Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Its in the middles

Do you have a goal that's just burning so hot in your chest that you can hardly breathe?  Do you need
a breakthrough that will change your whole entire life?  Do you see something that needs to be done, fulfilled, taken care of in your life and you are headed there but so far away still - in fact you don't really even know if you are headed in the right direction?!

Joseph, in the Bible was like that too.   He had a dream.  He had a vision for his life; he needed breakthrough badly.  Most of us know the story.  He was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers after he told them of his dream that they would bow down to him.   His father hadn't read any of the self help books about raising kids (although he should have known without reading anything in my opinion.)  and Joseph was undeniably his favourite.   This one choice by his father to make him more dear to his heart,  gave his brothers burning coals of hate that they carried around in their heart until one day, they lost it.  They sold him into slavery and went home and delivered  a filthy, dirty lie to his father about his death - one they lived with for many years.

Meanwhile,  Joseph was as good as dead.   His cushy life as he knew it, was gone - absolutely gone. Unlike the beautiful robe of many colours, his life felt like ashes in an open fire.   To say that he was in an awful place would be an understatement.

Some of us know the story well.  He worked hard until he became in charge of all the servants - an honor that was not so easily attained.  His life started looking up.  Until one day...

His bosses wife tried to seduce him and he ran away - which was the smartest thing to do.  Potiphar's wife was so upset and humiliated that he didn't take to her advances that again,  a filthy lie  was created about him that ended him in prison.

I wonder what Joseph was thinking when he was thrown into the dungeon - a lonely,  disillusioned, broken man?  A man who had tried to do everything right; a man who had followed his conscience and made all the right decisions.  He had been dealt a very cruel card. 

So what did he do with the remaining dregs of his life?  I will tell you what he did.  He lived it well.  He knew that he needed a breakthrough.  He knew that he needed to get out of prison - to be a free man entirely.   In all honesty,  he didn't really know if that would ever happen or at the very least,  WHEN it would happen.  Instead of sulking about it, instead of letting bitterness and anger seep into his pores,  he lived every part of his life well.   And this is exactly what made Joseph the man that he became.

He served the people in prison.  He became the model prisoner.  He was one they could count on - so much so that they gave him responsibility in a huge prison.

They were a few times that he saw breakthrough right there in his hands until something cruel or unexpected would knock it out of his eager hands and he was stuck in prison again with no hope of reprieve.

How long was he in slavery??????  It is believed that he was in his situation for about 17 years - from the time he was sold into slavery until the time he was freed from prison.  Joseph is a man who knew himself but MORE importantly, his God.  He was a man who dug his heels in and would not let go. He was a man who took every opportunity to be the BEST man that he could be.  Everyday. Every step. Every crazy turn.  He gave his days 120%.

You see,  it's in the middles, it's in the process, that makes us who we are.   It's never the mountaintop and very rarely the lowest of the low valley.  It's in the middle, when we are putting one foot in front of the other, that we decide whether to serve life well or to just pine away for our moment - our breakthrough.  Its in the middle that shapes our character; it molds our spirit in a way that deeply changes our core.  It's in the middles where we decide to be happy even in the ordinary.  It's in the middles where life is hard and messy and questionable where we gain perseverance and victory.  We don't gain the victory when everything is going great - we gain it before our breakthrough - we just walk into it when we see the breakthrough.  And it's in the middles that most of our life happens.

If we learn what Joseph did, it's in the ordinary moments that can be deemed extraordinary. Because oftentimes it's not our circumstances at all that determine our victory and if we are going to live life well.  It is our heart.

 Always our heart.

Joseph loved life - the very act of living and here is how you can tell.  Everywhere he was put - even in the deepest of the pit, he found a way to live it well.

Maybe your life isn't where you want it at this very second.  Maybe there are huge  obstacles looming before you; standing in your way.  How are you going to live life well TODAY?  How are you going to live victoriously today?   Today is as special as the day you get the breakthrough.

Most of our lives are spent in the middles.  What are we doing with the middle?  What are we doing with the process?  Are we letting "the stuff" get us down?  Or are we just not in the moment because our lives are not there yet - our lives are "over there."

Wrap a big beautiful bow around TODAY because today is our precious PRESENT.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Have you tried turning it off and on again?

Have you ever heard of the computer tech guy saying,  "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" to a frantic customer who calls in about a computer not acting right??  There is even a show on the television whose signature is this very question because it's about some guys who are set in an office that fixes computers. 

Apparently, the body works very similar to that.  Last week I had  to have a procedure called a cardioversion.  It is a procedure where an electrical current is sent to the heart to make it stop for only a second.  Then they start it up again in hopes that it regains a correct rhythm - much like a computer.  Because I am not actually a computer, but a HUMAN,  I was terrified about it - imagining all kinds of scenarios.  It does come with risks, but so does crossing the street every morning.  I felt much better about it after talking to the doctor.  He was able to calm my fears and put some perspective into the situation. 

As one does when they are coming close to a day that they  think might be  significant I have done a lot of soul searching these last days.  I wasn't sure what to expect.  I have asked God to show me if there are things in my spiritual heart that does not resonate with the One who created me.  I have searched my heart to make sure that it is soft and pure before God and people around me.  It's interesting that many times a physical issue mirrors a spiritual issue.  Jeremy and I have seen this many times.

David in the Bible said this:  Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts;  And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.

I asked God to show me if there was anyone that my heart wasn't right with; anyone with whom I needed to make peace in my own spirit.  You know.  that's really one prayer that the Lord likes to answer.   Gently he began to put his thumb on certain areas of my heart.  Hurts I have gained while pastoring, pain I have adopted while growing up and even issues I have had with God Himself about decisions that he has made in my life.

The thing about issues of the heart is that hurt is sometimes justified but it's never very helpful.  In fact, hurt if left there to fester will only rob from you.  It robs you of your joy and your peace while the person who wronged you has gone on with their life sometimes completely oblivious of your internal struggle.

I love what Jeremy has been saying as he has been preaching (ironically about the issues of the heart.)  Sometimes the answer is so simple but it isn't always easy.

The answer to hurt and to pain towards someone in your life is to let it go.  Simply to let it go.    These last days as I had been preparing to get my physical heart reset,  I have been resetting my spiritual heart.  I was ready to let it all go.   I was ready to take any hurt that I feel,  wrap it up in a big giant grocery bag and hand it to the One who can handle the difficult issues of life; who can replace it with peace and joy.

You see there is something interesting about the heart.  Most of the time,  you don't notice it's beating.  You don't even think about it as you are going about your daily business.  That is,  until there is something wrong.  Then it becomes a big part of your life.  It limits you.  It worries you.  You begin to make decisions around it.  You begin to pull back just in case it starts acting up.  You begin to put dreams on the shelf.  It's the same way with the spiritual heart.  You don't really notice it until something goes wrong.  Then you feel the pain, the hurt, the debt, the jealousy, the pressure of wanting it to be the way it was.  When you feel that pressure; that discomfort in your heart - there is something wrong and you have to deal with it.

Today,  I went downstairs and danced to lovely worship music as I often do before I go to work.

 This time something was different.  This time,  my heart did not go into  palpitations - something that has happened everyday for a long time.  When I was finished, I was so touched.  This morning, I felt free.

  Both my physical heart and my spiritual heart are in sync with the fresh steady beating of the Holy Spirit  - of the One who created my heart.