The Walking Wounded

I can’t remember another time in my life when so many people around me are living in a constant state of pain. It’s debilitating. Yes, we can say it’s a choice to react to adversity by accepting the pain. And yes, we can choose joy… but we are human and we are tender and we are WOUNDED.

Our loved ones are in trouble, and we ache for their freedom.

Flags are flying perpetually at half staff these days, in response to the horror of the rash of terrorist attacks on innocent people. We cringe at the news of a new attack almost daily, and we mourn with those who’ve lost loved ones. The air is electric with emotion right now, and it is spilling over into our everyday lives.

The news shows images of death daily. Even if it’s not directly affecting us or someone dear, we still absorb the intensity of a world in mourning. So many in the mainstream population of the world right now are walking through their days in a state of uncertainty. They are traumatized, they are burdened, and they are afraid. A perpetual state of being the walking wounded.

There are days I feel like we are all living in a surreal movie setting. It’s as if reality has been suspended and this horrible new sequence of events has ushered in a new era of fear.

I’ve heard about the last days my whole life. Read depictions of it in books like the Left Behind series, marveled at how movies about the future were always so dark and depressing. And now, here we are in a moment of reality that rivals those fictional depictions. Today, I actually had the thought that I’m fearful of the future my grandson will be facing.

Should I be surprised? I’m not a theologian, and am certainly not here to discuss the biblical evidence of what to look for. That’s what we have Strong’s Concordance and Google for. But it goes without saying that there are some signs we can’t avoid.

But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.  

2 Timothy 3:1-5

Yes, all those who are brutal and abusive have left in their wake a people who are shell-shocked and hurting, and need to know that Jesus was wounded even as they are wounded. He sent the Holy Spirit to comfort us in our pain, and bring us hope.

Remembering the promises in Psalms made me lift up my face to the heavens and thank God for today. In spite of everything going on, we do have hope. And perhaps those of us who are able to carry more hope than others are tasked with the job of lifting up those who are still the walking wounded.

Photo: AdobeStock

Photo: AdobeStock

For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land.  Psalm 37:9

 

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.

Psalm 62:5

 

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. Psalm 42:11

 

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

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Food and Presents, is that it?

Christmas has come and gone.

What happened?

Did your family gather together? Eat tons of food? Open presents?

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This is what my family did. It was nice to gather together, but have we forgotten the reason we celebrate Christmas? In all the chaos do we stop to think about what Christmas really is? It was the day over 2000 years ago when God sent his son from his glory in heaven to earth to be a helpless baby. He was born to die for us.

Can we sit and think about that for a moment? Think of how God must have felt knowing he was sending his son to earth to die. Think of how Jesus felt to leave his throne in heaven in all his glory to become a baby knowing he would grow up to die 33 years later for the people of this earth.

It’s not all glitter and ribbons, is it? We take this for granted. We sit around eating until we cannot eat anymore. Opening presents we don’t even need, and complain of the things we don’t have. That’s not what it’s all about!

We should be celebrating that we have been saved by the birth and the death of Jesus. Christmas is where it all begins for us.

Jesus' birth

I couldn’t help but think of the places I have been and the people I have met this past year. God gave me the opportunity to go to 11 different countries and meet his children all around the world! As I sat there in my parent’s living room watching my cousins and siblings open the presents they received, I couldn’t help but think of the bar girls and prostitutes putting on a fake smile for customers, the kids living on the streets, the orphans without families. I got an overwhelming feeling and my heart was breaking for this world.

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(Orphans in Swaziland)

Have we missed it? We are so consumed with ourselves here in America; we have lost sight of what is going on around us and who Jesus is.

I have been praying to see people the way God does and to have his heart, and on Christmas that is what I got. God gave me a glimpse of what he was seeing and his heart was broken. It was broken for the people who have nothing, and for the people who have everything. This was so overwhelming I began to cry. This isn’t even half of what God sees; I can’t even imagine.

I don’t want to make you feel bad for all you have; it’s a blessing, but take that blessing and use it.

In this next year let’s change something. Let’s open our eyes to the things and the people God has placed around us. Let’s love without an agenda. Let’s give without wanting something in return.

 

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Isaiah 9:6

nikkiromani.theworldrace.org

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How Can You Mend a Broken Heart?

She looked at me with vacant eyes, her mouth turned down in a a half frown, half smirk that betrayed the condition of her heart.  “You heard, right?”  No.  I hadn’t.  “We’re getting a divorce.”  Ohhhhhh.  I’m so sorry.

I embraced her outside the church with a hug that says “hang in there, girl – you’re gonna be okay.”

It’s not that I was surprised.  In all the years I’d known this friend, I’d seen it.  After 20 years, she just couldn’t take it any more.  She described how hard she’d tried to keep it together, the counseling sessions, the long nights of talking, the yelling, the abusive words.  She. Just. Couldn’t. Take. It. Anymore.

Then she looked at me and said words that broke my heart,

“I failed again.”

the-broken-heart

It didn’t matter that her first marriage ended because he had a drinking problem, or this marriage ended because he had an abuse problem.  Somehow, the only thing that mattered to her was that she now had two failed marriages. Like a scarlet letter, she felt like a marked woman. And somehow, it was all her fault.

Except it isn’t.

I wanted to scream about the unfairness of this, that we are a people who allow women and men to wear the sins of their spouses instead of offering healing balm for their pain.

As I offered up what few words of encouragement I could muster and pledged to meet with her for lunch soon, I could think only of how Jesus would have responded to her.  He would have reminded her of her incredible worth in His kingdom.  He would have told her she is beautiful, even though she feels rejected; wiped away her sorrow and replaced it with joy.

Jesus himself announced “The Spirit of THE LORD JEHOVAH is upon me, and because of this he has anointed me to preach The Good News to the poor; he has sent me to heal broken hearts and to proclaim liberty to captives, vision to the blind, and to restore the crushed with forgiveness,” (Luke 4:18 Aramaic Bible in Plain English)

Heal broken hearts.

Proclaim liberty to captives.

Restore the crushed with forgiveness.

What does this mean for Christians who are called to be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus?  How about we start by getting real with our friends and allowing Jesus to begin to heal them through our LOVE…

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They Will Know Us By Our LOVE

Love one another

Proverbs 10:12 ~ Hatred stirs up conflict, but love covers over all wrongs.

I’m saddened lately by the vicious rhetoric Christians are capable of unleashing on one another just because they disagree.  Quite honestly, if I were not a believer already I don’t think I would be attracted to the faith, based on what I see from Christians today.

You’ve seen it, too.  I know you have. This person accuses that organization of no longer being Christian because they changed a company policy.  Thousands go online to dispute or defend. That person warns Christians who attend a certain movie they will lose their faith. More thousands dispute and defend, and not in a loving correction kind of way, but with outright hate-filled finger pointing. An absolutely-I-am-right-at-all-times attitude that makes me want to pretend I’m not one of you. No mercy. No grace. No love. No bueno.

Scripture references are tossed back and forth like arrows – cutting into the heart and soul of the accused. Whatever happened to the most important ones like

Love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:31, Matthew 22:39, James 2:8)

Love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8)

Love covers over all wrongs (Proverbs 10:12)

Let love and faithfulness never leave you (Proverbs 3:3)

Love one another (1 Peter 3:8, 2 John 1:5)

And of course, the LOVE chapter beckons us to read it again and again. Let the words really sink in – these are truly LIFEWORDS:

1 Corinthians 13 (NIV)

1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poorand give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

We are told in 1 Peter 1:22  to love one another deeply, from a pure heart.  How is it possible to have a motivation of love when slinging the arrows that accuse and wound so deeply?  I have a friend, a former worship leader, who risks suffering a panic attack every time she enters a church building.  I dare say such a reaction was not caused by being unconditionally loved on by Christians.

I grew up singing a sweet, simple song: “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love ~ yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Stop and take a good look around. Listen to what we are saying to each other.  Will the world know?

NOW YOU CAN HAVE REAL LOVE FOR EVERYONE BECAUSE YOUR SOULS HAVE BEEN CLEANSED FROM SELFISHNESS AND HATRED WHEN YOU TRUSTED CHRIST TO SAVE YOU; SO SEE TO IT THAT YOU REALLY DO LOVE EACH OTHER WARMLY, WITH ALL YOUR HEARTS. 1 Peter 1:22 the living bible

 

 

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Redeeming Lost Time for Grace Time

college-graduation

I felt a momentary twinge of sadness, regret even, when I noticed that the college graduations happening several weeks ago were those of my son’s former classmates.  Four years already? Was my first thought – how could it have been four years since his high school graduation? And then, the sadness.  Sadness that we were not celebrating Chris’s college graduation.  Sadness that his plans were interrupted.  Sadness that life sometimes throws a curveball.

How could we have known that day Chris came home after his sophomore year that the sleep deprivation he suffered was caused by hours and hours of nighttime seizures? Or that by following the brain mapping road we assumed would lead to brain surgery and a cure ultimately left Chris in the same place as before but with two years lost?

And then, it was gone.  My brief flirt with self-pity and regret was replaced with gratitude.  I mean, really? I was mourning the loss of a diploma and a party.  What I have instead is a son who is being transformed by God and his circumstances into a young man of grace and sincerity during these years of uncertainty.

Although he struggles daily with side effects from his meds and still experiences many seizures in the night hours, in many ways Chris is thriving.  His experience dealing with what can be a debilitating and sometimes fatal medical condition has left him with a renewed vision for his future.  Each day he accomplishes something that brings him closer to owning his own business; with entrepreneurial dreams he looks to the years ahead with hope and not dread.

Just the other day Chris asked me if there’s a Bible verse that speaks to moving forward and forgetting the past.  I gave him this:

“…Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 3:13-14

He and his business partner have decided to make that their theme verse for Innovate Clothing, LLC.

Yes. I can learn a lot from this young man.

What about you? Have you been haunted or filled with regret by what you see as lost days, weeks, months or even years?

God sent a big fish to interrupt Jonah’s life, then caused that fish to carry Jonah right to where God wanted him.  Your situation – dare I call it your Big Fish –  has been carrying you to the exact place you need to be when you are released from it.  You might say that epilepsy is Chris’s Big Fish, the time spent inside it is shaping him to be the man he needs to be.

This time is not lost time, it’s grace time.  What are you doing with your grace time?

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