In a moment life changes. That’s all it takes, a moment really. An accident, news from afar, a secret brought to light. Many things can happen that alter the course of life forever, leaving us derailed by tragedy.
How do you dress for that, the moment that changes life? I stood before my mirror, contemplating my outfit, my hairstyle. I applied my make-up with a feeling of melancholy tugging at my heart. The Christian music playing in the background of my mind encouraged me to, once again, trust what God was doing. I stepped down the stairs, ready as I’d ever be for whatever was coming.
“Stay where you are. Something very bad is coming. If you remain faithful to me, you will be truly blessed.” God had spoken those words to me long, long ago, and when bad came, though the storm was powerful, I never felt alone. Though rattled, I could not be shaken. God’s strength, peace, and direction had become my everything. The presence of God was the center of who I was.
He spoke to me once again, way back then, giving peace to my timid heart. It was in the words of a song, the direction that freed me. “The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on earth.” You see, I wasn’t going to win some big battle that would announce to the world that I’d done well. The fact was that I’d already won, because I had peace. Peace in the midst of chaos. Peace in the middle of the storm. Peace regardless of circumstances. In that moment of revelation and clarity, weight lifted from my shoulders. It had been a weight declaring that I’d failed. It’d been a weight of segregation as I’d been left to fend for myself. It’d been a weight of loss, for the life I’d envisioned I was to live was not to be.
In that moment of clarity I realized that I was meant to be alone so God could be my strength. I was meant to love my enemy, because that is what God is, love. I was meant to endure loss of my own expectations, because I was not in control, God was.
Winds of Change are Present
When sudden change hits it can cripple the unsuspecting. Life becomes immediately out of control, overwhelming, and frightening. When today becomes instantly unfamiliar, a step toward tomorrow is beyond comprehension. How do you plan for such events? Is it in making sure your plans for future, finances, family matters, or work intentions are well prepared? Is it in reading about, studying, putting into practice good organizational skills? Is it in trying to control your life as well the lives of those who impact yours? If all of these things are worked toward, it would make sense that the unexpected changes that could potentially alter all for you would be less likely. If you strive to make your comfort zone safe and lessen the impact of outside influence, it would seem that chaos may be diverted. Wrong.
“In a moment” changes will happen to each of us. Are you prepared? Can you be prepared? All of the things we strive for in order to be in control will ultimately not be able to comfort us when that day comes. The work we’ve put into securing our futures won’t be capable of withstanding the overwhelming suddenness of change. Tragedy is beyond our control. Chaos is outside our ability to manage as it is beyond the realm of plans and organization. Whether you are a planner or a fly by the seat of your pants person, sudden life changes impact us all similarly. We struggle, we deny, we overthink and worry, we strive to find balance that stops the threat to sanity. No matter who we are or what we believe, we are all created beings and will face such days.
The answer of how to be prepared for and handle such a time is only found in relationship with God. He is the Answer. Whether you reach for Him during the time of struggle or partner with Him prior, He is the power that will see you through. Come close to God today. Knock on the door of His mansion. Seek a relationship with your Creator. Let His qualities, the very essence of Him, fill and comfort you. As a deeply intimate and personal relationship with God becomes established, you will grow in trust of Him and His will. When the sudden changes of life strike, you will have a Rock to stand on, a peace that passes all understanding, and sound guidance through haze and storm. No amount of personal planning and effort can compare as that is created by us. Only the presence of the Creator can calm the storm and straighten the confused path that chaos creates.
The day ended, no different than it had begun really. I brushed my teeth, contemplating how change is happening without me being yet aware. God works all things together to accomplish His will. This takes time. It takes a seemingly unrelated string of happenings to bring about God’s will. That takes years of various circumstances occurring, intertwining at some point, culminating in results that alter our lives. And many times things must appear far worse before they get better. I trust Him.
Though God’s will for my life back then was unlike the picture I’d had, trusting Him made all the difference in the world. He was with me when the earthly expectations of life faltered. He held me and led me through uncomfortable waters. The blessings He suggested I could enjoy have been realized. They aren’t in material, emotional, or financial gains. My blessings are experienced in this amazing relationship with a God who loves me. It’s abstract, intangible, supernatural, but oh so real.
Life doesn’t happen with a happily ever after slogan splashed across it. That just isn’t reality for most people. I’d imagine it isn’t for anyone. However, for those who keep their eyes on the Lord, there is a peace that makes the highs and lows of chaos nonexistent. In a moment life changes. That’s all it takes, but with God at your center, you will not be shaken. Your life will not be derailed by tragedy. May you be filled to overflowing with the light of God, enjoy His comfort during times of change, and trust His will, regardless of circumstances.
John 8:31“….If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
I woke sobbing. My heart was broken. My brother had committed suicide rather than face the consequences of old actions newly exposed. It was clear that he’d been hiding behind years of lies and alcohol which now made sense. It was a dream, but it was so vivid that I was shuddering with sorrow for the lack hope that he had. I knew what he’d been missing.
Many people walk in deep despair, one bad day away from giving up, hope already stale and crumbling. In examining all the stepping stones crossed to reach such a desperate vantage point, tragedy certainly has a foothold and is deeply rooted. Misfortune comes in many forms, the results often kept hidden to avoid judgement or consequence. Lies are laid down, one at a time, building a wall behind which to keep secrets concealed, assuring survival.
How many people have a plan of what to do should truth be exposed? How many people are convinced their lies keep them out of trouble? How many people believe they can foresee the difficulties that may overwhelm should truth be uncovered? How desperate are we to avoid that possibility?
Shame…it’s dirty in more than name and controlling in nature. Satan uses it not so sparingly when casting his net, seeking for those who are easily swayed and quick to cower from it. The devil’s victims are convinced that the judgement by others if their darkness was brought to light is equally matched with the consequences law brings, human or Spiritual. Who could survive either? Why would someone try?
I wrote The Truth Will Set You Free based on that dream and the hopelessness many are burdened with. I know the answer and pray many who struggle have the answer revealed to them before they can’t cope anymore. Christ is the answer. That’s all. At the risk of sounding callous, it’s simple. There are no certain number of steps required to reach healing. There is no amount of money that can cleanse you of the shame that’s buried. Freedom comes by believing in and knowing Christ.
You see, He is the Word that you should seek a relationship with and continue focusing on. Keep your eyes on Him and talk to Him about anything He puts on your heart. As you grow in that relationship, you will come to know Him, and He is, in fact, Truth itself. He, Jesus, the Truth, is the only thing that can set you free.
In some instances, through the course of your relationship, He may put it on your heart to expose the earthly truths that have hurt you. You won’t be alone on this journey. Christ is with you, and God has a plan that is for your benefit. If that comes to be the case, exposing truths that Satan has used to keep you in his control becomes freeing in many ways. A weight lifts as Satan’s grasp falters and fails. In some instances, the close connection with your Savior may be all you need to heal the hurts that have scarred your soul. In either case, regardless of the scenario God leads you through, He is the Answer and The Truth that Will Set You Free!
Today is the second year anniversary of the official release of my third novel, The Truth Will Set You Free. I pray it has a strong impact, clearly illustrates our need for hope, and points readers to Christ who is that hope. You can read the first chapter, check it out, or purchase it here. God bless you.
“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
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.