  I don’t know about you but I find myself putting things at the foot of the cross and then moments, hours or days later picking them up again and holding on to them for dear life.

Recently God has been dealing with me on this part of my walk with Him.  When I take things back from Him I’m showing a lack of trust on my part.  I’m in effect telling God, “I’m sorry but, I don’t think that You are capable of taking care of these problems.  I think I’ll just keep them to myself and try and deal with them on my own.”  Did you hear that?  It’s more than a matter of trust it’s a matter of pride. Who do I think that I am that I can do a better job on any part of any of my problems?  This is definitely an area of sin in my life and the sooner I can rid myself of this pride and humble myself and turn things back over to God’s care the better off I’ll be.

I can see how the forbidden fruit might have looked so attractive to Eve and Adam.  Once I give something to God, it is His, it is not mine to take back.  That makes me an Indian giver.  If you want to think in childlike terms.  If you want to think in adult terms, if it now belongs to God, it makes me a thief.  Not a very pleasant thought, but true all the same.

The enemy would like us to make light of this “indiscretion”, but try as he might he can’t change the fact that sin is sin.  God is merciful with us and gracious, but that doesn’t mean we take advantage.

I have been struggling with turning some things over to God and some I’ve turned over and left there others I’ve returned to steal back and others I’m to scarred to even turn over in the first place.  It’s not that I’m afraid that He’ll make me become a missionary and go to some awful far off place.  That may be preferable to what I’m truly afraid of.  I’m afraid of opening pandora’s box of my past and dealing with the things that my mind has so conveniently forgotten.  I’m afraid that He’ll push me past my ability to cope.  I’m afraid that if I open this area of my life to Him completely that I may just completely fall apart.

So instead of trusting in His love and wisdom and perfect will for my life and compassion and long suffering.  I eat to stuff the feelings I fear to deal with, and to stuff the memories I don’t want to remember.  While I in all my futility attempt to hide from Him, God waits for me to come to Him to ease my burden.  I know this with my head but the journey to my heart is taking much longer than I would hope.

The spirit is willing to be obedient but the flesh is so weak, so fearful, so proud.  Lord, I ask You to help me with my weak, fearful and prideful flesh and any brother or sister out there that are struggling the same way or similar to me.  I know that You want all of us not just part of us, so this prayer is in Your will.  So with confidence we come before you and thank You in advance for answering this prayer.  Amen!

Joy – A Woman After God’s Own Heart!

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Part 6

Jack what are you going to do with what God has shown you today?” Stunned, “Janet, I’m not so sure I know what to do. You have been a very good wife to me and I’ve been I lousy husband and father to Julie. I just don’t know if what you have found is for me.” “Why? Do you think you are any worse than any other sinner on Earth that He died for? If you do think that you are too bad to be redeemed, let me point out that you are allowing your pride to get in your way and stopping you from receiving the most precious gift that was ever given to man” responded Janet. Jack replied, “How can I be sure that Christ could care for even me?” “Jack, it says in Romans 5:8 ‘But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.’ That is how you can be sure that he cares for even you. The question is what are you going to do with this most precious gift? Are you going to reject it and in the process reject eternal life and all the blessings that go with it? Or are you going to accept this wonderful gift? With the acceptance of this gift comes blessings galore; love, joy, peace, gratitude for all that He has done for you and given you no matter how much that is. Jack you’ve lived a life of anger and bitterness and emptiness long enough don’t you want something better for yourself?” Jack’s heart ached worst than ever, “Janet, when you made your decision did your heart ache?” Janet responded tenderly, “Yes, Jack worst than it ever had in my life like it was crying out to God. That is when I knew I had to take the step to open my hearts door to the knocking of the Savior. Is that what you are feeling now?” “Yes,” said Jack, “I can hardly stand it.” Janet’s own heart beat with joy, “Then may I suggest you confess your sins and ask Jesus to become the Lord of your life. Thank Him for the gift of salvation that He gave you and promise to be obedient to His word.” “Lord,” said Jack, “I’ve never come to you before and I realize the folly of that. God I am so full of sins I hardly know where to start. Please forgive me for my cruelty to my family and employees and my pride, arrogance, materialism and ungratefulness. Thank you for sending your Son to die on the Cross for me and pay the price of my sins. I accept that gift and ask You to become the Lord of my life. I realize now I’m no good at running my own life. I need You. I promise to be obedient to Your word and will. Thank You for this evening Lord, for bringing Gab and Esther into my life and for giving me my family that I had taken for granted. Thank you for Janet’s sweet spirit all these years. Help me to be the husband she deserves. Make me into the father that Julie longs for. Amen.” “Oh, Jack, I can’t express how happy you have made me. I know that you have a lot on your mind. I also know that the two or rather the three of us can face anything with God. My sweet Jack, I’m so grateful that God took everything from us and used it to bring you to Him! I’d rather start all over again with all of us knowing Him than having everything and not having Him.”

A thought occurred to Jack, “What about the fire and you and Julie? Are you grateful for that as well? How could you be grateful for that?” Disbelief and anger were surfacing in Jack at the thought of this. Janet tried to calm him, “Jack, I won’t deny that it was awful and has been terrible painful and I wish with all my heart that it had only been me that had been burned and not Julie. But I trust God and His wisdom I know that even in this He has a plan that will work to good. If this is what it had to take to get your attention I gladly pay the price and although I wish Julie wasn’t affected by this I know her heart for you well enough to know that she would gladly go through anything to have the family she now has. Please Jack see the good in this, if the fire had not happened you may have not lost the business which in turn brought you to God and to me and Julie. In this we can be grateful for all that has happened because the end product has brought wholeness to our family. Jack, don’t beat yourself up over this. I beg you to do your best to see the master plan in all this – we have the family Julie and I have been praying for continually.” With tears in his eyes, “Are you sure that you and Julie won’t hate me for the rest of our days for the consequences of my hard heart?” “Never!” responded Janet with her own tears, “We love you! Apart from God you are the love of our lives! Plus we wouldn’t be living His word if we didn’t forgive you. For in Matthew 6:14-15 Jesus says, ‘For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, you Father will not forgive your sins.’ Plus my joy is too great at having the husband I have been longing for.” “You can truly be grateful for this?” asked Jack. “Yes, my love, God has given me the gift of gratitude. I pray that you find that same gift.” Responded Janet her eyes shining in the dawning sun. “It’s a lot to take in” he admitted, “but I am getting there. I can say I’m grateful for you, Julie and the wholeness I feel in my heart, I’m grateful for your forgiveness. Hum! I guess I could say that I too have found the gift of gratitude. I love you so much Janet thank you for being so patient with me and for praying all those years that this night would one day come.” “It has been my pleasure and the joy of my heart to pray for this night. God is so good and I’m so grateful!”

“Father, another humbled and grateful heart.” says Gab, as he goes down the hospital hall and disappears.

By Joy Dara Stephenson

The Gift of Gratitude – A Short Story Series

Jack was a hard man. He everything he did was done with great determination, ambition, pride, and confidence (to the point of arrogance).  It was hard to be Jack’s employee, it was, hard to be his friend, but, it was even harder to be his wife and daughter.

Jack was also a very successful man. He owned a very up scale trendy restaurant that was heading for franchising in numerous states across the country. He wore all the best designers in clothes, shoes, & jewelry (only the finest watches for him). He made certain that his very beautiful wife wore the best of the best (to complete the appearance of the perfect wife) and that his daughter was the most stylish of any child anywhere that they went. Yes, Jack was a successful man and that success meant the world to him. He wore it on his sleeve for the entire world to see.

If you were to ask Jack if he was a happy man, without a thought he would have said yes. But if he had truly stopped to think about the question I’m not sure he would have known the answer. For in truth with all of his pursuits all he truly felt was empty. This was not a feeling he acknowledged or even allowed himself to feel. But deep down in the deepest of his core that was all that was there a, hallow, lonely, empty, nothing. This did not bother Jack; he was a man of action not feeling, a man of accomplishments always making improvements to an already high end, high class and perfect model…or so he thought.

One day while opening up the restaurant for business he came across an odd man with a twinkle in his eye. The man questioned, “Are you grateful for all you have?” Jack replied, “I’ve done well for myself.” Not truly caring but something about the man made him feel compelled to ask, “Why do you ask?” The man replied, “Because gratitude is the blessing of a humble heart.” And the man proceeded to go his way. Likewise Jack continued on with his day, thinking nothing of the encounter.

Jack received a phone call from a policeman. He was calling to inform him that there had been a fire at his house. The policeman told him that he could see his wife and daughter at the hospital and that he should get there fast. The doctors had said that it didn’t look good.

When he arrived at the hospital Dr. Thomas Logan informed him that both his wife and daughter had received extensive burns over their bodies and that it would be touch and go for a while as to whether or not their systems could take the shock of the injuries. If their bodies could handle the next few days things would look hopeful. Thinking ahead, Jack ask Dr. Logan, “When would they be able to get constructive surgery and just where are their burns anyway?” The doctor went on to explain that his wife had been burned over 80% of her body and there was just so much that they could do. It would be a long, painful process and that her body particularly her face would never be the same. His daughter had been burned over 75% of her body and would most likely never have hair on her head again and the reconstructive surgery for face may fair better than his wife’s but not by much.

Because of a spark from an electric cord on their Christmas tree. Jack’s ideal life had been crushed in less than an hour’s time his perfect home and belongings lay burnt to the crisp with nothing but ashes to show for all his hard work and success. Worse of all his beautiful wife and adorable daughter where now horribly disfigured creatures, wrapped like cocoons never to be seen again as they had once graced is arms. Something inside him cracked. Could it be the impenetrable wall he’d worked so hard all his life to build was loosing its strength? Time alone would tell.

Who Does God Want?

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For a long time I felt too bad to be accepted by God.  Surely He would rather have anyone on the face of the earth rather than me.  I never realized at the time that I was being prideful.  Thinking that I was so bad that the God of the universe could not accept me.  In my sick mind I even thought that He’d accept Hitler before me.

That is not how God works however.  He doesn’t take the deserving.  If He only took the deserving, no one would be accepted because no one is deserving.  The tinniest of sins is still sin and God can not look on the sin for He is a holy God.  Holiness can have nothing to do with unholiness.

What He is looking for is someone humbled by the realization that their sin makes them undeserving of God’s grace.  He is also looking for someone who will admit that sin and ask for forgiveness for that sin, by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Once I understood that Jesus actually came for sinners and loved sinners, I came to the decision of turning my life over for last time to God.  It had been my pattern in the past to go to every alter call that I heard but since I never felt worthy, I never felt saved.

Salvation has nothing to do with feelings and has everything to do with the action of accepting what Jesus did on the cross, turning away from your sin and trusting God for your salvation.

If people think they have no need for God, they are suffering from the same thing I was, pride.  When people think that  they don’t need God, they misunderstand what God is all about.  As mentioned before God is Holy and He can not look on unholiness.  No matter how good a person may think they are they have missed the mark or sinned, which is what missing the mark means.  There is not a person on this earth that is perfect.  There was one once, His name was Jesus Christ.  He lived, died, and rose from the dead to pay the penalty of our sins.

So who does God want?  He wants all sinners to come to Him.  Since everyone sins that includes everyone.  His love is that big.  His compassion, grace and mercy that amazing and inclusive.