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Grieving

grief2Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.

Grief is part of the human experience. We avoid it, we dread it, but we will all experience it. Grief, when it happens, changes us and our lives and our future. There is no retreat from the loss that caused our grief. We grieve because our lives have been changed forever….in a way we never imagined, never wanted.

Grief is our response to a terrible loss. It’s the right response to loss. How could we not cry when we lose someone we love? How could we not grieve when we are shocked by something that should never have happened? Grief is a right response to the loss. Tears are part of the grieving process.

Grief is also social. We grieve best in community. We need each other more when a loss happens and we gather together to grieve, to cry, to sorrow. Somehow community helps us deal with grief. We have an opportunity to talk about our loss, our pain, our hurt. We have a chance to cry with someone who listens and cares about us.

Grief, believe it or not, is a gift from God. He helps us through our grief to give us peace and comfort. What grief tells us all is that this is not the way it is supposed to be. What has happened to us that has caused our grief is not right, not the way we should live. And our response, as we grieve, tells us this is not the way we were designed.

Soon grief will be done away with. Tears will be dried. Reasons for grief will be permanently dealt with. Soon God will put death to death and grief will no longer be part of our lives. Until then he gives us hope, peace, a promise of eternal life ahead. Until then he gives us each other to hug, to cry, to grieve together. Until the day grief is put to death he gives us the promise of peace and life ahead. This is not the end…..grief will one day be swallowed up in joy.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

New Year New Beginnings

It’s a new year.  A chance for new choices, a fresh start.  A time to look ahead and change what was wrong, to plant a new crop for the new year.

It’s a chance for new beginnings.  What will you do with the next year?  It’s all in your hands to live each day with the excitement of a child as they open each Christmas gift.  What will you find in the days ahead?NewBeginning

We always begin a new year with hopes and dreams of better things, but soon find that the same problems, same choices, and same people are still the same!  But don’t let the sameness around you keep you from planting new crops in your life, from doing something different, from new adventures.  Make the choice to do one new thing this year that you have always wanted to do.

Plant a new kind of seed in your life.  Become a student of a new interest, learn something new that has always interested you, go somewhere you have always wanted to go.  God is a God of adventure in our lives with him and in his desires for us personally.  He smiles when we thrive.  So, this year, with a new year beginning what new things will you do?   What adventures will you go on in your walk with God?

We are in the last days.  The Lord is coming soon.  There has never been a time like this when God’s people can be part of such an amazing time.  Love people.  Get to know God more deeply.  And consider the new year ahead the greatest adventure you will ever embark upon.  It will be exciting!

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

A New Year

A new year.

A fresh start.

Hope for better things.

Desire for change.

It was just another day. It wasn’t anything special in the grand scheme of things, but we have made calendars so for us it was the start of something new. Another year, a new beginning, fresh hopes. Maybe this year…..

A new year is a wonderful opportunity to make a new list of priorities for our lives. It’s often the case that as a year moves through its seasons we forget what is most important and find ourselves busy with the small urgencies of life. Let me suggest, let me encourage you to make a short list of what is most important to you this year, no more that 5 things, and make those things the filters through which you use your 365 days of the year ahead.

Here are a few suggestions- Pursue a relationship with God, read a book each month about something that will encourage or inspire you, commit to reading the bible each day this year, take time each day to dream, write a journal, write a book, do something fun each week, develop a new hobby or interest, learn something new, intentionally ask one person each week about their life (this could be a daily activity for many of us), and on the list goes. These are not necessarily resolutions, they are simply priorities. And yes, for some of you exercise is on the list isn’t it? But whatever you do with this new year do it intentionally. Don’t simply let the year fly by and not use every moment well for the glory of God.

Have a great year!

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Stuck Places

We all get stuck. Stuck at points of our life that cripple us in the days ahead. From that “stuck place” we find that we now “walk with a limp.” Something happened, we were hurt, wounded, broken, abused, sinned against. A parent died, a wife left, a child became ill, and we got stuck at that terrible event…at that moment in our life.

I’m finding that the problems in people’s lives are often the result of their stuck places. From that wound, that death, that divorce we are emotionally stuck and cannot go further, cannot grow, cannot walk away from the wound and so we carry our woundedness with us and sadly create stuck places for others we encounter. We are the walking wounded, the mass of humanity stuck in the past hurts and wounds of our lives that have affected us and now affect those around us.

Stuck places…places we remember vividly because of what they have done to us, moments in time we have recorded in our brains we can replay in high definition detail. We are stuck because of what happened, because of what someone said, what they did to us, how they hurt us. We remember every detail, every moment. We are stuck.

This morning I was visiting with a friend and described my thoughts on this topic. He knew immediately his stuck place and described it in fine detail, as if it had happened yesterday, but in fact it was decades ago. It was life changing for him, he’s never forgotten it, he knew exactly when, where and how he got stuck. It’s changed him, it changed his family and his life.

Another man I visited with has struggled with alcohol and drugs for more than 20 years. I asked him when he started drinking, doing drugs. He replied, “I started drinking when I was 12.” My next question changed everything in our visit. I asked, “what happened when you were 12 that made you look for something to dull the pain?” He lowered his head, he was quiet for a moment, and then he replied, “my baseball coach sodomized me…..” There was silence for a moment, but I knew right away that he was stuck at that event in his history. It had affected his life, his family and his path. He was stuck! I told him, “It’s not your fault.” He broke down and wept, broken, stuck, wanting out, but stuck at 12 years of age.

I know this may not fit with all the counseling models I read about, but I also know that I am seeing this more clearly in each visit I have with someone who is having a difficult time in life, something happened and they got stuck.

Another man I know grew up in a horrible home situation and ran away from the abuse and brutality of his family at the age of 13. Imagine things being so bad that you run away from home at 13. Now, even as an adult, when things get difficult, conflict happens in his life, relationships are hard, he runs away. He’s stuck at the tender age of 13 and doesn’t know how to resolve his brokenness, his stuckness in the pain of his past and so he lives it out in how he makes choices today, more than 30 years later.

Imagine this multiplied by 6 billion. The whole of humanity stuck in the pain and hurt, rejection and abuse of their pasts. Imagine the wounds that are still open, still tender, still bleeding from what has happened in our pasts. Imagine what can happen when even one person brings all their mess, all their stuckness to God to resolve.

Where was Jesus when you were hurt, when you were rejected, when you were abused? Where was God when you got stuck? He was right there with you, walking with you through your hurts, your abuse, your divorce, your rejection. It’s his great desire that we take our brokenness to him, our stuckness if you will, and allow him to heal, restore, and move you past the pain, past that moment that got you stuck.

My friend who was sodomized at 12 is doing much better, he’s no longer a broken hurting 12 year old boy. He’s a man beginning to recover. It’s available to everyone, no matter what happened, no matter where you got stuck, Jesus came to dissolve the glue of our past, erase the pain of our wounds, heal the scars of our encounters and make us new.

Paul described it this way, 2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation (something brand new!) has come: The old has gone, the new is here (present tense)! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. (getting us “unstuck”) And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Are you stuck? Jesus can fix that.

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Choices

Choices. We make them every day. The results of those choices affect the course of our lives and all the choices ahead. Once we make a choice we can no longer make the other choice. Our course is set. Now a multitude of other choices on the other path are no longer ours. Now we must take the path of our choice with all that follows. We find new decisions to make, but the choice of the other path is no longer ours.
Often, as I talk with people at their crossroads struggling with the choice of which way to go I find they are already regretting the choice they plan to make. They know their choice is the wrong one and the path will not end well, but they don’t want to take the other path. What they don’t realize is that one choice eliminates the choices the other path might offer. Suddenly, once they start walking down one road the choices possible on the other road are gone.
I watch as they struggle at the crossroads, struggle with the decisions they face. Often they tell me they want what lies down both paths, but only one choice can be made. What none of us know is what other choices might be ours if we choose the right path. (Of course this last statement implies that one choice is right and the other wrong.) There are a hundred choices down each path, but none are known to us until we choose one and start the adventure.
It strikes me that the struggle at the crossroads is the choice of my way or God’s way. That is the core decision at each crossroad we face, isn’t it? At each point of decision I must decide to submit my will to God’s way or choose my own way and hope for the best. It’s a choice that should be obvious and simple, but it’s really not. We live with fantasy and fear dominating our minds and thoughts. The fantasy of what could have been and the fear of what might be cause us to doubt that God’s way will be for our good so we choose our own path, our own way.
This morning I faced those crossroads with another friend. I watched as he languished over his choices. As best I could I told him what lay down each road. I watched as he turned this way, then that. From years of standing at the crossroads with others I already know he has chosen the wrong path, but I know too that I can’t force anyone to submit to God’s will in their lives. That’s a decision of the heart. Once they trust God with the results the decision of course is easy. Until that submission of heart and will is given to God the battle rages on.
As you face your own crossroads pray this simple prayer, “Lord, I want your way, your will in my life and not my own. Show me which way to go.” In that simple prayer you have made the most important choice anyone will ever make when they come to the crossroads.
There are a number of verses in the Bible that deal with this very idea, but let me simply offer this one as I finish my thoughts, Proverbs 14:12-13 “There’s a way of life that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell. Sure, those people appear to be having a good time, but all that laughter will end in heartbreak.” THE MESSAGE
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.