OBEDIENCE SUCKS!


 

            The moment we fight our way into this world we begin to rebel against obedience. We cringe at the very notion of relinquishing our will and power to another regardless of the reason. Even the most flexible and submissive among us have that rebellious streak that needs to be put into submission but not by another. There is no way any of us can become obedient devoid the threat of punishment unless we first learn to bring ourselves into an obedient frame of mind. More critical is to learn how to create an internal ‘fertile ground’ that will give birth to an obedient heart.

            Obedience is hard. I do not think many would argue against that fact because it requires us to admit, whether by force or through agreement, that another knows better than we do and; therefore, must or should be obeyed. Human dictates and demands for obedience aside, looking solely at our rebellion towards God is enough to make one’s head dizzy. A simple stroll through the Biblical stories takes the reader through the gamete of human emotions.

            Jonah is a fellow I can identify with as I have wanted to run far and wide from God’s plan for my life many, many times. Although, Jonah’s flight was unique in that he was not in fear of failure rather he knew his mission would succeed…and that is an outcome he simply could not bear. He ran, he disobeyed but God brought him around with a strong arm then a few gentle object lessens. Abraham and Sarah had obedience issues before Isaac was conceived because they did not trust the Lord’s promise to deliver a late in life pregnancy. Their doubt and fear led to the birth of nation that still fights against Israel today. Yet, Abraham demonstrated the depth of obedience when he was willing to return Isaac back to God just because God told him to do it.

            The number of times the Israelites disobeyed God is obscene and the consequences were grave. But even as I shake my head at them in disbelief I must admit that I have disobeyed the Father at least as many times as that nation had, if not more. Obedience is a vital lessen to be learned but obedience to God, the Father is one that must be honed like a great battle sword. It is not mere submission to an omniscient, omnipresent Creator. No, our obedience to our Heavenly Father opens the flood gates of Heaven upon us and everyone around us. Our obedience to God wounds Satan…every…single…time.

Obedience requires choice and in every situation in which we are called to obey our Father we can walk away or we can obey. In some instances, obedience is rather easy depending on our gifts and the circumstances. For instance, if I saw a wounded animal or person laying on the side of the street then my gifts and talents would lead me to help without thinking twice about it. I wouldn’t even think of it as being obedient to the Father’s command to be good stewards over His Creation or to help our fellow mankind. I would simply act. That would be easy for me but maybe it would be more difficult for another.

However, there is an element that will always make it difficult to be obedient regardless of who you are, what you believe, or what you profit you stand to gain. That element is…PAIN. Emotional, psychological, physical and/or spiritual (the worst) will draw you quickly away from the notion of being obedient to God’s commands. We humans are a hot mess that love to be in control from start to finish with few realizing we were never really in control at all. I am as guilty as the next person in my lust for control over situations that I have had little to no control over. Many of my friends and family can attest to the fact that I was a “hard nut to crack” for the Lord as I did not to give up that façade of any modicum of control I thought I might have possessed. It took decades of pain and suffering for me to finally realize that I had to stop swimming against the torrent. Things did not get any easier once I learned to swim with the tide but they did become far more productive for Christ’s Kingdom.

Even though I know beyond all doubt that obedience is always the best choice, there are moments in my life where I want to run from the path that is being opened before me. Not because I fear an unknown element but like Jonah, I know what lies ahead. I know I cannot walk the path under my own power because I am weary and heavily battle worn but I carry full assurance that Christ will stand alongside me and strengthen, inspire, encourage and direct me towards ultimate victory. Christ knows full well the cost of obedience and all of the agony that can accompany it but he also knows the victory it brings. No other understands how much we struggle with obedience because he always had the choice of whether or not to obey his Father and he chose to obey every time. If you go back and read the accounts of when he chose to obey you see how much it irritates and infuriates Satan and simultaneously bringing an outpouring of love from God. Obedience to God is a heart submission and we must conquer our own hearts first. Making our hearts and minds submit to our will first and foremost is essential before we can expect to have the ability to submit to other authority. How do we do that? Get into scriptures and He will teach you what it takes to reshape your heart in the refiner’s fire. Submerge yourself in his word and it will permeate every fiber of your being, every inkling of thought or perception you can conjure and every feeling you dare to feel. Truthfully, you cannot conquer anything yourself. Your armor is His word. No shortcuts…no apps.

Life is pain regardless of your beliefs or worldview. How you spend that pain will determine how you make it out. Obedience to our Father in heaven allows you to tread a fruitful path. Take notice, I did not say that obedience permits you to tread a pain free path.  Christians, do not be surprised at your pain, persecution and suffering. If our teacher suffered all these things then why should his pupils be spared from the same? Obedience brings fruit…not only in our own deepening faith but in our ability to shine (without our own effort) ever brighter to all those, even enemies, who are ploughing through the darkness. Our one act of obedience in that one moment in time might be the only spark of light another sees throughout the entirety of his or her life. Pretty heavy responsibility…is it not?

Living an obedient life takes courage, perseverance and faith beyond measure. Obedience brings ultimate power over our sinful natures and over the kingdom of darkness itself. Examine your earth walk and open your eyes to the areas along your path that have been damaged by disobedience and your own efforts to skirt around God’s will in your life. No judgement from me…just a call to recognize the potholes. I have tried to “hurry God up” many times and each time it led to heartache, disaster and/or failure. I have learned to listen first, seek his will and then try in earnest to be obedient.

My writings are usually spurred on by my own life events and this one is no different as I face a path being laid before me that I really do not want to walk but I know through my obedience…good will follow. Perhaps that good is for another and not me and I am okay with that too because I want my pain and suffering to be able to cast a wide net. If walking a difficult path means I will be able to draw more of the lost to Christ then I go willingly and with a hearty ‘pep in my step’. Of course, that is after I seriously contemplate hiding in a mountain cave awaiting the moment, in all due angst, when my spirit is finally called home. Alas, my family and friends have informed me that I have not stored up the quantity of wisdom needed to be a sought-after guru! At the end of my internal battle, I will obey and forge ahead in anticipation of who God needs me to meet and exactly where he needs me to go.

In closing, contemplate this question. How has your disobedience effected your life and the lives of those you love? Maybe it is time to start walking the other way?

SUFFERING…WHO CARES?


Perceptive Perspective was the title I originally thought of but thought people
would not find it catchy enough to check out. Everyone suffers as part of the human
condition the only real difference is the amount of resources you have access too. To what extent do those resources allow one to lessen or halt the depth, length and/or extent of that suffering legally or otherwise?

Anyone who has served any significant period suffering understands that it is multifaceted, multilevel and multidimensional eradicating all boundaries of time. Physical pain leads to emotional pain leading to spiritual pain in a never-ending cycle of misery. These three components are fully interchangeable and intrinsically intertwined. They have the power to destroy everything or nothing and the person suffering is the one who holds the power of determination.

I had a friend remind me recently of how blinded the general populace is when it comes to suffering and the incredibly narrow margin of perception that exists in the status quo. After a recent accident, my friend hurt himself to the point that his daily routine and pain level increased significantly beyond that which he was generally accustomed. However, it was not the physical pain that bothered him most. It was the apparent lack of concern from his loved ones about his suffering that landed the deepest wound. My friend complained that his loved ones spent the entire 30 minute conversation complaining of their woes without ever inquiring about his injury.

I, myself, spent years being resentful and angry at the world because “no one understood or cared” what I was enduring. Everyone went on about their happy, cookie cutter lives without a thought to their fellow human but I have learned a deeper understanding after four decades of suffering. It is difficult for others, who are not in the same pain as you, to truly understand or empathize. Most often, people cannot see beyond their own misery. If you think your fellow human to be hard-hearted then pause a moment to ask yourself when was the last time you felt the pain of burying a child. Have you had a limb blown from your body? Perhaps you are confined to a wheelchair or suffer from a mental or physical malady? Do you care for a loved one who you are losing a piece at a time to Alzheimer’s? Have you lost a business lately or caught your spouse cheating on you? Maybe you have been the object of bullying your entire life? If you have ever criticized someone who is suffering in any way, shape or form then you can count yourself among the cold-hearted populace that you only notice when you become the one who is doing the suffering.

It can be hurtful and feel as if they don’t care but the truth really is they care as much as humanly possible. Humans naturally recoil from painful situations with the exceptions of those who thrive on causing such pain or those who have strong desire to help salve that pain in some manner. The only way for a person to care more is for them to feel what you are feeling. If it is the general populace or those who have been ignorant enough to make stupid comments then we may cheer such a prospect on wholeheartedly. However, if it is a loved one then we should shudder at the slightest possibility that they will ever understand on that level because the only way for them to do that is to suffer on that same level. I don’t want anyone, whom I love, to really understand my suffering…ever. So, I accept what caring others are capable of then I try to do the rest of the understanding for them. It’s not their fault. Admittedly, there are callous jerks in existence that will not get it until they are visited by the cruel hand of suffering themselves but they should be pitied more than anything.

Of course, this cannot be done without Christ. He is the only one who can provide you with the peace, understanding and wisdom only  borne through years/decades of suffering. Without Him you get bitterness, anger, spitefulness and so much resentment that you become useless to yourself and to all around you. Without His purpose and will then your suffering is wasted. Some only think about God when suffering visits their door and then it is usually to curse Him or ask Why. Whether you believe in Christ or not, my question is, “Why not you?” “Why not Me?” Why should any of us be immune to the curse upon creation? Have any one of us lived such a good and godly life that we should somehow be shielded from the curse of original sin that broke ALL of creation? If you have lived such a pure and perfect life then by all means take your case to God and prove it. We tend to scream and cry at the injustice of our sufferings pulling random scriptural promises from the text without the slightest idea of what the rest of the Bible of which we are condemning instructs us believers or even non-believers. You who reject Christ may think you are immune to the Biblical teachings but it does not depend upon your belief to be true or false. Without you…it remains.

It can be terribly lonely when gripped in the midst of suffering but that is lie told by Satan to make you fall into his pit of depression. “Laugh and the world laughs with you, Cry and you cry alone…” It sure seems like this adage is true when you are the one suffering but it is only the case if you choose to push people away and block your heart from the love so as not to feel the pain too. It is a lie.
Some hold unto suffering like an old familiar friend because it is the “devil they know” and are afraid of what might be beyond. That is not how it works in chronic suffering that has gone on for decades and promises to follow you to the grave. Nope, after four decades you either achieve wisdom, faith, understanding and boundless compassion or you have allowed yourself to be eaten up from the inside out. You become a shell of a human being that loves misery so much that moments of happiness actually bring agony. There are only two outcomes for the chronic sufferer and it all hinges on a choice. One, surrender to Christ and allow him to use your suffering to do good. Or, allow Satan to take over and use your suffering to destroy you, destroy all you love and to spread his vile poison further into God’s children and creation. There is no middle ground. There is no other choice so if you are suffering today, regardless of how long that suffering has been going on then you need to make a choice.

If you are not suffering then Praise God and thank him for his mercy upon you but do not remain ignorant, for your teacher will be experience. If you are not saved then your Earthly suffering doesn’t matter at all as your life is only a pawn in Satan’s grand scheme. Whoever you are, make a choice and stop walking the fence because you are enjoying an illusion of security that quickly fades as you expel your last breath.

You can reject these words or take heed. I made my choice and I have been richly blessed with peace, joy, compassion, understanding, wisdom and a deepening faith. I am grateful and I have need for nothing but God’s continued grace and love.

Is Your Child going to Heaven?


 

I beg your indulgence, for something has been weighing heavily upon my heart for a long time so I must speak it. I am a woman, who has never borne a child but who has loved many more than she has loved herself. Once was a time that I was angry and bitter because I lacked the gift of motherhood but now I am rejoicing in much thanksgiving that the Lord blessed me in this way. Once, I accepted his will and opened my eyes then the blessings of his wisdom were plain. I am also a perfectly imperfect sinner and I have no delusions that I am better than anyone else drawing breath upon this planet. Paul said it perfectly, ‘We are all sinners, of whom I chief…’ .           Likewise, the vows I took at my niece and nephew’s baptism weigh heavily upon me. I, knowing the truth of salvation, have the responsibility to help them find Christ and his forgiveness. Nay, all whom I love have the right to expect me to point to Jesus in all things. They also have the right to expect me to screw up and ask for forgiveness because I am human and it will happen. Hence, I hope you keep these realizations in mind as you read my blog today.

Christians should not live by the world’s rules and expectations but should not use judgment bombs to annihilate the spirit of another. Jesus never, ever crushed someone in order to bring them healing and salvation so why do you think you can do it better than he? Or, could you be hiding behind the Cross of Christ to mask your own hate and prejudice? Having said that, it is also important to understand that we cannot project a “live and let live attitude” toward others. We can hold finite truths without tainting them with our own judgmental attitudes, eye rolls, looks of disgust, or hateful posts. Christians, who are truly trying in earnest to follow their  Savior in a Biblical manner will not give acceptance for sin but they should refrain from judgment.

I guess you can consider that a long prelude to the topic that has lit my fire today. My responsibility toward my friends and family coupled with my greater responsibility to my human family through Christ’s loving eyes and heart. If we know the truth, and I do, then we are commanded to share it, use it, live it in a manner that shines for Christ. When my niece and nephews were growing up I thought that the only things I wanted for them in this world was to be safe, happy and content. I now realize how terribly shallow and worldly those goals were for each of them. Happiness is Satan’s illusion and temptress, for it cannot be sustained. Being guarded in our words is always prudent but I have learned that keeping one’s opinion to oneself to avoid offense, at times, can lead to major disaster. Disasters that lead to long suffering consequences for many, many people. Worse for me is the heaviness in spirit I feel when I know I should have spoken God’s words, not mine, devoid of my opinion.  While it is certainty true that everyone must make their own life choices and bear the consequences of those decisions it is equally true that those choices never have a singular affect or victim. All of us bear the consequences to others choices and the closer in relation and enmeshment they are the worse it is. The individual may make the choice but they are never the ones to bear the total cost. In today’s society, people actually deny they have any responsibility at all for their choices. Yet, it is Christians to whom I am speaking, for we must take ownership of our actions and choices because we should know that each one affects not only us, our relatives, neighbor, community and so on but more importantly, they affect the Holy Spirit who resides in us. The thought is nearly too much to bear making it understandable that we shrink from acknowledging it. When I speak or act, it affects all around me. When I do not speak or act, it affects all around me. Whether the effect is good or bad  is only partially controlled by our own intent, for it is how they receive it that will determine the positive or negative ramifications.

I no longer pray for happiness for my nieces or nephews. Do I want them to be happy? Certainly but it is not as important to me or the Kingdom of God as if they were abundant in compassion, love, wisdom, generosity, strength, perseverance, joy, faith, discernment, and the ability to forgive. Notice, I did not list acceptance as a forerunner attribute/abilty because there are too many things in this life that should not be accepted. They can be understood, forgiven, rationalized, fixed but never accepted. I want those I love to enjoy life through the eyes, heart, and mind of Christ refusing to be limited to how the world sees and understands. We were not put here for mankind’s purposes. We have a job, which God knit us together in our mother’s womb to fulfill and that is where our focus should be in everything. Every decision we make should be funneled through the filter of Christ’s will for our lives. Some of you may be sitting there reading this and looking at the slice of pizza in your hand and saying, “Okay Jesus, did you want me to take another slice pepperoni or cheese?” Your mocking, condescending attitude aside, your choice to have pizza for dinner or a snack should be filtered through Christ. Sure, it’s not as major a decision as is who to date, whether or not to have pre-marital sex, start a family, vocation choice, marriage, or other such major life decisions but each and every choice we make should be built upon the premises of Christ’s teaching so we do not have to stop before taking a bite of that slice of pie and think in a mocking manner. Instead, the initial choice of whether to purchase the pie would have been develop through the years enabling such a mundane choice to be inconsequential because your thoughts were in line with His every step of the way. EVERY choice you make should be filled with Christ’s will and guidance for your life so that when the big decisions come along you will have the armor of God firmly in place to guide and protect you.

At the start, I said I consider myself blessed for not having children and now will tell you why. Being a parent is an awesome privilege and the most important responsibility in your life. I feel the heavy weight of making certain my nieces and nephews have the tools needed to make their way to Christ. Yes, we must ensure they have the skill sets needed to be healthy, productive citizens of this world but that is so minor in comparison to the responsibility we carry to lead these young folks to Christ. If you bring a child into this world but fail to teach them of Christ then you have had a child to give to Satan. You have had a child, who you say you love, to hand over to the devil condemning him or her to eternal damnation. There is nothing more important in this life that salvation, for we are here are very brief time but there is an eternity to be had. A simple choice separates you from paradise or damnation. Whether these places exist or not does not depend upon your belief of their reality. Whether God or Satan exists does not depend upon your belief of them. By the time you realize your mistake, it will be far too late. Scripture recounts a story of a man, who had received and rejected the message of salvation, suffering greatly in Hell. He looked up and saw in Heaven a lowly man who the world despised in life enjoying paradise. The man suffering from burning thirst begged the heavenly onlookers for a drink but he was told that he had received all his rewards he will ever enjoy while he walked the earth. The man in hell then begged for messengers to be sent to warn his family about this wretched end so they would turn away from living the high life the world celebrated. His request was denied as well. The angel told the suffering man that all people are given the same message of grace and salvation but are not forced to accept it.

If you are a parent then you know the bittersweet mixture of love and frustration it brings. It is the hardest and most important job that God has ever called anyone to accomplish. If you fail to teach your child about Christ then you rob them of hope, peace, strength and wisdom. The world will fail them whether they have Christ or not but if you love them then why, oh why, would you send them into a viper’s pit unarmed and unaware? I have seen and worked with more broken children than I care to think about and my work barely scratched the surface of the brokenness out there. The majority of my clients did not teach their kids about God or Christ and those are the ones who were in the most danger of being lost as they had no anchor or foundation. They could not count on their parents or relatives to be the responsible adults so they had no one of permanence in their lives.

Hence, whether you made the conscious decision to have a child or not, they are here because of you and your spouse (paramour). The common response, “Well God wouldn’t have let him or her be born to me if it wasn’t His will.” My response, “Yeah, and that should SCARE THE HELL OUT OF YOU, literally, because God expects you to raise that child for HIM!” That “God’s Will” line is used as a cop out of responsibly when it is actually a brand of duty! Parents, especially Christian Parents, need to make certain that the most important thing in their child’s life is Christ, period. You are preparing him or her for the battles of this world but also for all the spiritual battles around him or her.

Satan has been trying to destroy me from the very womb and has never relented a single day; therefore, if I had been denied Christ in my youth I would have fallen to the prince of evil long ago. I know his wicked power, I know his tactics and how he revels in human pain and misery. I know how he enjoys seeing a Christian fall so imagine his delight when he can convince the parent of person, who was created to be a warrior for Christ, not to teach him or her about the savior. Satan has won many future battles by taking out one weak Christian from the start. Could the child eventually meet Christ? Absolutely, for God’s plans are never thwarted but how many are lost due to the delay? What if that child’s message was meant to change the heart of a kindergarten teacher who then affected all of her students, who then went one to affect thousands upon thousands of others? It never happened. Those thousands were lost for eternity because Christ was not the most important focus in your child rearing toolbox because you failed to realize Christ is the toolbox and everything else is useless. Are you right with Christ? Can you call yourself a godly parent? Yes? Great! keep striving to walk in the Lord. No? Then get right with God, now because you chose to bring a life into this world so make certain he or she has the tools necessary to make his or her choice for eternity.

So, to my nieces and nephews (whether by blood or ‘adopted’ into my heart), you can consider me the crazy religious nut aunt all you want. You can consider me annoying and irritating and a fun-time kill joy but I do not care. I love you and I want to see you beside me in paradise someday. I do not want to see you looking up from the fires of hell begging for relief that I have no power to give. This is not directed at any of my friends or relatives but it has been a heavy burden on my heart and spirit. I have learned to listen to the Spirit because ignoring or deafening yourself to his whisper brings nothing but pain and agony. You young bloods may consider me nosy, intrusive, pushy, judgmental, out of touch, Bible thumper, etcetera but it matters not. I am not interested in your happiness. I am not interested in your pleasure with me or my opinions. I am interested in your salvation and, if you have children, in your children’s salvation.  You cannot give them salvation but do not deny them access to the road where they can meet Christ for themselves! I say these things in love and concern and I pray you take them to heart and think. Look at your child and think what you should do. Hold your child and think where you want them to be when everything around them has turned to dust.

As we are in advent season, it is a perfect opportunity to get the introductions started and provide your little one (even if they are 99) the key to joy and contentment, the path to hope, the road to eternal salvation. Everything in your life and their life should be pointing toward Christ, everything. The only thing under the Christmas tree that you should honor and give praise for is the meaning of the nativity. Sure, the newest toy and gadget will bring monetary happiness but nothing else has the power to bring salvation except Christ.

Give your children the most important, love-filled gift they will ever receive, introduce them to their savior and then work together to keep yourself and them on the path to his Kingdom. Always, in Christ’s love I leave you with these thoughts.

Walking in Faith…not for the faint of heart.


 

 

“Even if all fall away, I will Not!” “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “Today-yes, tonight-before the Rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And ALL the others said the same (Mark 14: 29-31 NIV).

            Jesus had warned Peter that Satan had requested to test them all (Luke 22:31-32) and told Peter to pray for strength of Faith. He even told Peter the result by telling him what to do after he turned back to Him. Jesus instructed him to ‘strengthen your brothers’ when he turned back. Peter could not fathom he would ever abandon his Savior. He strongly protested his loyalty and devotion to follow Christ to prison or even death. Peter’s epic faith failure would be infamously recorded for all time. Even if Peter was not branded with a catchy handle like, “Doubting Thomas”, it has not diminished the bumper crop of criticism his behavior has harvested throughout the ages.    Humans tend to humanize everything including our understanding of Scripture even when denied huge swaths of the storyline. Although the crucifixion of our Savior is well documented in the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and through the multitude of Old Testament prophet preludes, we are still required to seek the truth.

Before I begin getting complaints that this is all Easter stuff requiring me to field questions as to why am I dragging it up at Christmas, please afford me a small back step. The Advent season is largely restricted to Christmas and the crucifixion event is relegated to Easter alone. I would argue that folks who see the two events as separate are missing the point of Christmas. The gift of Christmas is our salvation. It is not a beautiful story of  angels singing on high, shepherds being amazed, wise men visiting, or even a cute little baby being born in a humble livestock cave and being place in a feed trough. I love everything about the Christmas story but to see it as a singularity robs Christ of the gift he brought for you. If you do not think of your personal salvation at Christmas then you have missed the boat of understanding. The human mind and heart tends to want to separate the “happy event” from the “sad event”, which is wrong on too many levels to keep this paragraph brief. It is the guilt we all feel at the need for Christ to bear our sins that tends to make us recoil from “remembering” Easter at Christmas. Insisting on the strict separation of the two holidays blinds you to the blessings. When you understand the integral connection but deny yourself the contemplation of that connection then you, too, are secularizing and falling for the commercialization of Christmas. A Christian celebration of Christmas MUST look and feel different to participants and onlookers alike. If it does not then you may want to review how you are conducting your celebration. A more prudent move may be an in-depth review of your Faith Walk.  Hey, I get it there are many stressful things that compete to veil the joy to be had. After all, even Jesus’ mom stirred the pot of family-get-together irritation when she asked him to do something about the wine situation at a wedding. So, if you think Christ cannot understand how irritating the eclectic pool of variously gifted relatives who grace your home once/twice a year then you would be very wrong. The “know-it-all”, “moral crusader”, “shady character”, “sponger”, “political activist” “the nutrition Nazi”, “Woe is me Molly” or the one who is especially good at making the highest “mountains from molehills” are all small potatoes compared to all of us because we are his family and he gets all of us every single moment of every single day and night. There is nothing you can endure that God does not understand. Now, back to Peter.

Wave after wave of criticism has submerged Biblical figures like Peter, Thomas and Judas for eons but how valid is that criticism and who, exactly, is qualified to levy such criticism? As many of you know, one of my pet peeves is folks who are ignorant of the facts but still feel justified in voicing an opinion. First and foremost, learn the historical context in which the story took place. Become a super sleuth, pursue your God and He promises to be found. Don’t depend on others to tell you a truth you say you base your Faith Walk upon. What if they are lying? What if they are ignorant? What if they are only trying to manipulate you to believe how they believe? Try to put at least as much time into your pursuit of God as you do your favorite TV program, book series, video game, etcetera.

Did Peter fail in this test of Faith? Yes…yes he did. Jesus knew he would. Jesus told him that he would. Jesus told him he would come back around to be the rock all his brothers in faith would desperately need him to be. Jesus did not condemn Peter for what he knew would happen, for he understood that Satan was going to be suppressing his beloved disciples with overwhelming fear. I wrote about Jesus’ fear in my last post; therefore, we already know that fear is not only permissible but expected. Nevertheless, fear cannot become a roadblock preventing you or him from fulfilling God’s purpose. Courage is not the absence of fear but continuing forward in spite of it.

In all of my humanness, I gauge the absolute worst part of Peter’s experience occurred when that cock crowed and he lifted his head only to see the broken hearted Jesus looking directly at him. An immediate, overwhelming, soul-wrenching sorrow overtook Peter. The weight of his failure at that moment cannot be equaled and it must have been truly devastating to him. Every gospel records the event but only Luke includes this very important detail. Imagine the exact moment in time when you see the hurt in Christ’s expression knowing that it wasn’t the insults, abuse or even false accusations of the accusers that had put that pain in his expression. Nope, his eyes filled with tears because of you.  The pain for both of them had to be indescribable. Scripture tells us that Peter went outside and wept bitterly. That tells me that a lot of body shuddering sobbing was going on here. You know, the really ugly crying event that makes you look as if you went ten rounds with three prizefighters the night before. Yet, this event is not over yet. This is only the beginning of a night and day of horror for our Savior and all who loved him. For Peter and his fellow disciples it was going to get much darker as their friend, brother, teacher, and master would be torn apart on every human level. Also, if you noticed, Peter was not alone in his rapid flight from Christ. ALL of his flock would scatter when the shepherd (Jesus) was struck.

So why is Peter’s story of fear and failure highlighted? Why doesn’t God tell us of all the other disciples who ditched Jesus that night? Simply, it was not necessary because Peter’s account was enough for us to be able to identify with him. We are Peter. How often have you thought, “I would never abandon Christ?”I would stand with him till the end! I would surely die for him if that were what is asked of me! I would never, ever, ever hurt Christ that way!”

I would respond as lovingly as I could by saying, “Oh Really?” Then let us consider a few facts that may help you level out that ‘hero complex’ to a human reality. First and foremost, your sins and my sins put him in that situation. He was betrayed, mocked, hit, ridiculed, humiliated, spat upon and then had his flesh torn from his bones as he was flogged. Each lash should have been delivered upon your back, upon my back, for our sins put him there. All past, present and future sins of humanity were borne by Christ and he did nothing to deserve it…nothing. You may say, yeah, I heard that one before, what else you got?

First of all, that attitude got to go but I do have more. When is the last time you complained of an ailment, an economic hardship, being attacked for a belief, being subjected to false accusations, betrayal, being used, abandonment, and/or any combination thereof? To be certain, complaining and asking ‘Why?’ is not a sin unless it serves to drive you, yourself and others away from Christ. Then it becomes a handy tool of Satan that is very apt at destroying you and those who love you. The rub is that those who have been rooting for you to fail are also harmed when you behave this way because they just “knew” you were ‘full of it’ with this Christian crap.

Suffering is a guarantee, not just a possibility, if you choose to follow Christ. Plain and simple, Jesus tells us that we will face many of these things if we strive to walk in the Faith we claim to have.  Our proud boasts and claims of sticking by Christ, “no matter what” often do not stand the test. When hardships and sickness hit we begin the self-defeating mantra of, “Why Me?” Again, asking God, ‘why’, is not a sin but staying stuck because you are not looking for the answers; thereby, refusing to fulfill your purpose may be something you will have to explain to your creator one day.

As some of my readers may remember, the story of Job, was a huge stumbling block for me as there are so many things in that book that I do not understand and no human can explain to me. Still, it continues to surprise me how many people claim to have the life of Job while making the indignant claim, ‘My life just isn’t fair!’ If you are claiming such a boast then I expect you to be pretty darn righteous. God judged Job to be a righteous man in all ways. Your Faith Walk better be able to rival those of Peter, Paul, Noah, Reverend Graham or Mother Teresa’s just to name a few. Not that any of these folks were perfect but their Faith walk was pretty solid by the time they began becoming effective for God’s kingdom. No, they were not born that way; instead, many Faith failures tempered the genuineness of that faith. Suffering hones the strength of our faith or adds to the level of bitter anger we tend to nurse. It is your choice. Another feature of a Job claim-to-be, EVERYTHING is a huge deal as there is no rational perspective of suffering. God is picking on you, right? You do not care or want to understand someone else’s suffering. You just want your suffering to stop. I get that, I have been there too. There have been moments in my existence where I have actually told God, “I don’t care if they are hurting. I do not care if he or she needs me. I do not care if this experience will make me better or more able to understand the pain of others. I just want it to stop. Yeah, I am not too big a fan of the honing part of this Faith building journey. It hurts. Pain perspective cannot be learned from a book, it is earned through experience. It matters not what type of pain the sufferer is enduring because it can all be destructive if not handled properly.

“Can it possibly get any worse?”. This question is either asked by someone who is ignorant or just plain foolish. The answer is, YES, YES, YES, it can always be worse, always. I used to bemoan my challenges all the time and would snap at those trying to counsel me saying, “You do it then…you walk in my shoes then offer me the same useless advice!” I have I ever encountered a person with the same volume of simultaneous challenges with which they must cope as I work through every day. I am NOT saying that I have it the worst of all humanity, nor am I comparing my pain and suffering to anyone else’s. Numerically speaking, the volume of simultaneous problems occurring within a finite time frame has been daunting and served as an effective stumbling block upon my journey. Suffice it to say, .it can and usually does become worse before it begins to get better. The impetus of change is usually you, your choices, your decisions…period.

For instance, you go to the doc because you are having a hard time catching your breath. She tells you that you have case of COPD in the initial stages but that you could slow its progression and improve your short and long-term quality of life by making some lifestyle changes. Stop smoking, lose some weight, stay away from concentrated second-hand smoke, watch your alcohol intake and get involved in some cardiovascular exercises at least three times a week. The problem has been identified and you go home and do what? Decide on a plan of action so that you can drop some weight, quit smoking and get some more exercise? Perhaps you will alter your social hangouts so that you can stall the disease effectively affording you a couple more decades of a higher quality of living.

Unfortunately, a very small percentage of us react in such a proactive manner. Rather, we begin binging on all the stuff that must now be restricted or eliminate and that is just at the mere thought of giving any of it up. We feel sorry for ourselves and begin imagining the worst-case scenario and in that active imagining we become our own self-fulfilling prophecy. We either ignore or refuse to participate in the possible solution. We actively sabotage our future by living, in this case, as if we have stage four lung cancer. We effectively take ourselves out of the land of the living long before that ever happens. I have known people who are figuratively standing in their grave, shoveling dirt upon themselves while yelling at those trying to dig them out. What are they yelling at the potential rescuers? “No one understands, no one feels what I am feeling, No one will help me! I am worthless, useless and a burden. I don’t need anyone to help me. God is persecuting me, God has abandoned me or ‘I have the life of Job, woe is me!” Of course, their actual verbiage may take on a more colorful tone. How does this relate to Peter’s faith failure? When we do these things, we are failing in our faith walk. We allow fear to control us. We allow Satan into our minds and let him run amok until he has convinced us that we are all alone, God is unjust, and that no one cares or understands what we are going through.

Granted, it is the normal human reaction to ‘wig out’ when faced with such life altering news.  However, if you are a Christian then you must get beyond the initial reaction and concentrate on finding the purpose in the pain. We all have faith failures throughout our lives and sometimes those failures are spurred by agony that cannot be verbalized. Pain, so intense and pervasive that can be felt by others due to the constant pulsating ache emanating from the person upon everyone around him or her. This is true regardless of whether it is being felt by us or by another depending on how empathetic you are and/or how close the person experiencing the suffering is linked to you.

Every time we ‘stay stuck’; we are abandoning Christ just as his disciples did after that night in the garden. Every time we dwell on the negativity surrounding the problem we are laying down our crown of thorns and allowing our cross to shudder as it bounces off the hardened ground. We look at Christ as he looks right back at us and we drop the crown saying, “I am sorry but I cannot follow you to the end. I am too afraid, it hurts too much. I am sorry Jesus, I thought I would never abandon you but I was wrong.” Then we weep bitterly, for we have broken our promise to be there for our savior. We are certain we could fulfill our promises to follow him no matter the cost. Yeah but, you didn’t understand just how high that cost was going to be and how many were going to try to stop you. “Sorry dude, you are on your own Jesus and please do not give me the “Jesus eyes” of total love and total forgiveness. That is like a knife in my heart.”

Peter could have chosen to fold in on himself in pity, shame, and sorrow effectively removing himself from the critical role Christ had called him to fulfill. He could have run and hid after his friend and savior looked straight into his soul. On the other hand, he could have chosen the easy way out like Judas had by killing himself. Dying is much easier than choosing to live and face your mistakes atop all the challenges ahead.  Satan knocked Peter to the dust but he did not choose to stay there; instead, he eventually got up and took the hardest step…the one leading forward.

I used a large life-changing example to illustrate the point but every time we hear another take the Lord’s name in vain and stay silent, it is a brutal lash across our Savior’s back. When we see a neighbor or stranger hungry, cold, or lonely and remain invisible to them, it is a hard blow to his Face. You and I are no better than Peter, for we are all perfectly imperfect. Peter spent the rest of his life trying to make good his promise to his Christ and friend. Peter never abandoned Christ again but that does not mean he did not fail. We chronically give up on Jesus and all it takes is a few problems hitting us at the same time. Car breaks down, deep freeze thaws unexpectedly and now on top of everything you are nursing the flu. You begin bemoaning your life, your home, your situation—Christ’s cross appears to be too heavy for you to bear so you put it down. You see in his face that you are breaking his heart…again.

Walking steadily in one’s faith is not easy and everyone will falter now and again but the key is to have others walking a similar path as you so that you can catch either other when you stumble. Satan is not going to stop trying to destroy you but Jesus will never abandon you even if you come to the conclusion that you cannot follow him everywhere he must go. He will never stop you from stepping off the path…pesky ‘free will’. His heart will break as your eyes meet one another’s countenance as you stray.

We are Peter; we are worse than Peter as he failed a couple millennia ago but we are failing every day, knowingly. A FaithWalk never ends, the hardships do not get simpler but our ability to handle the hardships and pain grows exponentially. Jesus never asked us to traverse this Faith Walk alone; conversely, he provides helpers for us at every turn if only we will open our eyes. We must climb out of our premature grave and practice perspective; stop comparing our lives/ailments/sorrows to all around us. God asks each of his children to carry a unique burden, for which he has woven into our being the skill, talent, or gift to overcome the hardship. He promises that the cost of following him will pale in the brilliance of the reward. Do not see Peter as a long dead man who has no relevance to your life. Peter did not have super powers, he was not divine but his faith failure launched his resulting level of new faith into an epic foundation.

Before sharpening your sword of judgment, hammer of woe-is-me, and dust out your pit of despair…pray for strength, wisdom, direction and healing. Pursue your God with all your heart, mind, and soul. Look towards Peter’s incredible strength of Faith when he decided to get up and take that next step toward the Kingdom of God. He could have wallowed in his failure, pain, and heartache but he did not. He remembered Jesus’ instructions for him turned back to the path that led him to Christ…strengthen his brothers in the faith.

I understand that your suffering may be so dire and so prolonged that it has been allowed to create a guarded heart in you. A heart and mind filled with fear, anger, cynicism and judgment upon all others is one that is cold…one that is dying. Our lives are perishable, our bodies have an expiration date, people we love are going to get sick or get in an accident and we are going to lose those we cannot think we can live without. There is going to be pain. Do not waste your suffering and do not stay stuck.

I pray God blesses each of you with the strength and overwhelming desire to pursue him whole-heartedly.

 

 

RADIANCE


Brilliance envelopes
her being.
Every cell pulsating
with tingling
warmth bringing
her to the precipice
between pain and pleasure.

A mere reflection of
His Glory.
A passing glance
of His
boundless
Love and Mercy.

The sensation of pure
Joy and Love
brought her to her
knees. She wept.

He dropped to
the ground
before her.
Gently he bent close
to her ear.
“I Love You, Daughter”.

She recoiled as if
struck with a hot iron,
scurrying away from
his sacrificial love. Never
had she felt this before and
its strength was excruciating.

Slowly, he crawled
to her, scooping
her into his arms.
“I Love You, Daughter”.

She cried out in sweet
anguish as his words
healed her brokenness.
Her chest heaving with the
effort to draw breath
began to calm as
his tears mingled
with her own.

Mustering all
remaining strength,
she found her voice.

“It was supposed to be me!
It was my sentence! I committed
the crimes. I deserved to be punished!
You didn’t do anything so why
did you tell them that you did it? Each time
they spit at you, that was mine to bear. Every cruel
blow was supposed to land
upon my flesh. I deserved it, I sinned, I
was cruel and dishonest.
Those lashes you bore
were mine!
I know how to take people’s
cruelty because I am used to it but your
love hurts so much.
Why, didn’t you let me
confess and bear the punishment?
You did nothing! You did nothing!
I did everything. I tried, I really
tried to get to you and stop them from
nailing you to that tree. I tried to confess
over and again but the soldiers just
laughed and pushed me away. Why
did you take my punishment? Why?
Father, why?”
She blurted
this stream of sorrow, guilt,
confusion, and fear towards
him using a single breath.

The love never left
his expression as he spoke.
Each word calming her
spirit as he breathed healing
upon her soul.
“Yes, the punishment was yours
to bear. Justly, you had been
convicted. The bruises belong to you.
The torn flesh should have been worn by you.
The blood spilled
should have drained from your
broken body.
But I could not allow it. What
the world does to you is harsh
but what awaits the guilty
is far worse and
lasts for eternity. What
they inflicted upon me
was very little compared to
the days I spent in Hell.
You could not have bore
the unseen torment. It
would have destroyed
you completely.
I had to open another
door for my children, for
the deceiver has lured
many to their doom.
He offers sweet lies
and beautiful promises
tricking my wayward
children by making
them very comfortable.”

Breathing normally, tears dried,
she asked, “How can
I ever pay that debt?”

“You cannot. It was
a gift of my love. I
bore it all for you, daughter.
You are my child and
I love you more than life.”
He spoke with such intense
love and devotion that
she did not doubt his words.
When he spoke, she didn’t only
hear each word but she felt them
as if he were writing them upon her
very heart.

“What can I do to show
you how much I love you
and how thankful I am
for this precious gift? I
have nothing of any value, but
all I have I will give freely.”
she offered with a depth
of sincerity she did not
know she possessed.

“Love. Love me and love others
as much as I have loved you.
Use my eyes to look at everyone around
you so that their worth will be evident. Use
my heart to feel the hurt and pain in your
sisters and brothers. Minister to those needs
and show them the way to my
loving, forgiving, embrace. I will
never stop pursuing my children
until they make a choice. I will
knock at their doors night and day
until they choose to answer it
or reject me. I will either enter
their hearts or I will honor
their choice and walk away.
Each of my children must
decide for themselves.
YOU MUST
MAKE
a
CHOICE.”

Three


The Savior did Pray,
Take this cup
away…”

Thrice did he
pray but the
Father asked
Him to Obey.

A false Declaration,
Peter did cry,
“I know him not,”
three
times over he denied.

Darkest hours in
human history,
Twelve to three
he blistered in
the sun.
Bearing the
weight of all
sin you and I have done.

Weep, weep,
gnashing of teeth,
Hope has been killed.
Hell rejoices in Victory!

But,

On the Third Day,
the curtain
was
torn.

The Defiler shrieked
in defeat as
the Christ
rose to the right-hand
Seat.

Holy, Holy, Holy,
Lord, God, Almighty.

THE SECOND DEATH…


Revelations 20
The Judgment of Satan and Humanity.

At an early day in my lifetime, I was impatient for the Lord’s return. Every direction I turned, I saw evil ruling. Anger reigned in my being as I interpreted the situation mankind had worked itself into as a result of an impotent God. I felt God had turned his back on the suffering throughout the globe and within my own personal world.
Fighting to survive and thrive was an arduous task and I used my anger to fuel my worldly accomplishments, which have been few. I managed to earn a couple degrees from a couple of institutes of higher learning and worked in a few career zones where I was attempting to make my plans come to fruition. My goals and God’s goals were different but the path was the same. Studying the history of man revealed to me that the suffering, the pain, the evil mankind was capable of was nothing new. Thousands upon thousands of years of humanity making foolish, selfish choices has caused the suffering of billions upon billions. Satan has used the earth as his playground and he delights in bringing the children of God to ruin through their own choices.
In my youth and haste I prayed for the Lord’s return, I did not understand exactly what I was asking to see happen. All I knew was that I wanted those who were evil to others, who caused suffering and misery to the innocent…to suffer. I wanted them to be punished by God now. I wanted something that mankind is incapable of producing…JUSTICE and PEACE. These things are impossible with mankind.
Everyone I knew in my young adulthood was saved, that is, they had given their life to Christ and accepted his gift of eternal salvation. Everyone, even though we all struggled to live this life and follow Christ, everyone was saved in my small world. I knew with all assurance that everyone I cared about would not be taken from me by death, for I would see them all in Paradise again. I was secure in that knowledge no matter how crazy or cruel the world became I knew that I would see everyone I loved again in Heaven.
Then something began happening that revealed to me that God’s delay in returning is his incredible Mercy rather than Neglect toward his children. The circle of people I cared about, my small world, began to grow exponentially as I went to college, made friends, colleagues and clients. Yet, I must admit, it was when my family began to grow that I realized how God was demonstrating incredible Mercy in delaying his return. Although I was never blessed with a child, each of my two sisters were blessed with children. These children began to grow into adults, as children have the habit of doing. They began making their own choices and their own mistakes.
Within the last decade I have begun feeling an incredible weight upon my spirit in knowing all those whom I love now are not going to be with me in Heaven if they should die now or if the Lord should come back now. It is this sorrowful knowledge that has shown me that God, in his awesome wisdom, is being Merciful in holding back his return. He wants all of his children to be with him for all of eternity and so he is being patient with us so that we may have time to repent and chose to love him. Now, in this hour, I think not only upon my nieces and nephews who have not chosen to allow Christ into their lives, but upon the billions upon billions who would be lost if the Lord returned this very hour.
I feel the deep sorrow for all those who have refused the Lord both in the past, present, and future. We are each upon this earth such a short time in relation to all of human history and many feel that they have to make an indelible mark upon the world but God has created each of us to make an indelible mark upon one another. If we are Christians and striving to follow Christ, imperfectly, then it is a full time job in and of itself. The Scriptures tell us that there is a Second Death, which is the one that will last throughout eternity. When we shed our earthly shells it is considered the first death but it means little except to those left behind. The Second Death is the one where each and every human who has ever taken a breath will stand before the throne of God and be Judged. If you have chosen Christ then you will spend eternity with him but if you have rejected him then you will experience a Second Death, which is the final death where God will toss you into the lake of burning fire that forever burns but never consumes its inhabitants.
In truth, this is what I longed for because I wanted to see the evil men and women of this world get the punishment they deserve. However, now I love many who do not know Christ or who refuse to know him. Friends and loved ones who refuse to accept the gift of Salvation and my spirit is heavy for them.
As fervently as I prayed in my youth for God to hurry his steps upon his return, I now pray for his delay. I understand why he waits, for his heart breaks to think of losing one of his children to Satan. If my heart breaks over children who are not borne of my womb then I can only imagine how we have broken the heart of God.
Everyday my body has tasted pain and I know it will increase day by day but I do not ask for God’s speedy return. Now, I pray for time for those who are attached to my heart whether they be blood or friend, it matters little. I understand that God’s delay is purposeful, deliberate but above all it reveals his great Mercy and Love.

The Second Death is for all eternity and I would do anything to help as many as I can to avoid it. I would suffer, gladly, another hundred years of life if it will only give more time for others to accept the Christ that longs to embrace them to his heart.
Our minds are so finite that we have difficulty imagining what eternity really is but I try to think of it as the moments, good or bad, where time seemed to stop. That is as close as we humans can get to experiencing eternity while we live so try to think of a moment where nothing moved. Time did not go forward or backward, just a moment that seemed to never end. I have experienced these moments a few times in my life. Most of these moments were enveloped in pain and suffering but a couple were good and pleasant. If you can remember a moment like this, think upon it because this is what forever feels like and you have the choice to spend it with friends, loved ones but above all Christ or be lost forever.
We all will experience the loss of many whom we love before we draw our final breaths in this temporary shell. We will shed tears for those who go before us but if we are Christians and we know that the person who has died was Saved then our tears are mixed with joy, for we will meet them again and rejoice.

I have lost someone I loved deeply and he chose to reject Christ, openly. When this man died, I grieved deeply because I knew I had lost him forever and I wept bitterly. I cannot endure the thought of anyone whom I love dying the Second Death but I know that this is going to happen. For, God has given each of us a choice and it is our choice alone to make.

Once you lose an unsaved loved one…you will understand true loss…then you will feel a level of grief you never knew existed. I am in no way minimizing the pain felt when death claims someone who is saved but I am saying it should be different. I have experienced both too many times and the difference is sharp.

So I pray for the Lord’s delay and his Mercy to continue.

 

Take my Hand…


Blinding radiance
brings an arm to shield her sight.
Looking into the
faces crushing about
reveals they see nothing.

Pulsations travel through the soil
moving her being.
A tingling sensation progresses from
her feet, to her knees, to her center.

Blood is afire as it surges through
her veins making the roar
audible to her alone.

Lungs freeze in expansion.
The heart stills as the
energy continues
its upward journey.
There is no pain.
There is no fear.
There is only being.

The eyes once stung by
the radiance now adjust as
the energy fills them
from within.

Her eyes see…everything.
The throngs continue in
their pursuits.
They are shrouded in
darkness, yet appear happy.
Nothing has changed for them.
They are happy.

Exhaling, she realizes she had
been holding her breath.
Form after form becomes
tangible in the light.
The colors are brilliant and
hold a depth she has never
before witnessed.

The air is crisp and dew
droplets cling to the
vegetation growing in lush control.

A small, unfamiliar sound
tickles her ear. Looking about
her eyes find its maker. A small,
red-haired fox. A kit, alone but
unafraid of her approach. It was mewing.
Calling for its mother or siblings, she thought.
Scooping it up, she knew she had
never felt such luxurious softness.

It’s eyes looked at her with interest
but began its mewing again when she
failed to produce the familiar scent its
mother owned alone.

The plants before her parted.
The dame had found her lost kit.
There was no tension between the
three. The mother simply came up
and plucked the kit from the woman’s hand.
Then it disappeared into the foliage.

Perhaps she was sick,
lying in the hospital with fever?
Maybe she was dead!
Regardless of these thoughts,
she felt nothing but peace.

The mutterings of those
milling about the edge of the light
was indistinct chatter. Although
fascinated by this fact, her attention was
drawn back toward the place she
knelt.

“Take my hand, child.”
A voice so melodic commanded
with gentle strength.
Every cell tingled at its sound.
What a glorious sensation!

She accepted the extended hand
and felt her entire being
radiate with power. It was
as if every good thing her senses
had ever recorded was
being felt all at once.
Waves of glorious sensation
made her want to hold this hand
forevermore.

Once upon her feet, he released her.
Eyes spilling their joy,
she looked upon his face with
intensity.

He heard the questions of her
heart but only offered a smile
of knowing in return.
Once her tears stopped
spilling and her
breathing leveled.
He began.

“This is a veil separating you
from the purity and
love I used to create existence.
Your mortal self will not be
permitted to tarry.” his voice
caressed her senses.

She could only listen as
her entire being was captivated
by the love emanating from
that beautiful voice.

“Daughter, you have been
called to walk between the
light and darkness.” a soft
sadness caressed every word.
“Some of my children are so
lost they have accepted
the darkness as reality.” pain had
entered his voice and the sensation
upon her being was pure agony.

“Are you willing to help them?” he
asked motioning to the shadowed
throngs.”Some are so far away
from the light, they cannot see a pinpoint.
Some have so much pain they
have given up the search.
And still others are diligently
working to destroy.”

The pain in his words brought her
to her knees. The intensity
was searing her essence. He was
not inflicting it upon her,
she was experiencing
a ‘glancing blow’ of
his broken heart.

“Daughter, take my hand”, his words
ended her pain immediately.
His loved poured into her
as he grasped her hand.

“You must go,”
speaking with all authority.
“You are not alone.
I have called many to the path you
have been asked to walk.
Each of them have arrived upon
this path through different vehicles
but all who have been called know well
of hardship and pain.
Just as you, they have survived
the darkness
with help from those, whom
I sent before you.
If you choose this task,
you must keep one foot in each realm.”

Each word he spoke
overwhelmed her due to the
sensations his voice caused and the
weight of their content. As long as
she held onto his hand, she was able to
endure it, but only… just.

She knew her answer and felt herself being
pulled back toward the edge… between.
As her fingertips held desperately to his,
she felt as if she were drowning
gasping for her final breath.
Everything stilled.

“Daughter, have peace. I am always
with you. Never will I leave you.
Others are already in place
to help you with this
most important task.
I love you my sweet,
darling daughter.
I love all of you.”

At once, she felt others pushing
their way past her and the sound of
those selling their wares. Her eyes
focused and just when her mind
had begun to rationalize the experience,
she felt…more.

A beautiful green and yellow butterfly
took flight. She watched its
graceful dance
as the sun shown brilliantly
through it’s veneer wings.
The stark contrast between its
beauty and the misery that abounded
all around was
breathtaking.

“Everything…is different,” She
whispered. A broad smile graced
her countenance as she
took her first step toward
hope.