Saturday, March 4, 2017

LIFE

It is not about the struggle itself but about what the struggle develops in me.
My heart is full and free! I spent an amazing couple days at a LIFE Retreat at church, preceded by a semester of Life group. So much has happened this weekend and this semester and on this journey. It did not happen overnight and I couldn’t see it all then, but I know that it did because I look back at where my heart was thirteen weeks ago and I know somehow along the way God moved. He showed me a lot of things. He spoke gently to my soul, walked me through a surgery, broke down barriers and called me to more. And it all happened because I made a choice.
I urge you to do the same.
Deuteronomy 30:19, (NLT) says, “I have given you the CHOICE between LIFE and DEATH, blessing and curse…Choose Life!”
I know it is something I personally experienced and it’s hard to paint for others, but I hope you see the vision behind what I learned. One thing that remains in my heart after this semester is to challenge you to not only choose life, but to be life giving.
I used to think that someday I would arrive at a place where I didn’t struggle so much with certain things or areas but now I see that it is not about the struggle itself but about what the struggle develops in me. I have discovered that I am always going to have to combat things like discouragement, fear, pride, jealousy, rejection and insecurity but I’m the one who chooses how long I stay there and how they affect me. Life happens and yes people wrong us and yes we mess up and yes bad things do happen but we don’t have to stay residents of those camps. We can choose freedom from these things every day. After all, that’s what LIFE stands for—Living IFreedom Every Day. It won’t always be easy and it won’t always be simple, but I believe it will be worth it.
Make the choice not to get caught up in a bunch of stuff that only weighs you down and decide to live in unhindered freedom. Be a breath of fresh air, alive and full of life to those around you! Ask for God’s nature to reside in you. Put to rest pride, rejection, impurity, shame, abuse, fear, anger and despair. Instead cling to love, patience, joy, gentleness, and kindness. Use your eyes to see what is good and not only what is wrong. Allow your ears to hear the truth and not the lies Satan will surely offer. Let your lips be full of praise and encouragement and not criticism, complaints and gossip. Build up, don’t tear down. Let your hands be the body of Christ, serving one another. Move your feet where God leads you. Don’t just exist in this life but actively choose life over death.
I used to work with one year olds and they taught me many things. When the weather was nice we used to pile them up in wagons and take them outside. The playground was wide open for them to climb and crawl and walk all over, but some of them did a curious thing when we set them loose. Instead of basking in the enormous freedom of the play area, they spent all their time trying to go to the doors leading back inside where they were not allowed—to where we had just come from. They missed their entire play time and got in trouble because they were more concerned with going after something that was not good for them. If only they had known we had their best interest at heart and what fun "free play" could be like.
What a picture of us sometimes. We chase after things that are not worth it and end up missing the best part. We often stand in our own way. Don’t be a door runner, be a playground climber. Be free and experience all God has for you. The choice is up to you.
I have a ways to go yet but I look to the future in freedom. I look to all that is to come and I choose life. Choose it with me.
-Only Hope

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