Awful or Awesome?

Yesterday at the end of a full and productive week, I was eager for the weekend. You know. Put work on the shelf, get into a book, take a long walk, watch a Hallmark movie. After hours of concentrated work with substantial progress I had that winning feeling. An hour later, I was overcome. The project that every ounce of energy had been poured into has to be reworked, and now instead of three weeks, I have one.

There’s a big difference between being overcome and being an overcomer. Looking at the remnants of the week, I had to make a decision. Let this setback overcome me or begin again and be an overcomer. I thought of King David in the Bible. He went from the mountaintop to the valley in under sixty seconds. In Psalm 116:3 he was “overcome by distress and sorrow.” Then he turns around and writes in the very next verse, “Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

 I think someone told me once that David didn’t write all the Psalms, but even if he didn’t there is a common thread that runs through the entire book; peaks and valleys. We all have a little bit of David in us. We feel overloaded, distressed, unappreciated or discouraged because those are our circumstances. We are overcome and feel like we are on our last drop of hope. David felt that way … a lot!  But he knew the power source and recognized that his desire was not to live in the valley, overcome by a setback. His setbacks were not staybacks. He rescued that last drop of hope in Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope.”

David said his whole being waits for the Lord and that’s where his hope lies. We read that with doubt that David would even survive the distress of the 21st century. His life was different back then. Yes, it was. But he had the same God, the same Counselor, the same Omnipotent God. He prayed. I prayed yesterday too…and in the middle of the night…and before the sun was up this morning…and I will pray my way through the next week – because I am not going to be overcome. I am going to be an overcomer and you can be too.

While we wait for the prayer to be answered, for the pain to go away, for joy to return, for sadness to subside how much it would please God if we would use these experiences to become better, not bitter.  Not to be overcome, but to be overcomers.  Romans 12:21 shows us our choices “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Living in discouragement is like living in a dark cocoon, isn’t it? Have you ever noticed how quickly the flame of a candle is extinguished when the lid is put on the jar? It’s almost instantaneous. The flame burning bright goes out when circumstances remove its most important sustainer, oxygen.

We are a little like that candle. Can it just decide it wants to burn again and burst into flame on its own?  Hardly! We have an advantage because we have a brain, we have motor skills, we can decide to act and find a way to get the flame burning again. Are you discouraged today? Let’s take a few minutes to visit 1John 2:14 “I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 

We can rise above discouragement. It’s not easy, but it’s a choice. John 1: 5 says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Think about good things today, pray, turn off the news, write yourself a letter, write someone else a letter. 

Today can be awful or it can be awesome.

A few years ago, Mandisa recorded a song called Overcomer. Here is some hope from that song. “You might be down for a moment, feeling like it’s hopeless, that’s when we need to be reminded that we are overcomers.”

Overcome or Overcomer …. Let’s get out there!

 

This is a 5-minute Friday article. The word for this week is OVERCOME and I wrote for 5 minutes, no edits, not over thinking – just shoot from the hip prose.
Are you a writer? Join the 5-Minute Friday group to grow some friendships and gain support even before you need it. http://fiveminutefriday.com/

Advertisements

The Gold We Hold in Our Hearts

Make new friends, but keep the old, some are silver, others gold.  I look at that poem and realize the truth in that old Proverb.  I’ve bent the words just a touch because whether my friends are new or old (er – friends I’ve known while I’ve grown old), their value is much higher than today’s going rate for silver – at $17.00/ounce, or the gold spot price of $1275.50/ounce. Every friend is a gift, the Gold Standard – a gift of compassion, a gift of encouragement, a gift of laughter, a gift of experiences, a gift of support, a gift of themselves. Take a minute and think of friends who have made your world better just by being in it.

When something heartwarming and unexpected happens, one of my friends, Bonnie Washburn calls that kisses from the King. I like that. The imagery of being wrapped in an embrace and kissed on the forehead by the God who created everything and still holds it all together. Colossians 1:17 “God’s Son was before all else, and by him, everything is held together.” Kisses from the king whose plans precede our own. Jeremiah 32:19 “With great wisdom you make plans, and with your great power you do all the mighty things you planned. Nothing we do is hidden from your eyes”.  

I was folding an apron that I’d received from a friend 30 years ago. I still remember finding it packaged for me “To: Jane From: Your Secret Pal” this slate blue apron ruffled around the skirt with a quilted goose on the chest. I already know you’re wondering how a 30-year-old apron is still being laundered and put away after all this time. It’s as durable as my friendship with Joyce Shiels who gave it to me, and I feel wrapped in warmth when I wear it and it refreshes my soul. Proverbs 27:9 “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend refreshes the soul.”

Tucking that apron into the closet, I thought of Joyce and her husband Chuck. How often we’d spent time together and how I missed them since they moved, we moved, then they moved again and we did the same; all across counties and sometimes across state lines. Suddenly I wanted to see them and wondered how we could ever work that out. I closed the closet door and put that thought on the shelf with the apron.  What I was thinking then was probably close to this verse in Psalm 94:11 “The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.”

I brightened at the thought that we were soon going to have dinner with friends we’ve known so long they’ve reached that old friend status. Jim and Suzan Middleton, and Ted Nelson – friends since 1971 – definitely GOLD standard for friends.  6:00 Arnies! Couldn’t wait to see them again …

Walking into the restaurant, I exchanged the gold standard hug with Jim, and Ted and then I saw them. It had to be a mirage, there is no way that the people at the far end of the lobby were Chuck and Joyce. How would they choose this restaurant on this night at this time? Kisses from the King! Didn’t God say in Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”?  In Psalm 20:4 didn’t God impress this upon David? “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

It was such a small thing, but it was a GOLD standard friendship operation for me. We talked and reminisced and caught up on our lives as they have rolled through the past years since we last met. Hugs from the Almighty. Kisses from the King. Arriving home that night I realized what had happened in those few short hours. God knew I had an empty place that needed to be filled and he said “Yes, I care about even the small things, but Jane, you have to also trust me for the big things.” Do you even care what I said in Luke 12:28 “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”.

This could be a simple story about lasting friendships, but it’s more than that. It’s a story about trust; trusting God to fill the empty places, walk with us through the storm, take care of our needs, and even grant us our wants. We can trust him in the dark for what he promised us in the light.  Kisses from the King. Love wins.

1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for knowing what I need even before I know it’s missing. Take my small, measly faith and make it audacious and strong. Replace my pathetic fearfulness with your courage, and give me a heart like yours, full of wisdom and discernment, and let me serve you out of love and compassion, not of pride. Bless this day with peace and your children with the spirit of thankfulness. I love you, Lord, please let my life reflect you today. Amen