Learning is such a vulnerable position. It makes you susceptible to judgment and frustration. Essentially, you’re opening the door to your heart and mind to absorb something new… to rewire your circuitry. So, be patient with yourself and be around people who won’t make fun of your vulnerability. Friends and significant others encourage progress, not scoff at it.
Tonight, I pray that you give yourself permission to learn. To be uncomfortable. To stretch. To stumble. To become.
Wherever you are in the process, remember that it’s OK… and wind down safely.
My pastor preached about the root of bitterness and how to kill its weeds. He always paints great images with his words, which is perfect for a visual learner like me.
While he was closing his sermon, the Holy Spirit took it a step further in my mind. I saw a red heart (Valentine image, not anatomical). It was a deep beautiful red, almost burgundy. The bottom half of it contained rich farming soil. It looked like it was ready to grow anything. A hand reached down and placed a seed in the soil. The soil hardened and turned a tan color as if it was in the desert. The hand broke up the ground, and the soil returned to its black rich color. The hand planted more seeds and green sprouts came forth from the soil.
I thought of what my heart could be growing. What seeds have I allowed to germinate? What seeds have been planted, but have not been allowed to grow? I admit that bitterness has been a consistent resident and I’ve almost eradicated it completely. There’s a few weeds left to uproot. So what about the good stuff? Do I water peace, mercy, joy, and love and allow them to grow freely? The honest answer is no. It’s a journey that I’m still walking on, but I must say that I’m on the better end of that sidewalk than I was a couple of years ago… So I’ll just keep walking and smiling and allowing God’s hand to break up the ground.
What are you doing to make the soil of your heart rich?
I was tickled after reading a devotional last night about not being offended by someone else’s portion of talents and gifts. I mean certified tickled. I was laughing in bed and shook my head in amazement before falling asleep.
“To one he gave five talents, to another, two, and to another, one, each according to his own ability; and he went on his journey.”
So, if you don’t know the story, a master has to leave town for awhile and gives his workers a portion of his wealth to manage while he’s gone. To one servant, he gave 5 talents. To another, he gave two talents. And to the third one, he gave one talent. Now, one talent is worth about 15 years of labor’s wages, so each man had enough to work with. Totally excuse free.
But this is what got me laughing. We pay so much attention to what someone else has, how many talents they received from the Master, that we forget the part that says “each according to his own ability.” Now, check it – if we just grow what WE were allocated, it can still double which is WAY more than what we had (Matthew 25:16-17)!
Then, if that wasn’t enough, both the 5-talent and 3-talent servants got the same response from the master:
Matthew 25:21 (NLT) “The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!”
It didn’t matter how much they started with because he knew what he gave them in the first place. He just needed him to grow what they had. Isn’t that a simple concept. God is sitting there waiting on us to just grow what we’ve been given. Don’t worry about the size and placement; just multiply it! Multiply your measure, your gifts, love, peace, laughter… make it grow! The 1-talent servant was deemed wicked because he didn’t have faith in action to believe what he had was enough. Shame on all of us for thinking that way sometimes. And that’s what made me giggle as I turned on my side and set my alarm for the next day. I’ve been doing this thing all wrong. I just have to grow what’s in my hand because it is enough and the God that gave it to me is enough too.
And not to mention that even the verses of the parable doubled (14+14 = 28). LOL!
Forever is a long time to grow. Are you willing to do it?
I mean it. Are you willing to a make a pact with God that you will grow as long as you live here on Earth? After all, we are the seeds of Adam and Eve and quite frankly, there’s still some growing to do. If plants can do it, why can’t we? Why can’t we do what seeds do – germinate and multiply?
It seems hard to think about, but we are designed to break free from the shell of innocence and yield a life with more seeds to plant. With our words, deeds, and talents, we were created to expand and produce a harvest for others to courageously do the same.
So, when I say “Forever is a long time to grow,” I intend to invoke conviction of every intrapersonal and interpersonal interaction you will have for the rest of your life. I want you to think about the seeds your fruit is producing for others to ingest. I want you to think about forever.
In class on November 15th, we discussed correctional facilities and prison reform. I posed the following question to my students: Are correctional facilities designed to “correct” behavior or character? Most of them said “both,” but some said neither. What do you think?
As we go about our holiday season, I think of those who are unable to have food, family, and fun – at the same time. Needless to say, there are individuals who have committed crimes unthinkable, yet there are some who have not. Are their lives being changed while on the inside of confinement? Are our lives being enhanced while we are captive to our vices? The truth is if we were caught in our everyday violations of malice, greed, and pride, we would be incarcerated right along side of our brothers and sisters.
So, I pose these questions to you… What are you chained to? What mental or emotional prison are you in? Is your “facility” correcting or enabling the behavior that got you there?
His goodness is not contingent upon my feelings, reactions, or justifications. He is good. Period. And His mercy endureth forever (Psalm 136:1) – which means whatever I’m going through, whenever I’m going through, wherever I’m going through it, He is still good. He transcends time and situation. There is nothing too far where God’s mercy can’t reach; He’s already tHEre. There is nothing too hard for Him where His goodness will not reign.
I have a list of things that went wrong in the last 7 days, but I also have a list of what went right. They combat each other, and then they balance each other out.
How can you laugh when your license plate was stolen off of your car in broad daylight? You get grateful that your car wasn’t missing too.
How do you not be upset that you have to work on your day off? You become grateful for employment.
How do you breathe when someone leaves your life? You begin to thank God for the time you had, knowing that s/he could have been born on the other side of the world and you would have missed out on her/his awesomeness.
I’ve grown in this area, this No Matter What territory. Life’s challenges continue to improve my agility. I’d like to think that I came straight from heaven with it, but it was forged in me through my parents and mentors that served as night lights along the way.
CAUTION: This No Matter What mentality is not for the faint of heart. It comes with distractions sprinkled like glitter on a carpeted floor, luring your focus away from your purpose as you attempt to walk forward. It has splashes of anger as you recall the sacrifices you made while fighting your demons… alone. It requires you to acknowledge the bad stuff, square up, and say that all things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28)… and believeit. It means crying tears of courage that leak from your broken heart.
No Matter What takes practice. Expect bruises. Check for sores. They’ll be there, but keep walking, keep praying, and keep fasting from the feast of your fears.
Believe, no matter what.
Give, no matter what.
Go,no matter what.
Love, no matter what.
And while you’re standing there braving the winds or bent over wounded from the blows, remember that Jesus is Immanuel. He is with you… all the time…
After listening to a sermon by Pastor Larry Paige at Zion Church (Landover, MD).
Humor me as we tiptoe through the land of psychology for a minute. God spoke to me through a reminder about the sleep cycle.
Most agree that are 5 stages of sleep – 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM (rapid-eye movement). The higher the stage number, the deeper the sleep. For example, it is more difficult to wake someone in stage 4 than in stage 1. As you slip deeper into the sleep cycle, your muscles relax, heart rate slows down, and your body temperature decreases. The autonomic nervous system is in parasympathetic mode, otherwise known as rest and digest. Still with me so far? Great! Let’s keep going!
Your brain makes the trek as well. An electroencephalograph (EEG) tracks its activity through a range of waves. Generally speaking, your brain activity transitions from small beta (β) and alpha (α) waves to elongated high-peaked delta waves (δ). Delta waves appear on the EEG before REM sleep, which is also known as paradoxical sleep because brain waves show up that resemble wakefulness. This is the stage of dreaming and while the body is predominantly paralyzed, the mind is active and the sympathetic mode of your nervous system (fight or flight) can activate during nightmares. Ever woke up to a rapid heart beat and the sweats? There you have it.
Here’s the LATSOLmoment:
You would think death was the next step after slipping into Stage 4 attributes. After all, sleep is also referred to as being as half-dead. Regardless of what it looks like, the cycle is far from over. A mixture of alpha and theta waves pop up because we’re dreaming. God can give you strength and dreams in the midst of darkness. The internal organs are awake while the body is paralyzed, just like the Holy Spirit is yet alive in you despite what is happening to you. Your situation is not the end of you.
“Rest in distress.” – Pastor Larry Paige
Sleep. What a beautiful thing. Through the eyes of children, naps are viewed as a waste of time or form of punishment when the truth is they need it to recharge and repair. Our bodies were designed to reset after a certain number of hours, and too often we press the snooze button on our circadian alarm clock and cram more into the day. Sometimes the dark times force us to rest…and to dream.
“God does addition by subtraction sometimes.” – Pastor Larry Paige
According to Dictionary.com, the delta is a nearlyflatplainofalluvialdepositbetween divergingbranchesofthemouthofariver,often,thoughnotnecessarily,triangular. Nearly flat and often flooded, but soil enriched for growth. Your seemingly dead places are ideal for growth. Ideal for the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the almighty God to show up and flood your flat plain with vibrant activity. Dreams you thought were dead can sprout in the dark.
We can rest in the delta instead of stressing in it. There is more life there than meets the eye. I am so grateful for that lesson.