Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lingering Thoughts...

A few weeks ago I discovered that Joyce Meyer would be leading a church service at a church not too far from us.  The day and time?  January 23.  In my excitement, I dashed to the calendar and penciled in the event. This is the same calendar that I used daily for recording my exercise output. I never missed a day of marking something in this calendar.  Anyway, for those of you who don't know who she is, Joyce Meyer is an internationally recognized Christian speaker and author.  I watch her show on TV as regularly as possible, but to see her preach in person? Wow! As pumped up and encouraged as she gets me from my TV screen, I couldn't wait to see what happened via a live presentation! Well, that was three weeks or so ago and since then I broke my toe and exercise wasn't an option.  While swimming in my pool of self-pity, I found no reason to go thumbing through a calendar that couldn't record anything anyways.  Bottom line? Over the last two weeks I completely forgot about her upcoming service in L.A - until yesterday...

Out riding my new shiny bike with our son yesterday afternoon, I began to feel parched.  I walked in to get some ice water and for reasons I can't even recall now, I grabbed the "exercise" calendar off the side of the counter. It seems like I was grabbing it to look at how close we were getting to February, but I'm not positive. I honestly have no idea what it was I was looking for.  Maybe to see when the last recorded day of exercise was?  Interestingly enough, this is a calendar sent to me as a gift from Joyce Meyer Ministries, but even with her face plastered all over the front,  I didn't think about the service she would be leading the next day. Well, I opened it to this month and scanned the days when suddenly I saw where I had written "Joyce Meyer, Angelus Temple" on the 23rd.  "Holy cow, that's tomorrow!" I frantically thought.  All the reasons why it wasn't going to be convenient started running through my mind.  First, not that I want to bring it up again because I really am sick of talking about it, but my toe is in fact still broken....doesn't make dressy church shoes very appealing.  Secondly, I didn't even know what time this church started and it's almost 40 miles away.  Whatever on earth would traffic be like?  If you're not familiar with Los Angeles traffic, just know that it's often bad even on good days.  Though a Sunday morning shouldn't be overly packed with people, you can never just really know that it's going to be good.  So, unpredictable traffic and a toe that threatened to break in a new place if I dared wear a high heel - these were only two of the excuses I was starting to make when it hit me  - God is Who led me to that calendar!

After not having touched it in almost two weeks, I, for reasons I don't even remember now, reached for it and was thus reminded of an event I so desperately wanted to attend several weeks ago when I felt better.  God was doing me a favor, but as it turns out He was also wanting to make sure I heard just what Joyce Meyer had to say today. The awesome thing about Joyce Meyer is she can somehow manage to baby you and yell at you all at the same time.  I don't know how she does it, but it's great.  She makes me want to be a better person.  Well, her message today was on taking responsibility.  For what?  For ourselves.  Here are some key themes that resonated throughout her service:

1.  Take responsibility for what we do and for our own life
2.  Do what you can do, and God will do what you can't, but do somethingDon't ever just do nothing
3.  Do what's right when no one is looking, not just when they are
4.  You may not be able to do anything about how your life started and where it has gone, but you can do something about where it goes from here
5.  There are two choices with pain:
            A.) Hurt where you are and stay there letting it get worse, or
            B) Hurt towards freedom.  Move forward while you hurt
6. Even if every person you know thinks you're a nut for your choice to be with God - go with God anyways
7.  Never Give up!!

There was so much said, but something she shared as the foundation of each theme was her own story of abuse.  Anyone who has watched her knows this, but for those who haven't her story goes something like this - her father sexually abused her from early childhood until she was a teenager, at which point he began raping her.  He didn't stop this course until she was 18 and left home.  Forty plus years later, God let her know she needed to forgive him.  Though she said the "I forgive him" prayer many times, God asked her to go above and beyond that.  Though she didn't want to or feel like it, she and her husband Dave moved her mother and father into a nearby home to care for him in his final days.  The man who raped and abused her over and over again is the same man she took care of in his last four years of life.  She didn't do it because she wanted to, but she did it because God told her to.  Before he died, he did apologize, accept Christ, and Joyce says she truly forgave him.  You may say that isn't possible, but isn't it true that with God - all things are possible? Well, not surprisingly, this act of obedience to God led to immense growth within the Meyer ministry.  She says that it was after this four year period with her father that their ministry really began to flourish. 

The point isn't just about being obedient to God.  It's about taking responsibility for our own lives, who we become, and where we end up.  This woman experienced pain far greater than any pain I've ever known and she took that pain and turned it into an international ministry to help other hurting people. If she can forgive the father who abused and raped her throughout her entire childhood and adolescence, and then use that very pain and suffering to help other people, shouldn't we all be able to do the same for far less painful afflictions and also move forward in a positive direction? 

I'm still sorting through the overall message and trying to figure out just what it is God wants me to take from it.  He obviously felt it was important enough to remind me that I wanted to go, so I have no doubt that He intended for me to take something away from it.  Well, what I've got so far is this:

1. Forgiving people is hard.  I'm going to do it anyways.  Forgiving people is something we have to do on purpose.  Also, in really tough situations and in dealing with deep pain, it's impossible for us to truly forgive someone without God's help, but with His help, we really can.   

2. People who have known me in years passed aren't completely comfortable with the turn I've taken towards God.  I'm going to stick with Him anyways and let them think I'm a nut. 

3.  We can only blame our parents for so long for the damage done in our lives.  At some point they stop being accountable and we start.  We need to stop blaming our parents! For all we know, we could be doing a far worse job.  Aside from that, it's a stated commandment from God that we honor them, and that doesn't mean honor them unless they do something we don't like

4.  It's easy to look like a Christian when everyone is watching, but it's true that what we do behind closed doors is what really counts.  I want to love people better and make sure my "behind closed doors" behavior is making God smile...I just got irritated with my son for interrupting me for the 20th time...I'm going to start there...

5.  I refuse to hold someone else accountable for my own happiness. I've done that before and it sucks.  It's not someone else's job to make me happy and the minute I start thinking it is - I'm going to be miserable

6.  I am going to keep doing what I can do here and be more patient in waiting on God to do His part.  

7.  What Dave Meyer says is true - "We either choose to be accountable or we're made accountable by our circumstances".  For example, if you don't make your car payment multiple months in a row, don't be shocked when it gets taken from you.  Your circumstances will align themselves with how you're acting

8.  Walking with God isn't always easy, and I have some really tough days but I'm never going to give up.

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