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The verse I keep going back to in Chapter Four on the subject of Contentment in our Role is  1 Cor. 4:2

“Now it is required that those who have been given a trust (our roles) must prove faithful.”

Then I have highlighted and underlined Linda’s words in the next sentence.

“Faithfulness is His standard!  His servants are not required to be perfect or successful- simply faithful.”

faithful Calm My Anxious Heart: How Do I Go Beyond Forgiveness?

This morning I am hearing the truth and soothing voice of Jesus as I read over and over again

Not required to be perfect or successful.

Not required to be perfect or successful.

Wow!  When I think about it faithfulness is so easy when compared to perfection!

I sigh and thank my God aloud this morning as I read on to Chapter Five- Content in Relationships.

Relationships are hard. I know, right? 

They involve and evoke feelings and intense emotions.  Wonderful emotions like love, acceptance and trust.  But also within the same relationship we can experience hurt, fear and rejection.

Linda reminds us that Jesus experienced every one of the emotions we experience.

“All the hurt, fear and rejections you have ever felt is what the Lord Jesus felt in the Garden of Gethsemane.  It’s easy to think He was God in the flesh; HE didn’t feel hurt or rejection like I do.”

But the Bible tells us differently.  The Bible tells us Jesus was grieved and distressed (even sweating blood!).

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.” Matt 26:38

In the garden that night,  as Jesus was about to be betrayed by friends, tortured and nailed to a wooded cross to die a criminals death-  Jesus confided in his disciples, his friends, that he needed them.  He asked that they stay close by and pray for him.  But they didn’t.

They failed him, not once, but twice as he woke them and asked that they stay awake and pray for him.  He was in agony the Scriptures tell us and his friends fell asleep again.

Friends that disappoint.  Relationships that fail.  Yes, we have all had pain inflicted on us through relationships.

Is it figuring out how to get what you need from relationships? 

Is it learning to choose your friends better?

Is it learning to “get over it” and heal from the hurt and pain?

No.

It’s forgiveness.  It’s extending love and grace. And then more love and more grace.

As I heard preached recently, “Everything about the Gospel comes down to forgiveness and love.” 

In Chapter 5, Linda asks her readers to look to Jesus as our example, “We must be willing to overlook imperfection as Jesus did, “ she writes.

Overlook imperfection. Oh, it’s so sweet when I think of Jesus tenderly coaxing me to overlook my imperfections.

“Yes, yes Lord.  You are right. It is not my perfection you are after (Oh, thank goodness!), but my faithfulness.  Thank You Lord,” I say.

But when I look beyond the mirror and at others- close others- others that have hurt me, disappointed me and even snarled nasty untruth at me and my family; Am I to hold them to a different- a higher standard than myself?

Does Jesus hold them to a different standard than he holds me too?  I confess I keep hearing, “NO, No, No” to these questions.

If Jesus is our example (and isn’t He meant to be always) then we aren’t just called to overlook imperfection in others- even imperfection that causes us pain and distress to the point of agony- we are called to forgive. 

“To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his footsteps.” 1 Pet. 2:21

So what does Jesus do after his friends let him down and cause him pain in his time of utmost need?  He says to them,

“Rise, let us go.”   Mark 14:42

As Linda points out, instead of abandoning them when they basically abandoned him- Jesus forgives them and continues to refer to and treat them as friends.

It’s quite an example to follow.  And I think to myself, “I have done that before. I do know how to do the hard thing.

But always?

No.

And  I look to more examples and teaching on relationships from the Bible and I find myself in Romans.

Live at peace with lady bug Calm My Anxious Heart: How Do I Go Beyond Forgiveness?

Sometimes it does come down to this- Live as peace with others as much as it depends on you. 

So I ask myself if I have done my part in my relationships (important and family relationships) where there is either no peace or actually no relationship at all.  I’ve forgiven on my end, but have I done all there is to do?  I’ve been asking this question of the Lord and of my Spirit for a long time now over two very painful relationship breaks in my life.

I ask and I get different answers on different days.

I guess there lays the answer – I guess I haven’t.

Linda talks about choosing to go beyond forgiveness with action and extending words of blessing and love to the person or persons who have hurt you.

So I ask myself if I have done this.  “I have and I got hurt again!”my damaged soul cries out.  And again I am brought to more teaching on forgiveness.

  “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Ok, I can forgive again, but (I know, there probably shouldn’t be a “but” after this statement- I’m just being as real as I can get) for me- particularly in one of these broken relationships- it keeps coming down this- right or wrong I find myself wrestling with these questions:

Do I want to be in relationship again?

SHOULD I BE in relationship with these people again?

Is it wise or healthy for me to enter into relationship with people (family) who have been untrue, hostile, toxic?  Even after what I thought was a reconciled relationship?

Yes, I want to be in relationship IF it will be a healthy and authentic relationship.

Yes, I want this Lord, but my flesh admits it can only happen through a miracle- Only if you change THEM.

Does this sound as ugly as it looks in writing?

So I ask of Him again and again to search my heart and reveal to me where I need to change, what I need to do.

And I just keep going back to this.

Have I done all that I can do (as far as it depends on me) to live in peace in my instances of broken relationships?

Any when my humanness tells me it’s impossible- a healthy, authentic and life-giving relationship is impossible- I remind myself of the miracle He did within my own broken and hardened heart for my father and hold on to this truth-

nothing is impossible with GOd Calm My Anxious Heart: How Do I Go Beyond Forgiveness?God did a miracle in my heart enabling me to reconcile a relationship with my father after his betrayal, so that my boys could have a relationship with their papa again and I could too- giving me the opportunity to tell him I loved him right before his untimely death seven years ago.

Miracle.

So I will continue to pray asking what is the next thing the Lord would have me do (if there is a next thing- maybe there isn’t- I DON’T KNOW.  Keeping it real)

Back to what Linda shared in this chapter – I can choose to go beyond forgiveness in action and words.

How can I show forgiveness with action and words of love and blessing if there is no relationship?

THIS IS SO HARD!

I will keep praying and trusting and waiting …. And turning to action when I have a clue what to do.

________________

Have you sought the Lord and received answer in how to go beyond forgiveness in a difficult, painful or toxic relationship?  It would bless me immensely to hear from you 

 

 

 

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