AWWW, thanks to my "tweezilicous" girl Amanda for this smiley award. It's been a rough couple of weeks, my friends, so anything that promotes a genuine smile is right up there in my book! I don't know if you've been feeling it or not, but it seems there are just so many bad things happening right now. Sometimes we can ignore this fact, and distract ourselves, immerse ourselves in our very busy schedules, routines, and tasks that require our attention from sun-up til sun-down. But eventually, we have to stop and face the truth. The truth may mean that something is not right in our own lives. Or it may mean that we are being called to minister in someone else's life. But in either situation, running (because that's what distraction really is, right?) won't work anymore and you will be halted.Sometimes this is a voluntary halt, however, more often than not, GOD roadblocks us and drags us into solitary confinement in order to get our attention. Or at least that's how He often gets my attention. Of course, by now you know how much I love running, and unfortunately, I carry that over in all areas of my life.
So what kinds of things does He use to slow us down? It usually is something subtle. A speedbump or warning. For those of you using the 1-2-3 Magic way of disciplining, this is our 1. It can show up in way that causes us to feel inadequate or troubled in our spirits. This is the Holy Spirit saying, "Hey, your focus is out of whack. You need to put your eyes back on GOD, my friend." So, at this point, all you spiritually mature people, realize this, confess it, move on and grow in your walk. And all you other people out for your morning run with me, trip over the speedbump and bumble on down the trail. Not good, my friends. Because right there, you are directly disobeying. However minor it may seem, sin is sin, and it is not unnoticed.
"Be sure your sin will find you out." Numbers 32:23
My mother might as well have branded me with this when I was a kid. "You just tell your friends that whatever bad stuff they have in mind, you can't participate, because YOU WILL GET CAUGHT!" And I did. More times than I can count. There is no hiding, or covering up with fig leaves, because GOD sees it all--even if Mom didn't. So He nudges again. This time a little harder, or from a different source. He reiterates that He needs your attention and more importantly your obedience. "Why GOD?", we argue back. "Why now? Just this once can I please just do this my way?" Of course, we wouldn't actually SAY these words, but we passively just ignore HIM--again. So that was 2, my friends, and a time-out is coming!
I'm embarrassed to say that in my life I've fought GOD many times for my own way. And sometimes---He's let me have it. He's handed me over to my own desires, and I can't tell you the pain I've endured by trying to run things my way. There's that "R" word again. It's in my blood I tell ya! So what does getting your own way look like? Oh, I'm not gonna lie, sometimes it looks great! You feel in control, and you may even look like you're in control. Everything is going just the way you planned it. But wait? What's this? Something you hadn't planned? Wait! God, maybe I do need your help. What am I going to do?!
And this is where you hit the rock bottom, of a very. lonely. time-out hole. It will be one of the most humbling times in your life. It is often times very public. And is usually punctuated with many, many tears. For Jonah, his time out was spent over a period of days in the belly of a fish. God had plans for Jonah's life that seemed so much bigger than than he could imagine, with tasks so much harder than he thought he could possibly accomplish-plans that he just outright didn't want to follow. Much like Jonah, I reacted to some of God's plans for my life in much the same way-- I high-tailed it outta there. And where did this land me?
Fortunately, not in the belly of a fish, or in jail, or the hospital, or any other number of bad places. But I did suffer from depression, a feeling of separation from GOD, and isolation from my friends and family. I was humbled, embarrassed, and broken in spirit. More than these those, I was repentant. In Isaiah 66:2, God tells us that He esteems the heart that is humbled and the spirit that is contrite. God esteems me. He thinks I have value, and He is willing to discipline me so that I can do great things in life to bring HIM glory! Can I get a hallelujah, friends? God thinks we're worth spending time on! (p-stranding sentence, ignore it and move on, my English major, buddies :0)
Hebrews 12:6 tells us that our Father disciplines those He loves. And just like my kids, I hate being disciplined, but it's worth enduring to know that God is doing it out of His great love for me. The same love that meant the sacrifice of His own son to save the world. How awesome is that? So if you've run from GOD and are currently suffering in your own fish belly, God is seeking to restore you, my friend. Humble yourself in sight of the Lord and He will lift you up. He can also use your story to restore others and to bring glory to Himself. And for those of you who may be lacing up your sneaks and planning a nice jog out of town, please don't take the hard way! Obey those nudges from the Holy Spirit and go in faith down the path God has for you. His ways are so much easier than our own, and He promises to never leave us or forsake us along the way.
So it looks like I've gone down my own bunny trail this morning, because this whole blog started with Amanda's "Makes My Heart Smile" award. Grace and mercy. That's what makes me smile today--along with these special ladies.
1. Amanda at Serenity Now-A Mommy's Solution to Staying Sane. This girl has really come into her own over the last couple of months and her blogs are rockin!
2. Jenna at Eat, Live, Run- She used to just inspire me with her crazy healthy recipes and workouts, but now I'm grieving alongside her over the death of her brother. Lift her up in prayer, ladies!
3. Chic Runner-the girl is adorable and sweet and totally runs amazing races
4. Nesting Place-no explanations needed. Go there!
5. Kay at Kayotic Kitchen has yummy, yummy recipes and beautiful photos