Paper Thin

“Do you have Netflix? My husband and I like to watch Monk together after the kids are in bed. We find it’s a nice way to relax.” My jaw dropped. For the longest time I believed my friend didn’t even own a television, let alone a service like Netflix! I can’t express how much that one sentence of transpareny helped me.

One of the lies I have believed has revolved around not being a good enough Christian. There have been certain people in my life who, when I am at their house, I assume don’t do some of the things I do. (Like watch Netflix) I make the conclusion that they must be a better Christian because they don’t allow their kids to watch T.V. like I do, allowing the cycle of inner insuffiency to continue.

The moment my friend said what she did, God spoke loud and clear, “Things are not the way you perceive them.” I was thrilled to know my friend was more human than I had imagined! (I can hear her laughing about this right now.) Last week as our kids played together she suggested they play their Wii game system. I remember thinking, “She has a game system??!!” Once again I was surprised to know her kids occasionally played video games.

It was through this second revelation that I began to understand why it’s so important not to compare myself to other people. Truthfully, I don’t know what goes on in their lives behind closed doors. I make my own assumptions and crucify myself against them.

I was also motivated to continue being transparent. I usually don’t have a problem spilling the beans about my personal struggles, but these situations encouraged me even more. Maybe someone else out there could be helped if they knew a Christian like me has struggled with eating disorders and depression. I am a new creation in Christ and I have been set free, but I’d still like others who may not be there yet to know there is hope. I want them to know things aren’t always what they seem with the people they think are perfect. I want them to know their transparency could be useful for someone else who is struggling.

God used my friend to help me get through one of the most diffuclt (and wonderful) times of my life. I am thankful she opened up to me about  personal issues that brought her off the pedastal I had placed her on. She’s normal just like me. We may struggle with different specifics, but the end result is the same. We’re both redeemed children of God on the same journey through His school of transformation.

I am also thankful she doesn’t preach at me. Even when I was deeply distressed, on the verge of suicide, she never preached to me. The only thing she did was ask to spend time with me in fellowship. Over the past 6 weeks we have grown closer as friends, but I’ve also experienced life in the family of God as it was meant to be; transparency, openness, truth, and encouragement. Through us our kids have learned what authentic relationship looks like. They pray together before lunch, play together in the sun, and worship together in church. (Mother’s Day was interesting with 4 kids ages 5 and under and 3 adults trying to mainatin order during the sermon.) I love her kids as if they were my own, and I know she feels the same about mine.

(Here she is playing with my daughter at the park.)

(Our kids: Caleb, Samantha (mine), and Micah.)

I would  urge those of you who want to put your best foot forward: while there is nothing wrong with this, consider being a little paper thin in your approach. Reveal yourself as you really are, and don’t worry about “what they’ll think”. Maybe there is someone who needs to hear that you’re a real person who does real things and has real struggles. Don’t waste your journey by keeping it a secret; allow God to use it.

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Preparation

“Before I was afflicted I went astray.” Psalm 119:67 NIV

Preparation

What types of events might you find yourself preparing for? Perhaps it’s a musical performance, teaching a class, taking a test, promoting a product, making a speech, or running in a marathon. At one time or another we have all experienced a time of preparation. If we prepared well, we likely did well in the event, however if our preparation time was lax, our performance probably showed the effort.  I remember a piano recital where I did not give my best. Truthfully, I didn’t even give 50% of my best. I was a teenager, and I was consumed with the object of my current affection; piano recitals weren’t really a priority. Over a decade later and I still remember that day, what a humiliation! It was a dreadful performance to say the least, and I couldn’t wait to get out of there! I was too focused on what I thought was more important. It may have taken several years for me to learn my lesson, but God has drilled it into my heart that when it comes to musical performance, I can never be “too” prepared.

“…I went astray…” vs. 67

This word should be translated “to sin ignorantly”. We’re talking about a major lack of preparation.  To keep our feet on the path planned for us we need to prepare for the journey. We must know the word of God in order to follow it! If we do not know the word well, we will come under affliction, or discipline, until we have learned what is necessary to mature.

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” Psalm 119:11

We prepare for life by memorizing the word, storing its truth in our hearts to be ready for spiritual warfare, sickness, doubt, discouragement, confusion, or any other arrow hurled our way.

Our natural inclination:

“All of us like sheep have strayed away. We have left God’s path to follow our own.” Isaiah 53:6

We prepare for the journey by studying the word of God and being able to discern what’s “good” from what’s “best”. We need to know the difference between a counterfeit happiness and a true joy. We want to stay on God’s path, because our own path will inevitably lead to personal pain as well as pain for those around us.

“A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it. Humility and fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.” Proverbs 22:3-4

Wisdom foresees temptation and has discernment; humility brings true wealth in God’s economy which leads to the life God intended us to have!

I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

When we are ignorant in the word we will stray from the path He made for us. We will fall into error and we will be disciplined (Hebrews 12:6) by our loving Father until we return to the life he designed us for.  This doesn’t mean that every “bad” thing that happens is a result of our ignorance, or sin. There is a whole book in the Bible dedicated to this common misconception (Job). However when we do find ourselves in trials, tests, and difficulties we should take that time to make sure our feet are on the path they are meant to be on. We must ask God to search our hearts and make sure we have not wandered away, chasing after a counterfeit happiness. Are we on God’s “best” path, or just our own “good” path?

The Psalmist was thankful for the affliction that brought him back to God’s path, and back in line with where he needed to be spiritually. He declared

“…now I obey your word.” vs. 67

Let us never find that our sin was caused by ignorance of God’s plan for our lives. His will is laid out in his word; it’s our responsibility to be prepared.

Prayer

Thank you for your word that guides my path! Thank you for designing a perfect plan for me and loving me enough to discipline me when I wander from your directions. Lead me to the truth that you would have me hide in my heart and help prepare me for the battles ahead. Give me wisdom and discernment that I might not ignorantly sin against you.