“Comfort Zone”

Comfort

Last night I picked up a book that lives on my coffee table….my copy of Jesus Calling, a daily devotional written by Sarah Young. I haven’t read it in a month or two, so I decided to pick it up and see what yesterday’s message said. I have been feeling very tense this week as I face a hurdle this coming weekend, when I have to step outside of my comfort zone. Something inside me said to pick up the book and meditate on the message. This is what I read:

“You are surround by a sea of problems, but you are face to face with me, your Peace. The closer you live to Me, the safer you are. Circumstances around you are undulating, and there are treacherous-looking waves in the distance. Fix your eyes on Me, the one who never changes. By the time those waves reach you, they will have shrunk to proportions of My design. The future is a phantom, seeking to spook you. Laugh at the future. Stay close to me.”

I sat and thought about those words for quite some time and truly meditated on them. Then I allowed myself to imagine Jesus kneeling beside me, comforting me. He reminded me that He is eager to give me peace if I will simply let Him. Curled up under my Grandma’s handmade quilt and clutching my book, I truly felt His presence and was comforted. It was an awesome moment. But it was short-lived because I know that I still have a long way to go to be able to fully release all my cares and burdens. It’s not as easy as it seems…at least for someone like me. However, I realized that if I intend to get there, then this is something I need every day. To feel at peace, even for a few moments and allow those few moments to turn into hours.

Today’s Jesus Calling devotion was just as powerful:

“You know that this day will bring difficulties, and you are trying to think your way through those trials. As you anticipate what is ahead of you, you forget that I am with you- now and always. Rehearsing your troubles results in experiencing them many times, whereas you are meant to go through them only when they actually occur. Do not multiply your suffering in this way!”

Wow…those last two lines hit me. How often when we worry, do we rehearse our troubles? I know I do it all the time. I’ve been doing it all week. But that’s what worry is. When my mind conjures up scenarios that have the worst possible outcome. Rehearsing scenes that most likely will not happen. By doing this I indeed multiply my suffering. I need to focus on the positive and if trouble does come, then I should have to only deal with it when it happens, not a thousand times over and over in my mind to the point where I create more anxiety than needed.

Today I encourage you to step out of your “comfort zone” and step into God’s comfort zone. Let it go and be encouraged by the peace that only He can provide.

There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) loveturns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fearbrings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection] – 1 John 4:18

“Grace and Forgiveness”

“Humanity is never so beautiful as when praying for forgiveness or else forgiving another”

SIN. What an ugly word. We all do it. However, we all do it in different ways. Some are more serious than others but to God, a sin is a sin. He forgives no matter what. Sometimes it’s hard though to really believe that your sins have truly been forgiven. The bible says “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36 and Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17. Those words are God’s gift to us. To help transform us with His grace. We all fall from grace so to speak. Some harder than others. It’s how we pick ourselves up that matters.

CONVICTION. The proper definition is the act of convicting (proving guilt). God’s conviction is very specific. He makes it known to us (sometimes in a very uncomfortable way) that we have done something wrong and because of such, we must right that wrong. He will usually show you the way toward that. It can come as a subtle hint or a gut-wrenching feeling that just won’t go away. Once you accept this and do what is necessary to correct it, your heart and mind can be at ease. “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Romans 8:1

FORGIVENESS. Big word! Forgiving and being forgiven can sometimes be the most freeing thing that a person can do for themselves. Forgiving someone for their mistakes, no matter how hurtful, takes a huge heart, a heart that is shaped by none other than God himself and makes us more like the One who forgives us…of all of our wrong doings. Asking for forgiveness is huge too. Pride has to fall by the wayside. You are admitting you are wrong and sometimes acknowledging a sin. There is nothing more humbling than that. But the peace that comes with it is absolutely worth it. Free of guilt and shame.

I have dealt with all three of these things in my life and one or two this week alone. Each of these with the right outcome will lead to opportunities for growth and a better understanding of ourselves and our daily walk with God. God uses conviction and forgiveness to purge us of those things that are still weighing us down and holding us back from the person He is trying to mold us into. What you have done in your past does not define you. (Whew…thank goodness!) The thing to remember is that what our Savior has done within us and for us makes us who we truly are.

“Relax and Renew”

Lord, help me to remain childlike in my appreciation for life. Please slow me down…that I may always see the extraordinary in the ordinary. That I may always wonder at the shell in the sand…

Four relaxing days at the beach…they were much needed days of anxiety-free living. Being near the ocean renews the mind and spirit. How can it not? There is something mesmerizing about watching the waves roll in and cleanse everything leaving nothing but a few shells and smooth sand in its wake.

While we were there, I walked into a little shop and as I wandered around my eyes fell on a book sitting on a shelf. It was called “My Beautiful Broken Shell” by  Carol Hambler Adams. I started reading it as I stood in the store but I started to tear up because it reminded me so much of myself. Instead of puddling up right there, I decided to purchase it and read it later. It is beautifully written and I wanted to share some of it in this blog. Here is an excerpt from the book.

“Dawn has broken on a beautiful day here at the ocean. I’ve come to refresh my weary spirit and to refuel my tired soul. I’m so grateful for the peace and the calm of the seashore, where time stands still and unrushed…

I walk by a broken seashell…and leave it to search for more perfect ones. But then I stop…go back..and pick up the broken shell. I realize that this shell is me with my broken heart.

This shell is people who are hurting…lost loved ones…people who are frightened or alone…people with unfufulled dreams. This shell has had to fight so hard to keep from being totally crushed by the pounding surf…just like I have had to.

Yet this shell is still out on the beautiful sandy shore…just as I am. Thank You Lord that I haven’t been completely crushed by the heaviness in my heart..by the pounding of the surf.

If our world were only filled with perfect shells, we would miss some of life’s most important lessons along the way . We would never learn from adversity, from pain, from sorrow. Thank You Lord, for all that I learn from my brokenness…for the courage it takes to live with my pain..and for the strength it takes to remain on the shore.

Broken shells mean lots of tears…lots of pain…lots of struggle…but they are also valuable for teaching faith, courage and strength. Broken shells inspire others and demonstrate the will to go on in a way that no perfect shell could do. Thank You Lord, for the great strength it takes to simply be…even when I hurt so deeply that there seems to be nothing left of me.

As I walk along the beach picking up shells, I see that each one has its own special beauty…its own unique pattern. Lord help me to see my own beautiful pattern…and to remember that each line and each color on my shell was put there by You.

I watch the rolling surf toss new shells onto the shore, and I am reminded of the many times that I, too, have been tossed by the storms of life and worn down by the sands of time.

Thank You, Lord, for being with me to share my life…to help me carry my burdens. Thank You for the precious gift of faith that keeps me strong when I am weak…that keeps me going when it would be easier to quit.

As I look at my beautiful broken shell, I see that it has nothing to hide. It doesn’t pretend to be perfect or whole…its brokenness is clear for everyone to see. Lord, may I be strong enough to show my pain and brokenness…May I have the courage to risk sharing my feelings with others so that I may receive support and encouragment along the way. Lord, help me to reach out to others…especially to the broken and discouraged…Lord help me to realize that I am not the only one hurting…that we all have pain in our lives. Help me to remember that in my brokenness I am still whole and complete in Your sight.

Somehow, here at the ocean, I recieve so many gifts. I am grateful for the inner peace that fills my soul.”