Journal Entry ~ 09/09/17

13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. - Colossians 1:13-14

Understanding the reality that we all once lived in the domain of darkness should cause us to see those around us differently. When we understand that everyone has something that holds them back, that each of us is carrying around a hang-up, a hurt, or a stronghold from living in this broken world, it should help us to not only be more understanding and patient with those around us, but it should also cause us to be more loving and more forgiving. God's number one priority is saving the lost, or rescuing people from the darkness. He wants all to come to know Jesus as Savior, without exception - even that challenging person in your life. Are your priorities aligned with God's?  When you engage with that difficult person, are you most concerned with their salvation?  Are you a light in their darkness? Or are your most concerned with them behaving according to your expectations? God's 2nd priority is for the sanctification of believers, or revealing the darkness in their hearts so they may grow to be more like Him.  When you are angered by the response of a believer, are you most concerned with following the directive in Galatians 6:1, and restoring them with a spirit of gentleness?  Do you try to be a guiding light?  Or do you pass judgment on where their heart is and gossip to others about their questionable faith?  The reality is that many of us place people who have hurt us or are challenging to us in box at the moment they made a foolish decision.  Then we lock that box with unforgiveness, refusing to acknowledge or understand that God is at work all the time. We keep people locked in the box of who they were at the moment they hurt us, allowing no room for growth, showing no grace for what hang ups or hurts they were managing at the time for years. God forgive us for being so self-focused.  

I have hang ups like everyone else.  I have hurts from the past that I've held against people for years, and it's impacted the way I interact with them. I've worked hard to forgive others as He has forgiven me, but the reality is the hurt I've encountered has impacted the way I interact with people in my life.  I've withheld myself because the hurt was deep and I didn't want to be vulnerable around them, I didn't want to expose myself and allow them to hurt me again. I've been working on some hurts with God for a long time, thinking I've found forgiveness, only to discover I've picked it back up at some point. The reality is I have people I've kept locked in the box of who they were in that moment, never acknowledging or allowing God to work on their heart or reveal their sin to them. But a cancer diagnosis puts so many things in perspective. The first thing it does is makes the little things seem so small - how foolish I've been to get upset over something as simple as harsh words spoken by people just as hurt by this broken world as I have been.  So much of what I have held on to as hurt has just fallen away in insignificance over the past few weeks. The second thing it does is it brings you to a deeper understanding of who people are. God's not finished with me yet - the work He has done in my heart over the past 22 years as a believer has been remarkable, with the most amazing growth in the last 5 years, only to be amplified in the last 3 weeks. How arrogant of me to think God's only been working on me. How self-centered to think He hasn't been working in the hearts of those who've hurt me over the years.  The reality is He's working on all of us - in different ways, at different rates, on different things, but He's working on all of us. Some to come to know Him as Savior, some to refine into His image, but He is at work. And I've been standing in the way of that work with my defensive attitude and my lack of true forgiveness for people who have hurt me. God forgive me. So thankful I love a God who doesn't give up on me, but continues to reveal the darkness stored in my heart and continue to grow me into the person He wants me to be. 

Press on ~ you are loved 💗

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