I think I've unofficially decided that Mondays are going to end up being about my "Fresh Start" journey. I never meant for this to be a series, and by no means do I feel like it will happen every Monday, but as I go into week two of getting up early to spend time in the Word, more and more is revealed to me that I just need to share. Amazing how that happens, right? And as Josh and I come down from a very emotional Sunday, this morning I still dragged myself out of bed (well, Jake helped thankfully with his earlier than usual wake-up and requests for "The Incredibles") earlier than I would have liked, God spoke to me the exact words that I need to hear. I am not one who can claim that I ever hear His voice audibly (although I do have one story from long ago that I might have to share someday), but here lately my morning reading is a slap-in-the-face, direct response to what I'm going through. I just never stuck with it long enough to realize that He's just trying to get in on the conversation.
So what exactly have I been going through lately? Well, let's just say that I'm feeling a little beat up. Have you ever had one of those weeks (or several in a row) where luck / fate / karma or whatever you want to blame it on is not on your side? And it almost feels as if you are being chipped away at by a tiny hammer... putting chips in your armor if you will. Well, that's been us lately... a chip here and a chip there, as if something is trying to get to our core. For example...
We received some pretty devastating news about an old friend and a family that we love dearly and it kind of rocked our world, as well as the worlds of many people we know and love. Chip.
We learned that one of our loved ones was diagnosed with lymphoma. Chip.
Lil came down with a very nasty form of strep. Chip.
Josh's Twitter and Facebook account were repeatedly hacked and hateful things were written by someone out there under his name. Chip.
I unintentionally (and stupidly) hurt someone that I love very much because of something I said. Chip.
I came down with a different form of Lil's nasty strep. Chip.
And then our IronMan experience, which I will post about tomorrow, was the icing on the cake. Chip.
I know that some of these things seem small and that there are many people out there facing much bigger trials than we are. There are also many folks living the things that are only affecting us as a third party, and I know that it's difficult. But sometimes it's not the one big thing that gets us, but the continuous pestering of the little things that end up wearing us down, to the point that even just a stubbed toe feels like the world is caving in on you... you know what I mean? Or the way you want to throw the remote control across the living room because the volume button all of the sudden doesn't work. Silly things... stupid things... but things that build up to become big things. Well, that's how I woke up this Monday morning, so today I probably needed to open that Bible more than ever, and I'm so glad I did today.
Lately I've been reading through Romans and well, just wow. I tried to read through it years ago before I truly had a relationship with Christ and it just ticked me off because I felt like it was trying to tell me how I should live my life. The funny thing is, the words are still the same years later and it's still trying to tell me how to live my life and through growth and a change in my spirit, I now receive these guidelines and find joy in trying to honor God with my obedience. These words are now my strength and here is where I find comfort.
So this morning as I tried not to dwell on the negatives, it was in Romans that He reminded me- victory is ours in the end... even though some times we go through some pretty rotten stuff.
"For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God's children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are share his glory, we must also share his suffering." (Romans 8:17)
When I focus on the big picture, I think I forget that someday the glory of God will be mine. I am so awed and humbled by the thought that I cannot even fathom such a thing. But since this is earth and not heaven, well, we live in a fallen world that isn't perfect, so less than perfect stuff happens sometimes... and many times it's through these little, tiny things. And the worst part about these minuscule nuances is that our focus ends up shifting to them instead of this bigger picture. And so He reminds me...
"Can anything ever separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us." (Romans 8:37)
Overwhelming victory... it's the promise He reminded me of when I needed it most. Life may chip away at my armor sometimes, but thankfully He has clothed me in his armor (Ephesians 6:10-17), and I can handle whatever is thrown my way. Today I am thankful for these reminders and to know that my focus is on the bigger picture- the bigger prize- because I already know that I'm on the winning team.
I hope this helps you get through your week as much as it's going to help me with mine!