Friday, 23 June 2017

Affirmation #69 by Susan L.

  I am created in Christ for good works. 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." NKJ
  "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned long ago." JCB

  My Lord? What do You have planned for me?
  And I have to chuckle. Why do I think the "plan" needs to be something great, something extraordinary?
  I supposed there's a good whack of social conditioning in there.
  "What do you want to be when you grow up? An astronaut? A doctor? The Prime Minister?"
  No. I want to be me because...the me that is me was created to do good things that are great. It may only touch a single person but the greatness of simplicity is in the expression of Christ's love.
  Why do I think I need to do more or be more?
  I suppose there's a good whack of social conditioning in there.
  "You work in a drop-in for people whose lives are touched by mental health and addictions? Oh."
  People frequently look away at that point because it's not a comfortable topic of conversation.  
  "That's nice."
  I am blessed when someone hears what I do and they feel comfortable enough to quietly share their own struggles. This happens a lot.
  I've heard that doctors and lawyers get that a lot, too.
  Maybe I need to look at my life through the eyes of Jesus...

  Maybe the blog is a good work, too. I'd never thought of it that way because it's a tool used to ground myself in the Lord nearly every day. Yup, I write for purely selfish reasons. I selfishly want to let go of self to find the self God made me to be.
  I hadn't really thought about the ripple effect this has yet, every time I sit down to write, I eagerly check out the places around the world where someone has popped in for a visit. It's like opening a gift every time a new place shows up!
  The little eight by ten inch map I highlight new places on doesn't really reflect how big this ole earth is. It's waaaay bigger than I can wrap my head around. Perhaps one day, every single country will be highlighted. I'd have to throw a party to celebrate that achievement wouldn't I?
  For someone without letters after her name, without social standing, with very few of the identifying markers society views as levels of success, that's pretty awesome. It's humbling at the same time, too.
  I rarely share that I am a blogger. It's never dawned on me before that it is part of the good works the Lord has equipped me to do. Even when I make mistakes quoting scripture. There's a richness in that, too. It's a growth opportunity.
  Perhaps part of identifying what is a good work is that it not only blesses others but generates a richness in my own life. Especially when I make mistakes only to end up growing as a person, as a child of God.
  Jesus' good work on the cross meant sacrifice.
  I am thankful to have the time I need to dedicate to the blog. Is it a sacrifice if it doesn't feel like one?

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

I am Courageous by Susan L.

  "And David said to his son, Solomon, "Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed for the Lord God--my God--will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord." 1 Chronicles 28:20 NKJ

  Courage is facing or doing something despite being afraid.
  I think of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. For a brief moment He faltered because He knew what lay ahead. He asked His disciples to stand watch with Him but they slept instead. He even asked His Father to spare Him the things that were coming.
   I've often pondered these events because Jesus experienced everything people experience. He has first hand knowledge of the temptations that lead us astray. I think of how His mortal flesh battled against the reason why He was there. In the end, He embraced His destiny because He knew that His Father was there to support Him during the upcoming terrible trials and eventual crucifixion.
  "Your will, Father, not mine." He said and the fear left Him. Inhuman strength, His Father's gift of courage, filled the hole where fear once coursed through His body.
  I find such comfort in Gethsemane. It's a garden I've often visited in my imagination especially when the Lord was urging/encouraging me to step into my memories, to face down the pain of past events, to "crucify" the old man. Knowing it was because He wanted me to be free, I'd square my shoulders, lift my chin and softly pray, "It's time but oh, Lord, I am afraid."
  Like a mantle, God's gift of courage would wrap itself over my shoulders. It doesn't mean I didn't' feel pain or grief or torment. Sometimes I wished it would be over.  Some days there was no hope that it would ever end. Some days I didn't want to get out of bed. Some days I couldn't feel the mantle. There were a lot of those days but despite all these things, God's gift enabled me to persevere, to boldly go where I'd never gone before.
  Together He and I would work through the tough stuff. Unlike Jesus, I wasn't alone. There have been many companions who have supported me along the way: my mom, an amazing therapist, a few close friends, the people at the centre. I am thankful for every one of them because sometimes we need love with skin on it. Sometimes we need a shoulder to help us bear our trials.
  Lord, I thank You for courage. I thank You for the inquisitive determination that demanded I find truth. I thank You for granting me the space and place to work things through at my own pace. Thank You for the gifts of art and writing that have been so crucial in breaking down the biggest burdens into manageable pieces. But most of all, I am thankful for Your Son, for the path He walked that makes mine much easier to travel.
  "Because Your loving kindness is better than life, My lips shall praise You." Ps 63:3

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Word Choices by Susan L.

  The affirmation for today reads, "I am controlled by the love of Christ." 2 Corinthians 5:14
  "For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died." NKJ
  "Either way, Christ's love controls us. Since we believe that Christ died for all, we also believe we have all died to our old life." JCB
  I baulk a bit at the use of the word "control" in the newer Bible translation. Control negates free will, something God, the Father, gave us right from the get go. Control isn't love. It's subjugation and is entirely against His nature.
  Being compelled to do something on the other hand means we are urged to make the best choice about what we are being asked to do. That same compulsion also shapes how we choose to do it. Being compelled by love is the insistent drive to act in and out of love. Even though it's the best way to live, it's still our choice whether or not we follow the compulsion.
  Without the ability to choose, there would be no need for grace and forgiveness. Both are different facets of God's love. Knowing God's grace means we are compelled to offer the same grace to others.  
  At least, when we are ready.
  Sometimes it takes a while. Wanting to forgive another is often all that is needed because it sets our feet on the right path. It's a conscious choice to walk the Love path of Jesus.
  Choosing to forgive others isn't about them, it's about us, our heart, our walk, and our freedom.
  The Love path is having a relationship with Him. That, too, is about choice and our willingness to embrace change.
  Still, knowing what true Love is and being able to live accordingly are often miles apart. That's where the light of Jesus shines like a beacon, leading us out of the darkness into paths of righteousness, of holiness and love.
  We aren't alone either. Jesus gave us a Helper, the Holy Spirit. He is the indwelling source of compulsion and guidance.
  Even though I embraced Jesus as my Lord, change wasn't instantaneous. It takes His tender tutelage to carefully strip away the layers of the old self that shapes my world view. More than anything, I want it to be a Godly view. This has compelled me to travel the Black River time and again as the profound impact of life events has been explored and truth has been uncovered.
  Because Christ died for me, I can also make the choice to die for Him. My soul hungers to be better than I am, to love better than I could ever do on my own.
  I had taken a mental health break from work to collect my thoughts. Being truly happy and anxiety free for the first time in my life, it was a challenging to be there. I knew I was being selfish, wanting to hang on to the joy like a miser holds onto gold. There's some fear in there, too, that something would happen to steal it from me. Yet, over the past week, I've come to realize that my Joy is my strength. So, feeling refreshed, I can go back and allow it to overflow because I will be filled.
  My joy also has the deepest Foundation. The love of Christ.
  "And that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness." Eph 4:24