The Cornfield

by Rhonda, June 26, 2022

I wanted to be alone today.  I am a quiet, introverted personality and I have learned to accept this is how I am created.  There's days I just need to recharge my batteries.  What I really wanted was a day where my mind did not feel like it had to work, to perform, through anything it perceives to be conflicting. 

Alex is in full swing of his teenage years, and his day didn't coincide with my plans.  He was moody and struggling.  He knew he was battling his own demons today, and much to his credit, he asked for some help.  Talking him through his crisis absolutely exhausted me.  I could feel everything getting ready to implode on me, just a heartbeat away.

I don't have it in the tank to give today, God.  Please replenish me and give me compassion for him.

I decided to take the kids on a country drive.  I thought perhaps a change of scenery would help Alex, since I didn't seem to have much else to offer.  As we drove around the lake and several plots of farmland that surround our area, all of began to relax and feel peaceful on the drive.  

I felt nudged by the Lord to pull over to the side of the road.  I stopped at a cornfield that was next to an empty field, with a path between the two.  The empty field was dry and cracked, and not much was growing except for weeds.  The cornfield next to it was lush and green, with food growing as far as we could see.  

I'd recently watched a video on YouTube where Beth Moore described taking a trip to Africa to help feed the hungry.  She asked what programs were in place for further help to the starving population, and the leader of her group told her there was a farming program in place.  But, they faced one problem.  The people were so starved they would eat the seed itself rather than plant it for a long term harvest. Their immediate need was so desperate, they would consume the seed and find themselves right back in their same desperate need.

Standing between an empty, lifeless field and a plentiful field, I told the kids the story.  I showed them when they choose to sow the seed of the Word of God into their lives, they look like the plentiful cornfield inside.  But, when they choose to "eat the seed", meaning they heard the Word but don't allow it to change their choices or their lives, then they'll look more like the desolate field.  They won't see the result of planting the seed the same day they plant it.  In fact, deciding to really plant the seed is a difficult choice. But months later, look what can grow.  How incredibly exciting to think of the harvest!

We rode home in relative silence.  I knew Alex was deep in thought, but something I said must have landed.  He did much better for the remainder of the day.

Sometimes I have to be reminded to let Jesus fill in the gaps.  Results are God's responsibility, but faithfulness is ours.  I may never know whether today truly had an impact or not, but all God asks of me is to simply lead my kids to Him.  He will take it from there.

God also reminded me today that He makes what I have last.  When it feels like I am not enough, God says that I have enough to get through this.  He reminds me I will make it through.  He will give me enough for whatever comes.  God's grace is sufficient for me and His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Even when I'm not enough, God is enough.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.

The Woman In The Hat

by Rhonda, June 25, 2022

I sat in the church pew, listening to the pastor speak comforting words at my aunt's funeral.  It was an exceptionally sad funeral, and my uncle's tearful words about his wife didn't leave a dry eye in the house.  I looked down at the funeral brochure, and the immediately read the Bible verse on the top of the page:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

It certainly caught my attention, considering I just had a powerful encounter with God around this verse the day before.  God led me to still waters briefly the day before, but one day we will get to rest by still waters for eternity.  That's where my aunt is, and one day we will be there, too.  Your story, if you are in Christ, has a really good ending.

The graveside service took place outside in 107 degree heat.  It felt like a furnace.  As we stood, sweltering in the heat, a van pulled up and an elderly woman got out with a walker.  She was wearing a dress and a hat was fastened to her head.  She must have been in her nineties.  As soon as my uncle saw her, he rushed over to help her navigate her walker through the grass of the cemetery.

We found her a chair, even though she offered to stand.  "I'm not family," she said, "family should have the chairs."

Our family quickly disagreed.  There was no way we were going to sit while she stood in 107 degree temperatures.  She was a friend of my aunts, and she wanted to be sure she paid her respects.  As soon as she heard the news of my aunt's passing, she said she began to call for rides to make sure she could attend the graveside service.

We should all have such good friends.  She had no business being in that type of heat, but you would have never known it.  She nodded and said amen while the pastor said the final words of goodbye for my aunt.  Afterwards, she shook hands with the family even though she must have been terribly uncomfortable.

Years of obedience to God is really spectacular.  As I watched her, I thought about how this is probably the way she lived her life, putting others first.  Our love for God and our love for each other is the most important thing to Him.  All He really wants is for us to love Him, and out of that love do the best we can to serve and obey Him.  In the midst of unrelenting heat, she was an example of this to me.

I couldn't help but wonder when was the last time I put myself out to this extent for a friend?

As we left the service and climbed into the car for the long drive home, I asked my kids how they were doing.  "I'm so glad we came," my son said, sweating through his suit.  "It was important."

"Mom," my daughter said, "I want to spend more time with our extended family."

I smiled, knowing she was starting to see the things that truly matter in life.  God can use the oddest situations to teach the most important lessons. 

He loves us so very much.

The Lake

by Rhonda, June 23, 2022

I continue to battle the calendar this week.  Today, amidst the myriad of accelerated deadlines, I also had a doctor's appointment.  I didn't want to cancel the appointment, because it would take forever to get another one.  So, I began work at 6 a.m, which would allow me to leave by 7:30 for my appointment and stay on track.

As I logged in over my steaming cup of coffee, my inbox popped up with a surprise e-mail.  One of my deadlines for today had been extended until Monday.

Wow.  Thank you, Lord.

I worked on a few other items until it was time to leave at 7:30.  While I was driving to the doctor's office, my phone rang.

"Hello Rhonda, the doctor has been called into an emergency surgery and she needs to reschedule for next week.  Is this okay?"

"Yes, absolutely," I said.

I was thrilled.  I could rush home and work on my other deadlines.  I had blocked an hour and a half for my doctor's appointment, so it was fantastic to have the time back.

As I drove home, I felt the prodding of the Holy Spirit as I neared the turnoff for my house. 

Keep driving.  Do you really think I cleared your schedule so you can work more?

In an unusual move for me, I actually listened.  I was supposed to be out of the office anyway. I kept driving towards a lake near my house, which is always a peaceful place for me. I pulled up next to the water and got out.  I sat on a large rock with my cup of coffee and looked at the water.  The water was like glass, the calmest I'd ever seen on the lake.

Immediately, my mind went to Psalm 23:

1The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.

He literally led me beside still waters.  I looked at the water, and I noticed it was crystal clear.  I could see all of the way to the bottom.  Still waters provide clarity.

We had a long talk on that rock, God and I.  We talked about a lot of things I've been struggling with, and I had some special moments of clarity that will provide a tremendous amount of help to me.  We talked about my kids, my divorce, and my parents.  It was honestly one of the most special moments I've had with my Savior.

As I left, I counted the wildlife sightings as I drove home.  I saw eighteen different animals, most of them rabbits, but I was still excited to see all of them.  I noticed the birds in the sky, the wildflowers in the ground.  It all felt so magical and peaceful.

As soon as I got home, it began to rain.

"Mom," my daughter said, "my lesson is cancelled for today.  I have the day free."

"Wow," I said.  "Must be a theme."

I sat down at my computer and began to work again.  An e-mail popped up from my boss cancelling our meeting this afternoon.  My calendar wasn't just cleared for the morning, it had been cleared for the day.  I sat down and began to work, relieved to know everything was, all of a sudden, under control.

The cancellations have continued all day.  My daughter's plans for Sunday just fell through due to more unexpected events.  I'm not sure when it will stop, but I am enjoying the time to just rest in God's arms without so many obligations.

How foolish I am to think God won't take care of me.  He is so generous with his blessings.  

He loves us so very much.

The Funeral

by Rhonda, June 22, 2022

A member of my family passed away this week.  She knew Christ, and I have no doubt this goodbye is temporary.  But, on this side of heaven, we're always going to feel sad when we lose someone we love.  This was an especially difficult situation, and her husband had to choose to take her off of life support.  

Sometimes life is so brutal. We're just not designed for these types of decisions.

I woke early and looked at my calendar this morning, trying to rearrange things to attend the funeral.  With multiple deadlines looming, I kept trying to play calendar Jenga with appointments and meetings.  But, no matter what I did, everything remained out of place and I could not find a way to make things work.  One way or another, I was going to come up short.

Frustrated, I put down my phone and walked outside. I surveyed my back deck.  There had been a fairly loud thunderstorm last night, and the deck was a mess from the results.  My patio furniture was pushed around, my plants were knocked over, and everything was soaked.

My daughter stood by the door, watching me while I tried to put everything back in place.

"What did you think of the storm last night?" she asked me.

"It was short but powerful," I said.  "Look at this mess."

"I'll help you," she said as she picked up a plant.  "It moved everything out of place, didn't it?" 

"Yes," I said, "but the rain was badly needed."

"I guess things being out of place isn't so bad," she said.  "Especially when you get all of the rain."

I looked at her when she said it, the message clicking in my mind.  The things that are most worthy of our time and attention are often the very things that ruin our plans.  Sometimes, having our plans ruined is exactly what we need, and the change in routine and monotony is like fresh rain falling in our lives.  God is always interested in doing something new.

God is really not concerned about my calendar or my schedule.  The most important thing to God is love, which is far more important than any accomplishment or achievement.  God's will for me is to support and love my family.  If I choose love, I can never come up short, no matter what the calendar says.  Life isn't a game or a dress rehearsal, and loving others matters.  It is always meant to be our highest priority, aside from loving God.

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40

My phone rang, and my uncle was on the other end of the line.  Through halted words, he asked, "I was wondering if Alex (my son) could be a pallbearer this week at the graveside service?"

"Of course," I answered.

"Okay, I'll put him down then."  He hung up quickly.

I wondered how many more of those phone calls he would have to make.  I wondered how he was going to get through it, and I felt so selfish for even caring about my calendar.    

I closed my eyes.

"Lord," I whispered, "bring on the rain.  We're here for it."

The Meeting

by Rhonda, June 21, 2022

I felt stupid in the meeting because I didn't communicate well, at least not to my expectations.  Sometimes it can be hard trying to keep so many people happy all of the time.  Exhausting, even.  In this case, my role required me to communicate well and drive a lot of change.  Driving change is always stressful and when other people react badly, I often beat myself up.  I feel like I'm not good enough.  

How do leaders drive change with universal acceptance?  

They don't.  If you try to achieve universal acceptance, you'll always feel like a failure.  That's the trap I fell into today. 

How did Biblical leaders lead through change?  Well, they struggled.  Moses had one of the most difficult groups of people to lead. 

10 Moses heard all the families standing in the doorways of their tents whining, and the Lord became extremely angry. Moses was also very aggravated. 11 And Moses said to the Lord, “Why are you treating me, your servant, so harshly? Have mercy on me! What did I do to deserve the burden of all these people? 12 Did I give birth to them? Did I bring them into the world? Why did you tell me to carry them in my arms like a mother carries a nursing baby? How can I carry them to the land you swore to give their ancestors? 13 Where am I supposed to get meat for all these people? They keep whining to me, saying, ‘Give us meat to eat!’ 14 I can’t carry all these people by myself! The load is far too heavy! 15 If this is how you intend to treat me, just go ahead and kill me. Do me a favor and spare me this misery!”

Moses was basically saying, "God, everyone hates me and my stress levels are through the roof!  I can't keep them happy!  I feel like a failure!  I need a vacation!"

But, God didn't give Moses specific steps to regain his popularity.  He fed the people, as Moses asked, but he also did something interesting.  He sent reinforcements to help Moses lead.  God knows there's no winning with man's ever-changing opinions.  Instead, He provided encouragement and help for Moses.

16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather before me seventy men who are recognized as elders and leaders of Israel. Bring them to the Tabernacle[a] to stand there with you. 17 I will come down and talk to you there. I will take some of the Spirit that is upon you, and I will put the Spirit upon them also. They will bear the burden of the people along with you, so you will not have to carry it alone.

He strengthened Moses by giving him a trusted group of peers to help shoulder the burden.  God tells His followers to go and "follow me".  He does not tell them to wait for the consensus of a group's opinions.  He asks us to lead where He commands us, not where our feelings take us.  We are meant to go where the Holy Spirit leads us, not man's opinions.  He will send people into our lives to help us through our journey, so we don't have to shoulder it alone.

There's no winning when trying to earn the world's approval.  Man's opinions will lead you back and forth, circling around the same mountain over and over, with no resolution.  But, the Holy Spirit always leads towards specific goals.  God's love for us ensures we can trust the Holy Spirit to lead us in the right direction.  His goals for us are set out of love.  The world's goals are set out of ambition - out of a need to make a name for themselves.  

So, consensus is never required to follow where God leads.  

He loves you so very much.

The Summer Day

by Rhonda, June 20, 2022

I'm in a hurry.  I'm behind.  My kids are late, which frustrates me.  We had plans over my lunch break, but my time's limited.  I am stressed, and I'm angry.  When I'm in this frame of mind, I can't be productive.  It is so distracting.  

As I waited on my kids, I wondered if I could make a living off of gardening.  Growing plants seems so peaceful and I wouldn't have to wait on people to show up on time over my lunch.  I wonder if I could find a way to sell plants instead of doing my job?

I feel like a horrible person for being in a bad mood.  But, regardless, the kids are still late, so even thought I feel bad I'm mad again.  Don't they respect my time?  Don't they understand I'm busy and stressed out?  Why can't they just get it together?

I sat down on an outdoor patio chair and had a thought.

Is this problem really deserving of my peace?  

The truth is, I wasn't behind, I just convinced myself I was.  If the kids were running late, well, then they're late.  Should it really make me this upset?  Why am I handing my peace over, especially over something so small?

I looked around.  It was a beautiful day.  I looked around and noticed the blue sky.  I felt the Lord nudge me.

Do you like the day I have created?

I smiled.  My stress began to fade.  It it summer, I reminded myself, which means fun and relaxation.  It is a season, and my kids aren't lazy.  They're just enjoying the season.  They may have been late, but they still cared enough to spend time with me over my lunch hour.

You know, God looks at the heart.  The Bible tells us this in 1 Samuel:

1 Samuel 16:7 ESV 

But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

I thought about how my kids had the most wonderful hearts.  God cares more about intention than punctuality.  I was unwise to let a few minutes of time distress me.  

My kids showed up, apologizing for being late.  We had a nice time together over lunch, and they talked to me about their plans for the day.  I'm so glad God got ahold of me before they arrived so I could fix my behavior.

Do not let the demands of the day steal your joy.  Work, rest, worship and play all need to have their place in your life.  Slow down.  Take a breath.  Inhale God's peace.  His calm will restore your mind, soul, and soothe your distress.  

These types of things happen, especially if you're a parent.  But, it is important to shake off these incidents and forgive immediately.  It is not worth carrying around anger and stress over little things.  Your resources are limited, don't spend them on anger, frustration, and unforgiveness.

You deserve joy.  You deserve to enjoy the seasons of your life.  Every day doesn't (and shouldn't) look the same.  

Enjoy the beautiful, peaceful day the Lord has made.

The Inner Pharisee

by Rhonda, June 11, 2022

I like for things to be a certain way.  Maybe you do, too.  

I like for my house to look a certain way.  I like for my appearance to look a certain way.  I am pretty particular about keeping my car clean, making sure we look nice for church, and even keeping the pets well groomed.  I'm a classic, incurable type-A personality, so by nature, everything has its place.  

But, our goal really shouldn't be about having the best image in the room, with the best appearance or the nicest home.  The last thing our friends and relatives need is for us to be competing with them, making it more difficult to keep up.  No character trait is more needed in our world today than being genuine. We should always strive to remain real, and while it is fine to be particular about certain things (towel folding, anyone?), if it begins to influence our self-worth, we've got a problem.   

Do you know who else was very concerned about appearance?

The Pharisees.

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation (Matthew 23:14).

The Pharisees wanted the appearance of being holy, but they had no real heart for God.  In fact, rituals and appearance took the place of God in the Pharisees' lives.  Only God is to be our strength, not a ritual and certainly not a long-winded prayer (as mentioned in Matthew 23:14).  Finding self-worth in appearances, accomplishments, and rituals leads to one thing:  Pride.

The Pharisees were tremendously prideful.  How tragic to spend an entire life supposedly devoted to God, yet never learning from God.  The idolatry around appearance and power prevented the conversion of their souls.  They were constantly competing, angling to maintain their power.  They consistently looked for affirmation in their own evaluations, instead of looking to God for their affirmation.  They were so lost they couldn't see the Messiah when He was standing in front of them.  

It is possible our obsession with appearance and perfection could do the same?  Could our Inner Pharisee be creating an avenue for pride to grow in our lives?  If so, the only solution is to stay on a quest to kill our Inner Pharisee.  Inner Pharisees depend on things to look and feel a certain way.  Its pride.  Kill it, and begin to recover some of your joy.  (Notice the lack of joy the Pharisees had.) Don't let pride pull you back, hold you down, and keep you from enjoying your life.

We cannot be followers who knowingly fight against God to save our own appearances.  We cannot hide in religious busyness, avoiding contact with God. God wants us to have joy now, in our daily lives.  He wants us to learn to follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who gives life.  Idolatry of appearance will kill, but the Spirit gives life.

Having a heart for God doesn't mean we're meant to be perfect.  It simply means we care about the things God cares about.  Jesus is the one who can save us and set our hearts free.  Don't let yourself be convinced anything else can do what only God can do.

The Woodpecker

by Rhonda, June 08, 2022

Today, I was tricked into telling myself that I'm stupid.  Not for a long period of time, but certainly for a while.  I made an innocent, unintended mistake at work and that's all it took.  I felt stupid, I was convinced I am an idiot, and oh yeah, I was pretty sure I'm stupid.

I left my computer and I went crying to my heavenly Father.  I sat on my deck, frustrated with tears streaming down my face.  It wasn't a big deal.  I knew it wasn't a big deal.  But, it didn't stop my tears.  

The Lord whispered to me, My child, don't you know how much I love you?

I couldn't imagine why.  I am always screwing up.  I get so frustrated when I can't seem to do things right, despite my best efforts.  

Just then, a woodpecker landed on my deck.  It was a small black and white bird.  This particular breed is usually pretty tolerant of humans, but I'd never had one stand next to me so closely.  I'd been reading recently that birds can identify the person that feeds them, and they will tend to respond favorably to that person.  

Turns out perhaps it is true.  

I sat still while she walked by me.  She nearly walked onto my arm.  Then, she took a quick flight to the feeder and ate just a few feet from me.

If even the wild bird shows affection towards you, and she can detect danger, how it is possible to hate yourself so much over an innocent mistake? 

I didn't have a good answer for God's question, but it definitely got me thinking.  

When it comes to how I feel about myself, I judge first and love second.  The love comes only when I've successfully passed my standards and judgement.  Being a type A personality, the standard is high.  This is why I (and many others) associate perfection with love.  

But, the order is wrong.  The judgment is out of place.  Love for yourself cannot comes after judgement of yourself.  It can only come before.  (Judging ourselves isn't our job anyway.  Its God's.)

God doesn't judge the way the world judges.  He loves first and judges second.  His first response is grace, not consequence.  His love for us is far more than we can even understand.  We are beautiful in His eyes.  He hears our pain, and He loves us through it.  In fact, His grace is sufficient for all of our mistakes, big and small.  

He knows we are doing our best.  He sees it every day.  We will always make mistakes.  But when these mistakes are kept in the appropriate line of priority, they won't affect the love we have for ourselves.  If we can see our mistakes through the lens of love, we can correct ourselves without hating ourselves in the process.  

We don't have to hate ourselves for our mistakes.  We don't deserve to hate ourselves for our mistakes.  We are worth far more than any little mistake, anyway.  Our heavenly Father thinks so.

So, even though it is hard to put these things behind us, it is perfectly fine to do so.  

These problems don't deserve our tears.  Everything is going to be just fine.

The Volleyball Game

by Rhonda, June 07, 2022

Tonight, I sat on the deck and watched my kids play with my brother and my father.  They were playing a fierce game of volleyball with high stakes.  The losers had to lay on the cement and let the winners pour ice water on them.  The trash-talking ensued and the game became very competitive.  It was a real shame my brother and my father lost.  But the grandkids thought it was the most hilarious thing in the world to take a little revenge on their uncle and grandfather, and they extended the pouring of the cold water for as long as possible. 

As I watched from the deck, laughing at my brother telling his kids (and mine) to have mercy, I felt God whisper These are the important things in life, the things that deserve your attention.

Isn't that the truth.

So often, our attention is focused on small things.  Perhaps we focus on a frustrating problem in our life and we simply need to let go.  It could be that our focus is on television or social media.  Maybe, instead of technology, our focus is on the past rather than the present. None of those things deserve for us to spend a significant amount of time focusing on them.  

We're not meant to give small things a large dose of attention.  Our attention isn't infinite, so when we use it on unimportant things, we miss out on the important things.  We can't focus on both.  

Our lives are busy.  We work hard. Everything demands our attention.  But, only a few things actually deserve it.  When our minds are hurried, we will miss God's peace.  Taking breaks from the busyness to focus on the important things is critical for slowing our minds down.  In fact, it leads to anxiety and lack of productivity when we don't slow down.  

I personally tend to lose all of my joy when I am rushed.  I rush when I'm in a stressed and hurried state.  It is not God's will for me to live in this state.  He wants us to enjoy our lives.  Our days are numbered and how we live them out matters to the Kingdom.

We spend so much of our lives focused on things like work and earning money.  While those things have a place, we must remember all the money in the world doesn't matter.  But, the love of those around us - now that's what endures.

We also need to seek refuge from harsh and demanding thoughts.  We don't deserve those.  Harsh and demanding thoughts don't come from God.  He is gentle, and He is proud of you, not demanding of you.  

Look up from your troubles, child.  God loves you tremendously, and He wants you to know how He feels about you.  He will give you the strength you need.  He promises you this, and you can count on his promises.  But in the meantime, He wants you to rest in His presence, confidently knowing He will take care of you.

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

God loves you, his beautiful girl.  Stay true to Him.  Lead with integrity.  Give up the distractions that are taking you away from God, the things hurting your mind.  Stay on the right path.  God will lead you to peaceful meadows and streams of righteousness.  He will take you away from all of the darkness of the world if you keep your focus on Him.  

He loves you like no one else can.

The Divorced Failure

by Rhonda, June 06, 2022

A few day ago, I was brushing my teeth when a memory popped into my head from my childhood.  I remembered I once lied to my Mom about a toy I'd stolen from my brother.  I don't recall the exact circumstances but he got into trouble for something I did with this stolen toy and he was punished for it.  Unjustly.  He even got a few swats.  Sometimes he still reminds me, and I tell him to get over it.  But, when I was brushing my teeth, I started to feel really terrible about my lie from thirty-five years ago.

Then, I thought about a situation at work.  I wrote a long e-mail I regretted explaining a situation to my boss.  That was stupid, I thought.  I should have picked up the phone instead of sending an e-mail.

I felt worse.

As I ate breakfast I thought about how I should have helped my son Alex study more for his finals and I should have been nicer to my daughter the night before.  I'd been grouchy to her.  I apologized, but I still felt bad.  

By the time I started my day, I felt like I couldn't handle one more thing thrown my way and my day hadn't even begun yet.  Then the kicker set in as the devil whispered in my ear.  You know you're nothing but a divorced failure.   

Do you ever have days where your mind replays everything you've done wrong, over and over?  Its like a bad rerun of a TV episode you don't want to watch.  Perhaps you're triggered by something that brings up a memory.  Or perhaps someone in your world likes to remind you of your shortcomings.  Or maybe you're just innocently brushing your teeth.  Whatever the reason, there's a word for this phenomenon.  Its called condemnation.  Truth be told, its also called self hatred.  And, its evil.

Condemnation is a constant reminder of our wrongs.  Yes, the Holy Spirit convicts us and leads us to make better decisions in our lives.  But, there's a difference between conviction and condemnation.  Condemnation is not from the Holy Spirit.  How can you know the difference between conviction and condemnation?  Conviction leads us in the moment, when we're doing wrong.  Condemnation dredges up the past and evicts guilt over things we've repented of long ago.  It replays them over, and over, until all joy is lost and self hatred kicks in.  

If we want to know how God feels about condemnation, the Bible is pretty clear:

Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

It doesn't say "There's a little condemnation for those who screw up in the name of Christ Jesus."  Nope.  It says there is to be none.  Zilch.  Zippo.  Nada.  Read the verse again, but its pretty plain.  We're not to live under condemnation.

I wonder how long you've punished yourself, like me, for the mistakes you've made.  I wonder how long it will be before you realize you can't continue to go through life being defined by the moments you fell short.  I wonder when you will make the decision to quit being your own worst enemy.  Your heavenly Father didn't intend for you to live this way.  In fact, the level of condemnation you live under grieves your heavenly Father.

How can anyone see their worth while continuing to replay their mistakes?  God wants us to be free of this.  It can be so extreme we often feel like a disappointment for no good reason -  even over innocent mistakes where we had good intentions.  Growth cannot occur like this.  Healing cannot prosper while being shadowed by condemnation.  This isn't the life God intended.

Did you know once repented, sin has no power to condemn unless we allow it?  You are a protected being, covered by the blood of Jesus Christ himself.  Nothing has the right to condemn you.  Not now.  Not ever.  Nothing has the right to shame you.  Nothing can tell you that you are unworthy.

Jesus died so you may be worthy.  He paid the price.  There's no arguing with it any further.  What an abundant gift He's given.  What a price He paid.  

God loves you tremendously, and He's promised to take care of you.  I think its time for condemnation to lose its grip, once and for all, and for growth and healing to take over.  

Now, that's a life God intended.

The Sunrise

by Rhonda, June 05, 2022

I woke up yesterday to the sound of a woodpecker making his presence known on my metal guttering.  It was raining at 5:30 a.m., but it didn't stop the bird from letting me know my plans for sleeping in were not in alignment with his Saturday morning priorities.

I got up, stumbled to the coffee machine, and fixed my coffee.  I watched the sun rise on my deck.  I thanked God for letting me have time with Him in the morning.  Then, a thought occurred to me.  

I'm healing.

A year ago, most mornings began with a wave of anxiety and fear.  Waking up in the mornings was torture, as I tried to convince myself to have the courage to face my day.  But, on this particular Saturday, my morning was full of peace.

I knew why.

Its been a tricky thing, letting go of things as God has asked.  I went through some severe sadness over the past few weeks from truly, truly letting go of my ex.  Letting go isn't as easy as I wish.  It means I don't stay mad anymore.  Staying mad means I'm not letting go.  It means I don't talk negatively about him anymore.  Talking about him means I'm not letting go. It is time for me to just, well, let him go.

When God revealed He was asking me to fully let my ex go, not simply cut off communication, I went through a period of tremendous sadness while contemplating my obedience.  It seems counter-intuitive.  Wouldn't I want to get better?  Wouldn't I want to get well?  Apparently, I'd rather hold onto toxic emotions than get better.  God has really been showing me this over the past few weeks, highlighting my typical biting comments I make every so often.  Letting my ex go doesn't mean I quietly sit in the background and seethe with anger.  It means I let everything go.  I move forward.  I stop talking about him.

My kids are older, so part of this means I have to let them have their own relationship with their Dad.  I have to let them go, too, now that they're at an age where they need to be able to handle their own relationships.  

I come back, time and time again, to my goal I set with the Lord in January.  I want to bring my flesh under God's authority.  I want to make an intentional movement to bring my decisions in line with my beliefs.  While it may feel limiting, it is the opposite.  It is about finding my freedom.  God wants to free me of these shackles that I continue to carry around.  He wants me to find physical and mental health by freeing me of approval addiction and self focus.  His plans are always to prosper me.  He's not a fan of watching his daughter suffer.

So, I said yes to God.  I'm still working at it every day.  I'm surprised by how much hurt it drug up, simply agreeing to let go of my anger and stop talking about him.  But the flesh never gives up without a fight.  So, I spent a few weeks feeling very sad, asking God to please fight this battle for me. 

Amazingly, one day, it just got better.  I could sit through a conversation about my ex, nod, and focus on the next thing I wanted to accomplish that day.  No point in seething with anger when I couldn't sit and complain.  I had to move on, because the other option is staying in the past.  I don't want to live there anymore.  I was never intended to.

I have no doubt I'll continue to struggle in this area, but on the deck, waking up to a peaceful morning, I realized something.  

Obedience to God brings peace and fulfillment.  Not only to me, but to those around me.  God loves me tremendously. 

He's ready to show me the rest of my life.