Archive | April 2015

The End

 

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The End.  Two words that say “It’s over.  There is no more to this”.  Two words that have caused me to mourn for something beautiful that was lost, even if its beauty existed only in my imagination.  Two words that could make me feel like a complete failure if the ending was not what I had in mind.  Two words that could throw me into panicked attempts to revive what once was, even if it was bad for me.   Two words that would provoke others to ask questions I had no answers for.  Two words I dreaded to hear even when I was the one who spoke them.

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Beauty for ashes.  By faith I envisioned the wonderful life He had planned for me, one that I couldn’t possibly make a complete mess of.  A plan for something beautiful where fear of The End could not steal my love and my peace.  The scriptures told me it was there for me, this life of beauty instead of ashes, but when The End would come and I had no glimpse of the new beginning I did what I had always done.

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Fear distorting my vision and direction, I would take matters into my own hands and choose my own new beginning.  I never planned for it to go badly, who would do that??  And since I was confessing my belief in God’s good plans for me and what looked so perfect for me presented itself so quickly, surely it was from Him…surely it would be right…surely I could make it work this time and it would protect me from my greatest fear – that there was nothing for me at The End and I would have to face the profound emptiness of the unloved.

But it seemed always to return.  The End.  Again.  Finally, I was just too weary to fight it.  And just as I had feared, there was no glimpse of a new beginning when I reached The End.  But I fell into the emptiness of the unloved only to discover that I was extravagantly loved!  It was only in the emptiness that He had room to fill me with the very thing I had longed for – true Love.  It was only in this time between what was and what would be that I would find healing.  This Love became The End, not of itself, but of what had plagued me for as long as I could remember – the fear that I was unworthy of love.

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“…the Lord earnestly waits – expecting, looking, and longing – to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you…Blessed are all those who earnestly wait for Him, who expect and look and long for Him – for His victory, His favor, His love, His peace, His joy, and His matchless, unbroken companionship!”    Isaiah 30:18

He is waiting for us to be empty of everything else, so that we can be truly filled.

Don’t be scared.  In His hands, The End is just The Beginning.

The End” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

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She just doesn’t know it yet

He’s been watching her all her life.  He’s whispered to her time and time again but she didn’t hear.  He yearns to hold her and comfort her as she struggles.  It’s going to be all right, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She trembles with the fear of the unknown as her circumstances have stripped her of her identity.  She is strong, she just doesn’t know it yet.

The love that had been her foundation has been ripped away.  She yields to the new identity that presses in on her:  the unlovable.  She is immeasurably loved, she just doesn’t know it yet.

This roller coaster ride of choices makes her sick.  She hates herself because of her weakness.  His opinion of her remains unchanged, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Loneliness is her constant companion as no one wants on this ride with her.  She is not alone, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She goes through the motions of living while she entertains the thoughts of ending it all.  Her earthly life has eternal purpose, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Defeat hangs over her like a thick black cloud as she cannot go back and change the past.  Her knees buckle under the weight of the consequences.  She is redeemed, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She grasps to find hope in the words she reads and the messages she hears, but it seems she is grasping at air.  She is full of hope, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Her tears are constant from the pain of this deep, gaping wound from which she believes she will never recover.  She is healed, she just doesn’t know it yet.

She heard the words again today.  The same words she’s heard over and over, but this time something is different.  Can it really be true?  He loves her?  Something stirs inside her as she considers this possibility…something life-changing…

Her life is changing, she just doesn’t know it yet.

 

She just doesn’t know it yet” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

Alterations

It’s day number three without restful sleep and I am tired.  Let’s add to it that some of the work that must be completed today is tedious.  Very tedious.  I been given several garments to alter.  Many days I delightfully approach my work as a seamstress with fresh, new fabric stretched out just waiting to be transformed into something beautiful.  Creativity flows and I am in control of exactly how the garment will turn out.  Not so much with alterations.  (You would be surprised at the mess that can be hidden in the construction of some clothing.)  I must take something that someone else has created, rip it apart, re-cut or reshape, and then piece it back together so that it will fit properly and hopefully look as if it was originally made that way, not repaired.

I’m off to a slow start as you may have guessed since I am sitting at the computer rather than the sewing machine.  I am taking this break after only minutes of work because I am already frustrated. First, there is the chain stitching that should be a simple “pull the thread and the entire seam will be undone” which is not cooperating.  This leaves me literally ripping the seam one very small stitch after another.  I finally get the triple, yes TRIPLE, chain-stitched seam undone only to discover that the fabric within the double-folded, triple-stitched seam has also been glued.  Great.  The pulling apart of the two pieces of glued fabric isn’t going smoothly either.  I’ve hit several places where the glue absolutely refuses to let go and there is no way to part the two pieces of fabric without ripping or cutting both pieces.  It’s going to be a long day so before I ruin what I am trying to make beautiful, I needed to step back, take a breather, and renew my mind about what must be done.

I realized that my frustration stemmed from not only the stubborn seams and fatigue, but also the nagging concerns about a certain relationship that is difficult. We often foolishly think that just because something new is born, whether it is very literally a new baby or the birth of a new relationship, that we are in easy control of how it will all turn out. We have high hopes and grand dreams, believing that love is enough to make it work.  And love most certainly must be the foundation to ensure the relationship will not be destroyed.  But love without action isn’t real love at all and the business of relationships can at times be very challenging, frustrating, and tedious work.  There is often the ripping away of wrong attitudes and the cutting away of bad habits.  The undoing of harsh words requires humility and a lot of time.  Exposing what is underneath may reveal a big mess.  We can choose to leave the mess alone and hidden from those who only see the surface and the relationship will remain ill-fitted and uncomfortable. We can pretend the mess doesn’t really matter as long as things look good on the outside, imagining no one will notice that it doesn’t fit right.  Or we can give it the proper time and effort combined with a willingness to persevere through the frustrations that will arise in this often slow process, so the pieces can be re-cut, reshaped and put back together, fitted rightly.  And from time-to-time, we just need to step back, take a breather, and renew our minds about what we are really fighting for – something different that what we have, something worth all the trouble, something made more beautiful.

My heart aches for those I know and love who are struggling in difficult relationships.  So as I return to the tedious work before me and the other things to be done, I will pray for them as I rip stitches and take care of business.  I will ask that God help them endure the ripping and tearing and cutting that still must be done to get that right fit.  Altered at the altar and restored to better than before, remembering…

…all things are from God, Who through Jesus Christ reconciled us to Himself – received us into favor, brought us into harmony with Himself – and gave to us the ministry of reconciliation…             2 Corinthians 5:18

 

Alterations” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

Newness

There is a certain pleasure that comes with new things – that new car smell, the look of a new outfit, the feel of crisp, untouched pages in a new book (a pleasure lost with e-books…).  We try to take excellent care of the new things we’ve obtained in the hopes that the newness will last longer.  But try as we might, the evidence of use appears more and more with each passing year.  Some things become more valuable simply because they have survived the decades and centuries intact.  Other things more personal are increased in heart-value with much use, like the tattered-edged quilt that my grandmother made for me. It was beautiful when it was new, but evermore beautiful to me now with its ragged edges and broken threads.

In a world where time leaves its mark and things age and become old and changed, we struggle to grasp the concept of newness that the resurrection secured for us.  We have been given a newness that doesn’t fade with time or become less valuable because of our imperfections.

We were buried therefore with Him by the baptism into death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, so we too might habitually live in newness of life.  Romans 5:4 

Paul writes further:  consider yourselves dead to sin…and alive to God – living in unbroken fellowship with Him – in Christ Jesus.  (v 11)

Consider:  to think about carefully; to take into account.  Paul was writing to those who had already chosen Christ and attempting to help them understand what change had taken place:  they had been made dead to sin and alive with Christ!  Consider it!  Think about it!  Take it into account!  Every moment of every day we have new life!  This body will show the wear and tear and age that time will bring, but this is only the outer shell that holds who we really are – new creatures.  When we sin and miss the mark we think we become damaged and broken, but our new natures remain unchanged and unmarred. He has washed us with the blood of the Lamb and we are beautiful in His sight.

This is how we truly honor His resurrection – by sharing in our own resurrection through His.  Taking what He’s purchased for us that will be ours for all eternity:  Newness of life with every breath.

 

Newness” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

 

In between

I woke this morning thinking of the followers of Jesus many, many years ago who awoke on this day in between.  They had walked with Him and talked with Him and believed in Him and now He was dead. The fullness of understanding had not come to them yet and they find themselves striving to put the pieces together.  I imagine what it was like as they recall and discuss with one another the things He said as they openly share their grief for this Beloved One who is gone.  Some silently grieve over the hope they feel is dying as doubts and fears begin to creep into the sacred place of their broken hearts.

The mighty work being done was invisible to them, as are all things of faith in the beginning.  Some found strength in numbers, remaining with their fellow believers.  Others pull away searching for clarity in the solitude where no one can touch their pain or expose what they are afraid is their faithlessness. Still others cannot be still, pacing as they try to find something to do that will ease their sorrow and clear the fog of the unknown, not realizing that nothing they could ever do would impact the outcome of His marvelous plan.

In between they wait.

They cling to the words of promise uttered from His lips but they do not see the fulfillment.  The frustration of things left undone is ready to overwhelm if they will let it have its way.  Emotionally and physical exhaustion cause the hours to pass slowly.

Three days.

There is no way around it, this day in between.  Tomorrow there will finally be something to do, rituals to observe which are in themselves the symbols of finality.  Once His body was prepared and the tomb was sealed again, they would be expected to return to their lives.  But how could they?  They have been forever changed and nothing is the same as it was before He came and the question hangs in the air “What will we do now?”

Sometimes the waiting in between is hard for us also.  We find Him and His promise that sin is conquered and that we will be free from its grip and destruction.  We know from the depths of our spirits He is real and His promises are true.  But we look at ourselves and it appears we are unchanged.  We cannot always see the work He is performing in our own lives and if we are not careful the frustration of things that seem undone can overwhelm us.  Fears and doubts stand ready to creep in and convince us that we are not really changed after all.

In between we wait.

Oh, sometimes there are obvious things that we need to do.  We need to read and study and fellowship with those who will love and encourage.  We need to recall and discuss the things we were taught of Him.  But when we understand that it is by faith that we receive Him and by faith that we receive the victory over sin, we can learn to stand in faith while we wait, our faith placed in His power to change us from within and work out this wonderful salvation in our every day lives.  Faith that one day our transformation will be evident on the outside.

Those believers many years ago stood in between the cross and the resurrection and they waited.  We stand in between the power of the resurrection and the perfection that heaven will be.  There is no way around it, there is time in between.  This time of our existence on earth is important and He will make it significant in His way and His time.  But let’s not forget that this is not the end goal.  One day we will be with Him after the in between. 

In between” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

Separation anxiety

Year after year family photographs were captured, always with one family member absent as someone had to operate the camera.  The boys were attired in their once-a-year suits and ties.  We girls had new dresses and white shoes which embarrassed me as my spindly legs made it appear as if I had unusually large feet at the ends of them.  We were dressed up to go to church for Easter services.  We regularly attended Sunday service, so the only difference on this particular day is that we would be especially dressed and it would be more difficult to sit on our right-side, third-row-from-the-front pew if we did not arrive earlier than usual because many more people would attend this day.  The pre-service preparations involved the same flurry of activities as every other Sunday morning – the search for lost shoes and belts, the efforts to keep children clothed and still without spills or stains, and the prayer that one particular child would not get carsick on the way.  It’s a wonder my mother ever was able to relax and worship once she entered the sanctuary doors.

While we did not attend a church rich in liturgical traditions, we were taught the true meaning of Easter and what the Lord’s Supper represented.  The colored eggs and plastic grass in baskets and races to collect the greatest numbers did not detract from what I knew, even as a child, to be true.  Jesus died for my sin.  I placed my faith in Him early and throughout my struggles and challenges with life itself, this was and is the unwavering platform on which my feet remain firmly planted.  And yet, I missed a critical truth even as every year we heard the messages of His death and resurrection and the hope and victory that this act secured for us.

It is finished.

Sin is conquered, death is defeated, the veil that once separated man from God has been removed giving free and unlimited access to Almighty God to all who will enter in.  He sent His Spirit to indwell the imperfect people who would say yes to this, His invitation.  He promised to never leave us or forsake us.

So in the process of the spiritual housecleaning that I’ve done over the last few years I’ve picked up and put down a particular piece that for a while I could not determine if it fit in this temple that is me.  It is the idea that “sin separates us from God.” I’ve heard this throughout my life, continue to hear it frequently, and have been one to have said it as well.

Sin separates us from God.  It sounds true.  It feels true.  It must be true.  It was true before we came to accept this magnificent sacrifice. But as I’ve studied more deeply what Jesus said and did, I cannot find a place for this.

If Jesus paid the penalty for sin – ALL sin – how can my sin change my position with God?  How can God move away from me if He promised to indwell me and to never leave or forsake me?  Was the veil torn down only to be put up again and torn down again and put up again…?

It is finished.

Three beautiful words that cannot be reconciled with the idea that my sin brings back the veil.  Does my sin matter?  Yes.  The call to repentance remains the same, but not because it is the only way to gain access to the Father again.  We are to repent – to change our minds about sin – in order that we can live fully in the forgiveness purchased for us.  We repent so that we can receive the fullness of the blessings offered us as His children in this lifetime and beyond, to have a right mind and a soul that is free from the burdens that sin will most surely heap upon us, and to enjoy the peace that comes with a heart ready to do His will.

I have lived with a great deal of separation anxiety because of this misunderstanding, when all the while He was right there with me.  I’ve lived in fear of His absence as there were no more sorrowful words on the day of His death than “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?”  It was agony for Jesus to be separated from His Father.  But it was an agony He endured so that we would not have to.  He is with us, faithfully leading us in the ways of righteousness, correcting – not condemning – us when we sin.  He knew we would.  Yet He has chosen a position of unfathomable mercy and extravagant love that will abide – make a permanent home – in all who will allow it.

It is finished.  This is the truth.  This is the truth that sets us free.  Free indeed!

 

Separation anxiety” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com

 

 

 

A scarred life

I love how little boys are proud of their scars.   Oh, wait, it’s not just when they are little…many little boys grown into men are still proud of their scars.  It’s not unusual for them to offer up the story behind a scar, details of their exploits proudly woven into the retelling of the time they were wounded.  The marks on their bodies remain a kind of badge of courage no matter the size, even those that have faded with time.  The scars are a visible reminder of where they have been and what they have done and how they have survived, a beautiful (in a manly kind of way) something to be proud of.

I suppose it is our western cultural perception of beauty that teaches girls very early in life that scars are ugly.   We see them as imperfections that must be perfected if possible and hidden if not.  They carry the same kind of stories of childhood exploits or adult experiences, but we do not see them as a part of our beauty that we can be proud of.

It is a rare individual who bears no scars.  Life has a way of leaving its mark on us.  Sometimes the scars are the result of our own foolish ways or sinful choices and sometimes it is another’s choices or sin that has left us wounded and marked.  Either way, we are not proud.  Shame and embarrassment prompt us to keep our scars covered and our secrets hidden because they are ugly reminders of where we have been and what we have done and what has been done to us, nevermind the fact that we survived.

There was a time in my life when I was one of the walking wounded.  Not realizing how deep my own wounds were, I was living in turmoil and this had a direct and greatly negative effect on the two young babies I had – I was wounding them.  Afraid to tell anyone of this ugliness, I struggled in my misery until I just could not bear it any longer.  I chose a well-respected woman in our church upon which I would bare my soul in the hopes of finding healing.  I arrived at her home nervous and very afraid – the idea of being so open and vulnerable was literally making me shake – what if she judged me? condemned me for my thoughts and actions?  What if I would be labeled an outcast, no longer welcome in our ladies group?  What if God could never use me because of my mistakes?

God in His sovereignty and goodness and mercy led this woman to begin the conversation.  My discomfort was evident, so as she served me a glass of water and something to eat and without knowing the reason for my pain, she began to share what her life was like when her children were small.  In an easy and unashamed way, she told me of the struggles she had as a young mother – the exact same problems I was dealing with.  I will never forget the blanket of love that I felt had just been lain over me as I began to weep in relief.  This woman told me her story as she revealed her scars and they were beautiful to me.  She bore these scars as a great woman of God and it gave me hope.  She gently and boldly prayed over me that day and I was never the same.

I was reminded in study this week of what James wrote to the church…

Confess to one another therefore your faults – your slips, your false steps, your offenses, your sins – and pray also for one another, that you may be healed and restored to a spiritual tone of mind and heart…    James 5:16a

Many that are hurting and struggling need to see our scars.  They need to know that scars do not disqualify us from experiencing the greater things of God.  They need to hear our stories and know that viewed through the eyes of His Spirit, our scars are beautiful, even those that are the result of our own doing.  The wounded need to be enfolded in the love and compassion that comes from the healed as we pray for their healing and restoration.  The rest of the verse above holds a wonderful promise…

…The earnest, heartfelt, continued prayer of a righteous man makes tremendous power available – dynamic in its working.  James 5:16b

Tremendous, life-changing power was in the prayer of that wonderful woman who prayed over me.  Had she only listened and prayed for my situation, I still believe that it would have had a positive effect on my life over time.  But I truly believe that my healing came that day in that prayer because she spoke to me from personal experience before she prayed.  Healing came to me through her beautiful scars.

 

“A scarred life” was written by Kay Stinnett and first appeared on http://www.ourpassionatepurpose.com