Friday, October 8, 2010

Dwelling Places

I was talking with a friend this morning about life, the universe and everything.   Of course, God is the key element there and He was also the central topic in our conversation.

Reflecting back on our past decisions and actions, we discussed  both  our right  and wrong choices and how they have affected our present and our future.  You know...  Girl talk!    Haha!

Life throws us a lot of  stuff.   Some of it just happens and some of it is our own doing.   But regardless, life is a series of ups and downs.    The major stuff, like births, deaths, marriages, divorces, illness... those are the ones that obviously shape our character and our life stories.  Yet the smallest incident can have the greatest effect on us.    An alcoholic begins his/her struggle with that very first drink.   An addiction to a drug begins with that first "hit".      A first glimpse at pornography catches the eye and mind.   Life is changed forever by those first "small" occurrences.   

Eden is a nice place to live.    It's a place where everything is beautiful and the blessings just seem to flow one after the other.    On the other hand, the deepest pit in hell is, to say the least, a tad on the miserable side.   I have been in both places at various points in my life.   I prefer being on the mountaintop of blessings in Eden.     But I don't always get to choose my circumstance.    And I really don't believe that our lives are intended to live continually in Eden.     

Let's face it.   We are human beings and we begin to take things for granted when life is good.  We lower our guard when we are living in peace and plenty.   That's when  sin creeps into our neighborhood and tries to foul things up.    Our faith is tested by temptation.  It may be a small thing or a large... a choice to make or a new circumstance.     Temptation comes.  We come face to face with a world of degradation and lies.   Our response to the  lure of sin or to the new situation is the elemental device that God uses to teach and meld us into the likeness of Him.  Something changes in our life and we see it as a terrible event, when actually it is the very thing that God uses to shape us into the creation He has planned.

The world was perfect for Adam and Eve.   Yet Adam and Eve were not perfect.    The lying serpent didn't get into the garden by his own strategy.    God saw it coming and allowed it to happen.  He knew that Adam  & Eve would not withstand the onslaught of lies.   Although they were capable of obeying God, as are we,  they  were overthrown by this small "first"  that forever changed life for  humankind.   Or did it just set God's plan into motion?     He knew beforehand that sin would come to destroy His creation and He made arrangements at the beginning of time to send Jesus as the Lamb to be slain.    Only by the blood of Jesus are we, including Adam and Eve,  made perfect.     

During the last major upheaval in my life (going through the break up of an almost four decade long marriage), I journeyed to Galveston to see the aftermath of Hurricane Ike.   I saw not only the destruction caused by the storm, but also the cleanup crews at work and the reconstruction of  the structures and the lives of those affected by the storm.  

I wrote the following words in my Bible:  "Sometimes it takes the hurricanes, the overwhelming flood, the rot and destruction in our lives.. so that we can be gutted... with nothing left but the framework so God can restore and rebuild our lives anew."

Various paths were set before me during that time of my life.   Choices were made... some good and some not so good.    But none were a surprise to my loving heavenly Father.      He has used each of them to direct me in the path that He REALLY wants for me.   Thankfully, Jesus paved that path for me a long time ago.

Talking with my friend this morning, I reminded her and myself of just how God had changed my life so drastically.    Let's just say she is not living on a mountaintop right now and since I am such a fount of wisdom, (hah!) I thought maybe I could give some advice.     Lord, I just hope the advice came straight through me from YOU.

I told her that during another one of the most miserable  'pit of hell' experiences in my life, I finally caved in and  cried out to God  asking Him to restore the joy of my salvation.       Being the gracious and loving God that He is, He granted my request.  Others may not know this, but God did a miracle that night!    My life was forever changed by His answer to a simple prayer.     I was still living in a pit... my circumstances did not change.   But God changed something inside of me and I was filled with His joy.    Because of Him, my attitude changed, my heart changed, and I drew closer to Him than I knew was possible.   The pit became a place where God taught me about His love and faithfulness.   His joy gave me the strength to endure.

No, I am not glad I was dwelling in a pit.   It was probably a pit of my own creation.  Regardless, who the heck wants to experience pit living?    Looking back, that pit was the circumstance  or experience that  God used to change my life and bring me to Him.   I am thankful and glad that I finally came to that place in  my life where there was nowhere to go but God.  

So if you are living in Eden, enjoy!    Beware!   Be Faithful!   One of those 'firsts' might show up and try to drag you out.

But if you are in one of life's pits, remember that you are not alone.   Remember that our God is in control and  He is the only one with the power and love to  help you survive the pit circumstance and come out strong on the other side. 

Nehemiah 8: 10   "....Do not grieve.   For the joy of the LORD is your strength."

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