Sunday, April 13, 2008

Imperfect Past, Imperfect Present... Hopeful Future

Did you come from a divorced family, an abusive home, or some other past that keeps you feeling trapped in the "not-good-enough" category? Maybe it's the choices that you made that leave you feeling like you can never measure up with the "Joneses" around you. Perhaps you were raised in a fully-faked "perfect" (on Sundays) Christian family, and it leaves you feeling like authentic Christian faith in family life is (in reality) impossible.

Or maybe it's your present that leaves you feeling discouraged. Perhaps you are currently not living out anything like the kind of life, marriage, or family life that you *know* you should be living, but you just don't know how to do any different. Maybe you find yourself consistently doing things that you know you shouldn't do, and not doing the things that you know you should do. (For what it's worth, the Apostle Paul felt the same way.)

I just want to say, first of all, that I know at least some of what you're feeling. The choices I made as a young teenager (and the pain and grief that came from them) kept me in bondage for nearly 10 years, feeling as though I would never deserve anything good (isn't it sad how the devil twists the truth? NONE of us deserve anything good... it's not as if I was alone in that!), and that because I didn't *deserve* it, God wouldn't give it. What a crock of lies!

Which leads me to the second thing I want to say:
God is not like "karma"!

  • He is MERCIFUL-- (He doesn't immediately give us what we deserve.) He doesn't want to "stick it" to us and get us back for all the wrong we've done, tit for tat. In fact, He is slow to anger, and abounding in love and forgiveness.
  • And He is GRACIOUS-- (He gives us what we don't deserve.) He offers an abundant life, fully in line with His design of us and His purposes for our life. Even when life is difficult or when we face struggles, His plans for us are ultimately good.
He doesn't put our lives into a spreadsheet, weighing out the good and the bad, and from that input, determine what to give us (a good/bad marriage, lovable/intolerable children, abundant/struggling finances, etc.). But He DOES look for those mustard seeds of faith. Faithful choices, faithful words, faithful prayers... He wants our FAITH. He desires for us to HOPE in Him. We don't have to have our act together, or pull it together all by ourselves... He just wants our faith so that HE can do His work in us.

I have to tell you: He has been SO gracious to me... and He will do it for you too. His grace in your life undoubtedly will look different than what His grace in my life has looked like... He deals with us each in unique ways. But He WILL give it. He gives grace and mercy to those in need. He gives strength to those who wait upon (hope in) Him. He promises to give wisdom to those who ask Him. He gives favor to the humble.

So hope in Him! Admit your need, wait for Him, and humbly ask for wisdom. Don't let the imperfections of your past (or even your present) keep you from hoping in Jesus for your future. If you do, it doesn't mean everything will turn out like you've planned it, or like you want it to (from your perspective right now)... my life certainly hasn't turned out exactly like I thought it would. But I will say this: HIS plan for your life is going to be far more full and rich than the carrying out of your plans ever would be.

Don't be held back by what you've been, or even what you are today-- HOPE IN THE LORD!


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