Meaningful Living in the Hashtag Age

Posts tagged ‘encouragement’

The Promise

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Originally published in the January 2016 issue of The Mount Magazine.

I am trapped inside a small box. My legs are bent at the knee, my torso is folded over, and my head is bowed down. I cannot move, I cannot breathe, and I cannot break free. What I can control are my thoughts; what I struggle to control are my emotions.

I cry out to God for help but nothing happens. He does not come; He does not give me freedom, and my fears smother me. Where is God, does He hear my prayers?

But instead of setting me free, God reminds me of a promise He made to me when I was a little girl. In the innocence of my youth, He came into my life and spoke to me in a way I could understand. He told me of His love, and He gave me songs of praise to place in my heart. He taught me about rainbows, butterflies and the warmth of sunny days. He gave me peace.

I did not understand what peace was at that age, nor did I know that it would be my friend when I needed it most. I did not believe that it was a blessing only God could give.

So I lived on, and year after year, life came as it would. Ups and downs, trials and tribulations, pains and joys. I lost my mom, I lost my friend, and I lost my nephew. I cried, I fought, and I struggled. And then I found myself trapped inside the small box.

Inside the box there is no joy, no laughter, and no promise of peace. There is no room to stretch my legs, to move my head, or to unfold my arms. So I remained bowed down; cramped, scared and confused.

Days pass and nothing changes. I cry out again, but God never comes. Instead He continues to remind me of His promise, and this time I remember the details. I remember where I was when He gave it to me; I remember the joy it brought me even as a young girl.

He made the promise on a sunny day while I was hunting four-leaf clovers in the grass. My legs were folded under me, my head bowed down. God’s voice sounded like whispers inside a sea shell. I listened deeply within my spirit and that’s when I heard Him say, “Look up, but not with your eyes; find me with your heart. Seek me within your spirit, and know I am always there.”

The promise was whispered to me as a child, remembered in my weakest moment, and stamped on my heart in the darkest time of my life. It was unshakeable.

While inside the box, I took God’s Word as my own and I combined His promise with what I’d learned through my Bible lessons. I could hear Him say through Scripture, “And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.” (Isaiah 58:11).

I heard Him call for me to be strong.  He said, “But they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength.  They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31). And then I heard a voice demand that I stand up, break free of my fears and know that He is God.

Even in my weakened state I became encouraged; I became a conqueror. I stood firm to my feet, and the walls of the box fell on all sides. It could no longer hold me, so I resumed my place in peace and found the strength to move on.

How often do we find ourselves trapped inside the small box of despair, forgetting the promises God has made to us over the years, accepting defeat in spite of His mercy and grace? How often do we feel God’s absence, forgetting that he will never leave or forsake us? God is planted deep within our hearts; His presence is always there.

When we cannot find the strength to look up from a low place, we must turn our hearts toward the heavens and let God lift us up through His Word and His promises. We must remember that we are winners.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel and Founder of The Charity Supper Club, a program designed to raise money to benefit local charities and families in need.

 

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Awesome God, Make Me Whole!

 

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There is a spiritual lesson in the making of a patchwork quilt. An early American pastime, the art of quilting used the imaginative designs crafted by women gathered in a quilting bee. Patchwork blocks made from fabric scraps and salvaged material accumulated from memorable events and treasured possessions are stitched and sewn into individual designs then aggregated into useful pieces. Colorful and oddly shaped fabric is cut, assembled and attached to create a complete work of art with three layers – the patchwork, the insulation and the backing – which is mended into a quilting masterpiece that is often passed done from generation to generation.

When I think of God’s masterful work to make me whole I see my life as a patchwork quilt. Scraps and salvaged parts of a life well-lived but often hard-fought cut, paired, and mended together by the hands of a loving God.  Each patch exemplifies my faith, my character and my capacity to love. Each layer is insulated by the Word and the strength of my salvation.  God is my Potter, my Maker, my Restorer and my Redeemer. Through His craftsmanship He has turned this spoiled vessel into something new. And He has transformed the tattered pieces of my life and restored me into a purposeful and enduring believer.

God has taken the jagged edges of my faith and cut away the doubt and uncertainty. He took the rough and uneven ends of my spirit and smooth away the unmanageable parts. God attacks the obscurity of sin that seeps into my mind and leaves me with the courage, through His salvation, to stay strong and to move forward with confidence.

I am His work of art. Tattered, bruised and weak, I am made strong through the love of an omnipotent God.  Even in my brokenness he can craft me into something whole.  His Word insulates my life and reminds me that the real work to living out my destiny is done inside and not on the peripheral of my flesh. My backing, or my foundation, is God’s love – a sweet but firm fortress of strength that keeps me humble and strong.

A Christian’s life is a work in progress. There is no day that passes that God isn’t cutting, pairing and mending our broken parts to make us whole again. He is the Creator of all things good. Resting in His arms guarantee us that we will be equipped and restored, beautifully packaged and secured through His love.

Jeremiah 18:3-4

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make.

2 Corinthians 4:7

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.

Isaiah 64:8

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand.

Michelle D. Jackson is author of The Heart of a Man, a Christian novel and Founder of The Charity Supper Club, a program designed to raise money to benefit local charities and families in need.

This piece was printed in the March 2015 issue of The Mount Christian Lifestyle Magazine.

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