Friday, July 31, 2015
It amazes me how God brings certain things to my attention to teach me a truth. Like, the other day I was thinking back to when I was a kid and how much I hated it when someone would sneak up behind me and put their hands over my eyes. It was a common game for kids to play; to walk up, cover your eyes and say "guess who". It was fun to many and no one meant any harm by it, but I just hated that.
I guess I didn't like it for several reasons. For one thing, we were kids who played outside a lot, so those hands covering my eyes usually weren't the cleanest. But more than that I guess there was some fear of the dark, frustration over not being in control, and anxiety over what people were doing around me all mixed in there together. I suppose I liked it a little bit better when it was a little girl doing it, but even then it wasn't my favorite game to play.
I can't say that in my adult life that I would like that game any more now than I did then. I'm thankful that's not something we adults typically do. Yet there have been times when I felt like I couldn't see; like someone was covering my eyes. I have felt the anxiety and frustration of not knowing what's going on around me. But I am a little shocked and somewhat saddened to admit that now when it happens, it's my own hands that are doing it.
There are some things in life I really don't want to face. There are some issues and problems that feel like a little too much for me to bear. But they won't go away, so I cover my eyes, so to speak, so I can't see them. There has been hurt and pain I just didn't want to face; hard choices I simply didn't want to make; and my own shortcomings that I rather ignore. I feel real silly even typing these words, but I have no choice but to admit this to God. It's like I somehow think that if I can't see my problems, then my problems can't see me. Like somehow if I could just cover my eyes to some of these things for a while, that by the time I open them, they'll be gone... But they never are.
I need the Lord's help. I realize that I am at a place in my walk with Him that if I want to keep growing and going, then denial and avoidance just won't do. I now know that covering my eyes to my present problems also blinds me to His future blessings. Not to mention, when I close my eyes to the bad I also miss out on seeing the good. So I ask God to remove those hands that won't allow me to see, even when those hands belong to me.
Thursday, July 30, 2015
I was thinking about how in speech as well as in life emphasis and accent can make a lot of difference. For example, several years ago even before I started working for Edgecombe County, I came across this little town there named Conetoe. Now, my pronunciation based on my first glance of the name was wrong as it is for most people. For a while I went around calling it CONE-toe; like it's spelled. As weird as I thought that name was, I figured I was at least pronouncing it correctly; that is until I met someone from CONE-toe. They told me that it's not CONE-toe...it's pronounced Ca-NEE-ta. I was like..."What? Ca-NEE-ta? That's not how it's spelled!". Their reply was, "Yeah, but that's how it's pronounced..Ca-NEE-ta!". So ever since then, when I hear someone say CONE-toe, I jump in like I am some expert and say "Oh, no no it's Ca-NEE-ta". And they look at me like I'm crazy as I'm sure I did with the person who corrected me.
Not only have I mispronounced words by putting the accent in the wrong place, I have also misinterpreted scripture by making the same mistake. For example, when I first read 1 John 5:14-15, I think I got a few goosebumps that were probably unnecessary. What I read was, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that IF WE ASK ANYTHING according to his will, HE HEARS US. And if we know that he hears us—WHATEVER WE ASK—we know that WE HAVE what we asked of him".
For years I went around thinking the wrong thing, because I had put the accent on the wrong words. I went around thinking that if I am Your child, all I had to do is ask for whatever I wanted, and I was sure to get it. But after many years of not getting everything that I wanted, and now being mature enough to see that is a good thing, I realize that I should have placed the accent on different words. Now when I read that passage I see "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him."
Now it makes better sense to me. With God being the good Father that He is, He would never give me something bad, no matter how badly I wanted it. He would never answer a prayer that's not in my best interest no matter how many times I prayed for it. And no amount of wishing or hoping or praying could ever change His will for my life. I see now that my prayers are meant to elevate my will up to God's, not drag His down to mine. I can see that now since He has shown me where the accents go in that verse.
So, when I hear someone else read or repeat that verse, and I see they have the accents in the wrong place, I pray I can show them how God really meant it. But I will try to show them in love, and much more politely than perhaps how I corrected some on how to say Ca-NEE-ta.
Wednesday, July 29, 2015
While I was on vacation a couple of weeks ago, I had a lot of time to observe and think. I always try to see God and His truth in everyday things; and I thank Him that He uses just about everything to speak to me, even sometimes the weirdest of things.
For example, I noticed a lot of people on vacation with their dogs. I'm an early riser, so I was up to observe several who got up early to walk their dogs. Wow, what a country we live in. Dogs get to go on vacation too. For each person I saw walking their dog, the morning routine was about the same. The person would be supposedly walking his/her dog, but the dog was usually doing the walking. When the dog wanted to stop, they stopped; when the dog wanted to go, they went; when the dog was tired of walking they headed for home. Even when the dog had to poop, they stopped.. waited patiently for him to do his business, which then became their business because they had to pick it up. With a plastic bag in hand, they picked up the dog's poop. I understand why they do that of course, and I appreciate them doing that because I didn't want their business to become my business. But I am amazed by the life of those dogs and the millions of other dogs who get people to follow them around and pick up their poop. Sometimes when we think dogs are barking, I think they may actually be laughing.
There was a spiritual truth I saw playing out in that morning ritual. I realized that sin can be like those dogs. See, after I got saved, I thought I had all my sin under control; on a leash so to speak. But I have to admit that's really no secret to God is that sometimes it's actually leading me around. Sometimes, when it wants to go, we go; when it wants to stop, we stop; when it's ready to make a mess in my life, I feel the only thing I can do is wait to clean it up. And there I am looking like those people standing behind their dogs with plastic bag in hand.
I pray that God will help me to bring my dogs into submission. Not just some of them some of the time; I mean all of them all of the time. I don't want them leading me any longer, because they never lead me closer to the Lord. I am born again, I have been redeemed, I am now a new creation, and all of my dogs need to know that.
Saturday, July 25, 2015
You know what's worse than getting brain freeze? Getting back to back brain freeze. There's this protein shake thingamajiggy that I get sometimes. Delicious and cold!! It's so good that I try to take it down too fast and...zap! Brain freeze! Not sure exactly what's going on with brain freeze, but it hurts like all get out. I'm cringing, trying not to run my car off the road while my brain is about to explode. While this is going on I am thinking about throwing that shake out the window and vowing to never get another one. I look over at the cup mad at it like it did me wrong. I'm thinking how I don't even want another single sip from that stupid shake. But...after 30 to 60 seconds, the pain goes away, and I suddenly remember how delicious that thing is. So I decide to take another careful taste, but it's too good as it's going down and instead of a sip, I take a swallow...and zap! Brain freeze again!
You know, that's sort of the story of our habitual sins that we call addictions. I have dealt with multiple sins over the course of my life and a couple of them I would like to label as just bad habits, but by definition it would be considered an addiction. (Stop looking so shocked; you know you have some too!)
What's an addiction? you ask. Well everything we do, every choice we make, has positive and negative consequences. Normally, we choose to repeatedly do something that has more positive than negative consequences; more pluses than minuses. Makes sense right? But an addiction is something where the minuses outweigh the pluses, yet we still do it, and we do it over and over and over. In other words, it hurts when you do it, yet you keep on doing it. Like that shake and my brain freeze.
Drinking used to be like that for me. There were pluses to drinking as I saw it then. Made me feel good, gave me confidence, always lots of friends around when I was partying, and though I was a pretty good dancer any way, when I had a few, I was unstoppable on the dance floor (at least I thought so). But the more I did it, the more the minuses started to pile up: hangovers, blowing my money, failing grades in college, problems in the relationships that mattered the most, doing things I regretted, making myself look like a fool, disappointing my parents,and disappointing God. But..in spite of all of that pain...brain freeze... I kept on doing it.
If you are reading this, and it's speaking to where you are in your life, I want you to be encouraged by knowing that God understands what you may be facing. He doesn't like it, and He won't tolerate it, but He understands it and He still loves you. In fact, the Lord puts us in good company with the Apostle Paul who wrote "And I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t. I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway....(then he cried out) Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?" (Romans 7:18-24 NLT)
Paul wanted out but he couldn't get out. He obviously felt the brain freeze of some sin in his life, and tried not to return to it, but he couldn't stop himself. Finally in his despair, he cried out "Who will save me from this?" And maybe you are in a similar place and you have the same question. Maybe you know doing that thing will hurt you and those around you, and yet you can't seem to stop yourself from doing it. And you want to know, 'Who will save me from this?'!
Well, St. Paul wrote the answer to his question and your question and my question right there in the next verse. Romans 7:25 says "Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord..". Jesus is our answer. Try Him!
Friday, July 24, 2015
One morning I had a cop riding my bumper. I know what your're thinking...I wasn't speeding. I was riding behind a car on my way to work that was going pretty slow when I met the cop (I have learned not to complain about slow pokes because God has often put them in my path to keep me from getting a ticket). Even though it was an unmarked car, I knew it was state trooper. All the signs...Dodge Charger, extra electronic gadgets on the dash and rear window of the car, and that tale-tale whip-it-around-in-the-road maneuver.
Yep, as soon as he passed me, he whipped it around in the road and came right behind me. And of course, I got nervous. I wasn't doing anything wrong that I could tell, but I still got nervous. He followed pretty close behind me all the way for a long way. I kept looking in my rear-view waiting for his lights to come on. I mean that's what you expect when a cop whips it around in the road and follows behind you, right? But he never did. He just drove close behind me for miles. He finally turned off, and I finally breathed again.
Not sure why I felt that way, but I was almost upset over him following me. I mean to put me through that mental and emotional torture, and I not know why. But I do know one thing...the whole time he was behind me, I bet I was the most perfectest driver anywhere on highway 43 (poor grammar for emphasis). I was dead on the speed limit, stayed perfectly in the middle of my lane, kept the right distance between me and the car in front of me...I even think I had my hands at 10:00 and 2:00. So then I realized that maybe I shouldn't be upset with Mr State Trooper. Maybe I should thank him for forcing me to drive better and safer, at least while he was behind me. I guarantee that while he was back there, my statistical probability of having an accident decreased by double digit percentage points.
You know, we should see God in the same way. Of course we know that God is everywhere all the time and He sees everything we do. But there are times when it seems like we can "feel" Him watching more than at other times. Maybe when we're in church, or when we happen to be thinking of Him, or maybe when a preacher is around. (I know as a preacher myself, I have seen where I show up in some crowds and people stop cursing or hide their beers). But whatever causes us to "feel" God watching, we tend to straighten up and "drive right" when we do.
And for some, that is an uncomfortable feeling. Some even get a little perturbed with God because He's making us tense or taking away our fun. But we should try to have a better perspective on God. Just like that State Trooper wasn't hired to "get" me, but to make the roads safer for me and other drivers, in like manner God does not intend on "getting" us. No, He loves us and He simply wants us to have a safe, joy-filled life, and an eternity spent with Him. John 3:17 says it like this "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." So He does not give us His commandments as rules to follow and then rides our bumper waiting for us to break em. No, He gives them to us for our benefit and our blessing.
So the next time God whips it around in the road on you, thank Him for caring enough to ride your bumper.
Thursday, July 23, 2015
I can't remember how old I was, but early one Christmas morning, when I realized that Santa Clause had "walked", as we say around here, I rushed up to see what he had left. I was sooooo excited to see that I got a bike. It wasn't my first bike, but it was my first 'big boy bike'. I was checking out the seat and the handle bars and the gears, and then I noticed something strange. There were these papers taped to the bike. "Could it be a special note from Santa?", I thought. I pulled them off to see what it said. My faith in Santa Clause came crashing down around me when I read words like.."Western Auto"..."Lay Away Receipt"...and "In the name of Clint Evans". Just with those few words, everything I had ever believed about Santa Clause came into question. "How in the world can reindeer fly?"; "There's no way he can carry all those toys in one bag"; "How did he come down our chimney and not get burned up in our wood heater?"; "How did he eat all those cookies and not get sick"...Santa Clause's red suit from then on would bear a big, fat question mark.
I said all of that to say I do need the Lord's help sometimes in reaching back into my heart and finding that kind of faith again. Not a faith that will allow me to believe in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. But that kind of faith that believes and never questions; faith that exists without understanding. Not that I need help to believe in God or to believe that I am saved. For those, I absolutely have no doubt. But I do sometimes need His help to believe that I can have peace in this world full of turmoil; that I can feel safe in this world full of danger; that I can still find grace in this world full of sin; and that I can still show love in this world full of hate. I need that unquestioning faith from when I was a little boy, because everything I see in this world tells me something different. I need God's help because even though His word tells me not too, sometimes I tend to lean on my own understanding.
I understand better now when His word says that I must have the faith of a child to enter into His kingdom. I don't have to understand everything, I just want to believe. And I believe with everything that's within me that God loves me, even on the night I stopped believing in Santa.
Monday, July 20, 2015
Recently I stood watching my youngest daughter sleeping, and I felt like my breath was taken by the thought of how fast time flies. It seems like it was only yesterday that I was standing in her room watching her sleep with a pacifier in her mouth. She used to love her pacifier, or her "pappy" as she called it. It used to be so cute to watch her sleep sometimes, and her pappy would fall out of her mouth. Without opening her eyes, she would take her sweet little hand and feel around her crib for it, reaching all under her pillow until she found it. Then she would pop it back in her mouth and drift back into her pappy-induced dream.
She loved it so much that when it came time for her to give it up, she didn't want to. She easily gave up her bottle, but that pappy was a different story. I remember we would take all her pacifiers away, thinking "Ok that's it, the only way is to go cold turkey". Next thing we knew, she came walking through the house with a dusty, dingy pappy in her mouth. I asked her where she got it from. She said she went looking and found an old one that was under her bed. That was just too cute to get upset.
Maybe spiritually speaking there are some pappies I keep reaching for that perhaps God is trying to ween me off of. Maybe there are some things, some practices, some thoughts, maybe even some people that were in my life at an age and stage when it was necessary. Some were bad, and some were good, but either way I felt like I needed them for comfort. But as I grew in the Lord, there came a point that I didn't or shouldn't need them anymore.
But like my daughter, I can tell that sometimes in my heart I am reaching for some of those pacifiers. I feel like I need them or at least want them for some kind of comfort. Sometimes I just want a connection to a time when I knew less and less was required of me. Sometimes I just want to relive the time when I was more relying on and less relied upon.
But I thank God that He don't raise any grown babies. I thank Him for not popping a pappy back in my mouth just to satisfy me. The path He has me on and the calling He has given me is grown folks kingdom work, and no babies need apply. So when the work gets hard, and I feel like crawling back in bed with my pappy, I thank God for not letting me.
Even though I know I don't need my pacifier any more, I still need God to hold my hand from time to time. He is all the comfort that I need.
Saturday, July 18, 2015
Sometimes it's hard to put into words what I'm feeling. I guess it's hard for me to understand what I am feeling, which makes it hard to say what I am feeling. That's why I am always using analogies and metaphors. It's my attempt to connect my heart to my head with a bridge of something I already understand. Like right now...I want to talk about how I am feeling about ...my feelings. For some reason, a car I used to own came to mind.
The second car I ever owned, which was the car that I drove the longest, was a Ford Escort, 1991 model. My dad helped me get it while I was in college because my first car, an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme (couldn't leave off the Supreme), was on it's last leg and not very dependable. Well, out of all the Escorts that were on the lot, I wanted a black one and a stick shift. At the time, I couldn't drive a stick all that well, but I wanted one. So after driving it for a little while and choking off a few times, I got the hang of the stick shift and really enjoyed driving it. I drove that car for 14 years, and I haven't owned a stick shift since that car. I kind of miss the shifting.
Well I thought particularly about how with that car I could mash in the clutch, pull the gear in neutral, and though the engine was running, the car was going nowhere. I could even race the engine, but as long as I had it out of gear, it was going nowhere. Thinking about that has helped me to say to God that I wake up and go through life everyday with all kinds of feelings. Some good feelings and some bad feelings. And if I am honest with God, sometimes they are feelings that don't make me much feel like living this Christian life or doing the things I know the Lord has called me to do. Sometimes they are passing feelings, but sometimes they are lingering feelings. Sometimes I feel like these feelings are trying to draw me away from God.
I believe the Heavenly Father made me think of that Escort so I would know how to ask Him this. I think as long as I am living, feelings are going to keep on turning over like the motor in that car. Like the pistons in that engine they will constantly go up and down, up and down. And I don't know if there is much I can do about it as long as I am living in this flesh. So I ask God...the God who is driving this car of my life, that when he sees me having those feelings that make me want to hit my turn signal and do a 3 point turn, I ask Him to please...please mash in my clutch and put me in neutral. Disengage my gears so that those feelings won't drive me away from Him and towards things He's been driving me away from for the last 17 years. Then when my feelings shift, and I feel called and I feel anointed, and I feel ready to do His will, He can pop that clutch, get me back on the road, and burn a tire or two with me if He likes.
I've been through too much to get this close to God to let my feelings drive me away now. And Jesus gave too much to be in my drivers seat for me to mess it up now. So I pray He will take my wheel because I trust Him. Until then....push in my clutch!
Friday, July 17, 2015
I saw a car pulled over by a policeman yesterday. I figured the person was well on their way to getting a speeding ticket. I haven't had one of those in a while. I try to make it a habit to slow it down, so I don't have to worry about that. But a few years ago, I broke my habit, was driving too fast, and got pulled over.
I was speeding on my way to work. Of course I didn't realize that I was speeding until I got close enough to the unmarked car to notice that it was an unmarked car. I guess that's the purpose of an unmarked car. As soon as my eyes locked on to his radar gun sitting on his dash board which was obviously locked on me, I looked down at my speedometer and saw that, yes I was speeding. It is amazing the amount of thoughts the mind can process in just seconds during a crisis. I thought, "Maybe he didn't notice; uh oh, he's hitting breaks; I hope he doesn't turn around; yep, he's turning around; I wonder if he's turning around for me; of course he's turning around for you, dummy, there's no one else on the road; I hope he doesn't give me a ticket; I wonder how much my insurance will go up". All of that in just about 3 seconds.
Well he pulled me. I actually didn't get all bent out of shape and mad. There was no one for me to get mad at but me. He was just doing his job. So, he asked the normal questions which included 'Did you realize you were speeding'. I actually didn't. Not because I am so obliviously innocent, but probably because back then I allowed myself to speed like that at times, and I had just gotten too used to it to notice. But long story short, after returning from his car, he gave me a warning ticket. A warning ticket. Thank God for the grace He showed me through that trooper, and thank God for that warning ticket!
Then the question was, what was I going to do with that warning? Just like in life I sometimes do wrong and I know it's wrong. I have been in this relationship with the Lord long enough that I am without excuse, I can no longer try to plead innocence by my ignorance. I either know it's wrong because I have read in God's word and it says it's wrong, or I can just feel it because of the Holy Spirit living in me tells me it's wrong. But, there are some things I do so often that I get to the point that I don't even notice that I am doing that wrong thing anymore. And it's those times that I am thankful that God cares enough for me to send me a warning. He sends me some sign, some message, some signal reminding me that what I am thinking, saying or doing is wrong, and I better stop it or face the consequences. Sometimes it comes from a passage I read in the Bible, or maybe a sermon I hear or even one I preach; sometimes it something on tv or the radio, or sometimes...a ticket. Sometimes it's trouble I see other people getting into, and I think "That could be me!".
I got a feeling that it probably doesn't upset God as much that I need a warning as it does when I don't heed a warning. I care about what the Lord thinks of me, so I am going to try to heed His warnings. But I will need His help to drive right and to live right. I thank God for loving me enough to warn me, and I want to show Him that I love Him enough to listen.
Tuesday, July 14, 2015
I was wondering when will it be time for the next summer Olympics. I lose track, but I'm sure it's not this summer because I'd think they'd be talking about it on every channel. It's pretty exciting when it does come around because it only comes around every 4 years. Plus it's about the only event where so many nations around the world come together that doesn't involve troops and guns.
Of all the events I enjoy watching, I like to watch the runners the most; but not all the running. I understand the conditioning and talent it takes to be a long distance runner, but it's not that exciting to watch. I much prefer to watch the short races like the 100 meters. To see that explosive power in those world class athletes; to feel the excitement of the competition knowing that the the distance between the winner and everyone else can only be measured in milliseconds. They dedicate their lives for a race that's over in less than 10 seconds. And, it is amazing to me to think of all the training that it takes to improve their speeds only by fractions of time. In fact, I was looking at the world records for the 100 meters, and from the first time the record was first kept in 1891 to the most recent record breaking run in 2009, there was only an improvement of about 1 second. That is amazing.
That made me think about this race I'm in called life. I guess sometimes I think it would be more exciting for me to run it like a sprint. Therefore, often when I pray for God to move in my life, I guess I am hoping, and maybe even expecting Him to give me an explosive boost of power to run through my day, or run past my problems, or just to run towards His prize. But the longer I live, the more I realize what God has already been trying to teach me in His Word; and that is life is not a dash, it's a marathon. I can't just run hard for a short distance and then sit down and wait it out. I have to be ready and willing to run all day, every day. And the thought of that seems like an impossibility considering the things I face along my race. But I realize that by God's grace I have been doing just that for 43 years. So if God will be with me, I am ready for another 43.
I ask the Lord to keep on giving me the strength to get up everyday and put one foot in front of the other. And for that I will continue to praise Him because that is no less of a miracle than if He helped me to run 100 meters in less than 10 seconds. I'm ready to keep running because I know why I'm running, Who I'm running for, and where I'm running to. I'm running to win by running from sin, Heaven is at my finish line, and the presence of God is my prize.
Monday, July 13, 2015
One of my favorite movies is The Matrix. I don't buy very many movies, because once I watch a movie, I usually don't want to watch it over and over again, but I bought that one. Of course I like it for the unique story line and the action, but I also really like that movie because in it I can see some spiritual metaphors that really speak to me.
In the climactic scene near the end to me is the best scene in the whole movie. The character Neo, who is believed to be 'The One' who came to set the people free from the Matrix, just got shot multiple times in the chest at close range. As he crouched dying on the floor with his adversary Agent Smith gloating over his demise, I had this feeling like all hope was lost (ok, I really get into the movies that I like). It seemed as though the so-called savior was dead and the Matrix had won. But then of course he opens his eyes, stands to his feet and ultimately defeats the enemy.
Just about anyone familiar with God's word can see a picture of Christ, His crucifixion and Resurrection in that story. But even more so, that movie grabs me because of the picture I see of myself in it. See, after Neo momentarily suffered defeat and experienced death, he stood up and everything looked different to him. For the first time he could see past the facade that the Matrix had created, and could see all of this streaming code which was truth and reality. I get that...that is me.
I was once spiritually dead in my sins. All that I saw of this world and the people in it was tainted and masked by that sin. This world and all that it has to promise was like a glowing prize that I desired and dedicated my life to obtain. But then, when I believed, I was crucified with Christ, and likewise with Him I was resurrected from my spiritual death. And when that happened, I was like Neo, standing up to see the world in a whole new way. What once on the surface looked good, I then could see the bad in it for me; the things I thought would be a blessing, I then realized were really a curse; what had looked only like boring stories in a dusty book, then I could see was God's life giving words in His Holy Bible.
I think the Apostle Paul would have liked that movie because God took the scales off his eyes too, and then he could see the world clear enough to write "for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
I thank God for allowing me to see this world for what it really is. I may not be perfect, but by God's grace I am no fool. I don't get taken by the false promises that are offered to me in this age, because I can now see the streaming code. I thank God for opening my eyes to see, and I see that He is the greatest. He are the hero in my movie and the star in my show.
Saturday, July 11, 2015
My dad and I are close. That closeness developed over years of spending a lot of time together. He often tells me the story of when I was born, like I never have heard it before (I don't mind though; I love hearing it). He said that as soon as I was born he looked at me and told my momma that he was going to take me everywhere he went. My momma said "You know you can't take him everywhere." To which he replied "Oh yes I can!". And I tell you what, it might not have been quite everywhere but it was close.
From my earliest childhood memories I was with him all over the place. Riding in his truck; riding on his tractor; walking across the farm; walking through the woods, cutting wood, loading hogs, fixing the fence, cutting grass, picking cucumbers, getting off tobacco, cleaning up at the car-wash he ran for 40 years, ....(whew...had to catch my breath). Oh yeah, and...going to church. We did a lot together and we became very close. I have always had the utmost respect for my dad, so I never "kicked it" with him, or looked at him as my buddy or best friend, yet...we are close.
Buuuuut, I hit a streak in my teenage and early adult years where I was doing "my own thang". By the time I graduated from high school, I already had one degree from Party Central, and then I went to ECU and started working on my PHD (Partying, Hanging, and Drinking). I went home every weekend to work with my dad on the farm. And there were many a Saturday mornings that, as close as we were, I was doing everything I could to keep my distance. Even though I was rebelling against him in a lot of ways, I still respected him, so I did the best I could to hide from him the person I had become. I didn't talk to him as much. Wouldn't look directly at him. Sometimes I tried to avoid him altogether. I now realize that my guilt and shame over doing my own thang had put distance between me and my dad.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe your ways have pushed your loved ones away. Could be your father or mother. Maybe your spouse or children. In whatever relationship that might be, if you're feeling what I'm saying, then just take that distance and multiply it by a million. And that just might get you close to the distance that doing your own thang has put between you and your Heavenly Father.
Isaiah 59:2 says "But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear." We all need God, and we can know of God, and hopefully our hearts desire God, but because of what we have done we are too far from God. That is without Christ. Thank God for Jesus because though our sins have burned the bridge between us and the Father, He has taken the wood from the cross and built it back. So through His forgiveness our guilt and shame is taken away, and we can be reconciled to the Father.
Now I am once again close to both of my fathers, and I hope you are too.