Sunday, November 16, 2008

Crosses to bear and Butterfly Wings

I sent this email to my son, last night. Much has happened, but I have not blogged about it. I'm overwhelmed, to say the least. This email, I will share, because I hope that this touches the hearts of others:

Right now, as your mom, I am that person watching a beautiful butterfly trying to emerge from its cocoon. God is watching you, too. He can’t interfere with your struggles, because He needs for you to grow and learn.

Whenever I talk with teens, as a leader in my church group—the #1 reason I hear teens say that they question God’s existence is because they feel that God has abandoned them. Last week, out of 14 kids, more than half of them have parents with drug and/or alcohol addictions. These kids are mad at God, for not curing their parents of their addiction. They feel discouraged at the struggles in their life, and they blame God for not helping them.

God does not abandon us! Whenever I read the Bible, I read stories about God’s love for his people. Take King David—who is not a fictional “character”. He really existed and nobody can disprove it. King David was an adulterer and a murderer. He was a lousy father. He lost a child, because of his sins. God forgave him, because he loved him. But, King David’s sin (his adulteress affair with Bathsheba that led to the murder of her husband) led to consequences. David and Bathsheba’s child, born out of wedlock, died. From that sorrow, King David returned back to being faithful to God. God blessed him and loved him, despite David’s sins.

There are also stories of encouragement—like Job. I think of all the suffering that Job endured…he lost his kids, suffered terrible physical afflictions. His wife, his friends—they all told him to “curse God and die”. But Job would not. While Job cried out to God, “why”, he never lost his faith and love for God. In the end, God restored Job’s life.

God has never promised us that our life would be easy. However, God promises us that he will never abandon us. I think that so many of us give up on God, because he doesn’t fix our problems. We feel that he isn’t answering our prayers. Maybe he is? Maybe we are asking God to do what we think he should—but, maybe, that’s not what God has in store for us. Remember, Brian, that what separates Christianity from other religions (or atheists) is that we believe in God’s promise of “Heaven”… a perfect place. God reminds us that the only path to heaven is through Christ Jesus… despite what Oprah Winfrey or any other New Age believers say. This is all biblical truth!

Son, we can choose to have a pity party about our circumstances. We can blame everyone else for our sorrows. We can always look back and feel regret for the mistakes that we made. While there is nothing wrong in that, we need to look forward and not repeat our mistakes! There are cultures in which the elderly are revered for their wisdom. While I don’t expect for you to “revere” me, I hope that you can see that I have gained a lot of wisdom about life’s ups and downs. I struggled at your age, too! I made mistakes. I hurt people. I was not always dependable. I forgot things. I broke promises. A lot of that is just youth.

It was at your first baseball practice—in middle school, I believe—that I learned the power of forgiveness. I was so bitter and resentful of your stepmother’s role in your life. It was, on that very day, that I took the first step and I asked God to show me how to love her and to forgive her. From that day forward, I found the power that comes in forgiving those who have hurt me. I’ve also found the healing that comes in forgiving myself for the hurt I’ve inflicted on others. I believe that was the day that I truly believed that God is real…because he answered my prayers. He has helped me survive a lot of hardships—my divorces, the death of my mother, and my financial crisis. God has restored my life and I am so thankful!

My relationship with God is always an ongoing process. I have times when I feel so connected to Him—when I feel his presence, his strength and his protection over me. I have times when I feel he is so distant and I find myself slipping back into my old ways… judgmental, vindictive thoughts, anger. I know that when I am slipping away, it is because I am not seeking God.

Prayer—when I pray, it easy to slip into disguised prayer as a list of things we want God to do for us. I forget to add “confession” to my prayer, first. That’s a hard one, because I have to admit my faults and mistakes to God. He already knows what they are, but we need to confess them to Him. Most importantly, we need to ask for the strength to change our behavior—and that is repentance. Confession without repentance cancels each other out, in my heartfelt opinion.

I hope that you can find some quiet time with God, today. If going out into nature is your way—do it! I only hope that you will, at least, thank our Heavenly Creator for all things of nature… I believe, that when we worship nature we are not giving God credit for His work. This is the “danger” of “Universal/Spiritual” ways.

I cannot force you to believe in “God, the Father”, “Jesus, the Son” and the Holy Spirit. You have the right to choose. Jesus will not force Himself into your life. Jesus only asks that we answer His “knock” at our heart. You have already received his redemption on the day that you willingly chose to be baptized. You made that choice!

Hopelessness is one of the Dark One’s tools. He whispers thoughts into your head that you are a failure…he wants you to not believe in God…he lies…he wants you to do things that bring immediate gratification. He wants you to lie, steal and cheat. He wants you to find “happiness” in things—he wants you to desire money, because that’s the path to happiness. The Devil tempted Jesus in the desert. He promises Jesus things, but Jesus resisted the temptation. How hard that is!

Jesus, on the other hand, will give you joy. Joy comes from being content with your circumstances…whatever they are (Philippians 4:13). Joy is what you feel in waking up even though you might be broke. Joy is what gives you the energy to find things to do and appreciate, that don’t cost money. Joy is a feeling of being thankful for what you have…it is being able to count your blessings. God’s strength is what He gives you when you are afraid to face a daunting task. God will give you strength, hope and courage when you are afraid. Just read King David’s Psalms…

Cry out to God, when you are afraid! Go to meetings when you are feeling down. Ask God to find a good sponsor for you. Seek God—seek Him as your Higher Power…and work the 12-Steps. As you work each step, I hope that you will find the strength and courage to fight your addiction. You have at least 30 days of free time to focus on spending time with God. You have time to look for a job. You have time to volunteer to help others (that is so rewarding). You have time to research going back to school.

You have so much to be thankful for. You are alive. You have two parents who love you. You have relatives who care about you. You have medical insurance. You have never been homeless. You have never gone without food. You are not in prison. You have clothes.

Most importantly, you have God…your Father…who loves you. He forgives you for the things you have done to sin against him—and He promises us that he “remembers them no more”.

Be strong in the Lord, Son. You are under spiritual attack. The Word of God is stronger than anything that the Evil One can throw at you. When you are feeling discouraged or hopeless, that is not coming from Heaven. Remember that!

God is my strength, my hope and my joy—no matter what circumstances I am in. I pray that for you.



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