This time of year is usually difficult for a lot of people. Even though there is a lot of activity going on there is still a group of individuals who struggle with being alone during the holidays. You see them smiling but on the inside there is a hole waiting to be filled. Sometimes they could be totally alone with no family or friends close to them but other times they could be surrounded by loved ones and still feel alone. I understand their pain because I feel that way sometimes…I felt that way yesterday.
A wave of loneliness overtook me and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and cry…and I almost did but I then remembered the sermon I heard earlier that day and I reminded myself that while I may feel alone God is always with me.
And so I just want to say how thankful I am that I know Jesus and have a place to worship every week. I’m thankful that I have family and friends that love me. I’m thankful I have a job I enjoy going to everyday. I’m thankful I have a roof over my head. I’m thankful I have a car that runs. I’m thankful I’m able to pray and worship without threat of being killed. I’m thankful that I’ve been able to pour into people’s lives. I’m thankful that everyday God wakes me up is another day to honor Him. I’m thankful that my heart is so filled with love & joy that all I want to do is share it.
I’m thankful for every minute I have.
My prayer is that we all take time to thank God for all we have and that we let our families & friends know how much we love them.
So tonight as I crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head I may cry. But it won’t be a cry of loneliness it will be a cry of gratitude…
“I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” Psalm 7:17
“In that day you will say: Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.” Isaiah 12:4
“Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Hate. It’s a word that’s been used for centuries but it seems as if it’s getting more attention especially in light of recent bombings, mass killings and conflicts with law enforcement. We hear the word but do we stop to think about how that word affects us as individuals and where hatred begins?
Let me say this before I continue…I don’t expect everyone to agree with me or to even like what I’m about to say but this has been on my heart for a long time and I need to get this out.
Since the Treyvon Martin incident I have been struggling with hatred in my heart. I have been struggling with the injustice done to a minority by a majority. I have been struggling with how mass genocides can occur and no one blinks an eye; with how people can kill one another but claim to love God. I’ve been struggling with people who misuse God’s word to justify the coldness in their hearts. I feel this hatred growing when I watch the news, hear stories on the radio or read articles in the paper. It makes my angry to see how the actions of a few can shape perceptions of many. I get angry at a group of people for having a generalized mindset and I start to get comfortable in my anger. “How dare you look at me and only see the stereotypes that have been portrayed in the media? How dare you look at me and think that I’m something to be studied like an experiment? How dare you…wait Lord, is that you?” Before I start to get out of control with my anger the holy spirits convicts me. I realize that if I get upset at others I also need to get upset with myself. How many times have I laughed at racist jokes or judged a group of people based on a narrow viewpoint because of something I saw or heard. Those are the seeds of prejudice and bigotry and those are seeds I don’t want to grow.
A few years ago I read a book that really spoke to me. It was about a woman who was who was trying to balance her identity as a black woman with her identity as a Christian. She was trying to determine what was more important-the color of her skin or the spirit inside of her. She ultimately decided that her identity in Christ came before her identity as a black woman. I am praying that I can come to that conclusion as well. If we all came to the conclusion that our identities in Christ was the most important then any injustice no matter who it’s perpetrated against would break our hearts because any injustice no matter who it’s perpetrated against breaks Jesus’s heart. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control is the fruit of having the Holy Spirit (see Galatians 5:22-23). If we all let that rule in our lives when we encounter people we don’t understand we would seek to understand instead of spending our time seeking to fear.
I’m not saying I have it all figured out and I’m not saying those feelings of anger and hatred don’t show up but my constant prayer is for the Lord to remind me of His ultimate goodness and to help me see people as He sees them.
Picture this: you’ve just gotten home and settled into your favorite chair. On the table next to the chair is a bottle of water, a bowl of popcorn and a book you’ve been trying to read for quite some time. Just as you’re about to start reading your phone rings. You look at it but don’t recognize the number. You decide not to answer it and continue enjoying your evening. For the next few nights the same number calls your phone at the same exact time each night. Finally after a week you become frustrated and decide to answer the phone. It’s at that time you realize the person that’s been calling you is an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a very long time. While your on the phone catching up with what’s been going on in your life you start to remember how a year or six months ago this number showed up on your cell phone and you start feeling sad about how much time you’ve missed with your friend.
Now imagine how God feels? Revelation 3:20 says “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him and he with me”. God created us to be in communication with Him. His desire is for us to speak to Him as a friend, a brother, a sister, a mother, a father. Yes He is our Lord and Savior but He’s also the only one we can tell all of our problems, our fears, our feelings and He won’t laugh, criticize, or judge. So why is it so difficult for us to talk to Him? Even as I write this I realize I miss the early morning talks God and I used to have. We used to meet every morning and talk about my day. He would give me guidance and I would feel refreshed ready to take on my day. But since we haven’t talked I’ve been more tired, cranky and I’ve started complaining again. I’d like to say that He’s the one who stopped communication but that’s not true.
So often we over complicate communication with God. We think everything has to be perfect (guilty). God is not looking for us to be perfect and the place you speak to Him doesn’t have to be perfect either. We think unless we have a hug list of people to pray for He doesn’t want to hear from us (guilty). While it’s important to pray for others He’s also concerned about your needs. We think He only speaks to us in a loud, commanding voice (guilty). Yes we hear God speaking during the big events in our life but stop and think about when you feel the closest to Him. It’s usually in the midst of a storm when you feel a sense of peace and calm.
Elijah was in the midst of a storm in I Kings 19. He’d just run away from Jezebel and he was hiding in a cave in the woods and all he wanted was to talk to God. A strong wind came, an earthquake came, and a fire came however Elijah didn’t hear from God until a small still voice came after the fire. God wasn’t in the noise and the destruction-He was in the calm, the stillness and the peace. Here’s the thing, Elijah trusted the closeness of His relationship with God to know when God was speaking to him. Why? Because he spoke to God on a consistent basis. That’s what God wanted in Elijah’s time and that’s what He wants now. I for one don’t want to miss out on hearing God’s voice because I’m focused on the wrong thing.
So what about you? Are you going to answer the next time God calls or reject the call because you don’t recognize the number?