“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Shunned and mocked, beaten down and tormented, Jesus had reached the end of Himself and cried out in anguish to His Father. It was a moment of acknowledged separation, an emptiness, void of any possible peace or joy, and yet God ordained it. Actually, He orchestrated it. Nothing happened without His influence. Not one human decision was made in error. Not one.
There was purpose in the death of Jesus, the final unblemished sacrifice for sin. It was necessary. It wasn’t senseless, as heartbreaking as it is to ponder. Resenting the decisions that brought about His death is unnecessary. Comparing ourselves to those characters, assuming we’d make similar or differing decisions is needless. God was controlling the events and they played out as He intended. Jesus’ death immediately created freedom. Freedom for you and me. Freedom from fear. Freedom from the Spiritual separation that comes from sin. We will never lack connection with God due to our sin. Satan has lost all power.
Crown of Thorns
You may wonder why you suffer then, here on earth. Why is there so much drama, hate, hurting? Why has life been difficult? Why has tragedy struck and left you weary? Why have you felt empty and void of joy? Why are you struggling with simply taking the next step? Why is violence and fear dictating life? There are so many questions, so much confusion. If there is a God, then why? Why have You forsaken me?
Christ, in His anguished cry, released us from that very same feeling of distress. Never will any of us cry out and not be heard. Jesus’ death tore the veil of separation between the created and the Creator. Your cries will be heard and responded to. Have faith. Faith is the catalyst for direct relations with God. The Spiritual realm that once was separate is now ever present.
Reflect on Jesus’ behavior as the tragic event of the end of His earthly life played out. He never wavered from trusting God’s will, even unto death. His faith was strong. Believing in something unseen, faith, was actual knowing for Jesus. We can live like that, and in so doing, all the questions of why will be met and dispelled.
You are being drawn to Christ by God. Accept the invitation to embrace the Spiritual and supernatural life He has for you. Draw close to Him. It is a quiet, intimate, and deeply personal relationship. Talk to Him, ask His Holy Spirit to dwell within your being, and seek His wisdom constantly. Peace is in trusting God and His will for your life, and because of Jesus’ obedience, God will never forsake you.
Christ our King
Painting by Steve Bissonnette
God had me travel today past the very spot that inspired my children’s book Raindrops and Snowflakes. I remember the wonderment I’d had that every drop of water had a purpose and that each one landed where it did intentionally at God’s command. As I looked today, every individual snowflake adhered to many more on the banks of the river were soon to melt, join the flow, and journey elsewhere.
Such is life for us. It often finds us settled, but change happens, sending us in new directions. No matter how much we grasp at controlling the circumstances in our lives, we have purpose and place beyond what we can see today.
As the story unfolds, Rayden Raindrop wonders why. Why are we all so similar to each other and yet have such powerful differences? Why do some not remain here? Why does change happen? We have so much to question God about in this life, but the greatest choice is to trust Him, knowing that His will is of the utmost importance. We can’t understand what the bigger picture is beyond our scope of view, but God knows all. Trust Him.
Newly released copy of Raindrops and Snowflakes 2/22/16.
There is a blessing found there, in letting go of question and control, it’s peace. Allowing freedom of God’s will in your heart also opens your eyes. Until you choose to relinquish your grip, you only see through a limited view. Getting close to Christ, entrusting your life to Him, opens your eyes Spiritually and you’ll then be able to see the blessings that are all around you, blessing that He’s orchestrated and intended to benefit you.
Happy second year anniversary, Raindrops and Snowflakes! May your story bless others.
I love purple, I thought as I sprayed the next layer of color on what I’d considered “my wall”. After years of expressing moods and coping with circumstances through graffiti, the original stone wall had transformed. It was a tapestry of what life had been for me. Struggling with disappointment yet again, I added to it. This time, however, I sensed something different upon final perusal. It felt heavy to me, my artwork. It seemed overwhelmed by all the changes I’d imposed on it. The art was there, but so was the reason for each stone of my internal wall. Although there were fragments of joy poking through and hints of peace that had lasted for short seasons, the anger, the rebellion, the hurt, and all they meant to me were on display.
My hand, the purple spray can in grip, fell to my side. I stepped back and looked, absorbing the colors and styles, thinking on each event represented. It triggered something in me, provoking tears to flow. They were not tears of anger or hurt though. What was this? Why was it making me emotional? I raised my arm and began spraying in a sweeping motion, trying to push away the uncomfortable sentiment that was threatening. My hand became heavy, and I dropped it to my side once more.
I turned away and moved to enter the house confused by my emotions. Upon reaching the door, I spun around and sat, looking at my wall. Suddenly, I saw something. Within the graffiti of my life, an image was becoming evident. It wasn’t clear, but I swore I could glimpse … Jesus. I blinked unbelieving. I didn’t know Him, but I knew of Him. He was someone who wasn’t there for me during my trials and tragedies. He was the one who I’d heard offered peace but seemed to withhold it from me. I must be bad, I’d figured over time, since He didn’t seem interested in comforting me. Either that or, just as others had, He found joy in punishing me.
Pain is Painted on our Walls
I’d been abused when I was young, been stuck with parents who fought constantly and didn’t care to know that I was being hurt repeatedly. I chose to find comfort in others and by other means. The guilt of that became a heavier burden than the very acts that wounded me. At times I found happiness, even luck on occasion, but most often I felt used and abused. Darkness, as seen in my wall, had been a great part of my life and who I was.
I stared into the eyes of Jesus there on my wall. He stared back, but the look in His eyes wasn’t condemning or wanting of something from me, looks I’d become way too familiar with. His eyes were pulling me in. I felt love. I felt comfortable in my skin. I felt free. The feeling was powerful. I was overwhelmed. Not as my artwork was, more overawed. I felt light, like a weight had lifted. I shook my head and looked again. His image was unmistakable and I was drawn to Him.
“Jesus, why me?” I asked aloud. It was me He wanted. I could tell. The pull was unmistakable. Why me? I was trouble. I was dirty. I was the very definition of unworthy. I was rebellious and discontent. Why me? Suddenly, the view of myself I’d come to resonate with didn’t matter, in fact, it wasn’t even real. In a moment, I was free. The original being God had created was alive, not hindered by the scars I’d clung to and labeled myself with. My internal walls were crumbling.
I looked past the image of Jesus and gazed at all the layers of graffiti I’d created over the years, and it struck me that the original stone wall would look beautiful to see. It would be soothing. However, there wasn’t a fix for the defacing I’d done to it. It’s as if the scars I’d struggled with were just as present on this original artwork that God had made, on me. I went inside and grabbed some other cans of color I had left over and returned to my wall.
After an hour of work I stepped back. The image was no longer hidden amidst the years of trials on display. Jesus was now on top of all of it, covering the graffiti of my life and altering the theme of my wall. His eyes were soft. Love truly flowed through His image, through the tips of His fingers reaching to touch me. The chills which consumed and the tears which cleansed lifted me higher than any drug, drink, or relationship I’d ever hidden in. My wall was no longer necessary. Jesus loves me.
The words “Christian parenting” may conjure thoughts of coddling and protecting. They may imply high expectations or an image of goodness, but I’m suggesting another view. God allows us to go through experiences that shape and mold us. We’re exposed to circumstances that ignite passion, leading some to make a difference for others. God shines through us in dark places that difficult times have brought us to. Our children, entrusted to God, will also endure difficulties for which we can’t and sometimes shouldn’t protect them from.
March 3rd was the anniversary of a piece of work I’d never expected to create. My first children’s book Little Birch Finds Peace came by way of a challenge. During an event, my husband said he’d like to see a new novel and a children’s book available within a year. I hadn’t been interested in writing children’s books, but I sat down and wrote this story. It was based on a real set of trees and was a message to me from God of struggle, growth, and trust. I’d wanted to imbed this within a novel some time. But since it’s publication, it’s proven to be a powerful message for both children and adults alike.
Painting by Hannah Forcier
God allows us to endure trials and times of hurt. We learn many lessons through them. Though we often live with the reminders of our past sufferings, beautiful things can be seen that wouldn’t have been experienced otherwise. When we grow in relationship with Christ, we grow to trust God and His will for our lives. It’s in that trust that we eventually can see the good that God has intended.
How can we patiently watch, though, as our children are being led through tough experiences? Little Birch was one such child, of a sapling sort, whose mother had to wait many years before seeing the blessings God planned. However, her faith never faltered. At least it didn’t waver enough to cause her to intervene. The story, ultimately, is a reflection of parenting. Not just ours but God’s as well. Our children are not our own. They are His.
After many years of weight, trauma, and hurt laid upon the life of Little Birch, God brought about beautiful days. He exposed purpose to him. The peace Little Birch found wasn’t due to a happy moment but was a direct result of finally trusting God. That same trust was something his mother already knew. By remaining separate, she was able to let God do His work in her little one. Ultimately, it brought Him to a deep sense of peace, hope, joy, and love. This is something we want for our own children, isn’t it?
There are times that we’re meant to intervene in our children’s lives. However, I believe it’s not as frequently or as obvious as we think. Christian parenting is by faith. We recognize that only God knows when we’re to step in and alter the course of events for our kids. We need to remain focused on Him, seeking His wisdom and direction. I pray that you diligently seek His will, step out on faith, and allow Him room to parent your children. Keep in mind that only He knows your child’s tomorrow, and that tomorrow may involve some powerful experiences today.
Enjoy the book release party through the talented eyes of my illustrator/daughter, Hannah.