“but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2
Over the years, one thing I’ve been guilty of doing, tempted to do and seen others do, is use mental illness as an excuse to hurt others. I don’t like that I have done this. And when I bounced my behavior off God’s word, I don’t think God does either. In the bible, Paul wrote, “I was given a thorn in my flesh…” (2 Corinthians 12) From this chapter, I learned that Paul was tormented–like some of us are mentally tormented. However, what I learn from the subtext, is that Paul says HE has a thorn: he owns it, accepts it, and gives it to God. What Paul does not imply is that his “thorn” is mine, yours, ours. It’s HIS. Sometimes, I’ve been tempted to say, “But I can’t help it. It’s just the way my mind is.” Almost like I’m allowed to be mean or unloving. But that doesn’t line up with God’s word. The bible says that we take our thoughts captive. The bible says that we are to be transformed by the reNEWing of our minds. That means, a malign thought-life is not my excuse, if Jesus is my Savior. And if that doesn’t make a convincing case, the bible also says the greatest commandment is to love your neighbors…and your enemies. Love is not using our weakness to hurt others with it. By now, I hope you know that I know the mental struggle is real. But I also hope this honesty encourages someone to accept their thorn, but not use it as an excuse to hurt others with it.
Recently, at a medical facility, I saw this pic: “We want to do everything possible to manage your pain.” The word “manage” started spinning in my head like a rotiessiere chicken! Of all places, a medical facility like a hospital, urgent care or doctor’s complex should be able to eliminate pain, not just manage it! They have all the resources and tools one would need to eliminate it. And yet that’s not the promise they make. Which got me thinking about God. God has everything He needs to eleminate our pain. He has cures, miracles and remedies man could never dream of, much less perform. But why is it then, that like this sign, He sometimes “manages” our pain? I think Paul answered that for us in 2 Corinthians 10, when he said, “Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” The way I’m learning to see ongoing pain is, ironically, as a win-win! On one hand, if we walk with God we walk with the One who could give us a miracle or cure at any moment! Win #1! On the other hand, if we walk with God and He doesn’t give us a miracle or a cure, He will manage that pain for us, AND the lost ones we love around us, will see Him THROUGH it. Win #2! I know you might be constantly hurting, but I hope you are walking with the God. With him, we truly have the best pain management.
Before the weekend gets here, I’d like to make a delineation: resting is not quitting. Resting is temporary, quitting is permanent. Resting is godly, quitting (if it’s not God’s will) is not godly. Resting keeps you from rusting. Quitting causes rusting. Resting helps you not quit! But quitting doesn’t help you not rest. Resting is not regretful, quitting is regretful. I think we can get deceived that resting will mean “I am quitting,” or “I am weak.” But this is a lie the devil is trying to sell you from the pit of hell. GOD rested on the seventh day. JESUS got away in the mornings and rested in the Father. I get a lot of things wrong. But one thing I can stand behind is I find time to rest. I was found in a bloody, psychotic mess in a parking lot, and locked up for it. That night, I told God I will do whatever HE needs to have that NEVER happen again. A LARGE part of my refusal to return to the nut house is my conviction to rest. You CAN tell people no. You CAN build margin into your life. There is NO WAY God wants us to run so hard we go crazy. What good would His squad be if rendered useless because we refuse to rest? God needs us! But we need to rest so He can use us! As the weekend approaches, I hope you enjoy it…and find time to rest in it.
I’ve loved an addict for many years now. The interesting thing about loving an addict, is what you learn…about yourself. The up’s and down’s of an addict are erratic, tiring and sometimes dangerous. To watch such hell from afar, makes an interesting case. To watch up close and personal has the potential to change you in a beautiful way. Recently, my addicted loved-one fell yet again. But from my VIP vantage point, I got to watch him get back up. He fell…but he didn’t stay there. He screwed up, but he got up. Not all addicts do this. Not all non-addicts do either. Prayerfully and intimately watching my loved one has reinforced a concrete foundation within myself to never give up. Screw up? Yes. Give up? No. I know many who have screwed up and given up. My heart breaks a thousand ways for them. When we screw up but don’t give up, we are getting up like a certain One who got back up after being “permanently” taken out. And last time I checked, He was doing eternally awesome! If you have an addicted loved-one, and you’ve run out of things to say…pray. Pray for them to not give up; and look for a beautiful change to take place within you.
This year there were people you put in our lives so we weren’t alone. There were blessings you gave us and we stood in awe. There were prayers you answered and we were grateful. There were things you did that we didn’t notice and we were relieved. There were things you didn’t do, that we thought you would, yet we stayed faithful. God, we’re just sheep moving in one direction, at different paces. But you kept pace with each of us, making sure we made it. Maybe we fell behind or fell down, but you didn’t leave us there. Maybe we caused another lamb to stumble, but you picked both lambs up. Maybe we followed a lamb down the wrong path, but you desired both lambs to be restored. We want to make you happy, Shepherd. We aren’t bad sheep, we’re just dependent and sometimes dumb. And need you. This note’s for you, Lord.
“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.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This is one of my favorite verses for a new year. Actually, it’s a verse, a life-goal, a mental-health axiom, and a prayer, all in one enchilada! Lemme break it down…
*For I KNOW*
God knows. God knows already what 2016 has for you and me. The bible teaches that he’s recorded our days before our very first day. So if God KNOWS what 2016 holds, I release myself from being a predictor of it. I don’t need a horoscope, an appointment, a dream-weaver, or a fortuneteller. I have everything I need in God KNOWING and I don’t have to pay him. Rather, HE paid his life for me. He made me, He knows me, I trust Him.
*They ARE Plans For GOOD*
Does this mean that in 2016 bad things can happen? Yep. And if I were a betting man, I’d say bad things probably will. But with God, and this promise, bad can happen but GOOD can come from it. How? By sticking with God. When we stick with God, God can bring good from bad. How can He do that? He’s God, and He is love and that is what love does. God already wrote my story. Until my story ends, it doesn’t mean I won’t have bad chapters, it just means bad chapters will eventually end in good results. God is good, and if we are with God, we are held in His goodness.
I hope this encourage you as you head into your new year – God has good plans in store!
What if God had “12 Days of Christmas” that He (our True Love) would give to us?
On the 2nd day of Christmas…God gave One.
“…but God is one.” Galatians 3:20
On the 3rd day of Christmas…God gave light.
“…God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5
On the 4th day of Christmas…God gave his spirit.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24
On the 5th day…God gave a door.
“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved…” John 10:9
On the 6th day of Christmas…God gave a shepherd.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” John 10:11
On the 7th day of Christmas…God gave bread.
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger…” John 6:35
On the 8th day of Christmas…God gave resurrection.
“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.” John 11:25
On the 9th day of Christmas…God gave the way.
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”
On the 10th day of Christmas…God gave a vine.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener.” John 15:1
On the 11th day of Christmas…God gave hope.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him…” Romans 15:13
On the 12th day of Christmas…God gave peace.
“For he himself is our peace…” Ephesians 2:14