Inspiration

Holding On

 

Free stock photos of soil · Pexels Pexels3872 × 2592Search by imageMy prayer for you is that you find that something worth holding onto. Cling to it through all the darkness that is and that lies ahead. And may you come to see this shadow is a passing thing. In the end, light will always prevail.

 

Photo Credit: Free stock photos of soil · Pexels

13 Reasons to Live: Lest We Forget

For the past thirteen weeks, I’ve been focusing on the many reasons we have to live. It all started with an article I read about the potential negative repercussions of the show 13 Reasons Why, and how its depiction of suicide could influence those struggling with suicidal tendencies to take their own lives. My desire has been to help people to look beyond, to remember all we have to live for.

The world gives us so much to be depressed about, if that’s all we focus on. Even people of faith get depressed, because we see the world as it could be and should be and is not. When we lose focus on the hope we have, it’s tempting to wallow in the mire of misery.

If you are among those who have considered leaving this world behind, please take these words to heart. If someone you love is battling with thoughts of ending their life, please help them to reconsider. The list below contains highlights from the past thirteen weeks. I’ve put them all together in hopes of saving someone’s life. And more important, of helping you find the only one who can truly save you both for now and for eternity…

Reason #1: Life is Worth Holding On To
While we could use the evil of the world to deny purpose for life, what about the good? A history of suffering men and women found enough good in this world to keep living, to keep moving forward. Would we be here now, if not?

Reason #2: It’s Not About Me
Maybe if we adopted this grand mission of putting even the smallest pieces of our own corners of this world back together, we would find our purpose is far greater than ourselves. And we would find that is more than enough reason…to live.

Reason #3: The Promise of Redemption
We may think that all the suffering life brings is reason enough to end our own. But the knowledge that we have a God who is able to bring beauty from ashes, joy from tears, and praise from despair is reason enough to live.

Reason #4: This Ain’t Hollywood
The most influential, significant person in history lived the most humble life and died the most despised of deaths, giving not just hope…but LIFE, abundant and everlasting, for the world. For generations to come. In his eyes, you ARE significant. And in his hands, you FIND significance—not in pursuit of the world’s applause. But in living the life you were created to live, surrendering to sacrifice for those in your own sphere of influence, however small it may be.

Reason #5: Tenacious Beauty
Where there is beauty, there is hope. And if there is hope, there is reason to live.

Reason #6: It’s Not Over
What carries us through the daily warzone? The knowledge that we’re in the midst of redemption’s story, in which the Author of all life is the Author of our lives, working every scene together for good.

Reason #7: There is Freedom
God our Father understands our daily battle with temptation, and yet, because he has overcome, he is able to help us to overcome.

Reason #8: You Are Not Forgotten
If you feel forgotten, know that there is a God whose name is El Roi, “the God who sees me.” When no one else sees. When no one else cares to see. His eyes invade our hearts with light powerful enough to split the darkness and birth new life.

Reason #9: You Can Be Repurposed
Nothing is useless, and nothing is wasted. In the hands of a master craftsman, even what most would view as junk can be turned into a priceless treasure. A skilled artist can transform the most useless items into something of matchless worth. And that’s what our loving God is able to do with the most hopeless pieces of our lives.

Reason #10: It’s Not in Vain
The things of the earth are fading, failing—a mere chasing after the wind. But it is NEVER in vain to pursue the things of heaven while here on earth. Because there will come a day when we will finally see eternity. And it’s gonna be worth it.

Reason #11: We’re Not Home Yet
When we follow Jesus, the way, the truth, and the life, we have hope of eternal life in heaven, where there’s “no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.” The best things on earth are mere shadows of the best things of heaven.

Reason #12: You’re Here for a Purpose
God has placed you here on this earth for a purpose, and part of that purpose is to contribute your gifts, your personality, your talents, and your life to community. You are needed and you are necessary. You’re here in this generation for a reason.

Reason #13: You’re Not Alone
Unfortunately, there is no promise that life will be pain and problem-free. If anything, we’re told, “in this world, you will have trials.” Yet we can’t neglect the words that follow: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Freedom comes in knowing we’re not alone in the midst, and there is one who is stronger, and able to carry our every burden.

As I’ve said before, please take these words to heart. Print them, share them, remember them. Always know you are loved, you are needed, and the God who created you is able to keep you.

 

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When Things Start to Change

When we finally humble ourselves and ask for the help we’ve needed all along, things start to change.

 

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13 Reasons to Live: It’s Not in Vain

Blog_FootprintsBeachI love a man named Asaph. Yes, he lived about 3,000 years ago and no, I’ve never met him. He’s one of the lesser-known writers of the psalms. Lesser, I say, because we all know about King David and tend to mistakenly attribute all the psalms to him. But Asaph had a lot to say, and that’s what I love about him. And when it comes to those gut-wrenchingly honest psalms, Asaph’s are just about as raw as they get.

Psalm 73 is one of my favorites. Here, Asaph divulges his struggles, zeroing in on a time when his “foot almost slipped.” He’d fallen into the common trap of envy, though in this case he envied the wicked—not because they were wicked, but because they seemed to prosper in all they did.

Why were those whose hearts were bent on evil so graced with problem-free lives? They did whatever they wanted, hurting whoever they wanted along the way, and yet they lived on, “free from common human burdens.”

Oh, how I relate to Asaph. Sometimes, I echo his lament, “Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure and have washed my hands in innocence. All day long I have been afflicted, and every morning brings new punishments.”

I echo this, but I know in my heart that Asaph moved beyond that lament as must I. His thinking was mired in despair until he “entered the sanctuary of God.” It was there, he understood.

There is an end to evil. Though it seems to rise triumphant, it will not prevail, nor those who revel in it.

An eternal perspective transforms our narrow, earth-bound perspective. It elevates our thinking, to remember, “my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

The things of the earth are fading, failing—a mere chasing after the wind. But it is NEVER in vain to pursue the things of heaven while here on earth. Because there will come a day when we will finally see eternity. And it’s gonna be worth it.

“Life will always seem unfair when we measure it by earthly standards of health, wealth and power. But when we encounter God in a personal, intimate way…we can gain a heavenly perspective. We’ll begin to see the other part of the picture—that the rewards of this life are temporary and, as a matter of fact, can even hinder us from discovering what is truly important.” (Philip Yancey & Tim Stafford)

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Nothing is Wasted

 

Nothing is useless, and nothing is wasted. In the hands of a master craftsman, even what most would view as junk can be turned into a priceless treasure.

 

Photo Credit: buried treasure | Sterling Ely | Flickr

13 Reasons to Live: There is Freedom

My 4-year-old son was horror-struck when he discovered the inner workings of a bee trap he found hanging from a tree near the school. “They…NEVER…come out? You mean, they’re trapped? How could ANYONE ever DO that to a BEE? That is SO MEAN!” he cried. The prospect of painful bee stings for him or his playground friends could not convince him a bee trap was a valid preventative tool. Those bees were tricked into a situation from which they could not escape. And that, to his precious little mind, was unforgivable.

We’ve all, at times, felt trapped in circumstances from which there seemed no escape. Maybe a habit looms large over our lives, a giant threatening to ensnare more deeply with every step we take. Or maybe temptation seeks to steal control of our minds, luring us away from solid ground. Or maybe something beyond our control has swept in and taken over our lives, entangling us in oppression.

We celebrate freedom every year, but it seems so far beyond our reach. Recent news headlines are evidence enough that the land of the free is a place of bondage in so many ways. In a land where slavery was supposedly abolished, we live as slaves to the consequences of our own choices and others’ actions.

Where is the freedom we claim to possess?

I refuse to believe we were created for bondage. We were not placed on this earth to be enslaved to never-ending moral decay. We were planted here by a loving gardener who desires for us to grow and flourish and have life that is truly life.

The Bible says that we have an enemy who is a life-stealer: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” But there is a Savior who is a life-giver: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Freedom comes not in doing whatever we so desire, for we can never be free from the consequences of our decisions. Freedom comes in knowing whose we are and why we’re here, and in living to fulfill the GOOD things our Creator has planned for us.

In my own life, I’ve witnessed hardened criminals become model citizens—all because they were touched by the freeing power of a life-transforming Savior. I’ve seen hopeless drug addicts released from their addictions. Violent gang members turned gentle and kind. If our Savior can do miracles in what seems the most impossible of circumstances, how much more in our own lives?

It is written that, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.” He understands our daily battle with temptation, and yet, because he has overcome, he is able to help us to overcome.

Maybe your own struggle has led you to think life is not worth living. But know this: you can be free. In Jesus, there is freedom. And because you can be free, there is more than enough reason to live.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

 

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Prepared

If we’re not prepared for the battles that come, we will falter when they do. But if we’re in it for the fight, we’ll endure through the fight.

 

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