Tag Archives: sorrow

On the Road or Off in the Ditch?

“Pass through, pass through the gates, and go from old to new.  Prepare a new path for the people.  Build!  Build up a highway for them to come to me!  Remove every hindrance and unfurl a banner for the nations!”  Isaiah 62:10  (The Passion Translation)

 

Recently, I read a contemplative piece that caught my attention.   The author mentioned the frequency with which we lament that we are “going through some things” as a way of expressing the pressures we feel due to life’s circumstances.  He then reminded the reader that the point is that we ARE going THROUGH!  Suddenly,   I realized that I often assume I AM going where I need to go, and that I am proceeding along the correct pathway, when in reality, I am wallowing in the ditch alongside the road I thought I was navigating.  Indeed, in our contemporary usage, the expression “I’m going through some things” smacks more of self-pity than of the progress the word choice should indicate.

God invites us to transition; He invites us to leave behind baggage and sorrows of the past.  On occasion, He even directs us to abandon the activities and seasons that brought great joy to our lives, as He has appointed an end to those seasons and is calling us forward to as-yet-unfamiliar adventures.  How can God release new experiences to us if our hearts and hands are already overloaded with regret, sins, sorrows, business, and even nostalgic memories of bygone eras?  He beckons us to pass through the gates, proceed from old to new, and begin to encounter the next season He has ordained for us. 

As we pass through the gate and enter into new “land,” He commands us to prepare the path for others and build a highway (an easily navigated path) for them to come to Him, the King of the universe.  He instructs us to remove obstacles and hindrances that might lead to stumbling or needless delay and set up His banner of love for all people.   

Obeying these instructions requires that we ourselves make every effort to STAY on the highway.  That means we can ill afford to slip aside, fall into the ditch of depression, or lick our wounds.   The challenge is to recognize when we have slipped into that mindset of wallowing in the ditch while thinking we are still on the road.   (After all, deception would not be deception if we recognized it readily, would it?)  As one who tends to be overly sensitive to my own responses to my surroundings and excessively scrutinize my own heart, I can easily veer off into the soft grass and inadvertently tumble down into the stagnant waters of self-reproach, sorrow, and missed opportunities.  

Holy Spirit, reveal to me when I have strayed from Your highway and even failed to go through the gate through which You have appointed me to pass!   Restore to me the JOY of Your salvation, Father, and renew a right spirit within me!   Thank You, Lord, that You have called us to pass through the gates and build up the highway rather than  wallowing in failure or sadness.  You set our feet in a wide place and enable us to move forward.   Amen!  May it be so!

 

 

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Shed the Shroud

alisha041Perhaps it comes as no surprise to most of us that even dedicated Christians find themselves subject to depression, sorrow, and shame.  What’s more, the burden of guilt for feeling depressed, sorrowful, and ashamed is often worse than the feelings themselves.  After all, aren’t Christians supposed to be the happiest people on earth?  Based on God’s Word we can be confident that Jesus has set us free from sin and released us into a new life permeated with His Presence.  By His Holy Spirit, He is readily available to us — as near to us as the breath we breathe.

Yet somehow, many of us labor under an all-too-familiar shroud of sorrow and shame that we cannot seem to shake.   In fact, we tend to think that that sorrow or shame is part of who we are, our cross to bear, our thorn in the flesh.  As such, we endeavor to simply cope with the heaviness and own it as our just due, as something unchangeable this side of heaven.  

However, that shroud is a cloak of death thrown over us by the enemy of our souls.   His goal is to choke off the joy God has made available to us and to blind us to God’s perspective on our lives.  The enemy blankets us in darkness and hopelessness; he loves to convince us that his heaviness is, in reality, part of who we are, a part we are powerless to change.   

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He called him forth from death into life. Lazarus emerged from the grave; however, he was still clothed in the grave clothes in which he had been wrapped prior to burial.   Jesus instructed Lazarus’s friends and family to remove the grave clothes and let him go (see John 11).   Sometimes I think I neglect to ask others to help me remove the shrouds that the enemy persists in tossing over me.  I think I should be able to toss them off by myself — which I only rarely am able to do!   Often, I muddle through a week or so without recognizing that the shroud is NOT part of me, my personality, or my calling.  It is a dark cloak of death that suffocates everything the Lord has breathed into me!

Jesus, help us to speak life to one another and remove the shrouds of futility, hopelessness, depression, sorrow, fear, and shame that so readily block our vision and drag us down.   We choose to step out from under the heaviness of those grave clothes and into Your marvelous light!   Thank You for delivering us from the undertow of our past and the dark thoughts that would like to chain us to darkness.   You are truly our Deliverer! Empower us to shed the shroud and to yank it off one another!  Thank You for Your resuscitation station that enables me to shed the shroud of darkness and shun the shame!  You are glorious and full of hope, and I thank You for Your light and life that conquers every shred of darkness!

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5 NLT)

 

 

 

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