Faithinflipflops

Living simply, loving deeply!

Archive for the tag “Bruce Springsteen”

It Ain’t No Sin to Be Glad You’re Alive

I love the beginning of a new year. I love reflecting on all God did in the previous year and look forward to all the challenges and adventures that await in the coming year. My birthday is January 10th so it seems like everything is new at the beginning of the year. I love it. It truly is a new page. Every year, I pray to God for a Scripture and word that will set my path for growth for the year. I ask Him, “What new thing do you want to do in me this year? In what area do I need to grow?”

Last July I started working on my Masters in Strategic Leadership. (I have discussed much of this in a previous blog). It is the best decision I have made in a long time. I love learning and I am very impressed with the program I am in. The very first class we took was The Personal Life of a Leader. Basically, the premise is if you want to be a great leader and lead others well, you first need to learn how to lead yourself. This class changed my life. My dear friend and mentor, Harriet Mouer, always tells me that you cannot say something is life changing until six months have passed. It is only then if you can see if the event’s impact went beyond your emotional reaction and led to changed behavior. This class met her criteria for changing your life. At our residency and in our reading there was a lot of talk about finishing well; ministry and life. We had to identify things that would keep us from finishing well and make a plan with measurable goals for the next two years (the duration of the program) on how to grow in these areas. After prayer and contemplation, the two areas I identified were physical and financial fitness.

Since I was in middle school, I have struggled with my weight. I have tried every diet known to mankind. Atkins, Southbeach, Cabbage Soup (what?!?), Weight Watchers (multiple times), the apple diet (made that one up on my own…don’t ask…I was 13), starving myself, and the list goes on and on. I knew if I was going to finish well, I needed to get serious about taking care of my body. I want my body to last as long as my mind. I want to be able to serve Jesus with all of me until my last breath…as much as it depends on me. I also want to be an example to my nieces and youth that watch me. It matters how we treat our bodies. So I made an appointment with my doctor.

I just have to say that I have the best doctor in the world. He is compassionate, honest, and firm. I told him everything I wrote in the previous paragraph. I asked him to send me to a nutritionist (and I have tried this before as well). He told me “no”. I was shocked. He went on to explain that I would count calories, get frustrated, and give up. He was right. This was my pattern my whole life. He wrote down a podcast to listen to and asked me to give NSNG (no sugar, no grain) a try. He explained the science of it and why he thought it would help me. After much research (that is still ongoing),  I changed how I ate beginning August 24. I have lost 40 pounds, dropped 4 sizes and feel the best I have ever felt in my life, and it seems so easy. Non-restrictive. My schedule is pretty busy and I now have endless energy. I am way more productive and happy. I am working my plan on financial fitness. That is a little harder simply because my profession does not pay as well as others (but there is no way I would do anything else).

At the end of December, I led a team of 19 on a missions trip to Jamaica. Before we left, I was praying for the trip and some of the teaching I would be doing. My Scripture for the year came to me one morning in the shower right after a time of studying for the trip. The Scripture was Habakkuk 3: 17 – 19 which says:

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!
19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength!
    He makes me as surefooted as a deer,
    able to tread upon the height

If I were to put this is today’s language it would say something like this:

Even though I have no money in my bank account,

And I have no idea how I am going to pay for groceries,

Even though my family life is in ruins and my car won’t start,

Even though the doctor has given me a bad report and I don’t know what the future holds,

YET I will rejoice in the Lord!

I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!

The sovereign Lord is my strength!

He makes me not only able to stand firm like a deer on a steep mountain,

He also helps me to walk through it without slipping.

My word came for 2017 as well. There were actually two of them. The words were “more” and “healing”.

 

15894342_10209923387415870_7228465334223891877_n

Our missions team. This is the third trip I have led there. We live as one with our Jamaican brothers and sisters up in the bush. I will blog more about the trip later. ❤ Love each person in this picture. This was at an infirmary we visited. There is nothing like it in America. Very sad.

 

I felt the Lord speak to me that this coming year would have some challenges and from the beginning, I needed to determine that no matter what comes my way, I will be thankful to God and choose joy. Every day. How I walk and honor God in adversity is important. He will not let me slip and He will give me the leg strength to climb the mountains in my way. A couple weeks before Christmas I had my first mammogram. On Christmas Eve (after God had given me the Scripture) I received a letter that they found something suspicious and I needed further diagnostic testing. No phone call, just a letter. On December 27, nineteen of us from my church left for a missions trip to Jamaica. I was leading the team. The last phone call I made before boarding for Montego Bay and being off the grid for ten days, was to schedule further testing when I got home. I didn’t think much about it while I was gone. The trip was physically challenging and very busy. And healing was a primary focus of the trip. God taught us a lot. It was an amazing time. God did so much in and through the team.

The Monday after I got back from Jamaica, I had further testing done. The doctor informed me that what they saw required a biopsy to be scheduled. I have microcalcification in my right breast. More than likely it is not cancerous. Even if it is, it will have been caught so early that all that will need to be done is surgery removing the area affected with no chemo or radiation. I was very surprised. Breast cancer does not run in my family. Diabetes, heart disease, and alcoholism 😉 do, but not breast cancer. My biopsy is next week.

I am not afraid or overly worried. I am surprised. And frustrated. I don’t have time for this. It has made me think through some things. I have always loved life. The great poet of our day, Bruce Springsteen, has a line in one of my favorite songs, Badlands, that states, “For those who had a notion, a notion deep inside, that it ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive”. Earlier in the song he sings, “Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king, and a king ain’t satisfied until he rules everything”. I think Bruce’s point is to enjoy where you are. Don’t keep wishing for more. You end up wishing your life away. Be glad you’re alive. Enjoy the moment. Enjoy hanging with your kids instead of doing the dishes. Stop and appreciate a sunset. Count the blessings you have, not fixating on what you don’t have.  I truly am grateful every day to be alive. I think because I have lost so many family members and have walked through the valley of the shadow of death numerous times and grief has been a constant companion to me that I have learned cherish life. I am not in a hurry to get out of here. I know the purpose for which I was born has not been completely fulfilled.  And there are still so many dreams that I believe God has given me. A couple of months ago, Pastor Jim was talking about a picture God had given him during worship. It was a picture of someone wringing out a towel or a sponge. You know when you spill water and you are cleaning it up, you have to wring the water out so you can fill up with more water? That’s the picture of how God wants us to live our lives. He wants us to wring out every possible purpose, plan, and gift He gives us. Nothing is wasted. He wants to get the most out of our lives. I want to get the most out of my life so I can give it away.

IMG_1569

 

So this year I have started telling people what I admire and appreciate about them. (Some of my family and friends have already received sappy texts or cards or a Facebook message from me). When I get good service at a restaurant, I am emailing the manager. I wanted to hug my doctor today when I saw him, but I thought that might be inappropriate ;). And you know those thoughts you sometimes have when you notice a kind act? “Wow, that was sweet” “He’s a good man” “She’s a great mom” but we never say them? I am choosing to say them. In the moment. I think 2017 may be filled with a lot of kumbaya moments 😉 I am choosing kindness and joy over hate and despair. I am choosing to learn once again what it means to die to myself and live for Jesus and others.

I marvel on how back in July how God got my attention to begin to take care of my body.If it were not for that two-year plan, I probably would not have had the physical and mammogram done this year. I marvel at the people He has strategically placed in my life to help me along the way…my doctor, my professors, Vinnie Tortorich (the NSNG guru)…and the list goes on. I pray and thank God for them daily.

No matter what happens this year, I am thankful for Jesus and this amazing life He has given me, I will daily choose joy and love over despair and hate. I will wring every moment of this life God has so graciously given me. Will you join me?

Advertisements

Mid-Life Crisis: Good or Bad?

I have been thinking a lot about mid-life crises. By definition, a mid-life crisis is an emotional crisis of identity and self-confidence that can occur in early middle age. I witnessed a good friend of mine go through one years ago leaving a wake of destruction in its aftermath. I have seen others go through them successfully. I don’t think mid-life crisis are bad things unless handled badly. I think there is something healthy about reassessing your life periodically. I tend to be extremely introspective. One of my life mottos is “If you’re not growing, you’re dying”. It hangs in my office so it must be true. 😉 Scripture talks about examining ourselves in several places. An examined life is a healthy life.

if-youre-not-growing

I think I have been pondering it because over the past two months I have had four different people say something to me that struck a chord. Two of the four were in the form of a question and the other two were observations about my life. Three out of the four were basically asking the same thing, “What are you doing with your life?” They obviously took root and have been germinating in my spirit. I honestly believe God is trying to get me to see something so I can grow. My daily prayer is to be more like Jesus in all areas of my life and to daily walk out the good works He has for me (Ephesians 2:10). These are prayers He delights in answering.

Before I get to the four things people have said to me, let me give a little back-story. In July I began to work on my Masters in Strategic Leadership. I have wanted to continue my education for years. The idea of going into debt did not appeal to me at all. I had a friend tell me that I needed to not look at it as going into debt but as an investment in my future. That resonated with me so I went for it. And I am so glad that I did. Our first class and residency were on the personal life of a leader. The premise is if you are going to be a great leader, you need to be able to lead yourself well. How can you lead others if you cannot lead yourself? We learned a lot of great theory and practical tools in that class. We talked a lot about finishing well: life and ministry. We had to identify what would keep us from finishing well. My two areas were physical and financial health. Our final paper was thirteen pages. The last two pages had to be a personal growth plan for the next two years (the duration of the MASL program). It was a painful process. But healthy and life-giving.

I have two goals to be physically and financially fit by 50. There are concrete goals that I am working on. I will probably blog more on these two areas in the future. Needless to say, after scheduling an appointment with my doctor and some very frank and honest conversation, he set me on the right path of cutting out sugar and grains. I have lost 30 pounds in twelve weeks and feel the best I have in my life. I have a way to go but the accountability and desire are there. I do not want my body to give out on me before my mind and my dreams. Finishing well means taking care of the one body God has given me to do all He has called me to do.

I read a quote somewhere that said, “Men with dead eyes, dead hearts, just waiting for the rest of their bodies to catch up and die as well.” I don’t want to be like that. I think when we hit mid-life, we can choose to tread water (security) until retirement, thinking then we will do what we want or we choose to continue to take risks and grow in the present. We cannot wait for someday to do what God has put in our hearts to do.

In September, Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography came out. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge, huge fan. There was a companion album that came out with it. The album had a tag line describing it as, “a hard-working Jersey boy living out his wildest dreams”. I wrote in my journal, “Am I living out my wildest dreams? What are my wildest dreams?” God has given me so many.

At the church I serve at, we are going through some restructuring. It is healthy and exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. I love it! In September, I met with our youth pastor to discuss a change in roles and responsibilities. He would be taking some of mine and we were discussing what that would look like and where I would fit into all of that. He asked me the first question that has been causing me to think about the next season of my life. It came the day after I had read the tagline from Bruce’s album. He asked, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” He’s 26. I’m 46. And he so hit the nail on the head. (Side note: our future is in good hands. God is raising up a generation that can fix the things we have messed up. Do not fret! Our best days are ahead!) I have done about everything in church life from children to youth to missions to women to senior pastoring to pastoral care and I love it all. I am living out my wildest dreams. But I sense God is refining my wildest dreams (I am sounding like a Taylor Swift song). I have said from the time I graduated from college that I want to do it all before I die. I wanted to experience every aspect of ministry and life. But I feel God is doing a refining.

In pursuit of living a healthier lifestyle, my doctor encouraged me to listen to some podcasts. There’s a guy I have been listening to plus reading his stuff. The information is so good and makes so much sense. It’s all about the why you should not eat sugar and grains. It has changed my life. I am convinced God has used this to save my life. I believe we will look back on white sugar and it will be this generation’s version of nicotine. My mom and dad’s generation started smoking in the day in which nicotine was “good” for you. It wasn’t until the 70s the government admitted how terrible nicotine was for you. White sugar is killing us. Our health care system will break under the weight of our obesity not the Affordable Health Care Act (though that needs help, too).

I have struggled with my weight my entire life. I remember being in seventh grade and starving myself. I would eat an apple a day because you know what they say, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. I have lost the same sixty pounds five times during my life. I have done Weight Watchers, the cabbage soup diet, Atkins, South Beach, counted calories, and on and on. I was honestly quite concerned that I had permanently messed up my metabolism with all the yo-yo dieting. I was on the phone with one of my sisters talking about this new way of eating and working on my Masters. And she said the next thing that made me think. She said, “Heidi, any goal you have ever set, you always achieve it. You do whatever you set your mind to do. You are great at setting goals and meeting them. You are driven. Your problem is once you achieve it, you are lost, and you don’t know what to do with yourself.” That hit me like a ton of bricks. I am so thankful I have people in my life who are honest with me. God uses them to push me and examine my life.

As a result of my conversation with my sister, I began to think through my new lifestyle of eating. I was not viewing it as a diet but I knew eventually I would. What could I do now to prevent slipping back into my old behavior? The guy I have been listening to on the podcast offers paid consults. I have never done anything like that in my life. And remember my goal of being financially fit by 50? This did not fit into the budget. But I knew I needed to do something different if this was going to be lasting so I scheduled it. And I am so glad I did. He was so incredibly helpful. He was firm but genuinely caring. It was like having a personal trainer to get you started. The only way I can describe him is he is the Howard Stern of fitness. Growing up Strickler prepared me for that 😉 He asked me a question on the consult when I told him I was working on my Masters (he wanted a snapshot of my life…age, height, weight, what your schedule was like, etc). He seemed shocked that I was going back to school at 46. I thought it was normal. He asked, “What made you go back for your Masters at the age of 46?” The emphasis was on the age. I never once thought about my age when deciding whether or not I was going to go back for my Masters. It was always money and time. I never want to get intellectually lazy. And I don’t want to coast on what I have learned previously. We are to love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, all of our strength, all of our souls, and all of our minds. And I think it is part of whatever God has for me in the future.

NSNG_fist-300x285.png

The last incident that happened was a dear friend called me a couple of weeks ago to inform me he had re-married. I jokingly said, “Maybe it’s time for me to think about getting married.” I remember a couple of years ago I woke up one day and thought, “How did I end up at the age 44 not married?” I knew I never wanted children but marriage had always been an option. I just never thought about it much until two years ago. Life has been so fun and so full and time just marched on and before you knew it, here I am. His reply to me was, “You have such a unique life, and it would be hard for someone to come alongside it.” In my journal that night, I wrote, “It (his statement) caused me to think what am I doing with my life?” At first, it stung. That statement made me feel like a freak. For a nano second. In the end, it caused me to appreciate the uniqueness of my life. I have never been lonely. I have amazing friends and family. The community I get to live in and serve is full of great people. I am not rich in material things but I am with the things that matter (now I feel like I’m going all George Bailey on you).

615451704-265896-it_27s_a_wonderful_life_quotes__-1

As I contemplate those four incidents, I am so filled with excitement. God says in His Word, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

image-1

Re-assessing your life mid-way through can be a good thing. It becomes a crisis when you fill it with things that will rob your soul and hurt those around you. The self-examined life is the healthy life.

 

 

 

 

 

What Does Wonder Look Like?

In February, I flew out to Arizona for a weekend of shadowing an amazing mentor of mine. While at the airport I bought a Reader’s Digest to read on the plane. There was an article in it called “A World of Wonder”. And the Editor’s note was a column on things that made her wonder. She encouraged her readers to make their own list of things that have made them wonder.

The word wonder is defined by “the emotion aroused by something awe-inspiring, astounding, or surprising.”

Here is my list of things that have filled me with wonder lately.

Hearing church bells ring while sitting on the dock at the river enjoying lunch and reading my Bible. The smell of honeysuckle in the spring. Bruce Springsteen’s “Badlands”. Reading a book that is so well-written and challenging you hate for it to end. And it is all you can think about for days. A freshly mowed yard. Watching our worship team at church lead us in worship with such joy and reverence. Laughter. Baseball games…the sights, the sounds, the smells. The sound of the bat cracking as the ball makes contact, the roar of the crowd, the smell of stale beer mixed with hotdogs and popcorn. Lunch with friends. A good cry. Wind chimes making music in the wind. People praying for one another. Singing “Don’t Stop Believing” at the top of my lungs with my nieces. Family and friends gathered around my table, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. Hearing children pray. Watching people grow in their faith. Witnessing people of different cultures worshipping Jesus. An Italian sausage and onion pizza. A bonfire. Elderly people telling their stories. A clean house. Watching my church family love on and bless families who have experienced loss of a loved one by providing a funeral luncheon. Cake with strawberries and pudding in the middle and icing to die for from Kiedrowskis. A Lake Erie sunset.  The power of community

What makes you wonder?

Lunch with friends.

Lunch with friends.

Lunch on the Vermilion River

Lunch on the Vermilion River

Sunset on Lake Erie

Sunset on Lake Erie

Living Sensibly

I was going through my old journals this week. I started journaling when I was in middle school (though in middle school it was called writing in a diary). I have my very first one…Garfield the cat is on the cover and it had a lock and a key and everything. I was SO cool in middle school that I rated my days like Siskel and Ebert rated movies. Four star days were super-duper days. Those were the days I won money betting on the Cleveland Browns (if you could ever imagine winning on the Browns) and/or a cute boy noticed me. Three stars were great days, two stars were average, one star days were terrible, horrible, no good days. Days that you wanted to stay out-of-the-way of this raging, hormonal teen-ager. It’s kind of fun (and frightening) to see how middle school Heidi thought. (Sidenote…if I charged middle school Heidi a quarter for every time she swore, middle-aged Heidi would be financially set).Needless to say, I am so thankful Jesus got a hold of me in high school.

Middle School Diary. No words.

Middle School Diary. No words.

The reason I have been going through my journals is for research for a book I am writing. I have had a dream since I was a kid to write a book. I have mentioned in another blog how I wrote a 10 chapter book when I was 10 and had my mom type it for me. We sent it to a publisher. It was rejected.

In order for a dream to become a reality, it must be worked on and walked out. Dreams coming true just don’t happen over night. They usually come to pass with a lot of sweat and tears. The fulfillment of a dream requires a lot of hard work. Bruce says it so well in his song “Working On Dream”. (I can weave a Bruce Springsteen song into anything… 😉 )

Anyway…while I was going through some of my journals, I came across an entry from June 30th, 2003. It was my thoughts and reflections from reading the book of Titus in the Bible. I thought it was something I should put on my blog. So here it is.

Titus says in the second chapter that the grace of God has appeared to all men, bringing salvation. And that the grace of God instructs us (disciplines us) to 1. deny ungodliness and worldly desires and 2. live sensibly, righteously and godly in this present age.

I do not live sensibly in this present age. I do not spend my money sensibly, I do not use my time sensibly (2015 Heidi has made some headway in these areas).

What does it mean to live sensibly? I have always thought the word “sensible” means boring. Someone saying “She’s so sensible” is like saying “She’s so boring.” You always know what to expect. Routine. Predictable. Is that what it really means to live sensibly? What does it mean to live sensibly?

This is what I came up with.

Sensible living:

  1.  Do not live beyond your means.
  2.  Do not commit yourself to things you don’t have time to do.
  3. Do not make promises you cannot or may not be able to keep.
  4. “You can do anything, but not everything”. (I just added this tonight. I saw it on Facebook and it so resonated with me.

Is being sensible the opposite of risk taking? (I have always considered myself to be somewhat of a risk taker). Is taking a risk a bad thing? Is living safe living sensibly?

One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is from The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe

Safe?” said Mr. Beaver; “don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? “Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Following God is not safe. It is full of risks and adventures.

So the conclusion I come to is that living sensibly according to God is not the same as living sensibly to the world. I live sensibly according to God’s ways so that I am set up to take the risks He puts in front of me when they come.

  • I can do to the mission field because I do not have debt holding me back.
  • I can say “yes” to the right risks because I am not suffering from physical ailments induced by stress because I am trying to do everything and over committing myself.
  • I can be trusted to do things that are risky because I follow through on whatever (no matter how small or mundane) is put before me because I am someone who keeps my word.

The point of this blog? Living sensibly sets us up to be risk takers.  Living sensibly isn’t so boring after all!

 

 

 

 

 

The Arts as Worship: God is a Creative God

A couple of nights ago, I finally had an evening to paint. Life has been crazy (good crazy) and the next four weeks will be pretty much the same. So I try to work in at least one night a week of painting. It has become my happy place. My extended time with God.

I painted two pictures that night. The first one was for someone I know who is battling cancer. For several weeks I felt the Lord leading me to paint a picture for this person and while I painted, I was to use the time to pray for healing. It was a very special time. Scriptures that came to mind as I prayed and painted, I jotted down on a note card. When I was finished with it, I turned it over and wrote the Scripture references on the back of the canvas. I took it with me to the women’s Bible study I lead on Fridays and had the ladies pray over it. I know that sounds strange  but I really know that God is in this. I mailed the painting to my friend on Friday afternoon.

After I was done with that, I just painted a picture. I had no plans, no ideas, no thoughts. I just put music on and painted.

It ended up being a very bright TV. As it took form, I thought about the things that I would want people to see about me if they were watching my life, the things that are important to who I am as a person.

The Cross of Christ was central. I want people to see Jesus in me. I want to please Jesus in everything that I do.

I painted an open book. I want to be authentic. With God and with others. Being real and setting an  atmosphere  for people to be honest with themselves  and God is important to me. This was so fresh to me because at my Tuesday night Bible study that week, we had an incredible time of study and prayer and it was because the ladies were so open and honest about where they were.  True growth and freedom comes from authenticity. If we would stop lying to ourselves about stuff, God could really move and transform our lives.

I had painted a smiley face because I want joy always to characterize my life (as well as righteousness and peace….after all those are the characteristics of the Kingdom of God).

I also painted a heart. I want to strive to be kind to people. Kindness is such a rare trait. I want to be remembered as a person who was kind. Kindness stands out like a shining light in a society where rudeness and disrespect is applauded and encouraged. (Turn on any news channel)

The last picture was a cloud with the title of Bruce Springsteen’s song, Dream Baby DreamI don’t care how old I get, I never want to stop dreaming big things for God. I always want to be reaching to accomplish something bigger than myself…something that I could never do by myself – that the fulfillment of the dream could only come t0 pass with God’s help. I want His dreams for my life to be my dreams. I want my dreams to always bring glory to God. And I never want to get stuck in the dreaming phase…I always want to act on those dreams that I have so I can see them come to pass so that God can give me even bigger dreams. In my spirit, I hear the Lord says always “Dream, Baby Dream”. (God uses Bruce’s music a lot to speak to me). 🙂 And God will still be saying it to me when I’m 90!!!

I love how God uses painting to bring things out of me. I am so  grateful that He is a creative God. I am thankful for the arts and how they point us to Him. There is nothing like listening to the music and lyrics of a song that evoke in us powerful feelings or a wonderfully written book that leaves me in wonder that words could create such a vivid picture in our imagination or a movie that inspires us to be better people and consider another point of view or a dance in which the person and the music become one and tell a story without any words or a painting that speaks to each person differently.

So grateful for the many ways God created for us to worship Him and communicate with another.

“We Did it!” (Thoughts on a life well-lived)

Last Sunday during worship – there was a moment – a moment in which an appreciation – an overwhelming appreciation washed over me- an awareness of how blessed I am, on how good life is, on how good God has been to me…how faithful He has been to me. I just stopped singing and savored the moment. I so wanted to be able to push the pause button and just stop the clock from ticking even if it were just for a minute. It was one of those rare moments when one feels FULLY alive.

Life is not perfect. Life has not always been easy. There have been deep hurts and tough challenges. But in this season, there is so much joy in the journey. And there is within me a knowing that this is how it is supposed to be in every season of my life…joy in the journey.

A couple of weeks ago, I came across a bookmark that someone had given me quite awhile ago. I had never fully read it. There was a line that stuck out to me. And it annoyed me. It said:

There are women of wit and wisdom who —

through strength and courage —

MAKE IT THROUGH

Isaiah 44:20 says,

He feeds on ashes, a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”

What ashes have I been feeding on? What insecurities, unhealthy coping mechanisms, what lies have I been feeding on? What lie is in my right hand that I have not recognized as such? One of the lies that I have believed and so have many other Christians is that we just need to “make it through”. We are just sitting here, biding our time, managing our sin until our real life begins when we die and go to heaven. Not really enjoying life or making the most of it. Passively watching life go by. Limping through life, nursing old wounds. Bruce Springsteen really was right when he sang “It ain’t no sin to be glad you’re alive.”

We were created for so much more! To live an abundant life. A life full of joy, peace, and righteousness. Jesus has made this possible for me! What is an abundant life? It is not being rich (though God can bless that way). It is not attaining the “American Dream”. In fact, the older I get and the more I study Scripture, the more I see how opposite the Kingdom of God and the American Dream are to one another. Most other Christians living outside of America live in poverty but have rich lives marked by joy and peace even in the midst of suffering.

An abundant life is a life that follows Jesus. Wherever He may lead. Whatever it may cost. Loving people. Standing up for what is right. Showing compassion. Putting others before ourselves. Living a life of gratitude. Being wonder-struck by the many ways He blesses our lives.

I say all of this to say this:

When I have breathed my last – I don’t want to have just “Made it through” – God forbid, I just make it through life. I want to finish well – to finish with energy – to finish strong.

At the end of my life

  • I do not want to say “I made it”
  • I do not want to say “We made it”
  • I do not want to say “I did it”

I want to cross that finish line with Jesus and say:

“We did it!” 

Jesus and me and the people He gave to me to run the race with because no one runs the race by themselves…and to think you can is to have a lie in your right hand. We were meant to serve Jesus in community.

We did the stuff.

We did what God purposed for us to do – no matter how difficult or hard the task.

We did it with joy.

We did it with grace.

We did it with peace.

We did it with faithfulness.

We did it with humility.

We did it with power.

I think that moment I had last Sunday…of overhwhelming gratitude and feeling fully alive….can happen more often. I must not choose to just “make it through” but to live life full throttle, arms opened wide, embracing every opportunity and taking risks as I follow Jesus. And when I have closed my eyes for the last time on this earth and opened them for the first time in Heaven may I hear Jesus say “Well done, my good and faithful servant…WE DID IT!!!”

 

Post Navigation