Through the Flood or over the Rocks

  I was 16 when my oldest sister died, from a gunshot wound.  After that I felt like I couldn’t handle life. Like this shouldn’t be my burden to bear. I blamed myself for so many things that went wrong in our relationship. I blamed myself for the fact that not only did she become a prostitute but she stayed one for years. I continually went over every “IF only…”  situation.  This is just one in a series of many circumstances that I cried out why??  I asked God for a way out of my pain and a way to help me cope. But I was so distracted by the flood in front of me, that I nearly missed  God giving me an opportunity to pass on dry land. Why? Because the dry land didn’t look a whole lot easier.  I was being overwhelmed with my circumstances as it was, only to turn to the open door God provided, to see a rocky unstable terrain.

Joshua 3-4:18

Joshua is leading the Israelite people to the land that God has promised will be theirs. They have faced so many obstacles on their journey only to come face to face with yet another.  The Jordan River.  God proceeds to tell Joshua to send the priests out into the river with The ark.  When they walked into he river the flow of water immediately stopped. The priests reached the middle of the river and stood there so that all of the people could cross the river, on dry ground.

During this time of year the Jordan river is at flood stage. It’s probably rushing at tremendous speeds! I can imagine the people standing on the bank of the river looking at this huge and powerful river thinking “well that ain’t happening.”  Okay, so they probably had better grammar, but this is my imagination we’re talking about. This was a flooding river that was not humanly possible to just walk across. You know they were skeptical!

But God!

Funny thing, not only did God let them walk across on dry land, but he told Joshua to have one man from each of the 12 tribes represented, to grab 12 rocks each and carry them across. This tells me that they didn’t get to walk across on a smooth bridge, or road. Nope, it was a rocky terrain that probably was pretty difficult to get everything across.

This story is such an amazing representation of our struggles.  When were faced with something so big that we think “well that ain’t happening” God gives us another option.

We usually have two choices… FLOOD or ROCK

THE FLOOD

File Apr 29, 11 18 22 AM

The flood is when we try to get through our problems on our own.  I don’t know if you have ever tried treading water.  It’s difficult to continually keep your head above water. Your arms get tired, your legs get tired, your head starts to bob under the water. Not a fun thing to go through. Can you imagine trying to do that in a flooding river!  We face our circumstances in the same way.  Trying to go through it alone and we just get tired! every part of us is giving out on us and we continually get over taken by our circumstance.  It’s not easy facing it alone. It’s lonely and it hurts.

Isaiah 43:2

When you pass through the waters I will be with you. When you pass through the rivers they will not sweep over you…

This gives me hope. When I was completely overwhelmed by my circumstances after my sister died, I tried to get through it in my own way.  Whatever I could do to help ease my pain.  I got into A LOT of trouble during that time.  I was completely overwhelmed and every move I made continued to drag me just a little bit deeper.

It wasn’t until I saw Gods open arms that I realized there was another way to get across. I ignored it for so long because it doesn’t look any easier.  Sometimes it’s not easier, but at least we finally reach out for God to help us get by.

THE ROCKS              File Apr 29, 11 18 33 AM

The Rocks are where you have ups, downs, trips, and slips.  It is not easy by any stretch of the imagination, but by the time you reach the other side you’re body is stronger for it.  You don’t ever have the fear of being taken away by the current, or dragged under the water to where you just can’t breathe.  God is always there to encourage you and shout praises at you. But you have to work for it.  Like anything that is really going to change you for a lifetime, it won’t just be handed to you.

Going through pain is something we just can’t avoid in this life. Letting the pain have control over every aspect of your life, is something we can control. Joshua listened to God. He went to him for the answers he needed.  That is why they made it across on dry land.  You and I have the choice to seek God too.  When you read and study your bible, and pray to God. Not just to do your daily duty, but to really try to know who God is and who Jesus is!  That is when you find that the rocky terrain is so much better than the flood.

There have been so many times that I have missed my chance to cross on dry land because I am so focused on the flood.  Please stop and take a moment to find God and go over the rocks. You will come out the other side stronger, because of God.  Gos cares more about our character than our comfort, and I praise him everyday for that.  Because in the eyes of the world I have every right to be bitter and hurt.  God has given me freedom from all of that!

The Law and Grace

Romans3

The Law VS. Faith

I am going to take a moment and be totally transparent.   When the whole Jesus thing was first introduced to me I thought it was a whole lot of things I couldn’t and shouldn’t do. I was living my life and dealing with my hurt and pain the best way I knew how.  It never really got me any closer to true happiness, but my life has had its moments. I was blind to the fact that there could be anything more. A happiness that could last longer than the moment I was in.

As I have read the bible more,  built my own beliefs about who Jesus was, and who God is to me, I have begun to see something different.  Where I saw rules and a whole bunch of things not to do, there was actually freedom, and joy, and most of all GRACE.

Romans 3:20

Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

Paul is explaining how and why we are saved.  He says that the law, that was written down through Moses, is there to show us what sin is.  After all, how would we know what we are doing is wrong if there are no guidelines for what right and wrong are?  The old testament was filled with a very long list of things that you could not do.  There was also a list of things that you had to do. Sacrifices you needed to make.

When you see a child in public acting like a hellion, we’ve all seen them, don’t pretend you haven’t, your first thought is “where is that kids parents?”  I’ve thought it, and it’s even been my kid at some point. Well, that child does not come out of the womb knowing that throwing themselves on the ground in the middle of the grocery store and screaming so the entire parking lot can hear, is wrong.  That is the job of the parents to inform that child that they better get their butt up off the ground or they will get in BIG trouble. Because it’s wrong. Of course they will still do it occasionally, because they’re children, but they now know that it is wrong and that there will be consequences.

That is law.

We are sinful by our very nature, and when you tell us not to think about a purple elephant, wouldn’t you know that is ALL we can think about. So of course we sin and continue to fall short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)

God loves us so much that he didn’t want to watch us continue to fail. Never being able to really succeed.

That is why he sent his son! He loves us too much to watch us fail. Jesus came in the very nature of sinful humans so that he could be our sin offering. He died in order for the righteous requirement of the law to be fulfilled.

3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own son in the likeness of sinful humanity to be a sin offering.  And so he condemned sin in human flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement on the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the sinful nature but according to the Spirit.

(Romans 8:3-4)

That doesn’t mean the law goes away and we live however we want whenever we want. It’s like when you finally become an adult.  When you go back to your parents house, you know they have certain rules. Will you get a spanking if you disobey them? Hopefully not, because that could make for a very awkward Christmas dinner.  However you will probably get the stink eye.  Anyone who has disobeyed your parents in public knows exactly what I am talking about!  That look that says “oh no you did not just so that!”

I have two little girls, they are adorable, and precious to me. But they know “the look.” My oldest is only four and I think I have perfected “the look.” When you are an adult you only get “the look.” There is no major discipline that follows. No bathroom visits to ‘talk’.  The look tells you that you have stepped over the line a little and you need to recalculate you steps a bit.

That’s how it is with the law.  We have rules and guidelines that God wants us to follow. We no longer have the same discipline that there was before Christ came. We no longer have to suffer death for not following the letter of the law.  But that does not give us the right to throw the rule book out the window.  God is the master at ‘the look’, you know you’ve felt it before.

Sometimes I feel like God is up there looking down on me and saying “Really, really Sarah?” When you get that feeling you know it’s time to recalculate.  There are always consequences to our actions. Most of the time we bring them upon ourselves with the choices we make.

You know if you need to recalculate. It’s a feeling that is not easy to ignore.  But you can’t know where to move to, if you don’t what you’re moving away from.  That is why you need to know the law. To study the bible and decide where your feet are going to tread today.

If you don’t know the law, you can never truly appreciate and understand God’s grace.

Grace means that all of your MISTAKES now serve a PURPOSE instead of serving shame!

It’s Lonely In The Dark

By: Sarah Coon

Have you ever been stuck somewhere that is so dark, the you absolutely can’t see anything?  You feel like you’ve gone blind in the dark.  Your eyes will adjust a little bit, but it’s so dark that even when they do adjust you still can barely make anything out. When it’s that dark you stumble and run into tables, corners, walls, all sorts of things that you didn’t expect to pop up.  It’s painful and really really annoying.  I sometimes do this just walking around on a daily basis, in a dark place I get be beaten up severely.

Sometimes life feels like that.  Like you can’t see anything around you.  These land mines keep popping up out of nowhere and blowing your world away.  Then you look around to try and get a little support or assistance, and all you see is darkness.  It fools us into thinking that everything we are going through and have had happen to us in our lives, leaves us alone.  Like we are the only one that has dealt with our problems.  We know it’s not true, but looking around you just see nothing and no one that could help you out.

It’s a lonely place in the dark.

Jesus says that we don’t have to walk in that darkness.  Walking all alone in our pain, sin, and past.

John 8:12

When Jesus spoke again to the people he said ” I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never have to walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”

I see this and the first thing that pops into my mind about this scripture is that Jesus came so that we don’t have to walk around in our own shame and darkness anymore.  But the more I think on this and really try to apply it to my situations, I have to see another beautiful aspect of his comment.  Jesus shines the light on us, not to shame us, but to free us.  We now have the chance to show others they really aren’t alone.  When the light turns on it hurts at first. Your eyes do not want to open to your surroundings.  When you do however, you see things differently.  I want to use the light that has been given to me to show others they are not alone. I want to be completely transparent so that people can see the yuck that I have been through.  There is no worse feeling than going through the junk this life throws at you and feeling like you are all alone in it.  Feeling dirty and ashamed. Like all those people in church don’t get it. They haven’t done what I’ve done.  They couldn’t understand. I’ve had things happen that no one should have to endure.  They’ve had it pretty easy.  The lies that we hear in the darkness can trap us.

Jesus is the light! He allows us to show others what our own darkness was.  We can hide in the dark!  When you are in the dark it becomes a comfort zone.  It hurts, and we don’t really like it all that much, but guess what, sometimes it’s all we know.  And when there is no one to show you what there could be, we stay in our darkness.

“Everybody has a heart that loves to hide”

– Francesca Battistelli

Life in the light is beautiful. You get to see all of your surrounding. You have the opportunity to try and avoid the obstacles, even if you are clumsy like I am. We know the dark but it’s painful.  If we could get to know the light we would see we aren’t alone. It’s still going to be occasionally painful because we live in an evil world,  but we will never be alone in it again.  The light shows you a community and family that comes together for the purpose of helping each other and saving those in the dark.  Sharing the light.

If you were in a cave and had to light a torch you wouldn’t hide it from others, you would share it.

The way out of the darkness is Jesus.

Our truth and worth is found in Jesus.

The life we were meant for is only achieved in imitating Christ and being a light

to others in the dark.

The Labels We Wear

There is power in a name.  It’s what everyone first sees as YOU. Companies spend thousands of dollars to create a specific label that is going to stick out.

Every morning, we wake up, and we put on our labels like a name tag. The rest of the world may not be able to see them, but they become a part of who we are.  They shape how we act, what we base our identity on.  Our labels may be given to us by people around us, our parents, the kids from school, or even ourselves because of our shame over our own actions. But we wear them like a straight jacket. We just can’t shake out of them.

One of my favorite stories in the bible is that of the adulterous woman. John 8:4-11.  Jesus is in the temple teaching when some men brought forward a woman caught in adultery. They were shaming her publicly to catch Jesus up on his teachings.  Instead, He shows such an amazing act of grace and non-judgement.  His response is to say, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone at her.” Obviously everyone walked away, because we are all wretched in our sin. Then, the one man who could have condemned her because he was blameless, chose instead to love her, and let her walk away.  But not without and invitation.  He showed her no judgement and poured out grace, then he invited her to leave her life of sin.  He gave her the hope that she didn’t have to be like this anymore.

She got a few labels that day.  She was shamed publicly.  People probably whispered behind her as she walked by, called her a whore, adulteress.  Those kind of labels tend to stick with you. They’re the ones you wake up in the morning and put on.  They change the way you act, the people you talk to. Labels like unlovable, untouchable, dirty, slut, idiot, addict and so many more.  But Jesus also gave her a couple labels to walk away with.  Loved, covered by grace, changed.  When you sit at the feet of Jesus you don’t have to walk away with the same labels. Our name tags, and labels CAN  change.  From ones of shame and despair, and “I’m never gonna change” to ones of hope, joy, grace, peace, and ultimately CHANGED.

Because of the amazing sacrifice of God sending his son to die and become our sin, we are able to step into his presence and be changed.  Jesus can wipe our labels clean and replace them with new ones.